Exilius, by Jane Barker

Book V.

The Servant of Turpius, who had escap'd the Hands of Asiaticus, returning after he and Clarinthia were gone, found the Body of his Master which was not quite dead; wherefore he did all he could to restore him to Life, which soon prov'd effectual. When he was throughly come to himself, he commanded the Servant to keep the Secret, and feign an Imerment, as if he had been really dead; and in the mean Time absconded, taking Measures to make his Friends use all Endeavours to take and apprehend Asiaticus, as the Murderer of Turpius and Ravisher of Clarinthia; but he, as before specify'd, secur'd himself from their Malice.

As soon as Turpius was able to stir abroad, he resolv'd to go into Sicily, being inform'd by the said Servant, (who kept Correspondence with Valerius) that Clarinthia was there with Asbella. He resolv'd to conclude the Marriage between her and Valerius, and put them in Possession of his Lordships in Italy, whilst he should spend the Remainder of his Days with his belov'd Asbella in Sicily.

But when he came there, he found not Carinthia, she being escap'd the preceding Day, which very much afflicted him; and making Reflections by little and little, he began to mistrust Asbella and Valerius, supposing they had made her away, nor wou'd believe all they could assert to the contrary. Wherefore he resolv'd to go to Rome, and there take Measures contrary to what he had design'd before. Whether Asbella perceiving or suspecting, she thought it best to assure herself and her Son of his Estate before she parted with his Person, and therefore kept him within the Confines of the Castle. This Proceeding enrag'd him to the highest Degree, and confirm'd him in the Opinion he had of their Cruelty towards Clarinthia. But then again, in his Anger and Despair, he would say to himself, I ought not to impute this Crime to them. It is myself, Horror of Nature as I am, it is I that am the Author of her Loss, miserable abominable Monster! a Burden to the Earth, unworthy of Heaven, and afraid of Hell. O Clarinthia, Clarinthia, beautiful Clarinthia! the perfect Pourtrait of thy bright and vertuous Mother, thy Loss is irreparable, and thy untimely Death a Misery insupportable. O Wretch that I was! to give myself to the Embraces of a Prostitute, and break my Marriage−Vows to the best and fairest of her Sex, and then project an incestuous Marriage betwixt my only lawful Offspring and the Son of my Lewdness; and, as if these had been but petty Crimes, attempt the most detestable in Nature, on the Chastity of my own Child, that now I am justly the Object of Heaven's Vengeance, and a Prey to this lewd Woman's Tyranny. I am without Power or Friend to help or to deliver me; I have nothing but Horror and Lamentation to accompany me, and inward Regret to torment me. Thus he spent his Hours in Complaints and Anxiety of Mind; and, for an Augmentation of his Affliction, Asbellaincessantly importun'd him to make a Settlement of his Estate on Valerius, at the same Time assuring him of his Liberty; which at last so provok'd him, that with Difficulty he restrain'd himself from doing her Violence; but turning himself to go from her, his Tongue disburden'd the Anxiety of his Mind in most violent Maledictions. Curs'd Woman! (said he) may the Pestilence and filthy Maladies seize thee, 'till thou be scorn'd and loath'd by all the World; may all Misery and Misfortune accompany thee, the Devils and Despair pursue and overtake thee, Hell and Damnation meet thee, and a thousand other Curses attend thee to all Eternity. Thus did this unhappy Lord add Crimes to his Afflictions, and Sin to his Sorrows, by his Rage and Impatience. Asbella, on the other Side, with an hypocritical Complaisance, pretended to soften and compassionate his Sufferings, saving, My Lord, what have I done, thus to be the Object of your Anger and Reproach? Or rather, what have I not done, that might contribute to your Satisfaction? Did I not waste my Youth in your Love, and prostrate mine Honour to your Embraces? Was I not always faithful and constant to you, a true Friend and Confident of all your most secret Thoughts? And above all, though a Lady born to great Riches, yet as subject and obedient to all your Desires and Commands, as if I had been dependent on your Bounty. It is very hard, that I shou'd now be the Object of your Anger, for no other Cause but endeavouring to make you happy, by keeping you within the Reach of my Embraces. Had Queen Dido done so by her Trojan Hero, Despair and Death had not been her only Refuge. My Lord, continu'd she, be not cruel to your self and me, but endeavour to compose your Spirits, and calm those Storms, which Mistakes have rais'd in your Breast; in order to which, I will fetch you a little Cordial, that may moderate your Fury, by procuring you some gentle Slumbers. So, going to her Closet, she brought him a certain Draught, which she desir'd him to take as a Cordial to restore his Quiet. Yes, said he, I doubt not but it will be an assur'd Remedy of all my Misfortunes in this World, by sending me to the next. I question not its Efficacy, being it comes from thy Hand, Serpent as thou art; however I will take it, to be deliver'd from thy Tyranny. But as he began to drink thereof, his Mind chang'd; wherefore taking the Cup from his Mouth, he threw it and the Poison therein full in her Face. In the mean time Valerius came in, and was surpriz'd at all this Disorder; for Turpius began to be sensible of the Strength of the Poison, though he had taken but very little; and it had already seiz'd Asbella's Brain, that she lay raving on the Floor like a miserable Wretch, such as her own Crimes had made her, a sad Spectacle of the Vengeance of Heaven.

Valerius, as Duty oblig'd him, took all possible Care of them both, and got the best Physicians to their Aid, by whose Care and Skill they escaped Death, though they labour'd under long Sickness, and became much disfigur'd; for Asbella became deaf and blind, and lost all her Teeth; Turpius lost his Teeth, Hair, and Nails. Thus just Heaven takes care to punish human Crimes, and teach us cur Duty by our Sufferings. Asbella's Eyes, that gave Way to loose Glances and alluring Looks, are now only Blindness and Deformity; and her Ears, that were open to the soft Whispers of unlawful Love, are now shut from all Conversation, and deharr'd of the Employment for which they were created; and Turpius, whose handsome Person and graceful Mein had deluded not only Asbella,but divers others, was now a miserable Spectacle of Deformity. However, in this Condition, Valerius thought it necessary to keep Turpius in his Apartment, 'till Time should a little restore him to his proper Figure; but withal, supposing Air necessary for his Recovery, put him into that Lodging where Clarinthia had been, for the Benefit of the adjacent Balcony. As Turpius was here walking one Day, with his Heart oppress'd with Sorrow, and his Head with Madness and Despair, the only Companions his wicked Life had provided to entertain him in his Solitude and Misfortune, he saw a little Vessel sailing so near the Castle, that he could call and becken to the Sailors, who approaching near, he threw himself over the Banisters into the Sea. The Ship's Crew took him up with all Speed half dead with the Plunge; nevertheless, he soon came to himself, and as soon knew the Master of the Ship to be his ancient Enemy Mecos: And Mecos in a little Time remember'd Turpius, notwithstanding the great Change his late Sickness had made in him. Their first Surprize being over, Turpius said, Without Doubt the Gods have brought me to receive Punishment from thy Hands, without which their Justice could not be perfect. I confess my Crimes have deserv'd the most rigorous Chastisement which thou my greatest Enemy, canst inflict; then here take thy full Revenge: So opening his Breast, begg'd Mecos to sheath his Sword in his Heart. No, reply'd Mecos, though thou deservest Death, yet I will not be thine Executioner, being a Wretch more wicked than thy self; and as Wolves and Serpents agree amongst themselves, it is but natural for thou and I to live in good Intelligence; therefore tell me whither thou would'st go, and I will conduct thee, or what other Service I can render. Alas, reply'd Turpius. I scarce know how to thank thee for thy kind Offer, nor what Use to make of it; for I am a wretched Monster, the Odium of Mankind. However, if you will put me on Shore near the House of Publius Scipio, it is all I desire. That is the Place, reply'd Mecos, to which I am bound, therefore we will go together.

In short, these two Persons arriv'd, without any Obstacle, to the said Place, where they found all this Company of happy Friends and Lovers, and amongst them Clarinthia, which was a joyful Surprize to her Father; and though he was extremely chang'd, she knew him; and, falling at his Feet, begg'd him to pardon her if she had done any Thing to offend him. Rise, rise, my dear Child, said Turpius, for it is I, thy guilty Father, which ought to be in that Posture, begging Pardon of the Gods, and all the World, and in particular of thee, my dear Clarinthia: Thou hast done nothing to displease me; thou hast been all Vertue and Obedience; thy bright Soul is all Perfection and Purity; then pity and pardon this thy unhappy Father: Then both embracing, testify'd their mutual Tenderness in a Shower of Tears, 'till Publius, Asiaticus, and others of the Company, interrupted them with their Welcomes and kind Addresses to Turpius.

In the mean Time, Exilius and Scipiana, regarding Mecos a little stedfastly, knew him to be the Pyrate that had taken and sold them into Ægypt, and he likewise knew them; and casting himself at their Feet, begg'd Pardon for what was past, assuring them of a true and sincere Repentance; and that it was that hearty and unfeign'd Sorrow, which had brought him to offer himself a Sacrifice to the just Anger of my Lord Publius Scipio. At which my Lord Publius turning towards him, said, I know not wherein thou hast offended me, so as to deserve either Punishment or Pardon. But looking more attentively on him, he remember'd him to be his old Acquaintance Mecos; whereupon he desir'd him to relate what had befallen him since he left Rome, and how he came reduc'd to this Condition.

The History of Mecos.

You know, said Mecos, that I was heretofore one of the richest of the Roman Nobility, 'till mine and my Wife's lewd Lives dissipated what the Care and Wisdom of our Ancestors had accumulated. With Shame I may speak it, I think I was one of the greatest Debauchees of my Time, nor was my Wife on her Part less culpable. Amongst several Gallants which she entertain'd, Turpius, who pass'd for one of the most infamous of all the Sons of Luxury, was one of her greatest Favourites; and notwithstanding that I often forbad her to see or speak with him, yet so little did she regard my Prohibition, that she would be with him at Theatres, Balls, Masques, and all other Diversions, whilst I did the same with other Ladies. Thus we led a Life disagreeable to the Gods and our Friends; and though the Diminution of my Estate call'd loud for a Retrenchment of my Expences, I was deaf to all, and thought to supply my Extravagance by wrecking my poor Tenants, inhancing their Rents, 'till their utmost Endeavours cou'd not supply their Necessities, much less my Luxuries. Tho' my Stewards represented to me their Industry, or Distress, how they pass'd their Days in Labour, and their Nights in Care, neither drinking the Fruit of their Vines, nor eating the best of their Corn; their Cloaths, the Offal of their Flocks, coarsly wrought up by the Labour of their Hands; yet all not capable to help them through those Oppressions I laid upon them. My Severity minded not the Widows Tears, nor Orphans Cries; the Sighs of Husbands groaning in Prisons, and the Petitions of Wives supplicating on their Behalf, penetrated not; I consider'd no−body's Wants but my own, and thought my self in Necessity, if I had not an Affluence even to Riot and Luxury; that by Degrees my Lordships became abandon'd, few caring to be my Tenants; that for want of annual Revenues I was forc'd to sell the Lands, 'till my Affairs sell to such Extremity as were past Retrieve. I went into the Country amongst my Lordships, where I found nothing but Misery and Ruin, which caus'd me to return sooner than my Family expected; and going directly into my Chamber, I found Turpius in Bed with my Wife. This enraging Sight I could not bear, but ran up on him with the utmost Violence; but he being nimble escap'd, and all my Fury fell upon her, for with my Sword I kill'd her in her Bed. This Accident, join'd to the other distress'd Circumstances, made me betake my self to Flight, partly to avoid the Vengeance of her Friends, but chiefly the more insupportable Punishment of that Poverty my Extravagance had brought upon me. I took my Son with me, believing him to be my own, he being born before my Wife betook herself to that lewd Life; but my little Daughter I left to the Hazard of Fortune. As I pass'd through a little Street behind the Garden of Publius Scipio, the Back−gate being open, and the little Scipioplaying there, and his Attendance at a Distance from him, I took him up under my Cloak, and carry'd him away. The Child went pleas'd and smiling, as knowing me very well, being one that frequented his Father's House. I knowing he would be a good Booty in Africa, went directly thither, and there sold him to Amilcar, a Cartbaginian Lord, who gave him to his Son Hannibal, where I suppose he remains to this Day in Quality of a Page. At these Words Ismenus interrupted him, saying, that he was mistaken, forasmuch as Hannibal had no Roman, Bond nor Freeman, except himself: Whereupon Publius looking upon him with Attention, beheld in him the lovely Features of his beauteous Mother; and said, if this be my Son, the lovely Scipio which I lost, he has an Eagle spread on his Breast. True reply'd Mecos, the lovely Boy I sold had that Mark; whereupon Ismenus opening his Breast, shew'd them the Eagle. This Discovery was no less grateful, than surprizing to all the Company, but chiefly to Publius,who receiv'd and embrac'd him with all the tender Caresses of an overjoy'd Father; and all the Company, by his Example, express'd their Joy and Satisfaction, according to their different Relation they had to this lovely Object of their Endearments. After the first Efforts of their Kindness, they began to reflect on several Passages; how Emelia had taken the Picture of Asiaticus to have been the Pourtraiture of Ismenus, which, no doubt, resembled him very much, it having been drawn when Asiaticus was of his Age; and likewise how Exilius took him for Scipiana, when dress'd in Woman's Cloaths, at their meeting in the Cave; for 'tis certain, never did Brother and Sister more resemble each other than did these; to wit, Asiaticus, Ismenus, and Scipiana. After a little Time was pass'd on these Reflections, Mecos, at the Desire of Publius, return'd to his Story.

Having (said Mecos) vended my pretty Merchandize at Carthage, I went for Eygpt, where I plac'd my Son in an Academy of good Education, at Alexandria, and betook my self to Pyracy, taking upon me the Name of Marinus. In this wicked Occupation I throve so well, that in a little Time I became Master of a Fleet of these rapacious Wretches, they all owning me for their Admiral. Amongst many other Prizes which my wicked Hands took, it was my Fortune to light on this noble Couple, Exilius and Scipiana, whose Adventures I suppose you have had at large from themselves. My Son, whom I told you I left at Alexandria, made so good Proficiency in his Studies and Exercises, that he made himself an accomplish'd Gentleman; so that by Degrees, with the Help of Friends, he got to be Captain in the King's Guard, in the Place of Exilius, after he was put in Prison. But the Gods was pleas'd to punish all my Crimes in the Person of my Son; for he had enjoy'd this Honour but a very small Time, when passing one Evening in the Street, he was assassinated in his Chariot; but before he dy'd, he engag'd me to quit this wicked Way of Living, and to go ask Pardon of Publius Scipio, and inform him of the Adventures of his Daughter, and where I had left his Son. And now, my Lord, behold me at your Feet, not only as a Criminal, but a real Penitent, asking Pardon both of you and Heaven with all Sincerity and Submission.

I am always ready (reply'd Publius) to pardon my Enemies; and I will not only forgive, but gratify thee; for as you have render'd me a Son, so I will present you with a Daughter, whom you left to the Risk of Fortune; she is here with me, the Governess of my Family. For when the Senate dispos'd of your Estate for the Payment of your Debts, my Wife, who was all Vertue and Goodness, took your Daughter Home to her, giving her a noble Education: Thus did her Bounty towards thy Child inhance the Odium of thy Wickedness towards hers. But may the Gods pardon thee freely, as I do. Then calling Artemesia, presented her to Mecos, saying, behold in her your own Figure; you have no Cause to doubt her being your own Child, she bears so great Resemblance to your Lordship. At which Mecos embrac'd her with much Joy and Tenderness, as also the rest of the Company presented their Congratulations with great Satisfaction, which was interrupted by the coming in of Dinner.

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