Octavio, the brave, the generous, and the amorous, having left Sylvia absolutely resolved to give herself to that doting fond lover, or rather to sacrifice herself to her revenge, that unconsidering unfortunate, whose passion had exposed him to all the unreasonable effects of it, returned to his own house, wholly transported with his happy success. He thinks on nothing but vast coming joys: nor did one kind thought direct him back to the evil consequences of what he so hastily pursued; he reflects not on her circumstances but her charms, not on the infamy he should espouse with Sylvia, but on those ravishing pleasures she was capable of giving him: he regards not the reproaches of his friends; but wholly abandoned to love and youthful imaginations, gives a loose to young desire and fancy that deludes him with a thousand soft ideas: he reflects not, that his gentle and easy temper was most unfit to join with that of Sylvia, which was the most haughty and humorous in nature; for though she had all the charms of youth and beauty that are conquering in her sex, all the wit and insinuation that even surpasses youth and beauty; yet to render her character impartially, she had also abundance of disagreeing qualities mixed with her perfections. She was imperious and proud even to insolence; vain and conceited even to folly; she knew her virtues and her graces too well, and her vices too little; she was very opinionated and obstinate, hard to be convinced of the falsest argument, but very positive in her fancied judgement: abounding in her own sense, and very critical on that of others: censorious, and too apt to charge others with those crimes to which she was herself addicted, or had been guilty of: amorously inclined, and indiscreet in the management of her amours, and constant rather from pride and shame than inclination; fond of catching at every trifling conquest, and loving the triumph, though she hated the slave. Yet she had virtues too that balanced her vices, among which we must allow her to have loved Philander with a passion, that nothing but his ingratitude could have decayed in her heart, nor was it lessened but by a force that gave her a thousand tortures, racks and pangs, which had almost cost her her less valued life; for being of a temper nice in love, and very fiery, apt to fly into rages at every accident that did but touch that tenderest part, her heart, she suffered a world of violence, and extremity of rage and grief by turns, at this affront and inconstancy of Philander. Nevertheless she was now so discreet, or rather cunning, to dissemble her resentment the best she could to her generous lover, for whom she had more inclination than she yet had leisure to perceive, and which she now attributes wholly to her revenge; and considering Octavio as the most proper instrument for that, she fancies what was indeed a growing tenderness from the sense of his merit, to be the effects of that revenge she so much thirsted after; and though without she dissembled a calm, within she was all fury and disorder, all storm and distraction: she went to bed racked with a thousand thoughts of despairing love: sometimes all the softness of Philander in their happy enjoyments came in view, and made her sometimes weep, and sometimes faint with the dear loved remembrance; sometimes his late enjoyments with Calista, and then she raved and burnt with frantic rage: but oh! at last she found her hope was gone, and wisely fell to argue with her soul. She knew love would not long subsist on the thin diet of despair, and resolving he was never to be retrieved who once had ceased to love, she strove to bend her soul to useful reason, and thinks on all Octavio’s obligations, his vows, his assiduity, his beauty, his youth, his fortune, and his generous offer, and with the aid of pride resolves to unfix her heart, and give it better treatment in his bosom: to cease at least to love the false Philander, if she could never force her soul to hate him: and though this was not so soon done as thought on, in a heart so prepossesed as that of Sylvia’s, yet there is some hope of a recovery, when a woman in that extremity will but think of listening to love from any new adorer, and having once resolved to pursue the fugitive no more with the natural artillery of their sighs and tears, reproaches and complaints, they have recourse to every thing that may soonest chase from the heart those thoughts that oppress it: for nature is not inclined to hurt itself; and there are but very few who find it necessary to die of the disease of love. Of this sort was our Sylvia, though to give her her due, never any person who did not indeed die, ever languished under the torments of love, as did that charming and afflicted maid.
While Sylvia remained in these eternal inquietudes, Antonet, having quitted her chamber, takes this opportunity to go to that of Brilliard, whom she had not visited in two days before, being extremely troubled at his design, which she now found he had on her lady; she had a mind to vent her spleen, and as the proverb says, ‘Call Whore first’. Brilliard longed as much to see her to rail at her for being privy to Octavio’s approach to Sylvia’s bed (as he thought she imagined) and not giving him an account of it, as she used to do of all the secrets of her lady. She finds him alone in her chamber, recovered from all but the torments of his unhappy disappointment. She approached him with all the anger her sort of passion could inspire (for love in a mean unthinking soul, is not that glorious thing it is in the brave;) however she had enough to serve her pleasure; for Brilliard was young and handsome, and both being bent on railing without knowing each other’s intentions, they both equally flew into high words, he upbraiding her with her infidelity, and she him with his. ‘Are not you,’ said he (growing more calm) ‘the falsest of your tribe, to keep a secret from me that so much concerned me? Is it for this I have refused the addresses of burgomasters’ wives and daughters, where I could have made my fortune and my satisfaction, to keep myself entirely for a thing that betrays me, and keeps every secret of her heart from me? False and forsworn, I will be fool no more.’ ‘It is well, sir,’ (replied Antonet) ‘that you having been the most perfidious man alive, should accuse me who am innocent: come, come sir, you have not carried matters so swimmingly, but I could easily dive into the other night’s intrigue and secret.’ ‘What secret thou false one? Thou art all over secret; a very hopeful bawd at eighteen —— go, I hate ye ——’ At this she wept, and he pursued his railing to out-noise her, ‘You thought, because your deed were done in darkness, they were concealed from a lover’s eye; no, thou young viper, I saw, I heard, and felt, and satisfied every sense of this thy falsehood, when Octavio was conducted to Sylvia’s bed by thee.’ ‘But what,’ said she, ‘if instead of Octavio I conducted the perfidious traitor to love, Brilliard? Who then was false and perjured?’ At this he blushed extremely, which was too visible on his fair face. She being now confirmed she had the better of him, continued —‘Let thy confusion,’ said she with scorn, ‘witness the truth of what I say, and I have been but too well acquainted with that body of yours,’ weeping as she spoke, ‘to mistake it for that of Octavio.’ ‘Softly, dear Antonet,’ replied he ——‘nay, now your tears have calmed me’; and taking her in his arms, sought to appease her by all the arguments of seeming love and tenderness; while she, yet wholly unsatisfied in that cheat of his of going to Sylvia’s bed, remained still pouting and very frumpish. But he that had but one argument left, that on all occasions served to convince her, had at last recourse to that, which put her in good humour, and hanging on his neck, she kindly chid him for putting such a trick upon her lady. He told her, and confirmed it with an oath, that he did it but to try how far she was just to his friend and lord, and not any desire he had for a beauty that was too much of his own complexion to charm him; it was only the brunette and the black, such as herself, that could move him to desire; thus he shams her into perfect peace. ‘And why,’ said she, ‘were you not satisfied that she was false, as well from the assignation, as the trial?’ ‘Oh no,’ said he, ‘you women have a thousand arts of gibing, and no man ought to believe you, but put you to the trial.’ ‘Well,’ said she, ‘when I had brought you to the bed, when you found her arms stretched out to receive you, why did you not retire like an honest man, and leave her to herself?’ ‘Oh fie,’ said he, ‘that had not been to have acted Octavio to the life, but would have made a discovery.’ ‘Ah,’ said she, ‘that was your aim to have acted Octavio to the life, I believe, and not to discover my lady’s constancy to your lord; but I suppose you have been sworn at the Butt of Heidleburgh, never to kiss the maid, when you can kiss the mistress.’ But he renewing his caresses and asseverations of love to her, she suffered herself to be convinced of all he had a mind to have her believe. After this she could not contain any secret from him, but told him she had something to say to him, which if he knew, would convince him she had all the passion in the world for him: he presses eagerly to know, and she pursues to tell him, it is as much as her life is worth to discover it, and that she lies under the obligation of an oath not to tell it; but kisses and rhetoric prevail, and she cries —‘What will you say now, if my lady may marry one of the greatest and most considerable persons in all this country?’ ‘I should not wonder at her conquest,’ (replied Brilliard) ‘but I should wonder if she should marry.’ ‘Then cease your wonder,’ replied she, ‘for she is to-morrow to be married to Count Octavio, whom she is to meet at nine in the morning to that end, at a little village a league from this place.’ She spoke, and he believes; and finds it true by the raging of his blood, which he could not conceal from Antonet, and for which he feigns a thousand excuses to the amorous maid, and charges his concern on that for his lord: at last (after some more discourse on that subject) he pretends to grow sleepy, and hastens her to her chamber; and locking the door after her, he began to reflect on what she had said, and grew to all the torment of rage and jealousy, and all the despairs of a passionate lover: and though this hope was not extreme before, yet as lovers do, he found, or fancied a probability (from his lord’s inconstancy, and his own right of marriage) that the necessity she might chance to be in of his friendship and assistance in a strange country, might some happy moment or other render him the blessing he so long had waited for from Sylvia; for he ever designed, when either his lord left her, grew cold, or should happen to die, to put in his claim of husband. And the soft familiar way, with which she eternally lived with him, encouraged this hope and design; nay, she had often made him advances to that happy expectation. But this fatal blow had driven him from all his fancied joys, to the most wretched estate of a desperate lover. He traverses his chamber, wounded with a thousand different thoughts, mixed with those of preventing this union the next morning. Sometimes he resolves to fight Octavio, for his birth might pretend to it, and he wanted no courage; but he is afraid of being overcome by that gallant man, and either losing his hopes with his life, or if he killed Octavio, to be forced from his happiness, or die an ignominious death: sometimes he resolves to own Sylvia for his wife, but then he fears the rage of that dear object of his soul, which he dreads more than death itself: so that tossed from one extreme to another, from one resolution to a hundred, he was not able to fix upon any thing. In this perplexity he remained till day appeared, that day must advance with his undoing, while Sylvia and Antonet were preparing for the design concluded on the last night. This he heard, and every minute that approached gave him new torments, so that now he would have given himself to the Prince of Darkness for a kind disappointment: he was often ready to go and throw himself at her feet, and plead against her enterprise in hand, and to urge the unlawfulness of a double marriage, ready to make vows for the fidelity of Philander, though before so much against his own interest, and to tell her all those letters from him were forged: he thought on all things, but nothing remained with him, but despair of every thing. At last the devil and his own subtlety put him upon a prevention, though base, yet the most likely to succeed, in his opinion.
He knew there were many factions in Holland, and that the States themselves were divided in their interests, and a thousand jealousies and fears were eternally spread amongst the rabble; there were cabals for every interest, that of the French so prevailing, that of the English, and that of the illustrious Orange, and others for the States; so that it was not a difficulty to move any mischief, and pass it off among the crowd for dangerous consequences. Brilliard knew each division, and which way they were inclined; he knew Octavio was not so well with the States as not to be easily rendered worse; for he was so entirely a creature and favourite of the Prince, that they conceived abundance of jealousies of him which they durst not own. Brilliard besides knew a great man, who having a pique to Octavio, might the sooner be brought to receive any ill character of him: to this sullen magistrate he applies himself, and deluding the credulous busy old man with a thousand circumstantial lies, he discovers to him, that Octavio held a correspondence with the French King to betray the State; and that he caballed to that end with some who were looked upon as French rebels, but indeed were no other than spies to France. This coming from a man of that party, and whose lord was a French rebel, gained a perfect credit with the old Sir Politic; so that immediately hasting to the state-house, he lays this weighty affair before them, who soon found it reasonable, if not true, at least they feared, and sent out a warrant for the speedy apprehending him; but coming to his house, though early, they found him gone, and being informed which way he took, the messenger pursued him, and found his coach at the door of a cabaret, too obscure for his quality, which made them apprehend this was some place of rendezvous where he possibly met with his traitorous associators: they send in, and cunningly inquire who he waited for, or who was with him, and they understood he stayed for some gentleman of the French nation; for he had ordered Sylvia to come in man’s clothes that she might not be known; and had given order below, that if two French gentlemen came they should be brought to him. This information made the scandal as clear as day, and the messenger no longer doubted of the reasonableness of his warrant, though he was loath to serve it on a person whose father he had served so many years. He waits at some distance from the house unseen, though he could take a view of all; he saw Octavio come often out into the balcony, and look with longing eyes towards the road that leads to the town; he saw him all rich and gay as a young bridegroom, lovely and young as the morning that flattered him with so fair and happy a day; at last he saw two gentlemen alight at the door, and giving their horses to a page to walk the while, they ran up into the chamber where Octavio was waiting, who had already sent his page to prepare the priest in the village-church to marry them. You may imagine, with what love and joy the ravished youth approached the idol of his soul, and she, who beholds him in more beauty than ever yet she thought he had appeared, pleased with all things he had on, with the gay morning, the flowery field, the air, the little journey, and a thousand diverting things, made no resistance to those fond embraces that pressed her a thousand times with silent transport, and falling tears of eager love and pleasure; but even in that moment of content, she forgot Philander, and received all the satisfaction so soft a lover could dispense: while they were mutually thus exchanging looks, and almost hearts, the messenger came into the room, and as civilly as possible told Octavio he had a warrant for him, to secure him as a traitor to the State, and a spy for France. You need not be told the surprise and astonishment he was in; however he obeyed. The messenger turning to Sylvia, cried, ‘Sir, though I can hardly credit this crime that is charged to my lord, yet the finding him here with two French gentlemen, gives me some more fears that there may be something in it; and it would do well if you would deliver yourselves into my hands for the farther clearing this gentleman.’ This foolish grave speech of the messenger had like to have put Octavio into a loud laughter, he addressing himself to two women for two men: but Sylvia replied, ‘Sir, I hope you do not take us for so little friends to the gallant Octavio, to abandon him in this misfortune; no, we will share it with him, be it what it will.’ To this the generous lover blushing with kind surprise, bowed, and kissing her hand with transport, called her his charming friend; and so all three being guarded back in Octavio’s coach they return to the town, and to the house of the messenger, which made a great noise all over, that Octavio was taken with two French Jesuits plotting to fire Amsterdam, and a thousand things equally ridiculous. They were all three lodged together in one house, that of the messenger, which was very fine, and fit to entertain any persons of quality; while Brilliard, who did not like that part of the project, bethought him of a thousand ways how to free her from thence; for he designed, as soon as Octavio should be taken, to have got her to have quitted the town under pretence of being taken upon suspicion of holding correspondence with him, because they were French; but her delivering herself up had not only undone all his design, but had made it unsafe for him to stay. While he was thus bethinking himself what he should do, Octavio’s uncle, who was one of the States, extremely affronted at the indignity put upon his nephew and his sole heir, the darling of his heart and eyes, commands that this informer may be secured; and accordingly Brilliard was taken into custody, who giving himself over for a lost man, resolves to put himself upon Octavio’s mercy, by telling him the motives that induced him to this violent and ungenerous course. It was some days before the Council thought fit to call for Octavio, to hear what he had to say for himself; in the mean time, he having not had permission yet to see Sylvia; and being extremely desirous of that happiness, he bethought himself that the messenger, having been in his father’s service, might have so much respect for the son, as to allow him to speak to that fair charmer, provided he might be a witness to what he should say: he sends for him, and demanded of him where those two fair prisoners were lodged who came with him in the morning; he told him, in a very good apartment on the same floor, and that they were very well accommodated, and seemed to have no other trouble but what they suffered for him. ‘I hope, my Lord,’ added he —‘your confinement will not be long; for I hear there is a person taken up, who has confessed he did it for a revenge on you.’ At this Octavio was very well pleased, and asked him who it was? And he told him a French gentleman belonging to the Count Philander, who about six months ago was obliged to quit the town as an enemy to France. He soon knew it to be Brilliard, and comparing this action with some others of his lately committed, he no longer doubts it the effects of his jealousy. He asked the messenger, if it were impossible to gain so much favour of him, as to let him visit those two French gentlemen, he being by while he was with them: the keeper soon granted his request, and replied — There was no hazard he would not run to serve him; and immediately putting back the hangings, with one of those keys he had in his hand, he opened a door in his chamber that led into a gallery of fine pictures, and from thence they passed into the apartment of Sylvia: as soon as he came in he threw himself at her feet, and she received him, and took him up into her arms with all the transports of joy a soul (more than ever possessed with love for him) could conceive; and though they all appeared of the masculine sex, the messenger soon perceived his error, and begged a thousand pardons. Octavio makes haste to tell her his opinion of the cause of all this trouble to both; and she easily believed, when she heard Brilliard was taken, that it was as he imagined; for he had been found too often faulty not to be suspected now. This thought brought a great calm to both their spirits, and almost reduced them to the first soft tranquillity, with which they began the day: for he protested his innocence a thousand times, which was wholly needless, for the generous maid believed, before he spoke, he could not be guilty of the sin of treachery. He renews his vows to her of eternal love, and that he would perform what they were so unluckily prevented from doing this morning; and that though possibly by this unhappy adventure, his design might have taken air, and have arrived to the knowledge of his uncle, yet in spite of all opposition of friends, or the malice of Brilliard, he would pursue his glorious design of marrying her, though he were forced for it to wander in the farthest parts of the earth with his lovely prize. He begs she will not disesteem him for this scandal on his fame; for he was all love, all soft desire, and had no other design, than that of making himself master of that greatest treasure in the world; that of the possessing, the most charming, the all-ravishing Sylvia: in return, she paid him all the vows that could secure an infidel in love, she made him all the endearing advances a heart could wish, wholly given up to tender passion, insomuch that he believes, and is the gayest man that ever was blest by love. And the messenger, who was present all this while, found that this caballing with the French spies, was only an innocent design to give himself away to a fine young lady: and therefore gave them all the freedom they desired, and which they made use of to the most advantage love could direct or youth inspire.
This suffering with Octavio begot a pity and compassion in the heart of Sylvia, and that grew up to love; for he had all the charms that could inspire, and every hour was adding new fire to her heart, which at last burnt into a flame; such power has mighty obligation on a heart that has any grateful sentiments! and yet, when she was absent a-nights from Octavio, and thought on Philander’s, passion for Calista, she would rage and rave, and find the effects of wondrous love, and wondrous pride, and be even ready to make vows against Octavio: but those were fits that seldomer seized her now, and every fit was like a departing ague, still weaker than the former, and at the sight of Octavio all would vanish, her blushes would rise and discover the soft thoughts her heart conceived for the approaching lover; and she soon found that vulgar error, of the impossibility of loving more than once. It was four days they thus remained without being called to the Council, and every day brought its new joys along with it. They were never asunder, never interrupted with any visit, but one for a few moments in a day by Octavio’s uncle, and then he would go into his own apartment to receive him: he offered to bail him out; but Octavio, who had found more real joy there, than in any part of the earth besides, evaded the obligation, by telling his uncle, he would be obliged to nothing but his innocence for his liberty: so would get rid of the fond old gentleman, who never knew a passion but for his darling nephew, and returned with as much joy to the lodgings of Sylvia, as if he had been absent a week, which is an age to a lover; there they sometimes would play at cards, where he would lose considerable sums to her, or at hazard, or be studying what they should do next to pass the hours most to her content; not but he had rather have lain eternally at her feet, gazing, doting, and saying a thousand fond things, which at every view he took were conceived in his soul: and though but this last minute he had finished, saying all that love could dictate, he found his heart oppressed with a vast store of new softness, which he languished to unload in her ravishing bosom. But she, who was not arrived to his pitch of loving, diverts his softer hours with play sometimes, and otherwhile with making him follow her into the gallery, which was adorned with pleasant pictures, all of Hempskerk’s hand, which afforded great variety of objects very droll and antique, Octavio finding something to say of every one that might be of advantage to his own heart; for whatever argument was in dispute, he would be sure to bring it home to the passion he had for Sylvia; it should end in love, however remotely begun: so strange an art has love to turn all things to the advantage of a lover!
It was thus they passed their time, and nothing was wanting that lavish experience could procure, and every minute he advances to new freedoms, and unspeakable delights, but still such as might hitherto be allowed with honour; he sighs and wishes, he languishes and dies for more, but dares not utter the meaning of one motion of breath; for he loved so very much, that every look from those fair eyes charmed him, awed him to a respect that robbed him of many happy moments, a bolder lover would have turned to his advantage, and he treated her as if she had been an unspotted maid; with caution of offending, he had forgot that general rule, that where the sacred laws of honour are once invaded, love makes the easier conquest.
All this while you may imagine Brilliard endured no little torment; he could not on the one side, determine what the States would do with him, when once they should find him a false accuser of so great a man; and on the other side, he suffered a thousand pains and jealousies from love; he knew too well the charms and power of Octavio, and what effects importunity and opportunity have on the temper of feeble woman: he found the States did not make so considerable a matter of his being impeached, as to confine him strictly, and he dies with the fears of those happy moments he might possibly enjoy with Sylvia, where there might be no spies about her to give him any kind intelligence; and all that could afford him any glimpse of consolation, was, that while they were thus confined, he was out of fear of their being married. Octavio’s uncle this while was not idle, but taking it for a high indignity his nephew should remain so long without being heard, he moved it to the Council, and accordingly they sent for him to the state-house the next morning, where Brilliard was brought to confront him; whom, as soon as Octavio saw, with a scornful smile, he cried — ‘It is well, Brilliard, that you, who durst not fight me fairly, should find out this nobler way of ridding yourself of a rival: I am glad at least that I have no more honourable a witness against me.’ Brilliard, who never before wanted assurance, at this reproach was wholly confounded; for it was not from any villainy in his nature, but the absolute effects of mad and desperate passion, which put him on the only remedy that could relieve him; and looking on Octavio with modest blushes, that half pleaded for him, he cried —‘Yes, my lord, I am your accuser, and come to charge your innocence with the greatest of crimes, and you ought to thank me for my accusation; when you shall know it is regard to my own honour, violent love for Sylvia, and extreme respect to your lordship, has made me thus saucy with your unspotted fame.’ ‘How,’ replied Octavio, ‘shall I thank you for accusing me with a plot upon the State?’ ‘Yes, my lord,’ replied Brilliard; ‘and yet you had a plot to betray the State, and by so new a way, as could be found out by none but so great and brave a man’—‘Heavens,’ replied Octavio, enraged, ‘this is an impudence, that nothing but a traitor to his own king, and one bred up in plots and mischiefs, could have invented: I betray my own country?’—‘Yes, my lord,’ cried he (more briskly than before, seeing Octavio colour so at him) ‘to all the looseness of unthinking youth, to all the breach of laws both human and divine; if all the youth should follow your example, you would betray posterity itself, and only mad confusion would abound. In short, my lord, that lady who was taken with you by the messenger, was my wife.’ And going towards Sylvia, who was struck as with a thunder-bolt, he seized her hand, and cried — while all stood gazing on — This lady, sir, I mean —— she is my wife, my lawful married wife.’ At this Sylvia could no longer hold her patience within its bounds, but with that other hand he had left her, she struck him a box on the ear, that almost staggered him, coming unawares; and as she struck, she cried aloud, ‘Thou liest, base villain —— and I will be revenged;’ and flinging herself out of his hand, she got on the other side of Octavio, while the whole company remained confounded at what they saw and heard. ‘How,’ cried out old Sebastian, uncle to Octavio, ‘a woman, this? By my troth, sweet lady, (if you be one) methought you were a very pretty fellow.’ And turning to Brilliard, he cried — ‘Why, what sir, then it seems all this noise of betraying the State was but a cuckold’s dream. Hah! and this wonderful and dangerous plot, was but one upon your wife, sir; hah —— was it so? Marry, sir, at this rate, I rather think it is you have a design of betraying the State —— you cuckoldy knaves, that bring your handsome wives to seduce our young senators from their sobriety and wits.’ ‘Are these the recompenses,’ replied Brilliard, ‘you give the injured, and in lieu of restoring me my right, am I reproached with the most scandalous infamy that can befall a man?’ ‘Well, sir,’ replied Sebastian, ‘is this all you have to charge this gentleman with?’ At which he bowed, and was silent —— and Sebastian continued —‘If your wife, sir, have a mind to my nephew, or he to her, it should have been your care to have forbid it, or prevented it, by keeping her under lock and key, if no other way to be secured; and, sir, we do not sit here to relieve fools and cuckolds; if your lady will be civil to my nephew, what is that to us: let her speak for herself: what say you, madam?’—‘I say,’ replied Sylvia, ‘that this fellow is mad and raves, that he is my vassal, my servant, my slave; but, after this, unworthy of the meanest of these titles.’ This she spoke with a disdain that sufficiently shewed the pride and anger of her soul ——‘La you, sir,’ replied Sebastian, ‘you are discharged your lady’s service; it is a plain case she has more mind to the young Count than the husband, and we cannot compel people to be honest against their inclinations.’ And coming down from the seat where he sat, he embraced Octavio a hundred times, and told the board, he was extremely glad they found the mighty plot, but a vagary of youth, and the spleen of a jealous husband or lover, or whatsoever other malicious thing; and desired the angry man might be discharged, since he had so just a provocation as the loss of a mistress. So all laughing at the jest, that had made so great a noise among the grave and wise, they freed them all: and Sebastian advised his nephew, that the next cuckold he made, he would make a friend of him first, that he might hear of no more complaints against him. But Octavio very gravely replied; ‘Sir, you have infinitely mistaken the character of this lady, she is a person of too great quality for this raillery; at more leisure you shall have her story.’ While he was speaking this, and their discharges were making, Sylvia confounded with shame, indignation, and anger, goes out, and taking Octavio’s coach that stood at the gate, went directly to his house; for she resolved to go no more where Brilliard was. After this, Sebastian fell seriously to good advice, and earnestly besought his darling to leave off those wild extravagancies that had so long made so great a discourse all the province over, where nothing but his splendid amours, treats, balls, and magnificences of love, was the business of the town, and that he had forborne to tell him of it, and had hitherto justified his actions, though they had not deserved it; and he doubted this was the lady to whom for these six or eight months he heard he had so entirely dedicated himself. He desires him to quit this lady, or if he will pursue his love, to do it discreetly, to love some unmarried woman, and not injure his neighbours; to all which he blushed and bowed, and silently seemed to thank him for his grave counsel. And Brilliard having received his discharge, and advice how he provoked the displeasure of the States any more, by accusing of great persons, he was ordered to ask Octavio’s pardon; but, in lieu of that, he came up to him, and challenged him to fight him for the injustice he had done him, in taking from him his wife; for he was sure he was undone in her favour, and that thought made him mad enough to put himself on this second extravagancy: however, this was not so silently managed but Sebastian perceived it, and was so enraged at the young fellow for his second insolence, that he was again confined, and sent back to prison, where he swore he should suffer the utmost of the law; and the Council breaking up, every one departed to his own home. But never was man ravished with excess of joy as Octavio was, to find Sylvia meet him with extended arms on the stair-case, whom he did not imagine to have found there, nor knew he how he stood in the heart of the charmer of his own, since the affront she had received in the court from those that however did not know her; for they did not imagine this was that lady, sister to Philander, of whose beauty they had heard so much, and her face being turned from the light, the old gentleman did not so much consider or see it. Sylvia came into his house the back way, through the stables and garden, and had the good fortune to be seen by none of his family but the coachman, who brought her home, whom she conjured not to speak of it to the rest of his servants: and unseen of any body she got into his apartment, for often she had been there at treats and balls with Philander. She was alone; for Antonet stayed to see what became of her false lover, and, after he was seized again, retired to her lodging the most disconsolate woman in the world, for having lost her hopes of Brilliard, to whom she had engaged all that honour she had. But when she missed her lady there, she accused herself with all the falsehood in the world, and fell to repent her treachery. She sends the page to inquire at Ocatvio’s house, but no body there could give him any intelligence; so that the poor amorous youth returning without hope, endured all the pain of a hopeless lover; for Octavio had anew charmed his coachman: and calling up an ancient woman who was his house-keeper, who had been his nurse, he acquainted her with the short history of his passion for Sylvia, and ordered her to give her attendance on the treasure of his life; he bid her prepare all things as magnificent as she could in that apartment he designed her, which was very rich and gay, and towards a fine garden. The hangings and beds all glorious, and fitter for a monarch than a subject; the finest pictures the world afforded, flowers in-laid with silver and ivory, gilded roofs, carved wainscot, tables of plate, with all the rest of the movables in the chambers of the same, all of great value, and all was perfumed like an altar, or the marriage bed of some young king. Here Sylvia was designed to lodge, and hither Octavio conducted her; and setting her on a couch while the supper was getting ready, he sits himself down by her, and his heart being ready to burst with grief, at the thought of the claim which was laid to her by Brilliard, he silently views her, while tears were ready to break from his fixed eyes, and sighs stopped what he would fain have spoke; while she (wholly confounded with shame, guilt, and disappointment, for she could not imagine that Brilliard could have had the impudence to have claimed her for a wife) fixed her fair eyes to the earth, and durst not behold the languishing Octavio. They remained thus a long time silent, she not daring to defend herself from a crime, of which she knew too well she was guilty, nor he daring to ask her a question to which the answer might prove so fatal; he fears to know what he dies to be satisfied in, and she fears to discover too late a secret, which was the only one she had concealed from him. Octavio runs over in his mind a thousand thoughts that perplex him, of the probability of her being married; he considers how often he had found her with that happy young man, who more freely entertained her than servants use to do. He now considers how he had seen them once on a bed together, when Sylvia was in the disorder of a yielding mistress, and Brilliard of a ravished lover; he considers how he has found them alone at cards and dice, and often entertaining her with freedoms of a husband, and how he wholly managed her affairs, commanded her servants like their proper master, and was in full authority of all. These, and a thousand more circumstances, confirm Octavio in all his fears: a thousand times she is about to speak, but either fear to lose Octavio by clear confession, or to run herself into farther error by denying the matter of fact, stops her words, and she only blushes and sighs at what she dares not tell; and if by chance their speaking eyes meet, they would both decline them hastily again, as afraid to find there what their language could not confess. Sometimes he would press her hand and sigh. —‘Ah, Sylvia, you have undone my quiet’; to which she would return no answer, but sigh, and now rising from the couch, she walked about the chamber as sad and silent as death, attending when he should have advanced in speaking to her, though she dreads the voice she wishes to hear, and he waits for her reply, though the mouth that he adores should deliver poison and daggers to his heart. While thus they remained in the most silent and sad entertainment (that ever was between lovers that had so much to say) the page, which Octavio only trusts to wait, brought him this letter.
BRILLIARD to OCTAVIO.
I am too sensible of my many high offences to your lordship, and have as much penitence for my sin committed towards you as it is possible to conceive; but when I implore a pardon from a lover, who by his own passion may guess at the violent effects of my despairing flame, I am yet so vain to hope it. Antonet gave me the intelligence of your design, and raised me up to a madness that hurried me to that barbarity against your unspotted honour. I own the baseness of the fact, but lovers are not, my lord, always guided by rules of justice and reason; or, if I had, I should have killed the fair adulteress that drew you to your undoing, and who merits more your hate than your regard; and who having first violated her marriage-vow to me with Philander, would sacrifice us both to you, and at the same time betray you to a marriage that cannot but prove fatal to you, as it is most unlawful in her; so that, my lord, if I have injured you, I have at the same time saved you from a sin and ruin, and humbly implore that you will suffer the good I have rendered you in the last, to atone for the ill I did you in the first. If I have accused you of a design against the State, it was to save you from that of the too subtle and too charming Sylvia, which none but myself could have snatched you from. It is true, I might have acted something more worthy of my birth and education; but, my lord, I knew the power of Sylvia; and if I should have sent you the knowledge of this, when I sent the warrant for the security of your person, the haughty creature would have prevailed above all my truths with the eloquence of love, and you had yielded and been betrayed worse by her, than by the most ungenerous measures I took to prevent it. Suffer this reason, my lord, to plead for me in that heart where Sylvia reigns, and shews how powerful she is every where. Pardon all the faults of a most unfortunate man undone by love, and by your own, guess what his passion would put him on, who aims or wishes at least for the entire possession of Sylvia, though it was never absolutely hoped by the most unfortunate
At the beginning of this letter Octavio hoped it contained the confession of his fault in claiming Sylvia; he hoped he would have owned it done in order to his service to his lord, or his love to Sylvia, or any thing but what it really was; but when he read on — and found that he yet confirmed his claim, he yielded to all the grief that could sink a heart over-burdened with violent love; he fell down on the couch where he was sat, and only calling Sylvia with a dying groan, he held out his hand, in which the letter remained, and looked on her with eyes that languished with death, love, and despair; while she, who already feared from whom it came, received it with disdain, shame, and confusion: and Octavio recovering a little — cried in a faint voice —‘See charming, cruel fair — see how much my soul adores you, when even this — cannot extinguish one spark of the flame you have kindled in my soul.’ At this she blushed, and bowed with a graceful modesty that was like to have given the lie to all the accusations against her: she reads the letter, while he greedily fixes his eyes upon her face as she reads, observing with curious search every motion there, all killing and adorable. He saw her blushes sometimes rise, then sink again to their proper fountain, her heart; there swell and rise, and beat against her breast that had no other covering than a thin shirt, for all her bosom was open, and betrayed the nimble motion of her heart. Her eyes sometimes would sparkle with disdain, and glow upon the fatal tell-tale lines, and sometimes languish with excess of grief: but having concluded the letter, she laid it on the table, and began again to traverse the room, her head declined, and her arms a-cross her bosom, Octavio made too true an interpretation of this silence and calm in Sylvia, and no longer doubted his fate. He fixes his eyes eternally upon her, while she considers what she shall say to that afflicted lover; she considers Philander lost, or if he ever returns, it is not to love; to that he was for ever gone; for too well she knew no arts, obligations, or industry, could retrieve a flying Cupid: she found, if even that could return, his whole fortune was so exhausted he could not support her; and that she was of a nature so haughty and impatient of injuries, that she could never forgive him those affronts he had done her honour first, and now her love; she resolves no law or force shall submit her to Brilliard; she finds this fallacy she had put on Octavio, has ruined her credit in his esteem, at least she justly fears it; so that believing herself abandoned by all in a strange country, she fell to weeping her fate, and the tears wet the floor as she walked: at which sight so melting Octavio starts from the couch, and catching her in his trembling arms, he cried, ‘Be false, be cruel, and deceitful; yet still I must, I am compelled to adore you ——’ This being spoken in so hearty and resolved a tone, from a man of whose heart she was so sure, and knew to be generous, gave her a little courage — and like sinking men she catches at all that presents her any hope of escaping. She resolves by discovering the whole truth to save that last stake, his heart, though she could pretend to no more; and taking the fainting lover by the hand, she leads him to the couch: ‘Well,’ said she, ‘Octavio, you are too generous to be imposed on in any thing, and therefore I will tell you my heart without reserve as absolutely as to heaven itself, if I were interceding my last peace there.’ She begged a thousand pardons of him for having concealed any part of her story from him, but she could no longer be guilty of that crime, to a man for whom she had so perfect a passion; and as she spoke she embraced him with an irresistible softness that wholly charmed him: she reconciles him with every touch, and sighs on his bosom a thousand grateful vows and excuses for her fault, while he weeps his love, and almost expires in her arms; she is not able to see his passion and his grief, and tells him she will do all things for his repose. ‘Ah, Sylvia’ sighed he,‘talk not of my repose, when you confess yourself wife to one and mistress to another, in either of which I have alas no part: ah, what is reserved for the unfortunate Octavio, when two happy lovers divide the treasure of his soul? Yet tell me truth, because it will look like love; shew me that excellent virtue so rarely found in all your fickle sex. O! tell me truth, and let me know how much my heart can bear before it break with love; and yet, perhaps, to hear thee speak to me, with that insinuating dear voice of thine, may save me from the terror of thy words; and though each make a wound, their very accents have a balm to heal! O quickly pour it then into my listening soul, and I will be silent as over-ravished lovers, whom joys have charmed to tender sighs and pantings.’ At this, embracing her anew, he let fall a shower of tears upon her bosom, and sighing, cried —‘Now I attend thy story’: she then began anew the repetition of the loves between herself and Philander, which she slightly ran over, because he had already heard every circumstance of it, both from herself and Philander; till she arrived to that part of it where she left Bellfont, her father’s house: ‘Thus far,’ said she, ‘you have had a faithful relation; and I was no sooner missed by my parents, but you may imagine the diligent search that would be made, both by Foscario, whom I was to have married the next day, and my tender parents; but all search, all hue-and-cries were vain; at last, they put me into the weekly Gazette, describing me to the very features of my face, my hair, my breast, my stature, youth, and beauty, omitting nothing that might render me apparent to all that should see me, offering vast sums to any that should give intelligence of such a lost maid of quality. Philander, who understood too well the nature of the common people, and that they would betray their very fathers for such a proffered sum, durst trust me no longer to their mercy: his affairs were so involved with those of Cesario, he could not leave Paris; for they every moment expected the people should rise against their king, and those glorious chiefs of the faction were obliged to wait and watch the motions of the dirty crowd. Nor durst he trust me in any place from him; for he could not live a day without me’; (at that thought she sighed, and then went on); ‘so that I was obliged to remain obscurely lodged in Paris, where now I durst no longer trust myself, though disguised in as many shapes as I was obliged to have lodgings. At last we were betrayed, and had only the short notice given us to yield, or secure ourselves from the hand of justice by the next morning, when they designed to surprise us. To escape we found almost impossible, and very hazardous to attempt it; so that Philander, who was raving with fears, called myself and this young gentleman, Brilliard (then Master of his Horse) and one that had served us faithfully through the whole course of our lives, to council: many things were in vain debated, but at last this hard shift was found out of marrying me to Brilliard, for to Philander it was impossible; so that no authority of a father could take me from the husband. I was at first extremely unwilling, but when Philander told me it was to be only a mock-marriage, to secure me to himself, I was reconciled to it, and more when I found the infinite submission of the young man, who vowed he would never look up to me with the eyes of a lover or husband, but in obedience to his lord did it to preserve me entirely for him; nay farther, to secure my future fear, he confessed to me he was already married to a gentlewoman by whom he had two children.’ ‘Oh! —— tell me true, my Sylvia, was he married to another!’ cried out the overjoyed lover. ‘Yes, on my life,’ replied Sylvia; ‘for when it was proved in court that I was married to Brilliard (as at last I was, and innocently bedded) this lady came and brought her children to me, and falling at my feet, wept and implored I would not own her husband, for only she had right to him; we all were forced to discover to her the truth of the matter, and that he had only married me to secure me from the rage of my parents, that if he were her husband she was still as entirely possessed of him as ever, and that he had advanced her fortune in what he had done, for she should have him restored with those advantages that should make her life, and that of her children more comfortable; and Philander making both her and the children considerable presents, sent her away very well satisfied. After this, before people, we used him to a thousand freedoms, but when alone, he retained his respect entire; however, this used him to something more familiarity than formerly, and he grew to be more a companion than a servant, as indeed we desired he should, and of late have found him more presumptuous than usual. And thus much more, I must confess, I have reason to believe him a most passionate lover, and have lately found he had designs upon me, as you well know.
‘Judge now, oh dear Octavio, how unfortunate I am; yet judge too, whether I ought to esteem this a marriage, or him a husband?’ ‘No,’ replied Octavio, more briskly than before, ‘nor can he by the laws of God or man pretend to such a blessing, and you may be divorced.’ Pleased with this thought, he soon assumed his native temper of joy and softness, and making a thousand new vows that he would perform all he had sworn on his part, and imploring and pressing her to renew those she had made to him, she obeys him; she makes a thousand grateful returns, and they pass the evening the most happily that ever lovers did. By this time supper was served up, noble and handsome, and after supper, he led her to his closet, where he presented her with jewels and other rarities of great value, and omitted nothing that might oblige an avaricious designing woman, if Sylvia had been such; nor any thing that might beget love and gratitude in the most insensible heart: and all he did, and all he gave, was with a peculiar grace, in which there lies as great an obligation as in the gift itself: the handsome way of giving being an art so rarely known, even to the most generous. In these happy and glorious moments of love, wherein the lover omitted nothing that could please, Philander was almost forgotten; for it is natural for love to beget love, and inconstancy its likeness or disdain: and we must conclude Sylvia a maid wholly insensible, if she had not been touched with tenderness, and even love itself, at all these extravagant marks of passion in Octavio; and it must be confessed she was of a nature soft and apt for impression; she was, in a word, a woman. She had her vanities and her little foiblesses, and loved to see adorers at her feet, especially those in whom all things, all graces, charms of youth, wit and fortune agreed to form for love and conquest: she naturally loved power and dominion, and it was her maxim, that never any woman was displeased to find she could beget desire.
It was thus they lived with uninterrupted joys, no spies to pry upon their actions, no false friends to censure their real pleasures, no rivals to poison their true content, no parents to give bounds or grave rules to the destruction of nobler lavish love; but all the day was passed in new delights, and every day produced a thousand pleasures; and even the thoughts of revenge were no more remembered on either side; it lessened in Sylvia’s heart as love advanced there, and her resentment against Philander was lost in her growing passion for Octavio: and sure if any woman had excuses for loving and inconstancy, the most wise and prudent must allow them now to Sylvia; and if she had reason for loving it was now, for what she paid the most deserving of his sex, and whom she managed with that art of loving (if there be art in love) that she gained every minute upon his heart, and he became more and more her slave, the more he found he was beloved: in spite of all Brilliard’s pretension he would have married her, but durst not do it while he remained in Holland, because of the noise Brilliard’s claim had made, and he feared the displeasure of his uncle; but waited for a more happy time, when he could settle his affairs so as to remove her into Flanders, though he could not tell how to accomplish that without ruining his interest: these thoughts alone took up his time whenever he was absent from Sylvia, and would often give him abundance of trouble; for he was given over to his wish of possessing of Sylvia, and could not live without her; he loved too much, and thought and considered too little. These were his eternal entertainments when from the lovely object of his desire, which was as seldom as possible; for they were both unwilling to part, though decency and rest required it, a thousand soft things would hinder him, and make her willing to retain him, and though they were to meet again next morning, they grudge themselves the parting hours, and the repose of nature. He longs and languishes for the blessed moment that shall give him to the arms of the ravishing Sylvia, and she finds but too much yielding on her part in some of those silent lone hours, when love was most prevailing, and feeble mortals most apt to be overcome by that insinuating god; so that though Octavio could not ask what he sighed and died for, though for the safety of his life, for any favours; and though, on the other side, Sylvia resolved she would not grant, no, though mutual vows had passed, though love within pleaded, and almost irresistible beauties and inducements without, though all the powers of love, of silence, night and opportunity, though on the very point a thousand times of yielding, she had resisted all: but oh! one night; let it not rise up in judgement against her, ye bashful modest maids, who never yet tried any powerful minute; nor ye chaste wives, who give no opportunities; one night —— they lost themselves in dalliance, forgot how very near they were to yielding, and with imperfect transports found themselves half dead with love, clasped in each other’s arms, betrayed by soft degrees of joy to all they wished. It would be too amorous to tell you more; to tell you all that night, that happy night produced; let it suffice that Sylvia yielded all, and made Octavio happier than a god. At first, he found her weeping in his arms, raving on what she had inconsiderately done, and with her soft reproaches chiding her ravished lover, who lay sighing by; unable to reply any other way, he held her fast in those arms that trembled yet, with love and new-past joy; he found a pleasure even in her railing, with a tenderness that spoke more love than any other language love could speak. Betwixt his sighs he pleads his right of love, and the authority of his solemn vows; he tells her that the marriage-ceremony was but contrived to satisfy the ignorant, and to proclaim his title to the crowd, but vows and contracts were the same to heaven: he speaks —— and she believes; and well she might; for all he spoke was honourable truth. He knew no guile, but uttered all his soul, and all that soul was honest, just and brave; thus by degrees he brought her to a calm.
In this soft rencounter, he had discovered a thousand new charms in Sylvia, and contrary to those men whose end of love is lust (which extinguish together) Octavio found increase of tenderness from every bliss she gave; and grew at last so fond — so doting on the still more charming maid, that he neglected all his interest, his business in the State, and what he owed his uncle, and his friends, and became the common theme over all the United Provinces, for his wantonness and luxury, as they were pleased to call it, and living so contrary to the humour of those more sordid and slovenly men of quality, which make up the nobility of that parcel of the world. For while thus he lived retired, scarce visiting any one, or permitting any one to visit him, they charge him with a thousand crimes of having given himself over to effeminacy; as indeed he grew too lazy in her arms; neglecting glory, arms, and power, for the more real joys of life; while she even rifles him with extravagancy; and grows so bold and hardy, that regarding not the humours of the stingy censorious nation, his interest, or her own fame, she is seen every day in his coaches, going to take the air out of town; puts him upon balls, and vast expensive treats; devises new projects and ways of diversion, till some of the more busy impertinents of the town made a public complaint to his uncle, and the rest of the States, urging he was a scandal to the reverend and honourable society. On which it was decreed, that he should either lose that honour, or take up, and live more according to the gravity and authority of a senator: this incensed Sebastian, both against the States and his nephew; for though he had often reproved and counselled him; yet he scorned his darling should be schooled by his equals in power. So that resolving either to discard him, or draw him from the love of this woman; he one morning goes to his nephew’s house, and sending him up word by his page he would speak to him, he was conducted to his chamber, where he found him in his night-gown: he began to upbraid him, first, with his want of respect and duty to him, and next, of his affairs, neglecting to give his attendance on the public: he tells him he is become a scandal to the commonwealth, and that he lived a lewd life with another man’s wife: he tells him he has all her story, and she was not only a wife, but a scandalous mistress too to Philander. ‘She boasts,’ says he, ‘of honourable birth; but what is that, when her conduct is infamous? In short, sir,’ continued he, ‘your life is obnoxious to the whole province: why what, sir —— cannot honest men’s daughters’ (cried he more angrily) ‘serve your turn, but you must crack a Commandment? Why, this is flat adultery: a little fornication in a civil way might have been allowed, but this is stark naught. In fine, sir, quit me this woman, and quit her presently; or, in the first place, I renounce thee, cast thee from me as a stranger, and will leave thee to ruin, and the incensed States. A little pleasure — a little recreation, I can allow: a layer of love, and a layer of business — But to neglect the nation for a wench, is flat treason against the State; and I wish there were a law against all such unreasonable whore-masters — that are statesmen — for the rest it is no great matter. Therefore, in a word, sir, leave me off this mistress of yours, or we will secure her yet for a French spy, that comes to debauch our commonwealth’s men —— The States can do it, sir, they can ——’ Hitherto Octavio received all with a blush and bow, in sign of obedience; but when his uncle told him the States would send away his mistress; no longer able to contain his rage, he broke out into all the violence imaginable against them, and swore he would not now forgo Sylvia to be monarch over all the nasty provinces, and it was a greater glory to be a slave at her feet. ‘Go, tell your States,’ cried he — ‘they are a company of cynical fops, born to moil on in sordid business, who never were worthy to understand so great a happiness of life as that of nobler love. Tell them, I scorn the dull gravity of those asses of the commonwealth, fit only to bear the dirty load of State-affairs, and die old busy fools.’ The uncle, who little expected such a return from him who used to be all obedience, began more gently to persuade him with more solid reason, but could get no other answer from him, than that what he commanded he should find it difficult to disobey; and so for that time they parted. Some days after (he never coming so much as near their Councils) they sent for him to answer the contempt: he came, and received abundance of hard reproaches, and finding they were resolved to degrade him, he presently rallied them in answer to all they said; nor could all the cautions of his friends persuade him to any submission, after receiving so rough and ill-bred a treatment as they gave him: and impatient to return to Sylvia, where all his joys were centred, he was with much ado persuaded to stay and hear the resolution of the Council, which was to take from him those honours he held amongst them; at which he cocked and smiled, and told them he received what he was much more proud of, than of those useless trifles they called honours, and wishes they might treat all that served them at that ungrateful rate: for he that had received a hundred wounds, and lost a stream of blood for their security, shall, if he kiss their wives against their wills, be banished like a coward: so hasting from the Council, he got into his coach and went to Sylvia.
This incensed the old gentlemen to a high degree, and they carried it against the younger party (because more in number) that this French lady, who was for high-treason, as they called it, forced to fly France, should be no longer protected in Holland. And in order to her removal, or rather their revenge on Octavio, they sent out their warrant to apprehend her; and either to send her as an enemy to France, or force her to some other part of the world. For a day or two Sebastian’s interest prevailed for the stopping the warrant, believing he should be able to bring his nephew to some submission; which when he found in vain, he betook himself to his chamber, and refused any visits or diversions: by this time, Octavio’s rallying the States was become the jest of the town, and all the sparks laughed at them as they passed, and lampooned them to damnable Dutch tunes, which so highly incensed them, that they sent immediately, and served the warrant on Sylvia, whom they surprised in Octavio’s coach as she was coming from taking the air. You may imagine what an agony of trouble and grief our generous and surprised lover was in: it was in vain to make resistance, and he who before would not have submitted to have saved his life, to the States, now for the preservation of one moment’s content to Sylvia, was ready to go and fall at their feet, kiss their shoes, and implore their pity. He first accompanies her to the house of the messenger, where he only is permitted to behold her with eyes of dying love, and unable to say any thing to her, left her with such gifts, and charge to the messenger’s care, as might oblige him to treat her well; while Sylvia less surprised, bid him, at going from her, not to afflict himself for any thing she suffered; she found it was the malice of the peevish old magistrates, and that the most they could do to her, was to send her from him. This last she spoke with a sigh, that pierced his heart more sensibly than ever any thing yet had done; and he only replied (with a sigh) ‘No, Sylvia, no rigid power on earth shall ever be able to deprive you of my eternal adoration, or to separate me one moment from Sylvia, after she is compelled to leave this ungrateful place; and whose departure I will hasten all that I can, since the land is not worthy of so great a blessing.’ So leaving her for a little space, he hasted to his uncle, whom he found very much discontented: he throws himself at his feet, and assails him with all the moving eloquence of sighs and tears; in vain was all, in vain alas he pleads. From this he flies to rage — and says all a distracted lover could pour forth to ease a tortured heart; what divinity did he not provoke? Wholly regardless even of heaven and man, he made a public confession of his passion, denied her being married to Brilliard, and weeps as he protests her innocence: he kneels again, implores and begs anew, and made the movingest moan that ever touched a heart, but could receive no other return but threats and frowns: the old gentleman had never been in love since he was born, no not enough to marry, but bore an unaccountable hate to the whole sex, and therefore was pitiless to all he could say on the score of love; though he endeavours to soften him by a thousand things more dear to him. ‘For my sake, sir,’ said he, ‘if ever my lost plea were grateful to you, when all your joy was in the young Octavio; release, release the charming Sylvia; regard her tender youth, her blooming beauty, her timorous helpless sex, her noble quality, and save her from rude assaults of power —— Oh save the lovely maid!’ Thus he uttered with interrupting sighs and tears, which fell upon the floor as he pursued the obdurate on his knees: at last pity touched his heart, and he said —‘Spare, sir, the character of your enchanting Circe; for I have heard too much of her, and what mischief she has bred in France, abandoning her honour, betraying a virtuous sister, defaming her noble parents, and ruining an illustrious young nobleman, who was both her brother and her lover. This, sir, in short, is the character of your beauteous innocent.’ ‘Alas, sir,’ replied Octavio, ‘you never saw this maid; or if you had, you would not be so cruel.’ ‘Go to, sir,’ replied the old gentleman, ‘I am not so soon softened at the sight of beauty.’ ‘But do but see her, sir,’ replied Octavio, ‘and then perhaps you will be charmed like me ——’ ‘You are a fop, sir,’ replied Sebastian, ‘and if you would have me allow any favour to your enchanting lady, you must promise me first to abandon her, and marry the widow of Monsieur —— who is vastly rich, and whom I have so often recommended to you; she loves you too, and though she be not fair, she has the best fortune of any lady in the Netherlands. On these terms, sir, I am for a reconciliation with you, and will immediately go and deliver the fair prisoner; and she shall have her liberty to go or stay, or do what she please — and now, sir, you know my will and pleasure’— Octavio found it in vain to pursue him any farther with his petitions; only replied, it was wondrous hard and cruel. To which the old one replied; ‘It is what must be done; I have resolved it, or my estate, in value above two hundred thousand pounds, shall be disposed of to your sister, the Countess of Clarinau:’ and this he ended with an execration on himself if he did not do; and he was a man that always was just to his word.
Much more to this ungrateful effect he spoke, and Octavio had recourse to all the dissimulation his generous soul was capable of; and it was the first base thing, and sure the last that ever he was guilty of. He promises his uncle to obey all his commands and injunctions, since he would have it so; and only begged he might be permitted but one visit, to take his last leave of her. This was at first refused, but at last, provided he might hear what he said to her, he would suffer him to go: ‘For,’ said the crafty old man, (who knew too well the cunning of youth,) ‘I will have no tricks put upon me; I will not be outwitted by a young knave:’ this was the worst part of all; he knew, if he alone could speak with her, they might have contrived, by handsome agreeing flattery, to have accomplished their design; which was, first, by the authority of the old gentleman to have freed her from confinement; and next, to have settled his affairs in the best posture he could, and without valuing his uncle’s fortune, his own being greater, he resolved to go with her into Flanders or Italy; but his going with him to visit her would prevent whatever they might resolve: but since the liberty of Sylvia was first to be considered, he resolves, since it must be so and leaves the rest to time and his good fortune. ‘Well then, sir,’ said Octavio, ‘since you have resolved yourself, to be a witness of those melancholy things, I shall possibly say to her, let us haste to end the great affair’—‘Hang it,’ cried Sebastian, ‘if I go I shall abuse the young hussy, or commit some indecency that will not be suitable to good manners ——’ ‘I hope you will, sir’—— replied Octavio——‘Whip them, whip them,’ replied the uncle, ‘I hate the young cozening baggages, that wander about the world undoing young and extravagant coxcombs; gots so they are naught, stark naught —— Be sure dispatch as soon as you can; and — do you hear — let’s have no whining.’ Octavio, overjoyed he should have her released to-night, promised lavishly all he was urged to: and his coach being at the gate, they both went immediately to the house of the messenger; all the way the old gentleman did nothing but rail against the vices of the age, and the sins of villainous youth; the snares of beauty, and the danger of witty women; and of how ill consequences these were to a commonwealth. He said, if he were to make laws he would confine all young women to monasteries, where they should never see man till forty, and then come out and marry for generation-sake, no more: for his part, he had never seen the beauty that yet could inspire him with that silly thing called love; and wondered what the devil ailed all the young fellows of this age, that they talked of nothing else. At this rate they discoursed till they arrived at the prison, and calling for the messenger, he conducted them both to the chamber of the fair prisoner, who was laid on a couch, near which stood a table with two candles, which gave a great light to that part of the room, and made Sylvia appear more fair than ever, if possible. She had not that day been dressed but in a rich night-gown, and cornets of the most advantageous fashion. At his approach she blushed (with a secret joy, which never had possessed her soul for him before) and spread a thousand beauties round her fair face. She was leaping with a transported pleasure to his arms, when she perceived an old grave person follow him into the room; at which she reassumed a strangeness, a melancholy languishment, which charmed no less than her gaiety. She approaches them with a modest grace in her beautiful eyes; and by the reception Octavio gave her, she found that reverend person was his uncle, or at least somebody of authority; and therefore assuming a gravity unusual, she received them with all the ceremony due to their quality: and first, she addressed herself to the old gentleman, who stood gazing at her, without motion; at which she was a little out of countenance. When Octavio perceiving it, approached his uncle and cried, ‘Sir, this is the lady ——’ Sebastian, starting as from a dream, cried —‘Pardon me, madam, I am a fellow whom age hath rendered less ceremonious than youth: I have never yet been so happy as to have been used to a fair lady. Women never took up one minute of my more precious time, but I have been a satyr upon the whole sex; and, if my treatment of you be rougher than your birth and beauty merits, I beseech you —— fair creature, pardon it, since I come in order to do you service.’ ‘Sir,’ replied Sylvia, (blushing with anger at the presence of a man who had contributed to the having brought her to that place) ‘I cannot but wonder at this sudden change of goodness, in a person to whom I am indebted for part of my misfortune, and which I shall no longer esteem as such, since it has occasioned me a happiness, and an honour, to which I could no other way have arrived.’ This last she spoke with her usual insinuating charms; the little affectation of the voice sweetened to all the tenderness it was possible to put on, and so easy and natural to Sylvia: and if before the old gentleman were seized with some unusual pleasure, which before he never felt about his icy and insensible heart, and which now began to thaw at the fire of her eyes —— l say, if before he were surprised with looking, what was he when she spoke — with a voice so soft, and an air so bewitching? He was all eyes and ears, and had use of no other sense but what informed those. He gazes upon her, as if he waited and listened what she would farther say, and she stood waiting for his reply, till ashamed, she turned her eyes into her bosom, and knew not how to proceed. Octavio views both by turns, and knows not how to begin the discourse again, it being his uncle’s cue to speak: but finding him altogether mute — he steps to him, and gently pulled him by the sleeve — but finds no motion in him; he speaks to him, but in vain; for he could hear nothing but Sylvia’s charming voice, nor saw nothing but her lovely face, nor attended any thing but when she would speak again, and look that way. At this Octavio smiled, and taking his adorable by the hand, he led her nearer her admiring adversary; whom she approached with modesty and sweetness in her eyes, that the old fellow, having never before beheld the like vision, was wholly vanquished, and his old heart burnt in the socket, which being his last blaze made the greater fire. ‘Fine lady,’ cried he —‘or rather fine angel, how is it I shall expiate for a barbarity that nothing could be guilty of but the brute, who had not learned humanity from your eyes: what atonement can I make for my sin; and how shall I be punished?’ ‘Sir,’ replied Sylvia, ‘if I can merit your esteem and assistance, to deliver me from this cruel confinement, I shall think of what is past as a joy, since it renders me worthy of your pity and compassion.’ ‘To answer you, madam, were to hold you under this unworthy roof too long; therefore let me convince you of my service, by leading you to a place more fit for so fair a person.’ And calling for the messenger, he asked him if he would take his bail for his fair prisoner? Who replied, ‘Your lordship may command all things:’ so throwing him a little purse, about thirty pounds in gold, he bid him drink the lady’s health; and without more ceremony or talk, led her to the coach; and never so much as asking her whether she would go, insensibly carries her, where he had a mind to have her, to his own house. This was a little affliction to Octavio, who nevertheless durst not say any thing to his uncle, nor so much as ask him the reason why: but being arrived all thither, he conducts her to a very fair apartment, and bid her there command that world he could command for her: he gave her there a very magnificent supper, and all three supped together. Octavio could not imagine that his uncle, who was a single man, and a grave senator, one famed for a womanhater, a great railer at the vices of young men, should keep a fair, young, single woman in his house: but it growing late, and no preparation for her departing, she took the courage to say —‘Sir, I am so extremely obliged to you, and have received so great a favour from you, that I cannot flatter myself it is for any virtue in me, or merely out of compassion to my sex, that you have done this; but for some body’s sake, to whom I am more engaged than I am aware of; and when you passed your parole for my liberty, I am not so vain to think it was for my sake; therefore pray inform me, sir, how I can pay this debt, and to whom; and who it is you require should be bound for me, to save you harmless.’ ‘Madam,’ cried Sebastian, ‘though there need no greater security than your own innocence, yet lest that innocence should not be sufficient to guard you from the outrage of a people approaching to savages, I beg, for your own security, not mine, that you will make this house your sanctuary; my power can save you from impending harms; and all that I call mine, you shall command.’ At this she blushing bowed, but durst not make reply to contradict him: she knew, at least, that there she was safe and well, from fear of the tyranny of the rest, or any other apprehension. It is true, she found, by the shyness of Octavio towards her before his uncle, that she was to manage her amour with him by stealth, till they could contrive matters more to their advantage: she therefore finding she should want nothing, but as much of Octavio’s conversation as she desired, she begged he would give her leave to write a note to her page, who was a faithful, sober youth, to bring her jewels and what things she had of value to her, which he did, and received those and her servants together; but Antonet had like to have lost her place, but that Octavio pleaded for her, and she herself confessing it was love to the false Brilliard that made her do that foolish thing (in which she vowed she thought no harm, though it was like to have cost her so dear) she was again received into favour: so that for some days Sylvia found herself very much at her ease with the old gentleman, and had no want of any thing but Octavio’s company: but she had the pleasure to find, by his eyes and sighs, he wanted hers more: he died every day, and his fair face faded like falling roses: still she was gay; for if she had it not about her, she assumed it to keep him in heart: she was not displeased to see the old man on fire too, and fancied some diversion from the intrigue. But he concealed his passion all he could, both to hide it from his nephew, and because he knew not what he ailed. A strange change he found, a wondrous disorder in nature, but could not give a name to it, nor sigh aloud for fear he should be heard, and lose his reputation; especially for this woman, on whom he had railed so lavishly. One day therefore, after a night of torment, very incommode to his age, he takes Octavio into the garden alone, telling him he had a great secret to impart to him. Octavio guessing what it might be, put his heart in as good order as he could to receive it. He at least knew the worst was but for him at last to steal Sylvia from him, if he should be weak enough to dote on the young charmer, and therefore resolved to hear with patience. But if he were prepared to attend, the other was not prepared to begin, and so both walked many silent turns about the garden. Sebastian had a mind to ask a thousand questions of his nephew, who he found, maugre all his vows of deserting Sylvia, had no power of doing it: he had a mind to urge him to marry the widow, but durst not now press it, though he used to do so, lest he should take it for jealousy in him; nor durst he now forbid him seeing her, lest he should betray the secrets of his soul: he began every moment to love him less, as he loved Sylvia more, and beholds him as an enemy to his repose, nay his very life. At last the old man (who thought if he brought his nephew forth under pretence of a secret, and said nothing to him, it would have looked ill) began to speak. ‘Octavto,’ said he, ‘I have hitherto found you so just in all you have said, that it were a sin to doubt you in what relates to Sylvia. You have told me she is nobly born; and you have with infinite imprecations convinced me she is virtuous; and lastly, you have sworn she was not married’—— At this he sighed and paused, and left Octavio trembling with fear of the result: a thousand times he was like to have denied all, but durst not defame the most sacred idol of his soul: sometimes he thought his uncle would be generous, and think it fit to give him Sylvia; but that thought was too seraphic to remain a moment in his heart. ‘Sir,’ replied Octavio, ‘I own I said so of Sylvia, and hope no action she has committed since she had a protection under your roof has contradicted any thing I said. ‘No,’ said Sebastian, sighing — and pausing, as loath to speak more: ‘Sir,’ said Octavio, ‘I suppose this is not the secret you had to impart to me, for which you separate me to this lonely walk; fear not to trust me with it, whatever it be; for I am so entirely your own, that I will grant, submit, prostrate myself, and give up all my will, power, and faculties to your interest or designs.’ This encouraged the old lover, who replied —‘Tell me one truth, Octavio, which I require of you, and I will desire no more —— have not you had the possession of this fair maid? You apprehend me.’ Now it was that he feared what design the amorous old gentleman had in his head and heart; and was at a loss what to say, whether to give him some jealousy that he had known and possessed her, and so prevent his designs on her; or by saying he had not, to leave her defenceless to his love. But on second thoughts, he could not resolve to say any thing to the disadvantage of Sylvia, though to save his own life; and therefore assured his uncle, he never durst assume the boldness to ask so rude a question of a woman of quality: and much more he spoke to that purpose to convince him: that it is true, he would have married her, if he could have gained his consent; maugre all the scandal that the malicious world had thrown upon her. But since he was positive in his command for the widow, he would bend his mind to obedience. ‘In that,’ replied Sebastian, ‘you are wise, and I am glad all your youthful fires are blown over; and having once fixed you in the world as I design, I have resolved on an affair ——’ At this again he paused ——‘I am,’ says he, ‘in love — I think it is love, or that which you call so: I cannot eat, nor sleep, nor even pray, but this fair stranger interposes; or, if by chance I slumber, all my dreams are of her, I see her, I touch her, I embrace her, and find a pleasure, even then, that all my waking thoughts could never procure me. If I go to the state-house, I mind nothing there, my heart’s at home with the young gentlewoman; or the change, or wheresoever I go, my restless thoughts present her still before me: and prithee tell me, is not this love, Octavio? ‘It may arrive to love,’ replied the blushing youth, ‘if you would fondly give way to it: but you are wise and grave, should hate all women, sir, till about forty, and then for generation only: you are above the follies of vain youth. And let me tell you, sir, without offending, already you are charged with a thousand little vanities, unsuitable to your years, and the character you have had, and the figure you have made in the world. I heard a lampoon on you the other day — (Pardon my freedom, sir,) for keeping a beauty in your house, who they are pleased to say was my mistress before.’ And pulling out a lampoon, which his page had before given him, he gave it his uncle. But instead of making him resolve to quit Sylvia, it only served to incense him against Octavio; he railed at all wits, and swore there was not a more dangerous enemy to a civil, sober commonwealth: that a poet was to be banished as a spy, or hanged as a traitor: that it ought to be as much against the law to let them live, as to shoot with white powder; and that to write lampoons should be put into the statute against stabbing. And could he find the rogue that had the wit to write that, he would make him a warning to all the race of that damnable vermin; what! to abuse a magistrate, one of the States, a very monarch of the commonwealth! — It was abominable, and not to be borne — and looking on his nephew — and considering his face a while, he cried —‘I fancy, sir, by your physiognomy, that you yourself have a hand in this libel:’ at which Octavio blushed, which he taking for guilt, flew out into terrible anger against him, not suffering him to speak for himself, or clear his innocence. And as he was going in this rage from him, having forbidden him ever to set his foot within his doors, he told him — ‘If,’ said he, ‘the scandalous town, from your instructions, have such thoughts of me, I will convince it by marrying this fair stranger the first thing I do: I cannot doubt but to find a welcome, since she is a banished woman, without friends or protection; and especially, when she shall see how civilly you have handled her here, in your doggerel ballad: I will teach you to be a wit, sir; and so your humble servant.’— And leaving him almost wild with his fears, he went directly to Sylvia, where he told her his nephew was going to make up the match between himself and madam the widow of —— and that he had made a scandalous lampoon on her fair self. He forgot nothing that might make her hate the amiable young nobleman, whom she knew too well to believe that any thing of this was other than the effects of his own growing passion for her. For though she saw Octavio every day, in this time she had remained at his uncle’s, yet the old lover so watched their very looks, that it was impossible almost to tell one another’s heart by the glance there. But Octavio had once in this time conveyed a letter to her, which having opportunity to do, he put it into her comb-box, when he was with his uncle one day in her dressing-room; for she durst not trust her page, and less Antonet, who had before betrayed them: and having for Sylvia’s release so solemnly sworn to his uncle, (to which vows he took religious care to keep him,) he had so perfect an awe upon his spirits from every look and command of his uncle’s, he took infinite heed how he gave him any umbrage by any action of his; and the rather, because he hoped when time should serve, to bring about his business of stealing Sylvia from him; for she was kept and guarded like a mighty heiress; so that by this prudent management on both sides, they heightened the growing love in every heart. In that billet, which he dropped in her comb-box, he did not only make ten thousand vows of eternal passion and faith, and beg the same assurance of her again; but told her he was secured (so well he thought of her) from fears of his uncle’s addresses to her, and begged she would not let them perplex her, but rather serve her for her diversion; that she should from time to time write him all he said to her, and how he treated her when alone; and that since the old lover was so watchful, she should not trust her letters with any body; but as she walked into the garden, she should in passing through the hall, put her letter in at the broken glass of an old sedan that stood there, and had stood for several years; and that his own page, whom he could trust, should, when he came with him to his uncle’s, take it from thence. Thus every day they writ, and received the dearest returns in the world; where all the satisfaction that vows oft repeated could give, was rendered each other; with an account from Sylvia that was very pleasant, of all the passion of the doting old Sebastian, the presents he made her, the fantastic youth he would assume, and unusual manner of his love, which was a great diversion to both; and this difficulty of speaking to Sylvia, and entertaining her with love, though it had its pains, had its infinite pleasure too; it increased their love on both sides, and all their wishes. But now by this last banishment from the house where she was, to lose that only pleasure of beholding the adorable maid, gave him all the pains, without the hope of one pleasure; and he began to fear he should have a world of difficulty to secure the dear object of his continual thoughts: he found no way to send to her, and dreads all his malicious uncle and rival may say to his disadvantage: he dreads even that infinite tenderness and esteem he had for the good old man, who had been so fond a parent to him; lest even that should make him unwilling to use that extremity against him in regaining Sylvia, which he could use to any other man. Oh, how he curses the fatal hour that ever he implored his aid for her release; and having overcome all difficulties, even that of his fears of Philander, (from whom they had received no letter in two months) and that of Sylvia’s disdain, and had established himself in her soul and her arms; he should, by employing his uncle’s authority for Sylvia’s service, be so unfortunate to involve them into new dangers and difficulties, of which he could foresee no other end, than that which must be fatal to some of them. But he believed half his torture would be eased, could he but write to Sylvia, for see her he could not hope: he bethought himself of a way at last.
His uncle had belonging to his house the most fine garden of any in that province, where those things are not much esteemed; in which the old gentleman took wonderful delight, and kept a gardener and his family in a little house at the farther end of the garden, on purpose to look to it and dress it. This man had a very great veneration for Octavio, whom he called his young lord. Sure of the fidelity of this gardener, when it was dark enough to conceal him, he wrapped himself in his cloak, and got him thither by a back way, where with presents, he soon won those to his interest, who would before have been commanded by him in any service. He had a little clean room, and some little French novels which he brought; and there he was as well concealed as if he had been in the Indies; he left word at home, that he was gone out of the town. He knew well enough that Sylvia’s, lodgings looked that way; and when it was dark enough, he walked under her window, till he saw a candle lighted in Sylvia’s bed-chamber, which was as great a joy to him as the star that guides the traveller, or wandering seaman, or the lamp at Sestos, that guided the ravished lover over the Hellespont. And by that time he could imagine all in bed, he made a little noise with a key on the pummel of his sword; but whether Sylvia heard it or not, I cannot tell, but she anon came to the window, and putting up the sash, leaned on her arms and looked into the garden. Oh! Who but he himself that loved so well as Octavio, can express the transports he was in, at the sight? Which, more from the sight within than that without, he saw was the lovely Sylvia; whom calling softly by her name, answered him, as if she knew the welcome voice, and cried —‘Who is there, Octavio? She was soon answered you may imagine. And they began the most endearing conversation that ever love could dictate. He complains on his fate that sets them at that distance, and she pities him. He makes a thousand doubts, and she undeceives them all. He fears, and she convinces his error, and is impatient at his suspicions. She will not endure him to question a heart that has given him so many proofs of its tenderness and gratitude; she tells him her own wishes, how soft and fervent they are; and assures him, he is extremely obliged to her ——‘Since for you — my charming friend,’ said she to Octavio, ‘I have refused this night to marry your uncle; have a care,’ said she, smiling, ‘how you treat me, lest I revenge myself on you; become your aunt, and bring heirs to the estate you have a right to: the writings of all which I have now in my chamber, and which were but just now laid at my feet, and which I cannot yet get him to receive back. And to oblige me to a compliance, has told me how you have deceived me, by giving yourself to another, and exposing me in lampoons.’— To this Octavio would have replied, but she assured him she needed no argument to convince her of the falsehood of all. He sighs, and told her, all she said, though dear and charming, was not sufficient to ease his heart; for he foresaw a world of hazard to get her from thence, and mischiefs if she remained; insomuch that he caused the tears to flow from the fair eyes of Sylvia, with her reflections on her rigid fortune. And she cried, ‘Oh, my Octavio! What strange fate or stars ruled my birth, that I should be born to the ruin of what I love, or those that love me!’ At this rate they passed the night, sometimes more soft, sometimes encouraging one another; but the last result was to contrive the means of escaping. He fancied she might easily do it by the garden from the window: but that he was not sure he could trust the gardener so far, who in all things would serve him, in which his lord and master was not injured; and he, amongst the rest of the servants, had orders not to suffer Sylvia out of the garden, for which reason he kept a guard on that back-door. Some way must be found out which yet was not, and was left to time. He told her whence he was, and that he would not stir from thence, till he was secured of her flight: and day coming on, though loath, yet for fear of eyes and ears that might spy upon them, he retired to his little lodging, and Sylvia to bed; after giving and receiving a thousand vows and farewells. The next night he came to the same place, but instead of entertaining her — he only saw her softly put up the sash a little, and throw something white out of the window and retire. He was wondering at the meaning, but taking up what was thrown down, he found and smelt it was Sylvia’s handkerchief, in which was tied up a billet: he went to his little lodging, and read it.
SYLVIA to OCTAVIO.
Go from my window, my adorable friend, and be not afflicted that I do not entertain you as I had the joy to do last night; for both our voices were heard by some one that lodges below; and though your uncle could not tell me any part of our conversation, yet he heard I talked to some body: I have persuaded him the fellow dreamed who gave him this intelligence, and he is almost satisfied he did so; however, hazard not thy dear-self any more so, but let me lose for a while the greatest happiness this earth can afford me, (in the circumstances of our fortunes) rather than expose what is dearer to me than life or honour: pity the fate I was born to, and expect all things from
I will wait at the window for your answer, and let you down a ribband, by which I will draw it up: but as you love me do not speak.
He had no sooner read this, but he went to write an answer, which was this.
OCTAVIO to SYLVIA.
Complain not, thou goddess of my vows, on the fate thou wert born to procure to all mankind; but thank heaven for having received ten thousand charms that can recompense all the injuries you so unwillingly do us: and who would not implore his ruin from all the angry powers, if in return they would give him so glorious a reward? Who would not be undone to all the trifling honours of the mistaken world, to find himself, in lieu of all, possessed of the ravishing Sylvia? But oh! Where is that presumptuous man, that can at the price of all lay claim to so vast a blessing? Alas, my Sylvia, even while I dare call you mine, I am not that hoping slave; no, not after all the valued dear things you have said and vowed to me last night in the garden, welcome to my soul as life after a sentence of death, or heaven after life is ended. But, oh Sylvia! all this, even all you uttered from your dear mouth is not sufficient to support me: alas, I die for Sylvia! I am not able to bear the cruel absence longer, therefore without delay assist me to contrive your escape, or I shall die, and leave you to the ravage of his love who holds thee from me; the very thoughts of that is worse than death. I die, alas, I die, for an entire possession of thee: oh let me grasp my treasure, let me engross it all, here in my longing arms. I can no longer languish at this distance from my cruel joy, my life, my soul! But oh I rave, and while I should be speaking a thousand useful things, I am telling you my pain, a pain that you may guess; and confounding myself between those and their remedies, am able to fix on nothing. Help me to think, oh my dear charming creature, help me to think how I shall bear thee off! Take your own measures, flatter him with love, soothe him to faith and confidence, and then — oh pardon me, if there be baseness in the action — then — cozen him — deceive him — any thing — for he deserves it all, that thinks that lovely body was formed for his embraces, whom age has rendered fitter for a grave. Form any plots, use every stratagem to save the life of
He wrote this in haste and disorder, as you may plainly see by the style, and went to the window with it, where he found Sylvia leaning expecting him: the sashes were up, and he tossed it in the handkerchief into her window: she read it, and wrote an answer back as soft as love could form, to send him pleased to bed; wherein she commanded him to hope all things from her wit and industrious love.
This had partly the effects she wished, and after kissing his hand, and throwing it up towards Sylvia, they parted as silent as the night from day, which was now just dividing — so long they stayed, though but to look at each other; so that all the morning was passed in bed to make the day seem shorter, which was too tedious to both: this pleasure he had after noon, towards the evening, that when Sylvia walked, as she always did in the garden, he could see her through the glass of his window, but durst not open it; for the old gentleman was ever with her. In this time Octavio failed not however to essay the good nature of the gardener in order to Sylvia’s flight, but found there was no dealing with him in this affair; and therefore durst not come right down to the point: the next night he came under the beloved window again, and found the sacred object of his wishes leaning in the window expecting him: to whom, as soon as she heard his tread on the gravel, she threw down a handkerchief again, which he took up, and tossed his own with a soft complaining letter to entertain her till his return; for he hasted to read hers, and swept the garden as he passed as swift as wind; so impatient he was to see the inside — which he found thus:
SYLVIA to OCTAVIO.
I beg, my charming friend, you will be assured of all I have promised you; and to believe that but for the pleasure of those dear billets I receive from you, I could as little support this cruel confinement as you my absence. I have but one game to play, and I beseech you not to be surprised at it, it is to promise to marry Sebastian: he is eternally at my feet, and either I must give him my vow to become his wife, or give him hope of other favours. I am so entirely yours, that I will be guided by you, which I shall flatter him in to gain my liberty; for if I grant either, he has proposed to carry me to his country-house, two leagues from the town, and there consummate whatever I design to bless him with; and this is it that has wrought my consent, that we being to go alone, only my own servants, you may easily take me thence by force upon the road, or after our arrival, where he will not guard me perhaps so strictly as he does here: for that, I leave it to your conduct, and expect your answer to your impatient
He immediately sat down, and wrote this:
OCTAVIO to SYLVIA.
Have a care, my charming fair, how you play with vows; and however you are forced, for that religious end of saving your honour, to deceive the poor old lover, whom, by heaven I pity; yet rather let me die than know you can be guilty of vow-breach, though made in jest. I am well pleased at the glimpse of hope you give me, that I shall see you at his villa; and doubt not but to find a way to secure you to myself: say any thing, promise to sacrifice all to his desire; but oh, do not give away thy dear, thy precious self by vow, to any but the languishing
After he had wrote this, he hasted, and throws it into her window, and returned to bed without seeing her, which was no small affliction to his soul: he had an ill night of it, and fancied a thousand tormenting things; that the old gentleman might then be with her; and if alone, what might he not persuade, by force of rich presents, of which his uncle was well stored; and so he guessed, and as he guessed it proved, as by his next night’s letter he was informed, that the old lover no sooner saw Sylvia retire, but having in mind to try his fortune in some critical minute — for such a minute he had heard there was that favoured lovers; but he goes to his closet, and taking out some jewels of great value, to make himself the more welcome, he goes directly to Sylvia’s chamber, and entered just as she had taken up Octavio’s letter, and clapped it in her bosom as she heard some body at the door; but was not in a little confusion, when she saw who it was, which she excused, by telling him she was surprised to find herself with a man in her chamber. That there he fell to pleading his cause of love, and offered her again to settle his estate upon her, and implored she would be his wife. After a thousand faint denials, she told him she could not possibly receive that honour, but if she could, she would have looked upon it as a great favour from heaven; at that he was thunder-struck, and looked as ghastly as if his mother’s ghost had frightened him; and after much debate, love and grief on his side, design and dissimulation on hers, she gave him hopes that atoned for all she had before said; insomuch that, before they parted, an absolute bargain was struck up, and he was to settle part of his estate upon her, as also that villa, to which he had resolved in two days to carry her; in earnest of this, he presents her with a necklace of pearl of good value, and other jewels, which was the best rhetoric he had yet spoke to her; and now she had appeared the most complaisant lady in the world, she suffers him to talk wantonly to her, nay, even to kiss her, and rub his grizzly beard on her divine face, grasp her hands, and touch her breast; a blessing he had never before arrived to, above the quality of his own servant-maid. To all which she makes the best resistance she can, under the circumstances of one who was to deceive well; and while she loathes, she seems well pleased, while the gay jewels sparkled in her eyes, and Octavio in her heart; so fond is youth of vanities, and to purchase an addition of beauty at any price. Thus with her pretty flatteries she wrought upon his soul, and smiled and looked him into faith; loath to depart, she sends him pleased away, and having her heart the more inclined to Octavio, by being persecuted with his uncle’s love, (for by comparison she finds the mighty difference) she sets herself to write him the account of what I have related; this night’s adventure, and agreement between his uncle and herself. She tells him that to-morrow, (for now it was almost day,) she had promised him to go to his villa: she tells him at what rate she has purchased the blessing expected; and lastly, leaves the management of the rest to him, who needs not to be instructed. This letter he received the next night at the old place, and Sylvia with it lets down a velvet night-bag, which contained all the jewels and things of value she had received of himself, his uncle, or any other: after which he retired, and was pretty well at ease, with the imagination he should ’ere long be made happy in the possession of Sylvia: in order to it, the next morning he was early up, and dressing himself in a great coarse campaign-coat of the gardener’s, putting up his hair as well as he could, under a country hat, he got on a horse that suited his habit, and rides to the villa, whither they were to come, and which he knew perfectly well every room of; for there our hero was born. He went to a little cabaret in the village, from whence he could survey all the great house, and see every body that passed in and out: he remained fixed at the window, filled with a thousand agitations; this he had resolved, not to set upon the old man as a thief, or robber; nor could he find in his heart or nature, to injure him, though but in a little affrighting him, who had given him so many anxious hours, and who had been so unjust to desire that blessing himself he would not allow him; and to believe that virtue in himself, which he exclaims against as so great a vice in his nephew; nevertheless he resolved to deceive him, to save his own life. And he wanted that nice part of generosity, as to satisfy a little unnecessary lust in an old man, to ruin the eternal content of a young one, so nearly allied to his soul, as was his own dear proper person. While he was thus considering, he saw his uncle’s coach coming, and Sylvia with that doting lover in it, who was that day dressed in all the fopperies of youth, and every thing was young and gay about him but his person; that was winter itself, disguised in artificial spring; and he was altogether a mere contradiction: but who can guess the disorders and pantings of Octavio’s heart at the sight? And though he had resolved before, he would not to save his life, lay violent hands upon his old parent; yet at their approach, at their presenting themselves together before his eyes as two lovers, going to betray him to all the miseries, pangs and confusions of love; going to possess — her, the dear object and certain life of his soul, and he the parent of him, to whom she had disposed of herself, so entirely already, he was provoked to break from all his resolutions, and with one of those pistols he had in his pockets, to have sent unerring death to his old amorous heart; but that thought was no sooner born than stifled in his soul, where it met with all the sense of gratitude, that ever could present the tender love and dear care of a parent there; and the coach passing into the gate put him upon new designs, and before they were finished he saw Sylvia’s page coming from the house, after seeing his lady to her apartment, and being shewed his own, where he laid his valise and riding things, and was now come out to look about a country, where he had never been before. Octavio goes down and meets him, and ventures to make himself known to him: and so infinitely glad was the youth to have an opportunity to serve him, that he vowed he would not only do it with his life, on occasion, but believed he could do it effectually, since the old gentleman had no sort of jealousy now; especially, since they had so prudently managed matters in this time of his lady’s remaining at Sebastian’s house. ‘So that, sir, it will not be difficult,’ says the generous boy, ‘for me to convey you to my lodging, when it is dark.’ He told him his lady cast many a longing look out towards the road, as she passed, ‘for you, I am sure, my lord; — for she had told both myself and Antonet of her design before, lest our surprise or resistance should prevent any force you might use on the road, to take her from my lord Sebastian: she sighed, and looked on me as she alighted, with eyes, my lord, that told me her grief, for your disappointment.’
You may easily imagine how transported the poor Octavio was; he kissed and embraced the amiable boy a thousand times; and taking a ring from his finger of considerable value, gave it the dear reviver of his hopes. Octavio already knew the strength of the house, which consisted but of a gardener, whose wife was house-keeper, and their son who was his father’s servant in the garden, and their daughter, who was a sort of maid-servant: and they had brought only the coachman, and one footman, who were likely to be merrily employed in the kitchen at night when all got to supper together. I say, Octavio already knew this, and there was now nothing that opposed his wishes: so that dismissing the dear boy, he remained the rest of the tedious day at the cabaret, the most impatient of night of any man on earth; and when the boy appeared, it was like the approach of an angel. He told him, his lady was the most melancholy creature that ever eyes beheld, and that to conceal the cause, she had feigned herself ill, and had not stirred from her chamber all the day: that the old lover was perpetually with her, and the most concerned dotard that ever Cupid enslaved: that he had so wholly taken up his lady with his disagreeable entertainment, that it was impossible either by a look or note to inform her of his being so near her, whom she considered as her present defender, and her future happiness. ‘But this evening,’ continued the youth, ‘as I was waiting on her at supper, she spied the ring on my finger, which, my lord, your bounty made me master of this morning. She blushed a thousand times, and fixed her eyes upon it for she knew it, and was impatient to have asked me some questions, but contained her words: and after that, I saw a joy dance in her lovely eyes, that told me she divined you were not far from thence. Therefore I beseech your lordship let us haste.’ So both went out together, and the page conducted him into a chamber he better knew than the boy, while every moment he receives intelligence, how affairs went in that of Sylvia’s by the page, who leaving Octavio there went out as a spy for him. In fine, with much ado, Sylvia persuaded her old lover to urge her for no favours that night, for she was indisposed and unfit for love; yet she persuades with such an air, so smiling, and insinuating, that she increases the fire, she endeavoured to allay: but he, who was all obedience, as well as new desire, resolves to humour her, and shew the perfect gallantry of his love; he promises her she shall command: and after that never was the old gentleman seen in so excellent a humour before in the whole course of his life; a certain lightning against a storm that must be fatal to him.
He was no sooner gone from her, with a promise to go to bed and sleep, that he might be the earlier up to shew her the fine gardens, which she loved, but she sends Antonet to call the page, from whom she longed to know something of Octavio, and was sure he could inform her. But she was undressing while she spoke, and got into her bed before she left her: but Antonet, instead of bringing the sighing youth, brought the transported and ravished Octavio, who had by this time pulled his coarse campaign, and put down his hair. He fell breathless with joy on her bed-side; when Antonet, who knew that love desired no lookers-on, retired, and left Octavio almost dead with joy, in the clasping arms of the trembling maid, the lovely Sylvia. Oh, who can guess their satisfaction? Who can guess their sighs and love, their tender words, half stifled in kisses? Lovers! fond lovers! only can imagine; to all besides, this tale will be insipid. He now forgets where he is, that not far off lay his amorous uncle, that to be found there was death, and something worse; but wholly ravished with the languishing beauty, taking his pistols out of either pocket, he lays them on a dressing-table, near the bed-side, and in a moment throws off his clothes, and gives himself up to all the heaven of love, that lay ready to receive him there, without thinking of any thing, but the vast power of either’s charms. They lay and forgot the hasty hours, but old Sebastian did not. They were all counted by him with the impatience of a lover: he burnt, he raged with fierce desire, and tossed from side to side, and found no ease; Sylvia was present in imagination, and he like Tantalus reaches at the food, which, though in view, is not within his reach: he would have prayed, but he had no devotion for any deity but Sylvia; he rose and walked and went to bed again, and found himself uneasy every way. A thousand times he was about to go, and try what opportunity would do, in the dark silent night — but fears her rage — he fears she will chide at least; then he resolves, and unresolves as fast: unhappy lover — thus to blow the fire when there was no materials to supply it; at last, overcome with fierce desire too violent to be withstood, or rather fate would have it so ordained, he ventures all, and steals to Sylvia’s chamber, believing, when she found him in her arms, she could not be displeased; or if she were, that was the surest place of reconciliation: so that only putting his night-gown about him, he went softly to her chamber for fear of waking her: the unthinking lovers had left open the door, so that it was hardly put to; and the first alarm was Octavio’s hand being seized, which was clasping his treasure. He starts from the frighted arms of Sylvia, and leaping from the bed would have escaped; for he knew too well the touch of that old hand; but Sebastian, wholly surprised at so robust a repulse, took most unfortunately a stronger hold, and laying both his hands roughly upon him, with a resolution to know who he was, for he felt his hair; and Octavio struggling at the same minute to get from him, they both fell against the dressing-table, and threw down the pistols; in their fall, one of which going off, shot the unfortunate old lover into the head, so that he never spoke word more: at the going off of the pistol, Sylvia, who had not minded those Octavio laid on the table, cried out —‘Oh my Octavio!’ ‘My dearest charmer,’ replied he, ‘I am well ——‘and feeling on the dead body, which he wondered had no longer motion, he felt blood flowing round it, and sighing cried —‘Ah Sylvia! I am undone — my uncle — oh my parent —— speak, dear sir! what unlucky accident has done this fatal deed?’ Sylvia, who was very soft by nature, was extremely surprised, and frightened at the news of a dead man in her chamber, so that she was ready to run mad with the apprehension of it: she raved and tore herself, and expressed her fright in cries and distraction; so that Octavio was compelled from one charitable grief to another. He goes to her and comforts her, and tells, since it is by no design of either of them, their innocence will be their guardian angel. He tells her, all their fault was love, which made him so heedlessly fond of joys with her, he stayed to reap those when he should have secured them by flight. He tells her this is now no place to stay in, and that he would put on her clothes, and fly with her to some secure part of the world; ‘For who,’ said he,‘that finds this poor unfortunate here, will not charge his death on me, or thee? —— Haste then, my dearest maid, haste, haste, and let us fly ——’ So dressing her, he led her into Antonet’s chamber, while he went to see which way they could get out. So locking the chamber-door where the dead body lay, which by this time was stiff and cold, he locked that also of his uncle’s chamber, and calling the page, they all got themselves ready; and putting two horses in the coach, they unseen and unperceived got themselves all out: the servants having drank hard at their meeting in the country last night, were all too sound asleep to understand any thing of what passed. It being now about the break of day, Octavio was the coachman, and the page riding by the coach-side, while Sylvia and Antonet were in it, they in an hour’s time reached the town, where Octavio packed up all that was carriageable; took his own coach and six horses; left his affairs to the management of a kinsman, that dwelt with him, took bills to the value of two thousand pounds, and immediately left the town, after receiving some letters that came last night by the post, one of which was from Philander; and indeed, this new grief upon Octavio’s soul, made him the most dejected and melancholy man in the world, insomuch that he, who never wept for any thing but for love, was often found with tears rolling down his cheeks, at the remembrance of an accident so deplorable, and of which, he and his unhappy passion was the cause, though innocently: yet could not the dire reflection of that, nor the loss of so tender a parent as was Sebastian, lessen one spark of that fire for Sylvia, whose unfortunate flame had been so fatal. While they were safe out of danger, the servants of Sebastian admired when ten, eleven and twelve o’clock was come, they saw neither the old lord, nor any of the new guests. But when the coachman missed his coach and horses, he was in a greater maze, and thought some body had stolen them, and accusing himself of sluggishness and debauchery, that made him not able to hear, when the coach went out, he forswore all drinking: but when the house-keeper and he met, and discoursed about the lady and the rest, they concluded, that the old gentleman and she were agreed upon the matter; and being got to bed together had quite forgot themselves; and made a thousand roguish remarks upon them. They believed the maid and the page too, were as well employed, since they saw neither. But when dinner was ready, she went up to the maid’s chamber and found it empty, as also that of the page; her heart then presaging something, she ventures to knock at her lord’s chamber-door, but finding it locked, and none answer, they broke it open; and after doing the same by that of Sylvia, they found the poor Sebastian stretched on the floor, and shot in the head, the toilet pulled almost down, and the lock of the pistol hanging in the point of the toilet entangled, and the muzzle of it just against the wound. At first, when they saw him, they fancied Sylvia might kill him, for either offering to come to bed to her in the night, or some other malicious end. But when they saw how the pistol lay, they fancied it accident in the dark; ‘For,’ said the woman —‘I and my daughter have been up ever since day-break, and I am sure no such thing happened then, nor could they since escape:’ and it being natural in Holland to cry, ‘Loop Schellum’, that is, ‘Run rogue’, to him that is alive, and who has killed another; and for every man to set a helping hand to bear him out of danger, thinking it too much that one is already dead: I say, this being the nature of the people, they never pursued the murderers, or fled persons, but suffered Sebastian to lie till the coroner sat upon him, who found it, or at least thought it accident; and there was all for that time. But this, with all the reasonable circumstances, did not satisfy the States. Here is one of their high and mighties killed, a fair lady fled, and upon inquiry a fine young fellow too, the nephew: all knew they were rivals in this fair lady; all knew there were animosities between them; all knew Octavio was absconded some days before; so that, upon consideration, they concluded he was murdered by compact; and the rather, because they wished it so in spite of Octavio; and because both he and Sylvia were fled like guilty persons. Upon this they made a seizure of both his, and his uncle’s estate, to the use of the States. Thus the best and most glorious man, that ever graced that part of the world, was undone by love. While Sylvia with sighs and tears would often say that sure she was born the fate of all that adored her, and no man ever thrived that had a design upon her, or a pretension to her.
Thus between excess of grief and excess of love, which indeed lay veiled in the first, they arrived at Brussels; where Octavio, having news of the proceedings of the States against him, resolving rather to lose his life, than tamely to surrender his right, he went forth in order to take some care about it: and in these extremes of a troubled mind, he had forgot to read Philander’s letters, but gave them to Sylvia to peruse, till he returned, beseeching and conjuring her, by all the charms of love, not to suffer herself to be afflicted, but now to consider she was wholly his; and she could not, and ought not to rob him of a sigh, or tear for any other man. For they had concluded to marry, as soon as Sylvia should be delivered from that part of Philander, of which she was possessed. Therefore beholding her entirely his own, of whom he was so fondly tender, he could not endure the wind should blow on her, and kiss her lovely face: jealous of even the air she breathed, he was ever putting her in mind, of whose and what she was; and she ever giving him new assurances, that she was only Octavio’s. The last part of his ill news he concealed from her; that of the usage of the States. He was so entirely careful of her fame, that he had two lodgings, one most magnificent for her, another for himself; and only visited her all the live-long day. And being now retired from her, she whose love and curiosity grew less every day, for the false Philander, opened his letter with a sigh of departed love, and read this.
Philander to Octavio.
Sure of your friendship, my dear Octavio, I venture to lay before you the history of my misfortunes, as well as those of my joys, equally extreme.
In my last, I gave you an account how triumphing a lover I was, in the possession of the adorable Calista; and how very near I was being surprised in the fountain, where I had hid myself from the rage of old Clarinau; and escaped wet and cold to my lodging: and though indeed I escaped, it was not without giving the old husband a jealousy, which put him upon inquiry, after a stricter manner, as I heard the next day from Calista; but with as ill success as the night before; notwithstanding it appears, by what after happened, that he still retained his jealousy, and that of me, from a thousand little inquiries I had from time to time made, from my being now absent, and most of all from my being, (as now he fancied) that vision, which Calista saw in the garden. All these circumstances wrought a thousand conundrums, in his Spanish politic noddle: and he resolves that Calista’s actions should be more narrowly watched. This I can only guess from what ensued. I am not able to say, by what good fortune, I escaped several happy nights after the first, but it is certain I did so; for the old man carrying all things fair to the lovely Countess, she thought herself secure in her joys hitherto, as to any discovery: however, I never went on this dear adventure but I was well armed against any mishaps, of poniard, sword, and pistol, that garb of a right Spaniard. Calista had been married above two years, before I beheld her, and had never been with child: but it so chanced, that she conceived the very first night of our happiness; since which time, not all her flatteries and charms, could prevail for one night with the old Count: for, whether from her seeming fondness he imagined the cause, or what other reason he had to withstand her desire and caresses, I know not: but still he found, or feigned some excuses to put her off: so that Calista’s pleas and love increased with her growing belly. And though almost every night I had the fair, young charmer in bed with me, (without the least suspicion on Dormina’s side) or, else in the arbours, or on flowery banks in the garden; till I am confident there was not a walk, a grove, an arbour, or bed of sweets, that was not conscious of our stolen delights; nay, we grew so very bold in love, that we often suffered the day to break upon us; and still escaped his spies, who by either watching at the wrong door, or part of the vast garden, or by sleepiness, or carelessness, still let us pass their view. Four happy months, thus blessed, and thus secured, we lived, when Calista could no longer conceal her growing shame, from the jealous Clarinau, or Dormina. She feared, with too much reason, that it was jealousy, which made him refrain her bed, though he dissembled well all day; and one night, weeping in my bosom, with all the tenderness of love, she said, that if I loved her, as she hoped I did, I should be shortly very miserable: ‘For oh,’ cries she, ‘I can no longer hide this —— dear effect of my stolen happiness —— and Clarinau will no sooner perceive my condition, but he will use his utmost rigour against me; I know his jealous nature, and find I am undone ——’ With that she told me how he had killed his first wife; for which he was obliged to fly from the Court, and country of Spain: and that she found from all his severity, he was not changed from his nature. In fine, she said and loved so much, that I was wholly charmed, and vowed myself her slave, or sacrifice, either to follow what she could propose, or fall a victim with her to my love. After which it was concluded, (neither having a mind to leave the world, when we both knew so well how to make ourselves happy in it) that the next night I should bring her a suit of men’s clothes; and she would in that disguise fly with me to any part of the world. For she vowed, if this unlucky force of flying had not happened to her, she had not been longer able to endure his tyranny and slavery; but had resolved to break her chain, and put herself upon any fortune. So that after the usual endearments on both sides, I left her, resolved to follow my fortune, and she me, to sacrifice all to her repose. That night, and all next day, she was not idle; but put up all her jewels, of which she had the richest of any lady in all those parts; for in that the old Count was over-lavish: and the next night I brought her a suit, which I had made that day on purpose, as gay as could be made in so short a time; and scaling my wall, well armed, I found her ready at the door to receive me; and going into an arbour, by the aid of a dark-lanthorn I carried, she dressed her in a laced shirt of mine, and this suit I had brought her, of blue velvet, trimmed with rich loops and buttons of gold; a white hat, and white feather; a fair peruke, and scarlet breeches, the rest suitable. And I must confess to you, my dear Octavio, that never any thing appeared so ravishing, and yet I have seen Sylvia! But even she a baby to this more noble figure. Calista is tall, and fashioned the most divinely — the most proper for that dress of any of her sex: and I own I never saw any thing so beautiful all over, from head to foot: and viewing her thus, (carrying my lanthorn all about her) but more especially her face, her wondrous, charming face —(pardon me, if I say, what does but look like flattery)— I never saw any thing more resembling my dear Octavio, than the lovely Calista, Your very feature, your very smile and air; so that, if possible, that increased my adoration and esteem for her: thus completed, I armed her, and buckled on her sword, and she would needs have one of my pistols too, that stuck in my belt; and now she appeared all lovely man. It was so late by that time we had done, that the moon, which began to shine very bright, gave us a thousand little fears, and disposing her jewels all about us safe, we began our adventure, with a thousand dreadful apprehensions on Calista’s side. And going up the walk, towards the place where we were to mount the wall, just at the end of it, turning a corner, we encountered two men, who were too near us to be prevented. ‘Oh,’ cried Calista to me, who saw them first — ‘My dear Philander, we are undone!’ I looked and saw them, and replied, ‘My charmer, do not fear, they are but two to two, whoever they be; for love and I shall be of force enough to encounter them.’ ‘No, my Philander,’ replied she briskly, ‘it is I will be your second in this rencounter.’ At this approaching them more near, (for they hasted to us, nor could we fly from them,) we soon found by his hobbling, that old Clarinau was one, and the other a tall Spaniard, his nephew. I clapped my hair under my hat, and both of us making a stand, we resolved, if they durst not venture on us, to let them pass —— but Clarinau, who was on that side which faced Calista, cried, ‘Ah villain, have I caught thee!’ and at the same instant with a poniard stabbed her into the arm; for with a sudden turn she evaded it from her heart, to which it was designed. At which, repaying his compliment, she shot off her pistol, and down he fell, crying out for a priest; while I, at the same time, laid my tall boy at his feet. I caught my dear virago in my arms, and hasted through the garden with her, and was very hasty in mounting the ladder, putting my fair second before me, without so much as daring yet to ask her, if she were wounded, lest it should have hindered our flight, if I had found her hurt: nor knew I she was so, till I felt her warm precious blood, streaming on my face, as I lifted her over the wall; but I soon conveyed her into my new lodgings, yet not soon enough to secure her from those that pursued us. For with their bawling they alarmed some of the servants, who looking narrowly for the murderers, tracked us by Calista’s, blood, which they saw with their flambeaus, from the place where Clarinau, and his nephew lay, to the very wall; and thinking from our wounds we could not escape far, they searching the houses, found me dressing Calista’s wound, which I kissed a thousand times. But the matchless courage of the fair virago! the magnanimity of Calista’s soul! Nothing of foolish woman harboured there, nothing but softest love; for whilst I was raving mad, tearing my hair and cursing my fate in vain, she had no concern but for me; no pain but that of her fear of being taken from me, and being delivered to old Clarinau, whom I feared was not dead; nor could the very seizing her, daunt her spirits, but with an unmatched fortitude she bore it all; she only wished she could have escaped without bloodshed. We were both led to prison, but none knew who we were; for those that seized us, had by chance never seen me, and Calista’s habit secured the discovery. While we both remained there, we had this comfort of being well lodged together; for they did not go about to part us, being in for one crime. And all the satisfaction she had, was, that she should, she hoped, die concealed, if she must die for the crime; and that was much a greater joy, than to think she should be rendered back to Clarinau, who in a few days we heard was upon his recovery. This gave her new fears; but I confess to you, I was not afflicted at it; nor did I think it hard for me to bribe Calista off; for the master of the prison was very civil and poor, so that with the help of some few of Calista’s, jewels, he was wrought upon to let her escape, I offering to remain, and bear all the brunt of the business, and to pay whatever he could be fined for it. These reasons, with the ready jewels, mollified the needy rascal; and though loath she were to leave me, yet she being assured that all they could do was but to fine me, and her stay she knew was her inevitable ruin, at last submitted, leaving me sufficient in jewels to satisfy for all that could happen, which were the value of a hundred thousand crowns. She is fled to Brussels, to a nunnery of Augustines, where the Lady Abbess is her aunt, and where for a little time she is secure, till I can follow her.
I beg of you my dear Octavio, write to me, and write me a letter of recommendation to the magistrates here, who all being concerned when any one of them is a cuckold, are very severe upon criminals in those cases. I tire you with my melancholy adventure — but it is some ease in the extremes of grief, to receive the tender pity of a friend, and that I am sure Octavio will afford his unhappy
As cold and as unconcerned as Sylvia imagined she had found her heart to Philander’s, memory, at the reading of this letter, in spite of all the tenderness she had for Octavio, she was possessed with all those pains of love and jealousy, which heretofore tormented her, when love was young, and Philander appeared with all those charms, with which he first conquered; she found the fire was but hid under those embers, which every little blast blows off, and makes it flame anew. It was now that she, forgetting all the past obligations of Octavio, all his vast presents, his vows, his sufferings, his passion and his youth, abandoned herself wholly to her tenderness for Philander, and drowns her fair cheeks in a shower of tears: and having eased her heart a little by this natural relief of her sex, she opened the letter that was designed for herself, and read this.
I know, my lovely Sylvia, I am accused of a thousand barbarities for unkindly detaining your lover, who long ere this ought to have thrown himself at your feet, imploring a thousand pardons for his tedious six months’ absence, though the affliction of it, is all my own, and I am afraid all the punishment; but when, my dearest Sylvia, I reflect again, it is in order to our future tranquillity, I depend on your love and reason for my excuse. I know my absence has procured me a thousand rivals, and you as many adorers, and fear Philander appears grown old in love, and worn out with sorrow and care, unfit for the soft play of the young and delicate Sylvia; new lovers have new vows and new presents, and your fickle sex stoop to the lavish prostrate. Ill luck — unkind fate has rifled me, and of a shining fortune left me even to the charity of a stingy world; and I have now no compliment to maintain the esteem in so great a soul as that of Sylvia, but that old repeated one, of telling her my dull, my trifling heart is still her own: but, oh! I want the presenting eloquence that so persuades and charms the fair, and am reduced to that fatal torment of a generous mind, rather to ask and take, than to bestow. Yet out of my contemptible stock, I have sent my Sylvia something towards that dangerous, unavoidable hour, which will declare me, however, a happy father of what my Sylvia bears about her; it is a bill for a thousand pattacoons. I am at present under an easy restraint about a little dispute between a man of quality here and myself; I had also been at Brussels to have provided all things for your coming illness, but every day expect my liberty, and then without delay I will take post, and bring Philander to your arms. I have news that Cesario is arrived at Brussels. I am at present a stranger to all that passes, and having a double obligation to haste, you need not fear but I shall do so.
This letter raised in her a different sentiment, from that of the story of his misfortune; and that taught her to know, that this he had writ to her was all false, and dissembled; which made her, in concluding the letter, cry out with a vehement scorn and indignation. —‘Oh how I hate thee, traitor! who hast the impudence to continue thus to impose upon me, as if I wanted common sense to see thy baseness: for what can be more base and cowardly than lies, that poor plebeian shift, condemned by men of honour or of wit.’
Thus she spoke, without reminding that this most contemptible quality she herself was equally guilty of, though infinitely more excusable in her sex, there being a thousand little actions of their lives, liable to censure and reproach, which they would willingly excuse and colour over with little falsities; but in a man, whose most inconstant actions pass oftentimes for innocent gallantries, and to whom it is no infamy to own a thousand amours, but rather a glory to his fame and merit; I say, in him, (whom custom has favoured with an allowance to commit any vices and boast it) it is not so brave. And this fault of Philander’s cured Sylvia of her disease of love, and chased from her heart all that softness, which once had so much favoured him. Nevertheless she was filled with thoughts that failed not to make her extremely melancholy: and it was in this humour Octavio found her; who, forgetting all his own griefs to lessen hers, (for his love was arrived to a degree of madness) he caresses her with all the eloquence his passion could pour out; he falls at her feet, and pleads with such a look and voice as could not be resisted; nor ceased he till he had talked her into ease, till he had looked and loved her into a perfect calm: it was then he urged her to a new confirmation of her heart to him, and took hold of every yielding softness in her to improve his advantage. He pressed her to all he wished, but by such tender degrees, by arts so fond and endearing, that she could deny nothing. In this humour, she makes a thousand vows against Philander, to hate him as a man, that had first ruined her honour, and then abandoned her to all the ills that attend ungovern’d youth, and unguarded beauty: she makes Octavio swear as often to be revenged on him for the dishonour of his sister: which being performed, they re-assumed all the satisfaction which had seemed almost destroyed by adverse fate, and for a little space lived in great tranquillity; or if Octavio had sentiments that represented past unhappinesses, and a future prospect of ill consequences, he strove with all the power of love to hide them from Sylvia. In this time, they often sent to the nunnery of the Augustines, to inquire of the Countess of Clarinau; and at last, hearing she was arrived, no force of persuasion or reason could hinder Sylvia from going to make her a visit. Octavio pleads in vain the overthrow of all his revenge, by his sister’s knowledge that her intrigue was found out: but in an undress — for her condition permitted no other, she is carried to the monastery, and asks for the Mother Prioress, who came to the grate; where, after the first compliments over, she tells her she is a relation to that lady, who such a day came to the house. Sylvia, by her habit and equipage, appearing of quality, was answered, that though the lady were very much indisposed, and unfit to appear at the grate, she would nevertheless endeavour to serve her, since she was so earnest; and commanding one of the nuns to call down Madam the Countess, she immediately came; but though in a dress all negligent, and a face where languishment appeared, she at first sight surprised our fair one, with a certain majesty in her mien and motion, and an air of greatness in her face, which resembled that of Octavio: so that not being able to sustain herself on her trembling supporters, she was ready to faint at a sight so charming, and a form so angelic. She saw her all that Philander had described; nor could the partiality of his passion render her more lovely than she appeared this instant to Sylvia. She came to reproach her —— but she found a majesty in her looks above all censure, that awed the jealous upbraider, and almost put her out of countenance; and with a rising blush she seemed ashamed of her errand. At this silence the lovely Calista, a little surprised, demanded of an attending nun if that lady would speak with her? This awaked Sylvia into an address, and she replied, ‘Yes, madam, I am the unfortunate, who am compelled by my hard fate to complain of the most charming woman that ever nature made: I thought, in my coming hither, I should have had no other business but to have told you how false, how perjured a lover I had had; but at a sight so wondrous, I blame him no more, (whom I find now compelled to love) but you, who have taken from me, by your charms, the only blessing heaven had lent me.’ This she ended with a sigh; and Madam the Countess, who from the beginning of her speaking, guessed, from a certain trembling at her heart, who it was she spoke of, resolved to shew no signs of a womanish fear or jealousy, but with an unalterable air and courage, replied, ‘Madam, if my charms were so powerful, as you are pleased to tell me they are, they sure have attracted too many lovers for me to understand which it is I have been so unhappy to rob you of. If he be a gallant man, I shall neither deny him, nor repent my loving him the more for his having been a lover before.’ To which Sylvia, who expected not so brisk an answer, replied; ‘She makes such a confession with so much generosity, I know she cannot be insensible of the injuries she does, but will have a consideration and pity for those wretches at least, who are undone to establish her satisfaction.’ ‘Madam,’ replied the Countess, (a little touched with the tenderness and sadness with which she spoke) ‘you have so just a character of my soul, that I assure you I would not for any pleasure in the world do an action should render it less worthy of your good thoughts. Name me the man — and if I find him such as I may return you with honour, he shall find my friendship no more.’ ‘Ah, madam, it is impossible,’ cried Sylvia,‘that he can ever be mine, that has once had the glory of being conquered by you; and what is yet more, of having conquered you.’ ‘Nay, madam,’ replied Calista, ‘if your loss be irrecoverable, I have no more to do but to sigh with you, and join our hard fates; but I am not so vain of my own beauty, nor have so little admiration for that of yours, to imagine I can retain any thing you have a claim to; for me, I am not fond of admirers, if heaven be pleased to give me one, I ask no more. I will leave the world to you, so it allow me my Philander.’ This she spoke with a little malice, which called up all the blushes in the fair face of Sylvia; who a little nettled at the word Philander, replied; ‘Go, take the perjured man, and see how long you can maintain your empire over his fickle heart, who has already betrayed you to all the reproach an incensed rival and an injured brother can load you with: see where he has exposed you to Octavio; and after that tell me what you can hope from such a perjured villain ——’ At these words, she gave her the letter Philander had writ to Octavio, with that he had writ to herself — and without taking leave, or speaking any more, she left her thoughtful rival: who after pausing a moment on what should be writ there, and what the angry lady meant, she silently passed on to her chamber. But if she were surprised with her visitor, she was much more, when opening the letters she found one to her brother, filled with the history of her infamy, and what pressed her soul more sensibly, the other filled with passion and softness to a mistress. She had scarcely read them out, but a young nun, her kinswoman, came into her chamber; whom I have since heard protest, she scarce saw in that moment any alteration in her, but that she rose and received her, with her wonted grace and sweetness; and but for some answers that she made mal à propos, and sighs, that against her will broke from her heart, she should not have found an alteration; but this being unusual, made her inquisitive; and the faint denial she met with made her importune, and that so earnestly, and with so many vows of fidelity and secrecy, that Calista’s heart, even breaking within, poured itself for ease, into the faithful bosom of this young devotee; and having told her all the story of her misfortune, she began with so much courage and bravery of mind, to make vows against the charming betrayer of her fame, and with him all mankind, and this with such consideration and repentance, as left no room for reproach, or persuasion; and from this moment resolved never to quit the solitude of the cloisters. She had all her life, before her marriage, lived in one, and wished now, she had never seen the world, or departed from a life so pure and innocent. She looked upon this fatal accident, now a blessing, to bring her back to a life of devotion and tranquillity: and indeed is a miracle of piety. Some time after this, she was brought to bed, but commanded the child should be removed, where she might never see it, which accordingly was done; after which, in due time, she took the habit, and remains a rare example of repentance and holy-living. This new penitent became the news of the whole town; and it was not without some pleasure, that Octavio heard it, as the only action she could do, that could reconcile him to her; the knowledge of which, and some few soft days with Sylvia, made him chase away all those shiverings, that had seized him upon several occasions: but Sylvia was all sweetness, all love and good humour, and made his days easy, and his nights entirely happy. While, on the other side, there was no satisfaction, no pleasure, that the fond lavish lover did not, at any price, purchase for her repose; for it was the whole business of his life, to study what would charm and please her: and being assured by so many vows of her heart, there was nothing rested, to make him perfectly happy, but her being delivered of what belonged to his rival, and in which he had no part, he was at perfect ease. This she wishes with an impatience equal to his; whose love and fondness for Octavio appeared to be arrived to the highest degree, and she every minute expected to be free from the only thing, that hindered her from giving herself entirely to her impatient love.
In the midst of this serenity of affairs, Sylvia’s page one day brings them news his lord was arrived, and that he saw him in the park walking with some French gentlemen, and undiscovered to him came to give her notice, that she might take her measures accordingly. In spite of all her love to Octavio, her blushes flew to her cheeks at the news, and her heart panted with unusual motion; she wonders at herself, and fears and doubts her own resolution; she till now believed him wholly indifferent to her, but she knows not what construction this new disorder will bear; and what confounded and perplexed her more, was, that Octavio beheld all these emotions, with unconceivable resentment; he swells with pride and anger, and even bursts with grief, and not able longer to contain his complaint, he reproaches her in the softest language that ever love and grief invented; while she weeps with shame and divided love, and demands of him a thousand pardons; she deals thus kindly at least with him, to confess this truth; that it was impossible, but at the approach of a man, who taught her first to love, and for which knowledge she had paid so infinitely dear, she could not but feel unusual motions; that that tenderness and infant flame, he once inspired, could not but have left some warmth about her heart, and that Philander, the once charming dear Philander, could never be absolutely to her as a common man, and begged that he would give some grains of allowance to a maid, so soft by nature, and who had once loved so well, to be undone by the dear object; and though every kind word she gave his rival was a dagger at his heart, nevertheless, he found, or would think he found, some reason in what she said; at least he seemed more appeased, while she, on the other side, dissembled all the ease, and repose of mind, that could flatter him to calmness.
You must know, that for Sylvia’s, honour, she had lodgings by herself, and Octavio had his in another house, at an aunt’s of his, a widow, and a woman of great quality; and Sylvia being near her lying-in, had provided all things, with the greatest magnificence imaginable, and passed for a young widow, whose husband died, at the Siege of ——Octavio only visited her daily, and all the nights she had to herself. For he treated her as one whom he designed to make his wife, and one whose honour was his own; but that night the news of Philander’s, arrival was told her, she was more than ordinary impatient to have him gone, pretending illness, and yet seemed loath to let him go, and lovers (the greatest cullies in nature, and the aptest to be deceived, though the most quick-sighted)— do the soonest believe; and finding it the more necessary he should depart, the more ill she feigned to be, he took his leave, and left her to repose, after taking all care necessary, for one in her circumstances. But she, to make his absence more sure, and fearing lest he should suspect something of her design, being herself guilty, she orders him to be called back, and caresses him anew, tells him she was never more unwilling to part with him, and all the while is complaining and wishing to be in bed; and says he must not stir till he sees her laid. This obliges and cajoles him anew, and he will not suffer her women to undress her, but does the grateful business himself, and reaps some dear recompense by every service, and pleases his eyes and lips, with the ravishing beauties, of the loose unguarded, suffering fair one. She permits him any thing to have him gone, which was not till he saw her laid, as if to her rest: but he was no sooner got into his coach, but she rose, and slipped on her night-gown, and some other loose thingss and got into a chair, commanding her page to conduct the chairmen to all the great cabarets, where she believed it most likely to find Philander; which was accordingly done; and the page entering, inquires for such a cavalier, describing his person, his fine remarkable black hair of his own: but the first he entered into, he saw Brilliard bespeaking supper: for you must know that, that husband-lover being left, as I have said, in prison in Holland, for the accusation of Octavio; the unhappy young nobleman was no sooner fled upon the unlucky death of his uncle, but the States set Brilliard at liberty; who took his journey immediately to Philander, whom he found just released from his troublesome affair, and designed for Brussels, where they arrived that very morning: where the first thing he did, was to go to the nunnery of St Austin, to inquire for the fair Calista; but instead of encountering the kind, the impatient, the brave Calista, he was addressed to, by the old Lady Abbess, in so rough a manner, that he no longer doubted, upon what terms he stood there, though he wondered how they should know his story with Calista: when to put him out of doubt, she assured him, he should never more behold the face of her injured niece; for whose revenge she left him to heaven. It was in vain he kneeled and implored; he was confirmed again and again, she should never come from out the confines of those walls; and that her whole remaining life spent in penitence, was too little to wash away her sins with him: and giving him the letter he sent to Octavio, (which Sylvia had given Calista, and she the Lady Abbess, with a full confession of her fault) she cried; ‘See there, sir, the treachery you have committed against a woman of quality — whom your criminal love has rendered the most miserable of her sex.’ At the ending of which, she drew the curtain over the grate, and left him, wholly amazed and confounded, finding it to be the same he had writ to Octavio, and in it, that he had writ to Sylvia: by the sight of which, he no longer doubted, but that confidante had betrayed him every way. He rails on his false friendship, curses the Lady Abbess, himself, his fortune, and his birth; but finds it all in vain: nor was he so infinitely afflicted with the thought of the eternal loss of Calista, (because he had possessed her) as he was to find himself betrayed to her, and doubtless to Sylvia, by Octavio; and nothing but Calista’s being confined from him, (though she were very dear and charming to his thought) could have made him rave so extremely for a sight of her: he loves her the more, by how much the more it was impossible for him to see her; and that difficulty and his despair increased his flame. In this humour he went to his lodging, the most undone extravagant that ever raged with love. He considers her in a place, where no art, or force of love, or human wit, can retrieve her; no nor so much as send her a letter. This added to his fury, and in his first wild imaginations, he resolves nothing less than firing the monastery, that in that confusion he might seize his right of love, and do a deed, that would render his name famous as the Athenian youth, who to get a fame, though an inglorious one, fired the temple of their gods. But his rage abating by consideration, that impiety dwelt not long with him: and he ran over a number more, till from one to another, he reduced himself, to a degree of moderation, which presenting him with some flattering hope, that give him a little ease: it was then that Chevalier Tomaso, and another French gentleman of Cesario’s faction, (who were newly arrived at Brussels) came to pay him their respects: and after a while carried him into the park to walk, where Sylvia’s page had seen him; and from whence they sent Brilliard to bespeak supper at this cabaret, where Sylvia’s chair and herself waited, and where the page found Brilliard, of whom he asked for his lord; but understanding he could not possibly come in some hours, being designed for Court that evening, whither he was obliged to go and kiss the Governor’s hands, he went to the lady, who was almost dead with impatience, and told her, what he had learned: upon which she ordered her chairmen to carry her back to her lodgings, for she would not be persuaded to ask any questions of Brilliard, for whom she had a mortal hate: however, she resolved to send her page back with a billet, to wait Philander’s coming, which was not long; for having sooner dispatched their compliment at Court than they believed they should, they went all to supper together, where Brilliard had bespoke it; where being impatient to learn all the adventures of Cesario, since his departure from him, and of which no person could give so good an account as Chevalier Tomaso, Philander gave order that no body whomsoever should disturb them, and sat himself down to listen to the fortune of the Prince.
‘You know, my lord,’ said Tomaso,‘the state of things at your departure; and that all our glorious designs, for the liberty of all France were discovered, and betrayed by some of those little rascals, that great men are obliged to make use of in the greatest designs: upon whose confession you were proscribed, myself, this gentleman, and several others: it was our good fortunes to escape untaken, and yours to fall first in the messenger’s hands, and carried to the Bastille, even from whence you had the luck to escape: but it was not so with Cesario.’ ‘Heavens,’ cried Philander, ‘the Prince, I hope is not taken.’ ‘Not so neither,’ replied Tomaso, ‘nor should you wonder you have received no news of him, in a long time, since forty thousand crowns being offered for his head, or to any thing that could discover him, it would have exposed him to have written to any body, he being beset on all sides with spies from the King; so that it was impossible to venture a letter, without very great hazard of his life. Besides all these hindrances, Cesario, who, you know, was ever a great admirer of the fair sex, happened in this his retreat to fall most desperately in love: nor could the fears of death, which alarmed him on all sides, deter him from his new amour: which, because it has relation to some part of his adventures, I cannot omit, especially to your lordship, his friend, to whom every circumstance of that Prince’s fate and fortune will be of concern.
‘You must imagine, my lord, that your seizure and escape was enough to alarm the whole party; and there was not a man of the League who did not think it high time to look about him, when one, so considerable as your lordship, was surprised. Nor did the Prince himself any longer believe himself safe, but retired himself under the darkness of the following night: he went only accompanied with his page to a lady’s house, a widow of quality at Paris, that populous city being, as he conceived, the securest place to conceal himself in. This lady was Madam the Countess of —— who had, as you know, my lord, one only daughter, Mademoiselle Hermione, the heiress of her family. The Prince knew this young lady had a tenderness for him ever since they were both very young, which first took beginning in a masque at Court, where she then acted Mercury, and danced so exceedingly finely, that she gave our young hero new desire, if not absolute love, and charmed him at least into wishes. She was not then old enough to perceive she conquered, as well as to make a conquest: and she was capable of receiving impressions as well as to give them: and it was believed by some who were very near the Prince, and knew all his secrets then, that this young lady pitied the sighs of the royal lover, and even then rewarded them: and though this were most credibly whispered, yet methinks it seems impossible he should then have been happy; and after so many years, after the possession of so many other beauties, should return to her again, and find all the passions and pains of a beginning flame. But there is nothing to be wondered at in the contradictions and humours of human nature. But however inconstant and wavering he had been, Hermione retained her first passion for him; and that I less wonder at, since you know the Prince has the most charming person in the world, and is the most perfectly beautiful of all his sex: to this his youth and quality add no little lustre; and I should not wonder, if all the softer sex should languish for him, nor that any one should love on — who hath once been touched with love for him.
‘It was his last assurance the Prince so absolutely depended on, that (notwithstanding she was far from the opinion of his party) made him resolve to take sanctuary in those arms he was sure would receive him in any condition and circumstances. But now he makes her new vows, which possibly at first his safety obliged him to, while she returned them with all the passion of love. He made a thousand submissions to Madam the Countess, who he knew was fond of her daughter to that degree, that for her repose she was even willing to behold the sacrifice of her honour to this Prince, whom she knew Hermione loved even to death; so fond, so blindly fond is nature: and indeed after a little time that he lay there concealed, he reaped all the satisfaction that love could give him, or his youth could wish, with all the freedom imaginable. He only made vows of renouncing all other women, what ties or obligations soever he had upon him, and to resign himself entirely up to Hermione. I know not what new charms he had found by frequent conversation with her, and being uninterrupted by the sight of any other ladies; but it is most certain, my lord, that he grew to that excess of love, or rather dotage, (if love in one so young can be called so) that he languished for her, even while he possessed her all: he died, if obliged by company to retire from her an hour, at the end of which, being again brought to her, he would fall at her feet, and sigh, and weep, and make the most piteous moan that ever love inspired. He would complain upon the cruelty of a moment’s absence, and vow he would not live where she was not. All that disturbed his happiness he reproached as enemies to his repose, and at last made her feign an illness, that no visits might be made her, and that he might possess all her hours. Nor did Hermione perceive all this without making her advantages of so glorious an opportunity; but, with the usual cunning of her sex, improved every minute she gave him: she now found herself sure of the heart of the finest man in the world; and of one she believed would prove the greatest, being the head of a most powerful faction, who were resolved, the first opportunity, to order affairs so as to come to an open rebellion, and to make him a king. All these things, how unlikely soever in reason, her love and ambition suggested to her; so that she believed she had but one game more to play, to establish herself the greatest and most happy woman in the world. She consults in this weighty affair, with her mother, who had a share of cunning that could carry on a design as well as any of her sex. They found but one obstacle to all Hermione’s rising greatness; and that was the Prince’s being married; and that to a lady of so considerable birth and fortune, so eminent for her virtue, and all perfections of womankind, and withal so excellent for wit and beauty, that it was impossible to find any cause of a separation between them. So that finding it improbable to remove that let to her glories, she grew very melancholy, which was soon perceived by the too amorous Prince, who pleads, and sighs, and weeps on her bosom day and night to find the cause: but she, who found she had a difficult game to play, and that she had need of all her little aids, pretends a thousand little frivolous reasons before she discovers the true one; which served but to oblige him to ask anew, as she designed he should —— At last, one morning, finding him in the softest fit in the world, and ready to give her whatever she could ask in return for the secret of her disquiet, she told him with a sigh, how unhappy she was in loving so violently a man who could never be any thing to her more than the robber of her honour: and at last, with abundance of sighs and tears, bewailed his marriage —— He taking her with all the joy imaginable in his arms, thanked her for speaking of the only thing he had a thousand times been going to offer to her, but durst not for fear she should reproach him. He told her he looked upon himself as married to no woman but herself, to whom by a thousand solemn vows he had contracted himself, and that he would never own any other while he lived, let fortune do what she pleased with him. Hermione, thriving hitherto so well, urged his easy heart yet farther, and told him, though she had left no doubt remaining in her of his love and virtue, no suspicion of his vows, yet the world would still esteem the Princess his wife, and herself only as a prostitute to his youthful pleasure; and as she conceived her birth and fortune not to be much inferior to that of the Princess, she should die with indignation and shame, to bear all the reproach of his wantonness, while his now wife would live esteemed and pitied as an injured innocent. To all which he replied, as mad in love, that the Princess, he confessed, was a lady to whom he had obligations, but that he esteemed her no more his wife, since he was married to her at the age of twelve years; an age, wherein he was not capacitated to choose good or evil, or to answer for himself, or his inclinations: and though she were a lady of absolute virtue, of youth, wit and beauty; yet fate had so ordained it, that he had reserved his heart to this moment entirely for herself; and that he renounced all pretenders to him except herself; that he had now possessed the Princess for the space of twenty years; that youth had a long race to run, and could not take up at those years with one single beauty: that hitherto ravage and destruction of hearts had been his province and glory, and that he thought he never lost time but when he was a little while constant: but now he was fixed to all he would ever possess whilst he had breath; and that she was both his mistress and his wife; his eternal happiness, and the end of all his loving. It is there he said he would remain as in his first state of innocence: that hitherto his ambition had been above his passion, but that now his heart was so entirely subdued to this fair charmer (for so he call’d and thought her) that he could be content to live and die in the glory of being hers alone, without wishing for liberty or empire, but to render her more glorious. A thousand things tender and fond he said to this purpose, and the result of all ended in most solemn vows, that if ever fortune favoured him with a crown, he would fix it on her head, and make her in spite of all former ties and obligations, Queen of France. This was sufficient to appease her sighs and tears, and she remained entirely satisfied of his vows, which were exchanged before Madam the Countess, and confirmed by all the binding obligations, love on his side could invent, and ambition and subtlety on hers. When I came at any time to visit him, which by stealth a-nights sometimes I did, to take orders from him how I should act in all things, (though I lay concealed like himself) he would tell me all that had passed between him and Hermione. I suppose, not so much for the reposing the secret in my breast, as out of a fond pleasure to be repeating passages of his dotage, and repeating her name, which was ever in his mouth: I saw she had reduced him to a great degree of slavery, and could not look tamely on, while a hero so young, so gay, so great, and so hopeful, lay idling away his precious time, without doing any thing, either in order for his own safety or ambition. It was, my lord, a great pity to see how his noble resolution was changed, and how he was perfectly effeminated into soft woman. I endeavoured at first to rouse him from this lethargy of love; and argued with him the little reason, that in my opinion he had to be so charmed. I told him, Hermione, of all the beauties of France, was esteemed one of the meanest, and that if ever she had gained a conquest (as many she was infamously famed for) it was purely the force of her youth and quality; but that now that bloom was past, and she was one of those, which in less quality we called old. At these reproaches of his judgement, I often perceived him to blush, but more with anger than shame. Yet because, according to the vogue of the town, he found there was reason in what I said, and which he could only contradict by saying, however she was, she appeared all otherwise to him: he blamed me a little kindly for my hard words against her, and began to swear to me, that he thought her all over charm. He vowed there was absolute fascination in her eyes and tongue. “It is confessed,” said he, “she has not much of youth, nor of that which we agree to call beauty: but she has a grace so masculine, an air so ravishing, a wit and humour so absolutely made to charm, that they all together sufficiently recompense for her want of delicacy in complexion and feature: and in a word, my Tomaso,” cries he, embracing me, “she is, though I know not what, or how, a maid that compels me to adore her; she has a natural power to please above the rest of her dull sex; and I can abate her a face and shape, and yet vie her for beauty, with any of the celebrated ones of France.”
‘I found, by the manner of his saying this, that he was really charmed, and past all retrieve, bewitched to this lady. I found it vain therefore to press him to a separation, or to lessen his passion, but on the contrary told him, there was a time for all things; if fate had so ordained it that he must love. But I besought him, with all the eloquence of perfect duty and friendship, not to suffer his passion to surmount his ambition and his reason, so far as to neglect his interest and safety; and for a little pleasure with a woman, suffer all his friends to perish, that had woven their fortunes with his, and must stand or fall, as he thrived: I implored him not to cast away the good cause, which was so far advanced, and that yet, notwithstanding this discourse, might all be retrieved by his conduct, and good management, that I knew however the King appeared in outward shew to be offended, that it was yet in his power to calm the greatest tempest this discovery had raised: that it was but casting himself at His Majesty’s feet, and begging his mercy, by a confession of the truth of some part of the matter; and that it was impossible he could fail of a pardon, from so indulgent a monarch, as he had offended: that there was no action could wholly rase out of the King’s heart, that tenderness and passion he had ever expressed towards him; and his peace might be made with all the facility imaginable. To this he urged a very great reluctancy, and cried, he would sooner die, than by a confession expose the lives of his friends, and let the world see their whole design before they had power to effect it: and not only so, but put it past all their industry, ever to bring so hopeful a plot about again. At this I smiled, and asked His Highness’s pardon, told him I was of another opinion, as most of the heads of the Huguenots were, that what he said to His Majesty in private could never possibly be made public: that His Majesty would content himself with the knowledge of the truth, without caring to satisfy the world, so greatly to the prejudice of a prince of the blood, and a man so very dear to him as himself. He urged the fears this would give those of the Reformed Religion, and alarm them with a thousand apprehensions, that it would discover every man of them, by unravelling the intrigue. To this I replied, that their fears would be very short-lived; for as soon as he had, by his submission and confession, gained his pardon, he had no more to do, but to renounce all he had said, leave the Court, and put himself into the protection of his friends, who were ready to receive him. That he need but appear abroad a little time, and he would see himself addressed to again, by all the Huguenot party, who would quickly put him into a condition of fearing nothing.
‘My counsel, with the same persuasion from all of quality of the party, who came to see him, was at last approved of by him, and he began to say a thousand things to assure me of his fidelity to his friends, and the faction, which he vowed never to forsake, for any other interest, but to stand or fall in its defence, and that he was resolved to be a king, or nothing; and that he would put in practice all the arts and stratagems of cunning, as well as force, to attain to this glorious end, however crooked and indirect they might appear to fools. However, he conceived the first necessary step to this, was the getting his pardon, to gain a little time, to manage things anew to the best advantage: that at present all things were at a stand without life or motion, wanting the sight of himself, who was the very life and soul of motion, the axle-tree that could turn the wheel of fortune round about again.
‘And now he had talked himself in to sense again; he cried —“Oh my Tomaso! I long to be in action, my soul is on the wing, and ready to take its flight through any hazard ——” but sighing on a sudden, again he cried: “But oh, my friend, my wings are impt by love, I cannot mount the regions of the air, and thence survey the world; but still, as I would rise to mightier glory, they flag to humble love, and fix me there. Here I am charmed to lazy, soft repose, here it is I smile and play, and love away my hours: but I will rouse, I will, my dear Tomaso; nor shall the winged boy hold me enslaved: believe me, friend, he shall not.” He sent me away pleased with this, and I left him to his repose.’
Supper being ready to come upon the table; though Philander were impatient to hear the story out, yet he would not press Tomaso, till after supper; in which time, they discoursed of nothing but of the miracles of Cesario’s love to Hermione. He could not but wonder a prince so young, so amorous, and so gay, should return again, after almost fifteen years, to an old mistress, and who had never been in her youth a celebrated beauty: one, whom it was imagined the King, and several after him at Court, had made a gallantry with —— On this he paused for some time, and reflected on his passion for Sylvia; and this fantastic intrigue of the Prince’s inspired him with a kind of curiosity to try, whether fleeting love, would carry him back again to this abandoned maid. In these thoughts, and such discourse, they passed away the time during supper; which ended, and a fresh bottle brought to the table, with a new command that none should interrupt them, the impatient Philander obliged Tomaso to give him a farther account of the Prince’s proceedings; which he did in this manner.
‘My lord, having left the Prince, as I imagined very well resolved, I spoke of it to as many of our party, as I could conveniently meet with, to prepare them for the discovery, I believed the Prince would pretend to make, that they should not by being alarmed at the first news of it, put themselves into fears, that might indeed discover them: nor would I suffer Cesario to rest, but daily saw him, or rather nightly stole to him, to keep up his resolution: and indeed, in spite of love, to which he had made himself so entire a slave, I brought him to his own house, to visit Madam his wife, who was very well at Court, maugre her husband’s ill conduct, as they called it; the King being, as you know, my lord, extremely kind to that deserving lady, often made her visits, and would without very great impatiency hear her plead for her husband, the Prince; and possibly it was not ungrateful to him: all this we daily learned from a page, who secretly brought intelligence from Madam the Princess: so that we conceived it wholly necessary for the interest of the Prince, that he should live in a good understanding with this prudent lady. To this end, he feigned more respect than usual to her, and as soon as it was dark, every evening made her his visits. One evening, amongst the rest, he happened to be there, just as the proclamation came forth, of four thousand crowns to any that could discover him; and within half an hour after came the King, to visit the Princess, as every night he did; her lodging being in the Court: the King came without giving any notice, and with a very slender train that night; so that he was almost in the Princess’s bed-chamber before any body informed her he was there; so that the Prince had no time to retire but into Madam the Princess’s cabaret, the door of which she immediately locking, made such a noise and bustle, that it was heard by His Majesty, who nevertheless had passed it by, if her confusion and blushes had not farther betrayed her, with the unusual address she made to the King: who therefore asked her, who she had concealed in her closet. She endeavoured to put him off with some feigned replies, but it would not do; the more her confusion, the more the King was inquisitive, and urged her to give him the key of her cabaret: but she, who knew the life of the Prince would be in very great danger, should he be taken so, and knew on the other side, that to deny it, would betray the truth as much as his discovery would, and cause him either to force the key, or the door, fell down at his feet, and wetting his shoes with her tears, and grasping his knees with her trembling arms, implored that mercy and pity, for the Prince her husband, whom her virtue had rendered dear to her, however criminal he appeared to His Majesty: she told him, His Majesty had more peculiarly the attributes of a god, than any other monarch upon earth, and never heard the wretched or the innocent plead in vain. She told him, that herself, and her children, who were dearer to her than life, should all be as hostages for the good conduct and duty of the Prince’s future life and actions: and they would all be obliged to suffer any death, though ever so ignominious, upon the least breaking out of her lord: that he should utterly abandon those of the Reformed Religion, and yield to what articles His Majesty would graciously be pleased to impose, quitting all his false and unreasonable pretensions to the crown, which was only the effects of the flattery of the Huguenot party, and the malcontents. Thus with the virtue and goodness of an angel, she pleaded with such moving eloquence, mixed with tears from beautiful eyes, that she failed not to soften the royal heart, who knew not how to be deaf when beauty pleaded: yet he would not seem to yield so suddenly, lest it should be imagined he had too light a sense of his treasons, which, in any other great man, would have been punished with no less than death: yet, as she pleaded, he grew calmer, and suffered it without interruption, till she waited for his reply; and obliged him by her silence to speak. He numbers up the obligations he had heaped on her husband; how he had, by putting all places of great command and interest into his hands, made him the greatest prince, and favourite of a subject, in the world; and infinitely happier than a monarch: that he had all the glory and power of one, and wanted but the care: all the sweets of empire, while all that was disagreeable and toilsome, remained with the title alone. He therefore upbraided him with infinite ingratitude, and want of honour; with all the folly of ambitious youth: and left nothing unsaid that might make the Princess sensible it was too late to hide any of his treasons from him, since they were all but too apparent to His Majesty. It was therefore that she urged nothing but his royal mercy, and forgiveness, without endeavouring to lessen his guilt, or enlarge on his innocency. In fine, my lord, so well she spoke, that at last, she had the joy to perceive the happy effects of her wit and goodness, which had moved tears of pity and compassion from His Majesty’s eyes; which was Cesario’s cue to come forth, as immediately he did, (having heard all that had passed) and threw himself at His Majesty’s feet: and this was the critical minute he was to snatch for the gaining of his point, and of which he made a most admirable use. He called up all the force of necessary dissimulation, tenderness to his voice, tears to his eyes, and trembling to his hands, that stayed the too willing and melting monarch by his robe, till he had heard him implore, and granted him his pity: nor did he quit his hold, till the King cried, with a soft voice —“Rise”— at which he was assured of what he asked. He refused however to rise, till the pardon was pronounced. He owned himself the greatest criminal in nature; that he was drawn from his allegiance by the most subtle artifices of his enemies, who under false friendships had allured his hopes with gilded promises; and which he now too plainly saw were designed to propagate their own private interests, and not his glory. He humbly besought His Majesty to make some gracious allowances for his vanities of youth, and to believe now he had so dearly bought discretion, at almost the price of His Majesty’s eternal displeasure, that he would reform, and lead so good a life, so absolutely free from any appearance of ambition, that His Majesty should see he had not a more faithful subject than himself. In fine, he found himself, by this acknowledgement he had begun with, to advance yet further: nor would His Majesty be satisfied without the whole scene of the matter; and how they were to have surprised and seized him; where, and by what numbers. All which he was forced to give an account of; since now to have fallen back, when he was in their hands, had been his infallible ruin. All which he performed with as much tenderness and respect to his friends concerned, as if his own life had been depending: and though he were extremely pressed to discover some of the great ones of the party, he would never give his consent to an action so mean, as to be an evidence. All that could be got from him farther, was to promise His Majesty, to give under his hand, what he had in private confessed to him; with which the King remained very well satisfied, and ordered him to come to Court the next day. Thus for that night they parted with infinite caresses on the King’s part, and no little joy on his. His Majesty was no sooner gone, but he gave immediate order to the Secretaries of State, to draw up his pardon, which was done with so good speed, that he had it in his hands the next day. When he came to Court, it is not to be imagined the surprise it was to all, to behold the man, in the greatest state imaginable, who but yesterday was to have been crucified at any price: and those who most exclaimed against him, were the first that paid him homage, and caressed him at the highest rate; only the most wise and judicious prophesied his glories were not of long continuation. The King made no visits where the Prince did not publicly appear: he told all the people, with infinite joy, that the Prince had confessed the whole plot, and that he would give it, under his hand and seal, in order to have it published throughout all France, for the satisfaction of all those who had been deluded and deceived by our specious pretences; and for the terror of those, who had any ways adhered to so pernicious a villainy: so that he met with nothing but reproaches from those of our own party at Court: for there were many, who hitherto were unsuspected, and who now, out of fear of being betrayed by the Prince, were ready to fall at the King’s feet and confess all: others there were, that left the Court and town upon it. In fine, the face of things seemed extremely altered, while the Prince bore himself like a person who had the misfortune justly to lie beneath the exclamations of a disobliged multitude, as they at least imagined and bore all, as if their fears had been true, without so much as offering at his justification, to confirm His Majesty’s good opinion of him: he added to his pardon, a present of twenty thousand crowns, half of it being paid the next day after his coming to Court. And in short, my lord, His Majesty grew so fond of the Prince, he could not endure to suffer him out of his presence, and was never satisfied with seeing him: he carried him the next day to the public theatre with him, to shew the world he was reconciled. But by this time he had all confirmed, and grew impatient to declare himself to his friends, whom he would not have remain long in their ill opinion of him. It happened the third day of his coming to Court, (in returning some of those visits he had received from all the great persons) he went to wait upon the Duchess of —— a lady, who had ever had a tender respect for the Prince: in the time of this visit, a young lady of quality happened to come in; one whom your lordship knows, a great wit, and much esteemed at Court, Mademoiselle Mariana: by this lady he found himself welcomed to Court, with all the demonstrations of joy; as also by the old Duchess, who had divers times heretofore persuaded the Prince to leave the Huguenots, and return to the King and Court: she used to tell him he was a handsome youth, and she loved his mother well; that he danced finely, and she had rather see him in a ball at Court, than in rebellion in the field; and often to this purpose her love would rally him; and now shewed no less concern of joy for his reconciliation; and looking on him as a true convert, fell a railing, with all the malice and wit she could invent, at those public-spirited knaves who had seduced him. She railed on, and cursed those politics which had betrayed him to almost ruin itself.
‘The Prince heard her with all the patience he could for some time, but when he found her touch him so tenderly, and name his friends as if he had owned any such ill counsellors, his colour came in his face, and he could not forbear defending us with all the force of friendship. He told her, he knew of no such seducers, no villains of the party, nor of any traitorous design, that either himself, or any man in France, had ever harboured: at which, she going to upbraid him in a manner too passionate, he thought it decent to end his visit, and left her very abruptly. At his going out, he met with the Duke of —— brother to the Duchess, going to visit her: en passant, a very indifferent ceremony passed on both sides, for this Duke never had entertained a friendship, or scarce a respect for Cesario; but going into his sister’s the Duchess, her chamber, he found her all in a rage at the Prince’s so public defence of the Huguenots and their allies; and the Duke entering, they told him what had passed. This was a very great pleasure to him, who had a mortal hate at this time to the Prince. He made his visit very short, hastens to Court, and went directly to the King, and told him how infinitely he found His Majesty mistaken in the imagined penitence of the Prince; and then told him what he had said at the Duchess of —— lodgings, and had disowned, he ever confessed any treasonable design against His Majesty, and gave them the lie, who durst charge him with any such villainy. The King, who was unwilling to credit what he wished not true, plainly told the Duke he could not believe it, but that it was the malice of his enemies, who had forged this: the Duke replied, he would bring those to His Majesty that heard the words: immediately thereupon dispatched away his page to beg the Duchess would come to Court, with Mademoiselle Mariana. The Duchess suspecting the truth of the business, and unwilling to do the Prince an ill office, excused herself by sending word she was ill of the colic. But Mariana, who loved the King’s interest, and found the ingratitude, as she called it, of the Prince, hastened in her chair to Court, and justified all the Duke had said; who being a woman of great wit and honour, found that credit which the Duke failed of, as an open enemy to the Prince. About an hour after, the Prince appeared at Court, and found the face of things changed extremely; and those, who before had kissed his hand, and were proud of every smile from him, now beheld him with coldness, and scarce made way as he passed. However, he went to the Presence, and found the King, whose looks were also very much changed; who taking him into the bed-chamber, shewed him his whole confession, drawn up ready for him to sign, as he had promised, though he never intended any such thing; and now resolved to die rather than do it, he took it in his hand, while the King cried —“Here keep your word, and sign your narrative —” “Stay, sir,” replied the Prince, “I have the counsel of my friends to ask in so weighty an affair.” The King, confirmed in all he had heard, no longer doubted but he had been too cunning for him; and going out in a very great discontent, he only cried —“Sir, if you have any better friends than myself, I leave you to them; ——” and with this left him. The Prince was very glad he had got the confession-paper, hoping it would never come to light again; the King was the only person to whom he had made the confession, and he was but one accuser; and him he thought the party could at any time be too powerful to oppose, all being easily believed on their side, and nothing on that of the Court. After this, in the evening, the King going to visit Madam the Duchess of —— for whom he had a very great esteem, and whither every day the whole Court followed him; the Prince, with all the assurance imaginable, made his Court there also; but he was no sooner come into the Presence, but he perceived anger in the eyes of that monarch, who had indeed a peculiar greatness and fierceness there, when angry: a minute after, he sent Monsieur —— to the Prince, with a command to leave the Court; and without much ceremony he accordingly departed, and went directly to Hermione, who with all the impatience of love expected him; nor was much surprised to find him banished the Court: for he made her acquainted with his most secret designs; who having made all his interests her own, espoused whatever related to him, and was capable of retaining all with great fidelity: nor had he quitted her one night, since his coming to Court; and he hath often with rapture told me, Hermione was a friend, as well as a mistress, and one with whom, when the first play was ended, he could discourse with of useful things of State as well as love; and improve in both the noble mysteries by her charming conversation. The night of this second disgrace I went to Hermione’s to visit him, where we discoursed what was next to be done. He did not think his pardon was sufficient to secure him, and he was not willing to trust a King who might be convinced, that that tenderness he had for him, was absolutely against the peace and quiet of all France. I was of this opinion, so that upon farther debate, we thought it absolutely necessary to quit France, till the Court’s heat should be a little abated; and that the King might imagine himself by his absence, in more tranquillity than he really is. In order to this, he made me take my flight into Flanders, here to provide all things necessary against his coming, and I received his command to seek you out, and beg you would attend his coming hither. I expect him every day. He told me at parting, he longed to consult with you, how next to play this mighty game, on which so many kingdoms are staked, and which he is resolved to win, or be nothing.’ ‘An imperfect relation,’ replied Philander, ‘we had of this affair, but I never could learn by what artifice the Prince brought about his good fortune at Court; but of your own escape I have heard nothing, pray oblige me with the relation of it.’ ‘Sir,’ said Tomaso, ‘there is so little worthy the trouble you will take in hearing it, that you may spare yourself the curiosity.’ ‘Sir,’ replied Philander, ‘I always had too great a share in what concerned you, not to be curious of the story.’ ‘In which,’ replied Tomaso, ‘though there be nothing novel, I will satisfy you.’
‘Be pleased to know, my lord, that about a week before our design was fully discovered by some of our own under-rogues, I had taken a great house in Faubourg St Germain, for my mistress, whom you know, my lord, I had lived with the space of a year. She was gone to drink the waters of Bourbon, for some indisposition, and I had promised her all things should be fitted against her return, agreeable to her humour and desire; and indeed, I spared no cost to make her apartment magnificent: and I believe few women of quality could purchase one so rich; for I loved the young woman, who had beauty and discretion enough to charm, though the Parisians of the royal party called her Nicky Nacky, which was given her in derision to me, not to her, for whom every body, for her own sake, had a considerable esteem. Besides, my lord, I had taken up money out of the Orphans’ and Widows’ Bank, from the Chamber of Paris, and could very well afford to be lavish, when I spent upon the public stock. While I was thus ordering all things, my valet came running out of breath, to tell me, that being at the Louvre, he saw several persons carried to the secretary’s office, with messengers; and that inquiring who they might be, he found they were two Parisians, who had offered themselves to the messengers to be carried to be examined about a plot, the Prince Cesario and those of the Reformed Religion, had to surprise His Majesty, kill Monsieur his brother, and set all Paris in a flame: and as to what particularly related to myself, he said, that I was named as the person designed to seize upon the King’s guards, and dispatch Monsieur. This my own conscience told me was too true, for me to make any doubt but I was discovered: I therefore left a servant in the house, and in a hackney-coach took my flight. I drove a little out of Paris till night, and then returned again, as the surest part of the world where I could conceal myself: I was not long in studying who I should trust with my life and safety, but went directly to the palace of Madam, the Countess of —— who you know, my lord, was a widow, and a woman who had, for a year past, a most violent passion for me; but she being a lady, who had made many such gallantries, and past her youth, I had only a very great respect and acknowledgement for her, and her quality, and being obliged to her, for the effects of her tenderness, shewn upon several occasions, I could not but acquit myself like a cavalier to her, whenever I could possibly; and which, though I have a thousand times feigned great business to prevent, yet I could not always be ungrateful; and when I paid her my services, it was ever extremely well received, and because of her quality, and setting up for a second marriage, she always took care to make my approaches to her, in as concealed a manner as possible; and only her porter, one page, and one woman, knew this secret amour; and for the better carrying it on, I ever went in a hackney-coach, lest my livery should be seen at her gate: and as it was my custom at other times, so I now sent the porter, (who, by my bounty, and his lady’s, was entirely my own creature) for the page to come to me, who immediately did, and I desired him to let his lady know, I waited her commands; that was the word: he immediately brought me answer, that by good fortune his lady was all alone, and infinitely wishing she knew where to send him for me: and I immediately, at that good news, ran up to her chamber; where I was no sooner come, but desiring me to sit, she ordered her porter to be called, and gave orders, upon pain of life, not to tell of my being in the house, whatever inquiry should be made after me; and having given the same command to her page, she dismissed them, and came to me with all the fear and trembling imaginable. “Ah Monsieur,” cried she, falling on my neck, “we are undone —” I, not imagining she had heard the news already, cried, “Why, is my passion discovered?” “Ah,” replied she in tears, “I would to heaven it were no worse! would all the earth had discovered that, which I should esteem my glory — But it is, my charming monsieur,” continued she, “your treasons and not amour, whose discovery will be so fatal to me.” At this I seemed amazed, and begged her, to let me understand her: she told me what I have said before; and moreover, that the Council had that very evening issued out warrants for me, and she admired how I escaped. After a little discourse of this kind, I asked her, what she would advise me to do? for I was very well assured, the violent hate the King had particularly for me, would make him never consent I should live on any terms: and therefore it was determined I should not surrender myself; and she resolved to run the risk of concealing me; which, in fine, she did three days, furnishing me with money and necessaries for my flight. In this time a proclamation came forth, and offered five hundred crowns for my head, or to seize me alive, or dead. This sum so wrought with the slavish minds of men, that no art was left unassayed to take me: they searched all houses, all hackney-coaches that passed by night; and did all that avarice could inspire to take me, but all in vain: at last, this glorious sum so dazzled the mind of Madam the Countess’s porter, that he went to a captain of the Musketeers, and assured him, if the King would give him the aforesaid sum, he would betray me, and bring him the following night to surprise me, without any resistance: the captain, who thought, if the porter should have all the sum, he should get none; and every one hoping to be the happy man, that should take me, and win the prize, could not endure another should have the glory of both, and so never told the King of the offer the porter had made. But however secret, one may imagine an amour to be kept, yet in so busy a place as Paris and the apartments of the Court-coquets, this of ours had been discoursed, and the intrigue more than suspected: whether this, or the captain, before named, imagined to find me at the house of the Countess, because the porter had made such an offer; I say, however it was, the next morning, upon a Sunday, the guards broke into several chambers, and missing me, had the insolence to come to the door of that of the Countess; and she had only time to slip on her night-gown, and running to the door besought them to have respect to her sex and quality, while I started from my bed, which was the same from whence the Countess rose; and not knowing where to hide, or what to do, concealing my clothes between the sheets, I mounted from the table to a great silver sconce that was fastened to the wall by the bed-side, and from thence made but one spring up to the tester of the bed; which being one of those raised with strong wood-work and japan, I could easily do; or, rather it was by miracle I did it; and laid myself along the top, while my back touched the ceiling of the chamber; by this time, when no entreaties could prevail, they had burst open the chamber-door, and running directly to the bed, they could not believe their eyes: they saw no person there, but the plain print of two, with the pillows for two persons. This gave them the curiosity to search farther, which they did, with their swords, under the bed, in every corner, behind every curtain, up the chimney, felt all about the wainscot and hangings for false doors or closets; surveyed the floor for a trap-door: at last they found my fringed gloves at the window, and the sash a little up, and then they concluded I had made my escape out at that window: this thought they seemed confirmed in, and therefore ran to the garden, where they thought I had descended, and with my gloves, which they bore away as the trophies of their almost gained victory, they searched every hedge and bush, arbour, grotto, and tree; but not being able to find what they sought, they concluded me gone, and told all the town, how very near they were to seizing me. After this, the very porter and page believed me escaped out of that window, and there was no farther search made after me: but the Countess was amazed, as much as any of the soldiers, to find which way I had conveyed myself, when I came down and undeceived her; but when she saw from whence I came, she wondered more than before how I could get up so high; when trying the trick again, I could not do it, if I might have won never so considerable a wager upon it, without pulling down the sconce, and the tester also.
‘After this, I remained there undiscovered the whole time the Prince was at Hermione’s, till his coming to Court, when I verily believed he would have gained me my pardon, with his own; but the King had sworn my final destruction, if he ever got me in his power; and proclaiming me a traitor, seized all they could find of mine. It was then that I believed it high time to take my flight; which, as soon as I heard the Prince again in disgrace, I did, and got safely into Holland, where I remained about six weeks. But, oh! what is woman! The first news I heard, and that was while I remained at the Countess’s that my mistress, for whom I had taken such cares and who had professed to love me above all things, no sooner heard I was fled and proscribed, but retiring to a friend’s house, (for her own was seized for mine) and the officers imagining me there too, they came to search; and a young cavalier, of a noble aspect, great wit and courage, and indeed a very fine gentleman, was the officer that entered her chamber, to search for me; who, being at first sight surprised with her beauty, and melting with her tears, fell most desperately in love with her, and after hearing how she had lost all her money, plate, and jewels, and rich furniture, offered her his service to retrieve them, and did do it; and from one favour to another, continued so to oblige the fair fickle creature, that he won, with that and his handsome mien, a possession of her heart, and she yielded in a week’s time to my most mortal enemy. And the Countess, who at my going from her, swooned, and bathed me all in tears, making a thousand vows of fidelity, and never to favour mankind more: this very woman, sir, as soon as my back was turned, made new advances to a young lord, who, believing her to be none of the most faithful, would not trust her under matrimony: he being a man of no great fortune, and she a mistress of a very considerable one, his standing off on these terms inflames her the more; and I have advice, that she is very much in love with him, and it is believed will do what he desires of her: so that I was no sooner abandoned by fortune, but fickle woman followed her example, and fled me too. Thus, my lord, you have the history of my double unhappiness: and I am waiting here a fate which no human wit can guess at: the arrival of the Prince will give a little life to our affair; and I yet have hope to see him in Paris, at the head of forty thousand Huguenots, to revenge all the insolences we have suffered.’
After discoursing of several things, and of the fate of several persons, it was bed-time; and they taking leave, each man departed to his chamber.
Philander, while he was undressing, being alone with Brilliard, began to discourse of Sylvia, and to take some care of letting her know, he was arrived at Brussels; and for her convoy thither. Brilliard, who even yet retained some unaccountable hope, as lovers do, of one day being happy with that fair one; and believing he could not be so, with so much felicity, while she was in the hands of Octavio as those of Philander, would never tell his lord his sentiments of her conduct, nor of her love to Octavio, and those other passages that had occurred in Holland: he only cried, he believed she might be overcome, being left to herself and by the merits and good fashion of Octavio; but would not give his master an absolute fear, or any account of truth, that he might live with her again, if possible, as before; and that she might hold herself so obliged to him for silence in these affairs, as might one day render him happy. These were the unweighed reasons he gave for deluding his lord into a kind opinion to the fickle maid: but ever when he named Sylvia, Philander could perceive his blushes rise, and from them believed there was something behind in his thought, which he had a mind to know: he therefore pressed him to the last degree — and cried —‘Come — confess to me, Brilliard, the reason of your blushes: I know you are a lover, and I was content to suffer you my rival, knowing your respect to me.’ This, though he spoke smiling, raised a greater confusion in Brilliard’s heart. ‘I own, my lord,’ said he, ‘that I have, in spite of that respect, and all the force of my soul, had the daring to love her whom you loved; but still the consideration of my obligations to your lordship surmounted that saucy flame, notwithstanding all the encouragement of your inconstancy, and the advantage of the rage it put Sylvia in against you.’ ‘How,’ cried Philander, ‘does Sylvia know then of my falseness, and is it certain that Octavio has betrayed me to her?’ With that Brilliard was forced to advance, and with a design of some revenge upon Octavio, (who, he hoped, would be challenged by his lord, where one, or both might fall in the rencounter, and leave him master of his hopes) he told him all that had passed between them, all but real possession, which he only imagined, but laid the whole weight on Octavio, making Sylvia act but as an incensed woman, purely out of high revenge and resentment of so great an injury as was done her love. He farther told him, how, in the extravagancy of her rage, she had resolved to marry Octavio, and how he prevented it by making a public declaration she was his wife already; and for which Octavio procured the States to put him in prison; but by an accident that happened to the uncle of Octavio, for which he was forced to fly, the States released him, when he came to his lord: ‘How,’ cried Philander, ‘and is the traitor Octavio fled from Holland, and from the reach of my chastisement?’ ‘Yes,’ replied Brilliard; ‘and not to hold you longer from the truth, has forced Sylvia away with him.’ At this Philander grew into a violent rage, sometimes against Octavio for his treasons against friendship; sometimes he felt the old flame revive, raised and blown jealousy, and was raving to imagine any other should possess the lovely Sylvia. He now beholds her with all those charms that first fired him, and thinks, if she be criminal, it was only the effects of the greatest love, which always hurries women on to the highest revenges. In vain he seeks to extinguish his returning flame by the thought of Calista; yet, at that thought, he starts like one awakened from a dream of honour, to fall asleep again, and dream of love. Before it was rage and pride, but now it was tenderness and grief, softer passions, and more insupportable. New wounds smart most, but old ones are most dangerous. While he was thus raging, walking, pausing, and loving, one knocked at his chamber-door. It was Sylvia’s page, who had waited all the evening to speak to him, and could not till now be admitted. Brilliard was just going to tell him he was there before, when he arrived now again: Philander was all unbuttoned, his stockings down, and his hair under his cap, when the page, being let in by Brilliard, ran to his lord, who knew him and embraced him: and it was a pretty while they thus caressed each other, without the power of speaking; he of asking a question, and the boy of delivering his message; at last, he gave him Sylvia’s billet, which was thus —
False and perjured as you are, I languish for a sight of you, and conjure you to give it me, as soon as this comes to your hands. Imagine not, that I have prepared those instruments of revenge that are so justly due to your perfidy; but rather, that I have yet too tender sentiments for you, in spite of the outrage you have done my heart; and that for all the ruin you have made, I still adore you: and though I know you now another’s slave, yet I beg you would vouchsafe to behold the spoils you have made, and allow me this recompense for all, to say — Here was the beauty I once esteemed, though now she is no more Philander’s
‘How,’ cried he out, ‘No more Philander’s Sylvia! By heaven, I had rather be no more Philander!’ And at that word, without considering whether he were in order for a visit or not, he advancing his joyful voice, cried out to the page, ‘Lead on, my faithful boy, lead on to Sylvia.’ In vain Brilliard beseeches him to put himself into a better equipage; in vain he urges to him, the indecency of making a visit in that posture; he thought of nothing but Sylvia; however he ran after him with his hat, cloak, and comb, and as he was in the chair dressed his hair, and suffered the page to conduct him where he pleased: which being to Sylvia’s, lodgings, he ran up stairs, and into her chamber, as by instinct of love, and found her laid on her bed, to which he made but one step from the door; and catching her in his arms, as he kneeled upon the carpet, they both remained unable to utter any thing but sighs: and surely Sylvia never appeared more charming; she had for a month or two lived at her ease, and had besides all the advantage of fine dressing which she had purposely put on, in the most tempting fashion, on purpose to engage him, or rather to make him see how fine a creature his perfidy had lost him: she first broke silence, and with a thousand violent reproaches, seemed as if she would fain break from those arms, which she wished might be too strong for her force; while he endeavours to appease her as lovers do, protesting a thousand times that there was nothing in that history of his amour with Calista, but revenge on Octavio, who he knew was making an interest in her heart, contrary to all the laws of honour and friendship, (for he had learned, by the reproaches of the Lady Abbess, that Calista was sister to Octavio). ‘He has had the daring to confess to me his passion,’ said he, ‘for you, and could I do less in revenge, than to tell him I had one for his sister? I knew by the violent reproaches I ever met with in your letters, though they were not plainly confessed, that he had played me foul, and discovered my feigned intrigue to you; and even this I suffered, to see how far you could be prevailed with against me. I knew Octavio had charms of youth and wit, and that you had too much the ascendant over him, to be denied any secret you had a mind to draw from him; I knew your nature too curious, and your love too inquisitive, not to press him to a sight of my letters, which seen must incense you; and this trial I designedly made of your faith, and as a return to Octavio.’ Thus he flatters, and she believes, because she has a mind to believe; and thus by degrees he softens the listening Sylvia; swears his faith with sighs, and confirms it with his tears, which bedewed her fair bosom, as they fell from his bright dissembling eyes; and yet so well he dissembled, that he scarce knew himself that he did so: and such effects it wrought on Sylvia, that in spite of all her honour and vows engaged to Octavio, and horrid protestations never to receive again the fugitive to her arms, she suffers all he asks, gives herself up again to love, and is a second time undone. She regards him as one to whom she had a peculiar right as the first lover: she was married to his love, to his heart; and Octavio appeared the intruding gallant, that would, and ought to be content with the gleanings of the harvest, Philander should give him the opportunity to take up: and though, if she had at this very time been put to her sober choice, which she would have abandoned, it would have been Philander, as not in so good circumstances at that time to gratify all her extravagances of expense; but she would not endure to think of losing either: she was for two reasons covetous of both, and swore fidelity to both, protesting each the only man; and she was now contriving in her thoughts, how to play the jilt most artificially; a help-meet, though natural enough to her sex, she had not yet much essayed, and never to this purpose: she knew well she should have need of all her cunning in this affair; for she had to do with men of quality and honour, and too much wit to be grossly imposed upon. She knew Octavio loved so well, it would either make her lose him by death, or resenting pride, if she should ever be discovered to him to be untrue; and she knew she should lose Philander to some new mistress, if he once perceived her false. He asked her a thousand questions concerning Octavio, and she seemed to lavish every secret of her soul to her lover; but like a right woman, so ordered her discourse, as all that made for her advantage she declared, and all the rest she concealed. She told him, that those hopes which her revenge had made her give Octavio, had obliged him to present her with such and such fine jewels, such plate, such sums; and in fine, made him understand that all her trophies from the believing lover should be laid at his feet, who had conquered her heart: and that now, having enriched herself, she would abandon him wholly to despair. This did not so well satisfy Philander, but that he needed some greater proofs of her fidelity, fearing all these rich presents were not for a little hope alone; and she failed not giving what protestations he desired.
Thus the night passed away, and in the morning, she knowing he was not very well furnished with money, gave him the key of her cabinet, where she bid him furnish himself with all he wanted; which he did, and left her, to go take orders about his horses, and other affairs, not so absolutely satisfied of her virtue, but he feared himself put upon, which the advantage he was likely to reap by the deceit, made him less consider, than he would perhaps otherwise have done. He had all the night a full possession of Sylvia, and found in the morning he was not so violently concerned as he was over night: it was but a repetition of what he had been feasted with before; it was no new treat, but, like matrimony, went dully down: and now he found his heart warm a little more for Calista, with which little impatience he left Sylvia.
That morning a lady having sent to Octavio, to give her an assignation in the park; though he were not curious after beauty, yet believing there might be something more in it than merely a lady, he dressed himself and went, which was the reason he made not his visit that morning, as he used to do, to Sylvia, and so was yet ignorant of her ingratitude; while she, on the other side, finding herself more possessed with vanity than love; for having gained her end, as she imagined, and a second victory over his heart, in spite of all Calista’s charms, she did not so much consider him as before; nor was he so dear to her as she fancied he would have been, before she believed it possible to get him any more to her arms; and she found it was pride and revenge to Calista, that made her so fond of endearing him, and that she should thereby triumph over that haughty rival, who pretended to be so sure of the heart of her hero: and having satisfied her ambition in that point, she was more pleased than she imagined she should be, and could now turn her thoughts again to Octavio, whose charms, whose endearments, and lavish obligations, came anew to her memory, and made him appear the most agreeable to her genius and humour, which now leaned to interest more than love; and now she fancies she found Philander duller in her arms than Octavio; that he tasted of Calista, while Octavio was all her own entirely, adoring and ever presenting; two excellencies, of which Philander now had but part of one. She found Philander now in a condition to be ever taking from her, while Octavio’s was still to be giving; which was a great weight in the scale of love, when a fair woman guides the balance: and now she begins to distrust all that Philander had said of his innocence, from what she now remembers she heard from Calista herself, and reproaches her own weakness for believing: while her penitent thoughts were thus wandering in favour of Octavio, that lover arrived, and approached her with all the joy in his soul and eyes that either could express. ‘It is now, my fair charmer,’ said he, ‘that I am come to offer you what alone can make me more worthy of you ——’ And pulling from his pocket the writings and inventories of all his own and his uncle’s estate —‘See here,’ said he, ‘what those mighty powers that favour love have done for Sylvia. It is not,’ continued he, ‘the trifle of a million of money, (which these amount to) that has pleased me, but because I am now able to lay it without control at your feet.’ If she were before inclined to receive him well, what was she now, when a million of money rendered him so charming? She embraced his neck with her snowy arms, laid her cheeks to his ravished face, and kissed him a thousand welcomes; so well she knew how to make herself mistress of all this vast fortune. And I suppose he never appeared so fine, as at this moment. While she thus caressed him, he could not forbear sighing, as if there were yet something behind to complete his happiness: for though Octavio were extremely blinded with love, he had abundance of wit, and a great many doubts, (which were augmented by the arrival of Philander) and he was, too wise and too haughty, to be imposed upon, at least as he believed: and yet he had so very good an opinion of Sylvia’s honour and vows, which she had engaged to him, that he durst hardly name his fears, when by his sighs she found them: and willing to leave no obstacle unremoved, that might hinder her possessing this fortune, she told him; ‘My dear Octavio— I am sensible these sighs proceed from some fears you have of Philander’s being in Brussels, and consequently that I will see him, as heretofore; but be assured, that that false man shall no more dare to pretend to me; but, on the contrary, I will behold him as my mortal enemy, the murderer of my fame and innocence, and as the most ungrateful and perfidious man that ever lived.’ This she confirmed with oaths and tears, and a thousand endearing expressions. So that establishing his heart in a perfect tranquillity, and he leaving his writings and accounts with her, he told her he was obliged to dine with the advocates, who had acted for him in Holland, and could not stay to dine with her.
You must know, that as soon as the noise of old Sebastian, Octavio’s uncle’s death was noised about, and that he was thereupon fled, they seized all the estates, both that of the uncle, and that of Octavio, as belonging to him by right of law; but looking upon him as his uncle’s murderer, they were forfeited to the States. This part of ill news Octavio kept from Sylvia, but took order, that such a process might be begun in his name with the States that might retrieve it; and sent word, if it could not be carried on by attornies (for he was not, he said, in health) that nevertheless he would come into Holland himself. But they being not able to prove, by the witness of any of Octavio’s or Sebastian’s servants, that Octavio had any hand in his death; but, on the contrary all circumstances, and the coroner’s verdict, brought it in as a thing done by accident, and through his own fault, they were obliged to release to Octavio all his fortune, with that of his uncle, which was this day brought to him, by those he was obliged to dine, and make up some accounts withal: he therefore told her, he feared he should be absent all that afternoon; which she was the more pleased at, because if Philander should return before she had ordered the method of their visit, so as not to meet with each other (which was her only contrivance now) she should be sure he would not see or be seen by Octavio; who had no sooner taken his leave, but Philander returns; who being now fully bent upon some adventure to see Calista, if possible, and which intrigue would take up his whole time; to excuse his absence to the jealous Sylvia, he feigned that he was sent to by Cesario, to meet him upon the frontiers of France, and conduct him into Flanders, and that he should be absent some days. This was as Sylvia could have wished; and after forcing herself to take as kind a leave of him as she could, whose head was wholly possessed with a million of gold, she sent him away, both parties being very well pleased with the artifices with which they jilted each other. At Philander’s, going into his chair, he was seen by the old Count of Clarinau, who, cured perfectly of his wound, was come thither to seek Philander, in order to take the revenge of a man of honour, as he called it; which in Spanish is the private stab, for private injuries; and indeed more reasonable than base French duelling, where the injured is as likely to suffer as the injurer: but Clarinau durst not attack him by day-light in the open street, nor durst he indeed appear in his own figure in the King of Spain’s dominions, standing already there convicted of the murder of his first wife; but in a disguise came to Brussels. The chair with Philander was no sooner gone from the lodgings, but he inquired of some of the house, who lodged there that that gentleman came to visit? And they told him a great-bellied woman, who was a woman of quality, and a stranger: this was sufficient, you may believe, for him to think it Madam the Countess of Clarinau. With this assurance he repairs to his lodging, which was but hard by, and sets a footman that attended him to watch the return of Philander to those lodgings, which he believed would not be long: the footman, who had not seen Philander, only asked a description of him; he told him, he was a pretty tall man, in black clothes (for the Court was then in mourning) with long black hair, fine black eyes, very handsome, and well made; this was enough for the lad; he thought he should know him from a thousand by these marks and tokens. Away goes the footman, and waited till the shutting in of the evening, and then, running to his lord, told him, that Philander was come to those lodgings; that he saw him alight out of the chair, and took perfect notice of him; that he was sure it was that Philander he looked for: Clarinau, overjoyed that his revenge was at hand, took his dagger, sword and pistol, and hasted to Sylvia’s lodgings, where he found the chair still waiting, and the doors all open; he made no more ado, but goes in and ascends the stairs, and passes on, without opposition, to the very chamber where they sat, Sylvia in the arms of her lover, not Philander, but Octavio, who being also in black, tall, long, brown hair, and handsome, and by a sight that might very well deceive; he made no more to do, not doubting but it was Philander and Calista, but steps to him, and offering to stab him, was prevented by his starting at the suddenness of his approach; however, the dagger did not absolutely miss him, but wounded him in the left arm; but Octavio’s youth, too nimble for Clarinau’s age, snatching at the dagger as it wounded him, at once prevented the hurt being much, and returned a home blow at Clarinau, so that he fell at Sylvia’s feet, whose shrieks alarmed the house to their aid, where they found by the light of the candle that was brought, that the man was not dead, but lay gazing on Octavio, who said to him, ‘Tell me, thou unfortunate wretch, what miserable fate brought thee to this place, to disturb the repose of those who neither know thee, nor had done thee injury?’ ‘Ah, sir,’ replied Clarinau, ‘you have reason for what you say, and I ask heaven, that unknown lady, and yourself, a thousand pardons for my mistake and crime: too late I see my error, pity and forgive me; and let me have a priest, for I believe I am a dead man.’ Octavio was extremely moved with compassion at these words, and immediately sent his page, who was alarmed up in the crowd, for a Father and a surgeon; and he declared before the rest, that he forgave that stranger, meaning Octavio, since he had, by a mistake of his footman, pulled on his own death, and had deserved it: and thereupon, as well as he could, he told them for whom he had mistaken Octavio, who, having injured his honour, he had vowed revenge upon; and that he took the fair lady, meaning Sylvia, for a faithless wife of his, who had been the authoress of all this. Octavio soon divined this to be his brother-in-law, Clarinau, whom yet he had never seen; and stooping down to him, he cried, ‘It is I, sir, that ought to demand a thousand pardons of you, for letting the revenge of Calista’s honour alone so long.’ Clarinau wondered who he should be that named Calista, and asking him his name, he told him he was the unhappy brother to that fair wanton, whose story was but too well known to him. Thus while Clarinau viewing his face, found him the very picture of that false charmer; while Octavio went on and assured him, if it were his unhappiness to die, that he would revenge the honour of him and his sister, on the betrayer of both. By this time the surgeon came who found not his wound to be mortal, as was feared, and ventured to remove him to his own lodgings, whither Octavio would accompany him; and leaving Sylvia inclined, after her fright, to be reposed, he took his leave of her for that evening, not daring, out of respect to her, to visit her any more that night: he was no sooner gone, but Philander, who never used to go without two very good pocket-pistols about him, having left them under his pillow last night at Sylvia’s lodgings; and being upon love-adventures, he knew not what occasion he might have for them, returned back to her lodgings: when he came, she was a little surprised at first to see him, but after reflecting on what revenge was threatened him, she exposed Octavio’s secret to him, and told him the whole adventure, and how she had got his writings, which would be all her own, if she might be suffered to manage the fond believer. But he, whose thought ran on the revenge was threatened him, cried out —‘He has kindly awakened me to my duty by what he threatens; it is I that ought to be revenged on his perfidy, of shewing you my letters; and to that end, by heaven, I will defer all the business in the world to meet him, and pay his courtesy — If I had enjoyed his sister, he might suppose I knew her not to be so; and what man of wit or youth, would refuse a lovely woman, that presents a heart laden with love, and a person all over charms, to his bosom? I were to be esteemed unworthy the friendship of a man of honour, if I should: but he has basely betrayed me every way, makes love to my celebrated mistress, whom he knows I love, and getting secrets, unravels them to make his court and his access the easier.’
She foresaw the dangerous consequence of a quarrel of this nature, and had no sooner blown the fire, (which she did, to the end that Philander should avoid her lodgings, and all places where he might meet Octavio) but she hinders all her designs; and fixing him there, he was resolved to expect him at the first place he thought most likely to find him in: she endeavoured, by a thousand entreaties, to get him gone, urging it all for his safety; but that made him the more resolved; and all she could do, could not hinder him from staying supper, and after that, from going to bed: so that she was forced to hide a thousand terrors and fears by feigned caresses, the sooner to get him to meet Cesario in the morning, as he said he was to do; and though she could not help flattering both, while by; yet she ever loved the absent best; and now repented a thousand times that she had told him any thing.
Early the next morning, as was his custom, Octavio came to inquire of Sylvia’s health; and though he had oftentimes only inquired and no more, (taking excuse of ill nights, or commands that none should come to her till she called) and had departed satisfied, and came again: yet now, when he went into Antonet’s chamber, he found she was in a great consternation, and her looks and flattering excuses made him know, there was more than usual in his being to-day denied; he therefore pressed it the more, and she grew to greater confusion by his pressing her. At last he demanded the key of her lady’s chamber, he having, he said, business of great importance to communicate to her; she told him she had as great reason not to deliver it — ‘That is,’ said she, (fearing she had said too much) ‘my lady’s commands’; and finding no persuasion would prevail, and rather venturing Sylvia’s eternal displeasure, than not to be satisfied in the jealousies she had raised; especially reflecting on Philander’s being in town, he took Antonet in his arms, and forced the key from her; who was willing to be forced; for she admired Octavio’s bounty, and cared not for Philander. Octavio being master of the key, flies to Sylvia’s door like lightning, or a jealous lover, mad to discover what seen would kill him: he opens the chamber-door, and goes softly to the bed-side, as if he now feared to find what he sought, and wished to heaven he might be mistaken; he opened the curtains, and found Sylvia sleeping with Philander in her arms. I need make no description of his confusion and surprise; the character I have given of that gallant honest, generous lover, is sufficient to make you imagine his heart, when indeed he could believe his eyes: before he thought — he was about to draw his sword, and run them both through, and revenge at once his injured honour, his love, and that of his sister; but that little reason he had left checked that barbarity, and he was readier, from his own natural sweetness of disposition, to run himself upon his own sword: and there the Christian pleaded —— and yet found his heart breaking, his whole body trembling, his mind all agony, his cheeks cold and pale, his eyes languishing, his tongue refusing to give utterance to his pressure, and his legs to support his body; and much ado he had to reel into Antonet’s, chamber, where he found the maid dying with grief for her concern for him. He was no sooner got to her bed-side, but he fell dead upon it; while she, who was afraid to alarm her lady and Philander, lest Octavio, being found there, had accused her with betraying them; but shutting the door close, (for yet no body had seen him but herself) she endeavoured all she could to bring him to life again, and it was a great while before she could do so: as soon as he was recovered, he lay a good while without speaking, reflecting on his fate; but after appearing as if he had assumed all his manly spirits together, he rose up, and conjured Antonet to say nothing of what had happened, and that she should not repent the service she would do him by it. Antonet, who was his absolute, devoted slave, promised him all he desired; and he had the courage to go once again, to confirm himself in the lewdness of this undone fair one, whose perjuries had rendered her even odious now to him, and he beheld her with scorn and disdain: and that she might know how indifferently he did so, (when she should come to know it) he took Philander’s sword that lay on her toilet, and left his own in the place, and went out pleased; at least in this, that he had commanded his passion in the midst of the most powerful occasion for madness and revenge that ever was.
They lay thus secured in each other’s arms till nine o’clock in the morning, when Philander received a note from Brilliard, who was managing his lord’s design of getting a billet delivered to Calista by the way of a nun, whom Brilliard had made some address to, to that end, and sent to beg his lord would come to the grate, and speak to the young nun, who had undertaken for any innocent message. This note made him rise and haste to go out, when he received another from an unknown hand; which was thus:
My Lord, I have important business with you, and beg I may speak with you at three of the clock; I will wait for you by the fountain in the park: Yours.
Sylvia, who was impatient to have him gone, never asked to see either of these notes, lest it should have deterred him; and she knew Octavio would visit her early though she knew withal she could refuse him entrance with any slight excuse, so good an opinion he had of her virtue, and so absolute an ascendant she had over him. — She had given orders, if he came, to be refused her chamber; and she was glad to know he had not yet been at her lodgings. A hundred times she was about to make use of the lessened love Philander had for her, and to have proposed to him the suffering Octavio to share her embraces, for so good an interest, since no returns could be had from France, nor any signs of amendment of their fortunes any other way: but still she feared he had too much honour to permit such a cheat in love, to be put even upon an enemy. This fear deferred her speaking of it, or offering to sacrifice Octavio as a cully to their interest, though she wished it; nor knew she long how to deceive both; the business was to put Philander off handsomely, if possible, since she failed of all other hopes. These were her thoughts while Philander was dressing, and raised by his asking for some more pistoles from her cabinet, which she found would quickly be at an end, if one lover diminished daily, and the other was hindered from increasing: but Philander was no sooner dressed but he left her to her repose; and Octavio (who had a Grison attending the motions of Philander, all that morning, and had brought him word he was gone from Sylvia) went to visit her, and entering her chamber, all changed from what he was before, and death sat in his face and eyes, maugre all his resolves and art of dissembling. She, not perceiving it as she lay, stretched out her arms to receive him with her wonted caresses; but he gently put her off, and sighing, cried —‘No, Sylvia, I leave those joys to happier lovers.’ She was a little surprised at that — but not imagining he had known her guilt, replied: ‘Then those caresses were only meant for him; for if Sylvia could make him happy, he was sure of being the man;’ and by force compelled him to suffer her kisses and embraces, while his heart was bursting, without any sense of the pleasure of her touches. ‘Ah, Sylvia,’ says he, ‘I can never think myself secure, or happy, while Philander is so near you; every absent moment alarms me with ten thousand fears; in sleep I dream thou art false, and givest thy honour up all my absent nights, and all day thy vows:’ and that he was sure, should she again suffer herself to see Philander, he should be abandoned; and she again undone. ‘For since I parted with you,’ continued he, ‘I heard from Clarinau, that he saw Philander yesterday come out of your lodgings. How can I bear this, when you have vowed not to see him, with imprecations that must damn thee, Sylvia, without severe repentance?’—— At this she offered to swear again — but he stopped her, and begged her not to swear till she had well considered; then she confessed he made her a visit, but that she used him with that pride and scorn, that if he were a man of honour he could never bear; and she was sure he would trouble her no more: in fine, she flattered, fawned, and jilted so, as no woman, common in the trade of sinful love, could be so great a mistress of the art. He suffered her to go on, in all that could confirm him she thought him an errant coxcomb; and all that could render her the most contemptible of her sex. He was pleased, because it made him despise her; and that was easier than adoring her; yet, though he heard her with scorn, he heard her with too much love. When she was even breathless with eager prostitution — he cried, ‘Ah, indiscreet and unadvised Sylvia, how I pity thee!’ ‘Ah,’ said she — observing him speak this with a scornful smile —‘Is it possible, you should indeed be offended for a simple visit! which neither was by my invitation or wish: can you be angry, if I treat Philander with the civility of a brother? Or rather, that I suffer him to see me, to receive my reproaches?’—‘Stop here,’ said he, ‘thou fair deluding flatterer, or thou art for ever ruined. Do not charge thy soul yet farther; — do not delude me on — all yet I can forgive as I am dying, but should I live, I could not promise thee. Add not new crimes by cozening me anew; for I shall find out truth, though it lie hid even in the bottom of Philander’s, heart.’ This he spoke with an air of fierceness — which seeing her grow pale upon, he sunk again to compassion, and in a soft voice cried —‘Whatever injuries thou hast done my honour, thy word, and faith to me, and my poor heart, I can perhaps forgive when you dare utter truth: there is some honesty in that’— She once more embracing him, fell anew to protesting her ill treatment of Philander, how she gave him back his vows, and assured him she would never be reconciled to him. ‘And did you part so, Sylvia?’ replied the dying Octavio. ‘Upon my honour,’ said she, ‘just so.’—‘Did you not kiss at parting?’ said he faintly. —‘Just kissed, as friends, no more, by all thy love.’ At this he bursts into tears, and cried —‘Oh! why, when I reposed my heart with thee, and lavished out my very soul in love, could I not merit this poor recompense of being fairly dealt with? Behold this sword — I took it from your toilet; view it, it is Philander’s; myself this morning took it from your table: no more — since you may guess the fatal rest: I am undone, and I am satisfied — I had a thousand warnings of my fate, but still the beauty charmed, and my too good nature yielded: oft you have cozened me, and oft I saw it, and still love made me willing to forgive; the foolish passion hung upon my soul, and soothed me into peace.’ Sylvia, quite confounded, (not so much with the knowledge he had of the unlucky adventure, as at her so earnestly denying and forswearing any love had passed between them) lay still to consider how to retrieve this lost game, and gave him leisure to go on —‘Now,’ said he, ‘thou art silent —— would thou hadst still been so: ah, hapless maid, who hast this fate attending thee, to ruin all that love thee! Be dumb, be dumb for ever; let the false charm that dwells upon thy tongue, be ended with my life: let it no more undo believing man, lest amongst the number some one may conquer thee, and deaf to all thy wit, and blind to beauty, in some mad passion think of all thy cozenings, should fall upon thee, and forget thy sex, and by thy death revenge the lost Octavio.’ At these words he would have rose from her arms, but she detained him, and with a piteous voice implored his pardon; but he calmly replied, ‘Yes, Sylvia, I will pardon thee, and wish that heaven may do so; to whom apply thy early rhetoric and penitence; for it can never, never charm me more: my fortune, if thou ever wanted support to keep thee chaste and virtuous, shall still be commanded by thee, with that usual frankness it has hitherto served thee; but for Octavio, he is resolved to go where he will never more be seen by woman — or hear the name of love to ought but heaven — Farewell — one parting kiss, and then a long farewell —’ As he bowed to kiss her, she caught him fast in her arms, while a flood of tears bathed his face, nor could he prevent his from mixing with hers: while thus they lay, Philander came into the room, and finding them so closely entwined, he was as much surprised almost as Octavio was before; and, drawing his sword, was about to have killed him; but his honour overcame his passion; and he would not take him at such disadvantage, but with the flat of his sword striking him on the back as he lay, he cried, ‘Rise, traitor, and turn to thy mortal enemy.’ Octavio, not at all surprised, turned his head and his eyes bedewed in tears towards his rival. ‘If thou be’est an enemy,’ said he, ‘though never couldst have taken me in a better humour of dying. Finish, Philander, that life then, which if you spare, it will possibly never leave thine in repose; the injuries you have done me being too great to be forgiven.’ ‘And is it thus,’ replied Philander — ‘thus with my mistress, that you would revenge them? Is it in the arms of Sylvia, that you would repay me the favours I did your sister Calista?’ ‘You have by that word,’ said Octavio, ‘handsomely reproached my sloth.’ And leaping briskly from the bed, he took out his sword, and cried: ‘Come then —— let us go where we may repair both our losses, since ladies’ chambers are not fit places to adjust debts of this nature in.’ At these words they both went down stairs; and it was in vain Sylvia called and cried out to conjure them to come back; her power of commanding she had in one unlucky day lost over both those gallant lovers. And both left her with pity; to say no worse of the effect of her ill conduct.
Octavio went directly to the park, to the place whither he before had challenged Philander, who lost no time but followed him: as soon as he was come to the fountain he drew, and told Philander that was the place whither he invited him in his billet that morning; however, if he liked not the ground, he was ready to remove to any other: Philander was a little surprised to find that invitation was a challenge; and that Octavio should be beforehand with him upon the score of revenge; and replied, ‘Sir, if the billet came from you, it was a favour I thank you for; since it kindly put me in mind of that revenge I ought so justly to take of you, for betraying the secrets of friendship I reposed in you, and making base advantages of them, to recommend yourself to a woman you knew I loved, and who hates you, in spite of all the ungenerous ways you have taken to gain her.’ ‘Sir,’ replied Octavio, ‘I confess with a blush and infinite shame, the error with which you accuse me, and have nothing to defend so great a perfidy. To tell you, I was wrought out of it by the greatest cunning imaginable, and that I must have seen Sylvia die at my feet if I had refused them, is not excuse enough for the breach of that friendship. No, though I were exasperated with the relation there of my sister’s dishonour: I must therefore adjust that debt with you as well as I can; and if I die in the juster quarrel of my sister’s honour, I shall believe it the vengeance of heaven upon me for that one breach of friendship.’ ‘Sir,’ replied Philander, ‘you have given me so great a satisfaction in this confession, and have made so good and gallant an atonement by this acknowledgement, that it is with relunctancy I go to punish you for other injuries, of which I am assured you cannot so well acquit yourself.’ ‘Though I would not justify a baseness,’ replied Octavio, ‘for which there ought to be no excuse; yet I will not accuse myself, or acknowledge other injuries, but leave you something to maintain the quarrel on — and render it a little just on your side; nor go to wipe off the outrage you pretend I have done your love, by adoring the fair person who at least has been dear to you, by the wrongs you have done my sister.’ ‘Come, sir, we shall not by disputing quit scores,’ cried Philander, a little impatiently; ‘what I have lately seen, has made my rage too brisk for long parly.’ At that they both advanced, and made about twenty passes before either received any wound; the first that bled was Octavio, who received a wound in his breast, which he returned on Philander, and after that many were given and taken; so that the track their feet made, in following and advancing as they fought, was marked out by their blood: in this condition, (still fighting) Sylvia, (who had called them back in vain, and only in her night-gown in a chair pursued them that minute they quitted her chamber) found them thus employed, and without any fear she threw herself between them: Octavio, out of respect to her, ceased; but Philander, as if he had not regarded her, would still have been striving for victory, when she stayed his hand, and begged him to hear her; he then set the point of his sword to the ground, and breathless and fainting almost, attended what she had to say: she conjured him to cease the quarrel, and told him if Octavio had injured him in her heart, he ought to remember he had injured Octavio as much in that of his sister: she conjured him by all the friendship both she and himself had received at Octavio’s hands; and concluded with saying so many fine things of that cavalier, that in lieu of appeasing, it but the more exasperated the jealous Philander, who took new courage with new breath, and passed at Octavio. She then addressed to Octavio, and cried: ‘Hold, oh hold, or make your way through me; for here I will defend virtue and honour!’ and put herself before Octavio: she spoke with so piteous a voice, and pleaded with so much tenderness, that Octavio, laying his sword at her feet, bid her dispose — false as she was, of his honour: ‘For oh,’ said he, ‘my life is already fallen a victim to your perjuries!’ He could say no more, but falling where he had laid his sword, left Philander master of the field. By this time some gentlemen that had been walking came up to them, and found a man lie dead, and a lady imploring another to fly: they looked on Oclavio, and found he had yet life; and immediately sent for surgeons, who carried him to his lodgings with very little hope: Philander, as well as his wounds would give him leave, got into a chair, telling the gentlemen that looked on him, he would be responsible for Octavio’s life, if he had had the ill fortune to take it; that his quarrel was too just to suffer him to fly. — So being carried to the cabaret, with an absolute command to Sylvia not to follow him, or visit him: for fear of hurting him by disobeying, she suffered herself to be carried to her lodgings, where she threw herself on her bed, and drowned her fair eyes in a shower of tears: she advises with Antonet and her page what to do in this extremity; she fears she has, by her ill management, lost both her lovers, and she was in a condition of needing every aid. They, who knew the excellent temper of Octavio, and knew him to be the most considerable lover of the two, besought her, as the best expedient she could have recourse to, to visit Octavio, who could not but take it kindly; and they did not doubt but she had so absolute a power over him, that with a very little complaisance towards him, she would retrieve that heart her ill luck had this morning forfeited; and which, they protested, they knew nothing of, nor how he got into her chamber. This advice she took; but, because Octavio was carried away dead, she feared, (and swooned with the fear) that he was no longer in the world, or, at least, that he would not long be so: however, she assumed her courage again at the thought, that, if he did die, she had an absolute possession of all his fortune, which was to her the most considerable part of the man, or at least, what rendered him so very agreeable to her: however, she thought fit to send her page, which she did in an hour after he was carried home, to see how he did; who brought her word that he was revived to life, and had commanded his gentleman to receive no messages from her. This was all she could learn, and what put her into the greatest extremity of grief. She after sent to Philander, and found him much the better of the two, but most infinitely incensed against Sylvia: this also added to her despair; yet since she found she had not a heart that any love, or loss of honour, or fortune could break; but, on the contrary, a rest of youth and beauty, that might oblige her, with some reason, to look forward on new lovers, if the old must depart: the next thing she resolved was, to do her utmost endeavour to retrieve Octavio, which, if unattainable, she would make the best of her youth. She sent therefore (notwithstanding his commands to suffer none of her people to come and see him) to inquire of his health; and in four days (finding he received other visits) she dressed herself, with all the advantages of her sex, and in a chair was carried to his aunt’s, where he lay. The good lady, not knowing but she might be that person of quality whom she knew to be extremely in love with her nephew, and who lived at the Court of Brussels, and was niece to the Governor, carried her to his chamber, where she left her, as not willing to be a witness of a visit she knew must be supposed incognito: it was evening, and Octavio was in bed, and, at the first sight of her his blood grew disordered in his veins, flushed in his pale face, and burnt all over his body, and he was near to swooning as he lay: she approached his bed with a face all set for languishment, love, and shame in her eyes, and sighs, that, without speaking, seemed to tell her grief at his disaster; she sat, or rather fell, on his bed, as unable to support the sight of him in that condition; she in a soft manner, seized his burning hand, grasped it and sighed, then put it to her mouth, and suffered a tear or two to fall upon it; and when she would have spoke, she made her sobs resist her words; and left nothing unacted, that might move the tender-hearted Octavio to that degree of passion she wished. A hundred times fain he would have spoke, but still his rising passion choked his words; and still he feared they would prove either too soft and kind for the injuries he had received, or too rough and cold for so delicate and charming a creature, and one, whom, in spite of all those injuries, he still adored: she appeared before him with those attractions that never failed to conquer him, with that submission and pleading in her modest bashful eyes, that even gave his the lie, who had seen her perfidy. Oh! what should he do to keep that fire from breaking forth with violence, which she had so thoroughly kindled in his heart? How should that excellent good nature assume an unwonted sullenness, only to appear what it could not by nature be? He was all soft and sweet, and if he had pride, he knew also how to make his pleasure; and his youth loved love above all the other little vanities that attend it, and was the most proper to it. Fain he would palliate her crime, and considers, in the condition she was, she could not but have some tenderness for Philander; that it was no more than what before passed; it was no new lover that came to kindle new passions, or approach her with a new flame; but a decliner, who came, and was received with the dregs of love, with all the cold indifference imaginable: this he would have persuaded himself, but dares not till he hears her speak; and yet fears she should not speak his sense; and this fear makes him sighing break silence, and he cried in a soft tone: ‘Ah! why, too lovely fair, why do you come to trouble the repose of my dying hours? Will you, cruel maid, pursue me to my grave? Shall I not have one lone hour to ask forgiveness of heaven for my sin of loving thee? The greatest that ever loaded my youth — and yet, alas! — the least repented yet. Be kind, and trouble not my solitude, depart with all the trophies of my ruin, and if they can add any glory to thy future life, boast them all over the universe, and tell what a deluded youth thou hast undone. Take, take, fair deceiver, all my industry, my right of my birth, my thriving parents have been so long a-getting to make me happy with; take the useless trifle, and lavish it on pleasure to make thee gay, and fit for luckier lovers: take that best part of me, and let this worst alone; it was that first won the dear confession from thee that drew my ruin on — for which I hate it — and wish myself born a poor cottage boor, where I might never have seen thy tempting beauty, but lived for ever blessed in ignorance.’ At this the tears ran from his eyes, with which the softened Sylvia mixed her welcome stream, and as soon as she could speak, she replied (with half cunning and half love, for still there was too much of the first mingled with the last), ‘Oh, my Octavio, to what extremities are you resolved to drive a poor unfortunate, who, even in the height of youth, and some small stock of beauty, am reduced to all the miseries of the wretched? Far from my noble noble parents, lost to honour, and abandoned by my friends; a helpless wanderer in a strange land, exposed to want, and perishing, and had no sanctuary but thyself, thy dear, thy precious self, whom heaven had sent, in mercy, to my aid; and thou, at last, by a mistaken turn of miserable fate, hast taken that dear aid away.’ At this she fell weeping on his panting bosom; nevertheless he got the courage to reply once again, before he yielded himself a shameful victim to her flattery, and said; ‘Ah cruel Sylvia, is it possible that you can charge the levity on me? Is it I have taken this poor aid, as you are pleased to call it, from you? Oh! rather blame your own unhappy easiness, that after having sworn me faith and love, could violate them both, both where there was no need. It would have better become thy pride and quality, to have resented injuries received, than brought again that scorned, abandoned person (fine as it was and shining still with youth) to his forgetful arms.’ ‘Alas,’ said she, ‘I will not justify my hateful crime: a crime I loathe to think of, it was a fault beyond a prostitution; there might have possibly been new joy in such a sin, but here it was palled and gone — fled to eternity away:— And but for the dear cause I did commit it, there were no expiation for my fault; no penitent tears could wash away my crime.’ ‘Alas,’ said he —‘if there were any cause, if there be any possible excuse for such a breach of love, give it my heart; make me believe it, and I may yet live; and though I cannot think thee innocent, to be compelled by any frivolous reason, it would greatly satisfy my longing soul. But, have a care, do not delude me on — for if thou durst persuade me into pardon, and to return to all my native fondness, and then again shouldst play me fast and loose; by heaven — by all my sacred passion to thee, by all that men call holy, I will pursue thee with my utmost hate; forsake thee with my fortune and my heart; and leave thee wretched to the scorning crowd. Pardon these rude expressions of a love that can hardly forgive the words it utters: I blush with shame while I pronounce them true.’ When she replied, ‘May all you have pronounced, and all your injured love can invent, fall on me when I ever more deceive you; believe me now, and but forgive what is past, and trust my love and honour for the future.’ At this she told him, that in the first visit Philander made her, she, using him so reproachfully, and upbraiding him with his inconstancy, made him understand, that he was betrayed by Octavio, and that the whole intrigue with Calista, confessed by him, was discovered to Sylvia; which, he said, put him into so violent a rage against Octavio, that he vowed that minute to find him out and kill him. Nor could all the persuasions of reason serve to hinder him; so that she who (as she said) loved Octavio to death, finding so powerful an enemy, as her fears made her fancy Philander was, ready to have snatched from her, in one furious moment, all she adored; she had recourse to all the flattery of love to with-hold him from an attempt so dangerous: and it was with much ado, with all those aids, that he was obliged to stay, which she had forced him to do, to get time to give him notice in the morning for his approaching danger: not that she feared Octavio’s life, had Philander attacked it fairly; but he looked on himself as a person injured by close private ways, and would take a like revenge, and have hurt him when he as little dreamed of it, as Philander did of the discovery he made of his letter to her. To this she swore, she wept, she embraced, and still protested it true; adding withal a thousand protestations of her future detestation of him; and that since the worst was past, and that they had fought, and he was come off, though with so many wounds, yet with life, she was resolved utterly to defy Philander, as the most perfidious of his sex; and assured him, that nothing in the world was so indifferent as she in his arms. In fine, after having omitted nothing that might gain a credit, and assure him of her love and heart, and possess him with a belief, for the future, of her lasting vows: he, wholly convinced and overcome, snatches her in his arms, and bursting into a shower of tears, cried —‘Take — take all my soul, thou lovely charmer of it, and dispose of the destiny of Octavio.’ And smothering her with kisses and embraces made a perfect reconciliation. When the surgeons, who came to visit him, finding him in the disorder of a fever, though more joy was triumphing in his face than before, they imagined this lady the fair person for whom this quarrel was; for it had made a great noise you may believe; and finding it hurtful for his wounds, either to be transported with too much rage, grief, or love, besought him he would not talk too much, or suffer any visits that might prejudice his health: and indeed, with what had been past, he found himself after his transport very ill and feverish, so that Sylvia promised the doctors she would visit him no more in a day or two, though she knew not well how to be from him so long; but would content herself with sending her page to inquire of his health. To this Octavio made very great opposition, but his aunt, and the rest of the learned, were of opinion it ought for his health to be so, and he was obliged to be satisfied with her absence: at parting she came to him, and again besought him to believe her vows to be well, and that she would depart somewhere with him far from Philander, who she knew was obliged to attend the motions of Cesario at Brussels, whom again she imprecated never to see more. This satisfied our impatient lover, and he suffered her to go, and leave him to that rest he could get. She was no sooner got home, and retired to her chamber, but, finding herself alone, which now she did not care to be, and being assured she should not see Octavio, instead of triumphing for her new-gained victory, she sent her page to inquire again of Philander’s health, and to entreat that she might visit him: at first before she sent, she checked this thought as base, as against all honour, and all her vows and promises to the brave Octavio; but finding an inclination to it, and proposing a pleasure and satisfaction in it, she was of a nature not to lose a pleasure for a little punctilio of honour; and without considering what would be the event of such a folly, she sent her page, though he had been repulsed before, and forbid coming with any messages from his lady. The page found no better success than hitherto he had done: but being with much entreaty brought to Philander’s chamber, he found him sitting in his night-gown, to whom addressing himself — he had no sooner named his lady — but Philander bid him be gone, for he would hear nothing from that false woman: the boy would have replied, but he grew more enraged; and reviling her with all the railings of incensed lovers, he puts himself into his closet without speaking any more, or suffering any answer. This message being delivered to the expecting lady, put her into a very great rage — which ended in as deep a concern: her great pride, fortified by her looking-glass, made her highly resent the affront; and she believed it more to the glory of her beauty to have quitted a hundred lovers, than to be abandoned by one. It was this that made her rave and tear, and talk high; and after all, to use her cunning to retrieve what it had been most happy for her should have been for ever lost; and she ought to have blessed the occasion. But her malicious star had designed other fortune for her: she wrote to him several letters, that were sent back sealed: she railed, she upbraided, and then fell to submission. At last, he was persuaded to open one, but returned such answers as gave her no satisfaction, but encouraged her with a little hope that she should draw him on to a reconciliation: between whiles she failed not to send Octavio the kindest, impatient letters in the world, and received the softest replies that the tongue of man could utter, for he could not write yet. At last, Philander having reduced Sylvia to the very brink of despair, and finding, by her passionate importunity, that he could make his peace with her on any terms of advantage to himself, resolved to draw such articles of agreement as should wholly subdue her to him, or to stand it out to the last: the conditions were, that he being a person by no means of a humour to be imposed upon; if he were dear to her, she should give herself entirely to his possession, and quit the very conversation of all those he had but an apprehension would disturb his repose: that she should remove out of the way of his troublesome rivals, and suffer herself to be conducted whither he thought good to carry her. These conditions she liked, all but the going away; she could not tell to what sort of confinement that might amount. He flies off wholly, and denies all treaty upon her least scruple, and will not be asked the explanation of what he has proposed: so that she bends like a slave for a little empire over him; and to purchase the vanity of retaining him, suffers herself to be absolutely undone. She submits; and that very day she had leave from the doctors to visit Octavio, and that all-ravished lover lay panting in expectation of the blessed sight, believing every minute an age, his apartment dressed and perfumed, and all things ready to receive the darling of his soul, Philander came in a coach and six horses (and making her pack up all her jewels and fine things, and what they could not carry in the coach, put up to come after them) and hurries her to a little town in Luke–Land, a place between Flanders and Germany, without giving her time to write, or letting her know whither she was going. While she was putting up her things (I know she has since confessed) her heart trembled, and foreboded the ill that was to come; that is, that she was hastening to ruin: but she had chanced to say so much to him of her passion to retrieve him, that she was ashamed to own the contrary so soon; but suffered that force upon her inclinations to do the most dishonourable and disinterested thing in the world. She had not been there a week, and her trunks of plate and fine things were arrived, but she fell in labour, and was brought to bed, though she shewed very little of her condition all the time she went. This great affair being well over, she considers herself a new woman, and began, or rather continued, to consider the advantage she had lost in Octavio: she regrets extremely her conduct, and from one degree to another she looks on herself as lost to him; she every day saw what she had decayed, her jewels sold one by one, and at last her necessaries. Philander, whose head was running on Calista, grudged every moment he was not about that affair, and grew as peevish as she; she recovers to new beauty, but he grows colder and colder by possession; love decayed, and ill humour increased: they grew uneasy on both sides, and not a day passed wherein they did not break into open and violent quarrels, upbraiding each other with those faults, which both wished that either would again commit, that they might be fairly rid of one another: it grew at last to that height, that they were never well but when they were absent from one another; he making a hundred little intrigues and gallantries with all the pretty women, and those of any quality in the town or neighbouring villas. She saw this with grief, shame, and disdain, and could not tell which way to relieve herself: she was not permitted the privilege of visits, unless to some grave ladies, or to monasteries; a man was a rarity she had hardly seen in two months, which was the time she had been there; so that she had leisure to think of her folly, bemoan the effects of her injustice, and contrive, if she could, to remedy her disagreeable life, which now was reduced, not only to scurrilous quarrels, and hard words; but, often in her fury, she flying upon him, and with the courage or indiscretion of her sex, would provoke him to indecencies that render life insupportable on both sides. While they lived at this rate, both contriving how handsomely to get quit of each other, Brilliard, who was left in Brussels, to take care of his lord’s affairs there, and that as soon as he had heard of Cesario’s arrival he should come with all speed and give him notice, thought every minute an hour till he could see again the charmer of his soul, for whom he suffered continual fevers of love. He studies nothing but how first to get her pardon, and then to compass his designs of possessing her: he had not seen her, nor durst pretend to it, since she left Holland. He believed she would have the discretion to conceal some of his faults, lest he should discover in revenge some of hers; and fancied she would imagine so of his conduct: he had met with no reproaches yet from his lord, and believed himself safe. With this imagination, he omitted nothing that might render him acceptable to her, nor to gain any secrets he believed might be of use to him: knowing therefore she had not dealt very generously with Octavio, by this flight with Philander, and believing that that exasperated lover, would in revenge declare any thing to the prejudice of the fair fugitive, he (under pretence of throwing himself at his feet, and asking his pardon for his ill treating him in Holland) designed before he went into Luke–Land to pay Octavio a visit, and accordingly went; he met first with his page, who being very well acquainted with Brilliard, discoursed with him before he carried him to his lord: he told him that his lord that day that Sylvia departed, being in impatient expectation of her, and that she came not according to appointment, sent him to her lodgings, to know if any accident had prevented her coming; but that when he came, though he had been with her but an hour before, she was gone away with Philander, never more to return. The youth, not being able to carry this sad news to his lord, when he came home offered at a hundred things to conceal the right; but the impatient lover would not be answered, but, all enraged, commanded him to tell that truth, which he found already but too apparently in his eyes. The lad so commanded, could no longer defer telling him Sylvia was gone; and being asked, again and again, what he meant, with a face and voice that every moment altered to dying; the page assured him she was gone out of Brussels with Philander, never more to return; which was no sooner told him, but he sunk on the couch where he lay, and fainted: he farther told him how long it was, and with what difficulty he was recovered to life; and that after he was so, he refused to speak or see any visitors; could for a long time be neither persuaded to eat nor sleep, but that he had spoken to no body ever since, and did now believe he could not procure him the favour he begged: that nevertheless he would go, and see what the very name of any that had but a relation to the family of Sylvia would produce in him, whether a storm of passion, or a calm of grief: either would be better than a dullness, all silent and sad, in which there was no understanding what he meant by it: whoever spoke, he only made a short sign, and turned away, as much as to say, speak no more to me: but now resolved to try his temper, he hastened to his lord, and told him that Brilliard, full of penitence for his past fault, and grief for the ill condition he heard he was in, was come to pay his humble respects to him, and gain his pardon before he went to his lord and Sylvia; without which he had not, nor could have, any peace of mind, he being too sensible of the baseness of the injury he had done him. At the name of Philander and Sylvia, Octavio shewed some signs of listening, but to the rest no regard; and starting from the bed where he was laid: ‘Ah! what hast thou said?’ cried he. The page then repeated the message, and was commanded to bring him up; who, accordingly, with all the signs of submission, cast himself at his feet and mercy; and, though he were an enemy, the very thought that he belonged to Sylvia made Octavio to caress him as the dearest of friends: he kept him with him two or three days, and would not suffer him to stir from him; but all their discourse was of the faithless Sylvia; of whom, the deceived lover spoke the softest, unheard, tender things, that ever passion uttered: he made the amorous Brilliard weep a hundred times a day; and ever when he would have soothed his heart with hopes of seeing her, and one day enjoying her entirely to himself, he would with so much peace of mind renounce her, as Brilliard no longer doubted but he would indeed no more trust her fickle sex. At last, the news arrived that Cesario was in Brussels, and Brilliard was obliged the next morning to take horse, and go to his lord: and to make himself the more acceptable to Sylvia, he humbly besought Octavio to write some part of his resentments to her, that he might oblige her to a reason for what she had so inhumanly done: this flattered him a little, and he was not long before he was overcome by Brilliard’s entreaties; who, having his ends in every thing, believed this letter might contain at least something to assist in his design, by giving him authority over her by so great a secret: the next morning, before he took horse he waited on Octavio for his letter, and promised him an answer at his return, which would be in a few days. This letter was open, and Octavio suffered Brilliard to read it, making him an absolute confidant in his amour; which having done, he besought him to add one thing more to it; and that was, to beg her to forgive Brilliard, which for his sake he knew she would do: he told him, he was obliged as a good Christian, and a dying man, one resolved for heaven to do that good office; and accordingly did. Brilliard taking post immediately, arrived to Philander, where he found every thing as he wished, all out of humour, still on the fret, and ever peevish. He had not seen Sylvia, as I said, since she went from Holland, and now knew not which way to approach her; Philander was abroad on some of his usual gallantries when Brilliard arrived; and having discoursed a while of the affairs of his lord and Sylvia, he told Antonet he had a great desire to speak with that dissatisfied fair one, assuring her, he believed his visit would be welcome, from what he had to say to her concerning Octavio: she told him (with infinite joy) that she did not doubt of his pardon from her lady, if he brought any news from that gallant injured man; and in all haste, though her lady saw no body, but refused to rise from her couch, she ran to her, and besought her to see Brilliard; for he came with a message from Octavio, the person, who was the subject of their discourse night and day, when alone. She immediately sent for Brilliard, who approached his goddess with a trembling devotion; he knelt before her, and humbly besought her pardon for all that was past: but she, who with the very thought that he had something to say from Octavio, forgot all but that, hastily bid him rise, and take all he asked, and hoped for what he wished: in this transport she embraced his head, and kissed his cheek, and took him up. ‘That, madam,’ said Brilliard, ‘which your divine bounty alone has given me, without any merit in me, I durst not have had the confidence to have hoped without my credential from a nobler hand — this, madam,’ said he — and gave her a letter from Octavio: the dear hand she knew, and kissed a hundred times as she opened it; and having entreated Brilliard to withdraw for a moment, that he might not see her concern at the reading it, she sat her down, and found it thus.
OCTAVIO to SYLVIA.
I confess, oh faithless Sylvia! that I shall appear in writing to you, to shew a weakness even below that of your infidelity; nor durst I have trusted myself to have spoken so many sad soft things, as I shall do in this letter, had I not tried the strength of my heart, and found I could upbraid you without talking myself out of that resolution I have taken — but, because I would die in perfect charity with thee, as with all the world, I should be glad to know I could forgive thee; for yet thy sins appear too black for mercy. Ah! why, charming ingrate, have you left me no one excuse for all your ills to me? Why have you injured me to that degree, that I, with all the mighty stock of love I had hoarded up together in my heart, must die reproaching thee to my last gasp of life? which hadst thou been so merciful to have ended, by all the love that’s breaking of my heart, that yet, even yet, is soft and charming to me, I swear with my last breath, I had blessed thee, Sylvia: but thus to use me; thus to leave my love, distracted, raving love, and no one hope or prospect of relief, either from reason, time, or faithless Sylvia, was but to stretch the wretch upon the rack, and screw him up to all degrees of pain; yet such, as do not end in kinder death. Oh thou unhappy miner of my repose! Oh fair unfortunate! if yet my agony would give me leave to argue, I am so miserably lost, to ask thee yet this woeful satisfaction; to tell me why thou hast undone me thus? Why thou shouldst choose me out from all the crowd of fond admiring fools, to make the world’s reproach, and turn to ridicule? How couldst thou use that soft good nature so, that had not one ungrateful sullen humour in it, for thy revenge and pride to work upon? No baseness in my love, no dull severity for malice to be busy with; but all was gay and kind, all lavish fondness, and all that woman, vain with youth and beauty, could wish in her adorer: what couldst thou ask, but empire, which I gave not? My love, my soul, my life, my very honour, all was resigned to thee; that youth that might have gained me fame abroad was dedicated to thy service, laid at thy feet, and idly passed in love. Oh charming maid, whom heaven has formed for the punishment of all, whose flames are criminal! Why couldst not thou have made some kind distinction between those common passions and my flame? I gave thee all my vows, my honest vows, before I asked a recompense for love. I made thee mine before the sacred powers, that witness every sacred solemn vow, and fix them in the eternal book of fate; if thou hadst given thy faith to any other, as, oh! too sure thou hadst, what fault was this in me, who knew it not? Why should I bear that sin? I took thee to me as a virgin treasure, sent from the gods to charm the ills of life, to make the tedious journey short and joyful; I came to make atonement for thy sin, and to redeem thy fame; not add to the detested number. I came to gild thy stains of honour over; and set so high a price upon thy name, that all reproaches for thy past offences should have been lost in future crowds of glory: I came to lead thee from a world of shame, approaching ills and future miseries; from noisy flatterers that would sacrifice thee, first to dull lust, and more unthinking wit; possess thee, then traduce thee. By heaven, I swear it was not for myself alone I took such pains to gain thee, and set thee free from all those circumstances, that might perhaps debauch thy worthier nature, and I believed it was with pain you yielded to every buying lover: no, it was for thy sake, in pity to thy youth, heaven had inspired me with religious flame; and when I aimed at Sylvia it was alone I might attain to heaven the surest way, by such a pious conquest; why hast thou ruined a design so glorious, as saving both our souls? Perhaps thou vainly thinkest that while I am pleading thus — I am arguing still for love; or think this way to move thee into pity; no, by my hopes of death to ease my pain, love is a passion not to be compelled by any force of reason’s arguments: it is an unthinking motion of the soul, that comes and goes as unaccountably as changing moons, or ebbs and flows of rivers, only with far less certainty. It is not that my soul is all over love, that can beget its likeness in your heart: had heaven and nature added to that love all the perfections that adorn our sex, it had availed me nothing in your soul: there is a chance in love as well as life, and often the most unworthy are preferred; and from a lottery I might win the prize from all the venturing throng with as much reason, as think my chance should favour me with Sylvia; it might perhaps have been, but it was a wondrous odds against me. Beauty is more uncertain than the dice; and though I ventured like a forward gamester, I was not yet so vain to hope to win, nor had I once complained upon my fate, if I had never hoped: but when I had fairly won, to have it basely snatched from my possession, and like a baffled cully see it seized by a false gamester, and look tamely on, has given me such ideas of the fool, I scorn to look into my easy heart, and loathe the figure you made me there. Oh Sylvia! what an angel hadst thou been, hadst thou not soothed me thus to my undoing! Alas, it had been no crime in thee to hate me; it was not thy fault I was not amiable; if thy soft eyes could meet no charms to please them, those soft, those charming eyes were not in fault; nor that thy sense, too delicate and nice, could meet no proper subject for thy wit, thy heart, thy tender heart was not in fault, because it took not in my tale of love, and sent soft wishes back: oh! no, my Sylvia, this, though I had died, had caused you no reproach; but first to fan my fire by all the arts that ever subtle beauty could invent; to give me hope; nay, to dissemble love; yes, and so very well dissemble too, that not one tender sigh was breathed in vain: all that my love-sick soul was panting for, the subtle charmer gave; so well, so very well, she could dissemble! Oh, what more proofs could I expect from love, what greater earnest of eternal victory? Oh! thou hadst raised me to the height of heaven, to make my fall to hell the more precipitate. Like a fallen angel now I howl and roar, and curse that pride that taught me first ambition; it is a poor satisfaction now, to know (if thou couldst yet tell truth) what motive first seduced thee to my ruin? Had it been interest — by heaven, I would have bought my wanton pleasures at as high rates as I would gratify my real passions; at least when Sylvia set a price on pleasure: nay, higher yet, for love when it is repaid with equal love, it saves the chafferer a great expense: or were it wantonness of youth in thee, alas, you might have made me understood it, and I had met you with an equal ardour, and never thought of loving, but quenched the short-lived blaze as soon as kindled; and hoping for no more, had never let my hasty flame arrive any higher than that powerful minute’s cure. But oh! in vain I seek for reasons from thee; perhaps thy own fantastic fickle humour cannot inform thee why thou hast betrayed me; but thou hast done it, Sylvia, and may it never rise in judgement on thee, nor fix a brand upon thy name for ever, greater than all thy other guilts can load thee with: live, fair deceiver, live, and charm Philander to all the heights of his beginning flame; mayst thou be gaining power upon his heart, and bring it repentance for inconstancy; may all thy beauty still maintain its lustre, and all thy charms of wit be new and gay; mayst thou be chaste and true; and since it was thy fate to be undone, let this at least excuse the hapless maid; it was love alone betrayed her to that ruin, and it was Philander only had that power. If thou hast sinned with me, as heaven is my witness, after I had plighted thee my sacred vows, I do not think thou didst: may all the powers above forgive thee, Sylvia; and those thou hast committed since those vows, will need a world of tears to wash away: it is I will weep for both; it is I will go and be a sacrifice to atone for all our sins: it is I will be the pressing penitent, and watch, and pray, and weep, until heaven have mercy; and may my penance be accepted for thee; — farewell — I have but one request to make thee, which is, that thou wilt, for Octavio’s sake, forgive the faithful slave that brings thee this from thy
Sylvia, whose absence and ill treatment of Octavio, had but served to raise her flame to a much greater degree, had no sooner read this letter, but she suffered herself to be distracted with all the different passions that possess despairing lovers; sometimes raving, and sometimes sighing and weeping: it was a good while she continued in these disorders, still thinking on what she had to do next that might redeem all: being a little come to herself, she thought good to consult with Brilliard in this affair, between whom and Octavio she found there was a very good understanding: and resolving absolutely to quit Philander, she no longer had any scruples or doubt what course to take, nor cared she what price she paid for a reconciliation with Octavio, if any price would purchase it: in order to this resolve, fixed in her heart, she sends for Brilliard, whom she caresses anew, with all the fondness and familiarity of a woman, who was resolved to make him her confidant, or rather indeed her next gallant. I have already said he was very handsome, and very well made, and you may believe he took all the care he could in dressing, which he understood very well: he had a good deal of wit, and was very well fashioned and bred:— With all these accomplishments, and the addition of love and youth, he could not be imagined to appear wholly indifferent in the eyes of any body, though hitherto he had in those of Sylvia, whose heart was doting on Philander; but now, that that passion was wholly extinguished, and that their eternal quarrels had made almost a perpetual separation, she being alone, without the conversation of men, which she loved, and was used to, and in her inclination naturally addicted to love, she found Brilliard more agreeable than he used to be; which, together with the designs she had upon him, made her take such a freedom with him, as wholly transported this almost hopeless lover: she discourses with him concerning Octavio and his condition, and he failed not to answer, so as to please her, right or wrong; she tells him how uneasy she was with Philander, who every day grew more and more insupportable to her; she tells him she had a very great inclination for Octavio, and more for his fortune that was able to support her, than his person; she knew she had a great power over him, and however it might seem now to be diminished by her unlucky flight with Philander, she doubted not but to reduce him to all that love he once professed to her, by telling him she was forced away, and without her knowledge, being carried only to take the air was compelled to the fatal place where she now was. Brilliard soothes and flatters her in all her hope, and offers her his service in her flight, which he might easily assist, unknown to Philander. It was now about six o’clock at night, and she commanded a supper to be provided, and brought to her chamber, where Brilliard and she supped together, and talked of nothing but the new design; the hope of effecting which put her into so good a humour, that she frankly drank her bottle, and shewed more signs of mirth than she had done in many months before: in this good humour, Brilliard looked more amiable than ever; she smiles upon him, she caresses him with all the assurance of friendship imaginable; she tells him she shall behold him as her dearest friend, and speaks so many kind things, that he was emboldened, and approached her by degrees more near; he makes advances; and the greatest encouragement was, the secret he had of her intended flight: he tells her, he hoped she would be pleased to consider, that while he was serving her in a new amour, and assisting to render her into the arms of another, he was wounding his own heart, which languished for her; that he should not have taken the presumption to have told her this, at such a time as he offered his life to serve her, but that it was already no secret to her, and that a man who loved at his rate, and yet would contrive to make his mistress happy with another, ought in justice to receive some recompense of a flame so constant and submissive. While he spake, he found he was not regarded with the looks of scorn or disdain; he knew her haughty temper, and finding it calm, he pressed on to new submissions; he fell at her feet, and pleaded so well, where no opposers were, that Sylvia no longer resisted, or if she did, it was very feebly, and with a sort of a wish that he would pursue his boldness yet farther; which at last he did, from one degree of softness and gentle force to another, and made himself the happiest man in the world; though she was very much disordered at the apprehension of what she had suffered from a man of his character, as she imagined, so infinitely below her; but he redoubled his submission in so cunning a manner, that he soon brought her to her good humour; and after that, he used the kind authority of a husband whenever he had an opportunity, and found her not displeased at his services. She considered he had a secret from her, which, if revealed, would not only prevent her design, but ruin her for ever; she found too late she had discovered too much to him to keep him at the distance of a servant, and that she had no other way to attach him eternally to her interest, but by this means. He now every day appeared more fine, and well dressed, and omitted nothing that might make him, if possible, an absolute master of her heart, which he vowed he would defend with his life, from even Philander himself; and that he would pretend to no other empire over her, nor presume, or pretend to engross that fair and charming person, which ought to be universally adored. In fine, he failed not to please both her desire and her vanity, and every day she loved Philander less, who sometimes in two or three days together came not to visit her. At this time it so happened, he being in love with the young daughter of an advocate, about a league from his own lodgings, and he is always eager on the first address, till he has completed the conquest; so that she had not only time to please and revenge her with Brilliard, but fully to resolve their affairs, and to provide all things against their flight, which they had absolutely done before Philander’s return; who, coming home, received Brilliard very kindly, and the news which he brought, and which made him understand he should not have any long time to finish his new amour in; but as he was very conquering both in wit and beauty, he left not the village without some ruins behind of beauty, which ever after bewailed his charms; and since his departure was so necessary, and that in four or five days he was obliged to go, they deferred their flight till he was gone; which time they had wholly to themselves, and made as good use of it as they could; at least, she thought so, and you may be sure, he also, whose love increased with his possession. But Sylvia longs for liberty, and those necessary gallantries, which every day diminished; she loved rich clothes, gay coaches, and to be lavish; and now she was stinted to good housewifery, a penury she hated.
The time of Philander’s, departure being come, he took a very careless leave of Sylvia, telling her he would see what commands the Prince had for him, and return in ten or twelve days. Brilliard pretended some little indisposition, and begged he might be permitted to follow him, which was granted; and the next day, though Erilliard pleaded infinitely for a continuation of his happiness two or three days more, she would not grant it, but obliged him, by a thousand kind promises of it for the future, to get horses ready for her page, and woman, and her coach for herself; which accordingly was done, and they left the village, whose name I cannot now call to mind, taking with her what of value she had left. They were three days on their journey: Brilliard, under pretence of care of her health, the weather being hot, and for fear of overtaking Philander by some accident on the road, delayed the time as much as was possible, to be as happy as he could all the while; and indeed Sylvia was never seen in a humour more gay. She found this short time of hope and pleasure had brought all her banished beauties back, that care, sickness, and grief, had extremely tarnished; only her shape was a little more inclining to be fat, which did not at all however yet impair her fineness; and she was indeed too charming without, for the deformity of her indiscretion within; but she had broke the bounds of honour, and now stuck at nothing that might carry on an interest, which she resolved should be the business of her future life.
She at last arrived at Brussels, and caused a lodging to be taken for her in the remotest part of the town; as soon as she came she obliged Brilliard to visit Octavio; but going to his aunt’s, to inquire for him, he was told that he was no longer in the world; he stood amazed a-while, believing he had been dead, when madam the aunt told him he was retired to the monastery of the Order of St Bernard, and would, in a day or two, without the probationary year, take Holy Orders. This did not so much surprise him as the other, knowing that he discoursed to him, when he saw him last, as if some such retirement he meant to resolve upon; with this news, which he was not altogether displeased at, Brilliard returned to Sylvia, which soon changed all her good humour to tears and melancholy: she inquired at what place he was, and believed she should have power to withdraw him from a resolution so fatal to her, and so contradictive to his youth and fortune; and having consulted the matter with Brilliard, he had promised her to go to him, and use all means possible to withdraw him. This resolved, she writ a most insinuating letter to him, wherein she excused her flight by a surprise of Philander’s, and urged her condition, as it then was, for the excuse of her long silence; and that as soon as her health would give her leave, she came to put herself eternally into his arms, never to depart more from thence. These arguments and reasons, accompanied with all the endearing tenderness her artful fancy was capable of framing, she sent with a full assurance it would prevail to persuade him to the world, and her fair arms again. While she was preparing this to go, Philander, who had heard at his arrival, what made so much noise, that he had been the occasion of the world’s loss of two of the finest persons in it, the sister Calista by debauching her, and the brother by ravishing his mistress from him, both which were entering, without all possibility of prevention, into Holy Orders; he took so great a melancholy at it, as made him keep his chamber for two days, maugre all the urgent affairs that ought to have invited him from thence; he was consulting by what power to prevent the misfortune; he now ran back to all the obligations he had to Octavio, and pardons him all the injuries he did him; he loves him more by loving Sylvia less, and remembered how that generous friend, after he knew he had dishonoured his sister, had notwithstanding sent him Letters of Credit to the magistrates of Cologne, and Bills of Exchange, to save him from the murder of his brother-in-law, as he was likely to have been. He now charges all his little faults to those of love, and hearing that old Clarinau was dead of the wound Octavio had given him by mistake, which increased in him new hope of Calista, could she be retrieved from the monastery, he resolved, in order to this, to make Octavio a visit, to beg his pardon, and beg his friendship, and his continuation in the world. He came accordingly to the monastery, and was extremely civilly received by Octavio, who yet had not the habit on. Philander told him, he heard he was leaving the world, and could not suffer him to do so, without endeavouring to gain his pardon of him, for all the injuries he had done him; that as to what related to his sister the Countess, he protested upon his honour, if he had but imagined she had been so, he would have suffered death sooner than his passion to have approached her indiscreetly; and that for Sylvia, if he were assured her possession would make him happy, and call him to the world again, he assured him he would quit her to him, were she ten times dearer to him than she was. This he confirmed with so many protestations of friendship, that Octavio, obliged to the last degree, believed and returned him this answer. ‘Sir, I must confess you have found out the only way to disarm me of my resentment against you, if I were not obliged, by those vows I am going to take, to pardon and be at peace with all the world. However, these vows cannot hinder me from conserving entirely that friendship in my heart, which your good qualities and beauties at first sight engaged there, and from esteeming you more than perhaps I ought to do; the man whom I must yet own my rival, and the undoer of my sister’s honour. But oh — no more of that; a friend is above a sister, or a mistress.’ At this he hung down his eyes and sighed —Philander told him he was too much concerned in him, not to be extremely afflicted at the resolution he had taken, and besought him to quit a design so injurious to his youth, and the glorious things that heaven had destined him to; he urged all that could be said to dissuade him, and, after all, could not believe he would quit the world at this age, when it would be sufficient forty years hence so to do. Octavio only answered with a smile; but, when he saw Philander still persist, he endeavoured to convince him by speaking; and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he vowed, by all the holy powers there, he never would look down to earth again; nor more consider fickle, faithless, beauty: ‘All the gay vanities of youth,’ said he, ‘for ever I renounce, and leave them all to those that find a pleasure, or a constancy in them; for the fair, faithless, maid, that has undone me, I leave to you the empire of her heart; but have a care,’ said he (and sighing laid his arms about his neck) ‘for even you, with all that stock of charms, she will at last betray: I wish her well — so well, as to repent of all her wrongs to me — It is all I have to say.’ What Philander could urge, being impossible to prevail with him: and begging his pardon and friendship (which was granted by Octavio, and implored on his side from Philander) he took a ring of great value from his finger, and presented it to Philander, and begged him to keep it for his sake; and to remember him while he did so: they kissed, and sighing parted.
Philander was no sooner gone, but Brilliard came to wait on Octavio, whom he found at his devotion, and begged his pardon for disturbing him: he received him with a very good grace, and a cheerful countenance, embracing him; and after some discourse of the condition he was going to reduce himself to, and his admiration, that one so young should think of devoting himself so early to heaven, and things of that nature, as the time and occasion required, he told him the extreme affliction Sylvia was seized with, at the news of the resolution he had taken, and delivered him a letter, which he read without any emotions in his heart or face, as at other times used to be visible at the very mention of her name, or approach of her letters. At the finishing of which, he only smiling cried: ‘Alas, I pity her,’ and gave him back the letter. Brilliard asked, if he would not please to write her some answer, or condescend to see her; ‘No,’ replied Octavio, ‘I have done with all the gilded vanities of life, now I shall think of Sylvia but as some heavenly thing, fit for diviner contemplations, but never with the youthful thoughts of love.’ What he should send her now, he said, would have a different style to those she used to receive from him; it would be pious counsel, grave advice, unfit for ladies so young and gay as Sylvia, and would scarce find a welcome: he wished he could convert her from the world — and save her from the dangers that pursued her. To this purpose was all he said of her, and all that could be got from him by the earnest solicitor of love, who perhaps was glad his negotiation succeeded no better, and took his leave of him, with a promise to visit him often; which Octavio besought him to do, and told him he would take some care, that for the good of Sylvia’s better part, she should not be reduced by want of necessaries for her life, and little equipage, to prostitute herself to vile inconstant man; he yet had so much respect for her — and besought Brilliard to come and take care of it with him, and to entreat Sylvia to accept of it from him; and if it contributed to her future happiness, he should be more pleased than to have possessed her entirely.
You may imagine how this news pleased Sylvia; who trembling with fear every moment, had expected Brilliard’s coming, and found no other benefit by his negotiation, but she must bear what she cannot avoid; but it was rather with the fury of a bacchanal, than a woman of common sense and prudence; all about her pleaded some days in vain, and she hated Brilliard for not doing impossibilities; and it was some time before he could bring her to permit him to speak to her, or visit her.
Philander having left Octavio, went immediately to wait on Cesario, who was extremely pleased to meet him there, and they exchanged their souls to each other, and all the secrets of them. After they had discoursed of all that they had a mind to hear and know on both sides, Cesario inquired of him of Sylvia’s health; and Philander gave him an account of the uneasiness of her temper, and the occasions of their quarrels, in which Octavio had his part, as being the subject of some of them: from this he falls to give a character of that rival, and came to this part of it, where he had put himself into the Orders of the Bernardines, resolving to leave the world, and all its charms and temptations. As they were speaking, some gentlemen, who came to make their court to the Prince, finding them speak of Octavio, told them that to-morrow he was to be initiated, without the year’s trial; the Prince would needs go and see the ceremony, having heard so much of the man; and accordingly next day, accompanied with the Governor, Philander, Tomaso, and abundance of persons of quality and officers, he went to the great church, where were present all the ladies of the Court, and all that were in the town. The noise of it was so great, that Sylvia, all languishing, and ill as she was, would not be persuaded from going, but so muffled in her hoods, as she was not to be known by any.
Never was any thing so magnificent as this ceremony, the church was on no occasion so richly adorned; Sylvia chanced to be seated near the Prince of Mechlenburgh, who was then in Brussels, and at the ceremony; sad as she was, while the soft music was playing, she discoursed to him, though she knew him not, of the business of the day: he told her, she was to see a sight, that ought to make her sex less cruel; a man extremely beautiful and young, whose fortune could command almost all the pleasures of the world; yet for the love of the most amiable creature in the world, who has treated him with rigour, he abandons this youth and beauty to all the severity of rigid devotion: this relation, with a great deal he said of Octavio’s virtues and bravery, had like to have discovered her by putting her into a swoon; and she had much ado to support herself in her seat. I myself went among the rest to this ceremony, having, in all the time I lived in Flanders, never been so curious to see any such thing. The Order of St Bernard is one of the neatest of them, and there is a monastery of that Order, which are obliged to be all noblemen’s sons; of which I have seen fifteen hundred at a time in one house, all handsome, and most of them young; their habit adds a grace to their person, for of all the Religious, that is the most becoming: long white vests of fine cloth, tied about with white silk sashes, or a cord of white silk; over this a long cloak without a cape, of the same fine white broad cloth; their hair of a pretty length, as that of our persons in England, and a white beaver; they have very fine apartments, fit for their quality, and above all, every one their library; they have attendance and equipage according to their rank, and have nothing of the inconveniencies and slovenliness of some of the Religious, but served in as good order as can be, and they have nothing of the monastic — but the name, the vow of chastity, and the opportunity of gaining heaven, by the sweetest retreat in the world, fine house, excellent air, and delicate gardens, grottoes and groves. It was this Order that Octavio had chosen, as too delicate to undertake the austerity of any other; and in my opinion, it is here a man may hope to become a saint sooner than in any other, more perplexed with want, cold, and all the necessaries of life, which takes the thought too much from heaven, and afflicts it with the cares of this world, with pain and too much abstinence: and I rather think it is necessity than choice, that makes a man a Cordelier, that may be a Jesuit, or Bernardine, to the best of the Holy Orders. But, to return, it was upon a Thursday this ceremony began; and, as I said, there was never any thing beheld so fine as the church that day was, and all the Fathers that officiated at the high-altar; behind which a most magnificent scene of glory was opened, with clouds most rarely and artificially set off, behind which appeared new ones more bright and dazzling, till from one degree to another, their lustre was hardly able to be looked on; and in which sat an hundred little angels so rarely dressed, such shining robes, such charming faces, such flowing bright hair, crowned with roses of white and red, with such artificial wings, as one would have said they had borne the body up in the splendid sky; and these to soft music, turned their soft voices with such sweetness of harmony, that, for my part, I confess, I thought myself no longer on earth; and sure there is nothing gives an idea of real heaven, like a church all adorned with rare pictures, and the other ornaments of it, with whatever can charm the eyes; and music, and voices, to ravish the ear; both which inspire the soul with unresistible devotion; and I can swear for my own part, in those moments a thousand times I have wished to die; so absolutely had I forgot the world, and all its vanities, and fixed my thoughts on heaven. While this music continued, and the anthems were singing, fifty boys all in white, bearing silver censers, cast incense all round, and perfumed the place with the richest and most agreeable smells, while two hundred silver lamps were burning upon the altar, to give a greater glory to the opened scene, whilst other boys strewed flowers upon the inlaid pavement, where the gay victim was to tread; for no crowd of gazers filled the empty space, but those that were spectators, were so placed, as rather served to adorn than disorder the awful ceremony, where all were silent, and as still as death; as awful, as mourners that attend the hearse of some loved monarch: while we were thus listening, the soft music playing, and the angels singing, the whole fraternity of the Order of St Bernard came in, two by two, in a very graceful order; and going up to the shining altar, whose furniture that day was embroidered with diamonds, pearls, and stones of great value, they bowed and retired to their places, into little gilded stalls, like our Knights of the Garter at Windsor: after them, fifty boys that sang approached in order to the altar, bowed, and divided on each side; they were dressed in white cloth of silver, with golden wings and rosy chaplets: after these the Bishop, in his pontific robes set with diamonds of great price, and his mitre richly adorned, ascended the altar, where, after a short anthem, he turned to receive the young devotee, who was just entered the church, while all eyes were fixed on him: he was led, or rather, on each side attended with two young noblemen, his relations; and I never saw any thing more rich in dress, but that of Octavio exceeded all imagination, for the gaiety and fineness of the work: it was white cloth of silver embroidered with gold, and buttons of diamonds; lined with rich cloth of gold and silver flowers, his breeches of the same, trimmed with a pale pink garniture; rich linen, and a white plume in his white hat: his hair, which was long and black, was that day in the finest order that could be imagined; but, for his face and eyes, I am not able to describe the charms that adorned them; no fancy, no imagination, can paint the beauties there: he looked indeed, as if he were made for heaven; no mortal ever had such grace: he looked methought, as if the gods of love had met in council to dress him up that day for everlasting conquest; for to his usual beauties he seemed to have the addition of a thousand more; he bore new lustre in his face and eyes, smiles on his cheeks, and dimples on his lips: he moved, he trod with nobler motions, as if some supernatural influence had took a peculiar care of him: ten thousand sighs, from all sides, were sent him, as he passed along, which, mixed with the soft music, made such a murmuring, as gentle breezes moving yielding boughs: I am assured, he won that day more hearts, without design, than ever he had gained with all his toils of love and youth before, when industry assisted him to conquer. In his approach to the altar, he made three bows; where, at the foot of it on the lower step, he kneeled, and then High–Mass began; in which were all sorts of different music, and that so excellent, that wholly ravished with what I saw and heard, I fancied myself no longer on earth, but absolutely ascended up to the regions of the sky. All I could see around me, all I heard, was ravishing and heavenly; the scene of glory, and the dazzling altar; the noble paintings, and the numerous lamps; the awfulness, the music, and the order, made me conceive myself above the stars, and I had no part of mortal thought about me. After the holy ceremony was performed, the Bishop turned and blessed him; and while an anthem was singing, Octavio, who was still kneeling, submitted his head to the hands of a Father, who, with a pair of scissors, cut off his delicate hair; at which a soft murmur of pity and grief filled the place: those fine locks, with which Sylvia had a thousand times played, and wound the curls about her snowy fingers, she now had the dying grief, for her sake, for her infidelity, to behold sacrificed to her cruelty, and distributed among the ladies, who, at any price, would purchase a curl: after this they took off his linen, and his coat, under which he had a white satin waistcoat, and under his breeches drawers of the same. Then, the Bishop took his robes, which lay consecrated on the altar, and put them on, and invested him with the holy robe: the singing continuing to the end of the ceremony; where, after an anthem was sung (while he prostrated himself before the altar) he arose, and instead of the two noblemen that attended him to the altar, two Bernardines approached, and conducted him from it, to the seats of every one of the Order, whom he kissed and embraced, as they came forth to welcome him to the Society. It was with abundance of tears that every one beheld this transformation; but Sylvia swooned several times during the ceremony, yet would not suffer herself to be carried out; but Antonet and another young lady of the house where she lodged, that accompanied her, did what they could to conceal her from the public view. For my part, I swear I was never so affected in my life with any thing, as I was at this ceremony; nor ever found my heart so oppressed with tenderness; and was myself ready to sink where I sat, when he came near me, to be welcomed by a Father that sat next to me: after this, he was led by two of the eldest Fathers to his apartment, and left a thousand sighing hearts behind him. Had he died, there had not been half that lamentation; so foolish is the mistaken world to grieve at our happiest fortune; either when we go to heaven or retreat from this world, which has nothing in it that can really charm, without a thousand fatigues to attend it: and in this retreat, I am sure, he himself was the only person that was not infinitely concerned; who quitted the world with so modest a bravery, so entire a joy, as no young conqueror ever performed his triumphs with more.
The ceremony being ended, Antonet got Sylvia to her chair, concerned even to death; and she vowed afterwards she had much ado to with-hold herself from running and seizing him at the altar, and preventing his fortune and design, but that she believed Philander would have resented it to the last degree, and possibly have made it fatal to both herself and Octavio. It was a great while before she could recover from the indisposition to which this fatal and unexpected accident had reduced her: but, as I have said, she was not of a nature to die for love; and charming and brave as Octavio was, it was perhaps her interest, and the loss of his considerable fortune that gave her the greatest cause of grief. Sometimes she vainly fancied that yet her power was such, that with the expense of one visit, and some of her usual arts, which rarely fail, she had power to withdraw his thoughts from heaven, and fix them all on herself again, and to make him fly those enclosures to her more agreeable arms: but again she wisely considered, though he might be retrieved, his fortune was disposed of to holy uses, and could never be so. This last thought more prevailed upon her, and had more convincing reason in it, than all that could besides oppose her flame; for she had this wretched prudence, even in the highest flights and passions of her love, to have a wise regard to interest; insomuch, that it is most certain, she refused to give herself up entirely even to Philander; him, whom one would have thought nothing but perfect love, soft irresistible love, could have compelled her to have transgressed withal, when so many reasons contradicted her passion: how much more then ought we to believe, that interest was the greatest motive of all her after-passions? However, this powerful motive failed not to beget in her all the pains and melancholies that the most violent of passions could do: but Brilliard, who loved her to a greater degree than ever, strove all he could to divert the thoughts of a grief, for which there was no remedy; and believed, if he could get her out of Brussels, retired to the little town, or rather village, where he was first made happy, and where Philander still believed her to be, he should again re-assume that power over her heart he had before: in this melancholy fit of hers he proposed it, urging the danger he should be in for obeying her, should Philander once come to know that she was in Brussels; and that possibly she would not find so civil a treatment as he ought to pay her, if he should come to the knowledge of it: besides these reasons, he said, he had some of greater importance, which he must not discover till she were withdrawn from Brussels: but there needed not much to persuade her to retire, in the humour she then was; and with no opposition on her side, she told him, she was ready to go where he thought fit; and accordingly the next day they departed the town, and in three more arrived to the village. In all this journey Brilliard never approached her but with all the respect imaginable, but withal, with abundance of silent passion: which manner of carriage obliged Sylvia very often to take notice of it, with great satisfaction and signs of favour; and as he saw her melancholy abate, he increased in sighing and lover’s boldnesses: yet with all this, he could not oblige her to those returns he wished: when, after ten days’ stay, Philander writ to him to inquire of his health, and of Sylvia, to whom he sent a very kind good-natured letter, but no more of the lover, than if there had never been such a joy between them: he begged her to take care of herself, and told her, he would be with her in ten or fifteen days; and desired her to send him Brilliard, if he were not wholly necessary to her service; for he had urgent affairs to employ him in: so that Brilliard, not being able longer with any colour to defend his stay, writ him word he would wait on him in two days; which short time he wholly employed in the utmost endeavour to gain Sylvia’s favour; but she, whose thoughts were roving on new designs, which she thought fit to conceal from a lover, still put him off with pretended illness, and thoughtfulness on the late melancholy object and loss of Octavio: but assured him, as soon as she was recovered of that pressure, she would receive him with the same joy she had before, and which his person and his services merited from her; it was thus she soothed the hoping lover, who went away with all the satisfaction imaginable, bearing a letter from Sylvia to Philander, written with all the art of flattery. Brilliard was no sooner gone, but Sylvia, whose head ran on new adventures, resolved to try her chance; and being, whenever she pleased, of a humour very gay, she resolved upon a design, in which she could trust no body but her page, who loved his lady to the last degree of passion, though he never durst shew it even in his looks or sighs; and yet the cunning Sylvia had by chance found his flame, and would often take delight to torture the poor youth, to laugh at him: she knew he would die to serve her, and she durst trust him with the most important business of her life: she therefore the next morning sends for him to her chamber, which she often did, and told him her design; which was, in man’s clothes to go back to Brussels, and see if they could find any adventures by the way that might be worth the journey, and divert them: she told him she would trust him with all her secrets; and he vowed fidelity. She bid him bring her a suit of those clothes she used to wear at her first arrival at Holland, and he looked out one very fine, and which she had worn that day she went to have been married to Octavio, when the States’ messengers took her up for a French spy, a suit Philander had never seen: she equips herself, and leaving in charge with Antonet what to say in her absence, and telling her she was going upon a frolic to divert herself a day or two; she, accompanied by her page only, took horse and made away towards Brussels: you must know, that the half-way stage is a very small village, in which there is most lamentable accommodation, and may vie with any part of Spain for bad inns. Sylvia, not used much to riding as a man, was pretty well tired by that time she got to one of those hotels; and, as soon as she alighted, she went to her chamber to refresh and cool herself; and while the page was gone to the kitchen to see what there was to eat, she was leaning out of the window, and looking on the passengers that rode along, many of which took up in the same house. Among them that alighted, there was a very handsome young gentleman, appearing of quality, attended only by his page. She considered this person a little more than the rest, and finding him so unaccompanied, had a curiosity, natural to her, to know who he was: she ran to another window that looked into the yard, a kind of balcony, and saw him alight, and look at her; and saluted her in passing into the kitchen, seeing her look like a youth of quality: coming in, he saw her page, and asked if he belonged to that young cavalier in the gallery; the page told him he did: and being asked who he was, he told him he was a young nobleman of France; a stranger to all those parts, and had made an escape from his tutors; and said he was of a humour never to be out of his way; all places being alike to him in those little adventures. So leaving him (with yet a greater curiosity) he ran to Sylvia, and told her what had passed between the young stranger and him: while she, who was possessed with the same inquisitive humour, bid him inquire who he was; when the master of the hotel coming in the interim up to usher in her supper, she inquired of him who that young stranger was; he told her, one of the greatest persons in Flanders; that he was nephew to the Governor, and who had a very great equipage at other times; but that now he was incognito, being on an intrigue: this intrigue gave Sylvia new curiosity; and hoping the master would tell him again, she fell into great praises of his beauty and his mien; which for several reasons pleased the man of the inn, who departed with the good news, and told every word of it to the young cavalier: the good man having, besides the pleasing him with the grateful compliments, a farther design in the relation; for his house being very full of persons of all sorts, he had no lodgings for the Governor’s nephew, unless he could recommend him to our young cavalier. The gay unknown, extremely pleased with the character he had given him by so beautiful a gentleman, and one who appeared of so much quality, being alone, and knowing he was so also, sent a Spanish page, that spoke very good French, and had a handsome address, and quick wit, to make his compliment to the young Monsieur; which was to beg to be admitted to sup with him; who readily accepted the honour, as she called it; and the young Governor, whom we must call Alonzo, for a reason or two, immediately after entered her chamber, with an admirable address, appearing much handsomer near, than at a distance, though even then he drew Sylvia’s eyes with admiration on him: there were a thousand young graces in his person, sweetnesses in his face, love and fire in his eyes, and wit on his tongue: his stature was neither tall nor low, very well made and fashioned; a light-brown hair, hazel eyes, and a very soft and amorous air; about twenty years of age: he spoke very good French; and after the first compliments on either side were over, as on such occasions are necessary; in which on both sides were nothing but great expressions of esteem, Sylvia began so very well to be pleased with the fair stranger, that she had like to have forgot the part she was to act, and have made discoveries of her sex, by addressing herself with the modesty and blushes of a woman: but Alonzo, who had no such apprehension, though she appeared with much more beauty than he fancied ever to have seen in a man, nevertheless admired, without suspecting, and took all those signs of effeminacy to unassured youth, and first address; and he was absolutely deceived in her. Alonzo’s supper being brought up, which was the best the bad inn afforded, they sat down, and all the supper time talked of a thousand pleasant things, and most of love and women, where both expressed abundance of gallantry for the fair sex. Alonzo related many short and pleasant accidents and amours he had had with women.
Though the stranger were by birth a Spaniard; yet, while they discoursed the glass was not idle, but went as briskly about, as if Sylvia had been an absolute good fellow. Alonzo drinks his and his mistress’s health, and Sylvia returned the civility, and so on, till three bottles were sacrificed to love and good humour; while she, at the expense of a little modesty, declared herself so much of the opinion of Don Alonzo, for gay inconstancy, and the blessing of variety, that he was wholly charmed with a conversation so agreeable to his own. I have heard her page say, from whom I have had a great part of the truths of her life, that he never saw Sylvia in so pleasant a humour all his life before, nor seemed so well pleased, which gave him, her lover, a jealousy that perplexed him above any thing he had ever felt from love; though he durst not own it. But Alonzo finding his young companion altogether so charming (and in his own way too) could not forbear very often from falling upon his neck, and kissing the fair disguised, with as hearty an ardour, as ever he did one of the other sex: he told her he adored her; she was directly of his principle, all gay, inconstant, galliard and roving, and with such a gusto, he commended the joys of fickle youth, that Sylvia would often say, she was then jealous of him, and envious of those who possessed him, though she knew not whom. The more she looked on him, and heard him speak, the more she fancied him: and wine that warmed her head, made her give him a thousand demonstrations of love, that warmed her heart; which he mistook for friendship, having mistaken her sex. In this fit of beginning love (which is always the best) and jealousy, she bethought her to ask him on what adventure he had now been; for he being without his equipage, she believed, she said, he was upon some affair of love: he told her there was a lady, within an hour’s riding of that place, of quality, and handsome, very much courted: amongst those that were of the number of her adorers, he said, was a young man of quality of France, who called himself Philander: this Philander had been about eight days very happy in her favour, and had happened to boast his good fortune the next night at the Governor’s table, where he dined with the Prince Cesario. ‘I told him,’ continued Alonzo, ‘that the person he so boasted of, had so soon granted him the favour, that I believed she was of a humour to suffer none to die at her feet: but this,’ said he, ‘Philander thought an indignity to his good parts, and told me, he believed he was the only man happy in her favour, and that could be so: on this I ventured a wager, at which he coloured extremely, and the company laughed, which incensed him more; the Prince urged the wager, which was a pair of Spanish horses, the best in the Court, on my side, against a discretion on his: this odds offered by me incensed him yet more; but urged to lay, we ended the dispute with the wager, the best conclusion of all controversies. He would have known what measures I would take; I refused to satisfy him in that; I only swore him upon honour, that he should not discover the wager, or the dispute to the lady. The next day I went to pay her a visit, from my aunt, the Governor’s lady, and she received me with all the civility in the world. I seemed surprised at her beauty, and could talk of nothing but the adoration I had for her, and found her extremely pleased, and vain; of which feeble resistance I made so good advantage, that before we parted, being all alone, I received from her all the freedoms, that I could with any good manners be allowed the first time; she firing me with kisses, and suffering my closest embraces. Having prospered so well, I left her for that time, and two days after I made my visit again; she was a married lady, and her husband was a Dutch Count, and gone to a little government he held under my uncle, so that again I found a free admittance; I told her, it was my aunt’s compliment I brought before, but that now it was my own I brought, which was that of an impatient heart, that burnt with a world of fire and flame, and nonsense. In fine, so eager I was, and so pressing for something more than dull kissing, that she began to retire as fast as she advanced before, and told me, after abundance of pressing her to it, that she had set a price upon her beauty, and unless I understood how to purchase her, it was not her fault if I were not happy. At first I so little expected it had been money, that I reiterated my vows, and fancied it was the assurance of my heart she meant; but she very frankly replied, “Sir, you may spare your pains, and five hundred pistoles will ease you of a great deal of trouble, and be the best argument of your love.” This generous conscientious humour of hers, of suffering none to die that had five hundred pistoles to present for a cure, was very good news to me, and I found I was not at all obliged to my youth or beauty, but that a man with half a nose, or a single eye, or that stunk like an old Spaniard that had dined on rotten cheese and garlic, should have been equally as welcome for the aforesaid sum, to this charming insensible. I must confess, I do not love to chaffer for my pleasure, it takes off the best part of it; and were I left to my own judgement of its worth, I should hardly have offered so sneaking a sum; but that sort of bargaining, was her humour, and to enjoy her mind, though she had strangely palled me by this management of the matter: all I had now to do, was to appoint my night, and bring my money; now was a very proper time for it, her husband being absent: I took my leave of her, infinitely well pleased to have gained my point on any terms, with a promise to deliver myself there the next night: but she told me, she had a brother to come to-morrow, whom she would not have see me, and for that reason (being however not willing to delay the receiving her pistoles) she desired I would wait at this very house ‘till a footman should give me notice when to come; accordingly I came, and sent her a billet, that I waited prepared at all points; and she returned me a billet to this purpose; that her brother with some relations being arrived, as she expected, she begged for her honour’s sake, that I would wait till she sent, which should be as soon as they were gone to their chambers; and they, having rid a long journey, would early retire; that she was impatient of the blessing, and should be as well prepared as himself, and that she would leave her woman Letitia to give me admittance. —— This satisfied me very well; and as I attended her, some of my acquaintance chanced to arrive; with whom I supped, and took so many glasses to her health as it passed down, that I was arrived at a very handsome pitch, and to say truth, was as full of Bacchus as of Venus. However, as soon as her footman arrived, I stole away, and took horse, and by that time it was quite dark arrived at her house, where I was led in by a young maid, whose habit was very neat and clean, and she herself appeared to my eyes, then dazzling with wine, the most beautiful young creature I had ever seen, as in truth she was; she seemed all modesty, and blushing innocence; so that conducting me into a low parlour, while she went to tell her lady I was come, who lay ready dressed in all the magnificences of night-dress to receive me, I sat contemplating on this fair young maid, and no more thought of her lady than of Bethlehem Gaber. The maid soon returned, and curtseying, told me, with blushes on her face, that her lady expected me; the house was still as sleep, and no noise heard, but the little winds that rushed among the jessamine that grew at the window; now whether at that moment, the false light in the room, or the true wine deceived me, I know not; but I beheld this maid as an angel for beauty, and indeed I think she had all the temptations of nature. I began to kiss her, and she to tremble and blush; yet not so much out of fear, as surprise and shame at my address. I found her pleased with my vows, and melting at my kisses; I sighed in her bosom, which panted me a welcome there; that bosom whiter than snow, sweeter than the nosegay she had planted there. She urged me faintly to go to her lady, who expected me, and I swore it was for her sake I came (whom I never saw) and that I scorned all other beauties: she kindled at this, and her cheeks glowed with love. I pressed her to all I wished; but she replied, she was a maid, and should be undone. I told her, I would marry her, and swore it with a thousand oaths; she believed, and grew prettily fond —— In fine, at last she yielded to all I asked of her, which we had scarce recovered when her lady rung. I could not stir, but she who feared a surprise ran to her, and told her, I was gone into the garden, and would come immediately; she hastens down again to me, fires me anew, and pleased me anew; it was thus I taught a longing maid the first lesson of sin, at the price of fifty pistoles, which I presented her; nor could I yet part from this young charmer, but stayed so long, that her lady rung a silver bell again; but my new prize was so wholly taken up with the pleasure of this new amour, and the good fortune arrived to her, she heard not the bell, so that the fair deceived put on her night-gown and slippers, and came softly down stairs, and found my new love and I closely embracing, with all the passion and fondness imaginable. I know not what she saw in me in that kind moment to her woman, or whether the disappointment gave her a greater desire, but it is most certain she fell most desperately in love with me, and scorning to take notice of the indignity I put upon her, she unseen stole to her chamber; where, after a most afflicting night, she next morning called her woman to her (whom I left towards morning, better pleased with my fifty pistoles worth of beauty, than I should have been with that of five hundred): the maid, whose guilt made her very much unassured, approached her lady with such tremblings, as she no longer doubted but she was guilty, but durst not examine her about it, lest she, who had her honour in keeping, should, by the discovery she found she had made of her levity, expose that of her lady. She therefore dissembled as well as she could, and examined her about my stay; to which the maid answered, I had fallen asleep, and it was impossible to awake me ‘till day appeared; when for fear of discovery I posted away. This, though the lady knew was false, she was forced to take for current excuse; and more raging with love than ever, she immediately dispatched away her footman with a letter to me, upbraiding me extremely; but, at the same time, inviting me with all the passion imaginable; and, because I should not again see my young mistress, who was dying in love with me, she appointed me to meet her at a little house she had, a bow-shot from her own, where was a fine decoy, and a great number of wild-fowl kept, which her husband took great delight in; there I was to wait her coming; where lived only a man and his old wife, her servants: I was very glad of this invitation, and went; she came adorned with all her charms.
I considered her a new woman, and one whom I had a wager to win upon, the conquest of one I had inclination to, till by the discovery of the jilt in her, I began to despise the beauty; however, as I said, she was new, and now perhaps easy to be brought to any terms, as indeed it happened; she caressed me with all imaginable fondness; was ready to eat my lips instead of kissing them, and much more forward than I wished, who do not love an over-easy conquest; however, she pleased me for three days together, in all which time she detained me there, coming to me early, and staying the latest hour; and I have no reason to repent my time; for besides that I have passed it very well, she at my coming away presented me this jewel in my hat, and this ring on my finger, and I have saved my five hundred pistoles, my heart, and my credit in the encounter, and am going to Brussels to triumph over the haughty conceited Philander, who set so great a value on his own beauty, and yet, for all his fine person, has paid the pistoles, before he could purchase the blessing, as she swore to me, who have made a convert of her, and reduced her to the thing she never yet was, a lover; insomuch, that she has promised me to renounce Philander: I have promised to visit her again; but if I do it will be more for the vanity to please, than to be pleased; for I never repeat any thing with pleasure.’ All the while he spoke, Sylvia fixed her eyes, and all her soft desires upon him; she envies the happy Countess, but much more the happy maid, with whom his perfect liking made him happy; she fancies him in her arms, and wishes him there; she is ready a thousand times to tell him she is a woman, but, when she reflects on his inconstancy, she fears. When he had ended his story, she cried, sighing, ‘And you are just come from this fair lady?’ He answered her, he was sound and heart whole: she replied, ‘It is very well you are so, but all the young do not thus escape from beauty, and you may, some time or other, be entrapped.’ ‘Oh,’ cried he, ‘I defy the power of one, while heaven has distributed variety to all.’ ‘Were you never in love?’ replied Sylvia. ‘Never,’ said he, ‘that they call love: I have burnt and raved an hour or two, or so; pursued, and gazed, and laid sieges, till I had overcome; but, what is this to love? Did I ever make a second visit, unless upon necessity, or gratitude? And yet ——’ and there he sighed; ‘and yet,’ said he, ‘I saw a beauty once upon the Tour, that has ever since given me torment.’ ‘At Brussels? said Sylvia. ‘There,’ replied he; ‘she was the fairest creature heaven ever made, such white and red by nature, such hair, such eyes, and such a mouth! —— All youth and ravishing sweetness; — I pursued her to her lodgings, and all I could get, was, that she belonged to a young nobleman, who since has taken Orders. From the night I saw her, I never left her window, but had spies of all sorts, who brought me intelligence, and a little after, I found she had quitted the place with a new lover, which made me love and rave ten times more, when I knew assuredly she was a whore — and how fine a one I had missed.’ This called all the blood to Sylvia’s face, and so confounded her she could not answer; she knew it was herself of whom he spoke; and that coarse word, though innocently spoken, or rather gaily expressed, put her quite out of countenance; however, she recovered again, when she considered they were not meant as rudenesses to her. She loved him, and was easy to pardon: with such discourse they passed the evening till towards bed-time, and the young Spaniard, who had taken little rest in three nights before, wanted some repose; and calling for his chamber, the host besought him, since they had the happiness (the young French gentleman and himself) to be so good friends, that they would share a bed together: ‘For in truth,’ said he, ‘sir, you must sit up all night else;’ he replied, with all his soul, it was the most grateful proposal had been ever made him; and addressing himself to Sylvia, asked him if he would allow him that blessing: she blushed extremely at the question, and hung down her eyes, and he laughed to see it: ‘Sir,’ said Sylvia, ‘I will give you my bed, for it is all one to me to lie on a bed, or on the chairs.’ ‘Why, sir,’ said Alonzo, ‘I am too passionate an adorer of the female sex, to incommode any of my own with addresses; nor am I so nice, but I can suffer a man to lie by me, especially so dear a youth as yourself;’ at which he embraced her in his arms, which did but the more raise Sylvia’s blushes, who wished for what she dreaded: ‘With you, sir,’ said she, ‘I could methinks be content to do what I do not use to do;’ and, fearing to betray her sex, forced a consent; for either one or the other she was compelled to do; and with the assurance that he thought her what she seemed, she chose to give her consent, and they both went to bed together: to add to her deceit (she being forced in her sickness to cut off her hair) when she put off her periwig she discovered nothing of the woman; nor feared she any thing but her breasts, which were the roundest and the whitest in the world; but she was long in undressing, which to colour the matter, she suffered her page to do; who, poor lad, was never in so trembling a condition, as in that manner to be obliged to serve her, where she discovered so many charms he never before had seen, but all such as might be seen with modesty: by that time she came to bed, Alonzo was fast asleep, being so long kept waking, and never so much as dreamt he had a woman with him; but she, whose fears kept her waking, had a thousand agitations and wishes; so natural it is, when virtue has broke the bounds of modesty, to plunge in past all retreat; and, I believe there are very few who retire after the first sin. She considers her condition in a strange country, her splendour declining, her love for Philander quite reduced to friendship, or hardly that; she was young, and ate and drank well; had a world of vanity, that food of desire, that fuel to vice: she saw this the beautifullest youth she imagined ever to have seen, of quality and fortune able to serve her; all these made her rave with a desire to gain him for a lover, and she imagined as all the vain and young do, that though no charms had yet been able to hold him, she alone had those that would; her glass had a thousand times told her so; she compares him to Octavio, and finds him, in her opinion, handsomer; she was possessed with some love for Philander, when he first addressed to her, and Octavio shared at best but half a heart; but now, that she had lost all for Philander and Octavio, and had a heart to cast away, or give a new lover; it was like her money, she hated to keep it, and lavished it on any trifle, rather than hoard it, or let it lie by: it was a loss of time her youth could not spare; she, after reflection, resolved, and when she had resolved, she believed it done. By a candle she had by her, to read a little novel she had brought, she surveyed him often, as curiously as Psyche did her Cupid, and though he slept like a mere mortal, he appeared as charming to her eyes as the winged god himself; and it is believed she wished he would awake and find by her curiosity, her sex: for this I know, she durst no longer trust herself a-bed with him, but got up, and all the last part of the night walked about the room: her page lay in the room with her, by her order, on the table, with a little valise under his head, which he carried Sylvia’s linen in; she awoke him, and told him all her fears, in a pleasant manner. In the morning Alonzo awakes, and wonders to find her up so soon, and reproached her for the unkindness; new protestations on both sides passing of eternal friendship, they both resolved for Brussels; but, lest she should encounter Philander on the way, who possibly might be on visiting his Dutch countess, she desired him to ride on before, and to suffer her to lose the happiness of his company, till they met in Brussels: with much ado he consents, and taking the ring the countess gave him, from off his finger, ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘be pleased to wear this, and if ever you need my fortune, or my sword, send it, and in what part of the world soever I am, I will fly to your service.’ Sylvia returned him a little ring set round with diamonds, that Philander in his wooing time had given her, amongst a thousand of finer value: his name and hers were engraven instead of a posie in it; which was only Philander and Sylvia, and which he took no notice of, and parted from each other in the tenderest manner, that two young gentlemen could possibly be imagined to do, though it were more than so on her side; for she was madly in love with him.
As soon as Sylvia came to Brussels, she sent in the evening to search out Brilliard, for she had discovered, if he should come to the knowledge of her being in town, and she should not send to him, he would take it so very ill, that he might prevent all her designs and rambles, the now joy of her heart; she knew she could make him her slave, her pimp, her any thing, for love, and the hope of her favour, and his interest might defend her; and she should know all Philander’s, motions, whom now, though she loved no more, she feared. She found him, and he took her lodgings, infinitely pleased at the trust she reposed in him, the only means by which he could arrive to happiness. She continues her man’s habit, and he supplied the place of valet, dressed her and undressed her, shifted her linen every day; nor did he take all these freedoms, without advancing a little farther upon occasion and opportunity, which was the hire she gave him, to serve her in more lucky amours; the fine she paid to live free, and at ease. She tells him her adventure, which, though it were daggers to his heart, was, however, the only way to keep her his own; for he knew her spirit was too violent to be restrained by any means. At last, she told him her design upon a certain young man of quality, who she told him, was the same she encountered. She assured him it was not love or liking, but perfectly interest that made her design upon him, and that if he would assist her, she would be very kind to him, as a man that had gained very greatly upon her heart. This flattery she urged with infinite fondness and art, and he, overjoyed, believed every word as gospel; so that he promised her the next day to carry a billet to the young don: in the mean time, she caused him to sup with her, purposely to give him an account of Philander, Cesario and Hermione, whom she heard was come to Brussels, and lived publicly with the Prince. He told her, it was very true, and that he saw them every day, nay, every moment together; for he verily believed they could not live asunder; that Philander was every evening caballing there, where all the malcontents of the Reformed Religion had taken sanctuary, and where the Grand Council was every night held; for some great things were in agitation, and debating how to trouble the repose of all France again with new broils; he told her, that all the world made their court to Hermione, that if any body had any petitions, or addresses to make to the Prince, it was by her sole interest; she sat in their closest councils, and heard their gravest debates; and she was the oracle of the board: the Prince paying her perfect adoration, while she, whose charms of youth were ended, being turned of thirty, fortified her decays with all the art her wit and sex were capable of, and kept her illustrious lover as perfectly her slave, as if she had engaged him by all those ties that fetter the most circumspect, and totally subdued him to her will, who was, without exception, the most lovely person upon earth; ‘and though, madam, you know him so perfectly well, yet I must tell you my opinion of him: he is all the softer sex can wish, and ours admire; he is formed for love and war; and as he is the most amorous and wanton in courts, he is also the most fierce and brave in field; his birth the most elevated, his age arrived to full blown man, adorned with all the spreading glories that charm the fair, and engage the world; and I have often heard some of our party say, his person gained him more numbers to his side, than his cause or quality; for he understood all the useful arts of popularity, the gracious smile and bow, and all those cheap favours that so gain upon hearts; and without the expense of any thing but ceremony, has made the nation mad for his interest, who never otherwise obliged them; and sure nothing is more necessary in the great, than affability; nor shews greater marks of grandeur, or shall more eternize them, than bowing to the crowd. As the maiden queen I have read of in England, who made herself idolized by that sole piece of politic cunning, understanding well the stubborn, yet good nature of the people; and gained more upon them by those little arts, than if she had parted with all the prerogatives of her Crown. Ah! madam, you cannot imagine what little slights govern the whole universe, and how easy it is for monarchs to oblige. This Cesario was made to know, and there is no one so poor an object, who may not have access to him, and whom he does not send away well pleased, though he do not grant what they ask. He dispatches quickly, which is a grateful virtue in great men; and none ever espoused his interest, that did not find a reward and a protection; it is true, these are all the tools he is to work with, and he stops at nothing that leads to his ambition; nor has he done all that lies in the power of man only, to set all France yet in a flame, but he calls up the very devils from hell to his aid, and there is no man famed for necromancy, to whom he does not apply himself; which, indeed, is done by the advice of Hermione, who is very much affected with those sort of people, and puts a great trust and confidence in them. She sent at great expense, for a German conjurer, who arrived the other day, and who is perpetually consulting with another of the same sort, a Scot by birth, called Fergusano. He was once in Holy Orders, and still is so, but all his practice is the Black Art; and excellent in it he is reported to be. Hermione undertakes nothing without his advice; and as he is absolutely her creature, so his art governs her, and she the Prince: she holds her midnight conferences with him; and as she is very superstitious, so she is very learned, and studies this art, taught by this great master Fergusano; and so far is this glorious hero bewitched with these sorcerers, that he puts his whole trust in these conjurations and charms; and so far they have imposed on him, that with an enchanted ointment, which they had prepared for him, he shall be invulnerable, though he should face the mouth of a cannon: they have, at the earnest request of Hermione, calculated his nativity, and find him born to be a king; and, that before twenty moons expire, he shall be crowned in France: and flattering his easy youth with all the vanities of ambition, they have made themselves absolutely useful to him. This Scot, being a most inveterate enemy to France, lets the Prince rest neither night nor day, but is still inspiring him with new hopes of a crown, and laying him down all the false arguments imaginable, to spur the active spirit: my lord is not of the opinion, yet seems to comply with them in Council; he laughs at all the fopperies of charms and incantations; insomuch, that he many times angers the Prince, and is in eternal little feuds with Hermione. The German would often in these disputes say, he found by his art, that the stop to the Prince’s glory would be his love. This so incensed Hermione, and consequently the Prince, that they had like to have broke with him, but durst not for fear; he knowing too much to be disobliged: on the other side, Fergusano is most wonderfully charmed with the wit and masculine spirit of Hermione, her courage, and the manliness of her mind; and understanding which way she would be served, resolved to obey her, finding she had an absolute ascendancy over the Prince, whom, by this means, he knew he should get into his sole management. Hermione, though she seemed to be possessed so entirely of Cesario’s heart, found she had great and powerful opposers, who believed the Prince lay idling in her arms, and that possibly she might eclipse his fame, by living at that rate with a woman he had no other pretensions to but love; and many other motives were urged daily to him by the admirers of his great actions: and she feared, with reason, that some time or other, ambition might get the ascendancy of love: she, therefore, in her midnight conferences with Fergusano, often urged him to shew her that piece of his art, to make a philtre to retain fleeting love; and not only keep a passion alive, but even revive it from the dead. She tells him of her contract with him; she urges his forced marriage, as she was pleased to call it, in his youth; and that he being so young, she believed he might find it lawful to marry himself a second time; that possibly his Princess was for the interest of the King; and men of his elevated fortune ought not to be tied to those strictnesses of common men, but for the good of the public, sometimes act beyond the musty rules of law and equity, those politic bands to confine the mobile. At this unreasonable rate she pleads her right to Cesario, and he hearkens with all attention, and approves so well all she says, that he resolves, not only to attach the Prince to her by all the force of the Black Art, but that of necessary marriage also: this pleased her to the last degree; and she left him, after he had promised her to bring her the philtre by the morning: for it was that she most urged, the other requiring time to argue with him, and work him by degrees to it. Accordingly, the next morning he brings her a tooth-pick-case of gold, of rare infernal workmanship, wrought with a thousand charms, of that force, that every time the Prince should touch it, and while he but wore it about him, his fondness should not only continue, but increase, and he should hate all womankind besides, at least in the way of love, and have no power to possess another woman, though she had all the attractions of nature. He tells her the Prince could never suspect so familiar a present, and for the fineness of the work, it was a present for a Prince; ‘For,’ said he, ‘no human art could frame so rare a piece of workmanship; that nine nights the most delicate of the Infernals were mixing the metal with the most powerful of charms, and watched the critical minutes of the stars, in which to form the mystic figures, every one being a spell upon the heart, of that unerring magic, no mortal power could ever dissolve, undo, or conquer.’ The only art now was in giving it, so as to oblige him never to part with it; and she, who had all the cunning of her sex, undertook for that part; she dismissed her infernal confidant, and went to her toilet to dress her, knowing well, that the Prince would not be long before that he came to her: she laid the tooth-pick-case down, so as he could not avoid seeing it: the Prince came immediately after in, as he ever used to do night and morning, to see her dress her; he saw this gay thing on the table, and took it in his hand, admiring the work of it, as he was the most curious person in the world: she told him, there was not a finer wrought thing in the world, and that she had a very great esteem for it, it being made by the Sybils; and bid him mind the antiqueness of the work: the more she commended it, the more he liked it, and told her, she must let him call it his: she told him, he would give it away to the next commender: he vowed he would not: she told him then he should not only call it his, but it should in reality be so; and he vowed it should be the last thing he would part with in the world. From that time forward she found, or thought she found, a more impatient fondness in him than she had seen before: however it was, she ruled and governed him as she pleased; and indeed never was so great a slave to beauty, as, in my opinion, he was to none at all; for she is far from having any natural charms; yet it was not long since it was absolutely believed by all, that he had been resolved to give himself wholly up to her arms; to have sought no other glory, than to have retired to a corner of the world with her, and changed all his crown of laurel for those of roses: but some stirring spirits have roused him anew, and awakened ambition in him, and they are on great designs, which possibly ’ere long may make all France to tremble; yet still Hermione is oppressed with love, and the effects of daily increasing passion. He has perpetual correspondence with the party in Paris, and advice of all things that pass; they let him know they are ready to receive him whenever he can bring a force into France; nor needs he any considerable number, he having already there, in every place through which he shall pass, all, or the most part of the hearts and hands at his devotion; and they want but arms, and they shall gather as they go: they desire he will land himself in some part of the kingdom, and it would be encouragement enough to all the joyful people, who will from all parts flock together. In fine, he is offered all assistance and money; and lest all the forces of France should be bent against him, he has friends, of great quality and interest, that are resolved to rise in several places of the kingdom, in Languedoc and Guyenne, whither the King must be obliged to send his forces, or a great part of them; so that all this side of France will be left defenceless. I myself, madam, have some share in this great design, and possibly you will one day see me a person of a quality sufficient to merit those favours I am now blessed with.’ ‘Pray,’ replied Sylvia, smiling with a little scorn, ‘what part are you to play to arrive at this good fortune?’ ‘I am,’ said he, ‘trusted to provide all the ammunition and arms, and to hire a vessel to transport them to some sea-port town in France, which the Council shall think most proper to receive us.’ Sylvia laughed, and said, she prophesied another end of this high design than they imagined; but desperate fortunes must take their chance. ‘What,’ continued she, ‘does not Hermione speak of me, and inquire of me?’ ‘Yes,’ replied Brilliard; ‘but in such a way, as if she looked on you as a lost creature, and one of such a reputation, she would not receive a visit from for all the world.’ At this Sylvia laughed extremely, and cried, ‘Hermione would be very well content to be so mean a sinner as myself, to be so young and so handsome a one. However,’ said she, ‘to be serious, I would be glad to know what real probability there is in advancing and succeeding in this design, for I would take my measures accordingly, and keep Philander, whose wavering, or rather lost fortune, is the greatest motive of my resolves to part with him, and that have made me so uneasy to him.’ Brilliard told her, he was very confident of the design, and that it was almost impossible to miscarry in the discontent all France was in at this juncture; and they feared nothing but the Prince’s relapsing, who, now, most certainly preferred love to glory. He farther told her, that as they were in Council, one deputed from the Parisians arrived with new offers, and to know the last result of the Prince, whether he would espouse their interest or not, as they were with life and fortune ready to espouse his glory. ‘They sent him word, it was from him they expected liberty, and him whom they looked upon as their tutelar deity. Old Fergusano was then in Council, that Highland wizard that manages all, and who is ever at hand to awaken mischief, alarmed the Prince to new glories, reproaching his scandalous life, withal telling him, there were measures to be taken to reconcile love and fame; and which he was to discourse to him about in his closet only; but as things were, he bid him look into the story of Armida and Renaldo, and compare his own with it, and he doubted not, but he would return blushing at his remissness and sloth: not that he would exempt his youth from the pleasures of love, but he would not have love hinder his glory: this bold speech before Hermione had like to have begot an ill understanding; but she was as much for the Prince’s glory as Fergusano, and therefore could not be angry, when she considered the elevation of the Prince would be her own also: at this necessary reproach the Prince blushed; the board seconding the wizard, had this good effect to draw this assurance from him, that they should see he was not so attached to love, but he could for some time give a cessation to his heart, and that the envoy from the Parisians might return assured, that he would, as soon as he could put his affairs in good order, come to their relief, and bring arms for those that had none, with such friends as he could get together; he could not promise numbers, lest by leading so many here, their design should take air, but would wholly trust to fortune, and their good resolutions: he demanded a sum of money of them for the buying these arms, and they have promised him all aids. This is the last result of Council, which broke immediately up; and the Prince retired to his closet, where he was no sooner come, but reflecting on the necessity of leaving Hermione, he fell into the most profound melancholy and musing that could seize a man; while he sat thus, Hermione (who had schooled Fergusano for his rough speech in Council, and desired he would now take the opportunity to repair that want of respect, while the Prince was to be spoken to alone) sent him into the closet to him; where he found him walking with his arms a-cross, not minding the bard who stood gazing on him, and at last called to him; and finding no reply, he advanced, and pulling him gently by the arm, cried — “Awake royal young man, awake! and look up to coming greatness”—“I was reflecting,” replied Cesario, “on all the various fortunes I have passed, from the time of my birth to this present hapless day, and would be glad to know if any supernatural means can tell me what future events will befall me? If I believed I should not gain a crown by this great enterprise I am undertaking, here I would lay me down in silent ease, give up my toils and restless soul to love, and never think on vain ambition more: ease thou my troubled mind, if thou hast any friend among the Infernals, and they dare utter truth.” “My gracious Prince,” replied the fawning wizard, “this night, if you dare loose yourself from love, and come unattended to my apartment, I will undertake to shew you all the future fortune you are to run, the hazards, dangers, and escapes that attend your mighty race of life; I will lay the adamantine Book before you, where all the destinies of princes are hieroglyphick’d. I will shew you more, if hell can furnish objects, and you dare stand untrembling at the terror of them.” “Enough,” replied Cesario, “name me the hour.” “Betwixt twelve and one,” said he; “for that is the sacred dismal time of night for fiends to come, tombs to open and let loose their dead. — We shall have use of both ——” “No more,” replied Cesario, “I will attend them.” The Prince was going out, when Fergusano recalled him, and cried, “One thing, sir, I must caution you, that from this minute to that, wherein I shall shew you your destiny, you commit nothing unlawful with women-kind.” “Away,” replied the Prince, smiling, “and leave your canting.” The wizard, putting on a more grave countenance, replied —“By all the Infernals, sir, if you commit unlawful things I cannot serve you.” “If your devils,” replied the Prince, laughing, “be so nice, I doubt I shall find them too honest for my purpose.” “Sir,” said the subtle old fiend, “such conscientious devils Your Highness is to converse with to-night; and if you discover the secret, it will I not prove so lucky.” “Since they are so humorous,” cried Cesario, “I will give them way for once.” And going out of the room, he went directly to Hermione’s apartment; where, it being late, she is preparing for bed, and with a thousand kisses, and hanging on his neck, she asked him why he is so slow, and why he suffers not himself to be undressed? He feigns a thousand excuses, at which she seems extremely amazed; she complains, reproaches, and commands —— He tells her, he was to wait on the Governor about his most urgent affairs, and was (late as it was) to consult with him: she asked him what affairs he was to negotiate, of which she was not to bear her part? He refuses to tell her, and she replied she had sense and courage for any enterprise, and should resent it very ill, if she were not made acquainted with it: but he swore I to her she should know all the truth, as soon as he returned.
‘This pacified her in some measure, and at the hour appointed she suffered him to go; and in a chair was carried to a little house Fergusano had taken without the town, to which belonged a large garden, at the farther end of which was a thicket of unordered trees, that surrounded the grotto, which I passed a good way under the ground. It had had some rarities of water-work formerly belonging to it, but now they were decayed; only here and there a broken rock let out a little stream, that murmured and dashed upon the earth below, and ran away in a little rivulet, which served to add a melancholy to the dismal place: into this the Prince was conducted by the old German, who assisted in the charm; they had only one torch to light the way, which at the entrance of the cave they put out, and within was only one glimmering lamp, that rather served to add to the horror of the vault, discovering its hollowness and ruins. At his entrance, he was saluted with a noise like the rushing of wind, which whizzed and whistled in the mighty concave. Anon a more silent whispering surrounded him, without being able to behold any creature save the old German. Anon came in old Fergusano, who rolling a great stone, that lay at one corner of the cave, he desired the Prince to place himself on it, and not be surprised at any thing he should behold, nor to stir from that enchanted ground; he, nodding, assented to obey, while Fergusano and the German, with each a wand in their hands, struck against the unformed rocks that finished the end of the cave, muttering a thousand incantations, with voices dreadful, and motions antic; and, after a mighty stroke of thunder that shook the earth, the rude rock divided, and opened a space that discovered a most magnificent apartment; in which was presented a young hero, attended with military officers; his pages dressing him for the field all in gilded armour. The Prince began to doubt himself, and to swear in his thought, that the apparition was himself, so very like he was to himself, as if he had seen his proper figure in a glass. After this, several persons seemed to address to this great man, of all sorts and conditions, from the Prince to the peasant, with whom he seemed to discourse with great confidence and affability; they offered him the League, which he took and signed, and gave them back; they attend him to the door with great joy and respect; but as soon as he was gone, they laughed and pointed at him; at which the Prince infinitely incensed, rose, and cried out, “What means all this; s’death, am I become the scorn and mockery of the crowd?” Fergusano besought him to sit and have patience, and he obeyed, and checked himself. The scene of the apartment being changed to an arbour of flowers, and the prospect of a noble and ravishing garden, the hero is presented armed as he was, only without his plume head-piece, kneeling at the feet of a fair woman, in loose robes and hair, and attended with abundance of little Loves, who disarm him by degrees of those ornaments of war. While she caresses him with all the signs of love, the Cupids made garlands of flowers, and wreath round his arms and neck, crowning his head, and fettering him all over in these sweet soft chains. They curl his hair, and adorn him with all effeminacy while he lies smiling and pleased — the wanton boys disposing of his instruments of war as they think fit, putting them to ridiculous uses, and laughing at them. While thus he lay, there enter to him a great many statesmen, and politicians; grave men in furs and chains, attended by the common crowd; and opening a scene farther off in prospect, shew him crowns, sceptres, globes, ensigns, arms, and trophies, promiscuously shuffled together, with heaps of gold, jewels, parchments, records, charters and seals; at which sight, he starts from the arms of the fair Medea, and strove to have approached those who waited for him; but she held him fast, and with abundance of tears and sighs of moving flattery, brought him back to her arms again, and all dissatisfied the promiscuous crowd depart, some looking back with scorn, others with signs of rage: and all the scene of glory, of arms and crowns, disappeared with the crowd. Cesario wholly forgetting, cried out again, “Ha! lost all for a trifling woman! Lost all those trophies of thy conquest for a mistress! By heaven I will shake the charmer from my soul, if both I cannot have.” When Fergusano advancing to him, cried —“See, sir, how supinely the young hero’s laid upon her downy breast,” and smiled as he spoke, which angered the Prince, who replied with scorn, “Now, by my life, a plot upon my love;” but they protested it was not so, and begged he would be silent. While thus the hero lay, regardless of his glory, all decked with flowers and bracelets, the drums beat, and the trumpets were heard, or seemed to be heard to sound, and a vast opening space was filled with armed warriors, who offer him their swords, and seem to point at crowns that were borne behind them; a while they plead in vain, and point to crowns in vain, at which he only casts a scornful smile, and lays him down in the soft arms of love. They urge again, but with one amorous look the Circe more prevails than all their reasonings. At last, by force they divested him of his rosy garlands, in which there lay a charm, and he assumes new life, while others bore the enchantress out of his sight; and then he suffered himself to be conducted where they pleased, who led him forth, shewing him all the way a prospect of crowns. At this Cesario sighed, and the ceremony continued.
‘The scene changed, discovering a sea-shore, where the hero is represented landed, but with a very melancholy air, attended with several officers and gentlemen; the earth seems to ring with joy and loud acclamations at his approach; vast multitudes thronging to behold him, and striving who first should kiss his hand; and bearing him aloft in the air, carry him out of sight with peals of welcome and joy.
‘He is represented next in Council and deep debate, and so disappears: then soft music is heard, and he enters in the royal robe, with a crown presented him on the knee, which he receives, and bows to all the rabble and the numbers to give them thanks: he having in his hand blue garters, with the order of St Esprit, which he distributes to several persons on either hand; throwing ducal crowns and coronets among the rabble, who scuffle and strive to catch at them: after a great shout of joy, thunder and lightning again shook the earth; at which they seemed all amazed, when a thick black cloud descended, and covered the whole scene, and the rock closed again, and Fergusano let fall his wand.
‘The Prince, seeing the ceremony end here, rises in a rage, and cries out, “I charge you to go on —— remove the veil, and let the sun appear; advance your mystic wand, and shew what follows next.” “I cannot, sir,” replied the trembling wizard, “the Fates have closed the everlasting Book, forbidding farther search.” “Then damn your scanted art,” replied the Prince, “a petty juggler could have done as much.” “Is it not enough,” replied the German rabbi, “that we have shewed you crowned, and crowned in France itself? I find the Infernals themselves are bounded here, and can declare no more.” “Oh, they are petty powers that can be bounded,” replied the Prince with scorn. They strove with all their art to reconcile him, laying the fault on some mistake of theirs, in the ingredients of the charm, which at another time they would strive to prevent: they soothe him with all the hope in the world, that what was left unrevealed must needs be as glorious and fortunate to him, as what he had seen already, which was absolutely to be depended on: thus they brought him to the open garden again, where they continued their instructions to him, telling him, that now was the time to arrive at all the glories he had seen; they presented to him the state of affairs in France, and how much a greater interest he had in the hearts of the people than their proper monarch, arguing a thousand fallacies to the deluded hero, who blind and mad with his dreams of glory, his visions and prospects, listened with reverence and attention to all their false persuasions. I call them false, madam, for I never had faith in those sort of people, and am sorry so many great men and ladies of our time are so bewitched to their prophecies. They there presented him with a list of all the considerable of the Reformed Religion in Paris, who had assured him aids of men and money in this expedition; merchants, rich tradesmen, magistrates and gownmen of the Reformed Church and the law. Next to this, another of the contribution of pious ladies; all which sums being named, amounted to a considerable supply; so that they assured him hell itself could not with these aids obstruct his glory, but on the contrary, should be compelled to render him assistance, by the help of charms, to make him invincible; so that wholly overcome by them, he has given order that all preparations be forthwith made for the most secret and speedy conveyance of himself and friends to some sea-port in France; he has ordered abundance of letters to be writ to those of the Huguenot party in all parts of France; all which will be ready to assist him at his landing. Fergusano undertakes for the management of the whole affair, to write, to speak, and to persuade; and you know, madam, he is the most subtle and insinuating of all his non-conforming race, and the most malignant of all our party, and sainted by them for the most pious and industrious labourer in the Cause; all that he says is oracle to the crowd, and all he says authentic; and it is he alone is that great engine that sets the great work a turning.’ ‘Yes,’ replied Sylvia, ‘and makes the giddy world mad with his damnable notions.’ ‘Pernicious as he is,’ replied Brilliard, ‘he has the sole management of affairs under Hermione; he has power to treat, to advise, to raise money, to make and name officers, and lastly, to draw out a scene of fair pretences for Cesario to the Crown of France, and the lawfulness of his claim; for let the conquest be never so sure, the people require it, and the conqueror is obliged to give some better reason than that of the strength of his sword, for his dominion over them. This pretension is a declaration, or rather a most scandalous, pernicious and treasonable libel, if I may say so, who have so great an interest in it, penned with all the malice envy can invent; the most unbred, rude piece of stuff, as makes it apparent the author had neither wit nor common good manners; besides the hellish principles he has made evident there. My lord would have no hand in the approbation of this gross piece of villainous scandal, which has more unfastened him from their interest, than any other designs, and from which he daily more and more declines, or seems disgusted with, though he does not wholly intend to quit the interest; having no other probable means to make good that fortune, which has been so evidently and wholly destroyed by it.’ ‘I am extremely glad,’ said Sylvia,‘that Philander’s sentiments are so generous, and am at nothing so much amazed, as to hear the Prince could suffer so gross a thing to pass in his name.’ ‘I must,’ said Brilliard,‘do the Prince right in this point, to assure you when the thing was first in the rough draught shewed him, he told Fergusano, that those accusations of a crowned head, were too villainous for the thoughts of a gentleman; and giving it him again — cried —“No — let it never be said, that the royal blood that runs in my veins, could dictate to me no more noble ways for its defence and pretensions, than the mean cowardice of lies; and that to attain to empire, I should have recourse to the most detestable of all shifts. No, no, my too zealous friend,” continued he, “I will, with only my sword in my hand, at the head of my army proclaim my right, and demand a crown, which if I win is mine; if not, it is his whose sword is better or luckier; and though the future world may call this unjust, at least they will say it was brave.” At this the wizard smiled, and replied, “Alas, sir, had we hitherto acted by rules of generosity only, we had not brought so great advantages to our interest. You tell me, sir, of a speech you will make, with your sword in your hand, that will do very well at the head of an army, and a handsome declaration would be proper for men of sense; but this is not to the wise, but to the fools, on whom nothing will pass, but what is penned to their capacity, and who will not be able to hear the speeches you shall make to an army: this is to rouse them, and find them wherever they are, how far remote soever from you, that at once they may be incited to assist you, and espouse your interest: this is the sort of gospel they believe; all other is too fine: believe me, sir, it is by these gross devices you are to persuade those sons of earth, whose spirits never mounted above the dunghill, whence they grew like over-ripe pumpkins. Lies are the spirit that inspires them, they are the very brandy that makes them valiant; and you may as soon beat sense into their brains, as the very appearance of truth; it is the very language of the scarlet beast to them. They understand no other than their own, and he that does, knows to what ends we aim. No matter, sir, what tools you work withal, so the finished piece be fine at last. Look forward to the goal, a crown attends it! and never mind the dirty road that leads to it.” ‘With such false arguments as these, he wrought upon the easy nature of the Prince, who ordered some thousands of them to be printed for their being dispersed all over France, as soon as they should be landed: especially among the Parisians, too apt to take any impressions that bore the stamp and pretence of religion and liberty.
‘While these and all other things necessary were preparing, Cesario, wholly given over to love, being urged by Hermione to know the occasion of his last night’s absence, unravels all the secret, and told my lord and her, one night at supper, the whole scene of the grotto; so that Hermione, more than ever being puffed up with ambitious thoughts, hastened to have the Prince pressed to marry her; and consulting with the counsellor of her closest secrets, sets him anew to work; swearing violently, that if he did not bring that design about, she should be able, by her ascendancy over Cesario, to ruin all those they had undertaken, and yet turn the Prince from the enterprise; and that it was more to satisfy her ambition (to which they were obliged for all the Prince had promised) that he had undertaken to head an army, and put himself again into the hands of the Huguenots, and forsake all the soft repose of love and life, than for any inclination or ambition of his own; and that she who had power to animate him one way, he might be assured had the same power another. This she ended in very high language, with a look too fierce and fiery to leave him any doubt of; and he promised all things should be done as she desired, and that he would overcome the Prince, and bring him absolutely under her power. “Not,” said she, with a scornful look, “that I need your aid in this affair, or want of power of my own to command it; but I will not have him look upon it as my act alone, or a thing of my seeking, but by your advice shall be made to understand it is for the good of the public; that having to do with a sort of people of the Reformed Religion, whose pretences were more nice than wise, more seemingly zealous than reasonable or just, they might look upon the life she led the Prince as scandalous, that was not justified by form, though never so unlawful.” A thousand things she urged to him, who needed no instruction how to make that appear authentic and just, however contrary to religion and sense: but, so informed, he parted from her, and told her the event should declare his zeal for her service, and so it did; for he no sooner spoke of it to the Prince, but he took the hint as a divine voice; his very soul flushed in his lovely cheeks, and all the fire of love was dancing in his eyes: yet, as if he had feared what he wished could not handsomely and lawfully be brought to pass, he asked a thousand questions concerning it, all which the subtle wizard so well resolved, at least in his judgement, who easily was convinced of what he wished, that he no longer deferred his happiness, but that very night, in the visit he made Hermione, fell at her feet, and implored her consent of what he told her Fergusano had fully convinced him was necessary for his interest and glory, neither of which he could enjoy or regard, if she was not the partner of them; and that when he should go to France, and put himself in the field to demand a crown, he should do it with absolute vigour and resolution, if she were to be seated as queen on the same throne with him, without whom a cottage would be more pleasant; and he could relish no joys that were not as entirely and immediately hers as his own: he pleaded impatiently for what she longed, and would have made her petition for, and all the while she makes a thousand doubts and scruples only to be convinced and confirmed by him; and after seeming fully satisfied, he led her into a chamber (where Fergusano waited, and only her woman, and his faithful confidant Tomaso) and married her: since which, she has wholly managed him with greater power than before; takes abundance of state, is extremely elevated, I will not say insolent; and though they do not make a public declaration of this, yet she owns it to all her intimates; and is ever reproaching my lord with his lewd course of life, wholly forgetting her own; crying out upon infamous women, as if she had been all the course of her life an innocent.’
By this time dinner was ended, and Sylvia urged Brilliard to depart with her letter; but he was extremely surprised to find it to be to the Governor’s nephew Don Alonzo, who was his lord’s friend, and who would doubtless give him an account of all, if he did not shew him the billet: all these reasons could not dissuade this fickle wanderer, whose heart was at that time set on this young inconstant, at least her inclinations: he tells her that her life would be really in danger, if Philander comes to the knowledge of such an intrigue, which could not possibly be carried on in that town without noise; she tells him she is resolved to quit that false injurer of her fame and beauty; who had basely abandoned her for other women of less merit, even since she had pardoned him the crimes of love he committed at Cologne; that while he was in the country with her during the time of her lying-in, he had given himself to all that would receive him there; that, since he came away, he had left no beauty unattempted; and could he possibly imagine her of a spirit to bow beneath such injuries? No, she would on to all the revenges her youth and beauty were capable of taking, and stick at nothing that led to that interest; and that if he did not join with her in her noble design she would abandon him, and put herself wholly out of his protection: this she spoke with a fierceness that made the lover tremble with fear of losing her: he therefore told her she had reason; and that since she was resolved, he would confess to her that Philander was the most perfidious creature in the world; and that Hermione, the haughty Hermione, who hated naughty women, invited and treated all the handsome ladies of the Court to balls, and to the Basset-table, and made very great entertainments, only to draw to her interest all the brave and the young men; and that she daily gained abundance by these arts to Cesario, and above all strove by these amusements to engage Philander, whom she perceived to grow cold in the great concern; daily treating him with variety of beauty; so that there was no gaiety, no gallantry, or play, but at Hermione’s, whither all the youth of both qualities repaired; and it was there the Governor’s nephew was every evening to be found. ‘Possibly, madam, I had not told you this, if the Prince’s bounty had not taken me totally off from Philander; so that I have no other dependence on him, but that of my respect and duty, out of perfect gratitude.’ After this, to gain Brilliard entirely, she assured him if his fortune were suitable to her quality, and her way of life, she believed she should devote herself to him; and though what she said were the least of her thoughts, it failed not to flatter him agreeably, and he sighed with grief that he could not engage her; all he could get was little enough to support him fine, which he was always as any person of quality at Court, and appeared as graceful, and might have had some happy minutes with very fine ladies, who thought well of him. To salve this defect of want of fortune, he told her he had received a command from Octavio to come to him about settling of a very considerable pension upon her, and that he had at his investing put money into his aunt’s hands, who was a woman of considerable quality, to be disposed of to that charitable use; and that if she pleased to maintain her rest of fame, and live without receiving love-visits from men, she might now command that, which would be a much better and nobler support than that from a lover, which would be transitory, and last but as long as her beauty, or a less time, his love. To this she knew not what to answer, but ready money being the joy of her heart, and the support of her vanity, she seems to yield to this, having said so much before; and she considered she wanted a thousand things to adorn her beauty, being very expensive; she was impatient till this was performed, and deferred the sending to Don Alonzo, though her thoughts were perpetually on him. She, by the advice of Brilliard, writes a letter to Octavio; which was not like those she had before written, but as an humble penitent would write to a ghostly Father, treating him with all the respect that was possible; and if ever she mentioned love, it was as if her heart had violently, and against her will, burst out into softness, as still she retained there; and then she would take up again, and ask pardon for that transgression; she told him it was a passion, which, though she could never extinguish for him, yet that it should never warm her for another, but she would leave Philander to the world, and retire where she was not known, and try to make up her broken fortunes; with abundance of things to this purpose, which he carried to Octavio: he said he could have wished she would have retired to a monastery, as all the first part of her letter had given him hope; and resolved, and retired as he was, he could not read this without extreme confusion and change of countenance. He asked Brilliard a thousand times whether he believed he might trust her, or if she would abandon those ways of shame, that at last lost all: he answered, he verily believed she would. ‘However,’ said Octavio, ‘it is not my business to capitulate, but to believe and act all things, for the interest and satisfaction of her whom I yet adore;’ and without further delay, writ to his aunt, to present Sylvia with those sums he had left for her; and which had been sufficient to have made her happy all the rest of her life, if her sins of love had not obstructed it. However, she no sooner found herself mistress of so considerable a sum, but in lieu of retiring, and ordering her affairs so as to render it for ever serviceable to her, the first thing she does, is to furnish herself with new coach and equipage, and to lavish out in clothes and jewels a great part of it immediately; and was impatient to be seen on the Tour, and in all public places; nor could Brilliard persuade the contrary, but against all good manners and reason, she flew into most violent passions with him, till he had resolved to give her her way; it happened that the first day she shewed on the Tour, neither Philander, Cesario nor Hermione chanced to be there; so that at supper it was all the news, how glorious a young creature was seen only with one lady, which was Antonet, very well dressed, in the coach with her: every body that made their court that night to Hermione spoke of this new vision, as the most extraordinary charmer that had ever been seen; all were that day undone with love, and none could learn who this fair destroyer was; for all the time of Sylvia’s being at Brussels before, her being big with child had kept her from appearing in all public places; so that she was wholly a new face to all that saw her; and it is easy to be imagined what charms that delicate person appeared with to all, when dressed to such advantage, who naturally was the most beautiful creature in the world, with all the bloom of youth that could add to beauty. Among the rest that day that lost their hearts, was the Governor’s nephew, who came into the Presence that night wholly transported, and told Hermione he died for the lovely charmer he had that day seen; so that she, who was the most curious to gain all the beauties to her side, that the men might be so too, endeavoured all she could to find out where this beauty dwelt. Philander, now grown the most amorous and gallant in the world, grew passionately in love with the very description of her, not imagining it had been Sylvia, because of her equipage: he knew she loved him, at least he thought she loved him too well to conceal herself from him, or be in Brussels, and not let him know it; so that wholly ravished with the description of the imagined new fair one, he burnt with desire of seeing her; and all this night was passed in discourse of this stranger alone; the next day her livery being described to Hermione, she sent two pages all about the town, to see if they could discover a livery so remarkable; and that if they did, they should inquire of them who they belonged to, and where that person’s lodging was. This was not a very difficult matter to perform: Brussels is not a large place, and it was soon surveyed from one end to the other: at last they met with two of her footmen, whom they saluted, and taking notice of their livery, asked them who they belonged to? These lads were strangers to the lady they served, and newly taken; and Sylvia at first coming, resolved to change her name, and was called Madame de —— a name very considerable in France, which they told the pages, and that she lived in such a place: this news Hermione no sooner heard, but she sends a gentleman in the name of the Prince and herself to compliment her, and tell her she had the honour to know some great persons of that name in France, and did not doubt but she was related to them: she therefore sent to offer her her friendship, which possibly in a strange place might not be unserviceable to her, and that she should be extreme glad to see her at Court, that is, at Cesario’s palace. The gentleman who delivered this message, being surprised at the dazzling beauty of the fair stranger, was almost unassured in his address, and the manner of it surprised Sylvia no less, to be invited as a strange lady by one that hated her; she could not tell whether it were real, or a plot upon her; however she made answer, and bid him tell Madam the Princess, which title she gave her, that she received her compliment as the greatest honour that could arrive to her, and that she would wait upon Her Highness, and let her know from her own mouth the sense she had of the obligation. The gentleman returned and delivered his message to Hermione; but so altered in his look, so sad and unusual, that she took notice of it, and asked him how he liked the new beauty: he blushed and bowed, and told her she was a wonder —— This made Hermione’s colour rise, it being spoke before Cesario; for though she was assured of the hero’s heart, she hated he should believe there was a greater beauty in the world, and one universally adored. She knew not how so great a miracle might work upon him, and began to repent she had invited her to Court.
In the mean time Sylvia, after debating what to do in this affair, whether to visit Hermione and discover herself, or to remove from Brussels, resolved rather upon the last; but she had fixed her design as to Don Alonzo, and would not depart the town. To her former beginning flame for him was added more fuel; she had seen him the day before on the Tour; she had seen him gaze at her with all the impatience of love, with madness of passion in his eyes, ready to fling himself out of the coach every time she passed by: and if he appeared beautiful before, when in his riding dress, and harassed for four nights together with love and want of sleep; what did he now appear to her amorous eyes and heart? She had wholly forgot Octavio, Philander and all, and made a sacrifice of both to this new young lover: she saw him with all the advantages of dress, magnificent as youth and fortune could invent; and above all, his beauty and his quality warmed her heart anew; and what advanced her flame yet farther, was a vanity she had of fixing the dear wanderer, and making him find there was a beauty yet in the world, that could put an end to his inconstancy, and make him languish at her feet as long as she pleased. Resolved on this new design, she defers it no longer; but as soon as the persons of quality, who used to walk every evening in the park, were got together, she accompanied with Antonet, and three or four strange pages and footmen, went into the park, and dressed in perfect glory. She had not walked long there before she saw Don Alonzo, richer than ever in his habit, and more beautiful to her eyes than any thing she had ever seen; he was gotten among the young and fair, caressing, laughing, playing, and acting all the little wantonnesses of youth. Sylvia’s blood grew disordered at this, and she found she loved by her jealousy, and longs more than ever to have the glory of vanquishing that heart, that so boasted of never having yet been conquered. She therefore uses all her art to get him to look at her; she passed by him often, and as often as she did so he viewed her with pleasure; her shape, her air, her mien, had something so charming, as, without the assistance of her face, she gained that evening a thousand conquests; but those were not the trophies she aimed at, it was Alonzo was the marked-out victim, that she destined for the sacrifice of love. She found him so engaged with women of great quality, she almost despaired to get to speak to him; her equipage which stood at the entrance of the park, not being by her, he did not imagine this fine lady to be her he saw on the Tour last night; yet he looked at her so much, as gave occasion to those he was with to rally him extremely, and tell him he was in love with what he had not seen, and who might, notwithstanding all that delicate appearance, be ugly when her mask was off. Sylvia, however, still passed on with abundance of sighing lovers after her, some daring to speak, others only languishing; to all she would vouchsafe no word, but made signs, as if she were a stranger, and understood them not; at last Alonzo, wholly impatient, breaks from these ralliers, and gets into the crowd that pursued this lovely unknown: her heart leaped when he approached her, and the first thing she did was to pull off her glove, and not only shew the fairest hand that ever nature made, but that ring on her finger Alonzo gave her when they parted at the village. The hand alone was enough to invite all eyes with pleasure to look that way; but Alonzo had a double motive, he saw the hand with love, and the ring with jealousy and surprise; and as it is natural in such cases, the very first thought that possessed him was, that the young Bellumere (for so Sylvia had called herself at the village) was a lover of this lady, and had presented her this ring. And after his sighings and little pantings, that seized him at this thought, would give him leave, he bowing and blushing cried —‘Madam, the whole piece must be excellent, when the pattern is so very fine.’ And humbly begging the favour of a nearer view, he took her hand and kissed it with a passionate eagerness, which possibly did not so well please Sylvia, because she did not think he took her for the same person, to whom he shewed such signs of love last night. In taking her hand he surveyed the ring, and cried — ‘Madam, would to heaven I could lay so good a claim to this fair hand, as I think I once could to this ring, which this hand adorns and honours.’ ‘How, sir,’ replied Sylvia, ‘I hope you will not charge me with felony?’ ‘I am afraid I shall,’ replied he sighing, ‘for you have attacked me on the King’s high-way, and have robbed me of a heart:’ ‘I could never have robbed a person,’ said Sylvia, ‘who could more easily have parted with that trifle; the next fair object will redeem it, and it will be very little the worse for my using.’ ‘Ah Madam,’ replied he sighing, ‘that will be according as you will treat it; for I find already you have done it more damage, than it ever sustained in all the rencounters it has had with love and beauty.’ ‘You complain too soon,’ replied Sylvia, smiling, ‘and you ought to make a trial of my good nature, before you reproach me with harming you.’ ‘I know not,’ replied Alonzo sighing, ‘what I may venture to hope from that; but I am afraid, from your inclinations, I ought to hope for nothing, since a thousand reasonable jealousies already possess me, from the sight of that ring; and I more than doubt I have a powerful rival, a youth of the most divine form, I ever met with of his sex; if from him you received it, I guess my fate.’ ‘I perceive, stranger,’ said Sylvia, ‘you begin to be inconstant already, and find excuses to complain on your fate before you have tried your fortune. I persuade myself that fine person you speak of, and to whom you gave this ring, has so great a value for you, that to leave you no excuse, I assure you, he will not be displeased to find you a rival, provided you prove a very constant lover.’ ‘I confess,’ said Alonzo, ‘constancy is an imposition I never yet had the confidence and ill nature to impose on the fair; and indeed I never found that woman yet, of youth and beauty, that ever set so small a value on her own charms, to be much in love with that dull virtue, and require it of my heart; but, upon occasion, madam, if such an unreasonable fair one be found’——‘I am extremely sorry’ (interrupted Sylvia) ‘to find you have no better way of recommending yourself; this will be no great encouragement to a person of my humour to receive your address.’ ‘Madam, I do not tell you that I am not in my nature wondrous constant,’ replied he; ‘I tell you only what has hitherto happened to me, not what will; that I have yet never been so, is no fault of mine, but power or truth in those beauties, to whom I have given my heart; rather believe they wanted charms to hold me, than that I, (where wit and beauty engaged me) should prove so false to my own pleasure. I am very much afraid, madam, if I find my eyes as agreeably entertained when I shall have the honour to see your face, as my ears are with your excellent wit, I shall be reduced to that very whining, sighing coxcomb, you like so well in a lover, and be ever dying at your feet. I have but one hope left to preserve myself from this wretched thing you women love; that is, that I shall not find you so all over charming, as what I have hitherto found presents itself to be. You have already created love enough in me for any reasonable woman, but I find you are not to be approached with the common devotions we pay your sex; but, like your beauty, the passion too must be great, and you are not content unless you see your lovers die; this is that fatal proof alone that can satisfy you of their passion. And though you laugh to see a Sir Courtly Nice, a fop in fashion acted on the stage; in your hearts that foolish thing, that fine neat pasquil, is your darling, your fine gentleman, your well-bred person.’
Thus sometimes in jest, and sometimes in earnest, they recommended themselves to each other, and to so great a degree, that it was impossible for them to be more charmed on either side, which lasted ‘till it was time to depart; but he besought her not to do so, ‘till she had informed him where he might wait on her, and most passionately solicit, what she as passionately desired: ‘To tell you truth,’ said she, ‘I cannot permit you that freedom without you ask it of Bellumere.’ He replied, ‘Next to waiting on her, he should be the most overjoyed in the world, to pay his respects to that young gentleman.’ However, to name him, gave him a thousand fears; which when he would have urged, she bid him trust to the generosity of that man, who was of quality, and loved him; she then told him his lodgings (which were her own): Alonzo, infinitely overjoyed, resolved to lose no time, but promised that evening to visit him: and at their parting, he treated her with so much passionate respect, that she was vexed to see it paid to one he yet knew not. However, she verily believed her conquest was certain: he having seen her three times, and all those times for a several person, and yet was still in love with her; and she doubted not, when all three were joined in one, he would be much more in love than yet he had been; with this assurance they parted.
Sylvia was no sooner got home, but she resolved to receive Alonzo, who she was assured would come: she hasted to dress herself in a very rich suit of man’s clothes, to receive him as the young French gentleman. She believed Brilliard would not come ‘till late, as was his use, now being at play at Hermione’s. She looked extreme pretty when she was dressed, and had all the charms that heaven could adorn a face and shape withal: her apartment was very magnificent, and all looked very great. She was no sooner dressed, but the young lover came. Sylvia received him on the stair-case with open arms, and all the signs of joy that could be expressed, and led him to a rich drawing-room, where she began to entertain him with that happy night’s adventure; when they both lay together at the village; while Alonzo makes imperfect replies, wholly charmed with the look of the young cavalier, which so resembled what he had seen the day before in another garb on the Tour. He is wholly ravished with his voice, it being absolutely the same, that had charmed him that day in the park; the more he gazed and listened, the more he was confirmed in his opinion, that he was the same, and he had the music of that dear accent still in his ears, and could not be deceived. A thousand times he is about to kneel before her, and ask her pardon, but still is checked by doubt: he sees, he hears, this is the same lovely youth, who lay in bed with him at the village cabaret; and then no longer thinks her woman: he hears and sees it is the same face, and voice, and hands he saw on the Tour, and in the park, and then believes her woman: while he is in these perplexities, Sylvia, who with vanity and pride perceived his disorder, taking him in her arms, cried, ‘Come, my Alonzo, that you shall no longer doubt but I am perfectly your friend, I will shew you a sister of mine, whom you will say is a beauty, or I am too partial, and I will have your judgement of her.’ With that she called to Antonet to beg her lady would permit her to bring a young stranger to kiss her hand. The maid, instructed, retires, and Alonzo stood gazing on Sylvia as one confounded and amazed, not knowing yet how to determine; he now begins to think himself mistaken in the fair youth, and is ready to ask his pardon for a fault but imagined, suffering by his silence the little prattler to discourse and laugh at him at his pleasure. ‘Come,’ said Sylvia smiling, ‘I find the naming a beauty to you has made you melancholy; possibly when you see her she will not appear so to you; we do not always agree in one object.’ ‘Your judgement,’ replied Alonzo, ‘is too good to leave me any hope of liberty at the sight of a fine woman; if she be like yourself I read my destiny in your charming face.’ Sylvia answered only with a smile — and calling again for Antonet, she asked if her sister were in a condition of being seen; she told her she was not, but all undressed and in her night-clothes; ‘Nay then,’ said Sylvia, ‘I must use my authority with her:’ and leaving Alonzo trembling with expectation, she ran to her dressing-room, where all things were ready, and slipping off her coat put on a rich night-gown, and instead of her peruke, fine night-clothes, and came forth to the charmed Alonzo, who was not able to approach her, she looked with such a majesty, and so much dazzling beauty; he knew her to be the same he had seen on the Tour. She, (seeing he only gazed without life or motion) approaching him, gave him her hand, and cried —‘Sir, possibly this is a more old acquaintance of yours than my face.’ At which he blushed and bowed, but could not speak: at last Sylvia, laughing out-right, cried —‘Here, Antonet, bring me again my peruke, for I find I shall never be acquainted with Don Alonzo in petticoats.’ At this he blushed a thousand times more than before, and no longer doubted but this charmer, and the lovely youth were one; he fell at her feet, and told her he was undone, for she had made him give her so indisputable proofs of his dullness, he could never hope she should allow him capable of eternally adoring her. ‘Rise,’ cried Sylvia smiling, ‘and believe you have not committed so great an error, as you imagine; the mistake has been often made, and persons of a great deal of wit have been deceived.’ ‘You may say what you please,’ replied Alonzo, ‘to put me in countenance; but I shall never forgive myself the stupidity of that happy night, that laid me by the most glorious beauty of the world, and yet afforded me no kind instinct to inform my soul how much I was blest: oh pity a wretchedness, divine maid, that has no other excuse but that of infatuation; a thousand times my greedy ravished eyes wandered over the dazzling brightness of yours; a thousand times I wished that heaven had made you woman! and when I looked, I burnt; but, when I kissed those soft, those lovely lips, I durst not trust my heart; for every touch begot wild thoughts about it; which yet the course of all my fiery youth, through all the wild debauches I had wandered, had never yet betrayed me to; and going to bed with all this love and fear about me, I made a solemn oath not to approach you, lest so much beauty had overcome my virtue. But by this new discovery, you have given me a flame, I have no power nor virtue to oppose: it is just, it is natural to adore you; and not to do it, were a greater than my sin of dullness; and since you have made me lose a charming friend, it is but just I find a mistress; give me but your permission to love, and I will give you all my life in service, and wait the rest: I will watch and pray for coming happiness; which I will buy at any price of life or fortune.’ ‘Well, sir,’ replied our easy fair one; ‘if you believe me worth a conquest over you, convince me you can love; for I am no common beauty to be won with petty sudden services; and could you lay an empire at my feet, I should despise it where the heart were wanting.’ You may believe the amorous youth left no argument to convince her in that point unsaid; and it is most certain they came to so good an understanding, that he was not seen in Brussels for eight days and nights after, nor this rare beauty, for so long a time, seen on the Tour or any public place. Brilliard came every day to visit her, and receive her commands, as he used to do, but was answered still that Sylvia was ill, and kept her chamber, not suffering even her domestics to approach her: this did not so well satisfy the jealous lover, but he soon imagined the cause, and was very much displeased at the ill treatment; if such a design had been carried on, he desired to have the management of it, and was angry that Sylvia had not only deceived him in the promise he had made for her to Octavio, but had done her own business without him: he spoke some hard words; so that to undeceive him she was forced to oblige Alonzo to appear at Court again; which she had much ado to incline him to, so absolutely she had charmed him; however he went, and she suffered Brilliard to visit her, persuading that easy lover (as all lovers are easy) that it was only indisposition, that hindered her of the happiness of seeing him; and after having perfectly reconciled herself to him, she asked him the news at Hermione’s, to whom, I had forgot to tell you, she sent every day a page with a compliment, and to let her know she was ill, or she should have waited on her: she every day received the compliment from her again, as an unknown lady. Brilliard told her that all things were now prepared, and in a very short time they should go for France; but that whatever the matter was, Philander almost publicly disowned the Prince’s interest, and to some very considerable of the party has given out, he does not like the proceedings, and that he verily believed they would find themselves all mistaken; and that instead of a throne the Prince would meet a scaffold; ‘so bold and open he has been. Something of it has arrived to the Prince’s ear, who was so far from believing it, that he could hardly be persuaded to speak of it to him; and when he did, it was with an assurance before-hand, that he did not credit such reports. So that he gives him not the pain to deny them: for my part I am infinitely afraid he will disoblige the Prince one day; for last night, when the Prince desired him to get his equipage ready, and to make such provision for you as was necessary, he coldly told him he had a mind to go to Vienna, which at that time was besieged by Solyman the Magnificent, and that he had no inclination of returning to France. This surprised and angered the Prince; but they parted good friends at last, and he has promised him all things: so that I am very well assured he will send me where he supposes you still are; and how shall we manage that affair?’
Sylvia, who had more cunning and subtleness than all the rest of her sex, thought it best to see Philander, and part with him on as good terms as she could, and that it was better he should think he yet had the absolute possession of her, than that he should return to France with an ill opinion of her virtue; as yet he had known no guilt of that kind, nor did he ever more than fear it with Octavio; so that it would be easy for her to cajole him yet a little longer, and when he was gone, she should have the world to range in, and possess this new lover, to whom she had promised all things, and received from him all assurances imaginable of inviolable love: in order to this then she consulted with Brilliard; and they resolved she should for a few days leave Antonet with her equipage, at that house where she was, and retire herself to the village where Philander had left her, and where he still imagined she was: she desired Brilliard to give her a day’s time for this preparation, and it should be so. He left her, and going to Hermione’s, meets Philander, who immediately gave him orders to go to Sylvia the next morning, and let her know how all things went, and tell her, he would be with her in two days. In the mean time Sylvia sent for Alonzo, who was but that evening gone from her. He flies on the wings of love, and she tells him, she is obliged to go to a place six or seven days’ journey off, whither he could not conduct her, for reasons she would tell him at her return: whatever he could plead with all the force of love to the contrary, she gets his consent, with a promise wholly to devote herself to him at her return, and pleased she sent him from her, when Brilliard returning told her the commands he had; and it was concluded they should both depart next morning, accompanied only by her page. I am well assured she was very kind to Brilliard all that journey, and which was but too visible to the amorous youth who attended them; so absolutely had she depraved her reason, from one degree of sin and shame to another; and he was happy above any imagination, while even her heart was given to another, and when she could propose no other interest in this looseness, but security, that Philander should not know how ill she had treated him. In four days Philander came, and finding Sylvia more fair than ever, was anew pleased; for she pretended to receive him with all the joy imaginable, and the deceived lover believed, and expressed abundance of grief at the being obliged to part from her; a great many vows and tears were lost on both sides, and both believed true: but the grief of Brilliard was not to be conceived; he could not persuade himself he could live, when absent from her: some bills Philander left her, and was so plain with her, and open-hearted, he told her that he went indeed with Cesario, but it was in order to serve the King; that he was weary of their actions, and foresaw nothing but ruin would attend them; that he never repented him of any thing so much, as his being drawn in to that faction; in which he found himself so greatly involved, he could not retire with any credit; but since self-preservation was the first principle of nature, he had resolved to make that his aim, and rather prove false to a party, who had no justice and honour on their side, than to a King, whom all the laws of heaven and earth obliged him to serve; however, he was so far in the power of these people, that he could not disengage himself without utter ruin to himself; but that as soon as he was got into France, he would abandon their interest, let the censuring world say what it would, who never had right notions of things, or ever made true judgements of men’s actions.
He lived five or six days with Sylvia there; in which time she failed not to assure him of her constant fidelity a thousand ways, especially by vows that left no doubt upon his heart; and it was now that they both indeed found there was a very great friendship still remaining at the bottom of their hearts for each other, nor did they part without manifold proofs of it. Brilliard took a sad and melancholy leave of her, and had not the freedom to tell her aloud, but obliged to depart with his lord, they left Sylvia, and posted to Brussels, where they found the Prince ready to depart, having left Hermione to her women more than half dead. I have heard there never was so sad a parting between two lovers; a hundred times they swooned with the apprehension of the separation in each other’s arms, and at last the Prince was forced from her while he left her dead, and was little better himself: he would have returned, but the officers and people about him, who had espoused his quarrel, would by no means suffer him: and he has a thousand times told a person very near him, that he had rather have forfeited all his hoped-for glory, than have left that charmer of his soul. After he had taken all care imaginable for Hermione, for that name so dear to him was scarce ever out of his mouth, he suffered himself with a heavy heart and pace to be conducted to the vessel: and I have heard he was hardly seen to smile all the little voyage, or his whole life after, or do any thing but sigh, and sometimes weep, which was a very great discouragement to all that followed him; they were a great while at sea, tossed to and fro by stress of weather, and often driven back to the shore where they first took shipping; and not being able to land where they first designed, they got ashore in a little harbour, where no ship of any bigness could anchor; so that with much ado, getting all their arms and men on shore, they sunk the ship, both to secure any from flying, and that it might not fall into the hands of the French. Cesario was no sooner on the French shore, but numbers came to him of the Huguenot party, for whom he had arms, and who wanted them he furnished as far as he could, and immediately proclaimed himself King of France and Navarre, while the dirty crowd rang him peals of joy. But though the under world came in great crowds to his aid, he wanted still the main supporters of his cause, the men of substantial quality: if the ladies could have composed an army, he would not have wanted one, for his beauty had got them all on his side, and he charmed the fair wheresoever he rode.
He marched from town to town without any opposition, proclaiming himself king in all the places he came to; still gathering as he marched, till he had composed a very formidable army. He made officers of the kingdom —Fergusano was to have been a cardinal, and several lords and dukes were nominated; and he found no opposition in all his prosperous course. — In the mean time the royal army was not idle, which was composed of men very well disciplined, and conducted by several princes and men of great quality and conduct. But as it is not the business of this little history to treat of war, but altogether love; leaving those rougher relations to the chronicles and historiographers of those times, I will only hint on such things in this enterprise, as are most proper for my purpose, and tell you, that Cesario omitted nothing for the carrying on his great design; he dispersed his scandals all over France, though they met with an obstruction at Paris, and were immediately suppressed, it being proclaimed death for any person to keep one in their houses; and if any should by chance come to their hands, they were on this penalty to carry them to the Secretary of State; and after the punishment had passed on two or three offenders, it deterred the rest from meddling with those edge tools: I must tell you also, that the title of king, which Cesario had taken so early upon him, was much against his inclinations; and he desired to see himself at the head of a more satisfiable army, before he would take on him a title he found (in the condition he was in) he should not defend; but those about him insinuated to him, that it was the title that would not only make him more venerable, but would make his cause appear more just and lawful; and beget him a perfect adoration with those people who lived remote from Courts, and had never seen that glorious thing called a king. So that believing it would give nerves to the cause, he unhappily took upon him that which ruined him; for he had often sworn to the greatest part of those of any quality, of his interest, that his design was liberty only, and that his end was the public good, so infinitely above his own private interest, that he desired only the honour of being the champion for the oppressed Parisians, and people of France; that if they would allow him to lead their armies, to fight and spend his dearest blood for them, it was all the glory he aimed at: it was this pretended humility in a person of his high rank that cajoled the mobile, who looked on him as their god, their deliverer, and all that was sacred and dear to them; but the wiser sort regarded him only as one that had most power and pretension to turn the whole affairs of France, which they disliking, were willing at any price, to reduce to their own conditions, and to what they desired; not imagining he would have laid a claim to the Crown, which many of them fancied themselves as capable of as himself, rather that he would perhaps have set up the King of Navarre. This Cesario knew; and understanding their sentiments, was unwilling to hinder their joining with him, by such a declaration, which he knew would be a means to turn abundance of hearts against him, as indeed it fell out; and he found himself master of some few towns, only with an army of fifteen or sixteen thousand peasants, ill armed, unused to war, watchings, and very ill lodging in the field, very badly victualled, and worse paid. For, from Paris no aids of any kind could be brought him; the roads all along being so well guarded and secured by the royal forces, and wanting some great persons to espouse his quarrel, made him not only despair of success, but highly resent it of those, who had given him so large promises of aid. Many, as I said, and most were disgusted with his title of king; but some waited the success of his first battle; which was every day expected, though Cesario kept himself as clear of the royal army as he could a long time, marching away as soon as they drew near, hoping by these means, not only to tire them out, and watch an advantage when to engage, but gather still more numbers. So that the greatest mischief he did was teasing the royal army, who could never tell where to have him, so dexterous he was in marching off. They often came so near, as to have skirmishes with one another by small parties, where some few men would fall on both sides: and to say truth, Cesario in this expedition shewed much more of a soldier than the politician: his skill was great, his conduct good, expert in advantages, and indefatigable in toils. And I have heard it from the mouth of a gentleman, who in all that undertaking never was from him, that in seven or eight weeks that he was in arms, he never absolutely undressed himself, and hardly slept an hour in the four and twenty; and that sometimes he was on his horse’s back, in a chariot, or on the ground, suffering even with the meanest of his soldiers all the fatigues of the enterprise: this gentleman told me he would, in those hours he should sleep, and wherein he was not taking measures and councils, (which were always held in the night) that he would be eternally speaking to him of Hermione; and that with the softest concern, it was possible for love and tenderest passion to express. That he being the only friend he could repose so great a weakness in, and who soothed him to the degree he wished, the Prince was so well pleased with him, as to establish him a colonel of horse, for no other merit than that of having once served Hermione, and now would flatter his disease agreeably: and though he did so, he protested he was ashamed to hear how this poor fond concern rendered this great man, and he has often pitied what should have been else admired; but who can tell the force of love, backed by charms supernatural? And who is it that will not sigh, at the fate of so illustrious a young man, whom love had rendered the most miserable of all those numbers he led?
But now the royal army, as if they had purposely suffered him to take his tour about the country, to ensnare him with the more facility, had at last, by new forces that came to their assistance daily, so encompassed him, that it was impossible for him to avoid any longer giving them battle; however, he had the benefit of posting himself the most advantageously that he could wish; he had the rising grounds to place his cannon, and all things concurred to give him success; his numbers exceeding those of the royal army: not but he would have avoided a set battle, if it had been possible, till he had made himself master of some places of stronger hold; for yet, as I said, he had only subdued some inconsiderable places which were not able to make defence; and which as soon as he was marched out, surrendered again to their lawful prince; and pulling down his proclamation, put up those of the King: but he was on all sides so embarrassed, he could not come even to parly with any town of note; so that, as I said, at last, being as it were blocked up, though the royal army did not offer him battle: three nights they lay thus in view of each other; the first night the Prince sent out his scouts, who brought him intelligence, that the enemy was not so well prepared for battle, as they feared they might be, if they imagined the Prince would engage them, but he had so often given them the slip, that they believed he had no mind to put the fortune of the day to the push; and they were glad of these delays, that new forces might advance. When the scouts returned with this news, the Prince was impatient to fall upon the enemy, but Fergusano, who was continually taking counsel of his charms, and looking into his black Book of Fate, for every sally and step they made, persuaded His Highness to have a little patience; positively assuring him his fortune depended on a critical minute, which was not yet come; and that if he offered to give battle before the change of the moon, he was inevitably lost, and that the attendance of that fortunate moment would be the beginning of those of his whole life: with such like positive persuasions he gained upon the Prince, and overcame his impatience of engaging for that night, all which he passed in counsel, without being persuaded to take any rest, often blaming the nicety of their art, and his stars; and often asking, if they lost that opportunity that fortune had now given them, whether all their arts, or stars, or devils, could retrieve it? And nothing would that night appease him, or dispossess the sorcerers of this opinion.
The next day they received certain intelligence, that a considerable supply would reinforce the royal army under the conduct of a Prince of the Blood; which were every moment expected: this news made the Prince rave, and he broke out into all the rage imaginable against the wizards, who defended themselves with all the reasons of their art, but it was all in vain, and he vowed he would that night engage the enemy, if he found but one faithful friend to second him, though he died in the attempt; that he was worn out with the toils he had undergone; harassed almost to death, and would wait no longer the approach of his lazy fate, but boldly advancing, meet it, what face so ever it bore. They besought him on their knees, he would not overthrow the glorious design, so long in bringing to perfection, just in the very minute of happy projection; but to wait those certain Fates, that would bring him glory and honour on their wings; and who, if slighted, would abandon him to destruction; it was but some few hours more, and then they were his own, to be commanded by him: it was thus they drilled and delayed him on till night; when again he sent out his scouts to discover the posture of the enemy; and himself in the mean time went to Council. Philander failed not to be sent for thither, who sometimes feigned excuses to keep away, and when he did come, he sat unconcerned, neither giving or receiving any advice. This was taken notice of by all, but Cesario, who looked upon it as being overwatched, and fatigued with the toils of the day; his sullenness did not pass so in the opinion of the rest; they saw, or at least thought they saw, some other marks of discontent in his fine eyes, which love so much better became. One of the Prince’s officers, and Captain of his Guard, who was an old hereditary rogue, and whose father had suffered in rebellion before, a fellow rough and daring, comes boldly to the Prince when the Council rose, and asked him, if he were resolved to engage? He told him, he was. ‘Then,’ said he, ‘give me leave to shoot Philander in the head.’ This blunt proposition given, without any manner of reason or circumstance, made the Prince start back a step or two, and ask him his meaning of what he said. ‘Sir,’ replied the Captain, ‘if you will be safe, Philander must die; for however it appear to Your Highness, to all the camp he shows the traitor, and it is more than doubted, he and the King of France, understand one another but too well: therefore, if you would be victor, let him be dispatched, and I myself will undertake it.’ ‘Hold,’ said the Prince, ‘if I could believe what you say to be true, I should not take so base a revenge; I would fight like a soldier, and he should be treated like a man of honour.’ ‘Sir,’ said Vaneur, for that was the Captain’s name; ‘do not, in the circumstances we are now in, talk of treating (with those that would betray us) like men of honour; we cannot stand upon decency in killing, who have so many to dispatch; we came not into France to fight duels, and stand on nice punctilios: I say, we must make quick work, and I have a good pistol, charged with two handsome bullets, that shall, as soon as he appears amongst us on horseback, do his business as genteelly as can be, and rid you of one of the most powerful of your enemies.’ To this the Prince would by no means agree; not believing one syllable of the accusation. Vaneur swore then that he would not draw a sword for his service, while Philander was suffered to live; and he was as good as his word. He said, in going out, that he would obey the Prince, but he begged his pardon, if he did not lift a hand on his side; and in an hour after sent him his commission, and waited on him, and was with him almost till the last, in all the danger, but would not fight, having made a solemn vow. Several others were of Vaneur’s opinion, but the Prince believed nothing of it; Philander being indeed, as he said, weary of the design and party, and regarded them as his ruiners, who with fair pretences drew him into a bad cause; which his youth had not then considered, and from which he could not untangle himself.
By this time, the scout was come back, who informed the Prince that now was the best time in the world to attack the enemy, who all lay supinely in their tents, and did not expect a surprise: that the very out-guards were slender, and that it would not be hard to put them to a great deal of confusion. The Prince, who was enough impatient before, now was all fire and spirit, and it was not in the power of magic to withhold him; but hasting immediately to horse, with as much speed as possible, he got at the head of his men; and marching on directly to the enemy, put them into so great a surprise, that it may be admired how they got themselves into a condition of defence; and, to make short of a business that was not long in acting, I may avow, nothing but the immediate hand of the Almighty, (who favours the juster side, and is always ready for the support of those, who approach so near his own divinity; sacred and anointed heads) could have turned the fortune of the battle to the royal side: it was prodigious to consider the unequal numbers, and the advantage all on the Prince’s part; it was miraculous to behold the order on his side, and surprise on the other, which of itself had been sufficient to have confounded them; yet notwithstanding all this unpreparedness on this side, and the watchfulness and care on the other; so well the general and officers of the royal army managed their scanted time, so bravely disciplined and experienced the soldiers were, so resolute and brave, and all so well mounted and armed, that, as I said, to a miracle they fought, and it was a miracle they won the field: though that fatal night Cesario did in his own person wonders; and when his horse was killed under him, he took a partisan, and as a common soldier, at the head of his foot, acted the hero with as much courage and bravery, as ever Caesar himself could boast; yet all this availed him nothing: he saw himself abandoned on all sides, and then under the covert of the night, he retired from the battle, with his sword in his hand, with only one page, who fought by his side: a thousand times he was about to fall on his own sword, and like Brutus have finished a life he could no longer sustain with glory: but love, that coward of the mind, and the image of divine Hermione, as he esteemed her, still gave him love to life; and while he could remember she yet lived to charm him, he could even look with contempt on the loss of all his glory; at which, if he repined, it was for her sake, who expected to behold him return covered over with laurels. In these sad thoughts he wandered as long as his wearied legs would bear him, into a low forest, far from the camp; where, over-pressed with toil, all over pain, and a royal heart even breaking with anxiety, he laid him down under the shelter of a tree, and found but his length of earth left to support him now, who, not many hours before, beheld himself the greatest monarch, as he imagined, in the world. Oh who, that had seen him thus; which of his most mortal enemies, that had viewed the royal youth, adorned with all the charms of beauty, heaven ever distributed to man; born great, and but now adored by all the crowding world with hat and knee; now abandoned by all, but one kind trembling boy weeping by his side, while the illustrious hero lay gazing with melancholy weeping eyes, at those stars that had lately been so cruel to him; sighing out his great soul to the winds, that whistled round his uncovered head; breathing his griefs as silently as the sad fatal night passed away; where nothing in nature seemed to pity him, but the poor wretched youth that kneeled by him, and the sighing air: I say, who that beheld this, would not have scorned the world, and all its fickle worshippers? Have cursed the flatteries of vain ambition, and prized a cottage far above a throne? A garland wreathed by some fair innocent hand, before the restless glories of a crown?
Some authors, in the relation of this battle, affirm, that Philander quitted his post as soon as the charge was given, and sheered off from that wing he commanded; but all historians agree in this point, that if he did, it was not for want of courage; for in a thousand encounters he has given sufficient proofs of as much bravery as a man can be capable of: but he disliked the cause, disapproved of all their pretensions, and looked upon the whole affair and proceeding to be most unjust and ungenerous; and all the fault his greatest enemies could charge him with was, that he did not deal so gratefully with a prince that loved him and trusted him; and that he ought frankly to have told him, he would not serve him in this design; and that it had been more gallant to have quitted him that way, than this; but there are so many reasons to be given for this more politic and safe deceit, than are needful in this place, and it is most certain, as it is the most justifiable to heaven and man, to one born a subject of France, and having sworn allegiance to his proper king, to abandon any other interest; so let the enemies of this great man say what they please, if a man be obliged to be false to this or that interest, I think no body of common honesty, sense and honour, will dispute which he ought to abandon; and this is most certain, that he did not forsake him because fortune did so, as this one instance may make appear. When Cesario was first proclaimed king, and had all the reason in the world to believe that fortune would have been wholly partial to him, he offered Philander his choice of any principality and government in France, and to have made him of the Order of Saint Esprit: all which he refused, though he knew his great fortune was lost, and already distributed to favourites at Court, and himself proscribed and convicted as a traitor to France. Yet all these refusals did not open the eyes of this credulous great young man, who still believed it the sullenness and generosity of his temper.
No sooner did the day discover to the world the horrid business of the preceding night, but a diligent search was made among the infinite number of dead that covered the face of the earth, for the body of the Prince, or new King, as they called him: but when they could not find him among the dead, they sent out parties all ways to search the woods, the forests and the plains; nor was it long they sought in vain; for he who had laid himself, as I said, under the shelter of a tree, had not for any consideration removed him; but finding himself seized by a common hand, suffered himself, without resistance, to be detained by one single man ‘till more advanced, when he could as easily have killed the rustic as speak or move; an action so below the character of this truly brave man, that there is no reason to be given to excuse his easy submission but this, that he was stupefied with long watching, grief, and the fatigues of his daily toil for so many weeks before: for it is not to be imagined it was carelessness, or little regard for life; for if it had been so, he would doubtless have lost it nobly with the victory, and never have retreated while there had been one sword left advanced against him; or if he had disdained the enemy should have had the advantage and glory of so great a conquest, at least when his sword had been yet left him, he should have died like a Roman, and have scorned to have added to the triumph of the enemy. But love had unmanned his great soul, and Hermione pleaded within for life at any price, even that of all his glory; the thought of her alone blackened this last scene of his life, and for which all his past triumphs could never atone nor excuse.
Thus taken, he suffered himself to be led away tamely by common hands without resistance: a victim now even fallen to the pity of the mobile as he passed, and so little imagined by the better sort who saw him not, they would not give a credit to it, every one affirming and laying wagers he would die like a hero, and never surrender with life to the conqueror. But this submission was but too true for the repose of all his abettors; nor was his mean surrender all, but he shewed a dejection all the way they were bringing him to Paris, so extremely unworthy of his character, that it is hardly to be credited so great a change could have been possible. And to shew that he had lost all his spirit and courage with the victory, and that the great strings of his heart were broke, the Captain who had the charge of him, and commanded that little squadron that conducted him to Paris, related to me this remarkable passage in the journey; he said, that they lodged in an inn, where he believed both the master, and a great many strangers who that night lodged there, were Huguenots, and great lovers of the Prince, which the Captain did not know, till after the lodgings were taken: however, he ordered a file of Musketeers to guard the door; and himself only remaining in the chamber with the Prince, while supper was getting ready: the Captain being extremely weary with watching and toiling for a long time together, laid himself down on a bench behind a great long table, that was fastened to the floor, and had unadvisedly laid his pistols on the table; and though he durst not sleep, he thought there to stretch himself into a little ease, who had not quitted his horseback in a great while: the Prince, who was walking with his arms a-cross about the room, musing in a very dejected posture, often casting his eyes to the door, at last advances to the table, and takes up the Captain’s pistols; the while he who saw him advance, feared in that moment, what the Prince was going to do; he thought, if he should rise and snatch at the pistols, and miss of them, it would express so great a distrust of the Prince, it might provoke him to do, what by his generous submitting of them, might make him escape; and therefore, since it was too late, he suffered the Prince to arm himself with two pistols, who before was disarmed of even his little penknife. He was, he said, a thousand times about to call out to the guards; but then he thought before they could enter to his relief, he was sure to be shot dead, and it was possible the Prince might make his party good with four or five common soldiers, who perhaps loved the Prince as well as any, and might rather assist than hinder his flight; all this he thought in an instant, and at the same time, seeing the Prince stand still, in a kind of consideration what to do, looking, turning, and viewing of the pistols, he doubted not but his thoughts would determine with his life, and though he had been in the heat of all the battle, and had looked death in the face, when it appeared most horrid, he protested he knew not how to fear till this moment, and that now he trembled with the apprehension of unavoidable ruin; he cursed a thousand times his unadvisedness, now it was too late; he saw the Prince, after he had viewed and reviewed the pistols, walk in a great thoughtfulness again about the chamber, and at last, as if he had determined what to do, came back and laid them again on the table; at which the Captain snatched them up, resolving never to commit so great an over-sight more. He did not doubt, he said, but the Prince, in taking them up, had some design of making his escape; and most certainly, if he had but had courage to have attempted it, it had not been hard to have been accomplished: at worst, he could but have died: but there is a fate, that over-rules the most lucky minutes of the greatest men in the world, and turns even all advantages offered to misfortunes, when it designs their ruin.
While they were on their way to Paris, he gave some more signs, that the misfortunes he had suffered, had lessened his heart and courage: he writ several the most submissive letters in the world to the King, and to the Queen–Mother of France; wherein he strove to mitigate his treason, with the poorest arguments imaginable, and, as if his good sense had declined with his fortune, his style was altered, and debased to that of a common man, or rather a schoolboy, filled with tautologies and stuff of no coherence; in which he neither shewed the majesty of a prince, nor sense of a gentleman; as I could make appear by exposing those copies, which I leave to history; all which must be imputed to the disorder his head and heart were in, for want of that natural rest, he never after found. When he came to Paris, he fell at the feet of His Majesty, to whom they brought him, and with a shower of tears bedewing his shoes, as he lay prostrate, besought his pardon, and asked his life; perhaps one of his greatest weaknesses, to imagine he could hope for mercy, after so many pardons for the same fault; and which, if he had had but one grain of that bravery left him, he was wont to be master of, he could not have expected, nor have had the confidence to have implored; and he was a poor spectacle of pity to all that once adored him, to see how he petitioned in vain for life; which if it had been granted, had been of no other use to him, but to have passed in some corner of the earth, with Hermione, despised by all the rest: and, though he fetched tears of pity from the eyes of the best and most merciful of kings, he could not gain on his first resolution; which was never to forgive him that scurrilous Declaration he had dispersed at his first landing in France; that he took upon him the title of king, he could forgive; that he had been the cause of so much bloodshed, he could forgive; but never that unworthy scandal on his unspotted fame, of which he was much more nice, than of his crown or life; and left him (as he told him this) prostrate on the earth, when the guards took him up, and conveyed him to the Bastille: as he came out of the Louvre, it is said, he looked with his wonted grace, only a languishment sat there in greater beauty, than possibly all his gayer looks ever put on, at least in his circumstances all that beheld him imagined so; all the Parisians were crowded in vast numbers to see him: and oh, see what fortune is! Those that had vowed him allegiance in their hearts, and were upon all occasions ready to rise in mutiny for his least interest, now saw him, and suffered him to be carried to the Bastille with a small company of guards, and never offered to rescue the royal unfortunate from the hands of justice, while he viewed them all around with scorning, dying eyes.
While he remained in the Bastille, he was visited by several of the ministers of State, and cardinals, and men of the Church, who urged him to some discoveries, but could not prevail with him: he spoke, he thought, he dreamed of nothing but Hermione; and when they talked of heaven, he ran on some discourse of that beauty, something of her praise; and so continued to his last moment, even on the scaffold, where, when he was urged to excuse, as a good Christian ought, his invasion, his bloodshed, and his unnatural war, he set himself to justify his passion to Hermione, endeavouring to render the life he had led with her, innocent and blameless in the sight of heaven; and all the churchmen could persuade could make him speak of very little else. Just before he laid himself down on the block, he called to one of the gentlemen of his chamber, and taking out the enchanted tooth-pick-case, he whispered him in the ear, and commanded him to bear it from him to Hermione; and laying himself down, suffered the justice of the law, and died more pitied than lamented; so that it became a proverb, ‘If I have an enemy, I wish he may live like —— and die like Cesario’: so ended the race of this glorious youth, who was in his time the greatest man of a subject in the world, and the greatest favourite of his prince, happy indeed above a monarch, if ambition and the inspiration of knaves and fools, had not led him to destruction, and from a glorious life, brought him to a shameful death.
This deplorable news was not long in coming to Hermione, who must receive this due, that when she heard her hero was dead, (and with him all her dearer greatness gone) she betook herself to her bed, and made a vow she would never rise nor eat more; and she was as good as her word, she lay in that melancholy estate about ten days, making the most piteous moan for her dead lover that ever was heard, drowning her pillow in tears, and sighing out her soul. She called on him in vain as long as she could speak; at last she fell into a lethargy, and dreamed of him, till she could dream no more; an everlasting sleep
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