THE FRUITLESS PRECAUTION.
The First Novel.
A Gentleman of Granada, whose true name I shall for∣bear to discover, and on whom I will bestow that of Don Pedro of Casteel, Ara∣gon, and Toledo, or what you please, since that a glorious name in a Romance costs no more than another, (which is haply the reason that the Spaniards, not content with their own, ever give themselves of the most illustrious, nay hardly Page 2 sit down with one:) this Gentleman, I say, (now Don Pedro) being arriv'd at the twentieth year of his age, lost both Father and Mother, and by their death came to a very great estare: all which hap∣ning to the same person contributes very much to his miscarriage if he be born a fool; but, if nature hath been more indulgent to him, puts him int•• capacity of improving himself to some esteem in the world. During the year of his mourning, he ve∣ry prudently wean'd himself from most part of the divertisements, which persons of his age are ordi∣narily addicted to, and busied himself in looking into the posture of his estate, and putting his affairs into a good order. He was a very graceful person, of an excellent wit, and behav'd himself, in his youth, with a prudence and conduct such as might have become grey hairs. There was not in Granada any Lady who would not gladly have had him to her husband, nor any Father so prepossess'd with the deserts of his daughter, as not to wish him his Son-in-law. Of the Beauties in Granada, which stood in competition for the Monarchy of hearts, one onely there was able to captivate that of Don Pedro. Her name was Seraphina, beautiful indeed as a Seraphin, young, rich, well descended, and, in a word, though of a fortune somewhat below that of Don Pedro's, yet a person as well accomplish'd to make a wife, as he a husband. He made no que∣stion, but that upon the first proposal of marriage made to her Friends, he should obtain their consent to become her Servant: but he chose rather to gain her by his own worth and desert, than their com∣pliance, and resolv'd to court her with all the passion, submissions, and services imaginable, so to Page 3 make a conquest of her heart, before he became possessor of her person.
His design was noble, and might accordingly have prov'd more successful, if Fortune, who is, many times, maliciously pleas'd to disturb things manag'd with the greatest conduct and circumspe∣ction, had not rais'd him a Rival, who was be∣come Master of the place he would have taken, while he was but yet making his first approaches. His name we have here little to do with, he was much about the age of Don Pedro, perhaps as lovely as he, and without doubt much more belov'd.
It was not long ere Don Pedro perceiv'd he had a Competitor, and was not much troubled at it, as having the advantage of him in point of estate. He was at the charge of Musick in the street where his Mistress liv'd; his Rival had the pleasure of it in her Chamber, and haply receiv'd more than ordi∣nary kindnesses from her, while poor Don Pedro's teeth shatter'd in his head. At last he grew weary of hunting the bats, I mean, of the charge and inconveniences of that kind of Courtship, without making any progress in his business: Yet so as this ill success caus'd not any remission of his Love, but onely made him quit the design he had to be too prodigal of his addresses to his Mistress, before he had obtain'd her of her Friends. He therefore went and demanded her of them, and they very liberally g•ve their consent he should have her, without ever advising with, or communicating the business to, their daughter; out of an excess of joy, to be in∣treated, to do what they earnestly desir'd, and in∣deed durst hardly hope. They soon after acquain∣ted Seraphina with the good fortune that came to Page 4 court her, and prepar'd her to entertain the ad∣dresses of Don Pedro, and; within a few days, to marry him. The news, which she should have re∣ceiv'd with joy, rais'd in her no small disturbance; insomuch, that, not able to smother the loss she was at, she hardly made a shift to conceal the oc∣casion thereof from them, by persuading them it proceeded from the affliction, it would be to her, to part with those, for whom she had so dutiful an affection. She acted her part so handsomely, that, out of pure tenderness, the old people could not forbear tears, nor commending the good nature of their daughter. She us'd all the intreaties she could to persuade them to put off the marriage for four or five months, representing to them, that the decay of her health was visible in her countenance; and pressing, that, if ever she married, it might not be till she had recover'd her perfect health, to the end she might be in a better disposition to please her husband, lest he might take any occasion to be dissatisfi'd with her, in the dawning of their mar∣riage, and repent of his choice.
Now whereas it was indeed true, that for some time before she seem'd not to have her health as she was wont, her Friends were well satisfi'd with what she had said to them, and gave an account of it to Don Pedro, who also had nothing to except against it, as conceiving it argu'd the discretion of his Mistress. Nevertheless, they thought it not amiss to put things in order, as to the contract of marriage, and the settlement to be made there∣upon.
But though things were brought to this pass, the amoro•s Don Pedro omitted not any of those Page 5 Expressions of Gallantry and Courtship, expect•d in the carrying on of a Match with consent of all parties. He sent his Mistress many presents, and writ to her every day. She on the other side re∣turn'd him such answers as were at least very civil, thouh they betrai'd much less of passion than was visible in his Letters. But she would not by any means be seen in the day time, excusing her self by reason of her indisposition; nay in the evenings was seldom seen at her window, which rais'd in Don Pedro a great admiration of her reserv'dness. He was better conceited of his own worth than any way to question the success of his applications, or doubt his being deeply in the favour of his Mi∣stress, when he should be better known to her than he was, even though she might have had an aver∣sion for him before she knew him.
His affairs hitherto went on smoothly without any rub; but, on a suddain, it happen'd that he could not get a sight of his Mistress in four or five days. He was extremely troubled at it, or at le•st preten∣ded it; he writ verses upon that occasion, or, it may be, hired, or bought some, and caus'd them to be sung under her window: but notwithstanding these great attempts of a most passionate Love•, all he could do was to speak with one of the Chamber-maids, who told him, that his Mistress was much sicker than she had been. His Poetick vein swell'd at this account of h•r, or, if not his, that of his mercenary Poet must breathe and bleed for it: for I could never be truly inform'd whether he himself had any gift in rhiming. Having got what he had, set to some doleful tune, and loaden, besides his offensive and defensive arms, with a Page 6 Guitarrhe, (which I am apt to believe was the best the City could afford) he took his way very boiste∣rously towards his Mistress's, either to move her to compassion, or to set the dogs thereabouts a barking. 'Tis not unlikely he should have done one of the two, or both together, and yet it so happen'd he did neither.
Being come within fifty paces short of the bles∣sed mansion of his Divinity, he perceives the door open, and a woman coming out, who seem'd much like his almost-invisible Angel. He could not imagine what should oblige a Woman, all alone, and at such a time of the night, to enter, of set purpose, into a great desolate building, de∣stroy'd not long before by a fire that had happen'd. To find out what the matter should be, he walk'd round about those ruins, into which there were several ways to get in, so, with as much conveni∣ence as he could, to get near the person whom he had follow'd in thither. It came into his imaginati∣on, that it might be his Mistress who had appointed his Rival a meeting in that strange place, as not daring to be seen at her house, and haply unwilling to have any third person privy to an action, which it concern'd him so much to be kept secret; and if what he did as yet but onely suspect, should prove tru•, his inviolable resolution was to be the death of his Rival, and to be reveng'd of Seraphina, by loading her with the greatest reproaches he could think on. He thereupon crawl'd along with as little noise as he could, till he came to a place whence he saw her (for it was she) sitting upon the ground, bemoaning her self, as a person ready to give up the ghost, or what signifies little less (to give it you Page 7 in a word) in Labour, and with inexpressible pain, upon the delivery of a little creature, in the making whereof she had haply taken a great deal of plea∣sure. She no sooner saw her self disburthen'd, but deriving strength from her courage, she return'd the same way she came, without taking any further thought, what should become of the Child she had brought into the world.
I leave you to judge what astonishment Don Pe∣dro was in at this strange accident. Now was he satisfi'd what was the true cause of his Mistress's sickness: he was a little frighted at the danger he was likely to have fallen into, and made his ac∣knowledgment to Heaven, that he had escap'd it. And being of a noble and generous disposition, he would not be reveng'd of one that had put such a treacherous trick upon him, to the dishonour of an illustrious Family, nor in his just resentment suffer the innocent little creature to perish, which he saw at his feet expos'd to the mercy of the first dog or swine that had come that way. He took it up in his handkerchief, for want of something else to wrap it in, and, with as much haste as he could, went to a Midwife of his acquaintance, to whose care he recommended the Child he put into her hands, and gave her mony to buy all things ne∣cessary for it. The Midwife, well paid, did what might have been expected from her, insomuch that the very next day, the Child was put out to nurse, christned, and (proving a girl) named Laura.
In the interim, Don Pedro went to see a certain Kinswoman of his, one in whom he repos'd very much confidence: he told her that he had chang'd Page 8 the design he had of marrying so young into that of travelling, entreated her to take upon her the management of his estate, and to entertain into her house a little Girl, whom he made her believe was his own, to be very liberal in what concern'd her education, and, for certain reasons, which she should one day know, as soon as she were three years old, to put her into a Nunnery, and above all things to take order that she should have no ac∣quaintance with the things of this world. He gave his kinswoman Letters of Atturney, and what else was necessary for her management of his estate, furnish'd himself with mony and jewels; got a trusty servant; and, before he left Granada, writ a Letter to Seraphina. She receiv'd it much about the time that she was acquainting her Friends, that her sickness would not any longer delay her mar∣riage: but Don Pedro's Letter, wherein he disco∣ver'd what he knew of her condition, fill'd her with other thoughts. And those were wholly di∣rected towards God, insomuch that, not long af∣ter, she went into a Nunnery, never to come out again, it being not in the power of her Friends, with all their entreaties and tears, to divert her from that resolution, which they thought so much the more strange, the more they were to seek what the motives of it should be.
But we will leave them bewailing their daugh∣ter, now turn'd Nun: Her, on the other side, bewail∣ing her own miscarriage; the little Laura g•owing up, and blooming forth; and overtake Don Pedro up∣on his way to Sevil, not able to divert his thoughts from running upon the adventure that had happen'd to him, and thereupon entertaining a cruel Page 9 aversion against marriage, after his having so great a desire to taste of it. All the women he meets he is frightned at, and without any reflection that, as well as men, there are some good, some bad among them, he concludes with himself, that a man must ever be distrustful of them, and much more of those who pretend to wit, than the simple; being apt enough to embrace their opinion, who hold that a woman knows more than she ought, if she knows any thing beyond what belongs to House-keeping, and the bringing up of her Children.
Embracing these Heresies with some persuasion, he enters Sevil, and went to the house of Don John— (His name is quite out of my head) a rich man, and a person of quality, who was not onely his Kinsman, but much his Friend, and so kind as that he would not suffer him to lodge any where else. The pleasantness of Sevil raised in him an inclination to make a longer stay there than he thought to have done: which his Cousin Don John perceiving, and wishing his divertisement yet greater than it was, spent some time in shewing him whatever that place afforded that were any thing rare or considerable.
One day, as they were riding through one of the principal Streets of the City, they saw, in a Coach that went into a great persons house, a young La∣dy, habited like a Widow; but so handsome, so attractive, that Don Pedro was surprized at her beauty, and made Don John laugh to hear the ex∣clamations and oaths he made, that he had never seen any thing comparable to her in his Life. This angelical Widow reconciled to his favour all those of the female Sex, whom Seraphina had Page 10 made abominable in his apprehension. He in∣treated Don John to ride once more through the same Street, and acknowledg'd to him, that ever so little more sight of her had really wounded him.
With which words both the Cavaliers made Page 11 each of them an obeisance to the Spanish Lady, which it cost them no small pains to acquit them∣selves well of. But particularly Don Pedro did his with such contorsion and violence to his whole bo∣dy, that a little more he had injur'd his reins. The Lady in the Balcony return'd them one not much to be found fault with, which engag'd Don Pedro and his companion to revy it with two others;
Don Pedro was so over head and ears in love, that he could not speak of any thing else, in so much, that his Cousin perceiv'd the greatest kindness he could do him, was, to speak with the soonest to Elvira. He did it, and that with good success. The fair Widow entertain'd so kindly the Proposi∣tion he made on the behalf of his Friend, that she Page 12 discover'd rather a satisfaction, than any displea∣sure thereat. But, in Answer thereto, she told him, that having made a vow she would not hear of any addresses in order to a second Marriage till three years were expired after her former Husband's death, no consideration in the world should prevail with her to break it. She added further, that out of an exact observance of what she had promised the memory of her late Husband, she had till then behaved her self inflexibly towards all those that had made their addresses to her; and that if Don Pedro had so much command of himself as to continue his devotions to her for the space of one whole year, during which time they might become better acquainted one with another, she would promise never to be any man's Wife but his.
Don John, upon his return, gave Don Pedro an account of his negotiation, and render'd him the most satisfied and most amorous man in the world. The long time he was to expect troubled him not at all, resolving to employ it in all manner of courtships, worthy atchievments, and adventures, befitting a spruce Lover. He bought a Coach and Horses, took a House, and entertain'd Servants, set the Embroiderers and Tailors of Sevil a sew∣ing, and the Musicians a singing. He would have presented Elvira with some things; but she would by no means permit it. Her Maids were much more easily intreated, and received his Presents as willingly as he bestow'd them. In a short time, Elvira's Servants were more at his devotion than at hers, they causing her to shew her self in the Balcony, though much against her humour, as Page 13 often as Don Pedro was singing in the Street; in which employment, as I have been told, he was grown to be a Crafts-master, not making use of his lips and tongue to quaver out the notes as many good Singers do.
Six Moneths were already past since Don Pedro had laid a Siege to the affections of Elvira, yet had not the least private Parley with her; which added daily more and more to the esteem and de∣votion he had for her. At last, upon an importu∣nity of Prayers and Presents, one of her Gentle∣women, better stored with confidence than any of the rest, or rather better brib'd, promised to bring him in the night-time to her Lady's Lodgings, and so to dispose of him as that he should see her put off her cloaths before she went to bed, walking in her Smock about the chamber for coolness, and singing and playing upon the Lute, which she did admirably well.
This took Don Pedro so highly, that he gave his Intelligencer much beyond what he had promised her; so that, night being come, the bold Granadine, according to the Gentlewoman's directions, comes into Elvira's house, slunk into her lodgings, and there, from a little ascent, which was over against her chamber-door, he saw her sitting on a couch, reading in a Prayer-book, how attentively I know not, while her women were undressing her. She had onely a thin loose coat about her, and was up∣on getting into bed when Don Pedro's Pension-Gentlewoman, desirous to give him cause to be as much satisfied with her as she with him, entreats her Mistress to sing. To her's, her Companions added their intreaties; yet Elvira put them off a Page 14 long time, telling them, she was melancholy, nay, assuring them she had some reason to be so: but the Gentlewoman who was so much at the devoti∣on of Don Pedro, having put a Lute into her Mi∣stress's hands, Elvira had the compliance to sing, and did it with so much excellency and delight, that Don Pedro could hardly forbear casting himself at her feet, there to act the part of the ecstatick Lover. She sung not long, but went to bed: her Women withdrew into their chambers, and Don Pedro, who would gladly have gotten into the Street, was at a cruel loss what to do when he found the great Gate fast. There was no other course to be taken, than to expect till it were day. He sate down on the brink of a Well which was at one corner of the Court, in no small disturbance, by reason of the fear he was in of being discovered, and to incur the displeasure of his Mistress, for his presumption.
While he was thus engaged, his thoughts run∣ning upon thousands of designs, and those attend∣ed by so many fruitless wishes, he perceives a Door opening that belonged to some part of Elvira's Lodgings. He turn'd toward that side on which he heard the noise, and was much at a loss to see coming into the Court the fair Widow whom he thought fast asleep. By the light of a small Wax-candle she had in her hand, he perceiv'd her night-cloaths were very neat about her head; that she was bare-neck'd, had an excellent Neck-lace of Pearl on, and that upon her Smock, about which was abundance of Lace, she had onely a long rich Mantle. She had in her hand a Silver-plate co∣ver'd with Jelly, Sweet-meats, and Conserves; and Page 15 in that strange posture she was so full of charm and attraction, that Don Pedro was once in a mind to satisfie himself with the enjoyment of looking on her, though he should thereby draw on himself all the displeasure, which a presumption so great might justly deserve. But upon better thoughts he hid himself behind the Well, yet so as that he still observ'd his Mistress, flattering himself some∣times with an imagination, that he was the person she sought after. She went on towards the Stable, whither Don Pedro, at a distance, follow'd her, and saw her go into a little Chamber. The first appre∣hension he had, was, that his Mistress, out of an ex∣cess of pious charity, went to visit some servant of the House that was sick, though, without any prejudice to her charitable inclinations, she might have put that employment upon some one of her women. He hid himself behind a horse, which stood not far from the door of the Chamber, and thence observing his dear Widow, he saw her set down, on a little Table, the Candlestick, the Plate, and whatever else she had brought that was burthen∣some to her Ivory hands; and perceiv'd, in a bed which took up almost all the Chamber, a Blacka∣more that was sick, who seem'd to be about thirty years of age, but so deformed, and of so dreadful a look, that he was in a manner frightned at the sight of him. His meagre countenance, and the painful emission of his breath argu'd him very sick and much spent. Don Pedro could not but admire the unparallel'd goodness of the fair Elvira, who took up the Negro's coverlet, and having thrust up his head, sate down by the sick person, and put her hand on his fore-head, all wet, haply with Page 16 the sweats and pains of approaching death. The Negro beheld, with a gastly look, the charitable Angel that came to comfort him, and who still view'd him with tears in her eyes. Don Pedro knew not what he should think of a charity so transcendent, and having for a while admir'd it, he began to think it excessive: but as yet he had not seen any thing.
At last, the fair Widow breaking forth into discourse, yet weeping as if it had been at the taking of a final farewel, she ask'd the Negro, How he did▪
To this effect were her expostulations, joyning her angelical face to the diabolical countenance of the Moor, which she bedew'd with her tears. I am apt to imagine that who ever had seen such a Vi∣sion, would have taken it for an Angel embracing a Devil. As for our Don Pedro, he began to think his fair Elvira as ugly as her Negro, who at last casting his eyes on his importunate Mistress, whom he had not till then vouchsaf'd a look, and with his scraggy hand removing her face from his own, said to her, with a hollow voice;
Having so said, he slunk down into the bed, so suddenly, that the unfortunate Elvira could not get a word from him by way of return, notwithstand∣ing all the kindnesses both of words and gestures she us'd towards him; whether it were that he was already dead, or obstinately resolv'd, not to speak to a person whom he thought the occasion of his death. Elvira, melted into tears, and in a manner out of her self, to see what a sad condition she left her dear Negro in, and most of all to consider his inhumanity towards her, took up all she had brought with her, and return'd to her chamber, with so much sadness and affliction in her countenance, that it was much to her loss, she had not been seen in that posture by her apostate Lover, Don Pedro.
He in the mean time lay close and undisco∣ver'd, in the most obscure part of the stable, so astonish'd as that he had not been half as much, when he was present at the happy delivery of Sera∣phina. He saw the counterfeit Matron returning to her chamber, disconsolate as a Widow at the Fune∣ral of a Husband she dearly lov'd; and, not long after, finding the great gate open, he got into the Page 18 street, not much sollicitous whether he were seen or not, as not esteeming the reputation of Elvira wor∣thy the least tenderness or respect. Yet even in that did he follow the dictates of his own vertue, so far as that he discover'd not what he had seen even to his Friend. He pass'd by Elvira's door the next day just as the Moor was carried out to his burial. Her Woman told him, that she was sick, and for the space of four or five days that he pass'd to and fro that way, she was not to be seen at her window, so incapable was she of any consolation upon the death of the African. Don Pedro was much desirous to hear from her. One day as he was in discourse with Don John, a slave of Elvira's brought him a Letter from her Mistress. He open'd it with some impatience, and read in it what you are like to do, if you please.
TWo persons, between whom there is a mu∣tual affection in order to marriage, need no third person to sollicite the business between them. You would have me believe, that you think me not unhandsome, and I cannot but ac∣knowledge I am so far taken with you, as that I am willing to grant you immediately, what I had not promis'd till a year were expir'd. My Person and Estate are at your disposal, when you please to command them; and I am to desire you to believe, that though I cannot be too circum∣spect in a business of this nature, yet your merit Page 19 and my own affection shall be my security, and enable me to overcome what difficulties soever I may meet with therein.
Don Pedro read over the Letter twice or thrice, so much ado had he to believe what he read. He consider'd with himself that he had been twice in danger to have been as unfortunately married as any man in Spain, and sent up his hearty thanks to Heaven which had enabled him to escape it, by dis∣covering to him two secrets of so great importance. The resolution of marrying suddenly, which the Negro's death had put Elvira upon, rais'd in Don Pedro a quite contrary, which was, that of getting from her as soon as he could. He therefore told Don John, that it concern'd both his life and honour, that he should be out of Sevil within an hour, and that he would take along with him onely that ser∣vant whom he had brought from Granada. He in∣treated him to sell his Coach and Horses, and with the mony to discharge his Servants; but above all things he desir'd him not to make any enquiry after the occasion of so sudden a change, and so unex∣pected a departure, promising to give him an ac∣count in writing from the first place he should make any stay at. He writ to Elvira, while some were gone to take up two Mules for him; he deli∣ver'd his Letter to the slave, and, the Mules being come, took his way towards Madrid, confirm'd, more than ever, in his former opinion, of being dis∣trustful of all women of more than ordinary wit, nay indeed to have a horrour of them. While he is Page 20 spurring on his Mule, Elvira opens his Letter, and finds in it these words.
HOw violent soever the affection I had for you might have been, yet have I ever pre∣ferr'd the desire of preserving your honour, be∣fore the pleasure of enjoying your person. Thence you might have perceiv'd with what discretion all my Courtships and addresses were attended. I am naturally a person of a very nice conscience, and therefore cannot without some remorse an∣swer your proposal of marriage, you being a Widow but since yesterday. You are much more oblig'd to the memory of the poor Negro, who hath lost his life in your service, and can bestow no less than a year in bewailing the miscarriage of a person, whose performances you thought so extraordinary. In the interim, we shall both of us have time to consider what we have to do.
Elvira was almost out of her self at the reading of this Letter; the affliction she conceiv'd thereat made her more sick, than she had been upon the loss of her Lover of Guinny. But bethinking her self that Don Pedro had left Sevil, and another per∣son, whom she thought furnish'd for her turn, mak∣ing his addresses to her in order to marriage, she took him at his word, and entertain'd him, to sup∣ply Page 21 the place of the Negro. Not but that there were other Negroes choice enough; but she had heard say that there were several sorts of Negroes, and that they are not so far Devils as they seem black.
By this time was Don Pedro got to Madrid, where he alighted at an Uncle's of his, who enter∣tain'd him very kindly. This Uncle was a Gentle∣man of a very great estate, had onely one son, de∣stin'd in marriage for a Cousin of his, an Heiress, one that being but ten years of age was kept in a Monastery, till such time as she were ripe for the enjoyments of her Cousin. This Cousin's name was Don Rodrigues, a person as lovely as could be look'd on, every way so accomplish'd, that Don Pedro entred into a friendship with him much be∣yond what a man hath for a kinsman, whom yet he may love very well; for they are not always of his kindred that a man loves best.
Don Rodrigues had many times his thoughts so taken up with some reflections unknown to any but himself, that he minded not much what he did, or what company he was in, and these fits were often accompani'd with certain agitations and di∣sturbances. Don Pedro, having observ'd it, ac∣quainted him with his adventures, to oblige him, by th•t confidence, to give him an account of his, and, in case there were any thing wherein he might serve him, to assure him of his being much more his Friend than his Kinsman. Whereupon he to•d him how he h•d taken notice of his sadness and disquiet, and intreated him to discover the occasion of it; or otherwise, that he should think his friend∣ship not answerable to his own.
Page 22Don Rodrigues desired nothing so much, hoping to be disburthen'd of his grief, when he had com∣municated it. He thereupon told Don Pedro, that he was passionately fallen in love with a Gentle∣woman at Madrid, design'd in marriage to a Cou∣sin of hers whom she expected from the Indies, and whom she had never seen, much after the same manner as he was made sure to a Cousin of his whom he staid for till she were of age to be married, and whom he had but little acquaintance with.
But not unwilling to make a full discovery of himself;
Hereupon the two men-Cousins went to see the two women-Cousins; and the fair Virginia permit∣ted Don Rodrigues to vindicate himself, which he found it no hard matter to do. Don Pedro thought them both handsomer than any he had seen of the sex before, not excepting the imprudent Seraphina, nor the counterfeit Matron Elvira. Violanta, who had dress'd her self that day richer than or∣dinary, in order to have her Picture drawn, daz∣zled the eyes of Don Pedro so far, that he immediate∣ly broke the resolution he had taken, never to love Page 25 any Woman unless she were a Fool. For his part, Violanta was no less taken with him, it being his fortune to speak things so obliging upon her Pi∣cture, among which some infinitely witty and smart, that they wrought in her an admiration of his excellent parts, and no small satisfaction at the first sallies of his courtships.
But here I cannot avoid making a little digression, though it be onely to tell those who know not so much, that your set-speeches to Gentlewomen, and your serious Students in the Academy of Comple∣ments, are a sort of people that would be good at the putting off of whipp'd Cream and Syllibubs, and are charg'd with, nay, convicted of, an aery fl•tuous eloquence by persons of good understand∣ing and judgment. If this word of advertisement be well consider'd by the publick, some would find the conveniences of it equal to those of a good receipt against the Flies in Summer, and a∣g•inst stinking Breaths all the year long. Don Pe∣dro, who had solemnly sworn never to marry unless he met with a Woman the next degree remov'd from an Ideot, made it appear that the Oaths of Gamesters and Lovers are not obligatory, though the late Casuists had not been so indulgent as to dispense with them. He was so infinitely taken, as with the beauty, so with the wit of Violanta, that despairing to obtain any favour of her but what might be granted without any prejudice to her honour, he was resolv'd to marry her, if she had no aversion for that kind of life. He many times gave her occasion to make some dis∣covery of her thoughts, as to that particular; but either she understood him not, or at least would Page 26 not, whether it were that she lov'd her freedom, or could not entertain any thoughts of Marriage.
All went hitherto very prosperously on with these four Lovers; but misfortune comes ever when 'tis least expected. One day it happened, that the two young Gentlemen having tyred their Tailors, Barbers, Millaners, Shoomakers, Sempsters, and all those other Trades which young Gallants put upon the rack when they would dazle their eys whom they pretend to adore, or to say all in a word, made themselves as fine as Castor and Pollux, and not making the least doubt to become Masters of the out-works at least of the places they be∣sieg'd, there comes an unlucky Scrich-owl, I mean an old Servant-maid, to acquaint the two Cou∣sins, that the Indian Spark, Husband to the fair Castilian, was come to Madrid, without so much as sending a Letter before him from Sevil, where the Ship came in; that the two fair Cousins knew not what he meant by his surprising them in that manner, and intreated the Gallants to have pa∣tience till such time as Virginia had made such discovery of the humours of her Indian, as to know how to deal with him, and that they should not onely forbear visiting them, but even appearing before their Windows, till further order.
Thus was all the trimming, scouring and pou∣dring of that day clearly lost, nay, as if upon this account of their Mistresses they had a remorse for their vanity, for two days after, they had no more care of themselves than if they had been ir∣reprievable Malefactors. They understood from common report about the Town, that the IndianPage 27•nd Virginia had been privately married; that he •as naturally jealous, a person of experience, as being turn'd of forty years of age, and had taken such order in his house, and was so vigilant over the actions of his Wife, that her Gallants, if she had any, could not hope so much as a sight of her at her Window. The further order they had been promised came not, and they thought long to ex∣pect it. They made their appearance in the Street where their Mistresses liv'd, and rode up and down, as they were wont, before their doors, yet could never see, either going in or coming out, any face they knew, or meet with any Boy or Maid they had any acquaintance with. They one day saw the Hus∣band go in accompanied by his Brother, a person handsome enough, and so young that he was then a young Student in the University. All this did but add to their affliction, and heighten the trouble they were in. They went forth betimes in the morn∣ing, they came not home till 'twere very late, and spent both time and pains to no purpose. At last one Holiday, being upon the Sentry, they saw coming out, at the Break of Day, one of Violenta's Maids to go to Mass. They made her stand at the Church-door, and through the persuasion of a many Presents Don Rodrigues prevailed with her to carry a Letter to her Mistress. The business of it was this.
I Find a greater unkindness in your oblivion of me, than I feel torment in my own jealousie, since there is no remedy for this latter, now that you are at the disposal of a Husband. How∣ever you are not to think your self beyond the reach of my importunities, though you have discharged me your remembrance. I beg of you, as the last favour I am to expect, to let me know whether I have yet any ground to hope, or must resolve not to live any longer,
Yours, &c. DON RODRIGUES.
They followed the Maid at a distance; she de∣livered the Letter as she had promised them, and having made a sign to them to come near the house, she dropped out at the Window the Answer you are like to read.
A Jealous man, that hath not been married long, is but little from his Wife, and can∣not so soon think himself dispensed from the Page 29 duty he conceives lies upon him, to express his tenderness over her and observe her actions. There is some talk of taking a journey to Vailla∣dolid, without my company, which if it happen, I shall vindicate my self, satisfie my engage∣ments, and pay my debts.
This Letter, which they both with a certain emu∣lation kiss'd a hundred and a hundred times, re∣viv'd their decaying hopes, and nourish'd them for some days: but at last, not hearing any thing from their forgetful Mistresses, they renew'd their marches and countermarches before their win∣dows, spent whole nights there; and could not see any going to and fro, no more than if the house had been haunted and no body liv'd in it.
But one day it happen'd, that, these two despair∣ing Lovers being in the Church, comes in Mistress Bride; Don Rodrigues went and kneel'd down close by her, as t'were to outface an old Gentleman-Usher that had brought her thither. He in few words made his complaints to her; she in as few excus'd her self, and at last she told Don Rodrigues, that her husband was not yet gone to Vailladolid, though he talk'd of going every day: that her im∣patience to have a private meeting with him was no less than his; and that she knew but one way to satisfie his desires, which absolutely depended on Don Pedro.
This happy stratageme of Love, which Do• Rodrigues was so hot to understand, upon the first proposal of it, prov'd a cooler to his desires when he had heard it; for he was not onely in doubt whether his Cousin would act the dangerous part which was impos'd upon him in that extravagant adventure, but was in suspence, whether he should so much as propose it to him. His Mistress continu'd firm to her resolution, and, as she parted with her dissatisfy'd Gallant, assur'd him, that if the propo∣sition she made to him were not well entertain'd and put in execution, as she had directed, there were never any thing to be hoped from her, nay she gave him leave to forget her, though a time had been she would sooner have sign'd the sentence of her own death.
The time and place broke off the discourse be∣tween Page 31Don Rodrigues and his Lady; she return'd home, he to his Camrade, who could not get a word from him, so much was he troubled that he must either make a request to him which he thought so unreasonable, or live without a happiness which is ever much more valued before the enjoyment than afterwards. At last, being gotten together into a private Chamber, Don Rodrigues having done himself all possible violence, made the extravagant proposition to Don Pedro, allaying it what he could with those circumstances which might render it the more entertainable. Don Pedro could not at first imagine but all was in jest, but his Cousin on the contrary protesting he spoke seriously, so far as to confirm it with such Oaths as convinc'd him he was in earnest, he would needs make some sport at it, telling him, he was very much oblig'd to his Mi∣stress, for providing him an entertainment with so sweet a Gentlewoman, and that no doubt it was an expression of Violanta's gratitude towards him, who being not, by reason of her indisposition, in a capacity to requite the services he had done her, and thinking her engagement a burthen, turn'd him o∣ver for the payment of it to her Cousin's husband, with whom he must expect a very pleasant night's lodging.
Thus did he endeavour to divert both his Friend and himselfe with witty descants on so odde an adventure, but Don Rodrigues was in such a distraction of thought as that he minded them but little, and was so cast down, that his Cousin could no less than pitty him, and was somewhat in fear how dangerous the consequences of his des∣pair might be. Don Pedro was a person naturally Page 32 daring enough, one that had run through many ad∣ventures, and durst undertake any thing thoug• never so extravagant; he had also a great love for Don Rodrigues, so that, all put together, he was con∣tent to supply the place of the fair Virginia, thoug• with the hazard of what mischief he might receive from an exasperated and jealous husband. Being therefore fixt in his resolution, he embrac'd his Cousin, and rais'd him to Life again by telling him what hazard he would run, to procure him the en∣joyment of his Mistress.
Things thus concluded, word was sent to Vir∣ginia, that her proposition was accepted; she ap∣pointed the time that very night; the two Cousins came according to appointment, were conducted into the house with as little noise as might be; and Don Pedro was forc'd, in the presence of the fair Lady, to put off his cloaths, as being desirous her orders should be observ'd with the greatest exact∣ness. Don Pedro being thus stript to his linnen, she brought him, as softly as if his way had been pav'd with eggs, and with the greatest caution imagina∣ble, to the dangerous bed-side, and, having drawn the curtains, and turn'd down the cloaths as easily as might be, held the daring Don Pedro by the arms, while he gingerly laid himself down in the bed, who haply now began to repent him of his con∣fidence, and no doubt contented himself with such Page 33 a part of the bed as that he came not near the middle.
Having thus dispos'd of him, she went her ways, lock'd the chamber door without ever minding the noise she made in doing it, which Don Pedro was troubled most of all at. Her business now was to get to Don Rodrigues, whom I am apt to believe she paid, like a gallant good natur'd wo∣man, what ever she was in his debt, at least as much as he would take of it.
Don Pedro in the mean time was in a condition much different from that of his Cousin's, who no doubt was over head and ears in the embraces of a fair Lady that was a bed with him, while this over∣charitable Kinsman lay in fear of nothing so much as of those of a sordid man, who, to his great mis∣fortune, was a very troublesome bed-fellow. Then did he begin to reflect, but too late, on his foolish presumption, that being what he should have done before he engag'd himself in such a design; he blam'd himself, call'd himself fool, and acknow∣ledg'd that the injury he did a husband was one of those that are unpardonable, if he himself were to pass his sentence upon it.
But it was not long ere these sad reflections were interrupted, and his just fears heightned by his Bed-fellow's turning to him, and casting his bur∣densome arm about his neck, as if he would have embrac'd his wife. Don Pedro somewhat frighten'd at those unwelcome caresses, the more haply be∣cause accompani'd with certain words imperfectly uttered, made a shift to disburthen himself of the arm which he thought more weighty than a far heavier burthen, and slipp'd his neck from under it, Page 34 taking great care not to do him any hurt; and hav∣ing so done, he got to the bed-side, with his body so far over, that he had much ado to keep in the bed, wishing his life fairly at an end, and blaming onely himself for running so great a hazard to comply with the passion of two indiscreet Lovers. He had hardly time to breathe, and recover his spi∣rits ever so little, ere the unquiet Bed-fellow thrust in his legs between his; which last action, added to the foregoing persecutions, made him look pale as death it self. At last, whil'st one came still nearer, and the other remov'd, day comes on, very ex∣pectedly to Don Pedro, who was not able to stand out any longer against his Adversary, who had thrust him as far as he could go.
He got out of bed as gently as he could, and went to open the door, which he found very care∣fully double lock'd, a misfortune as indigestible as any of the precedent. As he was trying, to little purpose, to thrust back the lock, it flew open of a sudden, and the door had almost taken him over the face. Virginia comes into the room as it were in much haste, and ask'd him loud enough, Whither he made such haste? Don Pedro entreat∣ing her with a low voice to speak more gently, ask'd her whether she were mad to hazard in that manner the waking of her husband, and desir'd her she would let him out.
Having so said, bold as a Lioness she took Don Pedro by the arm; then, in such disturbance as that Page 35 he had not the strength to get from her, open'd the shutters of the windows, without letting go her prize, and dragging him to the bed-side, drew the curtains, saying aloud,
This baiting put Don Pedro, who was still in his shirt, almost out of countenance; so that it was a long time ere he could recover himself out of the confusion he was in. At last Virginia took pity of him, and left him and her Cousin to themselves, to make up the accounts that were between them, which were of some consequence, for it took up their time from morning till it was noon. From that time, while the Husband was in the Country, the two he-Cousins and the two she-Cousins had frequent meetings, and made their advantages of the opportunity. The Indian being return'd, onely Don Rodrigues far'd the worse for it; for Don Pe∣dro, by the assistance of the Servants whom his Pre∣sents had brought to his Lure, made a shift, for two Page 36 or three months, to spend most flights with Vio∣lanta, who was at her own disposal, and, since her Cousin's marriage, lodg'd in a part of the house whereof she had the command, and which had a back-door that opened into another street. He was so deeply in love with her, that he earnestly wish'd himself married to her, but when he made any Pro∣posal of that nature to her, she so handsomely put off the discourse, that he knew not whether it were out of design, or that she minded not much what he said to her. At last, to confirm the general opinion, that this world is a Stage of perpetual changes, Violanta began to remit much of her passion, and by little and little grew to that coldness towards Don Pedro, that he could not forbear complaining of it, and, not knowing what to quarrel at, charg'd her with infidelity, reproaching her, that she had entertain'd some other Gallant into her favour.
But instead of recovering himself by this means into that place in her affections which he had for∣merly possessed, it made him so insupportable to Violanta, that she did not onely forbear the kind∣nesses she did him in the night, but could not en∣dure his company in the day time. Yet was he not a jot cast down at it. He, by the charms of a many Presents, prevail'd so far with one of the Gentle∣women, treacherous enough of her own inclina∣tion, as that she discover'd to him, that her Mistress was extremely taken with her Cousin's Brother-in-law, who was then just come from the University; that he was a very handsome young man, and no less in love with Violanta, than Violanta was with him. To act something notorious for the perfidi∣ousness of it, this wicked Wench advised him to Page 37 pretend himself sick, to send his Mistress notice of it, complaining as if she were the cause of his indis∣position, which, by reason of the likelihood of it, might be credited; and, in a word, to pretend it so seriously, that her Mistress might not be so vigilant, nor stand so much upon her guard, as she had ever done, since she broke off her correspondence with him. Don Pedro plaid his part as well as if he had been an old Actor at it. Violanta perceiv'd not the Mist that was cast before her eyes, and the perfidious Author of the Plot, had no sooner brought her Mistress's new Adonis into that chamber, but she went to open the gate to the jealous Don Pedro.
He comes all fury into Violanta's chamber, and surprises her already in bed, and her young Exer∣ciser putting off his cloaths to lay himself by her. He went with his sword drawn streight to his Ri∣val, haply to frighten him a little. The young man had his wits about him, so that taking up one of his shoes, and holding it out as one would do a pocket-pistol, aim'd at Don Pedro's face, so confi∣dently, that Don Pedro, who mistrusted no such thing, and doubted not but that he would have shot at him, slunk down and turn'd of one side, in which interval the young man got out at the door. Violanta, who was resolv'd to make an ab∣solute rupture with Don Pedro, broke out into a laughter, and jear'd at his fear of being pistoll'd with a shoe. He took her abuses so heinously, that he fell a boxing of her; she had him by the hair; it came to a bloudy scuffle, insomuch, that at last, the hard-hearted Granadin, having used her so unmercifully, that she was forced to cry out Page 38 Murder, made his escape into the street, just as Vir∣ginia, her husband, and all the servants, arm'd, as it were to engage an enemy, that had beat up their quarters, came into Violanta's chamber.
In the mean time Don Pedro gave Don Rodri∣gues an account of what had passed, and, not losing any time, went and proffer'd his service to the Duke of Ossonne, who was to depart the next day to be Vice-Roy of Naples. Don Pedro expected him at the Port, where they were to embark, leaving his dear Cousin extremely troubled both at his depar∣ture and the occasion of it. He continued six or seven years at Naples, much respected by the Vice-Roy, who allow'd him very considerable pensions. He receiv'd also no small summs out of Spain, so that there was not any person in Naples liv'd at • higher rate than he did, which made him more considerable in Italy than most of your Spaniards, who go thither as much out of a design to grow rich, as the French do to spend their mony. He tra∣vell'd to Sicily, made some stay in the more emi∣nent Cities, and, being return'd into Italy, spent two or three years at Rome, as many at Venice, vi∣sited all the places he thought worth it; and, at last, having been fourteen or fifteen years out of Spain, ever in love, or, if you will, ever making it his main business to satisfie his lust, still engag'd in some adventure or other, and more and more con∣firm'd in his opinion, that a man could not be safely married to a witty woman, an humour took him to put a period to all his extravagant courses, and to return to GRANADA, to see all the friends he had left there.
But the greatest motive of his departure out of Page 39Italy, was, that his returns of mony fail'd him, through the disappointment of his correspondents; or, at least, his Exchequer was grown so low, that he had hardly so much as carri'd him to Barcelona. There he sold what cloaths he could spare, to buy him a Mule, and keeping onely the best he had for his journey, he took his way towards his dear Country, without any retinue at all, the servant whom he had brought with him out of Spain be∣ing, in all probability, dead of the Neapolitan dis∣ease, and his stock so small, as would not haply de∣fray the charges of another.
He left Barcelona at the break of day, to avoid the heat, and the importunity of the flies, which in August are very troublesome, so that by nine of the clock he was gotten four or five leagues in his way. He rode through the middle of a pretty large country village, where a certain Duke of Ca∣taloniae pass'd away part of the Summer, as having in that place a fair Castle that stood upon the road. The Duke was an antient man, and had to his La∣dy a woman of an excellent humour, a great both lover and maker of sport, and about twenty years of age. He was that day gone abroad upon some hunting-meeting, and was not to return till the next. The young Dutchess standing in a Balcony of the Castle cast her eye on our Adventurer of Granada. His goodly presence and the state of his riding rais'd in her a desire to have a sight of him nearer hand; besides, that she was of an inquisitive nature, and suffer'd few strangers to pass through the Town without sending for them. Though he had resolv'd to bait some leagues off the place where he then was, yet could he not civilly answer a re∣quest Page 40 made to him from the Dutchess with a de∣nial, amounting to no more than his waiting on her onely as long as the urgency of his occasions would permit. She was beautiful as an Angel, and the Granadin was one that felt a certain warmth diffuse it self through his whole body, at the sight of such beauties, though they were not Dutchesses. He, on the other side, was a person every way graceful, and the Dutchess took much pleasure to see men of his making; to redeem, in some measure, the time she mis-spent with her husband, who, to her great misfortune, thought her so handsome, and was so infinitely taken with the pleasantness of her behaviour, that he imagin'd he never saw her enough, though she were seldome out of his sight.
Don Pedro, being a person of excellent parts and good judgment, found the Dutchess much diver∣sion by giving her a relation of his Travels, and soon observ'd her to be of a nature much inclin'd to mirth and a pleasant passing away of the time. She inquir'd particularly concerning the Gallantry at Naples, would needs know whether the Women there have much freedom, and whether the Gal∣lants of Italy were comparable to those of Spain. In fine, Don Pedro was confirm'd by the questions she put to him, that if she were not very well read in the business of Courtship and Gallantry, it was not for want of good-will. She would needs enter∣tain him at dinner to both their mutual satisfacti∣on: soon after dinner he would have taken his leave of her, but she would not by any means permit it telling him her Lord would not return that day, that he must needs be her guest, and very obligingly ado∣ing, that persons of his worth being very rare in Page 41Catalonia, they were not to be parted with till some extraordinary necessity forc'd them away, and con∣sequently the happiness of their company was to be improv'd to the utmost.
She thereupon led him into a Closet, which by reason of its spaciousness was very cool, adorn'd with Pictures, Porcelane, and other Rarities, and furnish'd, besides all things suitable to the greatness of the person, with a sumptuous Couch, cover'd with a Satin quilt. Having seated him on it, he re∣lated to her his adventures at Granada, Sevil, and Madrid, as also those he had met with in Italy, which are not come to my knowledge. The Dutchess heard him with much attention, and he told her at last, that he was resolv'd to marry, if he could but meet with a woman simple enough to secure him, as to those inconveniences which witty women run their husbands into.
Their contestation took up much longer time, th•Granadine maintaining, that a woman should aspire to no greater knowledg than that of loving her hus∣band, being faithful to him, and careful of the go∣vernment of her house and children; and the Dutch∣ess on the other side desirous to convince him, that a simple woman was not able to do any thing of all this; nay that, though she were handsome, it would not be long e'r she would be thought troublesome▪ They were both satisfi'd of one another's wit and judgment, and the mutual good opinion they had conceiv'd one of another was soon heightned into an affection, nay, I may say, something yet greater. There was not onely a difference between the Gra∣nadine and the Duke, as to age, understanding, and person, but the former was of such an exact com∣posure as the world haply afforded but few like him; and if he was thought such by his Dutchess, he in requital thought her the handsomest woman he had ever seen. He was bold as a Lyon, and ne∣ver had the opportunity to be alone with a woman, but he made proffer of his service to her. If it were accepted, he did the best he could; if offence were taken, he cast himself on his knees, and calling him∣self first the presumptuous Ixion, he crav'd pardon so ingenuously and with such exquisite hypocrisie, that either his offence was pardon'd, or haply it would not have been taken amiss if he offended Page 43 again.
I have now forgot what other hyperboles he drew up together, to engage the Dutchess's virtu∣ous inclinations; as also what reserves of pathe∣tical impertinences he was forc'd to make use of; for, he was upon a very hot and dangerous service of Courtship. Nor could I ever learn with what countenance the Dutchess entertain'd a Forlorn of Love and Gallantry so confidently brought up; whether she receiv'd the amorous charge suitably to the fierceness of it; or made the weaker resist∣ance out of hope of better quarter. These particu∣lars, though much desirous of it, I could never have any account of, and onely have it from one of the Dutchess's Gentlewomen, since dead in France of the King's Evil, that the Closet-door was lock'd upon them at two of the Clock, and that they were there together till Supper-time; and besides Page 44 what the Gentlewoman said, I know my self by experience, that Opportunity makes the Thief. Night came on, the indulgent Deity of stollen Loves▪ but Don Pedro and the Dutchess were pre∣judic'd rather than oblig'd by it, for out of a re∣gard to Civility, and to keep the Servants from talking, (whose jealousies ever magnifie things to the great prejudice of Truth, a Virtue they are pro∣fess'd enemies to) they call'd for lights, which, be∣ing brought, were darkned by the two bright eyes Heaven had bestow'd on the Dutchess, and which then out-vy'd the Stars with their lively sparkling. Her complexion, which now had doubled the hue of its native carnation, appear'd brighter to Don Pedro than the Sun in a Summers day, and his face too had a little touch of the violent inclining to red.
But as they were beholding one another with much confidence and satisfaction, an alarm came to the Dutchess, that the Duke her husband was come into the Court. All she could do upon so sudden notice, was, to dispose her much astonish'd Gallant into a Closet where she kept her perfum'd waters, and, having lock'd him in, to cast her self on a Bed. The Duke, who was a man of threescore years of age at least, comes into his Lady's Closet, and finds her fresh as a rose upon the bush. He told her, that a Letter he had receiv'd from the Vice-roy had occasion'd his return sooner than he expected. He was grown very hungry, ordered to be brought him into the Closet what there was rea∣dy, and the Dutchess, though she had no great sto∣mach to eat any thing with him, while her Gal∣lant shook, or haply did something else, for fear, Page 45 yet took a Chair and sat near the Table. She was of a disposition extreamly inclin'd to make sport, and so divertive, as that it, in a manner, retriv'd her old husband into youth again, so much was he pleas'd at every thing she did. It was an ordinary thing between them to lay extravagant wagers, and that most commonly when she had some occa∣sion or humour to get money out of him, which the simple man took great delight to loose, as one that inexpressibly doted on so excellent a woman.
He never admir'd her so much as at this time; She, to heighten his admiration, told him a hun∣dred pleasant stories; at which the good Duke was ready to burst with Laughing; for eating with a good stomack, and at the same time laughing very heartily, he was two or three times so near choak∣ing, that they were forc'd to give him such thumps in the back, as he would have taken very unkind∣ly at another time: but through God's mercy, he got no hurt, onely a crum or two miss'd their way down his throat. At last, the Dutchess, who had a malicious humour to make sport at any thing, would needs divert her self at the cost of her im∣prison'd Gallant. She told the Duke, that it seem'd a long time to her since they had laid any wager; and that she would gladly lay a hundred Pistols with him, upon such a match and tearms as they should agree upon. The Duke told her he was at her service, and expected what she would propose. The Dutchess made many proposals to him, which she was confident he would not accept; and at last she ask'd him, whether he would lay any wager, that he nam'd all those things, requisite a∣bout a house, that were made of iron. The Duke Page 46 took her up, though he thought the wager very extravagant, and having call'd for pen, ink, and paper, as soon as they had taken away, and his Al∣moner said Grace (for the Duke was a man of good example) he writ down the names of all the Iron things he could think on; But such was the Dutch∣ess's good fortune, as that he forgot to set down Keys. She caus'd him divers times to read over what he had writ, and having ask'd him whether he had any thing to add, she folded up the paper, and told him she would take time to examine it, and in the interim acquaint him with an adventure had happened to her, one of the most pleasant he had ever heard of.
She thereupon acquainted the Duke what had happen'd to Don Pedro at Granada, Sevil, and Madrid, whereat the good man, who made as much sport at a foolish story as any Duke within a hundred miles of him, spent his spleen in such violent and immoderate Laughters, as occasion'd those as well of the Dutchess, as the chiefest of the Duke's Menial Servants, with whom he in∣nocently liv'd in great intimacy and familiarity. She afterwards acquainted him what had hap∣pen'd to her Gallant in Italy, which was also very pleasant, as I have been told, but the particulars I could never learn. Onely this I know, that the Duke laughed so heartily thereat, that Don Pedro himself, lock'd up as he was, could hardly forbear. She told him what an ill opinion he had of all women that pretended to any thing of wit, the reasons which he alledg'd to maintain it, and those which she had urg'd in opposition there∣to.
At last, having found her husband, and all that were present, nay Don Pedro himself so much sport that they were weary of it, she told the Duke, that the Gallant of Granada, after the relation of his adventures, grew so presumptuous as to make his applications to her, and had done it with so much Page 48 address, that, not knowing how to take it am• from a stranger, that he was so confident in • Courtship, as to aim at her enjoyments, she • so taken with him that it was no hard matter w•• him to perceive it.
The Dutchess accompany'd her relation with so much ingenuity, freedome, and likelihood, that the Duke began to quit his mirth and to take things in good earnest. He grew pale; was afraid his Lady had said no more than what was true; nay, could not forbear asking her for the Key of the Closet, where she said the Granadine was lock'd Page 49 up. She fell to some other discourse, and thereby heightned both his jealousies and his fear; he ask'd her a second time for the key of the closet; she deni'd to give it him. He would needs have it, and started out of his chair in a great fury.
The Dutchess spoke this with such a confident indifference, that the Duke was more easily in∣duc'd to believe all she had said was fabulous, than he had been to think it true. He laugh'd at all, as if he had been little better than out of his wits; he admir'd the miraculous ingenuity of his wife, and oblig'd all his domesticks that were present to a like admiration, who were haply as credulous fools as their Master.
In the mean time, the Dutchess being paid the hundred Pistols by the Steward, caus'd the chamber-door to be lock'd; and having brought Don Pedro out of his imprisonment, not fully recover'd of the fear she had put him into, she press'd him to acknowledge, that a witty and discreet woman may, without prejudice to her honour, salve a misfortune, whereof the very thought would make a simple one die for fear. She would needs have him eat of what her Women had brought up for her self. He intreated her to excuse him, and to dismiss him as soon as might be. She gave him the hundred Pistols she had got of her Husband, with a Gold-chain, and her own Picture, which amount∣ed to as much, and desir'd him to remember her, and to give her an account of his further Adven∣tures.
Having thereupon embrac'd him with much af∣fection, Page 51 she recommended him to the conduct of her Women, who put him and his Mule secretly out at a back-door. He thought it no prudence to lodge in that place, but to ride forward two Leagues, to the Town where he thought to have din'd the day before, when the Dutchess retain'd him.
As he rid along, what had hapned to him with the amorous Dutchess was perpetually pre∣sent to his thoughts. He could not sufficiently ad∣mire, at least as he then thought, the readiness wherewith at first sight she entertain'd his affection, even before she knew him; her confidence to make so strange and pleasant a story to the Duke, which yet was but too true; and lastly, her subtilty in salving all by applying it to the Wager. He could not also but admire the easie nature and simplicity of the Duke; he pitied him, and, after all accidents and circumstances weigh'd, was confirm'd more than ever in the opinion, that a witty Woman was of a difficult keeping; and thence inferr'd, that, if the Dutchess had not been over-confident of her own wit, she would not so easily have executed what she had been so desirous to do, nor have been guilty of a presumption so incredible as to declare it to her Husband.
In fine, from all the Adventures he had run through, and all the experiences he had of man∣kind, he deriv'd a certain confidence, that he should never run the hazard of being unfortunately married, either by not taking any Wife at all, or marrying one so simple, as knew no difference be∣tween love and aversion.
Amidst these reflections he arriv'd at Madrid,Page 52 where he found his Cousin Don Rodrigues possess'd of his Father's estate, and married to his Cousin. He understood from him, that Violanta was mar∣ried; and that the fair Virginia was gone to the In∣dies with her Husband. From Madrid he took his journey for Granada. He alighted at his Aunt's, who entertain'd him with inexpressible kindness, and acquainted him that Seraphina led a Saint's life in the Nunnery, and that her beloved Servant was dead, out of pure grief and indignation that he had not prevail'd with her, to quit the holy life she had oblig'd her self to, and marry him.
The next day he went along with his Aunt to see young Laura, Seraphina's daughter, she had been put into a Convent at four years of age, and might then be about sixteen or seventeen. He thought her beautiful as all the Angels together, and withal simple beyond all the Nuns that came into the wo•ld without wit, and were taken out of it ere they got any. He view'd her very seriously, and w•s extremely taken with her beauty. He ob∣lig'd her to speak, and could not but admire her simplicity and her innocence. He doubted not but that he had found out what he sought; and what made him have a greater inclination for Laura, was, that he had had a great love for Seraphina, and perceiv'd her daughter to be much like her, though incomparably more handsome. He ac∣quainted his Aunt that she was not his daughter, and how that he had some intentions to marry her: His Aunt encourag'd him in his design, and acquainted Laura therewith, who expressed not any either satisfaction or dissatisfaction thereat. Don Pedro took order for the furnishing of his Page 53 house, hearkned out for such Men-servants as were in some measure remarkable for their sottish∣ness, laid out for Maids as simple as the Mistress that was to govern them, and had much ado to find any. He made her cloaths as rich and sumptuous as any could be had in Granada. All the persons of quality about the City were at the Wedding, and were no less satisfi'd with Laura's beauty, than dissatisfi'd with her want of understanding. The ceremonies of the wedding were over in very good time, so that the new married couple were left alone. Don Pedro order'd his Servants to go to their beds, and having sent away his wife's maids, after they had undress'd her, lock'd the chamber door.
Having thus order'd things, Don Pedro, out of a transcendency of prudence, which was the great∣est madness in the world, put in execution the most fantastick design that could fall into the imagination of a man, who had all his life been accounted a person of understanding. Being more fool than his wife was simple, he would needs try how far he might trust her simplicity. He set him∣self in a chair, caus'd his wife to stand before him, and said these words to her, or others haply no less impertinent;
The most prudent and most circumspect of all the Husbands that ever were, at least who thought Page 55 himself no less, got up, put on his cloaths, dis∣arm'd his wife, help'd her to put off her cloaths, and having dispos'd her into the bed out of which he rose, kiss'd her over and over, and wept out of pure joy that he had found, as he thought, what he look'd for. He order'd her to lie a bed till it were very late, and having commanded the Maids not to disturb her, he went to Mass, and thence about his occasions; for I had forgot to tell you, that he had bought an Office at Granada, such as might be that of a perpetual Major or Sheriff.
The first night of the Nuptials was spent in the manner you heard, and the Husband was such a Coxcomb as to make no better use of the se∣cond. But Heaven punish'd him according to the use he made of his Talent. There happen'd a bu∣siness, which oblig'd him, all excuses laid aside, to take post the same day, and make all the expedi∣tion he could to Court. He had no more time al∣low'd him than to shift himself, to put on other cloaths, and to take leave of his wife, whom he commanded, upon pain of God's displeasure and his own, exactly to observe, in his absence, the life that married women were to lead.
Those who have any thing to do at Court, are uncertain how long it may be, ere they are dis∣patch'd. Don Pedro thought not to have staid abroad above five or six days, but his business kept him there like a Burre, now sticking to one Courtier, anon to another, for four or five months; in the mean time, the simple Laura neglected not her duty, spent the nights according to her Hus∣band's order, in armour, and the days that suc∣ceeded Page 56 them in such works as she had learn'd among the Nuns.
Much about this time came a Gentleman of Corduba to prosecute a Law-suit at Granada. He was, as to his internals, no fool; as to his externals, handsome enough. He often saw Laura in her Bal∣cony, and thought her very handsome: he often pass'd and repass'd by her windows, a kind of Courtship ordinary in Spain: and Laura, on the other side, so let him go to and fro, without either knowing what it meant, or indeed having any de∣sire to know. A Citizen's wife, of mean qua∣lity, who liv'd over against Don Pedro's house, be∣ing of a nature extremely charitable, and concern∣ing her self much in the exigencies of any she saw distress'd, soon took notice both of the affection of the Stranger, and the insensibility of her fair Neighbour thereof. She was a woman could ma∣nage a business with abundance of conduct and circumspection, and the principal quality she pro∣fess'd, was that of making Matches, and solliciting venereal causes, whether they were just or unjust it matter'd not, so they brought in something to make the pot boil. And this employment Nature seem'd to have design'd her for, as having fur∣nish'd her with all the accomplishments requisite in such as would be eminent therein; for she had some skill in making of Periwigs, she had a pen∣sion from all Chamber-maids, and Waiting-Gentle∣women, to sell their Lady's cast cloaths and their own, and other things which your meaner sort of Gentlewomen make a great show with; she distill'd several sorts of Waters, she had some secrets for the beautifying of the body, and above Page 57 all, she had confidence enough to pretend to some skil in Chiromancy and Astrology, and upon that account, lay under some suspition of being a Witch. She so constantly saluted the Gentleman of Corduba every time he pass'd by her Neighbour's door, that he could not but imagine it done out of some design. He return'd her Salutation, went to her, and with the fame labour became acquainted with her, and improv'd that acquaintance into Friendship; he made her privy to his Love, and promis'd her a very good reward if she prov'd a successful sollicitress on his behalf to her Neigh∣bour.
Upon this encouragement (instructions she need∣ed not any) the old piece of Brokery bestirs her self immediately; she soon prevail'd with the sim∣ple Servants to let her in to the Mistress, under pre∣tence of shewing her some rarities which she had to sell; She commended her beauty, bemoan'd her being depriv'd so soon of her Husband's com∣pany; and, being left alone with her, brought in some discourse of the gallant Gentleman who pass'd by her doors so often. She told her that he lov'd her beyond his own life, and was p•ssionately desirous to become her servant, if so be she would permit him.
Page 58The tempting Gipsie needed not so great a dis∣covery to be satisfi'd, that Laura was little re∣mov'd from simplicity it self. She therfore made her apprehend, as well as she could, after what man∣ner the Gentleman was desirous to serve her; told her he was a person of as great an estate as her hus∣band, and that if she were desirous to make any trial of it, she would bring her, as a present from him, Jewels of great value, and what else she should desire.
The old Crone upon that took her by the hands, and kiss'd them over and over, telling her she would go and revive that poor Gentleman, whom she had left half dead.
It may be well imagin'd she was not so neglect∣ful as to leave behind her that miraculous Key, which open'd all doors. There may haply be some body, who▪ upon reading what is here said of that Key, will think he hath play'd the Critick rarely, when he shall say, that it was enchanted, and that this passage betrays something of fable: but who∣ever he be, let him know thus much from his most humble Servant, that the M•sters of Families in Spain have such Keys, which they call Mistress-keys, and accordingly take heed another time, how he carps at what he understands not. But now I think on't, let him take what falls within his narrow apprehension which way he pleases: may I be thought as impertinent as he, if ever I trouble my head with it.
Nor shall I care a jot if he think this very di∣gression impertinent; let him make a Parenthesis of it if he will. I know he is impatient to know what the old woman does. She is just gone to the amorous Gentleman, who is at her house entertain∣ing a Daughter of hers; one her Mother designs to be her successor in the Discipline of advancing the enjoyments and accommodations of Mankind. Knocking as hard as she could at the door, the Gentleman began to suspect he might be betray'd; but the Daughter understood it to signifie the hap∣py success of her Mother's intercession, as having learnt from her, and she from the common proverb, Page 60 that, Who brings good news is not afraid to knock at the door. She comes into the room with an in∣fernal smile in her countenance, and gave him that account of her furtherance of the business, as made him ready to leap out at the windows for joy. He rewarded her very liberally, and expected night with much impatience. It comes at l•st, though never the sooner for his expectation. He gets into the Garden, and with as little noise as might be to Laura's Chamber-door, while she was walking very seriously up and down the Chamber, all in Armour and a Lance in her hand, according to the wise instructions of her extravagant Husband▪ There was one small light, and that plac'd in a remote corner of the Chamber, the Door being wide open to receive the Gallant she expected; but he seeing the glimpse of a person all in Ar∣mour, made no doubt but there was some treachery in the business. His fear at that time over-master'd his love, how violent soever it might be, so that h• made more haste to be gone than he had to come thither, imagining he could hardly get soon enough into the Street. He went to his Proxey, and ac∣quainted her what danger he had been in. She, to vindicate the sincerity of her procedure, went the next day to Laura, who presently ask'd her, Whe∣ther the Gentleman were still sick, and why he came not according to appointment? He is nei∣ther sick, nor hath fail'd to come, repli'd Satan, but finding a man all in Armour walking up and down your Chamber, it frightned him away▪ Laura at this burst out into a laughter, she could not recover her self out of for a good while, which the Old one knew not how to interpret. At last, Page 61 not able to laugh any longer, and making a shift to speak, she told her Neighbour, that it must needs be the Gentleman was never married, and that it was she her self who walk'd up and down the Chamber in Armour.
The old woman was still to seek what Laura should mean by that, and for a good while could not believe she was well in her wits; but after abundance of questions and answers, she appre∣hended what she could never have believ'd, as well, of the simplicity of a young Maid of sixteen years of age, that should know any thing almost; as the extravagant precaution her Husband had bethought him of to secure his Wives honour. She thought it her best course to let Laura continue in her error till she were undeceiv'd by her expected Gallant, and so, in stead of betraying her surprize at the strangeness of the thing, she joyn'd with Laura in laughing at the fright she had put the Gentleman into. Another appointment was made that he should give his personal appearance at her Cham∣ber that night. The old woman satisfied the Gal∣lant, and both admir'd the sottishness as well of the Husband as the Wife.
Night came on, he gets into the Garden, thence up the private stairs, and found his Lady all in Ar∣mour, upon duty, as she us'd to be. He embrac'd her though all clad in Iron, and she entertain'd him, as if she had known him from the longest day she could remember. At last he ask'd her, Why she was all in Armour? She made answer, smiling, that she might not put them off, nor pass away the night in any other posture, and told him, since he seem'd not to know so much, that it was the life of Page 62 married women, and that to fail in the observance thereof was a very great sin. The crafty Cordu•se had all the trouble in the world to undeceive her, and to persuade her that she was abus'd, and that the Life of married persons was quite another thing.
At last he prevail'd with her so far as that she was content he should disarm her, and to learn of him another way of exercising Marriage much more commodious and pleasant than that which her Husband made her practise, which Laura ac∣knowledg'd to be very inconvenient and weari∣some. He was not sloathful in disarming her, he help'd also to undress her, as not finding her ready enough at it, and having soon put off his own Cloaths he laid himself by her, and made her con∣fess there was a vast difference between his Pre∣cepts of Marriage and those her Husband had given her; he read her all the Lectures he could upon that subject, and she was so far apprehensive of hi• instructions, as that she grew not weary of learn∣ing, plying it very hard as long as her Husband continu'd at the Court. At last she receiv'd a Let∣ter from him, which acquainted her that he was upon his return, and that he had dispatch'd his business at Court, and the Corduba-blade having also dispatch'd his at Granada, the crafty Com∣panion return'd home, without so much as taking his leave of Laura, and I think without the least regret for the loss of her company, nothing being so frail as the Love a Man hath for a Woman that's little better than a natural Fool.
Nor was Laura on the other side less indiffe∣rent, but receiv'd her Husband with so much satis∣faction, Page 63 and betray'd so little resentment for the loss of her Gallant, as if she had never seen him. Don Pedro and his Wife supp'd together to the great satisfaction of both. Bed-time came on. Don Pedro went into Bed as he was wont to do, and was much astonish'd to see his Wife in her Smock coming to ly down by him. He ask'd her in a great fury, why she was not in Armour?
Don Pedro, smothering the trouble of his thoughts, ask'd her, Who it was? She could not give any further account concerning him, but in requital proffer'd Don Pedro to shew him what the other Husband had taught her. The unhappy man pretended himself sick, and it's not unlikely he was so, at least in his mind. He thereupon turn'd from her, and bethinking himself that he had made choice of an Idiot to his Wife, who had not onely done what blemish'd his Reputation, but thought her self not oblig'd to conceal it, he call'd to mind the wholesome advice of the Dutchess, who no doubt would have been pleas'd with the account of this last Adventure of his. He thereupon detested his Error, and was satisfied, though too late; That a virtuous and discreet Woman knows how to ob∣serve Page 64 the Laws of Honour; and if, out of frailty, she chance to break them, that she can conceal her miscarriage.
At last, taking heart, he resolv'd to submit with patience to a misfortune that was not to be remedi∣ed. He continued for a time his pretence of being indisposed, to see whether the Lectures of his Lieu∣tenant had done any thing besides reaching his Wife what he had done better to have taught her himself. They lived together some years after∣wards; he had always an eye over her Actions, and, before he died, (having had no Children by her) he left her his whole Estate, upon condition she would become a Nun, and go into the same Con∣vent where Seraphina was, whom he acquainted that Laura was her Daughter. He writ to Madrid, to his Cousin Don Rodrigues, and sent him the History of his Life and Adventures, and acknowledged that his embracing of so erroneous an opinion had re∣duced him to that misfortune which he feared most of any, and against which he thought he had used the greatest precaution.
He died; Laura was neither troubled at it, not glad of it; she went into the Nunnery where her Mother was, who finding the Estate left by Don Pedro to her Daughter to be very great, founded a Convent, and became the first Abbess of it. The History of Don Pedro was divulged after his death, and served to satisfie those that made any doubt of it. That, without wit, Virtue cannot be perfect; That a witty Woman may be Virtuous of her self; And that a simple Woman cannot be such, without the assistance and good directions of some other.