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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


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Chapter V.

Containing some historical Anecdotes, the Truth of which may possibly be doubted, as they are not to be found in any of the Historians.

After a short Stay in the Room, Arabella expressing a Desire to return home, Mr. Glanville conducted her out. Two Gentlemen of his Acquaintance attending Miss Glanville Sir Charles detained them to Breakfast; by which means they had an Opportunity of satisfying their Curiosity; and beheld Arabella, divested of that Veil, which had, as they said; and 'tis probable they said no more than they thought, concealed one of the finest Faces in the World.

Miss Glanville had the Mortification to see both the Gentlemen so charmed with the Sight of her Cousin's Face, that for a long time she sat wholly neglected; but the Seriousness of her Behaviour, giving some little Disgust to the youngest of them, who was what the Ladies call a Pretty-Fellow, a dear Creature, and the most diverting Man in the World; he applied himself wholly to Miss Glanville, and soon engaged her in a particular Conversation.

Mr. Selvin, so was the other Gentleman called, was of a much graver Cast: He affected to be thought deep-read in History, and never failed to take all Opportunities of displaying his Knowledge of Antiquity, which was indeed but very superficial; but having some few Anecdotes by Heart, which he would take Occation to introduce as often as he could, he passed among many Persons for one, who, by Application and Study, had acquired an universal Knowlege of antient History.

Speaking of any particular Circumstance, he would fix the Time, by computing the Year with the Number of the Olympiads.

It happened, he would say, in the 141st Olympiad.

Such an amazing Exactness, had a suitable Effect on his Audience, and always procured him a great Degree of Attention.

This Gentleman hitherto had no Opportunity of displaying his Knowlege of History, the Discourse having wholly turned upon News, and other Trifles; when Arabella, after some more Inquiries concerning the Place, remarked, that there was a very great Difference between the medicinal Waters at Bath, and the fine Springs at the Foot of the Mountain Thermopyl~A in Greece, as well in their Qualities, as manner of using them; and I am of Opinion, added she, that Bath, famous as it is for restoring Health, is less frequented by infirm Persons, than the famous Springs of Thermopyl~A were by the Beauties of Greece, to whom those Waters have the Reputation of giving new Lustre.

Mr. Selvin, who, with all his Reading, had never met with any Account of these celebrated Grecian Springs, was extremely disconcerted at not being able to continue a Conversation, which the Silence of the rest of the Company made him imagine, was directed wholly to him. The Shame he conceived at seeing himself posed by a Girl, in a Matter which so immediately belonged to him, made him resolve to draw himself out of this Dilemma at any Rate; and, though he was far from being convinced, that there were no such Springs at Thermopyl~A as Arabella mentioned; yet he resolutely maintained, that she must be mistaken in their Situation; for, to his certain Knowlege, there were no medicinal Waters at the Foot of that Mountain.

Arabella, who could not endure to be contradicted in what she took to be so incontestable a Fact, reddened with Vexation at his unexpected Denial.

It should seem, said she, by your Discourse, that you are unacquainted with many material Passages, that passed among very illustrious Persons there; and if you knew any thing of Pisistratus the Athenian, you would know, that an Adventure he had at those Baths, laid the Foundation of all those great Designs, which he afterwards effected, to the total Subversion of the Athenian Government.

Mr. Selvin, surprised that this Piece of History had likewise escaped his Observation, resolved, however, not to give up his Point.

I think, Madam, replied he, with great Self-sufficiency, that I am pretty well acquainted with every thing which relates to the Affairs of the Athenian Commonwealth; and know by what Steps Pisistratus advanced himself to the Sovereignty. It was a great Stroke of Policy in him, said he, turning to Mr. Glanville, indeed, to wound himself, in order to get a Guard assigned him.

You are mistaken, Sir, said Arabella, if you believe, there was any Truth in the Report of his having wounded himself: It was done, either by his Rival Lycurgus or Theocrites; who believing him still to be in Love with the fair Cerinthe, whom he courted, took that Way to get rid of him: Neither is it true, that Ambition alone inspired Pisistratus with a Design of enslaving his Country: Those Authors who say so, must know little of the Springs and Motives of his Conduct. It was neither Ambition nor Revenge, that made him act as he did; it was the violent Affection he conceived for the beautiful Chorante, whom he first saw at the famous Baths of Thermopyl~A, which put him upon those Designs; for, seeing that Lycurgus, who was not his Rival in Ambition, but Love, would certainly become the Possessor of Chorante, unless he made himself Tyrant of Athens, he had recourse to that violent Method, in order to preserve her for himself.

I protest, Madam, said Mr. Selvin, casting down his Eyes in great Confusion at her superior Knowlege in History, these Particulars have all escaped my Notice; and this is the first time I ever understood, that Pisistratus was violently in Love; and that it was not Ambition, which made him aspire to Sovereignty.

I do not remember any Mention of this in Plutarch, continued he, rubbing his Forehead, or any of the Authors who have treated on the Affairs of Greece. Very likely, Sir, replied Arabella; but you will see the whole Story of Pisistratus's Love for Chorante, with the Effects it produced, related at large in Scudery.

Scudery, Madam! said the sage Mr. Selvin, I never read that Historian.

No, Sir! replied Arabella, then your Reading has been very confined.

I know, Madam, said he, that Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch, have indeed quoted him frequently.

I am surprised, Sir, said Mr. Glanville, who was excessively diverted at this Discovery of his great Ignorance and Affectation, that you have not read that famous Historian; especially, as the Writers you have mentioned quote him so often.

Why, to tell you the Truth, Sir, said he; though he was a Roman ; yet it is objected to him, that he wrote but indifferent Latin ; with no Purity or Elegance; and-- You are quite mistaken, Sir, interrupted Arabella; the great Scudery was a Frenchman; and both his Clelia and Artamenes were written in French.

A Frenchman was he? said Mr. Selvin, with a lofty Air: Oh! then, 'tis not surprising, that I have not read him: I read no Authors, but the Antients, Madam, added he, with a Look of Self-applause; I cannot relish the Moderns at all: I have no Taste for their Way of Writing.

But Scudery must needs be more ancient than Thucydides, and the rest of those Greek Historians you mentioned, said Mr. Glanville: How else could they quote him? Mr. Selvin was here so utterly at a Loss, that he could not conceal his Confusion: He held down his Head, and continued silent; while the Beau, who had listened to the latter Part of their Discourse; exerted his supposed Talent of Raillery against the unhappy Admirer of the antient Authors; and increased his Confusion by a thousand Sarcasms, which gave more Diversion to himself, than any body else.


Chapter IV. | The Female Quixote | Chapter VI.