AS I do not ſet out with great promiſes to the public of the wit, humour, and morality, which this pamphlet is to contain, ſo I expect no reproaches to fall on me, if I ſhould happen to fail in any, or all of theſe articles.
My readers may depend upon it, I will always be as witty as I can, as humorous as I can, as moral as I can, and upon the whole as entertaining as I can. However, as I have but too much reaſon to diſtruſt my own powers of pleaſing, I ſhall uſher in my pamphlet with the performance of a lady, who poſſibly would never have ſuffered it to appear in print, if this opportunity had not offered.
If her ſprightly paper meets with encouragement enough to diſpel the diffidence natural to a young writer, ſhe will be prevailed upon, I hope, to continue it in this Muſeum; I ſhall therefore, without any farther preface, preſent it to my readers.
CAST your eyes upon paper, madam; there you may lock innocently, ſaid a polite old gentleman of my acquaintance to me, one day, in the words of a wit to a fine lady. A compliment is no unpleaſing way of conveying advice to a young woman, and when that advice may be ſo conſtrued, as to become perfectly agreeable to her own inclinations, it is certain to be well received, and quickly complied with. It is indeed very clear to me, that my friend in this borrowed admonition recommended reading to eyes which he probably thought were too intent upon pleaſing; but I, with a ſmall deviation from the ſenſe, applied it, to what is I freely own my predominant paſſion; and therefore reſolved to write, ſtill purſuing the ſame darling end, though by different means.
So frankly to acknowledge the deſire of pleaſing to be my predominant paſſion, is in other words, to confeſs myſelf, one of that ridiculous ſpecies of beings, called a coquet.—This will be ſaid by ſome, and thought by others, for all do not ſay what they think on ſuch occaſions.
Yet to that laudable principle, in women miſtaken for coquetry, we owe the thunder of eloquence in the ſenate, as well as the glitter of dreſs in the [Page 3] drawing-room. An animated ſpeech, and a well-choſen ſilk, are equally the effects of a deſire to pleaſe, both in the patriot and the beauty: and if the one is ever obſerved to be ſilent, and the other without ornaments, it is becauſe he is perſuaded, that ſilence is moſt expreſſive; and ſhe, that negligence is moſt becoming.
But for this active principle, the ſtateſman would be no politician, and the general no warrior. The deſire of fame, or the deſire of pleaſing, which, in my opinion, are ſynonimous terms, produces application in one and courage in the other. It is the poet's inſpiration, the patriot's zeal, the courtier's loyalty, and the orator's eloquence. All are coquets, if that be coquetry, and thoſe grave perſonages and the fine lady are alike liable to be charged with it.
But it will be objected, that the diſtinguiſhing characteriſtic of a coquet is to uſe her powers of pleaſing to the ungenerous purpoſe of giving pain; the ſame may be ſaid of each of the others. All human excellence, as well as human happineſs, is comparative. We are admired but in proportion as we excel others, and whoever excels is ſure to give pain, to his inferiors in merit, either from envy or emulation; paſſions which produce ſenſations nearly alike, although their conſequences are very different.
I hope I have now fully proved, that I, tho' a woman, young, ſingle, gay, and ambitious of pleaſing, deſerve not the odious appellation of coquet; I ſay, I hope, I have proved it, for I am [Page 4] but eighteen, and not uſed to be contradicted in an argument.
ſays the gallant Prior. Hence it follows that we always triumph in a diſpute, though I cannot help allowing, that we often triumph without victory."If ſeldom your opinions err;"Your eyes are always in the right,"
To introduce it to them under the denomination of a trifle may be thought an affront to their underſtandings. But in the choice of my title, I remembered the fable of the mountain that brought forth a mouſe. That I have promiſed little is my ſecurity from cenſure; if I give more it will be my beſt claim to praiſe. I ſhould indeed have thought ſome apology neceſſary for an undertaking of this kind, had I not been perſuaded, it was a mighty eaſy one, from its being ſo frequently attempted, and by perſons too of my own ſex.
The ſubjects I propoſe to treat of will be ſuch as reading and obſervation ſhall furniſh me with; for, with a ſtrong paſſion for intellectual pleaſures, I have likewiſe a taſte for many of the faſhionable amuſements, and in the diſpoſition of my time, I have contrived to gratify both theſe inclinations; one I thought too laudable to be reſtrained, the other I found too pleaſing to be wholly ſubdued.
[Page 5] I am already aware that I have talked too much of myſelf: it is indeed a ſubject one cannot eaſily quit, and perhaps I am not ſorry, that in introductory papers of this ſort, the writers have generally given ſome account of themſelves. Every one knows that long cuſtom has the force of a law; and, in obedience to this, I ſhall fill up my firſt paper with a ſhort hiſtory of myſelf.
I am the daughter of a gentleman remarkable only in this, that during the courſe of a pretty long life, he never loſt a friend, or made an enemy. From which ſingular circumſtance I leave the reader to collect his character. My mother was generally allowed to be a well bred-woman, and an excellent economiſt. In her youth ſhe was extremely indulged by her parents, who, on account of a ſlight diſorder in her eyes, would not ſuffer her to uſe her needle, or look into a book, except on Sundays or holidays, when ſhe was permitted to read two or three verſes of a chapter in the Bible.
My mother therefore grew up, not only without any taſte, but with a high contempt for reading; and thoſe of her female acquaintance who had made any proficiency that way were ſure to be diſtinguiſhed by her, with the opprobrious term of being book-learned, which my mother always pronounced with a look and accent of ineffable ſcorn.
My ſiſter, who is a year younger than myſelf, ſo entirely engroſſed her affection, that I was wholly neglected by her. My fondneſs for reading, which I diſcovered very early, encreaſed her diſlike of me. As ſhe ſeldom choſe to have me in her ſight, [Page 6] I had opportunities ſufficient to indulge myſelf in this favourite amuſement, for I had taken poſſeſſion of all the books my brother left behind him, when he went to the univerſity; but having great ſenſibility of ſoul, I was ſo affected with my mother's partial fondneſs for my ſiſter, and neglect of me, that young as I then was, I often paſt whole nights in tears, lamenting my misfortune.
But this ſenſibility entirely ruined me with my mother; for, being one day exceſſively ſhocked at ſome new inſtance of her partiality, I went up ſobbing to the nurſery, and had recourſe to a book for my relief. It happened to be Aeſop's Fables: I opened it at the following one, which ſtriking my imagination, then full of the preference given by my mother to my ſiſter, I followed a ſudden impulſe, and ſent it to my mother, deſiring ſhe would be pleaſed to read it; for I did not doubt but ſhe would make a proper application of it.‘An ape had twins: ſhe doated upon one of them, and did not much care for the other. She took a ſudden fright one day, and in a hurry whips up her darling under her arm, and took no heed of the other, which therefore leaped aſtride upon her ſhoulders. In this haſte down ſhe comes, and beats out her favourite's brains upon a ſtone, while that which ſhe had on her back came off ſafe and ſound.’
My mother, ſurpriſed at the novelty of the requeſt, read the fable, and immediately afterwards came up to the nurſery in great wrath, and corrected me ſeverely, for calling her an ape, prophetically declaring that a girl who at nine years old [Page 7] could be ſo wicked, as to compare her mother to an ape, would never come to good.
Every one who came to the houſe was told the horrid crime I had been guilty of, the ſervants held me in the utmoſt deteſtation for comparing my mother to an ape, never mentioning it, without lifted up hands and eyes, in abhorrence of ſuch early undutifulneſs.
My father, who had loved me with great tenderneſs, was dead when this incident happened; and the moſt effectual way of paying court to my mamma being to careſs my ſiſter, and take no notice of me, I met with very few friends, either at home or abroad.
In this ſtate of humiliation and diſgrace my brother found me, at his return from the univerſity. When my ſiſter and I were preſented to him, my mother did not fail to relate the crime for which I had ſuffered ſo much, ſhewing him the book, which ſhe had kept carefully ever after, with the leaf doubled down, at the fatal fable, declaring ſhe thought herſelf very unhappy in having given birth to a child who was likely to prove ſo great an affliction to her; ‘for may not every thing that is bad, ſaid ſhe, be expected from a girl who at her years could compare her mother to an ape? ’
My brother read the fable, and my mother leaving the room to give ſome neceſſary orders, he ran eagerly to me, ſnatched me up in his arms, and gave me a hundred kiſſes. My little heart was ſo ſenſibly affected with a tenderneſs to which I had not been accuſtomed, that I burſt into tears.
[Page 8] My mother at her return found me ſobbing, with the violence of my emotions, and did not doubt but my brother had been chiding me. He told her gravely, that ſince I was ſo fond of reading, he would regulate my ſtudies himſelf, and take care I ſhould read no books which might teach me to be undutiful.
To this dear brother I owe the advantage of a right education, which I had like to have miſſed. After my mother's death he took me entirely under his own care. My ſiſter choſe to reſide with an aunt, whoſe heir ſhe expects to be; and while ſhe is a ſlave to the caprices of an old woman, I have the pleaſure of being the miſtreſs of a well-ordered family, for I keep my brother's houſe; and by endeavouring to make him an uſeful as well as agreeable companion, enjoy the ſweet ſatisfaction of ſhewing every day my gratitude for obligations it can never be in my power to return.
TO prohibit women entirely from learning is treating them with the ſame indignity that Mahomet did, who, to render them voluptuous, denied them ſouls; and indeed the greateſt part of women act as if they had really adopted a tenet ſo injurious to the ſex, and appear to ſet no value upon that lively imagination, that ſprightly wit which makes them more admired than beauty itſelf.
When we conſider the happy talents which women in general poſſeſs, and how ſucceſsfully ſome have cultivated them, we cannot without indignation obſerve the little eſteem they have for the endowments of their minds which it is ſo eaſy for them to improve. They are, as Montaigne ſays, flowers of quick growth, and by the delicacy of their conception, catch readily and without trouble the relation of things to each other. It is a melancholy conſideration that the moſt precious gifts of nature ſhould be ſtifled, or obſcured by a ſhameful neglect.
The charms of their perſons, how powerful ſoever, may attract, but cannot fix us; ſomething [Page 10] more than beauty is neceſſary to rivet the lover's chain. By often beholding a beautiful face, the impreſſion it firſt made on us ſoon wears away. When the woman whoſe perſon we admire is incapable of pleaſing us by her converſation, languor and ſatiety, ſoon triumph over the taſte we had for her charms: hence ariſes the inconſtancy with which we are ſo often reproached; it is that barrenneſs of ideas which we find in women that renders men unfaithful.
The ladies may judge of the difference there is among them, by that which they themſelves make between a fool who teaſes them with his impertinence, and a man of letters who entertains them agreeably; a very little labour would equal them to the laſt, and perhaps give them the advantage. This is a kind of victory which we wiſh to yield them. We would, without envy, ſee them dividing with us a good, whoſe value is always greater than the labour by which it is acquired.
The more they ſhall enlarge their notions, the more ſubjects of converſation will be found between them and us, and the more ſprightly and affecting will that converſation be. How many delicate ſentiments, how many nice ſenſibilities are loſt by not being communicable, and in which we ſhould feel an increaſe of ſatisfaction could we meet with women diſpoſed to taſte them!
But what are the ſtudies to which women may with propriety apply themſelves? This queſtion I take upon myſelf to anſwer; and I intreat the ladies to pardon me, if among all the ſciences which exerciſe the wonderful activity of the human mind, [Page 11] I pronounce that only ſome are fit to be cultivated by them. I would particularly recommend to them to avoid all abſtract learning, all thorny reſearches, which may blunt the finer edge of their wit, and change the delicacy in which they excel into pedantic coarſeneſs.
If their ſex has produced Daciers * and Chatelets †, theſe are examples rarely found, and fitter to be admired than imitated: for who would wiſh to ſee aſſemblies made up of doctors in petticoats, who will regale us with Greek and the ſyſtems of Leibnitz. The learning proper for women is ſuch as beſt ſuits the ſoft elegance of their form, ſuch as may add to their natural beauties, and qualify them for the ſeveral duties of life. There is nothing more diſguſtful than thoſe female theologians, who, adopting all the animoſity of the party they have thought fit to join, aſſemble ridiculous ſynods in their houſes, and form extravagant ſects. A Bourignon ‡ a virgin of Venice §, a madame [Page 12] Guyon *, are characters more deteſtable than libertines, like Ninon †.
It is in ſuch parts of learning only as afford the higheſt improvement that we invite women to ſhare with us. All that may awaken curioſity, and lend graces to the imagination, ſuits them ſtill better than us. This is a vaſt field where we may together exerciſe the mind; and here they may even excel us without mortifying our pride.
Hiſtory and natural philoſophy are alone ſufficient to furniſh women with an agreeable kind of ſtudy. The latter, in a ſeries of uſeful obſervations and intereſting experiments, offers a ſpectacle well worthy the conſideration of a reaſonable being. But in vain does nature preſent her miracles to the generality of women, who have no attention but to trifles: ſhe is dumb to thoſe who know not how to interrogate her.
Yet ſurely it requires but a ſmall degree of attention to be ſtruck with that wonderful harmony which reigns throughout the univerſe, and to be ambitious of inveſtigating its ſecret ſprings. This is a large volume which is open to all; here a pair of beautiful eyes may employ themſelves without being fatigued. This amiable ſtudy will baniſh languor from the ſober amuſements of the country, and repair that waſte of intellect which is cauſed by the diſſipations of the town. Women cannot [Page 13] be too much excited to raiſe their eyes to objects like theſe, which they but too often debaſe to ſuch as are unworthy of them.
The ſex is more capable of attention than we imagine: what they chiefly want is a well directed application. There is ſcarcely a young girl who has not read with eagerneſs a great number of idle romances, and puerile tales, ſufficient to corrupt her imagination and cloud her underſtanding. If ſhe had devoted the ſame time to the ſtudy of hiſtory, ſhe would in thoſe varied ſcenes which the world offers to view, have found facts more intereſting, and inſtruction which only truth can give.
Thoſe ſtriking pictures, that are diſplayed in the annals of the human race, are highly proper to direct the judgment, and form the heart. Women have at all times had ſo great a ſhare in events, and have acted ſo many different parts, that they may with reaſon conſider our archives as their own: nay, there are many of them who have written memoirs of the ſeveral events of which they had been eye-witneſſes. Mademoiſelle de Montpenſier, Madame de Némours, Madame de Motteville, are of this number. Chriſtina of Piſan, daughter to the aſtronomer, patroniſed by the Emperor Charles the fifth, has given us the life of that prince; and long before her, the princeſs Anna Comnenus wrote the hiſtory of her own times. We call upon the ladies to aſſert their rights, and from the ſtudy of hiſtory to extract uſeful leſſons for the conduct of life.
[Page 14] This ſtudy, alike pleaſing and inſtructive, will naturally lead to that of the fine arts, which it is fit the ladies ſhould have a leſs ſuperficial knowledge of. The arts are in themſelves too amiable to need any recommendation to the ſex: all the objects they offer to their view have ſome analogy with women, and are like them adorned with the brighteſt colours. The mind is agreeably ſoothed by thoſe images which poetry, painting, and muſick trace out to it, eſpecially if they are found to agree with purity of manners. It was theſe three charming arts, which, in the laſt reign, rendered Mademoiſelle Chéron ſo celebrated; a lady in whom the talents of Sappho, of M—, and of Roſalba were united.
To familiarize ourſelves with the arts is in ſome degree to create a new ſenſe. So agreeably have they imitated nature, nay, ſo often have they embelliſhed it, that whoever cultivates them, will in them always find a fruitful ſource of new pleaſures. We ought to provide againſt the encroachments of languor and wearineſs by this addition to our natural riches; and ſurely when we may ſo eaſily transfer to ourſelves the poſſeſſion of that multitude of pleaſing ideas which they have created, it would be the higheſt ſtupidity to neglect ſuch an advantage.
There is no reaſon to fear that the ladies, by applying themſelves to theſe ſtudies, will throw a ſhade over the natural graces of their wit. No; on the contrary, thoſe graces will be placed in a more conſpicuous point of view: what can equal the pleaſure we receive from the converſation of a woman who is [Page 15] more ſolicitous to adorn her mind than her perſon? In the company of ſuch women there can be no ſatiety; every thing becomes intereſting, and has a ſecret charm which only they can give. The delightful art of ſaying the moſt ingenious things with a graceful ſimplicity is peculiar to them: it is they who call forth the powers of wit in men, and communicate to them that eaſy elegance which is never to be acquired in the cloſet.
But what preſervative is there againſt wearineſs and diſguſt in the ſociety of women of weak and unimproved underſtanding? In vain do they endeavour to fill the void of their converſation with inſipid gaiety: they ſoon exhauſt the barren funds of faſhionable trifles, the news of the day, and hackneyed compliments; they are at length obliged to have recourſe to ſcandal, and it is well if they ſtop there: a commerce in which there is nothing ſolid muſt be either mean or criminal.
There is but one way to make it more varied and more intereſting. If ladies of the firſt rank would condeſcend to form their taſte upon our beſt authors, and collect ideas from their uſeful writings, converſation would take another caſt: their acknowledged merit would baniſh that ſwarm of noiſy impertinents who flutter about them, and who endeavour to render them as contemptible as themſelves: men of ſenſe and learning would then frequent their aſſemblies, and form a circle more worthy of the name of good company
In this new circle gaiety would not be baniſhed, but refined by delicacy and wit. Merit is not auſtere in its nature; there is a calm and uniform [Page 16] chearfulneſs that runs through the converſation of perſons of real underſtanding, which is far preferable to the noiſy mirth of ignorance and folly. Thoſe ſocieties formed by the Sevignes, the Fayetts, the Sabliéres, with the Vivonnes, the La Fares, and Rochefoucaults, were ſurely more pleaſing than the aſſemblies of our days. Among them learning was not pedantic, nor wiſdom ſevere; and ſubjects of the higheſt importance were treated with all the ſprightlineſs of wit.
The ladies muſt allow me once more to repeat to them that the only means of charming, and of charming long, is to improve their minds; good ſenſe gives beauties which are not ſubject to fade like the lillies and roſes of their cheeks, but will prolong the power of an agreeable woman to the autumn of her life *. If the ſex would not have their influence confined to the ſhort triumph of a day, they muſt endeavour to improve their natural talents by ſtudy, and the converſation of men of letters. Neglect will not then ſteal upon them in proportion as their bloom decays; but they will unite in themſelves all the advantages of both ſexes.
We live no longer in an age when prejudice condemned women as well as the nobility, to a ſhameful ignorance. The ridicule with which pedantry [Page 17] was treated had ſo much diſcredited every kind of knowledge, that there were many ladies who thought it graceful to murder the words of their native language; but ſome were ſtill found, who, ſhaking off the yoke of faſhion, ventured to think juſtly, and ſpeak with propriety; and even at this time there are a ſmall number who are not aſhamed of being more learned than the idle man of faſhion, and the fluttering courtier.
HARRIOT and Sophia were the daughters of a gentleman, who, having ſpent a good paternal inheritance before he was five and thirty, was reduced to live upon the moderate ſalary of a place at court, which his friends procured him to get rid of his importunities. The ſame imprudence by which he had been governed in affairs of leſſer importance directed him likewiſe in the choice of a wife: the woman he married had no [Page 18] merit but beauty, and brought with her to the houſe of a man whoſe fortune was already ruined nothing but a taſte for luxury and expence, without the means of gratifying it.
Sophia ſhe affected to deſpiſe, becauſe ſhe wanted in an equal degree thoſe perſonal attractions, which in her opinion conſtituted the whole of female perfection. Meer common judges however allowed her perſon to be agreeable; people of diſcernment and taſte pronounced her ſomething more. The ſtriking ſenſibility of her countenance, the ſoft elegance of her ſhape and motion, a melodious voice in ſpeaking, whoſe varied accents enforced the ſenſible things ſhe always ſaid, were beauties not capable of ſtriking vulgar minds, and which were ſure to be eclipſed by the dazzling luſtre of her ſiſter's complexion, and the fire of two bright eyes, whoſe motions were as quick and unſettled as her thoughts.
While Harriot was receiving the improvement of a polite education, Sophia was left to form herſelf as well as ſhe could; happily for her a juſt taſte and ſolid judgment ſupplied the place of teachers, precept, and example. The hours that Harriot waſted in dreſs, company, and gay amuſements, were by Sophia, devoted to reading.
A good old gentleman, who was nearly related to her father, perceiving this taſte in her, encouraged [Page 19] it by his praiſes, and furniſhed her with the means of gratifying it, by conſtantly ſupplying her with ſuch books as were beſt calculated to improve her morals and underſtanding. His admiration encreaſing in proportion as he had opportunities of obſerving her merit, he undertook to teach her the French and Italian languages, in which ſhe ſoon made a ſurpriſing progreſs; and by the time ſhe had reached her fifteenth year, ſhe had read all the beſt authors in them, as well as in her own.
By this unwearied application to reading, her mind became a beautiful ſtore-houſe of ideas: hence ſhe derived the power and the habit of conſtant reflection, which at once enlarged her underſtanding, and confirmed her in the principles of piety and virtue.
As ſhe grew older the management of the family entirely devolved upon her; for her mother had no taſte for any thing but pleaſure, and her ſiſter was taught to conſider herſelf as a fine lady, whoſe beauty could not fail to make her fortune, and whoſe ſole care it ought to be to dreſs to the greateſt advantage, and make her appearance in every place where ſhe might encreaſe the number of her admirers.
Sophia, in acquitting herſelf of the duties of a houſe-keeper to her mother, ſhewed that the higheſt intellectual improvements were not incompatible with the humbler cares of domeſtic life: every thing that went through her hands received a grace and propriety from the good ſenſe by which ſhe was directed; nor did her attention to family-affairs [Page 20] break in upon her darling amuſement reading.
People who know how to employ their time well are always good economiſts of it. Sophia laid out hers in ſuch exact proportions, that ſhe had always ſufficient for the ſeveral employments ſhe was engaged in: the buſineſs of her life, like that of nature, was performed without noiſe, hurry, or confuſion.
The death of Mr. Darnley threw this little family into a deplorable ſtate of indigence, which was felt the more ſeverely, as they had hitherto lived in an affluence of all things, and the debts which an expence ſo ill proportioned to their income had obliged Mr. Darnley to contract, left the unhappy widow and her children without any reſource. The plate, furniture, and every thing valuable were ſeized by the creditors. Mrs. Darnley and her daughters retired to a private lodging, where the firſt days were paſſed in weak deſpondence on the part of the mother, in paſſionate repinings on that of the eldeſt daughter, and by Sophia in decent ſorrow and pious reſignation.
Mrs. Darnley however, by a natural conſequence of her thoughtleſs temper, ſoon recovered her former gaiety. Preſent evils only were capable of affecting her; reflection and forecaſt never diſturbed the ſettled calm of her mind. If the wants of one day were ſupplied, ſhe did not conſider what inconveniences the next might produce. As for Harriot ſhe found reſources of comfort in the exalted ideas ſhe had of her own charms; and having already laid it [Page 21] down as a maxim, that poverty was the moſt ſhameful thing in the world, ſhe formed her reſolutions accordingly.
Sophia, as ſoon as her grief for the loſs of her father had ſubſided, began to conſider of ſome plan for their future ſubſiſtence. She forbore however to communicate her thoughts on this ſubject to her mother and ſiſter, who had always affected to treat every thing ſhe ſaid with contempt, the mean diſguiſe which envy had aſſumed to hide their conſciouſneſs of her ſuperior merit; but ſhe opened her mind to the good old gentleman, to whom ſhe had been obliged for many of her improvements. She told him that being by his generous cares qualified to undertake the education of a young lady, ſhe was deſirous of being received into the family of ſome perſon of diſtinction in the quality of governeſs to the daughters of it, that ſhe might at once ſecure to herſelf a decent eſtabliſhment, and be enabled to aſſiſt her mother. She hinted that if her ſiſter could be alſo prevailed upon to enter into the ſervice of a lady of quality, they might jointly contribute their endeavours to make their mother's life comfortable.
Mr. Herbert praiſed her deſign, and promiſed to mention it to Mrs. Darnley, to whom he conceived he might ſpeak with the greater freedom, as his near relation to her huſband, and the long friendſhip which had ſubſiſted between them, gave him a right to intereſt himſelf in their affairs. The firſt words he uttered produced ſuch an emotion in Mrs. Darnley's countenance, as convinced him that what he had farther to ſay would not be favourably received. She coloured, drew herſelf up with an [Page 22] air of dignity, looking at the ſame time at her eldeſt daughter with a ſcornful ſmile.
Mr. Herbert, however, continued his diſcourſe, when Harriot, with a pertneſs which ſhe took for wit, interrupted him with a loud laugh, and aſked him, if going to ſervice was the beſt proviſion he could think of for Mr. Darnley's daughters?
‘Good advice, miſs, replied the old gentleman with the ſame compoſure, is what every body cannot, and many will not give; and it is at leaſt an inſtance of friendſhip to hazard it, where one may be almoſt ſure of its giving offence.’ But, continued he, turning to Sophia, ‘my young pupil here has I hope not profited ſo little by her reading as not to know the value of good counſel; and I promiſe her ſhe ſhall not only command the beſt that I am capable of giving, but every other aſſiſtance ſhe may ſtand in need of.’ Saying this, he bowed and went away, without any attempts from Mrs. Darnley to detain him.
Poor Sophia, who was ſuppoſed by her ſilence to have acquieſced in the old gentleman's propoſal, was expoſed to a thouſand reproaches for her meanneſs of ſpirit. She attempted to ſhew the utility, and even the neceſſity of following his advice; but ſhe found on this occaſion, as ſhe had on many [Page 23] others, that with ſome perſons it is not ſafe to be too reaſonable. Her arguments were anſwered with rage and invective, which ſoon ſilenced her, and increaſed the triumph of her imperious ſiſter.
Mr. Herbert, apprehenſive of the ill treatment ſhe was likely to be expoſed to, offered to place her in the family of a country clergyman, and to pay for her board till ſuch a ſettlement as ſhe deſired could be procured for her; but the tender Sophia, not willing to leave her mother while ſhe could be of any uſe to her, gratefully declined his offer, ſtill expecting that the increaſing perplexity of their circumſtances might bring her to reliſh his reaſonable counſels, and that ſhe might have the ſanction of her conſent to a ſtep which prudence made neceſſary to be taken.
A legacy of a hundred pounds being left her by a young lady who tenderly loved her, and who died in her arms, ſhe immediately preſented it to her mother, by whom it was received it with a tranſport of joy, but without any reflection upon the filial piety of her who gave it.
Sophia's good friend, though he did not abſolutely approve of this exalted ſtrain of tenderneſs, yet did not fail to place the merit of it in the fulleſt light; but Harriot, who never heard any praiſes of her ſiſter without a viſible emotion, interrupted him, by ſaying, that Sophia had only done what ſhe ought; and that ſhe herſelf would have acted in the ſame manner, if the ſum had been twenty times larger.
The ſame delicacy which induced Sophia to diveſt herſelf of any particular right to this ſmall [Page 24] legacy, made her ſee the miſapplication of it without diſcovering the leaſt mark of diſlike. Harriot, who governed her mother abſolutely, having repreſented to her, that the obſcurity in which they lived was not the means to preſerve their old friends, or to acquire new ones; and that it was their buſineſs to appear again in the world, and put themſelves in the way of fortune, which could not be done without making a decent appearance at leaſt; Mrs. Darnley, who thought this reaſoning unanſwerable, conſented to their changing their preſent lodgings for others more genteel, and to whatever expences her eldeſt daughter judged neceſſary to ſecure the ſucceſs of her ſcheme.
Sophia lamented in ſecret this exceſs of imprudence; and to avoid being a witneſs of it, as well as to free her mother from the expence of her maintenance, ſhe reſolved to accept of the firſt genteel place that offered; but the natural ſoftneſs and timidity of her temper made her delay as long as poſſible mentioning this deſign to her mother and ſiſter, leſt it ſhould be conſtrued into a tacit reproach of them for a conduct ſo very different.
Indeed her condition was greatly altered for the worſe, ſince the preſent ſhe had made of her legacy. Her mother and ſiſter had never loved her much, and their tenderneſs for her was now entirely loſt in the uneaſy conſciouſneſs of having owed an obligation to her, for which they could not reſolve to be grateful. They no longer conſidered her as an inſignificant perſon whoſe approbation or diſlike was of no ſort of conſequence, but as a ſaucy cenſurer of their actions, who aſſumed to herſelf a ſuperiority, [Page 25] on account of the paultry aſſiſtance ſhe had offered them: every thing ſhe ſaid was conſtrued into upbraidings of the benefit ſhe had conferred upon them. If ſhe offered her opinion upon any occaſion, Harriot would ſay to her with a malicious ſneer, ‘To be ſure you think you have a right to give us laws, becauſe we have had the misfortune to be obliged to you.’ And Mrs. Darnley, working herſelf up to an agony of grief and reſentment for the fancied inſult, would lift up her eyes and cry, ‘How much is that mother be pitied who lives to receive alms from her child!’
Poor Sophia uſed to anſwer no oftherwiſe than by tears: but this was ſure to aggravate her fault; for it was ſuppoſed that ſhe wept and appeared afflicted only to ſhew people what ungrateful returns ſhe met with for her goodneſs.
Thus did the unhappy Sophia, with the ſofteſt ſenſibility of heart and tendered affections, ſee herſelf excluded from the endearing expreſſions of a mother's fondneſs, only by being too worthy of it, and expoſed to ſhocking ſuſpicions of undutifulneſs for an action that ſhewed the higheſt filial affection: ſo true it is, that great virtues cannot be underſtood by mean and little minds, and with ſuch, not only loſe all their luſtre, but are too often miſtaken for the contrary vices.
While Sophia paſſed her time in melancholy reflections, Harriot, being by her generous gift enabled to make as ſhewy an appearance as her mourning habit would permit, again mixed in company, and laid baits for admiration. Her beauty ſoon [Page 26] procured her a geat number of lovers; her poverty made their approaches eaſy; and the weakneſs of her underſtanding, her inſipid gaiety, and pert affectation of wit, encouraged the moſt licentious hopes, and expoſed her to the moſt impertinent addreſſes.
Among thoſe who looking upon her as a conqueſt of no great difficulty formed the mortifying deſign of making a miſtreſs of her, was Sir Charles Stanley, a young baronet of a large eſtate, a moſt agreeable perſon, and engaging addreſs: his fine qualities made him the delight of all who knew him, and even envy itſelf allowed him to be a man of the ſtricteſt honour and unblemiſhed integrity.
Perſons who connect the idea of virtue and goodneſs with ſuch a character, would find it hard to conceive how a man who lives in a conſtant courſe of diſſimulation with one part of his ſpecies, and who abuſes the advantages he has received from nature and fortune in ſubduing chaſtity, and enſnaring innocence, can poſſibly deſerve, and eſtabliſh a reputation for honour! but ſuch are the illuſions of prejudice, and ſuch the tyranny of cuſtom, that he who is called a man of gallantry ſhall be at the ſame time eſteemed a man of honour, though gallantry comprehends the worſt kind of fraud, cruelty, and injuſtice.
Sir Charles Stanley had been but too ſucceſsful in his attempts upon beauty, to fear being rejected by Miſs Darnley; and knowing her ſituation, he reſolved to engage her gratitude at leaſt before he declared his deſigns. He had intereſt enough to [Page 27] procure the place her father enjoyed for a gentleman who thought himſelf happy in obtaining it, though charged with an annuity of fourſcore pounds a year for the widow of his predeceſſor.
Sir Charles, in acquainting Miſs Darnley with what he had done in favour of her mother, found himſelf under no neceſſity of inſinuating his motive for the extraordinary intereſt he took in the affairs of this diſtreſt family. Harriot's vanity anticipated any declaration of this ſort, and the thanks ſhe gave him were accompanied with ſuch an apparent conſciouſneſs of the power of her charms as convinced him his work was already more than half done.
He was now received at Mrs. Darnley's in the quality of a declared lover of Harriot's; and although amidſt all his aſſiduities he never mentioned marriage, either the mother and daughter did not penetrate into his real deſigns, or were but too much diſpoſed to favour them.
The innocent heart of Sophia was at firſt overwhelmed with joy for the happy proviſion that had been made for her mother, and the proſpect of ſuch an advantageous match for her ſiſter, when Mr. Herbert, who knew the world too well to be impoſed upon by theſe fine appearances, gently hinted to his young favourite, his apprehenſions of the baronet's diſhonourable views.
Her delicacy was ſo ſhocked by this ſuſpicion, that ſhe could ſcarce forbear expreſſing ſome little reſentment of it; but reflecting that this ardent lover of Harriot's had not yet made any propoſals of marriage, her good ſenſe immediately ſuggeſted to her that ſuch affected delays in a man who was [Page 28] abſolutely independent, and with a woman whoſe ſituation made it a point of delicacy to be early explicit on that head, could only proceed from intentions which he had not yet dared to own.
Chance had ſo ordered it, that hitherto ſhe had never ſeen Sir Charles Stanley; whenever he came, ſhe was either employed in the family-affairs, or engaged with her books, which it was no eaſy matter to make her quit. Beſides, as ſhe had no ſhare in his viſits, and as her ſiſter never ſhewed any inclination to introduce her to him, ſhe thought it did not become her to intrude herſelf upon his acquaintance. Sir Charles indeed, knowing that Mrs. Darnley had another daughter, uſed ſometimes to enquire for her, but was neither ſurpriſed nor diſappointed that ſhe never made her appearance.
Sophia, however, was determined to be in the way when he came next, that ſhe might have an opportunity of obſerving his behaviour to her ſiſter; and fondly flattered herſelf that ſhe ſhould diſcover nothing to the diſadvantage of a perſon whom her grateful heart had taught itſelf to love and eſteem as their common benefactor.
Sir Charles at the next viſit found Sophia in the room with her ſiſter. He inſtantly ſaw ſomething in her looks and perſon which inſpired him with more reſpect than he had been uſed to feel for Mrs. Darnley and Harriot; a dignity which ſhe derived from innate virtue, and an exalted underſtanding. Struck with the uncommon ſenſibility of her countenance, he began to conſider her with an attention which greatly diſguſted Harriot, who [Page 29] could not conceive that where ſhe was preſent any other object was worthy notice.
Sophia herſelf was a little diſconcerted by the young baronet's ſo earneſtly gazing on her; and in order to divert his looks, opened a converſation in which her ſiſter might bear a part. Then it was, that without deſigning it, ſhe diſplayed her whole power of charming: that flow of wit which was ſo natural to her, the elegant propriety of her language, the delicacy of her ſentiments, the animated look which gave them new force, and ſent them directly to the heart, and the moving graces of the moſt harmonious voice in the world, were attractions, which though generally loſt on fools, ſeldom fail of their effect on the heart of a man of ſenſe.
The inſolent beauty, aſtoniſhed at ſuch unuſual neglect, varied her attitude and her charms a thouſand different ways to draw his attention; but found all was to no purpoſe. Had ſhe been capable of ſerious reflection, ſhe might now have diſcovered what advantages her ſiſter, though far inferior to her in beauty, gained over her, by the force of her underſtanding: ſhe might now have ſeen,
But too ignorant to know her own wants, and too conceited to imagine ſhe had any, ſhe was ſtrangely perplexed how to account for ſo ſudden an alteration in Sir Charles."How beauty is excelled by modeſt grace,"And wiſdom, which alone is truly fair."
[Page 30] Her uneaſineſs, however, grew ſo great, that ſhe was not able to conceal it. She ſhifted her ſeat two or three times in a minute, bit her lips almoſt through, and frowned ſo intelligibly, that Sophia at laſt perceiving her agitation, ſuddenly recollected herſelf, and quitted the room upon pretence of buſineſs.
When ſhe was gone, Harriot drawing herſelf up, and aſſuming a look which expreſſed her confidence in the irreſiſtible power of her charms, ſeemed reſolved to make her lover repent the little notice he had taken of her in this viſit by playing off a thouſand ſcornful airs upon him; but ſhe was more mortified than ever when upon turning her eyes towards him, in full expectation of finding his fixed upon her, ſhe ſaw them bent upon the ground, and ſuch a penſiveneſs in his countenance as all her rigors could never yet occaſion.
She was conſidering what to ſay to him to draw him out of this reverie, when Sir Charles, on a ſudden raiſing his eyes, turned them towards the door with a look of mingled anxiety and impatience, and then, as if diſappointed, ſighed and addreſſed ſome indifferent converſation to Harriot.
The lady, now quite provoked, had recourſe to an artifice which her ſhallow underſtanding ſuggeſted to her, as an infallible method of awakening his tenderneſs, and this was to make him jealous. Without any preparation therefore, ſhe introduced the name of Lord L—, a young nobleman who was juſt returned from his travels, and laviſhing a thouſand encomiums upon his perſon, and his elegant taſte in dreſs, added, ‘That he was the beſt bred man in the world, and had entertained her [Page 31] ſo agreeably one night at the play, when happening to come into a box where ſhe was with a lady of her acquaintance, that they did not mind a word the players ſaid, he was ſo diverting.’
Harriot, concluding her ſtratagem had taken effect, was quite tranſported, and renewed her attacks, determined to make him ſuffer as much as poſſible; but the young baronet, whoſe thoughts were full of Sophia, and whoſe emotion at the requeſt Harriot had made him, was occaſioned by fears very different from thoſe ſhe ſuſpected, took no further notice of what ſhe ſaid, but interrupted her to aſk how old her ſiſter Sophia was?
Sir Charles anſwered her no otherwiſe than by a low bow, and ſhe returned, delighted at the parting pang which ſhe ſuppoſed ſhe had given him. [Page 32] Vanity is extremely ingenious in procuring gratifications for itſelf. Harriot did not doubt but that ſhe had tormented Sir Charles ſufficiently; and it was the unſhaken confidence which ſhe had in the power of her charms, that hindered her from diſcovering the true cauſe of the new diſguſt ſhe had conceived for her ſiſter. However, it was ſo great that ſhe could ſcarcely ſpeak to her civilly, or endure her in her ſight: yet ſhe found an increaſe of pleaſure in talking to her mother when ſhe was preſent of the violent paſſion Sir Charles Stanley had for her, and in giving an exaggerated account of the profeſſions he made her.
Sophia did not liſten to this ſort of diſcourſe with her uſual complaiſance. Her mind became inſenſibly more diſpoſed to ſuſpect the ſincerity of the baronet's paſſion for her ſiſter: ſhe grew penſive and melancholy, ſought ſolitude more than ever, and loved reading leſs.
This change, which her own innocence hid from herſelf, was quickly perceived by Mr. Herbert, who loved her with a parent's fondneſs, and thought nothing indifferent which concerned her. He took occaſion one day to mention Sir Charles Stanley to her, and aſked her opinion of his perſon and underſtanding, keeping his eyes fixed upon her at the ſame time, which diſconcerted her ſo much that ſhe bluſhed; and though ſhe commended him greatly, yet it was eaſy to diſcover that ſhe forbore to ſay all the good ſhe thought of him, for fear of ſaying too much.
He had perceived for ſome time that Sir Charles had changed the object of his purſuits: his viſits now were always ſhort, unleſs Sophia was in the way: he brought her all the new books and pamphlets that came out which were worth her reading: he adopted the purity and delicacy of her ſentiments, declared himſelf always of the ſide ſhe eſpouſed: he talked of virtue like a man who loved and practiſed it, and ſet all his good qualities in the faireſt light: he preſented Harriot from time to time with faſhionable trifles, and ſent Sophia books enough to furniſh out a little library, conſiſting of the beſt authors, in Engliſh, French, and Italian, all elegantly bound, with proper caſes for their reception: he praiſed whatever ſhe approved, and appeared to have great reſpect and conſideration for Mr. Herbert, becauſe he obſerved ſhe loved and eſteemed him.
That faithful friend of the virtuous Sophia trembled for her danger, when he conſidered that by this artful management the baronet was ſtrengthening himſelf every day in her good opinion, and ſeducing her affections under the appearance of meriting her friendſhip; yet he did not think it proper to give her even a hint of her ſituation. A young maid has paſſed over the firſt bounds of reſervedneſs who allows herſelf to think ſhe is in love.
Mr. Herbert would not familiarize her with ſo dangerous an idea: he knew her extreme modeſty, her ſolid virtue; he was under no apprehenſions [Page 34] that ſhe would ever act unworthy of her character; but a heart ſo nicely ſenſible, ſo delicately tender as hers, he knew muſt ſuffer greatly from a diſappointed paſſion; and this was what he wanted to prevent, not by wounding her delicacy with ſuggeſting to her that ſhe was in love, but by preſerving her from the encroachments of that paſſion.
He reminded her of the deſign ſhe had formerly mentioned to him of entering into the ſervice of a lady, and was rejoiced to find that ſhe ſtill continued her reſolution. Harriot's natural inſolence and ill temper, irritated by the change ſhe now plainly ſaw in Sir Charles, made home ſo diſagreeable to Sophia, that ſhe wiſhed impatiently for an opportunity of providing for herſelf, that ſhe might no longer live upon the bounty of her ſiſter, who often inſinuated that their mother's annuity was her gift.
Neither Mrs. Darnley nor Harriot oppoſed this deſign, which ſoon came to the knowledge of Sir Charles, who had bribed a ſervant of the family to give him intelligence of every thing that paſſed in it.
Impatient to prevent the execution of it, and tortured by the bare apprehenſion of Sophia's abſence, he reſolved to break through that conſtraint he had ſo long laid upon himſelf, and acquaint her with his paſſion.
[Page 35] But it was not eaſy to find an opportunity of ſpeaking to her alone. At length having contrived to get Harriot engaged to a play, and prevailed upon a maiden kinſwoman of his to invite Mrs. Darnley to a party of whiſt, he went to the houſe at his uſual hour of viſiting this little family, and found Sophia at home, and without any company.
Not all the confidence he derived from his rank and fortune, his fine underſtanding; and thoſe perſonal graces which gave him but too much merit in the eyes of many women, could hinder him from trembling at the thought of that declaration he was about to make. As ſoon as he came into Sophia's preſence he was awed, diſconcerted, and unable to ſpeak; ſuch was the power of virtue, and ſuch the force of a real paſſion! Two or three times he reſolved to begin, but when he looked upon Sophia, and ſaw in her charming eyes that ſparkling intelligence which diſplayed the treaſures of the ſoul that animated them; when he obſerved the ſweet ſeverity of her modeſt countenance, the compoſed dignity of her behaviour, he durſt not own a paſſion which had views leſs pure than the perfect creature that inſpired it.
His converſation for near an hour was ſo confuſed, ſo disjointed, and interrupted by ſuch frequent muſings, that Sophia was amazed, and thought it ſo diſagreeable, and unlike what it uſed to be, that ſhe was not ſorry when he ſeemed diſpoſed to put an end to his viſit.
Sir Charles indeed roſe up to be gone, but with ſo deep a concern in his eyes as increaſed Sophia's [Page 36] perplexity. She attended him reſpectfully to the door of the room, when he ſuddenly turning back, and taking her hand, ‘Do not hate me, ſaid he, nor think ill of me, if I tell you that I love and adore you.’
Sophia, not willing to hear him enlarge upon this ſubject, raiſed her eyes from the ground, her cheeks were indeed overſpread with bluſhes, but there was a grave compoſure in her looks that ſeemed a bad omen to Sir Charles.
Sir Charles expected this retort, and was the leſs perplexed by it, as he needed only to follow the dictates of truth to form ſuch an anſwer as was proper to be given. ‘I acknowledge, ſaid he, that I admired your ſiſter, and her beauty made as ſtrong an impreſſion upon me as mere beauty can make upon a man who has a taſte for higher excellencies. I ſought Miſs Darnley's acquaintance. [Page 37] I was ſo happy as to do her ſome little ſervice. I wiſhed to find in her thoſe qualities that were neceſſary to fix my heart—Pardon my freedom, Miſs Sophia, the occaſion requires that I ſhould ſpeak freely. Miſs Darnley, upon a nearer acquaintance, did not anſwer the idea I had formed to myſelf of a woman whom I could love for life; and the profeſſions I made her, as you are pleaſed to call them, were no more than expreſſions of gallantry; a ſort of homage which beauty, even when it does not touch the heart, exacts from the tongue. My heart was not ſo eaſy a conqueſt—tell me not of raillery, when I declare that none but yourſelf was ever capable of inſpiring me with a real paſſion.’
The arrival of Mr. Herbert proved a grateful interuption to Sophia, in whoſe innocent breaſt the tenderneſs and apparent ſincerity of this declaration raiſed emotions which ſhe knew not how to diſguiſe.
Sir Charles, though grieved at this unſeaſonable viſit, yet withdrew, not wholly deſparing of ſucceſs. He had heedfully obſerved the changes in Sophia's face while he was ſpeaking, and thought he had reaſon to hope that he was not indifferent to her. Loving her as he did with exceſſive tenderneſs, what pure and unmixed ſatisfaction would this thought have given him, had he not been conſcious that his deſigns were unworthy of her! The ſecret upbraidings of his conſcience diſquieted him amidſt all his flattering hopes of ſucceſs; but cuſtom, prejudice, the inſolence of fortune, and the force of example, all conſpired to [Page 38] ſuppreſs the pleadings of honour and juſtice in favour of the amiable Sophia, and fixed him in the barbarous reſolution of attempting to corrupt that virtue which made her ſo worthy of his love.
Mr. Herbert having, as has been already mentioned, interrupted the converſation between Sir Charles and Sophia, was not ſurpriſed at the young baronet's abrupt departure, as he ſeemed preparing to go when he came in; but upon looking at Sophia, he perceived ſo many ſigns of confuſion and perplexity in her countenance, that he did not doubt but the diſcourſe which his entrance had put an end to, was a very intereſting one. He waited a moment, in expectation that ſhe would open herſelf to him, but finding that ſhe continued ſilent and abaſhed, he gently took her hand, and looking tenderly upon her, ‘Tell me, my child, ſaid he, has not ſomething extraordinary happened, which occaſions this confuſion I ſee you in?’
Mr. Herbert liſtened to her attentively, and found ſomething ſo like candor and ſincerity in the baronet's declaration, that he could not help being pleaſed with it. He had never indeed judged favourably of his views upon Harriot, but here the caſe was very different.
Sophia's good ſenſe, modeſty, and virtue, placed her out of the reach of temptation. No one could think it ſurpriſing that a man of ſenſe ſhould make the fortune of a woman who would do honour to his choice, and where there was ſuch exalted merit as in Sophia, overlook the diſparity of circumſtances.
But juſtly might it be called infatuation and folly, to raiſe to rank and affluence a woman of Harriot's deſpicable turn; to make a companion for life of a handſome ideot, who thought the higheſt excellencies of the female character were to know how to dreſs, to dance, to ſing, to flutter in a drawing-room, or coquet at a play; who miſtook pertneſs for wit, confidence for knowledge, and inſolence for dignity.
Mr. Herbert, who read in her looks that ſhe wiſhed to have his advice on this occaſion, but would not aſk it, leſt ſhe ſhould ſeem to lay any ſtreſs upon Sir Charles's declaration, told her it was very poſſible the baronet was ſincere in what he had ſaid to her; that his manner of accounting for his quitting her ſiſter, was both ſenſible and candid; that ſhe ought not to be ſurpriſed at the preference he gave her over Miſs Darnley, ſince ſhe deſerved it by the care ſhe had taken to improve [Page 40] her mind, and to acquire qualities which might procure her the eſteem of all wiſe and virtuous perſons.
He warned her, however, not to truſt too much to favourable appearances, nor to ſuffer her inclinations to be ſo far engaged by the agreeable perſon and ſpecious behaviour of Sir Charles Stanley, as to find it painful to renounce him, if he ſhould hereafter ſhew himſelf unworthy of her good opinion.
He adviſed her, when he talked to her in the ſame ſtrain again, to refer him to her mother and to him for an anſwer; and told her that he would ſave her the confuſion and perplexity of acquainting her mother and ſiſter with what had happened, by taking that taſk upon himſelf.‘You will, no doubt, added he, be expoſed to ſome ſallies of ill temper from Miſs Darnley, for robbing her of a lover; for envy is more irreconcileable than hatred: but let not your ſenſibility ſuffer much on her account: if you deprive her of a lover, you do not deprive her of one ſhe loves: ſhe is too vain, too volatile, and too greedy of general admiration, to be affected with the loſs of Sir Charles, any farther than as her pride is wounded by it: and one would imagine ſhe had foreſeen this deſertion, by the pains ſhe has taken about a new conqueſt lately.’
Mr. Herbert was going on, when Mrs. Darnley knocked at the door. Sophia, in extreme agitation, begged him to ſay nothing concerning Sir Charles that evening. He promiſed her he would not, and [Page 41] they all three converſed together upon indifferent things, till Harriot returned from the play.
Mr, Herbert then took leave of them, after inviting himſelf to breakfaſt the next morning; which threw Sophia into ſuch terror and confuſion, that ſhe retired haſtily to her own room, to conceal her diſorder.
Mr. Herbert came the next morning, according to his promiſe; and Sophia, all trembling with her apprehenſions, retired immediately after breakfaſt. He entered upon the buſineſs that had brought him thither; but ſenſible that what he had to ſay would prove extremely mortifying to miſs Harriot, he thought it not amiſs to ſweeten the bitter pill he was preparing for her, by ſacrificing a little flattery to her pride.‘You fine ladies, ſaid he, addreſſing himſelf to her with a ſmile, are never weary of extending your conqueſts; but you uſe your power with ſo much tyranny, that it is not ſurpriſing ſome of your ſlaves ſhould aſſume courage, at laſt, to break your chains. Do you know, my pretty couſin, that you have loſt Sir Charles Stanley; and that he has offered that heart, which you no doubt have deſpiſed, to your ſiſter Sophia?’
Miſs Darnley, who had bridled up at the beginning of this ſpeech, loſt all her aſſumed dignity towards the end of it: her face grew pale and red by turns; ſhe fixed her eyes on the ground, her boſom heaved with the violence of her agitations, and tears, in ſpite of her, were ready to force their way.
[Page 42] Sir Charles had indeed for a long time diſcontinued his addreſſes to her, and had ſuffered his inclination for her ſiſter to appear plainly enough; but ſtill her vanity ſuggeſted to her, that this might be all a feint, and acted only with a view to alarm her fears, and oblige her to ſacrifice all her other admirers to him.
What Mr. Herbert had ſaid therefore, ſtruck her at firſt with aſtoniſhment and grief; but ſolicitous to maintain the fancied ſuperiority of her character, ſhe endeavoured to repreſs her emotions; and taking the hint which he had deſignedly thrown out to her to ſave her confuſion,‘Sir Charles has acted very wiſely, ſaid ſhe, putting on a ſcornful look, to quit me, who always deſpiſed him, for one who has been ſo little uſed to have lovers, that ſhe will be ready to run mad with joy at the thoughts of ſuch a conqueſt: but after all, ſhe has only my leavings.’
Mr. Herbert, though a little ſhocked at the groſſneſs of her language, replied gravely, ‘However that may be, Miſs, it is certain that he has made a very open, and to all appearance, ſincere declaration of love to Miſs Sophia, who, not knowing how to mention this affair to her mother herſelf, commiſſioned me to acquaint her with it, that ſhe may have her directions how to behave to Sir Charles, and what to ſay to him.’
‘It is not likely I ſhould forget it, retorted Miſs Darnley, ſince I am the perſon who am moſt obliged to him for what he has done; if I miſtake not, it was upon my account that he intereſted himſelf in our affairs.’
‘I angry at her advancement, madam! exclaimed Miſs Harriot, not I really: I wiſh the girl was provided for by a ſuitable match with all my heart; but as for Sir Charles, I would not have her ſet her fooliſh heart upon him; he is only laughing at her.’
‘It may be ſo, ſaid Mr. Herbert, though I think Miſs Sophia the laſt woman in the world whom a man would chuſe to laugh at. However, this affair is worth a little conſideration—Miſs Sophia, madam, purſued he, addreſſing himſelf to Mrs. Darnley, intends to refer Sir Charles entirely to you. You will be the beſt judge whether the paſſion he profeſſes is ſincere, and his intentions honourable; and I can anſwer for my [Page 44] young couſin, that ſhe will be wholly governed by your advice, ſince it is impoſſible that you can give her any but what is moſt advantageous to her honour and happineſs.’
Harriot, no longer able to ſuppreſs her rage and envy, was thrown ſo far off her guard as to burſt into tears. ‘I cannot bear to be thus inſulted, cried ſhe; and I declare if Sir Charles is permitted to go on with his foolery with that vain girl, I will quit the houſe.’
‘Was there ever any one ſo unreaſonable as you are, Miſs, ſaid Mr. Herbert, have you not owned that you deſpiſed Sir Charles; and if your ſiſter is a vain girl, will ſhe not be ſufficiently mortified by accepting your leavings, as you ſaid juſt now?’
‘I am ſpeaking to my mother, ſir, replied Harriot, with a contemptuous frown; depend upon it, Madam, purſued ſhe, that I will not ſtay to be ſacrificed to Mr. Herbert's favourite—either ſhe ſhall be forbid to give Sir Charles any encouragement, who after all, is only laughing at her, or I will leave the houſe.’[Page]
Set by Mr. OSWALD.
IT has been aſſerted by the enemies of our ſex, that it is the fear of ſhame which keeps many women virtuous. Had thoſe detractors lived in an age when vice ceaſed to incur blame in proportion as it appeared in ſplendor, when riches procured guilt the diſtinction due to virtue, and indigence drew on virtue the contempt merited by guilt, when licentiouſneſs of conduct was the road to grandeur, and every courtezan expected to be a peereſs; they would be forced to confeſs that ſhe who in ſuch corrupt times preſerved a purity of manners was virtuous upon principle, ſince ſhame was no longer to be dreaded as the attendant on vice.
To ſuch of my fair readers as love virtue for her own ſake, I preſent the hiſtory of the dutcheſs of Beaufort, miſtreſs to Henry IV. of France. Here they will ſee grandeur purchaſed by crimes, and poſſeſſed with anxiety; ſchemes of ambition carried far into futurity, ſuddenly defeated by an immature and horrible death; and hence they may learn to rejoice in that innocence which is at once their merit and [Page 50] their reward. The amours of Henry the Great have been recorded by many writers, who, altho' they indeed abound with facts, yet are they adorned and embelliſhed with ſo many circumſtances as have the appearance of being imaginary, that the whole ſeems either a tale invented to amuſe than a real and intereſting narrative:
To avoid being miſled by thoſe lively authors, I ſhall extract the hiſtory of the dutcheſs of Beaufort ſolely from the Memoirs of the Duke de Sully, prime-miniſter to Henry the Great, one of the wiſeſt and moſt virtuous men of his age; and the reader will have the pleaſure to ſee many paſſages in the words of that admirable writer.
Gabriella D'Etrees, afterwards ſo famous under the name of Dutcheſs of Beaufort, was deſcended from an ancient family in Picardy, to which the honourable poſt of grand-maſter of the artillery had been in a manner hereditary.
This young lady was ſo exquiſitely beautiful, that ſhe obtained the ſurname of Fair, to expreſs the pre-eminence of her charms over all thoſe of her ſex and time. Henry IV. who was born a hero, and who at the moſt early age was called by fortune to the exertion of thoſe qualities which ſo deſervedly procured him the epithet of Great, had alſo the weakneſs of heroes, that alloy in his character otherwiſe ſo truly noble which ſerves to ſhew us that nothing is perfect here below. Glory was not more his paſſion than love; and if on certain occaſions he was capable of ſacrificing his tenderneſs to his fame, on others he made no ſcruple to hazard his fame to gratify his tenderneſs. At the time that Henry fell in love with mademoiſelle [Page 51] D' Etrees, he was at war with his own ſubjects. Rebellion, ſanctified by the name of religion, had given riſe to the League, in which all the princes and great men of France were engaged.
The deſign of this formidable party was to exclude him from the ſucceſſion on account of his being a proteſtant, and Henry III. his immediate predeceſſor, loſt his life by the hands of an aſſaſſin, for maintaining the rights of his injured kinſman. Henry, when fighting for a kingdom, found love a ſtronger paſſion than ambition. An accidental ſight of mademoiſelle D' Etrees inſpired him with ſo violent a paſſion for her, that he often riſqued his crown, his honour, and his life, for the ſatisfaction of talking to her a few moments. Once in particular, when he was in a manner beſieged in his camp by the duke of Parma, he diſguiſed himſelf in the habit of a peaſant, and paſſed through the enemy's guards to make her a ſhort viſit.
It is not certain whether the fair Gabriella repaid this exceſſive tenderneſs with equal ſincerity. In ſuch attachments few women ſeparate the lover from the king. Mademoiſelle D'Etrees had not underſtanding enough to be capable of the refinements of a delicate paſſion. She was intereſted, vain, and ambitious: ſhe raiſed her hopes to the throne, and not only practiſed upon the weakneſs of Henry for this purpoſe, but formed cabals and intrigues to ſecure the ſucceſs of her deſigns, which would in all probability have reduced her royal lover once more to the condition of an exile: yet ſhe had the addreſs to perſuade him that ſhe really loved him; or rather this thought was ſo neceſſary to his happipineſs, [Page 52] that he aſſiſted the crafty miſtreſs in deceiving himſelf.
The Duke de Sully mentions, a ſum of money which ſhe lent the king in his diſtreſſes. How great thoſe diſtreſſes were the reader may conceive by the humorous repreſentation which Henry himſelf gave of them in the following billet to the duke of Sully *.‘I am very near my enemies, and ſcarcely a horſe to carry me into the battle, nor a complete ſuit of armour to put on; my ſhirts are all ragged, my doublets out at elbow, my kettle is ſeldom on the fire, and theſe two laſt days I have been obliged to dine where I could, for my purveyors have informed me, that they have not wherewithal to furniſh my table.’
The king's paſſion for mademoiſelle D'Etrees was at firſt ſo far diſcountenanced by her parents, that they kept her in a ſevere confinement; and although Henry in his impatience to be with her would ſometimes neglect to reap the fruits of a dear bought victory, and quitting the purſuit of the enemy, turn aſide to the road that led to her houſe, yet a diſtant ſight of her was all he could obtain. Monſieur D'Etrees, ſuppoſing his daughter would be more ſecure from the king's attempts when ſhe was married, peremptorily inſiſted upon her giving her hand to Nicholas D'Amerval, lord of Liancourt.
Gabriella continued obſtinate in her diſobedience, till the king, who had made ſure of monſieur de Liancourt, ſent her word to comply, as [Page 53] the only means of freeing herſelf from her preſent reſtraint.
It was certainly no proof of Henry's underſtanding, though a great one of that blind paſſion which tyranniſed over his heart, that he ſo ſecurely relied upon the honour of a man who, to ſerve his deſigns, could conſent to be a nominal huſband, and upon the fidelity of a woman who entered into the moſt ſolemn engagement with a fixed purpoſe to break through it: however, an accident happened which awakened his ſuſpicions. It is thus related by the duke de Sully.
His majeſty having ſent Alibour, his firſt phyſician, to viſit Madame de Liancourt, who was indiſpoſed, (this was in the beginning of his addreſſes to that lady.) At his return he told the king, that ſhe was indeed a little diſordered; but that he need not be uneaſy, for the conſequence would be very good. But will you not bleed and purge her? ſaid the king to him. I ſhall be very careful of doing that, replied the old man with the ſame ſimplicity, before ſhe has gone half her time. How! interrupted the king, aſtoniſhed and diſordered to the laſt degree; what is it you ſay, friend? ſurely you rave, and are not in your right ſenſes
Alibour ſupported his aſſertion with good proofs, which the king thought he ſhould deſtroy, by telling him upon what terms he was with the lady. I know not what you have done, or what you have not done, replied the old phyſician with great compoſure; and, for a complete proof, referred him to ſix or ſeven months from that time.
[Page 54] The king quitted Alibour in great rage, and went immediately to reproach the ſick fair one, who, no doubt, knew well enough how to new dreſs all the good man had ignorantly ſaid; for it was not perceived that any miſunderſtanding happened between the king and his miſtreſs.
It is certain, however, that the event was exactly conformable to Alibour's prediction: but it was thought that Henry, after a more ſtrict examination, was brought to believe, that he had been miſtaken in his reckoning, ſince, inſtead of diſowning the child that madam de Liancourt lay in of at Coucy, during the ſiege of Laon, he acknowledged it openly, and had it baptized by the name of Caeſar.
Gabriella found it no difficult matter to perſuade the king, that ſhe loved him alone. She affected the tender ſolicitude of a wife for his perſon and ſafety, when he left her to put himſelf at the head of his army; tears, ſwoonings, and paſſionate complaints, expreſſed her ſtrong apprehenſions of his danger. She continued to lend him money in his exigencies; and we find in Sully's Memoirs an order to him from the king to repay madame de Liancourt four thouſand crowns he had borrowed from her. It may eaſily be imagined that Henry was reduced to great ſtreights when he conſented to receive this aſſiſtance from his miſtreſs.
Henry, while the affairs of his kingdom were ſtill in the utmoſt confuſion, and while ſeveral of the chiefs of the League were in arms againſt him, ſome of whom he was endeavouring to bring [Page 55] over to his party by negotiations, and reducing others by force, found leiſure for the ſoft anxities of love.
In this journey the fair Gabriella was in imminent danger of her life. The duke of Sully gives a particular account of it, which I ſhall tranſcribe for the ſake of the obſervation he makes at the end of it *.
At Maubuiſſon I met madam de Liancourt, with whom I took the road to Clermont. I rode ſeven or eight hundred paces before the litter in which this lady was, and which was followed at ſome diſtance by a great unwieldy coach that carried her women; before and behind this coach marched ſeveral mules loaded with baggage.
About a league from Clermont, where the road was very narrow, a ſteep hill on one ſide, and a hanging valley on the other, leaving only room enough for two carriages to go a-breaſt; the coachman alighting on ſome occaſion or other, one of the mules paſſing near the ſide of the coach after it ſtopped, by its neighing and the ſound of its bells, ſo terrified the horſes, which unfortunately were young and ſkittiſh, that, taking the bit between their teeth, they drew the coach with ſuch rapidity, that, meeting with two [Page 56] other mules, they overturned them in their courſe.
The coachman and muleteers endeavoured in vain to ſtop the horſes: they were already within fifty paces of the litter, when madam Liancourt, alarmed by the noiſe, looked out, and ſcreamed aloud. I alſo turned back, and, trembling at the danger in which I ſaw this lady and her attendants, without being able to aſſiſt them, on account of the diſtance I was at, Ah, friend, ſaid I to La Font, the women will be daſhed in pieces, what will become of us? and what will the king ſay? While I was thus ſpeaking, I puſhed my horſe forwards with all my ſtrength; but this was uſeleſs, and I ſhould have arrived too late.
By one of thoſe lucky chances, and which almoſt amount to a miracle, when the danger was greateſt, the axle-tree of the litter-wheels coming out of the nave by a violent ſhock which broke the pegs, the two wheels fell on each ſide, and the coach to the ground, and there ſtopped: one of the hindmoſt horſes was thrown down by the ſhock, and kept in the other. The fore horſes broke their traces, and paſſed ſo cloſe to the litter, which was already at the extremity of the precipice, that it is plain if they had drawn the coach along with it, it would have been thrown over it.
[Page 57] I ſtopped them and gave them to my domeſticks to hold, after which I flew to relieve Madame de Liancourt, who was half dead with fear. I went next to the coach and aſſiſted the women to get out of it: they were for having the coachman hanged; and I was complaiſant enough to give him two or three ſtrokes with my cane. At length their terrors being entirely diſſipated, and the carriage refitted, we reſumed our journey; and till we arrived at Clermont I continued to ride cloſe to Madame de Liancourt's litter.
The king had ſet out for this place to meet his miſtreſs, and arrived there a quarter of an hour after us. I did not fail to inform him immediately of what had happened; and while I was relating this adventure, I obſerved him attentively, and ſaw him grow pale and tremble. By theſe emotions, which I never ſaw in him in the greateſt dangers, it was eaſy to gueſs the violence of his paſſion for this lady.
In the year 1596 the king created his miſtreſs marchioneſs of Monceaux: his paſſion for her encreaſed to ſuch a degree that he ſuffered no one to be ignorant of it. He paſſed through Paris, with this lady by his ſide; and by the tenderneſs which he took pleaſure to ſhew to her in public, he ſeemed to invite the adorations of his courtiers to this idol, who made her influence be univerſally felt.
Gabriella, under the appearance of a diſintereſted love for the king's perſon, concealed a boundleſs ambition, which made her not ſcruple to ſacrifice the honour of her royal lover to any proſpect of [Page 58] aggrandizing herſelf. She contracted her ſon Caeſar, whom ſhe had by the king, to the opulent heireſs of the houſe of Mercoeur.
The Duke of Mercoeur, who was then in arms againſt his ſovereign, found himſelf by this alliance reſtored to his favour, without ſuffering the leaſt diminution of his honours and eſtates; and Henry, anxious only to pleaſe his miſtreſs, condeſcended to treat upon almoſt equal terms with a rebel ſubject, whom he had it in his power to cruſh at a blow.
The ceremony of the contract was performed at Angers, with the ſame magnificence as if the little Caeſar had been a ſon of France born in marriage. He was then but four years old, and his betrothed wife but ſix.
The birth of a ſecond ſon drew from the king an increaſe of tenderneſs and honours. Gabriella now quitted the title of Marchioneſs of Monceaux for that of Dutcheſs of Beaufort. As ſhe had for a long time ſet no bounds to her ambition, ſhe aſpired at nothing leſs than being declared queen of France; and Henry's paſſion for her, which encreaſed every day, gave her hopes of accompliſhing her deſigns.
When ſhe was informed that the king's agents at Rome were commiſſioned to ſolicit the diſſolution of his marriage with Margaret of Valois, and that his majeſty was upon the point of ſending the Duke of Luxembourg to that court, with the title of ambaſſador, [Page 59] to haſten the concluſion of it, ſhe looked upon this to be a favourable opportunity; but apprehenſive that thoſe agents and the new ambaſſador would not enter into her views, ſhe reſolved to get Sillery, then miniſter of ſtate, and who was already deep in her intereſts, to be nominated for this embaſſy. As ſhe well knew what was moſt likely to tempt him, ſhe promiſed him the ſeals at his return from Rome, and the poſt of Chancellor when it became vacant.
At this price Sillery engaged with all the oaths ſhe exacted of him to neglect nothing that might prevail upon the pope to legitimate the two children which ſhe had by Henry, and to diſſolve his marriage with Margaret.
This firſt ſtep taken, few obſtacles remained to hinder her advancement to the throne. She eaſily found reaſons to make the king approve of the ambaſſador ſhe had choſen. The Duke of Luxembourg was only ſuffered to ſet out, to be recalled as ſoon as Sillery ſhould be in a condition to take his place.
The Dutcheſs aſſiſted herſelf in preparing his equipages, and prevailed upon the king to give the neceſſary orders for Sillery's appearance with all the pomp and magnificence by which the ſucceſs of his negociation might be ſecured.
To prepare the French at the ſame time for the change which ſhe meditated for her children, ſhe prevailed upon the king, who had no leſs tenderneſs for them than the mother, to let the ceremony of her ſecond ſon's baptiſm be performed at Saint Germain, where the king then was, with the ſame [Page 58] [...] [Page 59] [...] [Page 60] magnificence and honours which in this ceremony are only obſerved to the children of France.
‘Although I could pardon this lady, ſays the Duke of Sully, for an intoxication in which ſhe was kept by the ſervile reſpect the courtiers expreſſed for the children, and the adorations they offered to herſelf, yet I could not have the ſame indulgence for Henry, who was ſo far from taking any meaſures to undeceive her with regard to the extravagant hopes ſhe had entertained, that he gave orders for the baptiſm of this child with a readineſs that ſhewed how agreeable the requeſt was to him.’
‘I declared my ſentiments, purſues the duke, of this conduct, with great freedom; I endeavoured publickly to oppoſe the inferences which the courtiers would make from it in favour of theſe children's pretentions to the crown. The king himſelf, when the ceremony was over, became ſenſible that his orders had been exceeded; and this I had no difficulty to believe.’
‘The child was named Alexander, as the eldeſt had been Caeſar; and the court-flatterers, by a kind of ſecond baptiſm, gave him the title of Monſieur, which in France no one is permitted to bear but the king's only brother, or the preſumptive heir to the crown.’
‘The miſtreſs did not ſtop here; ſhe began to aſſume all the airs of a queen: not indeed ſo much of her own accord, for I think ſhe knew herſelf well enough not to have ventured on any ſuch notion, but driven on to take that ſtep by [Page 61] the continual ſolicitations of her creatures and relations.’
‘Madame de Sourdis, Cheverny, and Freſne, ſeconded her ſo well on their parts, that it became inſenſibly the public talk of the court, that the king was going to marry his miſtreſs; and that it was for this purpoſe he was ſoliciting his divorce at Rome.’
‘I was ſhocked at a report ſo injurious to the glory of this prince; I went to him and made him ſenſible of the conſequence of it. He appeared to me affected, and even piqued at it: his firſt care was to juſtify Madame de Beaufort, who, he poſitively aſſured me, had not contributed to the report; for which, all the proof he had was, that ſhe had told him ſo.’
‘He threw the whole blame upon Madame de Sourdis and Freſne, to whom he ſhewed that he was capable of pardoning a conduct ſo little reſpectful to him, ſince although he was aſſured they were guilty, he gave them not the ſlighteſt reprimand.’
‘One circumſtance added great weight to the ſteps I took in this affair, both in public and private. Queen Margaret, with whom the affair of the approaching diſſolution of her marriage obliged me to keep a correſpondence by letters, was the laſt who heard of what was ſaid and done at court with regard to Madame de Beaufort's pretenſions; as ſoon as ſhe was informed of them ſhe wrote to me, and gave me to underſtand, that ſhe had not changed her mind concerning a ſeparation from the king; but [Page 62] that ſhe was ſo much offended at their intending to give the place ſhe reſigned, to a woman ſo infamous as the Dutcheſs was, by her commerce with the king, that although ſhe had at firſt given her conſent, without annexing any conditions to it, ſhe was now determined to inſiſt upon the excluſion of this woman; and no treatment whatever ſhould oblige her to alter her reſolution. I ſhewed this letter to the king, who judging by it how much his marriage with his miſtreſs would irritate the beſt of his ſubjects againſt him, began, in reality, to change his ſentiments and conduct.’
‘I was of opinion, that if madame de Beaufort was acquainted with the contents of this letter, it might probably produce the ſame effects upon her. I would not take this trouble upon myſelf, being unwilling to meet the inſolence and rage of a woman, who looked upon me as a ſtumbling block in the way of her advancement; but I communicated the letter to Chiverny and Freſne, who immediately informed Madame de Sourdis of it, and ſhe almoſt in the ſame moment the Dutcheſs of Beaufort.’
‘But this lady's counſellors were not ſo eaſily alarmed; they were very ſenſible that the ſtep they had undertaken to prevail upon the king, would not fail of meeting with many difficulties, and they had ſettled their behaviour upon each: the reſult of their deliberations had been to haſten, as much as poſſible, the concluſion of the affair, perſuading themſelves, that when it was once over, they might give it a colour that [Page 63] ſhould make it excuſable; or at worſt, matters might be compoſed after a little talk, as always happens when things are without remedy.’
‘They knew well the diſpoſition of the French nation, eſpecially the courtiers, whoſe firſt law it is to be always of the ſame mind with the ſovereign; and whoſe ſtrongeſt paſſion the deſire of pleaſing him. In a word, they thought themſeves ſecure of every thing, provided the king himſelf did not fail them.’
‘Freſne having drawn up the warrant for the payment of the heralds, trumpeters, and other officers of the crown who had attended at the ceremony of this baptiſm, it was brought to me as well as the reſt of the counſellors, that I might give my order for its diſcharge. As ſoon as I caſt my eyes upon this writing, a tender concern for the king's honour made me look upon it as a laſting witneſs of his weakneſs, which was going to be handed down to poſterity. I heſitated not a moment to return it, and cauſed another to be drawn up in terms more proper.’
‘The titles of Monſieur, ſon of France, and all that could give any notion of that kind were ſuppreſſed, and conſequently the houſhold fees were reduced to the ordinary ſum, with which they were highly diſſatisfied. They did not fail to renew their efforts; and in their diſcontent quoted monſieur de Freſne, and the law by which their claims were regulated. At firſt I reſtrained myſelf before theſe people, whoſe bad intentions I was not ignorant of; but growing impatient at laſt, I could not help ſaying to [Page 64] them with ſome indignation, Go, go, I will do nothing in it; learn that there are no ſons of France ’
This firmneſs in Sully was the occaſion of a quarrel between the king and the fair Gabriella. The duke relates it at large in his memoirs; and the whole paſſage being extremely curious, I ſhall give my readers the pleaſure of ſeeing it here.
The duke continues thus. ‘No * ſooner had theſe words eſcaped me, than, ſuſpecting that a troubleſome affair would be made of it; to prevent it I went immediately to his majeſty, who was walking with the duke D'Epernon in the palace of Saint-Germain. I ſhewed him the warrant Freſne had drawn up, telling him, that if it was allowed, there needed no more but to declare himſelf married to the dutcheſs of Beaufort. This is Freſne's malice, ſaid the king, after he had read it, but I ſhall take care to prevent it ’
‘ Then commanding me to tear the paper, he turned to three or four lords of the court who were neareſt him. How malignant are theſe people, ſaid he aloud, and what difficulties do they throw in the way of thoſe who ſerve me with fidelity? they brought a warrant to monſieur de Roſney, with a deſign to make him offend me, if he paſſed it; or my miſtreſs, if he refuſed it.’
‘In the ſtate affairs then were, theſe words were far from being indifferent; they gave the [Page 65] courtiers, who had ſmiled at my ſimplicity, to underſtand that they might poſſibly be deceived themſelves, and that the ſuppoſed marriage was not ſo near as they had imagined.’
‘The king continuing to converſe with me apart, told me, that he did not doubt but that madame de Beaufort was greatly enraged againſt me, and adviſed me to go to her, and endeavour by ſolid reaſons to give her ſatisfaction. If that will not do, added he, I will ſpeak to her as her maſter. ’
‘I went directly to the dutcheſs's apartment, which was in the cloiſter of Saint-Germain; I knew not what notion ſhe conceived of a viſit, which ſhe found I began with a ſort of explanation. She did not allow me to go on; the rage with which ſhe was animated not permitting her to obſerve any meaſures, ſhe interrupted me with a reproach that I had impoſed on the king, and made him believe that black was white.’
‘ 'Tis well, madam, ſaid I, interrupting her in my turn, but with great calmneſs, ſince you think fit to talk in this manner, I ſhall take my leave, but I ſhall not however, neglect to do my duty Saying this, I left her, not being willing to hear more, that I might not be tempted to ſay any thing ſeverer. I put the king in a very ill humour with his miſtreſs, when I repeated to him what ſhe ſaid. Come along with me, ſaid the king, with an emotion that pleaſed me greatly, and I will let you ſee that women do not wholly poſſeſs me ’
[Page 66] ‘His coach not being ready ſoon enough for his impatience, his majeſty got into mine, and as we drove to the dutcheſs's lodgings, he told me that he would never have cauſe to reproach himſelf, that, through his complaiſance for a woman, he had baniſhed, or even diſguſted ſervants, who, like me, were only ſolicitous for his glory and intereſt.’
‘Madame de Beaufort, upon my leaving her apartment ſo haſtily, had expected to ſee the king ſoon after; and during that time had taken ſufficient pains to adorn her perſon; believing like me that the victory which one or other of us was to gain would be the happy or miſerable preſage of her fortune.’
‘As ſoon as ſhe was informed of the kind's arrival, ſhe came as far as the door of the firſt hall to receive him. Henry without ſaluting her, or ſhewing any part of his uſual tenderneſs, Let us go, madam, ſaid he, to your chamber, and ſuffer no one to enter but yourſelf, Roſney, and me, for I want to talk to you both, and make you live together upon friendly terms ’
‘Then ordering the door to be ſhut, and that no one ſhould be ſuffered to remain in the chamber, wardrobe, or cloſet, he took her hand, holding one of mine at the ſame time, and with an air that ſhe had good reaſon to be ſurpriſed at, told her, that the true motive which had determined him to attach himſelf to her, was the gentleneſs he had obſerved in her diſpoſition; but that her conduct for ſome time paſt, had convinced him, that what he had believed to be real was only diſſembled; [Page 67] and that ſhe had deceived him: he reproached her with the bad counſels ſhe had liſtened to, and the very conſiderable faults they had occaſioned.’
‘He loaded me with praiſes, to ſhew the dutcheſs, by the difference of our proceedings, that I only had a true affection for his perſon: he commanded her to ſubdue her averſion for me ſo far as to be able to regulate her conduct by my advice, ſince ſhe might depend upon it his paſſion for her ſhould never induce him to baniſh me from his preſence.’
‘Madame de Beaufort began her anſwer with ſighs and tears. She affected a tender and ſubmiſſive air: ſhe would have kiſſed the hand of Henry; omitting no artifice which ſhe thought capable of melting his heart. It was not till ſhe had played over all theſe little arts, that ſhe began to ſpeak, which ſhe did by complaining, that inſtead of thoſe returns ſhe might have expected from a prince to whom ſhe had given her heart, ſhe ſaw herſelf ſacrificed to one of his grooms.’
‘She recapitulated all that I had done againſt her children, in order to awake his majeſty's reſentment againſt me; then feigning to ſink under the violence of her grief and deſpair, ſhe let herſelf fall upon a couch, where ſhe proteſted ſhe was determined to die, not being able to endure life after ſo cruel an affront.’
‘The attack was a little ſtrong. Henry did not expect it: I obſerved him heedfully, and ſaw his countenance change; but recovering himſelf [Page 68] immediately, that his miſtreſs might not perceive it, he continued to tell her in the ſame tone, that ſhe might ſpare herſelf the trouble of having recourſe to ſo many artifices on ſo ſlight an occaſion.’
‘Senſibly affected at this reproach, ſhe redoubled her tears, crying that ſhe plainly perceived ſhe was abandoned; and that doubtleſs it was to augment her ſhame and my triumph, that the king had reſolved to make me a witneſs of the ſevereſt behaviour that ever was ſhewn to a woman.’
‘This thought ſeemed to plunge her into a real deſpair. By heaven, madam, ſaid the king, loſing patience, this is too much. I know to what all this artifice tends: you want to prevail upon me to baniſh a ſervant whoſe aſſiſtance I cannot be without; I declare to you if I was reduced to the neceſſity of chuſing to loſe one or the other, I would rather part with ten miſtreſſes like you, than one ſervant ſuch as him. He did not forget the term of groom which ſhe had made uſe of; and was ſtill more offended, that ſhe had applied it to a man whoſe family had the honour of being allied to his own.’
‘After this harſh ſpeech the king quitted the dutcheſs ſuddenly, and was going out of her apartment, without ſeeming to be moved at the condition he left her in; probably becauſe he knew her well enough to be ſenſible that all this violence of grief was affectation and grimace.’
[Page 69] ‘As for me, I was ſo far deceived by it, as to be greatly concerned for her, and was not drawn out of this error, till madam de Beaufort, perceiving the king was going to leave her ſo much offended, that ſhe had reaſon to apprehend he would never return again, changed her behaviour in an inſtant, ran to ſtop him, and threw herſelf at his feet, no longer to impoſe upon his tenderneſs, but to ſooth him to a forgetfulneſs of her fault. She began by apologiſing for her paſt conduct, aſſumed an air of gentleneſs and complacency, and vowed ſhe never had, nor ever would have any will but his.’
‘Never was there a change of ſcene more ſudden! I now ſaw a woman perfectly agreeable, eaſy, and compliant, who acted towards me as if all that had juſt paſſed had been a dream; and we ſeparated very good friends.’
The dutcheſs of Beaufort however ſtill entertained hopes of being queen of France. She employed every artifice which her own cunning and the more ſubtile policy of her relations ſuggeſted to her to ſecure the ſucceſs of her deſigns. The king having recovered from a dangerous fit of illneſs, ſhe engaged his firſt phyſician, who was abſolutely devoted to her, to perſuade him that he could have no more children.
She had practiſed ſo ſucceſsfully upon ſome of his miniſters of ſtate, that they made no ſcruple to adviſe Henry to ſecure the ſucceſſion by marrying the dutcheſs, and legitimating the eldeſt of the children which he had by her.
[Page 70] That the king was but too well diſpoſed to admit this counſel appears by the following converſation which he had with the duke of Sully, who of all his miniſters was the only one that had courage and reſolution enough to oppoſe a deſign ſo injurious to his honour.
‘The king, ſays the duke of Sully *, at certain intervals, appeared ſo penſive and reſerved, that it was not difficult to gueſs ſome ſecret uneaſineſs preyed upon his mind; and I was the more convinced of it, when his majeſty, who often diverted himſelf with hunting, ordered me twice to follow him apart, that he might have an opportunity of converſing with me alone; yet when I did he was ſilent.’
‘I then remembered that the ſame thing had happened at Saint Germain and Angers; and I concluded that he had a deſign in view, which he had ſome difficulty to diſcloſe to me, knowing with what freedom I ſometimes oppoſed his opinions; but what this deſign was I could not gueſs. Returning from a viſit to the duke of Bouillon, his majeſty being at the foot of the ſtair caſe, ſaw me as I entered the court, and calling me, made me go with him into the garden, which was extremely large and beautiful, holding my hand with his finger between mine as uſual, then ordered the door to be ſhut, and that no perſon ſhould be allowed to enter.’
‘This prelude made me expect to hear a ſecret of great conſequence. Henry did not enter upon [Page 71] it immediately; but, as if he had not ſufficient reſolution to explain himſelf, began to tell me what had juſt happened between him and the duke of Bouillon. This converſation was followed by news relating to the negotiations of Vervins, and led him inſenſibly to reflect on the advantages France would receive from a peaceable government.’
‘One circumſtance the king ſaid gave him great uneaſineſs, which was, that not having children by the queen his wife, it would anſwer no purpoſe to be at ſo much trouble to procure peace and tranquility to his kingdom, ſince, after his death, it muſt neceſſarily fall into its former calamities, by the diſputes that would ariſe between the prince of Condé, and the other princes of the blood, concerning the ſucceſſion to the crown.’
‘His majeſty confeſſed to me, that this was his motive for deſiring with ſuch ardour to leave ſons behind him. Unleſs his marriage with the princeſs Margaret could be diſſolved, it was not poſſible for him to be abſolutely happy; but the informations he received from the archbiſhop of Urbin, Meſſ. du Perron, D'Oſſat, and de Marquemont, his deputies at Rome, of the pope's favourable diſpoſitions in reſpect to that affair, gave him great hopes of its ſucceſs. In effect, Clement the Eighth, who was as good a politician as any prince in Europe, revolving in his mind what means were moſt likely to hinder France and the other chriſtian kingdoms from falling again into a ſtate of anarchy and confuſion, could find none ſo effectual as to ſecure [Page 72] the ſucceſſion to the crown of France, by authoriſing Henry to engage in a ſecond marriage, which might produce him male children.’
‘Our converſation being fixed upon this ſubject, it was eaſy for me to perceive that it was from hence his majeſty's uneaſineſs proceeded; but I could not ſo ſoon know what was the particular thing that diſturbed him. The king began to conſider with me what princeſs of Europe he ſhould chuſe for his wife, in caſe his marriage with Margaret of Valois ſhould be diſſolved; but indeed he ſet out with a declaration that ſhewed, that any reflections on that head would be fruitleſs.’
‘That I may not repent, ſaid he, of taking ſo dangerous a ſtep, nor draw upon myſelf a misfortune, which is with juſtice ſaid to exceed all others, that of having a wife diſagreeable in perſon and mind; it is neceſſary that in her I marry, I ſhould find theſe ſeven things, beauty, prudence, ſoftneſs, wit, fruitfulneſs, riches, and a royal birth.’
‘ But there was not one in all Europe with whom he appeared entirely ſatisfied. I ſhould have no objection to the infanta of Spain, purſued Henry although ſhe is a little advanced in years, provided that with her I could marry the Low-Countries; even if I ſhould be obliged to reſtore to you the Earldom of Bethune: neither would I refuſe the princeſs * Arabella of [Page 73] England, if, as it is publickly ſaid, that crown really belongs to her, ſhe were only declared preſumptive heireſs of it; but there is no reaſon to expect that either of theſe things will happen. I have alſo heard of ſome princeſſes of Germany, whoſe names I have forgot; but the women of this country don't ſuit me; I ſhould always fancy I had a hogſhead of wine in bed with me: beſides, I have been told that France had once a queen of that country, who had like to have ruined it. All theſe conſiderations have given me a diſguſt to the German ladies. The ſiſters of Prince Maurice have likewiſe been mentioned to me; but beſides that they are proteſtants, which would give umbrage to the court of Rome, and the more zealous catholics, they are daughters of a nun, which, together with a certain reaſon that I will inform you of ſome other time, has prevented my entertaining any thoughts of them. The Duke of Florence has a niece who is ſaid to be handſome, but ſhe is deſcended from one of the moſt inconſiderable families in Chriſtendom, that bear the title of prince; it not being above three-ſcore or four-ſcore years ſince her anceſtors were only the firſt citizens of Florence: ſhe is likewiſe of the ſame race with the queen-mother Catherine, who did ſo much miſchief to France, and to me in particular.’
‘Theſe, continued the king, obſerving that I liſtened attentively to him, are all the foreign princeſſes that I have any knowledge of: of thoſe within [Page 72] [...] [Page 73] [...] [Page 74] my kingdom, my niece of Guiſe would pleaſe me beſt *, notwithſtanding the malicious reports that have been ſpread that ſhe loves poulets † in paper better than in a fricaſſee; for my part, I not only believe thoſe reports to be falſe, but ſhould rather chuſe a wife who is a little fond of gallantry, than one who wanted underſtanding; but I am apprehenſive that the violent affection which ſhe diſcovers for her family, particularly for her brothers, would create ſome diſorders in the kingdom.’
‘After this the king named all the other princeſſes in France, but to as little purpoſe: he acknowledged that ſome were beautiful, and genteel, ſuch as the eldeſt of the Duke of Maienne's two daughters, although of a brown complexion; the two daughters likewiſe of the Duke of Aumale, and three of the Duke of Longueville; but all theſe were either too young, or were not to his taſte.’
‘He afterwards named Mademoiſelle Rohan, the Princeſs of Conti's daughter, of the houſe of Lucé, Mademoiſelles Luxembourg and Guémené; but the firſt was a proteſtant, and the ſecond not old enough; and the perſons of the [Page 75] two others did not pleaſe him; and all for ſome reaſon or other were excluded.’
‘The king cloſed this enumeration by ſaying, that although theſe ladies might be all agreeable enough to him in their perſons, he ſaw no way to be aſſured that they would bring him heirs, or that he could ſuit himſelf to their tempers, or be convinced of their prudence, three of the ſeven conditions, without which he had reſolved never to marry; ſince, if he entered into an engagement of that kind, it would be with a deſign to give his wife a ſhare in the management of all his domeſtick affairs; and that, if according to the courſe of nature, he ſhould die before her, and leave chldren very young behind him, it would be neceſſary that ſhe ſhould be able to ſuperintend their education, and govern the kingdom during a minority.’
‘ Weary at length of endeavouring to no purpoſe to find out what the king aimed at by this diſcourſe; But what do you mean, Sire, ſaid I, by ſo many affinitives and negatives; and what am I to conclude by them, but that you are deſirous to marry, and yet cannot find a woman upon earth qualified to be your wife? By the manner in which you mentioned the Infanta Clara Eugenia, it ſhould ſeem that great heireſſes are moſt agreeeable to you; but can you expect that heaven ſhould raiſe a Margaret of Flanders, or a Mary of Burgundy from the dead for you; or at leaſt reſtore the Queen of England to her youth?’
‘I added ſmiling, that for proof of the other qualities that he demanded, I ſaw no better expedient [Page 76] than to bring all the beauties of France together, from the age of ſeventeen to that of twenty-five, that by talking with them in perſon, he might know the turn of their temper and genius; and that for the reſt he ſhould refer himſelf to experienced matrons, to whom recourſe is had on ſuch occaſions.’
‘Then beginning to talk more ſeriouſly, I declared that, in my opinion, his majeſty might contract his expectations, by ſtriking off a great fortune and royal birth, and be ſatisfied with a wife who might keep his heart, and bring him fine children; but that here again he muſt content himſelf with mere probability, there being many beautiful women incapable of child-bearing; and many illuſtrious fathers unhappy in their offspring: but whatever his children ſhould prove, the blood from which they ſprung would ſecure the reſpect and obedience of the French nation.’
‘Well, interrupted the king, ſetting aſide your advice concerning this aſſembly of beauties, with which I am mightily diverted, and your ſage reflection, that great men have often children who poſſeſs none of their qualities, I hope to have ſons whoſe actions ſhall exceed mine. Since you confeſs that the lady whom I marry ought to be of an excellent temper, beautiful in her perſon, and of ſuch a make as to give hopes of bringing children; conſider a little, whether you do not know a perſon in whom all theſe qualities are united.’
‘I would ſay, ſire, replied I, with great ſimplicity, that you are much better acquainted with her than I am, and that ſhe muſt neceſſarily be a widow, otherwiſe you can have no certainty, with regard to her fruitfulneſs.’
‘Ah! how dull you are, cried the king; but I am perſuaded you could gueſs who I mean if you would, and only affect this ignorance to oblige me to name her myſelf; confeſs then that theſe three qualities meet in my miſtreſs; not (purſued the king in ſome confuſion, at this diſcovery of his weakneſs) that I have any intention to marry her, but I want to know what you would ſay, if, not being able to meet with any other whom I could approve of, I ſhould one day take it into my head to make her my wife.’
‘It was not difficult for me to diſcover, amidſt theſe ſlight artifices, that his majeſty had already thought of it but too much, and was but too well diſpoſed to this unworthy marriage, which every thing he had ſaid tended to excuſe.’
[Page 78] ‘My aſtoniſhment was indeed very great, but I thought it neceſſary to conceal my thoughts with the utmoſt care. I affected to believe that he was jeſting, that I might have an opportunity of anſwering in ſuch a manner as might make the king aſhamed of having entertained ſo extravagant a notion.’
‘ My diſſimulation did not ſucceed; the king had not made ſo painful an effort to ſtop there. I command you, ſaid he to me, to ſpeak freely, you have acquired the right of telling me plain truths; do not apprehend that I ſhall be offended with you for doing ſo, provided that it is in private; ſuch a liberty in public would greatly offend me.’
‘I replied that I would never be ſo imprudent as to ſay any thing in private, any more than in public, that might diſpleaſe him, except on ſuch occaſions when his life or the good of the ſtate was in queſtion. I afterwards repreſented to him the diſgrace ſo ſcandalous an alliance would draw upon him, in the opinion of the whole world, and the reproaches he would ſuffer from his own mind upon that account, when the ardour of his paſſion being abated, he ſhould be able to judge impartially of his own conduct.’
‘I ſhewed him that if this was the only means he could have recourſe to, to free France from the calamities a doubtful ſucceſſion would produce, that he would expoſe himſelf to all the inconveniences he was anxious to avoid, and others ſtill greater. That although he ſhould legitimate the children he had by madame de Liancourt, yet that could not hinder the eldeſt, who [Page 79] was born in a double adultery, from being in this reſpect, inferior to the ſecond, whoſe birth was attended with but half of that diſgrace, and both muſt yield to thoſe whom he might have by madam de Liancourt, after ſhe was his lawful wife; it being therefore impoſſible to ſettle their claims, they could not fail of becoming an inexhauſtible ſource of quarrels and war. I leave you, ſire, purſued I, to make reflections upon all this, before I ſay any more ’
‘But ſuch was the tyranny of that blind paſſion, with which he was inflamed, that in ſpite of himſelf he renewed the ſubject that very moment by aſking me, if, from the diſpoſition I knew the French to be of, eſpecially the nobility, I thought he had any reaſon to apprehend they would riſe in rebellion while he was living, if he ſhould marry his miſtreſs.’
‘This queſtion convinced me, that his heart had received an incurable wound. I treated him accordingly, and entered into arguments and expoſtulations, with which I ſhall not trouble the reader, ſince his own imagination may ſuggeſt to him all that it was neceſſary to ſay upon this occaſion; and this ſubject has been already dwelt upon too long. We continued three hours alone in the garden, and I had the conſolation to leave the king in a full perſuaſion of the truth and reaſonableneſs of all I had ſaid to him.’
[Page 80] ‘The difficulty lay in breaking thoſe two powerful ties; the king had not yet brought himſelf to that point; he had many dreadful conflicts of mind to ſuffer e'er that could be effected; and all he could do for the preſent, was to defer taking his laſt reſolution till he had obtained the permiſſion he had been ſo long ſolliciting from the pope, and till then to keep his ſentiments ſecret.’
‘He promiſed me not to acquaint his miſtreſs with what I had ſaid, leſt it ſhould draw her reſentment upon me. She loves you, ſaid the king to me, and eſteems you ſtill more; but her mind ſtill entertains ſome remains of diſtruſt, that you will not approve of my deſign in favour of her and her children: ſhe often tells me, that when one hears you perpetually carrying in your mouth my kingdom and my glory; one is apt to think that you prefer the one to my perſon, and the other to my quiet. ’
‘ I anſwered, that againſt this charge I would make no defence; that the kingdom and the ſovereign were to be looked upon with the ſame eyes. Remember, ſire, added I, that your virtue is the ſoul that animates this great body, which muſt by its ſplendor and proſperity repay you that glory which it derives from you, and that you are not to ſeek happineſs by any other means.’
FROM the account I have already given of my temper and inclinations, it will be readily ſuppoſed that the love of power, which our great ſatiriſt aſſerts to be the ruling paſſion of my ſex, is not the leaſt prevailing one of mine; and therefore I will candidly acknowledge that the too perceptible decline of our influence has often been the ſubject of much painful reflection to me.
We live no longer in thoſe happy times, when to recover one ſtolen fair one, whole nations took up arms; when the ſmile of beauty was more powerful than the voice of ambition; when heroes conquered to deſerve our favour, and poets preferred the myrtle to the laurel crown.
In this degenerate age inſtances of dying for love are very rare, and inſtances of marrying for [Page 82] love are ſtill rarer. Formerly, if a lady had commanded her lover to bring her the head of a lion, he would have gone to Africa in ſearch of the ſavage conqueſt, though death were to have been the conſequence of his obedience: but now, what lady would preſume ſo much upon her authority, as to exact from her lover the ſacrifice of a party at whiſt, or a match at Newmarket!
However deſirous I am to find the cauſe of this decline of our empire in the depraved manners of the men, yet juſtice obliges me to own that we ourſelves are not wholly free from blame. Beauty, like the majeſty of kings, weakens its influence when familiariſed to common view. The face that may be ſeen every morning at auctions, at public breakfaſtings, and in crouded walks; every evening at aſſemblies, at the play, the opera, or ſome other faſhionable ſcene of pleaſure, ſoon loſes the charm of novelty, and effaces the impreſſion it firſt made. We may gaze upon a fine picture till the grace of the attitude, the lovelineſs of the features, and the ſtrength of the colouring ceaſe to ſurpriſe and delight us; and unhappily many of our preſent race of beauties are too ſolicitous about their perſonal charms to attend to the improvement of their minds: ſo that a fine woman is indeed often no more than a fine picture.
It has been obſerved, that there is no country in the world where women enjoy ſo much liberty as in England, and none where their ſway is ſo little acknowledged. In Spain, where the ſevere father, and jealous brother, guard the ſecluded maid from all converſe with men, ſhe will conquer more hearts by being ſeen once without a veil, than one of our [Page 83] beauties, who appears with her neck and ſhoulders uncovered at every place of publick reſort during the whole ſeaſon.
The Spaniſh lover paſſes whole nights at his miſtreſs's door, and employs ſighs, tears, ſerenades, and tender complaints to move her companion; bribes the vigilant duenna with half his eſtate to procure him a ſhort interview at a grated window: and for this ineſtimable favour he expoſes himſelf to the rage of her relations, who probably ſtand ready to puniſh his preſumption with death; while he, regardleſs of the inſidious ſtab, contemplates her by the faint light of the moon, with enthuſiaſtic rapture.
For her ſake he enters the dreadful liſts, and encounters the fierceſt bull of Andaluſia; the ſpectators tremble at his danger; he looks up to the balcony where ſhe is ſtated, and catches fortitude from her eyes. Should he be wounded in the unequal combat, a ſign from her gives him new force and courage: again he aſſails his furious antagoniſt, and drives him bellowing about the field. The lady waves her handkerchief to him as a token of her joy for his victory; the lover, half dead with fatigue and loſs of blood, but triumphing more in that inſtance of her regard for him than in the loud acclamations he hears on every ſide, turns to the place where ſhe ſtands, kiſſes his ſword, and is carried out of the liſts.
Thus ardent are the flames which love inſpires in a country where the promiſcuous aſſembly, the wrangling card-table, the licentious comedy, and late protracted ball, are not permitted to rob [Page 84] beauty of its moſt engaging charms, the bluſh of unſullied modeſty, and the ſoft dignity of female reſerve.
With us the lover dreſſes at his miſtreſs, ſings, dances, and coquets with her, expects to dazzle her with ſuperior charms, and loves her for the ſuperficial qualities he admires in himſelf. He hopes not to gain her heart in reward of his ſervices and conſtancy, but claims it as a price due to the reſiſtleſs graces of his perſon.
Such is the low ſtate of our power at preſent, and ſuch it will continue till our own prudence and reſerve ſupply the place of impoſed retiredneſs, and throw as many difficulties in the lover's way as the tyranny of cuſtom does in other countries. Beauty, like the Parthian archer, wounds ſureſt when ſhe flies, and we then moſt certain of victory when we have not courage enough to invite the attack.
THE Dutcheſs of Beaufort was not ignorant that the Duke of Sully oppoſed all her deſigns; ſhe knew the power which his wiſdom and integrity gave him over the mind of the king; but ſuch was her confidence in her own charms, and in thoſe ſchemes which her low cunning, and the intereſted policy of her relations and dependants had ſuggeſted, that ſhe fondly flattered herſelf [Page 85] neither reaſons of ſtate, nor motives of honour would have force enough to hinder her royal lover from gratifying her wiſhes.
In the mean time ſhe appeared in the ſtate and equipage of a queen; the ſervile courtiers anticipated her expected dignity by paying her thoſe honours which were due only to the wife of their prince. No language but that of adulation ever reached her ear; power, magnificence, pleaſure, offered her every day ſucceſſive delights; her ſmile was conſidered as the ſmile of fortune; leſs ſucceſsful guilt looked up to her with ſecret repinings; envy, dazzled by her blaze of grandeur, durſt not even in whiſpers breathe its diſcontent; and only virtue beheld her at once with pity and contempt.
In the midſt of all this ſplendor madame de Beaufort was completely wretched; the fear of future diſappointments rendered her preſent enjoyments taſteleſs; conſcious of the ſlender chains by which ſhe held the king's heart, ſhe lived in perpetual anxiety, leſt her beauty ſhould ſuffer any decay; the ſlighteſt alteration in her complexion filled her with dreadful alarms, and every evening brought with it the painful reflection that ſhe was now a day older than ſhe was yeſterday.
If the divorce was granted, the king would indeed be at liberty to marry her, but he would be free likewiſe to marry any one elſe; and all the wiſeſt and beſt of his ſubjects earneſtly deſired to ſee him married to ſome princeſs of Europe, who might bring him heirs worthy to reign over them; and if among all thoſe princeſſes who were judged to be ſuitable matches for Henry the IV. ſhe heard any of them praiſed for their beauty, ſhe trembled and could not conceal her uneaſineſs.
‘Madame de Beaufort, ſays the Duke of Sully, was the weakeſt of her ſex, with regard to divination: ſhe did not pretend to deny that ſhe conſulted aſtrologers concerning her affairs; and indeed ſhe had always a great many of them about her, who never quitted her; and what is moſt ſurpriſing, though ſhe doubtleſs paid them well, yet they never foretold her any thing but what was diſagreeable.’
‘One ſaid that ſhe would never be married but once, another that ſhe would die young, a third [Page 87] warned her to take care of being with child, and a fourth aſſured her that ſhe would be betrayed by one of her friends. Hence proceeded that melancholy which oppreſs'd her, and which ſhe was never able to overcome.’
If we add to this continual anxiety the ſtings of conſcience for unrepented guilt, can imagination form the idea of a more wretched being than this woman, in the midſt of all her ſplendor, power, and magnificence?
Theſe agonies, which ſhe who lived in an infamous commerce with a married man often experienced, were heightened by an event which affected her more than any other perſon, and ſeemed a frightful preſage of her own approaching fate.
She was far advanced in another guilty pregnancy, when the ſtrange death of Louiſa de Budos, ſecond wife to Henry Conſtable de Montmorency, filled her with unuſual horrors, and embittered all the ſhort remainder of her life.
‘Theſe two deaths (ſays the Duke of Sully ſpeaking of the conſtable's lady, and Madame de Beaufort) made a great noiſe every where, and were attended with a ſurpriſing ſimilarity of very uncommon circumſtances: both were ſeized [Page 88] with a violent diſtemper that laſted only three or four days; and both, tho' extremely beautiful, became horribly disfigured, which together with ſome other circumſtances, that at any other time would have been thought natural, or only the effects of poiſon, raiſed a report in the world, that the deaths of theſe two young ladies, as well as their elevation, was the work of the devil, who made them pay dearly for that ſhort felicity he had procured them. And this was certainly believed not only amongſt the common people, who are generally credulous to a high degree of folly, but amongſt the courtiers themſelves.’
"This, purſues the duke of Sully, is what is related of the conſtable's lady, and as it is ſaid by the ladies who were then at her houſe: ſhe was converſing with them gaily in her cloſet, when one of her women entered in great terror, and told her that a certain perſon, who called himſelf a gentleman, and who indeed had a good preſence, ſaying that he was quite black, and of a gigantic ſtature, had juſt entered her antichamber, and deſired to ſpeak to her about affairs of great conſequence, which he could communicate to none but her.
"At every circumſtance relating to this extraordinary courier, the lady was ſeen to grow pale; and appeared ſo oppreſſed with grief, that ſhe could ſcarcely bid her woman intreat the gentleman to defer his viſit to another time; to which he replied in a tone that filled the meſſenger with horror, That ſince the lady would not come to him willingly he would take the trouble to go and ſeek her in her cloſet. She, who was more afraid of a publick than [Page 89] a private audience, reſolved at laſt to go to him, but with all the marks of a deep deſpair.
"The terrible meſſage performed, ſhe returned to her company, bathed in tears, and half dead with diſmay: ſhe had only time to ſpeak a few words to take leave of them, particularly of three ladies who were her intimate friends, and to aſſure them that ſhe ſhould never ſee them more.
The dutcheſs of Beaufort proved the truth of that obſervation, that repentance is often not ſo much remorſe for our ſins, as fear of the conſequence—This fear indeed acted powerfully upon her mind; but it did not produce reformation in her conduct, which is the only infallible ſign by which true penitence may be known.
The king having reſolved to ſpend the Eaſter holidays at Fontainebleau, was unwilling to incur the cenſure of keeping this lady with him during that ſacred feſtival. Madame de Beaufort, who had inſiſted upon making one of the party with the king, was ſenſibly mortified when, after a ſtay only of three or four days, he intreated her to leave him at Fontainebleau, and return herſelf to Paris.
This requeſt, enforced by motives drawn from the impropriety of their continuing together at ſuch a time, was received with tears by the dutcheſs. Whether it was that her pride was ſenſibly wounded by the king's ſo eaſily admitting the neceſſity of her abſence, or that ſhe had really ſome ſecret foreboding [Page 90] that ſhe ſhould never ſee him more, ſhe ſeemed to conſider this ſeparation as the greateſt misfortune that could befal her.
The duke of Sully, as well as all the other hiſtorians who have mentioned this parting of the king and his miſtreſs, allow that there was ſomething very extraordinary in the grief expreſſed by the two lovers upon this occaſion.
When the moment came that madame de Beaufort was to leave Fontainbleau, ſhe appeared overwhelmed with anguiſh. The king, who was more paſſionately fond of her than ever, ſtruggled to repreſs his emotions: he conducted her half way to Paris; and although they propoſed only an abſence of a few days, yet they dreaded the moment of ſeparation, as if they were never to meet more. ‘Thoſe (ſays the duke of Sully) who are inclined to give faith to ſuch kind of forebodings will lay ſome ſtreſs upon this relation. The two lovers renewed their endearments; and in every thing they ſaid to each other at that moment, ſome perſons have pretended to find proofs of theſe preſages of an inevitable fate.’
Henry ſighing led his miſtreſs to the boat which was to carry her down to the arſenal. Juſt as ſhe was preparing to enter it, ſhe ſtopped, and turning to the king, who was oppreſſed with grief, ſhe ſpoke to him, as if for the laſt time. She recommended to his care her children, her eſtate of Monceaux, and her domeſtics. Henry liſtened to her; but, inſtead of comforting her, gave way to ſympathiſing ſorrow. Again they took leave of each other, and a ſecret emotion again drew them to each other's arms.
[Page 91] The king, not being able to tear himſelf from her, the marſhal D'Ornano, Roquelaure, and Frontenac, forced him away, and prevailed upon him at length to return to Fontainebleau, after he had tenderly recommended the care of his miſtreſs to La Varenne, with orders to conduct her ſafely to the houſe of Zamet *, to whom he choſe to confide this pledge ſo dear to him.
The duke of Sully being at Paris when madame de Beaufort arrived there, he thought himſelf obliged to wait on her before he ſet out for his eſtate at Roſny; and by the account he gives of her diſcourſe to him, it appears that her melancholy ideas were already diſſipated; and that ſhe again indulged herſelf in her gay dreams of royalty, and cheriſhed all her ambitious hopes: dreams ſo ſoon to be changed to a frightful certainty, and hopes ſhortly to terminate in deſpair and death!
‘She gave me (ſays the duke of Sully) a moſt obliging reception, and ſeemed to have wholly forgot our diſpute at Saint Germain; but not chuſing to explain herſelf clearly upon that compliance with her projects to which ſhe wiſhed to bring me, ſhe contented herſelf with endeavouring to engage me in her intereſt, by mingling with thoſe civilities which ſhe ſhewed to very few perſons, words which carried a double ſenſe, and hinted to me a boundleſs grandeur, if I would [Page 92] relax a little in the ſeverity of my counſel to the king with regard to her.’
‘I (purſues the duke) who was as little moved with the chimeras that filled her head as with thoſe ſhe ſought to inſpire me with, pretended not to underſtand any part of a diſcourſe intelligible enough; and anſwered her equivocal terms with general profeſſions of reſpect, attachment, and devotion, which ſignify what one will.’
The dutcheſs of Sully going likewiſe to pay a viſit to the triumphant miſtreſs, was overwhelmed with the airs of royalty aſſumed by this poor creature already devoted to the ſhades of death, and ſo ſoon to anſwer at the tribunal of divine juſtice for that guilty grandeur which ſhe prefered to eternal happineſs.
Madame de Beaufort kindly intreated the dutcheſs of Sully to love her, and to converſe with her as a friend. ‘Entered into confidances (ſays the duke of Sully) that would have appeared to be the laſt inſtances of the moſt intimate friendſhip to thoſe, who, like madame de Sully, knew not that the dutcheſs, who had no great ſhare of underſtanding, was not very delicate in the choice of her confidants. It was her higheſt pleaſure to entertain any perſon ſhe firſt ſaw with her ſchemes and expectations; and when ſhe converſed with her inferiors, ſhe ſcarce ſubmitted to any caution; for with them ſhe no longer guarded her expreſſions, but often aſſumed the ſtate and language of a queen.’
‘Madame de Sully (continues the duke) could not avoid ſhewing ſome ſurprize at the dutcheſs's [Page 93] diſcourſe, eſpecially when that lady, making an abſurd aſſemblage of the civilities practiſed among perſons of equal rank with theſe airs of a queen, told her ſhe might come to her coucher and lever when ſhe pleaſed, with many other ſpeeches of the ſame kind.’
It was in the midſt of theſe intoxicating dreams of ambition, and while ſhe reſigned her whole ſoul to ſcenes of preſent pleaſure, and to hopes of future greatneſs, that Providence thought fit to put a period to her life.
She was ſtill at the houſe of Sebaſtian Zamet, who had received his fair gueſt with all the aſſiduity of a courtier ſolicitous to pleaſe, when on Maundy Thurſday, after a luxurious repaſt, ſhe had an inclination to hear the evening ſervice at Saint Anthony's the Leſs: ſhe was there ſeized with fainting fits, which obliged her attendants to carry her back immediately.
As ſoon as ſhe arrived at Zamet's, ſhe went into the garden, hoping to receive ſome benefit from the air; but in a few minutes ſhe was attacked with an apoplectic fit, which it was expected would have inſtantly ſtifled her.
She recovered a little, through the aſſiſtance that was given her; and, ſtrongly prepoſſeſſed with a notion that ſhe was poiſoned, ſhe commanded her ſervants to carry her from that houſe to madame de Sourdis her aunt, who lived in the cloiſter Saint Germain.
They had but juſt time to put her in bed, when thick ſucceeding convulſions, ſo dreadful as amazed [Page 94] all who were preſent, and every ſymptom of approaching death, left monſieur Varenne, who had taken up the pen to inform the king of this melancholy accident nothing elſe to ſay, but that the phyſicians deſpaired of the dutcheſs's life, from the nature of her diſtemper, which required the moſt violent remedies, and the circumſtance of her being big with child, which made all applications mortal.
Scarce had he ſent away the letter, when the dutcheſs, drawing near her laſt moments, fell into new convulſions, which disfigured her ſo horribly, that Varenne, not doubting but that the king would upon the receipt of his letter ſet out inſtantly to ſee his miſtreſs, thought it more prudent to tell him in a ſecond letter that ſhe was dead, than expoſe him to a ſpectacle at once ſo dreadful and afflicting, as that of a woman whom he tenderly loved, expiring in agitations, ſtruggles, and agonies which ſcarcely left any thing of human in her figure.
On the Saturday following the convulſions had turned her quite black, and writh'd her mouth to the back of her neck. Riviere, the king's firſt phyſician, coming in great haſte upon this occaſion with others of the king's phyſicians, but juſt entered her chamber, and when he ſaw the extraordinary condition ſhe was in went away, ſaying to thoſe who were with him, This is the hand of God
The king who, upon the receipt of Varenne's firſt letter, had not failed to mount his horſe immediately, received the ſecond when he was got [Page 95] half way to Paris; and liſtening to nothing but the exceſs of his paſſion, was reſolved, notwithſtanding all that could be ſaid to him to give himſelf the conſolation of ſeeing his miſtreſs once more.
Marſhal Baſſompierre, in his Memoirs, relates that Henry did not believe his miſtreſs was dead, and continued his journey; but that Varenne, having come to acquaint the marſhal D'Ornano and him, who had accompanied the dutcheſs to Paris, that ſhe was juſt dead, they both took horſe, to carry the melancholy news to the king, and hinder him from proceeding to Paris.
We found the king, ſays marſhal Baſſompierre, on the other ſide of La Sauſſaye near Vilejuif, coming on poſt horſes with the utmoſt expedition. As ſoon as he perceived the marſhal D'Ornano, he ſuſpected that he was come to bring him fatal tidings, which as ſoon as he had heard, he uttered the moſt paſſionate complaints.
Theſe noblemen having with great difficulty prevailed upon Henry to go into the Abbey La Sauiſſay, they laid him upon a bed, till the coach which they had ordered to follow came from Paris: they put him into it, to carry him back to Fontainebleau, and during this little journey he was ſo oppreſs'd with grief that he fell into a fainting fit in the arms of the maſter of the horſe.
It is worthy remark, that the king ſhould upon this occaſion of his miſtreſs's death think no one [Page 96] ſo capable of giving him conſolation as the man who had moſt oppoſed his extravagant fondneſs for her; ſuch is the involuntary homage which even the paſſions themſelves pay to wiſdom and virtue!
When this meſſenger arrived at the duke's caſtle, he was converſing with his wife upon the extraordinary airs aſſumed by the Dutcheſs of Beaufort when ſhe laſt ſaw her; and perceiving her to be ſo much affected with the diſcourſe ſhe had held with her as to conclude there would certainly be ſome very great change in the fortune of this lady, the duke acquainted her with Madame de Beaufort's deſign to get herſelf declared queen, with the practices of her relations and dependants for that purpoſe, the ſtruggles the king had in his own mind, and the reſolution he had taken to overcome himſelf.
Madame de Sully was liſtening attentively to this relation, when they heard the bell of the firſt gate of the caſtle, without the moat, ring, and none of the ſervants anſwering, it being yet ſcarcely day, a voice ſeveral times repeated, I come from the king
The Duke of Sully that inſtant wakening one of the grooms of his chamber, ſent him to open the gate; and in his impatience to know the cauſe of this early ſummons, he ſlipt on a night-gown and ran to meet the courier, when obſerving a deep concern upon his countenance, he aſked him trembling, if the king was ill?
[Page 97] ‘This news, ſays the Duke of Sully, appeared to me ſo improbable, that I made him repeat his words ſeveral times; and when convinced that it was true, I felt my mind divided between grief for the condition to which her death reduced the king, and joy for the advantages all France would derive from it, which was increaſed, by my being fully perſuaded that the king would by this tranſitory affliction purchaſe a releaſe from a thouſand anxieties, and much more anguiſh of heart than what he now actually ſuffered. I went up again to my wife's chamber full of theſe reflections, ‘You will neither go to the dutcheſs's Coucher nor Lever, ſaid I, for ſhe is dead.’ ’
So ſudden and ſo fatal a fall from all thoſe towering hopes of grandeur filled Madame de Sully with aſtoniſhment and concern for the unhappy dutcheſs of Beaufort. The ſhocking particulars of her ſtrange death ſhe was made acquainted with by a letter from La Varenne to her lord.
The Duke of Sully haſtened to the king, whom he found walking in a gallery, ſo oppreſs'd with grief that all company was inſupportable to him. This wiſe counſellor and faithful friend employed every argument drawn from religion, virtue, and policy, to mitigate his ſorrow: he even ventured to repreſent to him that the event which now cauſed him all this affliction was among the number of thoſe which he would one day look upon as moſt fortunate: he conjured him to conſider the painful ſituation he would have been in, if his miſtreſs had lived; when on one ſide, ſtruggling with the force [Page 98] of a tender and violent paſſion, and on the other with the ſilent convictions of what honour and duty required of him, he would have been under an abſolute neceſſity of coming to ſome reſolution with reſpect to an engagement which he could not break without torture, nor continue without infamy.
Heaven, he told him, came to his aſſiſtance by a ſtroke painful indeed; but the only one that could open the way to a marriage upon which depended the tranquillity of France, the fate of Europe, the welfare of his ſubjects, and his own happineſs.
‘Henry, adds the Duke of Sully, had not the weakneſs of reſigning himſelf up to grief through obſtinacy; or of ſeeking a cure in inſenſibility. He liſtened more to the dictates of his reaſon than his paſſion, and appeared already much leſs afflicted to the courtiers who entered his chamber. At length, every one being careful not to renew his grief, which his daily employments gradually diminiſhed, he found himſelf in that ſtate which all wiſe men ought to be, who have had great ſubjects of affliction; that is, neither condemning nor flattering the cauſe, nor affecting either to recal or baniſh the remembrance of it *.’
MR. Herbert having recovered from the aſtoniſhment into which he had been thrown by the ſtrange behaviour of Miſs Darnley, endeavoured to comfort her mother, whoſe weak mind was more diſpoſed to be alarmed at the threat ſhe had uttered upon her quitting the room, than to reſent ſuch an inſult to parental tenderneſs.
After gently inſinuating to her, that ſhe ought to reduce her eldeſt daughter to reaſon, by a proper exertion of her authority, he earneſtly recommended to her to be particularly attentive to an affair which concerned the happineſs of her youngeſt child, from whoſe piety and good ſenſe ſhe might promiſe herſelf ſo much comfort.
He adviſed her to give Sir Charles Stanley an opportunity of explaining himſelf to her as ſoon as poſſible; and to make him comprehend, that he muſt not hope for permiſſion to pay his addreſſes to Sophia, till he had ſatisfied her that his intentions were ſuch, as ſhe ought to approve.
[Page 100] Mrs. Darnley appeared ſo docile and complaiſant upon this occaſion, ſo ready to take advice, and ſo fully determined to be directed by it, that Mr. Herbert went away extremely well ſatisfied with her behaviour, and full of pleaſing hopes for his beloved Sophia.
Harriot, in the mean time, was tormenting her ſiſter above ſtairs: ſhe had entered her room with a heart full of bitterneſs, and a countenance inflamed with rage, flinging the door after her with ſuch violence, that Sophia letting fall her book, ſtarted up in great terror, and in a trembling accent aſked her what was the matter with her?
Her own apprehenſions had indeed already ſuggeſted to her the cauſe of the diſorder ſhe appeared to be in, which it was not eaſy to diſcover in that torrent of reproach and invective with which ſhe ſtrove to overwhelm her. Scornful and unjuſt reflections upon her perſon, bitter jeſts upon her pedantick affectation, and malignant inſinuations of hypocriſy, were all thrown out with the utmoſt incoherence of paſſion; to which Sophia anſwered no otherwiſe than by a provoking ſerenity of countenance and calm attention.
That ſhe was able to bear with ſo much moderation the cruel inſults of her ſiſter, was not more the effect of her natural ſweetneſs of temper, than her good ſenſe and delicate turn of mind. The upper region of the air, ſays a ſenſible French writer, admits neither clouds nor tempeſts; the thunder, ſtorms, and meteors, are formed below: ſuch is the difference between a mean, and an exalted underſtanding.
[Page 101] Harriot, who did not find her account in this behaviour, ſought to rouſe her to rage by reproaches ſtill more ſevere, till having ineffectually railed herſelf out of breath, ſhe aukwardly imitated her ſiſter's compoſure, folded her hands before her, and ſeating herſelf, aſked her in a low but ſolemn tone of voice, whether ſhe would deign to anſwer her one plain queſtion?
Sophia then reſuming her ſeat, told her with a look of mingled dignity and ſweetneſs, that ſhe was ready to anſwer her any queſtion, and give her any ſatisfaction ſhe could deſire, provided ſhe would repreſs thoſe indecent tranſports of anger, ſo unbecoming her ſex and years.
Tired of you! repeated Sophia, ſhocked at her coarſeneſs and falſhood, I never was capable of making uſe of ſuch an expreſſion, nor do I familiariſe myſelf with ideas that need ſuch ſtrange language to convey them.
Harriot provoked almoſt to frenzy by this hint, which her indiſcreet conduct made but too juſt, ſhew down ſtairs to her mother, and with mingled ſobs and [Page 102] exclamations, told her, that Sophia had treated her like an infamous creature, who had diſhonoured herſelf and her family.
Mrs. Darnley, though more favourably diſpoſed towards her youngeſt daughter, ſince ſhe had been made acquainted with the baronet's affection for her, yet was on this occaſion governed by her habitual preference of Harriot; and ſending for Sophia, ſhe reproved her with great aſperity for her inſolent behaviour to her ſiſter.
Sophia liſtened with reverence to her mother's reproofs; and after juſtifying herſelf, as ſhe eaſily might, from the accuſation her ſiſter had brought againſt her, ſhe added, that not being willing to be expoſed to any farther perſecutions on account of Sir Charles Stanley, whoſe ſincerity ſhe thought very doubtful, ſhe was reſolved not to wait any longer for a place ſuch as Mr. Herbert's tenderneſs was in ſearch of for her, but to accept the firſt reputable one that offered.
‘I have not the vanity, madam, purſued ſhe, to imagine that a man of rank and fortune can ſeriouſly reſolve to marry an indigent young woman like me; and although I am humble enough to go to ſervice, I am too proud to liſten to the addreſſes of any man who, from his ſuperiority of fortune, thinks he has a right to keep me in doubt of his intentions, or, in a mean dependance upon a reſolution which he has not perhaps regard enough for me to make.’
This diſcourſe was not at all reliſhed by Mrs. Darnley, who conceived that many inconveniences were to be ſubmitted to, for the enjoyment of affluence [Page 103] and pleaſure; but Sophia, who had revolved in her mind all the mortifications a young woman is expoſed to, whoſe poverty places her ſo greatly below her lover; that ſhe is to conſider his profeſſions as an honour, and to be rejoiced at every indication of his ſincerity; her delicacy was ſo much wounded by the bare apprehenſion of ſuffering what ſhe thought an indignity to her ſex, that ſhe was determined to give Sir Charles Stanley no encouragement, but to purſue her firſt deſign of ſeeking a decent eſtabliſhment, ſuitable to the depreſs'd ſtate of her fortune.
Mrs. Darnley, however, combatted her reſolution with arguments which ſhe ſuppoſed abſolutely concluſive, and added to them her commands not to think any more of ſo humiliating a deſign, which ſo offended Harriot, that ſhe broke out again into tears, exclamations, and reproaches.
Her mother would have found it a difficult taſk to have pacified her, had not a meſſage from a lady, inviting her to a concert that evening, obliged her to calm her mind, that her complexion might not ſuffer from thoſe emotions of rage which ſhe had hitherto taken ſo little pains to repreſs.
As ſoon as Harriot retired, to begin the labours of the toilet, Mrs. Darnley, with great mildneſs, repreſented to Sophia, that it was her duty to improve the affection Sir Charles expreſs'd for her, ſince by that means it might be in her power to make her mother and her ſiſter eaſy in their circumſtances, and engage their love for ever.
This was attacking Sophia on her weak ſide; ſhe anſwered with the ſofteſt tenderneſs of look [Page 102] [...] [Page 103] [...] [Page 104] and accent, ‘That it was her higheſt ambition to make them happy.’
Mrs. Darnley would have been better pleaſed if ſhe had been leſs reſerved, and had appeared more affected with the fine proſpect that was opening for her; but it was not poſſible to preſs her farther. Nature here had transferred the parent's rights to the child, and the gay, imprudent ambitious mother, ſtood awed and abaſhed, in he preſence of her worthier daughter.
Sophia, who expected Sir Charles would renew his viſit in the evening, paſt the reſt of the day in uneaſy perturbations. He entered the houſe juſt at the time that Harriot, who had ordered a chair to be got for her, came fluttering down the ſtairs in full dreſs. As ſoon as ſhe perceived him her cheeks glowed with reſentment; but affecting a careleſs inattention, ſhe ſhot by him with a half courteſy, and made towards the door: he followed, and accoſting her with a grave but reſpectful air, deſired ſhe would permit him to lead her to her chair. Harriot, conveying all the ſcorn into her face which the expreſſion of her pretty but unmeaning features were capable of, and rudely drawing away her hand, ‘Pray, Sir, ſaid ſhe, carry your devores where [Page 105] they will be more acceptable; I am not diſpoſed to be jeſted with any longer.’
Sir Charles, half ſmiling and bowing low, told her, that he reſpected her too much, as well upon her own account as upon Miſs Sophia's, for whom indeed he had the moſt tender regard, to be guilty of the impertinence ſhe accuſed him of.
It muſt be confeſſed that Sir Charles diſcovered upon this occaſion a great ſhare of that eaſy confidence which people are apt to derive from ſplendid fortunes and undiſputed rank; but as he wanted neither good ſenſe, generoſity, nor even delicacy, he would have found it difficult to own to a lady whom he had been uſed to addreſs in the ſtyle of a lover, that his heart had received a new impreſſion, if the contemptible character of Harriot had not authoriſed his deſertion of her. Pride, ignorance, folly, and affectation, ſink a woman ſo low in the eyes of men, that they eaſily diſpenſe with themſelves from a ſtrict obſervance of thoſe delicate attentions, and reſpectful regards, which the ſex in general claim by the laws of politeneſs, but which ſenſe and diſcernment never pay to the trifling part of it.
Sir Charles was likewiſe glad of an opportunity to ſhew Miſs Darnley, that he did not think the little gallantry which had paſſed between them, entitled her to make him any reproaches; or to conſider the paſſion he profeſſed for her ſiſter as an [Page 106] infidelity to her; and now finding himſelf more at eaſe from the frank acknowledgment he had made, he ſent up his name, and was received by Mrs. Darnley with all the officious civility ſhe was uſed to ſhew him.
Sir Charles, after ſome trifling converſation with her mother, approached her, and complimented her with an eaſy air upon her being ſo uſefully employed, when moſt other young ladies were abroad in ſearch of amuſement.
Sophia, who was now a little recovered, anſwered him with that wit and vivacity which was ſo natural to her; but looking up at the ſame time, ſhe ſaw his eyes fixed upon her with a look ſo tender and paſſionate, as threw her back into all her former confuſion, which encreaſed every moment by the conſciouſneſs that it was plain to his obſervation.
The young baronet, though he was charmed with her amiable modeſty, yet endeavoured to relieve the concern he ſaw her under, by talking of indifferent matters, till Mrs. Darnley ſeeing them engaged in diſcourſe, prudently withdrew, when he inſtantly addreſſed her in language more tender and particular.
Sophia, ſhocked at her mother's indiſcretion, and at his taking advantage of it ſo abruptly, let all the weight of her reſentment fall on him; and the poor lover was ſo awed at her frowns, and the [Page 107] ſarcaſtic raillery which ſhe mingled with expreſſions that ſhewed the moſt invincible indifference, that not daring to continue a diſcourſe which offended her, and in too great concern to introduce another ſubject, he ſtood fixed in ſilence for ſeveral minutes, leaning on the back of her chair, while ſhe plied her needle with the moſt earneſt attention, and felt her confuſion decreaſe in proportion as his became more apparent.
At length he walked ſlowly to the other end of the room, and taking up a new book which he had ſent her a few days before, he aſked her opinion of it in a faultering accent; and was extremely mortified to find ſhe was ſo much at eaſe, as to anſwer him, with all the readineſs of wit and clearneſs of judgment imaginable.
Another pauſe of ſilence enſued, during which Sophia heard him ſigh ſoftly ſeveral times, while he turned over the leaves of the book with ſuch rapidity as ſhewed he ſcarce read a ſingle line in any page of it.
He was thus employed when Mrs. Darnley returned, who ſtood ſtaring firſt at one, then at the other, ſtrangely perplexed at their looks and ſilence, and apprehenſive that all was not right. Sophia now took an opportunity to retire, and met an angry glance from her mother as ſhe paſſed by her.
Her departure rouſed Sir Charles out of his revery, he looked after her, and then turning to Mrs. Darnley, overcame his diſcontent ſo far as to be able to entertain her a quarter of an hour with his uſual politeneſs; and finding Sophia did not appear again, he took his leave.
Sophia defended herſelf as well as ſhe could, without owning the true cauſe of her diſguſt, which was her mother's ſo officiouſly quitting the room; but Mrs. Darnley was ſo ill ſatisfied with her behaviour, that ſhe complained of it to her friend Mr. Herbert, who came in ſoon afterwards, telling him that Sophia's pride and ill temper would be the ruin of her fortune.
The good man having heard the ſtory but one way, thought Sophia a little to blame, till having an opportunity to diſcourſe with her freely, he found the fault ſhe had been charged with, was no more than an exceſs of delicacy, which was very pardonable in her ſituation: he warned her, however, not to admit too readily apprehenſions injurious to herſelf, which was in ſome degree debaſing the dignity of her ſex and character; but to make the baronet comprehend that eſteeming him as a man of honour, ſhe conſidered his profeſſions of regard to her as a claim upon her gratitude; and that, in conſequence, ſhe ſhould without any reluctance receive the commands of her mother, and the advice of her friends in his favour.
Poor Sophia found herſelf but too well diſpoſed to think favourably of Sir Charles; her tenderneſs had ſuffered greatly by the force ſhe had put upon herſelf to behave to him in ſo diſobliging a manner, and the uneaſineſs ſhe ſaw him under, his ſilence, and confuſion, and the ſighs that eſcaped him, apparently without deſign, had affected her ſenſibly, [Page 109] and ſeveral days paſſing away without his appearing again, ſhe concluded he was irrecoverably prejudiced againſt her; the uneaſineſs this thought gave her, firſt hinted to herſelf the impreſſion he had already made on her heart.
Sir Charles indeed had been ſo much piqued by her behaviour as to form the reſolution of ſeeing her no more; but when he ſuppoſed himſelf moſt capable of perſiſting in this reſolution, he was neareſt breaking through it, and ſuddenly yielding to the impulſe of his tenderneſs, he flew to her again more paſſionate than ever; this little abſence having only ſerved to ſhew him how neceſſary ſhe was to his happineſs.
When Sophia ſaw him enter the room, the agitations of her mind might be eaſily read in her artleſs countenance; a ſentiment of joy for his return gave new fire to her eyes, and vivacity to her whole perſon; while a conſciouſneſs of the effect his preſence produced, and a painful doubt of his ſincerity, and the rectitude of his intentions, alternately dyed her cheeks with bluſhes and paleneſs.
The young baronet approached her trembling, but the unexpected ſoftneſs with which ſhe received him, increaſing at once his paſſion and his hopes, he poured out his whole ſoul in the tendereſt and moſt ardent profeſſions of love, eſteem, and admiration of her.
Sophia liſtened to him with a complaiſant attention; and having had ſufficient time, while he was ſpeaking, to compoſe and recollect herſelf; ſhe told him, in a modeſt but firm accent, that ſhe was obliged to him for the favourable opinion he entertained [Page 110] of her; but that ſhe did not think herſelf at liberty to hear, much leſs to anſwer to ſuch diſcourſe as he had thought proper to addreſs to her, till ſhe had the ſanction of her mother's conſent, and Mr. Herbert's approbation, whoſe truly parental regard for her, made her look upon him as another father, who ſupplied the place of him ſhe had loſt.
Sir Charles, more charmed with her than ever, was ready in his preſent flow of tender ſentiments for her, to offer her his hand with an unreſervedneſs that would have ſatisfied all her delicate ſcruples; but carried away by the force of habit, an inſurmountable averſion to marriage, and the falſe but ſtrongly impreſſed notion of refinements in a union of hearts, where love was the only tye, he could not reſolve to give her a proof of his affection, which in his opinion was the likelieſt way to deſtroy all the ardor of it; but careful not to alarm her, and apprehending no great ſeverity of morals from the gay intereſted mother, he politely thanked her for the liberty ſhe gave him to make his paſſion known to Mrs. Darnley, and to ſolicit her conſent to his happineſs.
Sophia obſerved with ſome concern, that he affected to take no notice of Mr. Herbert upon this occaſion; but ſhe would not allow herſelf to dwell long upon a thought ſo capable of raiſing doubts injurious to his honour; and ſatisfied with the frankneſs of his proceeding thus far, ſhe ſuffered no marks of diſcontent or apprehenſion to appear in her countenance and behaviour.
Sir Charles did not fail to make ſuch a general declaration of his ſentiments to Mrs. Darnley as he [Page 111] thought ſufficient to ſatisfy Sophia, without obliging himſelf to be more explicite; and in the mean time, having acquired a thorough knowledge of Mrs. Darnley's character, he ſought to engage her in his intereſt by a boundleſs liberality, and by gratifying all thoſe paſſions which make corruption eaſy. She loved diſſipation; and all the pleaſures and amuſements that inventive luxury had found out to vary the ſhort ſcene of life were at her command; ſhe had a high taſte for the pleaſures of the table, and therefore the moſt expenſive wines, and choiceſt delicacies that earth, ſea, and air could afford, were conſtantly ſupplied by him in the greateſt profuſion. No day ever paſſed without her receiving ſome conſiderable preſent, the value of which was inhanced by the delicacy with which it was made.
The innocent Sophia conſtrued all this munificence into proofs of the ſincerity of his affection for her; for the young baronet, whether awed by the dignity of her virtue, or that he judged it neceſſary to ſecure the ſucceſs of his deſigns, mingled with the ardor of his profeſſions, a behaviour ſo reſpectful and delicate, as removed all her apprehenſions, and left her whole ſoul free to all the tender impreſſions a lively gratitude could make on it.
Mr. Herbert, however, eaſily penetrated into Sir Charles's views; he ſaw with pain the progreſs he made every day in the affection of Sophia; but by the ſpeciouſneſs of his conduct, he had eſtabliſhed himſelf ſo firmly in her good opinion, that he judged any attempt to alarm her fears, while there ſeemed [Page 112] ſo little foundation for them, would miſs its effect; and not doubting but ere it was long her own obſervation would furniſh her with ſome cauſe for apprehenſion, he contented himſelf for the preſent with keeping a vigilant eye upon the conduct of Sir Charles and Mrs. Darnley, and with being ready to aſſiſt Sophia in her perplexities, whenever ſhe had recourſe to him.
The change there was now in the ſituation of this amiable girl, afforded him many opportunities of admiring the excellence of her character: ſhe who formerly uſed to be treated with neglect and even harſhneſs by her mother, was now diſtinguiſhed with peculiar regard; her opinion always ſubmitted to with deference, her inclinations conſulted in all things, and a ſtudious endeavour to pleaſe her was to be ſeen in every word and action of Mrs. Darnley's, who affected to be as partially fond of her as ſhe had once been of her ſiſter.
Even the haughty inſolent Harriot, keeping her rage and envy concealed in her own breaſt, condeſcended to wear the appearance of kindneſs to her, while ſhe ſhared with her mother in all thoſe gratifications which the laviſh generoſity of Sir Charles procured them, and which Sophia, ſtill continuing her uſual ſimplicity of life, could never be perſuaded to partake of. Yet all this produced no alteration in Sophia; the ſame modeſty and humility, the ſame ſweetneſs of temper, and attention to oblige, diſtinguiſhed her now as in her days of oppreſſion.
[Page 113] Mr. Herbert contemplated her with admiration and delight, and often with aſtoniſhment reflected upon the infatuation of Sir Charles, who could allow himſelf to be ſo far governed by faſhionable prejudices, and a libertine turn of mind, as to balance one moment whether he ſhould give himſelf a lawful claim to the affections of ſuch a woman.
Affairs continued in this ſtate during three months, when the good old man, who watched over his young favourite with all the pious ſolicitude of her guardian angel, perceived that ſhe was grown more melancholy and reſerved than uſual; he often heard her ſigh, and fancied ſhe had been weeping, and her fine eyes would appear ſometimes ſuffuſed with tears, even when ſhe endeavoured to appear moſt chearful.
He imagined that ſhe had ſomething upon her mind which ſhe wiſhed to diſcloſe to him; her looks ſeemed to intimate as much, and ſhe frequently ſought opportunities of being alone with him, and engaged him to paſs thoſe evenings with her when her mother and ſiſter were at any of the public entertainments. Yet all thoſe times, though her heart ſeemed labouring with ſome ſecret uneaſineſs which ſhe would fain impart to him, ſhe had not reſolution enough to enter into any explanation.
Mr. Herbert, who could have wiſhed ſhe had been more communicative, reſolved at length to ſpare her any farther ſtruggles with herſelf; and one day when he was alone with her, taking occaſion to obſerve that ſhe was not ſo chearful as uſual, he aſked her tenderly if any thing had happened to give her uneaſineſs; ſpeak freely my child, ſaid [Page 114] he to her, and think you are ſpeaking to a father.
Sophia made no other anſwer at firſt than by burſting into tears, which ſeeming to relieve her a little; ſhe raiſed her head, and looking upon the good man, who beheld her with a fixed attention. ‘May I hope ſir: ſaid ſhe, that you are ſtill diſpoſed to fulfil the kind promiſe you once made me—Oh take me from hence, purſued ſhe, relapſing into a new paſſion of tears, place me in the ſituation to which my humble lot has called me; ſave me from the weakneſs of my own heart—I now ſee plainly the deluſion into which I have fallen; but, alas! my mother does not ſee it—every thing here conſpires againſt my peace.’[To be continued.]
NUMA Pompilius, the ſecond king of Rome, a man of great virtue, piety, and wiſdom, is conſidered as author of the veſtal inſtitution; though there were veſtals before his time, and even ſo early as the ſettlement of Eneas in Italy, who, we are told, placed the palladium, an image of Pallas ſo called, which he had brought with him from Troy, in the temple of Veſta, and committed it to the care of the virgins dedicated to the ſervice of that goddeſs, who from her name were called veſtals. But it was Numa who gave a form to this inſtitution, and regulated the miniſtry and office of the order.
Numa committed to theſe virgins the keeping of the immortal fire, and the palladium, with the care of certain ſecret ſacrifices in the worſhip of the [Page 116] goddeſs Veſta. They vowed chaſtity during the ſpace of thirty years that they attended on the ſervice of the goddeſs; the age of admiſſion was above ſix, and under ten, and they were to be without any corporal blemiſh.
The ten firſt years were a kind of noviciate or probation, when they were inſtructed in all the ſacred myſteries; the next ten were paſſed in the practice of them, and the laſt ten in teaching the novices.
This term being expired, they were free to quit the order, to lay aſide the diſtinctions of it and to marry; but very few, it is ſaid, made uſe of this liberty, terrified with frequent examples of the unhappy end attending thoſe who changed their conditition.
Very great privileges and marks of diſtinction were at ſeveral times granted to the veſtals. They had a right to make a will during their father's life, and to diſpoſe of their fortunes, without a truſtee; for the Roman women were always under guardianſhip: they were forbid to take an oath, and in courts of juſtice their evidence was admitted upon their bare affirmation.
When they appeared in public, a lictor attended them with the faſces; and if a veſtal in her walks happened to meet a criminal leading to execution, he was pardoned upon her declaring that the meeting was accidental. They had a diſtinguiſhed rank and place of honour aſſigned them in the circus, and at other public ſhews, and were educated and maintained at the expence of the commonwealth.
[Page 117] But if great honours were paid to the dignity and virtue of the veſtals, their faults were alſo puniſhed with equel ſeverity. The faults thus puniſhable were either negligence of their duty, in ſuffering the ſacred fire to go out, or incontinence in violating their vow of chaſtity.
In the firſt caſe, which was looked upon as the ſign of ſome great calamity to the ſtate, the guilty veſtal was puniſhed as a ſlave, that is, with ſcourging; covered only with a veil, ſhe was whipped with rods by the Pontifex Maximus, or chief prieſt. One of the veſtals ſpent the whole night by the ſacred fire, to prevent its extinction, and watched thus each in turn. When the fire was out, it was to be rekindled by the rays of the ſun, the manner of which is variouſly related.
The great crime of the veſtals was the violation of their vow of chaſtity; and this was puniſhed in a manner not to be deſcribed without horror. They were buried alive. Near the Colline gate, ſays Plutarch, there is a little vault, with a hole to go down to it; in the vault there is a bed, a lighted lamp, and a ſmall quantity of proviſions, conſiſting of a loaf, a pitcher of water, a vial of oil, and a pot of milk: theſe are provided for the criminal, that religion may not be wounded by ſtarving to death a perſon conſecrated with the moſt auguſt and ſacred ceremonies. Strange ſcruple! they feared to ſtarve her whom they buried alive.
The offender was put into a cloſe and covered litter, that her piercing ſhrieks might not be heard, and carried in that manner through crouds of people croſs the forum. At the ſight of the litter, all made [Page 118] way for it to paſs, and followed it in awful ſilence, and all the marks of the deepeſt ſorrow. There could not be a more horrible ſpectacle, nor a more dreadful or melancholy day for Rome, than that on which a veſtal was carried to execution.
When the litter was come to the place of puniſhment, the lictors took off the covering and opened it; then the pontifex maximus, after ſome private prayers, with hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, took out the unhappy criminal, all cloſely veiled, and ſet her on the ladder, by which ſhe was to deſcend into the vault: after which, he returned with the other prieſts; and the wretched veſtal was no ſooner down, but the ladder was removed, and the hole filled up with earth till the ground was even, and no ſign of a grave remained, to intimate that the criminal was deemed unworthy to appear either among the dead or the living.
By this terrible execution is ſeen what notions the heathens themſelves entertained concerning the breach of chaſtity; and their fear of its drawing down the curſe and vengeance of the Gods upon the whole ſtate, if it remained unpuniſhed. To avoid ſuch a fatal calamity, the veſtals were exhorted not only to fly with horror from every temptation to guilt, but to avoid with the utmoſt care whatever could caſt the leaſt blemiſh on their reputation.
Poſthumia, a veſtal, having ſubjected herſelf to unfavourable ſuſpicions, on account of her too great ſolicitude in dreſs, and gaiety of manners, unbecoming the ſacred purity of a virgin, was called to her trial. After a long examination ſhe was pronounced [Page 119] innocent; but the pontifex maximus commanded her to quit thoſe gay airs for the future, and to ſhew in her dreſs more wiſdom and modeſty than elegance and taſte.
The 638th year of Rome gives us an example of corruption among the veſtals, never heard of before. In preceding times it rarely happened that a veſtal violated her vow of chaſtity, and the day of her puniſhment was a day of univerſal mourning at Rome. But this year, of the ſix veſtals, three were proved criminal, two of which loſing all ſenſe of fear as well as ſhame, had almoſt publickly abandoned themſelves to diſſolute practices.
The miſchief was begun by a Roman knight, named Butaetius Barrus, a profeſſed libertine, who being tired of too eaſy conqueſts, ſought to vary his infamous pleaſures by the charm of difficulty and danger. He therefore attacked a veſtal called Emilia, and when he had ſucceeded in ſeducing her, the contagion ſoon ſpread; and two other veſtals, Licinia, and Marcia, followed the example of their companion.
Marcia, however, leſs criminal than the other two, admitted only one lover; but Emilia and Licinia, who were become great friends, if ſuch leagues which the wicked form with the wicked may be called by the name of friendſhip, not chuſing to confine themſelves to their firſt gallants, each introduced her brother to her friend, and managed each other's interviews.
Having once begun to extend their criminal amours, they ſoon had occaſion to obſerve that their ſecret took air; therefore to engage thoſe [Page 120] to ſilence whom they apprehended would inform againſt them, they made them all accomplices in the guilt.
This fellow had been employed by Licinia and her to carry on their intrigues with ſeveral young Romans, and had for ſome time acquitted himſelf very faithfully in their infamous ſervice; but being diſappointed in the rewards they had promiſed him, and in his expectations of liberty from his maſter, he made a full diſcovery; and the guilty veſtals were immediately brought to trial.
The college of pontiffs, which by the conſtitution of Numa were the proper judges of this affair, acted with great lenity, and condemned only Emilia; a favourable ſentence was paſſed upon Marcia and Licinia, for which the former was probably indebted to her having been leſs criminal; and the latter to the eloquence of the celebrated L. Craſſus, her kinſman, who being then twenty ſeven years of age, defended her in an oration of which Cicero ſpeaks with praiſe.
The unhappy Emilia was buried alive, purſuant to her ſentence; Marcia and Licinia were juſt recovered from the horrors of that dreadful fate which had impended over them, when a new proceſs was commenced againſt them.
The whole Roman people exclaimed againſt the lenity of the pontiffs, on an occaſion when the crime was equally evident and odious; and the [Page 121] tribune Sextus Peduceus having put himſelf at the head of thoſe who murmured at the ſentence, cauſed an extraordinary commiſſion to be voted by the people for re-hearing the cauſe of Marcia and Licinia; and at the head of that commiſſion placed L. Caſſius, who for that purpoſe was created praetor a ſecond time, after having been conſul and cenſor.
He was a perſon of rigid virtue and inflexible ſeverity, and one who, as Cicero obſerves, had rendered himſelf agreeable to the people, not by politeneſs and a popular behaviour, but by an auſterity of manners, which acquired him reſpect.
Caſſius fully anſwered the expectation of thoſe who had choſen him; for he not only condemned the two veſtals, who were puniſhed in the ſame manner as Emilia, but alſo a great number of other perſons; ſo that his tribunal was called the rock of the accuſed.
THE houſe of Comminge, from which I am deſcended, is one of the moſt ancient and illuſtrious in the kingdom; my great grand-father, who had two ſons, was ſo extremely fond of the youngeſt, that he ſettled ſome very conſiderable eſtates upon him, in prejudice to the rights of his elder brother; and gave him the title of marquis of Luſſan. The partiality of my anceſtor did not weaken the friendſhip between his two ſons, which encreaſed with their years. They would have their children brought up together; but by giving them their education in common, inſtead of uniting them by ſtricter ties than thoſe of blood, which was their ſole view in it, they rendered them enemies almoſt from their birth.
My father, who was always excelled in his exerciſes by the young marquis of Luſſan, conceived a jealouſy at it, which ſoon degenerated into a [Page 123] fixed averſion. They often quarrelled; and my father being always the aggreſſor, it was he who was always puniſhed.
One day, when he complained of this treatment to the ſteward of our family, ‘Know, ſaid the man to him, that you will have it in your power to repreſs the pride of the marquis of Luſſan; all the eſtates he poſſeſſes are entailed upon you, and your grandfather could not diſpoſe of them: when you are the maſter, continued he, it will not be difficult for you to recover your right.’
This intimation convincing my father, that he had it in his power to be revenged of his couſin, made him ſet no bounds to his reſentment. Their quarrels became ſo frequent and ſo violent, that there was a neceſſity for ſeparating them. They were many years without ſeeing each other, during which they were both married. The marquis of Luſſan had only a daughter by his wife, and my father only a ſon by his, which was myſelf.
As ſoon as my father came to the poſſeſſion of his hereditary eſtates, by the death of his grandfather, he determined to follow the advice that had been given him, while he was yet a youth, and which he had never loſt ſight of: he omitted nothing that could render his claim unqueſtionable, and rejecting ſeveral propoſals for an accommodation, commenced a law-ſuit with the marquis of Luſſan, which could not but terminate in the deſpoiling him of all his eſtates.
An unhappy rencounter, which they had one day in a hunting-match, rendered them for ever irreconcileable. My father, whoſe vowed revenge [Page 124] was never out of his thoughts, ſaid ſeveral cruel things to the Marquis of Luſſan, upon the deſpicable condition to which he expected ſoon to reduce him. The marquis, tho' naturally mild, could not help anſwering with ſome haughtineſs. They had recourſe to their ſwords: fortune declared in favour of Monſieur de Luſſan: he diſarmed my father, and bid him aſk his life.
‘I ſhould hate it, anſwered my father fiercely, if I owed it to thee.’ ‘Yet, ſpite of thyſelf, thou ſhalt owe it to me,’ ſaid the marquis, of Luſſan, throwing him his ſword: after which he inſtantly left him.
This generous action did not move my father in his favour; on the contrary, the double victory his enemy gained over him, encreaſed his hatred, and he carried on the ſuit againſt the marquis of Luſſan more vigorouſly than before. However, when his hopes were higheſt he received ſome accounts from his lawyers, which effectually deſtroyed them. This diſappointment threw him into ſuch tranſports of rage and grief, as brought on a dangerous fever, under which he languiſhed a long time, and in this ſtate I found him at my return from my travels, upon which I had ben ſent immediately after my ſtudies were finiſhed.
A few days after my arrival, the Abbot de R—, a kinſman of my mother's, ſent notice to my father, that the writings which alone were able to prove his juſt claim to the eſtates poſſeſſed by the marquis of Luſſan, were in the archives of the abbey of R—, to which place many of the papers belonging to our family had been carried during the civil [Page 125] wars. My father was deſired by the abbot to keep this information ſecret, and to come himſelf for thoſe writings, or ſend a perſon for them, on whoſe fidelity he could have an abſolute dependance.
The bad ſtate of his health not permitting him to go himſelf, he charged me with this commiſſion, after many times repreſenting to me, the great importance of it. ‘You, ſaid he to me, are more concerned in the recovery of thoſe papers, than I am; the eſtates will probably ſoon be yours; but if you had no intereſt in them, I think well enough of you, to believe that you ſhare my reſentment, and are eager to revenge the injuries I have received.’ After giving ſome other neceſſary inſtructions, it was reſolved that I ſhould take the title of marquis of Longaunois, that my buſineſs in the abbey might not be ſuſpected, madame de Luſſan having ſeveral relations there.
I ſet out, accompanied only by an old ſervant of my father's, and my own valet de chambre. My journey proved ſucceſsful: I found in the archives of the abbey the writings which proved inconteſtably the entail. I wrote to my father, and gave him an account of all that I had done; and, as I was only at a ſmall diſtance from [...] , I deſired he would permit me to ſtay there during the ſeaſon for drinking the waters. My father was ſo pleaſed with the ſucceſs of my journey, that he readily complied with my requeſt.
I ſtill appeared under the borrowed title of the marquis of Langaunois: my equipage was too inconſiderable to ſupport the grandeur of that of Comminge. [Page 126] The day after my arrival, I went to the fountain: in theſe places ceremony is laid aſide, and an eaſy polite freedom better ſupplies its place. From the firſt day of my appearance at the baths, I was admitted into all parties of pleaſure, and introduced at the houſe of the marquis de la Valette, who that day gave a grand entertainment to the ladies.
I found ſeveral of them whom I had ſeen at the fountain already come, and ſaid ſome tender things to them, as I then thought myſelf obliged to do to all women. I was engaged in a particular converſation with one of them, when a lady of a good preſence entered the room, followed by a girl of ſurpriſing beauty; her charms fixed my attention immediately, her graceful modeſty won my eſteem. I loved her from that moment, and that moment decided the deſtiny of my whole life. Inſenſibly my former gaiety vaniſhed; I could do nothing but gaze on her, and follow her every where: ſhe perceived it, and bluſhed. A walk was propoſed, and I had the good fortune to lead her. We were at a ſufficient diſtance from the reſt of the company to give me an opportunity of talking to her upon a ſubject by which my whole thoughts were engroſſed; but I who a few moments before was not able to remove my eyes from her face, had now when we were alone not courage enough to look upon her. Till then I had always talked of love to women for whom I felt nothing but indifference; but as ſoon as my heart was really ſubdued, I found impoſſible to ſpeak.
We rejoined the company, without having uttered a ſingle word to each other. The ladies were [Page 127] conducted to their lodgings, and I returned home, where I ſhut myſelf up in my apartment. In the diſpoſition my mind was then, ſolitude was moſt agreeable. I felt a certain kind of joy mixed with pain, which I believe always accompanies a beginning paſſion: mine had rendered me ſo timid, that I durſt not endeavour to know the name of her I loved. I was apprehenſive my curioſity would betray the ſecret of my heart; but how did it ſink within me, when I learned that it was the daughter of the marquis of Luſſan who had charmed me. All the obſtacles that oppoſed my happineſs roſe inſtantly to my mind; but the fear that Adelaida, ſo was that lovely girl called, had been early taught to hate my name, was what moſt alarmed me. I thought myſelf fortunate in having aſſumed another; and fondly hoped that ſhe would know my paſſion for her before ſhe could be prejudiced againſt me; and that when ſhe knew who I was ſhe would at leaſt be induced to pity me.
I therefore determined to conceal my true name as long as poſſible, and in the mean time to uſe every method to pleaſe her; but I was too much in love to employ any other than that of loving. I followed her wherever ſhe went: I ardently wiſhed for an opportunity of ſpeaking to her in private; and when that ſo much deſired opportunity offered itſelf, I had not power to take advantage of it. The fear of forfeiting a thouſand little freedoms, which I now enjoyed, reſtrained me; but my greateſt fear was that of offending her.
This was my ſituation, when one evening, as the company were walking in ſeparate parties, Adalaida [Page 128] dropt a bracelet off her arm, to which her picture was faſtened. The chevalier de Saint Oden, who led her, eagerly ſtooped to take it up, and, after gazing upon it a moment, put it in his pocket. Adelaida at firſt aſked for it mildly; but he obſtinately refuſing to return it, ſhe expreſſed great reſentment at a behaviour which ſhowed ſo little reſpect for her.
The chevalier was handſome; ſome little ſucceſſes with the fair had made him vain and preſuming. Without being diſconcerted at Adelaida's anger, ‘Why, mademoiſelle, ſaid he, would you deprive me of a good which I owe only to chance? I flatter myſelf, continued he, lowering his voice, that when you know the ſentiments you have inſpired me with, you will ſuffer me to keep what that has preſented me.’ Saying this he bowed profoundly low; and, without waiting for her anſwer, retired.
I happened not to be with her then. The marchioneſs de la Valette and I were talking at a little diſtance; but altho' I quitted her as ſeldom as poſſible, yet my attention was always fixed upon her. I never loſt a look, a word, or action of hers, and however particularly engaged, I never failed in any of thoſe aſſiduities, which others practiſe to pleaſe, but which the exceſs of my paſſion made we find inconceivable pleaſure in performing.[To be continued.]
IN the enumeration of thoſe ſtudies which the fair ſex may properly be permitted to employ ſome part of their time in an application to, given in our laſt Number, it may be remembered that hiſtory and natural philoſophy ſtood foremoſt in the liſt. Curioſity is one of the moſt prevalent, and, when properly applied, one of the moſt amiable, paſſions of the human mind; nor can it in any way find a more rational ſcope for exertion, than in the recollection of hiſtorical facts, and a curious inquiſition into the wonders of creation. To this application of that paſſion the female part of the world are unqueſtionably moſt happily adapted. Undiſturbed by the more intricate affairs of buſineſs; unburthened with the load of political entanglements; with the anxiety of commercial negotiations; or the ſuſpenſe and anguiſh which attend on the purſuit of fame or fortune, the memories of the fair are left vacant to receive and to retain the regular [Page 130] connection of a train of events, to regiſter them in that order which fancy may point out as moſt pleaſing, and to form deductions from them ſuch as may render their lives more agreeable to themſelves, and more ſerviceable to every one about them. Their more exalted faculties, not being tied down by weariſome attention to mathematical inveſtigations, metaphyſical chimeras, or abſtruſeſcholaſtic learning, are more at liberty to obſerve with care, ſee with perſpicuity, and judge without prejudice, concerning the amazing world of wonders round them than thoſe of men, who, very frequently by attempting to arrive at every kind of knowledge, find themſelves ſtopped ſhort in their career by the limited period of life, before they can properly be ſaid to have reached any
To gratify and furniſh food for this laudable curioſity, therefore, in both theſe branches of knowledge, ſhall be one of our principal aims in the proſecution of this work; yet as amuſement no leſs than inſtruction will ever conſtitute one of the main columns of our edifice, and that our wiſh is to render the ladies though learned not pedantic, converſable rather than ſcientific, we ſhall avoid entering into any of thoſe minutiae, or diving into thoſe depths of literature, which may make their ſtudy dry to themſelves, or occaſion its becoming tireſome to others.
If therefore we treat of philoſophy, it ſhall be poliſhed from the ruſt of theoretical erudition, and adorned with all thoſe advantages which a connexion with the politer arts and ſciences can throw upon it. If of hiſtory, a pleaſing relation of the moſt intereſting facts ſhall be endeavoured at, the movement [Page 131] of the grand machine of government ſhall indeed be ſet before our readers, and the influence of each apparent wheel be rendered viſible: but we ſhall think it unneceſſary to look into every ſecret ſpring whereby theſe wheels were actuated; and ſhall diſpenſe with entering into the never to be diſcovered cauſes of the riſe and fall of nations now no more, to make room for the more uſeful knowledge of thoſe movements of the human heart on which depend the happineſs or ruin of individuals. If geography ſhould form, as we propoſe it ſhall, one portion of each number, it will not be with us the meer deſcription of large tracts of land, where woods and plains, mountains and valleys, rivers and ſandy deſerts occur alike in all; but only a detail in every country of thoſe things which are peculiar to itſelf: a picture not of the face of the earth, of ſea and air, in different latitudes and longitudes, but a more varied proſpect of human nature diverſified by different laws, by different conſtitutions, and different ideas.
Thus much will be ſufficient to premiſe in regard to the matter of our reſearches on theſe kind of ſubjects, in order to obviate the horrid idea which the word philoſophy might perhaps otherwiſe impreſs on the minds of our female readers, who might from that term expect to find a work intended and calculated chiefly for their amuſement and inſtruction, loaded with dry and abſtruſe inveſtigations, which ſome of them might not have time, or others even want attention, to examine with the application neceſſary to become miſtreſſes of them; and which if they were attained would ſtand a [Page 132] chance of more than ten to one of exciting the outcry of the world againſt them.
As to the method we intend to purſue, however, ſomething, though not much, will be neceſſary to add. Which will be only to obſerve that no regular courſe of philoſophy, no long train of hiſtorical events, nor any cloſe confinement to one branch of geographical knowledge, ſhall be aimed at in our eſſays on theſe ſubjects. Variety is the ſoul of ſtudy, as well as the pleaſure of life; and a thouſand uſeful pieces of knowledge ſteal into the vacancies of our mind when detached, which would never find their way thither if they were entangled with each other, or mingled in the grand maſs of philoſophical enquiries.
Learning, in ſhort, is the old man's bundie of rods: when bound up in the cluſter, it is almoſt impoſſible to be overcome, yet every ſingle twig may eaſily be maſtered. In ſhort, we ſee not the labour we have to go through, when it is preſented to us in minute portions; yet ſtill it anſwers the end propoſed, ‘Small ſands the mountain, moments make the year.’ We accumulate knowledge by golden grains, and find ourſelves poſſeſſed of an ample treaſure before we are even aware that we have attained the neceſſary ſtore for our paſſing eaſily through life.
To render this accumulation therefore thus eaſy, we ſhall fix ourſelves to no peculiar order, but make variety our aim; tranſport our reader by turns through all the regions of earth, air, and ocean, and to different climates, with expedition beyond [Page 133] the power of a magician's wand. No bars of time, of place, or diſtance, or even impoſſibility itſelf, ſhall ſtop our progreſs. One Number of our work perhaps ſhall leave us admiring the ſtupendous fabric of the immenſe extended univerſe; the next ſhall find us aiding our limited ſight by help of glaſſes in obſervations on a world of unknown beings contained within a drop of fluid, or foreſts waving in the narrow circuit of a ſmall piece of moſs. To-day we ſhall converſe with almoſt our cotemporaries, enquire their actions, and cenſure or applaud them as we pleaſe; to-morrow ſhall introduce us to an intercourſe with the great founders of long aboliſhed empires. One page ſhall teach the manners uſed by nations where ſplendour and magnificence ſurpaſs even the moſt volatile imagination; the next point out the various artifices which want, the parent of inventive labour, inſtructs the poor unhappy ſavage to make uſe of for the ſupply of thoſe neceſſities which barren wilds and mountains deſolate deny the fuller ſolace of. In ſhort, every thing curious, every thing inſtructive, every thing entertaining, ſhall be carefully ſought out, and offered to the view, without diſtinction or reſpect to order; ſtill leaving to the mind of every reader to range and form them into ſyſtems according to his pleaſure.
ALthough, as I have hinted above, we do not propoſe to enter into any regular order with regard to particular details, yet previous to our engaging in any diſquiſitions at all, it may not be improper to take one general review of nature, in order to open and prepare the mind for the reception of ſuch diſcoveries as may at firſt ſight confound from their novelty, and ſuch truths as may appear incredible from their overleaping the limits of our conception.
Every ſtudy ought to have its peculiar uſe not only with regard to mankind in general, but to the perſon to whom it is recommended in particular. It is not enough to ſay, ſuch or ſuch a branch of knowledge will, if purſued, be productive of ſome emolument to others; the perſon who is particularly ſolicited to purſue it ought to be informed in what reſpect it may be rendered ſerviceable to him in particular. Let mankind argue on the principles of ſtoiciſm and public ſpirit as long as they pleaſe, it would be difficult through the hiſtory of now almoſt ſix thouſand years, to find any action ever ſo [Page 135] trivial, if attended with either labour or hazard, that has been performed merely for the ſake of the publick in preſent, or of poſterity in future, wherein ſome advantage either real or imaginary was not to accrue to the agent.
The motives to great and illuſtrious actions in the loud and buſy occurrences of the world have been uſually incited by ambition: Ambition, united with avarice, has aimed at preſent aggrandizement; ambition, ſpurred on by fancy, has made future fame its final goal. Yet have the actions thus produced generally tended to oppreſſion or extravagance.
In the continued practice of moral opinions, and the ſupport of religious tenets, many have run thro' lives of pain and perſecution; many have fallen voluntary martyrs in the midſt of the moſt excruciating tortures, and gloried in the ſufferings they have borne. The hope of future meed, the proſpect of a certain happineſs in another ſtate, purchaſed by patient ſufferings in this, have been at once their motive and ſupport: yet theſe have frequently deſerved the names of wild enthuſiaſm and headſtrong ſuperſtition.
In the ſtill calmer and more retired ſphere of learned diſquiſition, the ſprings of action ſeem with greater diſintereſtedneſs to tend towards general utility. Fame is but rarely gained by ſtudious lore; fortune ſtill ſeldomer. The preſent therefore ſeems improbable, the future moſt uncertain. Ambition and intereſt here ſeem to have no effect. The motives then of action here are more concealed; yet motives ſtill there are: for human [Page 136] nature finds its powers too limited, its inclinations too much clogg'd, to act without ſome point in view to rouſe it to exertion.
From the concealment then, or rather from the non-appearance of theſe motives, ariſes the ſo common cry againſt the practice of natural philoſophy, What is the uſe of this? A cry thus raiſed as eaſily is anſwered, The uſe is univerſal—But to explain that anſwer more may be neceſſary.
To thoſe whoſe minds are too contracted to wander through the tracts of boundleſs ſpace, to view at once with wonder, and follow with diſcernment, the motions of the heavenly bodies; and whilſt contracted thus are ſtill too diſſipated to fix upon the objects placed before them, and pay the due attention to that mechaniſm, which, as the judicious Mr. Boyle moſt juſtly has obſerved, ‘is more conſpicuous in nature's watches than her clocks;’ to theſe, I ſay, the uſe of all theſe ſtudies will ſtill remain concealed.
But to the mind of clear and cool reflection, their uſe is plain and evident: they lead by ſmooth and regular gradations to peace and happineſs: they raiſe the thoughts to humanity and devotion; ſerve to calm our ruffled paſſions, and, by a regular tranſition, convey our contemplations from the creature to its Creator.
In this light then let us conſider them: look on the vaſt univerſe as one immenſe machine, whoſe complicated mechaniſm beſpeaks an artiſt of almighty power and wiſdom—a machine formed for our uſe, and conſequently a moſt amazing proof of his benevolence and goodneſs—a machine whoſe [Page 137] ſeveral parts have all a wonderful connection, and all their ſeveral uſes; which it is therefore a duty enjoined on us to endeavour at the diſcovering, and the diſcovery itſelf a reward granted for the performance of that duty.
For this purpoſe then, reader, imagine yourſelf conveyed to ſome place beyond even the limits of infinite ſpace; there caſt your eyes around, and view the number of the ſtars which glitter in their ſeveral orbs. Small as they from our earth appear, behold them each a ſun, ſhining with brighteſt luſtre; each an immenſe maſs of heat and light. Around them ſee numbers of worlds revolving in ſtated orbits, and in certain times. Loſt as you are in the irregularity of their number and their motions, now fix your attention on a ſingle one— return to our ſyſtem only.
There, in the centre, the only place from whence the advantages of light and heat could be diſperſed with equal impartiality to all the ſurrounding planets, and almoſt equally to every one in all the ſeveral periods of its courſe, behold the ſun: a wondrous moſs of fire, of ſo immenſe a bulk, glowing with ſo much brightneſs, and heated to a fervor ſo intenſe, as to diffuſe its genial warmth, and ſpread its rays for millions of miles around it, and, tho' burning for thouſands of years, enduring no viſible decreaſe. Next to him, although at a diſtance of thirty-two millions of miles from his body, rolls the ſmall planet Mercury, revolving rapidly [Page 138] all the ſeveral periods of its ſeaſon in eighty-eight of our days. Then in a larger circle, next comes Venus, forming its year in ſomewhat more than ſeven months. Her bulk is nearly equal to that of our globe; and in her courſe appears to us, ſometimes a full bright ſtar, reflecting the ſun's rays from the whole circle of her body; at others horned, and in a creſcent, repreſenting as it were in miniature the changes of the moon.
For theſe two planets, placed as they are within the immediate influence of the beams which emanate from the great fount of light, thoſe rays are full ſufficient for their purpoſe, unaided by extraneous aſſiſtance. Not ſo the Earth, the next in order of the planets; ſtationed where the ſun's rays diverge and diſſipate, ſo as to afford only a fainter day, and endued with motions whereby ſometimes that day is very ſhort; in order to procure and to prolong to her the great bleſſing of light, ſhe is attended by a ſatellite, a planet perpetually revolving round her body, which by receiving on its ſurface the rays of the great luminary, ſends them back by reflection to the inhabitants of this globe; and here let us reflect on the amazing complication of various motions carried on at once in theſe two bodies! The daily revolution of the earth round its own axis, performed in four and twenty hours, combined with that in her own orbit, performed with a velocity of almoſt a thouſand miles in a minute. The Moon turning round her own centre in twenty-ſeven days, rolling in the ſame ſpace of time around her primary, and carrying on theſe motions calm and undiſturbed, whilſt ſhe is [Page 139] borne along with equal ſwiftneſs by that primary in its annual progreſs—how wonderful a combination! how inconceivable to human fancy, the impulſe by which it could be at firſt ſet to work! what leſs than infinite power could continue it in ſuch unwearied regularity of rotation for ſo many ages! what but infinite wiſdom could have contrived it in ſuch juſt proportion, in ſuch connected harmony, as to bring about every change of time and ſeaſon which can be conducive either to the convenience, the uſe, or even to the pleaſure of the inhabitants of both theſe globes!
In the fourth circle of the ſolar ſyſtem rolls, in a period of almoſt two years, the planet Mars. Above him ſtill, and in the realms of everlaſting froſt, and little more than conſtant twilight, the mighty Jupiter, ſuperior to all the other planets from his ſtupendous bulk, revolves in a large circuit of twelve tedious years. Round him four moons continually attend, moving in different periods, to furniſh his inhabitants with light, and entertain them with the almoſt infinite variety of their changes and aſpects.
Still farther off, and at not much leſs than eight hundred millions of miles diſtance from the ſun, in ſlow and ſtately progreſs Saturn moves, filling almoſt thirty years in one revolution. Five moons relieve his almoſt total darkneſs; nor would even the help of theſe avail to chear the gloom which his inhabitants experience, were they not aided by a ſtill brighter band of reflected light formed by the ample ring whereby his body ever is encircled. Let fancy paint the glorious proſpect of the face of heaven as it appears to them; where ſometimes in one hemiſphere [Page 140] at once are to be ſeen, (beſides the brilliant arch now over their heads, and now forming to a certain height a luminary border to their horizon) five moons, ſhining with borrowed luſtre, and at once glance preſenting to their view all the ſeveral phenomena which with our ſingle ſatellite we are obliged to wait for years to ſee; ſome in the full, ſome new, and ſome increſcent; ſome undiſturbed and clear, and others in eclipſe. Eclipſes too, unknown to our moon, formed by the interchangeable poſitions of the ſeveral ſatellites; and ſometimes by the ring, behind which they remain a time concealed, and then emerge again.
Beſides theſe regular, theſe well known periods, behold a ſet of bodies, whoſe errant progreſs extends ſometimes far, far beyond the orbit of the fartheſt of theſe planets, and ſometimes comes within a nearer diſtance to the ſun than is the very neareſt: In one part of their orbit moving ſlower than Saturn, and in another whirling ſwifter round the body of the ſun than Mercury himſelf: ſometimes in regions, to the cold of which the froſts of Greenland muſt be the dog ſtar's heat; ſometimes in raging fires which the moſt wild imagination cannot form the leaſt idea of; experiencing thus within one revolution, ſometimes indeed of ſeveral hundred years, all the viciſſitudes of times, of ſeaſons, climates, and appearances, which all the other planets in their ſeveral orbits ſeparately undergo; yet are theſe wandering maſſes, theſe phenomena, which from their rare appearances have been eſteemed portents and prodigies, reſtrained by mighty power, their progreſs ſtated by almighty wiſdom, [Page 141] and their wild courſes ruled by the great hand that made them.
Such is the ſyſtem, ſuch the vaſt machine, of which our globe is but a ſingle part, one wheel, and that no more than one of the moſt trivial; for of the bodies we have named, there are ſome exceeding it in bulk by many hundred times: yet let us come to a nearer view of that alone, and we ſhall find its mechaniſm ſuch as, in our narrow comprehenſions, might of itſelf exhauſt the utmoſt power even of Omnipotence; yet this, compared with the whole ſyſtem, how inſignificant! and that whole ſyſtem itſelf, if loſt from out the univerſe, how little to be miſſed!—not more than would the ſmalleſt pebble conveyed from the extended coaſt of the wide ocean—what then is man! and what is his creator!
Contract we now our views, and fix them on our earth.—Behold the mighty maſs, a fertile globe, of near eight thouſand miles diameter, covered in every part with animated beings, formed into an infinite variey of different ſhapes, of different natures, and different inclinations, and conſequently with an infinity of different wants: yet ſee upon its ſurface, within its bowels, or floating in its ſurrounding atmoſphere, the means for the ſupplying all thoſe wants; nay more, of gratifying every needleſs wiſh of thoſe inſatiate animals mankind; of yielding ſupernumerary delights, and leaving to the mind of juſt reflexion not even a ſingle wiſh to form.
Obſerve the atmoſphere wherewith to the height of a few miles the globe appears enwrapped. In [Page 142] it you ſee the treaſure houſes of the rain, of ſnow, and hail, let looſe at proper periods to cool and to refreſh the earth; to afford nouriſhment to all the vegetable world, and to ſupply the rivers and the ſprings with water: of clouds to overſhadow and protect alike the animals and plants from the ſun's ſcorching heat, and to relieve that heat by ſeaſonable ſhowers. There you behold the priſon of the winds which are ſent forth at proper times to put in motion the ſtagnant air, and ſcatter all thoſe noxious vapours which in receives by circulating through the ſeveral organs of animal life. The lightnings too, and thunder there are formed with more than chymic art; whoſe dreadful exploſions, at the ſame time that they cool and purify the ſurrounding elements, ſeem more immediately to be the voice of the Almighty, warning his creatures of his wrath, at the ſame time that it declares his power.
Deſcend we to the ſurface. There obſerve the almoſt infinite variety of forms and of materials. See there high mountains reaching to the clouds, whoſe long extended ridges ſerve ſo many various purpoſes; as limits to great kingdoms, and bars to wild o'erbearing thirſt of empire; as ribs whereby this maſs of earth and water is ſtrengthened and ſupported, as is the animal frame by maſſy bones; and laſtly as immenſe alembics, to collect and to diſtil thoſe waters which the ſun's heat evaporates from the wide ſurface of the ocean; thence to diſperſe them down their ſides in numberleſs little rills, which, meeting and uniting in their progreſs, compoſe thoſe mighty rivers whereby the ſeveral tracts of land which form the continents, are equally [Page 143] ſupplied with that moſt uſeful element, and which upon their boſoms bear the trade of many inland nations.
View next the vallies adorned with pleaſing verdure, and variegated with a dazzling glow of beauteous colouring, affording food for miriads of animals, created for the uſe and the conveniencies of man—Obſerve the woods and foreſts waving in the wind, and yielding ſhelter from the ſtorm and tempeſt, laden with fruits of every kind, and furniſhing materials for building more convenient habitations. In other parts large wide extended heaths, covered with underwood, ſerve for the dwelling-place of various animals—Elſewhere ſee ſandy deſerts, thro' which ſcarce any tract of feet can be diſcerned— rocks and vaſt cliffs which ſtop the ocean's rage; and laſtly, view the wide expanſe of ocean, whoſe ſurface is enriched with all the treaſures of the commercial world, and ſerves to bring about an intercourſe between thoſe very nations which it appears to bar from all communication—Within its bulk of waters miriads of animals of various forms and ſizes find habitation and exiſtence, from the immenſe floating iſland of the whale's enormous body and the devouring ſhark, to the poor little lifeleſs limpet, which fixes to the rock, and there paſſes all the period of its being without either ſight or motion— Around its borders ſee growing on every part moſſes and corals, which with a kind of vegetation differing from other plants, and varying from each other, form groves for the ſmaller inhabitants of the waters to range among, and hide themſelves from the perception of their voracious enemies; whilſt its unfathomed bottom contains [Page 144] a world unknown to us of animals which never riſe to the ſurface, or wander to the ſhores, and therefore muſt poſſeſs organs, reſpiration, and means for the preſerving life, hitherto undiſcoverable by anatomical reſearches, and unaccounted for by philoſophical theory.
Let us, I ſay, but once reflect on this review of nature, and who can aſk what uſe theſe ſtudies have? What uſe, but to adapt and to prepare the mind for ſtill more ſpeculative and important reflections on the immenſity of that great power by which theſe wonders have been all created: who, with his ſingle fiat, has ſet this incomprehenſible machine in motion, and who with a meer nod can ſtop that motion, and inſtantly reduce it to its original chaos. What uſe, but to point out to man, that proud preſumptuous being, who dares to ſet himſelf in bold defiance to that power, how poor, how inſignificant, how very a worm he is when placed in competition with many of the other productions of omnipotence!—What uſe, but to inſpire the true philoſopher with the moſt humble reverence, with the moſt ardent gratitude, and with the deepeſt ſenſe of that beneficence which has placed him in a world where he remains ſurrounded with ten thouſand miracles, ſupplied with every thing his real wants can ſtand in need of, or his unbounded wiſhes form in fancy: and ſees himſelf poſſeſſed of all this by the immediate kindneſs of a power which claims from him no other recompenſe but his enjoying them with wonder and with gratitude, and paying the ſmall tribute of praiſe to him who gave them.
AS we have before obſerved that it ſhall be our endeavour in the progreſs of this work to render it as intereſting as poſſible, and to reject every thing that does not tend in ſome meaſure either to inſtruct or entertain, we ſhall conſequently be very ſhort in our deſcriptive part of the particular countries we may have occaſion to conduct our fair readers through; ſince the general face of nature varies little more in different countries than the face of man. Air, earth, and water, hills and valleys, woods and open plains, are the univerſal features every where; and therefore would produce continual and tedious repetitions, were we to attach ourſelves to ſuch deſcriptions: but the peculiar variations in thoſe features, together with the particular complexion which the mind of man appears to wear in every place, is what alone we ſhall think worthy of our notice. For this reaſon we ſhall conſtantly divide our inveſtigations of different countries into three parts, viz. firſt, ſuch general deſcription as may be abſolutely neceſſary for the knowledge of its ſituation, and to give ſome idea to the reader of the proſpect he might expect to meet with if he was on the ſpot, but in this we ſhall be as conciſe as poſſible; ſecondly, the natural hiſtory, or a detail of the productions and [Page 146] curioſities of nature peculiar to it; and laſtly, the civil hiſtory, or an account of the manners, laws, and cuſtoms of the inhabitants; in which, as well as in the preceding article, we ſhall aim at preſerving all imaginary novelty, by taking no notice at all of thoſe things of either kind which are univerſally poſſeſſed in every country; making only a bare mention of ſuch as they have in common with ſome others; and extending more amply on ſuch alone as are peculiar to the very individual ſpot or nation which is the ſubject of our immediate conſideration. In purſuance therefore of this kind of plan, we ſhall now proceed to
This cluſter of iſlands, which are numbered by ſome authors amongſt the Moluccas, were firſt diſcovered by the Portugueſe, in 1511; but were taken from them by the Dutch in the beginning of 1605, in whoſe poſſeſſion they remain to this day. They are ſituated in about the fourth degree of ſouth latitude, and about the one hundred and forty-fifth of longitude from the Canary Iſlands.
Amboyna in itſelf, although the capital, is by no means the largeſt of the iſlands which are connected under the ſame juriſdiction: yet as it is the moſt populous in proportion to its ſize, the moſt regularly cultivated, the moſt carefully ſtrengthened with many fortreſſes, and beautified with a very handſome city, it claims the preference of being firſt mentioned.
[Page 147] It is an iſland, or rather two joined together by a ſmall iſthmus of about a quarter of a league in breadth, and which forms on one ſide of it a gulph of upwards of ſix German leagues in length, and about a league over in the broadeſt part, capable of containing an infinite number of veſſels, and on the other a very fine bay. This iſthmus lies ſo low, that by only cutting a canal of about ſix feet depth the two gulphs would communicate with each other. The two parts of the iſlands ſeparated by it are of different ſizes; the northern part, which is called Hitto, is much the largeſt, being eight leagues and a half long, and two and a half broad; the other, named Leytimor, is but about five leagues in length, and its breadth at moſt not above two, gradually diminiſhing almoſt to a point at one end; at two leagues and half from which, on the northern coaſt, ſtands the town of Amboyna.
Hitto is divided into ſeven cantons, each of which for the moſt part contains about five villages, and is defended by a fortreſs and garriſon. Leytimor would of itſelf be very inconſiderable, were it not for its being the ſeat of the capital town and fortreſs in the iſland, viz. Amboyna and Fort Victory.
The town ſtands in a fine plain on the coaſt of the larger gulph, and is about a quarter of a league in length, and fourteen hundred paces broad. The ſtreets are wide and regular; and altho' they are not paved, yet the ſoil is ſo very ſpungy, that the heavy rains, which frequently ſail there, do them much leſs damage than one would be apt to expect. It contains about a thouſand houſes, excluſive of the public buildings: amongſt which the [Page 148] caſtle, the market-houſe, the church, the guard-houſe, the town-houſe, the hoſpital, the orphan-houſe, governor's palace, the old and new Dutch churches, and the company's linnen magazine, are the moſt conſiderable, and ſome of them very magnificent.
The number of inhabitants of the iſland of Amboyna are thought to amount to between ſeventy and eighty thouſand ſouls, all of whom are Moors or Mahometans, excepting the people of Leytimor, who, moſt of them profeſs Chriſtianity, and about five or ſix villages of the other part of the iſland.
The external aſpect of all theſe iſlands preſent at firſt ſight the appearance of the rudeſt deſert. On whatever ſide you turn your eyes, you ſee yourſelf ſurrounded with lofty mountains, whoſe tops are loſt in clouds; with frightful rocks riding on one another's heads; with horrid caverns, thick woods, ſhading with almoſt a continual darkneſs numbers of very deep valleys; and at the ſame time your ears are ſtruck with the noiſe of rivers ruſhing into the ſea with horrid roar, eſpecially towards the beginning of the eaſtern monſoon, the time at which the European veſſels moſt commonly arrive there.
Yet foreigners who ſtay there till the weſtern monſoon find infinite beauties in the proſpect. The mountains abounding with ſeago and with cloves; the foreſts cloathed in verdure, and adorned with bloſſoms; the vallies laden with fertility; the rivers [Page 149] rolling with waters pure and chryſtalline; the very rocks and caverns, which ſeem but as the ſhadows in a picture; all theſe objects diverſified in ſo many ways render it one of the fineſt countries in the world.
The frequent attacks of the palſy in theſe iſlands, and the yellowneſs of complexion which many perſons bring from thence with them, have made it be concluded that the air of them is unwholſome: yet theſe diſorders are rather to be attributed to the imprudence of travellers, than to the temperament of the climate, the air of which is clear and healthful. Many have loſt their limbs by ſleeping in their ſhirts by moonlight in cool evenings; and the exceſſive drinking of the Saguweer, fixes that yellowneſs ſo much complained of: but theſe are diſorders to which the natives, who take the ſame liquor in moderation, and do not expoſe themſelves to the air in cold nights, are not ſubject to.
Earthquakes and heavy rains are the greateſt inconveniences of theſe climates. During the time of the eaſtern monſoon, which begins in May, and ends in September, it will ſometimes rain for ſeveral weeks together: yet notwithſtanding the vaſt quantity of water which falls direct, and the impetuous torrents which pour down from the mountains into the lower grounds, the land being ſo very ſpungy the fields ſoon become dry again. But what is very remarkable is, that the ſeaſon for theſe rains is not the ſame throughout all the iſlands: when it rains at Amboyna, it is frequently very fair at Bouro, Manipa, and other of the lands to the weſt. This ſeaſon is often accompanied with violent hurricanes; [Page 150] but earthquakes are more common during the weſtern monſoon, which alſo laſts for five months. In April and October they have no regular winds. The eaſterly ones bring rain; the weſterly ones a drought: yet both theſe, as well as the very plentiful evening dews, are of ſervice in tempering the exceſſive heats which are ſometimes ſo great in the middle parts of the day as to dry up rivers and cauſe the earth to open in clefts of twenty feet deep. In theſe ſeaſons of drought they are alſo incommoded with violent ſtorms of thunder and lightning; and earthquakes are very frequently attendant on the rains which follow theſe heats.
The principal and general product of theſe iſlands are rice, ſeago, and cloves: they have, however, great quantities of cocoa nuts, nutmegs, and other vegetable productions. As to animals they have very few peculiar to themſelves, excepting ſome of the bird kind We will now take a little circuit through the ſeveral iſlands, and remark what is to be found worthy of notice in each.
AMBOYNA. In Hitto, or the northern part of this iſland, are two mountains almoſt inacceſſible; one of which, called Tanita, is the higheſt in the whole iſland. The top of it is ſo extremely cold that no kind of animal is to be found on it, excepting ſome black lizards, which live in a very thick moſs, wherewith the ground, and even the barks of the trees, are entirely cover'd; and which [Page 151] is ſo extremely moiſt, that the water will run out of it with the ſlighteſt preſſure.
BOURO. This iſland is many times larger than Amboyna, being about eighteen leagues in length, and upwards of thirteen in breadth. It is remarkable for its very fine woods, amongſt which three kinds of ebony, the black, the white, and a baſtard kind between both, are the moſt diſtinguiſhable.
The internal parts of this iſland are fill'd with high mountains and vaſt foreſts in many places inacceſſible, and which are the habitations of many large ſerpents and other venomous animals; and the banks of the rivers are infeſted with crocodiles. But what is the moſt wonderful is a large inland lake which is at the top of a mountain about the middle of the iſland. This is almoſt inacceſſible, the way to it being over ſteep craigs and foreſts, ſo thick as to be ſcarce paſſable. It is about two leagues and an half over, and nearly round. Its depth in the middle is fifteen or ſixteen fathoms, and it is ſupplied by a very rapid river. It produces no fiſh but eels, ſome of which are as thick as a man's thigh. There are great number of wild ducks and plover about its borders, and the woods near it abound with a kind of bird, about the ſize of a Canary bird, with a black head, red neck, with a ring of white around it, and the wings of a bright gold colour. In ſhort, by the deſcription, they ſeem much to reſemble our goldfinches, and ſing delightfully. There are alſo in this iſland two other hills each almoſt in the form of a ſugar-loaf, open at the top, and fill'd with water.
[Page 152] On the coaſt of the iſland of Ceram, which is the largeſt of them all, being ſixty leagues in length, and in ſome places fifteen in breadth, is a prodigious large rock, at the foot of which Nature has formed ſeveral caverns, which give it the outward appearance of a walled town with its gates. Theſe caverns ſometimes ſerve for ſhelter to perſons who happen to be overtaken by the night, tho' the retreat into them is frightful and even dangerous, being very much infeſted with ſerpents and other venomous reptiles.
In the little iſlands of Nouſſa, Laout, and Honimoa, but eſpecially in the latter, is found a kind of ſoap earth, which the women of that country, when pregnant, devour greedily, from a perſuaſion that it has virtue to make their children fair, altho' experience moſt generally has contradicted that opinion.
The iſland of Oma is remarkable for a ſpring of hot water, the ſulphureous ſteams of which are received thro' a wooden grate, by way of bath, for the relief of gouty and paralytic perſons; and the ground every where about it is alſo extremely hot.
But the moſt amazing particular in this iſland is a kind of fiery vapour, which is conveyed in the air with certain winds, and by which all the herbage for a large tract of ground will be almoſt inſtantaneouſly conſum'd, and the cloaths, hair, and ſometimes the faces of perſons expos'd to it, extremely ſcorch'd. Nor have they any means of eſcaping ſuffocation from the ſmoke produc'd by [Page 153] it, but by throwing themſelves flat on the ground with their faces to the earth.
The ſea wherewith theſe iſlands are ſurrounded preſent at particular times, viz. during the new moons of June, and Auguſt, a very amazing ſight. The ſurface of it appears in the night-time as it were ſtriped with large furrows as white as milk, although in the day time no difference is to be ſeen. This white water, which does not mingle with the other, has more or leſs extent according as it is increaſed by the rains, which the ſouth-eaſt winds bring along with them: no one has been able to diſcover from whence it comes, or whereby it is occaſioned. Some have attributed this whiteneſs to little animalculae; whilſt others imagine it to proceed from ſulphureous vapours riſing from the bottom of the ſea, and ſpreading on its ſurface. It is true there are many mountains of ſulphur in this part of the world; but was it occaſioned by them, the like phaenomenon would be met with in other places where ſuch mountains are; which is not the caſe. When the white water is gone, the ſea diſcharges a much greater quantity of froth and foam than uſual. This water is extremely dangerous for ſmall veſſels, as the breakers cannot be diſtinguiſhed through it; ſhips which are expoſed to it alſo rot the ſooner, and it is remarked that the fiſh conſtantly follow the black water.
Another object worthy of notice in thoſe ſeas, is a kind of reddiſh worm, which appears every year at a certain time along the ſhore in many parts of the iſland of Amboyna. The uſe the inhabitants make of theſe worms we ſhall ſhew hereafter.
The inhabitants of theſe iſlands are of a middle ſtature, rather lean than fat, and extremely ſwarthy: their features are regular, and there are both men and women of them who are far trom unhandſome. There is however a ſort of them, which are called Cakerlaks, who are almoſt as white as the Europeans; but it is a ſort of paleneſs which has ſomething frightful in it when one is near them: they are very red hair'd, have large freckles on their hands and faces, and their ſkin is ſcurſy, rough, and wrinkled. Their eyes, which are perpetually winking, ſeem in the day-time half ſhut, and are ſo weak that they can ſcarce bear the light; but in the night they ſee very clear. The women of this kind are very rare. Theſe Cakerlaks are a kind of lepers, and are held in great contempt by their country folks—They take their name from certain flying inſects, which caſt their covering every year, and whoſe ſkin reſembles that of theſe people.
Their habitations are for the moſt part extremely poor and wretched: ſome indeed which belong to the principal perſons are built of boards; but the generality are conſtructed of gabba-gabbas, or branches of the ſeago tree, the bark of which is extremely ſmooth and poliſhed. Theſe houſes make no bad appearance when they are new; but in a ſhort time, when the gabba-gabbas begin to rot, and the nails and faſtenings which hold them give [Page 155] way, they form great gaps which render them extremely inconvenient.
Nor is their furniture more commodious or more plentiful—A few ſhelves to ſerve by way of canopy, ſome matts to ſit on, a little earthen ware, a frying-pan, a copper baſon to put their piſang in, a lamp of the ſame mettle, and two or three boxes made of the leaves of the nipa, ornamented with white ſhells, compoſe the principal part of it. The leaves of the piſang ſerve them by way of table cloths and napkins, and the ſhell of the cocoa nuts for ſpoons. The uſe of knives is unknown to them, but they do every thing with a kind of cleaver, which they manage very dexterouſly: beſides theſe implements, for domeſtic uſe, they have alſo ſome arms in their houſes, ſuch as helmets, bucklers, ſabres, and javelins.
Their habits are neither more diverſified nor more magnificent: the men wear a kind of cloſe-bodied coat and breeches, made of cotton, or ſome other ſtuff, of a blue colour, and for the moſt part unlined. The women in the houſe wear a ſort of petticoat ſewed up, but without plaits, and equally open at both ends: this they faſten at their waiſts to their under habit, which is a kind of ſhift with the ſleeves very long, and a little open before, and which reaches down ſomewhat below the navel. When they go out they put on a ſecond petticoat, which they throw over their left ſhoulder, in the manner of a cloak; ſo that only the right ſide is to be ſeen.
As faſhion is unknown to the people of this country, all the difference of cloathing amongſt [Page 156] them conſiſts in the difference of the ſtuffs. The Moors have no other diſtinction in their dreſs from the Chriſtians of the iſland but that of wearing a turban inſtead of the hat, or ſometimes red or white handkerchiefs, which the latter faſten on their heads.
The grandees however are particularly fond of diſtinguiſhing themſelves by the magnificence of their dreſs and the number of their ſlaves. They alſo wear robes of brocade, ſilk ſtockings, and ſlippers, as marks of their nobility; whereas the commonalty, both men and women, go barefooted, or in wooden ſandals. The wives of the principal magiſtrates have the privilege of a kind of mantle, with hanging ſleeves which comes down to their knees, is generally made of rich flowered ſilk, and gives them great conſequence among the people. They alſo adorn themſelves with ear-rings, bracelets, and necklaces of many kinds, which are moſtly made of gold. They wear a hat cut in three or four points, and hold a handkerchief in their hands by way of a fan, which they put before their faces whilſt at prayers in the church, where they have chairs; whereas the common women ſit croſs-legged on mats upon the ground.
As the Amboynians in general are not looked on as the beſt ſoldiers, they are alſo but indifferently provided with arms. They have however ſome, which if they did but dare to look their enemies in the face, might be rendered extremely uſeful. I have already, under the article of their furniture, mentioned the principal of them. Nothing more therefore is neceſſary but to ſay ſomething in regard to their ſtructure.
[Page 157] Their helmets are of braſs adorned with the feathers of the bird of paradiſe. Of bucklers they have two kinds; one ſort, which are three or four feet long, and about one broad, and adorned on the outſide with ſome rows of white ſhells: the other kind is only a ſmall target made of ruſhes, very completely interwoven, about two or three feet diameter, with a ſpike in the centre, which renders them at the ſame time equally commodious for offence. Of both theſe ſhields they avail themſelves very ſkilfully in parrying off the ſtrokes of their antagoniſts. Their right hand is armed offenſively either with a fabre or a javelin: ſome of them ſubſtitute, in the room of theſe, the bow and arrow, which are in more familiar uſe amongſt the Alfourians, or mountaineers. Their fire-arms, which they acquired the knowledge of from the Europeans, they employ only in ſporting; nor have they any heavy artillery, excepting a few patteraroes on the walls of their fortreſſes.
The ordinary navigation of the Amboynians is in a kind of canoes cut out of the trunks of trees, which are ten, twelve, and ſometimes even twenty feet long by one or two broad. To either ſide of theſe veſſels they fix a large wing, which, falling on the ſurface of the water, keeps it always in equilibrium amidſt the waves; and as long as theſe wings are able to reſiſt their force, the lightneſs of the veſſel enables it to make a conſiderable progreſs in a very ſmall time; but if once they happen to give way, the canoe infallibly overſets. Theſe little barks are manned with one or two rowers, beſides the perſon who takes care of the helm. [Page 158] Their fiſhing-boats are broader, being about three or four feet wide, but without any covering, which would be very troubleſome and inconvenient for that uſe. Of the ſame form as theſe, but larger, are the veſſels they make uſe of in their parties of pleaſure. In the middle of them, however, is fixed a ſquare tent or pavilion, with benches and curtains all round, large enough to contain fifteen or twenty perſons, in proportion to the ſize of the boat; by which alſo is determined the number of the rowers. The ſmaller Orembayes (for ſo are theſe veſſels called) carry ten or twelve, and the larger ones from thirty to forty. Theſe rowers are arranged towards the head and ſtern of the boat on planks which project from its two ſides: the oars are broad and ſhort, almoſt in the form of a baker's peel, and the ſtrokes of them are regulated by the time of certain inſtruments of muſic played on by two men for that purpoſe.
A third kind of bark, which they make uſe of, is called the Champan, carries a maſt, and is covered; is about ten or twelve tons burthen; and is made great uſe of for the conveying goods from one iſland to another. The laſt ſort of ſhipping which theſe people employ are their Coracores, which are large veſſels of ſometimes an hundred feet in length, and twelve or fourteen in breadth. The meaning of the name is the Sea-tortoiſe, which is given to them from their being very heavy and ſlow, altho' with a fair wind they are very convenient, as they have the aſſiſtance of ſails as well as oars. Some of theſe galleys have two, ſome three, and others four rows of oars, extending from fifty to [Page 159] near an hundred, with room for lodging about the ſame number of men, excluſive of two or three very elegant little apartments for perſons of particular diſtinction. Of theſe veſſels, form'd into fleets from fifty to ſixty-five, provided with proper arms, and a few pateraroes, they defend their own coaſts from incurſions, and frequently make attacks on their neighbours.
From what we have ſaid of the habits, dwellings, and furniture of theſe people, it appears, that their neceſſities can be but few; one would therefore imagine that with a little application, join'd to a very ſmall degree of oeconomy, it would be eaſy for them to increaſe their means, and even to amaſs great riches. But altho' there are ſeveral of them who enjoy a very conſiderable income by the profits ariſing from the produce of their cloves, yet they, for the moſt part, expend it all in feaſts, preſents, and law-ſuits, in the latter of which they make nothing of throwing away an hundred ducats in the defence of a controverted clove-garden. It is, however, remarkable that in a country where poverty is in a manner the faſhion, there are, nevertheleſs, no ſuch thing as beggars: but the wonder will in ſome degree ceaſe when it comes to be conſider'd, that the trees produce in very great abundance certain fruits, the uſe of which is not denied to the paſſers-by; and that beſides, no one there ever refuſes to a poor man the liberty of cutting as much fire-wood as he has occaſion for in one day, whilſt it is very eaſily in his power, with no extraordinary induſtry, for him to make three ſhillings a-day by the ſale of [Page 160] thoſe faggots, two pence of which will amply ſuffice for his day's ſubſiſtence.
We have obſerved above that feaſting is one of the articles which ruin the Amboynians, and by which they are perpetually kept in penury and diſtreſs. In ſhort, there are many various occaſions on which they are obliged to give great and ſumptuous entertainments. Of theſe they have ordinary and extraordinary ones. At thoſe which are given on marriages, chriſtenings, burials, &c. all the relations are invited; but no one comes empty-handed. Every perſon thinks himſelf obliged to contribute a certain number of diſhes: and theſe preſents are carried with great ceremony and abundance of oſtentation by their ſlaves, one following another, in large braſen baſons, each cover'd with an embroidered handkerchief, thro' which, however, it is eaſy to diſtinguiſh what is underneath.
Beſides this, three or four perſons are conſtantly employed for what might eaſily be performed by one; each endeavouring to outſhine the other in the quantity of his preſents and the number of his domeſtics.
WHEN 'ſquire Bickerſtaff, in the time of our mothers, ſuch a time as, if their accounts may be truſted, is never likely to return, took upon him to entertain the town, he endeavoured to ſecure a kind reception by deducing his genealogy, and proving his relation to the whole family of the Staffs
If you can either by proximity of blood, or ſimilitude of mind, ſhew your alliance to the numerous and powerful generation of Triflers, you may ſet any other race of mortals at defiance; for very little is to be feared from any power againſt which the Triflers ſhall form a combination.
I have always had the honour of being numbered among the Triflers; my mother, my grand-mother, [Page 162] and my grand-mother's mother, were all Triflers before me. You know, if you know any thing of Trifles, that it is the peculiar practice of our family to count their pedigree on the female ſide. By the advantage of a ſtrong memory, diligently ſtored with repeated narratives, I have an exact knowledge of the whole ſucceſſion of Trifles, which have engaged the elegant and gay for two centuries and a half.
It is ſaid in one of Steel's comedies, that nobody deſpiſes the honours of anceſtry but thoſe that want them; and therefore I will not loſe any advantage of hereditary excellency. My mother was the beſt knotter of queen Mary's court; my aunt Pen was the third lady that in the reign of Charles the Second tied ribands to her nipples; my grand-mother was a country gentlewoman, and has left little behind her except a ſcented paſte, with which the beauties of her time uſed to clear their ſkins without the help of water. My grand-mother appeared at the court of James the Firſt in Mrs. Turner's yellow ſtarch, and her mother was always ſolicited to cut out ruffs by queen's Elizabeth's maids of honour.
I ſuppoſe, madam, you will now allow me to be a genuine and legitimate Trifler; and I ſhould be glad that you could by equal authority clear your pretenſions to a place among the ſiſterhood. Triflers are always jealous; and I will not conceal my ſuſpicions, that you are claiming a character without right; and that your life has not been paſſed regularly among us; that you have either wanted the initiation of the boarding-ſchool, or the completion of the ball-room.
[Page 163] I know, that it is common enough among periodical authors to forget their titles: they fill their heads with the theory of a plan which experience ſoon ſhews them to be too narrow to laſt long. The Tatler often talks with the moſt ſolemn auſterity of wiſdom, and the Guardian deviates into many topicks with which as a Guardian he has no concern; but none ever ſtarted from her own purpoſe ſo ſoon as the Trifler; and therefore I am afraid, that ſhe has taken a province which ſhe cannot fill.
To the firſt paper I made no objection: it is natural to a Trifler to think her own adventures important, and to tell them to thoſe who do not wiſh to hear them: but the ſecond paper has betrayed you. Can you think love and courtſhip ſubjects for a Trifler? If love be a Trifle, what can we call ſerious? The truth is that almoſt all other female employments are the ſports of idleneſs; and that they ſeldom ceaſe to trifle till they begin to love.
It is impoſſible in reading a book not to form ſome image of the writer. You have told us little of yourſelf; and therefore your readers are left to their own conjectures. To tell you the truth, I conceive you to be a rural virgin, that after having paſſed about thirty years between reading and needle-work among groves and brooks, has at the invitation of ſome great lady left her grotto and bower, and come to take a view of the ſcenes of life, with no other ideas of love or pleaſure than ſhe has gathered from the amours and amuſements of her own village.
[Page 164] I do not wonder that to a votareſs of ſtudious tranquility, the whole buſtle of the town appears a Trifle. Much of the ſplendor, and much of the cares of life, I ſhall willingly give up to your ſport or cenſure. You may ſay what you will of pleaſures where no heart is light, of connections without kindneſs, of ſtruggles for precedency, of competitions for the neweſt faſhion; but believe me, dear Dryad, to love and to be loved is a ſerious buſineſs; and whatever cuſtoms of courtſhip, caprice, levity, or vanity, have dictated, however the modes of approach between the ſexes may be varied by the accidents of time or place, it is not for the Trifler to treat as Trifles thoſe operations which unite us for ever to tyrants or to friends, to ſavages or to ſages, and which terminate the flighty wit, or airy flutterer in a wife, an economiſt, a mother, and a grand-mother.
I am, Madam, Your very Humble Servant. PENELOPE SPINDLE.
Mr. Herbert, who had well conſidered the purport of her words, paſſed over what he thought would give her too much pain to be explicite upon, and anſwered in great concern, ‘Then my fears are true: Sir Charles is not diſpoſed to act like a man of honour.’
A ſudden bluſh glowed in the cheeks of Sophia at the mention of Sir Charles's name; but it was not a bluſh of ſoftneſs and confuſion. Anger and diſdain took the place of that ſweet complacency, which was the uſual expreſſion of her countenance, and with a voice ſomewhat raiſed, ſhe replied eagerly.
‘Sir Charles I believe has deceived me; but him I can deſpiſe—Yet do not imagine, Sir, that he has dared to inſult me by any unworthy propoſals: if he has any unjuſtifiable views upon me, he has not had preſumption enough to [Page 166] make me acquainted with them, otherwiſe than by neglecting to convince me that they are honourable; but he practiſes upon the eaſy credulity of my mother. He lays ſnares for her gratitude by an intereſted generoſity, as I now too plainly perceive; and he has the art to make her ſo much his friend, that ſhe will not liſten to any thing I ſay, which implies the leaſt doubt of his honour.’
Mr. Herbert ſighed, and caſt down his eyes. Sophia continued in great emotion: ‘It is impoſſible for me, Sir, to make you comprehend all the difficulties of my ſituation. A man who takes every form to enſnare my affections, but none to convince my judgment, importunes me continually with declarations of tenderneſs, and complaints of my coldneſs and indifference; what can I do? what ought I to anſwer to ſuch diſcourſe? In this perplexity, why will not my mother come to my aſſiſtance? Her years, her authority as a parent give her a right to require ſuch an explanation from Sir Charles as may free me from doubts, which although reaſon ſuggeſts, delicacy permits me not to make appear; but ſuch is my misfortune, that I cannot perſuade my mother there is the leaſt foundation for my fears. She is obſtinate in her good opinion of Sir Charles; and I am reduced to the ſad neceſſity of either acting in open contradiction to her ſentiments and commands, or of continuing in a ſtate of humiliating ſuſpence, to which my character muſt at laſt fall a ſacrifice.’
[Page 167] ‘That, my dear child, interrupted Mr. Herbert, is a point that ought to be conſidered. I would not mention it to you firſt; but ſince your own good ſenſe has led the way to it, I will frankly own that I am afraid, innocent and good as you are, the cenſures of the world will not ſpare you, if you continue to receive Sir Charles's viſits, doubtful as his intentions now appear to every one: I know Mrs. Darnley judges of the ſincerity of his profeſſions to you by the generoſity he has ſhewn in the preſents he has heaped upon her—but, my dear child, that generoſity was always ſuſpected by me.’
‘I confeſs, ſaid Sophia, bluſhing, I once thought favourably of him for the attention he ſhewed to make my mother's life eaſy; but if his liberality to her be indeed, as you ſeem to think, a ſnare, what opinion ought I to form of his motives for a late offer he has made her, and which at firſt dazzled me, ſo noble and ſo diſintereſted did it appear!’
‘I will tell you the whole affair as it happened, reſumed Sophia; but you muſt not be ſurpriſed, that my mother was pleaſed with Sir Charles's offer. He has been her benefactor, and has a [Page 168] claim to her regard: it would be ſtrange if ſhe had not a good opinion of him. You know what that celebrated divine ſays whoſe writings you have made me acquainted with: Charity itſelf commands us where we know no ill, to think well of all; but friendſhip, that goes always a pitch higher, gives a man a peculiar right and claim to the good opinion of his friend. My mother may be miſtaken in the judgment ſhe has formed of Sir Charles; but it is her friendſhip, for him, a friendſhip founded upon gratitude for the good offices he has done her, that has given riſe to this miſtake.’
Sophia, in her eagerneſs to juſtify her mother, forgot that ſhe had raiſed Mr. Herbert's curioſity, and left it unſatisfied; and the good old man, charmed with the filial tenderneſs ſhe ſhewed upon this occaſion, liſtened to her with complacency, tho' not with conviction. At length ſhe ſuddenly recollected herſelf, and entered upon her ſtory; but a certain heſitation in her ſpeech, accompanied with a baſhful air that made her withdraw her eyes from him, to fix them on the ground, intimated plainly enough her own ſentiments of the affair ſhe was going to acquaint him with.
‘You know, Sir, ſaid ſhe, Sir Charles has had a fit of illneſs lately, which alarmed all his friends. My mother was particularly attentive to him upon this occaſion, and I believe he was ſenſibly affected with her kind concern for him. When he recovered, he begged my mother, my ſiſter, and myſelf, would accompany him in a little excurſion to Hampſtead to take the air. [Page 169] We dined there, and returning home early in the evening, as we paſſed through Brookſtreet, he ordered the coach to ſtop at the door of a very genteel houſe, which appeared to be newly painted and fitted up. Sir Charles deſired us to go in with him and look at it, and give him our opinion of the furniture. Nothing could be more elegant and genteel, and we told him ſo; at which he appeared extremely pleaſed, for all had been done, he ſaid, according to his directions.’
‘He came home with us, and drank tea; after which he had a private converſation with my mother, which laſted about a quarter of an hour; and when they returned to the room in which they had left my ſiſter and I, Sir Charles appeared to me to have an unuſual thoughtfulneſs in his countenance, and my mother looked as if ſhe had been weeping; yet there was, at the ſame time, an expreſſion of ſatisfaction in her face.’
‘You may imagine, Sir, purſued Sophia, in a ſweet confuſion, that I was greatly affected with theſe words. I begged my mother to explain herſelf. Sir Charles, ſaid ſhe, has made you a preſent of that houſe which we went to view this afternoon; and here, added ſhe, giving me a paper, is a deed by which he has ſettled three hundred pounds a year upon you.’[Page 168] [...] [Page 169] [...]
[Page 170] ‘I was ſilent, ſo was my ſiſter, who looked at me as if impatient to know my thoughts of this extraordinary generoſity. My thoughts indeed were ſo perplexed, my notions of this manner of acting ſo confuſed and uncertain, that I knew not what to ſay. My mother told us Sir Charles had declared to her, that his late illneſs had given him occaſion for many uneaſy reflections upon my account; that he ſhuddered with horror when he conſidered the unhappy ſtate of my fortune, and to what difficulties I ſhould have been expoſed if he had died; and that, for the ſatisfaction of his own mind, he had made that ſettlement upon me, that whatever happened I might be out of the reach of neceſſity.’
‘I am afraid, Sir, purſued Sophia with a little confuſion in her countenance, that you will condemn me when I tell you I was ſo ſtruck at firſt with the ſeeming candor and tenderneſs of Sir Charles's motives for this act of generoſity, that none but the moſt grateful ſentiments roſe in my mind.’
‘Immediately, ſaid Sophia: a moment's reflection upon the conduct of Sir Charles ſerved to ſhew me that ſome latent deſign lay concealed under this ſpecious offer; but I am obliged to my ſiſter for giving me a more diſtinct notion of it than my own confuſed ideas could furniſh me with.’
‘You know, Sir, ſaid Sophia, with a gentle ſmile, my ſiſter takes every opportunity to rally me about my pretenſions to wit: ſhe told me it was great condeſcenſion in me, who thought myſelf wiſer than all the world beſides, to aſk her advice upon this occaſion; and that ſhe would not expoſe herſelf to my contempt, by declaring her opinion any farther than that ſhe ſuppoſed Sir Charles did not conſider this as a marriage-ſettlement.’
‘Theſe laſt words, purſued Sophia, whoſe face was now covered with a deeper bluſh, let in ſo much light upon my mind, that I was aſhamed and angry with myſelf for having doubted a moment of Sir Charles's inſincerity. I thanked my ſiſter, and told her ſhe ſhould ſee that I would profit by the hint ſhe had given me.’
‘I wiſh, interrupted Mr. Herbert, that ſhe may profit as much by you; but people of good underſtanding learn more from the ignorant than the ignorant do from them, becauſe the wiſe avoid the follies of fools, but fools will not follow the example of the wiſe: but what did Mrs. Darnley ſay to this?’
‘I never ſaw her ſo angry with my ſiſter before, replied Sophia: ſhe ſaid ſeveral ſevere things to [Page 172] her, which made her leave the room in great emotion; and when we were alone I endeavoured to convince my mother that it was not fit I ſhould make myſelf a dependant upon Sir Charles, by accepting ſuch conſiderable preſents: ſhe was however of a different opinion, becauſe Sir Charles's behaviour had been always reſpectful in the higheſt degree to me, and becauſe the manner in which he made this offer left no room to ſuſpect that he had any other deſign in it but to ſecure a proviſion for me, in caſe any thing ſhould happen to him.’
‘You may judge of my ſentiments, Sir, anſwered Sophia, by the reſolution I have taken: I wiſhed to conſult you; but as I had no opportunity for it, I ſatisfied myſelf with doing what I thought you would approve. My mother, preſt by my arguments, told me in a peeviſh way that I might act as I thought proper: upon which I retired, and, ſatisfied with this permiſſion, I encloſed the ſettlement in a cover directed for Sir Charles. I had juſt ſealed it, and was going to ſend it away, when my mother came into my room: I perceived ſhe was deſirous to renew the converſation about Sir Charles; but I carefully avoided it, for fear me ſhould retract the permiſſion ſhe had given me to act as I pleaſed upon this occaſion. My reſerve piqued her ſo much, that ſhe forbore to enter upon the ſubject again; but as I had no opportunity of [Page 173] ſending my letter that night without her knowledge, I was obliged to go to bed much richer than I deſired to be; and the next morning, when we were at breakfaſt, a letter was brought me from Sir Charles, dated four o'clock, in which he informed me that he was juſt ſetting out in a poſt-chaiſe for Bath. His uncle, who lies there at the point of death, has it ſeems earneſtly deſired to ſee him, and the meſſenger told him he had not a minute to loſe.’
Sophia then taking it out of her pocket, gave it to him, and begged he would contrive ſome way to have it ſafely delivered to Sir Charles; ‘and now, added ſhe, my heart is eaſy on that ſide, and I have nothing to do but to arm myſelf with fortitude to bear the tender reproaches of a mother whoſe anxiety for my intereſt makes her ſee this affair in a very different light from that in which you and I behold it.’
Mr. Herbert put the letter carefully into his pocket-book, and promiſed her it ſhould be conveyed to Sir Charles; then taking her hand, which he preſs'd affectionately, ‘You have another ſacrifice yet to make, my dear good child, ſaid he, and I hope it will not coſt you much to make it. You muſt reſolve to ſee Sir Charles no more: it is not fit you ſhould receive his viſits, ſince you ſuſpect his deſigns are not honourable, and you have but too much cauſe for ſuſpicion. It is not enough to be virtuous: we muſt appear ſo likewiſe; we owe the world a good example, the [Page 174] world, which oftener rewards the appearances of merit than merit itſelf. It will be impoſſible for you to avoid ſeeing Sir Charles ſometimes, if you continue with your mother: you have no authority to forbid his viſits here; and whether you ſhare them or not, they will be all placed to your account. Are you willing, Miſs Sophia, to go into the country, and I will board you in the family of a worthy clergyman, who is my friend? His wife and daughters will be agreeable companions for you; you will find books enough in his ſtudy to employ thoſe hours which you devote to reading, and his converſation will be always a ſource of inſtruction and delight.’
Sophia, with tears in her eyes, and a look ſo expreſſive that it conveyed a ſtronger idea of the grateful ſentiments which filled her heart, than any words could do, thanked the good old man for his generous offer, and told him ſhe was ready to leave London whenever he pleaſed: but unwilling to be an incumbrance upon his little fortune, ſhe intreated him to be diligent in his enquiries for a place for her, that ſhe might early inure herſelf to the humble condition which providence thought fit to allot for her.
Mr. Herbert entering into her delicate ſcruples, promiſed to procure her a proper eſtabliſhment; and it was agreed between them that he ſhould acquaint her mother the next day with the reſolution ſhe had taken, and endeavour to procure her conſent to it.
Mr. Herbert well knew all the difficulties of this taſk, and prepared himſelf to ſuſtain the ſtorm [Page 175] which he expected would fall upon him. He viſited Mrs. Darnley in the morning, and finding her alone, entered at once into the affair, by telling her that he had performed the commiſſion Miſs Sophia had given him; that a friend of his who was going to Bath would take care to deliver her letter to her unworthy lover, who, added he, will be convinced, by her returning his ſettlement, that ſhe has a juſt notion of his baſe deſigns, and deſpiſes him as well for his falſhood and preſumption, as for the mean opinion he has entertained of her.
Mr. Herbert, who was perfectly well acquainted with Mrs. Darnley's character, and had ſtudied his part, would not give her time to recover from the aſtoniſhment his firſt words had thrown her into, which was ſtrongly impreſſed upon her countenance, and which ſeemed to deprive her of the power of ſpeech; but added, with an air natural enough, ‘Your conduct, Mrs. Darnley, deſerves the higheſt praiſes; indeed I know not which to admire moſt; your diſintereſtedneſs, prudence, and judgment; or Miſs Sophia's ready obedience, and the noble ſacrifice ſhe makes to her honour and reputation. You knew her virtue might be ſecurely depended upon, and you permitted her to act as ſhe thought proper with regard to the inſidious offer Sir Charles made her: thus, by transferring all the merit of a refuſal to her, you reflect a double luſtre upon your own, and ſhe has fully anſwered your intentions by rejecting that offer with the contempt it deſerved.’
[Page 176] While Mr. Herbert went on in this ſtrain, Mrs. Darnley inſenſibly forgot her reſentment; her features aſſumed all that complacency which gratified vanity and ſelf-applauſe could impreſs upon them: and although ſhe was conſcious her ſentiments were very different from thoſe which Mr. Herbert attributed to her, yet, as ſhe had really ſpoke thoſe words to Sophia which had given her a pretence to act as ſhe had done, ſhe concluded his praiſes were ſincere, and enjoyed them as much as if ſhe had deſerved them.
It was her buſineſs now, however vexed at her daughter's folly, as ſhe conceived it, to ſeem highly ſatisfied with her conduct, ſince what ſhe had done could not be recalled; yet inwardly fretting at the loſs of ſo noble a preſent, all her diſſimulation could not hinder her from ſaying, that although ſhe approved of Sophia's refuſal, yet ſhe could not help thinking ſhe had been very precipitate, and that ſhe ought to have waited till Sir Charles returned; and not have ſent, but have given him back his ſettlement.
Mr. Herbert, without anſwering to that point, told her, that what now remained for her prudence to do was, to take away all foundation for ſlander, by peremptorily forbidding Sir Charles's future viſits. Here Mrs. Darnley began to frown; ‘for, ſince it is plain to us all, madam, purſued he, without ſeeming to perceive her emotion, that marriage is not his intention, by being allowed to continue his addreſſes, miſs Sophia's character will ſuffer greatly in the opinion of the world; and the wiſdom and diſcretion by which you have hitherto [Page 177] been governed in this affair, will not ſecure you from very unfavourable cenſures. To ſhew therefore how much you are in earneſt to prevent them, I think it is abſolutely neceſſary that you ſhould ſend your daughter out of this man's way.’
Mrs. Darnley, who thought ſhe had an unanſwerable objection to make to this ſcheme, interrupted him eagerly, ‘You know my circumſtances, Mr. Herbert, you know I cannot afford to ſend my daughter from me; how am I to diſpoſe of her, pray?’
‘Let not that care trouble you, madam, replied Mr. Herbert, I will take all this expence upon myſelf: I love Miſs Sophia as well as if ſhe was my own child; and ſlender as my income is, I will be at the charge of her maintainance till fortune and her own merit place her in a better ſituation.’
Mr. Herbert then acquainted her with the name and character of the clergyman in whoſe family he intended to board Sophia: he added, that the place to which ſhe was going being at no great diſtance, ſhe might hear from her frequently, and ſometimes viſit her, without much expence or inconvenience.
Mrs. Darnley having nothing that was reaſonable to oppoſe to theſe kind and generous offers, had recourſe to rage and exclamation. She told Mr. Herbert that he had no right to interpoſe in the affairs of her family; that he ſhould not diſpoſe of her child as he pleaſed; that ſhe would exert the authority of a parent, and no officious medler ſhould rob her of her child.
[Page 178] Mr. Herbert now found it neceſſary to change his method with this intereſted mother, ‘Take care, madam, ſaid he, with a ſevere look, how far you carry your oppoſition in this caſe: the world has its eyes upon your conduct; do not give it reaſon to ſay that your daughter is more prudent and cautious than you are; nor force her to do that without your conſent which you ought to be the firſt to adviſe her to.’
Then riſing with a furious air, ſhe called Sophia, who came into the room, trembling, and in the utmoſt agitation. The melancholy that appeared in her countenance, her paleneſs and diſorder, the conſequences of a ſleepleſs night, which ſhe had paſſed in various and afflicting thoughts, made Mr. Herbert apprehenſive that her mother's obſtinacy would prove too hard for her gentle diſpoſition; and that her heart, thus aſſaulted with the moſt powerful of all paſſions, love and filial tenderneſs, would inſenſibly betray her into a conſent to ſtay.
Mrs. Darnley giving her a look of indignation, exclaimed with the ſarcaſtic ſeverity with which ſhe uſed formerly to treat her; ‘So my wiſe, my dutiful daughter, you cannot bear, it ſeems, to live with your mother; you are reſolved to run away from me, are you?’
‘Madam, replied Sophia, with a firmneſs that diſconcerted Mrs. Darnley, as much as it pleaſingly ſurpriſed Mr. Herbert, it is not you I am running [Page 179] away from, as you unkindly ſay, I am going into the country to force myſelf from the purſuits of a man who has impoſed upon your goodneſs, and my credulity; one who I am convinced, ſeeks my diſhonour, and whoſe enſnaring addreſſes have already, I am afraid, given a wound to my reputation, which nothing but the reſolution I have taken to avoid him can heal.’
Poor Sophia, who had with difficulty prevailed over her own ſoftneſs to ſpeak in this determined manner, could not bear to ſee the confuſion into which her anſwer had thrown her mother; but ſighing deeply, ſhe retired towards the window, and wiped away the tears that fell from her charming eyes.
Mrs. Darnley, who obſerved her emotion, and well knew how to take advantage of that amiable weakneſs in her temper, which made any oppoſition, however juſt and neceſſary, painful to her deſired Mr. Herbert to leave her alone with her daughter, adding, that his preſence was a conſtraint upon them both.
Sophia hearing this, and dreading leſt he ſhould leave her to ſuſtain the ſtorm alone, went towards her mother, and with the moſt perſuaſive look and accent, begged her not to part in anger from Mr. Herbert.
‘I cannot forgive Mr. Herbert, ſaid Mrs. Darnley, for ſuppoſing I am leſs concerned for your honour than he is. I ſee no neceſſity for your going into the country; your reputation is ſafe while you are under my care; it is time enough to ſend you out of Sir Charles's way when we [Page 180] are convinced his deſigns are not honourable. Mr. Herbert, by filling your head with groundleſs apprehenſions, will be the ruin of your fortune.’
‘Sir Charles's diſſembled affection for me, interupted Sophia, will be the ruin of my character. There is no way to convince the world that I am not the willing dupe of his artifices, but by flying from him as far as I can: do not, my dear mamma, purſued ſhe, burſting into tears, oppoſe my going; my peace of mind, my reputation depend upon it.’
‘Indeed I muſt, madam, ſaid the good old man, encouraged by a look Sophia gave him. I conſider myſelf as guardian to your daughter, and in that quality I pretend to ſome right to regulate her conduct on an occaſion which requires a guardian's care and authority.’
[Page 181] ‘Come, madam, ſaid Mr. Herbert, willing to ſpare Sophia the pain of anſwering her queſtion, be perſuaded that I have the tenderneſs of a parent, as well as guardian, for your daughter: it is abſolutely neceſſary ſhe ſhould ſee Sir Charles no more; and the moſt effectual method ſhe can take to ſhun him, and to preſerve her character, is to leave a place where ſhe will be continually expoſed to his importunity. I hope ſhe will be able to procure your conſent to her going tomorrow. I ſhall be here in the morning with a poſt-chaiſe, and will conduct her myſelf to the houſe of my friend, whom I have already prepared by a letter to receive her.’
AS I apprehend the object of this publication is no leſs the moral than the literary improvement of your ſex, permit me, through the channel of this uſeful work, to point out to your fair readers the fatal conſequences of an opinion too generally received among them.
The opinion I could wiſh to ſee corrected is, that grandeur and happineſs ſignify one and the ſame thing. How far the ſame wrong notion prevails among men, is not my preſent purpoſe to examine; but I will venture, to affirm, that in the ſyſtem of female logic, grandeur and happineſs are convertible terms. It is not ſurpriſing that this notion ſhould be extremely prevalent, when we conſider, that the whole ſyſtem of female education tends to promote and extend it. Whence is it, that many miſſes are inſtructed in accompliſhments evidently above their rank, but in order to obtain a ſtation in life to which they could not reaſonably aſpire.
In truth, it is more the vanity of being thought to poſſeſs ſuch accompliſhments than any pleaſure ariſing from thoſe attainments, that is the inducement to purſue them. I have been aſſured by the parents of many young ladies, that their daughters were perfect miſtreſſes of French, muſick, &c. when upon a better acquaintance, I plainly perceived, they had been at much expence only to ſay they had been learners.
[Page 183] I would not be thought to mean, that the polite accompliſhments are not very uſeful and becoming to perſons of a certain rank and character; but I would obſerve, that the promiſcuous aim of all ranks of females, to acquire thoſe elegant diſtinctions, evidently proves my firſt principle, namely, that an appetite for vanity and ſplendor pervades the whole ſyſtem of modern education.
The polite attainments too frequently give young ladies of middling ſtation an unhappy propenſity to diſſipation and pleaſure, and indiſpoſe them to the ordinary and neceſſary occupations of life. It may be uſeful to conſider what probability there is, that an appetite for diſtinction may be gratified, and then examine what ſuperior happineſs ſuch envied diſtinctions neceſſarily confer.
I ſhall take it for granted, that a good eſtabliſhment in marriage is the object of moſt women's wiſhes. It has been computed that nineteen marriages in twenty, among perſons of liberal condition, are concluded upon no great inequality of circumſtances. It is plain then, that a lady who flatters herſelf, that ſhe ſhall marry above her rank, runs no leſs a risk that twenty to one of a diſappointment. In fact this is unavoidable; for perſons of rank and opulence are not very numerous, and frequently intermarry with each other: yet upon ſo ſlender a proſpect has many a poor lady tired both herſelf and the public with a repetition of her countenance for many years paſt at every place of amuſement.
To theſe dazzling and deluſive hopes are eaſe and contentment often ſacrificed, from a miſtaken [Page 184] opinion that grandeur and happineſs are inſeparable; or rather, that the latter was not poſſible without the former: hence anxious days and ſleepleſs nights, not to mention that virtue is much endangered by purſuits giddy and fantaſtical. After years of vain expectation the point in view is at a greater diſtance than ever, to obtain which dancing-maſters and milliners have aſſiſted in vain. If it be ſaid, that we hear ſometimes of ladies, who from private ſtations have roſe to great rank and riches, I anſwer, that particular exceptions conclude nothing againſt the general obſervation, that unreaſonable expectation muſt almoſt always be diſappointed.
Inſtances of ſurpriſing good fortune happen in all purſuits, and ſeeming accident will have its ſhare in the happy events of matrimony, as well as in moſt others. But if young people inflame their imaginations with extraordinary occurrences, and ſoar upon the waxen wings of expectation to regions of imaginary bliſs, they will quickly find, like Icarus, misfortune interrupting the dream of vanity, and may poſſibly pay almoſt as dear for the experiment.
With reſpect to the bleſſings of Providence, we rather lament the abſence of things perhaps not neceſſary, than make a proper uſe of thoſe we have. It ſufficiently appears, that a paſſion for grandeur is not likely to be gratified; and that ſuch wiſhes muſt, in the nature of things, much oftener miſcarry than ſucceed.
But for once let us ſuppeſe the point obtained, and examine what happineſs is annexed to that envied condition. Providence, for the wiſeſt reaſons, [Page 185] has made a great difference in the external circumſtances of his creatures, but not in their happineſs. In fact, the greateſt bleſſings of life are propoſed in common to us all. Health and an approving conſcience are the grand ſatisfactions of our being, as ſin and pain are almoſt the only evils: nor can we ceaſe to adore that goodneſs who has made the beſt things in life attainable by all conditions, without a poſſibility of interfering with each other. In theſe two grand articles, it appears, that perſons of wealth and ſtation have no advantage over more moderate conditions. The former are more expoſed to temptations, and a full tide of proſperity has been always reckoned dangerous to virtue.
Beſides, thoſe who have large poſſeſſions and connexions are much broader marks for misfortune than others. Socrates accounted thoſe happieſt who had feweſt wants, as the happieſt of all beings is he who wants nothing. The more our wants are enlarged, and our appetites indulged, they become more ungovernable, and exceed our powers of ſatisfying them. Such perſons are expoſed to perpetual diſappointment, as it is much eaſier to imagine than obtain.
How many perſons may we not preſume, who are ſhining themſelves, and ſhone on by fortune, that are inwardly miſerable, and ſick of life? Wealth and ſtation may indeed procure a great variety of ſenſual gratifications, out of the reach of humbler fortunes: but of what nature are ſuch pleaſures? fleeting and diſſatisfactory in the confeſſion of all.
Let us reflect a little on the moſt exalted pleaſures our nature is capable of. We ſhall find them [Page 186] attainable by private ſtations, and from ſome of the beſt of them the very loweſt conditions not excluded. Even thoſe who are condemned to the drudgery of manual labour may, and do often enjoy a healthful body and a tranquil mind. Though they are in a great meaſure excluded from intellectual enjoyments, yet even this view of their condition is not without its compenſations. It will not be denied, that our beſt enjoyments here below ariſe from temperance, moderate deſires, eaſy reflexions, and a conſciouſneſs of knowledge and virtue. I would aſk my fair countrywomen, whether high rank and great riches are neceſſary to theſe attainments? The pureſt and moſt ſubſtantial pleaſures are certainly thoſe ariſing from religion and virtue; the pleaſures of knowledge, and of friendſhip: which are attainable by the middling, if not all claſſes of life, depend much upon ourſelves, and are little ſubject to accident or diminution. So far from being the conſtant companions of rank and riches, that perhaps they are ſeldomer found among perſons of elevated ſtations than moſt others. It were eaſy to aſſign the reaſons; as the neceſſaries of life are not difficult to obtain, ſo neither are its beſt comforts. A perſon muſt have reflected indeed to very little purpoſe who is not ſenſible, that the proſpect of the divine favour in another life, is the grand foundation of contentment in this imperfect and probationary ſtate.
It will be ſaid, that a competency of the good things of life, is neceſſary to our happineſs, and truly deſirable. Moſt undoubtedly it is: but the misfortune is, our ideas of a competency are not [Page 187] taken from nature, or even from our proper ſtation and character, but from our imaginations and wrong habits; and what is yet more prepoſterous, from our compariſons with others.
A competency is not to be defined, becauſe it varies according to the ſtation and neceſſities of individuals. To uſe a familiar compariſon—Suppoſe a perſon undertakes a journey into a remote country, and has ſufficient to defray his neceſſary expences, may he not enjoy the true pleaſures of the ſcene equally with him who travels the ſame journey, attended with all the parade of equipage, and encumbered with a ſuperfluity of wealth? May not as ſucceſsful a voyage be made in a ſmall, convenient bark, as in a galley no leſs ſplendid than Cleopatra's?
Let nothing here advanced be ſuppoſed to mean, that wealth and ſtation incapacitate their poſſeſſors from enjoying the trueſt happineſs of their nature. Among other advantages in common with their fellow-creatures, they eminently enjoy the godlike power of doing good to others. It is the exerciſe of that power that gives rank and riches their true dignity, and is the conſtant employment of him who is the ſource of all excellence. But let not people miſtake that which may be made the means of happineſs for the neceſſary and never failing cauſe of it; nor repine at the want of thoſe diſtinctions in the poſſeſſion of which there occur ſo many examples extremely miſerable.
I cannot conclude this letter without obſerving, that an appetite for grandeur very fatally predominates at a criſis in life, wherein, of all others, [Page 188] it behoves us to act with the trueſt wiſdom: I mean at the time of marriage. Matches are now deemed good or bad, not from the qualities, but the external circumſtances of the parties. The opinion of Themiſtocles, like many other old opinions, is quite exploded, who declared, ‘That he would rather marry his daughter to a man without an eſtate, than to an eſtate without a man.’
The candidates for the ladies affections, or more properly their fortunes, undergo the moſt exact ſcrutiny into their eſtates, expectations, and alliances; nor is any enquiry omitted, but into their ſenſe and morals. If your fair readers pleaſe to extend this charge to their admirers, they have my conſent, only remembering, that folly on one ſide, never excuſes it on another; and that they are moſt likely to be greater ſufferers by an ill choice, as their condition is more dependent.
It is agreed on all ſides, that the ſure ſupports of conjugal felicity are the unreſerved friendſhip and mutual eſteem of the parties: now it is an axiom, that friendſhip cannot exiſt but between virtuous minds; and ſurely no dreams of a lunatic were ever more viſionary, than to ſuppoſe there can be any abiding pleaſure without virtue, ſince in our ſyſtem of being there is nothing durable but the conſequences of it.
Many a thoughtleſs female, who deſpiſed all conſiderations but rank and riches, ſerves only to exhibit a wretched ſpectacle of their inſufficiency. I doubt not but this eſſay may fall into the hands of ſome of your fair readers, who have dragged out an inſipid length of days, doating about vain and [Page 189] periſhable diſtinctions, and have ſunk into utter contempt and oblivion, who, by a better conduct, might have enjoyed happy and comfortable eſtabliſhments.
Let thoſe whoſe caſes are retrievable, conſider that elevation muſt ever be the lot of very few; nor when it is attained does it invariably produce happineſs. The trueſt ſatisfactions in life are not neceſſarily connected with great eſtates or coronets, but are to be found among perſons of all conditions, whoſe lives are governed by ſenſe and virtue. Of one thing they may be infallibly certain, that a life conducted by vanity cannot fail to end in miſery.
I am, Madam, Your very Humble Servant, W.M.
HEaring her ſpeak with unuſual emotion, I approach'd her: ſhe was giving her mother an account of what had happened. Madame de Luſſan was as much offended at the chevalier's behaviour as her daughter. I was ſilent: I even continued my walk with the ladies. When they retired, I ſent a meſſage to the chevalier: he was at home, and in conſequence of my deſiring him to meet me, he came inſtantly to the place appointed.
‘I cannot perſuade myſelf, ſaid I, approaching him, that what has happened during our walk to-day, is more than a mere pleaſantry: you are too gallant and well bred, to keep a lady's picture, contrary to her inclination.’
‘I know not, anſwered he warmly, what intereſt you take in my keeping or reſtoring it; but I know that I neither need, nor will accept of your advice.’ ‘Then, replied I, clapping my hand to my ſword, I will force you to receive it in this manner.’
[Page 191] The chevalier was brave. He eagerly anſwered my defiance: we fought for ſome time with equal ſucceſs; but he was not animated like me with the deſire of ſerving what I loved. He wounded me ſlightly in two places; but I gave him two large wounds, and obliged him both to aſk his life, and to reſign the picture. After I had aſſiſted him to riſe, and had conducted him to the neareſt houſe, I retired to my own lodgings, where as ſoon as the wounds I had received were dreſt, I ſet myſelf to contemplate the lovely picture, and kiſſed it a thouſand and a thouſand times.
I had a genius for painting, which I had taken ſome pains to cultivate; yet I was far from being a maſter in the art: but what will not love accompliſh? I undertook to copy this portrait. I ſpent two days in this employment. Delightful taſk! I ſucceeded ſo well, that even a very diſcerning eye might have miſtaken mine for the original. This inſpired me with the thought of ſubſtituting one for the other, by which contrivance I ſhould have the advantage of keeping that which belonged to Adelaida; and ſhe, without knowing it, would always bear my work about her.
After I had faſtened the picture I had painted to the riband in ſuch a manner that my cheat could not be diſcovered, I preſented it to Adelaida. Madame de Luſſan expreſs'd herſelf highly obliged to me. Adelaida ſaid little: ſhe ſeemed embarraſſed; but in the midſt of that embaraſſment, I thought I [Page 192] diſcovered that ſhe was pleaſed at having received this little obligation from me, and that thought gave me real tranſport.
After this little adventure, I ſtood extremely well in the eſteem of Madame de Luſſan. I was always at her lodgings: I ſaw Adelaida every hour in the day; and although I did not ſpeak to her of my paſſion, yet I was ſure ſhe knew it, and I had reaſon to believe ſhe did not hate me. Hearts as ſenſible as ours were, quickly underſtand each other: to them every thing is expreſſion.
I had lived two months in this manner, when I received a letter from my father, in which he commanded me to return immediately. This command was to me like the ſtroke of a thunder-bolt: my whole ſoul had been engroſſed with the pleaſure of ſeeing and loving Adelaida. The idea of leaving her was wholly new to me; the horror of parting from her, the conſequence of the law-ſuit between our families, roſe to my thoughts with every aggravation to diſtract me.[To be continued.]
1.20. The following Eſſay, on the original inhabitants of Great Britain, is the compoſition of a nobleman, diſtinguiſhed for his genius, taſte, and learning.
AN ESSAY ON THE Original Inhabitants of GREAT BRITAIN.
THE hiſtory of every nation in the world begins in a dark and fabulous manner: nor can any hiſtory be more obſcure than that of Great Britain. It is impoſſible to gueſs when, or by whom our iſland was originally peopled. The conjectures on this head have been various; but as they amount only to conjectures, and as the point itſelf is of no real importance, I ſhall paſs directly forward to the firſt accounts upon which we may place any reliance. The original inhabitants are repreſented as conſiſting of two claſſes, Prieſts and Soldiers. The whole iſland, at leaſt that part of it called South Britain, was divided into ſmall provinces, each of which was allotted to the ſovereignty of a prince. Theſe princes lived in conſtant warfare and contention. The prieſts were diſtinguiſhed by the name of Druids; but their power was not only confined to the ceremonies of ſacrifice, and other religious parts of worſhip, it extended to the government of all civil judicature. To the ordinary druids, (who were [Page 194] very numerous, but ſeldom or ever of mean birth) was committed the adminiſtration of juſtice in the ſeveral provinces, the determination of all cauſes, and the judicial deciſion of right and wrong; but ſtill ſubject to the ſupreme juriſdiction of one chief druid, who, in dignity, excelled all the reſt; and who, in civil affairs, had the power of a king, while in religious matters, he might be called the reigning Pope of thoſe days.
The military men were brave, even to a degree of fierceneſs. They had never felt the effects of fear, fatigue, or luxury. They had been bred in woods, and inured to hardſhips. Agriculture and merchandize had made little or no progreſs in the kingdom. The conſtant diet of the people was milk and fleſh-meat, of both which they had great plenty, the whole iſland being filled with various kinds of cattle.
Such were the Britons, when Julius Caeſar invaded their country. He appeared, with his fleet, hovering upon the coaſt of England, Auguſt the twenty-ſixth, in the year of Rome, 699, * fifty-four or fifty-five years before the birth of Chriſt. His pretence for this invaſion was the conſtant refuge which the Belgae, a people of Gaul, had received from the inhabitants of Britain, and the perpetual ſuccours and aſſiſtance which were granted by the Britains to the enemies of Rome. The pretence was ſpecious. The true motive was a thirſt of [Page 195] glory. Caeſar's ambition like the ocean he croſt, had no bounds.
I am inclined to think, that this enterprize was not very acceptable to the Roman people: they looked upon it as an hazardous undertaking. Cicero, in one of his epiſtles to Atticus, expreſſes himſelf thus: Britannici belli exitus expectatur: conſtat enim aditus inſulae eſſe munitos mirificis molibus: etium illud jam cognitum eſt, neque argenti ſcripulum eſſe illum in illa inſulâ, neque ullam ſpem praedae, niſi ex mancipiis: ex quibus nullos puto te literis aut muſicis eruditos exſpectare. ‘The event of the Britiſh war is waited for with impatience. It is certain, that all the approaches to that iſland are fortified by amazing out-works: and it is univerſally known, that not a ſcruple of ſilver is to be found throughout the whole iſland; nor are there hopes of any acquiſitions except the ſlaves, amongſt whom I cannot ſuppoſe you will expect muſicians, or men of learning.’ Tully, we perceive, ſeems to treat the Britains rather in a ſneering manner, than to ſpeak of them with his uſual, lively, but weighty manner of expreſſion. He has no great opinion of their genius, or of their learning. But however illiterate, or however unſkilled in muſic our anceſtors might appear, it cannot be denied, that they were not only couragious, but of a liberal nature, totally devoid of all low art, but not totally unverſed in the policy of war. Caeſar gives an account of them, which as it comes from an enemy is very much to their honour. He ſays, he had great difficulty in landing, being annoyed by their darts, and oppoſed by their cavalry; [Page 196] and when he had brought his troops to an engagement, he confeſſes, that the battle was maintained with ſharpneſs on both ſides. Pugnatum eſt ab utriſque acriter. At length the Roman arms prevailed. The iſlanders gave way, retired to their woods, and immediately ſent ambaſſadors to ſue for terms of peace. Caeſar, upon the arrival of the ambaſſadors reproached the Britons, as having acted ungenerouſly, by impriſoning his friend Comius, whom he had ſent into England, ſome time before, with his own particular commands. Their excuſe is remarkable. Ejus rei culpam in multitudinem contulerunt, et propter imprudentiam ut ignoſceretur petiverunt. ‘They acknowledged their imprudence, begged that it might be forgiven, and fixed the raſhneſs of the action entirely upon the common people.’ So powerful and ungovernable, even at that time, was an Engliſh rabble. Caeſar, gentle and compaſſionate, both by nature and policy, received the excuſe, demanded hoſtages, and granted terms of peace.
The peace on the ſide of the Britons was an act of neceſſity, not of choice. Perhaps is was no leſs ſo on the ſide of the Romans. They would have penetrated farther into the iſland; they would have viſited the coaſts and would have conſidered the various parts that might have afforded them a refuge in any future invaſion, if they had not met with a people very different from what they expected. They expected wild ſavages, they met with real ſoldiers. They had been uſed to ſtrike terror upon the continent, they only excited ſpirit and unanimity in a little iſland, where they found [Page 197] courage inſtead of fear; and order inſtead of confuſion.
Caeſar, at his firſt expedition from Belgic Gaul into Britain, had left his cavalry behind him. They were detained by contrary winds in a port at ſome diſtance from that where he had embarked: He had given orders that they ſhould follow, on the earlieſt opportunity, loaded with arms, ammunition, and ſoldiers: and four days after his arrival in England, they had obeyed thoſe orders, and were more than half way over the Britiſh channel, when a ſudden ſtorm turned the ſhips entirely out of their courſe, and not only forced back many of them to the continent, but drove others to the moſt weſtern part of the iſland. At the ſame time, the veſſels which had tranſported Caeſar, and which had remained at anchor upon the Britiſh coaſt, were much ſhattered by the tempeſt. Twelve of them were abſolutely loſt; and the Romans ſaw themſelves at once deprived of all hopes of proviſion, except ſuch as could be procured from the iſlanders, by ſending out parties to forage at a ſmall diſtance from the Roman camp.
From theſe unexpected circumſtances, the Britons reſolved to reap advantage: they aſſembled their diſbanded troops with great privacy and expedition, and while one of the Roman legions was ſent out to forage, they ſuddenly ſurrounded the foragers, and muſt immediately have deſtroyed the reſt, if Caeſar with amazing alacrity had not haſtened to their aſſiſtance. The ſudden appearance of Caeſar, although attended only by two cohorts, put the Britons to a ſtand; and the Romans [Page 198] did not think themſelves, at that time, ſufficiently prepared for an engagement. Each party retired; the Britons to the woods, the Romans to their camp.
Here the Britons ſeem to have been defective in military conduct. They ought to have purſued their blow: they ought to have attacked Caeſar; and in the true ſpirit of liberty, they ought either to have conquered, or to have died. It is probable that they perceived their error, and it is poſſible, they might have retrieved it, if a ſucceſſion of rain and ſtorms for many days together, had not rendered all efforts againſt the enemy impracticable.
As ſoon as the weather changed, the Britons came out of their retirement, and marched to attack the Romans in their trenches. Caeſar drew out his legions before the camp; both armies engaged, and both fought with equal ſpirit and reſolution; but the Romans were better diſciplined, and more perfect maſters of the art of war: ſo that the unhappy Britons were routed, and again compelled to ſue for peace, from the hands of an invader, who, although the greateſt man that ever lived, muſt ever appear as lawleſs a tyrant to Britain as to Rome. Caeſar was not ſorry to be ſollicited for terms of peace: he received the ambaſſadors in his uſual attractive manner, and loſt no time in ſetling the terms of accommodation. He inſiſted upon a greater number of hoſtages than he had before required; and, under pretence of avoiding the ſtorms that generally rage in the Britiſh ſeas at [Page 199] the autumnal equinox, he embarked his troops, and haſtened back to Gaul.
Caeſar, during his ſhort reſidence in Britain, had obſerved enough of this new world, to make him tacitly reſolve upon a ſecond invaſion. The woods were large, the cattle numerous, and the inhabitants a brave people, worthy of being conquered.
A finer object could not have preſented itſelf to the eye of ambition. However, Caeſar paſſed his winter as uſual in Italy, without any open declaration of returning into England. In the mean time, the Britons, filled with anger, indignation, and diſappointment, and perhaps guided by the dictates of pride, revenge, and obſtinacy, were determined not to ſend the hoſtages, which had been peremptorily required on one ſide, and had been faithfully promiſed on the other. Caeſar let ſome months paſs before he took notice of ſo notorious a breach of faith; and in this particular he acted with all the ſubtilty of a miſer, who, when he has obtained a morgage upon an eſtate, purpoſely ſuffers the intereſt of it to run on, till he can claim a right of ſeizing the premiſes, and defying all equity of redemption.
In the year of Rome 700, Caeſar, who, during the winter, had been making various preparations for a ſecond attempt upon England, put his deſign into execution. He ſet ſail late in the eveing from the Portus Itius *, and arrived the next [Page 200] day * about noon upon the Britiſh coaſt. His army conſiſted of two thouſand horſe, and five legions † of foot; and his ſhips, including tranſports and every other ſort, amounted to above eight hundred. Such a number of veſſels appearing at once upon the ocean, was a terrifying circumſtance to the Britons: they imagined Caeſar's military forces much more numerous than they really were; and they immediately withdrew their troops from the ſhore, and retired into a more covered part of the country; ſo that Caeſar landed his men, and fixed his camp without the leaſt oppoſition. His firſt enquiry was, into what part of the iſland the Britons had withdrawn; and having learnt their particular ſituation, he left a ſufficient number of forces to guard his fleet, and proceeded with the reſt in purſuit of the enemy. The iſlanders had expected his approach, and were prepared to receive him, by having fixed themſelves upon a riſing-ground near a river, at the diſtance of about twelve miles from the ſhore. Here they endeavoured to oppoſe him by their chariots ‡ and their cavalry; but in vain. The Roman horſe [Page 201] prevailed, and the Britons again withdrew to their woods. They were there fortified, as Caeſar tells us, both by art and nature. The woods were very thick, and the paſſage into them was rendered extremely difficult, by large trees, which had been cut down, and heaped upon each other to a great height. The Britons had made uſe of this method of fortification, in their civil wars: but the Romans ſoon made their way over theſe entrenchments, and expelled the Britons even from the woods, where they had taken ſhelter. A ſmall number of regular troops will infallibly conquer a much larger number of undiſciplined forces. The Roman army conſiſted of veterans, who had been trained up from their youth in the art of war; and had carried their arms over the greateſt part of the world. The Britons had only practiſed the military ſcience within their own iſland, and in conteſts againſt each other. They were equal in courage, but inferior in ſkill to their enemies. In ſome meaſure to remedy this defect, they enliſted themſelves under the greateſt commander of thoſe days, Caſſivelaunus, prince or ſovereign of the Caſſi, and the Trinobantes. The Trinobantian territories *, were [Page 202] Hertfordſhire, Eſſex, and a great part of Middleſex. The municipal city of this colony, was Verulanum, Verulam, the walls of which, built probably in the time of Agricola, are ſtill to be ſeen in the approaches to St. Alban's.
Several ſkirmiſhes paſſed between the Britons and the Romans; in one of which the former gained ſome ſmall advantage. But what force could repel Caeſar? He ſtill marched forward towards the river Thames, reſolving to croſs it at the only place where it was fordable. Caſſivelaunus had foreſeen his deſign, and had drawn up a large body of Britiſh troops on the oppoſite ſhore. He had fortified the banks with paliſades, and had driven into the bottom of the river a great number of ſharp ſtakes * whoſe tops were covered by the water. He had uſed every precaution that courage, ſagacity, and preſence of mind could ſuggeſt; but the Romans were determined not to be repulſed. Their cavalry firſt entered the river, the legions immediately followed, and notwithſtanding all impediments, paſſed acroſs the Thames, with ſuch expedition, and approached the enemy with ſo much vigour, that the Britons, unable to ſuſtain the aſſault, quitted the banks of the river, and fled farther into the country.
Caſſivelaunus ſtill continued to make ſome attempts againſt the Romans; but his deſigns conſtantly [Page 203] proved abortive. The repeated victories of Caeſar, the inteſtine broils of the kingdom, the immediate preſence of a powerful invader, were all circumſtances that tended to damp the ſpirits of an unexperienced, and a diſunited people. Many of the principalities (for ſo I think we may call the ſeveral Diſtricts of the iſland) began to entertain thoughts of ſuing for an accommodation with Caeſar. The Trinobantes ſet the example: they offered to ſubmit to the conqueror, and to give themſelves up to his diſpoſal: at the ſame time requeſting, that he would deliver them from the tyranny of Caſſivelaunus, and aſſign the government, of their colony to Mandubratius, the ſon of Imanuentius their late king.
Caeſar, ever fond of ſhewing acts of mercy and benevolence, accepted their offers and granted their requeſt *. The example of the Trinobantes was ſoon followed by ſeveral of the other colonies, and the unfortunate Caſſivelaunus found himſelf deſerted on every ſide. His capital, a capital indeed of huts and hovels, was taken, plundered, and deſtroyed. What ſtep was left then for this unhappy prince? only an abſolute ſubmiſſion to the conqueror. A true Briton is always unwilling to ſubmit, and Caſſivelaunus deferred his ſubmiſſion to the lateſt hour: however, as he was a man of ſenſe, as well as a man of ſpirit, and as all the inferior generals † were undermining him by making terms for themſelves, he reſolved to put an [Page 204] end to a diſadvantageous war, and to ſend ambaſſadors to the enemy, with offers * of a ſurrender. Julius Caeſar received them like Julius Caeſar. He exerted no acts of tyranny by the victorious progreſs of his arms; he impoſed no hard terms of accommodation: but he required, in the ſtyle of a conqueror, the ſtrongeſt aſſurances from Caſſivelaunus, of never attempting any injuries towards Mandubratius, or the Trinobantes. He received hoſtages for the performance of this contract; and he extracted a ſmall annual tribute, to be paid by the ſtates of Britain to the Roman people. After theſe tranſactions, he took the advantage of a calm ſeaſon, and ſailed back with his army into Gaul.
The character of Caſſivelaunus, as a general, muſt always ſhine with great luſtre in the Engliſh annals. Si pergama dextra defendi poſſent etiam hac defenſa fuiſſent. ‘If Britons could have been defended, ſuch a right hand had defended them.’ But his behaviour to the Trinobantes appears by their complaints to Caeſar, to have been tyrannical: and his murder of Imanuentius carries with it all the marks of a ſavage barbarity. Yet perhaps in the ſeizure of the Trinobantian colony he was aſſiſted by the inhabitants themſelves; for I am apt to imagine, that even in thoſe early days, the Britons were fond of making and unmaking kings.
[Page 205] Till Caeſar's death, which was in the year of Rome 711, the Britons remained unmoleſted by invaſions, but ſtill tributary to the Roman people. The murderer of the mighty Julius was attended by all the violence and diſtraction of civil war; and the Romans were for ſome years too intenſely employed upon the continent to turn their thoughts towards a diſtant weſtern iſland, that at that time appeared of little conſequence to the ſouthern part of the world.
During this interval, it is not improbable that the Britons made ſome improvements in their manners, and ſome advantages in their trade. Julius Caeſar deſcribes the inhabitants of the ſea-coaſts, thoſe coaſts that were neareſt to Gaul, as a mixture of the Belgae and the Britons. The people who were ſituated beyond the Thames, and in the moſt inland parts of the iſland, conſiſted, he ſays, entirely of natives. Theſe, indeed, he repreſents in general as men, who had ſcarce any pretenſions to the dignity of human nature, except the figure.
Let us therefore remember that the Romans owed their origin to thieves and vagabonds; and that Great Britain owes her glory to ſavages and wild men. The heralds muſt decide which of the two ſets of Aborigines are entitled to the more-dignified coat of arms.
During the reign of Auguſtus the Britons remained entirely unmoleſted by the Romans. The iſland was looked upon as a kingdom that had rather added perſonal fame to Julius Caeſar than remarkable advantage to the empire of Rome. Auguſtus was in no degree equal to his uncle in [Page 206] like enterpriſing genius: however, he had formed a deſign of viſiting Britain *, when a ſudden revolt of the Salaſſi, a people of the Piedmonteſe, put a ſtop to his intentions, which were never afterwards revived.
Tiberius followed the example of his predeceſſor, and made no attempt upon the iſland. Cornelius Tacitus, ſpeaking of this behaviour towards the Britons, ſays, Conſilium id divus Auguſtus vocabat, Tiberius praeceptum ‘This conduct Auguſtus called policy: the example of Auguſtus, was a precept to Tiberius.’
The temper of Caligula, the next Roman emperor, differed in a great meaſure from the peaceful ſtupidity of Tiberius. Caligula was vain, impetuous, and extravagant; but cowardly, paſſive, and irreſolute. He aſſembled an army of two hundred thouſand men, paſſed the Rhine, repaſſed it, without ſeeing an enemy; plundered Gaul, came to the gallic ſhore, proclaimed war againſt Britain, and gathered cockle ſhells.
To Claudius the fifth emperor of Rome fate had reſerved a more complete conqueſt of our iſland than had been made by any of his predeceſſors. The Britons had juſtly ridiculed the military fopperies of Caligula; but they carried their exultations too far. They imagined themſelves invincible, becauſe a Roman emperor and his numerous army had pompouſly marched to the ſea-ſhore, and were [Page 207] afraid to croſs the ocean. Our anceſtors remained wrapt up in this kind of ſecurity, at the acceſſion of Claudius, whoſe perſonal character could not poſſibly give the leaſt room for apprehenſion. He was as indolent as Tiberius, and as cowardly as Caligula; but his lucky ſtars ordained him to be governed by counſellors of far ſuperior judgment to his own. Among theſe were Aulus Plautius, and Oſtorius Scapula, both men of great eminence in rank and reputation. To the firſt, was aſſigned the command of the army deſtined againſt the Britons.
It is an obſervation made by Julius Caeſar, that the Belgic Britons, and the native or antient Britons, were very different in their cuſtoms and manners. A conſtant intercourſe with the continent, ſome progreſs in agriculture, and a conſiderable increaſe of commerce, had, in a great meaſure, poliſhed, and improved the former, whilſt the latter remained in their original fierceneſs.
We cannot wonder that men of ſuch a diſſimilar turn of mind and actions, ſhould be continually jarring with each other. The former, like courtiers, were too ſervilely ſubmiſſive to tempting circumſtances, and alluring views of ambition; the latter, like country gentlemen, were too obſtinately reſolute, and too impoliticly reſerved. Theſe diſſentions proved of great uſe to an invader, and Plautius landed, without the leaſt oppoſition. He found the iſland like a deſert; ſcarce an inhabitant appeared. The Belgic Britons had retired into woods and fortreſſes: they haſtened to retreat [Page 208] from an enemy with whom they were unprepared to engage. Plautius moved onward, with his army coaſting along the Thames, till he came to Wallingford, where he croſſed the river, and entered into the territories of the Donubi, a colony to whom Oxfordſhire, and a great part of Glouceſterſhire, belonged. Theſe were the firſt people from whom he met with reſiſtance. They fought againſt the Romans with great bravery; but being unfortunate in four ſucceſſive battles, and in the loſs of one of their chieftains, Togodumus, they retreated acroſs the Thames, and were followed by Plautius. Both armies encamped on the ſide of the river, next to Gaul; but our hiſtorians, I think, have not exactly fixed their ſituation.
The Roman General remained in his camp, and evidently declined an engagement. The Donubi, although four times vanquiſhed, and ſtill in a ſtate of exile from their own colony, attributed his conduct to fear: but they were miſtaken in their judgment. The inactivity of Plautius was neither the effect of fear nor caution: he waited for the arrival of the emperor; and, from a nobleneſs of ſoul, uncommon in a general, intended to crown his imperial maſter with all the laurels and honours that might ariſe from any future conqueſt over the Britons.
Claudius landed at the Portes Rutupinus (Sandwich in Kent) and marched with his troops to the mouth of the river Thames, where Plautius was encamped. As ſoon as the Roman forces were all joined, they repaſſed the Thames, and, with much ſlaughter, made their way through a great number [Page 209] of the Britons, who had endeavoured to ſtop their paſſage. They took Camlodunum * the capital of one of the Britiſh Princes; and they paſſed on with ſuch a victorious quickneſs, that many of the Belgic colonies thought it a proper time to ſubmit. Claudius placed them under the government of Plautius; and, after a ſtay only of ſixteen days in the iſland, returned to Gaul, in his way to Italy.
The perſonal preſence of a powerful prince, is of great efficacy wherever he goes. The veni, vidi, vici of Julius, was a motto accidently applicable to Claudius Caeſar, who, in a little more than a fortnight ſubdued, partly by arms, and partly by the terror of his name, four colonies of Britons †. Plautius judged rightly in ſending for ſuch a figure to be carried about, at the head of the army: his judgment was not leſs exquiſite, in ſending it as quickly back. A longer ſtay might have diſcovered the idol to have been paſteboard; and the Britons might have deſpiſed the pageant, when they found it only a moving machine in the human form.
As ſoon as Claudius had ſet ſail, the Romans reſolved upon a farther progreſs into different parts of our iſland. They divided their troops under the command of two generals. Aulus Plautius, the propraetor, and Flavius Veſpaſianus, afterwards [Page 210] Emperor. The actions of Veſpaſian are mentioned by Dio and Suetonius, and are particularly extolled by Tacitus. Our Engliſh Hiſtorians are no leſs profuſe in his praiſes. Moſt of them aſſign to him the conqueſt of the iſle of Wight; and of the ſeveral other Belgic colonies, from Hampſhire, Wiltſhire, and Somerſetſhire, to the extremity of the weſtern part of Cornwall.
Plautius had undertaken the conqueſt of the more inland countries: but probably finding his taſk too difficult, he contented himſelf with the laurels which he had gained, and returned to Rome. Aſtorius Scapula ſucceeded him in the title of propraetor, and in the command of the army. Scapula, in attempting to purſue the plan of his predeceſſor, met with many difficulties. His adverſaries were endued with a certain ſtubborn bravery, that ſcorned the ſuperior power of the Romans. They fought with the reſolution of men, who eſteemed the enjoyment of their laws and liberty as the greateſt bleſſings under heaven. The love of liberty, and a true devotion to its cauſe, ſeems to have been implanted by nature itſelf in the breaſts of our forefathers. How ſtrangely, and from what incidents this elementary Britiſh fire was frequently evaporated, and again was amazingly rekindled, muſt be the ſubject-matter of future enquiry. Certainly it never ſhone forth with greater brightneſs than in the perſon and character of Caractacus: he was a prince of a noble birth, and a proud undaunted ſpirit: he was an able and a judicious commander. During nine years ſucceſſively, he had defended himſelf with inferior forces, againſt [Page 211] Oſtorius and the Roman army. He had often ſhifted his ground, and had withdrawn his troops into mountains and rocky places. Every paſſage that might prove acceſſible to the enemy, was ſtopt up, and fortified by heaps of ſtones. At length the Romans, growing aſhamed of their frequent diſappointments, and enraged to be outdone by a Briton, demoliſhed his fortreſſes, and forced him to an engagement. The event of the battle was fatal to Britain in general, and particularly unfortunate to Caractacus, whoſe wife and daughter were taken priſoners. The unhappy prince eſcaped, only to become more miſerable: he fled, in confidence of receiving friendſhip and protection from Cartiſmandua, queen of the Brigantes, who immediately betrayed him to the conquerors; and Caractacus, with his captive family, were ſent bound in chains to Rome.[To be continued.]
1.21. THE TRYAL OF THE MAID OF ORLEANS.
Extracted from the Archives of Normandy, by John Nagerel, canon and archdeacon of the church of Noſtre Dame at Rouen. Communicated to the author by a friend.
IN the year one thouſand four hundred and twenty nine, a young girl named Jane Taré, of the dutchy of Lorrain, declared ſhe had frequent revelations from heaven: ſhe was the daughter of a common labourer, and her whole life had been employed in tending cattle. God commanded her, ſhe ſaid, to go to Charles the ſeventh, king of France, in order to adviſe and aſſiſt him in the recovery of his dominions, then poſſeſſed by the Engliſh.
She was brought before the governor of Vaucouleurs, who looked upon her as diſordered in her mind, and diſmiſſed her. She inſiſted however ſo ſtrongly, and perſevered ſo much in her reſolutions to go and offer her ſervices to Charles, that the governor at laſt contented to have her conducted to Chinon where the king reſided.
Her behaviour there did not ſhew the embarraſſment of a country girl, but the unaffected politeneſs and ceremony of a courtier. She immediately diſtinguiſhed her royal maſter from among the crowd of his attendants, and ſaid to him that ſhe came in compliance to the almighty's orders to raiſe [Page 213] the ſiege of Orleans, and to recover the kingdom from Engliſh uſurpation, deſired him not to be apprehenſive of his enemies: that ſhe would attack them wherever ſhe met them: that ſhe made no doubt of ſucceeding in her attempts: and that his majeſty ſhould be ſoon peaceably eſtabliſhed upon the throne of his anceſtors.
Her anſwers were ſo pertinent and ſo juſt, that the king, the prelates, and the other clergy who were preſent, were very much amazed. It was revealed to her, ſhe ſaid, that in a neighbouring church was hid a ſword on which five Flower-deluces, the arms of France, were engraved.
The ſword was ſearched for, and found among ſome old iron in the church ſhe had mentioned. The king preſented it to her, and ſhe was ſoon accoutred in warlike dreſs. Every thing ſeemed familiar to her mind; her activity and addreſs were equal to thoſe of the moſt accompliſhed warriors.
When ſhe was admitted to his majeſty's council to adviſe on the exigency of affairs, ſhe ſpoke with ſo much knowledge, with ſo much prudence and wiſdom, that her opinion was often followed, and that of the moſt experienced generals laid aſide.
But what was more aſtoniſhing, when a council was held in her abſence, ſhe knew every thing that was propoſed and concluded there. However, his majeſty thought proper to deſire the maid to give him ſome unqueſtionable proofs of her being the meſſenger [Page 214] of God, as he might then entirely confide in her advice, and follow her inſtructions.
The king remembred very well his having made requeſts to God, which he had not ſince revealed even to his confeſſor; and ſaid that he would no longer doubt of Jane's divine legation, if ſhe could tell him what theſe entreaties were?
Your firſt ſuit was then, continued Jane, that if you were not the true heir to the crown of France, God would pleaſe to deprive you of the courage and deſire of continuing a war, in order to poſſeſs it, which had already cauſed ſo much bloodſhed and miſery throughout the kingdom. Your ſecond prayer was, that if the great troubles and misfortunes which the poor inhabitants of France have lately underwent, were the puniſhment of any ſins by you committed, that he would pleaſe to relieve the people of France, that you alone might be puniſhed, and make expiation, either by death or any torment he would pleaſe to inflict. Your third deſire was, that if the ſins of the people were the cauſe of their ſufferings, he would be pleaſed in his divine mercy to grant them pardon, and deliver them from the pains and miſeries which they have been labouring under already above twelve years.
[Page 215] Charles knowing the truth of all ſhe ſaid, was now firmly perſuaded that ſhe was a divine meſſenger, and placed much hopes in her aſſiſtance towards the recovery of his kingdom: ſoon after, aſſiſted by Jane, he raiſed the ſiege of Orleans, and re-took poſſeſſion of Gien, Gergueau, Meun, Baugenci, and many other places; and afterwards, by her perſuaſion, he ventured through the country of Champaign, though in the hands of the Engliſh, and went to Rheims, where he was anointed and crowned.
Jane carried the royal ſtandard at this ceremony, and, in a little time, contributed very much to the recovery of ſeveral towns and caſtles. Her reputation was at a great height; Charles always ſucceeded in every thing which ſhe propoſed and undertook; and in gratitude Jane had the credit of every thing that did ſucceed.
This brought upon her the hatred and envy of ſeveral of the commanders and chieftains of the French army, and at laſt proved fatal to her: for, in the year one thouſand four hundred and thirty one, the maid of Orleans being informed that the duke of Burgundy, with ſome Engliſh, had laid ſiege to the town of Compiegn, immediately departed at the head of a few troops, to ſtrengthen and ſupport the feeble garriſon that defended it.
A day or two after her arrival, ſome of the French lords propoſed to ſally out againſt the enemy; and though Jane did not think it adviſeable, yet, leſt ſhe ſhould be ſuſpected of cowardice or backwardneſs, ſhe conſented, unfortunately for her, to be one of the number.
[Page 216] As ſhe was ſupporting her country's cauſe with valour and intrepidity, ſome Frenchmen gave the ſignal for retreat, on which every body haſtened to get back to the gates, where there was ſo great a throng, that before ſhe could enter ſhe was taken by ſome of the troops of John of Luxemburgh, who was at the ſiege with the duke of Burgundy.
Luxemburgh ordered her to be conducted to the caſtle of Beaurevoir, where ſhe was ſtrictly guarded, as he was apprehenſive ſhe would endeavour to eſcape by magic art, or ſome other ſubtle means. The king of England, fearing that Luxemburgh would give her back to the French for a conſiderable ranſom, was very anxious to have her in his own cuſtody: but Luxemburgh abſolutely refuſed to deliver his priſoner; ſo that Henry was obliged to have recourſe to the biſhop of Beauvais, in whoſe dioceſs ſhe had been taken, entreating him to demand her as a perſon ſtrongly ſuſpected of hereſy and witchcraft, and therefore liable to be examined and tried by him, according to the laws of proceeding againſt heretics.
The biſhop, after much deliberation, conſented to demand the ſuſpected Jane from Luxemburgh, on paying him a reaſonable ranſom, if the aſſembly of divines of the univerſity of Paris would adviſe him ſo to do.
The aſſembly not only was of opinion that he could and ought to do it, but alſo in complaiſance, to the king of England, wrote to John of Luxemburgh, in the name of the univerſity, praying him to ſend his priſoner to the biſhop of Beauvais, [Page 217] in whoſe dioceſe ſhe was ſtill in cuſtody, and who alone had the right of trying her for the crimes of which ſhe ſtood accuſed.
This letter had the deſired effect, and Jane was given up to the biſhop, who immediately put her into the hands of the Engliſh, by whom ſhe was carried to Rouen, and there kept in ſtrong and cloſe confinement. Soon after, the king of England ſent the following order to the magiſtrates of Rouen, to deliver Jane to be examined and tried by the biſhop of Beauvais.
"Henry, by the grace of God, king of France and England, to our magiſtrates of Rouen greeting. It is publicly known, that for ſome time paſt a woman who calls herſelf Jane the Maiden, laying aſide the dreſs and habit of her ſex, which is againſt the law of God, and prohibited as an abominable practice by every law, and taking the dreſs and manner of man, has been guilty of many cruel homicides; and, in order to abuſe the weak minds of the people, has made them underſtand that ſhe was a meſſenger from God, and was privy to his divine ſecrets, and has entertained ſeveral other opinions contrary to our catholic faith, and ſcandalous and dangerous to our mother church. That while ſhe was in hoſtile act againſt us and our people, ſhe was taken before the walls of Compiegne by ſome of our loyal ſubjects, and brought priſoner to our town of Rouen. And whereas ſhe has been ſtrongly and univerſally ſuſpected of ſuperſtition, falſe doctrine, and other crimes againſt our holy church, we have been earneſtly ſollicited by the reverend father in God and faithful counſellor [Page 218] the biſhop of Beauvais, right eccleſiaſtical judge of the ſaid Jane, as taken in his dioceſs, and alſo entreated by our deareſt and moſt beloved daughter the univerſity of Paris, to give up and deliver our ſaid priſoner to be examined and tried by the ſaid biſhop, for the crimes of which ſhe ſtands ſuſpected and accuſed; and to proceed againſt her according to the ordinances and diſpoſitions of the divine and canon laws, in that caſe made and provided. And as we are willing, in reverence and honour to God, the defence and dignity of our holy church and catholic faith, devoutly to obey, as a true and humble ſon of the holy church, the deſires and demands of our daughter the univerſity of Paris, we order and deſire by theſe preſents, our officers and magiſtrates of Rouen, to deliver up and bring before the reverend father in God the biſhop of Beauvais, the ſaid Jane Taré, to be tried and proceeded againſt according to God, to reaſon, and to the divine and holy canons. Given at Rouen this third day of January, year of grace one thouſand four hundred and thirty one, and of our reign the third."
The Biſhop, impowered by this warrant, and having communicated the accuſation to the inquiſitor general of the faith, he aſſembled in the royal chapel of the caſtle of Rouen, Giles Abbot of Feſcamp, John Beaupere, John de Chatiſſon, James le Tiſſier, Nicholas Midy, Guerard Fueillet, William Hecton, Thomas de Courſelles, and Richard Proty, to aſſiſt him at the tryal of the ſaid Jane.
[Page 219] John Eſtivet, named proctor for this tryal by the biſhop, moved his lordſhip that the priſoner ſhould be brought into court and examined according to law, which was granted; and the priſoner having deſired leave to hear maſs, his lordſhip ſaid that he had taken advice on that head from ſeveral perſons of learning and wiſdom, whoſe opinion it was, that, conſidering the great crimes of which ſhe ſtood ſuſpected, and having infamouſly put on men's apparel, her requeſt ought not to be granted; and that therefore he overruled it.
His lordſhip then acquainted Jane, that ſhe being taken priſoner in his dioceſe, and being publickly accuſed of ſeveral crimes which were againſt the faith, not only in France but in every other kingdom, ſhe was delivered up to him to be tried in matters of faith. After which the proctor moved that the priſoner ſhould be ſworn to anſwer the truth to all ſuch queſtions as he ſhould aſk her; which was agreed to by the biſhop and his aſſiſtants.
His lordſhip then addreſſing himſelf to Jane, in a mild and charitable manner, begged ſhe would make true and faithful anſwers to every particular, as well to ſhorten the trial as for the diſcharge of her own conſcience, without any mental reſervation or evaſion whatſoever.
Jane replied, that ſhe was willing to communicate to the court every circumſtance ſhe knew about her birth, her parentage, and her arrival in France, as alſo every thing ſhe did ſince; but as to the revelations which ſhe had from God, that ſhe never told them but to Charles, whom ſhe called her king; and that ſhe would never diſcloſe them to any other, though her ſilence ſhould coſt her her head.
The biſhop then exhorted her to tell truth in matters of faith; Jane then kneeling, placed both her hands on the maſs-book, and ſwore that ſhe would declare the truth in every thing relative to her faith; but would not diſcloſe what God had revealed to her, to any perſon whatſoever.
On her next appearance in court ſhe complained that irons had been put on her legs: on which the biſhop reminded her that ſhe often attempted to eſcape from priſon; ſo that the jailor was obliged to keep her in irons and cloſe confinement.
Jane owned that ſome time before ſhe did ſtrive to get away, as it was natural and lawful for every priſoner to do; and added, that even if ſhe had [Page 221] made her eſcape, ſhe could, not be accuſed of a breach of promiſe therein, as ſhe had made none to any body.
Upon this anſwer the biſhop immediately ordered John Ris, John Bernet, and William Talbot, in whoſe hands ſhe was then entruſted, to watch her narrowly; and not allow any body to ſpeak to her, without a ſpecial order ſigned by him.
She anſwered, that her mother had taught her to ſew; and ſhe added, that ſhe did not believe there was a woman in the city of Rouen who could teach her any thing. She ſaid that ſhe had left her parent's houſe partly through fear of the duke of Burgundy's army; that ſhe went to Neufchattel with a woman named La Rouſe, where ſhe remained a fortnight; that ſhe was there in quality of maid-ſervant, and did not go to the fields to take care of ſheep or other cattle during that time.
She anſwered, ſhe did, to her pariſh prieſt, except when he happened to be buſy, and then ſhe confeſſed to another prieſt with his leave; that ſhe had confeſſed two or three times to a mendicant friar; and that ſhe received the body of our Saviour every year at Eaſter.
She made no anſwer; but ſaid, that from the age of thirteen ſhe heard the voice of our ſaviour, which directed her how to behave; that the firſt time ſhe heard the voice ſhe was in very great fear; [Page 222] that ſhe heard it about mid-day, in ſummer time, in her father's garden, it being that day a faſt; that the voice ſeemed to come from the right, where the neighbouring church was ſituated; that ſhe perceived a certain brightneſs which accompanied the voice; that when ſhe had heard it the third time, ſhe knew it to be a heavenly voice; that it has taken care of her ſince that time.
She anſwered, that it ſhewed how to conduct herſelf in life; that it recommended to her to frequent church and other devout exerciſes; afterwards it told her it was neceſſary ſhe ſhould go to France, which it repeated twice or thrice a week till ſhe departed: it deſired her to make haſte, and go away unknown to her parents; that ſhe was to raiſe the ſiege of Orleans; that ſhe ſhould go to Robert de Baudricourt, who would give her guides to conduct her; that ſhe then ſaid to the voice, that ſhe was but a poor country girl, and entirely ignorant of the art of war; that ſhe went ſoon after to her uncle's houſe, where ſhe ſtaid a week; that her uncle carried her to Robert de Baudricourt; that the voice had taught her to diſtinguiſh this gentleman, though ſhe had never ſeen him before; that he twice refuſed to grant her deſire; but at laſt he was prevailed on to have her conducted to France; that ſhe then aſſumed man's apparel, and wore a ſword which Robert de Baudricourt gave her a little before ſhe departed; that ſhe was accompanied by a knight and four other men; that ſhe often heard the voice on her road to France.
She anſwered, that the voice inſtructed her ſo to do; and that ſhe accuſed no other perſon of it: that on her departure from Robert de Baudricourt, he ſaid to her, ‘You may depart, let what will happen.’ She alſo added that it was abſolutely neceſſary ſhe ſhould change her dreſs. Some time after ſhe ſaid that ſhe was ſure the duke of Orleans was much beloved by God; that there was not a man in France, except the king, of whom ſhe had ſo many revelations as of the duke of Orleans.
She anſwered, that ſhe addreſſed ſome letters to the Engliſh who were before Orleans, deſiring them to part from thence; and that they would abſolutely be obliged to raiſe the ſiege: that ſhe has been told that ſome words had been altered in her letters, where ſhe deſired the French territories ſhould be given up to Charles, the lawful king. In the place of which have been inſerted, as ſhe was informed, that they ſhould be given up to Jane the Maiden: that ſhe did not call herſelf a warrior in theſe letters, as it was ſaid, had been ſince added to them.
She then related, that ſhe arrived without any difficulty at Chinon, where the king reſided; that ſhe arrived about noon, lodged at an inn, and after dinner waited on his majeſty, whom ſhe immediately diſtinguiſhed from his attendants, by the inſtructions of the voice; that ſhe told him ſhe [Page 224] was reſolved to go fight againſt the Engliſh. Being aſked whether, when the voice pointed out the king to her, there was any ſhining light over the king? ſhe would make no anſwer.
She anſwered, ‘I will not tell you as yet; but you may go to the king and he will inform you.’ She added, that the voice told her that ſoon after her arrival his majeſty would accept the offer of her ſervices; that thoſe of her own party were confident the voice came from God; that they ſaw and heard the voice; that ſhe knew it very well; that the king and ſeveral of his council had heard and ſeen the voice coming towards her; and among the reſt Charles duke of Bourbon; that the only thing ſhe ever aſked of the voice was, the ſalvation of her ſoul; that it deſired her to ſtay at St. Dennis in France, where ſhe would have remained, but that the lords would not let her, as ſhe was wounded; and that otherwiſe ſhe would not have left it; that ſhe had been wounded in the trenches of Paris, and cured in five days; that ſhe commanded at a conſiderable attack near Paris.
The court adjourned to conſider matters, and being met again, the biſhop of Beauvais exhorted and deſired the priſoner to ſwear abſolutely, and without reſerve to tell the truth of every thing the court would aſk her.
On which ſhe deſired his lordſhip's leave to ſpeak, and it being granted, ſaid, ‘It is poſſible you may aſk me queſtions which I certainly will not anſwer, eſpecially relative to revelations; perhaps you would inſiſt on my informing you of what I already ſwore I would not mention; that would be perjury, and you ought not to deſire me to perjure myſelf. Take care, my lord biſhop, what you are about; you pretend you have juriſdiction over me; you will have a great deal to anſwer for if you do not prove an upright judge to me.’ She added, that ſhe thought it enough to have ſwore twice.
She anſwered, that they might do without it, as ſhe had already ſwore twice; that all the clergy of Rouen ſhould not oblige her to tell every thing; that ſhe could not tell all in eight days; that ſhe would communicate every circumſtance of her arrival in France, but not every thing elſe.
Being deſired a third time to ſwear without reſerve, and informed that her refuſal would render her ſuſpected to the court, ſhe made the ſame anſwer as before, and added, that ſhe was come from God; that ſhe had nothing to do in that court, [Page 226] and deſired they might ſend her back to God, whoſe meſſenger ſhe was.
Being once more fully and ſtrongly admoniſhed to tell the whole truth relative to her caſe, letting her know the danger ſhe put herſelf in by a refuſal, ſhe ſaid ſhe was ready to tell every thing concerning her caſe, but not every thing ſhe knew; and then ſhe ſwore.
She anſwered, ‘It comes from God, I will not tell you all I know on that ſubject; I am more uneaſy, leſt I ſhould ſay any thing at which it might be diſpleaſed, than I am about anſwering you; and therefore relative to this queſtion, I deſire delay.’
She anſwered, ſhe thought he would not; but that what the voice revealed to her, ſhe was to tell Charles the Seventh, king of France, and not to the biſhop of Beauvais. She then added, that the night before the voice ſaid ſeveral things to her for the ſervice of his majeſty, which ſhe wiſhed he was informed of.
She anſwered, ſhe did not know whether it would obey her, unleſs ſuch was the deſire of God, and [Page 228] that our Saviour conſented to it; and if it was the will of God, he might very well reveal it himſelf to the king.
After many interrogatories, and the examination of ſeveral witneſſes, ſhe was condemned to be burned, and conſumed as a heretic; and was accordingly brought to the old market-place of Rouen, and there, after a long exhortation, the ſentence pronounced againſt her was put in execution; which was a great loſs to the king of France, who was then unable to aſſiſt her: but when he recovered Rouen, he cauſed her trial to be brought before the judges, who declared her innocent of the crimes for which ſhe ſo unjuſtly ſuffered.
THERE ſcarcely ever perhaps was any ſyſtem, doctrine, or opinion broach'd with more aſſurance, or that, for the time of its vogue, met with a greater and more univerſal approbation, than that which urg'd the idea of a metempſychoſis, or tranſmigration of the ſoul, the ſpring or ſource of action, into various organized bodies, in which it had opportunities of exerting itſelf in different manners, and of producing different effects. Pythagoras, who was perhaps the wiſeſt as well as the moſt humane of all the heathen philoſophers, was, if not the firſt, at leaſt the moſt conſiderable amongſt all thoſe who gave any ſanction to a principle, which, however productive of the moſt deſirable effects, has nevertheleſs appeared extremely abſurd; and, conſequently, in ages more enlightend [Page 230] in philoſophical, tho' perhaps leſs ſo in the more advantageous branches of real knowledge, has been rejected as entirely diſſonant to experimental conviction; and therefore, without trial, judge, or jury, deſerving to be caſt aſide by thoſe who think they can know nothing unleſs they are maſters of every thing; and would almoſt renounce an intercourſe with the Lord of nature, unleſs they thought themſelves able to dive into every motive of his actions.
Notwithſtanding, however, this univerſal rejection of a ſyſtem once was univerſally received, ſome of the more calm and rational devotees of philoſophy have with great juſtice imagined, that an opinion advanced with ſo much poſitiveneſs, and accepted with ſo much zeal; inculcated by a man who could not impoſe on himſelf, and followed by a ſet of people who ſcarcely could be impoſed upon, muſt have more in it than at firſt ſight it appears to convey. Some of theſe, therefore, have endeavoured to ſolve it, by ſuppoſing a hidden meaning, and others by imagining a conceal'd intention to be veiled under a principle which, in its literal ſenſe, was ſo repugnant both to the innate conviction of the learned, and the hourly obſervation of the vulgar. The firſt claſs of theſe rationaliſts imagined the impulſe of a benevolent mind to have been the only motive that urg'd that great philoſopher to advance a doctrine, which would terrify mankind from the deſtruction of animals, either in general or in particular, by the ſuppoſition of a poſſibility that, in taking away the life of any animal, however indifferent or even hurtful it might be to them [Page 231] for other reaſons, the animated part, perhaps, of ſome dear relation, or renowned anceſtor, might not only be diſturbed, but even be exil'd from the ſpot of its immediate reſidence, and not improbably tranſplanted into ſome ſtate more painful and oppoſite to its natural biaſs and inclination, and ſtill more contrary to our own ideas of happineſs and ſatisfaction.
Another ſet again, calling to their aſſiſtance the myſterious inveſtigations of the cabala, have endeavoured to prove that Pythagoras having ſtudy'd very cloſely the Egyptian mythology, which perpetually dealt in myſtery and hieroglyphics, ſome conceal'd meaning was ſtill conveyed in every part of his philoſophy: and that, like the parables and fables of the eaſtern teachers, every thing he preach'd was merely allegorical, only to be underſtood by thoſe whom he choſe peculiarly to enlighten, that is to ſay, by the diſciples of his own ſchool; whilſt to the vulgar an external ſhew of ſomewhat was ſet forth, which, from his ipſe dixit alone, they were bound implicitly to obey.
Now it is by no means impoſſible that both of theſe ſuppoſitions may in ſome meaſure be right: that is to ſay, that the amiable ſage we have mentioned might, from a perfect knowledge of the power of ſuperſtition on the mind of uninſtructed men, make uſe of a maxim ſo well adapted for the purpoſe, to put a check to that unlimited deſtruction of animal life, which luxury and ſportive cruelty had introduced into the world; and alſo that he might at the ſame time, under the veil of a like fable, convey to thoſe, who were his more immediate pupils, the idea [Page 232] of that incorruptibility of the human ſoul, which, from a want of thoſe advantages that revelation has beſtowed on us, he might imagine neceſſary to find ſome employment and diſtinction for; and by ordaining ſuch diſtinction in one period of its exiſtence, to be pointed out and determined by the inclination ſhewn by it in the preceding one, he might ſuppoſe, and no doubt his ſuppoſition met with confirmation from experience, that his diſciples would be likely to model their actions according as they were influenced by the hope of rereward or dread of puniſhment,
Thus far, therefore, may the ſuggeſtions which have been advanced in the Pythagorean philoſophy be well grounded. Yet there ſeems to be one moſt palpable obſervation, which has ſlipp'd all the commentators on, and ſolvers of this doctrine I have hitherto met with; and that is, from whence the firſt idea of ſuch an opinion derived its original idea? No remembrance, no conception of a pre-exiſtent ſtate, continued in the mind of man to give it credit, and the aſſurance of the perfect corruptibility of all animals after death, concurred in ſome meaſure to contradict it: whereon, then, ſhould theſe great men found the baſis of a doctrine which, however aided forwards, and adorned by fable to confirm its power, muſt have needed at leaſt the appearance of probability, ſomething more than mere ipſe dixit, to eſtabliſh its firſt belief in the minds of the vulgar, which, little capable of philoſophical reaſonings, or theoretical inveſtigations, muſt have their ideas fixt by ſome connection and analogy between what their ſenſes [Page 233] are capable of diſcerning, and what their minds are to be taught to believe?
This being premiſed, from whence could be derived the doctrine of the Metempſychoſis, or tranſmigration of the ſoul; but from a ſimilar tranſmigration of the more viſible ſoul; that is to ſay, of animal life, diſtinguiſhable from the ſlighteſt obſervation of Nature's works, and hourly performed under our very eyes? Of theſe changes there are many varieties; of which it is impoſſible that the ancient philoſophers, who were perhaps cloſer and more accurate obſervers than the moderns, could have been ignorant of in their fulleſt extent: and as even the very huſbandman and labourer muſt alſo be well informed of ſeveral of them, it is not in the leaſt improbable that an advantageous uſe might be made of theſe ſo well-known circumſtances, for the illuſtrating and enforcing opinions, which it was neceſſary to inculcate the moſt forcibly in thoſe minds which were the leaſt capable of ſpeculative or hypothetical theology.
Here, however, let us drop this conjecture, which I have rather introduced with a view of corroborating the principle which I firſt ſet out with in defence of the ſtudy of philoſophy, viz. that the obſervations we cannot avoid making in the courſe of it, may be employed with great propriety towards humanizing the heart, and producing the moſt amiable effects in the general oeconomy of life and government. Was I to expatiate farther on the very ſubject before us, it might not perhaps be difficult to evince that theſe changes, even of the very loweſt claſs of animals, that is to ſay, of the [Page 234] inſect tribe, might be rendered not unſerviceable even in the preſent more enlightened period, when chriſtianity and revelation have drawn us out of the labyrinths of doubt and ſuggeſtion into the plainer and unwinding paths of more aſſured truth; yet ſtill, I ſay, theſe changes might form to us, by analogy, the idea of a future and more exalted ſtate; and convince us, that whilſt we ſee the very minuteſt animals undergoing amazing alterations and metamorphoſes, riſing from the grovelling ſtate of a grub or water-worm, to range the wide expanſe of air, before they ſubmit to the univerſal law of annihilation, it muſt be impoſſible that the Lord of them all, for whoſe uſe, amuſement, or inſtruction, they have all been created, ſhould only paſs through a ſeries of years, for the moſt part miſerable ones, even with thoſe who poſſeſs the happieſt lot on earth, in little more than meer animal exiſtence, and then ſink down into the grave in common with them all, without enjoying ſome more exalted privilege; and, in proportion to the rank he here poſſeſs'd, becoming leſs encumber'd and fit to travel through and fully reliſh thoſe other works of the Creator, of which even now, before ‘We have ſhaken off this mortal coil,’ The very idea dazzles our imagination, and confounds our faculties; and of which we ſee juſt enough of to admire his power, but know not ſufficiently to comprehend his wiſdom.
[Page 235] They are of many different kinds, and proceed, as all nature's works do, in a regular gradation; forming an aſcent, the ſteps of which are ſcarcely viſible; and yet the height, when we have reached it, moſt obvious and amazing.
Thoſe kinds of animals which are viviparous, or produce their young alive, and apparently in a complete ſtate, undergo the ſlighteſt alterations of any; yet ſome even they have. Growth itſelf, the diſtenſion of parts, and increaſe of bulk, may be looked on as the loweſt ſteps of this ladder, and theſe all animals have in common, man not excepted; who, lordly as he is, when in his more perfect growth, is not only the moſt helpleſs and imperfect at his birth, but longer continues in that ſituation, than any other member of the animal world.—Excepting this incrementive change, however, he undergoes no other alteration in this life, but the addition of ſome excremental parts, ſuch as teeth, hair, &c.
Next to him, in ſtability of condition, we muſt place the quadrupeds, who, beſide theſe additions, ſeem to be annually changed by the loſs and renovation of their external covering, which almoſt all of them ſuffer, by what we call caſting their coats. This change however is very gradual, and almoſt inviſible, the ſame ſubſtances, and bearing the very ſame marks and colours, ſucceeding to their predeceſſors, ſo as to leave the animal in appearance the very ſame he was at firſt. One exception however there is to this, in thoſe which undergo this alteration twice within the courſe of the year, as do the bears, foxes, hares, &c. in Greenland and other cold countries, [Page 236] whoſe furs in the winter ſeaſon intirely drop thoſe colours which would render them more conſpicuous to their reſpective enemies, by ſtanding contraſted to the whiteneſs of the ſnow with which the whole ground is covered, and aſſume a pure white; which again quits them as the warmth of ſummer, by reſtoring the reſt of nature to its original appearance, renders ſuch a refuge unneceſſary to them.
One claſs however of the viviparous animals undergo a more immediate and viſible alteration, and that is the ſerpent kind, who, having no hair or furr to loſe more gradually, caſt their whole covering at once in certain periods; and are ſo dexterous in the doing this, although devoid of the aſſiſtance of feet or claws, that the whole ſkins of them will frequently be found entire, without even ſo much as the cornea, or outward caſe of the eyes, which is affixed to the reſt of the exuvium, being at all broken. From this renovation, which was well known to the ancients, and which is even attended by an additional brilliancy of colouring, a freſh glow of beauty, and a renewal of that ſtrength and vigour which is conſtantly abated ſome little time before the change is brought about, it was that the antient writers conſidered the ſnake as an emblem of health; as may be ſeen in its being made the ſymbol of Eſculapius, the God of phyſic, and a repreſentation of time and eternity, ever deſtroyed and ever renewing, as we find from many of their coins; in which this animal, holding his tail in his mouth, is conſtantly attended with ſome legend or device expreſſive of duration.
[Page 237] Next to theſe are the oviparous animals, or thoſe who make their firſt appearance in a ſtate of intire inaction, and devoid of any ſign of life, but that of ſome kind of vital warmth; but yet afterwards, either by the natural heat of the tender parent, by the warmth of the ſurrounding atmoſphere, or by the more intenſe rays of the ſun, are, as it were, ripened by degrees; and being ſecured, through the period of infantile inactivity, in a cell wherein food, raiment, and lodging are diſpenſed within themſelves, they at length burſt forth, ſome in their fully complete ſtate, as the lizards, ſpiders, crabs, lobſters, &c. and in general all the ſpecies of fiſh; and others, amongſt which are all the bird-claſs, requiring the ſame degree of perfecting that the viviparous ones do, by the addiction of their excrementitious parts, ſuch as feathers, &c.—And of theſe creatures almoſt every ſpecies that we are acquainted with ſtands in need beſides of thoſe additional alterations we have mentioned in the viviparous claſſes. The birds of all ſorts moult their feathers at certain periods, and even change the colour of them in the winter ſeaſons of the cold countries, as we have deſcribed the quadrupeds to do by their furs. The lizard kind drop their ſkins like the ſnakes, (which they the neareſt reſemble in ſubſtance, and even in figure, excepting the addition of four very ſhort feet) and ſome of them, particularly the water-newt, ſo frequently as once in every fortnight or three weeks; and all the ſpider, crab, and lobſter kind, whoſe outward coverings are cruſtaceous, and therefore incapable of diſtention, and ſo connected as not to be gradually dropt like [Page 238] hair or feathers, caſt their ſhells entire at certain times of the year, when nature kindly provides them with ſuch ſupplimentary juices as, by a ſort of exudation from their pores, form a new ſhell beneath.
Now, however, let us proceed to thoſe whoſe metamorphoſes are more complete and diſtinct; and which, being firſt allodged by the parent in one element, or appearing fully poſſeſſed of animal life under one figure, do afterwards aſſume another and very different form, and find their food, their buſineſs, and their pleaſure in another and very different element.
Of theſe ſome live their firſt period in the earth, others in the water. The inhabitants of this laſt named element content themſelves with making earth their reſidence in their completer ſtate; whilſt thoſe who firſt creep on the earth, when become more perfect, uſually find the air the region where their more improved form is enabled to exert its abilites.
As we do not propoſe to enter here into a particular natural hiſtory, but only to treat of a general property, we need only mention a ſingle example of each kind. The frog is the moſt univerſally known inſtance of the firſt ſort; the egg of which, being laid and nouriſhed in the water, produces a ſmall, but lively animal, which we call a tadpole. Its body is almoſt globular, and ſeems furniſhed with no other limbs but a thin filmy tail, which ſerves to ſteer and move its body very briſkly in the water, to which its reſidence is entirely confined, during its continuance in this form; yet, after a [Page 239] certain ſpace of time, ſmall legs and feet begin to be diſcernible under the looſened skin of this little creature, which gradually burſting their way thro' it, firſt one, then a ſecond, and ſo to the number of four, and laſtly, dropping the finney tail which had hitherto been ſo very uſeful and neceſſary to it, it now, as if it diſdained the element it had firſt been bred in, leaps on ſhore, and ſpringing over large tracts of land, becomes changed from a fiſh to a perfect terreſtrial quadruped, and ranges at large over that very ground on which during its former ſtate it would have been death for it to have been caſt.
Of the other part of metamorphoſis of theſe ſtates, viz. from the earth to the air, we ſhall mention at preſent only the beetle claſs, and more particularly the cock-chaffer, or jeffry-cock, as an inſect univerſally known. The female of this animal lays her eggs in the earth, where, by means of an inſtrument, which nature has purpoſely provided her with, ſhe is able to depoſit them at ſome depth below the ſurface. Each of theſe, after a due time, is hatched into a ſoft white jointed grub, with ſix ſhort clawed feet, and armed about the head, which is of a dark-brown colour, with a ſhelly coat, and two or three pair of very ſtrong fangs or forcipes, by which means it is moſt amply furniſhed with the means of forcing its way in the mold where it was lodged, and of cutting and tearing to pieces for its nouriſhment the roots not only of the tenderer herbage, but even thoſe fibres which the ſtronger roots of trees puſh forth to form a ſurer hold in the ground, to both which theſe voracious [Page 240] animals frequently do very great miſchief. After continuing however in this ſituation, with no difference but increaſe of bulk, for two whole years, a ſhelly covering forms over its ſoft body; a pair of fine and filmy wings grow from the top of his back, to preſerve which from danger, when unneceſſary for uſe, a pair of cruſtaceous coverings are provided, and now forcing his way thro' the ſurface of the ground, he comes forth a lively inhabitant of the air; and ſoaring at will wherever he pleaſes, ſeems, by a buzzing ſong, to proclaim his ſatisfaction at being able now with equal greedineſs to devour the leaves and fruits, as he had before done the roots and fibres of whatever plant or tree he chuſes to fix upon.
I AM one of your readers, and bear you that ſort of good will which we naturally feel for perſons who contribute to our amuſement. I have done what very few friends do; I have ſpoke well of you behind your back, and have not ſcrupled to declare in all companies, that Mrs. Penelope Spindle's attack upon your reputation is extremely unjuſt.
She denies that you are lineally deſcended from the ancient family of the Triflers; and confidently aſſerts that you have taken a province which you cannot fill; but unfortunately for her, the arguments ſhe brings in ſupport of this opinion, are thoſe which may be moſt ſucceſsfully urged againſt [Page 242] it. Are love and courtſhip, ſhe ſays, proper ſubjects for a trifler? Moſt certainly; for in this polite age, love and courtſhip are meer trifles; marriage is a trifle; virtue is an egregious trifle; wiſdom, morality, religion, all are trifles; and there is nothing ſerious but cards. I maintain that hitherto the ſubjects of your paper have been conſiſtent with your title. You have knowledge enough of life to perceive that cards is the ſole buſineſs of it: and tho' there are many other ſerious affairs, ſuch as balls, operas, concerts, maſquerades, and the like, which claim the attention of perſons of rank and fortune, yet all theſe muſt yield to cards.
As a trifler therefore, you have wiſely avoided entering upon ſo great and important a matter: you have confined yourſelf to ſuch topics, as moſt of your readers will readily allow to be trifles; and when you talk of wit, learning, economy; when you recommend reſervedneſs, and a contempt for faſhionable amuſements, there is not a fine lady in town who does not acknowledge the propriety of your title, and declare that you are an intolerable trifler.
Mrs. Spindle ſays, it is common for periodical authors to forget their titles; that the Tatler often talks with the moſt ſolemn auſterity of wiſdom; and that the Guardian deviates into many topicks, with which, as a guardian, he has no concern. I wiſh, for the ſake of your reputation as a writer, that you would follow their example, and ſometimes forget your title. If you hope to have your paper read with general approbation, do not dwell ſo much upon exploded trifles, unworthy the attention [Page 243] of perſons of polite education. Raiſe your thoughts to things ſolid and rational; ſhew us the ſtrength of your reaſoning, in a diſſertation on whiſt; and the ſubtilty of your wit, by leading us through all the mazes of quadril: if you have any genius for poetry, write a panegyric on loo; and if you dare venture on ſo ſublime a ſubject, let your muſe record the daring flights of brag.
Your Humble Servant, MARIA.
THE gaiety with which you ſet out in your firſt paper, and the agreeable manner in which you acknowledge your fondneſs for admiration, perſuaded ſeveral of your readers, that the character under which you appeared was not aſſumed, but a real one: however, I am much miſtaken if the Trifler is not written by the ſame moral pen that has given us ſo beautiful a picture of female virtue, in the hiſtory of Henrietta.
In full confidence therefore of your being no coquet, I dare ſolicit you to let looſe all your ſatire againſt coquetry. Conſider it not as folly, but as vice, and do not treat it with railery, but with ſharp rebuke.
Oh that I had a pen like yours! and that I could think with equal force, and expreſs thoſe thoughts with equal elegance. That inordinate deſire of being admired, which prevails only among the leaſt deſerving of our ſex, ſhould be diſplayed in its true colours, and loſe the ſoft name of coquetry under which it is diſguiſed for that of libertiniſm which is its real characteriſtic.
Wonder not at my vehemence, madam: my peace and happineſs have been ſacrificed to that deteſtable [Page 245] vanity, which ſeeks its gratification in the miſery of others. I have been deprived of the affection of a huſband whom I love with the moſt paſſionate tenderneſs; the ſoft union we formerly lived in is diſſolved; diſcord now rages in a family which was once all harmony and love, and this ruin is the work of a coquet, who, to indulge her paſſion for admiration, and to add a new adorer to her train, has made me miſerable for ever: me who never injured her; me who was once her friend.
Your conſtant Reader, PERDITA.
AS ſoon as Mr Herbert went away, Harriot, who had been liſtening, and had heard all that paſt, entered the room. The virtue and ſtrength of mind her ſiſter ſhewed in the deſign ſhe had formed of flying from Sir Charles Stanley excited her envy; and ſhe would have joined with her mother in endeavouring to prevail upon her to ſtay, to prevent the ſuperiority ſuch conduct gave her, had not that envy found a more ſenſible gratification in the thought that Sophia would no longer receive the adorations of the young baronet; and that all her towering hopes would be changed to diſappointment and grief.
The diſcontinuance of thoſe preſents which Sir Charles ſo liberally beſtowed on them, evidently on Sophia's account, and which had hitherto enabled them to live in affluence, affected her but little; for vanity is a more powerful paſſion than intereſt in the heart of a coquet; and the pleaſure of ſeeing her ſiſter mortified and deſerted by her lover out-weighed [Page 247] all other confiderations: beſides, ſhe was not without hopes that when Sophia was out of the way, her charms would regain all their former influence over the heart of Sir Charles.
She came prepared therefore to ſupport her in her reſolution of going into the country; but Mrs. Darnley, who did not enter into her views, and who had no other attention but to ſecure to herſelf that eaſe and affluence ſhe at preſent enjoyed, expected Harriot would uſe her utmoſt efforts to prevent her ſiſter from diſobliging a man whoſe liberality was the ſource of their happineſs.
She complained to her in a tender manner of Sophia's unkindneſs; ſhe exaggerated the ill conſequences that might be apprehended from the affront ſhe put on Sir Charles, by thus avowing the moſt injurious ſuſpicions of him; and declared ſhe expected nothing leſs than to be reduced by the loſs of her penſion to that ſtate of miſery from which he had formerly relieved her.
Sophia melted into tears at theſe words; but a moment's reflection convinced her, that her mother's apprehenſions were altogether groundleſs: Sir Charles was not capable of ſo mean a revenge; and Sophia, on this occaſion, defended him with ſo much ardor, that Miſs Darnley could not help indulging her malice, by throwing out ſome ſevere ſarcaſms upon the violence of her affection for a man whom ſhe affected to deſpiſe.[Page 246] [...] [Page 247] [...]
This retort threw Harriot into ſo violent a rage, that Sophia who knew what exceſſes ſhe was capable of, left the room, and retired to pack up her cloaths, that ſhe might be ready when Mr. Herbert called for her.
In this employment Mrs. Darnley gave her no interruption; for Harriot having quitted her mother in a huff, becauſe ſhe did not join with her againſt Sophia, ſhe was left at liberty to purſue her own reflections. After long doubt and perplexity in what manner to act, ſhe reſolved to conſent that Sophia ſhould depart; for ſhe ſaw plainly that it would not be in her power to prevent it, and ſhe was willing to derive ſome merit from the neceſſity ſhe was under of complying. She conſidered that if Sir Charles really loved her daughter, her flight on ſuch motives would rather increaſe than leſſen his paſſion; and that all his reſentment for being deprived of her ſight would fall upon Mr. Herbert, who was alone in fault.
Mrs. Darnley, as has been before obſerved, was not of a temper to anticipate misfortunes, or to give herſelf much uneaſineſs about evils in futurity: ſhe always hoped the beſt, not becauſe ſhe had any well-grounded reaſons for it, but becauſe it was much more pleaſing to hope than to fear.
[Page 249] Sophia, when ſhe ſaw her next, found her ſurpriſingly altered: ſhe not only no longer oppoſed her going, but even ſeemed deſirous of it; and this ſhe thought a maſter-piece of cunning which could not fail of gaining Mr. Herbert's good opinion; never once reflecting that her former oppoſition deprived her of all the merit of a voluntary compliance.
This change in Mrs. Darnley left Sophia no more difficulties to encounter but what ſhe found in her own heart. Induſtrious to deceive herſelf, ſhe had imputed all the uneaſy emotions there to the grief of leaving her mother contrary to her inclination: ſhe had now her free conſent to go, yet ſtill thoſe perturbations remained. She thanked her mother for her indulgence: ſhe took her hand, and tenderly preſſed it to her lips, tears at the ſame time flowing faſt from her eyes.
Mrs. Darnley was cruel enough to ſhew that ſhe underſtood the cauſe of this hidden paſſion. ‘What, ſaid ſhe, to the poor bluſhing Sophia, after all the clutter you have made about leaving Sir Charles, does your heart fail you, now you come to the trial?’
Sophia, abaſhed and ſilent, hid her glowing face with her handkerchief; and having with ſome difficulty repreſt another guſh of tears, aſſumed compoſure enough to tell her mother that ſhe hoped ſhe ſhould never want fortitude to do her duty.
‘Sophia however underſtood hers ſo well that ſhe did not offer to recriminate upon this occaſion; [Page 250] for Mrs. Darnley was but a ſhallow politician, and was thrown ſo much off her guard by the vexation ſhe felt, that an affair on which ſhe built ſuch great hopes had taken ſo different a turn, that ſhe gave plain indications of her diſpleaſure, and that her conſent to her daughter's going was indeed extorted from her.’
Sophia had many of theſe aſſaults to ſuſtain, as well from Harriot as Mrs. Darnley, during the remainder of that day; but they were of ſervice to her. Her pride was concerned to prevent giving a real cauſe for ſuch ſarcaſms as her ſiſter in particular threw out: oppoſition kept up her ſpirits, and preſerved her mind from yielding to that tender grief which the idea of parting for ever from Sir Charles excited.
When Mr. Herbert came the next morning, Mrs. Darnley, who had no better part to play, had recourſe again to diſſimulation, and expreſſed great willingneſs to ſend her daughter away; but the good man, who ſaw the feint in her overacted ſatisfaction, ſuffered her to imagine that ſhe had effectually impoſed upon him.
Sophia wept when ſhe took leave of her mother, and returned the cold ſalute her ſiſter gave her with an affectionate embrace. She ſighed deeply as Mr. Herbert helped her into the poſt-chaiſe; and continued penſive and ſilent for ſeveral minutes, not daring to raiſe her eyes up to her kind conductor, leſt he ſhould read in them what paſſed in her heart.
Mr. Herbert, who gueſſed what ſhe felt upon this occaſion, was ſenſibly affected with that ſoft melancholy, [Page 251] ſo eaſy to be diſcovered in her countenance, notwithſtanding all her endeavours to conceal it. He wiſhed to comfort her, but the ſubject was too delicate to be mentioned: kind and indulgent as he was, he began to think his admired Sophia carried her concern on this occaſion too far; ſo true it is, that the caſe of tried virtue is harder than that of untried: we require from it as debts continual exertions of its power, and if we are at any time diſappointed in our expectations, we blame with reſentment as if we had been deceived.
Sophia's ſenſibility, however, was very excuſable; in flying from Sir Charles ſhe had done all that the moſt rigid virtue could demand; for as yet ſhe had only ſuſpicions againſt him; and this man, whoſe generous gift ſhe had returned with ſilent ſcorn, whom ſhe had avoided as an enemy, had hitherto behaved to her with all the tenderneſs of a lover, and all the benevolence of a friend. It was under that amiable idea that he now preſented himſelf to her imagination; her pride and her reſentment were appeaſed by the ſacrifice ſhe had made in her abrupt departure, and every unkind thought of him was changed to tender regret for his loſs.
Mr. Herbert, by not attempting to divert the courſe of her reflections, ſoon drew her out of her revery: his ſilence and reſerve firſt intimated to her the impropriety of her behaviour. She immediately aſſumed her uſual compoſure, and during the remainder of their little journey, ſhe appeared as chearful and ſerene as if nothing extraordinary had happened.[Page 250] [...] [Page 251] [...]
[Page 252] The good curate with whom ſhe was to lodge having rode out to meet his friend and his fair gueſt, joined them when they had come within three miles of his houſe. Mr. Herbert, who had deſcried him at a little diſtance, ſhewed him to Sophia: ‘There, my dear, ſaid he, is a man who with more piety and learning than would ſerve to make ten biſhops is obliged to hire himſelf out at the rate of ſixty pounds a year, to do the duty of the pariſh-church, the rector of which enjoys three lucrative benefices, without praying or preaching above five times in a twelvemonth.’
Sophia was particularly pleaſed with the candor and benevolence which appeared in the looks and behaviour of the good clergyman; who gazed on her attentively, and found the good opinion he had entertained of her from Mr. Herbert's repreſentations fully confirmed. The bewitching ſweetneſs in her voice and eyes, the ſpirit that animated her looks, and the peculiar elegance of her addreſs, produced their uſual effects, and filled Mr. Lawſon's heart with ſentiments of tenderneſs, eſteem, and reſpect for her.
Mrs. Lawſon and her two daughters received her with that true politeneſs which is founded on good ſenſe and good nature. Both the young women were extremely agreeable in their perſons, and Sophia contemplated with admiration the neat ſimplicity [Page 253] of their dreſs, their artleſs beauty, and native ſweetneſs of manners. Health died their cheeks with bluſhes more beautiful than thoſe the fine lady borrows from paint; innocence and chearfulneſs lighted up ſmiles in their faces, as powerful as thoſe of the moſt finiſhed coquet; and good humour and a ſincere deſire of obliging, gave graces to their behaviour which ceremony but poorly imitates.
Theſe were Sophia's obſervations to Mr. Herbert, who ſeized the firſt opportunity of ſpeaking to her apart, to aſk her opinion of her new companions. He was rejoiced to hear her expreſs great ſatisfaction in her new ſituation, and not doubting but time and abſence, aſſiſted by her own good ſenſe and virtue, would baniſh Sir Charles Stanley entirely from her remembrance; he ſcrupled not to leave her at the end of three days, after having tenderly recommended her to the care of this little worthy family, every individual of which already loved her with extreme affection.
Sophia was indeed ſo much delighted with the new ſcene of life ſhe had entered upon, and her fancy was at firſt ſo ſtruck with the novelty of all the objects ſhe beheld, that the continual diſſipation of her thoughts left no room for the idea of the baronet: but this deceitful calm laſted not long. She ſoon found by experience, that the ſilence and ſolitude of the country were more proper to nouriſh love than to deſtroy it; and that groves and meads, the nightingale's ſong, and the rivulet's murmur, were food for tender melancholy.
[Page 254] Mt. Lawſon's houſe was moſt romanticly ſituated on the borders of a ſpacious park; from whoſe opulent owner he rented a ſmall farm, which ſupplied his family with almoſt all the neceſſaries of life. Mrs. Lawſon his wife, brought him a very ſmall fortune, but a great ſtock of virtue, good ſenſe, and prudence. She had ſeen enough of the world to poliſh her manners without corrupting her heart; and having lived moſt part of her time in the country, ſhe underſtood rural affairs perfectly well, and ſuperintended all the buſineſs of their little farm. Their two daughters were at once the beſt houſe-wifes, and the moſt accompliſhed young women in that part of the country. Mr. Lawſon took upon himſelf the delightful taſk of improving their minds, and giving them a taſte for uſeful knowledge: and their mother, beſides inſtructing them in all the economical duties ſuitable to their humble fortunes, formed them to thoſe decencies of manners and propriety of behaviour, which ſhe had acquired by a genteel education, and the converſation of perſons of rank. In the affairs of the family, each of the young women had their particular province aſſigned them. Dolly, the eldeſt, preſided in the dairy; and Fanny, ſo was the youngeſt called, aſſiſted in the management of the houſe. Sophia ſoon entertained a friendſhip for them both; but a powerful inclination attached her particularly to Dolly. There was in the countenance of this young woman a certain ſweetneſs and ſenſibility that pleaſed Sophia extremely; and though ſhe had all that chearfulneſs which youth, health, and innocence inſpire, [Page 255] yet the penſiveneſs that would ſometimes ſteal over her ſweet features, the gentle ſighs that would now and then eſcape her, excited a partial tenderneſs for her in the heart of Sophia.
She took pleaſure in aſſiſting her in her little employments. Dolly inſenſibly loſt that care which the preſence of the fair Londoner firſt inſpired, and repaid her tenderneſs with all that warmth of affection which only young and innocent minds are capable of feeling.
Sophia, inſtructed by her own experience, ſoon diſcovered that her young friend was in love; but neither of them diſcloſed the ſecret of their hearts to each other. Dolly was with-held by baſhful timidity, Sophia by delicate reſerve. Fond as they were of each other's company, yet the want of this mutual confidence made them ſometimes chuſe to be alone. Sophia having one evening ſtrayed in the wood, wholly abſorbed in melancholy thoughts, loſt her way, and was in ſome perplexity how to recover the path that led to Mr. Lawſon's houſe; when looking anxiouſly around her, ſhe ſaw Dolly at a diſtance, ſitting under a tree. Overjoyed to meet her ſo luckily, ſhe was running up to her, but ſtopped upon the appearance of a young man, who, ſeeing Dolly, flew towards her with the utmoſt eagerneſs, and with ſuch an expreſſion of joyful ſurprize in his countenance as perſuaded her this meeting was accidental.
Sophia, not willing to interrupt their converſation, paſſed on ſoftly behind the trees, unobſerved by Dolly, who continued in the ſame penſive attitude; [Page 256] but being now nearer to her, ſhe perceived ſhe was weeping exceſſively.
Sophia, who was greatly affected at this ſight, could not help accompanying her tears with ſome of her own; and not daring to ſtir a ſtep farther for fear of being ſeen by the youth, ſhe reſolved to take advantage of her ſituation, to know the occaſion of Dolly's extraordinary affliction.
The poor girl was ſo wrapt in thought, that ſhe neither ſaw nor heard the approach of her lover, who called to her in the tendereſt accent imaginable, "My dear Dolly, is it you? Won't you look at me? Won't you ſpeak to me? What have I done to make you angry, my love? Dont go (for upon hearing his voice ſhe ſtarted from her ſeat, and ſeemed deſirous to avoid him) don't go, my dear Dolly, ſaid he, following her (and ſhe went ſlowly enough) don't drive me to deſpair."
"What would you have me do, Mr. William, ſaid ſhe, ſtopping and turning gently towards him, you know my father has forbid me to ſpeak to you, and I would die rather than diſoblige him: you may thank your proud rich aunt for all this. Pray let me go, purſued ſhe, making ſome faint efforts to withdraw her hand, which he had ſeized and held faſt in his, you muſt forget me, William, as I have reſolved to forget you," added ſhe ſighing, and turning away her head leſt he ſhould ſee the tears that fell from her eyes.
Cruel as theſe words founded in the ears of the paſſionate William, yet he found ſomething in her voice and actions that comforted him; "No, my dear Dolly, ſaid he, endeavouring to look in her averted [Page 257] face, I will not believe that you have reſolved to forget me; you can no more forget me than I can you, and I ſhall love you as long as I live—I know you ſay this only to grieve me; you do not mean it."
"Yes I do mean it, replied Dolly, in a peeviſh accent, vexed that he had ſeen her tears. I know my duty, and you ſhall find that I can obey my father." While ſhe ſpoke this, ſhe ſtruggled ſo much in earneſt to free her hand from his, that fearing to offend her, he dropped it with a ſubmiſſive air.
Dolly having now no pretence for ſtaying any longer, bid him farewell in a faltering voice, and went on, tho' with a ſlow pace, towards her father's houſe. The youth continued for a moment motionleſs as a ſtatue, with a countenance as pale as death, and his eyes, which were ſuffuſed with tears, fixed on the parting virgin.
‘What, cried he at laſt, in the moſt plaintive tone imaginable, can you really leave me thus? go then, my dear unkind Dolly, I will trouble you no more with my hateful preſence; I wiſh you happy, but if you hear that any ſtrange miſchief has befallen me, be aſſured you are the cauſe of it.’
He followed her as he ſpoke, and Dolly no longer able to continue her aſſumed rigour, ſtopped when he approached her, and burſt into tears. The lover felt all his hopes revive at this ſight, and taking her hand, which he killed a thouſand times, he uttered the tendereſt vows of love and conſtancy; to which ſhe liſtened in ſilence, only now and then [Page 258] ſoftly ſighing; at length ſhe diſengaged her hand, and gently begged him to leave her, leſt he ſhould be ſeen by any of the family. The happy youth, once more convinced of her affection for him, obeyed without a murmur.
Dolly, as ſoon as he had quitted her, ran haſtily towards home; but he, as if every ſtep was leading him to his grave, moved ſlowly on, often looking back, and often ſtopping: ſo that Sophia who was afraid ſhe would not be able to overtake her friend, was obliged to hazard being ſeen by him, and followed Dolly with all the ſpeed ſhe could.
As ſoon as ſhe was near enough to be heard ſhe called out to her to ſtay. Dolly ſtopt, but was in ſo much confuſion at the thought of having been ſeen by Miſs Darnley, with her lover, that ſhe had not courage to go and meet her. ‘Ah Miſs Dolly, ſaid Sophia ſmiling, I have made a diſcovery; but I do aſſure you it was as accidental as your meeting with that handſome youth, who I find is your lover.’
‘Yes, indeed, replied Dolly, whoſe face was covered with bluſhes, my meeting with that young man was not deſigned, at leaſt on my part: but ſurely you jeſt, Miſs Darnley, when you call him handſome: do you really think him handſome?’
‘Upon my word I do, ſaid Sophia; he is one of the prettieſt youths I ever ſaw; and if the profeſſions of men may be relied on, added ſhe, with a ſigh, he certainly loves you; but, my dear Dolly, by what I could learn from your converſation, he has not your father's conſent to make [Page 259] his addreſſes to you; I was ſorry to hear that, Dolly, becauſe I perceive, my dear, that you like him.’
Dolly now held down her head, and bluſhed more than before, but continued ſilent. ‘Perhaps you will think me impertinent, reſumed Sophia, for ſpeaking ſo freely about your affairs; but I love you dearly, Miſs Dolly.’— ‘And I, interupted Dolly, throwing one of her arms about Sophia's neck, and kiſſing her cheek, love you, Miſs Darnley, better a thouſand times than ever I loved any body, except my father and mother and ſiſter.’
‘Well, well, ſaid Sophia, I won't diſpute that point with you now; but if you love me ſo much as you ſay, my dear Dolly, why have you made a ſecret of this affair? friends do not uſe to be ſo reſerved with each other.’
‘Perhaps, ſaid Dolly, ſmiling a little archly, you have taught me to be reſerved by your example; but indeed, added ſhe, with a graver look and accent, I am not worthy to be your confidant; you are my ſuperior in every thing: It would be preſumption in me to deſire to know your ſecrets.’
‘You ſhall know every thing that concerns me, interupted Sophia, which can be of uſe to you, and add weight to that advice I ſhall take the liberty to give you upon this occaſion: I am far from being happy, my dear Dolly, and I bluſh to ſay it; it has been in the power of a deceitful man greatly to diſturb my peace.’
Sophia here wiped her charming eyes, and Dolly who wept ſympathetically for her, and for herſelf, [Page 260] exclaimed, ‘Is there a man in the world who could be falſe to you? alas! what have I to expect?’
‘Come, my dear, ſaid Sophia, leading her to the root of a large tree, let us ſit down here, we ſhall not be called to ſupper yet, you have time enough to give me ſome account of this young man, whom I ſhould be glad to find worthy of you: tell me how your acquaintance began, and what are your father's reaſons for forbidding your correſpondence.’[To be continued.] [Page]
I HAVE lately been at one of the moſt awful ſolemnities in this kingdom, or perhaps in any kingdom in the world; the trial of a peer of England for felony and murder. The more attrocious the crime, or the more dignified the criminal, the higher muſt curioſity be raiſed in every breaſt. Having a deſire not to loſe any circumſtance of the behaviour of the ſeveral noble actors in this deep tragedy, I placed myſelf early on Wedneſday morning in Weſtminſter-hall, in a ſituation that at once might allow me a ſight of the priſoner, his counſel, and particularly of his great and right honourable judges. I know full well the duty which I owe to the ſupreme court of judicature, at whoſe bar the priſoner ſtood arraigned; nor ſhall I even by any iota, or much leſs by any inuendo, break in upon the privileges, which they ſo juſtly aſſume of making their own proceedings ſacred and invulnerable to improper publications, and the licentiouſneſs of too bold, I will not venture to ſay too free a preſs; yet ſurely I may, nay, I muſt declare, that this high court of judicature did upon this, as in every other point, and upon [Page 262] every other occaſion, act like itſelf. All the ſpectators, who were ſplendidly numerous of both ſexes, ſaw, heard, and confeſſed that juſtice was concomitant with mercy, enquiry was diverted of rigour, indulgence appeared without condeſcenſion, humanity diſplayed itſelf without weakneſs, judgment without partiality, and uprightneſs without ſeverity.
About eleven o'clock in the morning, as ſoon as the peers, with the lord high ſteward * at their head, were ſituated in their order, and rank of place, lord Ferrers was brought to the bar. But what ſhall I ſay of this unfortunate nobleman? He had neither dignity in his countenance, nor ſufficient gracefulneſs in his manner to draw companion on his miſery, or reverence to his perſon: down-caſt eyes, an unmeaning face, a low ſtature, rather deſpicable than a gentleman-like appearance, muſt in all other circumſtances and ſituations have drawn a biaſs againſt him, and muſt have compelled his beholders, on the firſt impreſſion, to have pronounced him an ill-favoured diſagreeable-looking man.
Placed at the bar of Weſtminſter-hall, a miſerable helpleſs priſoner, with all his crimes upon his head, we naturally rejected the prejudices that were ariſing againſt his outward demeanour, and joined with the clerk of the crown, in wiſhing that God might ſend him a good deliverance
The ſeveral particulars of the attrocious crime for which his lordſhip is to ſuffer, will appear in [Page 263] the printed trial; they will appear, I am afraid, ſhocking and barbarous. The trials of the Old Baily have ſcarce produced a parallel. It was a murder planned, concerted, and executed with deliberation, cruelty, and determined malice. Neither drunkenneſs nor madneſs excited the immediate execution of it. Several perſons were ſent out of the way, on purpoſe to leave the wretched victim beyond a poſſibility of aſſiſtance or reſcue. The poor man was defenceleſs, without arms, and even without the leaſt ſuſpicion of his fate. He was locked into the parlour by the inhuman earl, was compelled to kneel down on one knee, and in that poſture was ſhot, the ball remaining in his body. A glimpſe of repenting humanity then took place. The earl firſt cauſed him to be carried and put into a bed, and then ſent for a ſurgeon to aſſiſt him in his agony. But ſoon after the arrival of the ſurgeon, all humanity vaniſhed, a freſh blaſt of fury aroſe, and it was with difficulty that his lordſhip could be hindered from tearing the agonizing Mr. Johnſon * out of bed, dragging him on the floor, and putting the finiſhing ſtroke to a life already gaſping out its laſt painful moments. Here indeed was the excuſe of ebriety. The earl by this time had dozed himſelf, by brandy, into all the heat of rage and violence: from brandy he deſcended to Port wine, and continued drinking till nature was ſufficiently drowned by liquor to ſink into a ſound ſleep, and a temporary oblivion of the [Page 264] horrid action which he had committed. Poor Johnſon, terrified to be under the roof of his murderer, was by his earneſt deſire carried to his own houſe, where, in a few hours, he expired, amidſt the tears and lamentations of his miſerable family.
All compaſſion towards the earl is much curbed, if not totally ſuppreſſed, when we conſider the miſerable ſituatibn into which this unhappy family is thrown. Yet I muſt confeſs that I found myſelf deeply moved when the earl gave in that paper of his defence, which with great uneaſineſs he urged as the ſtrongeſt, perhaps the only plea in his favour. ‘I am, ſaid he, importuned, and indeed conſtrained, my lords, by my family, to plead to your lordſhips, by way of mitigation and excuſe of my crime, the unhappy ſtate of mind under which I frequently labour, and with which I muſt have been particularly viſited when I committed the crime that has been laid open to your lordſhips.’ Words to this purpoſe were pronounced by him in the greateſt perturbation of ſpirit, in a confuſion and uneaſineſs not to be deſcribed, and with a difficulty of reſpiration that evidently diſcovered the inward workings of his ſoul. Unhappy man! could he have proved that he had committed the murder whilſt he was viſited by the ſoreſt diſeaſe to which human nature is liable, [Page 265] death would not have been his portion. But even his own witneſſes teſtified his intervals of ſanity to have been too many, and too conſtant to admit of any ſuch plea. The earl was indulged in producing any witneſſes to the purpoſe he deſired: two were heard, but the evening coming on, the trial was adjourned till next day.
On Thurſday afternoon, the noble judges came into Weſtminſter-hall. The earl purſued his plea of lunacy, and to that purport examined a freſh ſtring of witneſſes, nine, I think, in number, of which two were his own brothers. This ſeemed to me, and probably to moſt of the audience, a very ſhocking ſcene; a noble family expoſed, perſons long ſince in their graves conjured up, like ghoſts, only to be proved lunatics; younger brothers, as an inſtance of the ſtrongeſt fraternal affection, endeavouring to denounce their elder brother mad. Relations, acquaintance, and even ſervants, giving various inſtances of the earl's frenzy; wildneſs and diſtraction. Yet all to no purpoſe. None of theſe inſtances came up to the point.
The unfortunate priſoner might have been ſometimes wild, ſometimes frantic, but never totally deprived of ſenſe. Johnſon was killed in an hour of ſanity. Johnſon fell by malice prepenſe. A ſhort ſpeech concluded all the earl had to ſay: it was read by the clerk of the houſe of lords, and was evidently a compoſition as well put together as if the author of it had never, in the whole of his life-time, been viſited by the leaſt degree of madneſs. [Page 266] The counſel for the crown * then ſummed up, and obſerved upon the whole evidence, and ended as they began, in the moſt tender, clear, impartial, generous, but juſt manner, that nature could demonſtrate, or human abilities diſplay.
The lords returned to the parliament-chamber, and after ſome time came back to Weſtminſter-Hall, where each of their lordſhips ſeverally, and for himſelf, pronounced earl Ferrers, guilty of the felony and murder of which he ſtood indicted
The number of peers who gave their votes were one hundred and ſixteen, twenty one biſhops, and four temporal lords being abſent at the time when lord Ferrers received his doom. The number of ſpiritual and temporal lords who attended the firſt day, were one hundred and forty one. The number happened to be exactly the ſame as had attended lord Lovat's trial. The priſoner was then ſummoned to the bar, the judgment of the lords was declared to him, and as he was to receive ſentence of death the next day, he was immediately remanded to the Tower.
The lords came into Weſtminſter-Hall about noon on Friday, and Laurence earl Ferrers was aſked, according to the uſual form, Why judgment of death ſhould not paſs upon him, according to law? His lordſhip produced a written ſpeech, which was read by the clerk, and was drawn up in a moſt proper decent manner, ſtill regretting the plea he [Page 267] had been forced to offer of lunacy, and ſubmitting entirely to the judgment of the houſe of peers.
The lord high ſteward then pronounced his ſentence, having introduced it by a moſt proper exordium. The ſentence was, that earl Ferrers ſhould be hanged till he was dead, and his body ſhould be delivered to the ſurgeons to be anatomized When he heard the ſentence of hanging pronounced, he ſaid, in a low voice, God's will be done; but when he heard he was to be anatomized, he ſaid, with great emotion, God forbid; however, both parts of the ſentence muſt be abſolutely fulfilled. The law that enacts it paſſed no longer ago than the year 1752, and has no reſpect of perſons; not even the king can commute the ſentence. His majeſty may reprieve from time to time, or he may pardon, but his majeſty cannot alter the letter of the law. All the indulgence within the power of the lords in their legiſlative capacity was ſhewn to the priſoner; without that indulgence he muſt have been hanged on Monday the twenty-firſt inſtant, and till his execution, muſt have been ſuſtained ſolely by bread and water, nor could any perſon be permitted to converſe with him: inſtead of theſe ſeverities (by a power veſted in the judges of the court where the felon is tried) his death is poſtponed to the fifth of May, and his diet and manner of cuſtody are entirely left to the diſcretion of the noble lord who preſides * over the priſoners in the Tower, to their great happineſs, and to his own great honour.
[Page 268] Thus concluded the trial of Lawrence earl Ferrers, who drew upon himſelf his own diſmal cataſtrophe. Here let us cloſe the ſcene, but not without remembring, that the laſt trial of any peer for murder was in the year 1699, above threeſcore years ago, when Edward, earl of Warwick and Holland, and Charles lord Mohun, were each ſeverally tried for the murder of Richard Coote, Eſq Lord Warwick was found guilty of manſlaughter; lord Mohun was entirely acquitted. Lord Warwick claimed and received the benefit of his peerage, upon the ſtatute of Edward VI. Lord Mohun (who in the year 1692 had been tried and acquitted, for the murder of Mr. Mountford the player) towards the latter part of queen Anne's reign, ended his life in a duel with the duke of Hamilton in Hyde-park.
I am, madam, Your moſt obedient, humble ſervant, A. B.April 21, 1760.
WHEN I ſent you an account of the trial and condemnation of Lawrence, late earl Ferrers, I did not imagine that I ſhould have been enabled to add to it an account of his execution; but my curioſity having conquered all other ſenſations, I was preſent at the cataſtrophe of that nobleman.
The particulars of his lordſhip's behaviour from the Tower to the place of execution, are publiſhed by order or permiſſion of the ſheriffs. To repeat thoſe particulars would be needleſs; but give me leave, madam, by way of poſtſcript to my laſt letter, to animadvert upon ſome paſſages of the earl's appearance and demeanour, which, except in one inſtance, drew pity and compaſſion from all the ſpectators. The inſtance I hint at, was his lordſhip's dreſs, of which he himſelf took notice to Mr. ſheriff Vaillant. You may perhaps, Sir, ſaid the earl, think it ſtrange to ſee me in this dreſs, but I have my particular reaſons for it Mr. Vaillant preſt not to know thoſe particular reaſons, and they ſeemingly died with the noble criminal.
But the people, ever buſy and inquiſitive to fathom the deepeſt ſecrets, and to expoſe to light the moſt inward receſſes of the ſoul, have loudly and unanimouſly declared, that the clothes which the earl [Page 270] wore, light cloth embroidered with ſilver, was the ſuit in which he was married, and that his lordſhip dated the ſource of his misfortunes from the day of his marriage. Unhappy wretched man! filled with whim, error, ſuſpicions, malevolence, and a kind of inſult, by no means to be excuſed, except as proceeding from a depraved imagination. At his trial, he had brought in his plea of lunacy. By his dreſs, he appeared to continue on that plea at the gallows. He forgave the executioner, he forgave all the world, but as he ſeems to have been a kind of fataliſt, he forgave not his fate, which, according to his own wild imagination, led him by a ſuit of clothes to his ruin.
How erroneouſly do the thoughts ſtray, and how irregular and tempeſtuous are the paſſions, when the ſeat of ſenſe and judgment is ever ſo little diſlocated? or when the cool calm dictates of the chriſtian religion are thrown aſide or trampled upon?
The printed account continues to ſay, that his lordſhip asked the ſheriff, if he had ever ſeen ſo great a concourſe of people before? and upon his anſwering that he had not; I ſuppoſe, ſaid his lordſhip, it is becauſe they never ſaw a lord hanged before It is certain that no lord within the memory of the preſent age, had undergone the ſame cataſtrophe as was allotted to earl Ferrers. The executions of noblemen, during a great length of time, had been always performed by beheading, ſometimes within the Tower gates, ſometimes upon Tower-hill. In the reign of queen Mary the firſt, a lord was hanged at Salisbury. One peer only had ever preceded lord Ferrers at Tyburn, and as he was executed above [Page 271] four hundred years ago, his lordſhip was almoſt forgotten, although very particularly mentioned by moſt, if not all of our Engliſh hiſtorians. They inform us, that Roger Mortimer, earl of March, was treated with the utmoſt rigour; his impeachment, ſays Rapin, was brought before the parliament. By the expreſſion, brought before the parliament, I preſume the author means, that the commons had brought up an impeachment againſt him to the bar of the houſe of lords. The earl of March's crimes had long been ſo notorious and arbitrary, that he was condemned to die without any evidence being called to witneſs againſt him. It muſt have appeared therefore that the articles of his impeachment were univerſally known and acknowledged to be true, and the weight of them ſupplied every other evidence that could be wanted. How different were thoſe times from theſe? Now, the meaneſt ſubject in the kingdom knows that when he is tried for his life, he cannot be tried but by the ſtricteſt, the faireſt, and the minuteſt rules of equity, law, and juſtice. Then, the higheſt peer in the realm might be hurried and perſecuted to his death, without any other legal authority than the outcry of the people, and the violence of an enraged parliament. Roger Mortimer, earl of March, was hanged on the common gallows at Tyburn, November 29, 1330, in the reign of Edward the third. The place of execution was then called Elms, his body continued hanging two days and two nights; a ſpectacle probably intended for the populace, who had juſtly held him in the utmoſt degree of abhorrence.
[Page 272] As the unfortunate earl Ferrers has not only paid the debt of nature, but of the law, humanity ought to diſpoſe us to believe his lordſhip's aſſeveration, that he had not entertained the leaſt malice againſt Mr. Johnſon, whom he murdered. The reaſons which he gave, ſupport his lordſhip's aſſertion. I was, ſaid the earl, under particular circumſtances, I had met with ſo many croſſes and vexations that I ſcarce knew what I did Where vexations and diſappointments, joined to a lunatic diſpoſition, affect the mind they often pervert the temper from chearfulneſs to melancholy, from freedom to ſuſpicions, from calmneſs to rage, acrimony, and revenge. The blood becomes black and bilious, ſtrange thoughts ariſe, continual uneaſineſs ſucceeds, raſh actions follow, cruelties, murders, and ſuicide. Ah! wretched human kind! more wretched than the beaſts of the field, more deſpicable than the reptiles of the earth; if deprived of reaſon, ſubject to lunacy, and viſited by returning fits of madneſs.
Here let me cloſe the ſcene, and only add that earl Ferrers died a chriſtian without knowing that he was ſuch. He devoutly repeated the Lord's Prayer, and his laſt words to the executioner were, I freely forgive you as I do all mankind, and hope myſelf to be forgiven He would have died an hero, had he expired in a virtuous cauſe; for, according to the ſheriff's paper, From the time of his lordſhip's aſcending the ſcaffold until his execution, his countenance did not change nor his tongue faulter. The proſpect of death did not at all ſhake the compoſure of his mind.
I am, Madam, Your moſt humble ſervant, A. B.
FROM this time may be dated the ſubjection of our iſland to the Roman emperors, or, more properly perhaps, to their legates, and propraetors. It is true, that the greater part of the iſland yet remained unconquered; but the defeat of Caractacus, and the conſtant torrent of ſucceſs with which the Romans bore down all who reſiſted them, had at leaſt ſtruck an univerſal conſternation, if not a terror, throughout the whole nation. The averſion which every Britiſh prince bore to his neighbours was often greater than the love which he bore to his country: the paſſion of hatred being in general more violent, and of longer duration, than the paſſion of love. Thus Cariſmantua betrayed Caractacus, not ſo much from the motives of fear or treachery, as from a deſire of gaining the protection and aſſiſtance of the Romans againſt her huſband Venutius and his whole family, whom ſhe held in the utmoſt deteſtation.
[Page 274] The behaviour of Caractacus at Rome, when led in triumph, and as a public ſpectacle, was truly great. He appeared before the emperor with a decent, manly, compoſed countenance; and if we are to believe Cornelius Tacitus, he made a ſpeech to this purpoſe:
If in my proſperity, the moderation of my conduct had been equivalent to my birth and fortune, I ſhould have come into this city, not as a captive, but as a friend: nor would you, Caeſar, have diſdained to have entered into an alliance with a man born of illuſtrious anceſtors, and powerful in the command of many colonies. My preſent fate is to me diſhonourable: to you magnificently glorious. I once had horſes; I once had men; I once had arms; I once had riches. Can you wonder, if I have loſt all theſe unwillingly? although, as Romans, you may aim at the conqueſt of all mankind, it does not follow, that all mankind muſt ſubmit to be your ſlaves. If I had immediately yielded without reſiſtance, neither the perverſeneſs of my fortune, nor the glory of your triumph had been ſo remarkable. Puniſh me with death, and I ſhall be forgotten. Suffer me to live, and I ſhall remain an eternal example of your clemency.
Much ſtruck and awakened by the appearance of ſuch a priſoner, the emperor ordered the chains of Caractacus and his family to be taken off; and Agrippina, who was more than an equal aſſociate in the empire, not only received the captive Britons with great marks of kindneſs and compaſſion, but confirmed to them the enjoyment of their preſent liberty.
[Page 275] During the remainder of Claudius Caeſar's reign, the Romans and the Britons went on in the ſame offenſive and defenſive manner, which they had practiſed for ſome years paſt. Skirmiſh ſucceeded ſkirmiſh. The victories were alternate; but the advantages were generally more on the Roman, than on the Britiſh ſide.
Nero, the ſon of Agrippina, by her ſecond huſband Caius Domitius Aenobarbus, ſucceeded Claudius, and aſcended the imperial throne. In the beginning of Nero's reign, the government of our iſland was conducted in the ſame tract that had been purſued for ſome years paſt. Legate was ſent after legate: procurator followed procurator; and as the wealth of the iſland increaſed, each governor became more tyrannical and rapacious.
At the landing of the firſt Caeſar, the Britons were a people without riches, without commerce, without agriculture. At the acceſſion of Nero, they were ſufficiently rich to pay the tributes impoſed upon them by the Romans: their preſent opulency aroſe from the number of their herds, from their experience in agriculture, and from the produce of their wool. Their herds of cattle were always numerous, and are mentioned as ſuch by Caeſar. Their improvements in agriculture were acquired by their intercourſe with the continent; and their wool was reckoned of ſo fine a texture, that it was much eſteemed, and ſought after by foreigners. Our wool remains in the ſame degree of repute at this day.
From the defeat of Caractacus, the Britons were no longer looked upon as allies, but as tributary [Page 276] provincials to the empire of Rome: they were permitted indeed, in all controverſies and rights, as were purely relative to themſelves, to be determined by their own laws, and to be governed by their own princes; but in all public aſſeſſments, in levies for the army, and in many other inſtances, both the princes and the people, as far as the Roman arms had yet prevailed in the iſland, were equally ſubject to their conquerors. Their ſituation was particularly unhappy under Nero's government. The vices of that emperor ſoon grew to ſuch a height, that the riches of the whole earth were inſufficient to anſwer his demands. Every kingdom, every province in the world was taxed with great rigour; but the taxations impoſed upon the Britons were more ſenſibly grievous and oppreſſive. Their ſtate of bondage grew ſo very intolerable, that in the fifth year of Nero's reign, the Iceni, whoſe queen Boadicea and her two daughters had been treated in a moſt vicious, cruel, and ignominious manner, reſolved to riſe up in arms againſt the Romans. The Iceni were joined by the Trinobantes; and both theſe colonies put themſelves under the command of the injured and outrageous Boadicea. Dio and Tacitus make the Britiſh army amount to an incredible number. There is no doubt that their forces were more numerous than had ever yet been aſſembled in Britain: and they judiciouſly choſe to make this bold effort for their laws and liberty, at a time when Paulinus Suetonius, the Roman governor of Britain, was engaged in an attempt upon [Page 277] Mona *, and had withdrawn all his forces into that iſland.
Boadicea, and her army were, at firſt ſucceſsful; but alas! how very intoxicating qualities has ſucceſs! The Britiſh heroine and her followers threw aſide every ſentiment of compaſſion, and became more inhumanly ſavage than their anceſtors in the time of Julius Caeſar. Their actions, as related by Dion Caſſius, are too ſhocking to be related. Let us paſs over them in ſilence, and if poſſible bury them in eternal oblivion.
Paulinus Suetonius, upon the alarm of ſuch a ſudden and extraordinary inſurrection, reimbarked his troops; and, without the leaſt loſs of time, marched to London, which was then only inhabited by merchants; but, as Tacitus informs us, was a city remarkably well ſupplied with all kinds of proviſions. Suetonius preſſed forward with unwearied expedition, fully reſolved to take the earlieſt opportunity of forcing the enemy to a general battle. The exact ſpot where the battle was fought is not known; but we are told, that Suetonius, by chooſing a very advantageous piece of ground, and by drawing up his men with all the military conduct of an experienced commander, gained ſo compleat a victory, that Tacitus equals it to any of the glorious conqueſts obtained by the antient Romans.
[Page 278] This unfortunate Thaleſtris ſeems to have been a woman of a moſt intrepid ſpirit, and of a peculiar pride and fierceneſs, amounting even to barbarity. It is certain that ſhe had received great injuries, ſuch as might have provoked a milder diſpoſition: but ſhe had ſhewn herſelf ſo utterly void of pity, and had put in practice ſuch cruelties againſt the Romans, that ſhe drew upon her own ſubjects in ſome degree an equal portion of revenge. Not a Briton received quarter: not even the women *, who had attended their huſbands to the battle. Boadicea could not bear the thoughts of ſubmiſſion: as ſoon as the victory was determined, ſhe put an end to her life by poiſon; and this, I believe, was the firſt inſtance, in which the Romans ſaw themſelves imitated in ſuicide by a Briton; would to God it had been the laſt!
The Britons were now again ſubjected to the government, the diſpoſal, and the tyranny of Rome. They remained ſo during the reign of Nero, without any material alteration, except the unhappy conſequence taken notice of by Tacitus, who in his life of Agricola, ſays, ‘Even theſe barbarians began to reliſh now the ſoftneſs of vice.’
[Page 279] The Roman emperors who alternatively ſucceeded Nero, were Galba, Otho, and Vitellius. Their reigns were ſhort, and during that ſpace of time ſcarce any alteration happened in the government of Britain.
To Veſpeſian and his ſon Titus was reſerved the glory of making a greater progreſs towards the entire conqueſt of the whole iſland than had been hitherto made by any of his predeceſſors. Wiſe princes chuſe wiſe miniſters. Veſpaſian appointed Petilius Cerealis, Julius Frontinus, and Cnaeus Julius Agricola, ſucceſſively, to the government of Britain. They were three Romans of remarkable eminence, in dignity and reputation. The character of Agricola is drawn by his ſon in law Cornelius Tacitus. It is the moſt maſterly performance of that hiſtorian's pencil. The picture is painted in the livelieſt and the ſtrongeſt colours, the attitudes are beautiful, and the outlines are juſt.
Agricola reſided near eight years in Britain. He was eſtabliſhed in that government by three ſucceſſive emperors, Veſpaſian, and his two ſons Titus and Domitian *.
The political conduct of Agricola was not in the leaſt inferior to his military proweſs. He found the Britons already yielding to the temptations of luxury. He artfully encreaſed thoſe temptations. [Page 280] He introduced the ſciences of eloquence and architecture; and the iſlanders were ſo enchanted by the manners and cuſtoms of their enemies, that they not only applied themſelves to learn the Roman language, but many of them even wore the Roman dreſs. It was a fortunate circumſtance to Agricola, that in the very earlieſt part of his life, he had ſerved in Britain under the command of ſome of the moſt eminent Roman governors, parcularly Paulinus Suetonius, and Petilius Cerealis, by both of whom he was perſonally eſteemed and diſtinguiſhed: nor was it leſs fortunate, that he had dedicated that part of his youth to ſpeculative knowledge, and had diligently ſtudied the genius and diſpoſition of our forefathers. He had already obſerved, from experience, that the Britons were much more difficult to be forced than to be induced to yield. Generoſity drew them into friendſhip and compliance; ſeverity drove them into obſtinacy and rebellion. They were extremely apt to imbibe and to imitate the manners of foreign nations. Thoſe who were neareſt to Gaul aſſumed the Gallic faſhions and behaviour: and as the Romans were ſtill a politer people, their national cuſtoms and elegancies were again more acceptable to the Britons; ſo that in ſome few years after Agricola's arrival as governor, he had the pride and ſatisfaction of ſeeing the Roman porticos, their baths and other buildings of magnificence imitated, and in a manner transferred into various parts of Britain. Tacitus makes a very true obſervation upon theſe improvements. He ſays, ‘The ignorant looked upon this as the beginning [Page 281] of humanity; the wiſe knew it to be one of the chief roots of ſlavery.’
But Agricola was, by no means, abſolutely devoted to the arts of peace. He made uſe of policy only at thoſe ſeaſons, and in thoſe places, where he could not exert his military conduct. He knew that the natural fierceneſs of the nation was too great, and too univerſal to be entirely reduced by any arts but arms. He began, although he had landed very late in the ſummer *, by conquering the Ordovices; and as he had remembered them a perverſe, mutinous, ungovernable people, he almoſt deſtroyed the whole colony: and then proceeded to Mona, with a reſolution fully to complete the conqueſt of that iſland. This was a work which had been intended by Paulinus Suetonius, but it was left unfiniſhed, upon account of Boadicea's inſurrection.
Mona was originally inhabited by the Druids, and conſequently was held in a moſt idolatrous veneration by the reſt of the Britons It is ſeparated from the greater iſland by a very narrow channel. Suetonius had invaded it with ſome degree of ſucceſs. He had landed his ſoldiers in flat-bottom boats, and had utterly deſtroyed the temples, groves, and other places of worſhip, which the Druids had dedicated to religious murders, and to ſacrifices of human victims. Theſe holy ſeers, who, unfortunately for mankind, profeſſed the art of divination, conſulted the myſterious decrees of heaven, from the entrails of ſuch [Page 282] ill-fated ſtrangers, who by ſhipwreck, or any other accident, had been thrown upon their iſland; and from theſe impious rites, the Britiſh nation in general, was characterized as cruelly inhoſpitable to ſtrangers.
The reduction of Mona was no very difficult taſk. The Roman ſoldiers ſwam over the river Maene, a ſight that ſtruck ſuch terror into the inhabitants *, that they ſurrendered the iſland without the leaſt attempt towards an oppoſition.
The winter was employed by Agricola in an adminiſtration of juſtice, throughout the ſeveral provinces which he had conquered. He began by a ſtrict reformation in his own houſhold and dependents. He proceeded to as ſtrict a diſquiſition into the conduct and diſcipline of the army. He excuſed faults, but he never failed to puniſh crimes. He was ſevere, but he was not cruel. He rather required than exacted taxes. He regulated the inequality of aſſeſſments, and by preventing all kinds of corruption, he ſuffered no iniquitous impoſitions to take place. He choſe the obedience flowing from devotion, not the ſubmiſſion ariſing from fear. In veneration of ſuch virtues, a real attachment to his perſon, and an humble imitation of his conduct, univerſally prevailed. His common ſoldiers became modeſt and regular: his chief officers generous and humane. The Britons found themſelves happy under his government. [Page 283] He was their maſter, not their tyrant; and they ſo far complied wich his private advice and encouragement, eſpecially as he pretended no command over their particular oeconomy, that they began, as has been already hinted, to build houſes, erect temples, and exhibit various edifices of public reſort.
The winter and the ſpring paſſed in works of this kind. Early in the ſummer, Agricola took the field. He made a farther progreſs into the iſland than had been attempted by any of his predeceſſors. He marched northward, and conquered the Brigantes and the Ottodini.
When he returned to his winter-quarters, he reſumed his former plan of politics, and endeavoured to reconcile the ancient Britons, not only to the laws, the intereſt, and the power of the Roman Empire, but to the ſeveral refinements which the Romans had made in the more polite, or in truth, the more luxurious branches of their ſtate.
The enſuing ſummer produced freſh laurels to Agricola. He penetrated into Scotland, and he advanced as far as the Frith * of Jay ‡. In his march he did not meet with any oppoſition; but was ſo entirely unmoleſted, that he had ſufficient leiſure to build forts in the moſt advantageous ſituations. Tacitus ſays, that not one of the forts which had been erected by Agricola was ever [Page 284] taken, ſurrendered, or abandoned to the enemy. Such was the ſtrength and perfection of theſe buildings.
The fourth year of Agricola's goverment, and the laſt of the reign of Titus, was paſſed in ſecuring from invaſions the moſt ſouthern parts of Scotland, or what we may call the moſt northern parts of England.
The fifth ſummer was employed differently from any of the former. Agricola ſet ſail with his army, not ſo much with an intention of conquering new nations, as of viewing the coaſts and ports of Scotland, and of viſiting the ſeveral little iſlands that lie diſperſed in the Atlantic and Caledonian ſeas. In this expedition he had a view of Ireland; an iſland, ſays Tacitus, which in the ſoil and temperature of the air, and in the diſpoſitions and faſhions of the people, bears a near reſemblance to Britain.
Agricola looked upon the conqueſt of Ireland as a ſtep of importance to the Roman Empire. He repreſented it as ſuch in his letters to Rome: and he poſitively intended a future deſcent upon that kingdom; but all his great deſigns were fruſtrated: Domitian reigned.
The remaining years of Agricola's government were paſſed very much in the ſame manner with the former. Skirmiſhes by land, and expeditions by ſea, in ſummer; buildings and adminiſtration of juſtice during the other ſeaſons. In moſt places, as ſoon as Agricola appeared he conquered. His reputation, and his high name, ſeem to have been as effectual as his arms; and indeed the records of hiſtory have ſcarce produced a greater man.
[Page 285] Domitian was of a moſt envious ſuſpicious temper. He grew jealous of his propraetor's character: but the timidity and hypocriſy of his nature hindered him from an open, or an immediate declaration of his ſpleen. He ſuffered Agricola to hold the government till the year of Rome 837, and then he appointed Saluſtius Lucullus governor in his ſtead.
In this place our hiſtory becomes very obſcure. The anecdotes of the ſtate are almoſt as fabulous as the anecdotes of the church: but as we may be tolerably certain of the exact bounds of the Roman conqueſts in England and Scotland, they are a point worthy of remembrance.
A line or wall of fortifications was conſtructed by Agricola from the mouth of the river Forth to the mouth of the river Clyde. The ſeveral colonies on the ſouth of that line had been entirely ſubdued, and were within the Roman pale: all the land beyond that line remained in a ſtate of freedom, and was called Caledonia.
Domitian died in the year of Rome, 848. He was the laſt of the family of Veſpaſian, and of that ſet of emperors who were looked upon as moſt nearly allied in affinity to Julius Caeſar. It is ſcarce worth while to take a retroſpect of our anceſtors at this particular period. The ſpace of time indeed ſince the firſt invaſion by the Romans amounts to near a century and a half; but the improvements of the Britons in literature are, by no means, equal to that interval. Their chief, and perhaps their only characteriſtic, was courage. Tacitus indeed lets drop one ſentence that ſeems to reflect ſome [Page 286] little degree of honour upon the genius of the natives: he ſays, ‘Agricola took care, that the young Britiſh princes ſhould be inſtructed in the liberal ſciences; and in his own opinion, he preferred the natural faculties of the Britons to the acquired ſtudies of the Gauls, as the former were now earneſtly deſirous to learn the art of eloquence, although they had lately ſhewn a diſlike to the Roman language.’ Or in other words, ‘The Britons had long ſince wiſhed to be taught, but till now they had deteſted their teachers.’
A thirſt of knowledge is always reputed commendable; at leaſt we are ſure it is natural: but if we reject prejudice and ſpeak truth, muſt not we own, that the arts and ſciences are ſo many leading avenues to luxury? They inſtruct and they delight, but they ſoften and they enervate. They cannot conquer the cauſes of vice: they can only diſguiſe the effects. Nay, even if we ſuppoſe, that they triumph over ſome paſſions; are they not apt to raiſe others of a worſe tendency? Enquire into the original inhabitants of any nation; the inhabitants will be conſtantly and truly repreſented as courageous and indefatigable, becauſe they were bred in woods, and accuſtomed to hardſhips. As ſoon as they were brought into cities; as ſoon as they had taſted pleaſures, their alertneſs languiſhed, and their courage melted away. This was the fate of the antient Britons. Agricola had ſagaciouſly obſerved the errors of his predeceſſors, and he was determined to win his enemies by methods which no other governor had purſued. He [Page 287] recollected the fable of the traveller, who, while the wind bluſtered, and blew violently, kept on his cloak in defiance of Boreas, but when the ſun appeared, when he felt the rays of Phoebus, he not only threw aſide his cloak, but as the heat encreaſed, diveſted himſelf of every other garment. The ſucceſſors of Agricola acted the part of Boreas. They were ſtormy and boiſterous, but not ſucceſsful. They afforded no ſunſhine.
The Caledonians, a brave and an unconquered people, loſt no opportunities of driving back the Romans into the more ſouthern parts of Britain. They were led on by Galgacus, who was a north Britain of great valour, and of high birth: he had made a conſiderable reſiſtance, even againſt Agricola. It is a record for ever to the honour of the Caledonians, that they were not in the leaſt infected by the contagious habits which had been introduced into South Britain. Their bravery was undaunted, and their manners were uncorrupted. The force of numbers had lately compelled them to take refuge amidſt the Grampian mountains *; but as ſoon as Agricola was departed, they came forward in all their native valour; and, by their example and encouragement, animated the Britons to reſume the ſpirit of their anceſtors, and to join in the common cauſe of extirpating the Romans out of the kingdom. To execute ſo great a work could only be the effect of time. Roman colonies had been planted; intermarriages had been made; [Page 288] fortreſſes had been built; and what was the greateſt impediment, luxury had been eſtabliſhed, as ſo many preventive bulwarks againſt all eſſays of liberty and national prerogative: yet if we can gather any degree of truth from the ſlight and incongruous accounts of theſe times, the Britons and the Caledonians, during the reigns of Nerva and Trajan, had made ſome important efforts towards the principal deſign for which they had aſſociated. Their progreſs, if we may believe the Scotch hiſtorians, was conſiderable; and they muſt ſoon have freed themſelves from the Roman yoke, if the Emperor Adrian * had not come over in perſon.
The Roman general, Lucius Antonius, had been dangerouſly wounded, and his troops had been repulſed in a battle againſt the Caledonians. This was a circumſtance of ſufficient conſequence to haſten Adrian to England: but neither the exact time of his arrival, nor his military actions in the iſland, can by any means be aſcertained.
During the reigns of the ſucceſſive emperors, Antonius Pius, M. Aurelius, Commodus, Pertinax, and Didius Julianus. The few circumſtances which are relative to Britain, differ only in [Page 289] names, as they are ſometimes called battles, ſometimes ſkirmiſhes, ſometimes inroads, ſometimes invaſions. They may be ſaid to continue the chain of the hiſtory; but it is an iron chain continued by wiſps of ſtraw.[To be continued.]
YOUR receiving and publiſhing the letters of other people, when without foreign aſſiſtance your Muſeum would be much more to the pleaſure of your readers, ſhews that you reſemble your predeceſſor, Mr. Bickerſtaff, no leſs in candour than in wit; and now occaſions this addreſs to you, from an old maid, owes who no other favour to fortune than a noble birth, which, as it happened many years ago, intitled me to a good education; and produced me an agreeable reception for certain periods of time, among many families of my great relations; here as it was ſafeſt, I always preſerved the character of a ſpectator only, in all domeſtic occurences: this has enabled me to judge a little to what effect the firſt principles, either inculcated in young minds, or taken up by them have upon their manners and conduct in maturer years.
[Page 290] The letter in the month of May ſigned W. M. after affirming that all women, and (for ought he knows all men) think grandeur and happineſs ſynonomous terms, remarks with more juſtice, that the polite accompliſhments are too promiſcuouſly aimed at by all degrees of people for their daughters; but does not aſſign (in my humble opinion) the real, and more material reaſons againſt it, but turns back to his firſt propoſition, and diſplays the wide difference there is between riches, power, and titles, and heart-felt ſatisfaction: where I ſhall leave him at free liberty, to gather as many flowers as he pleaſes, out of ſo well ſtocked a garden as he has choſen to walk in; and only make ſome additional obſervations on the education of young ladies.
When I was about five and thirty, my couſin german, the counteſs of —, deſired me to come and paſs a year with her, in which ſhe propoſed going to Spa; and as her daughters were too young, ſhe ſaid, to be any amuſement to her, ſhe would leave them behind her. My ſituation in life, and inclinations for travelling, made me very readily accept her offer: and I took leave of my good aunt, Mrs. Aſhgrove, who was almoſt as much delighted as myſelf with what ſhe ſaw pleaſed, and hoped might be of ſervice to me.
When I came to town, I was very much ſurpriſed to ſee two fine girls, the one about twelve, and the other ten, that did not open their mouths [Page 291] before their mother, and as I ſoon found very ſeldom ſaw her. My couſin was a very fine lady, dreſſed perfectly well, and gave the moſt elegant entertainments; ſhe frequented the drawing-room every court-day, and generally preceded two aſſemblies, by a play, or opera, in the evening. My day was far advanced before hers began, who gave me an opportunity to ſee more of my young relations than ſhe did. I obſerved they had about them a very ordinary Swiſs woman, who was called their French governeſs: ſhe treated them with inſolence, and taught them a jargon no body elſe could underſtand. Their only reading was the news-papers, when the upper ſervants had done with them; as for writing or dancing, it was thought they were too young, and that their acquaintance with any of their own rank would only make them impatient, and wiſh for more liberty than their mother cared to give them. On talking to them, I found they did not want underſtanding; but was ſo perverted with the knowledge of their birth, and feeling of their ſlavery, that they were continually inſulting, or inſulted by the domeſtics they were obliged to converſe with. The eldeſt had a great ſpirit, and was always ſaying, that when ſhe married ſhe would keep her ſervants in ſubjection, and no perſon ſhould dare, tho' ever ſo great, to be impertinent to her. She always liſtened with great reliſh to any reflections made on her mother's conduct, in regard to the neglect of her children; which, to flatter the young ladies, the lower people would ſometimes throw out, and treaſured up a ſufficient quantity of diſobedience [Page 292] and contempt for her parents, whenever ſhe ſhould have an opportunity of ſhewing it. The youngeſt was of a gentler nature: ſhe ſubmitted to her fate, and made court to her mother's woman, whenever ſhe wanted, or wiſhed for a new cap, or a new coat, and to the groom of the chambers for lemonade and cakes, on thoſe aſſembly nights which ſhe ſpent above ſtairs.
I could not but grieve to ſee two creatures, that might have been the bleſſing of the counteſs's declining years, merely by her own fault, give ſuch dreadful indications of proving the contrary. I endeavoured all I could to perſuade her to carry them with us to Spa, which I knew would break thro' their preſent courſe of life, and force her to grow a little more acquainted with them, and they to be more informed what behaviour ſuited them: but it was all in vain. They were aukward hoydening things, ſhe ſaid, and ſo young, there was no making any thing of them.
Some years after, I heard that the eldeſt, being left at her father's country-ſeat, while he and her mother made a viſit into a diſtant country, had run away with, and married an officer that came to raiſe recruits in the neighbourhood; and the younger had the next year a child by the butler.
Now, madam, is it not obvious to you, I am ſure it was to me, that had both been better taught, better they would have acted? I muſt add, this gay, this accompliſhed woman, had both a ſenſe of honour and chaſtity; and in a few weeks after the laſt misfortune I mentioned happened in the family, died of a broken heart. Oh, [Page 293] had ſhe had religion enough to have taught it to her daughters! both by example and precept, might they not have repaid her ten fold, in gratitude and filial love? Had they learned their own and other languages in proper books, how delightfully might their time have been employed, in reading the ſtories of all ages and countries, where truth and propriety of conduct is proved to be our only happineſs; and vice and folly, however long they totter on, are ſure to fall, from whence they never can emerge again. Had ſhe introduced them properly into the world, and given them the accompliſhments ſuitable to the figure they ought to have made in it, might ſhe not, like my lady Harveſt (to whom I have the honour to ſtand in the ſame relation) have lived in continual thankfulneſs to the Almighty for preſerving her, to find a new ſpring of joy revive in the autumn of her days, by ſeeing her children practiſe the prudent and tender virtues of a wife, and mother, fill the ſtation of great ladies with dignity in themſelves, obliging and entertaining converſation with their equals, kind and generous offices (without affected condeſcenſion) to their leſs proſperous acquaintance, humanity to their ſervants, and univerſal benevolence to all their fellow creatures.
I am, madam, Your ſincere admirer And humble ſervant, AGNES WOODBINE.
1.30. [The following Treatiſe on the Education of Daughters is written by the celebrated Archbiſhop of Cambray, and tranſlated by a Friend of the Author of the Muſeum.][Page 294]
NOTHING is more neglected than the education of daughters; cuſtom, and the caprice of mothers, are for the moſt part abſolutely deciſive on that point. It is taken for granted, that a very little inſtruction is ſufficient for the ſex; whereas, the education of ſons is looked upon as of principal concern to the public; and although there is ſcarce leſs miſmanagement in this than in the bringing up of daughters, nevertheleſs people are fully perſuaded that no ſmall degree of diſcernment is requiſite to inſure ſucceſs. How many maſters do we ſee? how many colleges? what expence for impreſſions of books, for reſearches into the ſciences, methods of learning languages, and choice of profeſſors?
All theſe grand preparations have frequently more ſhew than ſolidity; however, they indicate the high notion people have of the education of boys. As for girls, ſay they, what neceſſity is their for them to be ſcholars; curioſity makes them vain and conceited; it is ſufficient they learn in time how to govern their families, and to ſubmit to their [Page 295] huſbands without debate: and here they are ready to produce a number of known inſtances of women grown ridiculous by pretence to ſcholarſhip; after this they think themſelves juſtified in blindly abandoning girls to the management of ignorant and indiſcreet mothers: it is true we ought to be very cautious of making pedantick ladies. Women, for the moſt part, have leſs ſtrength of underſtanding than men, but more curioſity; wherefore it is not proper to engage them in ſtudies likely to diſturb their heads. It is not for them to govern the ſtate, direct the operations of war, or to interfere in the adminiſtration of religious affairs. Thus they may ſtand excuſed from thoſe extenſive articles of knowledge relative to politics, the art military, juriſprudence, theology: even the far greater part of the mechanic arts are not ſuitable to them. They are formed for gentler occupations: their bodies, as their underſtanding, are leſs vigorous, leſs robuſt than thoſe of men; but nature, in compenſation, has appropriated to them induſtry, neatneſs, and economy, and hence ariſes their taſte for the calm duties of domeſtic life—But what are we to conclude from the natural weakneſs of women? the weaker they are, of the greater moment it is to give them ſtrength. Have they not duties to fulfil, nay, duties on which the life of ſociety depends? Is it not by them that families are ruined or upheld? they, who have the regulation of the whole train of domeſtic affairs, who have a general influence upon manners, and by conſequence the ſway in what moſt nearly affects all mankind.
[Page 296] A woman of judgment, application, and real piety, is the ſoul of a whole great family: ſhe inſpires that order, that prudence, and purity of manners which ſecure happineſs here and hereafter. It is not in the power of men, tho' veſted with all public authority, by their deliberations, to make any eſtabliſhments effectually good, unleſs women are aiding in the execution.
The world is not a phantome: it is an aſſemblage of families; and who can adjuſt the government of them with more exactneſs than the women? They, beſides their natural authority, and aſſiduity in their houſes, have the further advantage of being born careful, minutely attentive, induſtrious, inſinuating, and perſuaſive.
As for mankind, where elſe muſt they look for the comforts of life, if marriage, that cloſeſt of all alliances, ſhall be converted into bitterneſs? and children, who in their turn will be called mankind, what will become of them, if ſpoiled by their mothers from their infancy.
Obſerve the parts women have to act, they are not of leſs moment than thoſe of the men; inaſmuch as they have a houſe to regulate, a huſband to make happy, children to bring up well; add that public virtue is no leſs neceſſary for the women than for the men. Without inſiſting on the good or evil import they may be of to the world, they are half of the human ſpecies redeemed by the blood of Jeſus Chriſt, and deſtined to life eternal. Finally, to omit the good influence of women well brought up, let us conſider the evils they are productive of, in defect of an education [Page 297] inſpiring them with virtue. It is certain this defect in them is more miſchievous than in men, becauſe the irregularities of men frequently proceed from the bad education they have imbibed from their mothers, and from thoſe paſſions other women have inſpired them with in their riper years. What intrigues does hiſtory preſent to our view? What ſubverſion of laws and morals? What bloody wars, innovations of religion, revolutions of ſtate? all cauſed by the vices of women. Theſe are proofs of the importance of a good education for girls. Let us next conſider the means.
I paſſed the night in the utmoſt agitation, and after having formed a thouſand different projects, all equally fruitleſs and impracticable, it came ſuddenly into my mind to burn the writings which were ſtill in my poſſeſſion, thoſe now hated writings that proved our claim to the eſtates of the family of Luſſan. I was aſtoniſhed that I had not hit upon this expedient ſooner, ſince it was the moſt effectual method I could take to put an end to a ſuit, the conſequence of which I had ſo much dreaded.
It was not impoſſible but my father who had proceeded very far might be induced to terminate the affair amicably by my marriage with Adelaida; but although there ſhould be no foundation for ſo pleaſing a hope, yet I could not conſent to furniſh arms againſt what I loved. I reproached myſelf for having ſo long kept papers in my poſſeſſion which ought to have been ſooner ſacrificed to my tenderneſs.
[Page 299] The reflection of the injury I did my father could not ſtop me a moment from the execution of this deſign. This eſtate was entailed upon me, and I inherited one left me by my mother's brother, which I could reſign to him to procure his pardon, and which was much more conſiderable than that I was the cauſe of his loſing.
There needed no more arguments to convince a man in love, and already determined. I went inſtantly to my cloſet for the little box which contained theſe papers. Never had I in my whole life experienced ſo happy a moment, as that in which I committed them to the flames. I was tranſported into rapture at the thoughts of ſo effectually ſerving the object of my paſſion.
If ſhe loves me, ſaid I, ſhe ſhall one day know the ſacrifice I have made for her; but if I am not ſo happy as to touch her heart, ſhe ſhall always remain in ignorance of it. Why ſhould I make her ſenſible of an obligation ſhe would be ſorry to owe to me? I would have Adelaida love me, but I would not have her think herſelf indebted to me. I confeſs, however, that after this action, I found myſelf imboldened to declare my ſentiments to her, and the freedom with which I viſited at her mother's, gave me an opportunity that very day.
‘I am going to leave you, charming Adelaida, ſaid I, will you have the goodneſs to think ſometimes of a man whoſe happineſs, or whoſe miſery you only can make?’ I had not power to go on: ſhe ſeemed alarmed and confuſed, I thought alſo that I ſaw grief in her eyes.
Scarce did ſhe give herſelf time to pronounce theſe words, ſhe left me ſo ſuddenly. I ſtayed the reſt of the day there, but I found it impoſſible again to ſpeak to her alone. She avoided me carefully; ſhe had an air of perplexity and confuſion; how lovely did ſhe appear to me with that perplexed air, and that ſweet innocent confuſion. My reſpect for her was equal to my love; I could not look on her without trembling, I dreaded leſt my preſumption had made her repent of her goodneſs towards me.
I ſhould longer have obſerved a conduct ſo conformable to my reſpect for her, and to the delicacy of my own ſentiments, if the neceſſity I was under of leaving her had not forced me to ſpeak. I was willing to tell Adelaida my true name before I went away; but I dreaded this declaration even more than my former.
‘I perceive you avoid me, madam, ſaid I to her. Alas! what will you do when you know all my crimes, or rather my misfortunes? I have impoſed upon you by a falſe name, I am not the perſon you think me; I am, purſued I, trembling, with the violence of my apprehenſions, the ſon of the count de Comminge.’
‘Oh do not wound me with ſo cruel a thought! interrupted I, tears in ſpite of myſelf, ſtreaming from my eyes; in me, charming Adelaida, you behold a lover ready to ſacrifice all for you; my father will never injure yours; my love ſecures him in your intereſt.’
‘But why, replied Adelaida, recovering from her ſurprize, why have you deceived me? why did you conceal your true name? Had I known it, purſued ſhe, ſoftly ſighing, it would have warned me to fly from you.’
The latent meaning of theſe words filled me with a tranſport that ſuffered nothing but hope to appear. I flattered myſelf that I ſhould be able to render my father favourable to my paſſion. This belief ſo wholly poſſeſſed me, that I thought every one ſhould think as I did. I ſpoke to Adelaida of my projects like one who is ſecure of ſucceſs.
‘I know not, ſaid ſhe with a melancholy air, why my heart refuſes to yield to the hopes you endeavour to inſpire. I foreſee nothing but miſery in the courſe of this affair; yet I find a pleaſure in feeling what I do for you: I have not hid my ſentiments from you; I am willing [Page 302] you ſhould know them, but remember that if there is a neceſſity for it, I am capable of ſacrificing them to my duty.’
I had ſeveral converſations with Adelaida before my departure, and always found new cauſe to congratulate myſelf on my good fortune; the pleaſure of loving and knowing that I was beloved, filled my whole heart; no ſuſpicion, no fear for the future could diſturb the tender ſoftneſs of our interviews. We were ſecure of each other's affection, becauſe eſteem was the baſis of it; and this certainty far from diminiſhing the ardour of our paſſion, added to it all the ſweets of hope, and all the charms of confidence.
In the mean time he was informed of every thing that had paſſed at the baths. The ſervant whom he had put about me had ſecret orders to obſerve my conduct; this man had left him ignorant of nothing, neither of my love, nor my quarrel with the chevalier de Saint Oden. Unfortunately the chevalier was the only ſon of one of my father's moſt intimate friends; this circumſtance, and the danger to which he was reduced by his wound, turned every thing againſt me. The ſervant who [Page 303] had given him ſuch exact informations, repreſented me to be much happier than I was. He deſcribed madam and mademoiſelle de Luſſan as full of artifice and deſign, as having always known me for the count de Comminge, and had ſpared no pains to ſeduce me.
‘You have been baſe enough, ſaid he to me, to love my enemies, and without reflecting what you owed either to me or to yourſelf, you have entered into engagements with thoſe I hate, and I know not, added he, whether you have not done ſomething ſtill more worthy of my reſentment!’
‘Yes, Sir, anſwered I, throwing myſelf at his feet, I am guilty, I confeſs, but I am ſo in ſpite of myſelf. At this very moment when I implore your pardon, I feel that no power on earth can tear from my heart that paſſion which offends you. Have pity on me, and oh! ſuffer me to ſay it, have pity on yourſelf, put an end to that hatred which diſturbs the tranquillity of your life. The tenderneſs which the daughter of monſieur de Luſſan and I felt for each other at firſt ſight, ſeems a warning from heaven to you. Alas! my dear father, you have no other child but me! would you make me miſerable and load me with misfortunes ſo much the more unſupportable as they will come from a hand I muſt [Page 304] ever love and revere? Suffer yourſelf, my dear father to be ſoftened into forgiveneſs of a ſon, who has offended you only by a fatality for which he could not be anſwerable.’
‘I have, ſaid he, heard you with a patience I am myſelf aſtoniſhed at: I will ſtill preſerve compoſure enough to tell you what is the only favour you are to expect from me; you muſt renounce your ill-placed paſſion, or the quality of my ſon. Take your choice, and this inſtant deliver me the writings you have in your cuſtody; you are no longer worthy of my confidence.’
I had ſcarce time to pronounce theſe few words. My father, mad with rage, drew his ſword, and would doubtleſs have run me through, for I made not the leaſt effort to avoid him, if my mother had not entered the room that inſtant, and threw herſelf, half dead with terror, between us.
I waited there a long time before ſhe appeared: ſhe came at length. I had no longer rage, exclamation, and menaces to combat; but a tender mother, who entered into all my griefs, and intreated me with tears, to have companion on the condition to which I had reduced her.
‘What, my ſon, ſaid ſhe to me, ſhall a miſtreſs, and a miſtreſs whom you have known ſo ſhort a time, be preferred to your mother? Alas! if your happineſs depended upon me, I would ſacrifice every thing to ſecure it; but you have a father who will be obeyed. He is upon the point of taking the moſt violent reſolutions againſt you. Oh, my ſon! if you would not make me miſerable, ſuppreſs a paſſion that will render us all unhappy.’
BUT the moſt complete, and at the ſame time the moſt univerſal of all theſe metamorphoſes is that wherein the animal appears in four ſeveral ſhapes: which is the caſe with much the greateſt part of the winged inhabitants of the air of the infect tribe; ſome of which in their different ſtates have been by turns tenants of earth, air, and water. Endleſs would it be to enumerate all the various genera of infects who undergo theſe changes. We ſhall therefore content ourſelves, as in the laſt caſe, with only mentioning one of each ſort, viz. Of thoſe whoſe origin is water, and of thoſe whoſe riſe is from the earth.
Of the firſt, let the common gnat be taken for our example. This little delicate tender inſect, which the gentleſt touch will deſtroy, the leaſt breath of [Page 307] wind waft upon its boſom, and the leaſt drop of rain buries in its waves, yet firſt ſees exiſtence in that rough and turbulent element the water. There it is the parent lays her egg, which is hatched by ſome means we can little comprehend, (for heat can have no influence at the bottom of the water) comes out a little groveling worm, minute and unobſervable; changing from this, however, it ſoon ariſes towards the ſurface of the water, where, hanging ſuſpended on an air-bubble, no bad emblem of the general dependence of human affairs, it paſſes thro' a thouſand fluctuations; now hurried onwards by the rapid power of tides, or the uncertain guſt of winds varying at every moment, and now gliding ſmoothly on the calm even ſurface of a glaſſy dream, till at length ſeizing on the happy moment for deliverance from this ſuſpence, it drops the ſlough which now envelops it, and mounting into air, quits and diſdains alike its helpleſs ſtate of infancy, and its precarious anxious ſituation when brought to ſomewhat more apparent ripeneſs. Reflect on this, oh man, and think what art thou but a poor inſect, cruſhed before the moth!
As to the land metamorphoſis of this compleateſt kind, we need go no further to illuſtrate it, than to that uſeful animal the ſilk-worm, as he is perhaps the moſt perfect of this claſs of inſects. His firſt ſtate is, as that of all others of his kind, the egg. From this he iſſues a ſmall black maggot, which, after having ſhifted many various coats, and increaſed his bulk to upwards of a thouſand times its original ſize, weaves out of his own bowels a [Page 308] ſilken monument in which he lies interred for a ſhort ſpace, and then ſallies forth an elegant fly, compleat in every part, and as different from the worm it ſprung from as fire from earth, or any the moſt pure can be from the groſſeſt being. In this moſt perfect ſtate, he ranges through creation, ſeems to be diverted even of the neceſſities of nature (for in the fly-ſtate none of thoſe creatures take any food) and in ſhort appears to be transformed into a perfect ſylph, deſtined to nothing but the perpetuating of its ſpecies, which being once inſured, it reſigns its life as no longer worth the preſervation.
To the firſt claſs of theſe changes may be referred every one of the gnat, midge, dragon-fly, and ichneumon claſs; and to the latter all the fly, moth, and butterfly ſpecies. Were we to enter into particulars, the detail would be endleſs. This sketch, however, may ſuffice to turn the ſoul of man to a reflection on the viciſſitude and fluctuation of his own ſtate, and to remind him that after the alterations he meets with in this life, which only lead him to that ſtate of inſenſibility, that even the minuteſt inſect ſeems obliged to paſs thro' ere it can reach its limited degree of perfection; there muſt be ſome final ſtate ſuperior to them all, and which, with him, has the advantage denied to theſe ſymbols of his happineſs, that it ſhall laſt to all eternity.
Nature who has with the utmoſt care allotted to every ſpecies of animals its peculiar place of reſidence and its peculiar kind of food, has alſo with equal wiſdom furniſhed every individual with the means of rendering ſuch habitation the moſt commodious, and of procuring ſuch food with the greateſt eaſe. Numberleſs expedients, numberleſs ſtratagems has ſhe inſtructed even the minuteſt inſects in, for the enſnaring and over-powering thoſe animals which ſhe has deſtined to be his prey. Of theſe we ſhall in the courſe of this work relate many, of which, however, there are few more curious, and at the ſame time more ſimple than that of the little animal which now falls under our conſideration.
The formica-leo, or lion-piſmire, is a very ſmall inſect, not much bigger than a large emmet, which, however, notwithſtanding its name, bears no reſemblance to the piſmire claſs, either in its figure or diſpoſition. On the contrary, as the laborious ant ranges about every where with the greateſt induſtry to find its food in the ſummer-time, and lay it up in ſtorehouſes for the winter; the animal we are ſpeaking of keeps itſelf ever confined to a ſingle ſpot, waiting with a moſt amazing degree of patience and perſeverance for the ſupply of the preſent moment, as chance ſhall throw it in its way; nay, even when that chance has ſo far favoured him as to bring ſome devoted victim towards his cell, he inſtead of advancing forwards to [Page 310] lay hold on it, conſtantly retires from it, as if he ſeemed to make it a point that the deſtruction of it ſhould be entirely its own act, or unavoidable misfortune.
The form of the lion-piſmire is that repreſented at Fig. I. and II. in the plate annexed to this work, of which the firſt repreſents the back, and the other the belly, although both about four times as big as life. The body of it is of an annular texture, by which means the tail is rendered extremely pliable and apt for the uſe which we ſhall hereafter deſcribe. It has ſix legs, placed as thoſe of moſt inſects are in the thorax. Its head is ſmall and flat, and from the forepart of it two pretty long horns ſhoot out, and between them a pair of ſerrated or ſaw-like forcipes, wherewith it deſtroys and tears to pieces thoſe creatures which are unfortunate enough to fall within its reach. The horns are about the ſixth part of an inch in length, and bend like hooks in the extremity. Towards their inſertion appear two ſmall eyes very black and lively, and which are extremely ſerviceable to the creature, for he ſtarts from the ſmalleſt objects he diſcovers. Other animals are furniſhed with wings, or feet at leaſt, to render them expeditious in the purſuit of their prey. But this creature ſeems to make uſe of his legs for little more purpoſe than to bear him backwards from his prey, which as we have before obſerved muſt come to him. He is, however, provided with means of cauſing it to fall into the ambuſcade he prepares for it. This is the only reſource he has for ſubſiſtence, the only piece of skill that he is maſter of. That power, however, which has provided for every one whatever may [Page 311] be needful, has rendered this one knowledge ſufficient for all his purpoſes whilſt in his terreſtrial ſtate; for this creature, as we ſhall farther relate, undergoes ſome of thoſe metamorphoſes which we have before given an account of. His method of obtaining food is then as follows:
The place which he always chuſes as fitteſt for the ſcene of action is a bed of dry ſand, at the foot of a wall, or under ſome ſhelter where no rain can come at it, either to diſconcert his work, or prevent the effect of his operations; which could by no means anſwer their intended purpoſe, were they to be attempted either in a ſolid ſoil, or in a moiſt ſand, neither of which would be tractable to his tools, or become ſerviceable to the completion of his deſign.
He begins to work then, by bending the hinder part of his body which tapers into a point, and then plunging it like a plough-ſhare into the ſand, which he throws up in his rear with a backward motion of his body; and thus by repeating his efforts, and taking ſeveral rounds, he at laſt traces out a circular furrow, whoſe diameter always equals the depth which he intends to ſink it. Near the edge of the firſt furrow he opens a ſecond, and then a third, and ſo on to a great number, every one of which is ſmaller then the preceding one; ſinking himſelf from time to time deeper and deeper in the ſand, which he throws wide with his horns, ſtill caſting it up behind him with his rail as with a ſpade, and by the repeated ſtrokes of his head whirling it out of the circle till he has compleatly [Page 312] formed his cell, which is a cavity in the form of an inverted cone, or the inſide of a funnel.
When this looſe and unſtable fabrick is thus finiſhed, he forms his ambuſcade in the center of it, concealing himſelf in ſuch a manner under the ſand, that his horns form an exact circle round the central termination, or apex of the cone. In this ſituation he remains entirely motionleſs watching for his prey, which is compoſed of ſmall inſects of many kinds, more eſpecially the female ant, who being unprovided with wings, like the generality of inſects, is leſs able to eſcape when once me falls into the ſnare. Other animals, however, are far from being ſafe from the dexterity of this skillful hunter. Fatal is the moment in which any one is ſo indiſcreet as to venture near the edge of this precipice, which deſcending in a ſteep ſlope, and that formed of a light looſe ſand, immediately gives way, and hurries it down inſtantly to the center. But leſt its own weight ſhould not be ſufficient to prevent its recovering a firſt falſe ſtep, no ſooner does our ambuſcader perceive by the fall of ſome few grains of ſand that a prize is near, than by ſhrinking back he removes the lower ſand, and undermining the more extreme parts obliges the bank to break and roll down, bringing down with it, and at the ſame time overwhelming whatſoever happens to be near its verge.
[Page 313] It ſometimes, however happens, that the inſect thus entrapped being endowed with peculiar agility, or provided with wings, is able to riſe above this firſt envelopement. In this caſe the lion-piſmire defeats its efforts by whirling a large quantity of ſand into the air by means of his tail above the height of the riſing animal. This falling again in what to ſo tender a creature as a gnat, fly, or emmet, is equal to a dreadful ſhower of ſtones, the unfortunate inſect beat down, overwhelmed by the tempeſt that pours down from every quarter, and hurried away by the inſtability of the ſand which rolls from under his feet, falls between the ſerrated forcipes of his enemy, who plunging them into his body, drags it under the land, and there triumphantly feaſts on his thus devoted victim.
This great end being brought about, and our voracious animal thus ſated with an ample meal ſucked from the juices of his prey, his next care is to remove the carcaſe, leſt the appearance of a dead body ſhould alarm others, and give notice of the fatal and treacherous nature of this ſeemingly inoffenſive cavern. He therefore extends his horns, and with a ſudden ſpring toſſes the light exuvium of the ſlain to at leaſt half a foot beyond the borders of his trench. And in caſe his habitation ſhould in the courſe of one of theſe exploits be any way diſconcerted or filled up, if the aperture becomes too large for the depth, or the declivity loſes its proper ſlope, he inſtantly ſets himſelf to work and repairs the whole, rounding, deepening, and clearing the cavity with a moſt amazing expertneſs; which done, he again conceals himſelf in the ſand, [Page 314] and waits in an apparent ſtate of inactivity for whatever ſhall fall next into his ſnare.
In the doing this his patience and perſeverance are ſo great, and nature has provided him with ſuch abilities for abſtinence, that he ſometimes paſſes whole weeks, nay months without motion, and what is ſtill more ſurprizing without food itſelf.
The lion-piſmire, however, as I have obſerved before, does not paſs his whole life under the form we have here deſcribed. He is to become a fly; but before he can undergo ſo great and extraordinary a metamorphoſis, it is neceſſary that he ſhould paſs through a period of temporary death, for which ſtate he prepares in the following manner, building to himſelf a ſecure and convenient tomb, wherein he lies decently inurned till the appointed moment when he is to ariſe from his inactive ſtate, and become the inhabitant of another element.
When the time comes for this reſignation of his firſt life, he troubles himſelf no further about the order and form of his trench, but falls to work in the ſand, ſtriking out a great number of irregular tracks in it, with an eagerneſs that appears as if it was deſigned to throw him into a ſweat. Be this as it will, it is certain that his body becomes at this time covered over with a viſcous moiſture, which as he rolls himſelf about in the ſand, wherein he plunges himſelf in every direction, fixes and [Page 315] unites all the grains he touches. With theſe ſandy particles and the dried glew that conſolidates them, he forms a cruſt which encompaſſes his whole body like a little ball of five or ſix twelfths of an inch diameter (Vid. fig. IV.) Within this ball, however, he reſerves to himſelf a ſufficient ſpace to move about; and as a bare wall of ſand would be too harſh and cold for him to remain happily in, he lines it throughout with a kind of ſilk tapeſtry of his own weaving, compoſed of threads formed from his bowels, of a beautiful pearl colour, and infinitely ſurpaſſing in fineneſs that of the ſilk-worm. Yet whilſt it is thus commodiouſly and elegantly furniſhed within-ſide, the exterior ſtill retains the ſame rugged and undeſirable appearance, by which it eſcapes the notice of birds and other animals of prey, who might perhaps be tempted by a more alluring outſide.
In this ſituation he lives ſecluded from the world, for ſix weeks or two months, and ſometimes more: at the end of which period nature having performed her ſecret work, he diveſts himſelf of his horns, paws, and skin, his ſpoils ſink to the bottom of the ball, like a ſuit of caſt-off cloathing, and his figure is then that of the nympha, repreſented greatly magnified, and in two different directions at Fig. V. and VI. when tearing away his tapeſtry and burſting his rocky encloſure, he comes out a perfect animal of the dragon-fly kind, furniſhed with four large filmy wings, with which he quits the obſcurity of his former ſtate; becomes diveſted of his barbarity and ſubtile inclinations, as well as of his cumberſome weight, and in ſhort appears [Page 316] entirely a new animal, as is ſhewn in Fig. VII.
The animal before us, however, is not the only example of this kind of ſubtilty in the inſect world. There has heen diſcovered another creature, which from the reſemblance it has to the lion-piſmire in the method of digging a trench for intrapping its prey, has been diſtinguiſhed by the authors who have deſcribed it by the name of the vermis-leo, or lion-worm. But as what we have ſaid of the formica-leo, will equally deſcribe the method of this creatures procuring its food, we ſhall not trouble our readers with any farther detail concerning it; but content ourſelves with only preſenting them a drawing of it at Fig. VIII. in the annexed copperplate, in which a and b repreſent the worm in its firſt ſtate, c ſhews the nympha, or ſecond period of its life, and d the form of the fly, or laſt transformation.
THE men and women do not go together to theſe feaſts, as there are apartments in their houſes appropriated to each ſex, theſe iſlanders having certain laws which do not ſuffer all the relations of the huſband to ſee his wife. The father, mother, and children of the ſame family, may indeed feed together, but not the father with the daughter-in-law, or with his grand daughters when grown up: the mother with her ſon-in-law or grandſons, or the brother and ſiſter-in-law together. Nay more, they are not even permitted to ſee each other when eating, and if a man ſurpriſes a woman in that ſituation, by accident, for by deſign it never happens, he acquires a ſcandal which is not to be wiped away but by the means of making her ſome conſiderable preſent. The reaſon of this cuſtom with reſpect to relations it is not eaſy to gueſs at; but as to the ſeparation of the ſexes in general, it may be ſuppoſed that jealouſy, of which theſe people have a conſiderable ſhare, muſt be the ſole cauſe of it.
[Page 318] One of the principal diſhes which the Amboynians make uſe of in their feaſts, is a hog's head, with a lemon fixed between the jaws, and adorned with a number of flowers of a very beautiful red, called Bongayraya. This diſh is always placed before thoſe perſons who ſtand in the higheſt eſtimamation; the other parts of their pork is dreſſed in many different ways, but in every one of them with exceeding high and ſavory ſeaſonings. If they have fiſh, the head is always preſented to the king of the feaſt, who is himſelf for that reaſon called Kapalakan, or Fiſh-Head; of which, when he has taken as much as he thinks proper, he diſtributes the remainder among thoſe who ſit near him. The turtle is one of their great delicacies, which they ſtew at a diſtance from the fire, without any other liquor than the juices of the animal: but they afterwards add to it a great quantity of ſeaſoning. The cocoa, ſeago, and rice alſo, prepared in various methods, form ſeveral diſhes in their entertainments; and of the two latter their bread is compoſed.
They have great quantities of veniſon and wild-fowl, of which they are very fond, as alſo of the bat, dreſſed after a particular manner. There is a kind of white worm, which is found in the rotten wood of the ſeago tree, of about the length and thickneſs of the firſt joint of a man's thumb, which they roaſt on little ſkewers, and eat very greedily; as they do alſo the wawos, or reddiſh worms we mentioned to be ſound on the ſea coaſt. Theſe are to be met with in great abundance along the ſhore, especially in ſtony places, about the ſeaſon of the April full moon. [Page 319] In the night time they give a light like the glow-worm, which ſeems to invite people to go in ſearch of them; which they do, every one laying in his ſtock at once, becauſe they make their appearance only for about three or four days in the whole year.
In theſe feaſts, the victuals are ever dreſſed by the women, but they are always ſerved in by men. The principal care of the maſter of the feaſt, is that there may be no want of victuals; every gueſt has one large veſſel ſet before him, containing ſeveral little diſhes which are filled with all kinds of food, and after he has eaten his fill of this allowance, the reſt is carried home to his houſe by the ſervants.
Their chief drink is ſpring water, or the milk of the cocoa-nut. By way of wine they make uſe of the towak or ſin, which is extracted from a tree of that name, and the ſaguweer which diſtils from another, and has nearly the taſte of wormwood-wine. Their ſtronger liquors are the rack and brom made from rice, and two other kinds of ſpirit, which they get from Japan and China. They are very fond of the French and Spaniſh wines, but do not greatly reliſh the German. The women keep moſtly to water, although they are by no means averſe to the drinking of Spaniſh wine, were the means of procuring it more acceſſible to them. The uſe of tea and coffee is not very familiar to the Amboynians; yet they ſometimes take the former, eſpecially when they are viſited by the Dutch, to whoſe cuſtoms, whenever they come to any of their repaſts, they accommodate themſelves as much as poſſible.
[Page 320] Their manner of kindling fires is much readier than ours; they rub two pieces of wood againſt each other, the one hard, the other ſoft and hollow, near which they hold a bit of lint, which kindles in an inſtant. For the making of ſalt, they take the pieces of old worm-eaten wood which the ſea throws up on the ſhore: theſe they dry and reduce to aſhes, ſprinkling them continually with ſea-water, till they form a maſs of ſalt underneath them, or elſe boil up the ſame water in a pot with the aſhes of certain leaves for two or three days ſucceſſively, at the end of which they find a quantity of very good ſalt at the bottom of the veſſel.
THE Arabian proverb, Shut the windows that the houſe may be light, is ſuppoſed to contain ſome great myſtery; and indeed it muſt be confeſſed that it has very much the air of a paradox: but whatever explication the wiſe and the learned may give to this ſentence, it ſeems not unaptly applied to that gay part of my own ſex ſo improperly called fine ladies, the buſineſs of whoſe lives it is to dreſs, to play at cards, to ſimper in the drawing-room, to languiſh at an opera, and coquet at a play, whoſe eyes being perpetually dazzled by the glare of folly and impertinence, are too weak to bear the ſteady ray of reaſon: their minds therefore are always dark; and ignorance, like a thick cloud, wraps them [Page 322] up in impenetrable gloom. To ſuch as theſe then I will ſuppoſe the Arabian ſage cries, Shut the windows that the houſe may be light
The fine lady has no other uſe for her eyes but to ſparkle and languiſh; reading would ſpoil their luſtre, and incroach upon that precious time which is all devoted to pleaſure. What advantage can ſhe derive from books? will they teach her how to improve her complexion, and repair the ravages made by time in her face? Can morality, learning, and wit, inſtruct one who exerciſes her memory only upon cards, and has ſufficient employment for her judgment, in chuſing a ſuit of ribbons, or a brocade? Who never knew, what it was to think ſeriouſly for a ſingle moment; and whoſe mind can entertain no other ideas but what dreſs and quadrille inſpire.
Yet of ſuch poor materials as theſe a coquet is made, one who lays claim to boundleſs dominion, who expects to ſubject all hearts to her ſway, and diſpenſe happineſs and miſery, life and death, with a ſmile or frown.
That a creature ſo deſpicable as this is capable of doing a great deal of miſchief, the following letter will ſhew; and I do not doubt but by publiſhing it I ſhall oblige my readers as much as the unhappy writer who makes it her requeſt.
I Thank you for publiſhing the letter ſigned Perdita: it was a prelude to my unhappy ſtory, which I am deſirous the world ſhould know; yet for the ſake of him, who in ſpite of all the wrongs he has done me will be ever dear to me, I ſhall diſguiſe the names of perſons and places.
The facts I relate will point out the guilty only to themſelves; but they will diſplay a character, which of all others is the moſt dangerous to the peace of families, and to which all my misfortunes are owing.
At ſixteen I was taken from the boarding-ſchool by my mother, to have my education finiſhed by a commerce with the faſhionable world; but I received much leſs improvement from thoſe leſſons of politeneſs than from the ſolid inſtructions of my father, who was a man of ſenſe and learning, and who took pleaſure in cultivating my mind.
As my fortune was very conſiderable, I ſoon had a ſufficient number of admirers; and I thought myſelf extremely happy in being able to touch the heart of a young gentleman, who, even before he declared his paſſion, had engaged my tendereſt affection.
He ſoon obtained my conſent to demand me of my parents; his birth was at leaſt equal to mine, [Page 324] his fortune ſuperior, and his character unexceptionable: my parents therefore thought they diſpoſed of me very happily by giving me to him.
A few weeks after our marriage my huſband carried me to his country-ſeat; the beauty of the place, my taſte for retirement, and the tender behaviour of the man I paſſionately loved, left me nothing to wiſh for, and I could have been content to ſpend my whole life in this delightful abode.
We had lived here near a year without my huſband expreſſing the leaſt inclination to return to town, when I took it into my head to ſurpriſe him agreeably with the company of a young lady who had been my ſchool-fellow, and for whom I had a very great friendſhip.
I wrote to her, and invited her to ſpend a few months with me; the ſpring was now far advanced, and I gave her a moſt romantic deſcription of my charming retreat, in order to induce her to comply, with my requeſt.
I ſhewed her letter to Alcander, ſo let me call my huſband: he ſmiled when he read it. ‘This is a fine modiſh lady, ſaid he, bewitched with the pleaſures of the town; pray inſiſt upon her coming hither, that we may make a convert of her.’
Charmed to have it in my power to oblige him, I wrote to her immediately in ſuch preſſing terms to favour me with a viſit, that I drew a promiſe [Page 325] from her to comply, and a few days afterwards her maid arrived early in the morning, and told me her lady was following in a poſt-chaiſe, and had ſent her before to ſpread her toilet and prepare every thing for her dreſſing as ſoon as ſhe arrived.
I obſerved Alcander ſmile archly at theſe words, and at the ſight of a great number of trunks and band-boxes, which the ſervant had brought with her. From ſeveral things that were ſaid by this girl, I obſerved that her lady was grown extremely fantaſtical; and I was a little out of countenance when I reflected, that I had done no honour to my judgment, by introducing her as my friend to Alcander. Alas! madam, how little did I then imagine that this flighty creature was to rob me of my huſband's affections!
When ſhe arrived, her appearance did not contradict the opinion we had formed of her; every look and motion, the ſound of her voice, and the turn of her expreſſions, were calculated to ſuit, by a pretty effronterie, the maſculine graces ſhe derived from her hat and feather.
I perceived that ſhe was ſtruck with my huſband's figure, and my vanity was ſoothed by it. Doubtleſs ſhe did not expect to ſee the fine gentleman and the tender huſband united in the perſon of my then faithful Alcander. Ah, how dearly have I ſince paid for the ſhort triumph I then enjoyed!
I attended Belinda, ſo let me call her, to her apartment; and here, being witneſs to a great deal of lively impertinence which eſcaped her, I could not help telling her, with an ironical ſmile, ‘That [Page 326] ſhe was prodigiouſly improved ſince ſhe left the boarding-ſchool.’
I was afraid ſhe would have been offended by the manner in which I ſpoke theſe words; but, to my great ſurprize, ſhe anſwered, with a low courteſy and a ſmile of ſelf-approbation, ‘My dear, I am vaſtly obliged to you.’ I left her in her dreſſing-room, to join Alcander in the garden, who diverted himſelf extremely with her ridiculous affectation.
We did not ſee her till dinner was ſerved; and then ſhe appeared in full dreſs, curled, powdered, and patched, as if ſhe had been going to an aſſembly. The moment ſhe ſaw Alcander her eyes fell to work, and there was nothing but ogling all dinner-time; whenever ſhe ſpoke to him, her voice was ſoftened, and her mouth ſcrewed into a thouſand different forms.
I might perhaps have been early alarmed at this ſolicitude to attract the notice of my huſband, had I not obſerved her practice the ſame airs upon the fellow that waited behind her chair, who, whenever he helped her to any thing, was ſure to be met with a ſparkling glance, that ſeemed to ſolicit his admiration alſo; for vanity will, as the poet ſays, Prey upon garbage
I have now brought my ſtory to that point from whence I may date all my ſufferings: my heart is too full at preſent to permit me to proceed; I will take another opportunity to give you the ſequel, and am, Madam,
Your obliged Humble Servant, PERDITA.
DOLLY, though encouraged by the ſweet condeſcenſion of Sophia, who, to inſpire her with confidence, freely acknowledged the ſituation of her own heart, bluſhed ſo much, and was in ſuch apparent confuſion, that Sophia was concerned at having made her a requeſt which gave her ſo much pain to comply with.
At length the innocent girl, looking up to her with a baſhful air, ſaid, ‘I ſhould be aſhamed, dear Miſs, to own my weakneſs to you, if I did not know that you are too generous to think the worſe of me for it: to be ſure I have a great value for Mr. William; but I was not ſo fooliſh as to be taken with his handſomeneſs only, tho' indeed he is very handſome, and I am delighted to find that you think him ſo; but Mr. William, as my father can tell you, madam, is a very fine ſcholar: he was educated in a great ſchool at London, and there is not a young ſquire in all this country who has half his learning, or knows how to behave himſelf ſo genteely as he [Page 328] does, though his father is but a farmer: however, he is rich, and he has but one child beſides Mr. William, and that is a ſickly boy, and not likely to live; ſo that Mr. William, it is thought, will have all.’
‘Why you muſt know, madam, anſwered Dolly, that his aunt is very rich; when ſhe was a young woman, a great lady took a fancy to her, and kept her as her companion a great many years, and when ſhe died, ſhe left her all her cloaths and jewels, and a prodigious deal of money: ſhe never would marry; for ſhe was croſſed in love, they ſay, in her youth, and that makes her ſo ill natured and ſpiteful, I believe, to young people; but notwithſtanding that, I cannot help loving her, becauſe ſhe was always ſo fond of Mr. William: ſhe is his god-mother, and when he was about ten years old ſhe ſent for him to London, and declared ſhe would provide for him as her own; and indeed ſhe acted like a mother towards him: ſhe put him to ſchool, and maintained him like a gentleman; and when he grew up, ſhe would have made a gentleman of him; for ſhe had a great deſire that he ſhould be an officer.’
[Page 329] ‘Mr. William at that time was very fond of being an officer too; but as he was very dutiful and obedient to his father, indeed Miſs Sophia he is one of the beſt young men in the world, he deſired leave to conſult him firſt; ſo about a year ago he came to viſit his father, and has never been at London ſince; and he had not been long in the country before he changed his mind as to being an officer, and declared he would be a farmer like his father, and live a country life.’
‘Why indeed, replied Dolly, he has ſince told me ſo: but perhaps he flattered me when he ſaid it; for, ah my dear Miſs, I remember what you ſaid juſt now about the deceitfulneſs of men, and I tremble leſt Mr. William ſhould be like the reſt.’
‘You know, madam, ſaid Dolly, my father keeps us very retired: I had no opportunity of ſeeing Mr. William but at church; we had heard that farmer Gibbons had a fine ſon come from London, and the Sunday afterwards when we were at church, my ſiſter, who is a giddy wild girl, as you know, kept ſtaring about, in hopes of ſeeing him. At laſt ſhe pulled me haſtily, and whiſpered, look, look, Dolly, there is farmer Gibbons juſt come in, and I am ſure he has got [Page 330] his London ſon with him, ſee what a handſome young man he is, and how genteely he is dreſt!’
‘Well, madam, I looked up, and to be ſure I met Mr. William's eyes full upon me; I felt my face glow like fire; for as ſoon as I looked upon him, he made me a low bow. My ſiſter courteſied; but for my part, I don't know whether I courteſied or not: I was never ſo confuſed in my life, and during the whole time we were at church, I ſcarce ever durſt raiſe my eyes; for I was ſure to find Mr. William looking into our pew.’
‘I do not know whether I was or not, replied Dolly; but I know that I was in a ſtrange confuſion during all church-time; yet I obſerved that Mr. William did not go out when the reſt of the congregation did, but ſtaid behind, which made my ſiſter laugh; for he looked fooliſh enough ſtanding alone. But he ſtaid to have an opportunity of making us another bow; for it is my father's cuſtom, as ſoon as he has diſmiſſed the people, to come into our pew and take us home with him. I never ſhall forget how reſpectfully Mr. William ſaluted my father as he paſſed him. I now made amends for my former neglect of him, and returned the bow he made me with a very low courteſy.’
‘Fanny and I talked of him all the way home: I took delight in hearing her praiſe him; and although I was never uſed to diſguiſe my thoughts before, yet I knew not how it was, but I was [Page 331] aſhamed to ſpeak ſo freely of him as ſhe did, and yet I am ſure I thought as well of him.’
‘I dare ſay you did, ſaid Sophia, ſmiling; but my dear, purſued ſhe in a graver accent, this was a very ſudden impreſſion. Suppoſe this young man whoſe perſon captivated you ſo much, had been wild and diſſolute, as many young men are; how would you have excuſed yourſelf for that early prejudice in his favour, which you took in ſo readily at your eyes, without conſulting your judgment in the leaſt?’
Dolly, fixing her baſhful looks on the ground, remained ſilent for a moment; then ſighing, anſwered, ‘I am ſure if I had not believed Mr. William good and virtuous, I ſhould never have liked him, tho' he had been a hundred times handſomer than he is; but it was impoſſible to look on him and think him otherwiſe; and if you had obſerved him well, Miſs Darnley, his countenance has ſo much ſweetneſs and candor in it, as my father once ſaid, that you could not have thought ill of him.’
‘It is not always ſafe, ſaid Sophia, ſighing likewiſe, to truſt to appearances: men's actions as well as their looks often deceive us; and you muſt allow, my dear Dolly, that there is danger in theſe ſudden attachments; but when did you ſee this pretty youth again?’
‘Not till the next Sunday, replied Dolly; and tho' you ſhould chide me never ſo much, yet I muſt tell you that this ſeemed the longeſt week I ever knew in my life. I did not doubt but he would be at church again, and I longed impatiently [Page 332] for Sunday. At laſt Sunday came; we went with my father as uſual to church, and would you believe it, Miſs Darnley, tho' I wiſh'd ſo much to ſee Mr. William, yet now I dreaded meeting him, and trembled ſo when I came into church, that I was obliged to take hold of Fanny to keep me from falling. She ſoon diſcovered him, and pulled me in order to make me look up: he had placed himſelf in our way, ſo that we paſſed cloſe by him. He made us a very low bow, and my mother, who had not ſeen him before, ſmiled, and looked extremely pleaſed with him; for to be ſure, Madam, ſhe could not help admiring him.’
‘Well, I was very uneaſy all the time we were in church; for Fanny whiſpered me that my ſweet-heart, for ſo ſhe called Mr. William, minded nothing but me. This made me bluſh exceſſively, and I was afraid my mother would take notice of his ſtaring and my confuſion; ſo that (heaven forgive me) I was glad when the ſermon was ended. He made us his uſual compliment at our going out, but I did not look up: however, I was impatient to be alone with Fanny, that I might talk of him, and in the evening we walked towards the Park. Juſt as we had placed ourſelves under a tree, we ſaw a fine dreſt gentleman, a viſitor of the Squire's as we ſuppoſed, coming up to us: upon which we roſe and walked homewards; but the gentleman followed us, and coming cloſe to me, ſtared impudently under my hat, and ſwearing a great oath, ſaid I was a pretty girl, and he would have a kiſs. Fanny ſeeing him [Page 333] take me by the arm, ſcreamed aloud; but I, pretending not to be frightened, tho' I trembled ſadly, civilly begg'd him to let me go. He did not regard what I ſaid, but was extremely rude; ſo that I now began to ſcream as loud as Fanny, ſtruggling all the time to get from him, but in vain, and now who ſhould come to my aſſiſtance but Mr. William: I ſaw him flying acroſs a field, and my heart told me it was he, before he came near enough for me to know him.’
‘As ſoon as Fanny perceived him, ſhe ran to him and beg'd him to help me; but he did not need intreaty: he flew like a bird to the place where I was, and left Fanny far behind. The rude gentleman bad him be gone, and threatened him ſeverely; for he had taken the hand I had at liberty, which I gladly gave him, and inſiſted upon his letting me go: and now, my dear Miſs Darnley, all my fears were for him, for the gentleman declared if he did not go about his buſineſs he would run him through the body, and actually drew his ſword; I thought I ſhould have died at that terrible ſight; my ſiſter run towards home crying like one diſtracted; as for me, tho' the man had let go my hand, and I might have run away, yet I could not bear to leave Mr. William to the mercy of that cruel wretch; and I did what at another time I ſhould have bluſhed to have done. I took his hand, and pulled him with all my force away; but he, enraged at being called puppy by the gentleman, who continued ſwearing, that he would do him a miſchief, if he did not leave the place, begged me to make the [Page 134] beſt of my way home; and turning furiouſly to him who was brandiſhing his ſword about, he knocked him down with one ſtroke of a cudgel which he fortunately had in his hand, and ſnatching his ſword from him, he threw it among the buſhes.’
‘Ah, Miſs (cried Dolly) if you had ſeen how he looked when he came back to me, if you had heard the tender things he ſaid—Well, you may imagine I thanked him for the kindneſs he had done me, and he proteſted he would with pleaſure loſe his life for my ſake. I think I could have liſtened to him for ever; but now my father appeared in ſight. My ſiſter had alarmed him greatly with her account of what had happened, and he was coming haſtily to my aſſiſtance, followed by my mother and all the family. As ſoon as we perceived them coming we mended our pace; for we had walked very ſlowly hitherto: then it was that Mr. William, who had not ſpoke ſo plainly before, told me how much he loved me, and begg'd I would give him leave to ſee me ſometimes. I replied, that depended upon my father, and this was prudent, was it not, my dear Miſs Darnley?’
‘He ſighed, Madam, reſumed Dolly, and ſaid he was afraid my father would not think him [Page 335] worthy of me: he owned he was no otherwiſe worthy of me than from the great affection he bore me, and then—But here I fear you will think him too bold and perhaps blame me.’
‘Why, Madam, continued Dolly, he took my hand and kiſſed it a thouſand times; and tho' I did all I could to be ſure to pull it away, yet he would not part with it, till my father was ſo near that he was afraid he would obſerve him; and then he let it go, and begg'd me in a whiſper not to hate him. Bleſs me, what a ſtrange requeſt that was, Miſs Darnely! how could I hate one to whom I had been ſo greatly obliged! I was ready to burſt into tears at the very thought, and told him I was ſo far from hating him, that —’
‘To be ſure, ſaid Dolly, I put it in that light. Well I am glad you approve of my behaviour, Miſs Darnley; ſo, as I was telling you, my father came up to us, and thanked Mr. William for having reſcued his daughter; he then aſked him what he had done with the rude fellow? Mr. William told him he had given him a lucky ſtroke with his cudgel, which had made him [Page 336] meaſure his length on the ground; but, ſaid he (and ſure that ſhowed exceſſive good nature) I hope I have not hurt him much:’
‘My father ſaid he would go and ſee; and then ſhaking Mr. William kindly by the hand, he called him a brave youth, and ſaid he hoped they ſhould be better acquainted—Oh! how glad was I to hear him ſay ſo: My mother too was vaſtly civil to him; and as for Fanny, I thought ſhe would have hugg'd him, ſhe was ſo pleaſed with him for his kindneſs to me. My mother inſiſted upon his ſtaying to drink tea with us, and as ſoon as my father came back, we all went in together.’
‘Oh, I forgot to tell you, reſumed Dolly, that my father ſaid he ſaw him creeping along as if he was ſorely bruiſed with his fall, ſupporting himſelf with his ſword, which it ſeems he had found. We were all glad it was no worſe, and Mr. William having accepted my mother's invitation, he ſtaid with us till the evening was pretty far advanced; and then my father accompanied him part of his way home, and at parting, as he told us, deſired to ſee him often.’
‘He was not backward, you may be ſure, in complying with his requeſt: he came ſo often, that my father was ſurpriſed; and beſides, my ſiſter and I ſcarce ever went out to walk but we met him; ſo that one would have imagined he lived in the fields about our houſe. My mother at laſt ſuſpected the truth, and queſtioned me [Page 337] about him, and I told her all that he had ever ſaid to me; and not long afterwards he took an opportunity to open his heart to my father, and aſked his permiſſion to make his addreſſes to me. With ſuch modeſty and good ſenſe he ſpoke, that my father was extremely pleaſed with him; but told him that he muſt conſult his friends, and know whether they approved of it, and then he would conſider of his propoſal. Mr. William, as he afterwards told me, wrote to his aunt firſt; for he was well aſſured that his father would agree to any thing that ſhe thought for his advantage.’
‘He had a very favourable anſwer from Mrs. Gibbons, for ſhe had changed her mind alſo, with regard to his being an officer, as war was then talked of; and ſhe was afraid of his being ſent abroad. He ſhewed me her letter, and ſhe told him in it, that ſince he was reſolved to ſettle in the country, ſhe approved of his marrying; and was glad he had not fixed his affections upon ſome homeſpun farmer's daughter; but had choſen a gentlewoman, and one who was well brought up. She added, that ſhe intended to come into the country, in a few weeks; and if ſhe found the young lady (ſo ſhe called me) anſwered his deſcription, ſhe would haſten the marriage, and ſettle us handſomely.—Oh! how pleaſed was I with this letter, and how did it rejoice Mr. William!’
‘I ſhould never have done, were I to tell you all the tender things he ſaid to me. Mr. Gibbons, [Page 338] at his ſon's deſire, came to my father, and begged him to give his conſent, which he obtained; for my father had well conſidered the affair before: and nothing was wanting but Mrs. Gibbons's arrival to make us all happy. Mr. William thought every hour an age till ſhe came, and preſt her continually in his letters to haſten her journey.’
Poor Dolly was ſo oppreſſed with grief, when ſhe came to this part of her ſtory, that ſhe was unable to proceed, and burſt into tears. The tender Sophia, who was greatly affected with the anguiſh ſhe ſaw her in, employed every ſoothing art to comfort her. And Dolly being a little compoſed, was going to continue her ſtory, when ſhe ſaw her ſiſter looking about for them; Sophia and ſhe immediately roſe up and joined Fanny, who rallied them both upon their fondneſs for lonely places; but perceiving that Dolly had been weeping, ſhe immediately became grave, and accommodated her looks and behaviour to the gentle melancholy of her ſiſter.
Sophia, from the ſtate of her own mind, was but too much diſpoſed to ſympathize with the love-ſick Dolly: theſe ſoftning converſations were ill calculated to baniſh from her remembrance, the firſt object of her innocent affections; and who, with all his faults, ſhe ſtill loved. Dolly's ſtory [Page 339] awakened a thouſand tender ideas, and recalled to her memory every part of Sir Charles's conduct, which had any reſemblance to that of the faithful and paſſionate William.
She dwelt with tender regret upon theſe pleaſing images, and for a while forgot how neceſſary it was for her peace, to ſuppreſs every thought of Sir Charles, that tended to leſſen her juſt reſentment againſt him.
But, good and pious as ſhe was, the paſſion ſhe could not wholly ſubdue ſhe regulated by reaſon and by virtue; for, as an eminent Divine ſays, ‘Although it is not in our power to make affliction no affliction; yet we may take off the edge of it, by a ſteady view of thoſe divine joys prepared for us in another ſtate’
It was quite otherwiſe with Sir Charles: for the guilty, if unhappy, are doubly ſo; becauſe they are deprived of thoſe reſources of comfort, which the virtuous are ſure to find, in the conſciouſneſs of having acted well.
Sir Charles, upon finding his ſettlement ſent back to him, in ſuch a manner, as ſhewed not only the moſt obſtinate reſolution to reject his offers, but alſo a ſettled contempt for the offerer, became a prey to the moſt violent paſſions: rage, grief, affronted pride, love ill requited, and diſappointed hope, tormented him by turns; nor was jealouſy without a place in his heart; the chaſte, the innocent, the reſerved Sophia, became ſuſpected by the man, who in vain attempted to corrupt her; ſo true it is, that libertiniſm gives ſuch a colour to the actions [Page 340] of others, as takes away all diſtinction between virtue and vice.
Love, he argued, is either rewarded with a reciprocal affection, or with an inward and ſecret contempt; therefore he imputed Sophia's rejection of his offers, not to her diſapprobation of the intention of them, but to want of affection for his perſon; and from her youth, and the tender ſenſibility of her heart, he concluded, that ſince he had failed in making an impreſſion on it, it was already beſtowed on another; one while he reſolved to think no more of her, and repay her indifference and diſdain, with ſilence and neglect; the next moment, dreading leſt he had loſt her for ever, he regretted his having alarmed her with too early a diſcovery of his intentions, and ſometimes his paſſion tranſported him ſo far, as to make him think ſeriouſly of offering her his hand: then ſtarting at his own weakneſs, and apprehenſive of the conſequences, he ſought to arm himſelf againſt that tenderneſs which ſuggeſted ſo mad a deſign, by reflecting on her indifference towards him, and accounting for it in ſuch a manner, as fixed the ſharpeſt ſtings of jealouſy in his mind.
Thus various and perplexed were his thoughts and deſigns; and he was incapable of reſolving upon any thing, except to ſee her; and ſo great was his impatience, that he would have ſet out for London, the moment he received the fatal paper, but decency would not permit him to leave his uncle, who was in a dying condition, and wiſhed only to expire in his arms.
[Page 341] The poor man, however, lingered a week longer, during which Sir Charles paſſed ſome of the moſt melancholly hours he had ever known; at length, his uncle's death left him at liberty to return to London, which he did immediately, and alighted at Mrs. Darnley's houſe. Upon hearing ſhe was at home, he did not ſend in his name, but walked up ſtairs with a beating heart; he found Mrs. Darnley, and Harriot together, but not ſeeing the perſon, whom he only wiſhed to ſee, he caſt a melancholy look round the room, and anſwering, in a confuſed, and dejected manner, the mother's exceſſive politeneſs, and the cold civility of the daughter, he threw himſelf into a chair, with a deep ſigh, and was ſilent.
So evident a diſcompoſure pleaſed Mrs. Darnley as much as it mortified Harriot. As for Sir Charles, pride and reſentment hindered him at firſt from enquiring for Sophia; but his anxiety and impatience to hear of her, ſoon prevailed over all other conſiderations; and tho' he aſked for her with an affected careleſſneſs, yet his eyes, and the tone of his voice betrayed him.
Mrs. Darnley told him, that ſhe was gone into the country: ‘Very much againſt my inclination, ſaid ſhe: but Mr. Herbert, who you know, Sir, has great power over her, more I think, than I have, would have it ſo.’
Sir Charles turning as pale as death, replied, in great emotion, ‘What! gone into the country; where is ſhe gone, to whom, why did ſhe go? Againſt your inclination, did you ſay, Madam, [Page 342] what could poſſibly induce her to this? You ſurpriſe me exceſſively.’
Harriot, who did not chuſe to be preſent at the explanation of this affair, now roſe up, and went out of the room, ſmiling ſarcaſtically, as ſhe paſſed by Sir Charles, and bridling with all the triumph of conſcious beauty. He, who was in a bad humour, beheld her airs not only with indifference but contempt, which he ſuffered to appear pretty plain in his countenance; for he thought it but juſt to mortify her for her ill-uſage of her ſiſter, without conſidering that he himſelf was far more guilty, in that reſpect, towards the amiable Sophia, and equally deſerved to be hated by her.
When Harriot was gone, Mrs. Darnley inſtantly renewed the converſation concerning Sophia; and finding that the young baronet liſtened to her, with eager attention, ſhe gave him a full account of all that had happened, during his abſence: ſhe repreſented Sophia, as having followed implicitly the directions of Mr. Herbert, whom ſhe called a buſy, meddling, officious, old man; and as the behaviour of her daughter, at her going away, gave ſufficient room to believe, that her heart ſuffered greatly by the effort ſhe made, ſhe dwelt upon every circumſtance that tended to ſhew the concern ſhe was under; and did not ſcruple to exaggerate, where ſhe thought it would be pleaſing.
Sir Charles, tho' he inwardly rejoiced at what he heard, yet diſſembled ſo well, that no ſigns of it appeared in his countenance. He now ſeemed to liſten with much indifference, and coldly ſaid, he [Page 343] was ſorry Miſs Sophia would not permit him to make her eaſy.
The tranquillity he affected alarmed Mrs. Darnley: ſhe who was ever ready to judge by appearances, concluded that all was over, and that the baronet was irrecoverably loſt; but had her judgment been more acute, ſhe would have perceived, that he was ſtill deeply intereſted in every thing that related to Sophia. The queſtions he asked were not ſuch as curioſity ſuggeſts, but the tender anxiety of doubting love: Mrs. Darnley informed him of all he wiſh'd to hear; Sophia had indeed fled from him, but not without reluctance and grief: ſhe was at preſent removed from his ſight, but ſhe was removed to ſilence and ſolitude; and ſhe carried with her a fond impreſſion, which ſolitude would not fail to encreaſe.
Thus ſatisfied, he put an end to his viſit, with all imaginable compoſure, leaving Mrs. Darnley in doubt, whether ſhe ſhould ſee him again, and more enraged than ever with Mr. Herbert, whoſe fatal counſels had overthrown all her hopes.[To be continued.]
BEING born a Florentine, though by my marriage and long reſidence here, I am now become Engliſh; I cannot without ſome jealouſy obſerve, that in your uſeful and entertaining Muſeum, you have yet admitted no foreigners but thoſe of France, to make their appearance; therefore I take the liberty to recommend to your notice, the incloſed tranſlation from the Italian, of a piece of hiſtory, perhaps as extraordinary and exemplary as can be found in thoſe of any nation whatever; and whilſt it preſents to your readers the power and fate of beauty, at the ſame time gives them ſome inſight into the characters and manners of the Italians, in that century in which it happened. I am, Madam,
Your conſtant Reader, And Humble Servant, OFFARIA CELLINI.
ABOUT the middle of the ſixteenth century, amongſt many Florentine merchants, who reſided in the celebrated city of Venice, was, a company of bankers, called the Salviati; whoſe buſineſs being great, they were obliged to keep many young men in their ſervice, for writing, negotiating, and other offices. The principal of theſe was one Pietro Buonaventuri, a citizen of Florence, young, handſome, and genteel, whom they employed as caſhier.
Over againſt this bank lived a noble Venetian, the name of whoſe family was Capello; he had amongſt other children a daughter called Bianca, extremely beautiful, and of ſo winning and graceful behaviour as enhanced the luſtre of her charms. This lady, the before-mentioned Buonaventuri, became deſperately enamoured with; the violence of his paſſion, by the frequent opportunities their near neighbourhood gave them of ſeeing each other, in time found means to diſcover itſelf to his miſtreſs; who believing him the maſter, or at leaſt the partner of that great bank, began to regard with ſome attention the attractive graces of his perſon and manner, till this new reciprocal love augmenting [Page 346] every day, became ſanctified at length by a private marriage, followed by many ſecret meetings, with the knowledge only of an old matron, governeſs to the lady, who had been both confidant and mediatrix throughout the whole affair.
Thus for ſome time did the lovers continue their intercourſe; the bride going every night to her huſband's apartment, which being on the ground floor, ſhe could eaſily paſs from her father's houſe and return to it unobſerved, being but four paces diſtant from that of the Salviati. Her method was, when ſhe came out, to leave the dor unlocked; ſo that returning early, ſhe was received by her governeſs, before the reſt of the family was ſtirring; but one unlucky morning, the baker coming ſooner than uſual, to tell the ſervants it was time to make the bread, and being anſwered, they were about it, he perceived the lock of the door was open, and thinking it was proper to fallen it, he did ſo, before he went away, as the young lady found to her great ſurprize and grief, when having taken leave of her husband, (who accompanied her to the door of his maſter's houſe) ſhe returned home; whereupon not knowing from whence this accident could happen, trembling like a leaf, and half dead with fear, ſhe went back to her lover, who endeavoured to comfort her as well as he could, and went himſelf into the ſtreet, making ſigns, whiſtling, and calling to the old confidant; yet all his endeavours were to no purpoſe, and unable to make himſelf heard, without a thorough diſcovery, he came back to his wife; when now the day was ſo far advanced, that it left no hopes of concealment for theſe unfortunate lovers, [Page 347] who were ſure to die by the rage of her relations, if once their affair was known. As the laſt remedy they reſolved on flight; he taking what little money and cloaths the ſhortneſs of time would permit him to get together, and ſhe having only a thin taffata robe over her ſhift, (it being the height of ſummer) they haſtily embarked on board a veſſel, and in the moſt ſecret manner that was poſſible, purſued their journey till they arrived at Florence, where they came to the houſe of Pietro's father, which ſtood in the place of St. Mark, not far from the church of the Annunciation. The elder Buonaventuri, though a citizen, was in ſo low a degree of fortune, that theſe two being added to his family, he could no otherwiſe maintain them, than by turning off his only ſervant, in whoſe place the poor young lady was obliged to do all thoſe offices, that in her former ſtate, many had been kept to do for her: and the old man being informed by his ſon, that ſhe was his wife, and his own being grown in years, and very peeviſh, he entruſted her with the management of the houſehold likewiſe: all which ſhe performed for many months, with great patience and alacrity.
The flight of the two lovers was no ſooner diſcovered at Venice, than the father and relations of Bianca, furious with indignation, and great in power, cauſed an edict to be publiſhed, by which, whoever ſhould kill them in any country, was entitled to a large ſum of money. This cruel order coming to the ears of the fugitive pair, gave them great apprehenſions; and the young lady never ſuffered herſelf to be ſeen, but ſtayed always at [Page 348] home, employing herſelf in the affairs of her family.
Whilſt they remained in this miſerable ſituation, it happened one day, that the grand Duke Franciſco, ſon of Coſmo the firſt, was paſſing in his coach under the window. Bianca having a curioſity to ſee him, lifted up the lattice, in order to have a better view; and he chancing at the ſame time to turn his face that way, their eyes met; which was no ſooner perceived by her, than ſhe immediately let down the lattice and retired; but the grand duke, unſatisfied with ſo momentary a view, kept his head ſtill out of the coach, turn'd, though in vain, towards the window.
This haſty, and unthought of encounter, created in the mind of Franciſco a reſtleſs deſire to know who ſhe was, and every particular concerning her; which once known, produced ſo tender a pity in his heart, that it made him more than an equal ſharer in all her misfortunes; and increaſed ſo much his curioſity again to ſee her, that he either went every day to a houſe of his, in that quarter of the town, called the Caſino, or to hear maſs, either at the Annunciation, or St. Mark's, in hopes to procure another ſight of her; but all this only ſerved to make him more eager, for a nearer and longer view; and, in order to attain his wiſh, he made it known to a Spaniſh gentleman, named Mandragone, who in his infancy had been placed about him by his father, and who, ever attentive to the deſires of his maſter, readily undertook the enterprize; and that it might ſucceed the better, engaged his wife to form an intimacy with the old woman, mother [Page 349] of Bianca's huſband, inſtructing her in what manner ſhe ſhould bring it about.
In obſervance to his orders, ſhe placed herſelf next to her at church, where, according to the cuſtom too much in uſe, they ſoon began to enter into diſcourſe, in which the Spaniſh lady having artfully brought it about, to aſk if her ſon Pietro was married?
She anſwered, Yes, madam, but very unfortunately; and then proceeded to give her the whole hiſtory of what had happened in Venice. When ſhe had finiſhed, Signora Mandragona very compaſſionately, and with great eagerneſs, deſired ſhe would come one day to her houſe, and bring her daughter-in law with her, whom, ſhe ſaid, ſhe was extremely deſirous to be acquainted with; and ſhould eſteem it a happineſs to do every thing in her power to ſerve her.
To this the old woman replied, that it would be very difficult to perſuade her daughter, who never went abroad, to come with her; becauſe, added ſhe, our circumſtances do not permit us to buy her new cloaths; and at preſent ſhe has only thoſe which ſhe brought with her; ſo that ſhe, who ſtill retains a noble ſoul in all her poverty, will never bear to be expoſed. This, replied the Spaniard, I can eaſily find a remedy for: I will ſend her a ſuit of mine, and in thoſe ſhe need not fear being known.
I do not know, ſays the good old mother, whether ſhe will conſent without the leave of her huſband: however, I will do all I can to obey you; but I fear I ſhall not be able to bring it about; for ſhe chuſes retirement, and is deſirous to avoid the [Page 350] ſight of every one; ſo that though my ſon has often ſpoke to her to go with me to hear maſs at St. Mark's, ſhe never could be prevailed on to do it; inſomuch, that from the bleſſed hour in which ſhe entered our houſe, to this time, ſhe has never ſtirred out of it.
Try all your power, I deſire, ſaid the Spaniſh lady, to bring her with you; and I will ſend my coach to fetch you both. Tell her too, that my friendſhip will be not diſagreeable to her; but, on the contrary, perhaps may do her ſome ſervice. The good old woman concluded the converſation with reiterated promiſes, to uſe her utmoſt endeavours to make her daughter comply with the obliging requeſt, and ſo they parted.
As ſoon as ſhe was got home, ſhe began to diſcourſe with her daughter-in-law, telling her exactly what had paſſed between the Spaniard and herſelf; to which ſhe added, this lady, my child, is wife to the chief favourite of the great duke; therefore her friendſhip is no indifferent thing: the interceſſion of her huſband being the moſt likely means to gain you the protection or ſafe-conduct that you here ſo earneſtly deſired, and by which you may live in Florence free from the perſecution of your relations, who, as you ſay, endeavour by all the methods they can uſe, to get you into their hands.
When the poor young creature heard her talk of the ſafe-conduct, though ſhe had no inclination to go abroad any more to know, than to be known by others; yet, moved with the hopes of ſecurity, ſhe yielded, provided her huſband gave his conſent, who that very night ſhe conſulted upon [Page 351] it; and he, that no leſs than herſelf ſtood in need of protection, judging that by this lady it would be eaſily obtained, (being ſenſible how great her huſband's intereſt was with the prince,) told her, ſhe ſhould go; which leave having informed her mother-in-law of, ſhe immediately ſent word to Signora Mandragona, that when it was convenient for her to ſend her coach for them, they would be ready to attend her. Accordingly it ſoon came, into which the two ladies entering, ſhut themſelves up cloſe, and in that manner arrived at the palace of the Spaniſh lady, where they were received with many careſſes and great joy; and being conducted into a moſt magnificent and beautiful apartment, they diſcourſed together on ſeveral ſubjects; and upon that of the ſafe-conduct, the Spaniard did not fail to offer all the power and intereſt ſhe was miſtreſs of with her huſband to obtain it.
In the midſt of their converſation, entered (as by chance,) the maſter of the houſe, who, after having bowed to the ladies, ſeemed not to know who they were; and turning to his wife, aſked her? Theſe, ſaid me, are perſons who are in want of your intereſt with your maſter; and then pretending to inform him, in few words, of the Venetian lady's ſtory, which he knew better than herſelf, ſhe concluded with an earneſt deſire, that he would intercede in her behalf to the grand duke, who from another room heard and ſaw every thing that paſſed.
All the time the Spaniſh lady was ſpeaking to her huſband, Bianca remained ſilent, with her eyes caſt down, and full of tears, that pleaded more in [Page 352] her favour than all the eloquence of Cicero could have done: ſo that Mandragone, having heard his wife out, turning to the Venetian lady, ſaid, ‘What you deſire, Madam, is a very trifling ſervice in reſpect of many greater I ſhall be proud to do you, and can without the leaſt difficulty. The grand duke, my maſter, being a prince ſo generous and benign, that he knows not how to deny any one, provided the requeſt be juſt, much more ſuch a lady as you, being obliged, not only by his natural inclination to goodneſs, but alſo by the laws of knighthood, to ſuccour the diſtreſſed: be aſſured then, that your deſires will be accompliſhed.’ And ſo ſaying, he took his leave, and went away.[To be continued.]
IN the reign of Commodus, or as Beda places it, in the reign of Aurelius, we are told of Lucius, the firſt Britiſh monarch who became a chriſtian. The legendary ſtories of him are not in the leaſt worthy of inſertion.
In the reign of Septimus Severus, the twenty-firſt emperor of Rome, we learn ſome particulars of the old Britons that are too remarkable to be paſſed over. Their perſons and their manners are thus deſcribed by Dion Caſſius.
"The two moſt conſiderable colonies of Britons are the Caledonians, and the Maeatae. Under theſe denominations may be included the reſt of the inhabitants. The Maeatae live near the wall that divides the iſland into two parts; the Caledonians live beyond the wall. Both theſe people inhabit the wildeſt mountains, where no water is to be found: they alſo inhabit deſert plains, and grounds that are full of marſhes: they have neither walls, towns, nor cultivated lands: wild fruits, and the game that they take in hunting are their choiceſt food: they [Page 354] never taſte fiſh, although they have great quantities*. They paſs their lives in tents, naked, and even without ſhoes: they live in a promiſcuous manner with their wives: the children are brought up in common: their government is democratical and popular: they take great delight in plunder: they fight in chariots: their horſes are ſmall, but very ſwift: they are a people remarkable for velocity in running, and they ſtand firmly on their legs: their defenſive arms are a buckler and a ſhort ſpear; at the lower extremity of the ſpear is hung an apple made of braſs, with the noiſe of which they terrify their enemies in battle: they alſo make uſe of daggers: they can endure hunger, cold, and every kind of hardſhip: they can remain for ſeveral days together in marſhes without eating, and only with their heads above the water. In their woods they feed upon roots, and the bark of trees: they have a certain kind of food † which they prepare upon all occaſions, and of which, if they take a quantity no bigger than the ſize of a bean, they no longer feel the effects of hunger, nor of thirſt. Such is the iſland of Britain."
This muſt not be looked upon either as a perfect or a general repreſentation. It is a mixture of truth, fable, and improbabilities; and it is confined entirely to the Caledonians, and to the northern part of Britain. The ſouthern colonies were nearer the ſun, and by that ſituation, were poſſibly of a ſofter nature and of a leſs robuſt conſtitution. That ſavages were inclined to rapine and every ſort [Page 355] of robbery, is by no means a matter of aſtoniſhment, and ſcarce a ſubject of cenſure; but that the Maeatae and the Caledonii, ſo late as in the reign of Severus, were totally ignorant of agriculture, and every rudiment of tillage, muſt appear a ſhameful inſtance of lazineſs, if their unſettled ſituation, and the want of property and ſecurity in their poſſeſſions, did not plead their excuſe. Cain, the firſt ſavage upon record, was a tiller of the ground. Noah, as ſoon as he found himſelf in poſſeſſion of the earth, began to be a huſbandman: but Cain had put to death his only adverſary, and Noah was perfectly ſecure from foreign invaſions. The diſtreſſed Britons could not promiſe themſelves an hour's peace, from enemies and invaders.
Severus had two ſons, Baſſianus, ſirnamed Caracalla, and Geta. The luxurious pleaſures of Rome had enervated theſe young men, and had rendered them, eſpecially the eldeſt, unworthy of ſuch a father. To exerciſe his army, and to withdraw his ſons from a ſcene of vice and inactivity, the emperor in the fifteenth year of his reign undertook a journey into Btitain. He was at that time old, infirm, and much afflicted with the gout; but the ſtrength of his ſpirit was far ſuperior to the ſtrength of his body: wherever his army marched, he appeared at the head of it, on horſeback, or in his chariot, or ſometimes, when his diſtemper was particularly violent, in a litter. His progreſs into Caledonia was at the utmoſt hazard, and even with a conſiderable deſtruction of his troops. The country was mountainous, woody, and ſull of marſhes; ſo that his ſoldiers underwent exceſſive [Page 356] fatigue, without taking a fortreſs, and exceſſive danger, without ſeeing an enemy. They had foreſts to cut down, mountains to level, moraſſes to dry up, and bridges to build. Dio ſays, that in this progreſs, the Romans loſt fifty thouſand men. No diſtreſſes could alarm, no difficulties could deter Severus: he continued his enterprize, and at laſt became ſucceſsful. The terms of an alliance were agreed upon and ratified; but were ſoon afterwards broken by the Scots: a breach of faith which Severus determined to reſent, not only with rigour, but with inhumanity. He delivered his orders to his army, in theſe lines from Homer:
Not one of all the race, nor ſex, nor age,Shall ſave a Trojan from our boundleſs rage;Ilion ſhall periſh whole, and bury allHer babes, her inſants at the breaſt ſhall fall*.
But he lived not to ſee his orders executed: his diſtemper was his moſt powerful enemy: it conquered him when he was almoſt ſixty-ſeven years of age, and when he had reigned about eighteen years, of which the three laſt he paſſed in Britain. He died at York, and his funeral obſequies were ſolemnized with a pomp and magnificence ſuitable to the character of Severus, and the greatneſs of the people of Rome.
The virtues of this emperor were great; however they were not without their alloy. As a private man, he was covetous; as a commander, he was too ſuſceptible of revenge. Wherever he conquered [Page 357] he ruined: a cruel diſpoſition, which the people of Bizantium moſt unhappily experienced, and from which the Scots had a very narrow eſcape. On the other hand, his ſpirit was dauntleſs, and ſuperior not only to danger but fatigue: he defied laſſitude, and was never wearied by the moſt minute enquiry into every article of his government: to his perſonal friends he was extremely grateful: to his perſonal enemies he was contemptuouſly diſdainful: he was moderate in his expences as an emperor, but magnificent in the public buildings of every kind *: he heard cauſes not only with exactneſs, but with patience: he entered the courts of juſtice by break of day, and he ſtaid there till noon: his abilities were excellent, and they were improved by learning: he had more than the tenderneſs of a father: he forgave Caracalla's repeated attempts upon his life: he was careful in the education of both his ſons; and at his death, he jointly bequeathed to them his empire.
Caracalla and his brother Geta, each inferior in every reſpect to their father, haſtened from a country of barbarians to that theatre of delicacy, the court of Rome. They concluded a peace with the Caledonians, and left our iſland early in the year of Chriſt 211.
From henceforward it will be extremely proper to draw a veil over the particular characters of the [Page 358] Roman emperors: not even to name their names, unleſs where the affairs of Britain require it. The perpetual chaſmi in our hiſtory happen to be ſo great, and the anecdotes are ſo few and trifling, ſo uncertain or indecent, that till the reign of the joint emperors Diocletianus, and Maximianus, (ſirnamed Herculeus) in the year of Chriſt † 286, a ſpace of ſeventy five years, the deepeſt ignorance is ſcarce to be lamented.
The Romans had been many years immerſed in the greateſt confuſion: their kingdom was divided againſt itſelf: Britain was ſtill under their ſubjection, and was harraſſed and torn to pieces by factions and diviſions, which took riſe within the iſland itſelf. I mean particularly the invincible hatred that the Picts and Caledonians, who were now in a manner become one people, bore to the more ſouthern parts of Britain.
Diocleſian, a man of low birth, had paſſed through many conſiderable offices before he was raiſed to the empire: he had acquired a high reputation as a ſoldier, and had acquitted himſelf with great political ſagacity in the civil parts of government: his perſonal accompliſhments ſeemed ſo ſuitable to the imperial dignity, that in a time of leſs univerſal warfare and confuſion, he might ſingly have ſuſtained the weight of government, with honour to himſelf, and with advantage to the commonwealth. In the preſent juncture, the hands [Page 359] of Briareus were ſcarce too many to hold the reins of the Roman empire: conſequently Diocleſian ſhewed much prudence in gaining the aſſiſtance of a partner in the throne. Maximian did not poſſeſs all the accompliſhments of Diocleſian; but he had courage and activity, which were of greater preſent uſe to the public, than virtues more delicately illuſtrious, or more morally refined.
Anarchy and confuſion prevailed throughout the world. The times were ſuch as are deſcribed before the flood, when God ſaw that the wickedneſs of man was great in the earth; and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, was only evil continually The continent was filled with rebels: the ſea was covered by pyrates. In the laſt claſs were the Franks and the Saxons, two nations of Germany, who gave continual annoyance to the coaſts of Normandy, Picardy, and Bretagne. To prevent the depredations of theſe corſairs, and to awe and ſubdue the maritime robbers of every kind, Carauſius was appointed commander of the Roman fleet, and was generally ſtationed at Boulogne: a ſtation near enough the coaſt of England, to render him well acquainted with the ports, the ſhores, and the inhabitants of the iſland: he was a man of mean birth *, but of high ambition: he found himſelf at the head of a great fleet; and he was ſufficiently wiſe to know the weight, power, and dignity of his office: he reſolved therefore to extend the limits of his authority in ſuch a manner, [Page 360] as to be the indiſputable ſovereign of the ſeas; and from thence, to ſtretch his influence over the land ſo effectually, as to be a nominal and acknowledged emperor of Rome: his methods in purſuance of his deſign were bold and profligate: he began by a breach of truſt: he ſeized great numbers of prizes, and he took great numbers of priſoners; but he accounted to himſelf alone, not to his imperial maſters, for the profits of his captors: he permitted Franks, Saxons, or any other pyrates to practice inciſcriminately all kinds of violence upon the Gallic coaſts; but in their return homewards, he intercepted their veſſels, and applied to his own uſe the riches and plunder which thoſe veſſels contained. Such proceedings juſtly alarmed the reigning emperors; and orders were given that Carauſius ſhould be immediately ſeized and executed: but he had foreſeen his danger, and had already ſecured to himſelf ſuch an intereſt among the officers of the fleet, that the whole navy was unanimouſly determined to obey him.
A mariner only can command mariners: the element is formed for the people, or rather, the people, like the fiſh, are formed for the element. Had Carauſius been a land-officer, all his ſchemes muſt have proved abortive: but from thoſe particulars of his life which have reached our times, he appears to have been as ſucceſsful as he was wicked, as bold at he was powerful, and as ſit to command as he was ready to execute.
It is to him we owe the firſt dawnings of our naval power: a power which has ſince appeared in all its meridian glory. From his conduct we [Page 361] were apprized of our natural ſtrength as an iſland: a ſtrength that cannot fail us, if properly exerted, to the end of the world.
Carauſius had moſt judiciouſly fixed his eye upon Britain, as a ſure place of refuge and ſecurity, whenever the Romans were in purſuit of him; ſo that as ſoon as he heard that he had been publicly proclaimed as a traitor, he made himſelf maſter of Boulogne, and immediately ſailed from thence with his whole fleet to the Britiſh coaſt.
The previous ſteps which had been taken by Carauſius, and the private correſpondence which he had of late carried on with the Britons, rendered his arrival in the iſland not only eaſy but joyful. The people came out beyond their ſhores to meet him, and as ſoon as he was landed, the Roman legion †, and the auxiliary troops that had been quartered within the kingdom, acknowledged and ſaluted him emperor. Thus from a pyrate, he became at once a Caeſar, and fulfilled the aphoriſm, wittily made by one of the Grecian corſairs to Alexander the Great, That a man with a ſingle ſhip was a pyrate, but with a fleet was a great prince
A triumverate of emperors was an unuſual phenomenon: but the ſtate of the continent was ſo very tottering and precarious, that neither Diocleſian nor Maximian were in any degree ſtrong enough to diſmantle the atchievements of Carauſius. [Page 362] Some faint preparations of reſiſtance were attempted by Maximian; but neceſſity compelled the Romans ſoon to withdraw all hoſtilities, and to enter into articles of peace: by which inglorious treaty, this proclaimed pyrate was declared Pius; this maritime robber was acknowledged Felix; and this avowed uſurper, was ſirnamed Auguſtus: as appears from the medal in Camden's Britannia, thus inſcribed: IMP. C. CARAUSIUS. PF. AUG. on the reverſe, PAX AUG. with the letters S C. Senatus conſulto, By order of the ſenate.
Carauſius was not only a nominal emperor of Rome, but he perſonally eſtabliſhed himſelf a real monarch of Briton: he reigned and reſided in the iſland between ſix and ſeven years; and during that time, our anceſtors were entirely freed from their obedience to the Roman empire, and were only ſubject to the laws and government of their own ſovereign. Curioſity would lead us to enquire what were the political inſtitutes of a pyrate. Some civil policy muſt have been regularly maintained; but no certain records of it are to be diſcovered. In general, we know, that his fleet was mighty, and that his marines and ſailors were drawn from all nations, and out of all profeſſions. In this light as in every other, his abilities muſt appear extraordinary, ſince he could keep in ſubjection and obedience a ſet of people extracted from different kingdoms, and mingled together from various and diſtant parts of the world. But before he had compleated the ſeventh year of his ſovereign juriſdiction, he was murdered by Alectus, one of the chief officers in his army.
[Page 363] Alectus ſeized the government; but his deſire of graſping the ſovereignty was far greater than his power of holding it. He maintained his uſurpation only three years: nor would he have maintained it ſo long, if the Romans had not taken that time to conſider in what manner they might recover Britain. Flavius Conſtantius Chlorus, who was already emperor elect, and entitled Caeſar, undertook the expedition. As ſoon as he landed, he burnt his ſhips; a ſure preſage that he was reſolutely determined upon conqueſt, or upon death. The Britons were pleaſed with the nobleneſs of this action; and as they were much oppreſſed by the dominion of their preſent tyrant, they reſorted in great numbers to the ſtandard of Conſtantine, and voluntarily enliſted themſelves into his ſervice. A battle enſued, in which Alectus was ſlain. His army was moſtly compoſed of Franks, and ſuch of them who eſcaped from the furious ſlaughter of the Romans, retired to London, deſperately determined to pillage that city, and immediately to ſail away with their plunder. But the deſign was fruſtrated by a reinforcement of Romans, who landed at London at this important criſis, and who immediately put almoſt every one of the Franks to the ſword. Thus was the chief city of our iſland delivered from rapine and deſtruction, and the iſland itſelf again ſubjected to the empire of Rome. Conſtantine made an expedition into the northern parts of Britain, to eſtabliſh under the Roman government, thoſe colonies which were moſt mutinous, and untractable. He ſtaid about four years in the kingdom, and then returned to Italy, leaving behind [Page 364] him the ſtrongeſt impreſſions, and the trueſt veneration of his many remarkable virtues, particularly of his clemency and his juſtice.
As ſoon as Conſtantine arrived at Rome, Diocleſian and Maximian wearied with the weight of government, and deſirous to retire from the pomp and fatigue of buſineſs, reſigned the empire to him and to Galerius Armentarius. The kingdoms which fell to the ſhare of Conſtantine, were Italy, Spain, Africa, and Gaul; to which latter was always annexed the iſland of Britain. Conſtantine preferred it to any part of the continent; and the Britons, who had already experienced many inſtances of his goodneſs and protection, were much rejoiced at his return. He made York his ſeat of reſidence, and died there in the year 306, in the 56th year of his age.
He was ſucceeded by his eldeſt ſon, Conſtantinus, ſirnamed the Great: a paſſage in Eumenius, allows room to imagine, that this ſecond Conſtantine was born in Britain. The words of the panegyriſt are theſe; O fortunata et nunc omnibus beatior terris Britannia, quae Conſtantinum Caeſarem prima vidiſti! ‘O fortunate Britain! now happier than all other parts of the earth, ſince in your iſland Conſtantine Caeſar was firſt beheld.’ His birth was undoubtedly an honour to the country in which he was born: but the actions of his life are the points moſt important to hiſtory. Biſhop Stillingfleet tells us from Lactantius, that one of Conſtantine's firſt acts of government, was to ſecure full liberty to the Chriſtians From this reign we may [Page 365] date the open and triumphant appearance of Chriſtianity in Britain. All accounts till this time ſeem dark and intricate; the ſtories of king Lucius and his twenty-eight churches are fabulous and improbable. The Britons had their Druids, the Romans had their Flamines, and each had their Pontifex Maximus. Thus idolatry in two different forms of worſhip was prevalent throughout the whole iſland, till Conſtantine the Great declared himſelf a Chriſtian. He had been educated in that faith by his mother Helena, who is recorded as a ſaint of the firſt magnitude, in the eccleſiaſtic chronicles of the pontifical church of Rome.
The example of a ſovereign will always have a powerful influence upon his people. Conſtantine, by his public declaration of the chriſtian faith, gave a mortal blow to idolatry; and the Flamines and the Druids melted away before the croſs of Chriſt, like waxen images before the ſun.
Alterations of another kind were inſtituted in the ſtate. They are at preſent of little conſequence: changes of names, as from Propraetor to Vicarius, or different diviſions of the kingdom; ſuch as making the two provinces three, or as ſome ſay, four, and all particulars ſo differently told, that they muſt rather weary than entertain a reader. It is in a great meaſure to ſave the many fatiguing accounts, where neither exactneſs nor inſtruction can be found, that theſe papers have been put together; which, if not ſufficiently minute, and ſatisfactory to the perſons into whoſe hands they may fall, will be always amply dilated and ſupplied [Page 366] by a ſearch into the many folio volumes that load all the hiſtorical ſhelves in England.
Many ſcenes of Conſtantine's greateſt actions were performed in France and Germany. He entirely ſubdued the Franks, who were become powerful and numerous: they inhabited that part of Gaul, which from them was called Franconia, or Francia Orientalis. He croſſed the Rhine, and laid waſte the country of the Bructeri; and he removed the ſeat of empire from Rome to Conſtantinople. He died May the 22d, in the year of Chriſt 337.
From the acceſſion of Diocleſian in the year 284, or rather from the ſeizure of the iſland by Carauſius in the year 287, to the death of Conſtantine in 337, the Britons had made very great improvements in their mercantile trade, and in various arts and ſciences *. This laſt half century was of more benefit to the iſland, than all the years that had paſſed before. As the ſtrength and power of antient Rome diminiſhed, the ſtrength and power of Britain encreaſed; and the inhabitants were no longer looked upon or treated as ſlaves or ſavages, but as allies and confederates of the Roman ſtate.
By the light that may be collected, or the reaſonable inferences that may be deduced from this particular part of our hiſtory, our anceſtors ſeem to have acquieſed, if not chearfully, at leaſt prudently, in their preſent ſituation. No diſturbances, no inſurrections aroſe throughout the whole reign of Conſtantine the Great. It may be asked from [Page 367] what motives this obedience, and ſubmiſſion to the Roman power, or rather let us ſay, to the will of Providence, could ariſe? Certainly from the flouriſhing condition of the Chriſtian religion, the doctrines of which it is to be hoped were then preached and practiſed in ſome degree of purity.
The greateſt dangers, or the moſt ſudden moleſtations, to which the Britons were at this time liable, proceeded ſolely from their neighbours the Caledonians, who in the beginning of Conſtantine's government, or juſt before the death of his father Conſtantine the firſt, had made ſeveral rapacious incurſions beyond their borders. They were ſoon conquered by Conſtantine the ſecond, and driven back to their inmoſt bounds; and they remained tolerably quiet during that Emperor's reign.[To be continued.]
IT is owing to ignorance that a girl is weary of herſelf, and knows not how to relieve that languor by innocent employments: when ſhe is arrived to a certain age without ever having applied to things ſolid, ſhe is void of taſte or eſteem for them; every thing ſerious is ſad; every thing that requires a continued attention is fatigue; the biaſs of pleaſure, ſo ſtrong in the days of youth; the example of other perſons of the ſame age, plunged in amuſement, tends to create an abhorrence of a life of regularity and diligence. In theſe early days, ſhe wants the experience and authority neceſſary for ſuperintending any thing in her father's houſe; ſhe is not ſo much as ſenſible of what importance it is to apply herſelf that way, unleſs her mother has happened to take care to point out to her the ſeveral particulars. Is ſhe of rank? ſhe is exempt from working with her hands: ſhe will not work therefore, except for ſome little time in [Page 369] the day, becauſe ſhe was heard ſay, ſhe knows not why, that it is reputable for ladies to do ſomething: but this is often mere pretence; ſhe cannot accuſtom herſelf to application.
In this ſituation what will ſhe do? The company of a mother who watches all her motions, and is chiding her inceſſantly, who thinks ſhe brings her up well in excuſing nothing, who looks grave upon her, who forces her to endure her humours, who ſeems ever burdened with domeſtic cares, is what both conſtrains and diſpirits her; ſhe has about her a ſet of flattering females, who, with a view to inſinuate themſelves, by a baſe and pernicious complacency, fall in with all her fancies, and entertain her with every thing that is likely to give diſtaſte to what is right. Piety appears a tireſome buſineſs, a rule incompatible with every idea of pleaſure. What then will ſhe be doing? Nothing ſerviceable; and this very inapplication grows at length into an incurable habit. In the mean time, behold a void which there is no hopes of filling up with things ſolid; therefore the frivolous muſt take place. In this idle ſtate, a young lady abandons herſelf to lazineſs, the languor of the ſoul, and inexhauſtible ſource of irkſomeneſs.
She uſes herſelf to more ſleep than is confident with true health: this ſerves but to weaken her, to make her tender and more liable to bodily indiſpoſition; whereas moderate ſleep, with the uſe of regular exerciſe, produces livelineſs, vigour, and ſtrength, in which undoubtedly a perfect ſtate of body conſiſts, not to mention the advantages reſulting to the mind.
[Page 370] From this union of ſoftneſs and idleneſs, with ignorance, proceeds a pernicious ſenſibility for diverſions and public ſhews; nay, it excites an indiſcreet and inſatiable curioſity. People verſed and occupied in things of a ſerious nature, have in general but a moderate degree of curioſity; the knowledge they poſſeſs gives them a contempt for many things they do not know; they perceive the inutility, the ridiculouſneſs of the moſt part of thoſe things which little minds that know nothing, and have nothing to do, are eager to be acquainted with: on the contrary, the imagination of girls, ill inſtructed and unattentive, is perpetually wandering for want of ſolid nouriſhment; their curioſity turns with eagerneſs upon objects of an empty and dangerous nature. Thoſe of genius ſet themſelves up for extraordinary women, and read all the books that can feed their vanity; they are paſſionately fond of romances, of plays, of ſtories, of chimerical adventures, wherewith much profane love is intermixed; they give a viſionary turn to their underſtanding, by uſing it to the magnificent language of the heroes of romance; they even ſpoil themſelves for the world, becauſe all theſe fine airy ſentiments, theſe generous paſſions, theſe adventures which the author of the romance has invented merely to pleaſe, have not the leaſt relation to the real motives of action in the world, or to thoſe that decide its affairs, nor yet to the falſe views diſcoverable in every undertaking.
A poor girl, full of the tender and the marvellous which have ſo charmed her in her ſtudies, is [Page 371] aſtoniſhed not to find the world afford any real perſonages reſembling her heroes. She fain would live like the imaginary princeſſes, ever charming, ever adored, ever above all wants: alas! what mortification for her to deſcend from a ſtate of heroiſm to the little cares of domeſtic life.
Some give their curioſity greater ſcope, and take upon them to decide on religious ſubjects, though beyond their reach: ſome with an underſtanding not large enough to entertain theſe ideas, have others proportionate to their capacity; they are violently inquiſitive concerning what is ſaid, what is done, about a ſong, a piece of news, an intrigue; eager to receive letters, to read thoſe received by others; they will be told all, they will tell all; they are vain, and vanity makes them talkative; they are light, and lightneſs obſtructs reflection, which would often teach them to be ſilent.
TOwards remedying all theſe evils, it is of great advantage to be able to begin the education of girls from their earlieſt infancy. That age which is often given up to the direction of women indiſcrete, and ſometimes depraved, is nevertheleſs the age which receives the deepeſt impreſſions, and which conſequently affects their whole life.
Infants, before they can ſpeak plain, may be prepared for inſtruction: ſome may think this is ſaying too much; let us only conſider what a child does before it can ſpeak: it learns a language, [Page 372] which it will ſhortly ſpeak with more accuracy than ſcholars can the dead languages they have ſo painfully ſtudied in riper years. Now what is learning a language? is it not to regiſter in the memory a great number of words? It is moreover, ſaith Auguſtin, to obſerve the ſenſe of each of thoſe words: an infant, ſaith he, amidſt its noiſes and play, takes notice of what object each word is the ſign, and this he does ſometimes by obſerving the natural motion of bodies that come into contact, or that ſhew the objects ſpoken of; ſometimes by being ſtruck with the frequent repetition of the ſame words, denoting the ſame objects: true it is, the temperament of the brain of infants affords a wonderful facility for receiving all theſe images; but how great attention of mind muſt there be to diſtinguiſh and connect them each with its object?
Conſider next how much infants, even at that age, take to thoſe who humour them, and diſlike thoſe who oppoſe them: how well they know when to cry and when to be ſtill, in order to gain their ends: how cunning, how jealous they can be even at this time. I have ſeen, ſaith Auſtin, a child full of jealouſy; though not yet able to ſpeak, he eyed with furious looks, and a pale countenance, the child that ſucked along with him. Hence then one may conclude that they have more ſenſe at that time than is generally ſuppoſed; ſo that it is poſſible by means of words, aſſiſted by proper tones and geſtures, to give them an inclination rather to be with the decent and virtuous part of thoſe they ſee, than with other indiſcrete perſons whom they [Page 373] may be in danger of loving. Thus by the different air of your face and tone of voice, may you repreſent to them with horror the behaviour of perſons, they have beheld in a tranſport of anger, or any other diſorder; and, on the other hand, aſſuming the ſofteſt tones and accents, and mildeſt looks, act over with admiration whatever paſſages they have ſeen, wherein wiſdom and modeſty were obſervable.
I do not mean to ſet forth theſe little matters for important, but yet ſuch diſtant preparations are beginnings not to be neglected; and this early prevention ſenſibly forms them to receive their education. If there remains any doubt of the influence of firſt prejudices upon men, let us but obſerve how lively, how affecting, the remembrance of things we loved in our childhood, remains in our advanced age: if, inſtead of inſpiring children with vain terrors of apparitions and ſpirits, which by too violently ſhocking the brain, yet tender, ſerves only to weaken it; if inſtead of ſuffering them to be directed by every fancy of their nurſes, to objects of their love or averſion, we were to make it our care to give them a pleaſant idea of what is good, and a frightful one of whatever is evil, this prevention would in its conſequence greatly facilitate their progreſs in all the virtues. Quite contrary to this, they are taught to be frightned at a prieſt dreſſed in black; the word Death is never mentioned unleſs to ſcare them; they are told how dead people walk at night in horrible ſhapes; the conſequence of all which is to make the mind weak and fearful, and prejudice it againſt better things.
[Page 374] In the firſt years of infancy, no greater ſervice can be done the child than to manage its health; to endeavour to furniſh it with a mild blood, by a well choſen diet, and ſimple regimen; ſo to regulate its meals that it may eat nearly at the ſame hours, and as often as is requiſite; but not between meals, for that is loading the ſtomach again before digeſtion is perfected; not to eat ſeaſoned things, that will provoke him to eat more than he has occaſion for, and give a diſreliſh for the ſort of victuals moſt wholſome for him; in fine, not to ſupply him with variety, for a variety of food in ſucceſſion keeps up the appetite after genuine hunger is ſatiſfied.
Another thing of great moment is to wait till the organs are grown ſtrong, without preſſing inſtruction upon him; to avoid all occaſions of rowzing the paſſions; to uſe him, with gentleneſs, to being deprived of ſuch things as he has ſhewn himſelf too eager for, this will prevent the confidence of obtaining his deſires.—If their diſpoſitions be in any degree good, it is poſſible by theſe means to render them docile, patient, ſteady, gay, and tranquil: on the contrary, where this early age is neglected, they become violent and reſtleſs all their lives, their blood heats, habits are formed in the young and tender body; the ſoul as yet unbiaſſed takes a bent to evil, a ſort of ſecond original-ſin ſprings up, which is to prove the ſource of a thouſand diſorders, as they grow bigger. From the moment they arrive at the age wherein reaſon has unfolded itſelf, nothing ſhould be ſaid but what has [Page 375] a tendency to give them a love for virtue, and a contempt of all diſſimulation: therefore ought we to uſe no feints, in order to appeaſe and bring them to do as we would have them; for that would be to teach them a cunning they will never forget: let us as much as poſſible lead them on by reaſon.
We will take a nearer view of the ſtate of infants, in order to ſee more particularly what is proper for them: the ſubſtance of their brain is very ſoft, it hardens day by day; as for their mind it knows nothing: this ſoftneſs of brain is the reaſon why every thing makes ſtrong impreſſions, as is the ſurpriſe of noveity why they are ſo apt to admire and be inquiſitive. It is alſo true, that the brain by its humidity and ſoftneſs, together with much heat, is given to be in continual motion; whence proceeds that reſtleſſneſs in children, whereby they can no more confine their minds to one object than their bodies to one place: on the other hand, infants, while yet incapable of thought or action of themſelves, remark all that paſſes, and they ſpeak but little, unleſs we uſe them to talk much, which we ought carefully to avoid doing; for the pleaſure taken in pretty children helps frequently to ſpoil them. We accuſtom them to venture to ſpeak whatever comes into their thoughts, and of things of which hitherto they have no diſtinct comprehenſion: from this they acquire a laſting habit of judging with precipitation, and of talking on ſubjects of which they have no clear ideas; this forms a mind of a very bad ſtamp—this pleaſure has yet another effect, a pernicious one, children perceiving that people look on them with complacency, take notice of all [Page 376] they do, and are pleaſed to hear all they ſay, get a cuſtom of believing they ſhall ever be the concern of the world. During this age of applauſe, and unacquainted with contradiction, chimerical hopes are conceived, which open a way for infinite miſtakes through life. I have known children, who, whenever perſons were talking in private, always concluded they were the ſubject, becauſe they had obſerved it to be often ſo; they imagined every thing in themſelves to be extraordinary and admirable: therefore they ought to be taken care of, without being ſuffered to know that we think much about them; ſhew them that it is out of kindneſs, and through their great need of aſſiſtance, not from any admiration of their qualities, that we are ſo attentive to their conduct.
Be content to form them ſtep by ſtep, as occaſions naturally offer. Even when it is poſſible to bring the underſtanding of a child very forward without ſurcharging it, we ſhould be cautious of doing this; for the danger of vanity and preſumption is always greater than the fruits of theie forc'd educations, that make ſo much noiſe.
We ſhould be content I ſay, to follow and aſſiſt nature; we ſhould not urge them to talk. As they are very ignorant, they have a multitude of queſtions to aſk, and do ask a great many; ſuffice it to anſwer them with preciſion, adding ſometimes certain little compariſons, to make our explanations the eaſier comprehended. If they paſs judgment upon any thing without thoroughly underſtanding it, embarraſs them by ſome new queſtion, which may ſhew them their fault, without roughly confounding [Page 377] them; and at the ſame time, one ſhould let them ſee, not by vague commendations, but by ſome effectual mark of eſteem, that we much more approve of their doubting and enquiring into what they are ignorant of, than of their very beſt deciſions.
As ſoon as their reaſon has apparently made ſome progreſs, it will be proper to make uſe of that very experience to arm them againſt preſumption. You ſee, may one ſay, you are more a maſter of reaſon at this time than a year ago, in another year you will perceive things which at preſent you cannot; if a year ago, you had undertaken to judge of things, which now you are well acquainted with, but then was not, you muſt have judged weakly. You would have been much to blame in pretending to know what was then out of your reach; and thus it is with regard to things you are ſtill to learn: hereafter you will diſcover how imperfect your preſent judgment is; in the mean time rely upon the judgment of thoſe who judge now as yourſelf will do, when arrived at their age and experience.
The natural curioſity of children is the forerunner of inſtruction; fail not to profit by it, for example, in the country they ſee a windmill, and want to know what it is, we ought to deſcribe to them by what method the food of man is prepared. They [Page 378] obſerve mowers at work; we ſhould explain what they are doing, how corn is ſown, and how it encreaſes upon the ground. In the city they behold ſhops, where many arts are carried on, and various ſorts of merchandiſe ſold: we ought never to think their queſtions troubleſome; they are overtures which nature makes for the readier admiſſion of inſtruction: ſhew you take a pleaſure in them, and by this means you will inſenſibly teach them, how every thing is prepared that is uſeful for man, and upon which commerce is founded.
By degrees, and without making a ſtudy of it, they will come to underſtand the beſt manner of executing things of uſe, and the true value of each, which is the ſure ground of oeconomy. This knowledge, which no one ought to deſpiſe, becauſe it is very fit people ſhould not be deceived in their expences, is more eſpecially neceſſary for young women.
‘I Would die, ſaid I, rather than diſpleaſe you; and I will die if you have no pity on me. What can I do? It is eaſier for me to take away my own life, than to forget Adelaida. Shall I be perjured, and violate the vows I have made to her? vows which have engaged her early affections. Shall I abandon her when I know I have gained her heart? Oh! my dear mother, do not wiſh your ſon to become the baſeſt of men.’
I then related to her all that had paſſed between us. ‘She loves you, ſaid I, and you, I am ſure, will not be able to help loving her. She has your ſweetneſs, your candour, your generoſity. How is it poſſible for me to ceaſe loving her?’
‘But what do you propoſe by indulging this paſſion, ſaid my mother? Your father is reſolved to have you marry another, and commands you to retire into the country till everything is ſettled. [Page 380] It is abſolutely neceſſary that you ſhould appear willing to obey him, unleſs you mean to be my death. He expects you will depart to-morrow under the conduct of a perſon in whom he has great confidence. Abſence will do more for you than you can yet imagine; but be that as it will, do not irritate Monſieur de Comminge ſtill more by your refuſal: aſk for time, and I will do every thing in my power to accompliſh your wiſhes. Your father's anger cannot laſt always: he will relent, and you may be yet happy; but you have been greatly to blame in burning the writings. He is perſuaded that you ſacrificed them to madame de Luſſan, who ordered her daughter to require that proof of your love.’
‘Oh heavens! cried I, is it poſſible that my father can be ſo unjuſt? Both madame de Luſſan and Adelaida are ignorant of what I have done; and I am very ſure, had they ſuſpected my intention, they would have uſed all their power over me to have prevented it.’
My mother and I afterwards took meaſures to convey letters to each other, and, encouraged by her indulgence, I durſt preſume to intreat ſhe would tranſmit to me thoſe of Adelaida, who was ſoon to be at Bourdeaux. My mother had the goodneſs to promiſe ſhe would gratify me; but at the ſame time; inſiſted, that if I found Adelaida had altered her ſentiments, I ſhould ſubmit to what my father required of me. We ſpent great part of the night in this converſation; and as ſoon as day appeared my conductor came to inform me that it was time to set on horſeback.
[Page 381] The eſtate where I was to paſs the time of my baniſhment lay in the mountains, ſome leagues from Bagniers; ſo that we took the ſame road I had ſo lately paſſed through. The ſecond day of our journey we came early in the evening to the village where we were to lie. While ſupper was preparing I went to take a walk along the great road, and at a diſtance ſaw a coach which drove very faſt, and when it came within a few paces of me overturned. My heart, by its throbbing, acquainted me with the part I had in this accident. I eagerly flew towards the coach; two men on horſeback, who attended it, alighted and joined me, to aſſiſt the perſons who were within. It will be eaſily gueſſed that thoſe perſons were Adelaida and her mother; in effect it was they. Adelaida was very much hurt in one of her feet; but the joy at ſeeing me ſeemed to leave her no ſenſe of her pain.
What pleaſure did I taſte that happy moment! After ſo many afflictions, and at the diſtance of ſo many years, it is ſtill preſent to my remembrance. Adelaida not being able to walk, I took her in my arms to carry her to the inn; her charming arms were thrown round my neck, and one of her hands touched my mouth. I was in a tranſport that ſcarce ſuffered me to breathe.
Adelaida obſerved it, her delicacy was alarmed, ſhe made a motion to diſingage herſelf from my arms. Alas! how little did ſhe know the exceſs of my love: I was too much tranſported with my preſent happineſs to think there was any beyond it.
[Page 382] ‘What, replied I, are you ſo cruel as to envy me the only good fortune I ſhall perhaps ever enjoy.’ I preſt her hand tenderly to my boſom as I pronounced theſe words. Adelaida was ſilent, and a falſe ſtep which I made on purpoſe, obliged her to reſume her firſt attitude.
The inn was at ſo little diſtance, that I was ſoon forced to part with my beauteous burden. I carried her into a room, and laid her on a bed; while their attendants did the ſame with her mother, who was much more hurt than Adelaida. Every one being buſy about madame de Luſſan, I had time to acquaint Adelaida with part of what had paſſed between my father and me. I ſuppreſt the article of the burnt writings. I knew not whether I moſt wiſhed that me ſhould be ignorant of it, or know it from another perſon; it was in ſome degree impoſing upon her the neceſſity of loving me, and I was deſirous of owing all to her own heart. I durſt not deſcribe my father to her ſuch as he really was. Adelaida was ſtrictly virtuous; and I was ſenſible, that to reſign herſelf to the inclinations ſhe felt for me, it was neceſſary that ſhe ſhould hope we might be one day united. I ſeemed to have great dependance upon my mother's tenderneſs for me, and the favourable diſpoſition ſhe was in towards us. I intreated Adelaida to ſee her.
‘Speak to my mother, ſaid ſhe; ſhe knows your ſentiments, I have acknowledged mine to her. I found that her authority was neceſſary to give me ſtrength to combat them if I ſhould be obliged to it, or to juſtify me for reſigning myſelf up to them without ſcruple. She will uſe her [Page 383] utmoſt endeavours to prevail upon my father to propoſe an accommodation, and to engage the interpoſition of our common relations for that purpoſe.’
The tranquillity with which Adelaida reſted upon theſe hopes made me feel my misfortune more ſenſibly. ‘What if our fathers ſhould be inexorable, ſaid I to her, preſſing her hand, will not you have compaſſion on a miſerable wretch who adores you?’
The perſons who had been employed about Madame de Luſſan then approaching her daughter, our diſcourſe was interrupted. I went to the bed-ſide of the mother; ſhe received me kindly, and aſſured me ſhe would uſe every method in her power to reconcile our families. I then went out of their chamber to leave them at liberty to take ſome repoſe. My conductor, who waited for me in my own apartment, had made no enquiry about theſe new gueſts; ſo that I had an opportunity of being a few moments with Adelaida before I proceeded on my journey.
I entered her chamber in a condition eaſier to be imagined than deſcribed. I dreaded that this was the laſt time I ſhould ſee her. I approached the mother firſt, my grief pleaded for me, and ſhe was ſo moved with it, that ſhe expreſſed herſelf in ſtill kinder terms than ſhe had done the evening before. Adelaida was at another end of the room; I went [Page 384] to her trembling: "I leave you my dear Adelaida," ſaid I. Two or three times I repeated the ſame words: my tears, which I could not reſtrain, ſpoke the reſt. She wept likewiſe.
‘And why, replied I, ſhould we ſubject ourſelves to the tyranny of our parents? let us leave them to hate each other, if they will do it; and let us fly to ſome diſtant corner of the world, and be happy in our mutual tenderneſs, which we may make a ſuperior duty to what we owe them.’
‘Never let me hear ſuch a propoſal from you again, ſaid ſhe: give me not cauſe to repent of the ſentiments I have entertained for you; my love may make me unhappy, but it ſhall never make me criminal. Adieu, added ſhe, giving me her hand, it is by our conſtancy and virtue that we ought to endeavour to triumph over our misfortunes, but whatever happens, let us reſolve to do nothing which may leſſen our eſteem for each other.’
My heart was ſo oppreſs'd with anguiſh, that I could with difficulty utter theſe few words. I haſtily quitted the room, and mounting my horſe, arrived [Page 385] at the place where we were to dine, without having one moment ceaſed to weep. I gave free courſe to my tears. I found a kind of ſweetneſs in thus indulging my grief. When the heart is truly affected, it takes pleaſure in every thing that diſcovers to itſelf its own ſenſibility.
The remainder of our journey paſſed as the beginning: I had ſcarce uttered a word during the whole time. On the third day we arrived at a caſtle built near the Pyrenees; nothing was to be ſeen about it but pines and Cyprus trees, ſteep rocks, and horrid precipices; and nothing heard but the noiſe of torrents ruſhing with violence down thoſe frightful declivities.
This ſavage dwelling pleaſed me, becauſe it ſoothed my melancholy. I paſſed whole days in the woods; and when I returned, unloaded my ſad heart in letters to my beloved Adelaida. This was my only employment, and my only pleaſure. I will give them to her one day, thought I: ſhe ſhall ſee by them how I have paſſed the time in her abſence. I ſometimes received letters from my mother, in one of which ſhe gave me hopes. Alas! that was the only happy moment I ever enjoyed: ſhe informed me that all our relations were labouring to reconcile our families, and that there was room to believe they would ſucceed.
After this I received no more letters for ſix weeks; how tedious were thoſe days of doubt and anxiety! every morning I went into the road through which the meſſengers paſſed, and never returned till it was late in the evening: lingering [Page 386] till hope and expectation had nothing left to feed upon, and always returned more wretched than when I firſt ſet out. At length I ſaw a man at a diſtance, riding towards the caſtle. I did not doubt but he was a meſſenger to me, and, inſtead of that eager impatience I had felt a moment before, I was now ſeized with apprehenſion and dread. I durſt not advance to meet him; ſomething which I could not account for, reſtrained me. Uncertainty, which had hitherto appeared ſo tormenting, ſeemed now a good which I feared to loſe.
My heart did not deceive me. This man brought me letters from my mother, in which ſhe informed me, that my father would liſten to no propoſals for an accommodation; and, to compleat my miſeries, had reſolved upon a marriage between me and a daughter of the houſe of Foix: that the nuptials were to be celebrated in the caſtle where I then was; and that my father would in a few days come himſelf to prepare me for what he deſired of me.
You will eaſily judge I did not balance a moment about the reſolution I was to take. I waited for my father's arrival with tranquility enough. My grief was ſoothed with the reflection, that I was able to make another ſacrifice to Adelaida: I was convinced ſhe loved me: I loved her too much to doubt it. True love is always full of confidence.
My mother, who had ſo many reaſons for wiſhing to ſee me diſengaged from Adelaida, had never in any of her letters given me the leaſt cauſe to [Page 387] ſuſpect ſhe was changed; this compleated my ſecurity. How greatly did the conſtancy of my Adelaida heighten the ardor of my paſſion! During the three days which elapſed before the arrival of my father, my imagination was wholly employed on the new proof I was ſhortly to give Adelaida of my paſſion. This idea, notwithſtanding my miſerable ſituation, gave me ſenſations little different from joy.[To be continued.]
1.42.1. Of the methods NATURE has furniſhed various ANIMALS withal, to elude the attacks of, and prevent purſuits from, their enemies.
IN our laſt Number we gave ſome account of a remarkable artifice, made uſe of by a very ſmall animal, to entrap and get into his power ſuch creatures as are his proper prey; and which, by being provided either with wings, or with a ſuperior ſhare of agility, would be otherwiſe out of the reach of his attacks. Were we to proceed in relating the various contrivances peculiar to each ſeveral ſpecies of animals for the diſcovering, enſnaring, and overcoming their reſpective enemies, or catching their deſtined prey, we ſhould greatly encroach on the limits of the plan we have determined to proceed on, of not dwelling too long on any one ſubject. Various, therefore as they are, and entertaining and curious as the knowledge of them may be, we ſhall refer [Page 389] an account of them to ſome future periods, in which they may, perhaps, find place with a greater degree of variety; and proceed in this to relate the oppoſite gift of nature, who, provident and careful of all her works, has, together with every convenience for the procuring of ſuſtenance, and for the attacking of thoſe enemies which ſtand in ſome rank of equality, alſo furniſhed almoſt every creature with the means of either eluding the ſearch, or eſcaping from the ſeizure of ſuch as are more powerful.
Some of theſe methods are general, others particular. The more general means by which different animals elude the ſearch of their powerful and deſtructive enemies, are the ſeveral cells, caverns, neſts, and covertures, which nature has taught the different genera of them to find out, and to repair to for ſhelter, as well againſt their deſtroyers, as againſt the ſeveral inclemencies and dangers of the weather. The general aſſiſtances which they meet with for eſcaping from imminent danger, when attacked, is ſome peculiar degree of agility, either in running, leaping, flying, or ſwimming; for which ſeveral purpoſes certain claſſes of animals are found to be furniſhed with a particular apparatus and mechaniſm, ſuch as moſt juſtly demand our admiration, and bear the ſtrongeſt teſtimony to Almighty wiſdom. Yet theſe are ſtill properties in common to numbers, even of different ſpecies, bearing only ſome trivial differences peculiar to individuals; but there are other methods, in which the Creator has thought proper to diſtinguiſh his care for the preſervation of his creatures, and which are ſome of them limited to particular genera [Page 390] of animals, and others abſolutely confined to ſeparate individuals.
Of this ſort, there is none that we find more frequent than the being endowed with a property of aſſuming, either in colour or form, the general appearance of ſurrounding objects, in ſuch manner, that being blended and confuſed with them, a diſtant eye is rendered incapable of diſcerning them: and this property we ever find more or leſs beſtowed on thoſe creatures whoſe natural manner of living obliges them to range abroad for their food in places devoid of ſhelter; and therefore become the more continually expoſed to the attacks of their adverſaries.
Thus do we find in Greenland, Nova Zembla, and the colder countries within the polar circles, that in the winter ſeaſon, when the whole region is covered with indiſſoluble ſnow, the hares, rabbits, foxes, &c. who, by that means are deprived of their accuſtomed ſhelter, and would therefore become an eaſy prey to the larger animals, change the dark colours, which their ſummer coats are ſtained with, into a ſnowy whiteneſs; whereby they not only are undiſcoverable at any conſiderable diſtance, even though lying on the open ground, but alſo, if by chance they ſhould be ſeen, their natural ſwiftneſs cannot but perfectly avail them in their flight, over large plains, in which, from the reſemblance of their own colour with that of the ſurrounding country, their figure is very quickly as much loſt therein, as a drop of water falling into the vaſt expanſe of ocean.
[Page 391] Animals of the ſerpent, frog, and lizard kind, whoſe reſidence is ever amongſt graſs, corn, and herbage, have for the moſt part the baſis of their cloathing of a green colour. When they are ſpotted or ſtriped, the generality of thoſe marks are either formed with yellow, which is the next moſt univerſal colour in nature, eſpecially amongſt the field flowers, or elſe with various ſhades of brown, approaching to the repreſentation of earth, and of the roots and barks of trees. By this means they eaſily elude the ſight and ſearch of the birds and other animals, which would otherwiſe deſtroy them in great quantities, unarmed as they are, and incapable of defending themſelves when attacked.
The ſo much admired cameleon, whoſe food being ſmall inſects, which are borne about in the ſummer air, not the air itſelf, as it was formerly imagined, renders it neceſſary that he ſhould ever remain in places unſheltered and open to every view, is endued with a power of aſſuming the colour of whatever he happens to lie upon. But here let us not lead our fair readers into the vulgar error of imagining he is able to change the colour from one to another, any more than in appearance. In ſhort, what little tinct he really has, which is, indeed very little, is like others of the lizard claſs, greeniſh, and conſequently not much different from that of the objects amongſt which he has the moſt frequent neceſſity to take up his ſtation; but beſides this, the great tranſparency of his body, through which the colour of whatever he happens to lie upon, is eaſily diſcernible, is the greateſt ſecurity he has; and by making it almoſt impoſſible [Page 392] for him to be diſtinguiſhed, has given riſe to the opinion, that he aſſumes a colour, which, in reality, he only ſuffers to be ſeen.
Caterpillars, alſo, which are the natural food of many kinds of birds, are for the moſt part found to partake of the colours of thoſe plants which they feed on and inhabit. Nay, there is one particular claſs of them, well known to the fly-fancier by the name of Loopers, which fixing themſelves to the barks of certain branches of trees, and ſtretching out their bodies therefrom perfectly ſtrait, and in a certain oblique direction, aſſume ſo exactly in their colour, form, and rugged contexture, the appearance of the natural ſprigs of thoſe branches, that a very diſcerning eye may look attentively on a branch where hundreds of them are affixed, and if uninformed of their property, may chance not to diſcover one.
There is an inſect, however, very frequent in the Weſt Indies, which is ſtill more extraordinarily ſheltered under a feigned appearance. He is of the locuſt, or rather of the mantis kind. His body is long, ſlender, and knobbed; of a brown colour, and therefore bears a very near reſemblance to a broken ſprig of wood: but beſides this, he has two very large and long wings, which are ſo formed both as to ſhape, colour, and markings, that they exactly repreſent two dried leaves in the fall of autumn, embrowned by the heat of the ſun, withered up, and curled about the edges; and, from an intire deficiency of all juices and moiſture, every minuteſt ramification of the fibrous texture, rendered diſtinctly viſible. It is called the Walking [Page 393] Leaf, a name that indeed moſt truly expreſſes its figure, which is ſo amazingly like an outcaſt of the ſeaſon, that excepting when he moves, he can never attract the notice of any eye whatſoever.
This kind of protection from a reſemblance to external objects, extends even ſo far as into the earth and water. Worms, grubs, and other inſects, whoſe habitation is under ground, yet are liable to be frequently diſturbed by the plough or ſpade, and brought to the view of their deſtroyers, are for the moſt part found to be of a colour nearly reſembling the clods of earth amongſt which they lie leſs diſcernible than they would be, were they of a red, blue, green, or any other bright colour, which would form a more apparent contraſt to the ſurrounding glebe. Many of the animals whoſe firſt ſtate of life is in the waters, and who would therefore be a ready prey to the fiſhes who inhabit them, are taught by the univerſal miſtreſs nature a means of forming to themſelves a cruſtaceous covering, which ſo nearly reſembles the ſmall ſprigs, pieces of dead bark, ſtraws, &c. that are every where to be found at the bottom of brooks and rivers, that they lie ſecure and unnoticed by thoſe animals, who would be tempted by a figure more reſembling life, to ſeize on and devour them. Nay, even the fiſh themſelves frequently partake ſo much of the colours of the moſſes, herbage, &c. amongſt which they harbour, that they are not eaſily to be diſtinguiſhed, excepting when in motion.
Such are the means wherewith kind Providence has furniſhed different creatures to elude almoſt the ſtricteſt ſearch, and thereby to avoid the being attacked. [Page 394] Yet, as for the wiſeſt purpoſes, the whole animal kingdom ſeems in one perpetual ſtate of warfare within itſelf, it was alſo neceſſary, that certain means of eſcape ſhould be provided to have recourſe to, in caſe the methods of prevention ſhould prove ineffectual. Of theſe, every animal is more or leſs inſtructed, and endued with powers for relieving itſelf, even in the height of the moſt imminent danger, and when almoſt in the jaws of its moſt rapacious enemy.
Of theſe, ſome are by very ſwift and ſudden flight; ſome by the help of a peculiar ſpringineſs of limbs, which in high, and unexpected leaps, conveys them inſtantly out of the reach, or at leaſt out of the ken of their adverſary. Others, as the mole, the ferret, the grillotalpa, &c. by an expert rapidity in digging into the bowels of the earth, and at the ſame time cloſing up the paſſage, thro' which they have forced their way: whilſt others, laſtly, find means to eſcape, by taking refuge in an element, whereinto their adverſaries dare not, or cannot follow them, which is the caſe with the whole race of amphibious animals.
Many other devices of ſomewhat a ſimilar nature, are made uſe of by various creatures, for the purpoſes above-mentioned; the minutiae of which it would be too tedious here to enter into. But I think we cannot with any propriety cloſe this article, without taking notice of two animals, which poſſeſs qualities ſo eminently ſingular for repelling and ſtopping the career of their purſuers, that it is rather more wonderful that they ſhould ever be taken at all, than that the knowledge of them and their properties ſhould be ſo little known, as in general they are.
The firſt of theſe that I ſhall mention, is the calamary, or ink fiſh. This animal, whoſe ſingularity of figure has induced me to make it the ſubject of the copper-plate annexed to this number, is found in great abundance on the coaſt of the warmer parts of Europe. He is of the polypus claſs, and frequently lies on the ſurface of the water, with the arms which are repreſented in the figure ſpread out for the catching of ſuch fiſh as may happen to come in his way, and which by the means of numberleſs ſuckers of a moſt curious mechaniſm that are arranged along the arms, are not only ſecured from eſcaping him, if once they come within [Page 396] his touch, but are alſo impoiſoned by it in ſuch a manner, that if they by dint of ſtruggling, ſhould force themſelves from his hold, they would die almoſt immediately. Thus arm'd, therefore, and provided for attack, he frequently ſeizes a fiſh much larger than himſelf, whoſe juices he ſates himſelf with, abandoning the remainder to the waves.
There are, however, ſome kinds of fiſh to whom he in his turn is a proper prey; whoſe bulk is too much for him to attack, and their activity too great to fly from. For his ſecurity then, from theſe powerful enemies, he is furniſhed with two advantageous properties; the firſt is a very clear and extenſive ſight, from a pair of large globular and projecting eyes, which are ſo placed as to command all objects that can advance from any part round him; the ſecond, and that which is more immediately peculiar to himſelf, is a certain black fluid, which on the approach of an enemy he ejects from his body in large quantities, and which muddying the water for a very conſiderable ſpace round him, not only conceals the ſpot of his immediate reſidence, but alſo deters his antagoniſt from purſuing him. So careful has nature been for the preſervation of every one of her creatures however inconſiderable or apparently uſeleſs!
The other inſtance of providential care, wherewith I ſhall at preſent cloſe this department of philoſophy, is that of the torpedo, or cramp-fiſh, a creature which tho' a very ſlow ſwimmer, and in its conſtruction diveſted of all means of preventing or avoiding any attack made on it; yet is furniſhed [Page 397] with a method of rendering ſuch attacks fruitleſs, and, as it were by a ſtroke of magic, reducing its enemy to a ſtate of inactivity and impotence. In ſhort, the skin of this animal is formed of a texture ſo elaſtic and powerful, that on the very ſlighteſt touch of it, even with the end of a ſtick, it numbs and deſtroys the ſenſe of feeling in the ſame manner as a fit of the cramp would do, enervating the whole frame, and producing ſuch an effect as would, was the fact not ſo well known, appear incredible. What then muſt be the conſequence to any animal who ſhould eagerly ſeize on it, with a deſign of making it his prey? What, but a total deprivation of all ſenſe, for at leaſt time ſufficient to enable the deſtined victim to make his eſcape, and ſave himſelf from the threatening jaws of deſtruction!
Theſe are ſome few, among numberleſs inſtances, of the infinite wiſdom of the great firſt cauſe in his works of creation, who has thus contrived it ſo, that although it is neceſſary the different ſpecies of animals ſhould mutually prey on one another, and that each ſhould find himſelf ſurrounded with a hoſt of profeſſed as well as inſidious enemies, yet that every kind ſhould be ſupplied, and that with a variety of invention which nothing leſs than infinite wiſdom could form, with the methods for preventing its race from utter extirpation, and preſerving the juſt and proper balance which the uſe and the conveniency of man, and often ſome hidden cauſe beyond the comprehenſion of his underſtanding, require to be maintained amongſt the greater and the ſmaller wheels of this great machine the univerſe.
AFTER having given ſome account of the habits, arms, and feſtivals of theſe people, it will be proper to give a ſlight deſcription of thoſe diverſions wherewith the feaſts we have mentioned conſtantly conclude, which are thoſe of muſic, ſinging, and dancing.
Of their inſtruments of muſic, the principal one is the Gongue: this is of very great uſe throughout the Indies, but is moſt highly eſteemed by the Amboynians, who ever preſerve it amongſt their moſt valuable effects. Of theſe there are two ſorts, the one large, the other ſmall. Of the latter ſort, they arrange ſix or ſeven in a row on a bench, which are ſtruck alternately with two ſticks covered over with linen cloth. This inſtrument, which they call Tataboang, ſerves by way of accompanyment to the former, but is played much quicker, though ever in cadence therewith.
Their dances keep time to the ſound of theſe inſtruments, with an exactneſs, and a degree of agility, that is really ſurpriſing. Their prodigious leaps, their ſupple turns, and the extraordinary windings and changes of poſture, which they bring their joints to execute, ſurpaſs all deſcription or idea. As ſoon as the feaſt is over, a man appears dreſt in the manner of the Alfourians or mountaineers, covered with the branches and leaves of trees, and armed with a large buckler, a ſabre or javelin, and a helmet, ſurmounted with a large plume of feathers of the bird of paradiſe. In this ſingular equipage, he cries out, for ſome moments in the air, ſometimes alone, and ſometimes accompanied by a ſecond of the ſame claſs, caſting around him looks of the utmoſt fury and perturbation, and making the moſt terrible efforts, as if he would beat down the whole world under his blows.
This exerciſe, which they expreſs by the word Tſjakali, is conſtantly ſucceeded by their common dances, which each ſex ſeverally executes by two or four together, with great gracefulneſs and addreſs: ſome holding a naked poignard in each hand, and [Page 400] ſometimes one or two ſilk handkerchiefs, which they wave around them; others have a fine ſcarf or ſaſh of the ſame, or of chintz, which is faſtened to the left ſhoulder, and one end of which trails on the ground. The men wear beſides a turban on the head; and the women decorate their hair with flowers. Their dancers are always young unmarried people: when they begin, and when they retire, they ſalute the company by joining their hands over their heads: but on theſe occaſions it is the cuſtom always to make them a preſent of certain habits of ſilk, or ſome rich ſtuff, in which ſome one of the ſpectators runs to enwrap their bodies, whilſt they are yet dancing, by the way of intreating them as it were not to fatigue themſelves any longer; and this is one of the expences by which the Amboynians ruin themſelves.
The men as well as the women uſually accompany theſe dances with their voices. Theſe ſongs, which ſerve as a kind of annals, for want of better hiſtorians, contain, among other things, the ancient events of their country; the praiſes of their heroes; and the glorious deeds of their anceſtors. And this vocal and inſtrumental muſic is not only made uſe of in their great feaſts, and on other particular occaſions, but alſo on board their boats and barges, in which the rowers keep the moſt perfect time to the inſtruments and voices.