Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister, by Aphra Behn

Part I.

To SYLVIA.

Though I parted from you resolved to obey your impossible commands, yet know, oh charming Sylvia! that after a thousand conflicts between love and honour, I found the god (too mighty for the idol) reign absolute monarch in my soul, and soon banished that tyrant thence. That cruel counsellor that would suggest to you a thousand fond arguments to hinder my noble pursuit; Sylvia came in view! her irresistible Idea! With all the charms of blooming youth, with all the attractions of heavenly beauty! Loose, wanton, gay, all flowing her bright hair, and languishing her lovely eyes, her dress all negligent as when I saw her last, discovering a thousand ravishing graces, round, white, small breasts, delicate neck, and rising bosom, heaved with sighs she would in vain conceal; and all besides, that nicest fancy can imagine surprising — Oh I dare not think on, lest my desires grow mad and raving; let it suffice, oh adorable Sylvia! I think and know enough to justify that flame in me, which our weak alliance of brother and sister has rendered so criminal; but he that adores Sylvia, should do it at an uncommon rate; ’tis not enough to sacrifice a single heart, to give you a simple passion, your beauty should, like itself, produce wondrous effects; it should force all obligations, all laws, all ties even of nature’s self: you, my lovely maid, were not born to be obtained by the dull methods of ordinary loving; and ’tis in vain to prescribe me measures; and oh much more in vain to urge the nearness of our relation. What kin, my charming Sylvia, are you to me? No ties of blood forbid my passion; and what’s a ceremony imposed on man by custom? What is it to my divine Sylvia, that the priest took my hand and gave it to your sister? What alliance can that create? Why should a trick devised by the wary old, only to make provision for posterity, tie me to an eternal slavery? No, no, my charming maid, ’tis nonsense all; let us, (born for mightier joys) scorn the dull beaten road, but let us love like the first race of men, nearest allied to God, promiscuously they loved, and possessed, father and daughter, brother and sister met, and reaped the joys of love without control, and counted it religious coupling, and ’twas encouraged too by heaven itself: therefore start not (too nice and lovely maid) at shadows of things that can but frighten fools. Put me not off with these delays; rather say you but dissembled love all this while, than now ’tis born, to die again with a poor fright of nonsense. A fit of honour! a phantom imaginary, and no more; no, no, represent me to your soul more favourably, think you see me languishing at your feet, breathing out my last in sighs and kind reproaches, on the pitiless Sylvia; reflect when I am dead, which will be the more afflicting object, the ghost (as you are pleased to call it) of your murdered honour, or the pale and bleeding one of

The lost PHILANDER.

I have lived a whole day, and yet no letter from Sylvia.

To PHILANDER.

OH why will you make me own (oh too importunate Philander!) with what regret I made you promise to prefer my honour before your love?

I confess with blushes, which you might then see kindling in my face, that I was not at all pleased with the vows you made me, to endeavour to obey me, and I then even wished you would obstinately have denied obedience to my just commands; have pursued your criminal flame, and have left me raving on my undoing: for when you were gone, and I had leisure to look into my heart, alas! I found, whether you obliged or not, whether love or honour were preferred, I, unhappy I, was either way inevitably lost. Oh! what pitiless god, fond of his wondrous power, made us the objects of his almighty vanity? Oh why were we two made the first precedents of his new found revenge? For sure no brother ever loved a sister with so criminal a flame before: at least my inexperienced innocence never met with so fatal a story: and it is in vain (my too charming brother) to make me insensible of our alliance; to persuade me I am a stranger to all but your eyes and soul.

Alas, your fatally kind industry is all in vain. You grew up a brother with me; the title was fixed in my heart, when I was too young to understand your subtle distinctions, and there it thrived and spread; and it is now too late to transplant it, or alter its native property: who can graft a flower on a contrary stalk? The rose will bear no tulips, nor the hyacinth the poppy, no more will the brother the name of lover. Oh! spoil not the natural sweetness and innocence we now retain, by an endeavour fruitless and destructive; no, no, Philander, dress yourself in what charms you will, be powerful as love can make you in your soft argument — yet, oh yet, you are my brother still. — But why, oh cruel and eternal powers, was not Philander my lover before you destined him a brother? Or why, being a brother, did you, malicious and spiteful powers, destine him a lover? Oh, take either title from him, or from me a life, which can render me no satisfaction, since your cruel laws permit it not for Philander, nor his to bless the now

Unfortunate SYLVIA.

Wednesday morning.

To PHILANDER.

After I had dismissed my page this morning with my letter, I walked (filled with sad soft thoughts of my brother Philander) into the grove, and commanding Melinda to retire, who only attended me, I threw myself down on that bank of grass where we last disputed the dear, but fatal business of our souls: where our prints (that invited me) still remain on the pressed greens: there with ten thousand sighs, with remembrance of the tender minutes we passed then, I drew your last letter from my bosom, and often kissed, and often read it over; but oh! who can conceive my torment, when I came to that fatal part of it, where you say you gave your hand to my sister? I found my soul agitated with a thousand different passions, but all insupportable, all mad and raving; sometimes I threw myself with fury on the ground, and pressed my panting heart to the earth; then rise in rage, and tear my heart, and hardly spare that face that taught you first to love; then fold my wretched arms to keep down rising sighs that almost rend my breast, I traverse swiftly the conscious grove; with my distracted show’ring eyes directed in vain to pitiless heaven, the lovely silent shade favouring my complaints, I cry aloud, Oh God! Philander’s, married, the lovely charming thing for whom I languish is married! — That fatal word’s enough, I need not add to whom. Married is enough to make me curse my birth, my youth, my beauty, and my eyes that first betrayed me to the undoing object: curse on the charms you have flattered, for every fancied grace has helped my ruin on; now, like flowers that wither unseen and unpossessed in shades, they must die and be no more, they were to no end created, since Philander is married: married! Oh fate, oh hell, oh torture and confusion! Tell me not it is to my sister, that addition is needless and vain: to make me eternally wretched, there needs no more than that Philander is married! Than that the priest gave your hand away from me; to another, and not to me; tired out with life, I need no other pass-port than this repetition, Philander is married! ’Tis that alone is sufficient to lay in her cold tomb

The wretched and despairing Wednesday night, Bellfont. SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

Twice last night, oh unfaithful and unloving Sylvia! I sent the page to the old place for letters, but he returned the object of my rage, because without the least remembrance from my fickle maid: in this torment, unable to hide my disorder, I suffered myself to be laid in bed; where the restless torments of the night exceeded those of the day, and are not even by the languisher himself to be expressed; but the returning light brought a short slumber on its wings; which was interrupted by my atoning boy, who brought two letters from my adorable Sylvia: he waked me from dreams more agreeable than all my watchful hours could bring; for they are all tortured. —— And even the softest mixed with a thousand despairs, difficulties and disappointments, but these were all love, which gave a loose to joys undenied by honour! And this way, my charming Sylvia, you shall be mine, in spite of all the tyrannies of that cruel hinderer; honour appears not, my Sylvia, within the close-drawn curtains; in shades and gloomy light the phantom frights not, but when one beholds its blushes, when it is attended and adorned, and the sun sees its false beauties; in silent groves and grottoes, dark alcoves, and lonely recesses, all its formalities are laid aside; it was then and there methought my Sylvia yielded, with a faint struggle and a soft resistance; I heard her broken sighs, her tender whispering voice, that trembling cried — ‘Oh! Can you be so cruel? — Have you the heart — Will you undo a maid, because she loves you? Oh! Will you ruin me, because you may? —— My faithless —— My unkind ——’ then sighed and yielded, and made me happier than a triumphing god! But this was still a dream, I waked and sighed, and found it vanished all! But oh, my Sylvia, your letters were substantial pleasure, and pardon your adorer, if he tell you, even the disorder you express is infinitely dear to him, since he knows it all the effects of love; love, my soul! Which you in vain oppose; pursue it, dear, and call it not undoing, or else explain your fear, and tell me what your soft, your trembling heart gives that cruel title to? Is it undoing to love? And love the man you say has youth and beauty to justify that love? A man, that adores you with so submissive and perfect a resignation; a man, that did not only love first, but is resolved to die in that agreeable flame; in my creation I was formed for love, and destined for my Sylvia, and she for her Philander: and shall we, can we disappoint our fate? No, my soft charmer, our souls were touched with the same shafts of love before they had a being in our bodies, and can we contradict divine decree?

Or is it undoing, dear, to bless Philander with what you must some time or other sacrifice to some hated, loathed object, (for Sylvia can never love again;) and are those treasures for the dull conjugal lover to rifle? Was the beauty of divine shape created for the cold matrimonial embrace? And shall the eternal joys that Sylvia can dispense, be returned by the clumsy husband’s careless, forced, insipid duties? Oh, my Sylvia, shall a husband (whose insensibility will call those raptures of joy! Those heavenly blisses! The drudgery of life) shall he I say receive them? While your Philander, with the very thought of the excess of pleasure the least possession would afford, faints over the paper that brings here his eternal vows.

Oh! Where, my Sylvia, lies the undoing then? My quality and fortune are of the highest rank amongst men, my youth gay and fond, my soul all soft, all love; and all Sylvia’s! I adore her, I am sick of love, and sick of life, till she yields, till she is all mine!

You say, my Sylvia, I am married, and there my happiness is shipwrecked; but Sylvia, I deny it, and will not have you think it: no, my soul was married to yours in its first creation; and only Sylvia is the wife of my sacred, my everlasting vows; of my solemn considerate thoughts, of my ripened judgement, my mature considerations. The rest are all repented and forgot, like the hasty follies of unsteady youth, like vows breathed in anger, and die perjured as soon as vented, and unregarded either of heaven or man. Oh! why should my soul suffer for ever, why eternal pain for the unheedy, short-lived sin of my unwilling lips? Besides, this fatal thing called wife, this unlucky sister, this Myrtilla, this stop to all my heaven, that breeds such fatal differences in our affairs, this Myrtilla, I say, first broke her marriage-vows to me; I blame her not, nor is it reasonable I should; she saw the young Cesario, and loved him. Cesario, whom the envying world in spite of prejudice must own, has irresistible charms, that godlike form, that sweetness in his face, that softness in his eyes and delicate mouth; and every beauty besides, that women dote on, and men envy: that lovely composition of man and angel! with the addition of his eternal youth and illustrious birth, was formed by heaven and nature for universal conquest! And who can love the charming hero at a cheaper rate than being undone? And she that would not venture fame, honour, and a marriage-vow for the glory of the young Cesario’s heart, merits not the noble victim; oh! would I could say so much for the young Philander, who would run a thousand times more hazards of life and fortune for the adorable Sylvia, than that amorous hero ever did for Myrtilla, though from that prince I learned some of my disguises for my thefts of love; for he, like Jove, courted in several shapes; I saw them all, and suffered the delusion to pass upon me; for I had seen the lovely Sylvia; yes, I had seen her, and loved her too: but honour kept me yet master of my vows; but when I knew her false, when I was once confirmed — when by my own soul I found the dissembled passion of hers, when she could no longer hide the blushes, or the paleness that seized at the approaches of my disordered rival, when I saw love dancing in her eyes, and her false heart beat with nimble motions, and soft trembling seized every limb, at the approach or touch of the royal lover, then I thought myself no longer obliged to conceal my flame for Sylvia; nay, ere I broke silence, ere I discovered the hidden treasure of my heart, I made her falsehood plainer yet: even the time and place of the dear assignations I discovered; certainty, happy certainty! broke the dull heavy chain, and I with joy submitted to my shameful freedom, and caressed my generous rival; nay, and by heaven I loved him for it, pleased at the resemblance of our souls; for we were secret lovers both, but more pleased that he loved Myrtilla; for that made way to my passion for the adorable Sylvia!

Let the dull, hot-brained, jealous fool upbraid me with cold patience: let the fond coxcomb, whose honour depends on the frail marriage-vow, reproach me, or tell me that my reputation depends on the feeble constancy of a wife, persuade me it is honour to fight for an irretrievable and unvalued prize, and that because my rival has taken leave to cuckold me, I shall give him leave to kill me too; unreasonable nonsense grown to custom. No, by heaven! I had gather Myrtilla should be false, (as she is) than wish and languish for the happy occasion; the sin is the same, only the act is more generous: believe me, my Sylvia, we have all false notions of virtue and honour, and surely this was taken up by some despairing husband in love with a fair jilting wife, and then I pardon him; I should have done as much: for only she that has my soul can engage my sword; she that I love, and myself, only commands and keeps my stock of honour: for Sylvia! the charming, the distracting Sylvia! I could fight for a glance or smile, expose my heart for her dearer fame, and wish no recompense, but breathing out my last gasp into her soft, white, delicate bosom. But for a wife! that stranger to my soul, and whom we wed for interest and necessity — a wife, light, loose, unregarding property, who for a momentary appetite will expose her fame, without the noble end of loving on; she that will abuse my bed, and yet return again to the loathed conjugal embrace, back to the arms so hated, and even strong fancy of the absent youth beloved, cannot so much as render supportable. Curse on her, and yet she kisses, fawns and dissembles on, hangs on his neck, and makes the sot believe:— damn her, brute; I’ll whistle her off, and let her down the wind, as Othello says. No, I adore the wife, that, when the heart is gone, boldy and nobly pursues the conqueror, and generously owns the whore; — not poorly adds the nauseous sin of jilting to it: that I could have borne, at least commended; but this can never pardon; at worst then the world had said her passion had undone her, she loved, and love at worst is worthy of pity. No, no, Myrtilla, I forgive your love, but never can your poor dissimulation. One drives you but from the heart you value not, but the other to my eternal contempt. One deprives me but of thee, Myrtilla, but the other entitles me to a beauty more surprising, renders thee no part of me; and so leaves the lover free to Sylvia, without the brother.

Thus, my excellent maid, I have sent you the sense and truth of my soul, in an affair you have often hinted to me, and I take no pleasure to remember: I hope you will at least think my aversion reasonable; and that being thus indisputably free from all obligations to Myrtilla as a husband, I may be permitted to lay claim to Sylvia, as a lover, and marry myself more effectually by my everlasting vows, than the priest by his common method could do to any other woman less beloved; there being no other way at present left by heaven, to render me Sylvia’s.

Eternal happy lover and I die to see you.

PHILANDER.

To SYLVIA.

When I had sealed the enclosed, Brilliard told me you were this morning come from Bellfont, and with infinite impatience have expected seeing you here; which deferred my sending this to the old place; and I am so vain (oh adorable Sylvia) as to believe my fancied silence has given you disquiets; but sure, my Sylvia could not charge me with neglect; no, she knows my soul, and lays it all on chance, or some strange accident, she knows no business could divert me. No, were the nation sinking, the great senate of the world confounded, our glorious designs betrayed and ruined, and the vast city all in flames; like Nero, unconcerned, I would sing my everlasting song of love to Sylvia; which no time or fortune shall untune. I know my soul, and all its strength, and how it is fortified, the charming Idea of my young Sylvia will for ever remain there; the original may fade; time may render it less fair, less blooming in my arms, but never in my soul; I shall find thee there the same gay glorious creature that first surprised and enslaved me, believe me ravishing maid, I shall. Why then, oh why, my cruel Sylvia are my joys delayed? Why am I by your rigorous commands kept from the sight of my heaven, my eternal bliss? An age, my fair tormentor, is past; four tedious live-long days are numbered over, since I beheld the object of my lasting vows, my eternal wishes; how can you think, oh unreasonable Sylvia! that I could live so long without you? And yet I am alive; I find it by my pain, by torments of fears and jealousies insupportable; I languish and go downward to the earth; where you will shortly see me laid without your recalling mercy. It is true, I move about this unregarded world, appear every day in the great senate-house, at clubs, cabals, and private consultations; (for Sylvia knows all the business of my soul, even in politics of State as well as love) I say I appear indeed, and give my voice in public business; but oh my heart more kindly is employed; that and my thoughts are Sylvia’s! Ten thousand times a day I breathe that name, my busy fingers are eternally tracing out those six mystic letters; a thousand ways on every thing I touch, form words, and make them speak a thousand things, and all are Sylvia still; my melancholy change is evident to all that see me, which they interpret many mistaken ways; our party fancy I repent my league with them, and doubting I’ll betray the cause, grow jealous of me, till by new oaths, new arguments, I confirm them; then they smile all, and cry I am in love; and this they would believe, but that they see all women that I meet or converse with are indifferent to me, and so can fix it no where; for none can guess it Sylvia; thus while I dare not tell my soul, no not even to Cesario, the stifled flame burns inward, and torments me so, that (unlike the thing I was) I fear Sylvia will lose her love, and lover too; for those few charms she said I had, will fade, and this fatal distance will destroy both soul and body too; my very reason will abandon me, and I shall rave to see thee; restore me, oh restore me then to Bellfont, happy Bellfont, still blest with Sylvia’s presence! permit me, oh permit me into those sacred shades, where I have been so often (too innocently) blest! Let me survey again the dear character of Sylvia on the smooth birch; oh when shall I sit beneath those boughs, gazing on the young goddess of the grove, hearing her sigh for love, touching her glowing small white hands, beholding her killing eyes languish, and her charming bosom rise and fall with short-breath’d uncertain breath; breath as soft and sweet as the restoring breeze that glides o’er the new-blown flowers: But oh what is it? What heaven of perfumes, when it inclines to the ravish’d Philander, and whispers love it dares not name aloud?

What power with-holds me then from rushing on thee, from pressing thee with kisses; folding thee in my transported arms, and following all the dictates of love without respect or awe! What is it, oh my Sylvia, can detain a love so violent and raving, and so wild; admit me, sacred maid, admit me again to those soft delights, that I may find, if possible, what divinity (envious of my bliss) checks my eager joys, my raging flame; while you too make an experiment (worth the trial) what ’tis makes Sylvia deny her

Impatient adorer,

PHILANDER.

My page is ill, and I am oblig’d to trust Brilliard with these to the dear cottage of their rendezvous; send me your opinion of his fidelity: and ah! remember I die to see you.

To PHILANDER.

Not yet? — not yet? oh ye dull tedious hours, when will you glide away? and bring that happy moment on, in which I shall at least hear from my Philander; eight and forty tedious ones are past, and I am here forgotten still; forlorn, impatient, restless every where; not one of all your little moments (ye undiverting hours) can afford me repose; I drag ye on, a heavy load; I count ye all, and bless ye when you are gone; but tremble at the approaching ones, and with a dread expect you; and nothing will divert me now; my couch is tiresome, my glass is vain; my books are dull, and conversation insupportable; the grove affords me no relief; nor even those birds to whom I have so often breath’d Philander’s, name, they sing it on their perching boughs; no, nor the reviewing of his dear letters, can bring me any ease. Oh what fate is reserved for me! For thus I cannot live; nor surely thus I shall not die. Perhaps Philander’s making a trial of virtue by this silence. Pursue it, call up all your reason, my lovely brother, to your aid, let us be wise and silent, let us try what that will do towards the cure of this too infectious flame; let us, oh let us, my brother, sit down here, and pursue the crime of loving on no farther. Call me sister — swear I am so, and nothing but your sister: and forbear, oh forbear, my charming brother, to pursue me farther with your soft bewitching passion; let me alone, let me be ruin’d with honour, if I must be ruin’d. — For oh! ’twere much happier I were no more, than that I should be more than Philander’s sister; or he than Sylvia’s brother: oh let me ever call you by that cold name, ‘till that of lover be forgotten:— ha! — Methinks on the sudden, a fit of virtue informs my soul, and bids me ask you for what sin of mine, my charming brother, you still pursue a maid that cannot fly: ungenerous and unkind! Why did you take advantage of those freedoms I gave you as a brother? I smil’d on you; and sometimes kiss’d you too; — but for my sister’s sake, I play’d with you, suffer’d your hands and lips to wander where I dare not now; all which I thought a sister might allow a brother, and knew not all the while the treachery of love: oh none, but under that intimate title of a brother, could have had the opportunity to have ruin’d me; that, that betray’d me; I play’d away my heart at a game I did not understand; nor knew I when ’twas lost, by degrees so subtle, and an authority so lawful, you won me out of all. Nay then too, even when all was lost, I would not think it love. I wonder’d what my sleepless nights, my waking eternal thoughts, and slumbering visions of my lovely brother meant: I wonder’d why my soul was continually fill’d with wishes and new desires; and still concluded ’twas for my sister all, ‘till I discover’d the cheat by jealousy; for when my sister hung upon your neck, kiss’d, and caress’d that face that I ador’d, oh how I found my colour change, my limbs all trembled, and my blood enrag’d, and I could scarce forbear reproaching you; or crying out, ‘Oh why this fondness, brother? Sometimes you perceiv’d my concern, at which you’d smile; for you who had been before in love, (a curse upon the fatal time) could guess at my disorder; then would you turn the wanton play on me: when sullen with my jealousy and the cause, I fly your soft embrace, yet wish you would pursue and overtake me, which you ne’er fail’d to do, where after a kind quarrel all was pardon’d, and all was well again: while the poor injur’d innocent, my sister, made herself sport at our delusive wars; still I was ignorant, ‘till you in a most fatal hour inform’d me I was a lover. Thus was it with my heart in those blest days of innocence; thus it was won and lost; nor can all my stars in heav’n prevent, I doubt, prevent my ruin. Now you are sure of the fatal conquest, you scorn the trifling glory, you are silent now; oh I am inevitably lost, or with you, or without you: and I find by this little silence and absence of yours, that ’tis most certain I must either die, or be Philander’s

SYLVIA.

If Dorillus come not with a letter, or that my page, whom I have sent to this cottage for one, bring it not, I cannot support my life: for oh, Philander, I have a thousand wild distracting fears, knowing how you are involv’d in the interest you have espoused with the young Cesario: how danger surrounds you, how your life and glory depend on the frail sacrifice of villains and rebels: oh give me leave to fear eternally your fame and life, if not your love; If Sylvia could command, Philander should be loyal as he’s noble; and what generous maid would not suspect his vows to a mistress, who breaks ’em with his prince and master! Heaven preserve you and your glory.

To Philander.

Another night, oh heavens, and yet no letter come! Where are you, my Philander? What happy place contains you? If in heaven, why does not some posting angel bid me haste after you? If on earth, why does not some little god of love bring the grateful tidings on his painted wings? If sick, why does not my own fond heart by sympathy inform me? But that is all active, vigorous, wishing, impatient of delaying, silent, and busy in imagination. If you are false, if you have forgotten your poor believing and distracted Sylvia, why does not that kind tyrant death, that meagre welcome vision of the despairing, old and wretched, approach in dead of night, approach my restless bed, and toll the dismal tidings in my frighted listening ears, and strike me for ever silent, lay me for ever quiet, lost to the world, lost to my faithless charmer! But if a sense of honour in you has made you resolve to prefer mine before your love, made you take up a noble fatal resolution, never to tell me more of your passion; this were a trial, I fear my fond heart wants courage to bear; or is it a trick, a cold fit, only assum’d to try how much I love you? I have no arts, heaven knows, no guile or double meaning in my soul, ’tis all plain native simplicity, fearful and timorous as children in the night, trembling as doves pursu’d; born soft by nature, and made tender by love; what, oh! what will become of me then? Yet would I were confirm’d in all my fears: for as I am, my condition is more deplorable; for I’m in doubt, and doubt is the worst torment of the mind: oh Philander, be merciful, and let me know the worst; do not be cruel while you kill, do it with pity to the wretched Sylvia; oh let me quickly know whether you are at all, or are the most impatient and unfortunate

SYLVIA’s.

I rave, I die for some relief.

To PHILANDER.

As I was going to send away this enclos’d, Dorillus came with two letters; oh, you cannot think, Philander, with how much reason you call me fickle maid; for could you but imagine how I am tormentingly divided, how unresolved between violent love and cruel honour, you would say ’twere impossible to fix me any where; or be the same thing for a moment together: there is not a short hour pass’d through the swift hand of time, since I was all despairing, raging love, jealous, fearful, and impatient; and now, now that your fond letters have dispers’d those demons, those tormenting counsellors, and given a little respite, a little tranquillity to my soul; like states luxurious grown with ease, it ungratefully rebels against the sovereign power that made it great and happy; and now that traitor honour heads the mutineers within; honour, whom my late mighty fears had almost famish’d and brought to nothing, warm’d and reviv’d by thy new-protested flames, makes war against almighty love! and I, who but now nobly resolv’d for love, by an inconstancy natural to my sex, or rather my fears, am turn’d over to honour’s side: so the despairing man stands on the river’s bank, design’d to plunge into the rapid stream, ‘till coward-fear seizing his timorous soul, he views around once more the flowery plains, and looks with wishing eyes back to the groves, then sighing stops, and cries, I was too rash, forsakes the dangerous shore, and hastes away. Thus indiscreet was I, was all for love, fond and undoing love! But when I saw it with full tide flow in upon me, one glance of glorious honour makes me again retreat. I will —— I am resolv’d —— and must be brave! I cannot forget I am daughter to the great Beralti, and sister to Myrtilla, a yet unspotted maid, fit to produce a race of glorious heroes! And can Philander’s love set no higher value on me than base poor prostitution? Is that the price of his heart? — Oh how I hate thee now! or would to heaven I could. — Tell me not, thou charming beguiler, that Myrtilla was to blame; was it a fault in her, and will it be virtue in me? And can I believe the crime that made her lose your heart, will make me mistress of it? No, if by any action of hers the noble house of the Beralti be dishonour’d, by all the actions of my life it shall receive additions and lustre and glory! Nor will I think Myrtilla’s virtue lessen’d for your mistaken opinion of it, and she may be as much in vain pursu’d, perhaps, by the Prince Cesario, as Sylvia shall be by the young Philander: the envying world talks loud, ’tis true; but oh, if all were true that busy babbler says, what lady has her fame? What husband is not a cuckold? Nay, and a friend to him that made him so? And it is in vain, my too subtle brother, you think to build the trophies of your conquests on the ruin of both Myrtilla’s fame and mine: oh how dear would your inglorious passion cost the great unfortunate house of the Beralti, while you poorly ruin the fame of Myrtilla, to make way to the heart of Sylvia! Remember, oh remember once your passion was as violent for Myrtilla, and all the vows, oaths, protestations, tears and prayers you make and pay at my feet, are but the faint repetitions, the feeble echoes of what you sigh’d out at hers. Nay, like young Paris fled with the fair prize, your fond, your eager passion made it a rape. Oh perfidious! — Let me not call it back to my remembrance. — Oh let me die, rather than call to mind a time so fatal; when the lovely false Philander vow’d his heart, his faithless heart away to any maid but Sylvia:— oh let it not be possible for me to imagine his dear arms ever grasping any body with joy but Sylvia! And yet they did, with transports of love! Yes, yes, you lov’d! by heaven you lov’d this false, this perfidious Myrtilla; for false she is; you lov’d her, and I’ll have it so; nor shall the sister in me plead her cause. She is false beyond all pardon; for you are beautiful as heaven itself can render you, a shape exactly form’d, not too low, nor too tall, but made to beget soft desire and everlasting wishes in all that look on you; but your face! your lovely face, inclining to round, large piercing languishing black eyes, delicate proportion’d nose, charming dimpled mouth, plump red lips, inviting and swelling, white teeth, small and even, fine complexion, and a beautiful turn! All which you had an art to order in so engaging a manner, that it charm’d all the beholders, both sexes were undone with looking on you; and I have heard a witty man of your party swear, your face gain’d more to the League and association than the cause, and has curs’d a thousand times the false Myrtilla, for preferring Cesario! (less beautiful) to the adorable Philander; to add to this, heaven! how you spoke, when ere you spoke of love! in that you far surpass’d the young Cesario! as young as he, almost as great and glorious; oh perfidious Myrtilla, oh false, oh foolish and ingrate! — That you abandon’d her was just, she was not worth retaining in your heart, nor could be worth defending with your sword:— but grant her false; oh Philander! — How does her perfidy entitle you to me? False as she is, you still are married to her; inconstant as she is, she is still your wife; and no breach of the nuptial vow can untie the fatal knot; and that is a mystery to common sense: sure she was born for mischief; and fortune, when she gave her you, designed the ruin of us all; but most particularly The unfortunate Sylvia.

To Sylvia.

My soul’s eternal joy, my Sylvia! what have you done, and oh how durst you, knowing my fond heart, try it with so fatal a stroke? What means this severe letter? and why so eagerly at this time? Oh the day! Is Myrtilla’s virtue so defended? Is it a question now whether she is false or not? Oh poor, oh frivolous excuse! You love me not; by all that’s good, you love me not; to try your power you have flatter’d and feign’d, oh woman! false charming woman! you have undone me, I rave and shall commit such extravagance that will ruin both: I must upbraid you, fickle and inconstant, I must, and this distance will not serve, ’tis too great; my reproaches lose their force; I burst with resentment, with injur’d love; and you are either the most faithless of your sex, or the most malicious and tormenting: oh I am past tricks, my Sylvia, your little arts might do well in a beginning flame, but to a settled fire that is arriv’d to the highest degree, it does but damp its fierceness, and instead of drawing me on, would lessen my esteem, if any such deceit were capable to harbour in the heart of Sylvia; but she is all divine, and I am mistaken in the meaning of what she says. Oh my adorable, think no more on that dull false thing a wife; let her be banish’d thy thoughts, as she is my soul; let her never appear, though but in a dream, to fright our solid joys, or true happiness; no, let us look forward to pleasures vast and unconfin’d, to coming transports, and leave all behind us that contributes not to that heaven of bliss: remember, oh Sylvia, that five tedious days are past since I sigh’d at your dear feet; and five days, to a man so madly in love as your Philander, is a tedious age: ’tis now six o’clock in the morning, Brilliard will be with you by eight, and by ten I may have your permission to see you, and then I need not say how soon I will present myself before you at Bellfont; for heaven’s sake, my eternal blessing, if you design me this happiness, contrive it so, that I may see no body that belongs to Bellfont, but the fair, the lovely Sylvia; for I must be more moments with you, than will be convenient to be taken notice of, lest they suspect our business to be love, and that discovery yet may ruin us. Oh! I will delay no longer, my soul is impatient to see you, I cannot live another night without it; I die, by heaven, I languish for the appointed hour; you will believe, when you see my languid face, and dying eyes, how much and greater a sufferer in love I am.

My soul’s delight, you may perhaps deny me from your fear; but oh, do not, though I ask a mighty blessing; Sylvia’s company alone, silent, and perhaps by dark:— oh, though I faint with the thought only of so bless’d an opportunity, yet you shall secure me, by what vows, what imprecations or ties you please; bind my busy hands, blind my ravish’d eyes, command my tongue, do what you will; but let me hear your angel’s voice, and have the transported joy of throwing my self at your feet; and if you please, give me leave (a man condemned eternally to love) to plead a little for my life and passion; let me remove your fears; and though that mighty task never make me entirely happy, at least it will be a great satisfaction to me to know, that ’tis not through my own fault that I am the

Most wretched

PHILANDER.

I have order’d Brilliard to wait your commands at Dorillus’s cottage, that he may not be seen at Bellfont: resolve to see me to-night, or I shall come without order, and injure both: my dear, damn’d wife is dispos’d of at a ball Cesario makes to-night; the opportunity will be lucky, not that I fear her jealousy, but the effects of it.

To PHILANDER.

I tremble with the apprehension of what you ask: how shall I comply with your fond desires? My soul bodes some dire effect of this bold enterprise, for I must own (and blush while I do own it) that my soul yields obedience to your soft request, and even whilst I read your letter, was diverted with the contrivance of seeing you: for though, as my brother, you have all the freedoms imaginable at Bellfont, to entertain and walk with me, yet it would be difficult and prejudicial to my honour, to receive you alone any where without my sister, and cause a suspicion, which all about me now are very far from conceiving, except Melinda, my faithful confidante, and too fatal counsellor; and but for this fear, I know, my charming brother, three little leagues should not five long days separate Philander from his Sylvia: but, my lovely brother, since you beg it so earnestly, and my heart consents so easily, I must pronounce my own doom, and say, come, my Philander, whether love or soft desire invites you; and take this direction in the management of this mighty affair. I would have you, as soon as this comes to your hands, to haste to Dorillus’s cottage, without your equipage, only Brilliard, whom I believe you may trust, both from his own discretion, and your vast bounties to him; wait there ‘till you receive my commands, and I will retire betimes to my apartment, pretending not to be well; and as soon as the evening’s obscurity will permit, Melinda shall let you in at the garden-gate, that is next the grove, unseen and unsuspected; but oh, thou powerful charmer, have a care, I trust you with my all: my dear, dear, my precious honour, guard it well; for oh I fear my forces are too weak to stand your shock of beauties; you have charms enough to justify my yielding; but yet, by heaven I would not for an empire: but what is dull empire to almighty love? The god subdues the monarch; ’tis to your strength I trust, for I am a feeble woman, a virgin quite disarm’d by two fair eyes, an angel’s voice and form; but yet I’ll die before I’ll yield my honour; no, though our unhappy family have met reproach from the imagined levity of my sister, ’tis I’ll redeem the bleeding honour of our family, and my great parents’ virtues shall shine in me; I know it, for if it passes this test, if I can stand this temptation, I am proof against all the world; but I conjure you aid me if I need it: if I incline but in a languishing look, if but a wish appear in my eyes, or I betray consent but in a sigh; take not, oh take not the opportunity, lest when you have done I grow raging mad, and discover all in the wild fit. Oh who would venture on an enemy with such unequal force? What hardy fool would hazard all at sea, that sees the rising storm come rolling on? Who but fond woman, giddy heedless woman, would thus expose her virtue to temptation? I see, I know my danger, yet I must permit it: love, soft bewitching love will have it so, that cannot deny what my feebler honour forbids; and though I tremble with fear, yet love suggests, it will be an age to night: I long for my undoing; for oh I cannot stand the batteries of your eyes and tongue; these fears, these conflicts I have a thousand times a-day; it is pitiful sometimes to see me; on one hand a thousand Cupids all gay and smiling present Philander with all the beauties of his sex, with all the softness in his looks and language those gods of love can inspire, with all the charms of youth adorn’d, bewitching all, and all transporting; on the other hand, a poor lost virgin languishing and undone, sighing her willing rape to the deaf shades and fountains, filling the woods with cries, swelling the murmuring rivulets with tears, her noble parents with a generous rage reviling her, and her betray’d sister loading her bow’d head with curses and reproaches, and all about her looking forlorn and sad. Judge, oh judge, my adorable brother, of the vastness of my courage and passion, when even this deplorable prospect cannot defend me from the resolution of giving you admittance into my apartment this night, nor shall ever drive you from the soul of your

SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

I have obey’d my Sylvia’s dear commands, and the dictates of my own impatient soul; as soon as I receiv’d them, I immediately took horse for Bellfont, though I knew I should not see my adorable Sylvia ‘till eight or nine at night; but oh ’tis wondrous pleasure to be so much more near my eternal joy; I wait at Dorillus’s cottage the tedious approaching night that must shelter me in its kind shades, and conduct me to a pleasure I faint but with imagining; ’tis now, my lovely charmer, three o’clock, and oh how many tedious hours I am to languish here before the blessed one arrive! I know you love, my Sylvia, and therefore must guess at some part of my torment, which yet is mix’d with a certain trembling joy, not to be imagin’d by any but Sylvia, who surely loves Philander; if there be truth in beauty, faith in youth, she surely loves him much; and much more above her sex she is capable of love, by how much more her soul is form’d of a softer and more delicate composition; by how much more her wit’s refin’d and elevated above her duller sex, and by how much more she is oblig’d; if passion can claim passion in return, sure no beauty was ever so much indebted to a slave, as Sylvia to Philander; none ever lov’d like me: judge then my pains of love, my joys, my fears, my impatience and desires; and call me to your sacred presence with all the speed of love, and as soon as it is duskish, imagine me in the meadow behind the grove, ‘till when think me employed in eternal thoughts of Sylvia, restless, and talking to the trees of Sylvia, sighing her charming name, circling with folded arms my panting heart, (that beats and trembles the more, the nearer it approaches the happy Bellfont) and fortifying the feeble trembler against a sight so ravishing and surprising; I fear to be sustain’d with life; but if I faint in Sylvia’s arms, it will be happier far than all the glories of life without her.

Send, my angel, something from you to make the hours less tedious: consider me, love me, and be as impatient as I, that you may the sooner find at your feet your everlasting lover, PHILANDER.

From Dorillus’s cottage.

To PHILANDER.

I have at last recover’d sense enough to tell you, I have receiv’d your letter by Dorillus, and which had like to have been discover’d; for he prudently enough put it under the strawberries he brought me in a basket, fearing he should get no other opportunity to have given it me; and my mother seeing them look so fair and fresh, snatch’d the basket with a greediness I have not seen in her before; whilst she was calling to her page for a porcelain dish to put them out, Dorillus had an opportunity to hint to me what lay at the bottom: heavens! had you seen my disorder and confusion; what should I do? Love had not one invention in store, and here it was that all the subtlety of women abandon’d me. Oh heavens, how cold and pale I grew, lest the most important business of my life should be betray’d and ruin’d! but not to terrify you longer with fears of my danger, the dish came, and out the strawberries were pour’d, and the basket thrown aside on the bank where my mother sat, (for we were in the garden when we met accidentally Dorillus first with the basket) there were some leaves of fern put at the bottom between the basket and letter, which by good fortune came not out with the strawberries, and after a minute or two I took up the basket, and walking carelessly up and down the garden, gather’d here and there a flower, pinks and jessamine, and filling my basket, sat down again ‘till my mother had eat her fill of the fruit, and gave me an opportunity to retire to my apartment, where opening the letter, and finding you so near, and waiting to see me, I had certainly sunk down on the floor, had not Melinda supported me, who only was by; something so new, and ‘till now so strange, seiz’d me at the thought of so secret an interview, that I lost all my senses, and life wholly departing, I rested on Melinda without breath or motion; the violent effects of love and honour, the impetuous meeting tides of the extremes of joy and fear, rushing on too suddenly, overwhelm’d my senses; and it was a pretty while before I recover’d strength to get to my cabinet, where a second time I open’d your letter, and read it again with a thousand changes of countenance, my whole mass of blood was in that moment so discompos’d, that I chang’d from an ague to a fever several times in a minute: oh what will all this bring me to? And where will the raging fit end? I die with that thought, my guilty pen slackens in my trembling hand, and I languish and fall over the un-employ’d paper; —— oh help me, some divinity —— or if you did — I fear I should be angry: oh Philander! a thousand passions and distracted thoughts crowd to get out, and make their soft complaints to thee; but oh they lose themselves with mixing; they are blended in a confusion together, and love nor art can divide them, to deal them out in order; sometimes I would tell you of my joy at your arrival, and my unspeaking transports at the thought of seeing you so soon, that I shall hear your charming voice, and find you at my feet making soft vows anew, with all the passion of an impatient lover, with all the eloquence that sighs and cries, and tears from those lovely eyes can express; and sure that is enough to conquer any where, and to which coarse vulgar words are dull. The rhetoric of love is half-breath’d, interrupted words, languishing eyes, flattering speeches, broken sighs, pressing the hand, and falling tears: ah how do they not persuade, how do they not charm and conquer; ’twas thus, with these soft easy arts, that Sylvia first was won; for sure no arts of speaking could have talked my heart away, though you can speak like any god: oh whither am I driven? What do I say? ’Twas not my purpose, not my business here, to give a character of Philander, no nor to speak of love; but oh! like Cowley’s lute, my soul will sound to nothing but to love: talk what you will, begin what discourse you please, I end it all in love, because my soul is ever fix’d on Philander, and insensibly its biass leads to that subject; no, I did not when I began to write, think of speaking one word of my own weakness; but to have told you with what resolv’d courage, honour and virtue, I expect your coming; and sure so sacred a thing as love was not made to ruin these, and therefore in vain, my lovely brother, you will attempt it; and yet, oh heavens! I gave a private assignation, in my apartment, alone and at night; where silence, love and shades, are all your friends, where opportunity obliges your passion, while, heaven knows, not one of all these, nor any kind of power, is friend to me; I shall be left to you and all these tyrants expos’d, without other guards than this boasted virtue; which had need be wondrous to resist all these powerful enemies of its purity and repose. Alas I know not its strength, I never tried it yet; and this will be the first time it has ever been expos’d to your power; the first time I ever had courage to meet you as a lover, and let you in by stealth, and put myself unguarded into your hands: oh I die with the apprehension of approaching danger! and yet I have not power to retreat; I must on, love compels me, love holds me fast; the smiling flatterer promises a thousand joys, a thousand ravishing minutes of delight; all innocent and harmless as his mother’s doves; but oh they bill and kiss, and do a thousand things I must forbid Philander; for I have often heard him say with sighs, that his complexion render’d him less capable of the soft play of love, than any other lover: I have seen him fly my very touches, yet swear they were the greatest joy on earth; I tempt him even with my looks from virtue: and when I ask the cause, or cry he is cold, he vows ’tis because he dares not endure my temptations; says his blood runs hotter and fiercer in his veins than any other’s does; nor have the oft repeated joys reaped in the marriage bed, any thing abated that which he wish’d, but he fear’d would ruin me: thus, thus whole days we have sat and gaz’d, and sigh’d; but durst not trust our virtues with fond dalliance.

My page is come to tell me that Madam the Duchess of —— is come to Bellfont, and I am oblig’d to quit my cabinet, but with infinite regret, being at present much more to my soul’s content employ’d; but love must sometimes give place to devoir and respect. Dorillus too waits, and tells Melinda he will not depart without something for his lord, to entertain him till the happy hour. The rustic pleas’d me with the concern he had for my Philander; oh my charming brother, you have an art to tame even savages, a tongue that would charm and engage wildness itself, to softness and gentleness, and give the rough unthinking, love; ’tis a tedious time to-night, how shall I pass the hours?

To SYLVIA.

Say, fond love, whither wilt thou lead me? Thou hast brought me from the noisy hurries of the town, to charming solitude; from crowded cabals, where mighty things are resolving, to lonely groves; to thy own abodes where thou dwell’st; gay and pleas’d among the rural swains in shady homely cottages; thou hast brought me to a grove of flowers, to the brink of purling streams, where thou hast laid me down to contemplate on Sylvia, to think my tedious hours away in the softest imagination a soul inspir’d by love can conceive, to increase my passion by every thing I behold; for every sound that meets the sense is thy proper music, oh love, and every thing inspires thy dictates; the winds around me blow soft, and mixing with wanton boughs, continually play and kiss; while those, like a coy maid in love, resist, and comply by turns; they, like a ravish’d vigorous lover, rush on with a transported violence, rudely embracing their spring-dress’d mistress, ruffling her native order; while the pretty birds on the dancing branches incessantly make love; upbraiding duller man with his defective want of fire: man, the lord of all! He to be stinted in the most valuable joy of life; is it not pity? Here is no troublesome honour, amongst the pretty inhabitants of the woods and streams, fondly to give laws to nature, but uncontrolled they play, and sing, and love; no parents checking their dear delights, no slavish matrimonial ties to restrain their nobler flame. No spies to interrupt their blest appointments; but every little nest is free and open to receive the young fledg’d lover; every bough is conscious of their passion, nor do the generous pair languish in tedious ceremony; but meeting look, and like, and love, embrace with their wingy arms, and salute with their little opening bills; this is their courtship, this the amorous compliment, and this only the introduction to all their following happiness; and thus it is with the flocks and herds; while scanted man, born alone for the fatigues of love, with industrious toil, and all his boasting arts of eloquence, his god-like image, and his noble form, may labour on a tedious term of years, with pain, expense, and hazard, before he can arrive at happiness, and then too perhaps his vows are unregarded, and all his sighs and tears are vain. Tell me, oh you fellow-lovers, ye amorous dear brutes, tell me, when ever you lay languishing beneath your coverts, thus for your fair she, and durst not approach for fear of honour? Tell me, by a gentle bleat, ye little butting rams, do you sigh thus for your soft, white ewes? Do you lie thus conceal’d, to wait the coming shades of night, ‘till all the cursed spies are folded? No, no, even you are much more blest than man, who is bound up to rules, fetter’d by the nice decencies of honour.

My divine maid, thus were my thoughts employ’d, when from the farthest end of the grove, where I now remain, I saw Dorillus approach with thy welcome letter; he tells, you had like to have been surpris’d in making it up; and he receiv’d it with much difficulty: ah Sylvia, should any accident happen to prevent my seeing you to-night, I were undone for ever, and you must expect to find me stretch’d out, dead and cold under this oak, where now I lie writing on its knotty root. Thy letter, I confess, is dear; it contains thy soul, and my happiness; by this after-story of the surprise I long to be inform’d of, for from thence I may gather part of my fortune. I rave and die with fear of a disappointment; not but I would undergo a thousand torments and deaths for Sylvia; but oh consider me, and let me not suffer if possible; for know, my charming angel, my impatient heart is almost broke, and will not contain itself without being nearer my adorable maid, without taking in at my eyes a little comfort; no, I am resolv’d; put me not off with tricks, which foolish honour invents to jilt mankind with; for if you do, by heaven I will forget all considerations and respect, and force myself with all the violence of raging love into the presence of my cruel Sylvia; own her mine, and ravish my delight; nor shall the happy walls of Bellfont be of strength sufficient to secure her; nay, persuade me not, for if you make me mad and raving, this will be the effects on’t. —— Oh pardon me, my sacred maid, pardon the wildness of my frantic love — I paused, took a turn or two in the lone path, consider’d what I had said, and found it was too much, too bold, too rude to approach my soft, my tender maid: I am calm, my soul, as thy bewitching smiles; hush, as thy secret sighs, and will resolve to die rather than offend my adorable virgin; only send me word what you think of my fate, while I expect it here on this kind mossy bed where now I lie; which I would not quit for a throne, since here I may hope the news may soonest arrive to make me happier than a god! which that nothing on my part may prevent, I here vow in the face of heaven, I will not abuse the freedom my Sylvia blesses me with; nor shall my love go beyond the limits of honour. Sylvia shall command with a frown, and fetter me with a smile; prescribe rules to my longing, ravish’d eyes, and pinion my busy, fond, roving hands, and lay at her feet, like a tame slave, her adoring

PHILANDER.

To PHILANDER.

Approach, approach, you sacred Queen of Night, and bring Philander veil’d from all eyes but mine; approach at a fond lover’s call, behold how I lie panting with expectation, tir’d out with your tedious ceremony to the God of Day; be kind, oh lovely night, and let the deity descend to his beloved Thetis’s arms, and I to my Philander’s; the sun and I must snatch our joys in the same happy hours; favour’d by thee, oh sacred, silent Night! See, see, the enamour’d sun is hasting on apace to his expecting mistress, while thou dull Night art slowly lingering yet. Advance, my friend! my goddess! and my confidante! hide all my blushes, all my soft confusions, my tremblings, transports, and eyes all languishing.

Oh Philander! a thousand things I have done to divert the tedious hours, but nothing can; all things are dull without thee. I am tir’d with every thing, impatient to end, as soon as I begin them; even the shades and solitary walks afford me now no ease, no satisfaction, and thought but afflicts me more, that us’d to relieve. And I at last have recourse to my kind pen: for while I write, methinks I am talking to thee; I tell thee thus my soul, while thou, methinks, art all the while smiling and listening by; this is much easier than silent thought, and my soul is never weary of this converse; and thus I would speak a thousand things, but that still, methinks, words do not enough express my soul; to understand that right, there requires looks; there is a rhetoric in looks; in sighs and silent touches that surpasses all; there is an accent in the sound of words too, that gives a sense and soft meaning to little things, which of themselves are of trivial value, and insignificant; and by the cadence of the utterance may express a tenderness which their own meaning does not bear; by this I wou’d insinuate, that the story of the heart cannot be so well told by this way, as by presence and conversation; sure Philander understands what I mean by this, which possibly is nonsense to all but a lover, who apprehends all the little fond prattle of the thing belov’d, and finds an eloquence in it, that to a sense unconcern’d would appear even approaching to folly: but Philander, who has the true notions of love in him, apprehends all that can be said on that dear subject; to him I venture to say any thing, whose kind and soft imaginations can supply all my wants in the description of the soul: will it not, Philander? Answer me:— But oh, where art thou? I see thee not, I touch thee not; but when I haste with transport to embrace thee, ’tis shadow all, and my poor arms return empty to my bosom: why, oh why com’st thou not? Why art thou cautious, and prudently waitest the slow-pac’d night: oh cold, oh unreasonable lover, why? — But I grow wild, and know not what I say: impatient love betrays me to a thousand follies, a thousand rashnesses: I die with shame; but I must be undone, and it is no matter how, whether by my own weakness, Philander’s charms, or both, I know not; but so it is destin’d — oh Philander, it is two tedious hours love has counted since you writ to me, yet are but a quarter of a mile distant; what have you been doing all that live-long while? Are you not unkind? Does not Sylvia lie neglected and unregarded in your thoughts? Huddled up confusedly with your graver business of State, and almost lost in the ambitious crowd? Say, say, my lovely charmer, is she not? Does not this fatal interest you espouse, rival your Sylvia? Is she not too often remov’d thence to let in that haughty tyrant mistress? Alas, Philander, I more than fear she is: and oh, my adorable lover, when I look forward on our coming happiness, whenever I lay by the thoughts of honour, and give a loose to love; I run not far in the pleasing career, before that dreadful thought stopp’d me on my way: I have a fatal prophetic fear, that gives a check to my soft pursuit, and tells me that thy unhappy engagement in this League, this accursed association, will one day undo us both, and part for ever thee and thy unlucky Sylvia; yes, yes, my dear lord, my soul does presage an unfortunate event from this dire engagement; nor can your false reasoning, your fancied advantages, reconcile it to my honest, good-natur’d heart; and surely the design is inconsistent with love, for two such mighty contradictions and enemies, as love and ambition, or revenge, can never sure abide in one soul together, at least love can but share Philander’s heart; when blood and revenge (which he miscalls glory) rivals it, and has possibly the greater part in it: methinks, this notion enlarges in me, and every word I speak, and every minute’s thought of it, strengthens its reason to me; and give me leave (while I am full of the jealousy of it) to express my sentiments, and lay before you those reasons, that love and I think most substantial ones; what you have hitherto desired of me, oh unreasonable Philander, and what I (out of modesty and honour) denied, I have reason to fear (from the absolute conquest you have made of my heart) that some time or other the charming thief may break in and rob me of; for fame and virtue love begins to laugh at. My dear unfortunate condition being thus, it is not impossible, oh Philander, but I may one day, in some unlucky hour, in some soft bewitching moment, in some spiteful, critical, ravishing minute, yield all to the charming Philander; and if so, where, oh where is my security, that I shall not be abandon’d by the lovely victor? For it is not your vows which you call sacred (and I alas believe so) that can secure me, though I, heaven knows, believe them all, and am undone; you may keep them all too, and I believe you will; but oh Philander, in these fatal circumstances you have engag’d yourself, can you secure me my lover? Your protestations you may, but not the dear protestor. Is it not enough, oh Philander, for my eternal unquiet, and undoing, to know that you are married and cannot therefore be entirely mine; is not this enough, oh cruel Philander? But you must espouse a fatal cause too, more pernicious than that of matrimony, and more destructive to my repose: oh give me leave to reason with you, and since you have been pleas’d to trust and afflict me with the secret, which, honest as I am, I will never betray; yet, yet give me leave to urge the danger of it to you, and consequently to me, if you pursue it; when you are with me, we can think, and talk, and argue nothing but the mightier business of love; and it is fit that I, so fondly, and fatally lov’d by you, should warn you of the danger. Consider, my lord, you are born noble, from parents of untainted loyalty; blest with a fortune few princes beneath sovereignty are masters of; blest with all-gaining youth, commanding beauty, wit, courage, bravery of mind, and all that renders men esteem’d and ador’d: what would you more? What is it, oh my charming brother then, that you set up for? Is it glory? Oh mistaken, lovely youth, that glory is but a glittering light, that flashes for a moment, and then disappears; it is a false bravery, that will bring an eternal blemish upon your honest fame and house; render your honourable name hated, detested and abominable in story to after ages; a traitor! the worst of titles, the most inglorious and shameful; what has the King, our good, our gracious monarch, done to Philander? How disoblig’d him? Or indeed, what injury to mankind? Who has he oppress’d? Where play’d the tyrant or the ravisher? What one cruel or angry thing has he committed in all the time of his fortunate and peaceable reign over us? Whose ox or whose ass has he unjustly taken? What orphan wrong’d, or widow’s tears neglected? But all his life has been one continued miracle; all good, all gracious, calm and merciful: and this good, this god-like King, is mark’d out for slaughter, design’d a sacrifice to the private revenge of a few ambitious knaves and rebels, whose pretence is the public good, and doomed to be basely murdered. A murder! even on the worst of criminals, carries with it a cowardice so black and infamous, as the most abject wretches, the meanest spirited creature has an abhorrence for. What! to murder a man unthinking, unwarn’d, unprepar’d and undefended! oh barbarous! oh poor and most unbrave! What villain is there lost to all humanity, to be found upon the face of the earth, that, when done, dare own so hellish a deed as the murder of the meanest of his fellow subjects, much less the sacred person of the king; the Lord’s anointed; on whose awful face ’tis impossible to look without that reverence wherewith one would behold a god! For ’tis most certain, that every glance from his piercing, wondrous eyes, begets a trembling adoration; for my part, I swear to you, Philander, I never approach his sacred person, but my heart beats, my blood runs cold about me, and my eyes overflow with tears of joy, while an awful confusion seizes me all over; and I am certain should the most harden’d of your bloody rebels look him in the face, the devilish instrument of death would drop from his sacrilegious hand, and leave him confounded at the feet of the royal forgiving sufferer; his eyes have in them something so fierce, so majestic, commanding, and yet so good and merciful, as would soften rebellion itself into repenting loyalty; and like Caius Marius, seem to say — ‘Who is it dares hurt the King?’— They alone, like his guardian angels, defend his sacred person: oh! what pity it is, unhappy young man, thy education was not near the King.

’Tis plain, ’tis reasonable, ’tis honest, great and glorious to believe, what thy own sense (if thou wilt but think and consider) will instruct thee in, that treason, rebellion and murder, are far from the paths that lead to glory, which are as distant as hell from heaven. What is it then to advance? (Since I say ’tis plain, glory is never this way to be achiev’d.) Is it to add more thousands to those fortune has already so lavishly bestow’d on you? Oh my Philander, that’s to double the vast crime, which reaches already to damnation: would your honour, your conscience, your Christianity, or common humanity, suffer you to enlarge your fortunes at the price of another’s ruin; and make the spoils of some honest, noble, unfortunate family, the rewards of your treachery? Would you build your fame on such a foundation? Perhaps on the destruction of some friend or kinsman. Oh barbarous and mistaken greatness; thieves and robbers would scorn such outrages, that had but souls and sense.

Is it for addition of titles? What elevation can you have much greater than where you now stand fix’d? If you do not grow giddy with your fancied false hopes, and fall from that glorious height you are already arrived to, and which, with the honest addition of loyalty, is of far more value and lustre, than to arrive at crowns by blood and treason. This will last; to ages last: while t’other will be ridicul’d to all posterity, short liv’d and reproachful here, infamous and accursed to all eternity.

Is it to make Cesario king? Oh what is Cesario to my Philander? If a monarchy you design, then why not this king, this great, this good, this royal forgiver? This, who was born a king, and born your king; and holds his crown by right of nature, by right of law, by right of heaven itself; heaven who has preserved him, and confirmed him ours, by a thousand miraculous escapes and sufferings, and indulged him ours by ten thousand acts of mercy, and endeared him to us by his wondrous care and conduct, by securing of peace, plenty, ease and luxurious happiness, over all the fortunate limits of his blessed kingdoms: and will you? Would you destroy this wondrous gift of heaven? This god-like king, this real good we now possess, for a most uncertain one; and with it the repose of all the happy nation? To establish a king without law, without right, without consent, without title, and indeed without even competent parts for so vast a trust, or so glorious a rule? One who never oblig’d the nation by one single act of goodness or valour, in all the course of his life; and who never signaliz’d himself to the advantage of one man of all the kingdom: a prince unfortunate in his principles and morals; and whose sole, single ingratitude to His Majesty, for so many royal bounties, honours, and glories heap’d upon him, is of itself enough to set any honest generous heart against him. What is it bewitches you so? Is it his beauty? Then Philander has a greater title than Cesario; and not one other merit has he, since in piety, chastity, sobriety, charity and honour, he as little excels, as in gratitude, obedience and loyalty. What then, my dear Philander? Is it his weakness? Ah, there’s the argument: you all propose, and think to govern so soft a king: but believe me, oh unhappy Philander! Nothing is more ungovernable than a fool; nothing more obstinate, wilful, conceited, and cunning; and for his gratitude, let the world judge what he must prove to his servants, who has dealt so ill with his lord and master; how he must reward those that present him with a crown, who deals so ungraciously with him who gave him life, and who set him up an happier object than a monarch: no, no, Philander; he that can cabal, and contrive to dethrone a father, will find it easy to discard the wicked and hated instruments, that assisted him to mount it; decline him then, oh fond and deluded Philander, decline him early; for you of all the rest ought to do so, and not to set a helping hand to load him with honours, that chose you out from all the world to load with infamy: remember that; remember Myrtilla, and then renounce him; do not you contribute to the adorning of his unfit head with a diadem, the most glorious of ornaments, who unadorned yours with the most inglorious of all reproaches. Think of this, oh thou unconsidering noble youth; lay thy hand upon thy generous heart, and tell it all the fears, all the reasonings of her that loves thee more than life. A thousand arguments I could bring, but these few unstudied (falling in amongst my softer thoughts) I beg you will accept of, till I can more at large deliver the glorious argument to your soul; let this suffice to tell thee, that, like Cassandra, I rave and prophesy in vain; this association will be the eternal ruin of Philander; for let it succeed or not, either way thou art undone; if thou pursuest it, I must infallibly fall with thee, if I resolve to follow thy good or ill fortune; for you cannot intend love and ambition, Sylvia and Cesario at once: no, persuade me not; the title to one or t’other must be laid down, Sylvia or Cesario must be abandon’d: this is my fix’d resolve, if thy too powerful arguments convince not in spite of reason, for they can do it; thou hast the tongue of an angel, and the eloquence of a god, and while I listen to thy voice, I take all thou say’st for wondrous sense. — Farewell; about two hours hence I shall expect you at the gate that leads into the garden grove — adieu! Remember

SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

How comes my charming Sylvia so skilled in the mysteries of State? Where learnt her tender heart the notions of rigid business? Where her soft tongue, formed only for the dear language of love, to talk of the concerns of nations and kingdoms? ’Tis true, when I gave my soul away to my dear counsellor, I reserved nothing to myself, not even that secret that so concerned my life, but laid all at her mercy; my generous heart could not love at a less rate, than to lavish all and be undone for Sylvia; ’tis glorious ruin, and it pleases me, if it advance one single joy, or add one demonstration of my love to Sylvia; ’tis not enough that we tell those we love all they love to hear, but one ought to tell them too, every secret that we know, and conceal no part of that heart one has made a present of to the person one loves; ’tis a treason in love not to be pardoned: I am sensible, that when my story is told (and this happy one of my love shall make up the greatest part of my history) those that love not like me will be apt to blame me, and charge me with weakness, for revealing so great a trust to a woman, and amongst all that I shall do to arrive at glory, that will brand me with feebleness; but Sylvia, when lovers shall read it, the men will excuse me, and the maids bless me! I shall be a fond admired precedent for them to point out to their remiss reserving lovers, who will be reproached for not pursuing my example. I know not what opinion men generally have of the weakness of women; but ’tis sure a vulgar error, for were they like my adorable Sylvia, had they had her wit, her vivacity of spirit, her courage, her generous fortitude, her command in every graceful look and action, they were most certainly fit to rule and reign; and man was only born robust and strong, to secure them on those thrones they are formed (by beauty, softness, and a thousand charms which men want) to possess. Glorious woman was born for command and dominion; and though custom has usurped us the name of rule over all; we from the beginning found ourselves (in spite of all our boasted prerogative) slaves and vassals to the almighty sex. Take then my share of empire, ye gods; and give me love! Let me toil to gain, but let Sylvia triumph and reign; I ask no more than the led slave at her chariot wheels, to gaze on my charming conqueress, and wear with joy her fetters! Oh how proud I should be to see the dear victor of my soul so elevated, so adorn’d with crowns and sceptres at her feet, which I had won; to see her smiling on the adoring crowd, distributing her glories to young waiting princes; there dealing provinces, and there a coronet. Heavens! methinks I see the lovely virgin in this state, her chariot slowly driving through the multitude that press to gaze upon her, she dress’d like Venus, richly gay and loose, her hair and robe blown by the flying winds, discovering a thousand charms to view; thus the young goddess looked, then when she drove her chariot down descending clouds, to meet the love-sick gods in cooling shades; and so would look my Sylvia! Ah, my soft, lovely maid; such thoughts as these fir’d me with ambition: for me, I swear by every power that made me love, and made thee wondrous fair, I design no more by this great enterprise than to make thee some glorious thing, elevated above what we have seen yet on earth; to raise thee above fate or fortune, beyond that pity of thy duller sex, who understand not thy soul, nor can ever reach the flights of thy generous love! No, my soul’s joy, I must not leave thee liable to their little natural malice and scorn, to the impertinence of their reproaches. No, my Sylvia, I must on, the great design must move forward; though I abandon it, ’twill advance; it is already too far to put a stop to it; and now I am entered, it is in vain to retreat; if we are prosperous, it will to all ages be called a glorious enterprise; but if we fail, it will be base, horrid and infamous; for the world judges of nothing but by the success; that cause is always good that is prosperous, that is ill which is unsuccessful. Should I now retreat, I run many hazards; but to go on I run but one; by the first I shall alarm the whole cabal with a jealousy of my discovering, and those are persons of too great sense and courage, not to take some private way of revenge, to secure their own stakes; and to make myself uncertainly safe by a discovery, indeed, were to gain a refuge so ignoble, as a man of honour would scorn to purchase life at; nor would that baseness secure me. But in going on, oh Sylvia! when three kingdoms shall lie unpossess’d, and be exposed, as it were, amongst the raffling crowd, who knows but the chance may be mine, as well as any other’s, who has but the same hazard, and throw for it? If the strongest sword must do it, (as that must do it) why not mine still? Why may not mine be that fortunate one? Cesario has no more right to it than Philander; ’tis true, a few of the rabble will pretend he has a better title to it, but they are a sort of easy fools, lavish in nothing but noise and nonsense; true to change and inconstancy, and will abandon him to their own fury for the next that cries Haloo: neither is there one part of fifty (of the fools that cry him up) for his interest, though they use him for a tool to work with, he being the only great man that wants sense enough to find out the cheat which they dare impose upon. Can any body of reason believe, if they had design’d him good, they would let him bare-fac’d have own’d a party so opposite to all laws of nature, religion, humanity, and common gratitude? When his interest, if design’d, might have been carried on better, if he had still dissembled and stay’d in Court: no, believe me, Sylvia, the politicians shew him, to render him odious to all men of tolerable sense of the party; for what reason soever they have who are disoblig’d (or at least think themselves so) to set up for liberty, the world knows Cesario renders himself the worst of criminals by it, and has abandon’d an interest more glorious and easy than empire, to side with and aid people that never did, or ever can oblige him; and he is so dull as to imagine that for his sake, who never did us service or good, (unless cuckolding us be good) we should venture life and fame to pull down a true monarch, to set up his bastard over us. Cesario must pardon me, if I think his politics are shallow as his parts, and that his own interest has undone him; for of what advantage soever the design may be to us, it really shocks one’s nature to find a son engag’d against a father, and to him such a father. Nor, when time comes, shall I forget the ruin of Myrtilla. But let him hope on — and so will I, as do a thousand more, for ought I know; I set out as fair as they, and will start as eagerly; if I miss it now, I have youth and vigour sufficient for another race; and while I stand on fortune’s wheel as she rolls it round, it may be my turn to be o’th’ top; for when ’tis set in motion, believe me, Sylvia, it is not easily fix’d: however let it suffice, I am now in, past a retreat, and to urge it now to me, is but to put me into inevitable danger; at best it can but set me where I was; that is worse than death. When every fool is aiming at a kingdom, what man of tolerable pride and ambition can be unconcerned, and not put himself into a posture of catching, when a diadem shall be thrown among the crowd? It were insensibility, stupid dullness, not to lift a hand, or make an effort to snatch it as it flies: though the glorious falling weight should crush me, it is great to attempt; and if fortune do not favour fools, I have as fair a grasp for it as any other adventurer.

This, my Sylvia, is my sense of a business you so much dread; I may rise, but I cannot fall; therefore, my Sylvia, urge it no more; love gave me ambition, and do not divert the glorious effects of your wondrous charms, but let them grow, and spread, and see what they will produce for my lovely Sylvia, the advantages will most certainly be hers:— But no more: how came my love so dull to entertain thee so many minutes thus with reasons for an affair, which one soft hour with Sylvia will convince to what she would have it; believe me, it will, I will sacrifice all to her repose, nay, to her least command, even the life of

(My eternal pleasure) Your PHILANDER.

I have no longer patience, I must be coming towards the grove, though it will do me no good, more than knowing I am so much nearer to my adorable creature.

I conjure you burn this, for writing in haste I have not counterfeited my hand.

To SYLVIA. Writ in a pair of tablets.

My charmer, I wait your commands in the meadow behind the grove, where I saw Dorinda, Dorillus his daughter, entering with a basket of cowslips for Sylvia, unnecessarily offering sweets to the Goddess of the Groves, from whence they (with all the rest of their gaudy fellows of the spring) assume their ravishing odours. I take every opportunity of telling my Sylvia what I have so often repeated, and shall be ever repeating with the same joy while I live, that I love my Sylvia to death and madness; that my soul is on the rack, till she send me the happy advancing word. And yet believe me, lovely maid, I could grow old with waiting here the blessed moment, though set at any distance (within the compass of life, and impossible to be ‘till then arriv’d to) but when I am so near approach’d it, love from all parts rallies and hastens to my heart for the mighty encounter,‘till the poor panting over-loaded victim dies with the pressing weight. No more — You know it, for it is, and will be eternally Sylvia’s.

POSTSCRIPT.

Remember, my adorable, it is now seven o’clock: I have my watch in my hand, waiting and looking on the slow pac’d minutes. Eight will quickly arrive, I hope, and then it is dark enough to hide me; think where I am, and who I am, waiting near Sylvia, and her Philander.

I think, my dear angel, you have the other key of these tablets, if not, they are easily broke open: you have an hour good to write in, Sylvia and I shall wait unemployed by any thing but thought. Send me word how you were like to have been surpris’d; it may possibly be of advantage to me in this night’s dear adventure. I wonder’d at the superscription of my letter indeed, of which Dorillus could give me no other account, than that you were surpris’d, and he receiv’d it with difficulty; give me the story now, do it in charity my angel. Besides, I would employ all thy moments, for I am jealous of every one that is not dedicated to Sylvia’s Philander.

To PHILANDER.

I have received your tablets, of which I have the key, and heaven only knows (for lovers cannot, unless they loved like Sylvia, and her Philander) what pains and pantings my heart sustain’d at every thought they brought me of thy near approach; every moment I start, and am ready to faint with joy, fear, and something not to be express’d that seizes me. To add to this, I have busied myself with dressing my apartment up with flowers, so that I fancy the ceremonious business of the light looks like the preparations for the dear joy of the nuptial bed; that too is so adorn’d and deck’d with all that’s sweet and gay; all which possesses me with so ravishing and solemn a confusion, that it is even approaching to the most profound sadness itself. Oh Philander, I find I am fond of being undone; and unless you take a more than mortal care of me, I know this night some fatal mischief will befall me; what it is I know not, either the loss of Philander, my life, or my honour, or all together, which a discovery only of your being alone in my apartment, and at such an hour, will most certainly draw upon us: death is the least we must expect, by some surprise or other, my father being rash, and extremely jealous, and the more so of me, by how much more he is fond of me, and nothing would enrage him like the discovery of an interview like this; though you have liberty to range the house of Bellfont as a son, and are indeed at home there; but when you come by stealth, when he shall find his son and virgin daughter, the brother and the sister so retired, so entertained — What but death can ensue? Or what is worse, eternal shame? Eternal confusion on my honour? What excuse, what evasions, vows and protestations will convince him, or appease Myrtilla’s jealousy; Myrtilla, my sister, and Philander’s wife? Oh God! that cruel thought will put me into ravings; I have a thousand streams of killing reflections which flow from that original fountain! Curse on the alliance, that gave you a welcome to Bellfont. Ah Philander, could you not have stay’d ten short years longer? Alas, you thought that was an age in youth, but it is but a day in love: Ah, could not your eager youth have led you to a thousand diversions, a thousand times have baited in the long journey of life, without hurrying on to the last stage, to the last retreat, but the grave; and to me seem as irrecoverable, as impossible to retrieve thee! — Could no kind beauty stop thee on thy way, in charity or pity; Philander saw me then. And though Myrtilla was more fit for his caresses, and I but capable to please with childish prattle; oh could he not have seen a promising bloom in my face, that might have foretold the future conquests I was born to make? Oh! was there no prophetic charm that could bespeak your heart, engage it, and prevent that fatal marriage? You say, my adorable brother, we were destined from our creation for one another; that the decrees of heaven, or fate, or both, design’d us for this mutual passion: why then, oh why did not heaven, fate or destiny, do the mighty work, when first you saw my infant charms? But oh, Philander, why do I vainly rave? Why call in vain on time that’s fled and gone? Why idly wish for ten years’ retribution? That will not yield a day, an hour, a minute: no, no, ’tis past, ’tis past and flown for ever, as distant as a thousand years to me, as irrecoverable. Oh Philander, what hast thou thrown away? Ten glorious years of ravishing youth, of unmatch’d heavenly beauty, on one that knew not half the value of it! Sylvia was only born to set a rate upon it, was only capable of love, such love as might deserve it: oh why was that charming face ever laid on any bosom that knew not how to sigh, and pant, and heave at every touch of so much distracting beauty? Oh why were those dear arms, whose soft pressings ravish where they circle, destin’d for a body cold and dull, that could sleep insensibly there, and not so much as dream the while what the transporting pleasure signified; but unconcerned receive the wondrous blessing, and never knew its price, or thank’d her stars? She has thee all the day to gaze upon, and yet she lets thee pass her careless sight, as if there were no miracles in view: she does not see the little gods of love that play eternally in thy eyes; and since she never received a dart from thence, believes there’s no artillery there. She plays not with thy hair, nor weaves her snowy fingers in the curls of jet, sets it in order, and adores its beauty: the fool with flaxen-wig had done as well for her; a dull, white coxcomb had made as good a property; a husband is no more, at best no more. Oh thou charming object of my eternal wishes, why wert thou thus dispos’d? Oh save my life, and tell me what indifferent impulse obliged thee to these nuptials: had Myrtilla been recommended or forc’d by the tyranny of a father into thy arms, or for base lucre thou hadst chosen her, this had excus’d thy youth and crime; obedience or vanity I could have pardon’d — but oh —’twas love; love, my Philander! thy raving love, and that which has undone thee was a rape rather than marriage; you fled with her. Oh heavens, mad to possess, you stole the unloving prize! — Yes, you lov’d her, false as you are, you did; perjur’d and faithless. Lov’d her? — Hell and confusion on the word; it was so — Oh Philander, I am lost —

This letter was found torn in pieces.

To Monsieur, the Count of —

My Lord, These pieces of paper, which I have put together as well as I could, were writ by my lady to have been sent by Dorinda, when on a sudden she rose in rage from her seat, tore first the paper, and then her robes and hair, and indeed nothing has escaped the violence of her passion; nor could my prayers or tears retrieve them, or calm her: ’tis however chang’d at last to mighty passions of weeping, in which employment I have left her on her repose, being commanded away. I thought it my duty to give your lordship this account, and to send the pieces of paper, that your lordship may guess at the occasion of the sudden storm which ever rises in that fatal quarter; but in putting them in order, I had like to have been surprised by my lady’s father; for my Lord, the Count, having long solicited me for favours, and taking all opportunities of entertaining me, found me alone in my chamber, employ’d in serving your lordship; I had only time to hide the papers, and to get rid of him, having given him an assignation to-night in the garden grove, to give him the hearing to what he says he has to propose to me: pray heaven all things go right to your lordship’s wish this evening, for many ominous things happen’d to-day. Madam, the Countess, had like to have taken a letter writ for your lordship to-day; for the Duchess of —— coming to make her a visit, came on a sudden with her into my lady’s apartment, and surpris’d her writing in her dressing room, giving her only time to slip the paper into her combbox. The first ceremonies being pass’d, as Madam, the Duchess, uses not much, she fell to commend my lady’s dressing-plate, and taking up the box, and opening it, found the letter, and laughing, cried, ‘Oh, have I found you making love;’ at which my lady, with an infinite confusion, would have retrieved it — but the Duchess not quitting her hold, cried —‘Nay, I am resolved to see in what manner you write to a lover, and whether you have a heart tender or cruel?’ At which she began to read aloud, my lady to blush and change colour a hundred times in a minute: I ready to die with fear; Madam the Countess, in infinite amazement, my lady interrupting every word the Duchess read, by prayers and entreaties, which heightened her curiosity, and being young and airy, regarded not the indecency to which she preferr’d her curiosity, who still laughing, cried she was resolv’d to read it out, and know the constitution of her heart; when my lady, whose wit never fail’d her, cried, ‘I beseech you, madam, let us have so much complaisance for Melinda as to ask her consent in this affair, and then I am pleas’d you should see what love I can make upon occasion:’ I took the hint, and with a real confusion, cried —‘I implore you, madam, not to discover my weakness to Madam, the Duchess; I would not for the world — be thought to love so passionately, as your ladyship, in favour of Alexis, has made me profess, under the name of Sylvia to Philander’. This encouraged my lady, who began to say a thousand pleasant things of Alexis, Dorillus his son, and my lover, as your lordship knows, and who is no inconsiderable fortune for a maid, enrich’d only by your lordship’s bounty. My lady, after this, took the letter, and all being resolv’d it should be read, she herself did it, and turned it so prettily into burlesque love by her manner of reading it, that made Madam, the Duchess, laugh extremely; who at the end of it, cried to my lady —‘Well, madam, I am satisfied you have not a heart wholly insensible of love, that could so express it for another.’ Thus they rallied on, till careful of my lover’s repose, the Duchess urg’d the letter might be immediately sent away; at which my lady readily folding up the letter, writ ‘For the Constant Alexis’, on the outside: I took it, and begg’d I might have leave to retire to write it over in my own hand; they permitted me, and I carried it, after sealing it, to Dorillus, who waited for it, and wondering to find his son’s name on it, cried ‘Mistress, Melinda, I doubt you have mistook my present business; I wait for a letter from my lady to my lord, and you give me one from yourself to my son Alexis; ’twill be very welcome to Alexis I confess, but at this time I had rather oblige my lord than my son:’ I laughing replied, he was mistaken, that Alexis, at this time, meant no other than my lord, which pleas’d the good man extremely, who thought it a good omen for his son, and so went his way satisfied; as every body was, except the Countess, who fancied something more in it than my lady’s inditing for me; and after Madam the Duchess was gone, she went ruminating and pensive to her chamber, from whence I am confident she will not depart to-night, and will possibly set spies in every corner; at least ’tis good to fear the worst, that we may prevent all things that would hinder this night’s assignation: as soon as the coast is clear, I’ll wait on your lordship, and be your conductor, and in all things else am ready to shew myself,

My Lord,

Your lordship’s most humble and most obedient servant,

MELINDA.

Sylvia has given orders to wait on your lordship as soon as all is clear.

To MELINDA.

Oh Melinda, what have you told me? Stay me with an immediate account of the recovery and calmness of my adorable weeping Sylvia, or I shall enter Bellfont with my sword drawn, bearing down all before me, ‘till I make my way to my charming mourner: O God! Sylvia in a rage! Sylvia in any passion but that of love? I cannot bear it, no, by heaven I cannot; I shall do some outrage either on myself or at Bellfont. Oh thou dear advocate of my tenderest wishes, thou confidante of my never dying flame, thou kind administering maid, send some relief to my breaking heart — haste and tell me, Sylvia is calm, that her bright eyes sparkle with smiles, or if they languish, say ’tis with love, with expecting joys; that her dear hands are no more employed in exercises too rough and unbecoming their native softness. O eternal God! tearing perhaps her divine hair, brighter than the sun’s reflecting beams, injuring the heavenly beauty of her charming face and bosom, the joy and wish of all mankind that look upon her: oh charm her with prayers and tears, stop her dear fingers from the rude assaults; bind her fair hands; repeat Philander to her, tell her he’s fainting with the news of her unkindness and outrage on her lovely self; but tell her too, I die adoring her; tell her I rave, I tear, I curse myself — for so I do; tell her I would break out into a violence that should set all Bellfont in a flame, but for my care of her. Heaven and earth should not restrain me — no, they should not —— But her least frown should still me, tame me, and make me a calm coward: say this, say all, say any thing to charm her rage and tears. Oh I am mad, stark-mad, and ready to run on business I die to think her guilty of: tell her how it would grieve her to see me torn and mangled; to see that hair she loves ruffled and diminish’d by rage, violated by my insupportable grief, myself quite bereft of all sense but that of love, but that of adoration for my charming, cruel insensible, who is possessed with every thought, with every imagination that can render me unhappy, borne away with every fancy that is in disfavour of the wretched Philander. Oh Melinda, write immediately, or you will behold me enter a most deplorable object of pity.

When I receiv’d yours, I fell into such a passion that I forc’d myself back to Dorillus his house, left my transports and hurried me to Bellfont, where I should have undone all: but as I can now rest no where, I am now returning to the meadow again, where I will expect your aid, or die.

From Dorillus his cottage, almost nine o’clock.

To PHILANDER.

I must own, my charming Philander, that my love is now arrived to that excess, that every thought which before but discompos’d me, now puts me into a violence of rage unbecoming my sex; or any thing but the mighty occasion of it, love, and which only had power to calm what it had before ruffled into a destructive storm: but like the anger’d sea, which pants and heaves, and retains still an uneasy motion long after the rude winds are appeas’d and hush’d to silence; my heart beats still, and heaves with the sensible remains of the late dangerous tempest of my mind, and nothing can absolutely calm me but the approach of the all-powerful Philander; though that thought possesses me with ten thousand fears, which I know will vanish all at thy appearance, and assume no more their dreadful shapes till thou art gone again: bring me then that kind cessation, bring me my Philander, and set me above the thoughts of cares, frights, or any other thoughts but those of tender love; haste then, thou charming object of my eternal wishes, and of my new desires; haste to my arms, my eyes, my soul — but oh, be wondrous careful there, do not betray the easy maid that trusts thee amidst all her sacred store.

’Tis almost dark, and my mother is retired to her chamber, my father to his cabinet, and has left all that apartment next the garden wholly without spies. I have, by trusty Dorillus, sent you a key Melinda got made to the door, which leads from the garden to the black-stairs to my apartment, so carefully locked, and the original key so closely guarded by my jealous father: that way I beg you to come; a way but too well known to Philander, and by which he has made many an escape to and from Myrtilla. Oh damn that thought, what makes it torturing me —— let me change it for those of Philander, the advantage will be as great as bartering hell for heaven; haste then, Philander: but what need I bid thee, love will lend thee his wings; thou who commandest all his artillery, put them on, and fly to thy languishing

SYLVIA.

Oh I faint with the dear thought of thy approach.

To the Charming SYLVIA.

With much ado, with many a sigh, a panting heart, and many a languishing look back towards happy Bellfont, I have recovered Dorillus his farm, where I threw me on a bed, and lay without motion, and almost without life for two hours; till at last, through all my sighs, my great concern, my torment, my love and rage broke silence, and burst into all the different complaints both soft and mad by turns, that ever possessed a soul extravagantly seized with frantic love; ah, Sylvia, what did not I say? How did I not curse, and who except my charming maid? For yet my Sylvia is a maid: yes, yes, ye envying powers, she is, and yet the sacred and inestimable treasure was offered a trembling victim to the overjoyed and fancied deity, for then and there I thought myself happier than a triumphing god; but having overcome all difficulties, all the fatigues and toils of love’s long sieges, vanquish’d the mighty phantom of the fair, the giant honour, and routed all the numerous host of women’s little reasonings, passed all the bounds of peevish modesty; nay, even all the loose and silken counterscarps that fenced the sacred fort, and nothing stopped my glorious pursuit: then, then, ye gods, just then, by an over-transport, to fall just fainting before the surrendering gates, unable to receive the yielding treasure! Oh Sylvia! What demon, malicious at my glory, seized my vigour? What god, envious of my mighty joy, rendered me a shameful object of his raillery? Snatched my (till then) never failing power, and left me dying on thy charming bosom. Heavens, how I lay! Silent with wonder, rage and ecstasy of love, unable to complain, or rail, or storm, or seek for ease, but with my sighs alone, which made up all my breath; my mad desires remained, but all inactive, as age or death itself, as cold and feeble, as unfit for joy, as if my youthful fire had long been past, or Sylvia had never been blest with charms. Tell me, thou wondrous perfect creature, tell me, where lay the hidden witchcraft? Was Sylvia’s beauty too divine to mix with mortal joys? Ah no, ’twas ravishing, but human all. Yet sure ’twas so approaching to divinity, as changed my fire to awful adoration, and all my wanton heat to reverent contemplation. — But this is nonsense all, it was something more that gave me rage, despair and torments insupportable: no, it was no dull devotion, tame divinity, but mortal killing agony, unlucky disappointment, unnatural impotence. Oh! I am lost, enchanted by some magic spell: oh, what can Sylvia say? What can she think of my fond passion; she’ll swear it is all a cheat, I had it not. No, it could not be; such tales I’ve often heard, as often laughed at too, of disappointed lovers; would Sylvia believe (as sure she may) mine was excess of passion: what! My Sylvia! being arrived to all the joy of love, just come to reap the glorious recompense, the full reward, the heaven for all my sufferings, do I lie gazing only, and no more? A dull, a feeble unconcerned admirer! Oh my eternal shame! — Curse on my youth; give me, ye powers, old age, for that has some excuse, but youth has none: ’tis dullness, stupid insensibility: where shall I hide my head when this lewd story’s told? When it shall be confirmed, Philander the young, the brisk and gay Philander, who never failed the woman he scarce wished for, never baulked the amorous conceited old, nor the ill-favoured young, yet when he had extended in his arms the young, the charming fair and longing Sylvia, the untouched, unspotted, and till then, unwishing lovely maid, yielded, defenceless, and unguarded all, he wanted power to seize the trembling prey: defend me, heaven, from madness. Oh Sylvia, I have reflected on all the little circumstances that might occasion this disaster, and damn me to this degree of coldness, but I can fix on none: I had, it is true, for Sylvia’s sake, some apprehensions of fear of being surprised; for coming through the garden, I saw at the farther end a man, at least I fancied by that light it was a man; who perceiving the glimpse of something approach from the grove, made softly towards me, but with such caution, as if he feared to be mistaken in the person, as much as I was to approach him: and reminding what Melinda told me, of an assignation she had made to Monsieur the Count — imagined it him; nor was I mistaken when I heard his voice calling in low tone —‘Melinda’ — at which I mended my pace, and ere he got half way the garden recovered the door, and softly unlocking it, got in unperceived, and fastened it after me, well enough assured that he saw not which way I vanished: however, it failed not to alarm me with some fears on your dear account, that disturbed my repose, and which I thought then not necessary to impart to you, and which indeed all vanished at the sight of my adorable maid: when entering thy apartment, I beheld thee extended on a bed of roses, in garments, which, if possible, by their wanton loose negligence and gaiety, augmented thy natural charms: I trembling fell on my knees by your bed-side and gazed a while, unable to speak for transports of joy and love: you too were silent, and remained so, so long that I ventured to press your lips with mine, which all their eager kisses could not put in motion, so that I feared you fainted; a sudden fright, that in a moment changed my fever of love into a cold ague fit; but you revived me with a sigh again, and fired me anew, by pressing my hand, and from that silent soft encouragement, I, by degrees, ravished a thousand blisses; yet still between your tempting charming kisses, you would cry —‘Oh, my Philander, do not injure me — be sure you press me not to the last joys of love — Oh have a care, or I am undone for ever: restrain your roving hands —— Oh whither would they wander? —— My soul, my joy, my everlasting charmer, oh whither would you go?’— Thus with a thousand cautions more, which did but raise what you designed to calm, you made me but the madder to possess: not all the vows you bid me call to mind, could now restrain my wild and headstrong passion; my raving, raging (but my soft) desire: no, Sylvia, no, it was not in the power of feeble flesh and blood to find resistance against so many charms; yet still you made me swear, still I protested, but still burnt on with the same torturing flame, till the vast pleasure even became a pain: to add to this, I saw, (yes, Sylvia, not all your art and modesty could hide it) I saw the ravishing maid as much inflamed as I; she burnt with equal fire, with equal languishment: not all her care could keep the sparks concealed, but it broke out in every word and look; her trembling tongue, her feeble fainting voice betrayed it all; sighs interrupting every syllable; a languishment I never saw till then dwelt in her charming eyes, that contradicted all her little vows; her short and double breathings heaved her breast, her swelling snowy breast, her hands that grasped me trembling as they closed, while she permitted mine unknown, unheeded to traverse all her beauties, till quite forgetting all I had faintly promised, and wholly abandoning my soul to joy, I rushed upon her, who, all fainting, lay beneath my useless weight, for on a sudden all my power was fled, swifter than lightning hurried through my enfeebled veins, and vanished all: not the dear lovely beauty which I pressed, the dying charms of that fair face and eyes, the clasps of those soft arms, nor the bewitching accent of her voice, that murmured love half smothered in her sighs, nor all my love, my vast, my mighty passion, could call my fugitive vigour back again: oh no, the more I looked — the more I touched and saw, the more I was undone. Oh pity me, my too I too lovely maid, do not revile the faults which you alone create. Consider all your charms at once exposed, consider every sense about me ravished, overcome with joys too mighty to be supported, no wonder if I fell a shameful sacrifice to the fond deity: consider how I waited, how I strove, and still I burnt on, and every tender touch still added fuel to the vigorous fire, which by your delay consumed itself in burning. I want philosophy to make this out, or faith to fix my unhappiness on any chance or natural accident; but this, my charming Sylvia, I am sure, that had I loved you less, I’d been less wretched: nor had we parted, Sylvia, on so ill terms, nor had I left you with an opinion so disadvantageous for Philander, but for that unhappy noise at your chamber-door, which alarming your fear, occasioned your recovery from that dear trance, to which love and soft desire had reduced you, and me from the most tormenting silent agony that disappointed joy ever possessed a fond expecting heart with. Oh heavens! to have my Sylvia in my power, favoured by silence, night and safe retreat! then, then, to lie a tame cold sigher only, as if my Sylvia gave that assignation alone by stealth, undressed, all loose and languishing, fit for the mighty business of the night, only to hear me prattle, see me gaze, or tell her what a pretty sight it was to see the moon shine through the dancing boughs. Oh damn my hardened dullness! — But no more — I am all fire and madness at the thought — but I was saying, Sylvia, we both recovered then when the noise alarmed us. I long to know whether you think we were betrayed, for on that knowledge rests a mighty part of my destiny: I hope we are not, by an accident that befell me at my going away, which (but for my untimely force of leaving my lovely Sylvia, which gave me pains insupportable) would have given me great diversion. You know our fear of being discovered occasioned my disguise, for you found it necessary I should depart, your fear had so prevailed, and that in Melinda’s night-gown and head-dress: thus attired, with much ado, I went and left my soul behind me, and finding no body all along the gallery, nor in my passage from your apartment into the garden, I was a thousand times about to return to all my joys; when in the midst of this almost ended dispute, I saw by the light of the moon (which was by good fortune under a cloud, and could not distinctly direct the sight) a man making towards me with cautious speed, which made me advance with the more haste to recover the grove, believing to have escaped him under the covert of the trees; for retreat I could not, without betraying which way I went; but just at the entrance of the thicket, he turning short made up to me, and I perceived it Monsieur the Count, who taking me for Melinda, whom it seems he expected, caught hold of my gown as I would have passed him, and cried, ‘Now Melinda, I see you are a maid of honour — come, retire with me into the grove, where I have a present of a heart and something else to make you, that will be of more advantage to you than that of Alexis, though something younger.’— I all confounded knew not what to reply, nor how, lest he should find his mistake, at least, if he discovered not who I was: which silence gave him occasion to go on, which he did in this manner: ‘What not a word, Melinda, or do you design I shall take your silence for consent? If so, come my pretty creature, let us not lose the hour love has given us;’ at this he would have advanced, leading me by the hand, which he pressed and kissed very amorously: judge, my adorable Sylvia, in what a fine condition your Philander then was in. What should I do? To go had disappointed him worse than I was with thee before; not to go, betrayed me: I had much ado to hold my countenance, and unwilling to speak. While I was thus employed in thought, Monsieur—— pulling me (eager of joys to come,) and I holding back, he stopped and cried, ‘Sure, Melinda, you came not hither to bring me a denial.’ I then replied, whispering — ‘Softly, sir, for heaven’s sake’ (sweetening my voice as much as possible) ‘consider I am a maid, and would not be discovered for the world.’ ‘Who can discover us?’ replied my lover, ‘what I take from thee shall never be missed, not by Alexis himself upon thy wedding night; — Come — sweet child, come:—’—‘With that I pulled back and whispered —‘Heavens! Would you make a mistress of me?’— Says he —‘A mistress, what would’st thou be a cherubin?’ Then I replied as before —‘I am no whore, sir,’—‘No,’ cries he, ‘but I can quickly make thee one, I have my tools about me, sweet-heart; therefore let us lose no time, but fall to work:’ this last raillery from the brisk old gentleman, had in spite of resolution almost made me burst out into a loud laughter, when he took more gravity upon him, and cried —‘Come, come, Melinda, why all this foolish argument at this hour in this place, and after so much serious courtship; believe me, I’ll be kind to thee for ever;’ with that he clapped fifty guineas in a purse into one hand, and something else that shall be nameless into the other, presents that had been both worth Melinda’s acceptance: all this while was I studying an evasion; at last, to shorten my pleasant adventure, looking round, I cried softly, ‘Are you sure, sir, we are safe — for heaven’s sake step towards the garden door and see, for I would not be discovered for the world.’—‘Nor I,’ cried he —‘but do not fear, all is safe:’—‘However see’ (whispered I) ‘that my fear may not disturb your joys.’ With that he went toward the house, and I slipping into the grove, got immediately into the meadow, where Alexis waited my coming with Brilliard; so I, left the expecting lover, I suppose, ranging the grove for his fled nymph, and I doubt will fall heavy on poor Melinda, who shall have the guineas, either to restore or keep, as she and the angry Count can agree: I leave the management of it to her wit and conduct.

This account I thought necessary to give my charmer, that she might prepare Melinda for the assault, who understanding all that passed between us, may so dispose of matters, that no discovery may happen by mistake, and I know my Sylvia and she can find a thousand excuses for the supposed Melinda’s flight. But, my adorable maid, my business here was not to give an account of my adventure only, nor of my ravings, but to tell my Sylvia, on what my life depends; which is, in a permission to wait on her again this ensuing night; make no excuse, for if you do, by all I adore in heaven and earth I’ll end my life here where I received it. I will say no more, nor give your love instructions, but wait impatiently here the life or death of your PHILANDER.

’Tis six o’clock, and yet my eyes have not closed themselves to sleep: Alexis and Brilliard give me hopes of a kind return to this, and have brought their flute and violin to charm me into a slumber: if Sylvia love, as I am sure she does, she will wake me with a dear consent to see me; if not, I only wake to sleep for ever.

To My Fair CHARMER.

When I had sealed the enclosed, my page, whom I had ordered to come to me with an account of any business extraordinary, is this morning arrived with a letter from Cesario, which I have sent here enclosed, that my Sylvia may see how little I regard the world, or the mighty revolution in hand, when set in competition with the least hope of beholding her adorable face, or hearing her charming tongue when it whispers the soft dictates of her tender heart into my ravished soul; one moment’s joy like that surmounts an age of dull empire. No, let the busy unregarded rout perish, the cause fall or stand alone for me: give me but love, love and my Sylvia; I ask no more of heaven; to which vast joy could you but imagine (O wondrous miracle of beauty!) how poor and little I esteem the valued trifles of the world, you would in return contemn your part of it, and live with me in silent shades for ever. Oh! Sylvia, what hast thou this night to add to the soul of thy

PHILANDER.

To the Count of ——

I’ll allow you, my dear, to be very fond of so much beauty as the world must own adorns the lovely Sylvia: I’ll permit love too to rival me in your heart, but not out-rival glory; haste then, my dear, to the advance of that, make no delay, but with the morning’s dawn let me find you in my arms, where I have something that will surprise you to relate to you: you were last night expected at —— It behoves you to give no umbrage to persons whose interest renders them enough jealous. We have two new advancers come in of youth and money, teach them not negligence; be careful, and let nothing hinder you from taking horse immediately, as you value the repose and fortune of,

My dear, Your CESARIO.

I called last night on you, and your page following me to my coach, whispered me — if I had any earnest business with you, he knew where to find you; I soon imagined where, and bid him call within an hour for this, and post with it immediately, though dark.

To PHILANDER.

Ah! What have I done, Philander, and where shall I hide my guilty blushing face? Thou hast undone my eternal quiet: oh, thou hast ruin’d my everlasting repose, and I must never, never look abroad again: curse on my face that first debauched my virtue, and taught thee how to love; curse on my tempting youth, my shape, my air, my eyes, my voice, my hands, and every charm that did contribute to my fatal love, a lasting curse on all — but those of the adorable Philander, and those —— even in this raging minute, my furious passion dares not approach with an indecent thought: no, they are sacred all, madness itself would spare them, and shouldst thou now behold me as I sit, my hair dishevelled, ruffled and disordered, my eyes bedewing every word I write, when for each letter I let fall a tear; then (pressed with thought) starting, I dropped my pen, and fell to rave anew, and tear those garments whose loose negligence helped to betray me to my shameful ruin, wounding my breast, but want the resolution to wound it as I ought; which when I but propose, love stays the thought, raging and wild as it is, the conqueror checks it, with whispering only Philander to my soul; the dear name calms me to an easiness, gives me the pen into my trembling hand, and I pursue my silent soft complaint: oh! shouldst thou see me thus, in all these sudden different changes of passion, thou wouldst say, Philander, I were mad indeed, madness itself can find no stranger motions: and I would calmly ask thee, for I am calm again, how comes it, my adorable Philander, that thou canst possess a maid with so much madness? Who art thyself a miracle of softness, all sweet and all serene, the most of angel in thy composition that ever mingled with humanity; the very words fall so gently from thy tongue — are uttered with a voice so ravishingly soft, a tone so tender and so full of love, it would charm even frenzy, calm rude distraction, and wildness would become a silent listener; there’s such a sweet serenity in thy face, such innocence and softness in thy eyes, should desert savages but gaze on thee, sure they would forget their native forest wildness, and be inspired with easy gentleness: most certainly this god-like power thou hast. Why then? Oh tell me in the agony of my soul, why must those charms that bring tranquillity and peace to all, make me alone a wild, unseemly raver? Why has it contrary effects on me? Oh! all I act and say is perfect madness: yet this is the least unaccountable part of my most wretched story; — oh! I must never behold thy lovely face again, for if I should, sure I should blush my soul away; no, no, I must not, nor ever more believe thy dear deluding vows; never thy charming perjured oaths, after a violation like to this. Oh heaven, what have I done? Yet by heaven I swear, I dare not ask my soul, lest it inform me how I was to blame, unless that fatal minute would instruct me how to revenge my wrongs upon my heart —— my fond betraying heart, despair and madness seize me, darkness and horror hide me from human sight, after an easiness like this; —— what to yield — to yield my honour? Betray the secrets of my virgin wishes? — My new desires, my unknown shameful flame. — Hell and Death! Where got I so much confidence? Where learned I the hardened and unblushing folly? To wish was such a fault, as is a crime unpardonable to own; to shew desire is such a sin in virtue as must deserve reproach from all the world; but I, unlucky I, have not only betrayed all these, but with a transport void of sense and shame, I yield to thy arms —— I’ll not endure the thought —— by heaven! I cannot; there is something more than rage that animates that thought: some magic spell, that in the midst of all my sense of shame keeps me from true repentance; this angers me, and makes me know my honour but a phantom: now I could curse again my youth and love; but oh! When I have done, alas, Philander, I find myself as guilty as before; I cannot make one firm resolve against thee, or if I do, when I consider thee, they weigh not all one lovely hair of thine. It is all in vain, the charming cause remains, Philander’s still as lovely as before; it is him I must remove from my fond eyes and heart, him I must banish from my touch, my smell, and every other sense; by heaven I cannot bear the mighty pressure, I cannot see his eyes, and touch his hands, smell the perfume every pore of his breathes forth, taste thy soft kisses, hear thy charming voice, but I am all on a flame: no, it is these I must exclaim on, not my youth, it is they debauch my soul, no natural propensity in me to yield, or to admit of such destructive fires. Fain I would put it off, but it will not do, I am the aggressor still; else why is not every living maid undone that does but touch or see thee? Tell me why? No, the fault is in me, and thou art innocent. — Were but my soul less delicate, were it less sensible of what it loves and likes in thee, I yet were dully happy; but oh, there is a nicety there so charmed, so apprehensive of thy beauties, as has betrayed me to unrest for ever:—— yet something I will do to tame this lewd betrayer of my right, and it shall plead no more in thy behalf; no more, no more disperse the joys which it conceives through every vein (cold and insensible by nature) to kindle new desires there. — No more shall fill me with unknown curiosity; no, I will in spite of all the perfumes that dwell about thee, in spite of all the arts thou hast of looking, of speaking, and of touching, I will, I say, assume my native temper, I will be calm, be cold and unconcerned, as I have been to all the World — but to Philander. — The almighty power he has is unaccountable:— by yonder breaking day that opens in the east, opens to see my shame — I swear — by that great ruler of the day, the sun, by that Almighty Power that rules them both, I swear — I swear, Philander, charming lovely youth! Thou art the first e’er kindled soft desires about my soul, thou art the first that ever did inform me that there was such a sort of wish about me. I thought the vanity of being beloved made up the greatest part of the satisfaction; it was joy to see my lovers sigh about me, adore and praise me, and increase my pride by every look, by every word and action; and him I fancied best I favoured most, and he past for the happy fortune; him I have suffered too to kiss and press me, to tell me all his tale of love, and sigh, which I would listen to with pride and pleasure, permitted it, and smiled him kind returns; nay, by my life, then thought I loved him too, thought I could have been content to have passed my life at this gay rate, with this fond hoping lover, and thought no farther than of being great, having rich coaches, shewing equipage, to pass my hours in dressing, in going to the operas and the tower, make visits where I list, be seen at balls; and having still the vanity to think the men would gaze and languish where I came, and all the women envy me; I thought no farther on — but thou, Philander, hast made me take new measures, I now can think of nothing but of thee, I loathe the sound of love from any other voice, and conversation makes my soul impatient, and does not only dull me into melancholy, but perplexes me out of all humour, out of all patient sufferance, and I am never so well pleased when from Philander, as when I am retired, and curse my character and figure in the world, because it permits me not to prevent being visited; one thought of thee is worth the world’s enjoyment, I hate to dress, I hate to be agreeable to any eyes but thine; I hate the noise of equipage and crowds, and would be more content to live with thee in some lone shaded cottage, than be a queen, and hindered by that grandeur one moment’s conversation with Philander: may’st thou despise and loathe me, a curse the greatest that I can invent, if this be any thing but real honest truth. No, no, Philander, I find I never lov’d till now, I understood it not, nor knew what those sighs and pressings meant which others gave me; yet every speaking glance thy eyes put on, inform my soul what it is they plead and languish for: if you but touch my hand, my breath grows faint and short, my blood glows in my face, and runs with an unusual warmth through every vein, and tells my heart what it is Philander ails, when he falls sighing on my bosom; oh then, I fear, I answer every look, and every sigh and touch, in the same silent but intelligible language, and understood, I fear, too well by thee: till now I never feared love as a criminal. Oh tell me not, mistaken foolish maids, true love is innocent, ye cold, ye dull, ye unconsidering lovers; though I have often heard it from the grave and wise, and preached myself that doctrine: I now renounce it all, it is false, by heaven! it is false, for now I love, and know it all a fiction; yes, and love so, as never any woman can equal me in love, my soul being all composed (as I have often said) of softer materials. Nor is it fancy sets my rates on beauty, there is an intrinsic value in thy charms, who surely none but I am able to understand, and to those that view thee not with my judging eyes, ugliness fancied would appear the same, and please as well. If all could love or judge like me, why does Philander pass so unregarded by a thousand women, who never sighed for him? What makes Myrtilla, who possesses all, looks on thee, feels thy kisses, hears thee speak, and yet wants sense to know how blessed she is, it is want of judgement all; and how, and how can she that judges ill, love well?

Granting my passion equal to its object, you must allow it infinite, and more in me than any other woman, by how much more my soul is composed of tenderness; and yet I say I own, for I may own it, now heaven and you are witness of my shame, I own with all this love, with all this passion, so vast, so true, and so unchangeable, that I have wishes, new, unwonted wishes, at every thought of thee I find a strange disorder in my blood, that pants and burns in every vein, and makes me blush, and sigh, and grow impatient, ashamed and angry; but when I know it the effects of love, I am reconciled, and wish and sigh anew; for when I sit and gaze upon thy eyes, thy languishing, thy lovely dying eyes, play with thy soft white hand, and lay my glowing cheeks to thine —— Oh God! What language can express my transport! All that is tender, all that is soft desire, seizes every trembling limb, and it is with pain concealed. — Yes, yes, Philander, it is the fatal truth, since thou hast found it, I confess it too, and yet I love thee dearly; long, long it was that I essayed to hide the guilty flame, if love be guilt; for I confess I did dissemble a coldness which I was not mistress of: there lies a woman’s art, there all her boasted virtue, it is but well dissembling, and no more — but mine, alas, is gone, for ever fled; this, this feeble guard that should secure my honour, thou hast betrayed, and left it quite defenceless. Ah, what’s a woman’s honour when it is so poorly guarded! No wonder that you conquer with such ease, when we are only safe by the mean arts of base dissimulation, an ill as shameful as that to which we fall. Oh silly refuge! What foolish nonsense fond custom can persuade: Yet so it is; and she that breaks her laws, loses her fame, her honour and esteem. Oh heavens! How quickly lost it is! Give me, ye powers, my fame, and let me be a fool; let me retain my virtue and my honour, and be a dull insensible — But, oh! Where is it? I have lost it all; it is irrecoverably lost: yes, yes, ye charming perjured man, it is gone, and thou hast quite undone me. —

What though I lay extended on my bed, undressed, unapprehensive of my fate, my bosom loose and easy of access, my garments ready, thin and wantonly put on, as if they would with little force submit to the fond straying hand: what then, Philander, must you take the advantage? Must you be perjured because I was tempting? It is true, I let you in by stealth by night, whose silent darkness favoured your treachery; but oh, Philander, were not your vows as binding by a glimmering taper, as if the sun with all his awful light had been a looker on? I urged your vows as you pressed on — but oh, I fear it was in such a way, so faintly and so feebly I upbraided you, as did but more advance your perjuries. Your strength increas’d, but mine alas declin’d;‘till I quite fainted in your arms, left you triumphant lord of all: no more my faint denials do persuade, no more my trembling hands resist your force, unregarded lay the treasure which you toil’d for, betrayed and yielded to the lovely conqueror — but oh tormenting —— when you saw the store, and found the prize no richer, with what contempt, (yes false, dear man) with what contempt you view’d the unvalu’d trophy: what, despised! Was all you call a heaven of joy and beauty exposed to view, and then neglected? Were all your prayers heard, your wishes granted, and your toils rewarded, the trembling victim ready for the sacrifice, and did you want devotion to perform it? And did you thus receive the expected blessing? —— Oh — by heaven I’ll never see thee more, and it will be charity to thee, for thou hast no excuse in store that can convince my opinion that I am hated, loathed — I cannot bear that thought — or if I do, it shall only serve to fortify my fixed resolve never to see thee more. — And yet I long to hear thy false excuse, let it be quickly then; it is my disdain invites thee — to strengthen which, there needs no more than that you let me hear your poor defence. —— But it is a tedious time to that slow hour wherein I dare permit thee, but hope not to incline my soul to love: no, I am yet safe if I can stop but here, but here be wise, resolve and be myself.

SYLVIA.

To PHILANDER.

As my page was coming with the enclosed, he met Alexis at the gate with yours, and who would not depart without an answer to it; — to go or stay is the question. Ah, Philander! Why do you press a heart too ready to yield to love and you! Alas, I fear you guess too well my answer, and your own soul might save me the blushing trouble of a reply. I am plunged in, past hope of a retreat; and since my fate has pointed me out for ruin, I cannot fall more gloriously. Take then, Philander, to your dear arms, a maid that can no longer resist, who is disarmed of all defensive power: she yields, she yields, and does confess it too; and sure she must be more than mortal, that can hold out against thy charms and vows. Since I must be undone, and give all away; I’ll do it generously, and scorn all mean reserves: I will be brave in love, and lavish all; nor shall Philander think I love him well, unless I do. Take, charming victor, then, what your own merits, and what love has given you; take, take, at last, the dear reward of all your sighs and tears, your vows and sufferings. But since, Philander, it is an age to night, and till the approach of those dear silent hours, thou knowest I dare not give thee admittance; I do conjure thee, go to Cesario, whom I find too pressing, not to believe the concerns great; and so jealous I am of thy dear safety, that every thing alarms my fears: oh! satisfy them then and go, it is early yet, and if you take horse immediately, you will be there by eight this morning; go, I conjure you; for though it is an unspeakable satisfaction to know you are so near me, yet I prefer your safety and honour to all considerations else. You may soon dispatch your affair, and render yourself time enough on the place appointed, which is where you last night waited, and it will be at least eight at night before it is possible to bring you to my arms. Come in your chariot, and do not heat yourself with riding; have a care of me and my life, in the preservation of all I love. Be sure you go, and do not, my Philander, out of a punctilio of love, neglect your dear safety —— go then, Philander, and all the gods of love preserve and attend thee on thy way, and bring thee safely back to

SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

Oh thou most charming of thy sex! Thou lovely dear delight of my transported soul! thou everlasting treasure of my heart! What hast thou done? Given me an over-joy, that fails but very little of performing what grief’s excess had almost finished before: eternal blessings on thee, for a goodness so divine, oh, thou most excellent, and dearest of thy sex! I know not what to do, or what to say. I am not what I was, I do not speak, nor walk, nor think as I was wont to do; sure the excess of joy is far above dull sense, or formal thinking, it cannot stay for ceremonious method. I rave with pleasure, rage with the dear thought of coming ecstasy. Oh Sylvia, Sylvia, Sylvia! My soul, my vital blood, and without which I could as well subsist — oh, my adorable, my Sylvia! Methinks I press thee, kiss thee, hear thee sigh, behold thy eyes, and all the wondrous beauty of thy face; a solemn joy has spread itself through every vein, sensibly through every artery of my heart, and I can think of nothing but of Sylvia, the lovely Sylvia, the blooming flowing Sylvta! And shall I see thee? Shall I touch thy hands, and press thy dear, thy charming body in my arms, and taste a thousand joys, a thousand ravishments? Oh God! shall I? Oh Sylvia, say; but thou hast said enough to make me mad, and I, forgetful of thy safety and my own, shall bring thy wild adoring slave to Bellfont, and throw him at thy feet, to pay his humble gratitude for this great condescension, this vast bounty.

Ah, Sylvia! How shall I live till night? And you impose too cruelly upon me, in conjuring me to go to Cesario; alas! Does Sylvia know to what she exposes her Philander? Whose joy is so transporting, great, that when he comes into the grave cabal, he must betray the story of his heart, and, in lieu of the mighty business there in hand, be raving still on Sylvia, telling his joy to all the amazed listeners, and answering questions that concern our great affair, with something of my love; all which will pass for madness, and undo me: no, give me leave to rave in silence, and unseen among the trees, they’ll humour my disease, answer my murmuring joy, and echoes flatter it, repeat thy name, repeat that Sylvia’s mine! and never hurt her fame; while the cabals, business and noisy town will add confusion to my present transport, and make me mad indeed: no, let me alone, thou sacred lovely creature, let me be calm and quiet here, and tell all the insensibles I meet in the woods what Sylvia has this happy minute destined me: oh, let me record it on every bark, on every oak and beech, that all the world may wonder at my fortune, and bless the generous maid; let it grow up to ages that shall come, that they may know the story of our loves, and how a happy youth, they called Philander, was once so blest by heaven as to possess the charming, the adored and loved by all, the glorious Sylvia! a maid, the most divine that ever graced a story; and when the nymphs would look for an example of love and constancy, let them point out Philander to their doubted swains, and cry, ‘Ah! love but as the young Philander did, and then be fortunate, and then reap all your wishes:’ and when the shepherd would upbraid his nymph, let him but cry — ‘See here what Sylvia did to save the young Philander;’ but oh! There never will be such another nymph as Sylvia; heaven formed but one to shew the world what angels are, and she was formed for me, yes she was — in whom I would not quit my glorious interest to reign a monarch here, or any boasted gilded thing above! Take all, take all, ye gods, and give me but this happy coming night! Oh, Sylvia, Sylvia! By all thy promised joys I am undone if any accident should ravish this night from me: this night! No not for a lease of years to all eternity would I throw thee away: oh! I am all flame, all joyful fire and softness; methinks it is heaven where-ever I look round me, air where I tread, and ravishing music when I speak, because it is all of Sylvia—— let me alone, oh let me cool a little, or I shall by an excess of joyful thought lose all my hoped for bliss. Remove a little from me; go, my Sylvia, you are so excessive sweet, so wondrous dazzling, you press my senses even to pain — away — let me take air — let me recover breath: oh let me lay me down beneath some cooling shade, near some refreshing crystal murmuring spring, and fan the gentle air about me. I suffocate, I faint with this close loving, I must allay my joy or be undone — I will read thy cruel letters, or I will think of some sad melancholy hour wherein thou hast dismissed me despairing from thy presence: or while you press me now to be gone with so much earnestness, you have some lover to receive and entertain; perhaps it is only for the vanity to hear him tell his nauseous passion to you, breathe on your lovely face, and daub your garments with his fulsome embrace; but oh, by heaven, I cannot think that thought! And thou hast sworn thou canst not suffer it — if I should find thee false — but it is impossible. — Oh! Should I find Foscario visit thee, him whom thy parents favour, I should undo you all, by heaven I should — but thou hast sworn, what need Philander more? Yes, Sylvia, thou hast sworn and called heaven’s vengeance down whenever thou gavest a look, or a dear smile in love to that pretending fop: yet from his mighty fortune there is danger in him — What makes that thought torment me now? — Be gone, for Sylvia loves me, and will preserve my life ——

I am not able, my adorable charmer, to obey your commands in going from the sight of happy Bellfont; no, let the great wheel of the vast design roll on —— or for ever stand still, for I will not aid its motion to leave the mightier business of my love unfinished; no, let fortune and the duller fools toil on —— for I’ll not bate a minute of my joys with thee to save the world, much less so poor a parcel of it; and sure there is more solid pleasure even in these expecting hours I wait to snatch my bliss, than to be lord of all the universe without it: then let me wait, my Sylvia, in those melancholy shades that part Bellfont from Dorillus’s farm; perhaps my Sylvia may walk that way so unattended, that we might meet and lose ourselves for a few moments in those intricate retreats: ah Sylvia! I am dying with that thought —— oh heavens! What cruel destiny is mine? Whose fatal circumstances do not permit me to own my passion, and lay claim to Sylvia, to take her without control to shades and palaces, to live for ever with her, to gaze for ever on her, to eat, to loll, to rise, to play, to sleep, to act over all the pleasures and the joys of life with her — but it is in vain I rave, in vain employ myself in the fool’s barren business, wishing — this thought has made me sad as death: oh, Sylvia! I can never be truly happy — adieu, employ thyself in writing to me, and remember my life bears date but only with thy faith and love.

PHILANDER.

Try, my adorable, what you can do to meet me in the wood this afternoon, for there I will live to-day.

To PHILANDER.

Obstinate Philander, I conjure you by all your vows, by all your sacred love, by those dear hours this happy night designed in favour of you, to go without delay to Cesario; ’twill be unsafe to disobey a prince in his jealous circumstances. The fatigue of the journey cannot be great, and you well know the torment of my fears! Oh! I shall never be happy, or think you safe, till you have quitted this fatal interest: go, my Philander—— and remember whatever toils you take will be rewarded at night in the arms of

SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

Whatever toils you take shall be rewarded in the arms of Sylvia—— by heaven, I am inspired to act wonders: yes, Sylvia, yes, my adorable maid, I am gone, I fly as swift as lightning, or the soft darts of love shot from thy charming eyes, and I can hardly stay to say —— adieu ——

To the Lady ——

Dear Child,

Long foreseeing the misery whereto you must arrive, by this fatal correspondence with my unhappy lord, I have often, with tears and prayers, implored you to decline so dangerous a passion: I have never yet acquainted our parents with your misfortunes, but I fear I must at last make use of their authority for the prevention of your ruin. It is not my dearest child, that part of this unhappy story that relates to me, that grieves me, but purely that of thine.

Consider, oh young noble maid, the infamy of being a prostitute! And yet the act itself in this fatal amour is not the greatest sin, but the manner, which carries an unusual horror with it; for it is a brother too, my child, as well as a lover, one that has lain by thy unhappy sister’s side so many tender years, by whom he has a dear and lovely off-spring, by which he has more fixed himself to thee by relation and blood: consider this, oh fond heedless girl! And suffer not a momentary joy to rob thee of thy eternal fame, me of my eternal repose, and fix a brand upon our noble house, and so undo us all. —— Alas, consider, after an action so shameful, thou must obscure thyself in some remote corner of the world, where honesty and honour never are heard of: no, thou canst not shew thy face, but it will be pointed at for something monstrous; for a hundred ages may not produce a story so lewdly infamous and loose as thine. Perhaps (fond as you are) you imagine the sole joy of being beloved by him, will atone for those affronts and reproaches you will meet with in the censuring world: but, child, remember and believe me, there is no lasting faith in sin; he that has broke his vows with heaven and me, will be again perjured to heaven and thee, and all the world! —— He once thought me as lovely, lay at my feet, and sighed away his soul, and told such piteous stories of his sufferings, such sad, such mournful tales of his departed rest, his broken heart and everlasting love, that sure I thought it had been a sin not to have credited his charming perjuries; in such a way he swore, with such a grace he sighed, so artfully he moved, so tenderly he looked. Alas, dear child, then all he said was new, unusual with him, never told before, now it is a beaten road, it is learned by heart, and easily addressed to any fond believing woman, the tattered, worn out fragments of my trophies, the dregs of what I long since drained from off his fickle heart; then it was fine, then it was brisk and new, now palled and dull by being repeated often. Think, my child, what your victorious beauty merits, the victim of a heart unconquered by any but your eyes: alas, he has been my captive, my humble whining slave, disdain to put him on your fetters now; alas, he can say no new thing of his heart to thee, it is love at second hand, worn out, and all its gaudy lustre tarnished; besides, my child, if thou hadst no religion binding enough, no honour that could stay thy fatal course, yet nature should oblige thee, and give a check to the unreasonable enterprise. The griefs and dishonour of our noble parents, who have been eminent for virtue and piety, oh suffer them not to be regarded in this censuring world as the most unhappy of all the race of old nobility; thou art the darling child, the joy of all, the last hope left, the refuge of their sorrow, for they, alas, have had but unkind stars to influence their unadvised off-spring; no want of virtue in their education, but this last blow of fate must strike them dead; think, think of this, my child, and yet retire from ruin; haste, fly from destruction which pursues thee fast; haste, haste and save thy parents and a sister, or what is more dear, thy fame; mine has already received but too many desperate wounds, and all through my unkind lord’s growing passion for thee, which was most fatally founded on my ruin, and nothing but my ruin could advance it; and when, my sister, thou hast run thy race, made thyself loathed, undone and infamous as hell, despis’d, scorn’d and abandon’d by all, lampoon’d, perhaps diseas’d; this faithless man, this cause of all will leave thee too, grow weary of thee, nauseated by use; he may perhaps consider what sins, what evils, and what inconveniencies and shames thou’st brought him to, and will not be the last shall loathe and hate thee: for though youth fancy it have a mighty race to run of pleasing vice and vanity, the course will end, the goal will be arrived to at the last, where they will sighing stand, look back, and view the length of precious time they’ve fool’d away; when traversed over with honour and discretion, how glorious were the journey, and with what joy the wearied traveller lies down and basks beneath the shades that end the happy course.

Forgive, dear child, this advice, and pursue it; it is the effect of my pity, not anger; nor could the name of rival ever yet have power to banish that of sister from my soul —— farewell, remember me; pray heaven thou hast not this night made a forfeit of thy honour, and that this which comes from a tender bleeding heart may have the fortune to inspire thee with grace to avoid all temptations for the future, since they must end in sorrows which is the eternal prayer of,

Dearest child,

Your affectionate Sister.

To PHILANDER.

Ask me not, my dearest brother, the reason of this sudden change, ask me no more from whence proceeds this strange coldness, or why this alteration; it is enough my destiny has not decreed me for Philander: alas, I see my error, and looking round about me, find nothing but approaching horror and confusion in my pursuit of love: oh whither was I going, to what dark paths, to what everlasting shades had smiling love betray’d me, had I pursued him farther? But I at last have subdued his force, and the fond charmer shall no more renew his arts and flatteries; for I’m resolv’d as heaven, as fix’d as fate and death, and I conjure you trouble my repose no more; for if you do (regardless of my honour, which if you loved you would preserve) I will do a deed shall free me from your importunities, that shall amaze and cool your vicious flame. No more — remember you have a noble wife, companion of your vows, and I have honour, both which are worth preserving, and for which, though you want generous love, you will find neither that nor courage wanting in Sylvia.

To SYLVIA.

Yes, my adorable Sylvia, I will pursue you no farther; only for all my pains, for all my sufferings, for my tormenting sleepless nights, and thoughtful anxious days; for all my faithless hopes, my fears, my sighs, my prayers and my tears, for my unequalled and unbounded passion, and my unwearied pursuits in love, my never-dying flame, and lastly, for my death; I only beg, in recompense for all, this last favour from your pity; That you will deign to view the bleeding wound that pierced the truest heart that ever fell a sacrifice to love; you will find my body lying beneath that spreading oak, so sacred to Philander, since it was there he first took into his greedy ravished soul, the dear, the soft confession of thy passion, though now forgotten and neglected all — make what haste you can, you will find there stretched out the mangled carcase of the lost

PHILANDER.

Ah Sylvia! Was it for this that I was sent in such haste away this morning to Cesario? Did I for this neglect the world, our great affair, and all that Prince’s interest, and fly back to Bellfont on the wings of love? Where in lieu of receiving a dear blessing from thy hand, do I find —— never see me more — good heaven — but, with my life, all my complaints are ended; only it would be, some ease, even in death, to know what happy rival it is has armed thy cruel hand against Philander’s heart.

To PHILANDER.

Stay, I conjure thee, stay thy sacrilegious hand; for the least wound it gives the lord of all my wishes, I’ll double on my breast a thousand fold; stay then, by all thy vows, thy love, and all thy hopes, I swear thou hast this night a full recompense of all thy pains from yielding Sylvia; I do conjure thee stay —— for when the news arrives thou art no more, this poor, this lost, abandoned heart of mine shall fall a victim to thy cruelty: no, live, my Philander, I conjure thee, and receive all thou canst ask, and all that can be given by

SYLVIA.

To PHILANDER.

Oh, my charming Philander! How very ill have you recompensed my last lost commands? Which were that you should live; and yet at the same moment, while you are reading of the dear obligation, and while my page was waiting your kind return, you desperately exposed your life to the mercy of this innocent rival, betraying unadvisedly at the same time my honour, and the secret of your love, and where to kill or to be killed, had been almost equally unhappy: it was well my page told me you disarmed him in this rencounter; yet you, he says, are wounded, some sacred drops of blood are fallen to the earth and lost, the least of which is precious enough to ransom captive queens: oh! Haste Philander, to my arms for cure, I die with fear there may be danger —— haste, and let me bathe, the dear, the wounded part in floods of tears, lay to my warm lips, and bind it with my torn hair: oh! Philander, I rave with my concern for thee, and am ready to break all laws of decency and duty, and fly without considering, to thy succour, but that I fear to injure thee much more by the discovery, which such an unadvised absence would make. Pray heaven the unlucky adventure reach not Bellfont; Foscario has no reason to proclaim it, and thou art too generous to boast the conquest, and my page was the only witness, and he is as silent and as secret as the grave: but why, Philander, was he sent me back without reply? What meant that cruel silence —— say, my Philander, will you not obey me? —— Will you abandon me? Can that dear tongue be perjured? And can you this night disappoint your Sylvia? What have I done, oh obstinately cruel, irreconcileable —— what, for my first offence? A little poor resentment and no more? A little faint care of my gasping honour, could that displease so much? Besides I had a cause, which you shall see; a letter that would cool love’s hottest fires, and turn it to devotion; by heaven it was such a check —— such a surprise —— but you yourself shall judge, if after that I could say less, than bid eternally farewell to love — at least to thee — but I recanted soon; one sad dear word, one soft resenting line from thee, gained love the day again, and I despised the censures of the duller world: yes, yes, and I confessed you had overcome, and did this merit no reply? I asked the boy a thousand times what you said, how and in what manner you received it, chid him, and laid your silent fault on him, till he with tears convinced me, and said he found you hastening to the grove — and when he gave you my commands —— you looked upon him with such a wild and fixed regard, surveying him all over while you were opening it —— as argued some unusual motion in you; then cried, ‘Be gone — I cannot answer flattery’—— Good heaven, what can you mean? But ’ere he got to the farther end of the grove, where still you walked a solemn death-like pace, he saw Foscario pass him unattended, and looking back saw your rencounter, saw all that happened between you, then ran to your assistance just as you parted; still you were roughly sullen, and neither took notice of his proffered service, nor that you needed it, although you bled apace; he offered you his aid to tie your wounds up —— but you replied —‘Be gone, and do not trouble me’—— Oh, could you imagine I could live with this neglect? Could you, my Philander? Oh what would you have me do! If nothing but my death or ruin can suffice for my atonement, I will sacrifice either with joy; yes, I’ll proclaim my passion aloud, proclaim it at Bellfont, own the dear criminal flame, fly to my Philander’s aid and be undone; for thus I cannot, no, I will not live, I rave, I languish, faint and die with pain; say that you live, oh, say but that you live, say you are coming to the meadow behind the garden-grove, in order to your approach to my arms: oh, swear that all your vows are true; oh, swear that you are Sylvia’s; and in return, I will swear that I am yours without reserve, whatever fate is destined for your

SYLVIA.

I die with impatience, either to see or hear from you; I fear it is yet too soon for the first —— oh therefore save me with the last, or I shall rave, and wildly betray all by coming to Dorillus his farm, or seeking you where-ever you cruelly have hid yourself from

SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

Ah, Sylvia, how have you in one day destroyed that repose I have been designing so many years! Oh, thou false —— but wondrous fair creature! Why did heaven ordain so much beauty, and so much perfidy, so much excellent wit, and so much cunning, (things inconsistent in any but in Sylvia) in one divine frame, but to undo mankind: yes, Sylvia, thou wert born to murder more believing men than the unhappy and undone Philander. Tell me, thou charming hypocrite, why hast thou thus deluded me? Why? oh, why was I made the miserable object of thy fatal vow-breach? What have I done, thou lovely, fickle maid, that thou shouldst be my murderer? And why dost thou call me from the grave with such dear soft commands as would awake the very quiet dead, to torture me anew, after my eyes (curse on their fatal sense) were too sure witnesses of thy infidelity? Oh, fickle maid, how much more kind it had been to have sent me down to earth, with plain heart-breaking truth, than a mean subtle falsehood, that has undone thy credit in my soul? Truth, though it were cruel, had been generous in thee; though thou wert perjured, false, forsworn —— thou shouldst not have added to it that yet baser sin of treachery: you might have been provoked to have killed your friend, but it were base to stab him unawares, defenceless and unwarned; smile in my face, and strike me to the heart; soothe me with all the tenderest marks of my passion —— nay, with an invitation too, that would have gained a credit in one that had been jilted over the world, flattered and ruined by all thy cozening sex, and all to send me vain and pleased away, only to gain a day to entertain another lover in. Oh, fantastic woman! destructive glorious thing, what needed this deceit? Hadst thou not with unwonted industry persuaded me to have hasted to Cesario, by heaven, I had dully lived the tedious day in traversing the flowery meads and silent groves, laid by some murmuring spring, had sigh’d away the often counted hours, and thought on Sylvia, till the blessed minute of my ravishing approach to her; had been a fond, believing and imposed on coxcomb, and never had dreamt the treachery, never seen the snake that basked beneath the gay, the smiling flowers; securely thou hadst cozened me, reaped the new joys, and made my rival sport at the expense of all my happiness: yes, yes, your hasty importunity first gave me jealousy, made me impatient with Cesario, and excuse myself to him by a hundred inventions; neglected all to hasten back, where all my joys, where all my killing fears and torments resided — but when I came —— how was I welcomed? With your confirming billet; yes, Sylvia, how! Let Dorillus inform you, between whose arms I fell dead, shame on me, dead — and the first thought my soul conceived when it returned, was, not to die in jest. I answered your commands, and hastened to the grove, where —— by all that is sacred, by thyself I swear (a dearer oath than heaven and earth can furnish me with) I did resolve to die; but oh, how soon my soft, my silent passion turned to loud rage, rage easier to be borne, to dire despair, to fury and revenge; for there I saw, Foscario, my young, my fair, my rich and powerful rival, he hasted through the grove, all warm and glowing from the fair false one’s arms; the blushes which thy eyes had kindled were fresh upon his cheeks, his looks were sparkling with the new-blown fire, his heart so briskly burnt with a glad, peaceful smile dressed all his face, tricked like a bridegroom, while he perfum’d the air as he passed through it —— none but the man that loves and dotes like me is able to express my sense of rage: I quickly turned the sword from my own heart to send it to his elevated one, giving him only time to —— draw — that was the word, and I confess your spark was wondrous ready, brisk with success, vain with your new-given favours, he only cried —‘If Sylvia be the quarrel — I am prepared ——’ And he maintained your cause with admirable courage I confess, though chance or fortune luckily gave me his sword, which I would fain have rendered back, and that way would have died; but he refused to arm his hand anew against the man that had not took advantage of him, and thus we parted: then it was that malice supported me with life, and told me I should scorn to die for so perfidious and so ruinous a creature; but charming and bewitching still, it was then I borrowed so much calmness of my lessening anger to read the billet over, your page had brought me, which melted all the rough remaining part of rage away into tame languishment: ah, Sylvia! This heart of mine was never formed by nature to hold out long in stubborn sullenness; I am already on the excusing part, and fain would think thee innocent and just; deceive me prettily, I know thou canst soothe my fond heart, and ask how it could harbour a faithless thought of Sylvia— do — flatter me, protest a little, swear my rival saw thee not, say he was there by chance —— say any thing; or if thou sawest him, say with how cold a look he was received —— Oh, Sylvia, calm my soul, deceive it flatter it, and I shall still believe and love thee on —— yet shouldest thou tell me truth, that thou art false, by heaven I do adore thee so, I still should love thee on; should I have seen thee clasp him in thy arms, print kisses on his cheeks and lips, and more —— so fondly and so dotingly I love, I think I should forgive thee; for I swear by all the powers that pity frail mortality, there is no joy, no life, no heaven without thee! Be false! Be cruel, perjured, infamous, yet still I must adore thee; my soul was formed of nothing but of love, and all that love, and all that soul is Sylvia’s; but yet, since thou hast framed me an excuse, be kind and carry it on; —— to be deluded well, as thou canst do it, will be the same to innocence, as loving: I shall not find the cheat: I will come then —— and lay myself at thy feet, and seek there that repose, that dear content, which is not to be found in this vast world besides; though much of my heart’s joy thou hast abated; and fixed a sadness in my soul that will not easily vanish —— oh Sylvia, take care of me, for I am in thy power, my life, my fame, my soul are all in thy hands, be tender of the victims, and remember if any action of thy life should shew a fading love, that very moment I perceive the change, you shall find dead at your feet the abandoned

PHILANDER.

Sad as death, I am going towards the meadow, in order to my approach towards Sylvia, the world affording no repose to me, but when I am where the dear charmer is.

To Philander in the Meadow.

And can you be jealous of me, Philander? I mean so poorly jealous as to believe me capable of falsehood, of vow-breach, and what is worse, of loving any thing but the adorable Philander? I could not once believe so cruel a thought could have entered into the imaginations of a soul so entirely possessed with Sylvia, and so great a judge of love. Abandon me, reproach me, hate me, scorn me, whenever I harbour any thing in mind so destructive to my repose and thine. Can I Philander, give you a greater proof of my passion; of my faithful, never-dying passion, than being undone for you? Have I any other prospect in all this soft adventure, but shame, dishonour, reproach, eternal infamy and ever-lasting destruction, even of soul and body? I tremble with fear of future punishment; but oh, love will have no devotion (mixed with his ceremonies) to any other deity; and yet, alas, I might have loved another, and have been saved, or any maid but Sylvia might have possessed without damnation. But it is a brother I pursue, it is a sister gives her honour up, and none but Canace, that ever I read in story, was ever found so wretched as to love a brother with so criminal a flame, and possibly I may meet her fate. I have a father too as great as Aeolus, as angry and revengeful where his honour is concerned; and you found, my dearest brother, how near you were last night to a discovery in the garden. I have some reason too to fear this night’s adventure, for as ill fate would have it (loaded with other thoughts) I told not Melinda of your adventure last night with Monsieur the Count, who meeting her early this morning, had like to have made a discovery, if he have not really so already; she strove to shun him, but he cried out —‘Melinda, you cannot fly me by light, as you did last night in the dark —‘She turned and begged his pardon, for neither coming nor designing to come, since she had resolved never to violate her vows to Alexis: ‘Not coming?’ cried he, ‘not returning again, you meant, Melinda; secure of my heart and my purse, you fled with both.’ Melinda, whose honour was now concerned, and not reminding your escape in her likeness, blushing, she sharply denied the fact, and with a disdain that had laid aside all respect, left him; nor can it be doubted, but he fancied (if she spoke truth) there was some other intrigue of love carried on at Bellfont. Judge, my charming Philander, if I have not reason to be fearful of thy safety, and my fame; and to be jealous that so wise a man as Monsieur did not take that parly to be held with a spirit last night, or that it was an apparition he courted: but if there be no boldness like that of love, nor courage like that of a lover; sure there never was so great a heroine as Sylvia. Undaunted, I resolve to stand the shock of all, since it is impossible for me to leave Philander any doubt or jealousy that I can dissipate, and heaven knows how far I was from any thought of seeing Foscario, when I urged Philander to depart. I have to clear my innocence, sent thee the letter I received two hours after thy absence, which falling into my mother’s hands, whose favourite he is, he had permission to make his visit, which within an hour he did; but how received by me, be thou the judge, whenever it is thy fate to be obliged to entertain some woman to whom thy soul has an entire aversion. I forced a complaisance against my nature, endured his racking courtship with a fortitude that became the great heart that bears thy sacred image; as martyrs do, I suffered without murmuring, or the least sign of the pain I endured — it is below the dignity of my mighty passion to justify it farther, let it plead its own cause, it has a thousand ways to do it, and those all such as cannot be resisted, cannot be doubted, especially this last proof of sacrificing to your repose the never more to be doubted

SYLVIA.

About an hour hence I shall expect you to advance.

To the Lady ——

Madam,

’Tis not always the divine graces wherewith heaven has adorned your resplendent beauties, that can maintain the innumerable conquests they gain, without a noble goodness; which may make you sensibly compassionate the poor and forlorn captives you have undone: but, most fair of your sex, it is I alone that have a destiny more cruel and severe, and find myself wounded from your very frowns, and secured a slave as well as made one; the very scorn from those triumphant stars, your eyes, have the same effects, as if they shined with the continual splendour of ravishing smiles; and I can no more shun their killing influence, than their all-saving aspects: and I shall expire contentedly, since I fall by so glorious a fate, if you will vouchsafe to pronounce my doom from that store-house of perfection, your mouth, from lips that open like the blushing rose, strow’d over with morning dew, and from a breath sweeter than holy incense; in order to which, I approach you, most excellent beauty, with this most humble petition, that you will deign to permit me to throw my unworthy self before the throne of your mercy, there to receive the sentence of my life or death; a happiness, though incomparably too great for so mean a vassal, yet with that reverence and awe I shall receive it, as I would the sentence of the gods, and which I will no more resist than I would the thunderbolts of Jove, or the revenge of angry Juno: for, madam, my immense passion knows no medium between life | and death, and as I never had the presumption to aspire to the glory of the first, I am not so abject as to fear I am wholly deprived of the glory of the last: I have too long lain convicted, extend your mercy, and put me now out of pain: you have often wrecked me to confess my promethean sin; spare the cruel vulture of despair, take him from my heart in pity, and either by killing words, or blasting lightning from those refulgent eyes, pronounce the death of,

Madam,

Your admiring slave,

FOSCARIO.

To SYLVIA.

My Everlasting Charmer,

I am convinc’d and pleas’d, my fears are vanish’d, and a heaven of solid joy is opened to my view, and I have nothing now in prospect but angel-brightness, glittering youth, dazzling beauty, charming sounds, and ravishing touches, and all around me ecstasies of pleasure, inconceivable transports without conclusion; Mahomet never fancied such a heaven, not all his paradise promised such lasting felicity, or ever provided there the recompense of such a maid as Sylvia, such a bewitching form, such soft, such glorious eyes, where the soul speaks and dances, and betrays love’s secrets in every killing glance, a face, where every motion, every feature sweetly languishes, a neck all tempting — and her lovely breast inviting presses from the eager lips; such hands, such clasping arms, so white, so soft and slender! No, nor one of all his heavenly enjoyments, though promised years of fainting in one continued ecstasy, can make one moment’s joy with charming Sylvia. Oh, I am wrapt (with bare imagination) with a much vaster pleasure than any other dull appointment can dispense — oh, thou blessing sent from heaven to ease my toils of life! Thou sacred dear delight of my fond doting heart, oh, whither wilt thou lead me, to what vast heights of love? Into extremes as fatal and as dangerous as those excesses were that rendered me so cold in your opinion. Oh, Sylvia, Sylvia, have a care of me, manage my overjoyed soul, and all its eager passions, chide my fond heart, be angry if I faint upon thy bosom, and do not with thy tender voice recall me, a voice that kills out-right, and calls my fleeting soul out of its habitation: lay not such charming lips to my cold cheeks, but let me lie extended at thy feet untouched, unsighed upon, unpressed with kisses: oh, change those tender, trembling words of love into rough sounds and noises unconcerned, and when you see me dying, do not call my soul to mingle with thy sighs; yet shouldst thou abate one word, one look or tear, by heaven I should be mad; oh, never let me live to see declension in thy love! No, no, my charmer, I cannot bear the least supposed decay in those dear fondnesses of thine; and sure none ever became a maid so well, nor ever were received with adorations, like to mine!

Pardon, my adorable Sylvia, the rashness of my passion in this rencounter with Foscario; I am satisfied he is too unhappy in your disfavour to merit the being so in mine; but it was sufficient I then saw a joy in his face, a pleased gaiety in his ooks to make me think my rage reasonable, and my quarrel ust; by the style he writes, I dread his sense less than his person; but you, my lovely maid, have said enough to quit me of my fears for both —— the night comes on — I cannot call it envious, though it rob me of the light that should assist me to finish this, since it will more gloriously repay me in a happier place — come on then, thou blest retreat of lovers, I forgive by interruptions here, since thou wilt conduct to the arms of Sylvia — the adoring

PHILANDER.

If you have any commands for me, this weeder of the gardens, whom I met in going in thither, will bring it back; I wait in the meadow, and date this from the dear primrose-bank, where I have sat with Sylvia.

To PHILANDER.

After the happy night.

’Tis done, yes, Philander, it is done, and after that, what will not love and grief oblige me to own to you? Oh, by what insensible degrees a maid in love may arrive to say any thing to her lover without blushing! I have known the time, the blest innocent time, when but to think I loved Philander would have covered my face with shame, and to have spoke it would have filled me with confusion — have made me tremble, blush, and bend my guilty eyes to earth, not daring to behold my charming conqueror, while I made that bashful confession — though now I am grown bold in love, yet I have known the time, when being at Court, and coming from the Presence, being offered some officious hand to lead me to my coach, I have shrunk back with my aversion to your sex, and have concealed my hands in my pockets to prevent their being touched;-a kiss would turn my stomach, and amorous looks (though they would make me vain) gave me a hate to him that sent them, and never any maid resolved so much as I to tread the paths of honour, and I had many precedents before me to make me careful: thus I was armed with resolution, pride and scorn, against all mankind; but alas, I made no defence against a brother, but innocently lay exposed to all his attacks of love, and never thought it criminal till it kindled a new desire about me, oh, that I should not die with shame to own it —— yet see (I say) how from one soft degree to another, I do not onlyconfess the shameful truth, but act it too; what with a brother — oh heavens! a crime so monstrous and so new —— but by all thy love, by those surprising joys so lately experienced —— I never will —— no, no, I never can —— repent it: oh incorrigible passion! oh harden’d love! At least I might have some remorse, some sighing after my poor departed honour; but why should I dissemble with the powers divine; that know the secrets of a soul doomed to eternal love? Yet I am mad, I rave and tear myself, traverse my guilty chamber in a disordered, but a soft confusion; and often opening the conscious curtains, survey the print where thou and I were last night laid, surveying it with a thousand tender sighs, and kiss and press thy dear forsaken side, imagine over all our solemn joys, every dear transport, all our ravishing repeated blisses; then almost fainting, languishing, cry —Philander, oh, my charming little god! Then lay me down in the dear place you pressed, still warm and fragrant with the sweet remains that thou hast left behind thee on the pillow. Oh, my soul’s joy! My dear, eternal pleasure! What softness hast thou added to my heart within a few hours! But oh, Philander— if (as I’ve oft been told) possession, which makes women fond and doting, should make thee cold and grow indifferent — if nauseated with repeated joy, and having made a full discovery of all that was but once imaginary, when fancy rendered every thing much finer than experience, oh, how were I undone! For me, by all the inhabitants of heaven I swear, by thy dear charming self, and by thy vows —— thou so transcendest all fancy, all dull imagination, all wondering ideas of what man was to me, that I believe thee more than human! Some charm divine dwells in thy touches; besides all these, thy charming look, thy love, the beauties that adorn thee, and thy wit, I swear there is a secret in nature that renders thee more dear, and fits thee to my soul; do not ask it me, let it suffice, it is so, and is not to be told; yes, by it I know thou art the man created for my soul, and he alone that has the power to touch it; my eyes and fancy might have been diverted, I might have favoured this above the other, preferred that face, that wit, or shape, or air —— but to concern my soul, to make that capable of something more than love, it was only necessary that Philander should be formed, and formed just as he is; that shape, that face, that height, that dear proportion; I would not have a feature, not a look, not a hair altered, just as thou art, thou art an angel to me, and I, without considering what I am, what I might be, or ought, without considering the fatal circumstances of thy being married (a thought that shocks my soul whenever it enters) or whatever other thought that does concern my happiness or quiet, have fixed my soul to love and my Philander, to love thee with all thy disadvantages, and glory in my ruin; these are my firm resolves — these are my thoughts. But thou art gone, with all the trophies of my love and honour, gay with the spoils, which now perhaps are unregarded: the mystery is now revealed, the mighty secret is known, and now will be no wonder or surprise: But hear my vows: by all on which my life depends I swear —— if ever I perceive the least decay of love in thee, if ever thou breakest an oath, a vow, a word, if ever I see repentance in thy face, a coldness in thy eyes (which heaven divert) by that bright heaven I will die; you may believe me, since I had the courage and durst love thee, and after that durst sacrifice my fame, lose all to justify that love, will, when a change so fatal shall arrive, find courage too to die; yes, die Philander, assure thyself I will, and therefore have a care of

SYLVIA.

To PHILANDER.

OH, where shall I find repose, where seek a silent quiet, but in my last retreat, the grave! I say not this, my dearest Philander, that I do or ever can repent my love, though the fatal source of all: for already we are betrayed, our race of joys, our course of stolen delight is ended ’ere begun. I chid, alas, at morning’s dawn, I chid you to be gone, and yet, heaven knows, I grasped you fast, and rather would have died than parted with you; I saw the day come on, and cursed its busy light, and still you cried, one blessed minute more, before I part with all the joys of life! And hours were minutes then, and day grew old upon us unawares, it was all abroad, and had called up all the household spies to pry into the secrets of our loves, and thou, by some tale-bearing flatterer, were seen in passing through the garden; the news was carried to my father, and a mighty consult has been held in my mother’s apartment, who now refuses to see me; while I, possessed with love, and full of wonder at my new change, lulled with dear contemplation, (for I am altered much since yesterday, however thou hast charmed me) imagining none knew our theft of love, but only heaven and Melinda. But oh, alas, I had no sooner finished this enclosed, but my father entered my cabinet, but it was with such a look —— as soon informed me all was betrayed to him; a while he gazed on me with fierceness in his eyes, which so surprised and frighted me, that I, all pale and trembling, threw myself at his feet; he, seeing my disorder, took me up, and fixed so steadfast and so sad a look upon me, as would have broken any heart but mine, supported with Philander’s, image; I sighed and wept — and silently attended when the storm should fall, which turned into a shower so soft and piercing, I almost died to see it; at last delivering me a paper —‘Here,’ (cried he, with a sigh and trembling-interrupted voice) ‘read what I cannot tell thee. Oh, Sylvia,’ cried he, ‘— thou joy and hope of all my aged years, thou object of my dotage, how hast thou brought me to my grave with sorrow!’ So left me with the paper in my hand: speechless, unmov’d a while I stood, till he awaked me by new sighs and cries; for passing through my chamber, by chance, or by design, he cast his melancholy eyes towards my bed, and saw the dear disorder there, unusual — then cried —‘Oh, wretched Sylvia, thou art lost!’ And left me almost fainting. The letter, I soon found, was one you’d sent from Dorillus his farm this morning, after you had parted from me, which has betrayed us all, but how it came into their hands I since have understood: for, as I said, you were seen passing through the garden, from thence (to be confirmed) they dogged you to the farm, and waiting there your motions, saw Dorillus come forth with a letter in his hand, which though he soon concealed, yet not so soon but it was taken notice of, when hastening to Bellfont the nearest way, they gave an account to Monsieur, my father, who going out to Dorillus, commanded him to deliver him the letter; his vassal durst not disobey, but yielded it with such dispute and reluctancy, as he durst maintain with a man so great and powerful; before Dorillus returned you had taken horse, so that you are a stranger to our misfortune — What shall I do? Where shall I seek a refuge from the danger that threatens us? A sad and silent grief appears throughout Bellfont, and the face of all things is changed, yet none knows the unhappy cause but Monsieur my father, and Madam my mother, Melinda and myself. Melinda and my page are both dismissed from waiting on me, as supposed confidants of this dear secret, and strangers, creatures of Madam the Countess, put about me. Oh Philander, what can I do? Thy advice, or I am lost: but how, alas, shall I either convey these to thee, or receive any thing from thee, unless some god of love, in pity of our miseries, should offer us his aid? I will try to corrupt my new boy, I see good nature, pity and generosity in his looks, he is well born too, and may be honest.

Thus far, Philander, I had writ when supper was brought me, for yet my parents have not deigned to let me come into their presence; those that serve me tell me Myrtilla is this afternoon arrived at Bellfont; all is mighty close carried in the Countess’s apartment. I tremble with the thought of what will be the result of the great consultation: I have been tempting of the boy, but I perceive they have strictly charged him not to obey me; he says, against his will he shall betray me, for they will have him searched; but he has promised me to see one of the weeders, who working in the garden, into which my window opens, may from thence receive what I shall let down; if it be true, I shall get this fatal knowledge to you, that you may not only prepare for the worst, but contrive to set at liberty

The unfortunate SYLVIA.

My heart is ready to break, and my eyes are drowned in tears: oh Philander, how much unlike the last will this fatal night prove! Farewell, and think of Sylvia.

This was writ in the cover to both the foregoing letters to Philander.

Philander, all that I dreaded, all that I feared is fallen upon me: I have been arraigned, and convicted, three judges, severe as the three infernal ones, sat in condemnation on me, a father, a mother, and a sister; the fact, alas, was too clearly proved, and too many circumstantial truths appeared against me, for me to plead not guilty. But, oh heavens! Had you seen the tears, and heard the prayers, threats, reproaches and upbraidings — these from an injured sister, those my heartbroken parents; a tender mother here, a railing and reviling sister there — an angry father, and a guilty conscience — thou wouldst have wondered at my fortitude, my courage, and my resolution, and all from love! For surely I had died, had not thy love, thy powerful love supported me; through all the accidents of life and fate, that can and will support me; in the midst of all their clamours and their railings I had from that a secret and soft repose within, that whispered me, Philander loves me still; discarded and renounced by my fond parents; love still replies, Philander still will own thee; thrown from thy mother’s and thy sister’s arms, Philander’s still are open to receive thee: and though I rave and almost die to see them grieve, to think that I am the fatal cause who makes so sad confusion in our family; (for, oh, ’tis piteous to behold my sister’s sighs and tears, my mother’s sad despair, my father’s raging and his weeping, by melancholy turns;) yet even these deplorable objects, that would move the most obdurate, stubborn heart to pity and repentance, render not mine relenting; and yet I am wondrous pitiful by nature, and I can weep and faint to see the sad effects of my loose, wanton love, yet cannot find repentance for the dear charming sin; and yet, should’st thou behold my mother’s languishment, no bitter words proceeding from her lips, no tears fall from her downcast eyes, but silent and sad as death she sits, and will not view the light; should’st thou, I say, behold it, thou would’st, if not repent, yet grieve that thou hadst loved me: sure love has quite confounded nature in me, I could not else behold this fatal ruin without revenging it upon my stubborn heart; a thousand times a day I make new vows against the god of love, but it is too late, and I am as often perjured —— oh, should the gods revenge the broken vows of lovers, what love-sick man, what maid betrayed like me, but would be damned a thousand times? For every little love-quarrel, every kind resentment makes us swear to love no more; and every smile, and every flattering softness from the dear injurer, makes us perjured: let all the force of virtue, honour, interest join with my suffering parents to persuade me to cease to love Philander, yet let him but appear, let him but look on me with those dear charming eyes, let him but sigh, or press me to his fragrant cheek, fold me — and cry —‘Ah, Sylvia, can you quit me? — nay, you must not, you shall not, nay, I know you cannot, remember you are mine — There is such eloquence in those dear words, when uttered with a voice so tender and so passionate, that I believe them irresistible — alas, I find them so — and easily break all the feebler vows I make against thee; yes, I must be undone, perjured, forsworn, incorrigible, unnatural, disobedient, and any thing, rather than not Philander’s — Turn then, my soul, from these domestic, melancholy objects, and look abroad, look forward for a while on charming prospects; look on Philander, the dear, the young, the amorous Philander, whose very looks infuse a tender joy throughout the soul, and chase all cares, all sorrows and anxious thoughts from thence, whose wanton play is softer I than that of young-fledged angels, and when he looks, and sighs, and speaks, and touches, he is a very god: where art thou, oh miracle of youth, thou charming dear undoer! Now thou hast gained the glory of the conquest, thou slightest the rifled captive: what, not a line? Two tedious days are past, and no kind power relieves me with a word, or any tidings of Philander— and yet thou mayest have sent — but I shall never see it, till they raise up fresh witnesses against me — I cannot think thee wavering or forgetful; for if I did, surely thou knowest my heart so well, thou canst not think it would live to think another thought. Confirm my kind belief, and send to me ——

There is a gate well known to thee through which thou passest to Bellfont, it is in the road about half a league from hence, an old man opens it, his daughter weeds in the garden, and will convey this to thee as I have ordered her; by the same messenger thou mayest return thine, and early as she comes I’ll let her down a string, by which way unperceived I shall receive them from her: I will say no more, nor instruct you how you shall preserve your

SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

That which was left in her hands by Monsieur, her father, in her cabinet.

My adorable Sylvia,

I can no more describe to thee the torment with which I part from Bellfont, than I can that heaven of joy I was raised to last night by the transporting effects of thy wondrous love; both are to excess, and both killing, but in different kinds. Oh, Sylvia, by all my unspeakable raptures in thy arms, by all thy charms of beauty, too numerous and too ravishing for fancy to imagine — I swear —— by this last night, by this dear new discovery, thou hast increased my love to that vast height, it has undone my peace — all my repose is gone — this dear, dear night has ruined me, it has confirmed me now I must have Sylvia, and cannot live without her, no not a day, an hour —— to save the world, unless I had the entire possession of my lovely maid: ah, Sylvia, I am not that indifferent dull lover that can be raised by one beauty to an appetite, and satisfy it with another; I cannot carry the dear flame you kindle to quench it in the embraces of Myrtilla; no, by the eternal powers, he that pretends to love, and loves at that coarse rate, needs fear no danger from that passion, he never was born to love, or die for love; Sylvia, Myrtilla and a thousand more were all the same to such a dull insensible; no, Sylvia, when you find I can return back to the once left matrimonial bed, despise me, scorn me: swear (as then thou justly may’st) I love not Sylvia: let the hot brute drudge on (he who is fired by nature, not by love, whom any body’s kisses can inspire) and ease the necessary heats of youth; love is a nobler fire, which nothing can allay but the dear she that raised it; no, no, my purer stream shall never run back to the fountain, whence it is parted, nay it cannot, it were as possible to love again, where one has ceased to love, as carry the desire and wishes back; by heaven, to me there is nothing so unnatural; no, Sylvia, it is you I must possess, you have completed my undoing now, and I must die unless you give me all —— but oh, I am going from thee —— when are we like to meet —— oh, how shall I support my absent hours! Thought will destroy me, for it will be all on thee, and those at such a distance will be insupportable. —— What shall I do without thee? If after all the toils of dull insipid life I could return and lay me down by thee, Herculean labours would be soft and easy —— the harsh fatigues of war, the dangerous hurries of affairs of State, the business and the noise of life, I could support with pleasure, with wondrous satisfaction, could treat Myrtilla too with that respect, that generous care, as would become a husband. I could be easy every where, and every one should be at ease with me; now I shall go and find no Sylvia there, but sigh and wander like an unknown thing, on some strange foreign shore; I shall grow peevish as a new wean’d child, no toys, no bauble of the gaudy world will please my wayward fancy: I shall be out of humour, rail at every thing, in anger shall demand, and sullenly reply to every question asked and answered, and when I think to ease my soul by a retreat, a thousand soft desires, a thousand wishes wreck me, pain me to raving, till beating the senseless floor with my feet —— I cried aloud —‘My Sylvia!’— thus, thus, my charming dear, the poor Philander is employed when banished from his heaven! If thus it used to be when only that bright outside was adored, judge now my pain, now thou hast made known a thousand graces more — oh, pity me —— for it is not in thy power to guess what I shall now endure in absence of thee; for thou hast charmed my soul to an excess too mighty for a patient suffering: alas, I die already ——

I am yet at Dorillus his farm, lingering on from one swift minute to the other, and have not power to go; a thousand looks all languishing I’ve cast from eyes all drowned in tears towards Bellfont, have sighed a thousand wishes to my angel, from a sad breaking heart — love will not let me go — and honour calls me — alas, I must away; when shall we meet again? Ah, when my Sylvia? — Oh charming maid — thou’lt see me shortly dead, for thus I cannot live; thou must be mine, or I must be no more — I must away — farewell — may all the softest joys of heaven attend thee — adieu — fail not to send a hundred times a day, if possible; I’ve ordered Alexis to do nothing but wait for all that comes, and post away with what thou sendest to me —— again adieu, think on me —— and till thou callest me to thee, imagine nothing upon earth so wretched as Sylvia’s own

PHILANDER.

Know, my angel, that passing through the garden this morning, I met Erasto ——I fear he saw me near enough to know me, and will give an account of it; let me know what happens —— adieu half dead, just taking horse to go from Sylvia.

To PHILANDER.

Written in a leaf of a table-book.

I have only time to say, on Thursday I am destined a sacrifice to Foscario, which day finishes the life of

SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

From Dorillus his farm.

Raving and mad at the news your billet brought me, I (without considering the effects that would follow) am arrived at Bellfont; I have yet so much patience about me, to suffer myself to be concealed at Dorillus his cottage; but if I see thee not to-night, or find no hopes of it —— by heaven I’ll set Bellfont all in a flame but I will have my Sylvia; be sure I’ll do it — What? To be married — Sylvia to be married — and given from Philander— Oh, never think it, forsworn fair creature — What? Give Foscario that dear charming body? Shall he be grasped in those dear naked arms? Taste all thy kisses, press thy snowy breasts, command thy joys, and rifle all thy heaven? Furies and hell environ me if he do —— Oh, Sylvia, faithless, perjured, charming Sylvia— and canst thou suffer it — Hear my vows, oh fickle angel — hear me, thou faithless ravisher! That fatal moment that the daring priest offers to join your hands, and give thee from me, I will sacrifice your lover; by heaven I will, before the altar, stab him at your feet; the holy place, nor the numbers that attend ye, nor all your prayers nor tears, shall save his heart; look to it, and be not false —— yet I’ll trust not thy faith; no, she that can think but falsely, and she that can so easily be perjured —— for, but to suffer it is such a sin — such an undoing sin — that thou art surely damned! And yet, by heaven, that is not all the ruin shall attend thee; no, lovely mischief, no —— you shall not escape till the damnation day; for I will rack thee, torture thee and plague thee, those few hours I have to live, (if spiteful fate prevent my just revenge upon Foscario) and when I am dead — as I shall quickly be killed by thy cruelty — know, thou fair murderer, I will haunt thy sight, be ever with thee, and surround thy bed, and fright thee from the ravisher; fright all thy loose delights, and check thy joys —— Oh, I am mad! —— I cannot think that thought, no, thou shalt never advance so far in wickedness, I will save thee, if I can —— Oh, my adorable, why dost thou torture me? How hast thou sworn so often and so loud that heaven I am sure has heard thee, and will punish thee? How didst thou swear that happy blessed night, in which I saw thee last, clasped in my arms, weeping with eager love, with melting softness on my bosom —— remember how thou swor’st —— oh, that dear night — let me recover strength — and then I will tell thee more — I must repeat the story of that night, which thou perhaps (oh faithless!) hast forgot — that glorious night, when all the heavens were gay, and every favouring power looked down and smiled upon our thefts of love, that gloomy night, the first of all my joys, the blessedest of my life — trembling and fainting I approach your chamber, and while you met and grasped me at the door, taking my trembling body in your arms-remember how I fainted at your feet, and what dear arts you used to call me back to life — remember how you kissed and pressed my face — Remember what dear charming words you spoke — and when I did recover, how I asked you with a feeble doubtful voice —‘Ah, Sylvia, will you still continue thus, thus wondrous soft and fond? Will you be ever mine, and ever true?’— What did you then reply, when kneeling on the carpet where I lay, what Sylvia, did you vow? How invoke heaven? How call its vengeance down if ever you loved another man again, if ever you touched or smiled on any other, if ever you suffered words or acts of love but from Philander? Both heaven and hell thou didst awaken with thy oaths, one was an angry listener to what it knew thou’dst break, the other laughed to know thou would’st be perjured, while only I, poor I, was all the while a silent fond believer; your vows stopped all my language, as your kisses did my lips, you swore and kissed, and vowed and clasped my neck — Oh charming flatterer! Oh artful, dear beguiler! Thus into life, and peace, and fond security, you charmed my willing soul! It was then, my Sylvia, (certain of your heart, and that it never could be given away to any other) I pressed my eager joys, but with such tender caution — such fear and fondness, such an awful passion, as overcame your faint resistance; my reasons and my arguments were strong, for you were mine by love, by sacred vows, and who could lay a better claim to Sylvia? How oft I cried —‘Why this resistance, Sylvia? My charming dear, whose are you? Not Philander’s? And shall Philander not command his own —— you must —— ah cruel ——’ then a soft struggle followed, with half-breathed words, with sighs and trembling hearts, and now and then —‘Ah cruel and unreasonable’— was softly said on both sides; thus strove, thus argued — till both lay panting in each other’s arms, not with the toil, but rapture; I need not say what followed after this — what tender showers of strange endearing mixtures ‘twixt joy and shame, ‘twixt love and new surprise, and ever when I dried your eyes with kisses, unable to repeat any other language than —‘Oh my Sylvia! Oh my charming angel!’ While sighs of joy, and close grasping thee — spoke all the rest — while every tender word, and every sigh was echoed back by thee; you pressed me — and you vowed you loved me more than ever yet you did; then swore anew, and in my bosom, hid your charming blushing face, then with excess of love would call on heaven, ‘Be witness, oh ye powers’ (a thousand times ye cried) ‘if ever maid e’er loved like Sylvia— punish me strangely, oh eternal powers, if ever I leave Philander, if ever I cease to love him; no force, no art, not interest, honour, wealth, convenience, duty, or what other necessary cause — shall ever be of force to make me leave thee ——’ Thus hast thou sworn, oh charming, faithless flatterer, thus betwixt each ravishing minute thou would’st swear — and I as fast believed — and loved thee more —— Hast thou forgot it all, oh fickle charmer, hast thou? Hast thou forgot between each awful ceremony of love, how you cried out ‘Farewell the world and mortal cares, give me Philander, heaven, I ask no more’— Hast thou forgot all this? Did all the live-long night hear any other sound but those our mutual vows, of invocations, broken sighs, and soft and trembling whispers? Say, had we any other business for the tender hours? Oh, all ye host of heaven, ye stars that shone, and all ye powers the faithless lovely maid has sworn by, be witness how she is perjur’d; revenge it all, ye injured powers, revenge it, since by it she has undone the faithfullest youth, and broke the tenderest heart — that ever fell a sacrifice to love; and all ye little weeping gods of love, revenge your murdered victim — your

PHILANDER.

To PHILANDER.

In the leaves of a table-book.

On, my Philander, how dearly welcome, and how needless were thy kind reproaches! Which I will not endeavour to convince by argument, but such a deed as shall at once secure thy fears now and for the future. I have not a minute to write in; place, my dear Philander, your chariot in St Vincent’s Wood, and since I am not able to fix the hour of my flight, let it wait there my coming; it is but a little mile from Bellfont, Dorillus is suspected there, remove thyself to the high-way-gate cottage — there I’ll call on thee ——’twas lucky, that thy fears, or love, or jealousy brought thee so near me, since I’d resolv’d before upon my flight. Parents and honour, interest and fame, farewell — I leave you all to follow my Philander— Haste the chariot to the thickest part of the wood, for I am impatient to be gone, and shall take the first opportunity to fly to my Philander—— Oh, love me, love me, love me!

Under pretence of reaching the jessamine which shades my window, I unperceived let down and receive what letters you send by the honest weeder; by her send your sense of my flight, or rather your direction, for it is resolved already.

To SYLVIA.

My lovely Angel,

So careful I will be of this dear mighty secret, that I will only say, Sylvia shall be obeyed; no more —— nay, I’ll not dare to think of it, lest in my rapture I should name my joy aloud, and busy winds should bear it to some officious listener, and undo me; no more, no more, my Sylvia, extremes of joy (as grief) are ever dumb: let it suffice, this blessing which you proffer I had designed to ask, as soon as you’d convinced me of your faith; yes, Sylvia, I had asked it though it was a bounty too great for any mortal to conceive heaven should bestow upon him; but if it do, that very moment I’ll resign the world, and barter all for love and charming Sylvia. Haste, haste, my life; my arms, my bosom and my soul are open to receive the lovely fugitive; haste, for this moment I am going to plant myself where you directed. Adieu.

To PHILANDER.

After her flight.

Ah, Philander, how have you undone a harmless poor unfortunate? Alas, where are you? Why would you thus abandon me? Is this the soul, the bosom, these the arms that should receive me? I’ll not upbraid thee with my love, or charge thee with my undoing; it was all my own, and were it yet to do, I should again be ruined for Philander, and never find repentance, no not for a thought, a word or deed of love, to the dear false forsworn; but I can die, yes, hopeless, friendless — left by all, even by Philander— all but resolution has abandoned me, and that can lay me down, whenever I please, in safe repose and peace: but oh, thou art not false, or if thou be’st, oh, let me hear it from thy mouth, see thy repented love, that I may know there is no such thing on earth, as faith, as honesty, as love or truth; however, be thou true, or be thou false, be bold and let me know it, for thus to doubt is torture worse than death. What accident, thou dear, dear man, has happened to prevent thee from pursuing my directions, and staying for me at the gate? Where have I missed thee, thou joy of my soul? By what dire mistake have I lost thee? And where, oh, where art thou, my charming lover? I sought thee every where, but like the languishing abandoned mistress in the Canticles I sought thee, but I found thee not, no bed of roses would discover thee: I saw no print of thy dear shape, nor heard no amorous sigh that could direct me — I asked the wood and springs, complained and called on thee through all the groves, but they confessed thee not; nothing but echoes answered me, and when I cried ’Philander’— cried — ’Philander’; thus searched I till the coming night, and my increasing fears made me resolve for flight, which soon we did, and soon arrived at Paris, but whither then to go, heaven knows, I could not tell, for I was almost naked, friendless and forlorn; at last, consulting Brilliard what to do, after a thousand revolutions, he concluded to trust me with a sister he had, who was married to a Guidon of the Guard de Corps; he changed my name, and made me pass for a fortune he had stolen; but oh, no welcomes, nor my safe retreat were sufficient to repose me all the ensuing night, for I had no news of Philander, no, not a dream informed me; a thousand fears and jealousies have kept me waking, and Brilliard, who has been all night in pursuit of thee, is now returned successless and distracted as thy Sylvia, for duty and generosity have almost the same effects in him, with love and tenderness and jealousy in me; and since Paris affords no news of thee, (which sure it would if thou wert in it, for oh, the sun might hide himself with as much ease as great Philander) he is resolved to search St Vincent’s Wood, and all the adjacent cottages and groves; he thinks that you, not knowing of my escape, may yet be waiting thereabouts; since quitting the chariot for fear of being seen, you might be so far advanced into the wood, as not to find the way back to the thicket where the chariot waited: it is thus he feeds my hope, and flatters my poor heart, that fain would think thee true — or if thou be’st not — but cursed be all such thoughts, and far from Sylvia’s soul; no, no, thou art not false, it cannot be, thou art a god, and art unchangeable: I know, by some mistake, thou art attending me, as wild and impatient as I; perhaps you thinkest me false, and thinkest I have not courage to pursue my love, and fly; and, thou perhaps art waiting for the hour wherein thou thinkest I will give myself away to Foscario: oh cruel and unkind! To think I loved so lightly, to think I would attend that fatal hour; no, Philander, no faithless, dear enchanter: last night, the eve to my intended wedding-day, having reposed my soul by my resolves for flight, and only waiting the lucky minute for escape, I set a willing hand to every thing that was preparing for the ceremony of the ensuing morning; with that pretence I got me early to my chamber, tried on a thousand dresses, and asked a thousand questions, all impertinent, which would do best, which looked most gay and rich, then dressed my gown with jewels, decked my apartment up, and left nothing undone that might secure ’em both of my being pleased, and of my stay; nay, and to give the less suspicion, I undressed myself even to my under-petticoat and night-gown; I would not take a jewel, not a pistole, but left my women finishing my work, and carelessly and thus undressed, walked towards the garden, and while every one was busy in their office, getting myself out of sight, posted over the meadow to the wood as swift as Daphne from the god of day, till I arrived most luckily where I found the chariot waiting; attended by Brilliard; of whom, when I (all fainting and breathless with my swift flight) demanded his lord, he lifted me into the chariot, and cried, ‘a little farther, Madam, you will find him; for he, for fear of making a discovery, took yonder shaded path’— towards which we went, but no dear vision of my love appeared — And thus, my charming lover, you have my kind adventure; send me some tidings back that you are found, that you are well, and lastly that you are mine, or this, that should have been my wedding-day, will see itself that of the death of

SYLVIA.

Paris, Thursday, from my bed, for want of clothes, or rather news from Philander.

To SYLVIA.

My life, my Sylvia, my eternal joy, art thou then safe! And art thou reserved for Philander? Am I so blest by heaven, by love, and my dear charming maid? Then let me die in peace, since I have lived to see all that my soul desires in Sylvia’s being mine; perplex not thy soft heart with fears or jealousies, nor think so basely, so poorly of my love, to need more oaths or vows; yet to confirm thee, I would swear my breath away; but oh, it needs not here; —— take then no care, my lovely dear, turn not thy charming eyes or thoughts on afflicting objects; oh think not on what thou hast abandoned, but what thou art arrived to; look forward on the joys of love and youth, for I will dedicate all my remaining life to render thine serene and glad; and yet, my Sylvia, thou art so dear to me, so wondrous precious to my soul, that in my extravagance of love, I fear I shall grow a troublesome and wearying coxcomb, shall dread every look thou givest away from me — a smile will make me rave, a sigh or touch make me commit a murder on the happy slave, or my own jealous heart, but all the world besides is Sylvia’s, all but another lover; but I rave and run too fast away; ages must pass a tedious term of years before I can be jealous, or conceive thou can’st be weary of Philander— I will be so fond, so doting, and so playing, thou shalt not have an idle minute to throw away a look in, or a thought on any other; no, no, I have thee now, and will maintain my right by dint and force of love — oh, I am wild to see thee — but, Sylvia, I am wounded — do not be frighted though, for it is not much or dangerous, but very troublesome, since it permits me not to fly to Sylvia, but she must come to me in order to it. Brilliard has a bill on my goldsmith in Paris for a thousand pistoles to buy thee something to put on; any thing that is ready, and he will conduct thee to me, for I shall rave myself into a fever if I see thee not to-day — I cannot live without thee now, for thou art my life, my everlasting charmer: I have ordered Brilliard to get a chariot and some unknown livery for thee, and I think the continuance of passing for what he has already rendered thee will do very well, till I have taken farther care of thy dear safety, which will be as soon as I am able to rise; for most unfortunately, my dear Sylvia, quitting the chariot in the thicket for fear of being seen with it, and walking down a shaded path that suited with the melancholy and fears of unsuccess in thy adventure; I went so far, as ere I could return to the place where I left the chariot it was gone — it seems with thee; I know not how you missed me — but possessed myself with a thousand false fears, sometimes that in thy flight thou mightest be pursued and overtaken, seized in the chariot and returned back to Bellfont; or that the chariot was found seized on upon suspicion, though the coachman and Brilliard were disguised past knowledge —— or if thou wert gone, alas I knew not whither; but that was a thought my doubts and fears would not suffer me to ease my soul with; no, I (as jealous lovers do) imagined the most tormenting things for my own repose. I imagined the chariot taken, or at least so discovered as to be forced away without thee: I imagined that thou wert false —— heaven forgive me, false, my Sylvia, and hadst changed thy mind; mad with this thought (which I fancied most reasonable, and fixt it in my soul) I raved about the wood, making a thousand vows to be revenged on all; in order to it I left the thicket, and betook myself to the high road of the wood, where I laid me down among the fern, close hid, with sword ready, waiting for the happy bridegroom, who I knew (it being the wedding eve) would that way pass that evening; pleased with revenge, which now had got even the place of love, I waited there not above a little hour but heard the trampling of a horse, and looking up with mighty joy, I found it Foscario’s; alone he was, and unattended, for he’d outstripped his equipage, and with a lover’s haste, and full of joy, was making towards Bellfont; but I (now fired with rage) leaped from my cover, cried, ‘Stay, Foscario, ere you arrive to Sylvia, we must adjust an odd account between us’—— at which he stopping, as nimbly alighted; — in fine, we fought, and many wounds were given and received on both sides, till his people coming up, parted us, just as we were fainting with loss of blood in each other’s arms; his coach and chariot were amongst his equipage; into the first his servants lifted him, when he cried out with a feeble voice, to have me, who now lay bleeding on the ground, put into the chariot, and to be safely conveyed where-ever I commanded, and so in haste they drove him towards Bellfont, and me, who was resolved not to stir far from it, to a village within a mile of it; from whence I sent to Paris for a surgeon, and dismissed the chariot, ordering, in the hearing of the coachman, a litter to be brought me immediately, to convey me that night to Paris; but the surgeon coming, found it not safe for me to be removed, and I am now willing to live, since Sylvia is mine; haste to me then, my lovely maid, and fear not being discovered, for I have given order here in the cabaret where I am, if any inquiry is made after me, to say, I went last night to Paris. Haste, my love, haste to my arms, as feeble as they are, they’ll grasp thee a dear welcome: I will say no more, nor prescribe rules to thy love, that can inform thee best what thou must do to save the life of thy most passionate adorer,

PHILANDER.

To PHILANDER.

I have sent Brilliard to see if the coast be clear, that we may come with safety; he brings you, instead of Sylvia, a young cavalier that will be altogether as welcome to Philander, and who impatiently waits his return at a little cottage at the end of the village.

To SYLVIA.

From the Bastille.

I know my Sylvia expected me at home with her at dinner to-day, and wonders how I could live so long as since morning without the eternal joy of my soul; but know, my Sylvia, that a trivial misfortune is now fallen upon me, which in the midst of all our heaven of joys, our softest hours of life, has so often changed thy smiles into fears and sighings, and ruffled thy calm soul with cares: nor let it now seem strange or afflicting, since every day for these three months we have been alarmed with new fears that have made thee uneasy even in Philander’s arms; we knew some time or other the storm would fall on us, though we had for three happy months sheltered ourselves from its threatening rage; but love, I hope, has armed us both; for me — let me be deprived of all joys, (but those my charmer can dispense) all the false world’s respect, the dull esteem of fools and formal coxcombs, the grave advice of the censorious wise, the kind opinion of ill-judging women, no matter, so my Sylvia remain but mine.

I am, my Sylvia, arrested at the suit of Monsieur the Count, your father, for a rape on my lovely maid: I desire, my soul, you will immediately take coach and go to the Prince Cesario, and he will bail me out. I fear not a fair trial; and, Sylvia, thefts of mutual love were never counted felony; I may die for love, my Sylvia, but not for loving — go, haste, my Sylvia, that I may be no longer detained from the solid pleasure and business of my soul — haste, my loved dear — haste and relieve

PHILANDER.

Come not to me, lest there should be an order to detain my dear.

To PHILANDER.

I am not at all surprised, my Philander, at the accident that has befallen thee, because so long expected, and love has so well fortified my heart, that I support our misfortunes with a courage worthy of her that loves and is beloved by the glorious Philander; I am armed for the worst that can befall me, and that is my being rendered a public shame, who have been so in the private whispers of all the Court for near these happy three months, in which I have had the wondrous satisfaction of being retired from the world with the charming Philander; my father too knew it long since, at least he could not hinder himself from guessing it, though his fond indulgence suffered his justice and his anger to sleep, and possibly had still slept, had not Myrtilla’s spite and rage (I should say just resentment, but I cannot) roused up his drowsy vengeance: I know she has plied him with her softening eloquence, her prayers and tears, to win him to consent to make a public business of it; but I am entered, love has armed my soul, and I’ll pursue my fortune with that height of fortitude as shall surprise the world; yes, Philander, since I have lost my honour, fame and friends, my interest and my parents, and all for mightier love, I’ll stop at nothing now; if there be any hazards more to run, I will thank the spiteful Fates that bring them on, and will even tire them out with my unwearied passion. Love on, Philander, if thou darest, like me; let ’em pursue me with their hate and vengeance, let prisons, poverty and tortures seize me, it shall not take one grain of love away from my resolved heart, nor make me shed a tear of penitence for loving thee; no, Philander, since I know what a ravishing pleasure it is to live thine, I will never quit the glory of dying also thy

SYLVIA.

Cesario, my dear, is coming to be your bail; with Monsieur the Count of —— I die to see you after your suffering for Sylvia.

To SYLVIA.

BELIEVE me, charming Sylvia, I live not those hours I am absent from thee, thou art my life, my soul, and my eternal felicity; while you believe this truth, my Sylvia, you will not entertain a thousand fears, if I but stay a moment beyond my appointed hour; especially when Philander, who is not able to support the thought that any thing should afflict his lovely baby, takes care from hour to hour to satisfy her tender doubting heart. My dearest, I am gone into the city to my advocate’s, my trial with Monsieur the Count, your father, coming on to-morrow, and it will be at least two tedious hours ere I can bring my adorable her

PHILANDER.

To SYLVIA.

I was called on, my dearest child, at my advocate’s by Cesario; there is some great business this evening debated in the cabal, which is at Monsieur —— in the city; Cesario tells me there is a very diligent search made by Monsieur the Count, your father, for my Sylvia; I die if you are taken, lest the fright should hurt thee; if possible, I would have thee remove this evening from those lodgings, lest the people, who are of the royal party, should be induced through malice or gain to discover thee; I dare not come myself to wait on thee, lest my being seen should betray thee, but I have sent Brilliard (whose zeal for thee shall be rewarded) to conduct thee to a little house in the Faubourg St Germain, where lives a pretty woman, and mistress to Chevalier Tomaso, called Belinda, a woman of wit, and discreet enough to understand what ought to be paid to a maid of the quality and character of Sylvia; she already knows the stories of our loves; thither I’ll come to thee, and bring Cesario to supper, as soon as the cabal breaks up. Oh, my Sylvia, I shall one day recompense all thy goodness, all thy bravery, thy love and thy suffering for thy eternal lover and slave,

PHILANDER.

To PHILANDER.

So hasty I was to obey Philander’s commands, that by the unwearied care and industry of the faithful Brilliard, I went before three o’clock disguised away to the place whither you ordered us, and was well received by the very pretty young woman of the house, who has sense and breeding as well as beauty: but oh, Philander, this flight pleases me not; alas, what have I done? my fault is only love, and that sure I should boast, as the most divine passion of the soul; no, no, Philander, it is not my love’s the criminal, no, not the placing it on Philander the crime, but it is thy most unhappy circumstances, thy being married, and that was no crime to heaven till man made laws, and can laws reach to damnation? If so, curse on the fatal hour that thou wert married, curse on the priest that joined ye, and curst be all that did contribute to the undoing ceremony —— except Philander’s tongue, that answered yes — oh, heavens! Was there but one dear man of all your whole creation that could charm the soul of Sylvia! And could ye — oh, ye wise all-seeing powers that knew my soul, could ye give him away? How had my innocence offended ye? Our hearts you did create for mutual love, how came the dire mistake?

Another would have pleased the indifferent Myrtilla’s soul as well, but mine was fitted for no other man; only Philander, the adored Philander, with that dear form, that shape, that charming face, that hair, those lovely speaking eyes, that wounding softness in his tender voice, had power to conquer Sylvia; and can this be a sin? Oh, heavens, can it? Must laws, which man contrived for mere conveniency, have power to alter the divine decrees at our creation? — Perhaps they argue to-morrow at the bar, that Myrtilla was ordained by heaven for Philander; no, no, he mistook the sister, it was pretty near he came, but by a fatal error was mistaken; his hasty youth made him too negligently stop before his time at the wrong woman, he should have gazed a little farther on — and then it had been Sylvia’s lot —— It is fine divinity they teach, that cry marriages are made in heaven — folly and madness grown into grave custom; should an unheedy youth in heat of blood take up with the first convenient she that offers, though he be an heir to some grave politician, great and rich, and she the outcast of the common stews, coupled in height of wine, and sudden lust, which once allayed, and that the sober morning wakes him to see his error, he quits with shame the jilt, and owns no more the folly; shall this be called a heavenly conjunction? Were I in height of youth, as now I am, forced by my parents, obliged by interest and honour, to marry the old, deformed, diseased, decrepit Count Anthonio, whose person, qualities and principles I loathe, and rather than suffer him to consummate his nuptials, suppose I should (as sure I should) kill myself, it were blasphemy to lay this fatal marriage to heaven’s charge —— curse on your nonsense, ye imposing gownmen, curse on your holy cant; you may as well call rapes and murders, treason and robbery, the acts of heaven; because heaven suffers them to be committed. Is it heaven’s pleasure therefore, heaven’s decree? A trick, a wise device of priests, no more —— to make the nauseated, tired-out pair drag on the careful business of life, drudge for the dull-got family with greater satisfaction, because they are taught to think marriage was made in heaven; a mighty comfort that, when all the joys of life are lost by it: were it not nobler far that honour kept him just, and that good nature made him reasonable provision? Daily experience proves to us, no couple live with less content, less ease, than those who cry heaven joins? Who is it loves less than those that marry? And where love is not, there is hate and loathing at best, disgust, disquiet, noise and repentance: no, Philander, that’s a heavenly match when two souls touched with equal passion meet, (which is but rarely seen)— when willing vows, with serious considerations, are weighed and made, when a true view is taken of the soul, when no base interest makes the hasty bargain, when no conveniency or design, or drudge, or slave, shall find it necessary, when equal judgements meet that can esteem the blessings they possess, and distinguish the good of either’s love, and set a value on each other’s merits, and where both understand to take and pay; who find the beauty of each other’s minds and rate them as they ought; whom not a formal ceremony binds, (with which I’ve nought to do, but dully give a cold consenting affirmative) but well considered vows from soft inclining hearts, uttered with love, with joy, with dear delight, when heaven is called to witness; she is thy wife, Philander he is my husband; this is the match, this heaven designs and means; how then, oh how came I to miss Philander? Or he his

SYLVIA.

Since I writ this, which I designed not an invective against marriage, when I began, but to inform thee of my being where you directed; but since I write this, I say, the house where I am is broken open with warrants and officers for me, but being all undressed and ill, the officer has taken my word for my appearance to-morrow, it seems they saw me when I went from my lodgings, and pursued me; haste to me, for I shall need your counsel.

To SYLVIA.

My eternal joy, my affliction is inexpressible at the news you send me of your being surprised; I am not able to wait on thee yet — not being suffered to leave the cabal, I only borrow this minute to tell thee the sense of my advocate in this case; which was, if thou should be taken, there was no way, no law to save thee from being ravished from my arms, but that of marrying thee to some body whom I can trust; this we have often discoursed, and thou hast often vowed thou’lt do any thing rather than kill me with a separation; resolve then, oh thou charmer of my soul, to do a deed, that though the name would fright thee, only can preserve both thee and me; it is — and though it have no other terror in it than the name, I faint to speak it — to marry, Sylvia; yes, thou must marry; though thou art mine as fast as heaven can make us, yet thou must marry; I have pitched upon the property, it is Brilliard, him I can only trust in this affair; it is but joining hands — no more, my SylviaBrilliard is a gentleman, though a cadet, and may be supposed to pretend to so great a happiness, and whose only crime is want of fortune; he is handsome too, well made, well bred, and so much real esteem he has for me, and I have so obliged him, that I am confident he will pretend no farther than to the honour of owning thee in Court; I’ll time him from it, nay, he dares not do it, I will trust him with my life — but oh, Sylvia is more — think of it, and this night we will perform it, there being no other way to keep Sylvia eternally

PHILANDER’s.

To SYLVIA.

Now, my adorable Sylvia, you have truly need of all that heroic bravery of mind I ever thought thee mistress of; for Sylvia, coming from thee this morning, and riding full speed for Paris, I was met, stopped, and seized for high-treason by the King’s messengers, and possibly may fall a sacrifice to the anger of an incensed monarch. My Sylvia, bear this last shock of fate with a courage worthy thy great and glorious soul; ’tis but a little separation, Sylvia, and we shall one day meet again; by heaven, I find no other sting in death but parting with my Sylvia, and every parting would have been the same; I might have died by thy disdain, thou might’st have grown weary of thy Philander, have loved another, and have broke thy vows, and tortured me to death these crueller ways: but fate is kinder to me, and I go blest with my Sylvia’s, love, for which heaven may do much, for her dear sake, to recompense her faith, a maid so innocent and true to sacred love; expect the best, my lovely dear, the worst has this comfort in it, that I shall die my charming Sylvia’s

PHILANDER.

To PHILANDER.

I’LL, only say, thou dear supporter of my soul, that if Philander dies, he shall not go to heaven without his Sylvia— by heaven and earth I swear it, I cannot live without thee, nor shall thou die without thy

SYLVIA.

To SYLVIA.

SEE, see my adorable angel, what care the powers above take of divine innocence, true love and beauty; oh, see what they have done for their darling Sylvia; could they do less?

Know, my dear maid, that after being examined before the King, I was found guilty enough to be committed to the Bastille, (from whence, if I had gone, I had never returned, but to my death;) but the messenger, into whose hands I was committed, refusing other guards, being alone with me in my own coach, I resolved to kill, if I could no other way oblige him to favour my escape; I tried with gold before I shewed my dagger, and that prevailed, a way less criminal, and I have taken sanctuary in a small cottage near the sea-shore, where I wait for Sylvia; and though my life depend upon my flight, nay, more, the life of Sylvia, I cannot go without her; dress yourself then, my dearest, in your boy’s clothes, and haste with Brilliant, whither this seaman will conduct thee, whom I have hired to set us on some shore of safety; bring what news you can learn of Cesario; I would not have him die poorly after all his mighty hopes, nor be conducted to a scaffold with shouts of joys, by that uncertain beast the rabble, who used to stop his chariot-wheels with fickle adorations whenever he looked abroad — by heaven, I pity him; but Sylvia’s presence will chase away all thoughts, but those of love, from

PHILANDER.

I need not bid thee haste.

The End of the first Part.

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