Scarron's novels ... rendred into English, with some additions, by John Davies ...
Scarron, Monsieur, 1610-1660., Davies, John, 1625-1693.
Page  274

SCARRON's NOVELS.

The Invisible Mistress.

The Sixth Novel.

DON Carlos of Arragon was a young Gentleman of an illustrious Family, well known in Spain under that name; his person such, that a curious eye might have observ'd somewhat in him transcending all descriptions of the most elaborate Romances, yet not compa∣rable to the noble accomplishments of his mind. Page  275 But what comes more particular to the character we have to give of him, is, that, at certain Showes, wherewith the Vice-Roy of Naples entertain'd the populace, upon accasion of the Nuptial so∣lemnities of Philip, the second, third, or fourth, of Spain, (I cannot now well call to mind) he did things beyond their belief, who onely receiv'd them by relation. The next day after a famous Tilting, at which he had behav'd himself with such gallantry, as rais'd no less astonishment in the beholders, than indignation and shame in those who ventur'd at a trial of their address in the same exercise, the Ladies obtain'd a permission of the Vice-Roy, to go about the City disguis'd, and mask'd after the French mode, for the convenience of such Strangers as those magnificencies had brought thither from all parts of the Kingdom. That day, Don Carlos put on the richest cloaths he had, and went, among many others, who, as so many Cockatrices, intended to murther all the Ladies they look'd on, to a Church, where most of the Gallantry were to meet. Where be it observ'd by the way, that Christian Churches may be pro∣phan'd, as well in those Countries which profess most obedience to the holy See, as in others, and in stead of being us'd as the Temples of God, be∣come a Rendezvous for those who have not the opportunities so well to meet else-where. The onely remedy I can at present think of to prevent this scandal, is, that there be a new Officer cre∣ated in every Parish, whose charge it shall be, to mark what persons come to those Sacred places upon Love-appointments, and if they will not de∣part the place by fair means, to drive them thence Page  276 with as little regard, as they would do those snarl∣ing creatures, which many times stick not to quar∣rel there, to the great distraction of people's de∣votion.

But some busie-body will haply be so imperti∣nent as to ask, why I should trouble my head with these abuses, as if I were some Master of a Parish, or Lay-Elder, that had a Maid who should exer∣cise his dog at home? I would have the fool that is scandaliz'd at it, know, that in this lower part of the world, all men are fools, as well as liars, some more, some less, and perhaps I who now speak a greater fool than any, though it might abate some∣what of my folly, that I am so free to acknowledge it, and withal that this Book of mine, and all others of this kind, being but so many collections of fooleries, I hope, every fool in his quality and degree, will some-where or other light upon a lit∣tle description of himself, if he be not too much besotted with self-conceit.

But let the Reader take it as he will. Let me go on with my story. Don Carlos, as I told you, was gotten into a Church, with divers other Gentle∣men, Italians and Spaniards, who were strutting up and down in their feathers, like so many Pea∣cocks, and making reverences to more persons than they were known to, (a vanity practis'd some∣times in Churches as well as Hide-Parks) when three Ladies, all close mask'd, singl'd him out from among the rest, and having led him a little aside, one of them address'd her self to him either in these words, or others to the same effect.

Signor Don Carlos, said she to him, I have a business to impart to you, whereof perhaps you Page  277 little thought either before or at your devotions, which is, that there is in this City a Lady to whom you are extremely oblig'd. She was pre∣sent at the Tilting, and all those other exercises, wherein you have lately been engag'd, and al∣ways wish'd you might come off with honour, as you have done. She is not so vain to think your success wholly the effect of her wishes, but leaves it to your self to consider, what degree of kindness you will allow her good wishes, and what a Ladie's concerning her self so particularly in your good fortune may signifie; if it were express'd in other tearms.

The young Gallant was a little surpriz'd at the strangeness of the adventure; but having recover'd himself, he made this Reply.

The greatest ad∣vantage I can make to my self of what you tell me, Madam, is, that I receive it from you, who seem to be a Lady of quality, and I am to assure you, that could I have imagin'd any Lady had had such tender wishes for me, I should have endeavour'd to do more than I have done to de∣serve her approbation. And therefore, I am to account the obligation she hath put on me the greater, in that it proceeds from a person, to whom I have not the honour to be known.

The disguis'd Lady told him, that he had not omitted any thing which might render him, even in the judgment of persons less prejudic'd by kind∣ness than that Lady, one of the most accomplish'd men in the world. But another thing she had ta∣ken particular notice of, was, that it might be presum'd, by his Liveries of black and white, his affection was not any where engag'd.

I never Page  278 understood, Madam, replies Don Carlos, what colours signifi'd in such a case; but this I know, that it is not so much out of any insensibility, or indifference I have towards your fairer sex, that I have not made my addresses to any one of it, as an apprehension of my own want of merit.

There pass'd abundance of other ingenuous complements between them, for their discourse continu'd a long time; but I shall forbear the com∣munication of them, not onely because they never came to my knowledge, and that I am loath to make others out of a fear it might be to the dis∣advantage of Don Carlos and the unknown Lady, who were infinitely more witty than I am, as I have been since inform'd by an honest Gentleman of Naples, who was intimately acquainted with them both. The result was this, that the mask'd Lady declar'd her self thus far to Don Carlos, that she her self was the person who had that inclina∣tion for him. He desir'd to see her; She desir'd him to excuse her for the present, telling him she would endeavour to satisfie him some other time, and to assure him that she was not afraid to give him a meeting, at which there should be none but themselves, she would give him a pledge. With that she discover'd to the gentile Spaniard, the fairest hand he had ever seen, and presented him with a Ring, which he made no difficulty to re∣ceive, but with such distracted reflections on the odness of the accident, that he had almost for∣gotten to make her a congey, when she took leave of him.

The other Gentlemen, who had, at a distance, observ'd what had pass'd between Don Carlos and Page  279 the Lady, though not over-heard their discourse, seeing they were parted, came up to him, very desirous to know what might occasion so long a converse in so publick a place. He freely told them what had happen'd, and shew'd them the Ring, wherein was a Diamond of very great price. Whereupon every one pass'd his judgment on the adventure, and the result of the whole debate was, that Don Carlos found himself seiz'd by as violent a passion for the unknown Lady, as if he had seen her face, such an inevitable influence hath Wit over those that have any. Eight tedious days, and those attended by ten times more tedious nights, pass'd away ere he heard any further account of the Lady; which that he was extremely troubled at, I should easily have believ'd, though I had never been told so much.

During that time, his divertisement was to go every day to an acquaintance of his, a Captain of Foot, at whose house several persons of quality met to spend some few hours and pieces at play. One night, that Don Carlos was not in an humour to venture any thing, but was going home much sooner than he was wont, he was call'd by his name, from a ground-room belonging to a house, which seem'd to be some persons of great qua∣lity. He comes up close to the window, which had a grate before it, and presently sound by her voice, that she was his invisible Mistress, who presently said to him;

Come as near as you can to the window, Don Carlos, I have been here a good while expecting you, that we may decide a diffe∣rence there is between us. I have some appre∣hension of your impatience, and must permit Page  280 you to expostulate, though you have not so great reason to complain, as you imagine to your self. What construction, Madam, replies Don Carlos, can I make of all these bravadoes of yours, when in the mean time you dare not trust me with the sight of your face, nay, after my so long expe∣ctation, think it a signal favour to me, to make your appearance at a grated window, and that in the night.
No more of your censures, Don Carlos,
says she him, be satisfi'd, that I think it not yet time we should be fully known one to an∣other, and imagine it not want of any confi∣dence in me, that I have been so backward to meet you, but impute it to a curiosity I had to know you, before I suffer'd you to see me. I need not tell you, that in appointed combats there should be an equality of arms: if your heart should not be as free and dis-engag'd as mine, the advantage would be of your side; and thence it came, that I was desirous to be in∣form'd concerning you. And what account have you receiv'd of me, says Don Carlos? The world, Madam, is full of flattery and calumny, it con∣cerns you to examine well the credit of your in∣information. But may you communicate what you have found out by an enquiry which hath been so long a making as it is since I had the ho∣nour first to meet you? I have as much as I am satisfi'd with, replies the disguis'd Lady, and it is onely this, that we are free enough to become one another's. No, Madam, says Don Carlos, there is a great inequality in the case; for you see me, and know who I am, nay you acknowledge your self, that you have particularly enquir'd of me, Page  281 whereas I never saw you, nor know who you are, nor where to be inform'd. What judgment do you conceive I should make of this shiness, and the earnest care you take to keep your self from my knowledge. These mysterious pro∣ceedings are seldom us'd by those, whose de∣signs are just and generous; and it is no hard matter to deceive a person who mistrusts no trea∣chery; but he is not so easily deceiv'd twice. If you think to make use of me, to raise a jealousie in some other, give me leave to tell you before∣hand, that you will not find me for your purpose, and that I am not to be drawn into any other plot than that of being your most humble and most faithful Servant.

The invisible Lady suffer'd him to go on in his discourse, out of an expectation, that, among the many things he said, he might let fall somewhat, which might contribute to the further discovery she was desirous to make of him. But at last find∣ing nothing to fasten on but his distrust of her, she made him this Reply;

Well, Don Carlos, have you been sufficiently censorious, or am I yet to tell you, that your assurance of my sincerity, must be the issue of your own belief of it, and that your hastiness will rather retard than hasten the accomplishment of your desires. Assure your self therefore, without any further reflections on the grounds you have to suspect me, that I am very real and sincere, and that you shall find me no less in all that shall happen between us, and I expect you should be the like to me. That were but just, replies Don Carlos, but it were requisite I should see you, and know who you Page  282 are. It shall not be long ere you do, replies the Lady, and therefore, in the mean time, receive this Antidote against impatience, that onely by the trial I shall make of your constancy, you may attain what you pretend to from me, who now assure you, (to the end your courtship may not be without some encouragement and hope of requital) that I am equal to you as to Quality; that I have an Estate plentiful enough to main∣tain you in as much splendour as the greatest Prince in the Kingdom; that I am young; that I may challenge somewhat of beauty; and for matter of wit, you are better stor'd your self, then to be doubtful whether I have any or not.

With these words she shut to the window, leav∣ing Don Carlos with his mouth open, ready to make her some Answer, so surpriz'd at the smart∣ness of her expressions, so passionately in love with a person he had never seen, and so distracted at the strangeness of the procedure, that, not able to stir from the place, he stood still for a good quar∣ter of an hour, making several reflections on so ex∣traordinary an adventure. He knew there were many Princesses and Ladies of great quality then at Naples; but he knew withal, that there were many subtil Curtezans, eagerly bent to trapan Strangers, greet cajollers of such as were ignorant of their impostures, and so much the more dange∣rous, by how much they were the more beautiful.

Having recover'd his astonishment, he went ve∣ry disconsolately to his lodging, but resolv'd to prosecute the design wherein he was engag'd, with all the caution he could, out of a fear it might prove a cheat put upon him. I shall not tell you Page  283 exactly whether he supp'd, or not, nor yet whether, in case he went to bed supperless, he slept, or not, and yet there might be much probability of the latter. These considerable circumstances of a He∣ro's life, I seldom trouble my self or my Reader with, though it be very much practis'd by the Au∣thors of much greater Romances, than the world is ever like to have from me. For those Gentlemen give such a punctual account of all their Hero's do, and regulate their employments according to the several parts of the day, appointing them to do such a thing first, and then some other, as if they were shut up in some place of spiritual Retreat. For example, they must rise betimes in the morn∣ing, and having met with some-body, though they had never seen the party before, entertain him or her, with the History of their adventures, till they be call'd in to dinner: dine very lightly, and, as soon as they have din'd, retire into some arbour, to proceed in the continuation of it, or spend the afternoon in reading some Romance; when-ever they drink, take as many go-downs as there are letters in their Mistress's names, in commemora∣tion of them; and if the clock strikes, make so many ejaculations for the good success of their Loves. If the weather be inviting to go abroad, they are led into some Grove, where they are to acquaint the Trees and Stones with their misfor∣tunes, till their supper-time calls them home, at which having, instead of eating, spent the time in sighes and reveries, go and build Castles in the air upon some Turret, that looks towards the Sea, while some Squire or Servant discovers that his Master is such a one, the Son of such a King, and Page  284 that there is not a better natur'd Prince in the world; and though he be then one of the hand∣somest men in the world, that he was quite ano∣ther person, before Love had disfigur'd him. And thus they make those whom they would represent for exemplars of all the great and heroick Ver∣tues, in many things no better than so many Extra∣vagant Shepherds and Don Quixots.

But to return to my Story. Don Carlos came the night following to the same post, where he found his invisible Mistress ready to entertain him. She ask'd him whether he had not been much troubled at the former converse they had together, and whe∣ther it were not true, that he had entertain'd some distrust of what she had told him. Don Carlos, without answering her question, entreated her to satisfie him, what danger or inconvenience there might be, in discovering her self, since things were upon eaven terms on both sides, and that they pro∣pos'd to themselves no other ends in their gallan∣tries, than such as might be approv'd by all.

In that lies the whole danger of it, says the invisible Lady, as you shall find in time; be you there∣fore assur'd, that I am real, and, in the relation I gave you of my self, I have been so modest, that, without injury to truth, I might have told you much more.
Their discourse lasted a long time. They made some advance in the mutual love they had rais'd in one another, and at last parted, after a reciprocal promise to meet there every night, at the time they had agreed on.

The next day, there was to be an extraordinary Ball at the Vice-Roy's Palace. Don Carlos was in hopes to make a discovery there of the person, who Page  285 would be invisible to him in all other places. In the mean time he made enquiry, whose house that was, where he had receiv'd such favourable audi∣ences. He was told by the neighbours, that there liv'd in it an antient Lady, the Relict of a certain Spanish Captain, that she liv'd very private, and had neither Daughters nor Nieces. He knock'd at the door, and desir'd to see the old Lady; answer was brought him, that since the death of her Hus∣band, she admitted no visits from any person what∣soever; which added not a little to the disturbance of his thoughts.

Don Carlos went at night to the Vice-Roy's, where you may imagine there was a noble Assem∣bly of Gallants. He very exactly observ'd all the Ladies, to find out her whom he so much desir'd to know. He fell into discourse with those he met; but without any satisfaction. At last he singl'd out the Daughter of a certain Marquess, where his Ti∣tle lay I know not, nor care much, especially now we are come to an age wherein people are too for∣ward to assume Titles of Honour to themselves. The Lady was young and beautiful enough, and her voice came somewhat near hers whom he look'd for: but after much observation, he found such a distance between her intellectuls and those of his invisible Deity, that it rpented him he had in so short a time made such a progress in his courtship to that Beauty, as whence he might pre∣sume that she had a more than ceremonious kind∣ness for him. They danc'd together several times, and the Ball being done, little to the satisfaction of Don Carlos, he took leave of his Captive, whom he left highly conceited of her self, that she alone, in Page  286 so noble an Assembly, had receiv'd the gallantries of a Cavalier, who was no less esteem'd by all the women, than envi'd by all the men.

From the Vice-Roy's, he immediately went to his lodging, and thence, having taken such arms as he thought requisite, to the fatal Grate, which was not far from it. The Lady, who was already got to her post, ask'd him what news he brought from the Ball, though she had been there her self. He in∣genuously told her, that he had danc'd several times with a very beautiful person, and had entertain'd her with discourse as long as the Ball lasted. This confession gave her occasion to put divers questions to him, whereby he might easily have perceiv'd that she was jealous. Don Carlos on the other side discover'd the trouble of his mind, that she had not been at the Ball, and that it gave him some cause to mistrust her quality. She soon observ'd what he would have been at, and to prevent the disturbance such a doubt might raise in him, she us'd all the wit and Rhetorick she had, and shew'd him all the kindness could be expected between two persons separated by an iron-grate, which concluded with a promise, that she would be vi∣sible within a very short time. They thereupon took leave one of the other, he very doubtful whe∣ther he should believe her, and she a little jea∣lous of the beautiful Lady, whom he had enter∣tain'd all the time of the Ball.

The next day, Don Carlos going into a Church, to hear Mass, and meeting just at the door with two Ladies mask'd, presented them with holy water, to spre them the trouble of taking it themselves. The better clad of the two told him, that in requital of Page  287 that civility she had somewhat to acquaint him with, wherein he might be highly concern'd.

If you are not too much in haste, Madam, says Don Carlos to her, you may immediately ease your self of what you have to tell me. Follow me then into the next Chapel, replies the unknown Lady.
She went in first, and Don Carlos fol∣low'd her, much in doubt whether she were his Mistress, (though he was satisfi'd she was about the same stature) in regard he found some difference in their voices, this Lady speaking somewhat faster than the other.

Having shut themselves into the Chapel, she made him this discourse.

Signor Don Carlos, said she, the whole City of Naples is full of wonder, at the great reputation you have acquir'd, since the small time of your residence in it, and you are look'd upon, by all, as the most accomplish'd person in the world, Onely this occasions a ge∣neral astonishment, that, being what you are, you should not have observ'd, there are in this City several Ladies of great quality and worth, who have a particular esteem and kindness for you. They have express'd so much, as far as modesty and the reserv'dness of their sex would permit, and though they earnestly wish you assur'd of it, yet would they rather it might be said, you re∣garded it not out of a certain insensibility, than dissembled your inadvertency, out of indiffe∣rence. There is, among others, one, of my ac∣quaintance, who, not regarding what may be said of such a discovery, gives you this eminent assurance of the esteem she hath for you, as to give you notice, That your mid-night adven∣tures Page  288 are observ'd; that you indiscreetly engage your affection to what you have no knowledge of, and since the person you court as a Mistress will not vouchsafe you a sight of her, that it is either out of a fear she is not amiable enough to gain your love, or asham'd of her own. I doubt not but the object of your contempla∣tive love is some Lady of high quality, and tran∣scendent wit, and that you imagine to your self a Mistress who is, such, of all the excellencies her sex is capable of, and consequently deserv∣ing the adoration of such a person as you are; But Signor Don Carlos, let me give you this advice, not to trust your imagination, to the prejudice of your judgment, but rather mistrust a person, who disguises her self, and avoid all further engagement in these nocturnal conver∣sations. To deal freely with you, 'tis I who am jealous of this fantasm of yours, troubled you should speak of her, and, since I have express'd my self thus far, am resolv'd to quash her de∣signs, and defeat all her projects, so as to de∣prive her of a victory which I may justly dispute with her; since I am not inferiour to her, either as to beauty, fortune, or quality, or indeed any thing that may render a woman amiable. Fare∣well, I leave you to make your advantage of the good counsel I have given you, which, if you are wise, I doubt not but you will.

With these last words she went out of the Chapel, not staying for the Answer, which Don Carlos was ready to make her. He would have fol∣low'd her, but he found at the Church-door a person of quality, who presently fell into discourse, Page  289 with her, and continu'd it so long, that he grew weary of staying to see her dis-engag'd. All the remainder of the day, his thoughts were wholly taken up with this adventure, and he suspected, at first, that the Gentlewoman he had met with at the Ball, might be the last mask'd Lady, that had appear'd to him: but considering with himself, that she seem'd to be much more ingenuous, than the other had discover'd her self, he was at a loss what to think of it, and began to wish he had not en∣gag'd himself so far to his obscure Mistress, that he might have address'd his devotions to her whom he had last parted with. But at last, reflecting that she was no more known to him than his former invisible Lady, whose wit had charm'd him in the conversation he had had with her, he resolv'd what course he should take, and little regarded the me∣naces which had been made him, as being a person not to be frighten'd with great words.

In pursuance of this resolution, he went that very night to his iron-grate at the hour appointed. The two Lovers spent their time, much after the same rate as they had at their former meetings. But being come near the height of their amorous discourse, it was unexpectedly interrupted by a strange accident. Don Carlos was of a sudden sur∣priz'd by four men in vizards, who having dis∣arm'd him, carri'd him away by main force into a Coach, which waited at the lower end of the street. I leave the Reader to imagine how heartily he rail'd on them, and the reproaches he made them, that they had taken him so much at their advantage. Nay, he tri'd what fair words and pro∣mises might do; but instead of prevailing ought Page  290 upon them, it onely oblig'd them to look more narrowly to him, and deprive him of all hope to help himself either by his strength or courage.

In the mean time, the Coach went forward as fast as four good Horses could draw it, and about an hour after they had left the City, he was brought into a magnificent Palace, the great Gate whereof stood open, as if it had been purposely for his reception. The four disguis'd persons receiv'd Don Carlos out of the Coach, holding him fast under the arms, as if he had been some Ambassa∣dour conducted to the Grand Signor, or the King of Persia. He was brought up the first Story with the same ceremony, and there, two Gentlewomen mask'd receiv'd him, at the entrance of a spacious Hall, having each of them Torches in their hands. The disguis'd men took leave of him, and with∣drew, after they had made him a most low congey. 'Tis very probable, they left him neither Sword nor Pistol, nor that he return'd them any thanks for the care they had of him, and their trouble to bring him thither. Not but that he was a person of as much civility as any man in the world, but one surpris'd may well be pardon'd the backward∣ness of expressing it so much as another.

I shall not tell you whether those great Wax∣lights which the Gentlewoman held, were in Silver Candlesticks, but this I am sure of, that they were carv'd and emboss'd work, and the Hall was one of the most sumptuous in the world, and, if you please, the furniture of it, without disparagement, comparable to some Appartments of our late Romances, as for example Zelmana's Ship in Polexander, Ibrahim's Palace in the Illustrious Page  291 Bassa; or the Room, in which the King of Assy∣ria entertain'd Mandana, in the Grand Cyrus, which, not to disparage those other I nam'd, is, one of the most magnificently furnish'd Books of any in the world. Imagine then how much our cajoll'd Lover was astonish'd to find himself in so sumptuous an appartment, attended onely by two Gentlewomen mask'd, who spoke not at all, and conducted him thence into another room, more nobly furnish'd than the Hall, where they left him all alone. Had he been of the humour of Don Quixote, he would have been transported into some extravagance befitting so great an Ad∣venturer, and he would have conceited himself at least Esplandian or Amadis; but our grave Spa∣niard was no more troubled at it, than if he had been in some Inn, or Country-house of his own. True it is, he was much troubled for his Invisible Mistress, and having his thoughts continually fixt on her, he thought that room sadder than any Prison, which is neve accounted handsome, but on the out-side. He was confident they intended him no hurt who had Lodg'd him so nobly, and wanted not much of being satisfy'd, that the Lady, who had spoken to him the day before in the Church, was the Sorceress, who had wrought all these enchantments. He admis'd in himself the fantastick humours of Women; and with what expedition they execute what they have once re∣solv'd; and thereupon he concluded it his best course patiently to expect the period of the adven∣ture, and to continue faithful to his Mistress at the Grate, what promises or menaces whatsoever might be made to him.

Page  292Some time after, certain Officers belonging to the House, all in Vizards, but very richly clad, came in to lay the cloath, which done, Supper was brought up. All was very magnificent; Musick and Perfumes were not wanting, and our Don Carlos, besides the senses of Smelling, and Hear∣ing, satisfy'd also that of the Taste, much beyond what I should have imagin'd, the condition he was in consider'd; my meaning is, that he made a good Supper, for, as I told you, he could not live on the airy entertainments of sighs, and amorous imaginations. I forgot to tell you, that I think he wash'd his mouth before he sate down, for I have heard, that he had an extraordinary care of his teeth. The Musick continu'd playing a good while after Supper, and all having left him, Don Carlos walk'd up and down the room a good while, ruminating on all these enchantments, or some∣what else, it mtters not much. At last two Gen∣tlewomen mask'd, and a little Dwarf of a Page mask'd also, after they had laid a rich cloath on a Side-table, came to help him off with his cloaths, without any previous question, whether he had any mind to go to Bed or not. He suffer'd them to do what they pleas'd; the Gentlewomen order'd his Bed, and march'd away; the Page help'd him off with his boots or shooes, and afterwards with his cloaths. Don Carlos got into Bed, and all this was done with as strict an observation of silence of all sides, as if he had been in some Monastery of Carthusians. He rested well enough for an amo∣rous person; the Birds of an adjoyning aviary awak'd him at the break of Day; the mask'd Dwarf was ready to wait on him, and brought Page  293 him the finest Linnen, the whitest, and best per∣fum'd that he had ever seen.

'Twere too hard a task to give an account how he pass'd away the time from Morning till Noon, let those who feel the gripings of a passionate love imagine it, as for other people, it matters not what they think. The silence, which had hitherto been exactly observ'd of all sides, was broken at last, by another mask'd Gentlewoman, who came to ask him, whether he would be pleas'd to see the Princess of that enchanted Palace. He told her, it was his desire, and that she should be very welcome. Not long after, she comes into the room, attended by four Gentlewomen very richly clad, and with that lustre and attraction, as if the Graces had bestow'd the whole morning in dressing her. Never had our Spaniard seen a greater con∣junction of Love and Majesty in one countenance, than he now saw in that of this unmask'd Ur∣ganda. He was so ravish'd and astonish'd toge∣ther, that all the Congees he made, and the several postures he put himself into, while he led her by the hand into an adjoyning room, were little bet∣ter than so many stumblings. What he had thought so sumptuous in the Hall, and the other room, whereof I told you before, were nothing in com∣parison of what he found in this, and yet as mag∣nificent as all things were, they receiv'd some ad∣dition of lustre from the mask'd Lady, who ho∣nour'd the place with her divine presence. They sate down on a sumptuous Couch, the most sump∣tuous that had ever been made, since the first in∣vention of Couches. Having view'd him a while, to see how he kept his countenance, she at last Page  294 spoke to him, with a Voice as sweet as a Virginal, discovering her mind in a discourse, not much dif∣ferent from that I am now going to give you.

I doubt not, Signor Don Carlos, says she to him, of your being surpris'd, at what hath hap∣pen'd to you in my House since your coming into it last night; but if it have not had that effect on you which I imagine to my self, I have however the satisfaction of assuring you that I am no worse than my promise, and convincing you, by what I have already done, what I am further able to do. 'Tis possible, my Rival, your Invisible Mistress, may, by her artifices, and the good fortune of having engag'd you first, be absolutely possess'd of that place in your heart, which I am to dispute with her: but she is no Woman that will be put off with one denial, and if my fortunes, which are not to be slighted, and all may be had with me be too weak a motive to induce you to love me, I shall yet have this self-content, that I have chosen rather to run the hazard of being slighted for my im∣perfection, than obscure my self out of subtilty or shame.

With those words she took off her mask, and gave Don Carlos a full discovery of Heaven, or, if you please, a small draught of it, the loveliest Head in the world, sustein'd by a Body of the noblest-stature he had ever admir'd, in a word, both together making up a person wholly divine. By the fresh complexion of her countenance, a Man would have guess'd her not to exceed sixteen years of age; but a certain mixture, of majesty and gallantry in the air of it, such as young persons Page  295 are not arriv'd to, gave a greater assurance of her being four years elder.

Don Carlos stood mute a while, as being unre∣solv'd what answer he should make her, not a little incens'd against his invisible Lady, who hin∣dred him from making an absolute disposal of himself to the most beautiful person he had ever seen, and at a perfect loss, both as to what he should say, or what he should do. At last, after an interiour conflict, which lasted long enough to raise some doubts in the Lady of the enchanted Palace, he took a firm resolution, to make her a clear discovery of his soul, and it prov'd (such is commonly the reward of sincerity) one of the no∣blest and most advantageous actions he ever did. But you expect his answer. Many persons, who have heard of it, have been of opinion he might have done better, and declar'd his mind a little more smartly, when he had once resolv'd which game he would be at. But I am onely his Secre∣tary, and think my self concern'd in point of con∣science, to lay down the very words he deliver'd, which were these, as near as I can remember.

I must acknowledge, Madam, said he, that it would have been too great a happiness to please such a person as you are, could I have been but so happy as that I might have lov'd you. I am sufficiently sensible, that I refuse the most beau∣tiful person in the world, to court another who possibly may be such onely in my imagination. But, Madam, would you think me worthy your affection, if you thought me capable of an un∣faithfulness, towards a person, whom I had pro∣mis'd constancy? And is it consistent mith my Page  296 constancy that I should address my affection to you? But why do I say mine, when I have not had any to dispose, since the engagement of fi∣delity I made to that Mistress, who is yet pleas'd to be invisible to me? You are therefore, Madam, not so much to blame me, as bewail my misfortune; or rather let us jointly bemoan our selves, you, because you cannot obtain your desires, and I, that I cannot see what I love.

He deliver'd this with so sad an accent, that the Lady might easily observe he made a sincere discovery of his thoughts. She omitted nothing which she conceiv'd might persuade him, to fall off from his former love; he was deaf to all, her entreaties, nay was little mov'd at her tears, though the greatest Rhetorick a Woman can use. She renew'd the charge several times; he as obsti∣nately kept his ground. At last she fell to bitter railings and reproaches, and having vented on him all the injurious expressions, that could proceed from exasperated rage, and that a woman's, she left him, not so much to consider what he had to do, as to curse his misfortune. A Gentlewoman came in a while after, to tell him, that, if he pleas'd, he might take a turn or two in the Gar∣den. He went, not meeting with any body in his way, till he came to the bottom of the stairs, where he found ten men with vizards on, who waited at the door, arm'd with Partizans and Carbines. As he pass'd through the Court, to go towards the Garden, which was in all things an∣swerable to the Palace, one of those men, who stood Centrie at the gate, comes up to him, and whispers him in the ear (as if he had been much Page  297 afraid to be over-heard) That he had receiv'd from an antient Gentleman a Letter directed to him, and that he had promis'd the delivery of it into his own hands, though it might hazard his life, if it were discover'd: but a present of twenty pieces, and a promise of a like summe afterwards, had pre∣vail'd with him to venture the doing of that dan∣gerous kindness. Don Carlos promis'd secresie, and made all the haste he could into the Garden to read what he had receiv'd from him.

THE LETTER.

Signor Don Carlos,

YOu may easily imagine what trouble I have been in, ever since I lost you, by that you are in your self, if so your love be as violent as mine. My affliction was not capable of any abatement, till I had discover'd the place where you are, and that's the onely comfort I have. The Lady, who contriv'd your surprize and carry∣ing away, from the place where we thought our selves secure from such ambushes, is the Princess Porcia. To satisfie her own humour, she slights all other considerations, and you are not the first Reynaldo that hath fall'n into the hands of that dangerous Armida. But I shall break all her enchantments, and it shall not be long ere I force you, out of her embraces, into my own, a happiness you will deserve, if you are as con∣stant as I wish you should be, to

Your invisible Mistress.

Page  298Don Carlos was ravish'd to receive this account of his Lady, for whom he had a real and violent af∣fection. He kiss'd the Letter till he grew weary of that divertisement, and return'd to the gate, to find out him from whom he had receiv'd it, and to require his kindness with a rich Diamond-ring, off his finger. He walk'd a good while longer in the Garden, wondring extremely at the strange hu∣mour of that Princess Porcia, of whom he had heard much, as of a young Lady of a very great for∣tune, and descended of one of the noblest Houses in the Kingdom; and being a person of great vertue, he conceiv'd such an aversion for her, that he re∣solv'd, though with the hazard of his life, to do all he could to get out of that restraint wherein she kept him.

As he was coming out of the Garden, he met with a young Gentlewoman, unmask'd (for upon the Ladie's discovery of her self, orders were given there should be no more masks seen about the Palace) who ask'd him, whether he would be pleas'd to admit of her Ladie's company, to dine with him that day. I leave you to judge, whether he return'd, She should be welcome, or With all his heart, or, That it was an honour he could not have aspir'd to. Soon after, dinner was brought in; the Princess appear'd fairer than the Day, and her con∣versation took the amorous Spaniard so highly, that it bred in him a secret trouble to see, in a person of so great quality, such excellent endowments so strangely misemploi'd. He endeavour'd all he could to put himself into a pleasant humour, though his thoughts were continually fix'd on his unknown Mistress, whom he was impatiently de∣sirous Page  299 to meet with once more at the grate.

As soon as they had taken away, and all the at∣tendants had quitted the room, the Lady assaulted his constancy one more, in these words.

I know not, Signor Don Carlos, said she, whether I may, from the chearfulness, which me-thinks I have observ'd in your countenance, derive any hope of some change in your mind, or presume that my face and carriage, have at least rais'd in you a doubtfulness, whether the invisible Beauty, you so much dote on, be more capable to force your love than I am. I have not disguis'd what I would have bestow'd on you, because I was not willing you should repent your having receiv'd it; and though a person accustomed to receive Petitions, may easily be offended at a denial, yet I shall forget all resentment of that which I have re∣ceiv'd from you, on condition you repair it, by your future compliance, in giving me what I conceive my self more worthy of than the invi∣sible and inaccessible object of your adorations. Let me therefore know your final resolution, that if it prove not to my advantage, I may en∣deavour to find a counter-battery of reasons, strong enough to beat down those which I think I have had to love you, that I may no longer pur∣sue a vain hope, which will deceive me at last.

Don Carlos paus'd a while, to see whether she would have gone on with the discourse, but per∣ceiving she had given over, and that, with her eyes fasten'd on the ground, she expected the sen∣tence he was to pronounce, he persisted in the resolution he had taken to deal freely with her, and put her out of all hope that he could ever be her Page  300 Servant, and so made her this cold and comfortless Answer.

Madam, before I satisfie you, as to what you are so desirous to know, I am to beg a real discovery of your sentiments concerning what I shall propose to you, with the same free∣dom and sinceritie, as you expect I should ob∣serve towards you. If your self had oblig'd a person to offer up his affections to you, and by all the endearing favours, which a Ladie may grant, without injurie or prejudice to her virtue, you had engag'd this person to swear and vow an inviolable constancy to you, would you not ac∣count him the basest and unworthiest of men, if he should not perform the promise he had made you? And should not I be this verie base and and unworthie person, if, though to obtain one so infinitelie deserving as you are, I should for∣sake a woman, who hath some grounds to presume that I love her?

He would have proceeded with this and other formal arguments, to satisfie her, but she gave him not the time.

I have enough, said she, I perceive what your Answer will amount to, and cannot forbear admiring your constancie, though it be so much contrarie to my satisfaction. I shall importune you no further, to a change of the resolution you have taken; you shall be deliver'd out of your restraint, onelie this kindness I shall press you to, that you remain here till night, to be remov'd hence, in the same manner as you were brought hither, assuring my self, that if you ever come to discover where you have been, you will be so generous as to conceal the design I had upon you, and be moderate in the Page  301 triumph of your fidelity.
She held a handkerchief before her eyes, while she spoke those last words, as it were to keep her tears from being seen by the Spaniard, who, if, on the one side, troubled at what she had said, was, on the other, so transported with joy at the recovery of his liberty, that he could not have conceal'd it, though he had been the greatest hypocrite in the world: and 'tis to be imagin'd that if the Lady had observ'd, he could not have avoided her reproaches. I know not whe∣ther he thought it long ere night came, for, as I told you before, I trouble not my self much about the precise observance of times and hours: you may be assur'd it came, and that, being dispos'd into a Coach, he was brought back to his own lodgings, attended by the same persons who had waited on him the night before.

Being one of the kindest Masters in the world, his Servants were over-joy'd to see him again; but they enjoy'd him not long. He put on armour, and accompani'd by two of them, whose courage he had former experience of, he made all the haste he could to the Grate, nay his haste was such, that those who attended him, had much ado to follow him. He had no sooner made the accustom'd signal, but the invisible Deitie answer'd him. They had a long discourse, and that so full of affectionate tenderness, on both sides, that I never think on it, without tears. At last, she told him, that, having receiv'd some affront in the house where she then was, she had sent for her Coach, to remove thence; but in regard it would be long ere it came, and that his might be sooner got ready, she entreated him to send for it, to conduct her to a place, where Page  302 he should not any longer complain of her invisi∣bility. The amorous Gallant staid not for a longer entreaty, he ran to his Servants, whom he had left at the end of the street, and sent them for his Coach, which being come, the invisible Lady kept her promise, and went along with him into it. She gave the Coach-man directions which way he should go, and bid him stop at a great house, into which he drove, by the light of many torches, which met them at the gate. Don Carlos con∣ducted the Lady as she directed him, up a large pair of stairs, into a spatious Hall, where he con∣tinu'd somewhat troubled to find her still mask'd. At last, several Gentlewomen richly apparrell'd, coming to receive them, every one with a great wax candle in her hand, the invisible Lady dis∣cover'd her self, and taking off her mask, satisfi'd Don Carlos, that the Lady at the grate and the Princess Porcia were but one and the same person.

It were no easie matter for me to tell you, how strangely the Spaniard was surpriz'd. The beautiful Neapolitan told him, that she had brought him away a second time, to know his final resolution; that what pretensions soever the Lady at the grate had to him, were now become hers, with a thousand other things highly amorous and witty. Don Carlos cast himself at her feet, embrac'd her knees, and kiss'd her hands, and so avoided the uttering of many impertinences, which people overjoy'd are apt to be guilty of. When these first transporta∣tions were over, he rallied together all his wit and gallantry, to celebrate the pleasant humour of his Mistress, and acquitted himself in expressions so advantageous to her, that she was further assur'd Page  303 of her not being mistaken in her choice. She told him, that she was unwilling to trust any but her self in a trial, without which, she could never have lov'd him, and that she would never have been any man's less constant than he had shewn himself.

Upon this, the Relations of the Princess Porcia being acquainted with her design, came in to them. She being one of the most considerable persons in the Kingdom, and Don Carlos of great quality, it prov'd no hard matter to get a Dispensation from the Arch-bishop, for their marriage. They were married that very night, by the Parson of the Pa∣rish, who being an eminent Preacher, 'tis likely, there wanted not a very good Exhortation. Some reported, that it was very late ere they were stir∣ring the next day, which I am apt enough to be∣lieve. The News was soon divulg'd, whereat the Vice-Roy, who was nearly related to Don Carlos, was so glad, that the publick divertisements began afresh in Naples, where they still talk of the Loves of Don Carlos and his INVISIBLE MI∣STRESS.