Wherein Sir George concludes his History; which produces an unexpected Effect.
The Silence of Philonice, continued Sir George, pierced me to the Heart; and when I saw her rise from her Seat, and prepare to go away without speaking, Grief took such Possession of my Spirits, that, uttering a Cry, I fell into a Swoon, which, as I afterwards was informed, greatly alarmed the beautiful Philonice ; who, resuming her Seat, had the Goodness to assist her Women in bringing me to myself; and, when I opened my Eyes, I had the Satisfaction to behold her still by me, and all the Signs of Compassion in her Face.
This Sight a little re-assuring me; I ask your Pardon, Madam, said I, for the Condition in which I have appeared before you, and also for that I am not yet dead, as is doubtless your Wish: But I will make Haste, pursued I, sighing, to fulfil your Desires; and you shall soon be freed from the Sight of a miserable Wretch, who, to his last Moment, will not cease to adore you.
It is not your Death that I desire, said the fair Philonice; and, after having preserved both my Father and me from Death, it is not reasonable, that we should suffer you to die, if we can help it.
Live therefore, Bellmour, pursued she, blushing; and live, if possible, without continuing in that Weakness I cannot choose but condemn: Yet whatever are your Thoughts for the future, remember that your Death will be a Fault I cannot resolve to pardon.
Speaking these Words, without giving me time to answer, she left my Chamber; and I found something so sweet and favourable in them, that I resolved to obey her, and forward my Cure as much as I was able: However, the Agitation of Spirits increased my Fever so much, that my Life was despaired of.
The Baron hardly ever left my Bedside. Philonice came every Day to see me, and seemed extremely moved at the Danger I was in. One Day, when I was worse than usual, she came close to the Bedside; and, opening the Courtain, What Bellmour, said she, do you pay so little Obedience to my Commands, that you resolve to die? Heaven is my Witness, Madam, said I, faintly, that nothing is so dear and sacred to me as your Commands; and since, out of your superlative Goodness, you are pleased to have some Care for my Life, I would preserve it to obey you, were it in my Power; but, alas! Madam, I strive in vain to repel the Violence of my Distemper.
In a few Days more, I was reduced to the last Extremity: It was then that the fair Philonice discovered, that she did not hate me; for she made no Scruple to weep before me; and those Tears she so liberally shed, had so powerful an Effect upon my Mind, that the Contentment I felt, communicated itself to my Body, and gave such a Turn to my Distemper, that my Recovery was not only hoped, but expected.
The Baron expressed his Satisfaction at this Alteration, by the most affectionate Expressions; and though the fair Philonice said very little, yet I perceived by the Joy that appeared in her fair Eyes, that she was not less interested in my Recovery, than her Father.
The Physicians having declared me out of Danger, the Baron, who had taken his Resolutions long before, came one Day into my Chamber; and ordering those who attended me, to leave us alone, Prince, said he, for in recounting my History to him, I had disclosed my true Quality, I am not ignorant of that Affection you bear my Daughter; and am sensible it has occasioned the Extremity to which we have seen you reduced: Had you been pleased to acquaint me with your Sentiments, you would have avoided those Displeasures you have suffered; for though your Birth were not so illustrious as it is, yet, preferring Virtue to all other Advantages, I should have esteemed my Daughter honoured by your Love, and have freely bestowed her on you: But since to those rare Qualities wherewith Heaven has so liberally endowed you, you add also that of a Birth so noble, doubt not but I shall think myself highly favoured by your Alliance: If therefore your Thoughts of my Daughter be not changed, and you esteem her worthy to be your Bride, I here solemnly promise you to bestow her upon you, as soon as you are perfectly recovered.
I leave you to guess, Madam, the Joy which I felt at this Discourse: It was so great, that it would not permit me to thank him, as I should have done, for the inestimable Blessing he bestowed on me.
I saw Philonice a few Minutes after; and, being commanded by her Father to give me her Hand, she did so, without any Marks of Reluctance, and, having respectfully kissed it, I vowed to be her Slave for ever.
Who would have imagined, continued Sir George, with a profound Sigh, that Fortune, while she thus seemed to flatter me, was preparing to make me suffer the severest Torments? I began now to leave my Bed, and was able to walk about my Chamber. The Baron was making great Preparations for our Nuptials; when one Night I was alarmed with the Cries of Philonice's Women; and, a few Moments after, the Baron came into my Chamber, with a distracted Air.
O! Son, cried he, for so he always called me, now Philonice is lost both to you and me: She is carried off by Force, and I am preparing to follow and rescue her, if possible; but I fear my Endeavours will be fruitless, since I know not which Way her Ravishers have taken.
Oh! Sir, cried I, transported both with Grief and Rage, you shall not go alone: Her Rescue belongs to me, and I will effect it, or perish in the Attempt. The Baron, having earnestly conjured me not to expose myself to the Danger of a Relapse, by so imprudent a Resolution, was obliged to quit me, Word being brought him, that his Horse was ready: And as soon as he was gone out of the Room, in spite of all that could be said to prevent me, by my Attendants, I made them put on my Armour; and, mounting a Horse I had caused to be made ready, sallied furiously out of the Castle, breathing out Vows of Vengeance against the Wretch who had robbed me of Philonice.
I rode the whole Night without stopping. Day appeared, when I found myself near a small Village. I entered it, and made strict Enquiry after the Ravisher of Philonice, describing the fair Creature, and offering vast Rewards to any who could bring me the least Intelligence of her: But all was in vain; I could make no Discovery.
After travelling several Days, to no Purpose, I returned to the Castle, in order to know if the Baron had been more successful in his Pursuit then myself; but I found him oppressed with Grief: He had heard no Tidings of his Daughter, and had suffered no small Apprehensions upon my Account. Having assured him I found myself very able to travel, I took an affectionate Leave of him, promising him never to give over my Search, till I had found the Divine Philonice: But Heaven has not permitted me that Happiness; and though I have spent several Years in searching for her, I have never been able to discover where she is: Time has not cured me of my Grief for her Loss; and, though by an Effect of my Destiny, another Object possesses my Soul, yet I do not cease to deplore her Misfortune, and to offer up Vows for her Happiness.
And is this all you have to say? said Arabella, whom the latter Part of his History had extremely surprised; or are we to expect a Continuance of your Adventures? I have faithfully related all my Adventures, that are worthy your Hearing, Madam, returned Sir George; and I flatter myself, you will do me the Justice to own, that I have been rather unfortunate than faithless; and that Mr. Glanville had little Reason to tax me with Inconstancy.
In my Opinion, resumed Arabella, Mr. Glanville spoke too favourably of you, when he called you only inconstant; and if he had added the Epithet of Ungrateful and Unjust, he would have marked your Character better.
For, in fine, Sir, pursued she, you will never persuade any reasonable Person, that your being able to lose the Remembrance of the fair and generous Sydimiris, in your new Passion for Philonice, was not an Excess of Levity: But your suffering so tamely the Loss of this last Beauty, and allowing her to remain in the Hands of her Ravisher, while you permit another Affection to take Possession of your Soul, is such an Outrage to all Truth and Constancy, that you deserve to be ranked among the falsest of Mankind.
Alas! Madam, replied Sir George, who had not foreseen the Influence Arabella would draw from this last Adventure, What would you have an unfortunate Man, whose Hopes have been so often, and so cruelly, disappointed, do? I have bewailed the Loss of Philonice, with a Deluge of Tears; I have taken infinite Pains to find her, but to no Purpose; and when Heaven compassionating my Sufferings, presented to my Eyes, an Object, to whom the whole World ought to pay Adoration, how could I resist that powerful Impulse, which forced me to love what appeared so worthy of my Affection? Call not, interrupted Arabella, that an irresistible Impulse, which was only the Effect of thy own changing Humour: The same Excuse might be pleaded for all the Faults we see committed in the World; and Men would no longer be answerable for their own Crimes.
Had you imitated the illustrious Heroes of Antiquity, as well in the Constancy of their Affections, as, it must be confessed, you have done in their admirable Valour; you would now be either sighing in your Cave for the Loss of the generous Sydimiris, or wandering through the World in Search of the beautiful Philonice. Had you persevered in your Affection, and continued your Pursuit of that Fair-one; you would, perhaps, ere this, have found her sleeping under the Shade of a Tree in some lone Forest, as Philodaspes did his admirable Delia, or disguised in a Slave's Habit, as Ariobarsanes saw his Divine Olympia; or bound haply in a Chariot, and have had the Glory of freeing her, as Ambriomer did the beauteous Agione; or in a Ship in the Hands of Pirates, like the incomparable Eliza; or -- Enough, dear Niece, interrupted Sir Charles; you have quoted Examples sufficient, if this inconstant Man would have the Grace to follow them.
True, Sir, replied Arabella; and I would recommend to his Consideration the Conduct of those illustrious Persons I have named, to the end that, pursuing their Steps, he may arrive at their Glory and Happiness, that is the Reputation of being perfectly constant, and the Possession of his Mistress: And be assured, Sir, pursued Arabella, looking at Sir George, that Heaven will never restore you the Crown of your Ancestors, and place you upon the Throne to which you pretend, while you make yourself unworthy of its Protection, by so shameful an Inconstancy.
I perhaps speak with too much Freedom to a great Prince; whom though Fortune has despoiled of his Dominions, is intitled to a certain Degree of Respect: But I conceive, it belongs to me, in a particular manner, to resent the Baseness of that Crime, to which you are pleased to make me the Excuse; and, looking upon myself, as dishonoured by those often prostituted Vows you have offered me, I am to tell you, that I am highly disobliged; and forbid you to appear in my Presence again, till you have resumed those Thoughts, which are worthy your noble Extraction; and are capable of treating me with that Respect, that is my Due.
Saying this, she rose from her Seat, and walked very majestically out of the Room, leaving Sir George overwhelmed with Shame and Vexation at having conducted the latter Part of his Narration so ill, and drawn upon himself a Sentence, which deprived him of all his Hopes.