home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | форум | collections | читалки | авторам | add

Chapter I.

A Dispute very learnedly handled by two Ladies, in which the Reader may take what Part he pleases.

Mr. Glanville, who was too much in Love to pass the Night with any great Degree of Tranquillity, under the Apprehensions he felt; it being the Nature of that Passion, to magnify the most inconsiderable Trifles into Things of the greatest Importance, when they concern the beloved Object; did not fail to torment himself with a thousand different Fears, which the mysterious Behaviour of his Father, and the more mysterious Words of his Mistress, gave Rise to. Among many various Conjectures, all equally unreasonable, he fixed upon one, no way advantageous to Sir Charles; for, supposing that the Folly of Arabella had really disgusted him, and made him desirous of breaking off the designed Match between them; he was, as he thought, taking Measures to bring this about, knowing, that if Lady Bella refused to fulfil her Father's Desire in this Particular, a very considerable Estate would descend to him.

Upon any other Occasion, Mr. Glanville would not have suspected his Father of so ungenerous an Action; but Lovers think every thing possible, which they fear; and being pre-possessed with this Opinion, he resolved the next Morning to sound his Father's Inclinations, by intreating him to endeavour to prevail upon Lady Bella to marry him before her Year of Mourning for the Marquis was expired.

Attending him, therefore, at Breakfast, in his own Chamber, he made his designed Request, not without heedfully observing his Countenance at the same time; and trembling, lest he should make him an Answer, that might confirm his uneasy Suspicion.

Sir Charles, however, agreeably surprised him, by promising to comply with his Desire that Day; for, added he, tho' my Niece has some odd ways, yet, upon the Whole, she is a very accomplished Woman; and when you are her Husband, you may probably find the Means of curing her of those little Follies, which at present are conspicuous enough; but being occasioned by a Country Education, and a perfect Ignorance of the World, the Instruction, which then you will not scruple to give her, and which, from a Husband, without any Offence to her Delicacy, she may receive, may reform her Conduct; and make her Behaviour as complete, as, it must be confessed, both her Person and Mind now are.

Mr. Glanville having acquiesced in the Justice of this Remark, as soon as Breakfast was over, went to visit the two Ladies, who generally drank their Chocolate together.

Miss Glanville being then in Lady Bella's Apartment, he was immediately admitted, where he found them engaged in a high Dispute; and, much against his Will, was obliged to be Arbitrator in the Affair, they having, upon his Entrance, both appealed to him.

But, in order to place this momentous Affair in a true Light, 'tis necessary to go back a little, and acquaint the Reader with what had passed in the Apartment; and also, following the Custom of the Romance and Novel-Writers, in the Heart, of our Heroine.

No sooner were her fair Eyes open in the Morning, than the unfortunate Sir George presenting himself to her Imagination, her Thoughts to use Scudery's Phrase, were at a cruel War with each other: She wished to prevent the Death of this obsequious Lover; but she could not resolve to preserve his Life, by giving him that Hope he required; and without which, she feared, it would be impossible for him to live.

After pondering a few Hours upon the Necessity of his Case, and what a just Regard to her own Honour required of her, Decorum prevailed so much over Compassion, that she resolved to abandon the miserable Sir George to all the Rigour of his Destiny; when, happily for the disconsolate Lover, the History of the fair Amalazotha coming into her Mind, she remembred, that this haughty Princess, having refused to marry the Person her Father recommended to her, because he had not a Crown upon his Head; nevertheless, when he was dying for Love of her, condescended to visit him, and even to give him a little Hope, in order to preserve his Life: See conceived it could be no Blemish to her Character, if she followed the Example of this most glorious Princess; and suffered herself to relax a little in her Severity, to prevent the Effects of her Lover's Despair.

Fear not, Arabella, said she to herself; fear not to obey the Dictates of thy Compassion, since the glorious Amalazontha justifies, by her Example, the Means thou wilt use to preserve a noble Life, which depends upon a few Words thou shalt utter.

When she had taken this Resolution, she rung her Bell for her Women; and as soon as she was dressed, she dismissed them all but Lucy, whom she ordered to bring her Paper and Pens, telling her, she would write an Answer to Sir George's Letter.

Lucy obeyed with great Joy; but by that time she had brought her Lady all the Materials for Writing, her Mind was changed; she having reflected, that Amalazontha, whose Example, in order to avoid the Censure of future Ages, she was resolved exactly to follow, did not write to Ambiomer, but paid him a Visit, she resolved to do the like; and therefore bid Lucy take them away again, telling her: She had thoughts better of it, and would not write to him.

Lucy, extremely concerned at this Resolution, obeyed her very slowly, and with greeat seeming Regret.

I perceive, said Arabella, you are afraid, I shall abandon the unfortunate Man you solicit for, to the Violence of his Despair; but tho' I do not intend to write to him, yet I'll make use of a Method, perhaps as effectual; for, to speak truly, I mean to make him a Visit; for by this time his Fever is, I suppose, violent enough to make him keep his Bed. And will you be so good, Madam, said Lucy, to go and see the poor Gentleman? I warrant you, he will be ready to die for Joy, when he sees you.

There must be proper Precautions used, said Arabella, to prevent those Consequences, which the sudden and unexpected Sight of me may produce. Those about him, I suppose, will have Discretion enough for that: Therefore give Orders for the Coach to be made ready, and tell my Women, they must attend me; and be sure you give them Directions, when I enter Sir George's Chamber, to stay at a convenient Distance, in order to leave me an Opportunity of speaking to him, without being heard: As for you, you may approach the Bed-side with me; since, being my Confident, you may hear all we have to say.

Arabella, having thus settled the Ceremonial of her Visit, according to the Rules prescribed by Romances, sat down to her Tea-table, having sent to know, if Miss Glanville was up, and received for Answer, that she would attend her at Breakfast.

Arabella, who had at first determined to say nothing of this Affair to her Cousin, could not resist the Desire she had of talking upon a Subject so interesting; and, telling her with a Smile, that she was about to make a very charitable Visit that Morning, asked her, if she was disposed to bear her Company in it.

I know you Country Ladies, said Miss Glanville, are very fond of visiting your sick Neighbours: For my Part, I do not love such a grave kind of Amusement; yet, for the sake of the Airing, I shall be very willing to attend you.

I think, said Arabella, with a more serious Air than before, it behoves every generous Person to compassionate the Misfortunes of their Acquaintance and Friends, and to relieve them as far as lies in their Power; but those Miseries we ourselves occasion to others, demand, in a more particular Manner, our Pity; and, if consistent with Honour, our Relief.

And pray, returned Miss Glanville, who is it you have done any Mischief to, which you are to repair by this charitable Visit, as you call it? The Mischief I have done, replied Arabella, blushing, and casting down her Eyes, was not voluntary, I assure you: Yet I will not scruple to repair it, if I can; tho', since my Power is confined by certain unavoidable Laws, my Endeavours may not haply have all the Success I could wish.

Well, but, dear Cousin, interrupted Miss Glanville, tell me in plain English, what this Mischief is, which you have done; and to what Purpose you are going out this Morning? I am going to pay a Visit to Sir George Bellmour, replied Arabella; and I intreat you, fair Cousin, to pardon me for robbing you of so accomplished a Lover. I really always thought he was in Love with you, till I was undeceived by some Words he spoke Yesterday; and a Letter I received from him last Night, in which he has been bold enough to declare his Passion to me, and, through the Apprehension of my Anger, is this Moment dying with Grief; and 'tis to reconcile him to Life, that I have prevailed upon myself to make him a Visit; in which charitable Design, as I said before, I should be glad of your Company.

Miss Glanville, who believed not a Word Lady Bella had said, burst out a laughing, at a Speech, that appeared to her so extremely false and ridiculous.

I see, said Arabella, you are of a Humour to divert yourself with the Miseries of a despairing Lover; and in this Particular, you greatly resemble the fair and witty Doralisa, who always jested at such Maladies as are occasioned by Love: However, this Insensibility does not become you so well as her, since all her Conduct was conformable to it, no Man in the World being bold enough to talk to her of Love; but you, Cousin, are ready, even by your own Confession, to listen to such Discourses from any body; and therefore this Behaviour, in you, may be with more Justice termed Levity, than Indifference.

I perceive, Cousin, said Miss Glanville, I have always the worst of those Comparisons you are pleased to make between me and other People; but, I assure you, as free and indiscreet as you think me, I should very much scruple to visit a Man, upon any Occasion whatever.

I am quite astonished, Miss Glanville, resumed Arabella, to hear you assume a Character of so much Severity; you, who have granted Favours of a Kind in a very great Degree criminal.

Favours! interrupted Miss Glanville, criminal Favours! Pray explain yourself, Madam.

Yes, Cousin, said Arabella, I repeat it again; criminal Favours, such as allowing Persons to talk to you of Love; not forbidding them to write to you; giving them Opportunities of being alone with you for several Moments together; and several other Civilities of the like Nature, which no Man can possibly merit, under many Years Services, Fidelity, and Pains: All these are criminal Favours, and highly blameable in a Lady, who has any Regard for her Reputation.

All these, replied Miss Glanville, are nothing in Comparison of making them Visits; and no Woman, who has any Reputation at all, will be guilty of taking such Liberties.

What! Miss, replied, Arabella, will you dare, by this Insinuation, to cast any Censures upon the Virtue of the divine Mandana, the haughty Amalazontha, the fair Statira, the cold and rigid Parisatis, and many other illustrious Ladies, who did not scruple to visit their Lovers, when confined to their Beds, either by the Wounds they received in Battle, or the more cruel and dangerous ones they suffered from their Eyes? These chaste Ladies, who never granted a Kiss of their Hand to a Lover, till he was upon the Point of being their Husband, would nevertheless most charitably condescend to approach their Bedside, and speak some compassionate Words to them, in order to promote their Cure, and make them submit to live; nay, these divine Beauties would not refuse to grant the same Favour to Persons whom they did not love, to prevent the fatal Consequences of their Despair.

Lord, Madam! interrupted Miss Glanville, I wonder you can talk so blasphemously, to call a Parcel of confident Creatures divine, and such terrible Words.

Do you know, Miss, said Arabella, with a stern Look, that 'tis of the greatest Princesses that ever were, whom you speak in this irreverent Manner? Is it possible, that you can be ignorant of the sublime Quality of Mandana, who was the Heiress of Two powerful Kingdoms? Are you not sensible, that Amalazontha was Queen of Turringia? And will you pretend to deny the glorious Extraction of Statira and Parisatis, Princesses of Persia? I shall not trouble myself to deny any thing about them, Madam, said Miss Glanville; for I never heard of them before; and really I do not choose to be always talking of Queens and Princesses, as if I thought none but such great People were worthy my Notice: It looks so affected, I should imagine every one laughed at me, that heard me.

Since you are so very scrupulous, returned Arabella, that you dare not imitate the Sublimest among Mortals, I can furnish you with many Examples, from the Conduct of Persons, whose Quality was not much superior to yours, which may reconcile you to an Action, you at present, with so little Reason, condemn: And, to name but One among some Thousands, the fair Cleonice, the most rigid and austere Beauty in all Sardis, paid several Visits to the passionate Ligdamis, when his Melancholy, at the ill Success of his Passion, threw him into a Fever, that confined him to his Bed.

And pray, Madam, who was that Cleonice? said Miss Glanville ; and where did she live? In Sardis, I tell you, said Arabella, in the Kingdom of Lydia.

Oh! then it is not in our Kingdom, said Miss Glanville: What signifies what Foreigners do? I shall never form my Conduct, upon the Example of Outlandish People; what is common enough in their Countries, would be very particular here; and you can never persuade me, that it is seemly for Ladies to pay Visits to Men in their Beds.

A Lady, said Arabella, extremely angry at her Cousin's Obstinacy, who will suffer Men to press her Hand, write to her, and talk to her of Love, ought to be ashamed of such an affected Niceness, as that you pretend to.

I insist upon it, Madam, said Miss Glanville, that all those innocent Liberties you rail at, may be taken by any Woman, without giving the World room to censure her: but, without being very bold and impudent, she cannot go to see Men in their Beds; a Freedom that only becomes a Sister, or near Relation.

So then, replied Arabella, reddening with Vexation, you will persist in affirming the divine Mandana was impudent? If she paid such indiscreet Visits as those, she was, said Miss Glanville.

Oh Heavens! cried Arabella, have I lived to hear the most illustrious Princess, that ever was in the World, so shamefully reflected on? Bless me, Madam! said Miss Glanville, what Reason have you to defend the Character of this Princess so much? She will hardly thank you for your Pains, I fansy.

Were you acquainted with the Character of that most generous Princess, said Arabella, you would be convinced, that she was sensible of the smallest Benefits; but it is not with a View of acquiring her Favour, that I defend her against your inhuman Aspersions, since it is more than Two thousand Years since she died; yet common Justice obliges me to vindicate a Person so illustrious for her Birth and Virtue; and were you not my Cousin, I should express my Resentment in another Manner, for the Injury you do her.

Truly, said Miss Glanville, I am not much obliged to you Madam, for not downright quarrelling with me for one that has been in her Grave Two thousand Years: However, nothing shall make me change my Opinion, and I am sure most People will be of my Side of the Argument.

That Moment Mr. Glanville sending for Permission to wait upon Arabella, she ordered him to be admitted, telling Miss Glanville, she would acquaint her Brother with the Dispute: To which she consented.

Chapter IX. | The Female Quixote | Chapter II.