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

Part 7 out of 8

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his absence to the jealous _Sylvia_, he feigned that he was sent to by
_Cesario_, to meet him upon the frontiers of _France_, and conduct him
into _Flanders_, and that he should be absent some days. This was as
_Sylvia_ could have wished; and after forcing herself to take as kind
a leave of him as she could, whose head was wholly possessed with a
million of gold, she sent him away, both parties being very well
pleased with the artifices with which they jilted each other. At
_Philander_'s, going into his chair, he was seen by the old Count of
_Clarinau_, who, cured perfectly of his wound, was come thither to
seek _Philander_, in order to take the revenge of a man of honour, as
he called it; which in _Spanish_ is the private stab, for private
injuries; and indeed more reasonable than base _French_ duelling,
where the injured is as likely to suffer as the injurer: but
_Clarinau_ durst not attack him by day-light in the open street, nor
durst he indeed appear in his own figure in the King of _Spain_'s
dominions, standing already there convicted of the murder of his first
wife; but in a disguise came to _Brussels_. The chair with _Philander_
was no sooner gone from the lodgings, but he inquired of some of the
house, who lodged there that that gentleman came to visit? And they
told him a great-bellied woman, who was a woman of quality, and a
stranger: this was sufficient, you may believe, for him to think it
Madam the Countess of _Clarinau_. With this assurance he repairs to
his lodging, which was but hard by, and sets a footman that attended
him to watch the return of _Philander_ to those lodgings, which he
believed would not be long: the footman, who had not seen _Philander_,
only asked a description of him; he told him, he was a pretty tall
man, in black clothes (for the Court was then in mourning) with long
black hair, fine black eyes, very handsome, and well made; this was
enough for the lad; he thought he should know him from a thousand by
these marks and tokens. Away goes the footman, and waited till the
shutting in of the evening, and then, running to his lord, told him,
that _Philander_ was come to those lodgings; that he saw him alight
out of the chair, and took perfect notice of him; that he was sure it
was that _Philander_ he looked for: _Clarinau_, overjoyed that his
revenge was at hand, took his dagger, sword and pistol, and hasted to
_Sylvia_'s lodgings, where he found the chair still waiting, and the
doors all open; he made no more ado, but goes in and ascends the
stairs, and passes on, without opposition, to the very chamber where
they sat, _Sylvia_ in the arms of her lover, not _Philander_, but
_Octavio_, who being also in black, tall, long, brown hair, and
handsome, and by a sight that might very well deceive; he made no more
to do, not doubting but it was _Philander_ and _Calista_, but steps to
him, and offering to stab him, was prevented by his starting at the
suddenness of his approach; however, the dagger did not absolutely
miss him, but wounded him in the left arm; but _Octavio_'s youth, too
nimble for _Clarinau_'s age, snatching at the dagger as it wounded
him, at once prevented the hurt being much, and returned a home blow
at _Clarinau_, so that he fell at _Sylvia_'s feet, whose shrieks
alarmed the house to their aid, where they found by the light of the
candle that was brought, that the man was not dead, but lay gazing on
_Octavio_, who said to him, 'Tell me, thou unfortunate wretch, what
miserable fate brought thee to this place, to disturb the repose of
those who neither know thee, nor had done thee injury?' 'Ah, sir,'
replied _Clarinau_, 'you have reason for what you say, and I ask
heaven, that unknown lady, and yourself, a thousand pardons for my
mistake and crime: too late I see my error, pity and forgive me; and
let me have a priest, for I believe I am a dead man.' _Octavio_ was
extremely moved with compassion at these words, and immediately sent
his page, who was alarmed up in the crowd, for a Father and a surgeon;
and he declared before the rest, that he forgave that stranger,
meaning _Octavio_, since he had, by a mistake of his footman, pulled
on his own death, and had deserved it: and thereupon, as well as he
could, he told them for whom he had mistaken _Octavio_, who, having
injured his honour, he had vowed revenge upon; and that he took the
fair lady, meaning _Sylvia_, for a faithless wife of his, who had been
the authoress of all this. _Octavio_ soon divined this to be his
brother-in-law, _Clarinau_, whom yet he had never seen; and stooping
down to him, he cried, 'It is I, sir, that ought to demand a thousand
pardons of you, for letting the revenge of _Calista_'s honour alone so
long.' _Clarinau_ wondered who he should be that named _Calista_, and
asking him his name, he told him he was the unhappy brother to that
fair wanton, whose story was but too well known to him. Thus while
_Clarinau_ viewing his face, found him the very picture of that false
charmer; while _Octavio_ went on and assured him, if it were his
unhappiness to die, that he would revenge the honour of him and his
sister, on the betrayer of both. By this time the surgeon came who
found not his wound to be mortal, as was feared, and ventured to
remove him to his own lodgings, whither _Octavio_ would accompany him;
and leaving _Sylvia_ inclined, after her fright, to be reposed, he
took his leave of her for that evening, not daring, out of respect to
her, to visit her any more that night: he was no sooner gone, but
_Philander_, who never used to go without two very good pocket-pistols
about him, having left them under his pillow last night at _Sylvia's_
lodgings; and being upon love-adventures, he knew not what occasion he
might have for them, returned back to her lodgings: when he came, she
was a little surprised at first to see him, but after reflecting on
what revenge was threatened him, she exposed _Octavio's_ secret to
him, and told him the whole adventure, and how she had got his
writings, which would be all her own, if she might be suffered to
manage the fond believer. But he, whose thought ran on the revenge was
threatened him, cried out--'He has kindly awakened me to my duty by
what he threatens; it is I that ought to be revenged on his perfidy,
of shewing you my letters; and to that end, by heaven, I will defer
all the business in the world to meet him, and pay his courtesy--If I
had enjoyed his sister, he might suppose I knew her not to be so; and
what man of wit or youth, would refuse a lovely woman, that presents a
heart laden with love, and a person all over charms, to his bosom? I
were to be esteemed unworthy the friendship of a man of honour, if I
should: but he has basely betrayed me every way, makes love to my
celebrated mistress, whom he knows I love, and getting secrets,
unravels them to make his court and his access the easier.'

She foresaw the dangerous consequence of a quarrel of this nature, and
had no sooner blown the fire, (which she did, to the end that
_Philander_ should avoid her lodgings, and all places where he might
meet _Octavio_) but she hinders all her designs; and fixing him there,
he was resolved to expect him at the first place he thought most
likely to find him in: she endeavoured, by a thousand entreaties, to
get him gone, urging it all for his safety; but that made him the more
resolved; and all she could do, could not hinder him from staying
supper, and after that, from going to bed: so that she was forced to
hide a thousand terrors and fears by feigned caresses, the sooner to
get him to meet _Cesario_ in the morning, as he said he was to do; and
though she could not help flattering both, while by; yet she ever
loved the absent best; and now repented a thousand times that she had
told him any thing.

Early the next morning, as was his custom, _Octavio_ came to inquire
of _Sylvia_'s health; and though he had oftentimes only inquired and
no more, (taking excuse of ill nights, or commands that none should
come to her till she called) and had departed satisfied, and came
again: yet now, when he went into _Antonet_'s chamber, he found she
was in a great consternation, and her looks and flattering excuses
made him know, there was more than usual in his being to-day denied;
he therefore pressed it the more, and she grew to greater confusion by
his pressing her. At last he demanded the key of her lady's chamber,
he having, he said, business of great importance to communicate to
her; she told him she had as great reason not to deliver it,--'That
is,' said she, (fearing she had said too much) 'my lady's commands';
and finding no persuasion would prevail, and rather venturing
_Sylvia_'s eternal displeasure, than not to be satisfied in the
jealousies she had raised; especially reflecting on _Philander_'s
being in town, he took _Antonet_ in his arms, and forced the key from
her; who was willing to be forced; for she admired _Octavio_'s bounty,
and cared not for _Philander_. _Octavio_ being master of the key,
flies to _Sylvia_'s door like lightning, or a jealous lover, mad to
discover what seen would kill him: he opens the chamber-door, and goes
softly to the bed-side, as if he now feared to find what he sought,
and wished to heaven he might be mistaken; he opened the curtains, and
found _Sylvia_ sleeping with _Philander_ in her arms. I need make no
description of his confusion and surprise; the character I have given
of that gallant honest, generous lover, is sufficient to make you
imagine his heart, when indeed he could believe his eyes: before he
thought--he was about to draw his sword, and run them both through,
and revenge at once his injured honour, his love, and that of his
sister; but that little reason he had left checked that barbarity, and
he was readier, from his own natural sweetness of disposition, to run
himself upon his own sword: and there the Christian pleaded----and yet
found his heart breaking, his whole body trembling, his mind all
agony, his cheeks cold and pale, his eyes languishing, his tongue
refusing to give utterance to his pressure, and his legs to support
his body; and much ado he had to reel into _Antonet_'s, chamber, where
he found the maid dying with grief for her concern for him. He was no
sooner got to her bed-side, but he fell dead upon it; while she, who
was afraid to alarm her lady and _Philander_, lest _Octavio_, being
found there, had accused her with betraying them; but shutting the
door close, (for yet no body had seen him but herself) she endeavoured
all she could to bring him to life again, and it was a great while
before she could do so: as soon as he was recovered, he lay a good
while without speaking, reflecting on his fate; but after appearing as
if he had assumed all his manly spirits together, he rose up, and
conjured _Antonet_ to say nothing of what had happened, and that she
should not repent the service she would do him by it. _Antonet_, who
was his absolute, devoted slave, promised him all he desired; and he
had the courage to go once again, to confirm himself in the lewdness
of this undone fair one, whose perjuries had rendered her even odious
now to him, and he beheld her with scorn and disdain: and that she
might know how indifferently he did so, (when she should come to know
it) he took _Philander_'s sword that lay on her _toilet_, and left his
own in the place, and went out pleased; at least in this, that he had
commanded his passion in the midst of the most powerful occasion for
madness and revenge that ever was.

They lay thus secured in each other's arms till nine o'clock in the
morning, when _Philander_ received a note from _Brilliard_, who was
managing his lord's design of getting a billet delivered to _Calista_
by the way of a nun, whom _Brilliard_ had made some address to, to
that end, and sent to beg his lord would come to the grate, and speak
to the young nun, who had undertaken for any innocent message. This
note made him rise and haste to go out, when he received another from
an unknown hand; which was thus:

* * * * *

_To_ Philander.

My Lord, I have important business with you, and beg I may speak with
you at three of the clock; I will wait for you by the fountain in the
park: Yours.

* * * * *

_Sylvia_, who was impatient to have him gone, never asked to see
either of these notes, lest it should have deterred him; and she knew
_Octavio_ would visit her early though she knew withal she could
refuse him entrance with any slight excuse, so good an opinion he had
of her virtue, and so absolute an ascendant she had over him.--She had
given orders, if he came, to be refused her chamber; and she was glad
to know he had not yet been at her lodgings. A hundred times she was
about to make use of the lessened love _Philander_ had for her, and to
have proposed to him the suffering _Octavio_ to share her embraces,
for so good an interest, since no returns could be had from _France_,
nor any signs of amendment of their fortunes any other way: but still
she feared he had too much honour to permit such a cheat in love, to
be put even upon an enemy. This fear deferred her speaking of it, or
offering to sacrifice _Octavio_ as a cully to their interest, though
she wished it; nor knew she long how to deceive both; the business was
to put _Philander_ off handsomely, if possible, since she failed of
all other hopes. These were her thoughts while _Philander_ was
dressing, and raised by his asking for some more pistoles from her
cabinet, which she found would quickly be at an end, if one lover
diminished daily, and the other was hindered from increasing: but
_Philander_ was no sooner dressed but he left her to her repose; and
_Octavio_ (who had a _Grison_ attending the motions of _Philander_,
all that morning, and had brought him word he was gone from _Sylvia_)
went to visit her, and entering her chamber, all changed from what he
was before, and death sat in his face and eyes, maugre all his
resolves and art of dissembling. She, not perceiving it as she lay,
stretched out her arms to receive him with her wonted caresses; but he
gently put her off, and sighing, cried--'No, _Sylvia_, I leave those
joys to happier lovers.' She was a little surprised at that--but not
imagining he had known her guilt, replied: 'Then those caresses were
only meant for him; for if _Sylvia_ could make him happy, he was sure
of being the man;' and by force compelled him to suffer her kisses and
embraces, while his heart was bursting, without any sense of the
pleasure of her touches. 'Ah, _Sylvia_,' says he, 'I can never think
myself secure, or happy, while _Philander_ is so near you; every
absent moment alarms me with ten thousand fears; in sleep I dream thou
art false, and givest thy honour up all my absent nights, and all day
thy vows:' and that he was sure, should she again suffer herself to
see _Philander_, he should be abandoned; and she again undone. 'For
since I parted with you,' continued he, 'I heard from _Clarinau_, that
he saw _Philander_ yesterday come out of your lodgings. How can I bear
this, when you have vowed not to see him, with imprecations that must
damn thee, _Sylvia_, without severe repentance?'----At this she
offered to swear again--but he stopped her, and begged her not to
swear till she had well considered; then she confessed he made her a
visit, but that she used him with that pride and scorn, that if he
were a man of honour he could never bear; and she was sure he would
trouble her no more: in fine, she flattered, fawned, and jilted so, as
no woman, common in the trade of sinful love, could be so great a
mistress of the art. He suffered her to go on, in all that could
confirm him she thought him an errant coxcomb; and all that could
render her the most contemptible of her sex. He was pleased, because
it made him despise her; and that was easier than adoring her; yet,
though he heard her with scorn, he heard her with too much love. When
she was even breathless with eager prostitution--he cried, 'Ah,
indiscreet and unadvised _Sylvia_, how I pity thee!' 'Ah,' said
she--observing him speak this with a scornful smile--'Is it possible,
you should indeed be offended for a simple visit! which neither was by
my invitation or wish: can you be angry, if I treat _Philander_ with
the civility of a brother? Or rather, that I suffer him to see me, to
receive my reproaches?'--'Stop here,' said he, 'thou fair deluding
flatterer, or thou art for ever ruined. Do not charge thy soul yet
farther;--do not delude me on--all yet I can forgive as I am dying,
but should I live, I could not promise thee. Add not new crimes by
cozening me anew; for I shall find out truth, though it lie hid even
in the bottom of _Philander_'s, heart.' This he spoke with an air of
fierceness--which seeing her grow pale upon, he sunk again to
compassion, and in a soft voice cried--'Whatever injuries thou hast
done my honour, thy word, and faith to me, and my poor heart, I can
perhaps forgive when you dare utter truth: there is some honesty in
that'--She once more embracing him, fell anew to protesting her ill
treatment of _Philander_, how she gave him back his vows, and assured
him she would never be reconciled to him. 'And did you part so,
_Sylvia_?' replied the dying _Octavio_. 'Upon my honour,' said she,
'just so.'--'Did you not kiss at parting?' said he faintly.--'Just
kissed, as friends, no more, by all thy love.' At this he bursts into
tears, and cried--'Oh! why, when I reposed my heart with thee, and
lavished out my very soul in love, could I not merit this poor
recompense of being fairly dealt with? Behold this sword--I took it
from your _toilet_; view it, it is _Philander_'s; myself this morning
took it from your table: no more--since you may guess the fatal rest:
I am undone, and I am satisfied--I had a thousand warnings of my fate,
but still the beauty charmed, and my too good nature yielded: oft you
have cozened me, and oft I saw it, and still love made me willing to
forgive; the foolish passion hung upon my soul, and soothed me into
peace.' _Sylvia_, quite confounded, (not so much with the knowledge he
had of the unlucky adventure, as at her so earnestly denying and
forswearing any love had passed between them) lay still to consider
how to retrieve this lost game, and gave him leisure to go on--'Now,'
said he, 'thou art silent----would thou hadst still been so: ah,
hapless maid, who hast this fate attending thee, to ruin all that love
thee! Be dumb, be dumb for ever; let the false charm that dwells upon
thy tongue, be ended with my life: let it no more undo believing man,
lest amongst the number some one may conquer thee, and deaf to all thy
wit, and blind to beauty, in some mad passion think of all thy
cozenings, should fall upon thee, and forget thy sex, and by thy death
revenge the lost _Octavio_.' At these words he would have rose from
her arms, but she detained him, and with a piteous voice implored his
pardon; but he calmly replied, 'Yes, _Sylvia_, I will pardon thee, and
wish that heaven may do so; to whom apply thy early rhetoric and
penitence; for it can never, never charm me more: my fortune, if thou
ever wanted support to keep thee chaste and virtuous, shall still be
commanded by thee, with that usual frankness it has hitherto served
thee; but for _Octavio_, he is resolved to go where he will never more
be seen by woman--or hear the name of love to ought but heaven--
Farewell--one parting kiss, and then a long farewell--' As he bowed to
kiss her, she caught him fast in her arms, while a flood of tears
bathed his face, nor could he prevent his from mixing with hers: while
thus they lay, _Philander_ came into the room, and finding them so
closely entwined, he was as much surprised almost as _Octavio_ was
before; and, drawing his sword, was about to have killed him; but his
honour overcame his passion; and he would not take him at such
disadvantage, but with the flat of his sword striking him on the back
as he lay, he cried, 'Rise, traitor, and turn to thy mortal enemy.'
_Octavio_, not at all surprised, turned his head and his eyes bedewed
in tears towards his rival. 'If thou be'est an enemy,' said he,
'though never couldst have taken me in a better humour of dying.
Finish, _Philander_, that life then, which if you spare, it will
possibly never leave thine in repose; the injuries you have done me
being too great to be forgiven.' 'And is it thus,' replied
_Philander_,--'thus with my mistress, that you would revenge them? Is
it in the arms of _Sylvia_, that you would repay me the favours I did
your sister _Calista_?' 'You have by that word,' said _Octavio_,
'handsomely reproached my sloth.' And leaping briskly from the bed, he
took out his sword, and cried: 'Come then----let us go where we may
repair both our losses, since ladies' chambers are not fit places to
adjust debts of this nature in.' At these words they both went
down stairs; and it was in vain _Sylvia_ called and cried out to
conjure them to come back; her power of commanding she had in one
unlucky day lost over both those gallant lovers. And both left her
with pity; to say no worse of the effect of her ill conduct.

_Octavio_ went directly to the park, to the place whither he before
had challenged _Philander_, who lost no time but followed him: as soon
as he was come to the fountain he drew, and told _Philander_ that was
the place whither he invited him in his billet that morning; however,
if he liked not the ground, he was ready to remove to any other:
_Philander_ was a little surprised to find that invitation was a
challenge; and that _Octavio_ should be beforehand with him upon the
score of revenge; and replied, 'Sir, if the billet came from you, it
was a favour I thank you for; since it kindly put me in mind of that
revenge I ought so justly to take of you, for betraying the secrets of
friendship I reposed in you, and making base advantages of them, to
recommend yourself to a woman you knew I loved, and who hates you, in
spite of all the ungenerous ways you have taken to gain her.' 'Sir,'
replied _Octavio_, 'I confess with a blush and infinite shame, the
error with which you accuse me, and have nothing to defend so great a
perfidy. To tell you, I was wrought out of it by the greatest cunning
imaginable, and that I must have seen _Sylvia_ die at my feet if I had
refused them, is not excuse enough for the breach of that friendship.
No, though I were exasperated with the relation there of my sister's
dishonour: I must therefore adjust that debt with you as well as I
can; and if I die in the juster quarrel of my sister's honour, I shall
believe it the vengeance of heaven upon me for that one breach of
friendship.' 'Sir,' replied _Philander_, 'you have given me so great a
satisfaction in this confession, and have made so good and gallant an
atonement by this acknowledgement, that it is with relunctancy I go to
punish you for other injuries, of which I am assured you cannot so
well acquit yourself.' 'Though I would not justify a baseness,'
replied _Octavio_, 'for which there ought to be no excuse; yet I will
not accuse myself, or acknowledge other injuries, but leave you
something to maintain the quarrel on--and render it a little just on
your side; nor go to wipe off the outrage you pretend I have done your
love, by adoring the fair person who at least has been dear to you, by
the wrongs you have done my sister.' 'Come, sir, we shall not by
disputing quit scores,' cried _Philander_, a little impatiently; 'what
I have lately seen, has made my rage too brisk for long parly.' At
that they both advanced, and made about twenty passes before either
received any wound; the first that bled was _Octavio_, who received a
wound in his breast, which he returned on _Philander_, and after that
many were given and taken; so that the track their feet made, in
following and advancing as they fought, was marked out by their blood:
in this condition, (still fighting) _Sylvia_, (who had called them
back in vain, and only in her night-gown in a chair pursued them that
minute they quitted her chamber) found them thus employed, and without
any fear she threw herself between them: _Octavio_, out of respect to
her, ceased; but _Philander_, as if he had not regarded her, would
still have been striving for victory, when she stayed his hand, and
begged him to hear her; he then set the point of his sword to the
ground, and breathless and fainting almost, attended what she had to
say: she conjured him to cease the quarrel, and told him if _Octavio_
had injured him in her heart, he ought to remember he had injured
_Octavio_ as much in that of his sister: she conjured him by all the
friendship both she and himself had received at _Octavio_'s hands; and
concluded with saying so many fine things of that cavalier, that in
lieu of appeasing, it but the more exasperated the jealous _Philander_,
who took new courage with new breath, and passed at _Octavio_. She
then addressed to _Octavio_, and cried: 'Hold, oh hold, or make your
way through me; for here I will defend virtue and honour!' and put
herself before _Octavio_: she spoke with so piteous a voice, and
pleaded with so much tenderness, that _Octavio_, laying his sword at
her feet, bid her dispose--false as she was, of his honour: 'For oh,'
said he, 'my life is already fallen a victim to your perjuries!' He
could say no more, but falling where he had laid his sword, left
_Philander_ master of the field. By this time some gentlemen that had
been walking came up to them, and found a man lie dead, and a lady
imploring another to fly: they looked on _Oclavio_, and found he had
yet life; and immediately sent for surgeons, who carried him to his
lodgings with very little hope: _Philander_, as well as his wounds
would give him leave, got into a chair, telling the gentlemen that
looked on him, he would be responsible for _Octavio_'s life, if he had
had the ill fortune to take it; that his quarrel was too just to
suffer him to fly.--So being carried to the _cabaret_, with an
absolute command to _Sylvia_ not to follow him, or visit him: for fear
of hurting him by disobeying, she suffered herself to be carried to
her lodgings, where she threw herself on her bed, and drowned her fair
eyes in a shower of tears: she advises with _Antonet_ and her page
what to do in this extremity; she fears she has, by her ill
management, lost both her lovers, and she was in a condition of
needing every aid. They, who knew the excellent temper of _Octavio_,
and knew him to be the most considerable lover of the two, besought
her, as the best expedient she could have recourse to, to visit
_Octavio_, who could not but take it kindly; and they did not doubt
but she had so absolute a power over him, that with a very little
complaisance towards him, she would retrieve that heart her ill luck
had this morning forfeited; and which, they protested, they knew
nothing of, nor how he got into her chamber. This advice she took;
but, because _Octavio_ was carried away dead, she feared, (and swooned
with the fear) that he was no longer in the world, or, at least, that
he would not long be so: however, she assumed her courage again at the
thought, that, if he did die, she had an absolute possession of all
his fortune, which was to her the most considerable part of the man,
or at least, what rendered him so very agreeable to her: however, she
thought fit to send her page, which she did in an hour after he was
carried home, to see how he did; who brought her word that he was
revived to life, and had commanded his gentleman to receive no
messages from her. This was all she could learn, and what put her into
the greatest extremity of grief. She after sent to _Philander_, and
found him much the better of the two, but most infinitely incensed
against _Sylvia_: this also added to her despair; yet since she found
she had not a heart that any love, or loss of honour, or fortune could
break; but, on the contrary, a rest of youth and beauty, that might
oblige her, with some reason, to look forward on new lovers, if the
old must depart: the next thing she resolved was, to do her utmost
endeavour to retrieve _Octavio_, which, if unattainable, she would
make the best of her youth. She sent therefore (notwithstanding his
commands to suffer none of her people to come and see him) to inquire
of his health; and in four days (finding he received other visits) she
dressed herself, with all the advantages of her sex, and in a chair
was carried to his aunt's, where he lay. The good lady, not knowing
but she might be that person of quality whom she knew to be extremely
in love with her nephew, and who lived at the Court of _Brussels_, and
was niece to the Governor, carried her to his chamber, where she left
her, as not willing to be a witness of a visit she knew must be
supposed _incognito_: it was evening, and _Octavio_ was in bed, and,
at the first sight of her his blood grew disordered in his veins,
flushed in his pale face, and burnt all over his body, and he was near
to swooning as he lay: she approached his bed with a face all set for
languishment, love, and shame in her eyes, and sighs, that, without
speaking, seemed to tell her grief at his disaster; she sat, or rather
fell, on his bed, as unable to support the sight of him in that
condition; she in a soft manner, seized his burning hand, grasped it
and sighed, then put it to her mouth, and suffered a tear or two to
fall upon it; and when she would have spoke, she made her sobs resist
her words; and left nothing unacted, that might move the
tender-hearted _Octavio_ to that degree of passion she wished. A
hundred times fain he would have spoke, but still his rising passion
choked his words; and still he feared they would prove either too soft
and kind for the injuries he had received, or too rough and cold for
so delicate and charming a creature, and one, whom, in spite of all
those injuries, he still adored: she appeared before him with those
attractions that never failed to conquer him, with that submission and
pleading in her modest bashful eyes, that even gave his the lie, who
had seen her perfidy. Oh! what should he do to keep that fire from
breaking forth with violence, which she had so thoroughly kindled in
his heart? How should that excellent good nature assume an unwonted
sullenness, only to appear what it could not by nature be? He was all
soft and sweet, and if he had pride, he knew also how to make his
pleasure; and his youth loved love above all the other little vanities
that attend it, and was the most proper to it. Fain he would palliate
her crime, and considers, in the condition she was, she could not but
have some tenderness for _Philander_; that it was no more than what
before passed; it was no new lover that came to kindle new passions,
or approach her with a new flame; but a decliner, who came, and was
received with the dregs of love, with all the cold indifference
imaginable: this he would have persuaded himself, but dares not till
he hears her speak; and yet fears she should not speak his sense; and
this fear makes him sighing break silence, and he cried in a soft
tone: 'Ah! why, too lovely fair, why do you come to trouble the repose
of my dying hours? Will you, cruel maid, pursue me to my grave? Shall
I not have one lone hour to ask forgiveness of heaven for my sin of
loving thee? The greatest that ever loaded my youth--and yet,
alas!--the least repented yet. Be kind, and trouble not my solitude,
depart with all the trophies of my ruin, and if they can add any glory
to thy future life, boast them all over the universe, and tell what a
deluded youth thou hast undone. Take, take, fair deceiver, all my
industry, my right of my birth, my thriving parents have been so long
a-getting to make me happy with; take the useless trifle, and lavish
it on pleasure to make thee gay, and fit for luckier lovers: take that
best part of me, and let this worst alone; it was that first won the
dear confession from thee that drew my ruin on--for which I hate
it--and wish myself born a poor cottage boor, where I might never have
seen thy tempting beauty, but lived for ever blessed in ignorance.' At
this the tears ran from his eyes, with which the softened _Sylvia_
mixed her welcome stream, and as soon as she could speak, she replied
(with half cunning and half love, for still there was too much of the
first mingled with the last), 'Oh, my _Octavio_, to what extremities
are you resolved to drive a poor unfortunate, who, even in the height
of youth, and some small stock of beauty, am reduced to all the
miseries of the wretched? Far from my noble noble parents, lost to
honour, and abandoned by my friends; a helpless wanderer in a strange
land, exposed to want, and perishing, and had no sanctuary but
thyself, thy dear, thy precious self, whom heaven had sent, in mercy,
to my aid; and thou, at last, by a mistaken turn of miserable fate,
hast taken that dear aid away.' At this she fell weeping on his
panting bosom; nevertheless he got the courage to reply once again,
before he yielded himself a shameful victim to her flattery, and said;
'Ah cruel _Sylvia_, is it possible that you can charge the levity on
me? Is it I have taken this poor aid, as you are pleased to call it,
from you? Oh! rather blame your own unhappy easiness, that after
having sworn me faith and love, could violate them both, both where
there was no need. It would have better become thy pride and quality,
to have resented injuries received, than brought again that scorned,
abandoned person (fine as it was and shining still with youth) to his
forgetful arms.' 'Alas,' said she, 'I will not justify my hateful
crime: a crime I loathe to think of, it was a fault beyond a
prostitution; there might have possibly been new joy in such a sin,
but here it was palled and gone--fled to eternity away:--And but for
the dear cause I did commit it, there were no expiation for my fault;
no penitent tears could wash away my crime.' 'Alas,' said he--'if
there were any cause, if there be any possible excuse for such a
breach of love, give it my heart; make me believe it, and I may yet
live; and though I cannot think thee innocent, to be compelled by any
frivolous reason, it would greatly satisfy my longing soul. But, have
a care, do not delude me on--for if thou durst persuade me into
pardon, and to return to all my native fondness, and then again
shouldst play me fast and loose; by heaven--by all my sacred passion
to thee, by all that men call holy, I will pursue thee with my utmost
hate; forsake thee with my fortune and my heart; and leave thee
wretched to the scorning crowd. Pardon these rude expressions of a
love that can hardly forgive the words it utters: I blush with shame
while I pronounce them true.' When she replied, 'May all you have
pronounced, and all your injured love can invent, fall on me when I
ever more deceive you; believe me now, and but forgive what is past,
and trust my love and honour for the future.' At this she told him,
that in the first visit _Philander_ made her, she, using him so
reproachfully, and upbraiding him with his inconstancy, made him
understand, that he was betrayed by _Octavio_, and that the whole
intrigue with _Calista_, confessed by him, was discovered to _Sylvia_;
which, he said, put him into so violent a rage against _Octavio_, that
he vowed that minute to find him out and kill him. Nor could all the
persuasions of reason serve to hinder him; so that she who (as she
said) loved _Octavio_ to death, finding so powerful an enemy, as her
fears made her fancy _Philander_ was, ready to have snatched from her,
in one furious moment, all she adored; she had recourse to all the
flattery of love to with-hold him from an attempt so dangerous: and it
was with much ado, with all those aids, that he was obliged to stay,
which she had forced him to do, to get time to give him notice in the
morning for his approaching danger: not that she feared _Octavio_'s
life, had _Philander_ attacked it fairly; but he looked on himself as
a person injured by close private ways, and would take a like revenge,
and have hurt him when he as little dreamed of it, as _Philander_ did
of the discovery he made of his letter to her. To this she swore, she
wept, she embraced, and still protested it true; adding withal a
thousand protestations of her future detestation of him; and that
since the worst was past, and that they had fought, and he was come
off, though with so many wounds, yet with life, she was resolved
utterly to defy _Philander_, as the most perfidious of his sex; and
assured him, that nothing in the world was so indifferent as she in
his arms. In fine, after having omitted nothing that might gain a
credit, and assure him of her love and heart, and possess him with a
belief, for the future, of her lasting vows: he, wholly convinced and
overcome, snatches her in his arms, and bursting into a shower of
tears, cried--'Take--take all my soul, thou lovely charmer of it, and
dispose of the destiny of _Octavio_.' And smothering her with kisses
and embraces made a perfect reconciliation. When the surgeons, who
came to visit him, finding him in the disorder of a fever, though more
joy was triumphing in his face than before, they imagined this lady
the fair person for whom this quarrel was; for it had made a great
noise you may believe; and finding it hurtful for his wounds, either
to be transported with too much rage, grief, or love, besought him he
would not talk too much, or suffer any visits that might prejudice his
health: and indeed, with what had been past, he found himself after
his transport very ill and feverish, so that _Sylvia_ promised the
doctors she would visit him no more in a day or two, though she knew
not well how to be from him so long; but would content herself with
sending her page to inquire of his health. To this _Octavio_ made very
great opposition, but his aunt, and the rest of the learned, were of
opinion it ought for his health to be so, and he was obliged to be
satisfied with her absence: at parting she came to him, and again
besought him to believe her vows to be well, and that she would depart
somewhere with him far from _Philander_, who she knew was obliged to
attend the motions of _Cesario_ at _Brussels_, whom again she
imprecated never to see more. This satisfied our impatient lover, and
he suffered her to go, and leave him to that rest he could get. She
was no sooner got home, and retired to her chamber, but, finding
herself alone, which now she did not care to be, and being assured she
should not see _Octavio_, instead of triumphing for her new-gained
victory, she sent her page to inquire again of _Philander_'s health,
and to entreat that she might visit him: at first before she sent, she
checked this thought as base, as against all honour, and all her vows
and promises to the brave _Octavio_; but finding an inclination to it,
and proposing a pleasure and satisfaction in it, she was of a nature
not to lose a pleasure for a little punctilio of honour; and without
considering what would be the event of such a folly, she sent her
page, though he had been repulsed before, and forbid coming with any
messages from his lady. The page found no better success than hitherto
he had done: but being with much entreaty brought to _Philander_'s
chamber, he found him sitting in his night-gown, to whom addressing
himself--he had no sooner named his lady--but _Philander_ bid him be
gone, for he would hear nothing from that false woman: the boy would
have replied, but he grew more enraged; and reviling her with all the
railings of incensed lovers, he puts himself into his closet without
speaking any more, or suffering any answer. This message being
delivered to the expecting lady, put her into a very great rage--which
ended in as deep a concern: her great pride, fortified by her
looking-glass, made her highly resent the affront; and she believed it
more to the glory of her beauty to have quitted a hundred lovers, than
to be abandoned by one. It was this that made her rave and tear, and
talk high; and after all, to use her cunning to retrieve what it had
been most happy for her should have been for ever lost; and she ought
to have blessed the occasion. But her malicious star had designed
other fortune for her: she wrote to him several letters, that were
sent back sealed: she railed, she upbraided, and then fell to
submission. At last, he was persuaded to open one, but returned such
answers as gave her no satisfaction, but encouraged her with a little
hope that she should draw him on to a reconciliation: between whiles
she failed not to send _Octavio_ the kindest, impatient letters in the
world, and received the softest replies that the tongue of man could
utter, for he could not write yet. At last, _Philander_ having reduced
_Sylvia_ to the very brink of despair, and finding, by her passionate
importunity, that he could make his peace with her on any terms of
advantage to himself, resolved to draw such articles of agreement as
should wholly subdue her to him, or to stand it out to the last: the
conditions were, that he being a person by no means of a humour to be
imposed upon; if he were dear to her, she should give herself entirely
to his possession, and quit the very conversation of all those he had
but an apprehension would disturb his repose: that she should remove
out of the way of his troublesome rivals, and suffer herself to be
conducted whither he thought good to carry her. These conditions she
liked, all but the going away; she could not tell to what sort of
confinement that might amount. He flies off wholly, and denies all
treaty upon her least scruple, and will not be asked the explanation
of what he has proposed: so that she bends like a slave for a little
empire over him; and to purchase the vanity of retaining him, suffers
herself to be absolutely undone. She submits; and that very day she
had leave from the doctors to visit _Octavio_, and that all-ravished
lover lay panting in expectation of the blessed sight, believing every
minute an age, his apartment dressed and perfumed, and all things
ready to receive the darling of his soul, _Philander_ came in a coach
and six horses (and making her pack up all her jewels and fine things,
and what they could not carry in the coach, put up to come after them)
and hurries her to a little town in _Luke-Land_, a place between
Flanders and Germany, without giving her time to write, or letting her
know whither she was going. While she was putting up her things (I
know she has since confessed) her heart trembled, and foreboded the
ill that was to come; that is, that she was hastening to ruin: but she
had chanced to say so much to him of her passion to retrieve him, that
she was ashamed to own the contrary so soon; but suffered that force
upon her inclinations to do the most dishonourable and disinterested
thing in the world. She had not been there a week, and her trunks of
plate and fine things were arrived, but she fell in labour, and was
brought to bed, though she shewed very little of her condition all the
time she went. This great affair being well over, she considers
herself a new woman, and began, or rather continued, to consider the
advantage she had lost in _Octavio_: she regrets extremely her
conduct, and from one degree to another she looks on herself as lost
to him; she every day saw what she had decayed, her jewels sold one by
one, and at last her necessaries. _Philander_, whose head was running
on _Calista_, grudged every moment he was not about that affair, and
grew as peevish as she; she recovers to new beauty, but he grows
colder and colder by possession; love decayed, and ill humour
increased: they grew uneasy on both sides, and not a day passed
wherein they did not break into open and violent quarrels, upbraiding
each other with those faults, which both wished that either would
again commit, that they might be fairly rid of one another: it grew at
last to that height, that they were never well but when they were
absent from one another; he making a hundred little intrigues and
gallantries with all the pretty women, and those of any quality in the
town or neighbouring _villas_. She saw this with grief, shame, and
disdain, and could not tell which way to relieve herself: she was not
permitted the privilege of visits, unless to some grave ladies, or to
monasteries; a man was a rarity she had hardly seen in two months,
which was the time she had been there; so that she had leisure to
think of her folly, bemoan the effects of her injustice, and contrive,
if she could, to remedy her disagreeable life, which now was reduced,
not only to scurrilous quarrels, and hard words; but, often in her
fury, she flying upon him, and with the courage or indiscretion of her
sex, would provoke him to indecencies that render life insupportable
on both sides. While they lived at this rate, both contriving how
handsomely to get quit of each other, _Brilliard_, who was left in
_Brussels_, to take care of his lord's affairs there, and that as soon
as he had heard of _Cesario_'s arrival he should come with all speed
and give him notice, thought every minute an hour till he could see
again the charmer of his soul, for whom he suffered continual fevers
of love. He studies nothing but how first to get her pardon, and then
to compass his designs of possessing her: he had not seen her, nor
durst pretend to it, since she left _Holland_. He believed she would
have the discretion to conceal some of his faults, lest he should
discover in revenge some of hers; and fancied she would imagine so of
his conduct: he had met with no reproaches yet from his lord, and
believed himself safe. With this imagination, he omitted nothing that
might render him acceptable to her, nor to gain any secrets he
believed might be of use to him: knowing therefore she had not dealt
very generously with _Octavio_, by this flight with _Philander_, and
believing that that exasperated lover, would in revenge declare any
thing to the prejudice of the fair fugitive, he (under pretence of
throwing himself at his feet, and asking his pardon for his ill
treating him in _Holland_) designed before he went into _Luke-Land_ to
pay _Octavio_ a visit, and accordingly went; he met first with his
page, who being very well acquainted with _Brilliard_, discoursed with
him before he carried him to his lord: he told him that his lord that
day that _Sylvia_ departed, being in impatient expectation of her, and
that she came not according to appointment, sent him to her lodgings,
to know if any accident had prevented her coming; but that when he
came, though he had been with her but an hour before, she was gone
away with _Philander_, never more to return. The youth, not being able
to carry this sad news to his lord, when he came home offered at a
hundred things to conceal the right; but the impatient lover would not
be answered, but, all enraged, commanded him to tell that truth, which
he found already but too apparently in his eyes. The lad so commanded,
could no longer defer telling him _Sylvia_ was gone; and being asked,
again and again, what he meant, with a face and voice that every
moment altered to dying; the page assured him she was gone out of
_Brussels_ with _Philander_, never more to return; which was no sooner
told him, but he sunk on the couch where he lay, and fainted: he
farther told him how long it was, and with what difficulty he was
recovered to life; and that after he was so, he refused to speak or
see any visitors; could for a long time be neither persuaded to eat
nor sleep, but that he had spoken to no body ever since, and did now
believe he could not procure him the favour he begged: that
nevertheless he would go, and see what the very name of any that had
but a relation to the family of _Sylvia_ would produce in him, whether
a storm of passion, or a calm of grief: either would be better than a
dullness, all silent and sad, in which there was no understanding what
he meant by it: whoever spoke, he only made a short sign, and turned
away, as much as to say, speak no more to me: but now resolved to try
his temper, he hastened to his lord, and told him that _Brilliard_,
full of penitence for his past fault, and grief for the ill condition
he heard he was in, was come to pay his humble respects to him, and
gain his pardon before he went to his lord and _Sylvia_; without which
he had not, nor could have, any peace of mind, he being too sensible
of the baseness of the injury he had done him. At the name of
_Philander_ and _Sylvia_, _Octavio_ shewed some signs of listening,
but to the rest no regard; and starting from the bed where he was
laid: 'Ah! what hast thou said?' cried he. The page then repeated the
message, and was commanded to bring him up; who, accordingly, with all
the signs of submission, cast himself at his feet and mercy; and,
though he were an enemy, the very thought that he belonged to _Sylvia_
made _Octavio_ to caress him as the dearest of friends: he kept him
with him two or three days, and would not suffer him to stir from him;
but all their discourse was of the faithless _Sylvia_; of whom, the
deceived lover spoke the softest, unheard, tender things, that ever
passion uttered: he made the amorous _Brilliard_ weep a hundred times
a day; and ever when he would have soothed his heart with hopes of
seeing her, and one day enjoying her entirely to himself, he would
with so much peace of mind renounce her, as Brilliard no longer
doubted but he would indeed no more trust her fickle sex. At last, the
news arrived that Cesario was in Brussels, and Brilliard was obliged
the next morning to take horse, and go to his lord: and to make
himself the more acceptable to Sylvia, he humbly besought Octavio to
write some part of his resentments to her, that he might oblige her to
a reason for what she had so inhumanly done: this flattered him a
little, and he was not long before he was overcome by Brilliard's
entreaties; who, having his ends in every thing, believed this letter
might contain at least something to assist in his design, by giving
him authority over her by so great a secret: the next morning, before
he took horse he waited on Octavio for his letter, and promised him an
answer at his return, which would be in a few days. This letter was
open, and Octavio suffered Brilliard to read it, making him an
absolute confidant in his amour; which having done, he besought him to
add one thing more to it; and that was, to beg her to forgive
Brilliard, which for his sake he knew she would do: he told him, he
was obliged as a good Christian, and a dying man, one resolved for
heaven to do that good office; and accordingly did. Brilliard taking
post immediately, arrived to Philander, where he found every thing as
he wished, all out of humour, still on the fret, and ever peevish. He
had not seen Sylvia, as I said, since she went from Holland, and now
knew not which way to approach her; Philander was abroad on some of
his usual gallantries when Brilliard arrived; and having discoursed a
while of the affairs of his lord and Sylvia, he told Antonet he had a
great desire to speak with that dissatisfied fair one, assuring her,
he believed his visit would be welcome, from what he had to say to her
concerning Octavio: she told him (with infinite joy) that she did not
doubt of his pardon from her lady, if he brought any news from that
gallant injured man; and in all haste, though her lady saw no body,
but refused to rise from her couch, she ran to her, and besought her
to see Brilliard; for he came with a message from Octavio, the person,
who was the subject of their discourse night and day, when alone. She
immediately sent for Brilliard, who approached his goddess with a
trembling devotion; he knelt before her, and humbly besought her
pardon for all that was past: but she, who with the very thought that
he had something to say from Octavio, forgot all but that, hastily bid
him rise, and take all he asked, and hoped for what he wished: in this
transport she embraced his head, and kissed his cheek, and took him
up. 'That, madam,' said _Brilliard_, 'which your divine bounty alone
has given me, without any merit in me, I durst not have had the
confidence to have hoped without my credential from a nobler
hand--this, madam,' said he--and gave her a letter from _Octavio_: the
dear hand she knew, and kissed a hundred times as she opened it; and
having entreated _Brilliard_ to withdraw for a moment, that he might
not see her concern at the reading it, she sat her down, and found it


I confess, oh faithless _Sylvia_! that I shall appear in writing to
you, to shew a weakness even below that of your infidelity; nor durst
I have trusted myself to have spoken so many sad soft things, as I
shall do in this letter, had I not tried the strength of my heart, and
found I could upbraid you without talking myself out of that
resolution I have taken--but, because I would die in perfect charity
with thee, as with all the world, I should be glad to know I could
forgive thee; for yet thy sins appear too black for mercy. Ah! why,
charming ingrate, have you left me no one excuse for all your ills to
me? Why have you injured me to that degree, that I, with all the
mighty stock of love I had hoarded up together in my heart, must die
reproaching thee to my last gasp of life? which hadst thou been so
merciful to have ended, by all the love that's breaking of my heart,
that yet, even yet, is soft and charming to me, I swear with my last
breath, I had blessed thee, _Sylvia_: but thus to use me; thus to
leave my love, distracted, raving love, and no one hope or prospect of
relief, either from reason, time, or faithless _Sylvia_, was but to
stretch the wretch upon the rack, and screw him up to all degrees of
pain; yet such, as do not end in kinder death. Oh thou unhappy miner
of my repose! Oh fair unfortunate! if yet my agony would give me leave
to argue, I am so miserably lost, to ask thee yet this woeful
satisfaction; to tell me why thou hast undone me thus? Why thou
shouldst choose me out from all the crowd of fond admiring fools, to
make the world's reproach, and turn to ridicule? How couldst thou use
that soft good nature so, that had not one ungrateful sullen humour in
it, for thy revenge and pride to work upon? No baseness in my love, no
dull severity for malice to be busy with; but all was gay and kind,
all lavish fondness, and all that woman, vain with youth and beauty,
could wish in her adorer: what couldst thou ask, but empire, which I
gave not? My love, my soul, my life, my very honour, all was resigned
to thee; that youth that might have gained me fame abroad was
dedicated to thy service, laid at thy feet, and idly passed in love.
Oh charming maid, whom heaven has formed for the punishment of all,
whose flames are criminal! Why couldst not thou have made some kind
distinction between those common passions and my flame? I gave thee
all my vows, my honest vows, before I asked a recompense for love. I
made thee mine before the sacred powers, that witness every sacred
solemn vow, and fix them in the eternal book of fate; if thou hadst
given thy faith to any other, as, oh! too sure thou hadst, what fault
was this in me, who knew it not? Why should I bear that sin? I took
thee to me as a virgin treasure, sent from the gods to charm the ills
of life, to make the tedious journey short and joyful; I came to make
atonement for thy sin, and to redeem thy fame; not add to the detested
number. I came to gild thy stains of honour over; and set so high a
price upon thy name, that all reproaches for thy past offences should
have been lost in future crowds of glory: I came to lead thee from a
world of shame, approaching ills and future miseries; from noisy
flatterers that would sacrifice thee, first to dull lust, and more
unthinking wit; possess thee, then traduce thee. By heaven, I swear it
was not for myself alone I took such pains to gain thee, and set thee
free from all those circumstances, that might perhaps debauch thy
worthier nature, and I believed it was with pain you yielded to every
buying lover: no, it was for thy sake, in pity to thy youth, heaven
had inspired me with religious flame; and when I aimed at _Sylvia_ it
was alone I might attain to heaven the surest way, by such a pious
conquest; why hast thou ruined a design so glorious, as saving both
our souls? Perhaps thou vainly thinkest that while I am pleading
thus--I am arguing still for love; or think this way to move thee into
pity; no, by my hopes of death to ease my pain, love is a passion not
to be compelled by any force of reason's arguments: it is an
unthinking motion of the soul, that comes and goes as unaccountably as
changing moons, or ebbs and flows of rivers, only with far less
certainty. It is not that my soul is all over love, that can beget its
likeness in your heart: had heaven and nature added to that love all
the perfections that adorn our sex, it had availed me nothing in your
soul: there is a chance in love as well as life, and often the most
unworthy are preferred; and from a lottery I might win the prize from
all the venturing throng with as much reason, as think my chance
should favour me with _Sylvia_; it might perhaps have been, but it was
a wondrous odds against me. Beauty is more uncertain than the dice;
and though I ventured like a forward gamester, I was not yet so vain
to hope to win, nor had I once complained upon my fate, if I had never
hoped: but when I had fairly won, to have it basely snatched from my
possession, and like a baffled cully see it seized by a false
gamester, and look tamely on, has given me such _ideas_ of the fool, I
scorn to look into my easy heart, and loathe the figure you made me
there. Oh _Sylvia_! what an angel hadst thou been, hadst thou not
soothed me thus to my undoing! Alas, it had been no crime in thee to
hate me; it was not thy fault I was not amiable; if thy soft eyes
could meet no charms to please them, those soft, those charming eyes
were not in fault; nor that thy sense, too delicate and nice, could
meet no proper subject for thy wit, thy heart, thy tender heart was
not in fault, because it took not in my tale of love, and sent soft
wishes back: oh! no, my _Sylvia_, this, though I had died, had caused
you no reproach; but first to fan my fire by all the arts that ever
subtle beauty could invent; to give me hope; nay, to dissemble love;
yes, and so very well dissemble too, that not one tender sigh was
breathed in vain: all that my love-sick soul was panting for, the
subtle charmer gave; so well, so very well, she could dissemble! Oh,
what more proofs could I expect from love, what greater earnest of
eternal victory? Oh! thou hadst raised me to the height of heaven, to
make my fall to hell the more precipitate. Like a fallen angel now I
howl and roar, and curse that pride that taught me first ambition; it
is a poor satisfaction now, to know (if thou couldst yet tell truth)
what motive first seduced thee to my ruin? Had it been interest--by
heaven, I would have bought my wanton pleasures at as high rates as I
would gratify my real passions; at least when _Sylvia_ set a price on
pleasure: nay, higher yet, for love when it is repaid with equal love,
it saves the chafferer a great expense: or were it wantonness of youth
in thee, alas, you might have made me understood it, and I had met you
with an equal ardour, and never thought of loving, but quenched the
short-lived blaze as soon as kindled; and hoping for no more, had
never let my hasty flame arrive any higher than that powerful minute's
cure. But oh! in vain I seek for reasons from thee; perhaps thy own
fantastic fickle humour cannot inform thee why thou hast betrayed me;
but thou hast done it, _Sylvia_, and may it never rise in judgement on
thee, nor fix a brand upon thy name for ever, greater than all thy
other guilts can load thee with: live, fair deceiver, live, and charm
_Philander_ to all the heights of his beginning flame; mayst thou be
gaining power upon his heart, and bring it repentance for inconstancy;
may all thy beauty still maintain its lustre, and all thy charms of
wit be new and gay; mayst thou be chaste and true; and since it was
thy fate to be undone, let this at least excuse the hapless maid; it
was love alone betrayed her to that ruin, and it was _Philander_ only
had that power. If thou hast sinned with me, as heaven is my witness,
after I had plighted thee my sacred vows, I do not think thou didst:
may all the powers above forgive thee, _Sylvia_; and those thou hast
committed since those vows, will need a world of tears to wash away:
it is I will weep for both; it is I will go and be a sacrifice to
atone for all our sins: it is I will be the pressing penitent, and
watch, and pray, and weep, until heaven have mercy; and may my penance
be accepted for thee;--farewell--I have but one request to make thee,
which is, that thou wilt, for _Octavio_'s sake, forgive the faithful
slave that brings thee this from thy


_Sylvia_, whose absence and ill treatment of _Octavio_, had but served
to raise her flame to a much greater degree, had no sooner read this
letter, but she suffered herself to be distracted with all the
different passions that possess despairing lovers; sometimes raving,
and sometimes sighing and weeping: it was a good while she continued
in these disorders, still thinking on what she had to do next that
might redeem all: being a little come to herself, she thought good to
consult with _Brilliard_ in this affair, between whom and _Octavio_
she found there was a very good understanding: and resolving
absolutely to quit _Philander_, she no longer had any scruples or
doubt what course to take, nor cared she what price she paid for a
reconciliation with _Octavio_, if any price would purchase it: in
order to this resolve, fixed in her heart, she sends for _Brilliard_,
whom she caresses anew, with all the fondness and familiarity of a
woman, who was resolved to make him her confidant, or rather indeed
her next gallant. I have already said he was very handsome, and very
well made, and you may believe he took all the care he could in
dressing, which he understood very well: he had a good deal of wit,
and was very well fashioned and bred:--With all these accomplishments,
and the addition of love and youth, he could not be imagined to appear
wholly indifferent in the eyes of any body, though hitherto he had in
those of _Sylvia_, whose heart was doting on _Philander_; but now,
that that passion was wholly extinguished, and that their eternal
quarrels had made almost a perpetual separation, she being alone,
without the conversation of men, which she loved, and was used to, and
in her inclination naturally addicted to love, she found _Brilliard_
more agreeable than he used to be; which, together with the designs
she had upon him, made her take such a freedom with him, as wholly
transported this almost hopeless lover: she discourses with him
concerning _Octavio_ and his condition, and he failed not to answer,
so as to please her, right or wrong; she tells him how uneasy she was
with _Philander_, who every day grew more and more insupportable to
her; she tells him she had a very great inclination for _Octavio_, and
more for his fortune that was able to support her, than his person;
she knew she had a great power over him, and however it might seem now
to be diminished by her unlucky flight with _Philander_, she doubted
not but to reduce him to all that love he once professed to her, by
telling him she was forced away, and without her knowledge, being
carried only to take the air was compelled to the fatal place where
she now was. _Brilliard_ soothes and flatters her in all her hope, and
offers her his service in her flight, which he might easily assist,
unknown to _Philander_. It was now about six o'clock at night, and she
commanded a supper to be provided, and brought to her chamber, where
_Brilliard_ and she supped together, and talked of nothing but the new
design; the hope of effecting which put her into so good a humour,
that she frankly drank her bottle, and shewed more signs of mirth than
she had done in many months before: in this good humour, _Brilliard_
looked more amiable than ever; she smiles upon him, she caresses him
with all the assurance of friendship imaginable; she tells him she
shall behold him as her dearest friend, and speaks so many kind
things, that he was emboldened, and approached her by degrees more
near; he makes advances; and the greatest encouragement was, the
secret he had of her intended flight: he tells her, he hoped she would
be pleased to consider, that while he was serving her in a new amour,
and assisting to render her into the arms of another, he was wounding
his own heart, which languished for her; that he should not have taken
the presumption to have told her this, at such a time as he offered
his life to serve her, but that it was already no secret to her, and
that a man who loved at his rate, and yet would contrive to make his
mistress happy with another, ought in justice to receive some
recompense of a flame so constant and submissive. While he spake, he
found he was not regarded with the looks of scorn or disdain; he knew
her haughty temper, and finding it calm, he pressed on to new
submissions; he fell at her feet, and pleaded so well, where no
opposers were, that _Sylvia_ no longer resisted, or if she did, it was
very feebly, and with a sort of a wish that he would pursue his
boldness yet farther; which at last he did, from one degree of
softness and gentle force to another, and made himself the happiest
man in the world; though she was very much disordered at the
apprehension of what she had suffered from a man of his character, as
she imagined, so infinitely below her; but he redoubled his submission
in so cunning a manner, that he soon brought her to her good humour;
and after that, he used the kind authority of a husband whenever he
had an opportunity, and found her not displeased at his services. She
considered he had a secret from her, which, if revealed, would not
only prevent her design, but ruin her for ever; she found too late she
had discovered too much to him to keep him at the distance of a
servant, and that she had no other way to attach him eternally to her
interest, but by this means. He now every day appeared more fine, and
well dressed, and omitted nothing that might make him, if possible, an
absolute master of her heart, which he vowed he would defend with his
life, from even _Philander_ himself; and that he would pretend to no
other empire over her, nor presume, or pretend to engross that fair
and charming person, which ought to be universally adored. In fine, he
failed not to please both her desire and her vanity, and every day she
loved _Philander_ less, who sometimes in two or three days together
came not to visit her. At this time it so happened, he being in love
with the young daughter of an advocate, about a league from his own
lodgings, and he is always eager on the first address, till he has
completed the conquest; so that she had not only time to please and
revenge her with _Brilliard_, but fully to resolve their affairs, and
to provide all things against their flight, which they had absolutely
done before _Philander's_ return; who, coming home, received
_Brilliard_ very kindly, and the news which he brought, and which made
him understand he should not have any long time to finish his new
amour in; but as he was very conquering both in wit and beauty, he
left not the village without some ruins behind of beauty, which ever
after bewailed his charms; and since his departure was so necessary,
and that in four or five days he was obliged to go, they deferred
their flight till he was gone; which time they had wholly to
themselves, and made as good use of it as they could; at least, she
thought so, and you may be sure, he also, whose love increased with
his possession. But _Sylvia_ longs for liberty, and those necessary
gallantries, which every day diminished; she loved rich clothes, gay
coaches, and to be lavish; and now she was stinted to good
housewifery, a penury she hated.

The time of _Philander's_, departure being come, he took a very
careless leave of _Sylvia_, telling her he would see what commands the
Prince had for him, and return in ten or twelve days. _Brilliard_
pretended some little indisposition, and begged he might be permitted
to follow him, which was granted; and the next day, though Erilliard
pleaded infinitely for a continuation of his happiness two or three
days more, she would not grant it, but obliged him, by a thousand kind
promises of it for the future, to get horses ready for her page, and
woman, and her coach for herself; which accordingly was done, and they
left the village, whose name I cannot now call to mind, taking with
her what of value she had left. They were three days on their journey:
_Brilliard_, under pretence of care of her health, the weather being
hot, and for fear of overtaking _Philander_ by some accident on the
road, delayed the time as much as was possible, to be as happy as he
could all the while; and indeed _Sylvia_ was never seen in a humour
more gay. She found this short time of hope and pleasure had brought
all her banished beauties back, that care, sickness, and grief, had
extremely tarnished; only her shape was a little more inclining to be
fat, which did not at all however yet impair her fineness; and she was
indeed too charming without, for the deformity of her indiscretion
within; but she had broke the bounds of honour, and now stuck at
nothing that might carry on an interest, which she resolved should be
the business of her future life.

She at last arrived at _Brussels_, and caused a lodging to be taken
for her in the remotest part of the town; as soon as she came she
obliged _Brilliard_ to visit _Octavio_; but going to his aunt's, to
inquire for him, he was told that he was no longer in the world; he
stood amazed a-while, believing he had been dead, when madam the aunt
told him he was retired to the monastery of the Order of St _Bernard_,
and would, in a day or two, without the probationary year, take Holy
Orders. This did not so much surprise him as the other, knowing that
he discoursed to him, when he saw him last, as if some such retirement
he meant to resolve upon; with this news, which he was not altogether
displeased at, _Brilliard_ returned to _Sylvia_, which soon changed
all her good humour to tears and melancholy: she inquired at what
place he was, and believed she should have power to withdraw him from
a resolution so fatal to her, and so contradictive to his youth and
fortune; and having consulted the matter with _Brilliard_, he had
promised her to go to him, and use all means possible to withdraw him.
This resolved, she writ a most insinuating letter to him, wherein she
excused her flight by a surprise of _Philander's_, and urged her
condition, as it then was, for the excuse of her long silence; and
that as soon as her health would give her leave, she came to put
herself eternally into his arms, never to depart more from thence.
These arguments and reasons, accompanied with all the endearing
tenderness her artful fancy was capable of framing, she sent with a
full assurance it would prevail to persuade him to the world, and her
fair arms again. While she was preparing this to go, _Philander_, who
had heard at his arrival, what made so much noise, that he had been
the occasion of the world's loss of two of the finest persons in it,
the sister _Calista_ by debauching her, and the brother by ravishing
his mistress from him, both which were entering, without all
possibility of prevention, into Holy Orders; he took so great a
melancholy at it, as made him keep his chamber for two days, maugre
all the urgent affairs that ought to have invited him from thence; he
was consulting by what power to prevent the misfortune; he now ran
back to all the obligations he had to _Octavio_, and pardons him all
the injuries he did him; he loves him more by loving _Sylvia_ less,
and remembered how that generous friend, after he knew he had
dishonoured his sister, had notwithstanding sent him Letters of Credit
to the magistrates of _Cologne_, and Bills of Exchange, to save him
from the murder of his brother-in-law, as he was likely to have been.
He now charges all his little faults to those of love, and hearing
that old _Clarinau_ was dead of the wound _Octavio_ had given him by
mistake, which increased in him new hope of _Calista_, could she be
retrieved from the monastery, he resolved, in order to this, to make
_Octavio_ a visit, to beg his pardon, and beg his friendship, and his
continuation in the world. He came accordingly to the monastery, and
was extremely civilly received by _Octavio_, who yet had not the habit
on. _Philander_ told him, he heard he was leaving the world, and could
not suffer him to do so, without endeavouring to gain his pardon of
him, for all the injuries he had done him; that as to what related to
his sister the Countess, he protested upon his honour, if he had but
imagined she had been so, he would have suffered death sooner than his
passion to have approached her indiscreetly; and that for _Sylvia_, if
he were assured her possession would make him happy, and call him to
the world again, he assured him he would quit her to him, were she ten
times dearer to him than she was. This he confirmed with so many
protestations of friendship, that _Octavio_, obliged to the last
degree, believed and returned him this answer. 'Sir, I must confess
you have found out the only way to disarm me of my resentment against
you, if I were not obliged, by those vows I am going to take, to
pardon and be at peace with all the world. However, these vows cannot
hinder me from conserving entirely that friendship in my heart, which
your good qualities and beauties at first sight engaged there, and
from esteeming you more than perhaps I ought to do; the man whom I
must yet own my rival, and the undoer of my sister's honour. But
oh--no more of that; a friend is above a sister, or a mistress.' At
this he hung down his eyes and sighed--_Philander_ told him he was too
much concerned in him, not to be extremely afflicted at the resolution
he had taken, and besought him to quit a design so injurious to his
youth, and the glorious things that heaven had destined him to; he
urged all that could be said to dissuade him, and, after all, could
not believe he would quit the world at this age, when it would be
sufficient forty years hence so to do. _Octavio_ only answered with a
smile; but, when he saw _Philander_ still persist, he endeavoured to
convince him by speaking; and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he vowed,
by all the holy powers there, he never would look down to earth again;
nor more consider fickle, faithless, beauty: 'All the gay vanities of
youth,' said he, 'for ever I renounce, and leave them all to those
that find a pleasure, or a constancy in them; for the fair, faithless,
maid, that has undone me, I leave to you the empire of her heart; but
have a care,' said he (and sighing laid his arms about his neck) 'for
even you, with all that stock of charms, she will at last betray: I
wish her well--so well, as to repent of all her wrongs to me--It is
all I have to say.' What _Philander_ could urge, being impossible to
prevail with him: and begging his pardon and friendship (which was
granted by _Octavio_, and implored on his side from _Philander_) he
took a ring of great value from his finger, and presented it to
_Philander_, and begged him to keep it for his sake; and to remember
him while he did so: they kissed, and sighing parted.

_Philander_ was no sooner gone, but _Brilliard_ came to wait on
_Octavio_, whom he found at his devotion, and begged his pardon for
disturbing him: he received him with a very good grace, and a cheerful
countenance, embracing him; and after some discourse of the condition
he was going to reduce himself to, and his admiration, that one so
young should think of devoting himself so early to heaven, and things
of that nature, as the time and occasion required, he told him the
extreme affliction _Sylvia_ was seized with, at the news of the
resolution he had taken, and delivered him a letter, which he read
without any emotions in his heart or face, as at other times used to
be visible at the very mention of her name, or approach of her
letters. At the finishing of which, he only smiling cried: 'Alas, I
pity her,' and gave him back the letter. _Brilliard_ asked, if he
would not please to write her some answer, or condescend to see her;
'No,' replied _Octavio_, 'I have done with all the gilded vanities of
life, now I shall think of _Sylvia_ but as some heavenly thing, fit
for diviner contemplations, but never with the youthful thoughts of
love.' What he should send her now, he said, would have a different
style to those she used to receive from him; it would be pious
counsel, grave advice, unfit for ladies so young and gay as _Sylvia_,
and would scarce find a welcome: he wished he could convert her from
the world--and save her from the dangers that pursued her. To this
purpose was all he said of her, and all that could be got from him by
the earnest solicitor of love, who perhaps was glad his negotiation
succeeded no better, and took his leave of him, with a promise to
visit him often; which _Octavio_ besought him to do, and told him he
would take some care, that for the good of _Sylvia_'s better part, she
should not be reduced by want of necessaries for her life, and little
equipage, to prostitute herself to vile inconstant man; he yet had so
much respect for her--and besought _Brilliard_ to come and take care
of it with him, and to entreat _Sylvia_ to accept of it from him; and
if it contributed to her future happiness, he should be more pleased
than to have possessed her entirely.

You may imagine how this news pleased _Sylvia_; who trembling with
fear every moment, had expected _Brilliard_'s coming, and found no
other benefit by his negotiation, but she must bear what she cannot
avoid; but it was rather with the fury of a bacchanal, than a woman of
common sense and prudence; all about her pleaded some days in vain,
and she hated _Brilliard_ for not doing impossibilities; and it was
some time before he could bring her to permit him to speak to her, or
visit her.

_Philander_ having left _Octavio_, went immediately to wait on
_Cesario_, who was extremely pleased to meet him there, and they
exchanged their souls to each other, and all the secrets of them.
After they had discoursed of all that they had a mind to hear and know
on both sides, _Cesario_ inquired of him of _Sylvia_'s health; and
_Philander_ gave him an account of the uneasiness of her temper, and
the occasions of their quarrels, in which _Octavio_ had his part, as
being the subject of some of them: from this he falls to give a
character of that rival, and came to this part of it, where he had put
himself into the Orders of the _Bernardines_, resolving to leave the
world, and all its charms and temptations. As they were speaking, some
gentlemen, who came to make their court to the Prince, finding them
speak of _Octavio_, told them that to-morrow he was to be initiated,
without the year's trial; the Prince would needs go and see the
ceremony, having heard so much of the man; and accordingly next day,
accompanied with the Governor, _Philander, Tomaso_, and abundance of
persons of quality and officers, he went to the great church, where
were present all the ladies of the Court, and all that were in the
town. The noise of it was so great, that _Sylvia_, all languishing,
and ill as she was, would not be persuaded from going, but so muffled
in her hoods, as she was not to be known by any.

Never was any thing so magnificent as this ceremony, the church was on
no occasion so richly adorned; _Sylvia_ chanced to be seated near the
Prince of _Mechlenburgh_, who was then in _Brussels_, and at the
ceremony; sad as she was, while the soft music was playing, she
discoursed to him, though she knew him not, of the business of the
day: he told her, she was to see a sight, that ought to make her sex
less cruel; a man extremely beautiful and young, whose fortune could
command almost all the pleasures of the world; yet for the love of the
most amiable creature in the world, who has treated him with rigour,
he abandons this youth and beauty to all the severity of rigid
devotion: this relation, with a great deal he said of _Octavio_'s
virtues and bravery, had like to have discovered her by putting her
into a swoon; and she had much ado to support herself in her seat. I
myself went among the rest to this ceremony, having, in all the time I
lived in _Flanders_, never been so curious to see any such thing. The
Order of St _Bernard_ is one of the neatest of them, and there is a
monastery of that Order, which are obliged to be all noblemen's sons;
of which I have seen fifteen hundred at a time in one house, all
handsome, and most of them young; their habit adds a grace to their
person, for of all the Religious, that is the most becoming: long
white vests of fine cloth, tied about with white silk sashes, or a
cord of white silk; over this a long cloak without a cape, of the same
fine white broad cloth; their hair of a pretty length, as that of our
persons in _England_, and a white beaver; they have very fine
apartments, fit for their quality, and above all, every one their
library; they have attendance and equipage according to their rank,
and have nothing of the inconveniencies and slovenliness of some of
the Religious, but served in as good order as can be, and they have
nothing of the monastic,--but the name, the vow of chastity, and the
opportunity of gaining heaven, by the sweetest retreat in the world,
fine house, excellent air, and delicate gardens, grottoes and groves.
It was this Order that _Octavio_ had chosen, as too delicate to
undertake the austerity of any other; and in my opinion, it is here a
man may hope to become a saint sooner than in any other, more
perplexed with want, cold, and all the necessaries of life, which
takes the thought too much from heaven, and afflicts it with the cares
of this world, with pain and too much abstinence: and I rather think
it is necessity than choice, that makes a man a _Cordelier_, that may
be a _Jesuit_, or _Bernardine_, to the best of the _Holy Orders_. But,
to return, it was upon a _Thursday_ this ceremony began; and, as I
said, there was never any thing beheld so fine as the church that day
was, and all the Fathers that officiated at the high-altar; behind
which a most magnificent scene of glory was opened, with clouds most
rarely and artificially set off, behind which appeared new ones more
bright and dazzling, till from one degree to another, their lustre was
hardly able to be looked on; and in which sat an hundred little angels
so rarely dressed, such shining robes, such charming faces, such
flowing bright hair, crowned with roses of white and red, with such
artificial wings, as one would have said they had borne the body up in
the splendid sky; and these to soft music, turned their soft voices
with such sweetness of harmony, that, for my part, I confess, I
thought myself no longer on earth; and sure there is nothing gives an
idea of real heaven, like a church all adorned with rare pictures, and
the other ornaments of it, with whatever can charm the eyes; and
music, and voices, to ravish the ear; both which inspire the soul with
unresistible devotion; and I can swear for my own part, in those
moments a thousand times I have wished to die; so absolutely had I
forgot the world, and all its vanities, and fixed my thoughts on
heaven. While this music continued, and the anthems were singing,
fifty boys all in white, bearing silver censers, cast incense all
round, and perfumed the place with the richest and most agreeable
smells, while two hundred silver lamps were burning upon the altar, to
give a greater glory to the opened scene, whilst other boys strewed
flowers upon the inlaid pavement, where the gay victim was to tread;
for no crowd of gazers filled the empty space, but those that were
spectators, were so placed, as rather served to adorn than disorder
the awful ceremony, where all were silent, and as still as death; as
awful, as mourners that attend the hearse of some loved monarch: while
we were thus listening, the soft music playing, and the angels
singing, the whole fraternity of the Order of St _Bernard_ came in,
two by two, in a very graceful order; and going up to the shining
altar, whose furniture that day was embroidered with diamonds, pearls,
and stones of great value, they bowed and retired to their places,
into little gilded stalls, like our Knights of the Garter at
_Windsor_: after them, fifty boys that sang approached in order to the
altar, bowed, and divided on each side; they were dressed in white
cloth of silver, with golden wings and rosy chaplets: after these the
Bishop, in his pontific robes set with diamonds of great price, and
his mitre richly adorned, ascended the altar, where, after a short
anthem, he turned to receive the young devotee, who was just entered
the church, while all eyes were fixed on him: he was led, or rather,
on each side attended with two young noblemen, his relations; and I
never saw any thing more rich in dress, but that of _Octavio_ exceeded
all imagination, for the gaiety and fineness of the work: it was white
cloth of silver embroidered with gold, and buttons of diamonds; lined
with rich cloth of gold and silver flowers, his breeches of the same,
trimmed with a pale pink garniture; rich linen, and a white plume in
his white hat: his hair, which was long and black, was that day in the
finest order that could be imagined; but, for his face and eyes, I am
not able to describe the charms that adorned them; no fancy, no
imagination, can paint the beauties there: he looked indeed, as if he
were made for heaven; no mortal ever had such grace: he looked
methought, as if the gods of love had met in council to dress him up
that day for everlasting conquest; for to his usual beauties he seemed
to have the addition of a thousand more; he bore new lustre in his
face and eyes, smiles on his cheeks, and dimples on his lips: he
moved, he trod with nobler motions, as if some supernatural influence
had took a peculiar care of him: ten thousand sighs, from all sides,
were sent him, as he passed along, which, mixed with the soft music,
made such a murmuring, as gentle breezes moving yielding boughs: I am
assured, he won that day more hearts, without design, than ever he had
gained with all his toils of love and youth before, when industry
assisted him to conquer. In his approach to the altar, he made three
bows; where, at the foot of it on the lower step, he kneeled, and then
High-Mass began; in which were all sorts of different music, and that
so excellent, that wholly ravished with what I saw and heard, I
fancied myself no longer on earth, but absolutely ascended up to the
regions of the sky. All I could see around me, all I heard, was
ravishing and heavenly; the scene of glory, and the dazzling altar;
the noble paintings, and the numerous lamps; the awfulness, the music,
and the order, made me conceive myself above the stars, and I had no
part of mortal thought about me. After the holy ceremony was
performed, the Bishop turned and blessed him; and while an anthem was
singing, _Octavio_, who was still kneeling, submitted his head to the
hands of a Father, who, with a pair of scissors, cut off his delicate
hair; at which a soft murmur of pity and grief filled the place: those
fine locks, with which _Sylvia_ had a thousand times played, and wound
the curls about her snowy fingers, she now had the dying grief, for
her sake, for her infidelity, to behold sacrificed to her cruelty, and
distributed among the ladies, who, at any price, would purchase a
curl: after this they took off his linen, and his coat, under which he
had a white satin waistcoat, and under his breeches drawers of the
same. Then, the Bishop took his robes, which lay consecrated on the
altar, and put them on, and invested him with the holy robe: the
singing continuing to the end of the ceremony; where, after an anthem
was sung (while he prostrated himself before the altar) he arose, and
instead of the two noblemen that attended him to the altar, two
_Bernardines_ approached, and conducted him from it, to the seats of
every one of the Order, whom he kissed and embraced, as they came
forth to welcome him to the Society. It was with abundance of tears
that every one beheld this transformation; but _Sylvia_ swooned
several times during the ceremony, yet would not suffer herself to be
carried out; but _Antonet_ and another young lady of the house where
she lodged, that accompanied her, did what they could to conceal her
from the public view. For my part, I swear I was never so affected in
my life with any thing, as I was at this ceremony; nor ever found my
heart so oppressed with tenderness; and was myself ready to sink where
I sat, when he came near me, to be welcomed by a Father that sat next
to me: after this, he was led by two of the eldest Fathers to his
apartment, and left a thousand sighing hearts behind him. Had he died,
there had not been half that lamentation; so foolish is the mistaken
world to grieve at our happiest fortune; either when we go to heaven
or retreat from this world, which has nothing in it that can really
charm, without a thousand fatigues to attend it: and in this retreat,
I am sure, he himself was the only person that was not infinitely
concerned; who quitted the world with so modest a bravery, so entire a
joy, as no young conqueror ever performed his triumphs with more.

The ceremony being ended, _Antonet_ got _Sylvia_ to her chair,
concerned even to death; and she vowed afterwards she had much ado to
with-hold herself from running and seizing him at the altar, and
preventing his fortune and design, but that she believed _Philander_
would have resented it to the last degree, and possibly have made it
fatal to both herself and _Octavio_. It was a great while before she
could recover from the indisposition to which this fatal and
unexpected accident had reduced her: but, as I have said, she was not
of a nature to die for love; and charming and brave as _Octavio_ was,
it was perhaps her interest, and the loss of his considerable fortune
that gave her the greatest cause of grief. Sometimes she vainly
fancied that yet her power was such, that with the expense of one
visit, and some of her usual arts, which rarely fail, she had power to
withdraw his thoughts from heaven, and fix them all on herself again,
and to make him fly those enclosures to her more agreeable arms: but
again she wisely considered, though he might be retrieved, his fortune
was disposed of to holy uses, and could never be so. This last thought
more prevailed upon her, and had more convincing reason in it, than
all that could besides oppose her flame; for she had this wretched
prudence, even in the highest flights and passions of her love, to
have a wise regard to interest; insomuch, that it is most certain, she
refused to give herself up entirely even to _Philander_; him, whom one
would have thought nothing but perfect love, soft irresistible love,
could have compelled her to have transgressed withal, when so many
reasons contradicted her passion: how much more then ought we to
believe, that interest was the greatest motive of all her
after-passions? However, this powerful motive failed not to beget in
her all the pains and melancholies that the most violent of passions
could do: but _Brilliard_, who loved her to a greater degree than
ever, strove all he could to divert the thoughts of a grief, for which
there was no remedy; and believed, if he could get her out of
_Brussels_, retired to the little town, or rather village, where he
was first made happy, and where _Philander_ still believed her to be,
he should again re-assume that power over her heart he had before: in
this melancholy fit of hers he proposed it, urging the danger he
should be in for obeying her, should _Philander_ once come to know
that she was in _Brussels_; and that possibly she would not find so
civil a treatment as he ought to pay her, if he should come to the
knowledge of it: besides these reasons, he said, he had some of
greater importance, which he must not discover till she were withdrawn
from _Brussels_: but there needed not much to persuade her to retire,
in the humour she then was; and with no opposition on her side, she
told him, she was ready to go where he thought fit; and accordingly
the next day they departed the town, and in three more arrived to the
village. In all this journey _Brilliard_ never approached her but with
all the respect imaginable, but withal, with abundance of silent
passion: which manner of carriage obliged _Sylvia_ very often to take
notice of it, with great satisfaction and signs of favour; and as he
saw her melancholy abate, he increased in sighing and lover's
boldnesses: yet with all this, he could not oblige her to those
returns he wished: when, after ten days' stay, _Philander_ writ to him
to inquire of his health, and of _Sylvia_, to whom he sent a very kind
good-natured letter, but no more of the lover, than if there had never
been such a joy between them: he begged her to take care of herself,
and told her, he would be with her in ten or fifteen days; and desired
her to send him _Brilliard_, if he were not wholly necessary to her
service; for he had urgent affairs to employ him in: so that
_Brilliard_, not being able longer with any colour to defend his stay,
writ him word he would wait on him in two days; which short time he
wholly employed in the utmost endeavour to gain _Sylvia_'s favour; but
she, whose thoughts were roving on new designs, which she thought fit
to conceal from a lover, still put him off with pretended illness, and
thoughtfulness on the late melancholy object and loss of _Octavio_:
but assured him, as soon as she was recovered of that pressure, she
would receive him with the same joy she had before, and which his
person and his services merited from her; it was thus she soothed the
hoping lover, who went away with all the satisfaction imaginable,
bearing a letter from _Sylvia_ to _Philander_, written with all the
art of flattery. _Brilliard_ was no sooner gone, but _Sylvia_, whose
head ran on new adventures, resolved to try her chance; and being,
whenever she pleased, of a humour very gay, she resolved upon a
design, in which she could trust no body but her page, who loved his
lady to the last degree of passion, though he never durst shew it even
in his looks or sighs; and yet the cunning _Sylvia_ had by chance
found his flame, and would often take delight to torture the poor
youth, to laugh at him: she knew he would die to serve her, and she
durst trust him with the most important business of her life: she
therefore the next morning sends for him to her chamber, which she
often did, and told him her design; which was, in man's clothes to go
back to _Brussels_, and see if they could find any adventures by the
way that might be worth the journey, and divert them: she told him she
would trust him with all her secrets; and he vowed fidelity. She bid
him bring her a suit of those clothes she used to wear at her first
arrival at _Holland_, and he looked out one very fine, and which she
had worn that day she went to have been married to _Octavio_, when the
_States'_ messengers took her up for a _French_ spy, a suit
_Philander_ had never seen: she equips herself, and leaving in charge
with _Antonet_ what to say in her absence, and telling her she was
going upon a frolic to divert herself a day or two; she, accompanied
by her page only, took horse and made away towards _Brussels_: you
must know, that the half-way stage is a very small village, in which
there is most lamentable accommodation, and may vie with any part of
_Spain_ for bad inns. _Sylvia_, not used much to riding as a man, was
pretty well tired by that time she got to one of those _hotels_; and,
as soon as she alighted, she went to her chamber to refresh and cool
herself; and while the page was gone to the kitchen to see what there
was to eat, she was leaning out of the window, and looking on the
passengers that rode along, many of which took up in the same house.
Among them that alighted, there was a very handsome young gentleman,
appearing of quality, attended only by his page. She considered this
person a little more than the rest, and finding him so unaccompanied,
had a curiosity, natural to her, to know who he was: she ran to
another window that looked into the yard, a kind of balcony, and saw
him alight, and look at her; and saluted her in passing into the
kitchen, seeing her look like a youth of quality: coming in, he saw
her page, and asked if he belonged to that young cavalier in
the gallery; the page told him he did: and being asked who he was,
he told him he was a young nobleman of _France_; a stranger to all
those parts, and had made an escape from his tutors; and said he was
of a humour never to be out of his way; all places being alike to him
in those little adventures. So leaving him (with yet a greater
curiosity) he ran to _Sylvia_, and told her what had passed between
the young stranger and him: while she, who was possessed with the same
inquisitive humour, bid him inquire who he was; when the master of the
_hotel_ coming in the interim up to usher in her supper, she inquired
of him who that young stranger was; he told her, one of the greatest
persons in _Flanders_; that he was nephew to the Governor, and who had
a very great equipage at other times; but that now he was _incognito_,
being on an intrigue: this intrigue gave _Sylvia_ new curiosity; and
hoping the master would tell him again, she fell into great praises of
his beauty and his mien; which for several reasons pleased the man of
the inn, who departed with the good news, and told every word of it to
the young cavalier: the good man having, besides the pleasing him with
the grateful compliments, a farther design in the relation; for his
house being very full of persons of all sorts, he had no lodgings for
the Governor's nephew, unless he could recommend him to our young
cavalier. The gay unknown, extremely pleased with the character he had
given him by so beautiful a gentleman, and one who appeared of so much
quality, being alone, and knowing he was so also, sent a _Spanish_
page, that spoke very good _French_, and had a handsome address, and
quick wit, to make his compliment to the young _Monsieur_; which was
to beg to be admitted to sup with him; who readily accepted the
honour, as she called it; and the young Governor, whom we must call
_Alonzo_, for a reason or two, immediately after entered her chamber,
with an admirable address, appearing much handsomer near, than at a
distance, though even then he drew _Sylvia_'s eyes with admiration on
him: there were a thousand young graces in his person, sweetnesses in
his face, love and fire in his eyes, and wit on his tongue: his
stature was neither tall nor low, very well made and fashioned; a
light-brown hair, hazel eyes, and a very soft and amorous air; about
twenty years of age: he spoke very good _French_; and after the first
compliments on either side were over, as on such occasions are
necessary; in which on both sides were nothing but great expressions
of esteem, _Sylvia_ began so very well to be pleased with the fair
stranger, that she had like to have forgot the part she was to act,
and have made discoveries of her sex, by addressing herself with the
modesty and blushes of a woman: but _Alonzo_, who had no such
apprehension, though she appeared with much more beauty than he
fancied ever to have seen in a man, nevertheless admired, without
suspecting, and took all those signs of effeminacy to unassured youth,
and first address; and he was absolutely deceived in her. _Alonzo_'s
supper being brought up, which was the best the bad inn afforded, they
sat down, and all the supper time talked of a thousand pleasant
things, and most of love and women, where both expressed abundance of
gallantry for the fair sex. _Alonzo_ related many short and pleasant
accidents and amours he had had with women.

Though the stranger were by birth a _Spaniard_; yet, while they
discoursed the glass was not idle, but went as briskly about, as if
_Sylvia_ had been an absolute good fellow. _Alonzo_ drinks his and his
mistress's health, and _Sylvia_ returned the civility, and so on, till
three bottles were sacrificed to love and good humour; while she, at
the expense of a little modesty, declared herself so much of the
opinion of _Don Alonzo_, for gay inconstancy, and the blessing of
variety, that he was wholly charmed with a conversation so agreeable
to his own. I have heard her page say, from whom I have had a great
part of the truths of her life, that he never saw _Sylvia_ in so
pleasant a humour all his life before, nor seemed so well pleased,
which gave him, her lover, a jealousy that perplexed him above any
thing he had ever felt from love; though he durst not own it. But
_Alonzo_ finding his young companion altogether so charming (and in
his own way too) could not forbear very often from falling upon his
neck, and kissing the fair disguised, with as hearty an ardour, as
ever he did one of the other sex: he told her he adored her; she was
directly of his principle, all gay, inconstant, galliard and roving,
and with such a gusto, he commended the joys of fickle youth, that
_Sylvia_ would often say, she was then jealous of him, and envious of
those who possessed him, though she knew not whom. The more she looked
on him, and heard him speak, the more she fancied him: and wine that
warmed her head, made her give him a thousand demonstrations of love,
that warmed her heart; which he mistook for friendship, having
mistaken her sex. In this fit of beginning love (which is always the
best) and jealousy, she bethought her to ask him on what adventure he
had now been; for he being without his equipage, she believed, she
said, he was upon some affair of love: he told her there was a lady,
within an hour's riding of that place, of quality, and handsome, very
much courted: amongst those that were of the number of her adorers, he
said, was a young man of quality of _France_, who called himself
_Philander_: this _Philander_ had been about eight days very happy in
her favour, and had happened to boast his good fortune the next night
at the Governor's table, where he dined with the Prince _Cesario_. 'I
told him,' continued _Alonzo_, 'that the person he so boasted of, had
so soon granted him the favour, that I believed she was of a humour to
suffer none to die at her feet: but this,' said he, '_Philander_
thought an indignity to his good parts, and told me, he believed he
was the only man happy in her favour, and that could be so: on this I
ventured a wager, at which he coloured extremely, and the company
laughed, which incensed him more; the Prince urged the wager, which
was a pair of _Spanish_ horses, the best in the Court, on my side,
against a discretion on his: this odds offered by me incensed him yet
more; but urged to lay, we ended the dispute with the wager, the best
conclusion of all controversies. He would have known what measures I
would take; I refused to satisfy him in that; I only swore him upon
honour, that he should not discover the wager, or the dispute to the
lady. The next day I went to pay her a visit, from my aunt, the
Governor's lady, and she received me with all the civility in the
world. I seemed surprised at her beauty, and could talk of nothing but
the adoration I had for her, and found her extremely pleased, and
vain; of which feeble resistance I made so good advantage, that before
we parted, being all alone, I received from her all the freedoms, that
I could with any good manners be allowed the first time; she firing me
with kisses, and suffering my closest embraces. Having prospered so
well, I left her for that time, and two days after I made my visit
again; she was a married lady, and her husband was a _Dutch_ Count,
and gone to a little government he held under my uncle, so that again
I found a free admittance; I told her, it was my aunt's compliment I
brought before, but that now it was my own I brought, which was that
of an impatient heart, that burnt with a world of fire and flame, and
nonsense. In fine, so eager I was, and so pressing for something more
than dull kissing, that she began to retire as fast as she advanced
before, and told me, after abundance of pressing her to it, that she
had set a price upon her beauty, and unless I understood how to
purchase her, it was not her fault if I were not happy. At first I so
little expected it had been money, that I reiterated my vows, and
fancied it was the assurance of my heart she meant; but she very
frankly replied, "Sir, you may spare your pains, and five hundred
pistoles will ease you of a great deal of trouble, and be the best
argument of your love." This generous conscientious humour of hers, of
suffering none to die that had five hundred pistoles to present for a
cure, was very good news to me, and I found I was not at all obliged
to my youth or beauty, but that a man with half a nose, or a single
eye, or that stunk like an old _Spaniard_ that had dined on rotten
cheese and garlic, should have been equally as welcome for the
aforesaid sum, to this charming insensible. I must confess, I do not
love to chaffer for my pleasure, it takes off the best part of it; and
were I left to my own judgement of its worth, I should hardly have
offered so sneaking a sum; but that sort of bargaining, was her
humour, and to enjoy her mind, though she had strangely palled me by
this management of the matter: all I had now to do, was to appoint my
night, and bring my money; now was a very proper time for it, her
husband being absent: I took my leave of her, infinitely well pleased
to have gained my point on any terms, with a promise to deliver myself
there the next night: but she told me, she had a brother to come
to-morrow, whom she would not have see me, and for that reason (being
however not willing to delay the receiving her pistoles) she desired I
would wait at this very house 'till a footman should give me notice
when to come; accordingly I came, and sent her a billet, that I waited
prepared at all points; and she returned me a billet to this purpose;
that her brother with some relations being arrived, as she expected,
she begged for her honour's sake, that I would wait till she sent,
which should be as soon as they were gone to their chambers; and they,
having rid a long journey, would early retire; that she was impatient
of the blessing, and should be as well prepared as himself, and that
she would leave her woman _Letitia_ to give me admittance.----This
satisfied me very well; and as I attended her, some of my acquaintance
chanced to arrive; with whom I supped, and took so many glasses to her
health as it passed down, that I was arrived at a very handsome pitch,
and to say truth, was as full of _Bacchus_ as of _Venus_. However, as
soon as her footman arrived, I stole away, and took horse, and by that
time it was quite dark arrived at her house, where I was led in by a
young maid, whose habit was very neat and clean, and she herself
appeared to my eyes, then dazzling with wine, the most beautiful young
creature I had ever seen, as in truth she was; she seemed all modesty,
and blushing innocence; so that conducting me into a low parlour,
while she went to tell her lady I was come, who lay ready dressed in
all the magnificences of night-dress to receive me, I sat
contemplating on this fair young maid, and no more thought of her lady
than of _Bethlehem Gaber_. The maid soon returned, and curtseying,
told me, with blushes on her face, that her lady expected me; the
house was still as sleep, and no noise heard, but the little winds
that rushed among the jessamine that grew at the window; now whether
at that moment, the false light in the room, or the true wine deceived
me, I know not; but I beheld this maid as an angel for beauty, and
indeed I think she had all the temptations of nature. I began to kiss
her, and she to tremble and blush; yet not so much out of fear, as
surprise and shame at my address. I found her pleased with my vows,
and melting at my kisses; I sighed in her bosom, which panted me a
welcome there; that bosom whiter than snow, sweeter than the nosegay
she had planted there. She urged me faintly to go to her lady, who
expected me, and I swore it was for her sake I came (whom I never saw)
and that I scorned all other beauties: she kindled at this, and her
cheeks glowed with love. I pressed her to all I wished; but she
replied, she was a maid, and should be undone. I told her, I would
marry her, and swore it with a thousand oaths; she believed, and grew
prettily fond----In fine, at last she yielded to all I asked of her,
which we had scarce recovered when her lady rung. I could not stir,
but she who feared a surprise ran to her, and told her, I was gone
into the garden, and would come immediately; she hastens down again to
me, fires me anew, and pleased me anew; it was thus I taught a longing
maid the first lesson of sin, at the price of fifty pistoles, which I
presented her; nor could I yet part from this young charmer, but
stayed so long, that her lady rung a silver bell again; but my new
prize was so wholly taken up with the pleasure of this new amour, and
the good fortune arrived to her, she heard not the bell, so that the
fair deceived put on her night-gown and slippers, and came softly down
stairs, and found my new love and I closely embracing, with all the
passion and fondness imaginable. I know not what she saw in me in that
kind moment to her woman, or whether the disappointment gave her a
greater desire, but it is most certain she fell most desperately in
love with me, and scorning to take notice of the indignity I put upon
her, she unseen stole to her chamber; where, after a most afflicting
night, she next morning called her woman to her (whom I left towards
morning, better pleased with my fifty pistoles worth of beauty, than I
should have been with that of five hundred): the maid, whose guilt
made her very much unassured, approached her lady with such
tremblings, as she no longer doubted but she was guilty, but durst not
examine her about it, lest she, who had her honour in keeping, should,
by the discovery she found she had made of her levity, expose that of
her lady. She therefore dissembled as well as she could, and examined
her about my stay; to which the maid answered, I had fallen asleep,
and it was impossible to awake me 'till day appeared; when for fear of
discovery I posted away. This, though the lady knew was false, she was
forced to take for current excuse; and more raging with love than
ever, she immediately dispatched away her footman with a letter to me,
upbraiding me extremely; but, at the same time, inviting me with all
the passion imaginable; and, because I should not again see my young
mistress, who was dying in love with me, she appointed me to meet her
at a little house she had, a bow-shot from her own, where was a fine
decoy, and a great number of wild-fowl kept, which her husband took
great delight in; there I was to wait her coming; where lived only a
man and his old wife, her servants: I was very glad of this
invitation, and went; she came adorned with all her charms.

I considered her a new woman, and one whom I had a wager to win upon,
the conquest of one I had inclination to, till by the discovery of the
jilt in her, I began to despise the beauty; however, as I said, she
was new, and now perhaps easy to be brought to any terms, as indeed it
happened; she caressed me with all imaginable fondness; was ready to
eat my lips instead of kissing them, and much more forward than I
wished, who do not love an over-easy conquest; however, she pleased me
for three days together, in all which time she detained me there,
coming to me early, and staying the latest hour; and I have no reason
to repent my time; for besides that I have passed it very well, she at
my coming away presented me this jewel in my hat, and this ring on my
finger, and I have saved my five hundred pistoles, my heart, and my
credit in the encounter, and am going to _Brussels_ to triumph over
the haughty conceited _Philander_, who set so great a value on his own
beauty, and yet, for all his fine person, has paid the pistoles,
before he could purchase the blessing, as she swore to me, who have
made a convert of her, and reduced her to the thing she never yet was,
a lover; insomuch, that she has promised me to renounce _Philander_: I
have promised to visit her again; but if I do it will be more for the
vanity to please, than to be pleased; for I never repeat any thing
with pleasure.' All the while he spoke, _Sylvia_ fixed her eyes, and
all her soft desires upon him; she envies the happy Countess, but much
more the happy maid, with whom his perfect liking made him happy; she
fancies him in her arms, and wishes him there; she is ready a thousand
times to tell him she is a woman, but, when she reflects on his
inconstancy, she fears. When he had ended his story, she cried,
sighing, 'And you are just come from this fair lady?' He answered her,
he was sound and heart whole: she replied, 'It is very well you are
so, but all the young do not thus escape from beauty, and you may,
some time or other, be entrapped.' 'Oh,' cried he, 'I defy the power
of one, while heaven has distributed variety to all.' 'Were you never
in love?' replied Sylvia. 'Never,' said he, 'that they call love: I
have burnt and raved an hour or two, or so; pursued, and gazed, and
laid sieges, till I had overcome; but, what is this to love? Did I
ever make a second visit, unless upon necessity, or gratitude? And
yet----' and there he sighed; 'and yet,' said he, 'I saw a beauty once
upon the _Tour_, that has ever since given me torment.' 'At
_Brussels_? said _Sylvia_. 'There,' replied he; 'she was the fairest
creature heaven ever made, such white and red by nature, such hair,
such eyes, and such a mouth!----All youth and ravishing sweetness;--I
pursued her to her lodgings, and all I could get, was, that she
belonged to a young nobleman, who since has taken Orders. From the
night I saw her, I never left her window, but had spies of all sorts,
who brought me intelligence, and a little after, I found she had
quitted the place with a new lover, which made me love and rave ten
times more, when I knew assuredly she was a whore--and how fine a one
I had missed.' This called all the blood to _Sylvia_'s face, and so
confounded her she could not answer; she knew it was herself of whom
he spoke; and that coarse word, though innocently spoken, or rather
gaily expressed, put her quite out of countenance; however, she
recovered again, when she considered they were not meant as rudenesses
to her. She loved him, and was easy to pardon: with such discourse
they passed the evening till towards bed-time, and the young
_Spaniard_, who had taken little rest in three nights before, wanted
some repose; and calling for his chamber, the host besought him, since
they had the happiness (the young _French_ gentleman and himself) to
be so good friends, that they would share a bed together: 'For in
truth,' said he, 'sir, you must sit up all night else;' he replied,
with all his soul, it was the most grateful proposal had been ever
made him; and addressing himself to _Sylvia_, asked him if he would
allow him that blessing: she blushed extremely at the question, and
hung down her eyes, and he laughed to see it: 'Sir,' said _Sylvia_, 'I
will give you my bed, for it is all one to me to lie on a bed, or on
the chairs.' 'Why, sir,' said _Alonzo_, 'I am too passionate an adorer
of the female sex, to incommode any of my own with addresses; nor am I
so nice, but I can suffer a man to lie by me, especially so dear a
youth as yourself;' at which he embraced her in his arms, which did
but the more raise _Sylvia_'s blushes, who wished for what she
dreaded: 'With you, sir,' said she, 'I could methinks be content to do
what I do not use to do;' and, fearing to betray her sex, forced a
consent; for either one or the other she was compelled to do; and with
the assurance that he thought her what she seemed, she chose to give
her consent, and they both went to bed together: to add to her deceit
(she being forced in her sickness to cut off her hair) when she put
off her periwig she discovered nothing of the woman; nor feared she
any thing but her breasts, which were the roundest and the whitest in
the world; but she was long in undressing, which to colour the matter,
she suffered her page to do; who, poor lad, was never in so trembling
a condition, as in that manner to be obliged to serve her, where she
discovered so many charms he never before had seen, but all such as
might be seen with modesty: by that time she came to bed, _Alonzo_ was
fast asleep, being so long kept waking, and never so much as dreamt he
had a woman with him; but she, whose fears kept her waking, had a
thousand agitations and wishes; so natural it is, when virtue has
broke the bounds of modesty, to plunge in past all retreat; and, I
believe there are very few who retire after the first sin. She
considers her condition in a strange country, her splendour declining,
her love for _Philander_ quite reduced to friendship, or hardly that;
she was young, and ate and drank well; had a world of vanity, that
food of desire, that fuel to vice: she saw this the beautifullest
youth she imagined ever to have seen, of quality and fortune able to
serve her; all these made her rave with a desire to gain him for a
lover, and she imagined as all the vain and young do, that though no
charms had yet been able to hold him, she alone had those that would;
her glass had a thousand times told her so; she compares him to
_Octavio_, and finds him, in her opinion, handsomer; she was possessed
with some love for _Philander_, when he first addressed to her, and
_Octavio_ shared at best but half a heart; but now, that she had lost
all for _Philander_ and _Octavio_, and had a heart to cast away, or
give a new lover; it was like her money, she hated to keep it, and
lavished it on any trifle, rather than hoard it, or let it lie by: it
was a loss of time her youth could not spare; she, after reflection,
resolved, and when she had resolved, she believed it done. By a candle
she had by her, to read a little novel she had brought, she surveyed
him often, as curiously as _Psyche_ did her _Cupid_, and though he
slept like a mere mortal, he appeared as charming to her eyes as the
winged god himself; and it is believed she wished he would awake and
find by her curiosity, her sex: for this I know, she durst no longer
trust herself a-bed with him, but got up, and all the last part of the
night walked about the room: her page lay in the room with her, by her
order, on the table, with a little valise under his head, which he
carried _Sylvia_'s linen in; she awoke him, and told him all her
fears, in a pleasant manner. In the morning _Alonzo_ awakes, and
wonders to find her up so soon, and reproached her for the unkindness;
new protestations on both sides passing of eternal friendship, they
both resolved for _Brussels_; but, lest she should encounter
_Philander_ on the way, who possibly might be on visiting his _Dutch_
countess, she desired him to ride on before, and to suffer her to lose
the happiness of his company, till they met in _Brussels_: with much
ado he consents, and taking the ring the countess gave him, from off
his finger, 'Sir,' said he, 'be pleased to wear this, and if ever you
need my fortune, or my sword, send it, and in what part of the world
soever I am, I will fly to your service.' _Sylvia_ returned him a
little ring set round with diamonds, that Philander in his wooing time
had given her, amongst a thousand of finer value: his name and hers
were engraven instead of a posie in it; which was only _Philander_ and
_Sylvia_, and which he took no notice of, and parted from each other
in the tenderest manner, that two young gentlemen could possibly be
imagined to do, though it were more than so on her side; for she was
madly in love with him.

As soon as _Sylvia_ came to _Brussels_, she sent in the evening to
search out _Brilliard_, for she had discovered, if he should come to
the knowledge of her being in town, and she should not send to him, he
would take it so very ill, that he might prevent all her designs and
rambles, the now joy of her heart; she knew she could make him her
slave, her pimp, her any thing, for love, and the hope of her favour,
and his interest might defend her; and she should know all
_Philander_'s, motions, whom now, though she loved no more, she
feared. She found him, and he took her lodgings, infinitely pleased at
the trust she reposed in him, the only means by which he could arrive
to happiness. She continues her man's habit, and he supplied the place
of _valet_, dressed her and undressed her, shifted her linen every
day; nor did he take all these freedoms, without advancing a little
farther upon occasion and opportunity, which was the hire she gave
him, to serve her in more lucky amours; the fine she paid to live
free, and at ease. She tells him her adventure, which, though it were
daggers to his heart, was, however, the only way to keep her his own;
for he knew her spirit was too violent to be restrained by any means.
At last, she told him her design upon a certain young man of quality,
who she told him, was the same she encountered. She assured him it was
not love or liking, but perfectly interest that made her design upon
him, and that if he would assist her, she would be very kind to him,
as a man that had gained very greatly upon her heart. This flattery
she urged with infinite fondness and art, and he, overjoyed, believed
every word as gospel; so that he promised her the next day to carry a
billet to the young _don_: in the mean time, she caused him to sup
with her, purposely to give him an account of _Philander_, _Cesario_
and _Hermione_, whom she heard was come to _Brussels_, and lived
publicly with the Prince. He told her, it was very true, and that he
saw them every day, nay, every moment together; for he verily believed
they could not live asunder; that _Philander_ was every evening
caballing there, where all the malcontents of the Reformed Religion
had taken sanctuary, and where the Grand Council was every night held;
for some great things were in agitation, and debating how to trouble
the repose of all _France_ again with new broils; he told her, that
all the world made their court to _Hermione_, that if any body had any
petitions, or addresses to make to the Prince, it was by her sole
interest; she sat in their closest councils, and heard their gravest
debates; and she was the oracle of the board: the Prince paying her
perfect adoration, while she, whose charms of youth were ended, being
turned of thirty, fortified her decays with all the art her wit and
sex were capable of, and kept her illustrious lover as perfectly her
slave, as if she had engaged him by all those ties that fetter the
most circumspect, and totally subdued him to her will, who was,
without exception, the most lovely person upon earth; 'and though,
madam, you know him so perfectly well, yet I must tell you my opinion
of him: he is all the softer sex can wish, and ours admire; he is
formed for love and war; and as he is the most amorous and wanton in
courts, he is also the most fierce and brave in field; his birth the
most elevated, his age arrived to full blown man, adorned with all the
spreading glories that charm the fair, and engage the world; and I
have often heard some of our party say, his person gained him more
numbers to his side, than his cause or quality; for he understood all
the useful arts of popularity, the gracious smile and bow, and all
those cheap favours that so gain upon hearts; and without the expense
of any thing but ceremony, has made the nation mad for his interest,
who never otherwise obliged them; and sure nothing is more necessary
in the great, than affability; nor shews greater marks of grandeur, or
shall more eternize them, than bowing to the crowd. As the maiden
queen I have read of in _England_, who made herself idolized by that
sole piece of politic cunning, understanding well the stubborn, yet
good nature of the people; and gained more upon them by those little
arts, than if she had parted with all the prerogatives of her Crown.
Ah! madam, you cannot imagine what little slights govern the whole
universe, and how easy it is for monarchs to oblige. This _Cesario_
was made to know, and there is no one so poor an object, who may not
have access to him, and whom he does not send away well pleased,
though he do not grant what they ask. He dispatches quickly, which is
a grateful virtue in great men; and none ever espoused his interest,
that did not find a reward and a protection; it is true, these are all
the tools he is to work with, and he stops at nothing that leads to
his ambition; nor has he done all that lies in the power of man only,
to set all _France_ yet in a flame, but he calls up the very devils
from hell to his aid, and there is no man famed for necromancy, to
whom he does not apply himself; which, indeed, is done by the advice
of _Hermione_, who is very much affected with those sort of people,
and puts a great trust and confidence in them. She sent at great
expense, for a _German_ conjurer, who arrived the other day, and who
is perpetually consulting with another of the same sort, a _Scot_ by
birth, called _Fergusano_. He was once in Holy Orders, and still is
so, but all his practice is the Black Art; and excellent in it he is
reported to be. _Hermione_ undertakes nothing without his advice; and
as he is absolutely her creature, so his art governs her, and she the
Prince: she holds her midnight conferences with him; and as she is
very superstitious, so she is very learned, and studies this art,
taught by this great master _Fergusano_; and so far is this glorious
hero bewitched with these sorcerers, that he puts his whole trust in
these conjurations and charms; and so far they have imposed on him,
that with an enchanted ointment, which they had prepared for him, he
shall be invulnerable, though he should face the mouth of a cannon:
they have, at the earnest request of _Hermione_, calculated his
nativity, and find him born to be a king; and, that before twenty
moons expire, he shall be crowned in _France_: and flattering his easy
youth with all the vanities of ambition, they have made themselves
absolutely useful to him. This _Scot_, being a most inveterate enemy
to _France_, lets the Prince rest neither night nor day, but is still
inspiring him with new hopes of a crown, and laying him down all the
false arguments imaginable, to spur the active spirit: my lord is not
of the opinion, yet seems to comply with them in Council; he laughs at
all the fopperies of charms and incantations; insomuch, that he many
times angers the Prince, and is in eternal little feuds with
_Hermione_. The _German_ would often in these disputes say, he found
by his art, that the stop to the Prince's glory would be his love.
This so incensed _Hermione_, and consequently the Prince, that they
had like to have broke with him, but durst not for fear; he knowing
too much to be disobliged: on the other side, _Fergusano_ is most
wonderfully charmed with the wit and masculine spirit of _Hermione_,
her courage, and the manliness of her mind; and understanding which
way she would be served, resolved to obey her, finding she had an
absolute ascendancy over the Prince, whom, by this means, he knew he
should get into his sole management. _Hermione_, though she seemed to
be possessed so entirely of _Cesario_'s heart, found she had great and
powerful opposers, who believed the Prince lay idling in her arms, and
that possibly she might eclipse his fame, by living at that rate with
a woman he had no other pretensions to but love; and many other
motives were urged daily to him by the admirers of his great actions:
and she feared, with reason, that some time or other, ambition might
get the ascendancy of love: she, therefore, in her midnight
conferences with _Fergusano_, often urged him to shew her that piece
of his art, to make a philtre to retain fleeting love; and not only
keep a passion alive, but even revive it from the dead. She tells him
of her contract with him; she urges his forced marriage, as she was
pleased to call it, in his youth; and that he being so young, she
believed he might find it lawful to marry himself a second time; that
possibly his Princess was for the interest of the King; and men of his
elevated fortune ought not to be tied to those strictnesses of common
men, but for the good of the public, sometimes act beyond the musty
rules of law and equity, those politic bands to confine the _mobile_.
At this unreasonable rate she pleads her right to _Cesario_, and he
hearkens with all attention, and approves so well all she says, that
he resolves, not only to attach the Prince to her by all the force of
the Black Art, but that of necessary marriage also: this pleased her
to the last degree; and she left him, after he had promised her to
bring her the philtre by the morning: for it was that she most urged,
the other requiring time to argue with him, and work him by degrees to
it. Accordingly, the next morning he brings her a tooth-pick-case of
gold, of rare infernal workmanship, wrought with a thousand charms, of
that force, that every time the Prince should touch it, and while he
but wore it about him, his fondness should not only continue, but
increase, and he should hate all womankind besides, at least in the
way of love, and have no power to possess another woman, though she
had all the attractions of nature. He tells her the Prince could never
suspect so familiar a present, and for the fineness of the work, it
was a present for a Prince; 'For,' said he, 'no human art could frame
so rare a piece of workmanship; that nine nights the most delicate of
the Infernals were mixing the metal with the most powerful of charms,
and watched the critical minutes of the stars, in which to form the
mystic figures, every one being a spell upon the heart, of that
unerring magic, no mortal power could ever dissolve, undo, or
conquer.' The only art now was in giving it, so as to oblige him never
to part with it; and she, who had all the cunning of her sex,
undertook for that part; she dismissed her infernal confidant, and
went to her _toilet_ to dress her, knowing well, that the Prince would
not be long before that he came to her: she laid the tooth-pick-case
down, so as he could not avoid seeing it: the Prince came immediately
after in, as he ever used to do night and morning, to see her dress
her; he saw this gay thing on the table, and took it in his hand,
admiring the work of it, as he was the most curious person in the
world: she told him, there was not a finer wrought thing in the world,
and that she had a very great esteem for it, it being made by the
_Sybils_; and bid him mind the antiqueness of the work: the more she
commended it, the more he liked it, and told her, she must let him
call it his: she told him, he would give it away to the next
commender: he vowed he would not: she told him then he should not only
call it his, but it should in reality be so; and he vowed it should be
the last thing he would part with in the world. From that time forward
she found, or thought she found, a more impatient fondness in him than
she had seen before: however it was, she ruled and governed him as she
pleased; and indeed never was so great a slave to beauty, as, in my
opinion, he was to none at all; for she is far from having any natural
charms; yet it was not long since it was absolutely believed by all,
that he had been resolved to give himself wholly up to her arms; to
have sought no other glory, than to have retired to a corner of the
world with her, and changed all his crown of laurel for those of
roses: but some stirring spirits have roused him anew, and awakened
ambition in him, and they are on great designs, which possibly 'ere
long may make all _France_ to tremble; yet still _Hermione_ is
oppressed with love, and the effects of daily increasing passion. He
has perpetual correspondence with the party in _Paris_, and advice of
all things that pass; they let him know they are ready to receive him
whenever he can bring a force into _France_; nor needs he any
considerable number, he having already there, in every place through
which he shall pass, all, or the most part of the hearts and hands at
his devotion; and they want but arms, and they shall gather as they
go: they desire he will land himself in some part of the kingdom, and
it would be encouragement enough to all the joyful people, who will
from all parts flock together. In fine, he is offered all assistance
and money; and lest all the forces of _France_ should be bent against
him, he has friends, of great quality and interest, that are resolved
to rise in several places of the kingdom, in _Languedoc_ and
_Guyenne_, whither the King must be obliged to send his forces, or a
great part of them; so that all this side of _France_ will be left
defenceless. I myself, madam, have some share in this great design,
and possibly you will one day see me a person of a quality sufficient
to merit those favours I am now blessed with.' 'Pray,' replied
_Sylvia_, smiling with a little scorn, 'what part are you to play to
arrive at this good fortune?' 'I am,' said he, 'trusted to provide all
the ammunition and arms, and to hire a vessel to transport them to

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