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Chapter V.

The History of Miss Groves, interspersed with some very curious Observations.

Though, Madam, said Mrs. Morris, I have not been long in Miss Groves's Service, yet I know a great many Things by the means of her former Woman, who told them to me, tho' my Lady thinks I am ignorant of them; and I know that this is her second Trip into the Country.

Pray, interrupted Arabella, do me the Favour to relate Things methodically: Of what Use is it to me to know that this is your Lady's second Trip, as you call it, into the Country, if I know not the Occasion of it? Therefore begin with informing me, who were the Parents of this admirable young Person.

Her Father, Madam, said Mrs. Morris, was a Merchant; and, at his Death, left her a large Fortune, and so considerable a Jointure to his Wife, that the Duke of --, being then a Widower, was tempted to make his Addresses to her. Mrs. Groves was one of the proudest Women in the World; and, this Offer flattering her Ambition more than ever she had Reason to expect, she married the Duke after a very short Courtship; and carried Miss Groves down with her to --, where the Duke had a fine Seat, and where she was received by his Grace's Daughters, who were much about her own Age, with great Civility. Miss Groves, Madam, was then about twelve Years old, and was educated with the Duke's Daughters, who, in a little time, became quite disgusted with their new Sister; for Miss Groves, who inherited her Mother's Pride, tho' not her Understanding, in all things affected an Equality with those young Ladies, who, conscious of the Superiority of their Birth, could but ill bear with her Insolence and Presumption. As they grew older, the Difference of their Inclinations caused perpetual Quarrels amongst them; for his Grace's Daughters were serious, reserved, and pious. Miss Groves affected noisy Mirth, was a great Romp, and delighted in masculine Exercises.

The Duchess was often reflected on for suffering her Daughter, without any other Company than two or three Servants, to spend great Part of the Day in riding about the Country, leaping over Hedges and Ditches, exposing her fair Face to the Injuries of the Sun and Wind; and, by those coarse Exercises, contracting a masculine and robust Air not becoming her Sex, and tender Years: Yet she could not be prevailed upon to restrain her from this Diversion, till it was reported, she had listened to the Addresses of a young Sportsman, who used to mix in her Train, when she went upon those Rambles, and procured frequent Opportunities of conversing with her.

There is a great Difference, interrupted Arabella, in suffering Addresses, and being betrayed into an involuntary Hearing of them, and this last, I conceive to have been the Case of your Lady; for it is not very probable, she would so far forget what she owed to her own Glory, as to be induced to listen quietly to Discourses like those you mention.

However, Madam, resumed Mrs. Morris, the Duchess thought it necessary to keep her more at home; but, even here, she was not without meeting Adventures, and found a Lover in the Person who taught her to write.

That, indeed, was a very notable Adventure, said Arabella; but it is not strange, that Love should produce such Metamorphoses: 'Tis not very long ago, that I heard of a Man of Quality, who disguised himself in a poor Habit, and worked in the Gardens of a certain Nobleman, whose Daughter he was enamoured with: These things happen every Day.

The Person I speak of, Madam, said Mrs. Morris, was never discovered to be any thing better than a Writing-master; and yet, for all that, Miss was smitten with his fine Person, and was taking Measures to run away with him, when the Intrigue was discovered, the Lover dismissed, and the young Lady, whose faulty Conduct had drawn upon her her Mother's Dislike, was sent up to London, and allowed to be her own Mistress at Sixteen; to which unpardonable Neglect of her Mother she owes the Misfortunes that have since befallen her.

Whatever may be the common Opinion of this Matter, interrupted Arabella again, I am persuaded the Writing-master, as you call him, was some Person of Quality, who made use of that Device to get Access to his beautiful Mistress. Love is ingenious in Artifices: Who would have thought, that, under the Name of Alcippus, a simple Attendant of the fair Artemisa Princess of Armenia, the gallant Alexander Son of the great and unfortunate Antony, by Queen Cleopatra, was concealed, who took upon himself that mean Condition for the sake of seeing his adored Princess? Yet the Contrivance of Orontes, Prince of the Massagetes, was far more ingenious, and even dangerous; for this valiant and young Prince, happening to see the Picture of the beautiful Thalesiris, Daughter of the Queen of the Amazons, he fell passionately in Love with her; and, knowing that the Entrance into that Country was forbid to Men, he dressed himself in Womens Apparel; and, finding means to be introduced to the Queen, and her fair Daughter, whose Amity he gained by some very singular Services in the Wars, he lived several Years undiscovered in their Court: I see, therefore, no Reason to the contrary, but that this Writing master might have been some illustrious Person, whom Love had disguised; and, I am persuaded, added she, smiling, that I shall hear more of him anon, in a very different Character.

Indeed, Madam, said Mrs. Morris, whom this Speech of Arabella had extremely surprised, I never heard any thing more about him, than what I have related; and, for what I know, he continues still to teach Writing; for I don't suppose the Duchess's Displeasure could affect him.

How is it possible, said Arabella, that you can suppose such an Offence to Probability? In my Opinion, 'tis much more likely, that this unfortunate Lover is dead thro' Despair; or, perhaps, wandering over the World in Search of that Fair one, who was snatched from his Hopes.

If it was his Design to seek for her, Madam, resumed Mrs. Morris, he need not have gone far, since she was only sent to London, whither he might easily have followed her.

There is no accounting for these Things, said Arabella: Perhaps he has been imposed upon, and made to believe, that it was she herself that banished him from her Presence: 'Tis probable too, that he was jealous, and thought she preferred someone of his Rivals to him. Jealousy is inseparable from true Love; and the slightest Matters imaginable will occasion it: And, what is still more wonderful, this Passion creates the greatest Disorders in the most sensible and delicate Hearts. Never was there a more refined and faithful Passion, than that of the renowned Artamenes for Mandana; and yet this Prince was driven almost to Distraction by a Smile, which, he fansied, he saw in the Face of his Divine Mistress, at a time when she had some Reason to believe he was dead; and he was so transported with Grief and Rage, that, tho' he was a Prisoner in his Enemy's Camp, where the Knowlege of his Quality would have procured him certain Death, yet he determined to hazard all Things for the sake of presenting himself before Mandana, and upbraiding her with her Infidelity; when, in Reality, nothing was farther from the Thoughts of that fair and virtuous Princess, than the Lightness he accused her of: So that, as I said before, it is not at all to be wondered at, if this disguised Lover of your Lady was driven to Despair by Suspicions as groundless, perhaps, as those of Artamenes, yet not the less cruel and tormenting.

Mrs. Morris, finding Arabella held her Peace at these Words, went on with her History in this manner: --Miss Groves, Madam, being directed by her Woman in all things, took up her Lodgings in her Father's House, who was a broken Tradesman, and obliged to keep himself concealed for fear of his Creditors: Here she formed her Equipage, which consisted of a Chair, one Footman, a Cook, and her Woman: As she was indulged with the Command of what Money she pleased, her Extravagance was boundless: She lavished away large Sums at Gaming, which was her favourite Diversion; kept such a Number of different Animals for Favourites, that their Maintenance amounted to a considerable Sum every Year: Her Woman's whole Family were supported at her Expence; and, as she frequented all public Places, and surpassed Ladies of the first Quality in Finery, her Dress alone consumed great Part of her Income. I need not tell you, Madam, that my Lady was a celebrated Beauty: You have yourself been pleased to say, that she is very handsome.

When she first appeared at Court, her Beauty, and the uncommon Dignity of her Person, at such early Years, made her the Object of general Admiration. The King was particularly struck with her; and declared to those about him, that Miss Groves was the finest Woman at Court. The Ladies, however, found means to explain away all that was flattering in this Distinction: They said, Miss Groves was clumsy; and it was her Resemblance to the unwieldy German Ladies that made her so much admired by his Majesty. Her Pride, and the Quality Airs she affected, were the Subject of great Ridicule to those that envied her Charms: Some Censures were maliciously cast on her Birth; for, as she was always styled the Duchess of --'s Daughter, a Custom she introduced herself, she seemed to disclaim all Title to a legal Father. Miss Groves, as universally admired as she was, yet made but very few particular Conquests. Her Fortune was known to be very considerable, and her Mother's Jointure was to descend to her after her Death: Yet there was no Gentleman, who would venture upon a Wife of Miss Groves's Taste for Expence, as very few Estates, to which she could pretend, would support her Extravagance. -- Honourable Mr. L--, Brother to the Earl of --, was the only one, amidst a Croud of Admirers, who made any particular Address to her. This Gentleman was tolerably handsome, and had the Art of making himself agreeable to the Ladies, by a certain Air of Softness and Tenderness, which never failed to make some Impression upon those he desired to deceive.

Miss Groves was ravished with her Conquest, and boasted of it so openly, that People, who were acquainted with this Gentleman's Character, foreseeing her Fate, could not help pitying her.

A very few Months Courtship completed the Ruin of poor Miss Groves : She fell a Sacrifice to Oaths which had been often prostituted for the same inhuman Purposes; and became so fond of her Betrayer, that it was with great Difficulty he could persuade her not to give him, even in public, the most ridiculous Proofs of her Tenderness. Her Woman pretends, that she was ignorant of this Intrigue, till Miss Groves growing big with Child, it could no longer be concealed; it was at length agreed, she should lie-in at her own Lodgings, to prevent any Suspicions from her retreating into the Country; but that Scheme was over-ruled by her Woman's Mother, who advised her to conceal herself in some Village, not far from Town, till the Affair was over.

Miss Groves approved of this second Proposal, but took Advantage of her Shape, which, being far from delicate, would not easily discover any growing Bigness, to stay in Town as long as she possibly could. When her Removal was necessary, she went to the Lodgings provided for her, a few Miles distant from London: And, notwithstanding the Excuses which were framed for this sudden Absence, the true Cause was more than suspected by some busy People, who industriously inquired into her Affairs.

Mr. L-- saw her but seldom during her Illness: The Fear of being discovered was his Pretence: But her Friends easily saw through this Disguise, and were persuaded Miss Groves was waning in his Affections.

As she had a very strong Constitution, she returned to Town at the End of three Weeks: The Child was dead, and she looked handsomer than ever. Mr. L-- continued his Visits; and the Town to make Remarks of them. All this time the Duchess never troubled herself about the Conduct of this unfortunate young Creature: And the People she was with had not the Goodness to give her any Hint of her Misconduct, and the Waste of her Fortune: On the contrary, they almost turned her Head with their Flatteries, preyed upon her Fortune, and winked at her Irregularities.

She was now a second time with Child: Her Character was pretty severely handled by her Enemies: Mr. L-- began openly to slight her: And she was now several thousand Pounds in Debt. The Mother and Sisters of her Woman, in whose House she still was, were bare enough to whisper the Fault she had been guilty of to all their Acquaintances. Her Story became generally known: She was shunned and neglected by every body; and even Mr. L--, who had been the Cause of her Ruin, intirely abandoned her, and boasted openly of the Favours he had received from her.

Miss Groves protested to her Friends, That he had promised her Marriage; but Mr. L-- constantly denied it, and never scrupled to say, when he was questioned about it, That he found Miss Groves too easy a Conquest to make any Perjury necessary. Her Tenderness, however, for this base Man, was so great, that she never could bear to hear him railed at in her Presence; but would quarrel with the only Friends she had left, if they said any thing to his Disadvantage. As she was now pretty far advanced with Child, she would have retired into the Country; but the bad Condition of her Affairs made her Removal impossible: In this Extremity she had Recourse to her Uncle, a rich Merchant in the City, who, having taken all the necessary Precautions for his own Security, paid Miss Groves's Debts, carrying on, in her Name, a Law-suit with the Duchess, for some Lands, which were to be put into her Hands, when she was of Age, and which that great Lady detained.

Miss Groves, being reduced to live upon something less than an Hundred a Year, quitted London, and came into this Part of the Country, where she was received by Mrs. Barnett, one of her Woman's Sisters, who is married to a Country Gentleman of some Fortune: In her House she lay-in of a Girl, which Mr. L-- sent to demand, and will not be persuaded to inform her how, or in what manner, he has disposed of the Child.

Her former Woman leaving her, I was received in her Place, from whom I learnt all these Particulars: And Miss Groves having gained the Affections of Mr. Barnett's Brother, her Beauty, and the large Fortune which she has in Reversion, has induced him, notwithstanding the Knowlege of her past unhappy Conduct, to marry her. But their Marriage is yet a Secret, Miss Groves being apprehensive of her Uncle's Displeasure for not consulting him in her Choice.

Her Husband is gone to London, with an Intention to acquaint him with it; and, when he returns, their Marriage will be publicly owned.

Chapter IV. | The Female Quixote | Chapter VI.