Marcellus having promis'd to espouse the Cause of his accidental Guest, inform'd them who he was and the Reason of his being there in Disguise; and, in Pursuance of this his Promise, he took Orders to have such Necessaries provided, as were fit to appear in before Publius, to whom he resolv'd to state the Case of his Amour with Clelia, considing in his Wisdom and Goodness, to have all Things adjusted according to Reason and Honour; and whilst Accoutrements were thus preparing, the Person who was still unknown, at the Desire of the others, recited his Adventures to them as follows:
My Name, (said he) is Exilius, and by my Speech I should be a Roman; but I never knew any other Place or Habitation, but a certain Rocky Island near Sardinia, where, in a Cave, my Father and I liv'd, or rather breath'd, for one cannot call such an Abode living. Some confus'd Notions remain still in my Mind of another kind of Being before we came thither, but I know not what nor where; nor was my Father ever willing to inform me, when Curiosity excited me to enquire. In this Island we were Lords and Servants, Prince and People, having no other Co−habitants for us either to command or to obey; the Sun and Stars were our unerring Clocks and Kalendars; our Thoughts and Actions, like our Food, admitted no Variety; our necessitated Temperance was our Physick, and we felt no Change of Weather in our Bones, till we saw it in the Skies; our Health made our Food and hard Lodging as grateful to us, as all the costly Feasts the noble Romans enjoy under their rich embroider'd Canopies; a good Conscience was our never failing Opiate, to procure us sound Sleep; and if a Night−Crow or a Skriech−Owl thought fit to serenade us at our Couchée, it did not fright us into dismal Dreams, any more than roaring Winds or beating Billows could disturb the Tranquility of our waking Thoughts. Hope and Fear, the Companions of human Life, were to us mere Strangers, that if we saw a Comet in the Sky, we dreaded not its Influence, nor did good Aspects make us hope for any Thing but what we had; our Way of Living reconcil'd us to all the Contradictions of human Life, and took away the Fear of Death. Content was to us great Riches, and Poverty was our sure Guard; we found Plenty in a very little, and satisfy'd our Ambition in the Contempt of sublunary Acquests. Thus we pass'd our Moments in a serene or rather insipid Tranquility, each succeeding Day supplanted its Predecessor, without the least Adventure to render any one remarkable; for we knew not what our Fellow−Creatures acted in the great World, excepting sometimes that we went to Sardinia to buy Provisions, having a little Boat of our own for that Use. Never would my Father be persuaded to leave this his belov'd Retreat, tho' I sometime solicited him with such Arguments as my Youth and Vanity inspir'd.
Having been one Day at Sardinia, we heard News of the great Preparation for the Asian Expedition, in which the young Scipio was constituted General. My Father perceiving in me a certain Inclination to practise in the Army some of those Precepts in which he had long instructed me, his dear Disciple, with much Goodness and paternal Affection told me, the Time was now come, in which Reason oblig'd him to use Violence to his Inclinations, in resolving to part with me, the only Happiness of his disconsolate Abode: But, said he, Heaven requires it, the Service of your Country calls for it, and, most of all, your own Merits lay a just Claim to it; and tho' your tender Affection towards me restrains your Words on that Subject, nevertheless your Eyes and every Action of your Life speaks, and I am bound to hear, and grant a Request so just and reasonable; then go, my Son, the Darling of my Soul, the Happiness of the poor Remnant of my Days, go, I say, serve thy Country, assist thy noble young General, and gain Glory to thy self; whilst I, thy poor doating Sire, in this my uncouth Solitude shall offer my perpetual Vows. These tender Words, mix'd with his Tears, in spight of all my Endeavours, forc'd a Passage for mine, that 'twas some Time before I could reply for Weeping; and with humble Thanks told him, that I should so carefully observe these excellent Instructions, which he had daily inculcated into me his much oblig'd Disciple, that I doubted not but to reap a very fertile Harvest of Glory, which I promis'd to bring Home to him, not only as the Proprietor, but the Cultivator of the Soil; and 'tis certain, had my Application answer'd his Industry, I might have been a very accomplish'd Person; for there is not a greater Master in all Learning, Military and Civil, in all Exercises, both of Arts and Arms, than my Father. I perceiving that he was extreamly pleas'd at the Promise of my Return, repeated it to him again; adding, that no Diversity of Fortune should frustrate that Resolution, (if the Gods spar'd my Life) for if good, his Presence would make it double; if bad, his wise Conversation would diminish its Disagreements. This Assurance my Father receiv'd with all the Marks of Kindness possible, telling me, that my Love now equall'd that Duty I had always shew'd to him, and both made him a most happy Father; that he valued this Favour from the Gods much before Riches, or Honours, or any other Blessing of human Life. Many of these endearing Discourses pass'd between us during the Time that my small Equipage was preparing. In fine, our Parting was very sorrowful; a thousand Caresses, mixt with Tears, attended that ungrateful Moment; innumerable Sighs and Blessings accompany'd my Departure, and his constant Prayers follow'd me in my Voyage.
I got to the Army but few Days before that great Battle, which was to decide the Fate of Asia. I think I had the good Fortune to do some particular Service to the General: At these Words Marcellus in a great Suprize said, O good Gods, are you that signal Person, who so valiantly reliev'd our General, and thereby made Victory wait upon our Roman Eagles, who began to flag their Wings: O valiant Sir, (continued Marcellus, embracing him) you are not only in my Arms, but in my Heart, and in the Hearts of all honourable Commanders, and indeed of all noble Romans, who at this Time do, and for all future Ages shall, enjoy the Fruits of your Valour in that Day's Service. O! Sir, why were you so cruel to the noble General, and to us all, as to take your self from us, without giving us Opportunity to testify our Gratitude? How often have I heard the generous Scipio lament his Misfortune, in being depriv'd of you the Author of his Safety, before he had the Opportunity to render you Acknowledgments suitable to your Merits. Sir, reply'd Exilius, I knew the General's noble Nature would have heap'd greater Honours upon me, than my weak Merit was capable to support; and not only so, but I knew also his courteous affable Humour to be so engaging, that I durst not trust my self under the Temptation, having promis'd to return to my Father; therefore I chose rather to desert the most excellent Scipio, when simply my General, than when become my Benefactor; and perhaps his Benefits adorn'd with his Friendship also, which would have been too many strong Links for me to have broke, especially being already infeebled by a great Inclination towards this illustrious Hero. These Considerations, Sir, (continued Exilius) made me secretly leave the Army, and return to my Father in his Rocky Island, whose Health and tender Caresses were to me all that Ambition could prompt a young Heart to hope for, or Glory make it to enjoy. He signaliz'd his Love in every Word, and when Joy overcharg'd his aged Heart, so as to make him dumb, his Tears spoke, and in a more eloquent Manner than Words, testify'd his Satisfaction. His Thanksgiving to the Gods were incessant, as had been his Supplications on my Behalf while absent. Here we pass'd our Days in the same Tranquility as before, my Father in Devotion, and I in divers Sorts of Study; but chiefly Poetry was my darling Favourite. The Conversation of other Books were passant, as are the Entertainments of coquet Mistresses; but this, like a faithful Spouse, was my constant Companion; in her I enjoy'd the whole World, from the Shepherd's peaceful Shades, to the Victor's triumphant Lawrels: In her I enjoy'd the Greatness of the Roman Senators, and the Riches of the Alexandrian Merchants; the Power of Kings, and the Happiness of well−govern'd People; the Brightness of the Court−Lady, and the Innocence of the Country−Maid; the Consolation of a faithful Friend, and the Diversion of a pleasant Companion. By her I thought our rocky Island a terrestrial Paradise, there being nothing to disturb my Enjoyment of this my fantastick Spouse. I here walking one Evening on the Side of the Rock, admiring the extreme Calm of the Sea and Serenity of the Air, contrary to what it had been the Day before, and having been reading a Greek Poet, who compares Women to Winds, and Seas, and other Things turbulent and changeable, my Thoughts turn'd themselves into these Words:
Ah! happy are we Anchorites that know
Not Fortune's Ebbs, nor when her Love will flow;
Nor yet the Storms that rage in Womens Breasts,
But here in Quiet build our Halcyon Nests,
Where no deceitful Calm our Faith beguiles,
No cruel Frowns, nor yet more cruel Smiles;
No rising Wave of Fate our Hopes advance,
Nor fear we fathomless Despair, or Chance:
But our strong Minds, like Rocks, their Firmness prove.
Defying both the Storms of Fate and Love.
As I thus entertain'd my Thoughts, lifting up my Eyes, I saw at a Distance like a Fire on the Sea, and looking on it earnestly, I perceiv'd something floating from it, driven by the Motion of the Waves; wherefore I made out our little Boat, concluding it some Thing or Person that had escap d the Fury of the Flames. Approaching near, I found it was a Woman fasten d on a Piece of the Ship, whom I took up, as Charity oblig'd me, and brought Home, where my Father and I used our Endeavours to bring her to Life, which in a little Time prov'd effectual. We put her into my Bed, and I gave my Father the Trouble of a Bedfellow that Night where I slept not at all; the Strangeness of the Adventure, and the Beauty of the Person, gave a pleasing Surprize to my whole Interiour, and put such a Guard on the Avenues of my Eyes, that Sleep could not enter, even when befriended by the Darkness of the Night, and the Silence of our rocky Cavern.
When Light, the busy Inspectrix of all our Actions, had exercis'd her prying Faculty into our Cave, I, being excited by Curiosity, drew near the Bed, where the weary Stranger lay in a profound Sleep, with her Arms carelesly cast over her Head; O Gods, how was my poor Heart charm'd, and all my Senses ravish'd at this pleasing View! I concluded that nothing human could be so divinely fair; no, no, (said I) it is some Goddess descended from Above, and by her seeming Distress tries how we would exercise our Charity towards our Fellow−Creatures on the like Occasion, therefore as such she ought to be ador'd. Then kneeling down, in soft Whispers I implor'd her Protection; a thousand extravagant Things I utter'd, as on my Knees I lay all trembling in a devout Extasy.
The clear Light shining into the Cave, awak'd my Father, which I no sooner perceiv'd, but I softly left my Station. He arose with as little Noise as possible, that he might not disturb her; however, he was scarce got ready when she awak'd, to whom he address'd with the usual Civilities of the Morning; after which he enquir'd of her Country, and the Cause of her Distress: To which she reply'd, that her Name was Scipiana, Daughter to Publius Scipio,who had been carried away by Clodius, and so was reduc'd to that Distress, by means of the Ship's being burnt. This Knowledge of her Quality augmented our Respect, and doubled our Desires of rendering her Service, of which my Father made all the Assurances possible, withal telling her, that no Opportunity should be omitted for her Return, either speedily in Person, or by sending Letters to her Father, that he might give Order as he thought convenient. Scipiana giving my Father Thanks, told him she desir'd to return in Person with all possible speed, tho' I shall find little Satisfaction (continued she) in my native Country, since I can no more see nor enjoy that Delight of my Eyes and Treasure of my Heart, the noble Asiaticus, my belov'd Brother, of whom I am depriv'd by an unfortunate Death. O Gods! said Marcellus, interrupting her, is it certain then, that the brave, the generous Scipio Asiaticus is no more! Has the Tyrant Death depriv'd Mankind of that Ornament of our Being in general, and of our Country in particular? Scipiana, his Sister, affirm'd it, reply'd Exilius: At which Marcellus again interrupted him with Tears and Lamentations for his own and the publick Loss, in the Death of that incomparable Hero: Never could Rome boast of a more accomplish'd Worthy, (continued he) for he was in all Things exemplary; Learning and Wisdom, Valour and Vertue, he possess'd, with all their most bright Imbellishments, Asiaticus! Asiaticus! my dear Friend! my noble General! unhappy that I am to live to hear this doleful News. I was honour'd in thy Friendship; I glory'd in being thine Associate in the War: I was proud of being thy Cotemporary. But, ah! my Friend, my Glory, Happiness, and Satisfaction, is all sunk with thee into thy Grave. O ye Gods, why have ye made Mankind of such a brittle Nature! or why have you made some so desireable and pleasing to all others, and then snatch them away from us, when our Affections are most firmly fix'd to their Merits, or when we stand most in Need of their Examples! O ye Divine Powers! if I durst, I wou'd accuse your Providence; but ah! that wou'd not restore me my Asiaticus, my Country's Asiaticus, nay, even the World's Asiaticus; with many other doleful Lamentations of this Kind, to that Degree, that the Company (tho' Strangers) cou'd not forbear weeping also. After having paid this just Tribute to the Memory of his worthy Friend, he endeavour'd to refrain himself, and begg'd Exilius to proceed.
Exilius returning to his Discourse, said, Whilst my Father endeavour'd to consolate and assist Scipiana, I withdrew out of the Cave, as not being able to support the Sight of those Tears, each Drop of which was more painful than so much Blood pouring from my Heart; and taking the same little Walk on the Side of the Rock, where, the Evening before, I had entertain'd my Muse in Praise of that dismal Abode. I here chid my Heart for the Crimes it had committed all its Life against Love and Beauty. I told it, that such a Rebel deserv'd to wear less noble Chains than those Fortune had provided for it in the Person of Scipiana. Alas! said I, how ignorant was I last Night of true Happiness, to think it consisted in a dull Neglect, or Stoical Contempt of all Human Pleasures; or to imagine any true Felicity cou'd be had without its true Author, Woman. With these kind of Thoughts I entertain'd my self, till the pregnant Fancy took Birth in these Words:
Ah! beauteous Sex, to you we're bound to give
Our Thanks for all the Blessings we receive:
Ev'n that we're Men, the Chief of all our Boast,
Without your Sex, were a vast Blessing lost.
In vain wou'd Man his mighty Patent show,
That Reason makes him Lord of all below;
If Woman did not moderate his Rule,
He'd be a Tyrant, or a softly Fool:
For e'er Love's Documents inform his Breast,
He's but a thoughtless kind of Houshold Beast.
Houses, alas! there no such Things wou'd be,
He'd live beneath the Umbrage of a Tree;
Or else usurp some Free−born Native's Cave,
And so inhabit, whilst alive, a Grave;
Or o'er the World this lordly Brute wou'd rove,
Were he not taught and civiliz'd by Love.
'Tis Love and Beauty regulate our Souls;
No Rules so certain as in Cupid's Schools.
Your Beauty teaches whatsoe'er is good,
Else Good from Bad had scarce been understood;
What's eligible by your Smiles we know,
And by your Frowns refuse what is not so.
Thus the rough Draught of Man you have refin'd,
And polish'd all the Passions of his Mind.
His Cares you lessen, and his Joys augment,
To both Extreams set the just Bounds, Content.
In fine, 'tis you to Life its Relish give,
Or 'twere insipid, not worth while to live.
Nay, more, we're taught Religion too by you;
'Twas not by Chance that such Perfections grew;
No, no, it was th'Eternal Pow'rs which thus
Chose to exhibit their bright Selves to us;
And, for an Antepast of future Bliss,
Sent you (their Images) from Paradise.
I had scarce finish'd these Words, when I saw Scipiana coming out of the Cave, like Lightning out of a Cloud, striking me, the poor Beholder, that I remain'd immoveable, 'till she, approaching, ask'd me divers Questions of the Place, and our Way of Living; telling me it was Pity that such a Personage should live in such a Kind of savage Solitude, where I cou'd no way be useful to the World, nor answer the End of my Creation. I have (said she) been perswading your Father to quit this uncouth Way of Living, and make Mankind happy in his excellent Conversation; and not only so, but reform the World by his vertuous Example. In this Discourse we were, when my Father, coming out of the Cave, commanded me to go to Sardinia, and there hire a Ship, with all Things necessary, to carry Scipiana into Italy, to her Father, according as she desir'd. This I perform'd with Speed and Success, in few Hours bringing with me a Vessel, and all Conveniencies for her Service; and by my Father's Command, I was to wait upon her in her Voyage, which she was very unwilling to permit, as being loth to bereave my Father of his Company; and therefore most earnestly invited Him along with me; but he cou'd not be prevail'd upon to leave his beloved Cell, which no doubt was to him a certain Heaven, where his devout Soul conversed daily with the Powers divine.
We sail'd with a prosperous Gale, which in a little Time wou'd have brought us on the Italian Shoar at Cajeta,where we intended to disembark, that Port being near the House of Publius Scipio, her noble Father; but passing by the Coasts of Sicily, we were met by Pyrates, who being many and well arm'd, soon made themselves our Masters. They carry'd us into Egypt, where we were sold to a Merchant of Alexandria. Here Scipiana thought fit to conceal her Name and Quality, 'till she cou'd find Means to inform her Father of her Condition, thereby to receive his Orders, and so direct her Measures accordingly. She call'd herself Exilia, by which Name you are to know her in my succeeding Discourse. She was pleas'd to honour me so far as to oblige me to call her Sister, pretending to be private Citizens of Rome, and had been at Sardinia on some Business, and were taken in our Return.
Our Master, who was one of the wealthiest Citizens of Alexandria, and of a generous genteel Inclination, observ'd in us something so agreeable, that he treated us more like Friends than Slaves; and finding Scipiana of an extraordinary Beauty, and all other Qualifications equivalent to that of her lovely Person, he made a Present of her to a certain Court Lady, his Friend, at once to oblige her, and to place Scipiana in a better State of Servitude. This Lady observing Exilia's Perfections, (which indeed were such as could not be hid) put her into a very rich Dress, and on the Queen's Birth Day made a Present of her to her Majesty. The Queen, who is in her Nature very gracious and affable, soon became acquainted with Exilia's Perfections; in particular, Exilia was Mistress of a very fine Voice, with which she frequently diverted the Queen, who lov'd the Italian Airs, as well as their Language. Exilia being thus esteem'd by the Queen, her Majesty was graciously pleas'd to ask her about her Country and Kindred; which gave her an Opportunity to let her Majesty know of my being in Bondage with the Merchant my Master, representing me as her Brother; upon which her Majesty was pleas'd to order me to be brought into her Presence, and when she saw me, she told me, 'twas Pity a Person of my Stature shou'd remain in Bondage, and therefore with much Goodness purchas'd my Freedom; and in Consideration that Romans are generally good Soldiers, made me to be plac'd in the Guards, 'till some proper Post might fall for my Advancement. In the mean Time, Exilia's Merits promoted her daily in the Queen's Favour, that in a little Time the Queen not only discharg'd her of Bondage, but plac'd her among the chief of her Retinue.
Thus was Exilia advanc'd in few Days from Slavery, to a Station of great Honour, where her Beauty and Virtue shin'd in their proper Sphere, rendering her the Object of every Bodies Esteem. Her Words and Actions were the Model by which the Ladies fashion'd their Discourse and Behaviour; her Beauty was the Theme of the Gentlemens Admiration and Entertainment; her Piety edify'd the Devout and Aged, and her Wit charm'd the Gay and Young: her courteous affable Way made her belov'd by Inferiours, and her Prudence made her esteem'd by Equals and Superiours, and by none more than by her Majesty.
Thus I beheld her at a Distance, without Hopes of farther Happiness, too well knowing myself and her, to dare to name my Passion to her, telling myself that I ought to conceal it from my own Thoughts and Knowledge, if possible; but alas, the Flame was too violent to be extinguish'd, and all the Efforts of my Reason were little enough to suppress it so far as not to be perceiv'd by others. O Scipiana, Scipiana! said I to myself, thou who art Daughter to one of the Grandees of the Earth, as a Goddess fair, and as the Graces good; how dare a Wretch like me think on thee, but as a Thing most sacred? Yet, Wretch as I am, I must for ever think, and wish, and long, and love thee, though without Hope; for it is impossible for Gods or Fortune ever to render me worthy to own my Passion to thee, so great is the Disparity between us; for no Advancement on my Side can level our original Inequality. Then die, Exilius, for Shame die, let Despair kill thee, thou deservest no less Punishment, for harbouring a Thought so arrogant, or rather impious, in daring to love one who ought only to be belov'd by a King or a Deity. Thus I pass'd my Moments in deadly Anxiety and Despair, which augmented by the Discovery I made of the King's Inclinations towards Exilia; for his Majesty, who never kept any Guard over his Eyes or Heart, but suffer'd them to range after every fresh Beauty, soon became sensible of Exilia's Charms; of which, as a quick−sighted Rival, I could not be ignorant, nor could have possibly supported, had I not been fortify'd by the Assurance of Exilia's Vertue.
One Day, the King going to see a new Ship, which lay in the Port of Alexandria, as he pass'd from that to view another of equal Greatness, which lay just by; his Foot slipp'd, so that he fell down between the two Ships: Whilst all look'd on without Hopes of recovering him, I, who had accustom'd myself to swimming, and in particular to diving, leap'd in, and caught hold of him, and brought him up, to the great Joy of all the By−standers. This Service the King accepted with greater Expressions of Gratitude than I expected, forasmuch as that therein I did but what my Duty oblig'd me to; for tho' I was not his Subject, yet he was my Master and Benefactor; and tho' he was my Rival, he was not mine Enemy, and above being my Competitor. A while after this, his Majesty being dissatisfy'd with one of the Captains of his Guard, Piso by Name (of whom more hereafter) he took away his Commission and gave it to me; which Honour was not only a Happiness to me in itself, but doubly so, in Regard that it a little diminish'd the Inequality betwixt me and the bright Scipiana.
Now you must know, that the Egyptians are extreamly jealous of the Roman Greatness, therefore cannot endure that we should bear any Office of Honour or Profit among them; and this being a Charge of great Trust as well as Honour, caused perpetual Murmurings among the People, which was fomented by the disgraced Captain and his Friends, with all the subtil Insinuations possible; as if the King meant to join with the Romans, to overthrow the Religion and Laws of the Ægyptians. These Murmurings once infus'd into the Heads and Hearts of the People, fermented so till their Discontents broke out into an absolute Rebellion, which took its Beginning in the Country, some Miles distant from Alexandria. The Rebels were headed by Piso, the aforesaid disgrac'd Captain; who making towards Alexandria, daily increas'd their Body, pretending that all they did or intended, was for the Service of the Gods, and the Preservation of their Laws and Religion.
The King resolv'd to send the Prince Philometer, his Brother, against them, with what Force he could make, which was not great, having but few regular Troops, and those which were then rais'd, for want of understanding Discipline, were capable of doing but small Service; besides the Danger of their being already infected with rebellious Principles; and what was equally unhappy, the Prince Philometer, who was to lead these Troops, was very little belov'd, being counted in his Heart a Jew, which was the Religion on Earth the most hated by the Egyptians. These Things being consider'd, there was great Reason to doubt the Success, tho' otherwise Philometerwas an excellent Prince, endow'd with great Wisdom and Courage, and much experienc'd in the War; a very just and pious Prince, a true Friend, and a kind loving Brother; the best of Masters to his Servants, and a faithful Subject to his King; but these and divers other excellent Qualities, could not counterpoize that Aversion the People had taken against his Religion, to wit, the Jewish Way of Worship. In fine, his Want of Fortune, or the Soldiers Want of Fidelity, I know not which, lost the Day, and the Army was put to Flight, and he himself taken Prisoner.
This Success of the Rebels, as it afflicted all honest and honourable Hearts, so it rejoiced all wicked and rebellious Spirits; that as the Country was the Theatre of an open and actual Rebellion, so Alexandria was the Nursery where they got their Parts; for in all their Clubs and Cabals, Treason went down smoother than their Liquor, and black Contrivances were easier digested into Action, than their plentiful Suppers into Nourishment. Scandalous Libels, stuffed with Malice and awkward Wit, (fit to take raw young Readers) were thrown into every Shop, thereby to make the Boys silly Hands ready to execute in the Day what their Masters more silly Heads contriv'd in the Night: The Priests prophane the Temples with false Explanations of the Oracles, and made the Gods the Authors of their Crimes, and pretend, that all their Sacrilege and Rebellion is for the Sake of the Gods. Thus they fed themselves with Iniquity, and cloath'd themselves with Hypocrisy; they bubbled the Vulgar with Lies, and betray'd their Superiours with Perjury. One ridiculous Custom they have lately taken up, that on the Feast−Day of their God Apis, they make a solemn Procession, in Contempt of the Jews and their Religion, making Figures of their chief Writers and Rabbins, and when they have carry'd them thro' the City with shouting and reviling Acclamations, they come to the Place prepar'd, and there burn them with loud Shouts and Huzzas; so, by these and the like Practices, they keep themselves in a continual Heat and Ferment against they know not who or what; for the Jewsare so few, and so little formidable, that there is no Cause of Fear; but to be sure their Leaders direct their Malice against the King, perswading the People that he design'd to subvert the Government, and submit himself to the Roman Senate, which in them is the last Degree of Madness. Nevertheless, in this Condition was his Majesty in a Manner besieg'd in his own Palace, and subordinate to his Subjects; his Army ruin'd by the Rebels, his City mutinous, his Servants and Counsellors treacherous, that he knew not which Way to turn himself, nor on whom he could depend. However, he drew out another Army of such Forces as he could make; many of the Army being Romans, he made Officers over his new−rais'd Troops; and, in Consideration of the good Success which commonly attends the Romans, he was pleas'd to commit these Troops to my Conduct.
Now it was that I had a great Debate with myself, whether I should discover my Passion to Scipiana, before I went, or no; sometimes resolving on the Positive, in Consideration of her Goodness, supposing she would now compassionate my Absence, especially going on so dangerous an Enterprize, or rather desperate, by Means of the little Hopes there were of the Fidelity of the Troops; this I thought would extort her Pity, and moderate that Anger I might justly fear from an Attempt so audacious. I thought, that if it should be my Fate to fall in this Service, one Tear shed on my Hearse, as on the Hearse of her Lover, would render me happy in Eternity. But then again, reflecting on her original Greatness, and my own Obscurity, I concluded, no Goodness could or ought to pardon such a Declaration, but that it would make my Memory her Aversion: Which Thought made me fix on the Negative, saying to my self,
Oh! no, Exilius, thou must be content
With Friendship's Tears to deck thy Monument.
For 'tis a Crime thy Passion to relate,
Exposing thee to her just Scorn and Hate.
Withal concluding, that if the Gods should unexpectedly favour me with Victory, my Love would then be a more reasonable Offering to her divine Perfections. Wherefore, at my Departure, I only behav'd my self to her as a Friend and Brother, with which Title she had honour'd me, as before mention'd.
When I took my Leave of the Princess Philometra, the King's Niece, I was a little surpriz'd at some sensible Expressions from her Highness. Pardon me (continued Exilius) if I am too bold in the Interpretation of her Words and Looks. I know it to be a Fault our Sex is extreamly accus'd of, that we misinterpret the Words and Looks of Ladies, and so flatter our selves into a vain Hope or Expectation of Favours never meant us; and when, in the Conclusion, we find our selves balk'd, we as falsly accuse them of Inconstancy, as before we censur'd them of Kindness, for one is commonly the Consequent of the other; and when we build the airy Castle of fancy'd Favours, it is but just we fall into the Abyss of their Displeasure. How far I may seem guilty in your Opinions I know not; but the Princess, after divers Turns of Discourse, all tending to a particular Concern for me, at last presented to me a large Ruby, cut in Form of a flaming Heart, and commanded me to be careful of my Life for her Sake. This Jewel was a little Present made her by the Prince of Lybia, and perhaps was the Cause of that Discontent which made him leave the Egyptian Court, as you shall know hereafter.
I march'd the Army with all convenient Speed against the Rebels, who, flush'd with Success, were become dissolute and abandon'd to all manner of Crimes and loose Living; Murder, Rapin, and Oppression, were frequently practis'd by them; and if the suffering Inhabitants complain'd to the Commanders, they found no Redress, the Soldiers being now as ready to rebel against their Officers, as before against their King; insomuch that Justice could not be executed, for fear of a Mutiny or total Revolt, which is not strange; for where there is only a precarious and not a legal Authority, Commands are ill exhibited, and worse obey'd; for such a Kind of an usurp'd Power is, as it were, a Burlesque on Justice, and a Banter on Government, which serve rather to increase than to correct Crimes; for, a wild Vine cannot bring forth good Grapes, but certain Berries, to poyson and intoxicate. I need not enlarge on the Madness of a Multitude, it being too well known; but as a Mob rampant is a most formidable Monster, so nothing is more serviceable than that Beast when couchant; to which State, by the Assistance of the Gods, I reduc'd the Egyptian Mob, (for an Army of Rebels deserve no better Title.) I defeated their Force, deliver'd the Captive Prince, retook all their fortify'd Towns, and so utterly dispers'd the Rebels, that I left no Marks of this Rebellion, but the executed Bodies of their Leaders, the chief of whom was the wicked Piso.
Thus I return'd to Alexandria, with as much Happiness as Victory could help me to, and receiv'd such Honours and Acknowledgments from the King, and the Prince Philometer, as anticipated Expectation, and non−plus'd even Ambition; all which Royal Favours I valu'd in a double Regard, as being most worthy and honourable in themselves, and supposing them fit Garlands to adorn the Offering of my Love, which I design'd to make to Exilia the first Opportunity. But, oh good Heavens! how were my Hopes blasted, when I heard that the King design'd to espouse her. The Queen, by her own earnest Desire, and the Consent of the Council, was to be divorc'd; for she being the King's own Sister, and a devout Woman, was never thoroughly content with that incestuous Marriage; and 'tis suppos'd also, that the King's Conscience upbraided him, especially when he was under those Apprehensions which were cast upon him by the late Rebellion, Afflictions from the Hand of Heaven, often making us look into our selves, to find the original Cause, by which Means we detect and punish those Crimes and Follies which we had industriously conceal'd, or perhaps audaciously avow'd. And thus it was with this Royal Couple; the King and Queen of Egypt, touch'd in their Consciences, brought this Affair before the Great Council of the Nation, who declar'd the Marriage null, and his Majesty at Liberty to chuse where he pleas'd; who, after a little Deliberation (for Decency's Sake) declar'd Exilia to be the Object of his Choice; alledging, that her Brother had done him such Service in sustaining the falling Crown, that even such an Honour to the Sister, was not over−paying the Obligation. His Majesty alledg'd also, that he having many Princes and Nobles, whose Daughters had equal Right both in Birth and Beauty, he could not prefer one without displeasing the other; so he hoped they would all unite in the Election he had made of this beautiful Stranger; and indeed, this Reason took with the greatest Part of the Nobility. In fine, it was in this as in most Things of the World, every one was pleas'd or displeas'd, as they were carry'd by Interest, Fancy, or Caprice; it was only I that was the miserable Wretch exalted into Ruin. Distracted and afflicted as I was, I went to Exilia's Apartment, where I found her just going to wait upon the Queen, who within a Day or two was to quit Alexandria, together with her Royal Dignity, and retire to a House prepar'd for her, far distant from the Town, and there to live as a Princess, the King's Sister. Exiliapermitted me to wait on her to the Queen, where she cast herself at the Queen's Feet, and with all Earnestness, within the Bounds of Humility and Respect, begg'd her Majesty to believe the Protestation she came to make of her Innocence. The Gods are my Witnesses, (said she) I was so far from contributing to this Affair on Foot, that I never knew the least of the King's Intention, neither against your Majesty, nor towards me; if I had, I should have thought myself bound in Duty to have used my poor Endeavours to have prevented its Progress e'er it came to this Pitch; for I am so thoroughly sensible of your Goodness towards me, that if my Life would restore you to the King's Favour, or secure your Royal Dignity, I would with Pleasure lay it down at your Feet this Moment. O! Madam, testify that you believe the Sincerity of my Words, by using your Endeavours with the King, that I may at least attend you to your Retreat; perhaps his Majesty in my Absence may change his Sentiments, and think on some great Princess, worthy to be Partner in his Royal Dignity. O leave me not here, a poor abandon'd Stranger, to be this Country's Aversion, and the World's Censure, in being declar'd the Object of the King's Affections! The King, I know, is too good and gracious to espouse me by Force, and my Consent I cannot give, in Prejudice of you, my Royal Mistress and Benefactrix. Then embracing the Queen's Knees, with a Shower of Tears, she repeated her Supplication.
The Queen very graciously embrac'd Exilia, commanded her to dry her Tears, and cease her Apprehensions; for (said her Majesty) I perfectly know your Innocence; and that you may have true Repose of Mind, be assur'd that all this is the Will of Heaven, as I shall now inform you: So commanding us both to sit down, she related as follows:
I was very young, said the Queen, when I was marry'd to the King my Brother, of which our Laws allow, or at least connive at. Now, tho' my Brother's amiable Person, and tender Passion for me, render'd these Espousals very agreeable, yet I had a secret and inward Reluctancy in Consideration of our Proximity; and tho' I lov'd him more than a Brother, yet wish'd he had not been so. I lov'd him as my Husband, honour'd him as my King, tender'd him as my Lover; yet the Remembrance of his being my Brother, imbitter'd all these. Whether this proceeded from that Veneration I had for the Jewish Law, or that it was the Law of Nature, I know not; but I durst not oppose the Marriage, least I should be suspected of Judaism, (to which the Royal Family are suppos'd to be too much inclin'd) for tho' the Jews marry in their own Families, yet never such near Relations as Brother and Sister. After being marry'd some Years, and had no Child, I was more troubled in my Thoughts, and my Doubts increas'd, fearing the State in which I liv'd with my Brother, was not pleasing to the Gods; wherefore, on a solemn great Festival, I made my Devotions in the Temple of Isis, begging this Goddess of my Country to inspire me what to do, as also lifting up my Heart to the God of the Jews: The Night following I had a strange Vision, for I thought I saw in my Sleep this Goddess appear to me, saying these Words:
Change thy Life: Thy Time improve:
Let not Marriage Vows with hold thee:
To a Roman yield thy Love:
Fear not th'Event; the Gods have told thee.
The Vision was so plain, and I remember'd it so perfectly, that I could not but think it more than a Dream, but knew not how to believe it divine Inspiration, because it seem'd to counsel a Crime; for one cannot think Divinity and Immorality consistent. However, I sent for the High Priest of Isis, in whom I thought I might confide, he being my Nurse's Son, and, for her Sake, by me preferr'd to that great Dignity.
Now you must know that my Nurse was a natural Daughter to a Prince of the Blood Royal of the Ptolemys. She had been marry'd to one Piso, a Native of Rome; but having liv'd in my Father's Service from his childhood, his Original was so forgot by the Egyptians, that he was not look'd on as a Stranger, nor malign'd as a Roman. My Father having Occasion to send him to Rome, on an Embassy, he took his Wife along with him, and had there his Son, the wicked Piso, Leader of the late Rebellion, who, tho' he was a Roman born, and the Son of a Roman, yet was never look'd on as such, being always in our Service: Unless, perhaps, his rebellious Inclinations wove himself a Veil, which hid his Original from the People's Notice. But to return: I secretly consulted the said High−Priest, who told me, that the Vision, without all Doubt, was literally to be interpreted, and that I ought to embrace a Roman, for the Good of my Country; that the Gods, who were just and good, preferr'd the greater to a lesser Advantage, a publick to a private Benefit; that we ought to follow their Example; and now, that the Welfare of Egypt, nay, perhaps, the very Being of its Laws and Constitutions, depended on this Action. I was bound to obey the Gods, who, in a Manner, had given me a positive Command. But I insisted, that I thought it impossible that the Gods could authorize a Crime of any Kind, much less one so black as this, and of such dangerous Consequence. To which he reply'd, that nothing was good or bad, criminal or innocent in itself, but as the Powers Divine had ordain'd; and when it pleas'd them to dispense with those their Ordinances, we their Creatures were bound to obey with all Submission. These, and many more Arguments of this Kind, he employ'd to evince his Assertion, which, I believe, is according to the Doctrine of that Religion, which is so far short of the Purity of that of the Jews, that there is no Place left for Comparison. The Consideration of which made me still more inclin'd to their Religion, of which (as aforesaid) I was already too much suspected.
After the High−Priest was return'd to Memphis, the Place of his proper Abode, his Mother (my Nurse) fail'd not to mind me of what he had said, (she having been present at this Discourse) always alledging the Will of the Gods, and the Good of Egypt; by which one sees how People are capable of being besotted, and fall into the worst of Ills, when once intoxicated with the Notion of some imaginary Good, especially their Country's Happiness, their Laws and Religion: When once their Understandings are bubbled with that Fancy, what is't they will not do? For, I perswade myself, this poor Woman meant, in some Degree, the Good of her Country, and the securing its Rights, Privileges, and Properties, Laws, and Religion, which made her so often mind me of the Will of the Gods. But I, who was innocent, and my Intentions truly vertuous, did not penetrate the whole Drift of her Insinuations, notwithstanding many gross Hints, 'till at last, with humble Apologies, and earnest Protestations of Duty to the Gods, and the Royal Interest, she let me know that Piso, her unfortunate Son Piso, dy'd for me; with Showers of Tears, begging my Pardon on her Knees, and with her Tears mixing her Suplications, not to neglect the Will of Heaven, minding me also of Piso's being a Roman, and, on her Side, of the Blood Royal of the Ptolomys. Thus People often disguise their own Crimes, Follies, and Passions, dressing them as it were in Masquerade, and make them pass on Mankind for the Will of the Gods, and by this Means engage the World in the most criminal Undertakings. But I was too well acquainted with the Doctrine of the Jews, to be thus put upon, otherwise, perhaps, my Vertue might have stagger'd at these their plausible and godly Arguments; to which add Piso'shandsom Person and engaging Mien, together with the two most excellent Accomplishments of his Sex, Wisdom and Valour, which he possess'd most distinctly, one might truly say, he had the Head of Ulysses, and the Arms of Achilles; if he had also the Heart of an honest Man, and a faithful Subject, he had been a compleat finish'd Worthy. But to return to what I was saying of his Mother: I charg'd her never to speak to me more of that Subject, on Pain of my highest Displeasure, which she durst not disobey. But whilst her Tongue was silent, Piso's Eyes, and all his Gestures, spake; they talk'd and supplicated on his Behalf; his Looks declar'd his Thoughts, and his Eyes spake what his Lips conceal'd; all which my Looks answer'd with Scorn and Reprimands. But I am now sensible that was not sufficient; I ought to have punish'd him, his Mother, and his Brother the High−Priest, and so have nipp'd in the Bud their audacious Enterprize; for where Persons of my Station slack the Reins of Justice, it is not strange that the Practices of the Wicked take Effect, and hurry us on to our Overthrow; for 'tis certain, Rewards and Punishments, duly exhibited, are the very Nerves of Government: But in these, the King, as well as myself, was to blame; for he heap'd Favours according to his Fancy, and I pardon'd Faults according to the Mildness of my Nature, not Judgment: And tho' these were Errors on the right Hand, yet still they were Errors which led us almost to our Ruin; for had I degraded and punish'd the High−Priest, for having misinterpreted the holy Oracles, I had broke the Cords of their fine−wove Intrigue, and stopp'd that Source of Mischief which has since flow'd with such Violence. The Truth is, I had sometimes Thoughts to let the King know the Affair; but then again, I consider'd that would endanger Piso's Life, at least I knew it would be his total Ruin; for Piso already began to totter in the King's Favour; his Majesty having remark'd how ready he was to take Part with those that were suspected of Mutiny; and when any were charg'd with seditious Words or Libels, Piso was always the Advocate to justify or excuse them to the King; and so, on all Accounts, the King's Enemies were Piso's Friends, that his Majesty had great Reason to suspect him, according to the common Remark, If one will know a Man, observe what Company he keeps. But tho' the King had Reason to suspect, yet he had no just Cause to punish, not knowing his Crime towards me; and on the other Side, I was willing to forget, or not understand it; for since he lock'd up his Passion in Silence, I thought it was best to leave it so, without seeking the Key, or picking the Lock, by taking any Notice of it; moreover, I had a real Kindness for him, not only as a Person endow'd with many excellent Qualities, but as he was my Nurse's Son, and Play−fellow in my Childhood, for which Cause I had continually patroniz'd him, and rais'd him and his Brother to these Dignities; and on the same Consideration conceal'd this Folly, thinking it was only the Effect of Youth, which would pass with those Precautions I had taken.
In the mean Time the Wretch used all sinister and indirect Means to make himself popular, and diminish the People's Affections towards the King. By his Industry, under−hand and unperceiv'd, he found Means to remove the King's Friends out of all Places and Offices of Trust, rais'd the People's Clamour against the Jews and the Romans, 'till they were all remov'd; for they being Strangers, without Patron or Dependance, but on the immediate Favour of his Majesty, were not likely to comply with Piso's Interest, or any other, in Opposition to the King's: Among these were two Jewish Eunuchs, who belong'd to my Apartment, whose Fidelity Piso knew; and that, I believe, was one Cause that they and all the Jews were banish'd the Court, under Pretence of their being dangerous Persons, and Enemies to the Royal Interest; whereas the Bottom of all was, Piso thought they were too just to be suborn'd to his Projects.
Piso having by his own Industry, and the King's Negligence, brought Things to this Pass, thought that now he need stick at nothing, and resolv'd to make his lewd Addresses to me: Wherefore he conspir'd with his Mother, that on a certain Night, when it should be her Turn to lodge in my Bed−chamber, and the King in his own Apartment, that Piso should be hid in my Lodgings 'till all was quiet, and then to appear, having suborn'd my Eunuchs who waited in my Anti−chamber. But behold the Goodness of the Powers Divine!
There was an old Jew, of the Tribe of Levi, who liv'd always under the Protection of my Brother, the Prince Philometer, I suppose, not unknown to you, the good old Shadrac being known to every Body. This Man liv'd a most pious holy Life, up in a Turret in my Brother's Palace, where he rather dy'd daily than liv'd, his Life was so austere: This holy Shadrac, notwithstanding the strict Prohibition and Laws in Force against them all, came creeping to my Apartment, where I immediately receiv'd him into my Closet, as knowing he had something of Moment to say to me; so, in his Kind of Dialect he said, O Queen, the Snares of the Wicked are laid for thee this Night, therefore sleep not from thy Husband; for I am warn'd in a Dream because of thee; having said these Words, he went strait away. The wicked Piso at this Time was hid in a little Corridor which join'd to my Closet, and hearing what this holy Shadrac said, knew he should be disappointed of his intended Treason that Night; so, with a Nimbleness suitable to his Fury, went out the back Way thro' the Corridor, and came round up the Great Stairs time enough to meet poor Shadrac, where he treated him with very opprobrious Words, for having broke the King's Orders, in coming to the Court, and, in particular, to the Queen's Apartment, after such strict Prohibition. The good Shadrac, tho' a very holy Person, yet not insensible, perhaps reply'd with a little Sharpness, that the King's Prohibition might with more Justice be apply'd to Piso than to Shadrac; for that he came by the Order of the God of his Fathers. These Words so transported the guilty Piso, that he beat and spurn'd the poor old Man with great Cruelty, bidding him, at every Blow, carry that to the God of his Fathers.
Now the King, as I told you before, wanted only a fair Occasion to be rid of Piso, so would not let slip this which offer'd; but for his Rashness in striking in the Court, took away all his Commissions, both as General and Captain of the Guard, and divested him of all Honour and Preferments, as well Civil as Military; for he possess'd many.
Piso being thus disgrac'd, went strait away to Memphis, to his Brother the High−Priest, to whom he related the Business in a very malicious Manner, saying, That the King had punish'd him for doing his Duty against a Criminal who broke his Commands; that the whole Royal Family were so bigotted to the Jewish Superstition, those ancient Enemies and Slaves to Egypt, that in a little Time the King would change and subvert the Laws and Customs of his Country, both Sacred and Civil, and make them submit to foreign Constitutions, unknown to them or their Ancestors. Thus he gain'd the High−Priest, and in him all the subordinate Clergy, who with pious Care sow'd the Seeds of Rebellion in the Hearts of the People, which brought forth a very plentiful Harvest. At the same Time Piso had left his Agents in the Court and City of Alexandria, to ferment that Part of Egypt, whilst he himself went into the Country, to set on Foot an open Rebellion. You see (continu'd the Queen) how careful Kings ought to be to keep the Reins of Government in their own Hands, and not commit them to any Phaeton, to set the World in a Combustion; for thus it far'd with us: The King gave himself to Pleasure, and I myself to Devotion, both neglecting what the Gods had committed to our Care, and so were punish'd according to our Demerits. It is a common and true Saying, that Kings and Queens see and hear with the Eyes of others; and 'tis as true, that if they do not endeavour to see and hear with their own also, there will be but a blind Administration of Government; for the depending on others, is giving away the Sceptre, and making the Crown precarious. This we experienc'd, tho' too late, in the Practice of Piso and his Adherents; for you know to what a State we were reduc'd by this Man's Treachery, when the ancient Monarchy of Egypt was ready to tumble into Anarchy, and the Royal Family of the Ptolemys into Oblivion, by which Means the People must have been miserably crush'd in the Overthrow of their Laws and Constitutions, and, poor Creatures, were led head−long by their pretended Patriots, who industriously infused Notions suitable to their own Ambition and Revenge; the Truth is, I believe Piso's Rebellion proceeded from the latter, he being doubly enrag'd, first, by the Disappointment of his lewd Intentions towards me; secondly, at his Disgrace from the Hands of the King. These were the Bases on which he built the Structure of his Rebellion, tho' he daub'd them over so, as to make the People believe it was their Laws and Religion he took in Hand to protect, of which he knew the People to be so jealous in their Nature, that they are ready to deify the worst of Men, that will but make themselves their Patriots, like the Sheep in the Fable, who chose the Wolf for their Guardian; tho' at the same Time that they make such a Bustle about their Religion, no People on Earth practise so little. Things being come to such Extremity, that we despair'd of all Help, but immediately from the Hand of Heaven, made us address our selves more directly to the Divine Assistance; wherefore, I resolv'd to consult the holy Shadrac, who, I had great Reason to believe, was endow'd with Divine Inspiration: So, in the first Place, I ask'd him what he meant by those Words, That the Snares of the Wicked were laid for me that Night, &c. He told me, that Piso's Mother had intended to admit her Son into my Lodging that Night: Wherefore, I examin'd her in the Presence of Shadrac, promising to pardon her if she told me the Truth. She, poor old Woman, immediately confess'd the whole Matter, alledging for her Excuse, that it was the Effect of her mistaken Zeal, believing it to be the Will of the Gods, according to the Interpretation of her Son the High−Priest.
Now the holy Shadrac having, by his Spirit of Prophesy, frustrated this Conspiracy, I thought it reasonable to apply my self to his Interpretation of that Dream I had after my Sacrifice to the Goddess Isis. Wonder not, said the Queen, (interrupting herself) that we take such Notice of our Dreams, it has always been the Custom of our Country, especially those which happen to People of great Rank and Authority, and chiefly on certain Days of Devotion. 'Tis true, some gay and youthful Heads lay all that aside, as fabulous and superstitious; but while they pretend to avoid Superstition, they fall into Prophaneness and Irreligion; for, in my Opinion, Dreams, with their Interpretations, very much evince the Existence of a Divinity, or immortal Being. Which Way it is, I know not, but I told my Dream to Shadrac, who gave me a quite different Interpretation from that of the High−Priest.
He told me, that the Words, Change thy Life, was to change it from a vertuous to a holy Life. By Thy Time improve, was meant, that I must improve my Time in the Service of the true God, and not to be with−holden by Marriage−Vows, which were incestuous and displeasing to Heaven. To a Roman yield thy Love, signify'd that I must yield the King to a Roman, he being my Love, my Joy, and Satisfaction; all which should have a good Event, as being foretold by the Powers Divine. This Interpretation seem'd so just, reasonable, and consonant to Vertue, that I told the whole Affair to the King; and at the same Time engag'd him, together with my self, to make a Promise to the Gods, (that if we had Success in the Troops we committed to Exilius) to obey this Revelation, and that his Majesty should take what fair Roman he lik'd best, whilst I retir'd to improve my Time in a holy Way of Living; where I resolved to examine throughly the Doctrine of the Jews, and, if possible, find out whether or no those Wonders were true, which they pretend were done in this our Country by their Great Legislator. And now you see, Exilia, (continu'd the Queen) that this my Retirement is the Will of Heaven, and my own seeking; therefore, make no Scruple to accept of those Honours offer'd thee by his Majesty.
Exilia, with profound Respect, return'd her Majesty infinite Thanks, saying, That she knew herself bound in Duty to obey her Majesty in all Things; but (said she) the Consideration of your Majesty's Honour, and the Interest of the Royal Family, (which every Body ought to prefer to their own) makes my Affections revolt against my Duty, in opposing your Majesty's Sentiments. Madam, since the Gods did not point me out in particular, I hope, your Majesty will not be displeas'd, if I put you in mind, that there are several Romans in Egypt, whose Birth as well as Beauty, in some Degree, qualifies them for such Espousals. In particular, the bright Fabiel, who, being born at Rome, is in Strictness a Roman, and her Mother the Daughter of Fabius, an ancient Roman Family. 'Tis true, reply'd the Queen, Fabiell is of a noble Descent; I know the Fabii at Rome are truly great and honourable, and her Father one of the Grandees of Egypt, descended from the Royal Race of the Ptolomies: Her Person no less bright than her illustrious Birth, and her Vertue perfect; for when she perceiv'd the King to cast some amorous Looks on her, she begg'd her Mother to remove her from Court, far distant, to their Castle in the Country; since which his Majesty has transferr'd his tender Thoughts on you, with which I am perfectly well satisfy'd; therefore do not resist your own Happiness. So, embracing Exilia most tenderly, wish'd her much Felicity in that Royal Dignity prepar'd for her by the Powers above. The Queen, rising up, oblig'd Exilia to take her Leave, which she did, with her Eyes swell'd with Tears, and her Heart over−charg'd with Grief, for being separated from the Queen, whom she lov'd most unfeignedly.
Exilia being return'd to her Apartment, took me with her into her Closet, where, commanding me to seat my self by her, she endeavour'd to dry her Tears, and then desir'd my Counsel; for (said she) these Transactions at Court to me are very disagreeable; I hoped to have been rescu'd by the Queen's Interest or Authority; but you see her Majesty has been the chief Instrument of this my glorious Undoing. I call it so, because it is so far distant from my Inclinations; for, both by Nature and Education, I love Solitude and Retirement. The Muses and the Rural Deities were ever the Objects of my Devotion, and a Country Life my temporal Satisfaction. A Castle of my own, situated in a serene Air and a benign Soil, faithful Servants, and kind Neighbours, being the utmost Bounds of my Ambition; which makes it evident, the Gods have not cast my Soul in a Mould fit for this Royal Dignity which courts me; for I look on Persons of that Rank but as Slaves to the Publick, chain'd to the Oar of Ceremony, to tug through Storms of Censure and Clamour. They are watch'd by the Eyes of Envy, and over−heard by the Ears of Malice. Behind their Backs they are scourg'd by the Tongues of Spite, and to their Faces flatter'd 'till they know not themselves, much less others. They are courted by Multitudes, and lov'd by few; their Defects expos'd, and their Vertues conceal'd or traduc'd; their Rest is broke with Cares, and their Food imbitter'd with a thousand Apprehensions; for their Table is surrounded with Sycophants, and their Bed with Traitors. Spies enter their Closets, and Hypocrites wait on their Devotions. Being thus surrounded, where can they find the least Peep−hole to spy out Happiness; for what is all their Pomp and Parade, but glittering Ornaments, to deck them as Sacrifices to the Service of the State. These Considerations, and a thousand more such, makes this Station appear to me but as a shining Pageant, which draws the Eyes of Spectators, but loads the Shoulders of those that bear it; therefore my weak Merit is very unfit to support such a Weight. So, I hope I am in the right, in being desirous to leave it to those to whom the Gods have given a Soul tun'd and set to such a Key, as can either find or make Musick in this Kind of Noise, which to me is so inharmonious and discordant; amongst whom I know none more truly qualify'd than my Cousin Fabiell. Her great Soul makes her love to be in a Station of Grandeur, where she may be supplicated and sought after, and thinks it God−like to be able to make and unmake, to set up and cast down, and with her Word or Look to alarm or appease Mankind. Besides, I know she has a secret Inclination for the King; but withal she is so truly vertuous, that she no sooner perceiv'd the King's Passion for her, but she gain'd her Mother to leave the Court; as not daring to trust her Honour between two such Assailants, as the King's Courtship and her own Inclinations. I wish our Sex would use these Precautions frequently, and not trust their selves with themselves, there would not be so many Shipwrecks of Honour. Now Fabiell having made me the Confident of these her Thoughts, I should do most unjustly and ungenerously to supplant her in her Absence, especially knowing her to be my Relation by Marriage; for she is Neece to the same Noble Fabius who marry'd my Aunt; and as I should do unworthily by her, so I should act undutifully towards my Father, he having promis'd me to my Cousin the young and vertuous Fabius, Son to the said Noble Roman. Now, tho' Fabiell made me her Confident, I did not do the same by her, nor let her know I was her Kinswoman; which in the End would make this Transaction appear to her the more unworthy, as if it were a Treason long contriv'd.
Now, Exilius, consider my Duty to my Father, my Friendship to Fabiell, my own innate Aversion to Grandeur, and then, as a Friend, give me your Counsel. Madam, (reply'd I) had your Ladyship added one Consideration more, I could easily have given my Counsel; had you added, that the poor Exilius dies for you; that he has ador'd you since the first Moment he beheld your Beauties; Exilius, the unfortunate Exilius, that has most respectfully conceal'd his Flame, lest it should offend you; had you said, the Consideration of his Sufferings were some Concern to you, then, Madam, I could readily counsel you; I could say, Love Exilius, or, at least, do not hate Exilius, the unfortunate Slave, whose Life and Happiness depend on your Looks. Then casting my self at her Feet, begg'd her at least to pardon this Declaration of my Love, which I should still have conceal'd, if her Commands had not in a manner extorted it from me. To all which she answer'd with a confus'd Voice, Your Words, Exilius,surprize and confound me, and are an Addition to my Sorrows; therefore, seeing you can neither counsel nor assist me, pray leave me; leave, leave this most unhappy and confus'd of all Creatures: At which Words, with Tears in my Eyes, I took the Liberty to kiss her Hand, and, in Obedience to her Command, departed.
I pass'd this Night in divers Thoughts and Agitations of Mind, having a secret Satisfaction that she had receiv'd the Declaration of my Love so calmly; that Thought more than counterpois'd all that I had to fear from my potent Rival. Thus we suffer our selves to be blown and toss'd by our Passions, without casting Anchor on the Coast of sound Judgment, or steering to the Harbour of right Reason; for when I made a serious Reflection on this Passage, I found how I had overshot my self, in thus declaring my Passion to her, fearing that her nice Vertue would not let her consent to steal away with me into Italy, after this Overture; yet that was the only Card I had to play in this Juncture, and the Method we had partly resolv'd on some Time before. These, and a thousand Things of this Kind, agitated my Thoughts that Night.
Next Morning I went to her Apartment, where I had free Access as a Friend and Brother. I found her in the same Closet where I had left her the Night before; and, falling on my Knees, begg'd her to accept those Adorations I came to pay her, as my Divinity, from whom I expected Protection the succeeding Day, and all the Days of my Life. Do not persecute me, said she, with your profane Complements, nor attribute any Divinity to me, a miserable Mortal, the most unhappy of my Sex. Rise, rise, Exilius, (continu'd she, with Tears in her Eyes) and reserve your Adorations for the Princess Philometra. The Princess Philometra's Beauty (reply'd I) is of Power sufficient to command all who have not seen Exilia; but in him who has not only seen but sacrific'd his Heart to you, it would be a Sacrilege unpardonable; therefore, Madam, you must permit me to adore, sigh, and languish at your Feet; the rest of my Days, whether few or many, happy or miserable, belongs only to you to determine. Many Things more of this Kind she permitted me to utter, making very little Answer but Sighs and Tears, which gave me Occasion to hope that I was not altogether indifferent to her; insomuch that I let slip no Opportunity of asserting my Passion, which was not hard to be found; for, after the Queen's Departure, the King kept himself retir'd, partly out of Affection to the Queen, whom he truly lov'd, and partly Decency.
Now it was that the King of Lybia declar'd War against the King of Egypt, pretending, because the King of Egyptdid not assist him with Forces against his powerful Enemy, the Queen of Numidia; whereas, in Reality, he cou'd not, by Reason of the Rebellion which employ'd him at that Time; and therefore this cou'd be only a Pretence. But the true Cause was suppos'd to be some Distaste the Prince of Lybia had taken in the Egyptian Court; for he came there to prosecute the Marriage propos'd between him and the Princess Philometra, hoping by that Means to be one Day King of that rich and fertile Country, she being the presumptive Heiress of that Crown. But whether the Divorce of the Queen, or whether he perceiv'd any kind Sentiments in the Princess towards me, or what Reason else mov'd him, we could not tell; but he had left the Egyptian Court both secretly and suddenly, as before−mention'd. And now the War being ended between Lybia and Numidia, tho' much to the Disadvantage of the Lybians, nevertheless, the King of Lybia muster'd his shatter'd Forces, rais'd new ones, and came against Egypt, hoping (no Doubt) for a Party amongst the discontented Egyptians.
These, and some other Affairs, held the King late in Council, where his Majesty was pleas'd to declare me General of the Army a second Time, with unanimous Approbation of the Council; moreover, he let me know secretly, that if I conquer'd Lybia, he wou'd give me the Princess Philometra in Recompence. For which I was oblig'd to thank him with profound Respect tho' I never intended to accept the Favour, but knew my Ruin depended on the Refusal.
Behold in this the different Changes of Human Life, yet all conspire to the same Event, to wit, my Undoing; for it was t'other Day I thought Poverty and low Rank the only Obstacles to my Happiness; and now, quite contrary, Midas like, I was ready to perish in the Midst of Riches and royal Favours; for Exilia being the Object and End of my Desires, it was the same Thing to me whether my Way to her was obstructed by a Dunghil or a Dignity; perhaps the latter more difficult to be remov'd or surmounted than the other. On which Caprice of Fortune, if one duly reflect, Reason wou'd oblige us to wish for nothing but the Will of the Gods to be accomplish'd. But to return:
The Council being broke up, I hasted into the City, where I was invited, with Exilia, to the rich Merchant, our former Master; but the Council sitting late, (as I told you) Exilia went without me, and as she came back, her Chariot was surrounded by the City Mob, saying, they would pull that Roman Coquet in Pieces, who was the Cause of all their Discontents, the Divorce of the Queen, and the War that threaten'd them from Lybia. In this State was this innocent Lady when I arriv'd to her Rescue, which I perform'd by killing the foremost of that headless Rabble, my Servants couragiously assisting me till they were all dispers'd; for a Mob is but like a great Number of wild Asses, who bray and make a hideous Noise, but able to act nothing in their own Defence. After this, I mounted the Chariot with Exilia, whose Acknowledgments transcended the Merit of the Service. I excus'd my self for not having accompany'd her thither, telling her the Reasons, and what had pass'd in the Council that Evening, and how the King had promis'd me the Princess Philometra, which (said I) is an Honour I cannot accept, being already devoted to the Divine Exilia. Refuse not then, Madam, this your faithful Adorer, though unworthy the Honour to which he pretends. That Person cannot be thought below the highest of Honours, (reply'd Exilia) on whom the King of Egypt thinks fit to bestow his Neece, the presumptive Heiress of his Crown: But in particular I am oblig'd to think him most worthy, to whom I am twice indebted for my Life; who, for my Sake, overlooks all Glory, and the greatest Advancement with which Fortune can gratify her most ambitious Favourites. And since you have made me more than Competitor with Grandeur itself, it were an unpardonable Injustice to suspend your Hopes. Then giving me her Hand, she said, Take your Exilia, for to you I belong by Right of Redemption, and yours I will be for ever, if my Father and the Senate refuse not their Consent. How much I was transported at this Promise none can imagine, that has not lov'd like me. I was all Extasy and Rapture, the Joys I then felt can neither be express'd nor imagin'd. Thus ravish'd out of myself into a Heaven of Happiness, I pass'd the rest of the silent Night in a continual Meditation, and thinking on that dear Moment in which she had given me her Hand, that Pledge of unspeakable Happiness.
Next Morning the King sent for me, to applaud my good Fortune in the Rescue of Exilia, ordering her a Guard for the Security of her Person, and gave me a Present of very rich Jewels to carry to her, commanding me to intercede for him, and make her dry those Tears which his Majesty heard she daily shed for the Queen's Absence; as also to endeavour to soften that Roman Haughtiness which presided in her Heart, and make it flexible to his amorous Proposals. This was an Embasy more difficult, than if his Majesty had sent me to the Roman Senate, to perswade them to crown him King in the Capitol; well knowing, that I must either betray my Trust or my own Happiness, or rather my Life; for my Love and Life were now inseparable. However, I deliver'd the Present, and perswaded her to receive it, which otherwise she would not have done; but I told her, it would be Wisdom to keep calm the King's Thoughts, 'till such Time as we could steal away; which we had resolv'd on the first Opportunity, tho' we foresaw great Difficulty in the Enterprize, by means of the Guard given to Exilia. Nevertheless, she always told me she reserv'd her Duty to her Father, that if he gave not his Consent at our Arrival, I must pretend no farther.
Now this our Love, tho' unsuspected by all the World, (whom Unconcern kept in a constant Slumber) yet was not long undiscover'd by the piercing Eyes of a vigilant Rival: For those cold Returns the Princess Philometra found to all her little Advances, made her penetrate the Cause, the Cloak of Respect to her Royal Person being of too thin a Texture to cover this my Indifferency. These her Thoughts, either out of Duty or Malice, she discover'd to the King, telling him withal, if he would go privately to such a Place in the Garden, (where she knew we were) there perhaps he might unravel the fine−wove Intrigue, and make himself Master of the whole Secret.
Now, the better to make you understand the Place where we were accidentally retir'd, give me Leave a little to digress into the Description of this Garden, which is certainly the finest in the Universe, and no less sumptuous also is the Palace, which would be too tedious to describe.
One descends by eight or ten Steps into the Garden, which is very large; at each Corner whereof stands a stately Pyramid, marvellous to behold, and on their Bases is carv'd the chief and most remarkable Glories of Egypt. At each Side of the Garden is a long cover'd Walk or Arbor, which reaches from Pyramid to Pyramid; these Walks are cover'd over with a certain Plant, whose Leaves are red, and shining like Sattin. On each Side of these cover'd Alleys are open Walks of Orange, Lemmon, and Palm−Trees, and fine Seats and Statues plac'd at proper Distances, serving both for Use and Ornament. Thus are the outside Walks compos'd: Next these are six distinct Separations, three on a Side, fenc'd in with gilt Balasters of fine wrought Iron. The first is a Garden of all Kinds of Flowers that can gratify the Sight or Smell, the most Part of which are planted in Pots, that they may be remov'd, and others put in their Places, according to their respective Seasons; which Pots are all of such fine Earth or Stone, that they are an Embellishment to the Flowers they contain. In the Midst of this little Garden is the Statue of the Goddess Flora, seeming to give her Benediction, having a large Nosegay in her Hand, from whence spouts forth small Streams of Water, as if she meant therewith to bedew the whole Garden. At the four Corners stand the four Seasons of the Year, with their respective Emblems; and here and there young Nymphs seeming to make Nosegays, and Chaplets of Flowers, all of fine white Marble. Opposite to this, on the other Side of the Garden, is a Collection of Medicinal Plants, in every Thing conformable to the other, the same Number of Pots, and placed in the same Order and Method. In the Middle is the Figure of the God Apollo, with a Table before him, seeming to teach the Use of those Herbs to the World; and at a Distance before him is Daphne, half metamorphos'd, and on the Table writ these Words,
Unhappy God, which can no Simple find
To cure the Fever of his Love−sick Mind.
At the four Corners stand four Figures of the most famous Teachers of the Medicinal Art; 1st, Æsculapius; 2dly, Chiron; 3dly, Hygea; and, 4thly, Hecate. The three first being the Figures of those who taught the good and sanative Use of Plants; the last taught their poisonous, baneful, and diabolick Qualities.
The third of these Enclosures is a Grove of Myrtles, Roses, and Eglantines. In the Midst is Venus, crowning her Adonis with Flowers; at one Corner she is playing with Cupid, in another, drawn in her Chariot with Doves, and divers other Representations of her Power and Folly.
Opposite to this, in the same Form and Figure, is another Grove of Aromatick Spices, and sweet smelling Gums. In the Midst is a Cupid, as if laughing at his Victories; for in divers Parts of this Grove are placed the Figures of his most renowned Conquests, amongst which none is more ridiculous than Hercules spinning.
The fifth is a Maze of Water−Works, which runs in such wondrous Turnings, by Channels of fine Marble, so intricate, that unless you know the Manner to direct your Steps, it is impossible to get in or out. In the Midst is a Fountain of Diana, where she, with her Nymphs about her, seem to bathe themselves Breast high; and at divers Turnings, at proper Distances, were placed Water−Nymphs, and River Gods, of very fine Sculpture.
Opposite to this is a Wood−Maze, of a short, green, bushy Plant, something like Rosemary. In the Midst is the God Pan, seeming to play on his Pipe, and a Ring of Shepherds and Shepherdesses in a dancing Posture round him. At divers Turnings are Satyrs, Wood−Nymphs, and the like, all of most exquisite Workmanship.
These two Mazes are compos'd of the two Royal Cyphers, which contain the two Royal Names of Egypt, one Pharoah, and the other Ptolemy. These are the six Enclosures, three on one Side, and three on the other, of this great Garden.
In the Midst is a Wood, or Grove, which represents Troy Town. The Hedges which encompass this Grove are so high, even, and thick, that they may truly be call'd what they represent, to wit, the Walls of Troy; and not only so, but they have Towers, Ballasters, and Battlements on them, cut out of the Green, admirable to behold. Round these Hedges, or green Walls, are divers Statues of the most renown'd Greks and Trojans; one of white Marble, the other of polish'd Brass; here an Achilles, there an Hector; here an Ajax, there an Æneas; so that one sees the History of that renown'd Siege in Sculpture and cast Statues.
Within these green Walls are Walks representing Streets, and little Arbors instead of Houses; and here and there, in proper Uniformity, are larger and higher Arbours, representing the Palaces of the Trojan Princes. In the Midst is King Priam's Palace, more large, and better adorn'd than all the rest.
It was in one of these Arbours of Troy Town that Exilia and I happen'd to meet, our disconsolate Circumstances having, it seems, the like Effect on us both, which conducted us into this Solitude. Now it was, that the Forces were ready to march against Lybia, which made me tell her I was driven to the last Exigence, not finding it possible to go without her, or stay with her; therefore begg'd her to instruct me how to extricate myself and her out of these Difficulties in which we were involv'd. Go, (said she) conquer Lybia, receive your just Reward, the Princess Philometra, the Heiress of the Egyptian Crown, and, in her Right, become in Time a happy King. That I cannot be (reply'd I) unless Exilia be my Queen. I will go conquer Lybia, and set the Crown upon Exilia's Head; but that, alas, is too little for her Merit; I willAt these Words the King, entering the Arbour, said, Yes, it is too little for Exilia's Merits, but too great for a Traytor; and so calling a Guard, I was immediately hurry'd away to Prison, where I remain'd many Days, as absolutely ignorant of what pass'd in Court or Camp, as poor Mortals are of what is transacted amongst the Celestial Inhabitants.
Here it was I had sufficient Occasion to exercise my passive Courage, and become a miserable Pattern of Patience. Here it was I stood in need of more Philosophy than I really posses'd, wherewith to bubble my Fancy, and cheat my Understanding, with that wild Notion, that a virtuous Man can never be unhappy, because he bears his Happiness in himself. I endeavour'd to apply that Stoical Receipt, but found it very fallible. I frequently ask'd myself why I could not be as happy in that Restraint, as formerly in the voluntary Prison with my Father; but the Answer was obvious, That ones own Will and Choice renders a Dungeon a Palace; and, on the contrary, a Heaven would be no longer so without Exilia. Thus I pass'd my tedious Hours, 'till one Day the Captain of the Guard, who succeeded me, being a Roman, came to visit me, and made me divers Complements and Assurances of his Desire to serve me, adding, that it was a great Affliction to him to see me ruin my Fortune, and perhaps lose my Life for one who deserv'd it not. Ah me! (reply'd I) she deserves more than I can make manifest: One may as well say the heavenly Bodies shine not, or Fire warms not, or any Thing in Nature has not its proper Qualities, as to say she deserves not. Ah! Exilia, I know her vertuous Inclinations for me; I remember the Promise she made me; I am sensible of what she suffers for me; but no Sufferings, nor Death itself, is capable to alienate her Affections from one single Moment, though never so long absent; for our Love is all Soul, and needs not the Supplement of Conversation to keep it alive; its Being is pure and immortal, as those Gods that infus'd it into our Hearts, and shall survive all Opposition. Alas! reply'd the Captain, I am sorry to find your Wisdom so impos'd upon; but when once Passion blinds us, Passion misguides us, Passion overthrows us, Passion destroys us, and no Passion so strong and so deceitful as that of Love; Love rocks our Reason into a Lethargy, and then does what it pleases with the rest of our Interior; it fools the wise Man, and infeebles the strong; it makes the Philosopher become a Fop, and the Divine a Madman; the soft Courtier becomes fierce, and the Warrior effeminate; it makes the Poor cease to earn their Bread, and the rich Usurer squander his hard gotten Wealth; it makes the best Friends become mortal Enemies, and one's Benefactor become one's Adversary. All these, and thousands of other Ills attend this unfortunate Passion; and after all, be recompens'd with Scorn or Falshood: The Truth of which, your Experience, or this Letter, may evince; withal giving me a Letter from Exilia, containing these Words:
Exilius, I Hope you have made so true a Use of your Misfortunes, as to consider your own Safety and my Advantage; and consequently resolve to act in Regard of both, as becomes a rational Creature, and one that professes the Fear of the Gods; for the unkind Treatment which our Love has found from the Hand of Heaven, is a Demonstration that it is not agreeable to their Wills, to which we ought to submit with an entire Resignation. Wherefore, I beg you to believe that my accepting the Royal Dignity, so generously and earnestly offer'd, is an Act of Obedience to the Gods, and of Friendship to you, in putting myself in a Condition to restore you to the King's Favour as firmly as ever; then testify your Prudence and Piety, in a ready Compliance with your own Interest, and the Will of Heaven, as also with the Desire of your Friend,
It's impossible to express, said Exilius, what Agitation of Mind the Sight of this Letter gave me; I knew the Character too well to doubt it to be her Writing; I knew the Stile too perfectly to think it not of her own composing; the two Topicks on which the Letter was founded (Reason and the Will of Heaven) too clearly represented the Image of her Mind to leave any Room for Doubt. Moreover, Reason told me she was in the Right; Friendship, or, indeed, Humanity itself, bid me comply with her Demand, it being so much her Advantage. Duty and Gratitude requir'd a ready Submission to the King, who was not only my Master and Benefactor, but graciously left it to me to make a Merit of Necessity; for such it was, his Majesty having us both in his Power. These Thoughts, like soft Musick, seem'd to hush my Griefs for a Moment; but then again, Love and Exilia'sPromise, like violent Thunder, awak'd all my Sorrows, and made me feel a thousand Torments, that I accus'd the fair perjur'd Sorceress in all the violent Words that Rage could dictate. A thousand Maledictions I vented against the Sex; I curs'd my self, and the Hour of my Birth, the Gods, and my own hard Fortune; threw myself on the Floor, tore my Hair and Cloaths, suffer'd an Extremity of Pain in Body as well as Mind, endeavour'd to tear out my Eyes, the Inlets of these my Misfortunes; but that the Captain restrain'd me, and used what Arguments he could for my Pacification.
After these violent Efforts of Passion were a little moderated, other Considerations began to flatter my Understanding, and I fancy'd this Letter might be forged, and her Character counterfeited; for, said I, a Vertue like hers can never be viciated to that Degree, as voluntarily to require the Breach of faithful Vows, nor her Reason and Religion impos'd upon so far as to believe the Gods to be Authors or Abettors of Crimes, as her Letter seems to intimate: No, no, Exilia is all Vertue and Wisdom, not capable of being abus'd by false Notions, or wrong Ideas; her noble Soul is so well fortify'd with Constancy, that it is able to resist the most violent Attacks of different Fortune; the Menaces of Adversity can no more affright her, than the Allurements of Honour or Interest entice her; the Crown of Egypt, or the World's Empire are not able to move her Constancy, no not in the least Thought. Then, foolish Exilius, torment not thyself with Fears or Fancies; her Vertue, like thy good Genius, will secure thy Happiness.
At all which the Captain smil'd, saying, If a Man will murder himself, no Physician can make him live; otherwise, said he, I believe I could make you an Eye−Witness that she is not only obliging but fond of the King, if (continu'd he) you could so far govern your self as not to be discover'd; adding, that if my Passion should transport me, he were for ever ruin'd. I gave him my Faith and Honour to suffer any thing, even the infernal Pains, rather than do the least Action that might be to his Prejudice, and so begg'd him to accomplish this his Proposal.
Next Day he treated with one of Exilia's Women, to whom he had pretended Love, and by Means of a Present he made her, obtain'd his Desire in Regard of me, and so came and fetch'd me secretly out of Prison, and conducted me to that Closet where I had first reveal'd my Passion to Exilia.
Here, thro' a Cleft of the Wall under the Hangings, I saw into the next Room, where the King and Exilia were sitting. She receiv'd his Courtship with all the Satisfaction of a false and perjur'd Creature. During which, one of the Captains of the Guard came in, telling the King that he was come, according to his Majesty's Commands, to receive his Orders about Exilius; at which the King turning towards Exilia, told her, it was at her Disposal whether Exilius should live or die. Then let him die, (said she) rather than live to upbraid me with Falshood and Inconstancy. Since it is your Will (said the King) it shall be so: Then turning towards the Captain, gave Orders for my Death, as I suppose, tho' he spake in so low a Voice, that I did not hear his Words at that Distance. Then he ask'd Exilia what Time she thought fit to prescribe for my Execution, (as I gather'd by her Answer) who said, This very Night. Give me your Hand (said the King) and you shall have your Desire. Now be pleas'd to know, that in that Country this is a Thing never to be done by any Woman, but on the Account of Marriage, or worse; for no Pretence of Friendship or Gratitude, (which sometimes makes it a reasonable Action among us) can render it excusable amongst them. However, she so far forgot all Modesty, and her given Faith, that she refus'd not this obligatory Favour to his Majesty, and that on so barbarous an Engagement, as the Promise of my Death that very Night; as if my Life embitter'd every Moment of hers, and my Death was the only Step to her Felicity.
Tho' this Transaction put me out of all Patience, yet I forgot not my Promise to my Friend the Captain; but so far bridled my Passion, as not to make any extravagant Excursion to his Disadvantage, and in Silence return'd with him to my Prison, where I expected Death with a real Satisfaction; for I look'd on every Moment of my Life now but as an additional Link to that unhappy Chain of Misfortunes which attended mine innocent and virtuous Actions.
Thus I pass'd the Night in Expectation of mine Executioner, every Moment thanking the Gods for the Favour; but nothing was acted 'till Morning, and then the Sentence was chang'd from a present Death, as I expected, to a greater Punishment; for I was hurry'd out of Prison to a Sea−port, and there put into an old Carcass of a Vessel, without Sails, Oars, or anything wherewith to conduct myself. In this helpless Condition I arriv'd on that Coast of Africa which is border'd by the great Numidian Forest. Here, being driven into a Creek, I quitted this desperate Instrument of my Escape, to seek a Being the most desolate and miserable in the World, in that Cave where this young Gentleman (addressing himself to Ismenus) found me. Then think it not strange, that in my Rage and Despair, when my Thoughts entertain'd no other Object but Scipiana, that my Words and Actions corresponded, making me rave and adore the first female Figure that my Eyes encountred; which was the Cause that I fell at the Feet of Ismenus, when he was array'd in Woman's Habit, thinking him my Scipiana, my Goddess, or good Genius, till he undeceiv'd me, as you have already been inform'd.
The distressed Condition of Ismenus and Clarinthia, oblig'd me to quit this my Den of Horror and Despair, and out of a Principle of Humanity endeavourd to assist my Fellow−Creatures, whose Danger and Distress commanded that Compassion for them I could not have for my hated self, and as they have already inform'd you, accomplishd their Escape. And now I mean to go seek my Father in his rocky Island, and there pass the rest of my woful Days, 'till Death put a Period to my Sorrows.
Exilius having thus finish'd his Story, the Company gave him Thanks, much admiring his Vertue and Constancy in those extraordinary Vicissitudes of Fortune.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48