Women are govern’d by a Stubborn Fate;
Their Love’s Inſuperable, as their Hate!
No Merit their Averſion can remove,
Nor ill Requital can efface their Love.
Author of Love in Excess; or, the
Printed for D. Brown, Jun., at the Black-Swan, without Temple-Bar;
W. Chetwood, and J. Woodman, in Ruſſel-Street Covent-Garden;
and S. Chapman, in Palmall. 1722MDCCXXII.
Price 1s. 6d.
The Britiſh Recluse.
Of all the Foibles Youth and Inexperience is liable to fall into, there is none, I think, of more dangerous Conſequence, than too eaſily giving Credit to what we hear; it is always the Source of a thouſand Inadvertencies, and often leads the way to a numerous Train of deſtructive Paſſions. If we cou’d bring our ſelves to depend on nothing but what we had Proof for, what a world of Diſcontent ſhou’d we avoid! Hope and Fear wou’d then be buried in Certainty; and Love and Reſentment never be at Enmity with Reaſon. Whereas, by relying on Appearances (and, perhaps, ſuch too, as are form’d only by our own Wiſhes and Apprehenſions) we, for a ſeeming Good, embrace a real Evil, and run into Miſtakes, Bwhich, 2B1v2 which, without the Interpoſition of a peculiar Providence, muſt be fatal to our Intereſt and Peace of Mind, in whatever Affair we ſuffer our Belief to be impos’d on.
Love! as it is one of the firſt Paſſions for which the Soul finds Room, ſo it is alſo the moſt eaſily deceiv’d. The good Opinion, which it naturally inſpires, of the darling Object, makes it almoſt an Impoſſibility to ſuſpect his Honour and Sincerity; and the Pleaſure which ariſes from a Self-aſſurance of the Truth of what we ſo eagerly deſire, is too great for a young Heart, unaccuſtom’d to ſuch Struggles, to repel.
But, the following little Hiſtory (which I can affirm for Truth, having it from the Mouths of thoſe chiefly concern’d in it) is a ſad Example of what Miſeries may attend a Woman, who has no other Foundation for Belief in what her Lover ſays to her, than the good Opinion her Paſſion has made her conceive of him.
Belinda, a young Lady of conſiderable Fortune, in Warwickſhire, being oblig’d by ſome Buſineſs to come to London, which ſhe had never ſeen before, was recommended, by ſome of her Country Acquaintance, to a Houſe where ſhe might board. The Pleaſantneſs of the Situation, and the good Company ſhe found in it, gave her at once the Charms both of the Town and Country; but being naturally of a reſerv’d Temper, and having ſomething in her Mind which ſeem’d to engroſs her Thoughts, ſhe grew not preſently acquainted with any Body. And tho’ ſhe obſerv’d, that at every Meal, a Plate of whatever came to Table was carry’d away, before any other Perſon was help’d, yet ſhe never had the Curioſity to 3B2r3 to ask to whom it was ſent; till one Day, ſome Gentlemen happening to dine there, who formerly had been Boarders, they began to enquire, of the Gentlewoman of the Houſe, how the Recluſe did,――if ſhe continued her Solitary Courſe of Life,――and, if ſhe had yet been able to find out the Cauſe of her Retirement. To which the Landlady reply’d, that ſhe was ſtill in the ſame Mind, in which they left her— and that to diſcover the Myſtery of her concealing herſelf, ſhe believ’d an utter Impoſſibility. Indeed, (ſaid one of the Gentlemen) to know the Certainty of ſuch an Affair, may be a little difficult, but I think it no hard Matter to form a very probable Conjecture. In my Opinion, no Motive, but ill requited Love, cou’d induce a Lady (ſo young and beautiful, as you deſcribe this to be) to ſuch an obſtinate and peeviſh Reſignation of all the Pleaſures of Life. I rather think (anſwer’d a young Lady who happen’d to be there) ’tis the Effects of Grief for the Death of ſome near and dear Relation, a Parent perhaps, or―― How Madam (interrupted the other Gentleman haſtily) produce me but one Example, ſince the Fall of Adam, of ſuch a Conſtancy in Grief, and I ſhall willingly acquieſce to the Sentiments of ſo fine a Lady; but as I am poſitive you cannot, give me leave to ſay, it is not only impracticable, but alſo unnatural. Nor can I agree any more with my Friend’s Notion of the Matter, than with your’s: All kinds of Paſſion, every Body knows, wear off with Time; and Love, of all others, as ’tis the gentleſt, and is ſubſiſted only by Delight, of courſe muſt dye, when Delight is at an End. How then, can it B2be 4B2v4 be poſſible that a Woman, who has for a whole Twelvemonth liv’d in a Retirement, where ſhe neither has ſeen any Body, nor been ſeen, if it were ſo that Love was the Occaſion, ſhou’d not by this be weary both of the Cauſe and the Effect? No, no, (continu’d he laughing) I rather think, my Landlady, to divert her ſelf, and amuſe us, has form’d this Story of a beautiful young Creature, whom, if the Truth were known, I dare ſwear is ſome wither’d Hag, paſt the Uſe of Pleaſures, and keeps her ſelf in private, leſt her Countenance ſhould terrify. Very well (anſwer’d the good old Gentlewoman) you may be as merry as you pleaſe with Age; but, Sir, I fancy if you cou’d have perſuaded me to have contriv’d ſome means for you to have come to the Sight of this Hag, as you call her, ſhe has Eyes, which wou’d have convinced you, that there is a Power in Love, beyond what now you ſeem to imagine of that Paſſion.
All Dinner, and ſome time after, was paſt in this ſort of Converſation; which, tho’ Belinda had but a ſmall Share in, yet it fail’d not to excite her Curioſity to a Deſire of knowing as much as ſhe cou’d of this Adventure: And, as ſoon as the Company were gone, and ſhe had an Opportunity of entertaining the Landlady alone, ſhe took an Occaſion to enquire what ſort of Woman the Recluse, as they call’d her, really was,――how long ſhe had been there, and by what manner introduc’d. I ſhall make no Scruple (ſaid ſhe) of informing you as far as I am able; but the Account I can give is ſo ſmall, that it will only ſerve to encreaſe your Deſire of knowing more: About a Year paſt, being told a Lady 5B3r5 Lady in a Chair ask’d to ſpeak with me, I went to the Door, but not knowing her, look’d a little ſurpris’d, fancying ſhe might be miſtaken; I believe ſhe gueſs’d what my Thoughts were, and before I had time to diſcloſe ’em, Madam! (ſaid ſhe) I have ſomething to communicate to you, which I am not willing any Perſon ſhou’d be witneſs to; and, if you are at Leiſure, ſhou’d take it as a Favour, if you wou’d give me an Opportunity of diſcourſing you. I then immediately deſir’d her to come into the Parlor; and the Door being ſhut, I am, (reſum’d ſhe) an utter Stranger to you, and indeed deſign to continue ſo to all the World; it was but by an Accident I heard of the Accommodation you have for Boarders, and gladly wou’d become one, if you approve of it on the Conditions I ſhall propoſe. They muſt be very ſtrange ones (anſwer’d I) that cou’d make me refuſe the Company of a Lady ſuch as you appear to be; there are too many Charms in that Countenance, not to give me an Ambition of a nearer Acquaintance. I beg, therefore, that you will put me out of the Pain of believing there is a possibility that any thing cou’d oblige me to deny my ſelf that Honour. She return’d this little Compliment, only with a Bow, but which had ſomething in it of more graceful and obliging than any Words cou’d be; and, after a Pauſe, the Conditions I mean (ſaid ſhe) are only theſe. Firſt, That you never will endeavour to know more of me, than I am willing to reveal;――That you will ſuffer no one to enter the Apartment order’d for me, but the Servant who ſhall bring me in my Meat, (for I will never dine at Table) and give that AttendanceB3dance 6B3v6 dance which is neceſſary. And Laſtly, That you will be ſatisfy’d to accept of a Quarter’s Payment, of whatever we ſhall agree on, always beforehand, for your Security in taking a Perſon ſo altogether unknown to you into your Houſe. I will give you (continued ſhe, perceiving I look’d amazed) time to conſider on what I have ſaid, and in a Day or two will wait on you for an Anſwer; as ſhe ſpoke theſe Words, ſhe went haſtily into her Chair, leaving me in as great a Conſternation at her Behaviour, as ever I remember my ſelf to have been in, at any thing in my whole Life. Belinda cou’d not here forbear interrupting her, by asking a thouſand Queſtions as to her Dreſs, her Beauty, and whether ſhe obſerv’d any thing of that Melancholly in her Countenance the firſt time, which ſhe had ſince diſcover’d. To all which the Landlady reply’d, that the Surprize ſhe was in at that time, hinder’d her from taking much Notice, either of her Garb, or Perſon; but that, ſince her being in the Houſe, ſhe was always dreſs’d rich, but extremely careleſs, and wou’d often go with only her Hair and a Nightgown for many days together. But in ſpite (ſaid ſhe) of the little Care ſhe ſeems to take of her ſelf, Heaven never form’d a Creature more exactly lovely; nor do I think it poſſible for the niceſt Eye to diſcover the leaſt Defect, either in her Face or Shape. What is ſhe (reſum’d Belinda) as to her Wit and Converſation? I have already told you (anſwer’d the other) that ſhe refuſes to let us know her Perfections that way, by never ſtirring from her Apartment, nor permitting any of us to come into it; but if we may form a Judgment of her Genius, by the Entertainment which 7B4r7 which alone ſhe ſeems to take Delight in, that of reading the beſt Authors, we muſt believe it to be very Elegant; ſhe has an admirable Collection of Books; and my Maid, who waits on her, tells me ſhe never goes in, without finding her engag’d in ſome one of them. Then you ventur’d (ſaid Belinda) to take her, without any further Knowledge? I conſider’d (reply’d ſhe) that there cou’d be no great Hazard in it; and beſides, there was ſomething ſo inexpreſſibly engaging in her Mein and manner of Addreſs, that I believe it almoſt an Impoſſibility ſhe ſhould be refus’d any thing. This Account gave Belinda the greateſt Deſire imaginable to be acquainted with her, and never left ſoliciting the Landlady to uſe her Intereſt to procure it. The old Gentlewoman, who was extreamly good-humor’d, promis’d to do her Endeavour, but ſaid withal, that ſhe was afraid it was a Work ſhe ſhould not be able to accompliſh. You muſt tell her (ſaid Belinda) and perhaps with more Truth than you imagine, that you have a Perſon in your Houſe, who juſtly may be term’d one of the moſt unfortunate on Earth,――that I am charm’d with her manner of Life――that I could like nothing ſo much as to partake ſuch a Retirement—and, that if ſhe wou’d permit me, ſometimes, to mingle my Tears with hers, I wou’d be ſatisfy’d with the Opportunity of indulging my Grief, without any farther Intruſion on her Secrets, than ſhe ſhall give leave. This (anſwer’d the Landlady) if any thing, will do――and as you have ſo ingeniouſly contriv’d the Plot, it muſt be entirely owing to my want of Ability in carrying it on, if it ſhou’d miſcarry; and (continu’d ſhe) I go about it with B4the 8B4v8 the more Courage, becauſe that reſerv’d, and indeed too grave Look (for ſo young and fine a Lady) which you always wear, will, if ſhe conſents to ſee you, give ſome Credit to my Words. You need not indeed (reſum’d Belinda with a deep Sigh) be under any Apprehenſions, that my Behaviour will be in the leaſt contradictory to whatever you ſhall tell her of my Diſpoſition to indulge a Melancholy, which I have but too much Reaſon for. You may talk after what manner you pleaſe (ſaid the other) but I am too well acquainted with your Circumſtances, not to know that you can have no real Cauſes for that Penſiveneſs, which, to deal freely with you, very much obſcures the Luſtre of your Charms. I know not indeed (continu’d ſhe, with a Smile) what Imaginary ones your Fancy may ſuggeſt. Young People, too often, take Pleaſure, as it were, in findding out ſomething to afflict themſelves with.―― I am afraid you have ſeen ſome Gentleman too lovely for your Repoſe; and, perhaps, he may be (for Love is a blind Deity) of a Quality above your Hopes, or of a Degree below your Diſcretion to make Choice of――or, ’tis poſſible, may have prov’d ungrateful――or, may be already married―― or engag’d――or elſe―― She wou’d, doubtleſs, have run on with all the Circumſtances that can make a young Woman in Love unhappy, if Belinda (a little too nearly touch’d, putting on a more than ordinary Severity in her Countenance) had not interrupted her by ſaying, Madam! whatever the Occaſion of my Melancholly may be, I am ſo much of the Recluse’s Mind, as to reſolve to keep it Secret. Pardon me, (reſum’d the Landlady, perceiving ſhe was nettled) my Words 9B5r9 Words were meant no otherwiſe than to divert; and to make what Reparation I can for the Inadvertancy of them, will confeſs, that if a Perſon of your Age is too apt to ſeek occaſions of tormenting her ſelf, one of mine is liable to as great a Fault, that of talking too much of Affairs which are not any way her Buſineſs. Some Company happening to come in, broke off the Converſation. Belinda retir’d to her Chamber, and the Landlady remain’d with her Head full of Contrivance, by what means ſhe ſhou’d bring about the Performance of her Promiſe.
The next Day an Opportunity offer’d very lucky for her Purpoſe; the Recluse ſent for her to pay her ſome Mony; and as ſoon as that Affair was diſpatch’d, ſhe began to labour the Succeſs of the other, and was ſo fortunate in her Negotiation, that as much averſe as ſhe found the Recluse at firſt, the Aſſurances ſhe gave her that Belinda’s Deſire of her Society ſprung only from a belief that there was a Sympathy in their Afflictions, at laſt prevail’d on her to receive a Viſit from her. Having obtain’d this Grant, the good old Gentlewoman, eager to acquit her ſelf of the Promiſe ſhe had made, entreated that Belinda might have leave to wait on her that Night, to which the Recluse, having permitted her coming at all, eaſily conſented.
The meeting of theſe two Ladies was ſomething particular for Perſons of the ſame Sex; each found, at firſt Sight, ſo much to admire in the other, that it kept both from ſpeaking for ſome Moments. The Recluse conſider’d Belinda, as indeed ſhe is, one of the moſt lovely Perſons on Earth; and Belinda found the Recluse ſo 10B5v10 ſo far beyond the Landlady’s Deſcription, ſomething ſo Majeſtick, and withal ſo ſweet and attractive in her Air――ſuch a Mixture of the moſt forceful Fire, and moſt enchanting Softneſs in her Eyes, that ſhe became wholly loſt in ſpeechleſs Wonder; till the Recluse (who, tho’ as young as Belinda, was Miſtreſs of a much greater Preſence of Mind) broke Silence in theſe Words.
If, Madam (ſaid ſhe, with a Voice and Accent no leſs charming than her Perſon) you are enough in Love with Miſery, to wiſh to be Partaker of it with me, I heartily bid you welcome to this Scene of Woe: but if your Griefs are of a Nature that will admit Relief, the Society of a Wretch like me, will be far from adding to your Conſolation. To forget the Misfortunes I lament (reply’d Belinda) wou’d be, perhaps, a greater Ill than any I yet have known――’tis my Deſire always to remember them, and nothing ſure can ſo well enable me to do it with Patience, as the Knowledge that ſo many excellent Qualities, as you appear to be Miſtreſs of, cannot be exempted from Calamities. Alas! (reſum’d the Recluse, burſting into Tears) ’tis the little Knowlege you have of me inclines you to ſo favourable an Opinion. Believe me Madam (continu’d ſhe, weeping ſtill more) were you acquainted with the Hiſtory of this Wretch you ſee before you, you wou’d allow that as none like me has ever ſuffer’d, ſo alſo none ever has like me deſerv’d to ſuffer. I believe, Madam! (anſwer’d Belinda) one of the greateſt Impoſſibilities you can attempt is, that of perſuading me, or indeed any body that ſees you, to that Opinion. Theſe little Civilities being over, they fell into a Con- 11B6r11 Converſation ſuitable to that Melancholly their Misfortunes had involv’d them in; and they agreed ſo perfectly in their Sentiments concerning the Inſtability of all humane Happineſs―― the little Confidence there was to be put in the Proteſtations of Friendſhip――and that the only way to attain true Content, was in an abſolute Retirement from the World, and a Diſregard of every thing in it; that when they parted (as Belinda thought it improper, to make her firſt Viſit very long) it was with a mutual Satisfaction, and each began to conceive for the other, a real Tenderneſs, which has ever ſince remain’d unſhaken.
The next Day, (being deſir’d to do ſo by the Recluse Belinda made her a ſecond Viſit, and, after ſome Diſcourſe like what had paſs’d the Evening before, the Converſation turn’d, perhaps undeſignedly by either of them, on Love; but when once enter’d, neither ſeem’d to grow weary of the Subject; and both ſpoke in ſo feeling a manner, that if a third Perſon had been witneſs of what they ſaid, he need not have been very quick of Apprehenſion to diſcover what was the Source of both theſe Ladies Troubles. They ſat together till paſt Midnight; and when Belinda took her Leave, it was not without making an Appointment to paſs the next Evening as they had done this.
As ſoon as Belinda was alone, ſhe began to run over in her Mind, all the Particulars of the Converſation ſhe had with the Recluse, and was now confirm’d in what ſhe before imagin’d, that Love had been the ſole Cauſe of her Retirement: She wou’d have given almoſt one of her Eyes, to have been let into the Secret of the whole Affair, 12B6v12 Affair, but durſt not attempt to ask it, for fear of diſobliging her; if the Recluse, who was little behind her in Curioſity, had not, at the next Viſit, purpoſely given her an Opportunity.
I know not, Madam! (ſaid ſhe, ſoon after they were together) whether there be a poſſibility for you to imagine from what Cauſe the Miſeries you ſee me in have proceeded, but I am half poſitive, that I can more than gueſs the Origine of that Melancholy which induces you to ſupport the Society of a Wretch like me!――I cannot doubt, Madam (reply’d Belinda, bluſhing, yet pleaſ’d ſhe had ſo favourable an Opportunity of ſpeaking her Mind without Offence) your Penetration in a much greater Matter, ſince I, who have but little Diſcernment, and leſs Experience, have been bold enough in my Imagination, to aſſure my ſelf that whatever the Effects may be, the Cauſe of both our Sorrows is the ſame. I am ſo much of your Mind (reſum’d the other) that I am willing to put it to the Tryal. Here (continued ſhe, taking Pens and Paper) do you write, and I will do the ſame, and by reading what each other have ſet down, both will avoid the Confuſion of ſpeaking firſt. Agreed! (ſaid Belinda and immediately did as the Recluse deſir’d:) on Exchange of the Papers, Belinda read in that which the Recluse had writ; Undone by Love, and the Ingratitude of faithleſs Man. And the Recluse found in that which the other had writ, theſe Words; For ever loſt to Peace by Love, and my own fond Belief. As I expected! cry’d they out both together; and after a little pauſe, Not all the Ills (rejoyn’d the Recluse) which Fortune watches to oppreſs us with, are 13B7r13 are half ſo ruinous, ſo deſtructive, as this one Paſſion! Nothing, indeed, (reply’d Belinda weeping) is to our Sex ſo fatal. Oh Love! (continued ſhe) Thou gilded Poiſon, which kills by ſlow Degrees, and makes each Moment of our Life a Death! Why, Oh why do we ſuffer our fond Hearts to harbour thee?――Why are we not like Man (reſum’d the Recluse, bearing her Company in Tears) inconſtant, changing, and hunting after Pleaſure in every Shape?―― Or, if our Sex, more pure, and more refin’d, diſdains a Happineſs ſo groſs, why have we not Strength of Reaſon too, to enable us to ſcorn what is no longer worthy our Eſteem? In theſe, and the like Exclamations, they paſt ſome Time; and had, doubtleſs, given a greater Looſe to the overboiling Paſſions of their Souls, if their mutual Curioſity to know each others Adventures, had not oblig’d them to leave off.
The Recluse wou’d fain have perſwaded Belinda to relate her Story firſt; but that Lady excuſ’d herſelf, in Terms ſo obliging, and full of Reſpect, that the other cou’d not preſs her any farther, and only ſaid, I ſhou’d hardly be prevail’d on to a Recital of thoſe Misfortunes which, indeed, have fallen on me but too juſtly, till by knowing yours I ſhou’d have hope to find Excuſe: But, as I am confident no Woes were ever like mine, I have Good-nature enough to acquaint you with ’em firſt, to the End that the Knowledge of mine may make your own ſeem leſs, and enable you with Eaſe to the Relation of them. Belinda anſwer’d her only with a Bow, and a little ſhaking of her Head, at once to thank her for her Civility, and ſhew that ſhe 14B7v14 ſhe thought it impoſſible for any Affliction to exceed that which ſhe endur’d: And the Recluse, after having paid a Tribute of Sighs, which the Remembrance of her Misfortunes always exacted from her, began to ſatisfy her Companion’s Impatience in theſe Words.
The Story of Cleomira.
To make you perfectly comprehend the Truth of my Affairs (ſaid ſhe) I muſt acquaint you of what Condition my Parents were: Though their Names I ſhall beg leave to conceal, leaſt by declaring to any one that ſo deſervedly unhappy a Creature is their Child, I ſhou’d diſturb the ſacred Quiet of their Aſhes. She cou’d not ſpeak this without burſting into a Torrent of Tears, which, for ſome Moments, hindred her from proceeding: But as ſoon as ſhe had had a little repell’d the Violence of her Grief, You muſt know (continu’d ſhe) that my Father was a younger Branch of a Family which boaſts a Place among the Prime of the Nobility; and, my Mother was deſcended from Anceſtors whoſe noble Actions merited Titles, though they wore none, but that of being the Beſt and moſt Ancient of the Gentry. They had both been from their Infancy accuſtom’d to a Court, and had Spirits far above their Circumſtances, which made them unable to endure the Thoughts either of a Retirement, or appearing in Publick with an Equipage any way inferior to what thoſe of the ſame Rank maintain’d. Thus was I, who was their only Child, bred up in all the Pomp and Pride of Quality; and great Part of what ſhou’d have 15B8r15 have been reſerv’d for my Fortune ſpent in my Education, and laviſh’d on thoſe unneceſſary Ornaments and Expences, which all young Girls, who are fond of making a Show, affect. I was not much above thirteen when my Father died: His Loſs was ſo real a Grief to my Mother, that for a long Time ſhe remain’d inconſolable, nor did her former Gaiety ever return. Inſtead of entertaining any Thoughts of a ſecond Marriage, ſhe tranſplanted all the Tenderneſs ſhe had born my Father on me; and the Conſideration how improbable it was for her to match me according to my Birth, or the Expectations I had been bred to, (my Father being able to leave me no more than three thouſand Pounds) every Day encreas’d her Affliction: Nor were theſe Reflections unaccompanied with Fears, that my Youth, and ſome Attractions which her Love made her fancy ſhe ſaw about me, might draw on Temptations to the Diſadvantage of my Reputation; ſhe therefore reſolv’d on the ſudden to quit the Court, as a Place too dangerous for a young Woman to continue in, who had not a Fortune ſufficient to entitle her to the honourable Affections of the Great, and too much Pride to liſten to the Solicitations of the inferior Sort who frequented it. That that leſs Notice might be taken of the Change of her Humour, ſhe pretended an Indiſpoſition, and that the London Air did not agree with her, and in a ſhort Time took a Houſe about ſix Miles diſtant from it. This was like preſent Death to me, but all I cou’d ſay was of no Effect; the more preſſing I appear’d to ſtay, the more ſhe thought it needful I ſhou’d go; and the paſſionate Fondneſs I expreſs’dpreſs’d 16B8v16 preſs’d for the Town Diverſions, and Diſdain of a Country Life, confirm’d her, that it was abſolutely neceſſary at once to prevent the Dangers ſhe imagin’d threatned me, and to repel the Growth of that Ambition which ſhe found had already taken too deep a Root in my youthful Heart. In fine, we went: and this ſo ſudden and diſagreeable an Alteration in my Manner of Living, gave me a Shock which I know not how to expreſs. My Mother, entirely throwing off the fine Lady, began to practiſe the meer Country Gentlewoman, and us’d her utmoſt Endeavour to make me do ſo too. She was continually telling me, that my Fortune, join’d with all ſhe cou’d be able to do for me, cou’d entitle me to no greater Hopes.――That it was time for me to learn to play the good Houſewife, and forget that there ever were ſuch Things as Balls, Plays, Maſquerades, or Aſſemblies. All this, which was really the Effect of her Prudence, I look’d upon as Whimſy; and the Reſtraint ſhe laid me under, of not viſiting or being viſited by any Perſons, whom ſhe cou’d have the leaſt Apprehenſion of, I conſider’d as an Affront to my Underſtanding. I am oblig’d (ſaid ſhe, my dear Belinda) to enter into theſe Particulars, becauſe this ſudden Change from all the Liberties in the World, to the moſt ſtrict Confinement, is all the Excuſe I can make for my ill Conduct―― But why (continu’d ſhe, after a Pauſe) ſhou’d I alledge that for my Vindication, which Time, perhaps, and Conſideration, might have made eaſy to me, if a more fatal Enemy to my Repoſe, as well as my Intereſt, my Honour, and my Virtue, had not made it more hateful to me. Here was 17C1r17 was her Speech, a ſecond Time, interrupted by her tempeſtuous Grief; and Belinda was forc’d to make Uſe of all the Arguments ſhe was Miſtreſs of, to perſwade her to Moderation.
At laſt, getting leave to reſume her Diſcourſe, One Day (ſaid ſhe) one fatal Day――wou’d to God it had been the laſt of my Life, as it was of my Repoſe, two Ladies came to viſit my Mother, and ſpeaking of a magnificent Ball that Night at Court, told her they were come on purpoſe to entreat her to permit me to accompany them. By the Account I have given, you may judge how little Probability there was ſhe ſhou’d conſent; but whether ſhe was really overcome by their Reaſons, or only yielded to their Perſwaſions; being Perſons ſhe very much eſteem’d, I know not; but when I leaſt expected it, ſhe order’d me to make my ſelf ready to wait on them. Never was any Priſoner, who long had languiſh’d in a Dungeon, more rejoic’d to ſee the open Air, than I to find my ſelf once more in Court, where every body welcom’d me, every body careſs’d me, and, indeed, I believe ſome of them with a good deal of Sincerity: For not being of a Quality great enough to create Envy, nor ſo mean as to beget Contempt, and tolerably well humour’d; I am ſenſible there were many whoſe kind Wiſhes I heartily poſſeſt. I had my Admirers too; at leaſt, there were ſeveral young Sparks, and thoſe not of the loweſt Rank, who took Pleaſure in making me believe ſo. Not that my Heart was any way affected with what they ſaid, though I had Vanity enough to encourage it: Love was a Paſſion I had ſo little Notion of, that I conſider’d it no moreCthan 18C1v18 than as a Fiction, and only dreſs’d up by the Poets in ſuch Variety of Shapes, to make the Amuſement more entertaining: But this, alas! was the unlucky Hour in which I was to be convinc’d of the real Being of that Power I ſo ſlightly had regarded; and ſoon learn’d to pity, by my own, thoſe Pains which, with an unregarding Ear, I often had heard others mourn.About the middle of the Ball, as I was dancing with a young Nobleman, who had done me the Honour to take me out, I ſaw, on a ſudden, the Eyes of the whole Company turn’d towards the Door; but being too buſily engag’d in what I was about, had not Time to conſider what the meaning might be, till having ended my Dance, and it being my Turn to take a Partner, a Lady of my Acquaintance whiſper’d me, and ſaid, There’s the fine young Lord ―― (I will not call him by other Name than that of Lyſander.) He is lately (continued my Friend) come from his Travels, and but this Moment enter’d; it will be an envy’d Gallantry if you lead him out. While ſhe was ſpeaking, I directed my Eyes where I perceiv’d ſhe look’d, and ſaw a Form which appear’d more than Man, and nothing inferior to thoſe Idea’s we conceive of Angels; his Air! his Shape! his Face! were more than Humane―― Miriads of lightning Glories darted from his Eyes as he caſt them around the Room, yet temper’d with ſuch a ſtreaming Sweetneſs! ſuch a deſcending Softneſs, as ſeem’d to entreat the Admiration he commanded! A thouſand Times have I attempted ſince to ſpeak what ’twas I felt at this firſt fatal Interview, but Words cou’d never do Juſtice to the Wonders of his Charms, or halfdeſcribe 19C2r19 deſcribe the Effect they wrought on me: Oh! had his Soul been worthy of that lovely, that tranſporting Outſide, I ſhou’d have been too bleſt, been happy to as ſuperlative a Degree, as now I am curſt and wretched. But not to tire you with unavailing Wiſhes or as fruitleſs Exclamations, I Lov’d――was plung’d in a wild Sea of Paſſion before I had Time to know or ſtem the Danger. I had ſo many diſorder’d Motions in my Heart, that I am amaz’d my Feet kept any juſt Meaſure with the Muſick; or, that ſo little us’d as I had ever been to diſguiſe my Thoughts, my Eyes did not betray the Confuſion of my Soul, and make viſible to the whole Company what I was not yet acquainted with my ſelf: But whether the great Concourſe of much finer Ladies who were there, hindred me from being much regarded, or thoſe Changes which, I am very ſure, appear’d in my Countenance, were only taken for the Effects of Baſhfulneſs in dancing with a Perſon, who was altogether a Stranger, I cannot tell, but I ſcap’d that Raillery, which I muſt have expected to have met with, if any Body had been ſenſible of the true State of my Condition. When I had done Dancing, I mingled with thoſe Ladies who came with me, and ſome others of my Acquaintance: Lyſander ſoon join’d us, and enter’d into a Converſation which ſhow’d his Wit was, if poſſible, ſuperior to his Beauty: He was perfectly well bred, obliging and gallant, and had ſomething I know not what peculiarly Graceful and Enchanting in his Voice and Manner of Addreſs; and what added to his other Engagements, at leaſt endear’d ’em to my (already doating) Heart was that, though heC2ſaid 20C2v20 ſaid nothing in particular to me at that Time, yet I cou’d eaſily diſcern he aim’d at pleaſing only me. But he behav’d himſelf not in ſo general a Manner the whole Night. A little after, perceiving I was ſeparated a good Diſtance from the Perſons I had been with, he came up to me, and making a low Bow, Madam (ſaid he) how fortunate am I, who after having been in many Courts, where I have ſeen Ladies who juſtly may be call’d Beautiful, and ſince my Return Home have met with nothing that cou’d bring me into good Humour with my Native Country, have now the Bleſſing of beholding a Face, which not only ſums up all the different Lovelineſſes of other Charmers, but has alſo an immenſely Divine Treaſure of its own!――Others may move the Heart by ſlow Degrees, and with ſome one Perfection captivate the Senſe, but you have Graces which ſtrike the very Soul, and at firſt Sight ſubdue each Faculty. Bluſh not, fair Excellence! (continued he, finding I was ſilent, as indeed I had no Power to ſpeak) I tell you but the Senſe of all Mankind――but what Millions of Tongues are full of, and what your happy Glaſs, as often as you look in it, informs you. If, my Lord, (reply’d I, recollecting my ſelf as well as I was able) there were a Poſſibility of being unacquainted with my own Defects, ſo good-natur’d a Compliment might give me Graces which before I wanted: But as I have the Misfortune of knowing my ſelf but too well, all the Advantage I can gain by it, is the Honour of being in the Company of a Perſon whoſe Wit can find ſomething to praiſe in thoſe the leaſt Praiſe-worthy. Oh moſt Angelic (reſum’d he, 21C3r21 he, tenderly preſſing my unreſiſting Hand) moſt adorable of your Sex! rob not the brighteſt Temple of the Deity, your divine Self, of your juſt Due.――If (but that’s impoſſible) you can diſtruſt the Force of your too potent Charms, the Effects they have on me will quickly tell you what they are――Cou’d thoſe inſpiring Eyes but look into my Soul, they wou’d perceive their Power――Pardon this Declaration: a vulgar Paſſion, and for a vulgar Object, may wait on the dull Formalities of Decorum, but what I feel for you burſts out and blazes too fierce to be conceal’d――It is not to be expreſs’d――it is not to be imagin’d how he look’d while he was ſpeaking theſe Words, and much leſs in what Manner I behav’d at hearing them: Surprize, and Joy, and Hope, and Fear, and Shame, at once aſſaulted me, and hurried my wild Spirits with ſuch Vehemence, that had I anſwer’d at all, it muſt have been ſomething ſtrangely Incoherent; but, happily for me, ſome Company came that Inſtant to the Place where we were ſtanding, and deliver’d me from the greateſt Perplexity I cou’d be in. I did not, however, recover my ſelf the whole Time of my being there, yet ſo much was I infatuated, ſo loſt to all Thought of Reaſon or Diſcretion, that whenever he approach’d me, I had not Courage to avoid him, as I might eaſily have done without being taken Notice of. ’Tis ſure he took all Opportunities of Entertaining me in the Manner he had begun, and without doubt, as he has ſince own’d to me, he ſaw enough in my Eyes to make him know the Pleaſure I took in hearing him ſpeak, far exceeded my Confuſion at what he ſaid. C3 It 22 C3v 22 It was almoſt Morning when the Ball broke up; and there being no Poſſibility of my going Home till next Day, I paſt that Time at the Ladies Houſe who brought me out: But though the Fatigue and Hurry of the Night wou’d at another Seaſon have made me glad of Reſt, I had now enough to keep me waking. Lyſander’s Charms, his Beauty, his Wit, the Declaration he had made me, and the Manner in which I had receiv’d it, gave me ſufficient Matter of Reflection: I cou’d not think I had listned to any Proteſtations of Love, from a Man I had never ſeen before, without an inexpreſſible Shock to my Modeſty; but theſe Conſiderations ſoon gave Place to others even more deſtructive to my Peace: Lyſander was too lovely, and appear’d too deſerving, for me to repent, for any long Time, the Complaiſance I had ſhow’d him, and my greateſt Trouble was the Fear that I ſhou’d never ſee him more. I reſolv’d to ſay nothing to my Mother of what had paſs’d, believing, with Reaſon enough, that ſhe wou’d not only condemn me for Miſmanagement, but alſo take ſuch Meaſures as ſhou’d for ever deprive me of the Sight of him: Love taught me a Cunning which before I was a Stranger to; and though I burn’d with Deſire to be talking ſomething of my ador’d Lyſander, and vent ſome Part of the Overflowings of my raviſh’d Soul, yet I ſo well diſſembled, that at my Return Home I never mention’d the leaſt Syllable which cou’d give Suſpicion; and contented my ſelf, as well as I was able, with the Belief that Lyſander (who, I found by his calling me by my Name, had enquired who I was) wou’d find ſome means to ſend 23C4r23 ſend to me: Nor did that Hope deceive me. The very next Day, happening to be at a Window, I perceiv’d a Fellow walking backwards and forwards, before our Houſe; it preſently came into my Head, that there was a Probability he might be a Meſſenger from Lyſander. I obſerv’d his Motions a good while, and finding he ſtill lurk’d about, with his Eyes continually fix’d on our Door, I made a pretence to go down; and ſtanding there a little, the Man drew nearer, but with a Circumſpection which confirm’d me my Conjectures were true: No body being within hearing, I call’d to him, and ask’d him if he wanted any thing. Madam (anſwer’d he ſoftly, and pulling a Letter out of his Pocket) by the Deſcription which was given me, I believe this is deſign’d to you. It is, it is (cry’d I, as ſoon as I ſaw the Superſcription) and immediately ran in, too much tranſported to ſay any more. I got into an Arbor in the Garden, to peruſe the dear Contents, which I very well remember, and are too deeply engraven in my Mind, ever to be forgotten. To the Divine Cleomira. If the moſt adorable Cleomira wanted any Proof of the Dominion of her Charms, beſides the juſt Title they have to reign over the Souls of all Mankind, this had come to convince her of a Truth, which Yeſterday ſhe ſeem’d ſo cruelly to doubt. But you are too Divine to be ignorant of your Attributes; and, if there is any thing in you, which is not of a Piece with Heaven, it is that you are not ſufficiently ſtor’d with Mercy to look favourably on a Man who has no other Merit than his Zeal. It is with an inconceivableC4ceivable 24C4v24 ceivable Terror I look back on that Declaration, which the Force of the moſt violent Paſſion that ever was, oblig’d me to make, in ſo unpolite and unprepar’d a Manner; and tremble when I conſider how much Reaſon you have to condemn the Preſumption of this. But, if as many Years of humble faithful Services as Fate has allotted for my Life, may purchaſe a Pardon for the Sin of my Temerity, I devote them intirely to you――Henceforward rule my every Word and Action――I had almoſt ſaid my every Wiſh, but Oh! that is not in your Power, vaſt as it is! for ſhou’d you command me to ceaſe burning with impatient Deſires to obtain the Bleſſing of pleaſing you, I freely own, I cou’d not――nay, I wou’d not, in that, obey you—in ſpite, even of your ſelf I muſt for ever Love―― for ever Worſhip you!――Permit me then to owe to your Bounty, what elſe my own Obſtinacy will give me, the Title of the Moſt excellent Cleomira’s trueſt, and everlaſting Votary, Lysander.
There was a Poſtſcript (continu’d the Recluse) in which he preſs’d very ſtrenuouſly for an Anſwer, the Words of which I do not very well remember; and indeed ’twas needleſs to have troubled you with this, or many others of the like Nature; but as there are ſome of his Letters, which in the Courſe of my Story I ſhall be oblig’d to repeat, I thought it proper to let you ſee the mighty Difference ’twixt Hopeing and Poſſeſſing; to what an elevated Height the Wings of Fancy ſoar, while in Purſuit; and how low, how 25C5r25 how faint, and how drooping is their Flight, when there is nothing farther to be obtain’d. I will not pretend to tell you what my Tranſports were while I was reading; if, as you confeſs, you really know the Power of Love, your own Heart will make you comprehend what ’twas mine felt, much more than any Words cou’d do. I was almoſt diſtracted for fear the Meſſenger ſhou’d be gone, and I have no Opportunity to ſend an Anſwer; but he was better inſtructed by his Maſter; and when I open’d the Door, he preſently ſtarted out from behind a great Tree that grew before the Houſe. I made a Sign to him that he ſhou’d ſtay, and went to my Chamber to write: I durſt not allow time for Thought, leſt any Interruption ſhou’d happen, and only following the Dictates of my inconſiderate, and tranſported Paſſion, return’d an Anſwer in theſe Words.To the Noble Lysander. If Cleomira were half ſo worthy Adoration as Lyſander truly is, ſhe might, without any Difficulty, be brought to believe all you ſay to her: but, as I am ſenſible I have no other Graces than thoſe your Fancy is pleaſ’d to beſtow on me, you cannot blame me, if I am a little Diffident of the Continuance of a Paſſion ſo weakly grounded――I ſhall not, however, deſire you to deſiſt giving me any farther Teſtimonies of it; becauſe, as you ſay, while you are poſſeſs’d of it, Entreaties of that kind wou’d be altogether unavailing. I think my ſelf extremely oblig’d to you for the Caution with which your Letter was deliver’d, and if you favour me with any more, hope you will makeUſe 26C5v26 Uſe of the ſame, which will be of the greateſt Conſequence to the Peace of Cleomira. Notwithſtanding the Violence of my Paſſion, there were ſome Intervals in which I endur’d ſevere Upbraidings from my Modeſty, for engaging thus precipitately in a Love-Affair; but they laſted not long, and at every Return grew weaker than before: Lyſander’s Idea wou’d ſuffer nothing but it ſelf to have any Prevalence in my Soul; and the Glory, methought, of appearing amiable in his Eyes, was more Happineſs than all the World beſides cou’d give. The next Morning, almoſt the firſt Perſon I ſaw, was the Meſſenger again, walking as he had done the Day before; I made no doubt but he had another Billet for me, and the firſt Moment I had an Opportunity, went down to receive it: I was not deceiv’d: for as ſoon as I had open’d the Door, he ſlipt a Paper into my Hand, and retir’d to his Covert quick as Lightning. The Words of this were; To my Ador’d Cleomira. How much was I miſtaken while I believ’d it impoſſible there was a Charm more touching than your Wit and Beauty; your Goodneſs raviſhes beyond both!――the Brightneſs of your Eyes inflame the Heart――the Harmony of your Voice enchants the Ear ――but this divine Sweetneſs of your Nature diffuſes Heaven, and gives Raptures which Angels only, and the happier Man whom Cleomira favours, can be bleſs’d with!――Say, with what Words, thou wondrousAbſtract 27C6r27 Abſtract of Perfection! Thou lovelieſt――wiſeſt―― Beſt of all created Beings! ſhall I repay a Condeſcention ſo unhop’d――unmerited? To be permitted to adore you, is Ecſtaſy too great to bear in Silence!―― Oh give my impetuous Tranſports leave to vent themſelves,――let me beneath your Feet declare the mighty Senſe I have of ſo unvalued an Obligation――let, on that happy Earth you tread on, my humble Body avow the lower Proſtration of my devoted Soul, and never riſe till by ſome Arguments forcible as my Paſſion, I have convinc’d you with how much Truth, Purity, and everlaſting Zeal, I am your Slave. I have not been ſo ſparing of my Enquiries, as not to know it will be almoſt impoſſible to obtain the Bleſſing I entreat at your Houſe; but if you can think of any other where with Convenience I may be favour’d, let the ſame unequal’d Excellence of Diſpoſition, which has already done ſuch Miracles for me, incline you to let me know it by the Bearer: As alſo if you will feaſt my longing Eyes with a tranſient View from your Window, as I paſs by to-morrow Morning on Horſeback. Tho’ your Idea has never been abſent from my Soul, ſince the firſt Moment I beheld you, yet my impatient Senſe reproaches me that I have liv’d theſe two long Days, without endeavouring at leaſt a greater Proportion of Felicity, and teſtifying by all the ways I am able, how much I am the never-too- much deify’d Cleomira’s Eternally devoted and moſt paſſionate Lysander. Any body but me, wou’d have been too much alarm’d at the reading theſe Lines, to have return’d any Anſwer, unleſs it were ſuch a one as ſhould 28C6v28 ſhould have entirely taken away thoſe Hopes my former Complaiſance had inſpir’d. The Boldneſs of deſiring me to appoint a Meeting was ſo great, as all the fine things he ſaid to me cou’d not attone for; and was ſufficient to have taught me, how dangerous it was to make any Condeſcentions of this kind to a Man I had ſo little Knowledge of. To another, I ſay, this might have been a timely Warning; but alas! I was ſo blinded with my Paſſion, that I cou’d think of nothing but which way I ſhould gratify it, and without any Struggles from that Baſhfulneſs which till now had never forſook me, writ him a Reply in this Manner. To the Worthy Lysander. The Gratitude you expreſs for that, perhaps, too great Complaiſance you have found in me, is infinitely obliging: for I wou’d much rather you ſhou’d impute it to any thing, than to that Vanity, which too often, influences a Woman of my Age, to encourage Addreſſes her Heart is no way affected with; and, tho’ it may appear too free a Declaration, I am ſo little acquainted with diſguiſing the Truth, that I cannot forbear telling you, it is to your Merits alone you are indebted for the Liberty of a Correspondence, which you are pleas’d to think agreeable. Your Information, that it is impoſſible for me to receive the Honour you wou’d do me at our Houſe, has not deceiv’d you, and I muſt alſo let you know I am too ſtrictly confin’d to promiſe it at any other. I muſt therefore leave it entirely to Fortune, to procure me any farther Pleaſure in your Converſation than what your Letters afford: but in the mean time ſhall not fail 29C7r29 fail being at the Window that overlooks the Road, in the hope of ſeeing a Perſon, whoſe Regard ſhall aglways be moſt valuable to Cleomira. When I had ſent this away, I feign’d my ſelf a little indiſpoſ’d, to avoid the neceſſity of Talking; for Speech was now become a Pain, ſince I durſt not employ it in the Praiſe of my ador’d Lysander. I paſs’d the whole Day, and good part of the Night, in contemplating the Happineſs I ſhou’d enjoy next Morning: and it cou’d be call’d ſcarce Dawn when I got up, and took my Poſt at the appointed Window, whence I believe it wou’d have been impoſſible for any thing to have remov’d me. My Mother was no ſooner out of Bed than ſhe enquir’d after my Health; her Tenderneſs making her doubt the Diſorder I complain’d of was encreas’d, becauſe I had not been in her Chamber, as it was my Cuſtom every Morning, to entreat my Bleſſing: and being told where I was, came in to me, not a little ſurpris’d to find me in a Room, which, by reaſon of the great Duſt of the Highway, was very ſeldom made uſe of, and the leaſt Pleaſant of any in the Houſe. She did not fail to ask the Cauſe of my being there; and I told her, that not being very well, I hop’d ſome Benefit from the Air, which I thought blew freſher on that ſide of the Houſe, than on the other. She cou’d have no Suſpicion of the Truth, and this Excuſe paſs’d well enough. Breakfaſt being ready, ſhe ſent a Servant to call me, but I not being prevail’d on to come, ſhe order’d it ſhou’d be brought where I was. This vex’d me to the Heart, 30C7v30 Heart, for I was not willing that any body, much leſs that ſhe ſhou’d be a Witneſs of this Interview, tho’ at ſuch a Diſtance, with Lyſander. I knew ſhe had diſcerning eyes, and fear’d ſhe might diſcover more than I wiſh’d ſhe ſhou’d, in one, or both of our Faces. I refus’d to drink Tea, ſcarce ſpoke, or if I did, it was ſo peeviſhly and unmannerly, that I am amaz’d ſhe did not leave me in a Rage to indulge my ill Humour; but ſhe taking my Behaviour for the Effect of Vapours, continued to ſooth me by a thouſand endearing Expreſſions, which were wholly loſt upon me: I had no Eyes, no Ears, no Heart open for any thing but Lyſander. At length he came, and with a Mien, and Air, ſo ſoft, ſo ſweet, ſo graceful, that Painters might have copy’d an Adonis from him, fit indeed to charm the Queen of Beauty. He was dreſs’d in a ſtrait Jocky- Coat of green Velvet, richly embroider’d at the Seams with Silver, the Buttons were Brillians, neatly ſet in the Faſhion of Roſes; his Hair, which is black as Jet, was ty’d with a green Ribond, but not ſo ſtraitly, but that a thouſand little Ringlets ſtray’d o’er his lovely Cheeks, and wanton’d in the Air; a crimſon Feather in his Hat ſet off, to vaſt Advantage, the dazling Whiteneſs of his Skin! In fine, he was all over Charms ――all over glorious, and I believe it impoſſible for the moſt Inſenſible to have beheld him without adoring him――what then became of me!―― Oh God! how fruitleſs wou’d any Endeavours be to repreſent what ’twas I felt!――Tranſplanted――Raviſh’d――I wonder the violent Emotions of my Soul did not bear my Body out of the Window.――O wou’d it had been ſo, that Love 31C8r31 Love and Life might then have had an End, and ’ſcap’d the Woes which both have ſince endur’d. The great Trampling which the Horſes made (for he had four Servants in rich Liveries and gallantly mounted attending him) oblig’d my Mother to riſe from her Chair, to ſee what it was that occaſion’d it. She came to the Window the Moment that Lyſander was making me a profound Reverence: I know not how I return’d it, but doubtleſs with a Confuſion ſuitable to what I felt within, and which was but too viſible to my Mother’s Obſervation; for after he was paſs’d by, and my Eyes were purſuing him as far as I was able, ſhe rous’d me from the enchanting Dream I had been in, by pulling me by the Sleeve from the Window, and looking earneſtly in my Face, as tho’ ſhe wou’d penetrate into my Soul, bad me tell her who that Gentleman was. I know not, Madam! (anſwer’d I, with a Voice which ſufficiently diſcover’d the Inſincerity of my Words.) I am afraid, (ſaid ſhe, changing her Countenance to more Severity than ever I had ſeen her wear) you know him but too well: acquaint me therefore this Moment with the Truth, where, when, and how often you have ſeen him. I cou’d not immediately gather Courage to make any Reply to this Command; and, when I aſſur’d her, as I truly might, that I had never ſeen him, but at the Ball; ſhe was ſo far from giving Credit to what I ſaid, that ſhe flew into the greateſt Paſſion I had ever ſeen her in, and after ſhe had a little vented it in ſome Exclamations on the Follies of Love, and Diſobedience to Parents, left me alone to meditate on her Words. This 32 C8v 32 This was a dreadful Alloy to the Pleaſure I had lately enjoy’d: I perceiv’d the Secret I had taken ſo much Pains, and fancy’d my ſelf ſo artful in concealing, was by my own Inadvertency diſcover’d.――I cou’d not reflect on the Indignation of a Mother, who, bating the Reſtraint ſhe laid me under, I had reaſon to think a moſt Affectionate one, without a Concern very near Remorſe, for doing any thing to occaſion it; but when I reflected on the Injuſtice ſhe did me (for ſo my Love taught me to conſider it) in condemning my Admiration of a Perſon ſo in every way deſerving as Lyſander appear’d to be; I regretted nothing but the Power ſhe had over me, leſt ſhe ſhould exert it yet more, and deprive me of any future means of ſeeing him. I had been happy never to have been more deceiv’d than I was in my Conjecture, that ſhe wou’d take all poſſible Precaution to prevent my having any Converſation with a Perſon, whom ſhe ſo juſtly believ’d dangerous. I had not paſt many Hours in contemplating the Misfortunes I fancy’d my ſelf in, before an old Woman (formerly my Governeſs) and now a ſort of Overſeer in the Family, came into the Room, and took upon her to reprove me, in Terms I cou’d not well ſupport; on my giving her ſome tart Replies, ſhe told me, that ſhe had Orders from my Mother to confine me to my Chamber, till I had learn’d the Leſſon of Humiliation. I was forc’d to obey, and indeed was well enough contented to be any where, to avoid the hearing of ſuch Sermons. All that I thought an Affliction was, that ’twou’d be impoſſible for me to receive or anſwer any Letters from Lyſanderder, 33D1r33 der; and it was only on this Account that I paſs’d three Days of my Confinement in mortal Inquietudes: On the fourth, I ſaw the Mercury to my Jove, mounted on a little Heap of Rubbiſh that the Gardener had thrown out, and peeping over the Wall: The poor Fellow, as I ſince underſtood, had been every one of thoſe Days watching about the Houſe, but not being able to get a Sight of me, either at the Door, or Windows, he at laſt came round that way. The Appearance of this Man made me almoſt mad, till caſting in my Mind, if there were not a Poſſibility of giving him Notice of my Condition, Invention furniſh’d me with this. I open’d the Window, and thruſting my ſelf out as far I cou’d, made a Sign to him that he ſhou’d tarry a little where he was; then taking a Piece of Paper, writ in it theſe Words: Iknow who you come from, and therefore gueſs your Buſineſs.――Let your Lord know I am in the ſtricteſt Confinement imaginable on his Account――I fear it will be impoſſible for me to continue the Happineſs of a Correſpondance with him―― It will be to no purpoſe for you to ſtay, or return any more on the Deſign you are ſent on; but if you are taken Notice of, may occaſion worſe Uſage, if poſſible, than what I now endure. Cleomira. I pull’d a Lead out of the Sleeve of my Gown, and wrapping it up in this Paper, to give it Weight, made a ſhift to hurl it to the Place where he cou’d reach it. He took a Letter out of his Pocket, and held up to ſhow me, making Dſeveral 34D1v34 ſeveral Motions, by which I underſtood he was charg’d to give it me; but by ſhaking my Head, and putting my Handkerchief to my Eyes, I teſtify’d the Impoſſibility of his Attempt, and Part of the Concern I was in: I ſay but Part; for after he was gone, and I began to reflect that, indeed, I never ſhou’d be able to ſee Lyſander more, no Tongue can expreſs the Emotions of my Soul: For many Days I did nothing but weep, and that in ſo violent a manner, that the Servants whom my Mother ſent in to wait on me, apprehended I ſhou’d fall into Fits. This, when it was told her, gave ſo conſiderable an Alarm to her Tenderneſs, that it half diſſipated her Anger; and, when I leaſt expected it, ſhe order’d I ſhould come down into the Parlour, and receiving me with her uſual Affability, You have ſuffer’d enough, (ſaid ſhe) for the Imprudence of contracting an Acquaintance without my Approbation; but as I ſhall forget it, at leaſt ſo far as never to reproach you with it, ſo I wou’d have you remember it enough to make you avoid, for the future, any Faults of the like Nature. And, to convince me that there is nothing farther between you and this Gentleman than what you wou’d have me believe, you muſt reſume that Chearfulneſs which is becoming your Youth, and the little Cauſe you yet have met with to be otherwiſe. My Heart was too full to ſuffer me to make any other Reply to theſe Words than a low Curtſy; but when I had gather’d Courage enough to ſpeak, I endeavour’d to aſſure her, that my Melancholy proceeded from no other Cauſe, than being on a ſudden depriv’d of all thoſe Diverſions I had ever been accuſtom’d to: 35D2r35 to: But that, ſince it was her Pleaſure, I wou’d uſe my utmoſt Efforts to make it eaſy to me. She ſeem’d ſatisfy’d with what I ſaid; and, perhaps, believing ſhe had been a little too ſevere, from that Time took me abroad with her whereever ſhe went; ſhe carry’d me to viſit ſeveral Relations, and a great many Acquaintance whoſe Society I formerly took Delight in: But, alas! this now cou’d afford no Comfort to my bleeding heart; it rather encreas’d than diminiſh’d the Anguiſh of my ſecret Diſcontent; and ſince I cou’d not ſee Lysander, I cou’d have been better pleas’d to have ſeen no body. There was no Poſſibility of conveying a Letter to him, I knew not where to direct, or if I had, notwithſtanding the Privileges my Mother now allow’d me, ſhe ſcarce ever truſted me out of her Sight. Thus for two Months did I languiſh out my Nights in fruitleſs Wiſhes, and my Days in the moſt tormenting (of all) Employments, that of being oblig’d to wear a ſeeming Gaiety, when all my Soul was full of Horror and Diſtraction. In this Time a new Family came into the Neighbourhood, they ſoon made an Acquaintance with ours, and my Mother was ſo well pleas’d with the good Breeding and Gravity of the Maſter and Miſtreſs of it, that ſhe enter’d into an Intimacy with them much ſooner than was her Cuſtom to do with any body. They viſited frequently at our Houſe, and my Mother always made me accompany her to return them, though much againſt my Inclination, for, as I have already told you, my own Thoughts, unquiet as they were, gave me more Satisfaction than any Company’s but Lyſander cou’d beſtow. D2Both 36D2v36 Both the Man and the Woman ſeem’d wonderfully charm’d with me, took all Occaſions of complimenting me, and Mrs. Marvir (for that was the Name they were call’d by) wou’d often endeavour to engage me in particular converſations, which I, as carefully as I cou’d without being rude, avoided: Till one Day, ſhe began a little kind of Raillery on my affecting a Demureneſs in my Behaviour, which, ſhe ſaid, ſhe was ſure was not in my Nature: My Mother, who was willing to take all Opportunities of perſwading me to Chearfulneſs, join’d with her in this Aſſertion, and between ’em both I was pretty much put to it (ſo inwardly perplex’d as I was) to make any Defence, which, by the Aukwardneſs of it, wou’d not diſcover that I had, indeed, ſomething at my Heart which clouded the Gaiety of my Looks. I am afraid (ſaid Mrs. Marvir to my Mother) that your Daughter is in Love: I warrant if we ſhou’d ſearch her Chamber, we ſhou’d find a Number of amorous Books, and Epiſtles of the ſame Nature. I never had that Curioſity (reply’d my Mother) but I hope ſhe would receive none of the latter without my Knowledge, and I have taken Care to inſtill ſuch Principles in her Mind as will not let her be over fond of the other. Will you give me leave to hunt? (reſum’d ſhe laughing.) Yes, with all my Heart (anſwer’d I, glad to put an End to this Diſcourſe.) I waited on her up Stairs, where after ſhe had a little look’d about her, and prais’d the Pleaſantneſs of the Chamber, having a full Proſpect of the Garden, I told you (ſaid ſhe) that I would find ſomething here more tender than you would have the World be ſenſible of. I 37D3r37 I dare ſwear (continued ſhe, taking a Letter from my Toilet, and giving it to me) the Contents of this may juſtly be call’d Amorous. I had no ſooner caſt my Eyes on the Direction, than I knew the Hand to be Lyſander’s: The Conſternation I was in may be more eaſily imagin’d than expreſs’d: I had not Power to break the Seal, but continued looking ſometimes on her, ſometimes on the Table, and ſometimes on the Letter, as wondring by what means it had been convey’d there. Ceaſe your Surprize (reſum’d ſhe) It was no other who laid the Letter on your Toilet than ſhe who took it off, and deliver’d it to your Hand, and ſhe who you need make no Scruple to confide in, ſince your Lyſander, your adoring, dying Lyſander, has thought me worthy of the Truſt of bearing you his Soul, his Vows, and everlaſting Faith. I will make ſome Excuſe (continued ſhe) for leaving you above, that you may have Time both to read this and return an Anſwer, which I have engag’d to bring him. I cou’d not get leave from my Aſtoniſhment to make any Reply to what ſhe ſaid, but when ſhe was gone had my Senſes enough about me to lock the Door, and then fed my impatient and tranſported Wiſhes with theſe Lines. To my Soul’s only Treaſure, the adorable Cleomira. How eaſily might be ſpar’d the Stings――the Scorpions――the never-dying Fires, and all the fancy’d Tortures which Prieſts invent to ride the frighted World, if any of thoſe Soul-enſlavers knew D3what 38D3v38 what it was to love like me! Abſence from Cleomira is a Hell which all their labour’d Policy wants Skill to paint――Within my burning Breaſt ten thouſand real Furies rage, and tear me with Variety of Anguiſh――Mad with Deſire, and wing’d with daring Hopes, ſometimes I cou’d tear down the envious Walls, and baffle all Impediments which hold you from me――Sometimes, deſpairing, chill’d with deadly Horror, I fancy you regardleſs of my Woe, and eaſy under this Reſtraint――One Moment imagine I ſee a favour’d Rival bask in your Smiles! gaze on your Eyes in happy tranquil Tranſport! and kiſs that Hand, which but to touch I wou’d forego my Life―― The next, diſtracted, think I behold you dragg’d by a cruel Mother to ſome deteſted Choice your Soul abhors; then ſoften into more than Female Tenderneſs, and weep for you and for my ſelf.――Oh Cleomira! All the Names of Miſery! of Woe! of Anguiſh inſupportable, are poor to what, indeed, my Soul endures for you――My Paſſion, and my Pains, are, like your Charms, unutterable! and only can be felt.――This Age of Abſence has been ſpent in nothing but Contrivances to ſhorten it, till theſe good People, whoſe Fidelity you may rely on, were ſo fortunate to get into your Acquaintance――O then, thou deareſt! brighteſt! lovelieſt of thy Sex! indulge the fond Deſign, and let them not be leſs regarded by you, now you know they are the Inſtruments by which you muſt receive the Teſtimonies of a Paſſion too ſublime to be inſpir’d by any but your divine Self, and which can be felt, in ſo high a Degree, by none but Your eternally devoted Lysander. I need 39 D4r 39 I need not tell you the Raptures of my overjoy’d Soul at reading this Letter; my Anſwer to it will ſufficiently inform you, that I had no Conſideration but of the Ecſtaſy it produc’d. To the moſt excellent Lysander. You paint the Woes of Love in ſo extravagant a Manner, that one had need be more than ordinarily ſenſible of that Paſſion, to be able to give any Credit to a Deſcription ſo far beyond what is commonly conceiv’d of it. I am afraid Lyſander is too well acquainted with his Perfections not to know the Effects they muſt produce, and but feigns to feel what he alone is capable of inſpiring: Were I really poſſeſt of as many Charms as your all-powerful Wit wou’d dreſs me up in, you have a thouſand Opportunities of diverting your Thoughts; Buſineſs――Variety of Objects――and gay Converſation, make your Hours ſlide away in vaſtly different Entertainments―― while I, of much the ſofter Sex, and conſequently ſuſceptible of a deeper Impreſſion, have nothing to do but to indulge a Paſſion, which in the beginning ſeems delectable――The Dawn, indeed, promiſes ten thouſand future Joys――what the Meridian will be, is wholly in your Faith and Honour to be prov’d―― But, I have ſo implicite a Dependance on both, that I will make no Scruple to confeſs the Tranſport of hearing from you again, is more than Recompence for all thoſe Inquietudes you have ſo perfectly repreſented in yours, and which I hope will be no more the Portion of Your Cleomira. D4 When 40 D4v 40 When I had finiſh’d this I went down to the Company, and ſoon found an Opportunity, unperceiv’d, to ſlip it into Mrs. Marvir’s Hand. Scarce a Day paſs’d after this without my receiving a Letter, either through hers or her Husband’s means. I will not trouble you with the Repetition of them, being of no great Conſequence to my Story, and wou’d draw it into a Length too tedious for your Patience: By thoſe you have heard, you may gueſs the Purport of the reſt; ſo ſhall only tell you, that every one of his grew more preſſing for an Engagement of my Affection, and mine ſtill more complying. I paſs’d my Time contentedly enough, though not ſo happily as I wiſh’d. The continual Aſſurances he gave me of his Paſſion, and the Hopes that through theſe Peoples means I ſhou’d ſoon enjoy the Bleſſing of his Preſence, were Cordials ſufficient to keep a Love leſs ardent than mine alive. And, indeed, I had no great Exerciſe for my Patience: Lyſander was too eager, and his Agents too induſtrious, to permit me to grow cool in my Deſires, or imagine him to be ſo. One Evening, my Mother and I, being invited to ſup at Marvir’s Houſe, while he engag’d her in a ſerious Diſcourſe, his Wife took me into the Garden: The Tranſports of my beating Heart inform’d me to what End I was brought there, before ſhe had Time to tell me that Lyſander waited my Approach in the Arbor. But, when I came near enough to ſee him, no Confuſion ſure was ever equal to mine!――The Reflection that this was but the third Time I had ſeen him――but the ſecond in which I had an Opportunity to ſpeak to him――the Condeſcentions of my 41D5r41 my Letters――and that which I now gave of meeting him, came all at once into my Head, and I was ready to ſink with Shame. But never did any Votary approach the Image of the Saint he worſhipp’d with more Humility and aweful Reverence than Lyſander me! He fell at my Feet,――embrac’d my Knees, and kiſs’d my Hands with ſuch a tender Tranſport――ſuch an enchanting Mixture of Delight and Fear, as one wou’d think no falſe Love cou’d feign, and was impoſſible to behold unmov’d: My Spirits were in too violent an Agitation to ſuffer me to raiſe him from the Poſture he was in, till gaining Confidence to do it himſelf, and interpreting my Diſorders in his Favour, he took me in his Arms, all bluſhing――trembling, and incapable of Defence, and laying his Head upon my panting Boſom, ſeem’d to breath out all his Soul in fervent Tenderneſs. He held me thus ſome Moments before I knew what I was doing; and when, at laſt, I ſtruggled to get free, it was ſo faintly, that he might eaſily perceive the Liberties he had taken were not unpardonable: I look’d for Mrs. Marvir, deſigning to upbraid her for the Boldneſs her Gueſt had been guilty of; but ſhe was gone, and the Reproaches I made him were ſuch as did not diſcourage him from a Repetition of his Crime. In ſhort, all the Time of our being together (which I believe was above an Hour) was paſt in nothing but offending and forgiving: I found by my ſelf that Love is a Paſſion that diſdains Reſtraint, and thought it unjuſt to be angry at almoſt any thing the Force of it might Influence him to commit. To go about to tell you what he ſaid――in what Mannerner 42D5v42 ner he look’d――and with what Graces every thing he did, and ſpoke were accompanyed, would be to wrong him; for no Words, no Accents, no Motions but his own, can give you any juſt Idea of his Perfections.――Never was any ſo form’d to Charm, and to Betray――never was ſuch foul Deceit, Hypocriſy, and Villany, couch’d in ſuch ſeeming Sweetneſs, Softneſs, and Sincerity.――Heaven! with what a counterfeited Vehemence has he exclaim’d againſt the Inconſtancy of his Sex!――With what an appearance of Sanctity and Truth, has he invok’d the Saints and Angels to be a Witneſs of his Vows! when, laviſh of them, he has a thouſand ――thouſand times proteſted, that Cleomira ſhou’d ever be more dear to him than Life! Oh record ’em, all ye bleſſed Spirits! and in the laſt great Day, when I alone can hope for Juſtice, bring ’em in dreadful Teſtimony againſt him, and force his black, his leprous Soul to own Conviction!
Here the Remembrances of ſome Paſſages made this unhappy Lady wholly unable to proſecute her Diſcourſe; and all that Belinda cou’d ſay to mitigate the Rage of Temper ſhe was rais’d to, prov’d of no Effect, till a Shower of new returning Tears in part allay’d the Tempeſt: When ſhe was a little come to her ſelf, After this (reſum’d ſhe) I had many Opportunities, by Mrs. Marvir’s Contrivance, of indulging my fond Wiſhes in Lyſander’s Preſence: and ſo zealous was he in making me believe the Paſſion he pretended was ſincere, that in thoſe Days, when there was no other way to ſee me, he wou’d come diſguis’d, and walk before the Houſe till I 43D6r43 I had taken Notice of him; then by ſome Motion diſcover who he was, and tell me by his Eyes, a thouſand tender Things, nor ſtir from the Place till by my withdrawing my ſelf he knew it was improper he ſhou’d ſtay any longer. I cannot but ſay, fierce as my Paſſion was before, this uncommon Aſſiduity of his made a vaſt Addition to it, and I thought it the greateſt Hardſhip in the World, that I cou’d not have the Freedom of converſing with him, without all this Difficulty on both ſides. Mrs. Marvir, who kept continual Watch over my Humour, took this Advantage of my Diſcontent, and whenever we were alone endeavour’d to heighten it; She was always repreſenting the Injuſtice my Mother did me, in debarring me from all thoſe Liberties young Ladies in this Kingdom are permitted to enjoy; and made uſe of all her Cunning to convince me, that thoſe Reſtrictions were laid upon me, only to wean me by degrees from the Pleaſures of the World; that I might be the more willing to accept of a Husband, who, ſhe told me, my Mother had provided for me. By what I can gueſs from her Diſcourſe (ſaid ſhe) you are to be married to a Country Gentleman, and that in ſo ſhort time as will amaze you. She ſpoke this in ſuch a Manner, as gave me no Suſpicion of the Truth; and recollecting how much my Mother had labour’d to perſuade me into a good Opinion of a Country Life, was aſſur’d in my Mind that ſhe had really ſome body in View, to whom ſhe deſign’d to ſacrifice me: and ’tis impoſſible to repreſent the Perplexity this Belief involv’d me in. If any ſuch thing happen, Madam (ſaid I) how ſhou’d I avoid it? I 44D6v44 I know not (anſwer’d this wicked Woman, having brought me to the Point ſhe aim’d at) unleſs by chuſing a Guardian, you entirely diveſt your Mother of the Power of diſpoſing of you. She ſaid no more at this time, becauſe my Mother happen’d to come into the Room; but whenever they had an Opportunity, it was with ſuch like Speeches both ſhe and her Husband entertain’d me; till at laſt, the Fears of what they had infus’d into my Imagination――the Hopes of enjoying my belov’d Liberty, and my infinitely more belov’d Lyſander’s Company uncontroll’d, made me reſolve to do as they advis’d. I cou’d think of no Perſon ſo proper for me to make Choice of for a Guardian as Marvir himſelf. It was not very difficult to perſuade him to it, (it being the only thing he wanted) tho’ at firſt he ſeem’d averſe. Every thing being concluded on, one Morning, before my Mother was out of Bed, I left her Houſe, and went to Marvir’s, whence immediately I took Coach with him for London; and by electing him according to Law, put it out of her Power to oblige me to return. Her Behaviour, on the firſt Knowledge of what I had done, was all Diſtraction; ſhe fell into Fits, rav’d, came to Marvir’s Houſe, and without any Regard to that Decorum ſhe was us’d ſo ſtrictly to obſerve, loudly exclaim’d againſt their Treachery, and my Ingratitude and Diſobedience: I had not Aſſurance to appear before her, and they (having gain’d their End) cou’d endure the Brunt of her Upbraidings: In a few Days we remov’d to London, and I was out of the Fear of meeting her: But her Tenderneſs ſoon getting the better of her Indignation, ſhe ſent a Letter to me, 45D7r45 me, full of Perſuaſions in the moſt endearing Terms to return to her again. I had the Courage to write to her, tho’ I had not to ſee her, and return’d an Anſwer of Excuſes for the Meaſures I had taken; but told her it was wholly owing to that unreaſonable Reſtraint ſhe had laid me under――that I abandon’d her, only in Purſuit of that innocent Liberty, which all Perſons of my Age were deſirous of enjoying; and that I never wou’d make Uſe of it to the Diſadvantage of my Reputation, or the Diſhonour of my Family: And that in all material Affairs of Life, tho’ I had choſe a Guardian, I would do nothing without conſulting Her. This was far from being any Satisfaction to her; ſhe writ me ſeveral Letters, ſometime entreating, ſometimes commanding and threatning, and engag’d all thoſe Relations, who were near enough to Intereſt themſelves in my Behaviour, to come and talk to me: But the People I was with took care I ſhould be ſeen by none of them; alledging, as a proof of their Love to me, that they would not have me teaz’d with any Solicitations of that Nature. I was very well ſatisfy’d with their Proceedings; I ſaw Lyſander every Day, and while I liſten’d to his Vows, ſhou’d not have been pleas’d with an Interruption of any kind. That Ardent, yet Reſpectful Paſſion which appear’d in all his Words and Actions, was to me a Heaven, which nothing elſe cou’d give. I had not, for ſome time, any Reaſon to ſuſpect he had the leaſt diſhonourable Thought; for tho’ the little Power I had of diſguiſing my Sentiments, had made me guilty of many imprudent Actions, and embolden’d him to the taking greater Freedoms, than 46D7v46 than otherwiſe he wou’d have dar’d to have attempted, yet he offer’d nothing which juſtly cou’d be call’d offenſive to Virtue; till one Night――Oh ever be accurſt that Night――that Hour――that damn’d undoing Minute, when all good Angels ſlept, and left to Feinds the Fate of Cleomira! I had undreſs’d, and thrown my ſelf on the Bed, reſtleſs, and uneaſy that Lyſander had not been to viſit me that Day, for it was now become an inconſolable Affliction to me to paſs four and twenty Hours without ſeeing him; I was ſo bury’d in Thought, that I heard not the Tread of any body coming into my Chamber, ’till I ſaw a Man ſtand cloſe by me: It was about ten a Clock, at that time of the Year when there is ſcarce any Darkneſs, and, willing to indulge Contemplation, I had not call’d for Candles, and cou’d not preſently diſcern who was there; but not ſuſpecting it any other than Mr. Marvir (who might be come to call me to Supper) without removing from the Poſture I was in, ask’d careleſly what he wanted. He muſt be a very ill Judge of Happineſs (anſwer’d he) that cou’d form a Wiſh beyond the Treaſure which this Bed contains. Theſe Words, and the Accent of his Voice, always dear and charming to my Ears, ſoon told me it was Lyſander, and oblig’d me to endeavour to riſe; but he had thrown himſelf down by me while he was ſpeaking, and ſeizing both my Hands, and gently forcing them to circle his Waſte, join’d his Lips to mine with too ſtrenuous a Preſſure, to ſuffer me to reproach the Liberties he took――What cou’d I do, ſurpris’d in this unguarded Moment?――full of Deſires and tender Languiſhments before, his glowinging 47D8r47 ing Touch now diſſolv’d my very Soul, and melted every Thought to ſoft Complyance――in ſhort, I ſuffer’d――or rather let me ſay I cou’d not reſiſt his proceeding from one Freedom to another, till there was nothing left for him to ask, or me to grant. The guilty Tranſport paſt, a thouſand Apprehenſions all at once invaded me; Remorſe and Shame ſupply’d the Place of Ecſtaſy――Tears fill’d my Eyes――cold Tremblings ſeiz’d my Limbs――and my Breaſt heav’d no more with Joy but with Horror.――Too ſure Preſages of that future Woe, which this black Hour brought forth. ――It was not in the lovely Undoer’s Power, dear as he was, to make me ſatisfied with what I had done, and the whole time he ſtay’d with me, which was beſt part of the Night, I utter’d nothing but Reproaches: the next Day, and many following ones, I entertain’d him in no other Manners; and it was ſome Weeks before all his Wit, his Tenderneſs and ſeeming Truth, cou’d make me hope I had not done a Deed, I ſhou’d all my Life, have Occaſion to repent. But what is it a Woman may not in time be perſuaded to, by the Man ſhe loves! He behav’d himſelf in ſuch a Manner, ſo kind, ſo ſoft, ſo raviſhingly tender, reſpectful and engaging――made ſo many ſolemn Proteſtations of eternal Faith, and imprecated ſuch unheard-of Curſes on his Falſehood, if ever he ſhou’d give me Cauſe to tax him with it, that one wou’d think indeed the moſt harden’d Villain cou’d not thus have dar’d to dreſs his Perjuries in ſuch a Form of Sanctity!――How cou’d I then, who lov’d him, diſbelieve him?――No, it was not in Nature――it was not in Reaſon, that, after what he had ſworn, I cou’d be doubtfulful 48D8v48 ful of his Sincerity, or Honour; and I muſt have conſider’d him as monſtrouſly unworthy of my Love, before I cou’d think there was a Poſſibility he ſhou’d ever ceaſe to Love me. Thus, was I, at laſt, raiſ’d to the higheſt Pinacle of humane Felicity! an Aſſurance of the real and everlaſting Tenderneſs of the Man who took up all my Wiſhes: But when I thought my ſelf moſt happy――moſt ſecure, I was on a ſudden thrown from all my Height of Tranſport, to the loweſt State of Miſery and Deſpair. Ever ſince my being at Marvir’s Houſe, I had not paſs’d one Day without ſeeing Lyſander; and the firſt Abſence, which was about a Week, fill’d me with moſt terrible Suſpicions: I did not fail to acquaint him with ’em by Letters, which he anſwer’d with the ſame Fondneſs he had accuſtom’d me to, and made Excuſes, for not viſiting me in that time, which ſeem’d plauſible enough: When next I ſaw him, nothing ſeem’d more endearing――nothing more Ardent than he ſeem’d to be, yet he pretended ſome Buſineſs, and ſtay’d not with me ſo long as he was wont. After he was gone, happening to caſt my Eyes on the Ground, I ſaw a Paper lying, which I, imagining it might be dropt by him, haſtily took up; part of it had been torn off, and what remain’d was ſo blotted that I could ſcarce read it; I diſcover’d, however, that it was a moſt paſſionate Declaration of Love to ſome Woman, but who, I was altogether a Stranger, for there was no Name―― You may believe (my dear Belinda) this was enough to give a Heart ſo truly tender as mine, a moſt terrible Alarm! I laid it up carefully, deſigning to ſhew it him when he ſhou’d come next 49E1r49 next Day, as he had promis’d he wou’d; but alas! I expected him many ſucceeding ones, in vain! ’till growing quite out of Patience, I writ to him according to the Dictates of my Jealouſy and Diſcontent: This indeed engag’d a Viſit from him; and after he had again made ſome ſlight Pretences for his Abſence, began to railly me, with ſo much Artifice, for the Imagination I had form’d of his being in Love in another Place, that I was weak enough, on his ſwearing it was ſo, to believe the Letter I had found was only a foul Copy of one he intended to ſend to me, in that time when he had not an Opportunity of ſeeing me; and was pretty well ſatisfy’d as to his Conſtancy: But tho’ I aſſur’d him, my whole Dependance on the Truth of what he ſaid hung on the proof of his viſiting me as uſual, and he ſeem’d willing I ſhou’d judge his Truth by that Teſtimony, yet I ſaw him not again in another Week. Now the Miſt my good Opinion of him had caſt before my Eyes began to wear off, and Reaſon, unobſcured by Paſſion, ſhew’d me how truly wretched I had made my ſelf,――but what did it avail? My Fame, my Virtue, and my Peace of Mind were loſt, no more to be retriev’d: Penetration was but the Mirror which ſhew’d me my Deformity, but cou’d direct me to no Means which cou’d reſtore thoſe Beauties, which Guilt and Shame had utterly defac’d. From ſeeing me every Day, he had already fallen to once a Week; ſoon he came but once a Fortnight; afterwards a Month; and that too was to be accounted a Favour.――Soft as I am by Nature, and made more ſo by Love, this Uſage turn’d me all to Indignation: I rav’d upbraided,Ebraided 50E1v50 braided, threaten’d, ſaid I know not what, and ſometimes was reſolv’d to revenge my Injuries by his Death: but, alas! he grew not leſs lovely, for his being leſs faithful; and whatever I determin’d againſt him in his Abſence, was in his Preſence all diſſolv’d. ’Tis true, he never came without renewing his former Proteſtations of eternal Faith, and coin’d each Time ſome new-invented Oath to aſſure me he was ſtill the ſame. He ſeem’d to mourn the Neceſſity of being ſo often abſent, with a Tenderneſs equal to that I truly felt; but as perfect a Maſter as he was in the Art of feigning, I was too well acquainted with the Force of Love, not to know that where it is ſincere, no Obſtacles wou’d be able to impede the Gratification of it: and one Day, when he had been telling me a tedious Tale of Buſineſs, and Hurry of Affairs, and I know not what, which had prevented his coming, I cou’d not reſtrain the Violence of my juſt Reſentment; Ungrateful Man! (ſaid I) when watchful for my Ruin, no Buſineſs had the Power to hold you; all Day, and every Day, each flying Minute was Witneſs of your Vows――but now,―― now, when I have given up all my Soul――am loſt to all the World but you; I may alone, unpity’d, mourn my Fate, and curſe the Fondneſs that betray’d me to your Scorn.――He wou’d not ſuffer me to go on long in this Strain, but taking me in his Arms, and tenderly embracing me, Unjuſt and cruel Charmer! (interrupted he) if I cou’d be capable of the Coldneſs, the Perfidy you reproach me with, I cou’d not ſure have Courage to appear before you.――Nor cou’d you, if you really believ’d me Guilty, with that dear, that Angel Look behold me.――No,’tis 51E2r51 ’tis the height of Paſſion only makes you talk thus; as ſuch I take it; and tho’ I grieve to ſee you rend your gentle Breaſt with cauſeleſs Agonies, yet I conſider it with a kind of Tranſport, ſince it aſſures me I am indeed more valuable to you, than any Merit but my Truth can give me Title to. Oh the Diſſembler! with what an Air of Tenderneſs did he utter theſe and a thouſand the like Expreſſions, and with what inexpreſſible Endearments were they accompany’d?――Enrag’d and Stormy as I was before, my Soul, now all becalm’d again, Believ’d――and was again Deceiv’d.――In this Manner did I continue for a conſiderable Time, ſometimes hopeing――ſometimes deſpairing――but never certain or confirm’d of any thing――all Horror in his Abſence――all Ecſtaſy in his Preſence――the Buſineſs he pretended, which was Attendance at Court, where he daily expected Preferment, was feaſible enough; but then I thought it impoſſible that no Hour, no Moment in a Week, or in ſo many Weeks, cou’d not be ſpar’d――in fine, my Brain was in a perpetual Whirl――Reflection, toſt in wild Uncertainty, became disjoynted quite; and tho’ I was always Muſing, yet I was often without the Power of Thinking――all my Days were ſpent in doubtful Expectation, and my Nights in Tears, and heart-rending Agonies too terrible for Deſcription――and if ſometimes Nature o’er-weary’d ſunk into a Slumber, it cou’d not be call’d Reſt; for even then, my ever- wakeful Fancy hurry’d my Spirits with confus’d Idea’s in tormenting Dreams――Lyſander’s Image was never from my Sight, and always he appear’d unkind, and far unlike the Dear――the Soul-enſlavingE2ſlaving 52E2v52 ſlaving Lover he had been, and ſtill wou’d feign. To add to my Affliction, I was with Child, and every Motion of the unborn Innocent encreas’d at once my Tenderneſs and Grief――’Tis not in Thought to form any juſt Notion of what I felt――All Paſſions but Hatred took their turn to perſecute me; and ſure, had not Heaven reſerv’d me for an Example of its Power in lengthning Woe to a degree beyond what cou’d be imagin’d, I cou’d not have ſurviv’d the Torments of an Hour. On his firſt declining to viſit me, I writ often to him; but of late had deſiſted from giving him that Trouble, becauſe he had told me, his Father, whoſe Hands they might poſſibly fall into, wou’d have Curioſity enough to open them: Whether this was Reality, or whether he ſaid ſo only to ſpare himſelf the Pain of Counterfeiting a Tenderneſs, any oftner than he was oblig’d to, in my Preſence, I know not, but I had that implicite Obedience to his Will in every thing, that I very ſeldom put it to the Venture. But, one Day, after ſilently enduring an Abſence of five Weeks, I was no longer able to reſtrain the impatient Struggles of my Soul, and ſent him theſe Lines.To my too dear Lysander. Pardon me, if, convuls’d and torn with Pangs too dreadful for Expreſſion, the Anguiſh of my Soul, in ſpite of me, breaks forth into Complainings――Am I for ever to live this Life of curſt Uncertainty?―― Is there a Neceſſity your Actions muſt always contradict your Words?――Oh! be once ſincere, and tell me which I muſt believe――There was a Time when with a thouſand Vows you ſwore, that Abſence was the 53E3r53 the ſevereſt Tryal a Lover cou’d go through――yet now you bear it――bear it with Eaſe――with Unconcern!――and can I then ſtill hope you Love?――O Heav’n! it is not, cannot be――by your own Arguments you ſtand convicted, and I endeavour to deceive my ſelf in vain――Heart-rending Thought!―― I long have held you True――believ’d your Oaths with ſuch a Faith as what we pay to the divine Myſteries of Salvation; and ’tis difficult――’tis wondrous to think you can be falſe!――What then muſt be the Proof? Madneſs!――Confuſion!―― Everlaſting Woe!――Horror without a Name!―― Save――ſave me from it! Diſſemble yet a little longer; my Fears will quickly ſend me to my Grave, let not Deſpair weigh down my ſinking Soul as well as Body――If I no longer have the Power to pleaſe you, let the Remembrance of thoſe happy Moments in which I had, engage, at leaſt, your Gratitude―― If not your Love, bleſs me with your Friendſhip―― Pity me; if, no more; for, my Lyſander, ſure I merit that――The Thoughts of you anticipate my earlieſt Prayers, and ſtill continue for my Evening Theme―― How often, when all have ſlept, and nothing but the Stars and ſilent Moon were conſcious of my Watchings, have I pour’d out the Anguiſh of my bleeding Heart, and to thoſe dumb and unavailing Witneſſes vented the wild Extravagance of my Paſſion, rather than wound your Ears with the unwelcome Tale! ’Tis harder to accuſe you than to die――Yet, while I have Breath, ’twill all be ſpent in Wailings, if you are ſtill cruel enough to ſuffer me to linger in a Condition which juſtly gives me the Title of The moſt Injur’d, and moſt Miſerable,Cleomira. E3 At 54 E3v 54 At the return of my Meſſenger, I receiv’d an Anſwer which you will ſcarce believe cou’d be writ by the ſame Hand, or dictated by the ſame Heart from which thoſe you have already heard proceeded. To the lovely Cleomira. Your Sexes Souls are of ſuch narrow Space, that the leaſt Paſſion ſwells them even to burſting: I wou’d have the Woman I admire endeavour to enlarge her Genius, and find room for other Views than Love――Not but I think my ſelf infinitely oblig’d to yours, and ſhall never ceaſe the Profeſſions of mine.――I will ſee you in a few Days, and, if poſſible, convince you that I am Your moſt Faithful Lysander. One wou’d think I needed no other Proof than the Stile and the Shortneſs of this Billet, to inform me, that I was indeed as wretched as I cou’d be; but ſpite of Reaſon, I muſt join in his Barbarity, and be my own Tormentor――my Soul, too curious, wou’d ſearch deeper ſtill, though ſure to find what wou’d but more diſtract me: The Fellow whom I employ’d to carry my Letter, told me, that not finding Lyſander at home, he was directed to the Place where he was, and deliver’d it to him in the Preſence of a young Lady, whom he was leading to a Chariot; and that as ſoon as he had writ the Anſwer they went out together. This was enough to give my already juſtly ſuſpecting Heart a jealous Curioſity, and 55E4r55 and I immediately diſpatch’d him again to find out, if poſſible, who the Lady was. He was ſo ſucceſsful in his Enquiry, that he brought me Word that her name was Meliſſa, and that Lyſander was frequently with her――That they had been ſeen together at the Play, at the Ring, in the Mall, and ſeveral other publick Places: If I was before alarm’d, what now became of me, at this Information? I had formerly had an Acquaintance with this Woman, and knew her Temper to be the moſt intreaguing upon Earth; and though from a very mean Fortune, and worſe Character, a Gentleman of a good Eſtate had rais’d her to an envy’d State of Grandeur, ſhe had neither Gratitude nor Conduct ſufficient to prevent her from coquetting with every Man that thought her worth taking Notice of: Nay, ſhe was ſo notoriouſly Imprudent, I may ſay Shameleſs, that ſhe ſought all Opportunities of diſhonouring her Husband, and cou’d not hear of a Man fam’d for any Perfection, without deſiring to engage him; ſhe wou’d write to the moſt abſolute Strangers, and her being often repuls’d by thoſe whoſe Diſcretion made them deſpiſe her, did not diſcourage her from attempting others: This is (Belinda) the true Character of this vile Woman; and the Reflection, that a Creature ſo every way undeſerving ſhou’d rob me of his Heart, rouz’d that little Pride, which all Women have ſome ſhare of, to a Diſdain, which, not able to overcome my more ſuperior Softneſs, gave me Diſorders which cannot be expreſs’d. Since I am to be abandon’d (ſaid I to my ſelf) I ought to be pleas’d that he has abandon’d me for a Creature whom none will envy him the E4Poſ- 56E4v56 Poſſeſſion of――One, who is not of a Humour to regard any one farther than the Reputation of being admir’d by him――One, to whom all Men are alike, and, as charming as he is, will not fail to ſacrifice him to the next that makes his Addreſſes to her. And yet, who knows (cry’d I again) but this unfaithful――this inconſtant Creature may engage him longer than I, with all my Truth and Tenderneſs, cou’d do――She has Arts to which my Innocence is a Stranger, and will, no doubt, make uſe of them all to ſecure a Conqueſt ſo much to the Advantage of her Glory. In this manner did I torment my ſelf; and though I thought nothing cou’d add to what I felt before, yet now I found that to be neglected for another was a Sting more terrible than the Neglect it ſelf. Once I believ’d that the Death of Lyſander wou’d be the extreameſt of all Woes, but now I wiſh’d him dead rather than in the Poſſeſſion of a Rival. When next I ſaw my Traitor, I utter’d all that my Rage and Jealouſy ſuggeſted; but, with his uſual Artifice, he appear’d unmov’d: And when I upbraided him with the Leiſure he had to wait on others, when he had none for me, he ſwore, that being an intimate Acquaintance of her Husband’s, and meeting them by Accident, at a Place where he had Buſineſs, was deſir’d by him to conduct her where ſhe was going, which Piece of Gallantry, he ſaid, he cou’d not handſomely refuſe: To give the more Credit to this, he ſeem’d to diſlike her Perſon――ridicul’d her Humour――and laugh’d ſo heartily at my being capable of any Uneaſineſs on her Account, that I was half perſwaded to believe him. I had not, however, 57E5r57 however, ſo entire a Dependance on his Truth, but that I employ’d (unknown to Marvir’s People, who I found were his Creatures) the ſame Man, who had brought me the firſt Intelligence, to watch him wherever he went, reſolving to be ſatisfy’d one way or other. Alas! I fancy’d that if I cou’d be once throughly aſſur’d of his Perfidiouſneſs, I ſhou’d be able to tear him from my Soul, at leaſt extirpate all the Tenderneſs I had for him; but, how little did I know my ſelf? When by the Diligence of my Spy, I found out that he viſited her often――was with her even at thoſe very Times when he pretended the utmoſt Regret that he cou’d not be with me――Nay, diſcover’d that they had private Meetings, and by all Circumſtances was convinc’d, not only that ſhe was a Rival infinitely more belov’d than I, but alſo that ſhe was in Poſſeſſion of all thoſe Joys, which to obtain, I had forfeited my Innocence, my Honour, and my Peace of Mind for ever,―― in ſpite, I ſay, of all theſe Proofs――theſe ſtabbing Proofs of his Ingratitude, I cou’d not――did not love him leſs: I reproach’d him, indeed, and endeavour’d to make him think my Reſentment had extinguiſh’d my Tenderneſs; but he ſtill deny’d each particular of my Accuſation, and, at laſt, ſeem’d angry that I diſtruſted his Sincerity: Till I, mean-ſpirited Wretch! was forc’d to appear ſatisfy’d with what he ſaid, leaſt by perſiſting to alledge what, I found, he was determin’d never to confeſs, I ſhou’d provoke him never to ſee me more: And when I conſulted my fond doating Heart, found I cou’d better bear to ſhare him with another, than have no Intereſt in him at all: But what I ſuffer’d in ſuch a Submiſſion may 58 E5v 58 may perhaps be gueſs’d, but never deſcrib’d. It was now my Woes fell thick upon me, my Pregnancy began now to diſcover it ſelf to all who ſaw me; and Marvir and his Wife, who had all this Time counterfeited an Ignorance of what had paſs’d between me and Lyſander, ſeem’d prodigiouſly uneaſy at it, pretended a Concern for the Reputation of their Houſe, us’d me in a Manner which I little expected from them of all the World, and told me plainly that I muſt not continue with them any longer: But if I wou’d go into the Country till I was deliver’d of my Burthen, they wou’d enquire for a Place where I might be in private. I complain’d to Lyſander of their Unkindneſs, but receiv’d very little Conſolation from him: He only told me he was ſorry they ſhou’d behave otherwiſe to me than I had Reaſon to expect, but that he believ’d they meant well, and that he cou’d not help joining with them in the Opinion it was beſt for me to go into the Country. My Concern for leaving a Place which contain’d all I valu’d in the World, and the cool Tranquility with which he advis’d me to baniſh my ſelf from him, were new Stabs to my already bleeding Heart; but I had now been a good while accuſtom’d to receive Wounds of that nature, and my Spirits were too much depreſs’d with a continual Weight of Sorrow, to be able to exert themſelves to reſent almoſt any Uſage. Beſides, what cou’d I do? helpleſs as I was! I had no Friend to whom I durſt make Application, and muſt be oblig’d, in the Condition I was, to do whatever thoſe in whoſe Power I had put my ſelf wou’d have me. They were ſo eager for my Departure, that a Place was ſoon found 59E6r59 found for me to go to: And in a few Days I took Leave of that Town, and that Perſon, for whoſe ſake I had renounced every Thing that ought to have been dear to me. Lyſander had indeed the Complaiſance to accompany me a few Miles on Horſeback, and perceiving me ready to die with Grief, made a thouſand Promiſes of coming down to viſit me in a ſhort Time; tho’ I had no Reaſon, from his late Behaviour, to hope he wou’d do as he ſaid, yet this ſeeming Kindneſs a little reviv’d me, and I went through my Journey with more Fortitude than I imagin’d I cou’d. As ſoon as I arriv’d at the Place deſtin’d for my Abode, I writ to him, reminding him of the Promiſe he had made, and conjuring him, by every tender Plea I cou’d invent, to make it good; but I receiv’d no Anſwer. Always willing to excuſe him as far as I was able, I fancy’d my Letter had by ſome Accident miſcarry’d, and ſent another, but to as little Purpoſe as before―― Then I grew wild with Grief, and was ready in ſome ungovernable Sallies of Paſſion to lay violent Hands on my own Life――I reſolv’d, at laſt, if poſſible, to extort an Anſwer from him, and prevail’d on a Countryman, for a good Gratification, to ride to Town on purpoſe to deliver a Letter into his own Hands, and charg’d him not to return without ſome Token he had ſeen him. The Contents of what I writ were theſe. To my Inhumane and Unrelenting Charmer. Is it then poſſible that Lyſander, the proteſting Lyſander, can from all Angel change to a very Fiend? For only they delight in the Perdition they occa- 60E6v60 occaſion――Have you with your Love thrown off all Pity too and Complaiſance, that you vouchſafe not to condole, at leaſt, the Ruins you have made?―― Oh moſt Ingrateful! Cruel! Barbarous of all that ever was call’d Man!――What have I done that can deſerve ſuch Uſage?――Is it becauſe I have forſook the Ties of Duty, Intereſt, Honour,――given up my Innocence,――my Peace, and everlaſting Hopes, that you deſpiſe me?――Monſter! For whom have I done this?――Can you reflect it was for you, and your whole Soul not melt in Tenderneſs, and ſoft Compaſſion?――Yes, yes, you can!――Wretch that I am!――I have caſt away all that cou’d make me truly Valuable, and now am juſtly ſubjected to your Scorn――But though I live unworthy of your Love, my Death muſt ſurely give you ſome Concern――at leaſt the Manner of it, when you ſhall know it was for you I died――That my laſt Breath form’d nothing but your Name,――and in the extreameſt Agonies of my departing Soul, lamented more your Cruelty than all that dreadful Separation cou’d inflict――Oh do not, therefore, trifle with a Paſſion, which if the Strength of Reaſon in your Sex keeps you from being too deeply touch’d with, is too impetuous for the Weakneſs of mine to reſiſt; and who can tell how far the Torrent may tranſport me―― Hiſtory is not without Millions of Examples of Women who have dar’d to die, when Life became a Burthen; and ſure, if any e’er cou’d juſtify Self-murder, the wretched Cleomira may――None ever lov’d―― none ever deſpair’d like me, or had ſo juſt a Cauſe for both――The Means of Death are always eaſy to be obtain’d, and I am this Moment hurried to that Rage of Temper, that I know not how long I ſhall be able to refrain the Uſe of it――O then be quick! and ſave my Soul the Guilt of Murder, and yourown 61E7r61 own the Pangs of never-ending Remorſe, which, when too late to remedy, you’ll feel――Yes, forgotten and abandon’d as I am, when I am dead, my Ghoſt will be before you ever, haunt all your Dreams――poiſon your Pleaſures, and diſtract Reflection――Then, though I want a Voice, my Wrongs will ſpeak, and rouze your ſleeping Conſcience to Remembrance of your Vows――Your broken damning Vows!――Heaven! That Heaven whoſe Bleſſing you have renounc’d, whoſe Curſes you have imprecated, if ever you prov’d falſe, will then exert the Power of ſwifteſt Vengeance, and Penitence be vain to waſh away your Guilt, or call me back to Life―― For me, I have nought to fear; I feel already all the Pains of Hell, nor can another World torment me worſe than this has done――Horror and Madneſs overtake me――I know not what I ſay, and to my other Crimes am ready to add Blaſphemy――cou’d curſe Heaven, and Earth, and Man――wiſh to behold the World in Flames!――the Univerſe diſſolv’d――For all, all are Foes to wretched Cleomira!――Oh eaſe me――pity me――write to me―― ſee me! If not for mine, yet for the Sake of the Dear yet unborn――the tender Pledge of our once mutual Love――Think how the frighted Innocent ſtarts at its Mother’s Anguiſh, and is a ſad Partaker of all the Sufferings you inflict on me――I will, if poſſible, ſupport the galling Load of Life till the return of my Meſſenger, but in your Anſwer is the Fate of The undone Cleomira. All the Horror and Diſtraction which I endeavour’d to repreſent in this Letter was infinitely ſhort 62E7v62 ſhort of what I truly felt. I had ſo little Hope of Comfort from him it was ſent to, that all the Time of the Fellow’s being gone I had one continu’d Agony, with the Apprehenſion that at his Return I ſhou’d be the more aſcertain’d of Lyſander’ s Cruelty; and had his Stay been long, I believe it wou’d have been impoſſible for me to have ſupported it with Life: But the poor Man’s Speed out-run my Expectations, eager as they were, and though it was near fifty Miles to London, he diſpatch’d his Buſineſs, and came back in two Days, as ſoon as he ſaw me, he put a Teſtimony of his Succeſs in the Buſineſs I employ’d him in, and trembling between Hope and Fear, I found in it theſe Words. To the unkind Cleomira. The Diſcovery you make of your cauſeleſs Uneaſineſs gives me an infinite Concern: I had writ to you before, but that I waited to hear firſt from you, which, by all that is ſacred, I never have done till now: And if you have ſent, as your Meſſenger informs me you have, your Letters have miſcarry’d. Be aſſur’d that I am ſtill the ſame I ever was, and if any Part of that Rapidity which in the Days of Courtſhip I profeſs’d, be now abated, it is ſufficiently made up by an Encreaſe of Tenderneſs―― I beg, for the ſake of that dear Infant you mention, and for mine who ſuffer with you in the Knowledge of your Griefs, that you will entirely baniſh them, as Enemies as well to Reaſon as to Happineſs. I hope the hurry of my Affairs will ſhortly have an End, and I ſhall enjoy the boundleſs Pleaſure of ſeeing you again, till when, I hope you will be ſatisfy’dfy’d 63E8r63 fy’d with this Aſſurance, join’d to the innumerable others I have given you, that I am Yours for ever, Lysander. You will certainly believe I was not in my Senſes, when I ſhall tell you, that theſe few, and indeed but ill-diſſembled Lines of Kindneſs, drove from my Boſom all the Anxiety that had poſſeſt it: I thought of nothing now but Joy and Rapture; and in ſpite of all the Reaſons Lyſander had given me, accus’d my ſelf of Injuſtice for writing to him in the manner I did; and to make Reparation for the Reproaches of my laſt, dictated another according to the Tranſport I now was in――I ought to bluſh at the Memory of ſo ſhameful a Weakneſs, but as I have promis’d you a faithful Relation of my Story, will omit nothing that may give you a juſt Notion of my Folly, or his Perfidiouſneſs and Ingratitude. The Lines I writ were theſe. To my ador’d Lysander. To make you able to conceive the Ecſtaſy with which I read your dear obliging Letter, I muſt be able to inſpire you with that Sublimity of Paſſion, which Charms like your own have on the Power of doing. But think! Lyſander! think what a Soul muſt feel, rais’d from the loweſt Hell of Miſery to the higheſt Heaven of Felicity!――Oh! If I may Credit thoſe endearing Lines, I have all that Fate can give――If, did I ſay? I muſt‐I will―― Ly- 64E8v64 Lyſander is all Honour, and he a thouſand Times has ſworn himſelf my everlaſting Votary――How have I wrong’d you then?――Divineſt of your Sex!―― But you muſt pardon me――I love――am abſent―― am unworthy――and in ſuch a Circumſtance, Patience were a Virtue out of Seaſon――O therefore, let it not be too long before you bleſs me with your Preſence, leſt I again relapſe!――again be wretched―― Haſte to my Arms, while Hopes are quick within me,――while vigorous Tranſport ſparkles in my Eyes, and my Soul glows with pleaſing Expectation――Let not the Fervor of my Joy abate, till in your Arms I have nothing left to wiſh, and, I indeed, can ſay thou art all mine, as I am thine! My for ever dear Lyſander! Thine in the moſt paſſionate and tender Manner, Cleomira. After this, I liv’d for ſome Time in more Tranquility than I had known for many Months: And, though it was paſt my doubt that he had intreagued with Meliſſa, yet believing it but a tranſient Amour, of which he was now grown weary, found it no Difficulty to pardon him: And this renewing of his Tenderneſs to me, made me aſſure my ſelf, it wou’d be in the Power of no Woman, hereafter, to engage him ſo far as to render him forgetful of what he owed to me: But, alas! this Peace of Mind was not of any long Continuance; eight or nine Days being elapſ’d, without my receiving any Letter from him, I ſtill thought he was on coming, and the Hopes of ſeeing him made full amends for the not 65F1r65 not hearing from him; but after that, my Fears again return’d, and I grew reſtleſs as before. I conſtantly walked out every Evening into a Field that overlook’d the Road, my Expectations of meeting him not having quite forſook me. One of the Times when I was thus employ’d, I encountred a Perſon whoſe Sight gave me as much Surprize, as the News ſhe brought me did Affliction. It was my Nurſe, an honeſt faithful Creature, who hearing I had left London, enquir’d at Marvir’s Houſe where I was gone; but receiving no Satiſfaction from them, by diligently asking among the Neighbours, heard by one, who by ſome Accident had learn’d it, that I was at * * * *; and ſo, by deſcribing me to the Stage- Coachman, diſcover’d what Part of the County I was carry’d to; and had travell’d down on purpoſe to acquaint me, that my Mother lay at the point of Death――That it was believ’d her Grief for my Behaviour had been the Cauſe of her Illneſs――That all ſhe ſeem’d to lament was the Misfortunes ſhe fear’d wou’d fall upon me―― and wiſh’d for nothing but to ſee me before ſhe died. This ſad Account, given me by the poor Woman in the moſt moving Circumſtances, ſtruck me to the very Soul――I now began to conſider whom it was I had abandon’d, and for whom! And the more I reflected on Lyſander’s Ingratitude, the more Ingrateful did I appear my ſelf!―― To be the Occaſion of a Parent’s Death――a Parent who had always moſt tenderly lov’d me, and from whom I never had been abſent (till the Time of my utterly forſaking her) two Days together in my Life, fill’d me with ſo juſt a Horror, that I know not if it wou’d have been even Fin 66F1v66 in Lyſander’s Power to have conſol’d me. How gladly wou’d I now have return’d to her, and implor’d her Pardon for my Errors――endeavour’d to give her Comfort, and never leave her more; but, alas! the Condition I was in deterr’d me from the Execution of theſe pious Wiſhes; I cou’d entertain no Thoughts of appearing before her till I was deliver’d of that Witneſs of my Shame; nor cou’d the poor Woman perſwade me to it; ſhe rightly judg’d, that to ſee me, as I then was, wou’d rather be an Encreaſe of her Affliction, than any Mitigation of it, and told me ſhe wou’d return without ſaying ſhe had ſeen me, ſince there was no Excuſe to be made for my not coming to London, but that which had better remain untold. The Concern which I perceiv’d in the Countenance of this faithful Creature, and the mannerly Freedom which ſhe took in expreſſing her Grief for the Misfortunes I had brought on my ſelf and Family, oblig’d me to give her the whole Hiſtory of my Affairs ſince the fatal Choice I made of Marvir for my Guardian, and withal conjur’d her to make all poſſible Enquiry into Lyſander’s Character and Behaviour, and to give me a faithful Account of what ſhe cou’d diſcover. But it ſeems ſhe had never learn’d to write, and I was unwilling the Secret ſhou’d be truſted to any other Hand, therefore deſir’d ſhe wou’d treaſure it up in her Memory till I came to Town, which I reſolv’d to do as ſoon as I was brought to Bed. I did not think it proper to carry her to the Houſe where I was, but giving her ſomething to refreſh herſelf in her Journey back, took my leave of her, who parted from me with Tears in her Eyes, 67F2r67 Eyes, and all the Marks of an undiſſembled Grief; The more I ruminated on the ſad Relation ſhe had made me, the deeper Impreſſion it made in my Soul; and that, joyn’d to Lyſander’s Unkindneſs, who in ſpite of his Promiſe neither came nor ſent to me, threw me into a Condition which is not to be conceiv’d. The Horrors of my Mind had ſuch an Influence over my Body, that it was impoſſible I ſhou’d be able to bring a living Child into the World; my Youth, however, and the natural goodneſs of my Conſtitution, brought me through that dangerous State in which thoſe who find moſt Eaſe, have little reaſon to be aſſur’d of Life――I was ſafely deliver’d of a Boy, but alas! the Grief-kill’d Infant never ſaw the Light, and I knew nothing what it was to be a Mother, but the Pains. It was certainly only my Impatience to be gone from a Place where I cou’d hear nothing of Lyſander, which made me willing to uſe any means proper for the Recovery of my Strength: but the Hopes of ſeeing him, and knowing from his own Mouth my Doom, invigorated my drooping Spirits, and enabled me to endure Life, rather than dye in the terrible Uncertainty I then was in. I found I was in a little more than a Month’s time in a Condition to travel, and was too eager to delay a Moment. I wou’d not go to Marvir’s Houſe; I was aſſur’d I ſhou’d hear nothing there, but what they were order’d by Lyſander to tell me; and the late Unkindneſs they had ſhew’d me, made me reſolve never to live with ’em again: but as ſoon as I got to London, went directly to my Nurſe’s; where I had the mournful Account of my dear Mother’s Death, F2told 68F2v68 told in ſo tender and moving a Manner, that I too was ready to expire at hearing it. When the firſt hurry of my Grief, for ſo great and irretrievable a Loſs was over, I began to queſtion her about Lyſander: She told me ſhe had neglected nothing that might be conducive to my Peace, but that all ſhe had been able to learn concerning him, was that he had lately an Intrigue with Meliſſa; that by their ill Conduct it had been diſcover’d to her Husband, who, as a juſt Reward for her Infidelity, entire caſt her off; that ſhe was now reduc’d to the ſame wretched Circumſtances this injur’d Gentleman had took her from; that Lyſander had little Regard to the Miſeries he had contributed to bring her to, and ſhe was become one of the moſt expos’d and unpitied Women in the World. I confeſs, I was ungenerous enough to find ſome little Conſolation in the Knowledge of my Rival’s Misfortunes; not but, as much Reaſon as I had to hate her, for being the firſt Occaſion of eſtranging the Affection of Lyſander from me, I ſhou’d have highly diſcommended him for his Neglect of her, in her Affliction, had it fallen on her only through her Love to him; but as I knew her Inclination to be ſo amorous (to give it no worſe a Name) that it had influenc’d her to commit numerous Faults of the like Nature, and even without the leaſt Temptation, I look’d on her as unworthy Commiſeration.――But to leave her to all the Miſeries which attend a common Proſtitution, I reſolv’d to know how I now ſtood in Lyſander’s Opinion; I writ to him, acquainting him that I was come to Town, and deſiring to ſee him. When I had done that, I began 69F3r69 began to conſider my Affairs as to my Money. I thought it unſafe to be lodg’d any longer in Marvir’s Hands, and employ’d one to bring him to an Account; but that Villain had made ſuch Bills, and manag’d every thing ſo much to his own Advantage, that of my three thouſand Pounds, I found I had not much more than fifteen hundred remaining. The Perſon who I had engag’d in this Buſineſs knew very well what my Father left me, and perſuaded me to have recourſe to Law. But the other knew himſelf ſecure enough as to that Point; and when it was hinted to him, he writ me a Letter to tell me, that if I inſiſted to bring him to any publick Account for the Mony he had laid out, he cou’d eaſily prove it had been expended only for my Uſe, and bid me conſider that in the Condition I had been, there was Occaſion for more than a trifling Sum, to bribe thoſe to Secrecy, who were oblig’d to be entruſted with the Knowledge of it. This was enough to let me ſee, if I attempted any thing againſt him, he wou’d expoſe me in the moſt ſhameful Manner he cou’d; I was glad, therefore, to accept what little I cou’d get, without daring to moleſt him for the reſt. But I will not (my dear Belinda) detain your Attention with any Particulars of this, which (in Compariſon with my others) I look’d on as a trifling Vexation. Above a Week was paſt ſince I ſent to Lyſander, and he had not yet anſwer’d my Letter: I was very well aſſur’d he had receiv’d it; and tho’ I had little Hopes of the Continuance of his Affection, I expected from his Complaiſance ſome ſort of an Excuſe for the Inhumanity he had been guilty of; my AmazementF3ment 70F3v70 ment at this unlook’d-for Slight was almoſt equal to my Grief: I now indeed felt more Reſentment than I had ever been capable of before. Never to come to me, nor write after ſo long an Abſence, and all I had ſuffer’d on his Account, cou’d make me conſider him no otherwiſe, than as the vileſt, and moſt juſtly to be abhorr’d of all his Sex. And ſince I had no other way to revenge, reſolv’d to uſe my Pen to him in ſuch a Manner as ſhou’d let him know I was no leſs inſenſible of his Indignities, than I had been of his Love; but before I did ſo, an Accident happen’d to give me a freſh Theme for my Reproaches. Going thro’ the Strand one Day in a Chair, it was ſuddenly ſtop’d by a Footman, who told me his Lady deſir’d to ſpeak with me, and entreated I wou’d come into her Chariot: Neither the Livery nor the Wearer of it were Strangers to me, and I knew he belong’d to a Lady, who when I frequented the Court was one of my greateſt Intimates, and I immediately diſcharg’d my Chair, and did as he deſir’d. Nothing cou’d receive me with greater Demonſtrations of Kindneſs than Semanthe, (for ſo I ſhall call her) and after ſhe had gently upbraided me with breach of Friendſhip, for not letting her know where I had been all the time of my abſconding, began to ask me a thouſand Queſtions about my Affairs: But mine was a Story very improper to be related to her, who, tho’ I knew ſhe had a great deal of Good-nature, was not of a Temper to have approv’d my Proceedings; and therefore I turn’d the Diſcourſe, as ſoon as I cou’d, into an enquiry after her Affairs, which ſhe very ingenuouſly inform’d me of, little ſuſpecting the Effect 71F4r71 Effect of what ſhe told me. I am (ſaid ſhe) very near changing my Condition; but the Perſon who has prevail’d on me to do it is ſo truly deſerving, that without a Bluſh I may confeſs, that the ſooner I yield to his Deſires, the ſooner I make my ſelf the happieſt of my Sex. Ah Madam! (cry’d I, interrupting her) take Care how you depend on the Sincerity of Mankind; it requires more Experience than you or I are Miſtreſſes of, to form any juſt Judgment of their Deſerts. It is no wonder that you talk ſo (reply’d ſhe) ſince I have not yet told you the Name of my Charmer; but when I have, I doubt not but you will acknowledge, as all the World who know him do, that every Perfection that Heaven can adorn a Mortal with, are center’d in my Admir’d―― Oh God! who was it, but my Lyſander that ſhe nam’d!――Lightning cou’d not have blaſted me more than this one Word, and I believe the moſt artful of all my Sex, cou’d not in ſuch a Circumſtance have diſſembled her Confuſion; but the Shock was too mighty for my Weakneſs to ſuſtain, and wholly depriv’d of Speech, I fell againſt the ſide of the Chariot, ſenſeleſs, and in all Appearance dead, and came not to my ſelf till I was brought to Semanthe’s Lodgings: The firſt thing I ſaw when I open’d my Eyes was her, buſily employ’d in helping her Maids to uſe Means for my Recovery. The Sight of her, and the Remembrance of what ſhe had told me, threw me again into Convulſions, which laſted for ſome Time; and when, at laſt, I had gather’d Power to ſpeak, it was in ſuch a faſhion, ſo wild, and ſo confus’d, that the Standers-by believ’d I was taken with a ſudden fit of Frenzy. I deſir’d a Chair F4might 72F4v72 might be call’d to carry me Home; and making ſome ſort of an Apology, I know not what, for the Trouble I had given, took leave of my happy Rival. My poor Nurſe (for I had been at her Houſe ever ſince I came to Town) was terribly alarm’d at the Condition ſhe beheld me in, and, when I repeated the Occaſion of it, joyn’d with me in the moſt bitter Curſes we cou’d both invent on the Perfidiouſneſs of Mankind: I remain’d for ſome time in mortal Agonies, unable to determine on any thing: Sometimes I was for returning to Semanthe, to acquaint her with Lyſander’s Engagements to me, and implore her to forbear any farther Invaſion on a Right I had ſo dearly purchas’d――Sometimes I was for going to Lyſander’s Houſe, and by publickly reproaching him with his Vows, deter him from the Breach of them――but Modeſty rejected both theſe Reſolutions as ſoon as form’d; and by my Nurſe’s Perſuaſion (who fear’d that proceeding to any Violence would be altogether un-availing, and only ſerve to expoſe me more) I contented my ſelf with uttering the Fury I was poſſeſs’d of in a Letter; which tho’ incoherent and diſtracted as my Mind, I believe you will not think it too ſevere for the Occaſion. To the Inconſtant, Ungenerous, and Perfidious Lysander. Ihave ſo long been accuſtom’d to Indignities from you, that had I not in Poſſeſſion your Letters, thoſe Witneſſes of your well diſſembled Tenderneſs, I ſhou’d believe I had been enchanted with ſome delightful Dream, and that there never was any ſuch thing in 73F5r73 in Reality, as that Lyſander cou’d take the Pains to make me believe he lov’d me, ſince for no other Cauſe, than returning the Paſſion he pretended, he now can uſe me with a Brutality as unexampled as my own Meanneſs of Spirit, which has hitherto ſuffer’d me to ſit down tamely with my Wrongs, and not endeavour, at leaſt, a ſuitable Revenge――Poyſons and Daggers are the Upbraidings you ſhould receive from me. ――Yet I, fond Wretch! have ſtill ſubjected my very Will to yours, wrung my own Hands, while you have wrung my Heart――And when a thouſand times, with more than Devil-like Cruelty, you’ve conjur’d up all that was raging in me, with my own Tears I have appeas’d that Tempeſt, which only Blood――your deareſt Blood ſhou’d have had Power to quell.――Not one Particular of your Baſeneſs is unknown to me――Cold――cold Betrayer!――Dark deſigning Villain! Your Neglect, your Abſence, your Silence all ſprung from but one Cauſe, that curſed Mutability of Temper, which damns half your Sex, as fond Belief and Tenderneſs does ours――I was not Ignorant of your Intrigue with Meliſſa, even from the Beginning, to the guilty Rapture which concluded it――Yet I was patient, and but to Heaven accus’d you of Perfidiouſneſs――Fool that I was, I hop’d my Truth, my Conſtancy, and Softneſs, in Time, might make a Convert of you――But now, now that I find you are for ever loſt; that Marriage is about to give another that Title, which alone is due to me, by your own Vows, and by all thoſe Sufferings I have bought it with――Now, I grow, indeed, like you, a very Feind! and methinks cou’d ſmile at Miſchief ――Yes, if you can――if your dare attempt to make Semanthe yours; may the Prieſt, about to joyn you, be ſtruck Speechleſs――May Earthquakes ſhake the Ground 74F5v74 Ground――The Temple’s Roof uncloſe――Thunder and darting Lightnings proclaim Heaven’s juſt Abhorrence of your Mockery of the ſacred Ceremony, and mark the Bridegroom for a vile Prophaner!―― But, Oh! ſhou’d all the Curſes which my Injuries deſerve, and jealous Fury can invent, fall on you―― ſhou’d Judgments terrifie, or even Pity for me, diſſwade you from her Arms, what wou’d it avail?―― Cou’d it afford one grain of Comfort to my tormented Soul?――No.――Since you’re mine no more, no matter whoſe――Your Heart is loſt, for ever loſt to me; and when compar’d with that, your Body is a Trifle. ――Go on then――purſue the Dictates of your changing Nature, be proud of Perjury, and wanton in Deceit. A Time will come, when Remorſe will be ſufficiently my Avenger.――For me, I ſhall not long endure the Pain of Thought; Madneſs, or Death, will eaſe me of Reflection; but while I have Life or Senſe to know how very wretched you have made me, be kind enough, at leaſt, to feign Compaſſion for the Woes you give: And lay the blame of your Inconſtancy on Fate――the unavoidable Impulſe of your Nature―― or any thing which may make me think you pity me; for ſince, in ſpite of all you have done, I ſtill muſt Love you; I wou’d fain imagine you poſſeſt of ſome one good Quality, to juſtifie my Paſſion――Oh God! I can no more――Farewel, dear, cruel Deſtroyer of my Soul, and Ruin of the Everlaſting Peace of The moſt wretched Cleomira. In about four or five Days after I ſent, I receiv’d and Anſwer, which I think proper to repeat, that you may ſee there is nothing of Rude or Baſe impoſſible 75F6r75 impoſſible for a Man to do, when once a Woman, by forfeiting her Honour, has put it in his Power to uſe her as he pleaſes. To Cleomira. I Receiv’d your Letter with ſome Surprize, but with none of that Tenderneſs you ſeem to aim at inſpiring, or what really has poſſeſs’d my Soul at reading ſome of your former ones; nor can you blame my Change of Humour, ſince your own Extravagance has been the Cauſe: Believe me, Cleomira! whatever in our Days of Courtſhip we profeſs, the Exceſs of any Paſſion is ridiculous to a Man of Senſe; and Love, of all others, more excites our Mirth, than our Pity――That fooliſh Fondneſs, with which your Sex ſo much abounds, is before Enjoyment charming, becauſe it gives us an Aſſurance of obtaining all we ask; but afterwards ’tis cloying, tireſome, and in time grows odious――Had your Paſſion, at leaſt the Show of it, been leſs Violent, mine might have had a longer Continuance; and as there is nothing more unnatural, than that a Woman ſhou’d expect a Man can be in Love with her always, the beſt way to retain his Complaiſance is, not to take notice of his Alteration, or oblige him, by a troubleſome Importunity, to explain himſelf in the Manner I now am forc’d to do to you: I confeſs indeed, that I am going to be marry’d to a Lady, whoſe Diſcretion will, I hope, prevent any of thoſe Diſcontents and Jealouſies, which firſt made my Amour with you grow uneaſie: That I once lov’d you, I ſhall ever acknowledge, and deſire you wou’d be as juſt in aſſuring your ſelf, that your own Miſmanagement was the Cauſe I wou’d do ſo no longer. The little Storms of Fury which appearpear 76F6v76 pear in your Letter, are too frequently met with in Stories, to be wonder’d at, and are of as little Conſequence to move me, to either Fear, or Pity, as your proclaiming the Occaſion wou’d be to the Diſadvantage of my Reputation; but if you can reſolve to confine your Paſſion within the Bounds of Prudence, tho’ you loſe a Lover, you ſhall always find a Friend in Lysander. I am very apt, indeed, to believe that Lyſander in this ſpoke the Senſe of all his Sex; and one wou’d think that ſuch an Eclairciſſement was enough to have cur’d me of all Paſſions, but Diſdain and Hate――Nothing ſure was ever ſo inſulting, ſo impudent, ſo barbarous; yet was my Soul, and all its Faculties, ſo truly his, that tho’ at the firſt Reading I reſolv’d not to think of him but with Deteſtation, I relaps’d immediately, and inſtead of wiſhing I had never ſeen him, found a ſecret Pleaſure, even in the midſt of Agony, in the Reflection that he had lov’d me once: And, if at any time a ſtart of juſt Reſentment, rouz’d it ſelf within me, when I wou’d give it vent in Curſes, a Power ſuperior to Rage arreſted the flying Breath, and chang’d it into Bleſſings. I ſtill lov’d him with ſuch an Adoration, that I cou’d not bring my ſelf to think that any thing he cou’d do was wrong, and began indeed to lay the Blame of my Misfortune on my own want of Merit to engage the Continuance of his Affection, rather than on any Vice in him; and it was with all the Difficulty in the World, I forbore writing to him again, to tell him ſo.――Was ever any Infatuation――was ever any Madneſs equal 77F7r77 equal to mine!――Oh God! the bare Remembrance of it makes me contemn my ſelf, and acknowledge, that a Creature ſo meanly Soul’d deſerv’d no better Fate.
The poor Recluse for ſome Moments was able to proceed no farther; a thouſand mingled Paſſions now ſtruggled in her labouring Breaſt, with too much Vehemence to be ſuppreſt; and throwing her ſelf down on the Couch ſhe ſat on, began again to pour out the Anguiſh of her Soul, in a Torrent of Tears. Tho’ Belinda cou’d not forbear ſimpathizing with her, yet finding that her Griefs were indeed paſt Remedy, thought nothing ſhe cou’d ſay wou’d any way avail to her Conſolation; and only bore her Company in this Dumb Scene of Sorrow: But the Recluse had too much Complaiſance and Good-nature, to be able to endure the Influence ſhe perceiv’d her Afflictions had over the tender Diſpoſition of the other, and compoſing her ſelf as well as ſhe cou’d, continu’d her Diſcourſe in this Maner.
If (ſaid ſhe) I cou’d have found Words of Force ſufficient to have vented any of thoſe various Paſſions which tormented me, my afflicted Soul, perhaps, might have receiv’d ſome little Intervals of Eaſe; but there were none to expreſs a Condition ſuch as mine!――To love to the higheſt degree of Tenderneſs, what I ought to have abhorr’d,――To adore what I knew deſerv’d my utmoſt Scorn,――To have bury’d Hope, and wild Deſire ſurvive,――To have Shame, Remorſe, and all the Vultures of conſcious Guilt, gnaw on my aking Thought,――To wiſh for Madneſs, and yet Senſe remain, was Miſery! was Horror, 78F7v78 Horror, ſure, without a Name! A thouſand Times in a Day I was about to put an End to Life and all its Weight of Anguiſh: Nor was it Reaſon or Religion, but meerly the Conſideration that Death wou’d take from me all Power of hearing what became of Lyſander, that preſerv’d me.Thus did I live, if ſuch a State can be call’d Life, till the Day of Lyſdander’s Marriage; but when I heard that, imagine you behold a Wretch in the moſt raging Fit of Lunacy, and it may give you ſome Idea, though but a faint one, of what I then appear’d! I tore my Cloaths, my Face, my Hair, threw my ſelf on the Floor, beat my Breaſt, made the Houſe ring with ecchoing Shrieks and Lamentations, and was ſcarce reſtrain’d by my Nurſe from running in this manner to the Church where the Ceremony was perform’d; and it was but when I had no longer Strength to rage, that partly by Force, and partly by Perſwaſion, ſhe got me into Bed: The Violence of my Agitations threw me into a Feaver; but though I wou’d take nothing but what I was compell’d to, and committed Extravagancies in this Illneſs enough to have kill’d twenty of much a ſtronger Conſtitution than my ſelf, yet I cou’d not die: In ſpite of the Malignity of the Diſtemper, in ſpite even of my ſelf, I recover’d. But not all the bodily Indiſpoſition I had endur’d, had been able to weaken the Paſſions of my Soul; I ſtill lov’d, and ſtill deſpair’d――My Thoughts were always with Lyſander, and purſu’d him every where, even to the bridal Bed, that Grave where all my Hopes were buried. My Nurſe’s Houſe happening, unluckily, to ſtand in a Street 79F8r79 Streety pretty near that in which Lyſander liv’d, as ſoon as I had Strength to walk about my Chamber, I had the Mortification from my Window to behold him and Semanthe, now his Wife, paſs by in their Chariot, almoſt every Day: You may believe this Sight gave no ſmall Addition to the Horrors of my Deſpair; but I will not pretend to repeat what it was I felt, whenever theſe grating Objects met my Eyes; it ſhall ſuffice to ſay ’twas more than I cou’d bear, and I reſolv’d to rid my ſelf of what I then endur’d, without any Apprehenſions of what Futurity might give. Death was my determin’d Care, but in what manner I ſhou’d apply it was now my only Study; and, after a long Debate in my Mind, Poiſon was the Means I fix’d on, as being not only the moſt decent, but alſo the moſt private Way I cou’d perform this Deed of Deſperation; for I was unwilling the World ſhou’d be ſenſible of what I had done, and when I was no more, preſerve my Shame ſtill flagrant with thoſe ſcurril Ditties, which Actions of the Kind I was about to do, are always Themes for. I took Care to conceal my Intentions from my Nurſe; and that ſhe might be the leſs watchful over me, began to counterfeit a Chearfulneſs, which Heaven knows was far diſtant from my Heart. The poor Woman was overjoy’d to find me, as ſhe thought, ſo much more eaſy than I had been, and I went out one Day, unſuſpected, to procure the fatal Drugs: I had recourſe to an Apothecary who had been us’d to make up Medicines for our Family, and becauſe I knew how ſcrupulous People of that Profeſſion are oblig’d to be, I told him, I had a little favourite Dog which by ſome Accidentwas 80F8v80 was run mad, and have made Uſe of a thouſand Experiments for a Cure for him in vain, and not enduring to have him deſtroy’d any other way, I wou’d have ſomething to give him, to put an End to his Miſery in the moſt gentle manner I cou’d; ſomething of a ſleeping Potion, I ſaid, which by degrees ſhou’d ſeize upon the Seats of Life, and give a ſure, but eaſy Death. The Man look’d on me with a good deal of Surprize, and, as I thought, more Penetration than I deſir’d he ſhou’d have; but, after a little Pauſe, went about mixing the Compoſition: I was very well pleas’d to think I had ſo artfully deceiv’d him, and came home with the Phyſick, which I deſign’d ſhou’d make a perfect Cure of all my Miſeries. As I was going to drink it, I began to think I cou’d not leave the World in Peace without a Farewel to my unjuſt, but ſtill too dear Lyſander; and taking up ſome Paper, writ to him theſe Lines. To the dear Ruiner of my Soul and Body. As my Paſſion for you was built on a more laſting Foundation than that of your’s to me, ſo not all your Cruelty can have Power to ſhake it: I muſt be yours, though you ceaſe to deſire I ſhou’d be ſo; and ſince I cannot hope, nay, now you are anothers, dare not wiſh any future Teſtimonies of my Affection ſhou’d be pleaſing, I take the only means to rid you of the Trouble: A Draught of Poiſon ſtands before me, and the Moment I conclude this Letter, I take my Journey to that World from whence there is no Return――What will be my Portion there I know not; but am ſure of this, that if departed Souls have any 81G1r81 any Intelligence of what’s acted here, your Pity for my Fate will mitigate the ſharpeſt Torments. A tender Sigh ſometimes, not even my Rival wou’d deny; and perhaps, a Time may come, when you ſhall own I merited much more: I do not, however, wiſh you ſhou’d be touch’d too deeply with Remorſe――You are too dear to me, for me to deſire to give you Pain―― Remember me, if you can, with ſome little Softneſs―― Make not my Sufferings the Subject of your Ridicule, nor ſeem pleas’d if you hear others do ſo; and whenever my want of Beauty, Wit, or any other Charm, riſes as an Evidence againſt me, let my exalted Tenderneſs ſtill ballance that Deficiency; and reflect, that as I have liv’d, ſo now I die, my dear, dear Lyſander! Only your’s, Cleomira. I kept my Word, indeed; for as ſoon as I had ſeal’d this up, I drank the Ingredients I had brought home with me――I drank it without the leaſt Alarm, or any of thoſe Apprehenſions which ſo terrify the Minds of moſt People at the Approach of Death, ſo much had Deſpair hardned my Heart, and ſtupify’d my Reaſon. In above an Hour, either the Draught itſelf, or the Force of my Imagination that it muſt be ſo, operated ſo ſtrongly through my Veins, that I grew exceeding ſick; and fearing the Effects wou’d come before I had ſettled thoſe Affairs I had in my Head, I call’d haſtily for my good old Nurſe. It was almoſt Midnight, and ſhe was in Bed, and believing I had been ſo too, was not a little frighted when ſhe came into my Chamber, and found me dreſs’d as I had been all Day, and with Gſome 82G1v82 ſomething in my Countenance, as ſhe ſaid, of a Horror impoſſible to be expreſs’d. I ſent for you (ſaid I) to take my everlaſting Leave――to thank you for the faithful Services I have receiv’d from you, and to make what Recompence my leſſen’d Circumſtances have left me Power to do. The poor Creature ſtar’d in my Face all the time I was ſpeaking, but the Aſtoniſhment ſhe was in made her either incapable of Underſtanding me, or took away the Power of anſwering; Be not ſurpriz’d (reſum’d I) I tell you this Night――I know not but this Hour, is the laſt of my Life―― Therefore, while I have Voice to utter the Meanings of my Soul, I charge you be attentive, and perform my laſt Requeſts. She certainly thought my Griefs had turn’d my Brain, and haſtily interrupting me, as I ſpoke theſe Words, For Heavens ſake, Madam, (ſaid ſhe) give not way to the Suggeſtions of your Melancholy; you are now, God be prais’d, pretty well recover’d from an Illneſs in which we had juſt Reaſon to deſpair of you――You are now, as it were, riſen from the Grave, and the ſignal Deliverance ſhows that you are deſtin’d for happier Days than thoſe you yet have ſeen――Ah! do not then (continued ſhe, with Tears in her Eyes) endeavour to diſappoint the Deſigns of your all-wiſe Preſerver, by indulging Grief to prey upon your Senſes for the Loſs of an unworthy Perſon, whom at your return of Reaſon you muſt ſcorn. I cou’d not ſuffer her to proceed in this Manner, but cutting her off from what ſhe was going to ſay, No more (cry’d I;) if by an ill-timed and unmannerly Zeal you wou’d not forfeit all that good Opinion your Fidelity and Obedience has hithertoin- 83G2r83 inſpir’d――once more I tell you, that I cannot―― will not live――Death is already buſy at my Heart, and, if I make not haſte, may rob me of the only Wiſh I now can form, and you of the Glory of ſerving to the laſt a Miſtreſs, who if ſhe had the Power wou’d more expreſs her Gratitude―― Therefore, in few Words, by all that Truth and Honeſty which I believe you poſſeſs’d of, I conjure you to deliver a Letter you will find on the Table into Lyſander’s Hands, the Moment I expire,――to tell him that his Inconſtancy was my Death, and to relate the Manner of it in the moſt moving Terms you can invent. This is all I have to ask, or to command,――as to my Funeral order it as you pleaſe, but let me not be laid too near my Parents, leſt my guilty Aſhes ſhou’d diſturb the ſacred Repoſe of theirs――All that remains of my broken Fortune, after I am laid in Earth, is yours. Though I ſpoke this with all the Solemnity imaginable it was to little Purpoſe, ſhe ſtill took it for the Effects of my Melancholy, and began to reſume her Diſſwaſions from letting ſuch ſad Thoughts get the better of my Reaſon; and I was forc’d to tell her what I had done, before I cou’d make her believe I was in any Danger of Death. But never did Amazement and real Grief appear more lively than in the Face of this poor Wretch, at what I told her: At firſt ſhe was entirely mute, and when ſhe had Power to ſpeak, her Words were nothing but Exclamations: Then, on a ſudden, thinking they were fruitleſs, was running for a Phyſician, for a Divine, and raiſing the whole Town for my Preſervation; nor cou’d any thing I ſhou’d have ſaid have prevented her, if my Strength had not prevail’d to force G2her 84G2v84 her into a Chair, and holding her there, oblig’d her to hear me tell her, that the Poiſon I had taken was not of a Nature to be expell’d, or if it were, had now lain too long in me to be depriv’d of its Operation. Nay (ſaid I) put the Caſe that what I have done, ſhou’d, by any means that I ſhou’d be compell’d to uſe, be rendred fruitleſs――not all the World ſhou’d force me to live another Day――If I cannot die the way I chuſe, ſtill I will find ſome way――if not by Poiſon, there are Knives or Cords――My Garters may be my Executioners――Or if deny’d theſe Inſtruments, you cannot hinder me from ſtrangling my ſelf with my own Hands, or daſhing out my Brains againſt the Wall――To thoſe reſolv’d, Death always is at Call. I ſpoke theſe Words with a real Deſign to do as I ſaid, and if ſhe had got Liberty to have brought any Perſons in to reſtrain me, I had certainly that Moment taken ſome unfailing Method to prevent any thing they cou’d have done to ſave me: But with theſe and the like Speeches, at laſt I perſwaded her to content herſelf with lamenting my Deſperation, without endeavouring to do any thing to remove it. And having convinc’d her of my Obſtinacy to die, to ſpare the Infamy of Self-murder, ſhe promis’d me to keep the Deed conceal’d, and give out I died of an Apoplexy: But I thought I ſhou’d never have prevail’d on her to carry the Letter to Lyſander, her Abhorrence to him as the Author of all my Misfortunes, and now of my Death, was ſo great, that ſhe aſſur’d me the Task of dying with me wou’d be far leſs ſevere than the beholding ſuch a Monſter; but my Tears and repeated Entreaties at laſt overcame all 85G3r85 all her Scruples, and I engag’d an Oath from her (for I wou’d not in that Caſe truſt her Promiſe) that ſhe wou’d in the Morning ſee him and ſay all that I requir’d. In a very little Time after I had brought her into the Diſpoſition I deſir’d, I found a prodigious Heavineſs, like that indeed of Death, ſeize on my Spirits; and making no doubt but that the fatal Moment was at hand, with my Nurſe’s Aſſiſtance (though, poor Soul, ſhe was in too great an Agony to be able to afford me much) I got my ſelf undreſs’d and put to Bed, where I had not lain long before I loſt all Senſe of every Thing――Lyſander’s Charms―― his Cruelty――my Ruin and Deſpair, were now no more remember’d――Oh! if one were ſure to enjoy that Tranquility in a real Death, that I did in my imaginary one, none wou’d ſurvive their Happineſs. At my return to Thought, that is, when I was loos’d from the Bands of Sleep, for it was no more which had bound down my Senſes, I was in a Conſternation impoſſible to be expreſs’d――I look’d on my ſelf, then round the Room, and I believe ’twou’d have been pleaſant enough, if any body had been Witneſs of it, to have obſerv’d the Oddneſs of my Behaviour at my firſt waking: I remember’d very well what had paſs’d before I went to Bed, and cou’d not reconcile ſo ſeeming a Contradiction as that I ſhou’d be ſtill in a World I believ’d I had taken ſuch effectual Meaſures to be freed from. As I was in this Dilemma, my Nurse came into the Chamber, not with her Eyes o’erflow’d with Tears, and wringing her Hands, as ſhe had done the Night before, but with all the Marks of a moſt perfect Satisfaction, and kneeling down by G3the 86G3v86 the Bedſide, teſtify’d her Joy in moſt fervent Thankſgivings to that Divine Power which had ſo graciouſly been pleas’d to diſappoint the unnatural Purpoſe of my Heart. I cou’d not forbear interrupting her Ejaculations by ſome wild ſort of Enquiries how I came to be ſtill living, which ſhe preſently ſatisfy’d in theſe Words. When I had left you (ſaid ſhe) in all Appearance dead, I began to conſider of the Promiſe you had oblig’d me to make, and it being near Morning, got my ſelf ready to go with your Letter, reſolving to take no Notice of your Death to my Family till my Return: After I had diſcharg’d that unwelcome Errand, I found a Man waiting at home to ſpeak with me, and he told me, the chief of it was to enquire if a Lady who lodg’d here was well, and then nam’d you: I was too much confounded at the Queſtion to be able to anſwer him without trembling and faultering in my Speech, though, as well as I cou’d, I ſaid I hoped you were,――that I left you ſo laſt Night: I wiſh (reſum’d he, taking me aſide) ſhe may continue ſo. Then, Madam, he told me he was the Apothecary from whom you had demanded Poiſon, but ſuſpecting you deſign’d it for ſome other Uſe than what you pretended, and fearing if he ſhould deny, you might procure it from ſome other, he had deceiv’d you with an Opiate, which cou’d be no way prejudicial to the Health of the Perſon that took it, though it wou’d hold the Senſes in a much deeper and longer Sleep than what was Natural――He ſaid alſo, that he had caus’d you to be watch’d home, to the End that he might relate the Truth to thoſe about you, if any thing of what he imagin’d ſhou’d 87G4r87 ſhou’d happen. I was ſo impatient to know what Lyſander had ſaid, ſince I found ſhe had been with him, that I cou’d not give my ſelf much Time to reflect on what ſhe told me concerning the Apothecary, but I found her willing to evade repeating the Manner of his Behaviour, and gueſs’d by that he was inhumane to the laſt.――What, (ſaid I) was he not ſhock’d to hear I died for him?――If I cou’d believe, that after ſo fatal a Proof of Love he cou’d perſiſt in his Barbarity, I ſhou’d rejoice my Purpoſe was defeated, and wou’d live to ſcorn him――If you are in earneſt (interrupted ſhe) and can, indeed, continue in a Reſolution ſo truly Noble, I will inform you of all. Which after my aſſuring her I wou’d do, ſhe went on in this manner. I gave your Letter to him (ſaid ſhe) and after looking it careleſly over――Your Miſtreſs ſure is Mad (cry’d he, with an Air of Contempt) I long have thought her ſo, and the Romantic Stuff ſhe has writ me here, confirms it. Indeed, Madam, (continued the good Creature) I had ſcarce Power to refrain flying in his Face; but though my Hands forbore any Indignities, I gave my Tongue free Scope; and when I had told him――nay ſwore, as well I might, for firmly I believ’d it, that you were really dead, I call’d him every Name I cou’d invent, of Baſe, Perfidious and Deceitful; but he ſeem’d as little to regard the Fury I was in as the News I brought him, and only ſaying―― If ſhe be dead the Letter requires no Anſwer, therefore be gone and ceaſe your Clamour; but not finding I was very haſty to do as he bid me, for, methought, it was ſome little Satisfaction to upbraid this Monſter, he call’d one of G4his 88G4v88 his Servants to turn me out of Doors, and walk’d from me as unconcern’d as though I had brought him an Account of the moſt indifferent Affair that cou’d have happen’d. I was too well ſatisfy’d in the Integrity of this good old Woman to doubt the Truth of what ſhe ſaid, and it was now that I began to feel that Reſentment which by a thouſand Barbarities he had long before deſerv’d. And, after ſome little Struggles between departing Tenderneſs and growing Hate――’Tis done (ſaid I) Reaſon, at laſt, has gain’d a Conqueſt over all that Softneſs which has hitherto betray’d me to Contempt――Now I will live, and Love alone ſhall die!――Nurſe brought ſo many and well-grounded Arguments to ſtrengthen me in this Reſolution, and expreſs’d her Meaning in a Manner ſo much beyond what cou’d be expected from her, that I have often thought ſhe was that Moment inſpir’d by Heaven to aſſiſt my Weakneſs. In ſhort, I gave the Thoughts of Death entirely over: I cou’d not endure, however, to appear publickly in the World again, and as Lyſander believ’d me dead, I was willing every Body elſe ſhou’d do ſo too; I order’d a Will to be drawn according to Law, in which I made Nurſe my Heir and ſole Executrix, and ſhe has perform’d every Thing I deſir’d with ſuch Exactneſs and Fidelity, that not a Relation or Acquaintance has the leaſt Notion of my being living; It was ſhe who heard of the Convenience of this Houſe for boarding in, but I wou’d not let her come to make any Agreement for me, becauſe ſhe might chance to be known, and conſequently the Perſon ſhe recommended gueſs’d at. Since the Time of my being here ſhe managesnages 89G5r89 nages my little Fortune, receives the Income of it when due, and gives me an Account of it every Quarter, which is all the Buſineſs I have to do in this uneaſy World. Thus, Madam, have I given you a faithful Account of the Cauſes which induc’d me to this Retirement; and I believe, you will own that they are ſuch as merit no leſs than my whole Life’s Contrition. For, as Mr. Waller very elegantly expreſſes it, Our Paſſions gone, and Reaſon in her Throne,Amaz’d we ſee the Miſchiefs we have done!
Though Belinda had conceiv’d the higheſt Eſteem and Friendſhip imaginable for this fair Unfortunate, and was willing to offer every thing in her Power for her Conſolation, yet ſhe cou’d not diſapprove the Juſtice of her Lamentations, or the Reſolution ſhe had taken of concealing herſelf. So much of the Night was taken up in the Recluse’s Hiſtory, that Belinda was oblig’d to defer her’s till the next Day; but the other engag’d her to come into her Chamber early in the Morning, and as ſoon as Breakfaſt was over, demanded the Performance of her Promiſe, which ſhe readily comply’d with, and ſtruggling with ſome Sighs, which her akeing Heart ſent forth, on recollecting the Paſſages ſhe was about to utter, began her Relation in this Manner.
The Story of Belinda.
I cannot (ſaid ſhe) boaſt either of a Family or any natural or acquir’d Endowments, which cou’d entitle me to thoſe Hopes the lovely and accomplish’d Cleomira might reaſonably depend on: 90G5v90 on: My Father was, indeed, a Gentleman, and if his Eſtate was not the greateſt, yet it was ſuperior to moſt Commons, who had taken no other Meaſures to enlarge their Poſſeſſions than what was conſiſtent with Honeſty and that tranquil State of Life, which, I believe, he wou’d not have forſook to have been Maſter of both Indies: And though my Education was only ſuch as the Country affords, yet, had I follow’d thoſe Precepts which my Infancy was taught, it had been ſufficient to have reſtrain’d me from doing any thing which cou’d draw on me the Contempt of the World. I had the Misfortune to loſe both my Parents within a Year of one another; but my Father (who was the longeſt Survivor) had, a little before his Death, provided me a Husband, a Gentleman who long had lov’d me, and who was, indeed, deſerving of a much better Match: His Perſon was extreamly graceful and well turn’d, his Behaviour affable to all, and complaiſant as far as Sincerity wou’d permit, his Solidity of Judgment and ſound Reaſoning ſurpriz’d thoſe of twice his Years, and though he had a peculiar Sweetneſs of Diſpoſition which made it impoſſible for him to be an Enemy to any one, yet was it temper’d with a due Regard to that Principle of Honour which forbids any Friendſhip with the vicious Part of Mankind, or for any private End or Intereſt to pretend it: Virtue and Wit, though in Rags, never fail’d to excite his higheſt Praiſes and moſt zealous Eſteem, and Folly and Baſeneſs, though adorn’d with Grandeur, his Contempt and open Deteſtation. It was impoſſible for a Heart ſo entirely unprepoſſeſs’d as mine then was, to make anyOb- 91 G6r91 Objection to a Perſon ſuch as I have deſcrib’d, eſpecially when recommended by a Father, who I knew tenderly lov’d me, and was moſt watchful for my Happineſs; but as I had no Repugnance, ſo alſo I had no extraordinary Satisfaction in the Thoughts of this Match: I felt no Hopes, no Fears, no Wiſhes, no Impatience, nor knew what ’twas to be uneaſy or tranſported. When I ſaw Worthly (for that was the Name of this excellent Man) I was well enough pleas’d, indeed, but when I ſaw him not I was the ſame; in fine, every thing was indifferent to me, and had this Inſenſibility continu’d I had liv’d one of the moſt contented Women in the World. Every Thing being concluded on, a Day was fix’d for the Celebration of our Marriage; but on the ſudden Death of my Father, which happen’d about a Week before, for Decency’s ſake, it was put off to a longer Time; nor cou’d Worthly (ardent Lover as all his Actions ſpoke him) ſay any Thing to the contrary. He conſtantly viſited me every Day, and I looking on him as a Man ordain’d by Heaven, and him who had the Diſpoſal of me, for my Husband, allow’d him all the Freedom of Converſation imaginable. The Alteration which the Death of my Father had made in our Family, gave him an Opportunity of proving his Love and Generoſity in a manner which juſtly render’d him very dear to my Eſteem (oh wou’d to Heaven it had to my Affection too) but I have ſince found there is an Infinity of Diſtance between Love and Friendſhip. My Father, little ſuſpecting he was ſo near his End, had made no Will, and being poſſeſs’d of ſcarce any perſonal Eſtate, and the real deſcending tomy 92G6v92 my Brother, then a Student in the Univerſity, it was generally fear’d among our Relations, that my ſelf and younger Siſter wou’d be entirely Portionleſs: This Diſcourſe ſoon reach’d Worthly’ s Ears, and he came to me one Day with a more than ordinary Satisfaction in his Countenance, to tell me, that nothing cou’d have happen’d more lucky for his Wiſhes, than this means of teſtifying to me and the whole World, that it was my Love alone he was ambitious of, and that he was ſo far from deſiring my Brother ſhou’d make good any thing of what my Father had promis’d, that he wou’d not be depriv’d of the Glory of proving himſelf not altogether unworthy of my Regard, by marrying me without a Fortune, to receive with me the Treaſure of an Empire. I muſt have been void both of Gratitude and common Senſe, if I had not acknowledg’d this Behaviour to have been generous above the Rank of ordinary Lovers; eſpecially, when I conſider’d it cou’d be none of thoſe idle Compliments which Men are often full of when they think we have no Occaſion to make Uſe of their Service: I knew Worthly’s Temper too well to ſuſpect the Sincerity of what he ſaid, and knew alſo, that he was too well acquainted with my Brother’s Character to expect any Thing from him. He was when he left our Houſe extreamly Wild and Thoughtleſs, wholly addicted to his Pleaſures, and ſeem’d ſo little inclinable to any ſolid Reflections for the good of his Family, or himſelf, indeed, that it was the univerſal Diſcourſe of the Country, that he wou’d make but an ill Uſe of his Patrimony: But he diſappointed the Belief of every Body; and when he camefrom 93G7r93 from the Univerſity, (as he did ſoon after my Father’s Death, to take Poſſeſſion, he being more than of Age;) he made it appear that Learning is the beſt Poliſher of the Principles, as well as Manners, of thoſe who apply themſelves ſeriouſly to it. He ſettled the Affairs of the Family in a faſhion, beyond what cou’d have been hop’d; and having heard of my intended Marriage with Worthly, and what my Father deſign’d to give me, ſaid he wou’d be far from contradicting the Will of ſo good a Parent, tho’ not compell’d to it by any form of Law; and ſending for a Scrivener, not only made me Miſtreſs of the Fortune which had been promis’d, but bound himſelf to give my Siſter the ſame, whenever ſhe ſhou’d Marry or come of Age; and becauſe there was no ready Mony left, he made over the Eſtate to pay it, reſerving only to himſelf a Competency to maintain him at the Univerſity, whither he ſoon went back, and deſigns to continue ſome Years. My Brother’s Generoſity did not, however, leſſen my Obligations to Worthly; my Eſteem for him encreas’d daily, and he had, indeed, ſo many excellent Qualities, that it was impoſſible, but the more one knew him, the more one ſhou’d find to admire: In fine, all that I knew of Love was his, nor had I the leaſt Notion, there was any thing farther in that Paſſion, than what he had inſpir’d me with.――Happy had I been never to have been undeceiv’d, but my ill Fate decreed it otherwiſe, and ſad Experience ſoon inform’d me that the Effects of Love are not Tranquility and Eaſe.Not 94 G7v 94
Not having been at any publick Place (except Church) ſince the Death of my Father, Worthly wou’d needs perſuade me to go in his Coach to ſee a famous Horſe-race, which was to be run a few Miles diſtant from the Place where we liv’d: There was a prodigious Concourſe of People, and great part of them of the beſt Faſhion in the Country round about; the Sight gave us a great deal of Diverſion; and when it was over, Worthly conducted my ſelf and Siſter (for I took her with me) to a Houſe, where there was a noble Collation prepar’d for our Entertainment; and in this, as in every thing elſe, he teſtify’d the Pride he took in obliging me: As we were returning Home, the Coachman having drank too plentifully, drove in ſuch a furious Manner (in ſpite of his Maſter’s often calling to him to take Care) that we were over-turn’d, none of us were hurt, but this Accident was the occaſion of a Misfortune much worſe than any thing that cou’d have happen’d by the Fall. A Gentleman who was riding the ſame Way, and ſaw all that paſs’d, came up to us, and alighting from his Horſe, made us ſeveral Compliments on the Occaſion, and, perceiving the Condition our Coachman was in, entreated Worthly to accept of a Servant he had with him, who he ſaid had often drove a Coach, and underſtood it very well: The Fright that my Siſter and I were in made Worthly gladly accept of the Offer; and immediately the young Man, by his Maſter’s Command, chang’d Seats with the Coachman: All the time of our little Journey, the obliging Stranger rode by the Coach ſide, and entertain’d us with a world of Gallantry; for, beſides the Charms 95G8r95 Charms of his Perſon, which nothing ſure cou’d ever equalize, his manner of Addreſs had ſomething in it ſo inexpreſſibly engaging, that had Cleomira ſeen him, Lyſander wou’d have appear’d leſs lovely. The Recluse cou’d not forbear ſhaking her Head, and ſighing, at theſe Words; as believing it impoſſible for any Man to be poſſeſt of Graces, which cou’d obſcure thoſe of her Lyſander; but ſhe wou’d not interrupt the other by entring into an Argument, which ’twas probable they ſhou’d not eaſily agree upon, and Belinda went on thus. Worthly (continu’d ſhe) was infinitely charm’d with his Converſation, and gave me to underſtand, when we came near Home, that I cou’d do no leſs, in return to the Civilities he had ſhew’d us, than invite him in: My Complaiſance for him was ſufficient to have made me yield to his Deſire, in a much greater Matter; but, alas! I granted this with a Pleaſure, which at that Time I knew not the meaning of, nor once imagin’d, that from the Wit and Beauty of this lovely Unknown I had drawn in an Infection at my Eyes and Ears, which mixing with my whole Maſs of Blood, was to poiſon all the Quiet of my future Days: I cannot tell you what ’twas I felt, while in his Preſence; but it was a Mixture of Delight and Pain, a kind of racking Joy, and pleaſing Anguiſh. He ſtay’d not very long at our Houſe, Worthly was impatient to have him at his own, that he might, in a Faſhion which he wou’d not take the Freedom to uſe in ours, requite the Civilities we had receiv’d from him on the Road; and it was not till I was left alone, and had Leiſure for Reflection, that I found my ſelf unhappy enough to feelfor 96G8v96 for this Stranger, what Worthly’s conſtant Aſſiduity, and my Knowledge of his many Virtues, never cou’d inſpire. I ſuffer’d many Conflicts on the firſt Diſcovery that it really was Love, which ſo ſuddenly, and without Reaſon, had taken Poſſeſſion of my Soul: My juſt Senſe of the Obligations I had to Worthly, and my Engagements to him, (from which I cou’d not without both Ingratitude and Diſhonour recede) and my wild Paſſion for a Man, who, perhaps, might never regard me with any thing more than an Indifference,――a Man who ’twas likely might be already married, or prepoſſeſs’d with a more deſerving Object,――a Man whoſe Temper, Principles, and Circumſtances, were altogether unknown to me, fill’d me at once with Shame, Remorſe, Confuſion, and Deſpair. My Mind in this Diſorder, ’twou’d be needleſs to ſay it was impoſſible for Sleep to enter my Eyes; I paſs’d the Night in a manner vaſtly different from all I had ever known before; nor did the Day bring any more Tranquility. In the Afternoon, Worthly, according to Cuſtom, came to viſit me; but, alas! his Preſence was now no longer welcome, nor cou’d all his good Qualities have render’d him ſupportable, had not his whole Diſcourſe been of the too lovely Stranger. He told me, that he had been inform’d by himſelf of all his Circumſtances; that he was a Baronet, his Name Sir Thomas Courtal; that having made the Tour of Europe, he thought his Travels wou’d not be compleat, unleſs he cou’d be able to give as good an Account of the Kingdom he was born in, as of others; and to that End, was proceeding in his Progreſs, thro’ every Countyin 97H1r97 in which there was any thing rare or valuable to be ſeen. He added to this Relation, ſo many Encomiums on the graces of his Perſon, the charms of his Wit, and the ſeeming ſweetneſs of his Diſpoſition, that had I not been already too much prepoſſeſs’d in his Favour, what he ſaid was enough to have made me ſo. Preſuming on my Intereſt with you, (ſaid this unſuſpecting Lover) I have engag’d, that you ſhall give me leave to bring him to wait on you ſometimes, while this part of the Country is happy in his Preſence; which I hope (continued he looking tenderly on me) will be long enough to ſee me bleſt in the Title of your Husband. Oh God! with what Emotions did my Boſom ſwell, when he pronounc’d theſe Words! a thouſand times I was about to lay open all the weakneſs of my Soul, and warn him of ſo dangerous a Gueſt; but Shame as often depriv’d me of the Power.―― Yes, I proteſt, it gave me a Concern I cannot well expreſs, to ſee this generous, this undeſigning Man, thus lay a Snare for the Deſtruction of his own Hopes: Yet, how cou’d I avoid it, without making a Confeſſion too ſhocking for my Modeſty or his Paſſion to be able to ſuſtain? In fine, I having ſaid nothing to oppoſe it, he brought him the next Day to viſit me, and they became ſo intimate in a little time, that he ſcarce ever came without him. O what a Tryal was this for a Heart ſo inexperienc’d as mine! How did I ſtruggle to repel my daily-encreaſing Wiſhes? and how ſtrenuouſly did I endeavour to outballance Courtal’s enchanting Graces, by the ſolid Perfections of the other? But all in vain; the towring Flame grew higher by my Attempts to Hquell 98H1v98 quell it, and a little time convinc’d me, that Almighty Love deſpiſes all Controul. Worthly’s continual Sollicitations for the Celebration of our Marriage, render’d him more diſagreeable, and the Trouble he put me to in finding Excuſes to delay it, made the Sight of him intollerable: He has too much Penetration, not to diſcover there was an Alteration in my Behaviour; but having never receiv’d Teſtimonies of any thing more than my Eſteem, imagin’d it proceeded only from the little Inclination he had always found in me to change my Condition, and redoubled his Preſſures in ſuch a manner, as made me ſtand in need of much more Artifice than I was Miſtreſs of, to put him off, without letting him into the Secret of my Reaſon for it. To heighten my Averſion, and ſtrengthen my Obſtinacy in refuſing him, I had of late obſerv’d in the charming Courtal’s Eyes a certain Languiſhment they were not us’d to wear; I often heard him ſigh, obſerv’d him to turn pale and tremble when on any Occaſion he touch’d my Hand; Symptoms which I now began to know, were infallible Tokens of a Tenderneſs, far beyond that which ſprings from bare Eſteem. And while I flatter’d my fond Wiſhes with a Belief, that I was ſecretly belov’d by him, I began inſenſibly to hate the other, whom I look’d upon as the only Bar ’twixt me and all the Joys this World cou’d give. Tho’ Worthly was one of the moſt obſequious Lovers that ever was, yet he was too eager to brook a Delay, for which he cou’d aſſign no Reaſon; and finding me ſtill more and more averſe to any Diſcourſe of Marriage, he ſollicited all my Relations and Acquaintance to ſpeak 99H2r99 ſpeak to me, and learn the Cauſe, if poſſible, why I ſhou’d now refuſe, what (if my Father’s Death had not deferr’d) had been granted with my free Conſent many Months before. I ſuffer’d a vaſt deal of Perſecution from all thoſe People he had engag’d in his Intereſt, and I know not what the unanſwerable Arguments they pleaded in his Favour might not at laſt have perſuaded me to, if he had not (Oh ill-directed and unlucky Choice) employ’d even his ador’d Rival too in this Affair. I was one Day in my Chamber muſing, and full of unſettled Reſolutions, when I was told that Courtal was below; his very Name alarm’d me; but when I came down, and found he was alone, ’tis impoſſible to gueſs at my Surprize: he eaſily perceiv’d it in my Countenance, and approaching me with the moſt humble and ſubmiſſive Air, A Gueſt, Madam! (ſaid he) of ſo little Merit as the unhappy Courtal would have ſmall reaſon to hope a Welcome here, if his Preſumption were not authoriz’d by him, who, bleſt with the Divine Belinda’s Love, knows the way to obtain Pardon for himſelf and me:―― From Worthly, Madam! (continued he, perceiving I was ſilent) the fortunate Worthly, I am ſent to tell you how much he languiſhes under the Impoſſibility of waiting on you this Evening, and to aſſure you (if you can doubt it) that tho’ unlucky Affairs detain him from your Preſence, his Soul and all his Wiſhes are with you. Tho’ I was prodigiouſly confounded to find that Worthly had engag’d him to this Viſit, yet I was much more ſo at his manner of telling it me; but after I had deſir’d him to ſit, Any Friend of Worthly’s (anſwer’d I) ſhall always find Welcome H2from 100H2v 100 from Belinda: But I think, ſo much is owing to the vaſt Merits of Sir Thomas Courtal, that there can be no need of any ſecond Name to introduce him any where. I deſign’d theſe Words no other than a Compliment; but the Confuſion with which I ſpoke them, gave him too much Reaſon to believe I had a farther Meaning; and looking on me with Eyes which ſeem’d to read my Soul,――Oh God! (ſaid he) what ſweet Enchantment do thoſe Words contain! The powerful Spells diſcloſe an opening Heaven to my raviſh’d View! and wrapt with Joys immortal, make me forget the Hell of Miſery I am doom’d to.―― Then, after a little Pauſe, and venting two or three Sighs, which ſeem’d ſo vehement as tho’ at each his Heart were rent in ſunder; Pardon, Madam (reſum’d he) the Violence of a ſudden Tranſport, which ſome deluſive Hopes that Moment fir’d me with, and made me neglect the Buſineſs which alone has given me the Boldneſs of waiting on you. I felt, all the time he was ſpeaking, Emotions, which I know not how to account for; I have already told you that I had diſcover’d, or fancy’d that I had diſcover’d, by ſome Looks, and Words, which ſeem’d to be unguarded, that he lov’d me; and tho’ I deſir’d nothing ſo paſſionately as to be aſſur’d he did ſo, yet I dreaded the Eclairciſſement, and began to tremble with Fear that he ſhou’d ſay ſomething which I was altogether unprepar’d to anſwer: I have often reflected ſince, how ſilly my inward Perturbations made me ſeem: Courtal muſt certainly gueſs from what Sourſe the Diſorders he perceiv’d in my Countenance proceeded, or believe me to be extremely 101H3r101 extremely wanting in Converſation; and I was ſo ambitious of appearing amiable in his Eyes, that I know not if I wou’d not have choſe he ſhou’d be ſenſible of the Truth, rather than impute my Behaviour to any natural Defect: But whatever his Thoughts were, he eas’d my Confuſion, by immediately falling into a Diſcourſe of Worthly. He gave him Praiſes which, tho’ not more than he deſerv’d, were more than I was willing to hear, at leaſt from the Mouth that ſpoke them; and then began to tell me how ill the Impatience of his Love made him brook my delaying to give him a Happineſs, which he had ſo much Cauſe to hope wou’d long ſince have been compleated; and that he beg’d I wou’d aſſign ſome Period to his Sufferings, that he the better might be enabled to endure them. If before I was alarm’d at the Apprehenſion of Courtal’s entertaining me in another Manner; I was now ten times more ſo that he did not.――It ſtung me to the Soul to find, that when he had ſo favourable an Opportunity to diſcover his Sentiments, he ſhou’d employ it in a Theme, which (if he had thoſe Inclinations that I had flatter’d my ſelf I had inſpir’d) muſt be ſo diſagreeable to his own Deſires! My Fears now turn’d to Indignation! I rag’d to think my Wiſhes had deceiv’d me! and half deſpis’d him for his Inſenſibility! I wonder (ſaid I, with an Air which I believe had a good deal of Contempt in it) that Worthly ſhou’d take the Meaſures he does;―― does he think to teaze me into Compliance?―― and can he imagine, that any thing he can ſay, or the Perſons he employs, will influence ſo far, as to make me grant what is not conſiſtent with H3my 102H3v102 my Inclinations?――I am not diſpos’d to Marry ――at leaſt, as yet; and if I never ſhou’d be ſo, he ought not to expect I ſhou’d do a Violence to my own Humour, to pleaſure His. Theſe, and the like ridiculous Expreſſions, which my Vanity, or my Love, or both, drew from me, were ſufficient to let Courtal ſee how little real Tenderneſs I had for his Rival; and doubtleſs encourag’d him to make the Declaration he preſently did. Ah Madam! (ſaid he) you are but little ſenſible what the burning Impatience of a Lover’s Wiſhes make him ſuffer,――what ſtrong Convulſions,――what Soul-rending Pangs invade the Breaſt which throbs with doubtful Expectation!――For my part――cou’d I, like Worthly, Hope――as all, who know you, muſt like him adore, I ſhou’d be leſs enduring far!――Thoſe lovely Eyes ſhou’d ne’er have leave to cloſe, or view another Object but my ſelf,――nor Night, nor Day wou’d I be abſent.――I’d follow whereſoe’er you went,――and with imploring, dying Looks,――with ſoftning Tears,――with Groans, and all the natural Eloquence of moving Paſſion, hang on your Feet, and graſp thoſe happy Garments, till Coldneſs, Coyneſs, and Reſerve was melted down,――and your whole Soul was Tenderneſs and Pity. You might be miſtaken (reply’d I, briskly) for if I did not love, ſuch a Behaviour wou’d make me hate. True, Madam (reſum’d he, holding down his Head, and ſighing) I know from the Unlov’d, all Proofs wou’d be unwelcome, and ’tis that Knowledge has deterr’d me from diſcovering what I feel;――Elſe had my Eyes and Tongue, e’er now, diſcloſ’d my Soul, and told Belinda ſhe engroſs’d it all.―― But 103H4r103 But, hopeleſs,――meritleſs――, I have in Secret borne the feſtring Wound; nor durſt implore my fair Phyſician’s Aid, leſt inſtead of Balm, ſhe ſhou’d apply a Corroſive.――Even this, perhaps (continu’d he, taking one of my Hands, and eagerly kiſſing it) you wou’d think too great a Recompence for the eternal Loſs of my Repoſe. Tho’ this Declaration wou’d have prodigiouſly diſorder’d me before, yet being made at a Time when I had juſt given over, either the Hopes, or the Fears of hearing any ſuch thing, it confounded me much more; I knew not what to ſay, nor how to look; I cou’d not repel, and was unwilling to encourage: But at laſt, thinking it beſt to take the middle Courſe, I affected to turn his Behaviour into Merriment, and with as much Gaiety as I cou’d put on, I dare ſwear (ſaid I) there is no Danger of your loſing your Repoſe for any Woman in the World.――You have too much Wiſdom to be much in Love, and moſt of your Sex have too much Wit, and too little Good-nature, not to deſpiſe the Effects of that Paſſion, where-ever you perceive them.―― How Madam, (interrupted he) ſuch Words coming from a Mouth, like yours, carry a Severity in them more cruel than any thing I cou’d apprehend from ſo angelic a Compoſition,―― while you tell me I have Wiſdom, and that I know not Love, you give the greateſt Proof you can, that you think me an Ideot; for to adore Belinda is ſure the higheſt Wisdom, and to be inſenſible of her Charms, is the laſt degree of Folly and Stupidity.――Ah wou’d to Heaven! (continued he ſighing) it were as much in my Power to influence you to Compaſſion for my Sufferings, H4as 104H4v 104 as it is to convince you of the Reality of them. I never doubted your Gallantry (anſwer’d I, ſcarce able to retain any part of that Humour I had aſſum’d) but if I had, you give me now a ſufficient Teſtimony of it, in ſo artfully turning the Diſcourſe we were upon, which indeed was too ſerious to be pleaſing, into a Raillery much more entertaining.――He wou’d not ſuffer me to proceed, but falling on his Knees before me, and looking up in my Face with a Tenderneſs unutterable, Oh hold (cry’d he) lovely Inſulter! give not to the moſt Almighty Truth, a breaking――bleeding Heart, e’er yet ſent forth, ſo injurious an Epithet.――By Heaven!――by all that Man adores,――by all we are taught to hope, to fear, or wiſh, you are dearer to my Soul than Health, than Grandeur, Knowledge, Light, Life, or my eternal Peace,――than every thing that Language gives a Name to.――But I may ſpare theſe Proteſtations (rejoyn’d he, after a little Pauſe) too well do thoſe enchanting Eyes trace their own Power――even now they penetrate, they pierce my Breaſt, and read much more, oh infinitely more, than I can ſay.―― He wou’d have gone on; but the Tread of ſomebody coming down Stairs oblig’d him to break off, and reliev’d me from a Perplexity I know not how I ſhou’d have got through: It was my Siſter who came into the Room, juſt as he had riſen from the Poſture he was in; but the Confuſion that ſhe perceiv’d in both our Faces, made her (as ſhe ſince told me) gueſs what ſort of Converſation he had entertain’d me with; and, believing it wou’d be little agreeable to me, that he ſhou’d have an Opportunity to renew it, neverver 105H5r105 ver left us while he ſtay’d. He cou’d not, indeed, after ſhe came in, expreſs his Sentiments any farther by Words; but Looks, which I already too well underſtood, explain’d his Meaning, and certainly, tho’ at that time I knew it not, met with a Return too kind from mine. Juſt as he was taking his Leave, he got the Liberty to ſay ſoftly,――Oh Divine Belinda! remember me! ――Pardon, and Pity me.――Alas! ’twas I had only need of Pity; for never did any Creature paſs a Night in greater Inquietudes than I did the ſucceeding one.――My Engagements to Worthly, and the Impoſſibility of breaking them without rendring my ſelf odious to all who knew me,――my already furious Paſſion for Courtal, and the little Aſſurance I had of the Sincerity of his,――my Ingratitude for the one, and Weakneſs for the other, ſhock’d all that was noble and generous in me, and made me incapable of Eaſe: I had all to fear, nothing to hope, nor cou’d I form an Aim, which if obtain’d, cou’d give me perfect Happineſs. If I ſhou’d marry Worthly (ſaid I to my ſelf) how wretched muſt I be! Condemn’d to loath’d Embraces, and the deteſted Task of forc’d Civility――by painful Duty reſtrain’d from even the Wiſh of better Fortune; yet Inclination ſtill at War with Virtue, guilty and innocent at once, and miſerable in both―― or, ſhou’d I indulge my Paſſion in the too charming Courtal’s dear Society, cou’d I expect Content! even in his Arms, my breach of Promiſe, and Ingratitude to Worthly, his Deſpair, and the juſt Cenſures of the reproaching World, wou’d embitter all my Pleaſures, turn the dear purchas’d Bleſſing to a Curſe, and make my fancy’d Heavenven 106H5v106 ven a real Hell. In this manner wou’d the different Agitations which tormented me, make me argue with my ſelf: Honour, Reputation, Gratitude, were on Worthly’s Side; but what are theſe when once oppos’d by Love! Courtal’s bewitching Charms ſilenc’d, at laſt, all other Conſiderations, and Paſſion had entire vanquiſh’d Reaſon, if my Doubts of his Sincerity had not interpos’d: I cou’d not be aſſur’d he lov’d me, becauſe he had told me ſo; or if he did, how long his Paſſion might continue. I had heard and read too much of Men’s Inconſtancy, their Flatteries, their thouſand Arts, to lure weak Woman to Belief and Ruin, not to tremble when I thought there was a Poſſibility he might not be exempted from thoſe little Baſeneſſes of his Sex.――Theſe Meditations were the troubleſome Companions of my Pillow; nor cou’d my domeſtic Affairs, my Siſter’s agreeable Prattle, nor all the Amuſements which the Day brought with it, have power to drive them from my Thoughts: My Body reſtleſs as my Mind, diſpleas’d at every thing, uneaſy every where, I wander’d up and down from Room to Room, till I heard Worthly was come to viſit me. I was little prepar’d, and leſs deſirous to have ſeen him, but in the hurry of Temper had forgot to give Orders for my being deny’d. I receiv’d him in ſuch a manner, as let him plainly ſee he cou’d not do me a greater Diſpleaſure than in ſtaying with me; he cou’d not forbear taking notice of the more than ordinary Coldneſs, and indeed Peeviſhneſs of my Behaviour; and gave me ſome Hints, tho’ with all the Reſpect in the World, that a Paſſion ſo truly ardent and unblamable as his 107H6r107 his had ever been, might have expected a more favourable Return. There was too much Juſtice in his Complaints, for me to be able to anſwer them, and therefore endeavour’d to quell them, by telling him that, as there was no body to whom I was oblig’d to be accountable for my Actions, to find fault with what I did, was not the way to engage me to a Change. Madam! (ſaid he) I never yet have been preſumptuous enough to find fault with any thing you think fit to do; but now begin to ceaſe the Hope of ever perſuading you to any thing in my Favour. ――I well ſee that in loſing your Father, I loſt my only Friend,――had he liv’d, your Obedience to him wou’d have given me a Bleſſing, which I now deſpair of obtaining from your Love. He look’d full in my Face as he ſpoke theſe Words, and offer’d to take me by the Hand, which I drawing back with a Reſerve which came pretty near to Rudeneſs,――I find (reſum’d he) my Preſence is unwelcome,――I will therefore trouble you no farther at this Time. May Heaven inſpire you with more grateful Sentiments, or give me a Heart able to ſupport your Cruelty.―― He had Power to utter no more, but turning haſtily away, went out of the Room in ſuch Diſorder, that it a little mov’d me; but theſe good-natur’d Emotions laſted not long, and what entirely chas’d ’em from my Soul, was a Letter I immediately after receiv’d from Courtal, the Words of which were theſe.If to adore without a poſſibility of Hope be a Sin, it is a Sin only againſt our own Happineſs, a Sin which all Mankind, who ſee you, muſt be guilty of, and 108H6v108 and which Heaven who gave you ſuch Reſiſtleſs Beauties muſt inſpire you to forgive.――Yes, you are too Angelic to condemn us for Faults, which are not in our Power to avoid.――’Tis my preſuming Tongue, not Heart, that has offended; I need not entreat your Pardon for loving you, but for declaring that I do ſo, there is, I fear, a dreadful Cauſe,――I ought, indeed, to have dy’d in Silence. I know not but your Soul, in ſpite of Yeſterday’s Efforts to conceal it, is wholly taken up with a more deſerving Object, and the Impertinence of my ill-tim’d Paſſion may have diſturb’d thoſe ſoft Idea’s which mutual Tenderneſs affords.――Tell me, Divine Belinda! if I have been ſo criminal, Death ſhall be at once the Puniſher of my Raſhneſs, and Cure of my Miſery; but if your Breaſt has any room for Pity, Oh! give me leave to try at leaſt to inſpire it: None ever had a Plea more juſt, none wou’d be more truly grateful than Your eternally devoted Courtal. You may judge with what Tranſports I read this Letter, by thoſe your ſelf has felt at receiving any thing of this kind from the charming Lyſander: And I thought I had a prodigious Command of my Temper, that I forbore giving any greater Demonſtrations of my Joy, than what the following Lines contain’d. ’Tis impoſſible either to read, or hear you without allowing you to be the moſt accompliſh’d, moſt gallant, and witty of your Sex; but whether to be able to retain thoſe Graces, be conſiſtent with a Love ſo 109H7r109 ſo ardent as you wou’d perſuade me yours is, can only be judg’d by thoſe vers’d in the Town manner of addreſſing. I have often heard ſay, by thoſe more skill’d than my ſelf, that the greateſt Symptoms of a true Paſſion is to be depriv’d of Utterance, and Incoherence in Expreſſion; and as I have not Vanity enough to imagine there is any thing in me capable of engaging you to the Reality, am unwilling to be made the Property of an Amuſement only. However, with that Sincerity, which we in the Country prefer to all things, I aſſure you that my Heart is utterly unprepoſs’d with any Idea of Mr. Worthly, farther than his good Qualities inſpire in all who know him; and all my ſofter Wiſhes are at Liberty to extend themſelves wherever they ſhall find an Object deſerving, by his Conſtancy, the Regard of Belinda. I paſs’d the enſuing Night in infinitely more Tranquility than I had that before: Love baniſh’d all the remains of Gratitude which had ſo much diſturb’d me. I gave a looſe to all the Tenderneſs it inſpir’d, and in return, it flatter’d my fond Wiſhes with a near Proſpect of inexpreſſible Delight: To heighten my Felicity, early in the Morning the aſſiduous Courtal ſent me a ſecond Billet, in which I found theſe Lines. With what Words, Oh moſt Divine Belinda! ſhall I expreſs the Rapture of my o’er- joy’d Heart, at reading your dear, obliging Letter! Even the Diſtruſt you ſeem to have of my Sincerity, is capable of giving me no Pain, while you vouchſafe to 110H7v110 to aſſure me there is no greater Impediment to my Hopes: This my faithful Services will ſoon remove; but had a Perſon of more Merit taken up your Soul, I muſt for ever have deſpair’d.――Permit me then to begin the pleaſing Task of proving what I am, this Afternoon, and by giving me an early leave to breath out my Soul in Vows of everlaſting Truth before you, convince me (of what is indeed too vaſt a Bleſſing to be eaſily believ’d) that you will not be diſpleas’d to find the moſt tender, and moſt faithful, as well as the moſt paſſionate of all Lovers is Your adoring Courtal. The ſeeming Sincerity of theſe few Lines ſubdued my eaſy Faith, and I reſolv’d no longer to diſtruſt my Happineſs. Oh! he is all Angel (cry’d I in a Rapture) divinely charming in Soul as well as Body, I muſt――I will――believe him! and in this hurry of unruly Joy, writ him an Anſwer in theſe Words. ’Twou’d be an over-acted Modeſty, and might juſtly be taken for Stupidity, to feign an Inſenſibility of your Attractions: the proudeſt of my Sex wou’d glory in the Conqueſt of a Heart like yours, and I confeſs without a Bluſh to find my ſelf that happy envy’d Woman wou’d gratifie an Ambition, which unknowing you there cou’d not be a ground for. The favour of your Viſits however, I know not, as yet, how to receive: Worthly, how ſmall a part ſoever he had in my Heart, has met with Encouragement from my Father, and in obedience to his Commands, from me; and Prudence forbids too ſudden a turn in an Affair of 111H8r111 of ſo much Conſequence; but if I find you in the little Wood behind our Houſe, about five this Evening, you ſhall know more of the Sentiments of Belinda.
You will, doubtleſs, wonder, that a Maid ſo little accuſtom’d to Converſation ſhou’d not ſtart at the very Thought of an Aſſignation ſuch as this; but whether it were that Inexperience of the World and the Baſeneſs of Mankind kept me from imagining the Danger, or the Violence of my Paſſion from regarding it, I muſt leave to the Charity of your Opinion. But, I confeſs, I felt not the leaſt Regret for what I had writ, and had no Uneaſineſs but what ſprung from my Impatience for the appointed Hour; at laſt it came, and while I told the Clock, my Soul exulted with a Pleaſure which till then I never knew. I believe I need not tell you I found Courtal in the Wood ready to receive me; you will eaſily imagine, that the moſt trifling Inclination will, before Enjoyment, wing the Aſſiduity of that ungovern’d and inconſtant Sex; but I wiſh there were a Poſſibility of informing you in what manner he accoſted me, for there was ſomething in it ſo much beyond Imagination charming and engaging, that it in Part wou’d juſtify my Behaviour toward him――All his Geſtures were ſo humble and beſeeching, yet withal ſo graceful――All his Looks were accompany’d with ſuch a piercing Softneſs――All his Words expreſs’d ſo real a Tenderneſs, ſo perfect a Sincerity, and ſo pure a Zeal, that even you, too ſadly skill’d in the vile Arts of falſe deceiving Man, muſt have believ’d and truſted him. I walk’d 112H8v112 walk’d with him, heedleſs of the ſwift paſſing Hours, till Day was almoſt ſpent, and it was not till the want of Light depriv’d me of the Pleaſure of gazing on him, that I conſider’d how long I had been with him; and that we were wandred, inſenſibly, perhaps, to either of us, at leaſt to me I am ſure it was ſo, a great Diſtance from the Houſe, and into the thickeſt and moſt obſcure Part of the Wood. But it was in vain that I reminded him how convenient it was that I ſhou’d return; he was too preſſing, I too tranſported to be able to refuſe him ſo ſmall a Favour as my Company a few Moments longer. Never was a Night more delectable, more aiding to a Lover’s Wiſhes! The arching Trees form’d a Canopy over our Heads, while through the gently ſhaking Boughs ſoft Breezes play’d in lulling Murmurings, and fann’d us with delicious Gales; a thoſand Nightingales ſung amorous Ditties, and the billing Doves coo’d out their tender Tranſports――every Thing was ſoothing――every Thing inſpiring! the very Soul of Love ſeem’d to inform the Place, and reign throughout the whole. A little tir’d with walking, my too dear Companion had prevail’d on me to reſt my ſelf on a fine graſſy Bank, which was at the Foot of a great Tree: He took the licens’d Freedom to place himſelf by me; and, methought, we ſat with all the Sweets of Nature blooming round us, like the firſt happy Pair while bleſt with Innocence, they knew not Shame, nor Fear. But he, alas! had other Notions, and aiming only at my Ruin, believ’d he cou’d not chuſe a fitter Seaſon, and perhaps never ſhou’d have ſo favourable an Opportunity as this: He now began to mingle 113I1r113 mingle Kiſſes and Embraces with his Vows; my Hands were the firſt Victims of his fiery Preſſures, then my Lips, my Neck, my Breaſt; and perceiving that, quite loſt in Ecſtaſy, I but faintly reſiſted what he did, far greater Boldneſſes enſued――My Soul diſſolv’d, its Faculties o’erpower’d――and Reaſon, Pride, and Shame, and Fear, and every Foe to ſoft Deſire, charm’d to Forgetfulneſs, my trembling Limbs refus’d to oppoſe the lovely Tyrant’s Will! And, if my faultering Tongue entreated him to deſiſt, or my weak Hands attempted to repulſe the encroaching Liberty of his; it ſerv’d but, as he ſaid, the more to inflame his Wiſhes, and raiſe his Paſſion to a higher Pitch of Fury. Oh! I had been inevitably loſt, had not Heaven ſent me a Deliverance, even in the Moment I was about to be made the moſt wretched of its Creatures. Worthly, born for my Preſervation! Worthly, doom’d to do me all manner of good Offices, though to my own Deſtruction, had been to enquire for me, and not finding me at home, happen’d to come into the Wood, not miſtruſting I was there, but to indulge that Melancholy my late Carriage had inſpir’d; Chance had led him to that Part where we were, and hearing my Voice, he kept himſelf conceal’d, and was Witneſs to all the latter Part of our Converſation: He heard enough, Heaven knows, to make him ſcorn and hate me; yet, generous to the laſt, when I was on the very Brink of Ruin, he ruſh’d forth and ſav’d me. Riſe, Villain! (ſaid he) and prepare for a different Encounter――you ſhall not live to wrong another in the Manner you have done me; nor ſhall that Woman, ungrateful as ſhe is, fall a SacrificeIfice 114I1v114 fice to your baſe Deſires. The Surprize that Courtal was in at theſe Words, and the Knowledge who it was that ſpoke them, did not hinder him from putting himſelf in a Poſture to receive him; he had his Sword out almoſt as ſoon as the other. But what was my Confuſion―― my Diſtraction, to find my ſelf thus expos’d, and to the Man from whom of all the World I moſt deſir’d my Weakneſs ſhou’d be conceal’d! I had certainly run between their Swords and receiv’d thoſe Wounds each deſign’d for the other, but Shame and Horror ſtruck me motionleſs; and without the Power even of endeavouring to prevent it, muſt have been Witneſs to ſome fatal Conſequence of which my ſelf was the Cauſe, if my Siſter, being told by ſome body that ſaw me, where I was, and wondring at my Stay, had not at that Inſtant come with ſome of the Servants in ſearch of me. The enrag’d Rivals, on the firſt Appearance of the Lights ſhe brought with her, ſheath’d their Swords, but ſhe ſaw enough in all our Faces to inform her, that ſomething extraordinary had happen’d: But it was in vain for her to enquire, we all were ſpeechleſs with our ſeveral Agitations; till Worthly, turning to Courtal, We are prevented now (ſaid he) but I ſhall take a Time more proper to reward your Villany: And giving him a furious Look, flung haſtily away without ſtaying for his Anſwer. Courtal was either leſs diſturb’d, or had infinitely more Command of his Temper than any of us on this Occaſion, and ſeeming to take no Notice of his Rival’s Words, gave me his Hand in order to conduct me home; but I cou’d not now endure he ſhou’d look on me, or touch me; and leaning 115I2r115 leaning on my Siſter with one Hand, and with the other holding a Handkerchief before my Face, to hide as much as poſſible my Diſorders, made what haſte I cou’d from that unlucky Place. He did not leave us, however, till we got quite to our Door, and as we went, made Uſe of all his Rhetorick to perſwade me to think no otherwiſe of what had happen’d, than as a Matter of no Conſequence. It was wholly improper I ſhou’d anſwer him as I wou’d, therefore forbore anſwering at all: Nor was it to any Purpoſe that my Siſter begg’d me to make her a Relation of this Adventure, after we came home; and only telling her, that I was not in a talking Humour, and bidding her trouble me no farther, I ſhut my ſelf into my Chamber, and there gave a looſe to all the diſtracted Emotions of my Soul―― Oh! what did I not endure this cruel Night, and what, indeed, muſt I for ever endure, in the Reflection on the dreadful Conſequence! Belinda cou’d not come to this Part of her Story without falling into Agonies, much like thoſe which had ſo often interrupted the Recluse in the Courſe of her’s; and it was now that Lady’s turn to comfort, which ſhe did with ſuch Succeſs, that the other was ſoon able to reſume her Diſcourſe in this manner.
The Shame and Confuſion I was in (ſaid ſhe) at what had happen’d, was not all that tormented me; I had Fears, which were, if poſſible, more alarming even than my Remorſe: I knew very well the Violence of Worthly’s Paſſion for me――I ſaw the juſt Rage my Behaviour had put him in, and remember’d what he ſaid to Courtal at parting, and cou’d not hope this AdventureI2venture 116I2v116 venture wou’d end without Blood: After a thouſand Inventions how to prevent the Miſchief I with ſo much Reaſon dreaded, I reſolv’d, at laſt, to try my Power once more with Worthly, and compos’d my Thoughts as well as I cou’d to form a Letter to him, in which I confeſs’d that I had been ungrateful to his Affection, and by my Folly and ill Conduct had now render’d my ſelf utterly unworthy the Continuance of it, but conjur’d him by the Memory of that Tenderneſs he once had for me, not to publiſh my Weakneſs to the World, by making any Noiſe of this Affair. I writ alſo to Courtal, and entreated him, by all the Paſſion he profeſs’d for me, and by thoſe Aſſurances my late Condeſcentions had given him of mine, to avoid all Occaſions of meeting Worthly, and if he ſhou’d receive any Letter or Meſſage, like what his laſt Words imported, to lay aſide his Honour, in favour of his Love, and the Conſideration of how much my Reputation muſt ſuffer in a Quarrel of that Nature. I expreſs’d theſe Requeſts to both of them in the moſt moving Terms I was capable of, and what Effect I might have wrought I know not; for though I went not to Bed all Night, it was ſo late the next Day before I had finiſh’d, that juſt as I was ſealing up the laſt, I was interrupted by my Siſter’s knocking violently at my Chamber Door, and calling to me to open it, in a Tone, and with a Diſorder, which told ſomething more than ordinary was the Cauſe, before I gave her Entrance; but when I had――Oh Siſter! (ſaid ſhe) Worthly is kill’d――murdered by Sir Thomas Courtal, and his Servants ſay it was on your Account they fought.――Oh God! what chilling Horrors 117I3r117 Horrors ſeiz’d my whole Frame when ſhe pronounc’d theſe Words? If ſhe ſpoke any thing more, I was incapable of hearing it, for I fell immediately into a Swoon, in which I lay ſo long, that, as they ſince told me, neither ſhe nor the Maids that ſhe call’d to my Aſſiſtance believ’d I ſhou’d ever recover: But my Miſeries were not to have ſo ſhort a Date, and I again return’d to Senſe―― to all the Racks of Thought, and curſt Remembrance. As ſoon as my Agonies wou’d give me leave to ſpeak, and to enquire, I receiv’d the Confirmation of the diſmal Story: They told me, that the Body of Worthly, cover’d with Wounds, and all beſmear’d with Blood, was juſt brought by our Houſe in order to be carry’d home, his Seat not being above a Bow-ſhot diſtant from ours; and that a Servant who was Witneſs to his dying Words, and ſeem’d acquainted with the whole Affair, waited to ſpeak with me. As much as I dreaded to hear what the Fellow had to ſay to me, yet I order’d he ſhou’d come up; and when he did, deſir’d him to give me an Account of all he knew concerning his unhappy Accident, which he preſently did in theſe Words. Early this Morning (ſaid he) my Maſter call’d me up, and giving me a Letter, commanded me to carry it to the Inn where Sir Thomas Courtal lay: I found him in Bed, but he immediately roſe, and gave me an Anſwer in writing: At my Return my Maſter was dreſs’d, and as ſoon as he had read what I brought, prepar’d himſelf to go out, and ſeeing me about to follow him, as was my Duty, he forbid me, with a Peeviſhneſs which he was not us’d to expreſs himſelf with: This Charge, and the Agitations I had obſerv’d both I3in 118I3v118 in his Countenance and that of Sir Thomas’s, while he was reading the Letter, gave me ſome Suſpicion of the Truth: I acquainted one of my Fellows with my Conjecture, and we both thought it our Duty to ſeek him; but in reſolving what to do we had waſted ſo much Time, that at our Entrance into a Field (not far from hence, and which we thought, if any thing of what we imagin’d were true, wou’d be as likely a Place as any for the Scene of Action) we met Sir Thomas, who ſeem’d to be in a prodigious Hurry: I ask’d if he had ſeen my Maſter, and he anſwer’d that he had not, but we did not put ſo much Confidence in what he ſaid, but that we went on in the way we perceiv’d he came from, and ſoon found my poor Maſter breathing out his laſt. When we came near him, Harry (ſaid he to me, with a Voice ſcarce intelligible) I am kill’d――Tell Belinda that I die for her,――and warn her to take Care of―― He was able to bring forth no more, for at that Inſtant Death clos’d his Lips for ever. Here the poor Fellow ended his ſad Account, and was juſt going out of the Room half blinded with his Tears, when I call’d him back to ask what was become of Courtal: You may be ſure, Madam, (anſwer’d he) that I wou’d leave nothing undone for the Revenge of my dear Maſter’s Blood, and as ſoon as the Body was carry’d home, took Perſons with me to ſearch for him at the Inn; but he was too ſpeedy for my Diligence, and with both his Servants had taken Horſe, and, I fear, is gone beyond the reach of thoſe ſent in Purſuit of him, for we cou’d get no Intelligence which Road he took. Though I had all the real Concern imaginableginable 119I4r119 ginable and Grief for Worthly’s Death, and the Cauſe of it, yet, I confeſs, I cou’d not hear that Courtal was out of Danger, without a ſecret Joy, which was but too guilty: I diſſembled it, however, and diſmiſs’d the Fellow with a Belief, that all the Sorrow I had been in, ſprung only from the Loſs of his Maſter; all our Family were of that Opinion, and I had the Opportunity of vailing my other Troubles under that Covert, which was both juſt and laudable. I had, indeed, ſo much Anxiety of Mind, with every thing together, that I was not able to ſtay in a Place where all I ſaw or heard wou’d but put me in Remembrance of my Misfortunes; and I will not tell you, but the Impoſſibility of ever ſeeing Courtal there again, was the chief Reaſon of making it odious to me. I therefore order’d the Coach to be got ready, and the ſame Day went to a Relation’s Houſe about eight Miles farther in the Country, deſiring my Siſter, if any Letter ſhou’d come, to ſend it to me there, for I imagin’d Courtal wou’d write to me as ſoon as he thought himſelf out of Danger. I gave her ſo ſtrict a Charge to take Care of it, that join’d to ſome other little Remarks ſhe had made on my late Carriage, made her not far from gueſſing the Truth of my Sentiments, and ſhe took the Liberty of reproaching me with Ingratitude and Inconſtancy: I gave my ſelf but little Concern to perſwade her, that I did not deſerve to be tax’d with thoſe Vices; but redoubling my Deſires that ſhe wou’d ſend any Letter that ſhou’d be directed to me, took my Leave. What I did ſoon after will convince you, that nothing, indeed, was able to abate that wild Paſſion that Courtal I4had 120I4v120 had inſpir’d me with: For having waited at my Couſin’s Houſe about nine or ten Days, and hearing nothing from home, I grew ſo uneaſy, that I reſolv’d to be gone from thence. I remember’d to have heard Courtal ſay, he had Buſineſs in London, which wou’d oblige him to defer the Progreſs he intended to make through the Counties till next Year, and fancy’d he might be gone directly thither. I did not doubt, but if he were, I ſhou’d be able to find him out; and when once this Belief had ſettled itſelf in me, I delay’d not a Moment, but borrowing Horſes and a Servant of my Couſin, went ſtrait to Warwick, and from thence took the Stage for London. It was that Kinſwoman who directed me to this Houſe, having formerly been a Boarder here herſelf; and aſſuring me, that if any Packet came from our Houſe ſhe wou’d ſend it immediately after me, made me pretty well ſatisfy’d in my Mind, that no Miſtake wou’d prevent the Bleſſing of hearring from him, and knowing where to find him, in caſe I ſhou’d miſs him in London.The Fatigue of my Journey did not hinder me from ſending, as ſoon as I came here; to all publick Places to enquire for him, but no ſuch Perſon was to be found; and what amaz’d me moſt was, that a Man of that Faſhion, and ſo noted as I imagin’d him to be, ſhou’d be utterly unknown to every Body: I did not in the leaſt doubt, but that if I had not the good Fortune of meeting with him here, I ſhou’d be able to get a perfect Account of his Character and Circumſtances; but, alas! the Name of Courtal was as little known as the Arabian Dialect, and I might have ſpent my whole Life in a fruitleſs Inquiſition, had I not believ’d my 121I5r121 my want of Intelligence was in great Meaſure owing to the Careleſneſs of thoſe I employ’d, and reſolv’d to be my own Spy in an Affair of ſo much Conſequence to my Peace: I had no ſooner determin’d on this, than an Opportunity offer’d as lucky as I cou’d have wiſh’d. One of the Boarders here happen’d to have a young Lady a Relation of her’s come to viſit her; there being a very good Tragedy acted that Night, they agreed to go to ſee it, and having talk’d of it before me, ask’d if I wou’d accompany them thither: Though I had very little Reliſh for that or any other Diverſion, as my Affairs were, yet I was extreamly pleas’d with the Propoſal, believing no Place more probable to give me a Sight of him, whoſe Preſence was all my Wiſhes aim’d at. Neither of them were dreſs’d for the Boxes, and I had an inexpreſſible Satisfaction in my Mind, to think that if I ſhou’d be ſo fortunate to meet Courtal there, I ſhou’d have the Opportunity to obſerve his Manner of Behaviour, unſeen by him: In ſhort, we all went in a Diſhabillee to the Gallery, and choſe to ſit in the very Corner of it, where without being much taken Notice of our ſelves, we might ſee with Eaſe all the Perſons that came into the Houſe. The Ladies that came with me, knowing me to be a Stranger, were ſo complaiſant, as to give me an Account what and who moſt of the Company of any Note were, as they came into their Places; but I had little Ears for their Diſcourſe, my Soul was all collected in my Eyes, and buſily employ’d in ſearch of him, whom the hope of ſeeing only had engag’d my being there: Lond I had look’d in vain, till the Houſe being pretty full, and I beginningginning 122I5v122 ginning to deſpair of being ſo happy, at laſt I ſaw him enter: His Charms were too peculiar, and my Thoughts too full of them, not to make me know him the Moment he ſet his Foot into the Box――Good God! how lovely did he appear that Night! how graceful! thoſe Perfections which in the Country, where a Bon Mein is a Prodigy, one might think ſhown to Advantage, were no leſs diſtinguiſhable among a Crowd of Beaux! Surrounded by thoſe, who by their very Air one might perceive made it their Study to attract, he ſhone with a ſuperior Brightneſs, and with an unaffected manly Majeſty aſſerted the Dignity of his Charms, and ſeem’d to ſcorn each trifling Emulator. As I was contemplating on his unmatch’d Beauties, I heard one of my Companions ſay to the other, Couſin! do you ſee who is yonder? Yes, (reply’d ſhe that was ſpoke to) I find that Villain, to his other Vices, has that of being aſham’d of nothing. How unconcern’d he looks (reſum’d the former) and yet, I believe, this is the firſt Time of his appearing ſince his laſt baſe Action. They had a good deal more of this kind of Diſcourſe between themſelves, which I but little regarded, not knowing of whom they were talking, nor the leaſt imagining that any thing of what they ſaid was any Concern of mine, till ſome Ladies coming into the Box over againſt us, I ſaw Courtal quit his own, and ſtepping haſtily into that in which they were, ſeem’d to entertain them with a world of Gaiety, and with a Familiarity which gave me a Taſte of what (by the little I felt) I believe to be the moſt dreadful of all Paſſions, Jealouſy! One of them, though I hated her for the Freedom I ſaw ſhe 123I6r123 ſhe us’d him with, I cou’d not forbear thinking perfectly agreeable; but ſhe that ſat by her, tho’ not the thouſandth Part ſo engaging, appear’d to have the greateſt Share of Courtal’s Admiration: I perceiv’d he look’d on her with a beſeeching Air, and a Tenderneſs in his Deportment, which made me almoſt mad; while the other often pull’d him by the Sleeve, patted his Hand, whiſper’d to him, and ſeem’d by a world of little Fondneſſes to endeavour to oblige him to a more peculiar Regard. Judge what my Condition was at a Sight ſo unexpected, ſo fatal to my Hopes! I felt in one Moment all that Deſpair, and Rage, and Jealouſy cou’d inflict, and ’twas as much as I cou’d do to reſtrain my ſelf from giving ſome Proof of it, which wou’d have made me ridiculous to the whole Aſſembly. Not being able to obſerve their Motions any longer with Patience, I turn’d to her that ſat next me, and ask’d if ſhe knew who thoſe Ladies were. One of them (anſwer’d ſhe) is the Wife, the other the Miſtreſs of that Gentleman that juſt now plac’d himſelf behind them――The Wife! (interrupted I, in a much greater Surprize than can be eaſily comprehended) the Wife! did you ſay, Madam? Yes, (reſum’d ſhe) that Lady in the Green and Silver Brocade is his Wife, but tho’ ſhe is accounted one of the moſt celebrated Beauties in Town, and is certainly a Woman of a very excellent Temper, had a vaſt Fortune, and has not been married much above a Year, yet ſhe poſſeſſes but a ſmall Share in her unworthy Husband’s Affection: I dare ſwear, ſhe has this Moment a Weight of Diſcontent upon her Heart, though her Prudence enables her to conceal any Marks 124I6v124 Marks of it in her Countenance and Behaviour: That Creature by her in the flower’d Damask, who has neither Beauty, good Shape, or any Thing to recommend her but a little flaſhy Wit, and a vaſt deal of Aſſurance, ſhe is oblig’d for her Domeſtick Peace to be civil to, though every Body knows her to be the moſt cruel Enemy ſhe has, and that her Husband paſſes moſt of his Hours and great Part of his Subſtance with her. All the Time ſhe was ſpeaking, though I liſten’d attentively to what ſhe utter’d, I had my Eyes fix’d on Courtal; I lov’d with too much Paſſion, not to be aſſur’d it was he I ſaw before me;―― I knew I cou’d not be miſtaken, but I imagin’d her to be infinitely ſo: What ſhe told me was ſo inconſiſtent with the Idea I had form’d of his Humour, or the Character I had heard of his Circumſtances, that I cou’d not believe one Tittle of what ſhe ſaid. Madam, you are prodigiouſly deceiv’d (cry’d I, in a kind of Diſdain) in the Perſons you are talking of; that Gentleman was my particular Acquaintance in the Country, and I am confident has no Wife, or if he had, is not of a Principle ſo vile to uſe her in the manner you deſcribe. I know not (ſaid the other Lady) what he may have done to entitle him to your good Opinion, but am very certain, there are too many here who know him to be a far worſe Monſter than my Couſin has repreſented him. I ſhou’d be very much aſham’d (rejoin’d I more warmly than before) to take the Part of a Man, who really cou’d deſerve thoſe Severities ſome Reports may have exacted from you: But muſt ask your Pardon, if I tell you, that I cannot receed from what I have ſaid, becauſe I am confident,fident, 125I7r125 fident, if Sir Thomas Courtal were ſenſible of the Accuſations he lies under, he wou’d find it no difficult Matter to clear himſelf――Sir Thomas Courtal (cry’d they both out) for Heavens ſake who are you talking of? The Man (anſwer’d I, more amaz’d at that Queſtion than at what they had told me of him) whoſe Character you have been ſo free with――Bleſs me! (ſaid one of them) I know him not; nor I (cry’d the other:) I thought we had all this while been ſpeaking of my Lord――
Here Belinda made a full Stop, as conſidering whether ſhe ſhou’d name him; and after about a Moment’s Reflection――You will pardon me (ſaid ſhe to the Recluse) if I conceal the real Name of this ungrateful Man; for, I confeſs, in ſpite of the Deceit he has us’d me with, and the Crimes he has been guilty of, I have ſtill a Tenderneſs for him which makes me unwilling to expoſe him. And the Recluse, aſſuring her ſhe wou’d be far from deſiring to know any more than ſhe ſhou’d think fit to reveal, gave her leave to proceed in her Diſcourſe in this manner.
If before, (continu’d ſhe) I thought theſe Ladies were miſtaken, I was now confirm’d they were ſo, when they nam’d a Perſon altogether a Stranger to me. I knew (ſaid I) you muſt at laſt acknowledge your Error, that Gentleman to whom you give the title of Lord is no more than a Baronet, his Name Sir Thomas Courtal, and I am ſure, if he were ſenſible of it, wou’d be very ſorry to have any Reſemblance of a Man ſo baſe. Good God! (ſaid one of them) you will not go about to perſwade us, that he in the White trimm’d with Gold is any other than the Perſon we 126I7v126 we have nam’d. I am very certain it is not (anſwer’d I.) As we were in this Diſpute, a Woman came to us to know if we wanted any Fruit, Since (ſaid the Lady) we are not able to convince you, let this Woman be the Judge; theſe ſort of People are acquainted with every Body, and ſhe can have no Intereſt in diſguiſing the Truth. When ſhe had ſpoke theſe Words ſhe beckon’d the Woman, and making a Pretence of buying ſome Fruit, deſir’d her to tell us who that Gentleman was; ſhe immediately confirm’d what my Companions had ſaid, and run on in a good deal of impertinent Chat about him: You ſee (reſum’d the Lady that boards here) how much your Eyes, or the great Likeneſs there may be between two Perſons, has deceiv’d you; but we have ſufficient Reaſons to know what he is, which when we come home I will acquaint you with. At that Inſtant the Curtain drew up, and the Attention I found they were willing to give to the Play, prevented any farther Diſcourſe: But how I paſs’d the Time of the Performance cannot be conceiv’d, without being poſſeſt with Agitations ſuch as mine. I had no Room to hope there was a Probability of ſo many Perſons being miſtaken, and his Behaviour to the Ladies that ſat in the Box with him, confirm’d the Character I heard of him to be too true; but preſently after I receiv’d a Demonſtration which took from me all Poſſibility of doubting the Reality of my Misfortunes. When the Play was done, having no Servant there to provide a Coach, were were oblig’d to wait at the Door for one to come to us, which it cou’d not do immediately, being hinder’d by a Chariot which ſtood ready for its Owner’s 127I8r127 Owner’s approach. I obſerv’d there were two or three Footmen belonging to it, and one of them, tho’ now in a different and much richer Dreſs, I perfectly remember’d to be the Man that officiated in the Place of poor Worthly’s Coachman, that fatal Day in which I firſt beheld the perjur’d Courtal, and ſince had been the Bearer of thoſe Billets I receiv’d from him; I pull’d my Hood as forward as I cou’d to prevent his ſeeing my Face, and changing my Voice, ask’d him to whom that Chariot belong’d; and he had no ſooner told me (as I fear’d he wou’d) the Name which had given me ſuch Confuſion, than I perceiv’d him coming, the Lord, or Courtal, or both, for both indeed were one: He conducted the Ladies he had been with into the Chariot, and ſtepping haſtily into a Chair which ſtood there, depriv’d me of the Opportunity of ſpeaking and upbraiding him, as elſe I ſhou’d have done in the diſtracted Condition I then was, without any regard how improper it was I ſhou’d do ſo in ſuch a Place, and before the Company I had with me: After this we got into a Coach, and the Lady who came to viſit her that lodges here, ſat us down, it being in her way home. One wou’d imagine, that to find my ſelf thus cruelly deceiv’d, had been ſufficient to have made me forego all the Tenderneſs which had led me into ſuch Misfortunes; and if I cou’d not think of him with Hatred, to endeavour not to think of him at all: But in ſpite of the juſt Rage I was in, the Impatience, the jealous Curioſity of a Lover ſtill remain’d. I remember’d that one of the Ladies told me, they had particular Reaſons to know who the Perſon was whom I affirm’d to be Sir Thomas 128I8v128 Thomas Courtal, and had hardly Patience to ſtay till Supper was over for the Performance of the Promiſe ſhe made me to acquaint me with them. I was beginning to ſtretch my Invention to form a Story to make her believe, that it was wholly on the Account of a Friend, and not of any farther Conſequence to me, which had made me ſo Inquiſitive; leſt by giving her occaſion to ſuſpect the Truth, I ſhou’d expoſe my ſelf to the Ridicule of the whole Family: but I might have ſpar’d my ſelf that Trouble. The Averſion ſhe had to him, kept her from regarding any thing but the Pleaſure it gave her to have an Opportunity of telling a Story ſo much to his Diſadvantage; and I had little occaſion for Entreaty to engage her to ſatisfie my Curioſity, and make me ſenſible that the Man I had conſider’d as ſo worthy Adoration, that all I cou’d do for him was rather a Merit than a Fault, was indeed the moſt vile, and moſt perfidious of his Sex.She illuſtrated the Hiſtory ſhe gave me with many Circumſtances, which aggravated the foulneſs of the Fact; but ſo much time has been taken in the recounting of my own Affairs, that I will not detain your Attention in relating the Particulars of this, and ſhall only, by giving you the Heads of what ſhe told me, let you ſee that I am not the only Woman whom his Artifices have render’d miſerable. The Siſter of that Lady who came to viſit her that lodges here, tho’ for a very different Reaſon, is as unhappy as my ſelf, and ſuffers as much in the not loving him, as I do for loving him too well. She is, it ſeems, one of the moſt agreeable Women in Town, her Accompliſhments are ſuch as cannot fail 129K1r129 fail of attracting a great number of Admirers; but among the reſt, there was a young Man of Quality, who profeſt the higheſt Eſteem for her, and ſhe thought her ſelf no leſs happy in his Addreſſes, than he did in her Acceptance of them. They long had lov’d each other with a moſt violent, tho’ pure Affection, but either through Diſparity of Birth, or ſome other Reaſon, both thought convenient to keep their Amour a Secret. That Villain (for I ſhall henceforth call him by no other Name) being an intimate Friend of the Lovers, was the only truſted Perſon. He convey’d Letters between them, and through his means they had frequent Opportunities of meeting. He continu’d faithful for ſome time, but Miranda was it ſeems too charming, not to be capable of making an Impreſſion on any Heart, much more on one ſo amorous as his; and he is too Baſe not to make uſe of any means, which might give him the gratification of his Wiſhes, and too artful to be at a Loſs to find them: As by his Contrivance they had often met, ſo by his Contrivance they were at laſt entirely parted; both having a Confidence in his Sincerity yielded an implicite Faith to what he ſaid, and he ſoon form’d a Stratagem to make each appear to the other more worthy of Hate, than Love; till, if they cou’d not entertain a real Averſion, they feign’d at leaſt to do ſo; and keeping their Reſentments ſtill warm, by new Inventions, prevented either from endeavouring an Eclairciſſement. The Lover, tho’ he imagin’d he had beſtow’d his Heart on a Perſon altogether unworthy of the Preſent, was too truly touch’d with the Paſſion he profeſs’d, to be able to Kwith- 130K1v130 withdraw it; and finding it impoſſible to continue in the ſame Climate with her, without continuing to adore her; and having too great a Spirit to avow it, after what he ſuppos’d he knew of her Ingratitude, reſolv’d to put it out of his Power to do any thing below the dignity of that Reaſon, which all People ought to make uſe of in an Affair of that kind, when they find themſelves ill treated, without a juſtifiable Cauſe, by the Perſon who once has flatter’d them with a ſhow of Tenderneſs. In ſhort, to the Amazement of the whole Town, and the great Grief of all his Friends and Acquaintance, (but he whoſe Arts had occaſion’d him to do it) he went to travel; and the Lady, tho’ her very Soul went with him, believing herſelf injur’d by his Ingratitude, and the Inſinuations of his faithleſs Friend, ſcorn’d to make any tryal of her Power to prevent him. The belov’d Rival once remov’d, this common Deceiver of them both――nay, of the whole World, thought there was no Obſtacle remaining to his Wiſhes, and doubted not the influence of his too often ſucceſsful Charms. In a very few Days he declar’d himſelf her Lover; and made no ſcruple to let her know, he hop’d ſhe wou’d reward his Paſſion. But, this once, he found his Deſigns fruſtrated; however ſhe had diſguiſ’d it, ſhe ſtill retain’d too great a Tenderneſs for her abſent Lover, to entertain the leaſt Thought of putting any other in his Place; and beſides, was a Woman of too much Honour and Diſcretion, not to look on all Attempts made upon her Virtue with the utmoſt Contempt; and that this was ſo, there was no roomto 131K2r131 to doubt, ſince ſhe knew him to be married. The Lady, who gave me this Account, told me, that nothing cou’d be more enrag’d than ſhe was at the Declaration he made her; that ſhe rejected all his Offers, and forbad him ever to viſit her any more: But, as it is the Nature of that ingrateful Sex ſtill to purſue what flies them, he redoubled his Efforts: deny’d the Liberty of ſpeaking, he writ to her in the moſt moving and ſeeming ſincere Strain that ever Heart dictated; but after the receipt of the firſt Letter, the known Character on the Superſcription prevented her from reading what the next contain’d, and ſhe immediately ſent it back unopen’d. Yet ſtill, undaunted he went on, and to make her ſenſible how capable he was to make even Contradictions join, and by the Effects of his too powerful Wit, dreſs the fouleſt Vice in all the Beauties of the faireſt Virtue, he ſent long Epiſtles to argue down her Honour, and to perſuade her to a Paſſion ſo ſublime as his, to be cruel only was a Crime. But whether it was owing to her good Senſe, or the Prepoſſeſſion of another Idea, which made her inſenſible of his (I muſt ſay) unmatch’d Perfections, I know not; but as excellent a Logician as he is, all his Sophiſtry here prov’d Vain. And tho’ ſhe cou’d not avoid receiving ſome of his Letters, becauſe he either diſguiſ’d his Hand, or got ſome other Perſon to direct them, yet they had no other Effect on her, than what was very different from his Expectations; ſhe hated him ſtill more, ſhun’d him as a Monſter, and if, by chance, ſhe ſaw him at any publick Place, (as he took all Opportunities of being where ſhe was) her very Countenance diſcover’dK2cover’d 132K2v132 cover’d the ſecret Diſdainings of her Soul; and tho’ where-e’er ſhe turn’d he follow’d her with Eyes trembling with Tenderneſs! and all the Languiſhments of deſpairing Love! (Looks, Heaven knows, he is too well us’d to wear) a ſtern Severity only ſhone in hers! And if, to avoid being taken Notice of, ſhe was oblig’d to anſwer the Civilities he paid her, Scorn lighten’d in her Glances! when-e’er ſhe ſpoke, proud Indignation triumph’d in her Accents! and haughty Deteſtation ſparkled in her Air! Such a Deportment, had his Paſſion been of that kind, which is worthy of the Name of Love, muſt have reduc’d him to a Condition juſtly meriting Compaſſion; but Love is a Flame too bright, too pure, to blaze in a Heart ſo full of Fraud and vile Hypocriſy. As Affairs were in this Poſture between them, there came an Account that the Ship in which the poor, unfortunate, deluded Lover embark’d was caſt away, and all on Board it loſt, and at the very ſame time, his equally deceiv’d Miſtreſs receiv’d a Letter, which he had writ to her from a Sea-port Town, where they happen’d to put in. That unhappy Gentleman, tho’ he had been made to believe her infinitely undeſerving of it, ſtill retain’d the ſame Tenderneſs he had ever profeſt, and had not the Power to forbear letting her know it, tho’ he had the Power to leave her: In this Teſtimony of his continu’d Faith, there was ſome little Mixture of upbraidings, which made her no Stranger to the Cauſe of his Departure, and that it was not his want of Love, and Truth, but the ſeeming Reaſons he had to doubt of her, which had depriv’d her of her Lover. Had it been poſſible to have recall’d him, with what a Tranſport 133K3r133 Tranſport muſt ſhe have welcom’d ſuch an Eclairciſſ ement; but, alas! he was now irrecoverably loſt. She found his Faith, his Conſtancy, his Tenderneſs, but found at the ſame time ſhe was paſt the poſſibility of receiving any Benefit of his Virtues; and if one rightly conſiders her Condition, I know not if it were not leſs Miſery to have believ’d him falſe, than know him true, and know him loſt for ever. I will not go about to make any Repetition of what I was told concerning the Surprize, Deſpair and Rage, which ſeiz’d the Heart of this unfortunate Lady, at ſo unexpected a Cataſtrophe. ’Tis eaſy for you to imagine ſhe muſt be tranſported with an uncommon Fury; but while ſhe was venting the Anguiſh of her Soul in Curſes on the hated Author of her Miſeries, he was contriving means to gratifie his Deſires on her; and finding it in vain to proſecute his lawleſs Suit, by thoſe ways he had began it in, he had the unbounded Impudence to reſolve on others, yet more impious! and ſeek by Force, to obtain what, he was now convinc’d, Entreaties wou’d for-ever fail to give him. Opportunity was all he wanted to perpetrate his Deſign, and none for a long time offering, he grew deſperate enough to deſpiſe all Conſiderations; and knowing ſhe very often went to Evening-Prayers, he waited at the Church Door with a Hackney-Coach, and was about to ſeize and drag her violently into it. The Action was ſo ſudden, that tho’ there were many People coming out at the ſame time, the Surprize it gave ’em, wou’d have prevented her receiving any Aſſiſtance, if two Gentlemen that were paſſing by had not had preſence enough of Mind K3to 134K3v134 to draw their Swords in her Defence, juſt as he had ſo far compaſs’d his Intent, as to be getting into the Coach himſelf, after having thruſt her into it. He want not Courage to engage with them both; but a crowd of People immediately coming about ’em, put a ſtop to any Miſchief, either to him or them. Had ſuch a piece of Villany been attempted by a meaner Man, he certainly had been ſecur’d; but his Quality made every body unwilling to create to themſelves ſo powerful an Enemy, and he had the Liberty of retreating, venting ten thouſand Curſes on his ill Fortune, and the Gentlemen who had fruſtrated his Deſign; while Miranda, tho’ half dead with the Fright, was ſafely conducted home by her Deliverers. Such an Attempt on a Lady ſo much diſtinguiſhed as Miranda, and made by ſuch a Perſon, muſt certainly occaſion a great deal of Diſcourſe in the World; and her Brother, who is a Colonel, wou’d have been ſuſpected to have but little Regard to the Honour of his Family, if he had not reſented it in the manner he did. The next Day he ſent a Challenge to the intended Raviſher; which being anſwer’d, as he expected it wou’d, they met in that Field, behind Mountague-Houſe, ſo famous for Duels; but, in ſpite of the Juſtneſs of his Cauſe, the Brother had the worſt of it; and the other, leaving him wounded, and as he thought Dead, made his Eſcape; nor durſt appear in Town, till he heard, contrary to every body’s Expectation, that his Antagoniſt was out of Danger; and that Night which ſhew’d him to me at the Play-houſe, was the firſt of his being ſeen ſince the time he fought. Belinda 135 K4r 135
Belinda had no ſooner finiſh’d this little Hiſtory, than ſhe obſerv’d an exceſſive Paleneſs in the Face of the Recluse, and, before ſhe cou’d have time to ask if ſhe were ill, ſaw her fall fainting on the Couch: but there was no occaſion to call in any body to her Aſſiſtance, her Spirits were not above a Moment abſent; and at their return, Oh Madam! ſaid ſhe, (looking on Belinda with Eyes ſtreaming with Tears) how ſtrangely has Fortune brought together two Wretches, fit only for the Society of each other! We are indeed too nearly ally’d in our Misfortunes, and to one fatal Source owe both our Woes! I might from the very beginning of your Story imagin’d it ――might have known that ſuch prodigious Charms, and ſuch prodigious Villany, were no where blended but in my perfidious; but ſtill dear Lyſander!――Your Courtal!――my Lyſander, are the ſame, and both are found only in the Perſon of the too lovely, faithleſs, Bellamy. The Surpriſe that Belinda was in at theſe Words, took from her for ſome time the Power of anſwering, nor cou’d ſhe for a long while bring out any more than―― Good God! it is poſſible?――Tho’ loſt to all the World, reſum’d the Recluse, and wholly regardleſs of every thing that paſs’d, this laſt Action of the Inconſtant Bellamy, in ſpite of me, reach’d my Ear. And I ſuppoſe it was in the time of his abſconding that he went to Warwick, and took on him that borrow’d name of Courtal, to prevent his being apprehended, if any Account of what he had done ſhou’d be brought down. Yes, ſaid Belinda (now a little recover’d from her Amazement) that was certainly the Motive which induc’d him both to take that Journey, K4and 136K4v136 and to diſguiſe his true Quality. For by the Account which the Lady gave me, I found it was not many Days after the Accident, that we had the ill Fortune to be overtaken by him on the Road.
Theſe fair Companions in Affliction paſt ſome time in bewailing their ſeveral Misfortunes, ſometimes exclaiming againſt the Vices, ſometimes praiſing the Beauties, of their common Betrayer; till the Recluse, being deſirous to know if there was any thing more to be heard of her Lyſander, entreated Belinda to finiſh the remaining part of her Story. Alas, Madam! reply’d that dejected Lady, I have nothing farther to relate, unleſs I confeſs I am weak enough to retain ſtill in my Soul a ſecret Tenderneſs for this unworthy Man; and that not the Knowledge of his unexampled Perfidy and Inhumanity to you, his baſe Deſign on Miranda, nor the Miſeries he has brought on my ſelf, can bring me to conſider him as I ought. Tho’ I reſolve never to ſee him more, I neither can forget, nor remember him, as a Woman govern’d by Reaſon wou’d do. Has he then not ſeen you ſince you came to Town? (interrupted the Recluse ſomewhat haſtily.) No, on my Honour (anſwer’d the other) he knows not of my being here, nor I dare ſwear thinks my Preſence worth a Wiſh; but were I ſure he did, nay were I convinc’d, that, tho falſe to all my Sex beſide, to me he wou’d be true; nay did his Life depend on my granting him one Interview, I proteſt, by all that I adore, I never wou’d conſent. No, Madam, (continu’d ſhe with the moſt reſolute Air) I owe much more than ſuch a ſelf-denial to the Memory of poor Worthly,―― to 137K5r137 to the Friendſhip I have already conceiv’d for you,――and to the Juſtice of Revenging, as far as is in my Power, the little Regard he has hitherto paid our Sex. The Recluse ſeem’d perfectly pleas’d with this Aſſurance, and omitted nothing to ſtrengthen her in this Reſolution.
There grew ſo entire a Friendſhip between theſe Ladies, that they were ſcarce a Moment aſunder. Belinda quitted her Chamber, being deſir’d by the Recluse to take part of her Bed. Their common Misfortunes was a Theme not to be exhauſted, and they ſtill found ſomething for which to condole each other. In this Melancholy Entertainment did they paſs ſome Days, till Belinda receiv’d Letters from the Country, which brought an Account that Worthly’s Wounds having been ſearch’d by an able Surgeon, were found not Mortal; that his greateſt Danger had been loſs of Blood; that he was now perfectly recover’d, and with new Life, had entertain’d new Wiſhes. Belinda’s Siſter had expreſt ſo tender a Concern for his Misfortunes, and ſo high an Eſteem for his Virtues, that he found it no Difficulty to tranſmit to her all the Affection he had bore her Siſter. The Wedding-day was appointed, and ſoon after Belinda receiv’d an Account, that it was ſolemnized, to the general Satisfaction of all Friends on both ſides, and the laſting Happineſs of the married Pair. Tho’ Belinda was far from envying her Siſter that good Fortune, which ſhe was incapable of poſſeſſing her ſelf, yet the Cauſe which render’d her ſo, made her unwilling to behold it; and, in a ſhort time, both their Reſolutions of abandoning the World continuing, the Recluse and ſhe took a Houſe about 138K5v138 about ſeventy Miles diſtant from London, where they ſtill live in a perfect Tranquility, happy in the real Friendſhip of each other, deſpiſing the uncertain Pleaſures, and free from all the Hurries and Diſquiets which attend the Gaieties of the Town. And where a ſolitary Life is the effect of Choice, it certainly yields more ſolid Comfort, than all the publick Diverſions which thoſe who are the greateſt Purſuers of them can find.
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