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Chapter X.

In which our Heroine justifies her own Notions by some very illustrious Examples.

Mr. Selvin and Mr. Tinsel, who had listen'd attentively to this Discourse of Arabella, took Leave as soon as it was ended, and went away with very different Opinions of her.

Mr. Tinsel declaring she was a Fool, and had no Knowledge of the World, and Mr. Selvin convinc'd she was a Wit, and very learn'd in Antiquity.

Certainly, said Mr. Selvin, in Support of his Opinion, the Lady has great Judgment; has been capable of prodigious Application, as is apparent by her extensive Reading: Then her Memory is quite miraculous. I protest, I am quite charm'd with her: I never met with such a Woman in my Life.

Her Cousin, in my Opinion, reply'd Mr. Tinsel, is infinitely beyond her in every Merit, but Beauty. How sprightly and free her Conversation? What a thorough Knowledge of the World? So true a Taste for polite Amusements, and a Fund of Spirits that sets Vapours and Spleen at Defiance.

This Speech bringing on a Comparison between the Ladies, the Champions for each grew so warm in the Dispute, that they had like to have quarrell'd. However, by the Interposition of some other Gentlemen who were with them, they parted tolerable Friends that Night, and renew'd their Visits to Sir Charles in the Morning.

They found only Miss Glanville with her Father and Brother. Arabella generally spent the Mornings in her own Chamber, where Reading and the Labours of the Toilet employ'd her Time till Dinner: Tho' it must be confess'd to her Honour, that the latter engross'd but a very small Part of it.

Miss Glanville, with whom the Beau had a long Conversation at one of the Windows; in which he recounted his Dispute with Mr. Selvin, and the Danger he ran of being pink'd in a Duel, that was his Phrase, for her Sake, at last propos'd a Walk; to which she consented, and engag'd to prevail upon Arabella to accompany them.

That Lady at first positively refus'd; alleging in Excuse, That she was so extremely interested in the Fate of the Princess Melisintha, whose Story she was reading, that she could not stir till she had finish'd it.

That poor Princess, continu'd she, is at present in a most terrible Situation. She has just set Fire to the Palace, in order to avoid the Embraces of a King who forc'd her to marry him. I am in Pain to know how she escapes the Flames.

Pshaw, interrupted Miss Glanville, let her perish there, if she will: Don't let her hinder our Walk. Who is it you doom with so much Cruelty to perish, said Arabella, closing the Book, and looking stedfastly on her Cousin? Is it the beautiful Melisintha, that Princess, whose Fortitude and Patience have justly render'd her the Admiration of the whole World? That Princess, descended from a Race of Heroes, whose heroick Virtues all glow'd in her own beauteous Breast; that Princess, who, when taken Captive with the King her Father, bore her Imprisonment and Chains with a marvellous Constancy; and who, when she enslaved her Conqueror, and given Fetters to the Prince who held her Father and herself in Bonds, nobly refus'd the Diadem he proffer'd her, and devoted herself to Destruction, in order to punish the Enemy of her House. I am not able to relate the rest of her History, seeing I have read no further myself; but if you will be pleased to sit down and listen to me while I read what remains, I am persuaded you will find new Princess.

Pardon me, Madam, said Miss Glanville, I have heard enough; and I could have been very well satisfy'd not to have heard so much. I think we waste a great deal of Time talking about People we now nothing of. The Morning will be quite lost, if we don't make Haste. Come, added she, you must go: You have a new Lover below, who waits to go with us; he'll die if I don't bring you.

A new Lover! return'd Arabella, surpriz'd.

Aye, aye, said Miss Glanville, the learned Mr. Selvin; I assure you, he had almost quarrell'd with Mr. Tinsel last Night about your Ladyship.

Arabella, at this Intelligence, casting down her Eyes, discover'd many Signs of Anger and Confusion: And after a Silence of some Moments, during which, Miss Glanville had been employ'd in adjusting her Dress at the Glass, addressing herself to her Cousin with an Accent somewhat less sweet than before.

Had any other than yourself, Miss, said she, acquainted me with the Presumption of that unfortunate Person, I should haply have discover'd my Resentment in other Terms: But, as it is, must inform you, that I take it extremely ill, you should be accessary to giving me this Offence.

Hey day! said Miss Glanville, turning about hastily, How have I offended your Ladyship, pray? I am willing to hope, Cousin, reply'd Arabella, that it was only to divert yourself with the Trouble and Confusion in which you see me, that you have indiscreetly told Things which ought to have been bury'd in Silence.

And what is all this mighty Trouble and Confusion about then, Madam, said Miss Glanville, smiling? It is because I told you, Mr. Selvin was a Lover of your Ladyship? Certainly, said Arabella, such an Information is sufficient to give one a great deal of Perplexity. Is it such a little Matter, think you, to be told that a Man has the Presumption to love one? A meer Trifle, reply'd Miss Glanville, laughing; a hundred Lovers are not worth a Moment's Though, when one's sure of them, for then the Trouble is all over. And as for this unfortunate Person, as your Ladyship called him, let him die at his Leisure, while we go to the Parade.

Your Levity, Cousin, said Arabella, forces me to smile, notwithstanding the Cause I have to be incens'd; however, I have Charity enough to make me not desire the Death of Mr. Selvin, who may repair the Crime he has been guilty of by Repentance and Discontinuation.

Well then, said Miss Glanville, you are resolv'd to go to the Parade: Shall I reach you your odd Kind of Capuchin? How, said Arabella, can I with any propriety see a Man who has discover'd himself to have a Passion for me? Will he not construe such a Favour into a Permission for him to hope? Oh! no, interrupted Miss Glanville, he does not imagine I have told your Ladyship he loves you; for indeed he don't know that I am acquainted with his Passion.

Then he is less culpable than I thought him, reply'd Arabella ; and if you think I am in no Danger of hearing a Confession of his Fault from his own Mouth, I'll comply with your Request, and go with you to Parade. But added she, I must first engage you to promise not to leave me alone a Moment, lest he should take Advantage of such an Opportunity, to give some Hint of his Passion, that would force me to treat him very rigorously.

Miss Glanville answer'd laughing, That she would be sure to mind her Directions.

However, said she, your Ladyship need not be apprehensive he will say any fine Things to you; for I knew a young Lady he was formerly in Love with, and the odious Creature visited her a Twelve-month before he found Courage enough to tell her she was handsome.

Doubtless, reply'd Arabella, he was much to be commended for his Respect. A Lover should never have the Presumption to declare his Passion to his Mistress, unless in certain Circumstances, which may at the same Time in part disarm her Anger. For instance, he must struggle with the Violence of his Passion, till it has cast him into a Fever. His Physicians must give him over, pronouncing his Distemper incurable, since the Cause of it being in his Mind, all their Art is incapable of removing it. Thus he must suffer, rejoicing at the Approach of Death, which will free him from all his Torments, without violating the Respect he owes to the Divine Object of his Flame. At length, when he has but a few Hours to live, his Mistress, with many Signs of Compassion, conjures him to tell her the Cause of his Despair. The Lover, conscious of his Crime, evades all her Inquires; but the Lady laying at last a peremptory Command upon him to disclose the Secret, he dares not disobey her, and acknowledges his Passion with the utmost Contrition for having offended her; bidding her take the small Remainder of his Life to expiate his Crime; and finishes his Discourse by falling into a Swoon.

The Lady is touch'd at his Condition, commands him to live, and if necessary, permits him to hope.

This is the most common Way in which such Declarations are, and ought to be brought about. However, there are others, which are as well calculated for sparing a Lady's Confusion, and deprecating her Wrath.

The Lover, for Example, like the Prince of the Massagetes, after having buried his Passion in Silence for many Years, may chance to be walking with his Confidant in a retir'd Place; to whom, with a Deluge of Tears, he relates the Excess of his Passion and Despair. And while he is thus unbosoming his Griefs, not in the least suspecting he is overheard, his Princess, who had been listning to him in much Trouble and Confusion, by some little Rustling she makes, unawares discovers herself.

The surpriz'd Lover throws himself at her Feet, begs Pardon for his Rashness, observes that he had never presum'd to discover his Passion to her; and implores her Leave to die before her, as a Punishment for his undesign'd Offence.

The Method which the great Artamenes took to let the Princess of Media know he adored her, was not less respectful. This valiant Prince, who had long loved her, being to fight a great Battle, in which he had some secret Presages he shou'd fall, which however deceiv'd him, wrote a long Letter to the divine Mandana, wherein he discover'd his Passion, and the Resolution his Respect had inspir'd him with, to consume in Silence, and never presume to disclose his Love while he lived; acquainting her, that he had order'd that Letter not to be deliver'd to her, till it was certainly known that he was dead.

Accordingly he receiv'd several Wounds in the Fight, which brought him to the Ground, and his Body not being found, they concluded it was in the Enemy's Possession.

His faithful 'Squire, who had receiv'd his Instructions before the Battle, hastens to the Princess, who, with all the Court, is mightily affected at his Death.

He presents her the Letter, which she makes no Scruple to receive, since the Writer is no more. She reads it, and her whole Soul is melted with Compassion; she bewails his Fate with the most tender and affectionate Marks of Grief.

Her Confidant asks why she is so much affected, since in all Probability, she would not have pardon'd him for loving her, had he been alive? She acknowledges the Truth of her Observation, takes Notice that his Death having cancell'd his Crime, his respectful Passion alone employs her Thoughts; she is resolv'd to bewail as innocent and worthy of Compassion when dead, whom living she would treat as a Criminal, and insinuates, that her Heart had entertain'd an Affection for him. Her Confidant treasures up this Hint, and endeavours to console her, but in vain, till News is brought, that Artmenes, who had been carry'd for dead out of the Field, and by a very surprizing Adventure conceal'd all this Time, is return'd.

The Princess is cover'd with Confusion, and tho' glad he is alive, resolves to banish him for his Crime.

Her Confidant pleads his Cause so well, that she consents to see him; and, since he can no longer conceal his Passion, he confirms the Confession in his Letter, humbly begging Pardon for being still alive.

The Princess, who cannot plead Ignorance of his Passion, nor deny the Sorrow she testify'd for his Death, condescends to pardon him, and he is also permitted to hope. In like Manner the great Prince of Persia-- Does your Ladyship consider how late it is, interrupted Miss Glanville, who had hitherto very impatiently listen'd to her? Don't let us keep the Gentlemen waiting any longer for us.

I must inform you how the Prince of Persia declar'd his Love for the incomparable Berenice, said Arabella.

Another Time, dear Cousin, said Miss Glanville; methinks we have talk'd long enough upon this Subject.

I am sorry the Time has seem'd so tedious to you, said Arabella, smiling; and therefore I'll trespass no longer upon your Patience. Then ordering Lucy to bring her Hat and Gloves, she went down Stairs, follow'd by Miss Glanville, who was greatly disappointed at her not putting on her Veil.

Chapter IX. | The Female Quixote | Chapter XI.