Exilius, by Jane Barker

Book III.

Having left Clarinthia and the other weary Travellers to repose themselves by the Bounty of Marcellus, I beg the Reader to accompany me through a pleasant Grove to Publius Scipio's House, where we find this venerable Lord transported with Joy at the unexpected Return of his beautiful Daughter, after having been so long given over for lost. Clelia's Happiness also was inexpressible, to have again the Company of her dear Cousin, who had been the Associate of her tender Years.

The two Ladies rising early, walk'd into the Grove, to offer their Morning Oblations to the Goddess Aurora, who had there an Altar, (as before−mention'd) after which they seated themselves in a pleasant Shade, which the Day before had been the happy Place of their Meeting; and at Clelia's Request, Scipiana relates the following History.

The History of Scipiana.

You are not Ignorant, Cousin, (said Scipiana) that the Death of my Mother, the Loss of my little Brother Scipio,and the Banishment of the noble Catullus, so afflicted my Father, that he abandon'd Rome, and retir'd to this his Country−Seat, where I remain'd with him, leading a Life somewhat particular for my Sex and Quality, for I made the Study of Philosophy, the Greek and Oriental Tongues, my Business and Diversion. How far this is suitable to our Sex I dare not pretend to determine, the Men having taken Learning for their Province, we must not touch upon its Borders without being suppos'd Usurpers. However, since it did not displease my Father, I regret not those Moments I bestow'd in its Service, but think 'em still my own, and not slipp'd with the rest of my Life's Actions into the Abyss of Time past, (which returns no more) but are always present, or at least the Product of those Moments, to wit, the good Morals I learn'd, are always at my Command. 'Tis probable, if Fortune had provided me a more publick Station, I had employ'd my Time otherwise; but in this Retirement with my Father, I cou'd not find a more agreeable Entertainment.

When my Brother return'd in Triumph from his Asian Conquest, you know then, according to the Roman Custom, I was there to meet the Triumpher amongst the other Roman Ladies. Your Brother, the Noble Fabius, in Pursuance of our Parents Desires, offer'd me his Love, with a Gallantry suitable to his Youth and Quality, which I receiv'd according to his Merit, and my Duty; knowing it to be the Will of those who had Power to dispose of us and our Fortunes. Thus we thought we had built our Amours on the safest and surest Foundation, Duty, and Conveniency; but alas! those fair Edifices are not able to resist the Storms and Hurricanes which are raised by cross Fortune, but fall with the first Shock, as will appear by the sequel of my Story.

Clodius, who, you know, makes Love to all the World, did not spare me, I suppose out of Curiosity, as knowing me to be a Country Lady, he thought to find an Entertainment particular and different from others. What was his Motive it matters not, I always let him know his Addresses were unwelcome, and his loose Humour disagreeable; nor did I scruple to own my Kindnese to Fabius, since our Marriage was so speedily to be celebrated. To which Clodius answer'd, that Fabius should never live with me, nor Clodius without me; and this he endeavour'd to make good, in attempting to assassinate Fabius in the Street the Night before our Departure from Rome. You may remember that we were to have gone together to this, my Father's House, where the Nuptials were to have been celebrated, but this Accident befalling Fabius, prevented both him and you; wherefore my Brother and I took our Journey privately, he sending his Equipage before, whilst we came with no other Attendance than his Gentleman Fidelius and my Woman Milena, besides those necessary for the Conduct of the Chariot. Our Journey the first Day was very agreeable, except the Regret we had for your Absence, and your Brother's Illness, which detain'd you both. The next Day towards Evening, going by a pleasant Wood, whose verdant Trees and flowery Banks deserv'd our Regard, and might have given us Entertainment, but that a little Weariness had laid a kind of drowsy Silence upon me, whereupon Asiaticus merrily told me, if Fabius was here I shou'd be better Company; have Patience, Sister (continued he) his Wound will not detain him long. To which I reply'd, that the Love and Honour I had for my Cousin Fabius oblig'd me to wish his speedy Recovery, but not for my own Sake, in Regard of our Marriage, which was to succeed; for I assure you (continu'd I) my Inclinations to a marry'd Life are very little. No, reply'd my Brother, your Books have spoil'd you making you prefer the Conversation of the Dead to that of the Living. But what think you, will you consent that we make these your dead Companions augment the Fireworks which will be prepar'd for the celebrating your Nuptials? Take it not ill, dear Sister (continu'd he) that I affront your Fancy touching a learned Woman, I think it as misbecoming in your Sex, as Effeminacy in ours; and a learned Lady is as ridiculous as a spinning Hercules.

Whilst we were in this Discourse by the aforesaid Wood, we heard the Cries of a Woman in Distress. Asiaticusbeing touch'd with Pity and Generosity, forced himself into the Forest to assist this distress'd Person, leaving Fidelius to wait on me. We continu'd our Journey with all convenient Speed, in order to send Fidelius after his Master, and in a little Time we arriv'd at a magnificent House, where liv'd an ancient Lady, Mother to Lucullus,and with her Jemella, her Grand child. The good Lady and Jemella were walking in the outward Court, and very kindly invited me to stay that Night; which Favour I accepted without Ceremony, in Consideration of sending Fidelius after his Master.

Here I was entertain'd by these good Ladies with all proper Civility and Respect. I slept but little, by Means of the Inquietude I had in my Thoughts for my Brother. So rising early next Morning, Jemella, to divert me, led me into the Garden, which is indeed most surprizingly beautiful. You know the Garden of Lucullus at Rome is very fine, but far short of this his Country−Seat, which is most richly adorn'd with Statues, Water−works, and all Sorts of rare Trees and Plants, rang'd in exact Order, making curious Walks, Arbors, and Recesses, most pleasant and beautiful. After a few Turns, we seated our selves and there I took the Liberty to ask Jemella how Affairs were between her and Marcellus, which I thought was no uncivil Curiosity, their Espousals being no Ways a Secret. Jemella made no Difficulty to relate to me the whole Affair; and because those Transactions may concern you (my dear Cousin) I will tell you what I can remember.

The History of Marcellus and Jemella, related by Scipiana.

In my tender Years (said Jemella) my Father and the noble Marcellus being tied in a strict Bond of Friendship, thought to strengthen and perpetuate the same, by uniting us, their only Children, in the Bonds of Marriage; which they accomplish'd, or rather began, (for ended it must never be) when we were about seven or eight Years of Age, for then we were marry'd as Minors. In this State we liv'd at Rome, 'till Time and Acquaintance with the World made us begin to have a secret Regret for being unlike the rest of our Companions, who were single, and at Liberty to direct their Affections according to the Bent of their Inclinations, of which most desirable Privilege we found our selves depriv'd, by our Parents too prudently forestalling our Choice. This Regret was follow'd by a Kind of Aversion for each other's Company, and that Person that could most wittily Pique or shock the other, was the happy Conqueror. This, I suppose, our Parents perceiv'd, which made 'em provide for our Separation; for Marcellus was sent to Athens to study among the rest of the Roman Nobility; and I was sent hither to this Country Solitude, with Design (I suppose) to prevent my Thoughts from fixing elsewhere in the Absence of Marcellus.

When we were come to those Years in which our Laws oblige us to give our final Consent or Denial, my Lord Marcellus sent for his Son, but he begg'd Leave to stay yet another Year, which my Lord his Father endeavour'd to palliate to me, by telling me it was out of a true Honour profound Respect, which he had for my and Merit, made him deny his own Happiness, thereby to render himself more worthy my Acceptance. Whatever was the Cause was to me indifferent, the Delay was very agreeable; for beside the Coldness between us, I had no Mind to engage myself so soon in a marry'd State, always counting this Time of Virginity more distinctly my own, as if snatch'd from the round Ring of Eternity; tho' I must confess I could wish to employ these Moments otherwise than in this Solitude. But thus it must be, I having no Mother, am oblig'd to be under the Jurisdiction of my Grandmother, who is a Lady of great Virtue and Wisdom, but thoroughly fix'd to this Country Abode, which is my Aversion.

Before the Year was ended, which Marcellus requir'd for the improving his Studies, the Preparations were making for the Asian Expedition, in which Scipio (your Noble Brother) was constituted General. Marcellus, who had always entertain'd a particular Esteem for Scipio, and had now, it seems, a greater Devotion to the God Mars than Cupid, begg'd his Father to defer his Marriage, and give him Leave to accompany his beloved Friend Scipio, and with him to gather at least one Branch of those Lawrels which Fortune seem'd to have planted for the Head of this her young Favourite. This pleas'd me so very much, that my Father could scarce be persuaded but that I had some secret Intrigue, which made him recommend to my Grandmother an exact Vigilance over me, even to a tiresom Constraint, nor could I obtain Permission to go to Rome, to see the Glorious Triumph of Scipio, to congratulate the Triumpher, with the other Roman Ladies; which so displeas'd me, that I made a hearty Resolution never to be marry'd to Marcellus. In this state, Madam, (said she) are my Affairs at present; I daily expect to be sent for by my Father, to give my determinating Voice before the Senate, which I resolve shall be absolutely Negative; tho', at the same Time, I count my self bound in Honour to make some religious Pretence; for to oppose the Choice of my Parents, without some very laudable Reason, is to affront their Judgments, and prefer my own; and, at the same Time, all the World will believe me to have some bye Intrigue, unless I make Devotion the Veil of this my Disobedience; tho' I protest I am so far from having any real Call or Inclination to a religious Life, that I hate all Manner of Constraint. How then shall I endure those Hardships which attend the holy Recluses? This my ill founded Vocation makes me suspect that of others, and tempts me almost to conclude that the Vestals, and Diana's numerous Train, have many of them no better Motives than my self, to wit, some worldly Inclination or Aversion, and not the pure Love of the Gods, as they piously pretend. But let what will happen, I am resolv'd to hazard any Thing rather than marry Marcellus, who has shew'd so much Indifferency for me, that he has neither come, sent, nor taken any manner of notice of me since his Return. I must confess, reply'd I (said Scipiana) that no Goodness can pardon such Negligence, and 'tis certain his Crimes deserve the capital Punishment of an absolute Refusal; nevertheless, I do not see that you are oblig'd for that Reason to sequester your self from all the Happiness of human Life; for in so doing, you punish your innocent virtuous self instead of him the Criminal. No, Madam, (continued I) let me beg you to alter that Resolution, and when you have given your Refusal legally before the Senate, desire to return hither to your Grandmother. And though the Place be remote, and by its Distance from Rome something solitary, yet, believe me, it will not be so long; for if you go not to Rome, your Beauty and Merit will bring Rome hither; for Nature makes not her Work in vain. She made your Beauty to be admir'd and belov'd, and when the World knows you are quite detach d from Marcellus, every Heart will hope for some small Place in your Favour. The Youths will come to adore your Beauty, the Beauties to enjoy the Sweetness of your Conversation, and the grave ones to honour your Virtue, and altogether make an agreeable Concourse of pleasant Company. We were in this Kind of Discourse, when Fidelius came to us, and with a sad Countenance told us, that he had found the Place of a very unlucky Rencounter, and then bursting into Tears, said, he had there found his Noble Master slain, whose Body he intended to have brought away; but whilst he run about to catch his Horse, (which was got from him) the Body was gone. At this Relation I fainted quite away. Fideliusran to the House to get some little Cordial for me; in the mean Time, Jemella, and Milena, my Woman, by rubbing, and other Endeavours, brought me to my self; when, all on the sudden, there rush'd in at the Back Gate of the Garden Clodius and his Servants, who, in spite of all our Cries and Resistance, took us away; for Clodiusbeing conscious of what he had done to Fabius, had left Rome for fear of being apprehended, and was now making his Way to Sardinia, where he had a stately Castle, and great Lordships. Being alighted at this Place, to view a curious Piece of carved Work over the Gate, he heard our Voices, and finding the Gate open, by what Accident or Negligence I know not, he rush'd in and took us away as before mention'd. We soon arriv'd on the Sea−Coast, where he had a Vessel ready, in which he imbark'd us, and for an Augmentation of our Misfortune, he put us in different Cabins, where, according to his wild amorous Humour, he made Love to us both alternatively; and here he own'd to me, that he had made that Attempt on Fabius, purely for my sake, to deliver me from the Necessity of casting away my Wit, Youth, and Beauty, on a sober, moral Plebeian Idol, as he was pleas'd to term the noble and vertuous Fabius: And that out of no Motive (added he) but an Itch of being counted the vertuous, discreet, and dutiful Scipiana, a Pattern to the Youth, and the Envy of the Matrons, a Curb to the present licentious Age, and an Example to the future. Thus you vertuous Pretenders please your Vanity, and pride your selves in giving Laws to the World; and this it is engages you to accept of Fabius for an Husband; for very well I know, that your Inclinations are not towards him; therefore I hope you will not refuse your Deliverer, who has generously taken you out of this Prison of Formality, in which you must have been confin'd for your whole Life. Accept then graciously this Service from your noble Knight Errant Clodius.

This kind of Raillery, as it was displeasing to me in it self, so doubly offensive, by reason of my sorrowful Circumstances; which, when he perceiv'd, he chang'd the Manner of his Discourse, and with all Submission and Respect endeavour'd to excuse himself, and assert his Passion, which I mean not to repeat; for you know Clodiusis Possessor of an Affluence of Wit, and can turn his Discourse as he pleases; which if he would use to vertuous Ends, he might deservedly have a Place in the Catalogue of Worthies; but he always follows the wild Mazes mark'd out by Fancy or Humour, without any Regard to Reason or Judgment, so that he renders himself a very odd Original, which I hope will never be copy'd by any of our noble Romans.

Having thus persecuted me with his Courtship, to which he found nothing but disobliging Returns, he left me, and went to Jemella, on the same Errand, as I suppose. When I was alone, Grief supply'd the Place of Indignation, and the Thoughts of my Brother's Death supplanted all other Reflections, and every Reflection on that sorrowful Subject pierc'd my Heart with a new Wound of Grief; for whether I consider'd his Glories, his Vertues, or his fraternal Love to me, or any of his excellent Endowments, all was Excess of Sorrow, because I found my self depriv'd of all; great were his Merits, but greater was my Love; the Excess of both transported me so, that I wish'd my self dead, senseless, or a Prey to some Sea−Monster. I condemn'd those Philosophers as Teachers of false Principles, who assert, that the Desire of a Being is inseparable to our Nature; for the Misfortune of being cast into the Hands of Clodius, as well as the Death of my Brother, render'd Life to me an insupportable Burden, that I thought nothing so agreeable to my Wish as Death or Annihilation; but Experience, which often contradicts and overthrows Speculation, soon convinc'd me of the Extravagancy of these Fancies; for all on a sudden there broke out a Fire in the Ship, (by what Accident I know not) which being past all Hopes of extinguishing, we betook ourselves to what Shifts we could to prolong our Lives, if but for a few miserable Moments. And to shew the Instability of our Natures, I, who but just before was so much in Love with Death, now courted Life as earnestly as any Pretender to her greatest Favours, and was very glad to be fasten'd on a Piece of the Hulk, and so committed to the other Element, in Hopes it wou'd be more merciful than that of Fire.

As Scipiana was going on with her Discourse, she was interrupted by a Youth approaching them, who ask'd, if the House of my Lord Publius Scipio was near, forasmuch as he had Letters and Business of Consequence to deliver to that noble Lord; wherefore the two Ladies, rising from their Seat, commanded the Youth to follow them, in order to conduct him to my Lord Publius Scipio, where we will leave them for a Time, and return to the Strangers we left at Marcellus's House, at the other Side the Grove.

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