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Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister by Aphra Behn

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and when I seem to beg relief and shew my soul's resentment, it is
then I'm false; it is my aversion, or the effects of some new kindling
flame: is this fair dealing, _Sylvia_? Can I not spare a little sigh
from love, but you must think I rob you of your due? If I omit a
tender name, by which I used to call you, must I be thought to lose
that passion that taught me such endearments? And must I never reflect
upon the ruin both of my fame and fortune, but I must run the risk of
losing _Sylvia_ too? Oh cruelty of love! Oh too, too fond and jealous
maid, what crimes thy innocent passion can create, when it extends
beyond the bounds of reason! Ah too, too nicely tender _Sylvia_, that
will not give me leave to cast a thought back on my former glory; yet
even that loss I could support with tameness and content, if I
believed my suffering reached only to my heart; but _Sylvia_, if she
love, must feel my torments too, must share my loss, and want a
thousand ornaments, my sinking fortune cannot purchase her: believe
me, charming creature, if I should love you less, I have a sense so
just of what you have suffered for _Philander_, I'd be content to be a
galley-slave, to give thy beauty, birth and love their due; but as I
am thy faithful lover still, depend upon that fortune heaven has left
me; which if thou canst (as thou hast often sworn) then thou would'st
submit to be cheerful still, be gay and confident, and do not judge my
heart by little words; my heart--too great and fond for such poor
demonstrations.

You ask me, _Sylvia_, where I am, and what I do; and all I can say is,
that at present I am safe from any fears of being delivered up to
_France_, and what I do is sighing, dying, grieving; I want my
_Sylvia_; but my circumstances yet have nothing to encourage that
hope; when I resolve where to settle, you shall see what haste I will
make to have you brought to me: I am impatient to hear from you, and
to know how that dear pledge of our soft hours advances. I mean, what
I believe I left thee possessed of, a young _Philander_: cherish it,
_Sylvia_, for that is a certain obligation to keep a dying fire alive;
be sure you do it no hurt by your unnecessary grief, though there
needs no other tie but that of love to make me more entirely

_Your_ PHILANDER.

If _Sylvia_'s fears were great before she opened the letter, what were
her pains when all those fears were confirmed from that never-failing
mark of a declining love, the coldness and alteration of the style of
letters, that first symptom of a dying flame! 'O where,' said she,
'where, oh perjured charmer, is all that ardency that used to warm the
reader? Where is all that natural innocence of love that could not,
even to discover and express a grace in eloquence, force one soft
word, or one passion? Oh,' continued she, 'he is lost and gone from
_Sylvia_ and his vows; some other has him all, clasps that dear body,
hangs upon that face, gazes upon his eyes, and listens to his voice,
when he is looking, sighing, swearing, dying, lying and damning of
himself for some new beauty--He is, I will not endure it; aid me,
_Antonet_! Oh, where is the perjured traitor!' _Antonet_, who was
waiting on her, seeing her rise on the sudden in so great a fury,
would have stayed her hasty turns and ravings, beseeching her to tell
her what was the occasion, and by a discovery to ease her heart; but
she with all the fury imaginable flung from her arms, and ran to the
table, and snatching up a penknife, had certainly sent it to her
heart, had not _Antonet_ stepped to her and caught her hand, which she
resisted not, and blushing resigned, with telling her, she was ashamed
of her own cowardice; 'For,' said she, 'if it had designed to have
been brave, I had sent you off, and by a noble resolution have freed
this slave within' (striking her breast) 'from a tyranny which it
should disdain to suffer under:' with that she raged about the chamber
with broken words and imperfect threatenings, unconsidered
imprecations, and unheeded vows and oaths; at which _Antonet_
redoubled her petition to know the cause; and she replied--'_Philander_!
The dear, the soft, the fond and charming _Philander_ is now no more
the same. O, _Antonet_,' said she, 'didst thou but see this letter
compared to those of heretofore, when love was gay and young, when
new desire dressed his soft eyes in tears, and taught his tongue the
harmony of angels; when every tender word had more of passion, than
volumes of this forced, this trifling business; Oh thou wouldst say
I were the wretchedest thing that ever nature made--Oh, thou wouldst
curse as I do--not the dear murderer, but thy frantic self, thy mad,
deceived, believing, easy self; if thou wert so undone--' Then
while she wept she gave _Antonet_ liberty to speak, which was to
persuade her, her fears were vain; she urged every argument of love
she had been witness to, and could not think it possible he could
be false. To all which the still weeping _Sylvia_ lent a willing
ear; for lovers are much inclined to believe every thing they wish.
_Antonet_, having a little calmed her, continued telling her, that
to be better convinced of his love, or his perfidy, she ought to
have patience till _Octavio_ should come to visit her; 'For you
have forgotten, madam,' said she, 'that the generous rival has
sent him word he is your lover:' for _Antonet_ was waiting at the
reading of that letter, nor was there any thing the open-hearted
_Sylvia_ concealed from that servant; and women who have made a breach
in their honour, are seldom so careful of their rest of fame, as those
who have a stock entire; and _Sylvia_ believed after she had entrusted
the secret of one amour to her discretion, she might conceal none.
'See, madam,' says _Antonet_, 'here is a letter yet unread:' _Sylvia_,
who had been a great while impatient for the return of _Octavio_'s
answer from _Philander_, expecting from thence the confirmation of all
her doubts, hastily snatched the letter out of _Antonet_'s hand, and
read it, hoping to have found something there to have eased her soul
one way or other; a soul the most raging and haughty by nature that
ever possessed a body: the words were these.

OCTAVIO _to_ SYLVIA.

At least you will pity me, oh charming _Sylvia_, when you shall call
to mind the cruel services I am obliged to render you, to be the
messenger of love from him, whom beauty and that god plead so strongly
for already in your heart.

If, after this, you can propose a torture that yet may speak my
passion and obedience in any higher measure, command and try my
fortitude; for I too well divine, O rigorous beauty, the business of
your love-sick slave will be only to give you proofs how much he does
adore you, and never to taste a joy, even in a distant hope; like
lamps in urns my lasting fire must burn, without one kind material to
supply it. Ah _Sylvia_, if ever it be thy wretched fate to see the
lord of all your vows given to another's arms----when you shall see in
those soft eyes that you adore, a languishment and joy if you but name
another beauty to him;----when you behold his blushes fade and rise at
the approaches of another mistress,----hear broken sighs and unassured
replies, whenever he answers some new conqueress; tremblings, and
pantings seizing every part at the warm touch as of a second charmer:
ah, _Sylvia_, do but do me justice then, and sighing say--I pity poor
_Octavio_.

Take here a letter from the blest _Philander_, which I had brought
myself, but cannot bear the torment of that joy that I shall see
advancing in your eyes when you shall read it over--no--it is too much
that I imagine all! Yet bless that patient fondness of my passion that
makes me still your slave, and your adorer,

OCTAVIO.

* * * * *

At finishing this, the jealous fair one redoubled her tears with such
violence, that it was in vain her woman strove to abate the flowing
tide by all the reasonable arguments she could bring to her aid; and
_Sylvia_, to increase it, read again the latter part of the ominous
letter; which she wet with the tears that streamed from her bright
eyes. 'Yes, yes,' (cried she, laying the letter down) 'I know,
_Octavio_, this is no prophecy of yours, but a known truth: alas, you
know too well the fatal time is already come, when I shall find these
changes in _Philander_!' 'Ah madam,' replied _Antonet_, 'how curious
are you to search out torment for your own heart, and as much a lover
as you are, how little do you understand the arts and politics of
love! Alas, madam,' continued she, 'you yourself have armed my Lord
_Octavio_ with these weapons that wound you: the last time he writ to
my lord _Philander_, he found you possessed with a thousand fears and
jealousies; of these he took advantage to attack his rival: for what
man is there so dull, that would not assault his enemy in that part
where the most considerable mischief may be done him? It is now
_Octavio_'s interest, and his business, to render _Philander_ false,
to give you all the umbrage that is possible of so powerful a rival,
and to say any thing that may render him hateful to you, or at least
to make him love you less.' 'Away,' (replied _Sylvia_ with an uneasy
smile) 'how foolish are thy reasonings; for were it possible I could
love _Philander_ less, is it to be imagined that should make way for
_Octavio_ in my heart, or any after that dear deceiver?' 'No doubt of
it,' replied _Antonet_, 'but that very effect it would have on your
heart; for love in the soul of a witty person is like a skein of silk;
to unwind it from the bottom, you must wind it on another, or it runs
into confusion, and becomes of no use, and then of course, as one
lessens the other increases, and what _Philander_ loses in love,
_Octavio_, or some one industrious lover, will most certainly gain.'
'Oh,' replied _Sylvia_, 'you are a great philosopher in love.' 'I
should, madam,' cried _Antonet_, 'had I but had a good memory, for I
had a young churchman once in love with me, who has read many a
philosophical lecture to me upon love; among the rest, he used to say
the soul was all composed of love. I used to ask him then, if it were
formed of so soft materials, how it came to pass that we were no
oftener in love, or why so many were so long before they loved, and
others who never loved at all?' 'No question but he answered you
wisely,' said _Sylvia_ carelessly, and sighing, with her thoughts but
half attentive. 'Marry, and so he did,' cried _Antonet_, 'at least I
thought so then, because I loved a little. He said, love of itself was
inactive, but it was informed by object; and then too that object must
depend on fancy; (for souls, though all love, are not to love all.)
Now fancy, he said, was sometimes nice, humorous, and fantastic, which
is the reason we so often love those of no merit, and despise those
that are most excellent; and sometimes fancy guides us to like
neither; he used to say, women were like misers, though they had
always love in store, they seldom cared to part with it, but on very
good interest and security, _cent per cent_ most commonly, heart for
heart at least; and for security, he said, we were most times too
unconscionable, we asked vows at least, at worst matrimony--' Half
angry, _Sylvia_ cried--'And what is all this to my loving again?' 'Oh
madam,' replied _Antonet_, 'he said a woman was like a gamester, if on
the winning hand, hope, interest, and vanity made him play on, besides
the pleasure of the play itself; if on the losing, then he continued
throwing at all to save a stake at last, if not to recover all; so
either way they find occasion to continue the game.' 'But oh,' said
_Sylvia_ sighing, 'what shall that gamester set, who has already
played for all he had, and lost it at a cast?' 'O, madam,' replied
_Antonet_,'the young and fair find credit every where, there is still
a prospect of a return, and that gamester that plays thus upon the
tick is sure to lose but little; and if they win it is all clear
gains.' 'I find,' said _Sylvia_, 'you are a good manager in love; you
are for the frugal part of it.' 'Faith, madam,' said _Antonet_, 'I am
indeed of that opinion, that love and interest always do best
together, as two most excellent ingredients in that rare art of
preserving of beauty. Love makes us put on all our charms, and
interest gives us all the advantage of dress, without which beauty is
lost, and of little use. Love would have us appear always new, always
gay, and magnificent, and money alone can render us so; and we find no
women want lovers so much as those who want petticoats, jewels, and
all the necessary trifles of gallantry. Of this last opinion I find
you yourself to be; for even when _Octavio_ comes, on whose heart you
have no design, I see you dress to the best advantage, and put on
many, to like one: why is this, but that even unknown to yourself, you
have a secret joy and pleasure in gaining conquests, and of being
adored, and thought the most charming of your sex?' 'That is not from
the inconstancy of my heart,' cried _Sylvia_, 'but from the little
vanity of our natures.' 'Oh, madam,' replied _Antonet_, 'there is no
friend to love like vanity; it is the falsest betrayer of a woman's
heart of any passion, not love itself betrays her sooner to love than
vanity or pride; and madam, I would I might have the pleasure of my
next wish, when I find you not only listening to the love of
_Octavio_, but even approving it too.' 'Away,' replied _Sylvia_, in
frowning, 'your mirth grows rude and troublesome--Go bid the page wait
while I return an answer to what his lord has sent me.' So sitting at
the table she dismissed _Antonet_, and writ this following letter.

SYLVIA _to_ OCTAVIO.

I find, _Octavio_, this little gallantry of yours, of shewing me the
lover, stands you in very great stead, and serves you upon all
occasions for abundance of uses; amongst the rest, it is no small
obligation you have to it, for furnishing you with handsome pretences
to keep from those who importune you, and from giving them that
satisfaction by your counsel and conversation, which possibly the
unfortunate may have need of sometimes; and when you are pressed and
obliged to render me the friendship of your visits, this necessary
ready love of yours is the only evasion you have for the answering a
thousand little questions I ask you of _Philander_; whose heart I am
afraid you know much better than _Sylvia_ does. I could almost wish,
_Octavio_, that all you tell me of your passion were true, that my
commands might be of force sufficient to compel you to resolve my
heart in some doubts that oppress it. And indeed if you would have me
believe the one, you must obey me in the other; to which end I conjure
you to hasten to me, for something of an unusual coldness in
_Philander_'s letter, and some ominous divinations in yours, have put
me on a rack of thought; from which nothing but confirmation can
relieve me; this you dare not deny, if you value the repose of SYLVIA.

She read it over; and was often about to tear it, fancying it was too
kind: but when she considered it was from no other inclination of her
heart than that of getting the secrets out of his, she pardoned
herself the little levity she found it guilty of; all which,
considering as the effects of the violent passion she had for
_Philander_, she found it easy to do; and sealing it she gave it to
_Antonet_ to deliver to the page, and set herself down to ease her
soul of its heavy weight of grief by her complaints to the dear author
of her pain; for when a lover is insupportably afflicted, there is no
ease like that of writing to the person loved; and that, all that
comes uppermost in the soul: for true love is all unthinking artless
speaking, incorrect disorder, and without method, as 'tis without
bounds or rules; such were _Sylvia_'s unstudied thoughts, and such her
following letter.

SYLVIA _to_ PHILANDER.

Oh my _Philander_, how hard it is to bring my soul to doubt, when I
consider all thy past tender vows, when I reflect how thou hast loved
and sworn. Methinks I hear the music of thy voice still whispering in
my bosom; methinks the charming softness of thy words remains like
lessening echoes of my soul, whose distant voices by degrees decay,
till they be heard no more! Alas, I've read thy letter over and over,
and turned the sense a thousand several ways, and all to make it speak
and look like love--Oh I have flattered it with all my heart.
Sometimes I fancied my ill reading spoiled it, and then I tuned my
voice to softer notes, and read it over again; but still the words
appeared too rough and harsh for any moving air; I which way soever I
changed, which way soever I questioned it of love, it answered in such
language--as others would perhaps interpret love, or something like
it; but I, who've heard the very god himself speak from thy wondrous
lips, and known him guide thy pen, when all the eloquence of moving
angels flowed from thy charming tongue! When I have seen thee fainting
at my feet, (whilst all heaven opened in thy glorious face) and now
and then sigh out a trembling word, in which there was contained more
love, more soul, than all the arts of speaking ever found; what sense?
Oh what reflections must I make on this decay, this strange--this
sudden alteration in thee? But that the cause is fled, and the effect
is ceased, the god retired, and all the oracles silenced! Confess--oh
thou eternal conqueror of my soul, whom every hour, and every tender
joy, renders more dear and lovely--tell me why (if thou still lovest
me, and lovest as well) does love not dictate to thee as before? Dost
thou want words? Oh then begin again, I repeat the old ones over ten
thousand times; such repetitions are love's rhetoric! How often have I
asked thee in an hour, when my fond soul was doting on thy eyes, when
with my arms clasping thy yielding neck, my lips imprinting kisses on
thy cheeks, and taking in the breath that sighed from thine? How often
have I asked this little but important question of thee? 'Does my
_Philander_ love me?' Then kiss thee for thy 'Yes' and sighs, and ask
again; and still my soul was ravished with new joy, when thou wouldst
answer, 'Yes, I love thee dearly!' And if I thought you spoke it with
a tone that seemed less soft and fervent than I wished, I asked so
often, till I made thee answer in such a voice as I would wish to hear
it; all this had been impertinent and foolish in any thing but love,
to any but a lover: but oh--give me the impertinence of love! Talk
little nonsense to me all the day, and be as wanton as a playing
_Cupid_, and that will please and charm my love-sick heart better than
all fine sense and reasoning.

Tell me, _Philander_, what new accident, what powerful misfortune has
befallen thee, greater than what we have experienced yet, to drive the
little god out of thy heart, and make thee so unlike my soft
_Philander_? What place contains thee, or what pleasures ease thee,
that thou art now contented to live a tedious day without thy
_Sylvia_? How then the long long age of forty more, and yet thou
livest, art patient, tame and well; thou talkest not now of ravings,
or of dying, but look'st about thee like a well pleased conqueror
after the toils of battle--oh, I have known a time--but let me never
think upon it more! It cannot be remembered without madness! What,
think thee fallen from love! To think, that I must never hear thee
more pouring thy soul out in soft sighs of love? A thousand dear
expressions by which I knew the story of thy heart, and while you tell
it, bid me feel it panting--never to see thy eyes fixed on my
face--till the soft showers of joy would gently fall and hang their
shining dew upon thy looks, then in a transport snatch me to thy
bosom, and sigh a thousand times ere thou couldst utter--'Ah _Sylvia_,
how I love thee'--oh the dear eloquence those few short words contain,
when they are sent with lovers' accents to a soul all languishing! But
now--alas, thy love is more familiar grown--oh take the other part of
the proverb too, and say it has bred contempt, for nothing less than
that your letter shews, but more it does, and that is indifference,
less to be borne than hate, or any thing--

At least be just, and let me know my doom: do not deceive the heart
that trusted all thy vows, if thou be'st generous--if thou lettest me
know--thy date of love--is out (for love perhaps as life has dates)
and equally uncertain, and thou no more canst stay the one than the
other; yet if thou art so kind for all my honour lost, my youth
undone, my beauty tarnished, and my lasting vows, to let me fairly
know thou art departing, my worthless life will be the only loss: but
if thou still continuest to impose upon my easy faith, and I should
any other way learn my approaching fate--look to it _Philander_,--she
that had the courage to abandon all for love and faithless thee, can,
when she finds herself betrayed and lost, nobly revenge the ruin of
her fame, and send thee to the other world with SYLVIA.

She having writ this, read it over, and fancied she had not spoke half
the sense of her soul--fancied if she were again to begin, she could
express herself much more to the purpose she designed, than she had
done. She began again, and writ two or three new ones, but they were
either too kind or too rough; the first she feared would shew a
weakness of spirit, since he had given her occasion of jealousy; the
last she feared would disoblige if all those jealousies were false;
she therefore tore those last she had writ, and before she sealed up
the first she read _Philander_'s, letter again, but still ended it
with fears that did not lessen those she had first conceived; still
she thought she had more to say, as lovers do, who are never weary of
speaking or writing to the dear object of their vows; and having
already forgotten what she had just said before--and her heart being
by this time as full as ere she began, she took up her complaining
pen, and made it say this in the covert of the letter.

Oh _Philander_! Oh thou eternal charmer of my soul, how fain I would
repent me of the cruel thoughts I have of thee! When I had finished
this enclosed I read again thy chilling letter, and strove with all
the force of love and soft imagination, to find a dear occasion of
asking pardon for those fears which press my breaking heart: but oh,
the more I read, the more they strike upon my tenderest
part,--something so very cold, so careless and indifferent you end
your letter with--I will not think of it--by heaven it makes me
rave--and hate my little power, that could no longer keep thee soft
and kind. Oh if those killing fears (bred by excess of love) are
vainly taken up, in pity, my adorable--in pity to my tortured soul
convince them, redress the torment of my jealous doubts, and either
way confirm me; be kind to her that dies and languishes for thee,
return me all the softness that first charmed me, or frankly tell me
my approaching fate. Be generous or be kind to the unfortunate and
undone

SYLVIA.

She thought she had ended here, but here again she read _Philander_'s
letter, as if on purpose to find new torments out for a heart too much
pressed already; a sour that is always mixed with the sweets of love,
a pain that ever accompanies the pleasure. Love else were not to be
numbered among the passions of men, and was at first ordained in
heaven for some divine motion of the soul, till _Adam_, with his loss
of _Paradise_, debauched it with jealousies, fears and curiosities,
and mixed it with all that was afflicting; but you'll say he had
reason to be jealous, whose woman, for want of other seducers,
listened to the serpent, and for the love of change, would give way
even to a devil; this little love of novelty and knowledge has been
entailed upon her daughters ever since, and I have known more women
rendered unhappy and miserable from this torment of curiosity, which
they bring upon themselves, than have ever been undone by less
villainous men. One of this humour was our haughty and charming
_Sylvia_, whose pride and beauty possessing her with a belief that all
men were born to die her slaves, made her uneasy at every action of
the lover (whether beloved or not) that did but seem to slight her
empire: but where indeed she loved and doted, as now in _Philander_,
this humour put her on the rack at every thought or fancy that he
might break his chains, and having laid the last obligation upon him,
she expected him to be her slave for ever, and treated him with all
the haughty tyranny of her sex, in all those moments when softness was
not predominant in her soul. She was chagrin at every thing, if but
displeased with one thing; and while she gave torments to others, she
failed not to feel them the most sensibly herself; so that still
searching for new occasion of quarrel with _Philander_, she drew on
herself most intolerable pains, such as doubting lovers feel after
long hopes and confirmed joy; she reads and weeps, and when she came
to that part of it that inquired of the health and being of the pledge
of love--she grew so tender that she was almost fainting in her chair,
but recovering from the soft reflection, and finding she had said
nothing of it already, she took her pen again and writ.

You ask me, oh charming _Philander_, how the pledge of our soft hours
thrives: alas, as if it meant to brave the worst of fate! It does
advance my sorrows, and all your cruelties have not destroyed that:
but I still bear about me the destiny of many a sighing maid, that
this (who will, I am sure, be like _Philander_) will ruin with his
looks.

Thou sacred treasure of my soul, forgive me, if I have wronged thy
love, _adieu_.

She made an end of writing this, just when _Antonet_ arrived, and told
her _Octavio_ was alighted at the gate, and coming to visit her, which
gave her occasion to say this of him to _Philander_.

I think I had not ended here, but that _Octavio_, the bravest and the
best of friends, is come to visit me. The only satisfaction I have to
support my life in _Philander_'s absence. Pay him those thanks that
are due to him from me; pay him for all the generous cares he has
taken of me; beyond a friend! Almost _Philander_ in his blooming
passion, when it was all new and young, and full of duty, could not
have rendered me his service with a more awful industry: sure he was
made for love and glorious friendship. Cherish him then, preserve him
next your soul, for he is a jewel fit for such a cabinet: his form,
his parts, and every noble action, shews us the royal race from whence
he sprung, and the victorious _Orange_ confesses him his own in every
virtue, and in every grace; nor can the illegitimacy eclipse him: sure
he was got in the first heat of love, which formed him so a
_hero_--but no more. _Philander_ is as kind a judge as

SYLVIA.

She had no sooner finished this and sealed it, but _Octavio_ came into
the chamber, and with such an air, with such a grace and mien he
approached her--with all the languishment of soft trembling love in
his face, which with the addition of the dress he was that day in,
(which was extremely rich and advantageous, and altogether such as
pleases the vanity of women,) I have since heard the charming _Sylvia_
say, in spite of her tenderness for _Philander_, she found a soft
emotion in her soul, a kind of pleasure at his approach, which made
her blush with some kind of anger at her own easiness. Nor could she
have blushed in a more happy season; for _Octavio_ saw it, and it
served at once to add a lustre to her paler beauty, and to betray some
little kind sentiment, which possessed him with a joy that had the
same effects on him: _Sylvia_ saw it; and the care she took to hide
her own, served but to increase her blushes, which put her into a
confusion she had much ado to reclaim: she cast her eyes to earth, and
leaning her cheek on her hand, she continued on her seat without
paying him that usual ceremony she was wont to do; while he stood
speechless for a moment, gazing on her with infinite satisfaction:
when she, to assume a formality as well as she could, rose up and
cried, (fearing he had seen too much) '_Octavio_, I have been
considering after what manner I ought to receive you? And while I was
so, I left those civilities unpaid, which your quality and my good
manners ought to have rendered you.' 'Ah, madam,' replied he sighing,
'if you would receive me as I merited, and you ought, at least you
would receive me as the most passionate lover that ever adored you.'
'I was rather believing,' said _Sylvia_, 'that I ought to have
received you as my foe; since you conceal from me so long what you
cannot but believe I am extremely impatient of hearing, and what so
nearly concerns my repose.' At this, he only answering with a sigh,
she pursued, 'Sure, _Octavio_, you understand me: _Philander_'s answer
to the letter of your confessing passion, has not so long been the
subject of our discourse and expectation, but you guess at what I
mean?' _Octavio_, who on all occasions wanted not wit, or reply, was
here at a loss what to answer; notwithstanding he had considered
before what he would say: but let those in love fancy, and make what
fine speeches they please, and believe themselves furnished with
abundance of eloquent harangues, at the sight of the dear object they
lose them all, and love teaches them a dialect much more prevailing,
without the expense of duller thought: and they leave unsaid all they
had so floridly formed before, a sigh a thousand things with more
success: love, like poetry, cannot be taught, but uninstructed flows
without painful study, if it be true; it is born in the soul, a noble
inspiration, not a science! Such was _Octavio_'s, he thought it
dishonourable to be guilty of the meanness of a lie; and say he had no
answer: he thought it rude to say he had one and would not shew it
_Sylvia_; and he believed it the height of ungenerous baseness to shew
it. While he remained this moment silent, _Sylvia_, whose love,
jealousy, and impatience endured no delay, with a malicious half
smile, and a tone all angry, scorn in her eyes, and passion on her
tongue, she cried--'It is well, _Octavio_, that you so early let me
know, you can be false, unjust, and faithless; you knew your power,
and in pity to that youth and easiness you found in me, have given a
civil warning to my heart. In this I must confess,' continued she,
'you have given a much greater testimony of your friendship for
_Philander_, than your passion for _Sylvia_, and I suppose you came
not here to resolve yourself which you should prefer; that was decided
ere you arrived, and this visit I imagine was only to put me out of
doubt: a piece of charity you might have spared.' She ended this with
a scorn, that had a thousand charms, because it gave him a little
hope; and he answered with a sigh, 'Ah, madam, how very easy you find
it to entertain thoughts disadvantageous of me: and how small a fault
your wit and cruelty can improve to a crime! You are not offended at
my friendship for _Philander_. I know you do not value my life, and my
repose so much, as to be concerned who, or what shares this heart that
adores you! No, it has not merited that glory; nor dare I presume to
hope, you should so much as wish my passion for _Sylvia_, should
surmount my friendship to _Philander_.' 'If I did,' replied she with a
scorn, 'I perceive I might wish in vain.' 'Madam,' answered he, 'I
have too divine an opinion of the justice of the charming _Sylvia_ to
believe I ought, or could make my approaches to her heart, by ways so
base and ungenerous, the result of even tolerated treason is to hate
the traitor.' 'Oh, you are very nice, _Octavio_,' replied _Sylvia_,
'in your punctilio to _Philander_; but I perceive you are not so
tender in those you ought to have for _Sylvia_: I find honour in you
men, is only what you please to make it; for at the same time you
think it ungenerous to betray _Philander_, you believe it no breach of
honour to betray the eternal repose of _Sylvia_. You have promised
_Philander_ your friendship; you have avowed yourself my lover, my
slave, my friend, my every thing; and yet not one of these has any tie
to oblige you to my interest: pray tell me,' continued she, 'when you
last writ to him; was it not in order to receive an answer from him?
And was not I to see that answer? And here you think it no dishonour
to break your word or promise; by which I find your false notions of
virtue and honour, with which you serve yourselves, when interest,
design, or self-love makes you think it necessary.' 'Madam,' replied
_Octavio_, 'you are pleased to pursue your anger, as if indeed I had
disobeyed your command, or refused to shew you what you imagine I have
from _Philander_:' 'Yes, I do,' replied she hastily; 'and wonder why
you should have a greater friendship for _Philander_, than for
_Sylvia_; especially if it be true that you say, you have joined love
to friendship: or are you of the opinion of those that cry, they
cannot be a lover and a friend of the same object.' 'Ah, madam,' cried
our perplexed lover, 'I beg you to believe, I think it so much more my
duty and inclination to serve and obey _Sylvia_, than I do
_Philander_, that I swear to you, oh charming conqueress of my soul,
if _Philander_ have betrayed _Sylvia_, he has at the same time
betrayed _Octavio_, and that I would revenge it with the loss of my
life: in injuring the adorable _Sylvia_, believe me, lovely maid, he
injures so much more than a friend, as honour is above the
inclinations; if he wrong you, by heaven he cancels all! He wrongs my
soul, my honour, mistress, and my sister:' fearing he had said too
much, he stopped and sighed at the word sister, and casting down his
eyes, blushing with shame and anger, he continued. 'Oh give me leave
to say a sister, madam, lest mistress had been too daring and
presumptuous, and a title that would not justify my quarrel half so
well, since it would take the honour from my just resentment, and
blast it with the scandal of self-interest or jealous revenge.' 'What
you say,' replied she, 'deserves abundance of acknowledgement; but if
you would have me believe you, you ought to hide nothing from me; and
he, methinks, that was so daring to confess his passion to
_Philander_, may after that, venture on any discovery: in short,
_Octavio_, I demand to see the return you have from _Philander_, for
possibly--' said she, sweetening her charming face into a smile
designed, 'I should not be displeased to find I might with more
freedom receive your addresses, and on the coldness of _Philander_'s
reasoning may depend a great part of your fate, or fortune: come,
come, produce your credentials, they may recommend your heart more
effectually than all the fine things you can say; you know how the
least appearance of a slight from a lover may advance the pride of a
mistress; and pride in this affair will be your best advocate.' Thus
she insinuated with all her female arts, and put on all her charms of
looks and smiles, sweetened her mouth, softened her voice and eyes,
assuming all the tenderness and little affectations her subtle sex was
capable of, while he lay all ravished and almost expiring at her feet;
sometimes transported with imagined joys in the possession of the dear
flattering charmer, he was ready to unravel all the secrets of
_Philander_'s letter; but honour yet was even above his passion, and
made him blush at his first hasty thought; and now he strove to put
her off with all the art he could, who had so very little in his
nature, and whose real love and perfect honour had set him above the
little evasions of truth, who scorned in all other cases the baseness
and cowardice of a lie; and so unsuccessful now was the little honest
cheat, which he knew not how to manage well, that it was soon
discovered to the witty, jealous, and angry _Sylvia_: so that after
all the rage a passionate woman could express, who believed herself
injured by the only two persons in the world from whom she expected
most adoration; she had recourse to that natural and softening aid of
her sex, her tears; and having already reproached _Octavio_ with all
the malice of a defeated woman, she now continued it in so moving a
manner, that our _hero_ could no longer remain unconquered by that
powerful way of charming, but unfixed to all he had resolved, gave up,
at least, a part of the secret, and owned he had a letter from
_Philander_; and after this confession knowing very well he could not
keep her from the sight of it; no, though an empire were rendered her
to buy it off; his wit was next employed how he should defend the
sense of it, that she might not think _Philander_ false. In order to
this, he, forcing a smile, told her, that _Philander_ was the most
malicious of his sex, and had contrived the best stratagem in the
world to find whether _Sylvia_ still loved, or _Octavio_ retained his
friendship for him: 'And but that,' continued he, 'I know the nature
of your curious sex to be such, that if I should persuade you not to
see it, it would but the more inflame your desire of seeing it; I
would ask no more of the charming _Sylvia_, than that she would not
oblige me to shew what would turn so greatly to my own advantage: if I
were not too sensible, it is but to entrap me, that _Philander_ has
taken this method in his answer. Believe me, adorable _Sylvia_, I
plead against my own life, while I beg you not to put my honour to the
test, by commanding me to shew this letter, and that I join against
the interest of my own eternal repose while I plead thus.' She hears
him with a hundred changes of countenance. Love, rage, and jealousy
swell in her fierce eyes, her breath beats short, and she was ready to
burst into speaking before he had finished what he had to say; she
called up all the little discretion and reason love had left her to
manage herself as she ought in this great occasion; she bit her lips,
and swallowed her rising sighs; but he soon saw the storm he had
raised, and knew not how to stand the shock of its fury; he sighs, he
pleads in vain, and the more he endeavours to excuse the levity of
_Philander_, the more he rends her heart, and sets her on the rack;
and concluding him false, she could no longer contain her rage, but
broke out into all the fury that madness can inspire, and from one
degree to another wrought her passion to the height of lunacy: she
tore her hair, and bit his hands that endeavoured to restrain hers
from violence; she rent the ornaments from her fair body, and
discovered a thousand charms and beauties; and finding now that both
his strength and reason were too weak to prevent the mischiefs he
found he had brought on her, he calls for help: when _Brilliard_ was
but too ready at hand, with _Antonet_, and some others who came to his
assistance. _Brilliard_, who knew nothing of the occasion of all this,
believed it the second part of his own late adventure, and fancied
that _Octavio_ had used some violence to her; upon this he assumes the
authority of his lord, and secretly that of a husband or lover, and
upbraiding the innocent _Octavio_ with his brutality, they fell to
such words as ended in a challenge the next morning, for _Brilliard_
appeared a gentleman, companion to his lord; and one whom _Octavio_
could not well refuse: this was not carried so silently but _Antonet_,
busy as she was about her raving lady, heard the appointment, and
_Octavio_ quitted the chamber almost as much disturbed as _Sylvia_,
whom, with much ado they persuaded him to leave; but before he did so,
he on his knees offered her the letter, and implored her to receive
it; so absolutely his love had vanquished his nobler part, that of
honour. But she attending no motions but those of her own rage, had no
regard either to _Octavio_'s proffer, or his arguments of excuse; so
that he went away with the letter in all the extremity of disorder.
This last part of his submission was not seen by _Brilliard_; who
immediately left the chamber, upon receiving _Octavio_'s answer to his
challenge; so that _Sylvia_ was now left with her woman only; who by
degrees brought her to more calmness; and _Brilliard_, impatient to
hear the reproaches he hoped she would give _Octavio_ when she was
returned to reason, being curious of any thing that might redound to
his disadvantage, whom he took to be a powerful rival, returned again
into her chamber: but in lieu of hearing what he wished, _Sylvia_
being recovered from her passion of madness, and her soul in a state
of thinking a little with reason, she misses _Octavio_ in the crowd,
and with a voice her rage had enfeebled to a languishment, she
cried--surveying carefully those about her, 'Oh where is _Octavio_?
Where is that angel man: he who of all his kind can give me comfort?'
'Madam,' replied _Antonet_, 'he is gone; while he was here, he kneeled
and prayed in vain, but for a word, or look; his tears are yet
remaining wet upon your feet, and all for one sensible reply, but rage
had deafened you; what has he done to merit this?' 'Oh _Antonet_,'
cried _Sylvia_----'It was what he would not do, that makes me rave;
run, haste and fetch him back----but let him leave his honour all
behind: tell him he has too much consideration for _Philander_, and
none for my repose. Oh, _Brilliard_,----Have I no friend in view dares
carry a message from me to _Octavio_? Bid him return, oh instantly
return----I die, I languish for a sight of him----descending angels
would not be so welcome----Why stand ye still----have I no power with
you----Will none obey----' Then running hastily to the chamber door,
she called her page to whom she cried----'Haste, haste, dear youth,
and find _Octavio_ out, and bring him to me instantly: tell him I die
to see him.' The boy, glad of so kind a message to so liberal a lover,
runs on his errand, while she returns to her chamber, and endeavours
to recollect her senses against _Octavio_'s coming as much as possibly
she could: she dismisses her attendant with different apprehensions;
sometimes _Brilliard_ believed this was the second part of her first
raving, and having never seen her thus, but for _Philander_, concludes
it the height of tenderness and passion for _Octavio_; but because she
made so public a declaration of it, he believed he had given her a
philtre, which had raised her flame so much above the bounds of
modesty and discretion; concluding it so, he knew the usual effects of
things of that nature, and that nothing could allay the heat of such a
love but possession; and easily deluded with every fancy that
flattered his love, mad, stark-mad, by any way to obtain the last
blessing with _Sylvia_, he consults with _Antonet_ how to get one of
_Octavio_'s letters out of her lady's cabinet, and feigning many
frivolous reasons, which deluded the amorous maid, he persuaded her to
get him one, which she did in half an hour after; for by this time
_Sylvia_ being in as much tranquillity as it was possible a lover
could be in, who had the hopes of knowing all the secrets of the false
betrayer, she had called _Antonet_ to dress her; which she resolved
should be in all the careless magnificence that art or nature could
put on; to charm _Octavio_ wholly to obedience, whom she had sent for,
and whom she expected! But she was no sooner set to her toilet, but
_Octavio_'s page arrived with a letter from his master, which she
greedily snatched, and read this:

OCTAVIO _to_ SYLVIA.

By this time, oh charming _Sylvia_, give me leave to hope your rage is
abated, and your reason returned, and that you will hear a little from
the most unfortunate of men, whom you have reduced to this miserable
extremity of losing either the adorable object of his soul, or his
honour: if you can prefer a little curiosity that will serve but to
afflict you, before either that or my repose, what esteem ought I to
believe you have for the unfortunate _Octavio_: and if you hate me, as
it is evident, if you compel me to the extremity of losing my repose
or honour, what reason or argument have I to prefer so careless a fair
one above the last? It is certain you neither do nor can love me now;
and how much below that hope shall the exposed and abandoned _Octavio_
be, when he shall pretend to that glory without his honour? Believe
me, charming maid, I would sacrifice my life, and my entire fortune at
your least command to serve you; but to render you a devoir that must
point me out the basest of my sex, is what my temper must resist in
spite of all the violence of my love; and I thank my happier stars,
that they have given me resolution enough, rather to fall a sacrifice
to the last, than be guilty of the breach of the first: this is the
last and present thought and pleasure of my soul; and lest it should,
by the force of those divine ideas which eternally surround it, be
soothed and flattered from its noble principles, I will to-morrow put
myself out of the hazard of temptation, and divert if possible, by
absence, to the campaign, those soft importunate betrayers of my
liberty, that perpetually solicit in favour of you: I dare not so much
as bid you adieu, one sight of that bright angel's face would undo me,
unfix my nobler resolution, and leave me a despicable slave, sighing
my unrewarded treason at your insensible feet: my fortune I leave to
be disposed by you; but the more useless necessary I will for ever
take from those lovely eyes, you can look on nothing with joy, but the
happy _Philander_: if I have denied you one satisfaction, at least I
have given you this other, of securing you eternally from the trouble
and importunity of, madam, your faithful

OCTAVIO.

This letter to any other less secure of her power than was our fair
subject, would have made them impatient and angry; but she found that
there was something yet in her power, the dispensation of which could
soon recall him from any resolution he was able to make of absenting
himself. Her glass stood before her, and every glance that way was an
assurance and security to her heart; she could not see that beauty,
and doubt its power of persuasion. She therefore took her pen, and
writ him this answer, being in a moment furnished with all the art and
subtlety that was necessary on this occasion.

SYLVIA _to_ Octavio.

_My Lord_,

Though I have not beauty enough to command your heart; at least allow
me sense enough to oblige your belief, that I fancy and resent all
that the letter contains which you have denied me, and that I am not
of that sort of women, whose want of youth or beauty renders so
constant to pursue the ghost of a departed love: it is enough to
justify my honour, that I was not the first aggressor. I find myself
pursued by too many charms of wit, youth, and gallantry, to bury
myself beneath the willows, or to whine away my youth by murmuring
rivers, or betake me to the last refuge of a declining beauty, a
monastery: no, my lord, when I have revenged and recompensed myself
for the injuries of one inconstant, with the joys a thousand imploring
lovers offer, it will be time to be weary of a world, which yet every
day presents me new joys; and I swear to you, _Octavio_, that it was
more to recompense what I owed your passion, that I desired a
convincing proof of _Philander_'s falsehood, than for any other
reason, and you have too much wit not to know it; for what other use
could I make of the secret? If he be false he is gone, unworthy of me,
and impossible to be retrieved; and I would as soon dye my sullied
garments, and wear them over again, as take to my embraces a reformed
lover, the native first lustre of whose passion is quite extinct, and
is no more the same; no, my lord, she must be poor in beauty, that has
recourse to shifts so mean; if I would know the secret, by all that is
good it were to hate him heartily, and to dispose of my person to the
best advantage; which in honour I cannot do, while I am unconvinced of
the falseness of him with whom I exchanged a thousand vows of
fidelity; but if he unlink the chain, I am at perfect liberty; and why
by this delay you should make me lose my time, I am not able to
conceive, unless you fear I should then take you at your word, and
expect the performance of all the vows of love you have made me----If
that be it--my pride shall be your security, or if other recompense
you expect, set the price upon your secret, and see at what rate I
shall purchase the liberty it will procure me; possibly it may be such
as may at once enfranchise me, and revenge me on the perjured ingrate,
than which nothing can be a greater satisfaction to

SYLVIA.

She seals this letter with a wafer, and giving it to _Antonet_ to give
the page, believing she had writ what would not be in vain to the
quick-sighted _Octavio_; _Antonet_ takes both that and the other which
_Octavio_ had sent, and left her lady busy in dressing her head, and
went to _Brilliard_'s chamber, who thought every moment an age till
she came, so vigorous he was on his new design. That which was sent to
_Octavio_, being sealed with a wet wafer, he neatly opens, as it was
easy to do, and read, and sealed again, and _Antonet_ delivered it to
the page. After receiving what pay _Brilliard_ could force himself to
bestow upon her, some flatteries of dissembled love, and some cold
kisses, which even imagination could not render better, she returned
to her lady, and he to his stratagem, which was to counterfeit a
letter from _Octavio_; she having in hers given him a hint, by bidding
him set a price upon the secret, which he had heard was that of a
letter from _Philander_, with all the circumstances of it, from the
faithless _Antonet_, whom love had betrayed; and after blotting much
paper to try every letter through the alphabet, and to produce them
like those of _Octavio_, which was not hard for a lover of ingenuity,
he fell to the business of what he would write; and having finished it
to his liking, his next trouble was how to convey it to her; for
_Octavio_ always sent his by his page, whom he could trust. He now was
certain of love between them; for though he often had persuaded
_Antonet_ to bring him letters, yet she could not be wrought on till
now to betray her trust; and what he long apprehended, he found too
true on both sides, and now he waited but for an opportunity to send
it seasonably, and in a lucky minute. In the mean time _Sylvia_ adorns
herself for an absolute conquest, and disposing herself in the most
charming, careless, and tempting manner she could devise, she lay
expecting her coming lover, on a repose of rich embroidery of gold on
blue satin, hung within-side with little amorous pictures of _Venus_
descending in her chariot naked to _Adonis_, she embracing, while the
youth, more eager of his rural sports, turns half from her in a
posture of pursuing his dogs, who are on their chase: another of
_Armida_, who is dressing the sleeping warrior up in wreaths of
flowers, while a hundred little Loves are playing with his gilded
armour; this puts on his helmet too big for his little head, that
hides his whole face; another makes a hobby-horse of his sword and
lance; another fits on his breast-piece, while three or four little
_Cupids_ are seeming to heave and help him to hold it an end, and all
turned the emblems of the hero into ridicule. These, and some either
of the like nature, adorned the pavilion of the languishing fair one,
who lay carelessly on her side, her arm leaning on little pillows of
point of _Venice_, and a book of amours in her other hand. Every noise
alarmed her with trembling hope that her lover was come, and I have
heard she said, she verily believed, that acting and feigning the
lover possessed her with a tenderness against her knowledge and will;
and she found something more in her soul than a bare curiosity of
seeing _Octavio_ for the letter's sake: but in lieu of her lover, she
found herself once more approached with a billet from him, which
brought this.

OCTAVIO _to_ SYLVIA.

Ah, _Sylvia_, he must be more than human that can withstand your
charms; I confess my frailty, and fall before you the weakest of my
sex, and own I am ready to believe all your dear letter contains, and
have vanity enough to wrest every hopeful word to my own interest, and
in favour of my own heart: what will become of me, if my easy faith
should only flatter me, and I with shame should find it was not meant
to me, or if it were, it was only to draw me from a virtue which has
been hitherto the pride and beauty of my youth, the glory of my name,
and my comfort and refuge in all extremes of fortune; the eternal
companion, guide and counsellor of all my actions: yet this good you
only have power to rob me of, and leave me exposed to the scorn of all
the laughing world; yet give me love! Give me but hope in lieu of it,
and I am content to divest myself of all besides.

Perhaps you will say I ask too mighty a rate for so poor a secret. But
even in that there lies one of my own, that will more expose the
feebleness of my blood and name, than the discovery will me in
particular, so that I know not what I do, when I give you up the
knowledge you desire. Still you will say all this is to enhance its
value, and raise the price: and oh, I fear you have taught my soul
every quality it fears and dreads in yours, and learnt it to chaffer
for every thought, if I could fix upon the rate to sell it at: and I
with shame confess I would be mercenary, could we but agree upon the
price; but my respect forbids me all things but silent hope, and that,
in spite of me and all my reason, will predominate; for the rest I
will wholly resign myself, and all the faculties of my soul, to the
charming arbitrator of my peace, the powerful judge of love, the
adorable _Sylvia_; and at her feet render all she demands; yes, she
shall find me there to justify all the weakness this proclaims; for I
confess, oh too too powerful maid, that you have absolutely subdued

_Your_ OCTAVIO.

She had no sooner read this letter, but _Antonet_, instead of laying
it by, carried it to _Brilliard_, and departed the chamber to make way
for _Octavio_, who she imagined was coming to make his visit, and left
_Sylvia_ considering how she should manage him to the best advantage,
and with most honour acquit herself of what she had made him hope; but
instead of his coming to wait on her, an unexpected accident arrived
to prevent him; for a messenger from the Prince came with commands
that he should forthwith come to His Highness, the messenger having
command to bring him along with him: so that not able to disobey, he
only begged time to write a note of business, which was a billet to
_Sylvia_ to excuse himself till the next day; for it being five
leagues to the village where the Prince waited his coming, he could
not return that night; which was the business of the note, with which
his page hasted to _Sylvia_. _Brilliard_, who was now a vigilant
lover, and waiting for every opportunity that might favour his design,
saw the page arrive with the note; and, as it was usual, he took it to
carry to his conqueress; but meeting _Antonet_ on the stairs, he gave
her what he had before counterfeited with such art, after he had
opened what _Octavio_ had sent, and found fortune was wholly on his
side, he having learned from the page besides, that his lord had taken
coach with Monsieur----to go to His Highness, and would not return
that night: _Antonet_, not knowing the deceit, carried her lady the
forged letter, who opened it with eager haste, and read this.

_To the Charming_ SYLVIA.

_Madam_,

Since I have a secret, which none but I can unfold, and that you have
offered at any rate to buy it of me, give me leave to say, that you,
fair creature, have another secret, a joy to dispense, which none but
you can give the languishing _Octavio_: if you dare purchase this of
mine, with that infinitely more valuable one of yours, I will be as
secret as death, and think myself happier than a fancied god! Take
what methods you please for the payment, and what time, order me,
command me, conjure me, I will wait, watch, and pay my duty at all
hours, to snatch the most convenient one to reap so ravishing a
blessing. I know you will accuse me with all the confidence and
rudeness in the world: but oh! consider, lovely _Sylvia_, that that
passion which could change my soul from all the course of honour, has
power to make me forget that nice respect your beauty awes me with,
and my passion is now arrived at such a height, it obeys no laws but
its own; and I am obstinately bent on the pursuit of that vast
pleasure I fancy to find in the dear, the ravishing arms of the
adorable _Sylvia_: impatient of your answer, I am, as love compels me,
madam, your slave,

OCTAVIO.

The page, who waited no answer, was departed: but _Sylvia_, who
believed he attended, was in a thousand minds what to say or do: she
blushed, as she read, and then looked pale with anger and disdain,
and, but that she had already given her honour up, it would have been
something more surprising: but she was used to questions of that
nature, and therefore received this with so much the less concern;
nevertheless, it was sufficient to fill her soul with a thousand
agitations; but when she would be angry, the consideration of what she
had writ to him, to encourage him to this boldness, stopped her rage:
when she would take it ill, she considered his knowledge of her lost
fame, and that took off a great part of her resentment on that side;
and in midst of all she was raving for the knowledge of _Philander_'s
secret. She rose from the bed, and walked about the room in much
disorder, full of thought and no conclusion; she is ashamed to consult
of this affair with _Antonet_, and knows not what to fix on: the only
thing she was certain of, and which was fully and undisputably
resolved in her soul, was never to consent to so false an action,
never to buy the secret at so dear a rate; she abhors _Octavio_, whom
she regards no more as that fine thing which before she thought him;
and a thousand times she was about to write her despite and contempt,
but still the dear secret stayed her hand, and she was fond of the
torment: at last _Antonet_, who was afflicted to know the cause of
this disorder, asked her lady if _Octavio_ would not come; 'No,'
replied _Sylvia_, blushing at the name, 'nor never shall the
ungrateful man dare to behold my face any more.' 'Jesu,' replied
_Antonet_, 'what has he done, madam, to deserve this severity?' For he
was a great benefactor to _Antonet_, and had already by his gifts and
presents made her a fortune for a burgomaster. 'He has,' said
_Sylvia_, 'committed such an impudence as deserves death from my
hand:' this she spoke in rage, and walked away cross the chamber.
'Why, madam,' cried _Antonet_,'does he deny to give you the letter?'
'No,' replied _Sylvia_, 'but asks me such a price for it, as makes me
hate myself, that am reduced by my ill conduct to addresses of that
nature:' 'Heavens, madam, what can he ask you to afflict you so!' 'The
presumptuous man,' said she, (in rage) 'has the impudence to ask what
never man, but _Philander_, was ever possessed of----' At this,
_Antonet_ laughed--'Good lord, madam,' said she, 'and are you angry at
such desires in men towards you? I believe you are the first lady in
the world that was ever offended for being desirable: can any thing
proclaim your beauty more, or your youth, or wit? Marry, madam, I wish
I were worthy to be asked the question by all the fine dancing,
dressing, song-making fops in town.' 'And you would yield,' replied
_Sylvia_. 'Not so neither,' replied _Antonet_, 'but I would spark
myself, and value myself the more upon it.' 'Oh,' said _Sylvia_, 'she
that is so fond of hearing of love, no doubt but will find some one to
practise it with.' 'That is as I should find myself inclined,' replied
_Antonet_. _Sylvia_ was not so intent on _Antonet_'s raillery, but she
employed all her thought the while on what she had to do: and those
last words of _Antonet_'s jogged a thought that ran on to one very
advantageous, at least her present and first apprehension of it was
such: and she turned to _Antonet_, with a face more gay than it was
the last minute, and cried, 'Prithee, good wench, tell me what sort of
man would soonest incline you to a yielding:' 'If you command me,
madam, to be free with your ladyship,' replied _Antonet_, 'I must
confess there are two sorts of men that would most villainously
incline me: the first is he that would make my fortune best; the next,
he that would make my pleasure; the young, the handsome, or rather the
well-bred and good-humoured; but above all, the man of wit.' 'But what
would you say, _Antonet_,' replied _Sylvia_, 'if all these made up in
one man should make his addresses to you?' 'Why then most certainly,
madam,' replied _Antonet_, 'I should yield him my honour, after a
reasonable siege.' This though the wanton young maid spoke possibly at
first more to put her lady in good humour, than from any inclination
she had to what she said; yet after many arguments upon that subject,
_Sylvia_, cunning enough to pursue her design, brought the business
more home, and told her in plain terms, that _Octavio_ was the man who
had been so presumptuous as to ask so great a reward as the possession
of herself for the secret she desired; and, after a thousand little
subtleties, having made the forward girl confess with blushes she was
not a maid, she insinuated into her an opinion, that what she had done
already (without any other motive than that of love, as she confessed,
in which interest had no part) would make the trick the easier to do
again, especially if she brought to her arms a person of youth, wit,
gallantry, beauty, and all the charming qualities that adorn a man,
and that besides she should find it turn to good account; and for her
secrecy she might depend upon it, since the person to whose embraces
she should submit herself, should not know but that she herself was
the woman: 'So that,' says _Sylvia_, 'I will have all the infamy, and
you the reward every way with unblemished honour.' While she spoke,
the willing maid gave an inward pleasing attention, though at first
she made a few faint modest scruples: nor was she less joyed to hear
it should be _Octavio_, whom she knew to be rich, and very handsome;
and she immediately found the humour of inconstancy seize her; and
_Brilliard_ appeared a very husband lover in comparison of this new
brisker man of quality; so that after some pros and cons the whole
matter was thus concluded on between these two young persons, who
neither wanted wit nor beauty; and both crowed over the little
contrivance, as a most diverting piece of little malice, that should
serve their present turn, and make them sport for the future. The next
thing that was considered was a letter which was to be sent in answer,
and that _Sylvia_ being to write with her own hand begot a new doubt,
insomuch as the whole business was at a stand: for when it came to
that point that she herself was to consent, she found the project look
with a face so foul, that she a hundred times resolved and unresolved.
But _Philander_ filled her soul, revenge was in her view, and that one
thought put her on new resolves to pursue the design, let it be never
so base and dishonourable: 'Yes,' cried she at last, 'I can commit no
action that is not more just, excusable and honourable, than that
which _Octavio_ has done to me, who uses me like a common mistress of
the town, and dares ask me that which he knows he durst not do, if he
had not mean and abject thoughts of me; his baseness deserves death at
my hand, if I had courage to give it him, and the least I can do is to
deceive the deceiver. Well then, give me my escritoire,' says she; so,
sitting down, she writ this, not without abundance of guilt and
confusion; for yet a certain honour, which she had by birth, checked
the cheat of her pen.

* * * * *

SYLVIA _to_ OCTAVIO.

The price, _Octavio_, which you have set upon your secret, I (more
generous than you) will give your merit, to which alone it is due: if
I should pay so high a price for the first, you would believe I had
the less esteem for the last, and I would not have you think me so
poor in spirit to yield on any other terms. If I valued _Philander_
yet--after his confirmed inconstancy, I would have you think I scorn
to yield a body where I do not give a soul, and am yet to be persuaded
there are any such brutes amongst my sex; but as I never had a wish
but where I loved, so I never extended one till now to any but
_Philander_; yet so much my sense of shame is above my growing
tenderness, that I could wish you would be so generous to think no
more of what you seem to pursue with such earnestness and haste. But
lest I should retain any sort of former love for _Philander_, whom I
am impatient to rase wholly from my soul, I grant you all you ask,
provided you will be discreet in the management: _Antonet_ therefore
shall only be trusted with the secret; the outward gate you shall find
at twelve only shut to, and _Antonet_ wait you at the stairs-foot to
conduct you to me; come alone. I blush and gild the paper with their
reflections, at the thought of an encounter like this, before I am
half enough secured of your heart. And that you may be made more
absolutely the master of mine, send me immediately _Philander_'s
letter enclosed, that if any remains of chagrin possess me, they may
be totally vanquished by twelve o'clock.

SYLVIA.

She having, with much difficulty, writ this, read it to her trusty
confidante; for this was the only secret of her lady's she was
resolved never to discover to _Brilliard_, and to the end he might
know nothing of it she sealed the letter with wax: but before she
sealed it, she told her lady, she thought she might have spared
abundance of her blushes, and have writ a less kind letter; for a word
of invitation or consent would have served as well. To which _Sylvia_
replied, her anger against him was too high not to give him all the
defeat imaginable, and the greater the love appeared, the greater
would be the revenge when he should come to know (as in time he
should) how like a false friend she had treated him. This reason, or
any at that time would have served _Antonet_, whose heart was set upon
a new adventure, and in such haste she was (the night coming on
a-pace) to know how she should dress, and what more was to be done,
that she only went out to call the page, and meeting _Brilliard_ (who
watched every body's motion) on the stair-case, he asked her what that
was; and she said, to send by _Octavio_'s page: 'You need not look in
it,' said she (when he snatched it hastily out of her hand:) 'For I
can tell you the contents, and it is sealed so, it must be known if
you unrip it.' 'Well, well,' said he, 'if you tell it me, it will
satisfy my curiosity as well; therefore I'll give it the page.' She
returns in again to her lady, and he to his own chamber to read what
answer the dear object of his desire had sent to his forged one: so
opening it, he found it such as his soul wished, and was all joy and
ecstasy; he views himself a hundred times in the glass, and set
himself in order with all the opinion and pride, as if his own good
parts had gained him the blessing; he enlarged himself as he walked,
and knew not what to do, so extremely was he ravished with his coming
joy; he blessed himself, his wit, his stars, his fortune; then read
the dear obliging letter, and kissed it all over, as if it had been
meant to him; and after he had forced himself to a little more serious
consideration, he bethought himself of what he had to do in order to
this dear appointment: he finds in her letter, that in the first place
he was to send her the letter from _Philander_: I told you before he
took _Octavio_'s letter from the page, when he understood his lord was
going five leagues out of town to the prince. _Octavio_ could not
avoid his going, and wrote to _Sylvia_; in which he sent her the
letter _Philander_ writ, wherein was the first part of the confession
of his love to Madam the Countess of _Clarinau_: generously _Octavio_
sent it without terms; but _Brilliard_ slid his own forged one into
_Antonet_'s hand in lieu of it, and now he read that from _Philander_,
and wondered at his lord's inconstancy; yet glad of the opportunity to
take _Sylvia_'s heart a little more off from him, he soon resolved she
should have the letter, but being wholly mercenary, and fearing that
either when once she had it, it might make her go back from her
promised assignation, or at least put her out of humour, so as to
spoil a great part of the entertainment he designed: he took the pains
to counterfeit another billet to her, which was this.

* * * * *

_To_ SYLVIA.

_Madam_,

Since we have begun to chaffer, you must give me leave to make the
best of the advantage I find I have upon you; and having violated my
honour to _Philander_, allow the breach of it in some degree on other
occasions; not but I have all the obedience and adoration for you that
ever possessed the soul of a most passionate and languishing lover:
but, fair _Sylvia_, I know not whether, when you have seen the secret
of the false _Philander_, you may not think it less valuable than you
before did, and so defraud me of my due. Give me leave, oh wondrous
creature! to suspect even the most perfect of your sex; and to tell
you, that I will no sooner approach your presence, but I will resign
the paper you so much wish. If you send me no answer, I will come
according to your directions: if you do, I must obey and wait, though
with that impatience that never attended a suffering lover, or any
but, divine creature, your OCTAVIO.

This he sealed, and after a convenient distance of time carried as
from the page to _Antonet_, who was yet contriving with her lady, to
whom she gives it, who read it with abundance of impatience, being
extremely angry at the rudeness of the style, which she fancied much
altered from what it was; and had not her rage blinded her, she might
easily have perceived the difference too of the character, though it
came as near to the like as possible so short a practice could
produce; she took it with the other, and tore it in pieces with rage,
and swore she would be revenged; but, after calmer thoughts, she took
up the pieces to keep to upbraid him with, and fell to weeping for
anger, defeat and shame; but the _April_ shower being past, she
returned to her former resentment, and had some pleasure amidst all
her torment of fears, jealousies, and sense of _Octavio_'s disrespect
in the thoughts of revenge; in order to which she contrives how
_Antonet_ shall manage herself, and commanding her to bring out some
fine point linen, she dressed up _Antonet_'s head with them, and put
her on a shift, laced with the same; for though she intended no light
should be in the chamber when _Octavio_ should enter, she knew he
understood by his touch the difference of fine things from other. In
fine, having dressed her exactly as she herself used to be when she
received _Octavio_'s visits in bed, she embraced her, and fancied she
was much of her own shape and bigness, and that it was impossible to
find the deceit: and now she made _Antonet_ dress her up in her
clothes, and mobbing her sarsenet hood about her head, she appeared so
like _Antonet_ (all but the face) that it was not easy to distinguish
them: and night coming on they both long for the hour of twelve,
though with different designs; and having before given notice that
_Sylvia_ was gone to bed, and would receive no visit that night, they
were alone to finish all their business: this while _Brilliard_ was
not idle, but having a fine bath made, he washed and perfumed his
body, and after dressed himself in the finest linen perfumed that he
had, and made himself as fit as possible for his design; nor was his
shape, which was very good, or his stature, unlike to that of
_Octavio_: and ready for the approach, he conveys himself out of the
house, telling his footman he would put himself to bed after his
bathing, and, locking his chamber door, stole out; and it being dark,
many a longing turn he walked, impatient till all the candles were out
in every room of the house: in the mean time, he employed his thoughts
on a thousand things, but all relating to _Sylvia_; sometimes the
treachery he shewed in this action to his lord, caused short-lived
blushes in his face, which vanished as soon, when he considered his
lord false to the most beautiful of her sex: sometimes he accused and
cursed the levity of _Sylvia_ that could yield to _Octavio_, and was
as jealous as if she had indeed been to have received that charming
lover; but when his thought directed him to his own happiness, his
pulse beat high, his blood flushed apace in his cheeks, his eyes
languished with love, and his body with a feverish fit! In these
extremes, by turns, he passed at least three tedious hours, with a
striking watch in his hand; and when it told it was twelve, he
advanced near the door, but finding it shut walked yet with greater
impatience, every half minute going to the door; at last he found it
yield to his hand that pushed it: but oh, what mortal can express his
joy! His heart beats double, his knees tremble, and a feebleness
seizes every limb; he breathes nothing but short sighs, and is ready
in the dark hall to fall on the floor, and was forced to lean on the
rail that begins the stairs to take a little courage: while he was
there recruiting himself, intent on nothing but his vast joy;
_Octavio_, who going to meet the Prince, being met halfway by that
young _hero_, was dispatched back again without advancing to the end
of his five leagues, and impatient to see _Sylvia_, after
_Philander_'s letter that he had sent her, or at least impatient to
hear how she took it, and in what condition she was, he, as soon as he
alighted, went towards her house in order to have met _Antonet_, or
her page, or some that could inform him of her welfare; though it was
usual for _Sylvia_ to sit up very late, and he had often made her
visits at that hour: and _Brilliard_, wholly intent on his adventure,
had left the door open; so that _Octavio_ perceiving it, believed they
were all up in the back rooms where _Sylvia_'s apartment was towards a
garden, for he saw no light forward. But he was no sooner entered
(which he did without noise) but he heard a soft breathing, which made
him stand in the hall: and by and by he heard the soft tread of some
body descending the stairs: at this he approaches near, and the hall
being a marble floor, his tread was not heard; when he heard one cry
with a sigh--'Who is there?' And another replied, 'It is I! Who are
you?' The first replied, 'A faithful and an impatient lover.' 'Give me
your hand then,' replied the female voice, 'I will conduct you to your
happiness.' You may imagine in what surprise _Octavio_ was at so
unexpected an adventure, and, like a jealous lover, did not at all
doubt but the happiness expected was _Sylvia_, and the impatient lover
some one, whom he could not imagine, but raved within to know, and in
a moment ran over in his thoughts all the men of quality, or
celebrated beauty, or fortune in the town, but was at as great a loss
as at first thinking: 'But be thou who thou wilt,' cried he to
himself; 'traitor as thou art, I will by thy death revenge myself on
the faithless fair one.' And taking out his sword, he had advanced
towards the stairs-foot, when he heard them both softly ascend; but
being a man of perfect good nature, as all the brave and witty are, he
reflected on the severe usage he had from _Sylvia_, notwithstanding
all his industry, his vast expense, and all the advantages of nature.
This thought made him, in the midst of all his jealousy and haste,
pause a little moment; and fain he would have persuaded himself, that
what he heard was the errors of his sense; or that he dreamed, or that
it was at least not to _Sylvia_, to whom this ascending lover was
advancing: but to undeceive him of that favourable imagination, they
were no sooner on the top of the stairs, but he not being many steps
behind could both hear and see, by the ill light of a great
sash-window on the stair-case, the happy lover enter the chamber-door
of _Sylvia_, which he knew too well to be mistaken, not that he could
perceive who, or what they were, but two persons not to be
distinguished. Oh what human fancy, (but that of a lover to that
degree that was our young hero,) can imagine the amazement and torture
of his soul, wherein a thousand other passions reigned at once, and,
maugre all his courage and resolution, forced him to sink beneath
their weight? He stood holding himself up by the rails of the
stair-case, without having the power to ascend farther, or to shew any
other signs of life, but that of sighing; had he been a favoured
lover, had he been a known declared lover to all the world, had he but
hoped he had had so much interest with the false beauty, as but to
have been designed upon for a future love or use, he would have rushed
in, and have made the guilty night a covert to a scene of blood; but
even yet he had an awe upon his soul for the perjured fair one, though
at the same time he resolved she should be the object of his hate; for
the nature of his honest soul abhorred an action so treacherous and
base: he begins in a moment from all his good thoughts of her to think
her the most jilting of her sex; he knew, if interest could oblige
her, no man in _Holland_ had a better pretence to her than himself;
who had already, without any return, even so much as hope, presented
her the value of eight or ten thousand pounds in fine plate and
jewels: if it were looser desire, he fancied himself to have appeared
as capable to have served her as any man; but oh! he considers there
is a fate in things, a destiny in love that elevates and advances the
most mean, deformed or abject, and debases and condemns the most
worthy and magnificent: then he wonders at her excellent art of
dissembling for _Philander_; he runs in a minute over all her passions
of rage, jealousy, tears and softness; and now he hates the whole sex,
and thinks them all like _Sylvia_, than whom nothing could appear more
despicable to his present thought, and with a smile, while yet his
heart was insensibly breaking, he fancies himself a very coxcomb, a
cully, an imposed on fool, and a conceited fop; values _Sylvia_ as a
common fair jilt, whose whole design was to deceive the world, and
make herself a fortune at the price of her honour; one that receives
all kind bidders, and that he being too lavish, and too modest, was
reserved the cully on purpose to be undone and jilted out of all his
fortune! This thought was so perfectly fixed in him, that he recovered
out of his excess of pain, and fancied himself perfectly cured of his
blind passion, resolves to leave her to her beastly entertainment, and
to depart; but before he did so, _Sylvia_, (who had conducted the
amorous spark to the bed, where the expecting lady lay dressed rich
and sweet to receive him) returned out of the chamber, and the light
being a little more favourable to his eyes, by his being so long in
the dark, he perceived it _Antonet_, at least such a sort of figure as
he fancied her, and to confirm him saw her go into that chamber where
he knew she lay; he saw her perfect dress, and all confirmed him; this
brought him back almost to his former confusion; but yet he commands
his passion, and descended the stairs, and got himself out of the hall
into the street; and _Sylvia_, remembering the street-door was open,
went and shut it, and returned to _Antonet_'s chamber with the letter
which _Brilliard_ had given to _Antonet_, as she lay in the bed,
believing it _Sylvia_: for that trembling lover was no sooner entered
the chamber, and approached the bed-side, but he kneeled before it,
and offered the price of his happiness, this letter, which she
immediately gave to _Sylvia_, unperceived, who quitted the room: and
now with all the eager haste of impatient love she strikes a light,
and falls to reading the sad contents; but as she read, she many times
fainted over the paper, and as she has since said, it was a wonder she
ever recovered, having no body with her. By that time she had finished
it, she was so ill she was not able to get herself into bed, but threw
herself down on the place where she sat, which was the side of it, in
such agony of grief and despair, as never any soul was possessed of,
but _Sylvia_'s, wholly abandoned to the violence of love and despair:
it is impossible to paint a torment to express hers by; and though she
had vowed to _Antonet_ it should not at all affect her, being so
prepossessed before; yet when she had the confirmation of her fears,
and heard his own dear soft words addressed to another object, saw his
transports, his impatience, his languishing industry and endeavour to
obtain the new desire of his soul, she found her resentment above
rage, and given over to a more silent and less supportable torment,
brought herself into a high fever, where she lay without so much as
calling for aid in her extremity; not that she was afraid the cheat
she had put on _Octavio_ would be discovered; for she had lost the
remembrance that any such prank was played; and in this multitude of
thoughts of more concern, had forgot all the rest of that night's
action.

_Octavio_ this while was traversing the street, wrapped in his cloak,
just as if he had come from horse; for he was no sooner gone from the
door, but his resenting passion returned, and he resolved to go up
again, and disturb the lovers, though it cost him his life and fame:
but returning hastily to the door, he found it shut; at which being
enraged, he was often about to break it open, but still some
unperceivable respect for _Sylvia_ prevented him; but he resolved not
to stir from the door, till he saw the fortunate rogue come out, who
had given him all this torment. At first he cursed himself for being
so much concerned for _Sylvia_ or her actions to waste a minute, but
flattering himself that it was not love to her, but pure curiosity to
know the man who was made the next fool to himself, though the more
happy one, he waited all night; and when he began to see the day
break, which he thought a thousand years; his eye was never off from
the door, and wondered at their confidence, who would let the day
break upon them; 'but the close-drawn curtains there,' cried he,
'favour the happy villainy.' Still he walked on, and still he might
for any rival that was to appear, for a most unlucky accident
prevented _Brilliard_'s coming out, as he doubly intended to do;
first, for the better carrying on of his cheat of being _Octavio_; and
next that he had challenged _Octavio_ to fight; and when he knew his
error, designed to have gone this morning, and asked him pardon, if he
had been returned; but the amorous lover over night, ordering himself
for the encounter to the best advantage, had sent a note to a doctor,
for something that would encourage his spirits; the doctor came, and
opening a little box, wherein was a powerful medicine, he told him
that a dose of those little flies would make him come off with
wondrous honour in the battle of love; and the doctor being gone to
call for a glass of sack, the doctor having laid out of the box what
he thought requisite on a piece of paper, and leaving the box open,
our spark thought if such a dose would encourage him so, a greater
would yet make him do greater wonders; and taking twice the quantity
out of the box, puts them into his pocket, and having drank the first
with full directions, the doctor leaves him; who was no sooner gone,
but he takes those out of his pocket, and in a glass of sack drinks
them down; after this he bathes and dresses, and believes himself a
very _Hercules_, that could have got at least twelve sons that happy
night; but he was no sooner laid in bed with the charming _Sylvia_, as
he thought, but he was taken with intolerable gripes and pains, such
as he had never felt before, insomuch that he was not able to lie in
the bed: this enrages him; he grows mad and ashamed; sometimes he had
little intermissions for a moment of ease, and then he would plead
softly by her bed-side, and ask ten thousand pardons; which being
easily granted he would go into bed again, but then the pain would
seize him anew, so that after two or three hours of distraction he was
forced to dress and retire: but, instead of going down he went softly
up to his own chamber, where he sat him down, and cursed the world,
himself and his hard fate; and in this extremity of pain, shame and
grief, he remained till break of day: by which time _Antonet_, who was
almost as violently afflicted, got her coats on, and went to her own
chamber, where she found her lady more dead than alive. She
immediately shifted her bed-linen, and made her bed, and conducted her
to it, without endeavouring to divert her with the history of her own
misfortune; and only asked her many questions concerning her being
thus ill: to which the wretched _Sylvia_ only answered with sighs; so
that _Antonet_ perceived it was the letter that had disordered her,
and begged she might be permitted to see it; she gave her leave, and
_Antonet_ read it; but no sooner was she come to that part of it which
named the Countess of _Clarinau_, but she asked her lady if she
understood who that person was, with great amazement: at this _Sylvia_
was content to speak, pleased a little that she should have an account
of her rival. 'No,' said she, 'dost thou know her?' 'Yes, madam,'
replied _Antonet_, 'particularly well; for I have served her ever
since I was a girl of five years old, she being of the same age with
me, and sent at six years old both to a monastery; for she being fond
of my play her father sent me at that age with her, both to serve and
to divert her with babies and baubles; there we lived seven years
together, when an old rich _Spaniard_, the Count of _Clarinau_, fell
in love with my lady, and married her from the monastery, before she
had seen any part of the world beyond those sanctified walls. She
cried bitterly to have had me to _Cologne_ with her, but he said I was
too young now for her service, and so sent me away back to my own
town, which is this; and here my lady was born too, and is sister
to----' Here she stopped, fearing to tell; which _Sylvia_ perceiving,
with a briskness (which her indisposition one would have thought could
not have allowed) sat up in bed, and cried, 'Ha! sister to whom? Oh,
how thou wouldst please me to say to _Octavio_.' 'Why, madam, would it
please you?' said the blushing maid. 'Because,' said _Sylvia_, 'it
would in part revenge me on his bold addresses to me, and he would
also be obliged, in honour to his family, to revenge himself on
_Philander_.' 'Ah, madam,' said she, 'as to his presumption towards
you, fortune has sufficiently revenged it;' at this she hung down her
head, and looked very foolishly. 'How,' said _Sylvia_, smiling and
rearing herself yet more in her bed, 'is any misfortune arrived to
_Octavio_? Oh, how I will triumph and upbraid the daring man!----tell
me quickly what it is; for nothing would rejoice me more than to hear
he were punished a little.' Upon this _Antonet_ told her what an
unlucky night she had, how _Octavio_ was seized, and how he departed;
by which _Sylvia_ believed he had made some discovery of the cheat
that was put upon him; and that he only feigned illness to get himself
loose from her embraces; and now she falls to considering how she
shall be revenged on both her lovers: and the best she can pitch upon
is that of setting them both at odds, and making them fight and
revenge themselves on one another; but she, like a right woman, could
not dissemble her resentment of jealousy, whatever art she had to do
so in any other point; but mad to ease her soul that was full, and to
upbraid _Philander_, she writes him a letter; but not till she had
once more, to make her stark-mad, read his over again, which he sent
_Octavio_.

SYLVIA _to_ PHILANDER.

Yes, perjured villain, at last all thy perfidy is arrived to my
knowledge; and thou hadst better have been damned, or have fallen,
like an ungrateful traitor, as thou art, under the public shame of
dying by the common executioner, than have fallen under the grasp of
my revenge; insatiate as thy lust, false as thy treasons to thy
prince, fatal as thy destiny, loud as thy infamy, and bloody as thy
party. Villain, villain, where got you the courage to use me thus,
knowing my injuries and my spirit? Thou seest, base traitor, I do not
fall on thee with treachery, as thou hast with thy king and mistress;
to which thou hast broken thy holy vows of allegiance and eternal
love! But thou that hast broken the laws of God and nature! What could
I expect, when neither religion, honour, common justice nor law could
bind thee to humanity? Thou that betrayest thy prince, abandonest thy
wife, renouncest thy child, killest thy mother, ravishest thy sister,
and art in open rebellion against thy native country, and very kindred
and brothers. Oh after this, what must the wretch expect who has
believed thee, and followed thy abject fortunes, the miserable
out-cast slave, and contempt of the world? What could she expect but
that the villain is still potent in the unrepented, and all the lover
dead and gone, the vice remains, and all the virtue vanished! Oh, what
could I expect from such a devil, so lost in sin and wickedness, that
even those for whom he ventured all his fame, and lost his fortune,
lent like a state-cully upon the public faith, on the security of
rogues, knaves and traitors; even those, I say, turned him out of
their councils for a reprobate too lewd for the villainous society? Oh
cursed that I was, by heaven and fate, to be blind and deaf to all thy
infamy, and suffer thy adorable bewitching face and tongue to charm me
to madness and undoing, when that was all thou hadst left thee, thy
false person, to cheat the silly, easy, fond, believing world into any
sort of opinion of thee; for not one good principle was left, not one
poor virtue to guard thee from damnation, thou hadst but one friend
left thee, one true, on real friend, and that was wretched _Sylvia_;
she, when all abandoned thee but the executioner, fled with thee,
suffered with thee, starved with thee, lost her fame and honour with
thee, lost her friends, her parents, and all her beauty's hopes for
thee; and, in lieu of all, found only the accusation of all the good,
the hate of all the virtuous, the reproaches of her kindred, the scorn
of all chaste maids, and curses of all honest wives; and in requital
had only thy false vows, thy empty love, thy faithless embraces, and
cold dissembling kisses. My only comfort was, (ah miserable comfort,)
to fancy they were true; now that it is departed too, and I have
nothing but a brave revenge left in the room of all! In which I will
be as merciless and irreligious as even thou hast been in all thy
actions; and there remains about me only this sense of honour yet,
that I dare tell thee of my bold design, a bravery thou hast never
shewed to me, who takest me unawares, stabb'st me without a warning of
the blow; so would'st thou serve thy king hadst thou but power; and so
thou servest thy mistress. When I look back even to thy infancy, thy
life has been but one continued race of treachery, and I, (destined
thy evil genius) was born for thy tormentor; for thou hast made a very
fiend of me, and I have hell within; all rage, all torment, fire,
distraction, madness; I rave, I burn, I tear myself and faint, am
still a dying, but can never fall till I have grasped thee with me:
oh, I should laugh in flames to see thee howling by: I scorn thee,
hate thee, loathe thee more than ever I have loved thee; and hate
myself so much for ever loving thee, (to be revenged upon the filthy
criminal) I will expose myself to all the world, cheat, jilt and
flatter all as thou hast done, and having not one sense or grain of
honour left, will yield the abandoned body thou hast rifled to every
asking fop: nor is that all, for they that purchase this shall buy it
at the price of being my _bravoes_. And all shall aid in my revenge on
thee; all merciless and as resolved as I; as I! The injured

SYLVIA.

Having shot this flash of the lightning of her soul, and finished her
rant, she found herself much easier in the resolves on revenge she had
fixed there: she scorned by any vain endeavour to recall him from his
passion; she had wit enough to have made those eternal observations,
that love once gone is never to be retrieved, and that it was
impossible to cease loving, and then again to love the same person;
one may believe for some time one's love is abated, but when it comes
to a trial, it shews itself as vigorous as in its first shine, and
finds its own error; but when once one comes to love a new object, it
can never return with more than pity, compassion, or civility for the
first: this is a most certain truth which all lovers will find, as
most wives may experience, and which our _Sylvia_ now took for
granted, and gave him over for dead to all but her revenge. Though
fits of softness, weeping, raving, and tearing, would by turns seize
the distracted abandoned beauty, in which extremities she has recourse
to scorn and pride, too feeble to aid her too often: the first thing
she resolved on, by the advice of her reasonable counsellor, was to
hear love at both ears, no matter whether she regard it or not, but to
hear all, as a remedy against loving one in particular; for it is most
certain, that the use of hearing love, or of making love (though at
first without design) either in women or men, shall at last unfix the
most confirmed and constant resolution. 'And since you are assured,'
continued _Antonet_, 'that sighs nor tears bring back the wandering
lover, and that dying for him will be no revenge on him, but rather a
kind assurance that you will no more trouble the man who is already
weary of you, you ought, with all your power, industry and reason,
rather to seek the preservation of that beauty, of that fine humour,
to serve you on all occasions, either of revenge or love, than by a
foolish and insignificant concern and sorrow reduce yourself to the
condition of being scorned by all, or at best but pitied.' 'How
pitied!' cried the haughty _Sylvia_. 'Is there any thing so
insupportable to our sex as pity!' 'No surely,' replied the servant,
'when 'tis accompanied by love: oh what blessed comfort 'tis to hear
people cry--"she was once charming, once a beauty." Is any thing more
grating, madam?' At this rate she ran on, and left nothing unsaid that
might animate the angry _Sylvia_ to love anew, or at least to receive
and admit of love; for in that climate the air naturally breeds
spirits avaricious, and much inclines them to the love of money, which
they will gain at any price or hazard; and all this discourse to
_Sylvia_, was but to incline the revengeful listening beauty to admit
of the addresses of _Octavio_, because she knew he would make her
fortune. Thus was the unhappy maid left by her own unfortunate
conduct, encompassed in on every side with distraction; and she was
pointed out by fate to be made the most wretched of all her sex; nor
had she left one faithful friend to advise or stay her youth in its
hasty advance to ruin; she hears the persuading eloquence of the
flattering maid, and finds now nothing so prevalent on her soul as
revenge, and nothing soothes it more; and among all her lovers, or
those at least that she knew adored her, none was found so proper an
instrument as the noble _Octavio_, his youth, his wit, his gallantry,
but above all his fortune pleads most powerfully with her; so that she
resolves upon the revenge, and fixes him the man; whom she now knew by
so many obligations was obliged to serve her turn on _Philander_: thus
_Sylvia_ found a little tranquillity, such as it was, in hope of
revenge, while the passionate _Octavio_ was wrecked with a thousand
pains and torments, such as none but jilted lovers can imagine; and
having a thousand times resolved to hate her, and as often to love on,
in spite of all----after a thousand arguments against her, and as many
in favour of her, he arrived only to this knowledge, that his love was
extreme, and that he had no power over his heart; that honour, fame,
interest, and whatever else might oppose his violent flame, were all
too weak to extinguish the least spark of it, and all the conquest he
could get of himself was, that he suffered all his torment, all the
hell of raging jealousy grown to confirmation, and all the pangs of
absence for that whole day, and had the courage to live on the rack
without easing one moment of his agony by a letter or billet, which in
such cases discharges the burden and pressures of the love-sick heart;
and _Sylvia_, who dressed, and suffered herself wholly to be carried
away by her vengeance, expected him with as much impatience as ever
she did the coming of the once adorable _Philander_, though with a
different passion; but all the live-long day passed in expectation of
him, and no lover appeared; no not so much as a billet, nor page at
her up-rising to ask her health; so that believing he had been very
ill indeed, from what _Antonet_ told her of his being so all night,
and fearing now that it was no discovery of the cheat put upon him by
the exchange of the maid for the mistress, but real sickness, she
resolved to send to him, and the rather because _Antonet_ assured her
he was really sick, and in a cold damp sweat all over his face and
hands which she touched, and that from his infinite concern at the
defeat, the extreme respect he shewed her in midst of all the rage at
his own disappointment, and every circumstance, she knew it was no
feigned thing for any discovery he had made: on this confirmation,
from a maid cunning enough to distinguish truth from flattery, she
writ _Octavio_ this letter at night.

SYLVIA _to_ OCTAVIO.

After such a parting from a maid so entirely kind to you, she might at
least have hoped the favour of a billet from you, to have informed her
of your health; unless you think that after we have surrendered all,
we are of the humour of most of your sex, who despise the obliger; but
I believed you a man above the little crimes and levities of your
race; and I am yet so hard to be drawn from that opinion, I am willing
to flatter myself, that 'tis yet some other reason that has hindered
you from visiting me since, or sending me an account of your recovery,
which I am too sensible of to believe was feigned, and which indeed
has made me so tender, that I easily forgive all the disappointment I
received from it, and beg you will not afflict yourself at any loss
you sustained by it, since I am still so much the same I was, to be as
sensible as before of all the obligations I have to you; send me word
immediately how you do, for on that depends a great part of the
happiness of

SYLVIA.

You may easily see by this letter she was not in a humour of either
writing love or much flattery; for yet she knew not how she ought to
resent this absence in all kinds from _Octavio_, and therefore with
what force she could put upon a soul, too wholly taken up with the
thoughts of another, more dear and more afflicting, she only writ this
to fetch one from him, that by it she might learn part of his
sentiment of her last action, and sent her page with it to him; who,
as was usual, was carried directly up to _Octavio_, whom he found in a
gallery, walking in a most dejected posture, without a band, unbraced,
his arms a-cross his open breast, and his eyes bent to the floor; and
not taking any notice when the pages entered, his own was forced to
pull him by the sleeve before he would look up, and starting from a
thousand thoughts that oppressed him almost to death, he gazed wildly
about him, and asked their business: when the page delivered him the
letter, he took it, but with such confusion as he had much ado to
support himself; but resolving not to shew his feebleness to her page,
he made a shift to get a wax-light that was on the table, and read it;
and was not much amazed at the contents, believing she was pursuing
the business of her sex and life, and jilting him on; (for such was
his opinion of all women now); he forced a smile of scorn, though his
soul were bursting, and turning to the page gave him a liberal reward,
as was his daily use when he came, and mustered up so much courage as
to force himself to say--'Child, tell your lady it requires no answer;
you may tell her too, that I am in perfect good health--' He was
oppressed to speak more, but sighs stopped him, and his former
resolution, wholly to abandon all correspondence with her, checked his
forward tongue, and he walked away to prevent himself from saying
more: while the page, who wondered at this turn of love, after a
little waiting, departed; and when _Octavio_ had ended his walk, and
turned, and saw him gone, his heart felt a thousand pangs not to be
borne or supported; he was often ready to recall him, and was angry
the boy did not urge him for an answer. He read the letter again, and
wonders at nothing now after her last night's action, though all was
riddle to him: he found it was writ to some happier man than himself,
however he chanced to have it by mistake; and turning to the outside,
viewed the superscription, where there happened to be none at all, for
_Sylvia_ writ in haste, and when she did it, it was the least of her
thoughts: and now he believed he had found out the real mystery, that
it was not meant to him; he therefore calls his page, whom he sent
immediately after that of _Sylvia_, who being yet below (for the lads
were laughing together for a moment) he brought him to his distracted
lord; who nevertheless assumed a mildness to the innocent boy, and
cried, 'My child, thou hast mistaken the person to whom thou shouldst
have carried the letter, and I am sorry I opened it; pray return it to
the happy man it was meant to,' giving him the letter. 'My lord,'
replied the boy, 'I do not use to carry letters to any but your
lordship: it is the footmen's business to do that to other persons.'
'It is a mistake, where ever it lies,' cried _Octavio_, sighing,
'whether in thee, or thy lady----' So turning from the wondering boy
he left him to return with his letter to his lady, who grew mad at the
relation of what she heard from the page, and notwithstanding the
torment she had upon her soul, occasioned by _Philander_, she now
found she had more to endure, and that in spite of all her love-vows
and resentments, she had something for _Octavio_ to which she could
not give a name; she fancies it all pride, and concern for the
indignity put on her beauty: but whatever it was, this slight of his
so wholly took up her soul, that she had for some time quite forgot
_Philander_, or when she did think on him it was with less resentment
than of this affront; she considers _Philander_ with some excuse now;
as having long been possessed of a happiness he might grow weary of;
but a new lover, who had for six months incessantly lain at her feet,
imploring, dying, vowing, weeping, sighing, giving and acting all
things the most passionate of men was capable of, or that love could
inspire, for him to be at last admitted to the possession of the
ravishing object of his vows and soul, to be laid in her bed, nay in
her very arms (as she imagined he thought) and then, even before
gathering the roses he came to pluck, before he had begun to compose
or finished his nosegay, to depart the happy paradise with a disgust,
and such a disgust, as first to oblige him to dissemble sickness, and
next fall even from all his civilities, was a contempt she was not
able to bear; especially from him, of whom all men living, she
designed to make the greatest property of, as most fit for her revenge
of all degrees and sorts: but when she reflected with reason, (which
she seldom did, for either love or rage blinded that) she could not
conceive it possible that _Octavio_ could be fallen so suddenly from
all his vows and professions, but on some very great provocation:
sometimes she thinks he tempted her to try her virtue to _Philander_,
and being a perfect honourable friend, hates her for her levity; but
she considers his presents, and his unwearied industry, and believes
he would not at that expense have bought a knowledge which could
profit neither himself nor _Philander_; then she believes some
disgusted scent, or something about _Antonet_, might disoblige him;
but having called the maid, conjuring her to tell her whether any
thing passed between her and _Octavio_; she again told her lady the
whole truth, in which there could be no discovery of infirmity there;
she embraced her, she kissed her bosom, and found her touches soft,
her breath and bosom sweet as any thing in nature could be; and now
lost almost in a confusion of thought, she could not tell what to
imagine; at last she being wholly possessed that all the fault was not
in _Octavio_, (for too often we believe as we hope) she concludes that
_Antonet_ has told him all the cheat she put upon him: this last
thought pleased her, because it seemed the most probable, and was the
most favourable to herself; and a thought that, if true, could not do
her any injury with him. This set her heart a little to rights, and
she grew calm with a belief, that if so it was, as now she doubted
not, a sight of her, or a future hope from her, would calm all his
discontent, and beget a right understanding; she therefore resolves to
write to him, and own her little fallacy: but before she did so,
_Octavio_, whose passion was violent as ever in his soul, though it
was oppressed with a thousand torments, and languished under as many
feeble resolutions, burst at last into all its former softness, and he
resolves to write to the false fair one, and upbraid her with her last
night's infidelity; nor could he sleep till he had that way charmed
his senses, and eased his sick afflicted soul. It being now ten at
night, and he retired to his chamber, he set himself down and writ
this.

OCTAVIO _to_ SYLVIA.

_Madam_,

You have at last taught me a perfect knowledge of myself; and in one
unhappy night made me see all the follies and vanities of my soul,
which self-love and fond imagination had too long rendered that way
guilty; long long! I have played the fop as others do, and shewed the
gaudy monsieur, and set a value on my worthless person for being well
dressed, as I believed, and furnished out for conquest, by being the
gayest coxcomb in the town, where, even as I passed, perhaps, I
fancied I made advances on some wishing hearts, and vain, with but
imaginary victory, I still fooled on----and was at last undone; for I
saw _Sylvia_, the charming faithless _Sylvia_, a beauty that one would
have thought had had the power to have cured the fond disease of
self-conceit and foppery, since love, they say, is a remedy against
those faults of youth; but still my vanity was powerful in me, and
even this beauty too I thought it not impossible to vanquish, and
still dressed on, and took a mighty care to shew myself--a blockhead,
curse upon me, while you were laughing at my industry, and turned the
fancying fool to ridicule, oh, he deserved it well, most wondrous
well, for but believing any thing about him could merit but a serious
thought from _Sylvia_. _Sylvia_! whose business is to laugh at all;
yet love, that is my sin and punishment, reigns still as absolutely in
my soul, as when I wished and hoped and longed for mighty blessings
you could give; yes, I still love! Only this wretchedness is fixed to
it, to see those errors which I cannot shun; my love is as high, but
all my wishes gone; my passion still remains entire and raving, but no
desire; I burn, I die, but do not wish to hope; I would be all
despair, and, like a martyr, am vain and proud even in suffering. Yes,
_Sylvia_--when you made me wise, you made me wretched too: before,
like a false worshipper, I only saw the gay, the gilded side of the
deceiving idol; but now it is fallen----discovers all the cheat, and
shews a god no more; and it is in love as in religion too, there is
nothing makes their votaries truly happy but being well deceived: for
even in love itself, harmless and innocent, as it is by nature, there
needs a little art to hide the daily discontents and torments, that
fears, distrusts and jealousies create; a little soft dissimulation is
needful; for where the lover is easy, he is most constant. But oh,
when love itself is defective too, and managed by design and little
interest, what cunning, oh what cautions ought the fair designer then
to call to her defence; yet I confess your plot----still charming
_Sylvia_, was subtly enough contrived, discreetly carried on----the
shades of night, the happy lover's refuge, favoured you too; it was
only fate was cruel, fate that conducted me in an unlucky hour; dark
as it was, and silent too the night, I saw----Yes, faithless fair, I
saw I was betrayed; by too much faith, by too much love undone, I saw
my fatal ruin and your perfidy; and, like a tame ignoble sufferer,
left you without revenge!

I must confess, oh thou deceiving fair one, I never could pretend to
what I wished, and yet methinks, because I know my heart, and the
entire devotion, that is paid you, I merited at least not to have been
imposed upon; but after so dishonourable an action, as the betraying
the secret of my friend, it was but just that I should be betrayed,
and you have paid me well, deservedly well, and that shall make me
silent, and whatsoever I suffer, however I die, however I languish out
my wretched life, I'll bear my sighs where you shall never hear them,
nor the reproaches my complaints express: live thou a punishment to
vain, fantastic, hoping youth, live, and advance in cunning and
deceit, to make the fond believing men more wise, and teach the women
new arts of falsehood, till they deceive so long, that man may hate,
and set as vast a distance between sex and sex, as I have resolved (oh
_Sylvia_) thou shalt be for ever from OCTAVIO.

This letter came just as _Sylvia_ was going to write to him, of which
she was extremely glad; for all along there was nothing expressed that
could make her think he meant any other than the cheat she put upon
him in _Antonet_ instead of herself: and it was some ease to her mind
to be assured of the cause of his anger and absence, and to find her
own thought confirmed, that he had indeed discovered the truth of the
matter: she knew, since that was all, she could easily reconcile him
by a plain confession, and giving him new hopes; she therefore writes
this answer to him, which she sent by his page, who waited for it.

SYLVIA _to_ OCTAVIO.

I own, too angry, and too nice _Octavio_, the crime you charge me
with; and did believe a person of your gallantry, wit and gaiety,
would have passed over so little a fault, with only reproaching me
pleasantly; I did not expect so grave a reproof, or rather so serious
an accusation. Youth has a thousand follies to answer for, and cannot
_Octavio_ pardon one sally of it in _Sylvia_? I rather expected to
have seen you early here this morning, pleasantly rallying my little
perfidy, than to find you railing at a distance at it; calling it by a
thousand names that does not merit half this malice: and sure you do
not think me so poor in good nature, but I could, some other coming
hour, have made you amends for those you lost last night, possibly I
could have wished myself with you at the same time; and had I,
perhaps, followed my inclination, I had made you happy as you wished;
but there were powerful reasons that prevented me. I conjure you to
let me see you, where I will make a confession of my last night's sin,
and give such arguments to convince you of the necessity of it, as
shall absolutely reconcile you to love, hope, and SYLVIA.

It being late, she only sent this short billet: and not hoping that
night to see him, she went to bed, after having inquired the health of
_Brilliard_, who she heard was very ill; and that young defeated
lover, finding it impossible to meet _Octavio_ as he had promised, not
to fight him, but to ask his pardon for his mistake, made a shift,
with much ado, to write him a note, which was this:

_My Lord_,

I confess my yesterday's rudeness, and beg you will give me a pardon
before I leave the world; for I was last night taken violently ill,
and am unable to wait on your lordship, to beg what this most
earnestly does for your lordship's most devoted servant,

BRILLIARD.

This billet, though it signified nothing to _Octavio_, it served
_Sylvia_ afterwards to very good use and purpose, as a little time
shall make appear. And _Octavio_ received these two notes from
_Brilliard_ and _Sylvia_ at the same time; the one he flung by
regardless, the other he read with inifinite pain, scorn, hate,
indignation, all at once stormed in his heart, he felt every passion
there but that of love, which caused them all; if he thought her false
and ungrateful before, he now thinks her fallen to the lowest degree
of lewdness, to own her crime with such impudence; he fancies now he
is cured of love, and hates her absolutely, thinks her below even his
scorn, and puts himself to bed, believing he shall sleep as well as
before he saw the light, the foolish _Sylvia_: but oh he boasts in
vain, the light, the foolish _Sylvia_ was charming still; still all
the beauty appeared; even in his slumbers the angel dawned about him,
and all the fiend was laid: he sees her lovely face, but the false
heart is hid; he hears her charming wit, but all the cunning is
hushed: he views the motions of her delicate body, without regard to
those of her mind; he thinks of all the tender words she has given
him, in which the jilting part is lost, and all forgotten; or, if by
chance it crossed his happier thought, he rolls and tumbles in his
bed, he raves and calls upon her charming name, till he have quite
forgot it, and takes all the pains he can to deceive his own heart: oh
it is a tender part, and can endure no hurt; he soothes it therefore,
and at the worst resolves, since the vast blessing may be purchased,
to revel in delight, and cure himself that way: these flattering
thoughts kept him all night waking, and in the morning he resolves his
visit; but taking up her letter, which lay on the table, he read it
over again, and, by degrees, wrought himself up to madness at the
thought that _Sylvia_ was possessed: _Philander_ he could bear with
little patience, but that, because before he loved or knew her, he
could allow; but this----this wrecks his very soul; and in his height
of fury, he writes this letter without consideration.

OCTAVIO _to_ SYLVIA.

Since you profess yourself a common mistress, and set up for the
glorious trade of sin, send me your price, and I perhaps may purchase
damnation at your rate. May be you have a method in your dealing, and
I have mistook you all this while, and dealt not your way; instruct my
youth, great mistress of the art, and I shall be obedient; tell me
which way I may be happy too, and put in for an adventurer; I have a
stock of ready youth and money; pray, name your time and sum for
hours, or nights, or months; I will be in at all, or any, as you shall
find leisure to receive the impatient _Octavio_.

This in a mad moment he writ, and sent it ere he had considered
farther; and _Sylvia_, who expected not so coarse and rough a return,
grew as mad as he in reading it; and she had much ado to hold her
hands off from beating the innocent page that brought it: to whom she
turned with fire in her eyes, flames in her cheeks, and thunder on her
tongue, and cried, 'Go tell your master that he is a villain; and if
you dare approach me any more from him, I'll have my footmen whip
you:' and with a scorn, that discovered all the indignation in the
world, she turned from him, and, tearing his note, threw it from her,
and walked her way: and the page, thunder-struck, returned to his
lord, who by this time was repenting he had managed his passion no
better, and at what the boy told him was wholly convinced of his
error; he now considered her character and quality, and accused
himself of great indiscretion; and as he was sitting the most dejected
melancholy man on earth, reflecting on his misfortune, the post
arrived with letters from _Philander_, which he opened, and laying by
that which was enclosed for _Sylvia_, he read that from _Philander_ to
himself.

PHILANDER _to_ OCTAVIO.

There is no pain, my dear _Octavio_, either in love or friendship,
like that of doubt; and I confess myself guilty of giving it you, in a
great measure, by my silence the last post; but having business of so
much greater concern to my heart than even writing to _Octavio_, I
found myself unable to pursue any other; and I believe you could too
with the less impatience bear with my neglect, having affairs of the
same nature there; our circumstances and the business of our hearts
then being so resembling, methinks I have as great an impatience to be
recounting to you the story of my love and fortune, as I am to receive
that of yours, and to know what advances you have made in the heart of
the still charming _Sylvia_! Though there will be this difference in
the relations; mine, whenever I recount it, will give you a double
satisfaction; first from the share your friendship makes you have in
all the pleasures of _Philander_; and next that it excuses _Sylvia_,
if she can be false to me for _Octavio_; and still advances his design
on her heart: but yours, whenever I receive it, will give me a
thousand pains, which it is however but just I should feel, since I
was the first breaker of the solemn league and covenant made between
us; which yet I do, by all that is sacred, with a regret that makes me
reflect with some repentance in all those moments, wherein I do not
wholly give my soul up to love, and the more beautiful _Calista_; yes
more, because new.

In my last, my dear _Octavio_, you left me pursuing, like a
knight-errant, a beauty enchanted within some invisible tree, or
castle, or lake, or any thing inaccessible, or rather wandering in a
dream after some glorious disappearing phantom: and for some time
indeed I knew not whether I slept or waked. I saw daily the good old
Count of _Clarinau_, of whom I durst not so much as ask a civil
question towards the satisfaction of my soul; the page was sent into
_Holland_ (with some express to a brother-in-law of the Count's) of
whom before I had the intelligence of a fair young wife to the old
lord his master; and for the rest of the servants they spoke all
_Spanish_, and the devil a word we understood each other; so that it
was impossible to learn any thing farther from them; and I found I was
to owe all my good fortune to my own industry, but how to set it
a-working I could not devise; at last it happened, that being walking
in the garden which had very high walls on three sides, and a fine
large apartment on the other, I concluded that it was in that part of
the house my fair new conqueress resided, but how to be resolved I
could not tell, nor which way the windows looked that were to give the
light, towards that part of the garden there was none; at last I saw
the good old gentleman come trudging through the garden, fumbling out
of his pocket a key; I stepped into an arbour to observe him, and saw
him open a little door, that led him into another garden, and locking
the door after him vanished; and observing how that side of the
apartment lay, I went into the street, and after a large compass found
that which faced the garden, which made the fore-part of the
apartment. I made a story of some occasion I had for some upper rooms,
and went into many houses to find which fronted best the apartment,
and still disliked something, till I met with one so directly to it,
that I could, when I got a story higher, look into the very rooms,
which only a delicate garden parted from this by-street; there it was
I fixed, and learned from a young _Dutch_ woman that spoke good
_French_, that this was the very place I looked for: the apartment of
Madam, the Countess of _Clarinau_; she told me too, that every day
after dinner the old gentleman came thither, and sometimes a-nights;
and bewailed the young beauty, who had no better entertainment than
what an old withered _Spaniard_ of threescore and ten could give her.
I found this young woman apt for my purpose, and having very well
pleased her with my conversation, and some little presents I made her,
I left her in good humour, and resolved to serve me on any design; and
returning to my lodging, I found old _Clarinau_ returned, as brisk and
gay, as if he had been caressed by so fair and young a lady; which
very thought made me rave, and I had abundance of pain to with-hold my
rage from breaking out upon him, so jealous and envious was I of what
now I loved and desired a thousand times more than ever; since the
relation my new, young, female friend had given me, who had wit and
beauty sufficient to make her judgement impartial: however, I
contained my jealousy with the hopes of a sudden revenge; for I
fancied the business half accomplished in my knowledge of her
residence. I feigned some business to the old gentleman, that would
call me out of town for a week to consult with some of our party; and
taking my leave of him, he offered me the compliment of money, or what
else I should need in my affair, which at that time was not unwelcome
to I me; and being well furnished for my enterprise, I took horse
without a page or footman to attend me; because I pretended my
business was a secret, and taking a turn about the town in the
evening, I left my horse without the gates, and went to my secret new
quarters, where my young friend received me with the joy of a
mistress, and with whom indeed I could not forbear entertaining myself
very well, which engaged her more to my service, with the aid of my
liberality; but all this did not allay one spark of the fire kindled
in my soul for the lovely _Calista_; and I was impatient for night,
against which time I was preparing an engine to mount the battlement,
for so it was that divided the garden from the street, rather than a
wall: all things fitted to my purpose, I fixed myself at the window
that looked directly towards her sashes, and had the satisfaction to
see her leaning there, and looking on a fountain, that stood in the
midst of the garden, and cast a thousand little streams into the air,
that made a melancholy noise in falling into a large alabaster cistern
beneath: oh how my heart danced at the dear sight to all the tunes of
love! I had not power to stir or speak, or to remove my eyes, but
languished on the window where I leant half dead with joy and
transport; for she appeared more charming to my view; undressed and
fit for love; oh, my _Octavio_, such are the pangs which I believe
thou feelest at the approach of _Sylvia_, so beats thy heart, so rise
thy sighs and wishes, so trembling and so pale at every view, as I was
in this lucky amorous moment! And thus I fed my soul till night came
on, and left my eyes no object but my heart----a thousand dear ideas.
And now I sallied out, and with good success; for with a long engine
which reached the top of the wall, I fixed the end of my ladder there,
and mounted it, and sitting on the top brought my ladder easily up to
me, and turned over to the other side, and with abundance of ease
descended into the garden, which was the finest I had ever seen; for
now, as good luck would have it, who was designed to favour me, the
moon began to shine so bright, as even to make me distinguish the
colours of the flowers that dressed all the banks in ravishing order;
but these were not the beauty I came to possess, and my new thoughts
of disposing myself, and managing my matters, now took off all that
admiration that was justly due to so delightful a place, which art and
nature had agreed to render charming to every sense; thus much I
considered it, that there was nothing that did not invite to love; a
thousand pretty recesses of arbours, grotts and little artificial
groves; fountains, environed with beds of flowers, and little
rivulets, to whose dear fragrant banks a wishing amorous god would
make his soft retreat. After having ranged about, rather to seek a
covert on occasion, and to know the passes of the garden, which might
serve me in any extremity of surprise that might happen, I returned to
the fountain that faced _Calista_'s window, and leaning upon its
brink, viewed the whole apartment, which appeared very magnificent:
just against me I perceived a door that went into it, which while I
was considering how to get open I heard it unlock, and skulking behind
the large basin of the fountain (yet so as to mark who came out) I saw
to my unspeakable transport, the fair, the charming _Calista_ dressed
just as she was at the window, a loose gown of silver stuff lapped
about her delicate body, her head in fine night-clothes, and all
careless as my soul could wish; she came, and with her the old dragon;
and I heard her say in coming out--'This is too fine a night to sleep
in: prithee, _Dormina_, do not grudge me the pleasure of it, since
there are so very few that entertain _Calista_.' This last she spoke
with a sigh, and a languishment in her voice, that shot new flames of
love into my panting heart, and trilled through all my veins, while
she pursued her walk with the old gentlewoman; and still I kept myself
at such a distance to have them in my sight, but slid along the shady
side of the walk, where I could not be easily seen, while they kept
still on the shiny part: she led me thus through all the walks,
through all the maze of love; and all the way I fed my greedy eyes
upon the melancholy object of my raving desire; her shape, her gait,
her motion, every step, and every movement of her hand and head, had a
peculiar grace; a thousand times I was tempted to approach her, and
discover myself, but I dreaded the fatal consequence, the old woman
being by; nor knew I whether they did not expect the husband there; I
therefore waited with impatience when she would speak, that by that I
might make some discovery of my destiny that night; and after having
tired herself a little with walking, she sat down on a fine seat of
white marble, that was placed at the end of a grassy walk, and only
shadowed with some tall trees that ranked themselves behind it,
against one of which I leaned: there, for a quarter of an hour, they
sat as silent as the night, where only soft-breathed winds were heard
amongst the boughs, and softer sighs from fair _Calista_; at last the
old thing broke silence, who was almost asleep while she spoke.
'Madam, if you are weary, let us retire to bed, and not sit gazing
here at the moon.' 'To bed,' replied _Calista_, 'What should I do
there?' 'Marry sleep,' quoth the old gentlewoman; 'What should you
do?' 'Ah, _Dormina_,' (sighed _Calista_,) 'would age would seize me
too; for then perhaps I should find at least the pleasure of the old;
be dull and lazy, love to eat and sleep, not have my slumbers

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