Exilius, by Jane Barker

Volume 1

Book I.

Night having withdrawn her sable Curtains, discover'd the bright Aurora rising, whose Beauty illustrated the whole Hemisphere, and thereby excited Clelia, the fair Niece of Publius Scipio, to her early Devotions, in a Grove near her Uncle Scipio's House, where stood a Chapel dedicated to the Goddess of the Morning. After which, she took a Walk in the Grove, for the Pleasure of the cool Morning Air, perfum'd with the natural Product of the Earth; as also to hear the Musick of the winged Choiresters, whose wild Notes were no less delightful than those well−compos'd Ayres, sung in Honour of the aforesaid Goddess. Here she had not took many Turns, but, lifting up her Eyes, she saw a Youth in the Habit of a Page approaching her; who, coming near, cast his Arms about her Neck, saying, My dear Clelia, what Happiness have I to meet thee here! Clelia, both angry and astonish'd, gave him a Reprimand suitable to his Crime and her own Indignation; at which, the Youth pulling off some little Disguise, said, Dear Cousin, behold your affectionate Kinswoman Scipiana! At which, Clelia, quite transported with Joy, embrac'd her with all the Tenderness that Love and Excess of Satisfaction could produce; then seating themselves, Clelia desir'd Scipiana to inform her the Cause of her long Absence, and how she came thus metamorphos'd. To which Scipiana answer'd, That her Adventures were so many, as would make the History too long to recite at that Time; therefore begg'd Clelia rather to let her know what had attended her since their Separation at Rome, and what Turns of Fortune had brought her into the Country, a Place and Station of Life so little agreeable to her Inclinations, or, more properly speaking, which was so much her Aversion. To which Cleliareadily accorded, and concluding it too early to present Scipiana to her Father, thereby to disturb his Morning Repose, they entertain'd themselves in the following Relation.

The History of Clelia.

You know, Madam, said Clelia, that I always liv'd at Rome, under the Conduct of my wise and honourable Parents, the noble Fabius, my Father, and the virtuous Cornelia, my Mother, your illustrious Aunt; a Lady truly honourable in her Birth, Marriage, and all the Actions of her Life. Here I had the Happiness to enjoy your Company sometimes, tho' not so often as my Love and Esteem made me desire; for this charming Solitude, in which you delighted, depriv'd me and the rest of your Friends of that Felicity. The last Time was at the Triumph of your Brother, the incomparable Asiaticus, after his Asian Conquest, which was the greatest Augmentation of the Roman Glory that ever Hero yet acquir'd: And as it gave a most sensible Joy to all honourable Minds, so, more especially to us the near Relations of the Conqueror. Nevertheless, this happy Time was the Beginning of my Misfortunes; for I being with you, amongst the rest of the Roman Ladies, to make our Complements to the Triumpher, according to the Roman Custom, I was surpriz'd at the graceful Mien of Marcellus, who regarded me with an Air so full of Respect and Gallantry, as if he dedicated to me all the Part he had in that Day's Solemnity. At least, I flatter'd myself with this Opinion; and I fear this is a Fault which Maids of all Ranks are too often guilty of; we take Complements for Kindness, Kindness for Affection, Affection for Passion, and so on, 'till we too late find our Mistake, and know that Self−flattery, and a secret Belief of our own Merits, betray us more than those we call False Lovers.

Next Day after the Triumph, you may remember, Madam, that you and I went to render our Respects to Asiaticus,where resorted all the Ladies, as well as the great Commanders of the Army, paying him the Honours of a happy Conqueror and a glorious Triumpher. Asiaticus, according to his accustom'd Generosity, attributed all to their Courage; so, making them partake of the Honours they offer'd him. To which Marcellus merrily answer'd, That they ought not to ascribe too much to their Swords in the Presence of Ladies, whose Eyes were capable of making greater Conquests than the Empire of Asia. To which I reply'd, That if we were all bright as Jemella, and our Enemies amorous as Marcellus, we might pretend to subdue the Universe; for their Marriage being no Way a Secret, I thought one might name her in Publick without Breach of Civility. To which Marcellus made several Returns, by Way of Railery, saying, That Jemella's early Beauty was very bright; yet, when the Sun rises, we cease to adore the Morning Star, having a more illustrious Object for our Adorations. In this Kind of Prattle we entertain'd our selves, whilst Asiaticus was speaking much in Favour of a certain Stranger, who had done Things very extraordinary in that Expedition. 'Tis true, reply'd Scipiana, I remember my Brother spake much in Commendation of an unknown Person, in Terms so advantageous, as seem'd rather the Effect of his Generosity than the Stranger's Merit; for you know my Brother is endow'd with that excellent Quality in a peculiar Manner; but Time and divers Occasions have taught me that this Stranger's Worth needed not those Commendations which proceed from Generosity, bare Justice giving him the Character of a compleat Hero, as I shall hereafter inform you; but at present beg you to proceed in your Discourse.

Madam, said Clelia, it is not proper for me to describe to you any of the Grandeur or Magnificence of Rome at that Time, your self being a Spectator, or rather, your Beauty and Merit making a principal Part of the Solemnity.

When the Time prescrib'd had put a Period to these glorious Diversions, and that we were ready to attend your Ladyship, together with Asiaticus, to this your Father's Country−House, here to celebrate the Marriage between you and my Brother Fabius, according to the Agreement and Desire of our Relations on all Sides; you may please to remember how Fabius, being wounded in the Street, the Night before our intended Journey, was detain'd, and I with him, to attend his Recovery. We suppos'd that my Brother receiv'd this Wound from the Hand of that lewd Wretch Clodius, because he has never been seen at Rome since. True, reply'd Scipiana, it was Clodius did that unworthy Action; for he has avow'd as much to me since, which renders him so perfectly my Aversion, that I can hardly repeat his Name with common Patience, nor think on him but with a sensible Indignation. But I will not enlarge at present, thereby to deprive myself a Moment of that Discourse I have begg'd of my dear Clelia.

Whilst my Brother's Wound detain'd him (said Clelia) Marcellus made divers Visits, partly out of Respect and Kindness to him, and partly to find an Opportunity to discover his Passion to me, which in a few Days happen'd. Fabius being asleep, I was retir'd into the Closet, where Marcellus entering, took the Opportunity to cast himself at my Feet, and make his Address to me with all the Tenderness that a Respect due to my Quality could permit, and the Suddenness of the Occasion dictate: Which I receiv'd with a pretended Displeasure, as counting it an Affront to my Virtue, that he, being espous'd to another, should offer me his Love; to which he return'd, (with much Patience) that a Marriage made in Minority, and never consummated, was nothing in Effect, and such was that between him and Jemella; which I knew very well without his Information: But the Consideration of the many Difficulties that wou'd arise by Means of this Contract with Jemella, made me oppose him, not only in this first Onset, but in divers other Attacks of that Kind. Nor was it only this Chaos of Confusion, which I knew must necessarily fall between these three noble Houses, but my virtuous generous Soul had an Aversion to any indirect Proceeding, and my own Heart told me in what Manner Jemella must resent such an Affront; yet these, and many more reasonable Considerations cou'd not hinder some tender Thoughts from taking Root in my Heart, which have since brought forth such Fruits of Folly, as I shall let you know in the Sequel. I will not repeat to you, Madam, the divers Conflicts of my Thoughts and the Agitation of my Mind on this Occasion; for my Interior labour'd as it were under a Fever and Ague, burning with an irresistible Inclination for Marcellus, and trembling with the Apprehension of so irregular an Affection, of which I saw no Possibility of Cure, but by the immediate Help of the Powers Divine; for which Cause I went to the High Priest of Jupiter, my particular Friend; to him I open'd my Heart, and begg'd his holy Aid and Counsel; who advis'd me to make my Devotions in the Temple of Jupiter, where many had been favour'd with satisfactory Answers. This Counsel I put in Practice as soon as possible, and having perform'd my Sacrifice with all due Ceremony, the Oracle answer'd,

The Gods will never disapprove

The sacred Bonds of mutual Love.

Having receiv'd this Answer, and the Benediction of the High Priest, I turn'd my self to go away, and thereupon discover'd the Face of a certain Person, who had lain before the Altar all the Time of the Service in great Devotion. This Person, notwithstanding the Disguise he wore, I knew to be Marcellus, and he as soon knew me thro' the Veil with which I was cover'd, and accompanying me out of the Temple, he fail'd not to enforce the propitious Answer of the Gods, to justify his Pretensions, and obtain my Consent, which, embellish'd by his Wit and Gallantry, put me so far to a Non−plus, I scarce knew what to reply; only I told him, that what soever the Gods might seem to consent to in their dubious Oracles, a young Lady ought to interpret their Meaning according to the Dictates of filial Obedience, and to have no other Will but that of her Parents. In this Answer I did, as it were, give my Consent; nor could I longer support my pretended Dislike of his Passion, after having been discover'd soliciting the Gods for that Purpose.

Marcellus having gain'd this Point, lost no Opportunity to ask me of my Father; for the same Day coming to visit my Brother, he found my Father by the Bed−side, who began to rally at the young Gallants of the Age, who were so cold in their Amours, and by that Means gave Opportunity to their Rivals to enterprize against them; even you, Marcellus (continued he) will delay your Time, 'till some keen−bladed Rival lay you in your Bed, like Fabius. To which Marcellus reply'd, (with more Affection than Prudence) saying, My Lord, I want but your Consent to secure me from that Danger; for, had I that, I might hope the fair Clelia and I might be so far united as to prevent all designing Rivals. This unexpected Answer not only surpriz'd, but highly displeas'd my Father, in Consideration of Jemella, whom all the World look'd upon as Wife to Marcellus; so consequently deem'd himself affronted, and me dishonour'd in this Address; wherefore he charg'd Marcellus never to come near me, and forbid me all Correspondence with him; in which my Mother co operating, I was a kind of Prisoner at large, under their diligent Observation. Moreover, to render the Proceeding throughly just and honourable, my Father advertised my Lord Marcellus, Father to my Lover, and Lucullus, Father to Jemella. For which Cause Marcellus confin'd his Son to his Apartment, consulting in the mean Time with Lucullus what Measures to take in this Affair. I at the same Time suffer'd much in the Reproaches made me by my Father, Mother, and Brother, for having forgot mine own Honour, and the Honour of my Family, in entertaining a secret Amour, and that too, with one espoused to another; which Reprimands I must needs own were no more than the Crime deserv'd, and very suitable to those strict Rules of Virtue and Honour they always practis'd, and in which they instructed me their dear Disciple and darling Daughter. Now, tho' Reason oblig'd me to receive these Reproofs with Moderation and Respect, yet the Tenderness I had for Marcellus made me so far transgress my Duty, as to find out Opportunities to correspond with him by Letters, Presents, Messages, and the like; which was not hard to do, by Reason the Domesticks on both Sides were subservient to our Inclinations. This kind of secret Correspondence to me now appears so great a Fault in a young Lady, that I can never forgive myself, therefore wonder not if my Friends remain disoblig'd; for tho' the Intercourse be never so innocent, and the Design never so honourable, (as was this between me and Marcellus) yet it carries with it such an Umbrage of Unworthiness, as extremely clouds and disfigures a Lady's Reputation, in the Opinion of all, even the most kind and generous Part of the World, but egregiously in the malicious and censorious Part of Mankind. However, this pass'd not long undiscover'd by our vigilant Parents; wherefore my Father, all on a sudden, took me in his Chariot, and brought me hither, not letting me know it was my Uncle's House, lest I should advertise Marcellus of the Place of my Residence; at the same Time giving out that I was gone into Egypt, to my Aunt Fabiell, who is there marry'd to a Prince of the Blood Royal of the Ptolomy's. After a few Days, my Uncle came to me, and let me know that it was in his House in which I was detain'd. He encourag'd and promis'd me all Kindness, assuring himself I would act nothing contrary to Duty and Honour; so, leading me out of the little Captivity of my Chamber, gave me the Command of his House and Family.

At this Time it was, that we heard the fatal News of your being lost, as also your Brother, the Noble Asiaticus, and that my Brother Fabius had left Rome, and was gone in Search after you; of all which we never since heard any Tidings. My good Uncle, your Father, was pleas'd to say, his Affliction was extremely mitigated by my being with him, which I count the Effect of his Goodness; but I am sure his Wisdom, Patience, and Resignation under his Sufferings, have been such Lectures to me, as I hope I never shall forget; for as none ever experienc'd the Mutability of human Affairs more throughly than my Uncle, so none ever bore it with a greater Equanimity of Mind, in which he demonstrated himself a true noble Roman, well deserving the worthy Character he had acquir'd, whose Virtue is built on such strong Bases, as the Shocks of Fortune cannot move, much less overthrow: Nevertheless, he is a Mortal, not a Deity, and human Nature wou'd oftentimes exert its Right in many Tears and Lamentations for your Loss, and the Loss of the illustrious Asiaticus .

Whilst I join'd my Griefs here with my Uncle, Marcellus remain'd still at Rome, detain'd in his Father's House. Now hearing of my being gone into Egypt, he began to be out of Patience at his Confinement, it putting him out of all Possibility of following me; and finding no Means to accomplish his enlargement but by addressing himself to the Senate, he was forc'd to put even that in Execution, tho' otherwise very unwilling to make publick the private Animosities between him and his Father. Whilst this was in Debate in the Senate, the Rabble of Rome,who readily entertain any Pretext for Mutiny, assembled themselves about the Capitol, demanded Justice, declaring that they wou'd not suffer a young Nobleman, who had serv'd so bravely in the War, to be oppress'd, or constrain'd by the Caprice of a covetous Father, and such kind of Insolence, suitable to a Mob, the most ungovernable Part of the Creation, who have no Law but their Will, and their Will prompted by their irregular Appetites, or Fancies; yet these are too often the Legislators of our State, which is the greatest Misfortune belonging to a Government.

You know, Madam, (continu'd Clelia) that Marcellus never valu'd the Honour of a popular Applause, as knowing it proceeds from Humour or Passion, not the Merit of the Person to whom they pretend to direct it; but especially, their Kindness was now ungrateful to him, fearing it might displease as well as expose me, and irritate my Father against him; however, it had its Effect; for the Senate, whether unwilling to displease the Mob, or willing to please Marcellus, gave him his Liberty, which he soon employ'd in going to find me out in Egypt, as believing me really to be gone thither. In Order to this, he took his Journey towards Cajeta, a Port near this Place, and most commodious for a Voyage into Egypt; but so it fell out, that he lost his Way in the Night, and arriv'd here, he being in disguise, thereby the better to avoid any Opposition in his Passage that might be made by the Practice of his Father, or Lucullus, Jemella's Father.

In this Transaction I cannot but reflect with Veneration on the Providence of the Gods, and the Care of our good Genius, who, unknown to our selves, and often against our Wills, mislead us (if I may so say) into the right Way, and conduct us thro' unknown Paths, to what we desire, or, at least, to what is best for us, whilst our own blind Will, or rather our purblind Reason, wou'd serve only to train us into inextricable Labyrinths of Difficulties and Confusion. How useful then, and beneficial is the Virtue of Resignation, and entire Submission to the Powers divine? But to return to Marcellus, to whom belongs the Application. He was kindly entertain'd by my Uncle's Servants, and by Chance was put to lodge in an Apartment which extended itself near mine; tho' the Passage by which one enters be far distant. Here it was he heard me talk to my Maids, and knew my Voice so well, as to be convinc'd of my being there, which put a Period to his intended Voyage into Egypt. Next Morning he walk'd forth into this Grove, full of an unquiet Satisfaction, for having found me there, he was ignorant how to come to see or speak to me. Walking thus musing, and casting many Things in his Mind, he at last found at the other Side of the Grove a little House, which he thought might be subservient to his Purpose, and therefore hired it of my Uncle's Steward, and in a few Days, according to his Wish, met me in these Walks, for I come here very often to adore the Goddess Aurora at the Morning Sacrifice. It was in that little Chapel that I saw and knew him, notwithstanding his Disguise; for, the very first Glance of his Eyes discover'd him to be the whole Marcellus, the brave, the amorous Marcellus; and I, no Doubt, as soon discover'd my self to be the tender, overjoy'd Clelia. I cannot but take Notice, how, by divine Providence, we now met a second Time in Devotion, and our Hearts discover'd their tender Sentiments twice unawares before the Altar of the Gods, which I apply'd according to the Dictates of Inclination, and so believ'd it to be a Mark that the Gods were favourable to, and approv'd of, this our Amour, and in the End would bless it with Success.

I soon gave him Opportunity to speak to me, in which he most instantly begg'd me to conceal his being there, 'till by the Intercession of his Friends he had treated with the Senate, and Jemella's Parents about the Breach of that Contract made in their Minority, which would be better accomplish'd in his Absence, all the World believing him gone into Egypt. I confiding in his Truth and Sincerity, promis'd him all Secrecy; he in the mean Time pretending to my Uncle's Servants, and those Country People with whom Necessity oblig'd him to converse, that he was a young Officer of the Army, that left the World out of Devotion, and there try'd to accustom himself to a solitary Life, in Contemplation of the celestial Beings, which indeed was partly true; for he furnish'd himself with many devout Books, in which, no Doubt, he meditated; and for his Recreation he had his Musick, of which, you know, he is a great Master. I saw him as often as I could in the little Chapel, and sometimes in the Walks, where he found Opportunities to give me Letters, containing large Accounts of his Passion, to which I made him some Answers in Writing, for we cou'd not correspond verbally, or, at least, but very little without Suspicion. Thus, my dear Scipiana, I gave under my own Hand the Certificates of my Folly, and sign'd the Testimonials of my Indiscretion; for sure there is not a greater Imprudence, than for a young Lady to write to her Lover: I am now sensible it never ought to be done, no, not even on the Account of Denials or Reprimands, much less to give any Assurance of Kindness; for many Lovers aim no farther than to obtain these Marks of Conquest, that among their Companions, they may triumph in shewing these Trophies of their Victory, at least, the following Part of Marcellus's Actions seem to evince this Assertion.

A certain Widow Lady, nam'd Libidinia, living near this Place, my intimate Friend, and the Confident of my Love, gave me divers little discreet Hints of his Inconstancy, which I must have understood perfectly if my Reason had not been rock'd asleep with a full Perswasion of his Virtue. She often remonstrated to me the Falshood of the Sex, the Satisfaction they took in betraying ours; that the Vanity of boasting their Conquest, was more pleasing to 'em than the Conquest itself; nay often the chief Motive of their pretended Passion; that a young Lady cou'd never be too frugal of her Favours towards 'em, forasmuch as that they interpret every Look and Word in Favour of themselves, and the smallest Complacency as a Mark of the greatest Kindness; that even the most virtuous of them think it no Crime to falsify their Vows to us, but rather deem it a commendable Piece of Gallantry; with many other Instructions of this Kind, which I took as Testimonies of her Friendship and Discretion, but thought not in the least that it belong'd to me and Marcellus, 'till I found him begin to grow remiss, and several Days pass'd that I neither met him in these Walks, nor in Aurora's Chapel, nor receiv'd any manner of Address or Message from him; then, Indeed, I began to fear I was like to be a President in these Lectures. I must confess, (said Scipiana, interrupting her) I have much Difficulty to believe Marcellus false, it being incompatible with his noble Nature, and the Rules of human Society, after having so openly avow'd his Passion to you, in Prejudice of the noble Lucullus and his fair Daughter Jemella, for him to act an Infidelity, or even an Indifferency, would render him not only unworthy of his Name and Family, but the worst of Miscreants, not deserving human Society; wherefore I beg you to suspend your Anger, and be pleas'd to finish your Story.

Libidinia, said Clelia, perceiving me uneasy under this negligent Treatment, went secretly to visit him at his House, thereby to inform herself, if possible, of the Cause of this sudden Change. At her Return she told me he was sick, which Information afflicted me extremely, as was manifest by my Tears; for Sickness is always a State to be pity'd, but was now deplorable, in Consideration of what he might suffer for want of Assistance and Attendance, which was difficult to be had in that unhappy Solitude, into which, for my Sake he had cast himself. This made me redouble my Sighs and Tears with many sorrowful Complaints, in all which, Libidinia, as a compassionate Friend, bore a Part; and taking out her Handkerchief to dry her Eyes, there fell out of her Pocket a little Picture, which I knew to be my Portraiture, that I had given him in Testimony of my Affection, and Belief of his Fidelity. The Sight of this did very much surprize me, not knowing how to iaterpret the Meaning. Libidinia,after a considerable Pause, said, my dear Clelia, I can no longer disguise the Truth, Marcellus is more distemper'd in Mind than Person, for he has made me a thousand Protestations of the most tender Passion in the World; which indeed did not very much surprize me, by Reason of the many little Hints and Advances he had divers Times directed to me, which occasion'd me so frequently to advise you by Way of Precaution; but now, having an Opportunity, he discharg'd his false Heart to me in as false Words, leaving nothing unsaid that might assert a real Passion; and when I endeavour'd to make him sensible of his Crime, by shewing him your Picture, which was pinn'd up just by him, and withal repeated to him your innumerable Virtues, and particular Goodness towards him, in having, for his Sake, risk'd the Love of your Parents, the Esteem of all serious and judicious People, and dedicated to his Love only, that Youth and Beauty, which ought to be the Object of many Adorers. The ungrateful Wretch, (continu'd she) with many opposite Replies, gave me the Picture, telling me, he found nothing charming in it, nor in its Original, since his Eyes were bless'd with the Beauties of Libidinia. This Infidelity, said Libidinia,whether real or feigned, is alike unpardonable; for, whether he abus'd my Friend in an absolute Act of Perfidy, or me in a feign'd Gallantry, I count our selves both equally and doubly affronted; for I deem whatsoever is done to my Friend as done to myself, and I doubt not but my Clelia has the same Sentiment on my Behalf; and it was the Consideration of this unworthy Behaviour to us both that caus d my Sighs and Tears, more than his Indisposition, tho' I endeavour'd for your Sake to disguise the Truth for the Present, 'till my Industry cou'd Work your Heart into some Kind of Indifferency towards him. But Fortune has extorted the Secret from me sooner than I intended; wherefore, Madam, I can only recommend to you to join with me in a just Resentment of his Unworthiness; banish, detest, and abhor him, as the worst of Criminals.

The Knowledge of this his Falshood, continu'd Clelia, enrag'd me to the last Degree; and now, too late, I was sensible of my Folly, in contracting an Amour, and carrying on a Correspondence of that Consequence, against the Consent of my wise and honourable Parents. Now I perceiv'd to my Sorrow, how Passion had clos'd the Eyes of my Understanding, and rock'd my Reason into a Lethargy, otherwise I shou'd have foreseen his Falshood in the Person of the abandon'd Jemella. But the just Gods were pleas'd that I shou'd thus find my Crime in my Punishment, and so far aveng'd the Cause of that wrong'd Lady, as to make her Disgrace light on my Head; and that Willow Wreath I vainly thought her Due, was now become a Crown for my forsaken Temples. My Heart, which had often treated its amorous Thoughts at her Cost, now languish'd in Despair, and became a Prey to all the gnawing Regrets that attend a slighted Maid. I who had neglected the Documents of my Parents, now became neglected by him, for whose Sake I had thus overlook'd my Duty. I who had, by my disobedient and unwary Conduct, in some Degree tarnish'd the Glory of my illustrious Family, was now liable to have my Virtue, Youth, and Innocence, obscured and sully'd with whatsoever false Shadows the malicious World shou'd think fit to draw on this Occasion. In fine, every Thing appear'd to me with an hideous Face, and was the more terrible, by Reason that my self was the only Cause of this Deformity of Affairs; for 'tis certain, no Reproach is like Self−Reproach, nor any Misfortune so hard to undergo, as what we draw upon our selves Then judge, Madam, in what Anxiety of Thoughts my poor Heart labour'd. But after the first Efforts of my Anger were past, I begg'd Libidinia to agitate in this Matter as she thought fit, only in Gross I desir'd her to restore him a certain Nosegay of Jewels, which he had presented me, and charge him never to see me more.

In this State, dear Cousin, are my Affairs at present, being under great Difficulties what to do; for I am asham'd to discover to my Uncle his being here in Disguise, and unwilling to let him remain so any longer, after such Treatment. I shall trust to your Wisdom and Goodness, to deliver me out of this Dilemma; but at present, if please, we will go in, for, no Doubt, by this Time my Uncle is stirring, whose Happiness in the Sight of you, ought not to be deferr'd.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31