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Chapter XI.

In which a logical Argument is unseasonably interrupted.

The Marquis was also extremely uneasy at her Obstinacy: He desired nothing more ardently than to marry her to his Nephew; but he could not resolve to force her Consent; and, however determined he appeared to her, yet, in Reality, he intended only to use Persuasions to effect what he desired; and, from the natural Sweetness of her Temper, he was sometimes not without Hopes, that she might, at last, be prevailed upon to comply.

His Nephew's Return restored him to Part of his usual Tranquillity: After he had gently chid him for suffering himself to be so far transported with his Resentment at the little Humours of a Lady, as to leave his House, without acquainting him, he bid him go to Arabella, and endeavour to make his Peace with her.

Mr. Glanville accordingly went to her Apartment, resolving to oblige her to come to some Explanation with him concerning the Offence she complained of; but that fair incensed Lady, who had taken Shelter in her Closet, ordered Lucy to tell him she was indisposed, and could not see him.

Glanville, however, comforted himself for this Disappointment by the Hopes of seeing her at Supper; and accordingly she came, when the Supper-Bell rung, and, making a very cool Compliment to her Cousin, placed herself at Table: The soft Languor that appeared in her Eyes, gave such an additional Charm to one of the loveliest Faces in the World, that Glanville, who sat opposite to her, could not help gazing on her with a very particular Attention; he often spoke to her, and asked her trifling Questions, for the sake of hearing the Sound of her Voice, which Sorrow had made inchantingly sweet.

When Supper was over, she would have retired; but the Marquis desired her to stay and entertain her Cousin, while he went to look over some Dispatches he had received from London.

Arabella blushed with Anger at this Command; but, not daring to disobey, she kept her Eyes fixed on the Ground, as if she dreaded to hear something that would displease her.

Well, Cousin, said Glanville, tho' you desire to have no Empire over so unworthy a Subject as myself, yet I hope you are not displeased at my returning, in Obedience to your Commands.

Since I am not allowed any Will of my own, said she, sighing, it matters not whether I am pleased, or displeased; nor is it of any Consequence to you to know.

Indeed but it is, Lady Bella, interrupted he; for if I knew how to please you, I would never, if I could help it, offend: Therefore, I beg you, tell me how I have disobliged you; for, certainly, you have treated me as harshly as if I had been guilty of some very terrible Offence.

You had the Boldness, said she, to talk to me of Love; and you well know that Persons of my Sex and Quality are not permitted to listen to such Discourses; and if, for that Offence, I banished you my Presence, I did no more than Decency required of me; and which I would yet do, were I Mistress of my own Actions.

But is it possible, Cousin, said Glanville, that you can be angry with any one for loving you? Is that a Crime of so high a Nature as to merit an eternal Banishment from your Presence? Without telling you, said Arabella, blushing, whether I am angry at being loved, 'tis sufficient you know, that I will not pardon the Man who shall have the Presumption to tell me he loves me.

But, Madam, interrupted Glanville, if the Person who tells you he loves you, be of a Rank not beneath you, I conceive you are not at all injured by the favourable Sentiments he feels for you; and, tho' you are not disposed to make any Returns to his Passion, yet you are certainly obliged to him for his good Opinion.

Since Love is not voluntary, replied Arabella, I am not obliged to any Person for loving me; for, questionless, if he could help it, he would.

If it is not a voluntary Favour, interrupted Glanville, it is not a voluntary Offence; and, if you do not think yourself obliged by the one, neither are you at Liberty to be offended with the other.

The Question, said Arabella, is not whether I ought to be offended at being loved, but whether it is not an Offence to be told I am so.

If there is nothing criminal in the Passion itself, Madam, resumed Glanville, certainly there can be no Crime in declaring it.

However specious your Arguments may appear, interrupted Arabella, I am persuaded it is an unpardonable Crime to tell a Lady you love her; and, tho' I had nothing else to plead, yet the Authority of Custom is sufficient to prove it.

Custom, Lady Bella, said Glanville, smiling, is wholly on my Side; for the Ladies are so far from being displeased at the Addresses of their Lovers, that their chiefest Care is to gain them, and their greatest Triumph to hear them talk of their Passion: So, Madam, I hope you'll allow that Argument has no Force.

I don't know, answered Arabella, what Sort of Ladies there are who allow such unbecoming Liberties, but I am certain, that Statira, Parisatis, Clelia, Mandana, and all the illustrious Heroines of Antiquity, whom it is a Glory to resemble, would never admit of such Discourses.

Ah for Heaven's sake, Cousin, interrupted Glanville, endeavouring to stifle a Laugh, do not suffer yourself to be governed by such antiquated Maxims! The World is quite different to what it was in those Days; and the Ladies in this Age would as soon follow the Fashions of the Greek and Roman Ladies, as mimick their Manners; and I believe they would become one as ill as the other.

I am sure, replied Arabella, the World is not more virtuous now than it was in their Days, and there is good Reason to believe it is not much wiser; and I don't see why the Manners of this Age are to be preferred to those of former ones, unless they are wiser and better: However, I cannot be persuaded, that Things are as you say, and that when I am a little better acquainted with the World, I shall find as many Persons who resemble Oroondates, Artaxerxes, and the illustrious Lovers of Clelia, as those who are like Tiribases, Artaxes, and the presuming and insolent Glanville .

By the Epithets you give me Madam, said Glanville, I find you have placed me in very bad Company: But pray, Madam, if the illustrious Lover of Clelia had never discovered his Passion, how would the World have come to the Knowlege of it? He did not discover his Passion, Sir, resumed Arabella, till, by the Services he did the noble Clelius, and his incomparable Daughter, he could plead some Title to their Esteem: He several times preserved the Life of that renowned Roman; delivered the beautiful Clelia when she was a Captive; and, in fine, conferred so many Obligations upon them, and all their Friends, as he might well expect to be pardoned by the divine Clelia for daring to love her. Nevertheless, she used him very harshly, when he first declared his Passion, and banished him also from her Presence; and it was a long time before she could prevail upon herself to compassionate his Sufferings.

The Marquis coming in interrupted Arabella; upon which she took Occasion to retire; leaving Glanville more captivated with her than ever.

He found her Usage of him was grounded upon Examples she thought it her Duty to follow; and, strange as her Notions of Life appeared, yet they were supported with so much Wit and Delicacy, that he could not help admiring her, while he foresaw, the Oddity of her Humour would throw innumerable Difficulties in his Way, before he should be able to obtain her.

However, as he was really passionately in Love with her, he resolved to accommodate himself, as much as possible, to her Taste, and endeavour to gain her Heart by a Behaviour most agreeable to her: He therefore assumed an Air of great Distance and Respect; never mentioned his Affection, nor the Intentions of her Father in his Favour; and the Marquis, observing his Daughter conversed with him with less Reluctance than usual, leaving to Time, and the Merit of his Nephew, to dispose her to comply with his Desires, resolved not to interpose his Authority in an Affair upon which her own Happiness so much depended.

Chapter X. | The Female Quixote | Chapter XII.