Containing the Beginning of Sir George's History; in which the ingenious Relater has exactly copied the Stile of Romance.
Though at present, Madam, you behold me in the Quality of a private Gentleman, in the Possession only of a tolerable Estate; yet my Birth is illustrious enough: My Ancestors having formerly worn a Crown; which, as they won by their Valour, so they lost by their Misfortune only.
How, interrupted Sir Charles, are you descended from Kings? Why, I never heard you say so before: Pray, Sir, how far are you removed from Royal Blood? and which of your Forefathers was it that wore a Crown? Sir, replied Sir George, it is not much more than Eight hundred Years since my Ancestors, who were Saxons, swayed the Sceptre of Kent; and from the first Monarch of that mighty Kingdom, am I lineally descended.
Pray where may that Kingdom of Kent; lie? said Sir Charles .
In -- replied Sir George.
A mighty Kingdom indeed! said Sir Charles: Why, it makes but a very small Part of the Kingdom of Britain now: Well, if your Ancestors were Kings of that County as it is now called, it must be confessed their Dominions were very small.
However that may be, said Arabella, it raises Sir George greatly in my Esteem, to hear he is descended from Kings; for, truly, a Royal Extraction does infinitely set off noble and valiant Actions, and inspires only lofty and generous Sentiments: Therefore, illustrious Prince (for in that Light I shall always consider you), be assured, though Fortune has despoiled you of your Dominions, yet since she cannot deprive you of your Courage and Virtue, Providence will one Day assist your noble Endeavours to recover your Rights, and place you upon the Throne of your Ancestors, from whence you have been so inhumanly driven: Or, haply, to repair that Loss, your Valour may procure you other Kingdoms, no less considerable than that to which you was born.
For Heaven's sake, Niece, said Sir Charles, How come such improbable Things into your Head? Is it such an easy Matter, think you, to conquer Kingdoms, that you can flatter a young Man, who has neither Fleets nor Armies, with such strange Hopes? The great Artaban, Sir, resumed Arabella, had neither Fleets nor Armies, and was Master only of a single Sword; yet he soon saw himself greater than any King, disposing the Destinies of Monarchs by his Will, and deciding the Fates of Empires by a single Word: But pray let this Dispute rest where it is, and permit Sir George to continue his Relation. It is not necessary, Madam, resumed Sir George, to acquaint you with the Misfortunes of my Family, or relate the several Progressions it made towards the private Condition in which it now is: For, besides that reciting the Events of so many Hundred Years may haply, in some measure, try your Patience, I should be glad if you would dispense with me from entering into a Detail of Accidents that would sensibly afflict me: It shall suffice, therefore, to inform you, that my Father, being a peaceable Man, fond of Retirement and Tranquillity, made no Attempts to recover the Sovereignty from which his Ancestors had been unjustly expelled; but quietly beheld the Kingdom of Kent in the Possession of other Masters, while he contented himself with the Improvement of that small Pittance of Ground, which was all that the unhappy Prince Veridomer, my Grandfather, was able to bequeath to him.
Hey-day! cried Sir Charles, Will you new-christen your Grandfather, when he has been in his Grave these Forty Years? I knew honest Sir Edmard Bellmour very well, though I was but a Youth when he died; but I believe no Person in Kent ever gave him the Title of Prince Veridomer: Fie! fie! these are idle Brags.
Sir George, without taking Notice of the old Baronet's Heat, went on with his Narration in this manner: Things were in this State, Madam, when I was born. I will not trouble you with the Relation of what I did in my Infancy.
No, pray skip over all that, interrupted Sir Charles; I suppose your Infancy was like other Peoples? What can there be worth hearing in that? You are deceived, Sir, said Arabella: The Infancy of illustrious Personages has always something very extraordinary in it; and from their childish Words and Actions there have been often Presages drawn of their future Greatness and Glory.
Not to disoblige Sir Charles, however, said the young Prince of Kent, I will not repeat many things, which I said and did in the first Years of my Life, that those about me thought very surprising; and from them prognosticated, that very strange Accidents would befal me.
I have been a Witness of some very unfavourable Prognostics of you, said Sir Charles, smiling; for you was the most unlucky bold Spark, that ever I knew in my Life.
'Tis very certain, pursued Sir George, that the Forwardness of my Spirit gave great Uneasiness to my Father; who, being, as I said before, inclinable to a peaceable and sedentary Life, endeavoured as much as possible to repress that Vivacity in my Disposition, which he feared might involve me in dangerous Enterprizes. The Pains he took in my Education, I recompensed by a more than ordinary Docility; and, before I was Thirteen, performed all my Exercises with a marvelous Grace; and, if I may dare say so, was, at those early Years, the Admiration and Wonder of all that saw me. Lady Bella had some Reason to fear your Modesty, I find, said Sir Charles, smiling; for, methinks you really speak too slightly of your Excellencies.
However that may be, resumed Sir George; my Father saw these early Instances of a towering Genius in me, with a Pleasure, chastened by his Fears, that the Grandeur of my Courage would lead me to attempt something for the Recovery of that Kingdom, which was my Due; and which might haply occasion his losing me.
Possessed with these Thoughts, he carefully avoided saying any thing to me concerning the glorious Pretences, to which my Birth gave me a Right; and often wished it had been possible for him to conceal from me, that I was the true and lawful Heir of the Kingdom of Kent; a Circumstance he never chose to mention to any Person, and would have been glad, if it had always remained a Secret.
And so it was a Secret, interrupted Sir Charles; for, till this Day, I never heard of it; and it might still have been a Secret, if you had pleased; for nobody, I dare say, would suspect such a Thing; and very few, I believe, will be inclined to think there is any thing in such an improbable Tale.
Notwithstanding all my Father's Endeavours to the contrary, Madam, pursued Sir George, I cherished those towering Sentiments, the Knowlege of my Birth inspired me with; and it was not without the utmost Impatience, that I brooked the private Condition, to which I found myself reduced.
Cruel Fate! would I sometimes cry; was it not enough to deprive me of that Kingdom, which is my Due, and, subject me to a mean, and inglorious State; but, to make that Condition infinitely more grievous, must thou give me a Soul, towering above my abject Fortune? A Soul, that cannot but disdain the base Submission, I must pay to those, who triumph in the Spoils of my ruined House? A Soul, which sees nothing above its Hopes and Expectations? And, in fine, a Soul, that excites me daily to attempt Things worthy of my Birth, and those noble Sentiments I inherit from my great Forefathers? Ah! pursued I, unhappy Bellmour ; what hinders thee from making thyself known and acknowleged for what thou art? What hinders thee from boldly asserting thy just and natural Rights; and from defying the Usurper, who detains them from thee? What hinders thee, I say? What? Interrupted Sir Charles, why the Fear of a Halter, I suppose: There is nothing more easy than to answer that Question.
Such, Madam, said Sir George, were the Thoughts, which continually disturbed my Imagination; and, doubtless, they had not failed to push me on to some hazardous Enterprize, had not a fatal Passion interposed; and by its sweet, but dangerous Allurements, stifled for a while that Flame, which Ambition, and the Love of Glory, kindled in my Soul.
Sir George here pausing, and fixing his Eyes with a melancholy Air on the Ground, as if prest with a tender Remembrance; Mr. Glanville asked him, similing, If the Thoughts of poor Dolly disturbed him? Pray, added he, give us the History of your first Love, without any Mixture of Fable; or shall I take the Trouble off you? For you know, I am very well acquainted with your Affair with the pretty Milk-maid, and can tell it very succinctly.
'Tis true, Sir, said Sir George, sighing, I cannot recall the Idea of Dorothea, into my Remembrance, without some Pain: That fair, but unfaithful Shepherdess, who first taught me to sigh, and repaid my Tenderness with the blackest Infidelity: Yet I will endeavour to compose myself, and go on with my Narration.
Be pleased to know then, Madam, pursued Sir George, that having my Thoughts, in this manner, wholly employed with the Disasters of my Family, I had arrived to my seventeenth Year, without being sensible of the Power of Love; but the Moment now arrived, which was to prove fatal to my Liberty. Following the Chace one Day with my Father, and some other Gentlemen, I happened to lag a little behind them; and, being taken up with my ordinary Reflections, I lost my Way, and wandered a long time, without knowing or considering whither I was going. Chance at last conducted me to a pleasant Valley, surrounded with Trees; and, being tired with riding, I lighted, and tying my Horse to a Tree, walked forward, with an Intention to repose myself a few Moments under the Shade of one of those Trees, that had attracted my Observation: But while I was looking for the most convenient Place, I spied, at the Distance of some few Yards from me, a Woman lying asleep upon the Grass: Curiosity tempted me to go nearer this Person; and, advancing softly, that I might not disturb her, I got near enough to have a View of her Person: But, ah! Heavens! what Wonders did my Eyes encounter in this View! --The Age of this fair Sleeper seemed not to exceed Sixteen; her Shape was formed with the exactest Symmetry; one of her Hands supported her Head; the other, as it lay carelesly stretched at her Side, gave me an Opportunity of admiring its admirable Colour and Proportion: The thin Covering upon her Neck discovered Part of its inimitable Beauty to my Eyes; but her Face, her lovely Face, fixed all my Attention.
Certain it is, Madam, that, out of this Company, it would be hard to find any thing so perfect, as what I now viewed. Her Complexion was the purest White imaginable, heightened by the inchanting Glow, which dyed her fair Cheeks with a Colour like that of a new-blown Rose: Her Lips, formed with the greatest Perfection, and of a deeper Red, seemed to receive new Beauties from the Fragrance of that Breath, that parted from them: Her auburn Hair fell in loose Ringlets over her Neck; and some straggling Curls, that played upon her fair Forehead, set off by a charming Contrast the Whitness of that Skin it partly hid: Her Eyes indeed were closed; and though I knew not whether their Colour and Beauty were equal to those other Miracles in her Face, yet their Proportion seemed to be large; and the snowy Lids, which covered them, were admirably set off by those long and sable Lashes that adorned them.
For some Moments I gazed upon this lovely Sleeper, wholly lost in Wonder and Admiration. Where, whispered I, where has this Miracle been concealed, that my Eyes were never blessed with the Sight of her before? These Words, though I uttered them softly, and with the utmost Caution; yet by the murmuring Noise they made, caused an Emotion in the beauteous Sleeper, that she started, and presently after opened her Eyes: But what Words shall I find to express the Wonder, the Astonishment, and Rapture, which the Sight of those bright Stars inspired me with? The Flames which darted from those glorious Orbs, cast such a dazling Splendor upon a Sight too weak to bear a Radiance so unusual, that, stepping back a few Paces, I contemplated at a Distance, that Brightness, which began already to kindle a consuming Fire in my Soul.
Bless me! interrupted Sir Charles, confounded at so pompous a Description; who could this be? The pretty Milk-maid, Dolly Acorn, replied Mr. Glanville gravely: Did you never see her, Sir, when you was at your Seat, at --? She used often to bring Cream to my Lady.
Aye, aye, replied Sir Charles, I remember her: She was a very pretty Girl: And so it was from her Eyes, that all those Splendors and Flames came, that had like to have burnt you up, Sir George: Well, well, I guess how the Story will end: Pray let us hear it out.
I have already told you, Madam, resumed Sir George, the marvelous Effects the Sight of those bright Eyes produced upon my Spirit: I remained fixed in a Posture of Astonishment and Delight; and all the Faculties of my Soul were so absorbed in the Contemplation of the Miracles before me, that I believe, had she still continued before my Eyes, I should never have moved from the Place where I then stood: But the fair Virgin, who had spied me at the small Distance to which I was retired, turned hastily about, and flew away with extraordinary Swiftness.
When Love, now lending me Wings, whom Admiration had before made motionless, I persued her so eagerly, that at last I overtook her; and, throwing myself upon my Knees before her, Stay, I conjure you, cried I; and if you be a Divinity, as your celestial Beauty makes me believe, do not refuse the Adoration I offer you: But if, as I most ardently wish, you are a Mortal, though sure the fairest that ever graced the Earth; stop a Moment, to look upon a Man, whose Respects for you as a Mortal fall little short of those Adorations he offers you as a Goddess.
I can't but think, cried Sir Charles, laughing, how poor Dolly must be surprised at such a rhodomontade Speech! Oh, Sir! replied Mr. Glanville, you will find she will make as good a one.
Will she, by my Troth, said Sir Charles: I don't know how to believe it. This Action, pursued Sir George, and the Words I uttered, a little surprised that fair Maid, and brought a Blush into her lovely Cheeks; but, recovering herself, she replied with an admirable Grace, I am no Divinity, said she; and therefore your Adorations are misplaced: But if, as you say, my Countenance moves you to any Respect for me, give me a Proof of it, by not endeavouring to hold any further Discourse with me, which is not permitted me from one of your Sex and Appearance.
A very wise Answer, indeed! interrupted Sir Charles again: Very few Town Ladies would have disclaimed the Title of Goddess, if their Lovers had thought proper to bestow it upon them. I am mightily pleased with the Girl for her Ingenuity.
The Discretion of so young a Damsel, resumed Sir George, charmed me no less than her Beauty; and I besought her, with the utmost Earnestness, to permit me a longer Conversation with her.
Fear not, lovely Virgin, said I, to listen to the Vows of a Man, who, till he saw you, never learnt to sigh: My Heart, which defended its Liberty against the Charms of many admirable Ladies, yields, without Reluctance, to the pleasing Violence your Beauties lay upon me. Yes, too charming and dangerous Stranger, I am no longer my own Master: It is in your Power to dispose of my Destiny: Consider therefore, I beseech you, whether you can consent to see me die? For I swear to you, by the most sacred Oaths, unless you promise to have some Compassion on me, I will no longer behold the Light of Day.
You may easily conceive, Madam, that, considering this lovely Maid in the Character of a Shepherdess, in which she appeared, I made her a Declaration of my Passion, without thinking myself obliged to observe those Respects, which, to a Person of equal Rank with myself, Decorum would not have permitted me to forget.
However, she repelled my Boldness with so charming a Modesty, that I began to believe, she might be a Person of illustrious Birth, disguised under the mean Habit she wore: But, having requested her to inform me who she was, she told me, her Name was Dorothea; and that she was Daughter to a Farmer, that lived in the neighbouring Valley. This Knowlege increasing my Confidence, I talked to her of my Passion, without being the least afraid of offending her.
And therein you was greatly to blame, said Arabella: For, truly, though the fair Dorothea told you, she was Daughter to a Farmer; yet, in all Probability, she was of a much higher Extraction, if the Picture you have drawn of her be true.
The fair Arsinoe, Princess of Armenia, was constrained for a while to conceal her true Name and Quality, and pass for a simple Country-woman, under the Name of Delia: Yet the generous Philadelph, Prince of Cilicia, who saw and loved her under that Disguise, treated her with all the Respect he would have done, had he known she was the Daughter of a King. In like manner, Prince Philoxipes, who fell in Love with the beautiful Policrete, before he knew she was the Daughter of the great Solon; and while he looked upon her as a poor Stranger, born of mean Parents; nevertheless, his Love supplying the Want of those Advantages of Birth and Fortune, he wooed her with a Passion as full of Awe and Delicacy, as if her Extraction had been equal to his own. And therefore those admirable Qualities the fair Dorothea possessed, might also have convinced you, she was not what she seemed, but, haply, some great Princess in Disguise.
To tell you the Truth, Madam, replied Sir George, notwithstanding the fair Dorothea informed me, she was of a mean Descent, I could not easily forego the Opinion, that she was of an illustrious Birth: And the Histories of those fair Princesses you have mentioned, coming into my Mind, I also thought it very possible, that this divine Person might either be the Daughter of a great King, or Lawgiver, like them; but, being wholly engrossed by the Violence of my new-born Affection, I listened to nothing, but what most flattered my Hopes; and, addressing my lovely Shepherdess with all the Freedom of a Person who thinks his Birth much superior to hers; she listened to my Protestations, without any seeming Reluctance, and condescended to assure me before we parted, that she did not hate me. So fair a Beginning, seemed to promise me the most favourable Fortune I could with Reason expect. I parted from my fair Shepherdess with a thousand Vows of Fidelity; exacting a Promise from her, that she would meet me as often as she conveniently could, and have the Goodness to listen to those Assurances of inviolable Tenderness my Passion prompted me to offer her. When she left me, it seemed as if my Soul had forsaken my Body to go after her: My Eyes pursued her Steps as long as she was in Sight; I envied the Ground she prest as she went along, and the Breezes that kissed that celestial Countenance in their Flight.
For some Hours I stood in the same Posture in which she had left me; contemplating the sudden Change I had experienced in my Heart, and the Beauty of that divine Image, which was now engraven in it. Night drawing on, I began to think of going home; and, untying my Horse, I returned the Way I had come; and at last struck into a Road, which brought me to the Place where I parted from the Company; from whence I easily found my Way home, so changed both in my Looks and Carriage, that my Father, and all my Friends, observed the Alteration with some Surprize.