The Fair Jilt
or the Amours of Prince Tarquin and Miranda
by Aphra Behn
As love is the most noble and divine passion of the soul, so is it that to which we may justly attribute all the real satisfactions of life; and without it, man is unfinished, and unhappy.
There are a thousand things to be said of the advantages this generous passion brings to those whose hearts are capable of receiving its soft impressions, for 'tis not everyone that can be sensible of its tender touches. How many examples, from history and observation, could I give of its wondrous power; nay, even to a degree of transmigration? How many idiots has it made wise? How many fools eloquent? How many homebred squires accomplished? How many cowards brave? And there is no sort or species of mankind on whom it cannot work some change and miracle, if it be a noble, well-grounded passion, except on the fop in fashion; the hardened, incorrigible fop, so often wounded but never reclaimed. For still, by a dire mistake, conducted by vast opinionatreism, and a greater portion of self-love, than the rest of the race of man, he believes that affectation in his mien and dress, that mathematical movement, that formality in every action, that face managed with care, and softened into ridicule, the languishing turn, the toss, and the back-shake of the perrywig, is the direct way to the heart of the fine person he adores, and instead of curing love in his soul, serves only to advance his folly, and the more he is enamoured, the more industriously he assumes (every hour) the coxcomb. These are Love's playthings, a sort of animals with whom he sports, and whom he never wounds but when he is in good humour and always shoots laughing. 'Tis the diversion of the little god to see what a fluttering and bustle one of these sparks, new-wounded, makes; to what fantastic fooleries he has recourse. The glass is every moment called to counsel, the valet consulted and plagued for new invention of dress, the footman and scrutore perpetually employed; billet-doux and madrigals take up all his mornings, till playtime in dressing, till night in gazing; still, like a sunflower turned towards the beams of the fair eyes of his Cælia, adjusting himself in the most amorous posture he can assume, his hat under his arm, while the other hand is put carelessly into his bosom, as if laid upon his panting heart; his head a little bent to one side, supported with a world of cravat-string, which he takes mighty care not to put into disorder, as one may guess by a never-failing and horrid stiffness in his neck, and if he have an occasion to look aside, his whole body turns at the same time, for fear the motion of the head alone should incommode the cravat or perrywig. And sometimes the glove is well-managed, and the white hand displayed. Thus, with a thousand other little motions and formalities, all in the common place or road of foppery, he takes infinite pains to show himself to the pit and boxes, a most accomplished ass. This is he, of all humankind, on whom love can do no miracles, and who can nowhere, and upon no occasion, quit one grain of his refined foppery, unless in a duel or a battle, if ever his stars should be so severe and illmannered to reduce him to the necessity of either. Fear then would ruffle that fine form he had so long preserved in nicest order, with grief considering that an unlucky, chance wound in his face, if such a dire misfortune should befall him, would spoil the sale of it forever.
Perhaps it will be urged that, since no metamorphosis can be made in a fop by love, you must consider him one of those that only talks of love, and thinks himself that happy thing, a lover, and wanting fine sense enough for the real passion, believes what he feels to be it. There are in the quiver of the god a great many different darts; some that wound for a day, and others for a year. They are all fine, painted, glittering darts, and show as well as those made of the noblest metal, but the wounds they make reach the desire only, and are cured by possessing, while the short-lived passion betrays the cheats. But 'tis that refined and illustrious passion of the soul, whose aim is virtue, and whose end is honour, that has the power of changing nature, and is capable of performing all those heroic things of which history is full.
How far distant passions may be from one another, I shall be able to make appear in these following rules. I'll prove to you the strong effects of love in some unguarded and ungoverned hearts, where it rages beyond the inspirations of a god all soft and gentle, and reigns more like a fury from Hell.
I do not pretend here to entertain you with a feigned story, or anything pieced together with romantic accidents, but every circumstance, to a tittle, is truth. To a great part of the main, I myself was an eye-witness, and what I did not see, I was confirmed of by actors in the intrigue, holy men of the order of St Francis. But for the sake of some of her relations, I shall give my fair jilt a feigned name, that of Miranda; but my hero must retain his own, it being too illustrious to be concealed.
You are to understand, that in all the Catholic countries where holy orders are established, there are abundance of differing kinds of religious, both of men and women. Amongst the women there are those we call nuns, that make solemn vows of perpetual chastity. There are others who make but a simple vow, as, for five or ten years, or more or less, and that time expired, they may contract anew for longer time, or marry, or dispose of themselves as they shall see good. And these are ordinarily called galloping nuns. Of these there are several orders; as, Chanonesses, Beguines, Quests, Swart-Sisters, and Jesuitesses, with several others I have forgot. Of those of the Beguines was our fair votress.
These orders are taken up by the best persons of the town, young maids of fortune, who live together, not enclosed, but in palaces that will hold about fifteen hundred or two thousand of these fille-devotes, where they have a regulated government, under a sort of abbess, or prioress, or rather, a governant. They are obliged to a method of devotion, and are under a sort of obedience. They wear an habit much like our widows of quality in England, only without a bando; and their veil is of a thicker crepe than what we have here, through which one cannot see the face, for when they go abroad, they cover themselves all over with it, but they put 'em up in the churches and lay 'em by in the houses. Every one of these have a confessor, who is to 'em a sort of steward, for, you must know, they that go into these places have the management of their own fortunes, and what their parents design 'em. Without the advice of this confessor, they act nothing, nor admit of a lover that he shall not approve of; at least, this method ought to be taken, and is by almost all of 'em, though Miranda thought her wit above it, as her spirit was.
But as these women are, as I said, of the best quality, and live with the reputation of being retired from the world a little more than ordinary, and because there is a sort of difficulty to approach 'em, they are the people the most courted and liable to the greatest temptations, for as difficult as it seems to be, they receive visits from all the men of the best quality, especially strangers. All the men of wit and conversation meet at the apartments of these fair fille-devotes, where all manner of gallantries are performed, while all the study of these maids is to accomplish themselves for these noble conversations. They receive presents, balls, serenades, and billets. All the news, wit, verses, songs, novels, music, gaming, and all fine diversion, is in their apartments, they themselves being of the best quality and fortune. So that to manage these gallantries, there is no sort of female arts they are not practised in, no intrigues they are ignorant of, and no management of which they are not capable.
Of this happy number was the fair Miranda, whose parents being dead, and a vast estate divided between herself and a young sister (who lived with an unmarried, old uncle, whose estate afterwards was all divided between 'em) put herself into this unenclosed religious house, but her beauty, which had all the charms that ever nature gave, became the envy of the whole sisterhood. She was tall and admirably shaped; she had a bright hair, and hazel eyes, all full of love and sweetness. No art could make a face so fair as hers by nature, which every feature adorned with a grace that imagination cannot reach. Every look, every motion, charmed, and her black dress showed the lustre of her face and neck. She had an air, though gay as so much youth could inspire, yet so modest, so nobly reserved, without formality or stiffness, that one who looked on her would have imagined her soul the twin angel of her body, and both together made her appear something divine. To this she had a great deal of wit, read much, and retained all that served her purpose. She sung delicately, and danced well, and played on the lute to a miracle. She spoke several languages naturally, for being co-heiress to so great a fortune, she was bred with nicest care in all the finest manners of education, and was now arrived to her eighteenth year.
'Twere needless to tell you how great a noise the fame of this young beauty, with so considerable a fortune, made in the world; I may say the world, rather than confine her fame to the scanty limits of a town: it reached to many others, and there was not a man of any quality that came to Antwerp, or passed through the city, but made it his business to see the lovely Miranda, who was universally adored. Her youth and beauty, her shape and majesty of mien and air of greatness, charmed all her beholders, and thousands of people were dying by her eyes, while she was vain enough to glory in her conquest, and make it her business to wound. She loved nothing so much as to behold sighing slaves at her feet of the greatest quality, and treated 'em all with an affability that gave 'em hope. Continual music as soon as it was dark, and songs of dying lovers, were sung under her windows, and she might well have made herself a great fortune (if she had not been so already) by the rich presents that were hourly made her, and everybody daily expected when she would make someone happy by suffering herself to be conquered by love and honour, by the assiduities and vows of some one of her adorers. But Miranda accepted their presents, heard their vows with pleasure, and willingly admitted all their soft addresses; but would not yield her heart, or give away that lovely person to the possession of one who could please itself with so many. She was naturally amorous, but extremely inconstant. She loved one for his wit, another for his face, a third for his mien, but above all, she admired quality; quality alone had the power to attack her entirely, yet not to one man; but that virtue was still admired by her in all: wherever she found that, she loved, or at least acted the lover with such art that (deceiving well) she failed not to complete her conquest, and yet she never durst trust her fickle humour with marriage. She knew the strength of her own heart, and that it could not suffer itself to be confined to one man, and wisely avoided those inquietudes and that uneasiness of life she was sure to find in that married life which would, against her nature, oblige her to the embraces of one, whose humour was to love all the young and the gay. But love, who had hitherto but played with her heart and given it nought but pleasing, wanton wounds, such as afforded only soft joys and not pains, resolved, either out of revenge to those numbers she had abandoned, and who had sighed so long in vain, or to try what power he had upon so fickle a heart, sent an arrow dipped in the most tormenting flames that rage in hearts most sensible. He struck it home and deep, with all the malice of an angry god.
There was a church belonging to the cordeliers, whither Miranda often repaired to her devotion, and being there one day, accompanied with a young sister of the order, after the mass was ended, as 'tis the custom, some one of the fathers goes about the church with a box for contribution, or charity money. It happened that day that a young father, newly initiated, carried the box about, which, in his turn, he brought to Miranda. She had no sooner cast her eyes on this young friar, but her face was overspread with blushes of surprise; she beheld him steadfastly, and saw in his face all the charms of youth, wit, and beauty. He wanted no one grace that could form him for love, he appeared all that is adorable to the fair sex, nor could the misshapen habit hide from her the lovely shape it endeavoured to cover, nor those delicate hands that approached her too near with the box. Besides the beauty of his face and shape, he had an air altogether great; in spite of his professed poverty, it betrayed the man of quality, and that thought weighed greatly with Miranda. But love, who did not design she should now feel any sort of those easy flames with which she had heretofore burnt, made her soon lay all those considerations aside which used to invite her to love, and now loved she knew not why.
She gazed upon him, while he bowed before her, and waited for her charity, till she perceived the lovely friar to blush and cast his eyes to the ground. This awakened her shame, and she put her hand into her pocket and was a good while in searching for her purse, as if she thought of nothing less than what she was about; at last she drew it out, and gave him a pistole, but that with so much deliberation and leisure as easily betrayed the satisfaction she took in looking on him, while the good man, having received her bounty, after a very low obeisance, proceeded to the rest, and Miranda casting after him a look all languishing, as long as he remained in the church, departed with a sigh as soon as she saw him go out, and returned to her apartment without speaking one word all the way to the young fille-devotes who attended her, so absolutely was her soul employed with this young holy man. Cornelia (so was this maid called who was with her) perceiving she was so silent, who used to be all wit and good humour, and observing her little disorder at the sight of the young father, though she was far from imagining it to be love, took an occasion, when she was come home, to speak of him. 'Madam,' said she, 'did you not observe that fine young cordelier who brought the box?' At a question that named that object of her thoughts, Miranda blushed, and the finding she did so redoubled her confusion, and she had scarce courage enough to say, 'Yes, I did observe him.' And then, forcing herself to smile a little, continued, 'And I wondered to see so jolly a young friar of an order so severe, and mortified.''Madam,' replied Cornelia, 'when you know his story, you will not wonder.' Miranda, who was impatient to know all that concerned her new conqueror, obliged her to tell his story, and Cornelia obeyed, and proceeded.
'You must know, Madam, that this young holy man is a prince of Germany, of the house of ——, whose fate it was to fall most passionately in love with a fair young lady, who loved him with an ardour equal to what he vowed her. Sure of her heart, and wanting only the approbation of her parents and his own, which her quality did not suffer him to despair of, he boasted of his happiness to a young prince, his elder brother, a youth amorous and fierce, impatient of joys and sensible of beauty, taking fire with all fair eyes. He was his father's darling, and delight of his fond mother, and by an ascendant over both their hearts, ruled their wills.
'This young prince no sooner saw, but loved the fair mistress of his brother, and with an authority of a sovereign, rather than the advice of a friend, warned his brother Henrick (this now young friar) to approach no more this lady, whom he had seen and, seeing, loved.
'In vain the poor surprised prince pleads his right of love, his exchange of vows, and assurance of an heart that could never be but for himself. In vain he urges his nearness of blood, his friendship, his passion, or his life, which so entirely depended on the possession of the charming maid. All his pleading served but to blow his brother's flame, and the more he implores, the more the other burns, and while Henrick follows him on his knees with humble submissions, the other flies from him in rages of transported love. Nor could his tears that pursued his brother's steps move him to pity. Hot-headed, vain-conceited of his beauty, and greater quality as elder brother, he doubts not his success, and resolved to sacrifice all to the violence of his new-born passion.
'In short, he speaks of his design to his mother, who promised him her assistance, and accordingly proposing it first to the prince, her husband, urging the languishment of her son, she soon wrought so on him, that a match being concluded between the parents of this young beauty and Henrick's brother, the hour was appointed before she knew of the sacrifice she was to be made. And while this was in agitation, Henrick was sent on some great affairs up into Germany, far out of the way; not but his boding heart, with perpetual sighs and throbs, eternally foretold him his fate.
'All the letters he writ were intercepted, as well as those she writ to him. She finds herself every day perplexed with the addresses of the prince she hated; he was ever sighing at her feet. In vain were all her reproaches and all her coldness, he was on the surer side, for what he found love would not do, force of parents would.
'She complains in her heart on young Henrick, from whom she could never receive one letter, and at last could not forbear bursting into tears in spite of all her force and feigned courage, when on a day the prince told her that Henrick was withdrawn, to give him time to court her, to whom, he said, he confessed he had made some vows, but did repent of 'em, knowing himself too young to make 'em good; that it was for that reason he brought him first to see her, and for that reason that after that he never saw her more, nor so much as took leave of her (when, indeed, his death lay upon the next visit, his brother having sworn to murder him, and to that end, put a guard upon him till he was sent into Germany).
'All this he uttered with so many passionate asseverations, vows and seeming pity for her being so inhumanly abandoned, that she almost gave credit to all he had said, and had much ado to keep herself within the bounds of moderation and silent grief. Her heart was breaking, her eyes languished and her cheeks grew pale, and she had like to have fallen dead into the treacherous arms of him that had reduced her to this discovery; but she did what she could to assume her courage, and to show as little resentment as possible for a heart, like hers, oppressed with love, and now abandoned by the dear subject of its joys and pains.
'But, Madam, not to tire you with this adventure, the day arrived wherein our still weeping fair unfortunate was to be sacrificed to the capriciousness of love, and she was carried to Court by her parents, without knowing to what end, where she was almost compelled to marry the prince.
' Henrick, who, all this while, knew no more of his unhappiness than what his fears suggested, returns and passes even to the presence of his father, before he knew anything of his fortune, where he beheld his mistress and his brother with his father in such a familiarity as he no longer doubted his destiny. 'Tis hard to judge whether the lady or himself was most surprised; she was all pale and unmovable in her chair, and Henrick fixed like a statue. At last, grief and rage took place of amazement, and he could not forbear crying out, "Ah, traitor! Is it thus you have treated a friend and brother? And you, O perjured charmer! Is it thus you have rewarded all my vows?" He could say no more, but reeling against the door, had fallen in a swoon upon the floor, had not his page caught him in his arms, who was entering with him. The good old prince, the father, who knew not what all this meant, was soon informed by the young, weeping princess, who, in relating the story of her amour with Henrick, told her tale in so moving a manner, as brought tears to the old man's eyes, and rage to those of her husband. He immediately grew jealous to the last degree. He finds himself in possession ('tis true) of the beauty he adored, but the beauty adoring another: a prince young and charming as the light, soft, witty, and raging with an equal passion. He finds this dreaded rival in the same house with him, with an authority equal to his own, and fancies, where two hearts are so entirely agreed, and have so good an understanding, it would not be impossible to find opportunities to satisfy and ease that mutual flame that burnt so equally in both. He therefore resolved to send him out of the world, and to establish his own repose by a deed, wicked, cruel, and unnatural: to have him assassinated the first opportunity he could find. This resolution set him a little at ease, and he strove to dissemble kindness to Henrick with all the art he was capable of, suffering him to come often to the apartment of the princess, and to entertain her oftentimes with discourse, when he was not near enough to hear what he spoke; but still watching their eyes, he found those of Henrick full of rears ready to flow, but restrained, looking all dying, and yet reproaching, while those of the princess were ever bent to the earth, and she, as much as possible, shunning his conversation. Yet this did not satisfy the jealous husband; 'twas not her complaisance that could appease him. He found her heart was panting within whenever Henrick approached her, and every visit more and more confirmed his death.
'The father often found the disorders of the sons; the softness and address of the one gave him as much fear as the angry blushings, the fierce looks, and broken replies of the other whenever he beheld Henrick approach his wife. So that the father, fearing some ill consequence of this, besought Henrick to withdraw to some other country, or travel into Italy, he being now of an age that required a view of the world. He cold his father that he would obey his commands, though he was certain that moment he was to be separated from the sight of the fair princess, his sister, would be the last of his life, and, in fine, made so pitiful a story of his suffering love as almost moved the old prince to compassionate him so far as to permit him to stay. But he saw inevitable danger in that, and therefore bid him prepare for his journey.
'That which passed between the father and Henrick being a secret, none talked of his departing from court, so that the design the brother had went on, and making an hunting match one day, where most young people of quality were, he ordered some whom he had hired to follow his brother, so as if he chanced to go out of the way, to dispatch him, and accordingly, fortune gave 'em an opportunity, for he lagged behind the company and turned aside into a pleasant thicket of hazels, where alighting, he walked on foot in the most pleasant part of it, full of thought how to divide his soul between love and obedience. He was sensible that he ought not to stay, that he was but an affliction to the young princess, whose honour could never permit her to ease any part of his flame; nor was he so vicious to entertain a thought that should stain her virtue. He beheld her now as his brother's wife, and that secured his flame from all loose desires, if her native modesty had not been sufficient of itself to have done it, and that profound respect he paid her; and he considered, in obeying his father, he left her at ease and his brother freed of a thousand fears. He went to seek a cure, which if he could not find, at last he could but die, and so he must, even at her feet; however, that 'twas more noble to seek a remedy for his disease than expect a certain death by staying. After a thousand reflections on his hard fate, and bemoaning himself, and blaming his cruel stars, that had doomed him to die so young, after an infinity of sighs and tears, resolvings and unresolvings, he on the sudden was interrupted by the trampling of some horses he heard, and their rushing through the boughs, and saw four men make towards him. He had not time to mount, being walked some paces from his horse. One of the men advanced and cried, "Prince you must die—""I do believe thee," replied Henrick, "but not by a hand so base as thine." And at the same time, drawing his sword, run him into the groin. When the fellow found himself so wounded he wheeled off and cried, "Thou art a prophet, and hast rewarded my treachery with death." The rest came up, and one shot at the prince and shot him into the shoulder; the other two hastily laying hold (but too late) on the hand of the murderer, cried, "Hold, traitor, we relent and he shall not die." He replied, "'Tis too late, he is shot; and see, he lies dead. Let us provide for ourselves, and tell the prince we have done the work, for you are as guilty as I am." At that they all fled and left the prince lying under a tree weltering in his blood.
'About the evening, the forester going his walks saw the horse richly caparisoned, without a rider, at the entrance of the wood, and going farther to see if he could find its owner, found there the prince almost dead. He immediately mounts him on the horse and, himself behind, bore him up and carried him to the lodge, where he had only one old man, his father, well skilled in surgery, and a boy. They put him to bed, and the old forester, with what art he had, dressed his wound and, in the morning, sent for an abler surgeon, to whom the prince enjoined secrecy, because he knew him. The man was faithful and the prince, in time, was recovered of his wound and, as soon as he was well, he came for Flanders in the habit of a pilgrim and, after some time, took the order of St Francis, none knowing what became of him till he was professed, and then he writ his own story to the prince his father, to his mistress, and his ungrateful brother. The young princess did not long survive his loss; she languished from the moment of his departure and he had this to confirm his devout life: to know she died for him.
'My brother, Madam, was an officer under the prince his father, and knew his story perfectly well, from whose mouth I had it.'
'What!' replied Miranda then, 'is Father Henrick a man of quality?''Yes Madam,' said Cornelia, 'and has changed his name to Francisco.' But Miranda, fearing to betray the sentiments of her heart by asking any more questions about him, turned the discourse, and some persons of quality came in to visit her (for her apartment was, about six a clock, like the presence chamber of a queen, always filled with the greatest people). There meet all the beaux esprits, and all the beauties. But it was visible Miranda was not so gay as she used to be, but pensive and answering malapropos to all that was said to her. She was a thousand times going to speak against her will something of the charming friar, who was never from her thoughts, and she imagined if he could inspire love in a coarse, grey, ill-made habit, a shorn crown, a hair cord about his waist, bare legged in sandals instead of shoes, what must he do when, looking back on time, she beholds him in a prospect of glory, with all that youth and illustrious beauty set off by the advantage of dress and equipage. She frames an idea of him all gay and splendid, and looks on his present habit as some disguise proper for the stealths of love; some feigned put-on shape with the more security to approach a mistress and make himself happy; and that, the robe laid by, she has the lover in his proper beauty, the same he would have been if any other habit (though never so rich) were put off. In the bed, the silent, gloomy night, and the soft embraces of her arms, he loses all the friar and assumes all the prince; and that aweful reverence due alone to his holy habit he exchanges for a thousand dalliances for which his youth was made: for love, for tender embraces, and all the happiness of life. Some moments she fancies him a lover, and that the fair object that takes up all his heart has left no room for her there; but that was a thought that did not long perplex her, and which, almost as soon as born, she turned to her advantage. She beholds him a lover, and therefore finds he has a heart sensible and tender; he had youth to be fired, as well as to inspire; he was far from the loved object, and totally without hope, and she reasonably considered that flame would of itself soon die that had only despair to feed on. She beheld her own charms, and experience, as well as her glass, told her they never failed of conquest, especially where they designed it. And she believed Henrick would be glad at least to quench that flame in himself by an amour with her, which was kindled by the young princess of ———, his sister.
These, and a thousand other self-flatteries, all vain and indiscreet, took up her waking nights, and now more retired days, while love, to make her truly wretched, suffered her to soothe herself with fond imaginations, not so much as permitting her reason to plead one moment to save her from undoing. She would not suffer it to tell her he had taken holy orders, made sacred and solemn vows of everlasting chastity, that 'twas impossible he could marry her, or lay before her any argument that might prevent her ruin; but love, mad, malicious love, was always called to counsel, and, like easy monarchs, she had no ears but for flatterers.
Well then, she is resolved to love, without considering to what end and what must be the consequence of such an amour. She now missed no day of being at that little church where she had the happiness, or rather, the misfortune (so love ordained) to see this ravisher of her heart and soul, and every day she took new fire from his lovely eyes. Unawares, unknown, and unwillingly, he gave her wounds, and the difficulty of her cure made her rage the more. She burnt, she languished, and died for the young innocent, who knew not he was the author of so much mischief.
Now she revolves a thousand ways in her tortured mind to let him know her anguish, and at last pitched upon that of writing to him soft billets, which she had learnt the art of doing; or if she had not, she had now fire enough to inspire her with all that could charm and move. These she delivered to a young wench who waited on her and whom she had entirely subdued to her interest, to give to a certain lay brother of the order, who was a very simple, harmless wretch, and who served in the kitchen in the nature of a cook in the monastery of Cordeliers. She gave him gold to secure his faith and service, and not knowing from whence they came (with so good credentials), he undertook to deliver the letters to Father Francisco, which letters were all afterwards, as you shall hear, produced in open court. These letters failed not to come every day, and the sense of the first was to tell him that a very beautiful young lady, of a great fortune, was in love with him—without naming her, but it came as from a third person, to let him know the secret that she desired he would let her know whether she might hope any return from him, assuring him he needed but only see the fair languisher to confess himself her slave.
This letter being delivered him, he read by himself, and was surprised to receive words of this nature, being so great a stranger in that place, and could not imagine, or would not give himself the trouble of guessing, who this should be, because he never designed to make returns.
The next day Miranda, finding no advantage from her messenger of love, in the evening sends another (impatient of delay), confessing that she who suffered the shame of writing and imploring was the person herself who adored him. 'Twas there her raging love made her say all things that discovered the nature of its flame, and propose to flee with him to any part of the world, if he would quit the convent; that she had a fortune considerable enough to make him happy, and that his youth and quality were not given him to so unprofitable an end as to lose themselves in a convent, where poverty and ease was all their business. In fine, she leaves nothing unurged that might debauch and invite him, not forgetting to send him her own character of beauty, and left him to judge of her wit and spirit by her writing, and her love by the extremity of passion she professed. To all which the lovely friar made no return, as believing a gentle capitulation or exhortation to her would but inflame her the more and give new occasions for her continuing to write. All her reasonings, false and vicious, he despised, pities the error of her love, and was proof against all she could plead. Yet notwithstanding his silence, which left her in doubt and more tormented her, she ceased not to pursue him with her letters, varying her style; sometimes all wanton, loose and raving; sometimes feigning a virgin modesty all over, accusing herself, blaming her conduct, and sighing her destiny, as one compelled to the shameful discovery by the austerity of his vow and habit, asking his pity and forgiveness, urging him in charity to use his fatherly care to persuade and reason with her wild desires, and by his counsel, drive the god from her heart, whose tyranny was worse than that of a fiend; and he did not know what his pious advice might do. But still she writes in vain, in vain she varies her style by a cunning peculiar to a maid possessed with such a sort of passion.
This cold neglect was still oil to the burning lamp, and she tries yet more arts which, for want of right thinking, were as fruitless. She has recourse to presents: her letters came loaded with rings of great price, and jewels which fops of quality had given her. Many of this sort he received before he knew where to return 'em or how, and on this occasion alone he sent her a letter and restored her trifles, as he called 'em. But his habit having not made him forget his quality and education, he writ to her with all the profound respect imaginable, believing by her presents and the liberality with which she parted with 'em, that she was of quality. But the whole letter, as he told me afterwards, was to persuade her from the honour she did him by loving him, urging a thousand reasons, solid and pious, and assuring her he had wholly devoted the rest of his days to heaven and had no need of those gay trifles she had sent him, which were only fit to adorn ladies so fair as herself, and who had business with this glittering world which he disdained and had forever abandoned. He sent her a thousand blessings, and told her she should be ever in his prayers, though not in his heart as she desired. And abundance of goodness more he expressed and counsel he gave her, which had the same effect with his silence: it made her love but the more, and the more impatient she grew. She now had a new occasion to write, she now is charmed with his wit, this was the new subject. She rallies his resolution and endeavours to recall him to the world by all the arguments that human invention is capable of.
But when she had above four months languished thus in vain, not missing one day wherein she went not to see him, without discovering herself to him, she resolved as her last effort to show her person and see what that, assisted by her tears, and soft words from her mouth, could do to prevail upon him.
It happened to be on the eve of that day when she was to receive the sacrament, that she, covering herself with her veil, came to vespers, purposing to make choice of the conquering friar for her confessor. She approached him and as she did so, she trembled with love. At last she cried, 'Father, my confessor is gone for some time from the town, and' I am obliged tomorrow to receive, and beg you will be pleased to take my confession.'
He could not refuse her, and led her into the sacristy, where there is a confession chair in which he seated himself, and on one side of him she kneeled down, over against a little altar where the priests' robes lie, on which was placed some lighted wax candies, that made the little place very light and splendid, which shone full upon Miranda.
After the little preparation usual in confession, she turned up her veil, and discovered to his view the most wondrous object of beauty he had ever seen, dressed in all the glory of a young bride, her hair and stomacher full of diamonds that gave a lustre all dazzling to her brighter face and eyes. He was surprised at her amazing beauty, and questioned whether he saw a woman or an angel at his feet. Her hands, which were elevated as if in prayer, seemed to be formed of polished alabaster, and he confessed he had never seen anything in nature so perfect and so admirable. He had some pain to compose himself to hear her confession, and was obliged to turn away his eyes, that his mind might not be perplexed with an object so diverting, when Miranda, opening the finest mouth in the world, and discovering new charms, began her confession.
'Holy Father,' said she, 'amongst the number of my vile offences, that which afflicts me to the greatest degree is that I am in love. Not', continued she, 'that I believe simple and virtuous love a sin, when 'tis placed on an object proper and suitable; but, my dear Father,' said she, and wept, 'I love with a violence which cannot be contained within the bounds of reason, moderation, or virtue. I love a man whom I cannot possess without a crime, and a man who cannot make me happy without becoming perjured.''Is he married?' replied the Father. 'No,' answered Miranda. 'Are you so?' continued he. 'Neither,' said she. 'Is he too near allied to you?' said Francisco. 'A brother, or relation?''Neither of these,' said she. 'He is unenjoyed, unpromised, and so am I. Nothing opposes our happiness or makes my love a vice, but you——'tis you deny me life. 'Tis you that forbids my flame. 'Tis you will have me die and seek my remedy in my grave, when I complain of tortures, wounds and flames. O cruel charmer, 'tis for you I languish, and here, at your feet, implore that pity which all my addresses have failed of procuring me.——'
With that, perceiving that he was about to rise from his seat, she held him by his habit and vowed she would in that posture follow him wherever he flew from her. She elevated her voice so loud, he was afraid she might be heard, and therefore suffered her to force him into his chair again where, being seated, he began in the most passionate terms imaginable to dissuade her, but finding she but the more persisted in eagerness of passion, he used all the tender assurance that he could force from himself that he would have for her all the respect, esteem, and friendship that he was capable of paying; that he had a real compassion for her; and at last she prevailed so far with him by her sighs and tears, as to own he had a tenderness for her, and that he could not behold so many charms, without being sensibly touched by era, and finding all those effects that a maid so young and fair causes in the souls of men of youth and sense. But that as he was assured he could never be so happy to marry her, and as certain he could not grant anything but honourable passion, he humbly besought her not to expect more from him than such, and then began to tell her how short life was, and transitory its joys; how soon she would grow weary of vice, and how often change to find real repose in it, but never arrive to it. He made an end by new assurance of his eternal friendship, but utterly forbade her to hope.
Behold her now denied, refused, and defeated, with all her pleading, youth, beauty, tears, and knees; imploring, as she lay, holding fast his scapula, and embracing his feet. What shall she do? She swells with pride, love, indignation, and desire; her burning heart is bursting with despair, her eyes grow fierce, and from grief she rises to a storm, and in her agony of passion, which looks all disdainful, haughty, and full of rage, she began to revile him as the poorest of animals. Tells him his soul was dwindled to the meanness of his habit, and his vows of poverty were suited to his degenerate mind. 'And,' said she, 'since all my nobler ways have failed me, and that, for a little hypocritical devotion, you resolve to lose the greatest blessings of life and to sacrifice me to your religious pride and vanity, I will either force you to abandon that dull dissimulation, or you shall die to prove your sanctity real. Therefore answer me immediately; answer my flame, my raging fire, which your eyes have kindled, or here, in this very moment, I will ruin thee, and make no scruple of revenging the pains I suffer, by that which shall take away your life and honour.'
The trembling young man who, all this while, with extreme anguish of mind and fear of the dire result, had listened to her ravings full of dread, demanded what she would have him do. When she replied, 'Do that which thy youth and beauty were ordained to do; this place is private, a sacred silence reigns here and no one dares to pry into the secrets of this holy place. We are as secure from fears of interruption as in deserts uninhabited, or caves forsaken by wild beasts. The tapers too shall veil their lights, and only that glimmering lamp shall be witness of our dear stealths of love.—Come to my arms, my trembling, longing arms, and curse the folly of thy bigotry that has made thee so long lose a blessing for which so many princes sigh in vain.'
At these words she rose from his feet and, snatching him in her arms, he could not defend himself from receiving a thousand kisses from the lovely mouth of the charming wanton, after which she ran herself and in an instant put out the candles. But he cried to her, 'In vain, O too indiscreet fair one, in vain you put out the light, for heaven still has eyes, and will look down upon my broken vows. I own your power, I, own I have all the sense in the world of your charming touches; I am frail flesh and blood, but yet—yet——yet I can resist, and I prefer my vows to all your powerful temptations—I will be deaf and blind and guard my heart with walls of ice and make you know that when the flames of true devotion are kindled in a heart, it puts out all other fires, which are as ineffectual as candles lighted in the face of the sun.—Go, vain wanton, and repent, and mortify that blood which has so shamefully betrayed thee, and which will one day ruin both thy soul and body—'
At these words Miranda, more enraged the nearer she imagined herself to happiness, made no reply, but throwing herself in that instant into the confessing chair, and violently pulling the young friar into her lap, she elevated her voice to such a degree in crying out, 'Help, help; a rape; help, help!' that she was heard all over the church, which was full of people at the evening's devotion, who flocked about the door of the sacristy, which was shut with a spring lock on the inside, but they durst not open the door.
'Tis easily to be imagined in what condition our young friar was at this last devilish stratagem of his wicked mistress. He strove to break from those arms that held him so fast, and his bustling to get away, and hers to retain him, disordered her hair and her habit to such a degree as gave the more credit to her false accusation. The fathers had a door on the other side, by which they usually entered to dress in this little room. and at the report that was in an instant made 'em they hasted thither and found Miranda and the good father very indecently struggling, which they misinterpreted as Miranda desired, who, all in tears, immediately threw herself at the feet of the provincial, who was one of those that entered, and cried, 'O holy Father, revenge an innocent maid undone and lost to fame and honour by that vile monster, born of goats, nursed by tigers and bred up on savage mountains where humanity and religion are strangers. For, O holy Father, could it have entered into the heart of man to have done so barbarous and horrid a deed as to attempt the virgin honour of an unspotted maid, and one of my degree, even in the moment of my confession, in that holy time when I was prostrate before him and Heaven, confessing those sins that pressed my tender conscience, even then to load my soul with the blackest of infamies, to add to my number a weight that must sink me to Hell? Alas, under the security of his innocent looks, his holy habit, and his aweful function, I was led into this room to make my confession where, he locking the door, I had no sooner began but he, gazing on me, took fire at my fatal beauty and, starting up, put out the candles, and caught me in his arms, and raising me from the pavement set me in the confession chair and then———Oh, spare me the rest.'
With that, a shower of tears burst from her fair dissembling eyes, and sobs so naturally acted and so well managed as left: no doubt upon the good men but all she had spoken was truth. '—At first, proceeded she, 'I was unwilling to bring so great a scandal on his order as to cry out, but struggled as long as I had breath, pleaded the heinousness of the crime, urging my quality and the danger of the attempt. But he, deaf as the winds and ruffling as a storm, pursued his wild design with so much force and insolence as I at last, unable to resist, was wholly vanquished, robbed of my native purity. With what life and breath I had I called for assistance, both from men and Heaven; but Oh, alas, your succours come too late—You find me here a wretched, undone, and ravished maid. Revenge me, Fathers, revenge me on the perfidious hypocrite, or else give me a death that may secure your cruelty and injustice from ever being proclaimed o'er the world, or my tongue will be eternally reproaching you and cursing the wicked author of my infamy.' She ended as she began, with a thousand sighs and tears, and received from the provincial all assurances of revenge.
The innocent betrayed victim, all this while she was speaking, heard her with an astonishment that may easily be imagined, yet showed no extravagant signs of it, as those would do who feign it to be thought innocent; but being really so, he bore with an humble, modest, and blushing countenance all her accusations, which silent shame they mistook for evident signs of his guilt.
When the provincial demanded, with an unwonted severity in his eyes and voice, what he could answer for himself, calling him profaner of his sacred vows, and infamy to the holy order, the injured, but the innocently accused only replied, 'May Heaven forgive that bad woman and bring her to repentance'; for his part, he was not so much in love with life as to use many arguments to justify his innocence, unless it were to free that order from a scandal of which he had the honour to be professed. But, as for himself, life or death were things indifferent to him who heartily despised the world.
He said no more, and suffered himself to be led before the magistrate, who committed him to prison upon the accusation of this implacable beauty who, with so much feigned sorrow prosecuted the matter, even to his trial and condemnation, where he refused to make any great defence for himself. But being daily visited by all the religious, both of his own and other orders, they obliged him (some of 'em knowing the austerity of his life, others his cause of griefs that first brought him into orders, and others pretending a nearer knowledge even of his soul itself to stand upon his justification, and discover what he knew of that wicked woman, whose life had not been so exemplary for virtue not to have given the world a thousand suspicions of her lewdness and prostitution.
The daily importunities of these fathers made him produce her letters, but as he had all the gownmen on his side, she had all the hats and feathers on hers, all the men of quality taking her part, and all the churchmen his. They heard his daily protestations and vows, but not a word of what passed at confession was yet discovered. He held that as a secret sacred on his part, and what was said in nature of a confession was not to be revealed, though his life depended on the discovery. But as to the letters, they were forced from him and exposed; however, matters were carried with so high a hand against him, that they served for no proof at all of his innocence, and he was at last condemned to be burned at the market place.
After his sentence was passed, the whole body of priests made their addresses to Marquis Casteil Roderigo, the then governor of Flanders, for a reprieve, which, after much ado, was granted him for some weeks, but with an absolute denial of pardon, so prevailing were the young cavaliers of his court, who were all adorers of this fair jilt.
About this time, while the poor innocent young Henrick was thus languishing in prison in a dark and dismal dungeon and Miranda, cured of her love, was triumphing in her revenge, expecting and daily gaining new conquests, and who, by this time, had reassumed all her wonted gaiety, there was a great noise about the town that a prince of mighty name and famed for all the excellencies of his sex, was arrived; a prince, young and gloriously attended, called Prince Tarquin.
We had often heard of this great man, and that he was making his travels in France and Germany, and we had also heard that some years before, he being about eighteen years of age, in the time when our King Charles of blessed memory was in Brussels, in the last year of his banishment, that all on a sudden this young man rose up upon 'em like the sun, all glorious and dazzling, demanding place of all the princes in that court. And when his pretence was demanded, he owned himself Prince Tarquin of the race of the last kings of Rome, made good his title, and took his place accordingly. After that he travelled for about six years up and down the world and then arrived at Antwerp about the time of my being sent thither by his late Majesty.
Perhaps there could be nothing seen so magnificent as this prince. He was, as I said, extremely handsome, from head to foot exactly formed, and he wanted nothing that might adorn that native beauty to the best advantage. His parts were suitable to the rest: he had an accomplishment fit for a prince, an air haughty, but a carriage affable; easy in conversation and very entertaining, liberal and good natured, brave and inoffensive. I have seen him pass the streets with twelve footmen and four pages, the pages all in green velvet coats laced with gold, and white velvet trunks, the men in cloth richly laced with gold, his coaches and all other officers suitable to a great man.
He was all the discourse of the town; some laughing at his title, others reverencing it; some cried that he was an impostor, others that he had made his title as plain as if Tarquin had reigned but a year ago. Some made friendships with him, others would have nothing to say to him, but all wondered where this revenue was that supported this grandeur, and believed, though he could make his descent from the Roman kings very well out, that he could not lay so good a claim to the Roman land. Thus everybody meddled with what they had nothing to do, and, as in other places, thought themselves on the surer side if, in these doubtful cases, they imagined the worst.
But the men might be of what opinion they pleased concerning him, the ladies were all agreed that he was a prince, and a young, handsome prince, and a prince not to be resisted. He had all their wishes, all their eyes, and all their hearts. They now dressed only for him, and what church he graced was sure that day to have the beauties and all that thought themselves so.
You may believe our amorous Miranda was not the last conquest he made. She no sooner heard of him, which was as soon as he arrived, but she fell in love with his very name. Jesu!—A young king of Rome! Oh, 'twas so novel that she doted on the title, and had not cared whether the rest had been man or monkey almost, she was resolved to be the Lucretia' that this young Tarquin should ravish. To this end, she was no sooner up the next day, but she sent him a billetdoux, assuring him how much she admired his fame, and that being a stranger in the town, she begged the honour of introducing him to all the belle-conversations, etc.—which he took for the invitation of some coquette who had interest in fair ladies, and civilly returned her an answer that he would wait on her. She had him that day watched to church, and impatient to see what she heard so many people flock to see, she went also to the same church, those sanctified abodes being too often profaned by such devotees, whose business is to ogle and ensnare.
But what a noise and humming was heard all over the church when Tarquin entered; his grace, his mien, his fashion, his beauty, his dress, and his equipage surprised all that were present, and by the good management and care of Miranda, she got to kneel at the side of the altar just over against the prince, so that, if he would, he could not avoid looking full upon her. She had turned up her veil and all her face and shape appeared such, and so enchanting, as I have described, and her beauty heightened with blushes, and her eyes full of spirit and fire with joy to find the young Roman monarch so charming, she appeared like something more than mortal, and compelled his eyes to a fixed gazing on her face. She never glanced that way, but she met 'em, and then would feign so modest a shame, and cast her eyes downward with such inviting art, that he was wholly ravished and charmed, and she overjoyed to find he was so.
The ceremony being ended, he sent a page to follow that lady home, himself pursuing her to the door of the church, where he took some holy water and threw upon her and made her a profound reverence. She forced an innocent look, and a modest gratitude in her face, and bowed and passed forward, half assured of her conquest, leaving him to go home to his lodging and impatiently wait the return of his page. And all the ladies who saw this first beginning between the prince and Miranda began to curse and envy her charms, who had deprived 'em of half their hopes. After this, I need not tell you he made Miranda a visit and from that day never left her apartment but when he went home at nights or unless he had business, so entirely was he conquered by this fair one. But the bishop and several men of quality in orders, that professed friendship to him, advised him from her company, and spoke several things to him that might (if love had not made him blind) have reclaimed him from the pursuit of his ruin. But whatever they trusted him with, she had the art to wind herself about his heart, and make him unravel all his secrets, and then knew as well by feigned sighs and tears to make him disbelieve all. So that he had no faith but for her, and was wholly enchanted and bewitched by her. At last, in spite of all that would have opposed it, he married this famous woman, possessed by so many great men and strangers before, while all the world was pitying his shame and misfortunes.
Being married, they took a great house, and as she was indeed a great fortune, and now a great princess, there was nothing wanting that was agreeable to their quality; all was splendid and magnificent. But all this would not acquire 'em the world's esteem; they had an abhorrence for her former life, despised her, and for his espousing a woman so infamous, they despised him. So that though they admired, and gazed upon their equipage and glorious dress, they foresaw the ruin that attended it and paid her quality very little respect.
She was no sooner married but her uncle died, and dividing his fortune between Miranda and her sister, leaves the young heiress and all her fortune entirely in the hands of the princess.
We will call this sister Alcidiana; she was about fourteen years of age, and now had chosen her brother the prince for her guardian. If Alcidiana were not altogether so great a beauty as her sister, she had charm sufficient to procure her a great many lovers, though her fortune had not been so considerable as it was; but with that addition you may believe she wanted no courtships from those of the best quality, though everybody deplored her being under the tutorage of a lady so expert in all the vices of her sex, and so cunning a manager of sin as was the princess, who, on her part, failed not by all the caresses and obliging endearments to engage the mind of this young maid, and to subdue her wholly to her government. All her senses were eternally regaled with the most bewitching pleasures they were capable of. She saw nothing but glory and magnificence, heard nothing but music of the sweetest sounds; the richest perfumes employed her smelling, and all she eat and touched was delicate and inviting, and being too young to consider how this state and grandeur was to be continued, little imagined her vast fortune was every day diminishing towards its needless support.
When the princess went to church she had her gentleman bare before her carrying a great velvet cushion with great golden tassels for her to kneel on, and her train borne up a most prodigious length, led by a gentleman-usher bare, followed by innumerable footmen, pages and women. And in this state she would walk in the streets, as in those countries 'tis the fashion for the great ladies to do who are well, and in her train two or three coaches, and perhaps a rich velvet chair embroidered, would follow in state.
'Twas thus for some time they lived, and the princess was daily pressed by young sighing lovers for her consent to marry Alcidiana; but she had still one art or other to put 'em off, and so continually broke all the great matches that were proposed to her, notwithstanding their kindred and other friends had industriously endeavoured to make several great matches for her, but the princess was still positive in her denial, and one way or other broke all. At last it happened there was one proposed yet more advantageous: a young count, with whom the young maid grew passionately in love, and besought her sister to consent that she might have him, and got the prince to speak in her behalf. But he had no sooner heard the secret reasons Miranda gave him but (entirely her slave) he changed his mind and suited it to hers and she, as before, broke off that amour, which so extremely incensed Alcidiana, that she, taking an opportunity, got from her guard, and ran away, putting herself into the hands of a wealthy merchant, her kinsman and one who bore the greatest authority in the city. Him she chooses for her guardian, resolving to be no longer a slave to the tyranny of her sister. And so well she ordered matters that she writ to this young cavalier, her last lover, and retrieved him, who came back to Antwerp again to renew his courtship.
Both parties being agreed, it was no hard matter to persuade all but the princess. But though she opposed it, it was resolved on, and the day appointed for marriage and the portion demanded—demanded only, but never to be paid, the best part of it being spent. However, she put 'em off from day to day by a thousand frivolous delays, and when she saw they would have recourse to force, and that all her magnificence would be at an end if the law should prevail against her, and that without this sister's fortune she could not long support her grandeur, she bethought herself of a means to make it all her own by getting her sister made away. But she being out of her tuition, she was not able to accomplish so great a deed of darkness. But since 'twas resolved it must be done, she revolves on a thousand stratagems, and at last pitches upon an effectual one.
She had a page called Van Brune, a youth of great address and wit, and one she had long managed for her purpose. This youth was about seventeen years of age, and extremely beautiful, and in the time when Alcidiana lived with the princess, she was a little in love with this handsome boy, but 'twas checked in its infancy and never grew up to a flame. Nevertheless, Alcidiana retained still a sort of tenderness for him, while he burned in good earnest with love for the princess.
The princess one day ordering this page to wait on her in her closet, she shut the door and, after a thousand questions of what he would undertake to serve her, the amorous boy, finding himself alone and caressed by the fair person he adored, with joyful blushes that beautified his face, told her there was nothing upon earth he would not do to obey her least commands. She grew more familiar with him to oblige him, and seeing love dance in his eyes, of which she was so good a judge, she treated him more like a lover than a servant; till at last the ravished youth, wholly transported out of himself, fell at her feet and impatiently implored to receive her commands quickly that he might fly to execute 'em, for he was not able to bear her charming words, looks, and touches, and retain his duty. At this she smiled and told him the work was of such a nature as would mortify all flames about him, and he would have more need of rage, envy, and malice than the aids of a passion so soft as what she now found him capable of. He assured her he would stick at nothing, though even against his nature, to recompense for the boldness he now, through indiscretion, had discovered. She, smiling, told him he had committed no fault, and that possibly the pay he should receive for the services she required at his hands should be—what he most wished for in the world. To this he bowed to the earth and, kissing her feet, bade her command. And then she boldly told him 'twas to kill her sister Alcidiana. The youth, without so much as starting, or pausing upon the matter, told her it should be done, and bowing low, immediately went out of the closet. She called him back and would have given him some instruction, but he refused it and said the action and the contrivance should be all his own, and offering to go again, she again recalled him, putting into his hands a purse of a hundred pistols, which he took, and with a low bow, departed.
He no sooner left her presence but he goes directly and buys a dose of poison and went immediately to the house where Alcidiana lived, where, desiring to be brought to her presence, he fell a-weeping and told her his lady had fallen out with him and dismissed him her service, and since from a child he had been brought up in the family, he humbly besought Alcidiana to receive him into hers, she being in a few days to be married. There needed not much entreaty to a thing that pleased her so well, and she immediately received him to pension. And he waited some days on her before he could get an opportunity to administer his devilish potion. But one night, when she drunk wine with roasted apples, which was usual with her, instead of sugar, or with the sugar, the baneful drug was mixed and she drank it down.
About this time, there was a great talk of this page's coming from one sister to go to the other. And Prince Tarquin, who was ignorant of the design from the beginning to the end, hearing some men of quality at his table speaking of Van Brune's change of place (the princess then keeping her chamber upon some trifling indisposition), he answered that surely they were mistaken, that he was not dismissed from the princess's service. And calling some of his servants, he asked for Van Brune, and whether anything had happened between her highness and him that had occasioned his being turned off. They all seemed ignorant of this matter, and those who had spoke of it began to fancy there was some juggle in the case, which time would bring to light.
The ensuing day 'twas all about the town that Alcidiana was poisoned and, though not dead, yet very near it, and that the doctors said she had taken mercury. So that there was never so formidable a sight as this fair young creature; her head and body swollen, her eyes starting out, her face black and all deformed. So that diligent search was made who it should be that did this, who gave her drink and meat. The cook and butler were examined, the footmen called to an account, but all concluded she received nothing but from the hand of her new page since he came into her service. He was examined and showed a thousand guilty looks, and the apothecary then attending among the doctors proved he had bought mercury of him three of four days before, which he could not deny, and making excuses for his buying it betrayed him the more, so ill he chanced to dissemble. He was immediately sent to be examined by the margrave, or justice, who made his mittimus, and sent him to prison.
'Tis easy to imagine in what fears and confusion the princess was at this news. She took her chamber upon it, more to hide her guilty face than for any indisposition, and the doctors applied such remedies to Alcidiana, such antidotes against the poison, that in a short time she recovered, but lost the finest hair in the world and the complexion of her face ever after.
It was not long before the trials for criminals came on, and the day being arrived, Van Brune was tried the first of all, everybody having already read his destiny according as they wished it, and none would believe but just indeed as it was. So that for the revenge they hoped to see fall upon the princess, everyone wished he might find no mercy, that she might share of his shame and misery.
The sessions-house was filled that day with all the ladies and chief of the town to hear the result of his trial, and the sad youth was brought, loaded with chains, and pale as death, where every circumstance being sufficiently proved against him, and he making but a weak defence for himself, he was convicted and sent back to prison to receive his sentence of death on the morrow, where he owned all and who set him on to do it. He owned 'twas not reward of gain he did it for, but hope he should command at his pleasure the possession of his mistress, the princess, who should deny him nothing after having entrusted him with so great a secret; and that besides she had elevated him with the promise of that glorious reward and had dazzled his young heart with so charming a prospect that, blind and mad with joy, he rushed forward to gain the desired prize, and thought on nothing but his coming happiness; that he saw too late the follies of his presumptuous flame and cursed the deluding flatteries of the fair hypocrite, who had soothed him to his undoing; that he was a miserable victim to her wickedness, and hoped he should warn all young men by his fall to avoid the dissimulation of the deceiving fair; that he hoped they would have pity on his youth and attribute his crime to the subtle persuasions alone of his mistress, the princess; and that since Alcidiana was not dead, they would grant him mercy and permit him to live to repent of his grievous crime in some part of the world whither they might banish him.
He ended with tears, that fell in abundance from his eyes, and immediately the princess was apprehended and brought to prison, to the same prison where yet the poor young Father Francisco was languishing, he having been from week to week reprieved by the intercession of the fathers, and possibly she there had time to make some reflections.
You may imagine Tarquin left no means unassayed to prevent the imprisonment of the princess, and the public shame and infamy she was likely to undergo in this affair, but the whole city being overjoyed that she should be punished, as an author of all this mischief, were so generally bent against her, both priests, magistrates and people, the whole force of the stream running that way, she found no more favour than the meanest criminal. The prince therefore, when he saw 'twas impossible to rescue her from the hands of justice, suffered with grief unspeakable what he could not prevent, and led her himself to the prison, followed by all his people, in as much state as if he had been going to his marriage, where, when she came, she was as well attended and served as before, he never stirring one moment from her.
The next day she was tried in open and common court, where she appeared in glory, led by Tarquin, and attended according to her quality, and she could not deny all the page had alleged against her, who was brought thither also in chains, and after a great many circumstances, she was found guilty and both received sentence: the page to be hanged till he was dead on a gibbet in the market place, and the princess to stand under the gibbet with a rope about her neck, the other end of which was to be fastened to the gibbet where the page was hanging and to have an inscription in large characters upon her back and breast of the cause why, where she was to stand from ten in the morning to twelve.
This sentence the people, with one accord, believed too favourable for so ill a woman, whose crimes deserved death equal to that of Van Brune, nevertheless, there were some who said it was infinitely more severe than the death itself.
The following Friday was the day of execution, and one need not tell of the abundance of people who were flocked together in the market place. All the windows were taken down and filled with spectators, and the tops of houses, when, at the hour appointed, the fatal beauty appeared. She was dressed in a black velvet gown, with a rich row of diamonds all down the fore part of the breast, and a great knot of diamonds at the peak behind, and a petticoat of flowered gold, very rich and laced, with all things else suitable. A gentleman carried her great velvet cushion before her, on which her prayer book, embroidered, was laid; her train was borne up by a page, and the prince led her, bare, followed by his footmen, pages and other officers of his house.
When they arrived to the place of execution, the cushion was laid on the ground upon a portugal-mat spread there for that purpose, and the princess stood on the cushion, with her prayer book in her hand, and a priest by her side, and was accordingly tied up to the gibbet. She had not stood there ten minutes but she had the mortification (at least, one would think it so to her) to see her sad page Van Brune approach, fair as an angel but languishing and pale. That sight moved all the beholders with as much pity as that of the princess did disdain and pleasure.
He was dressed all in mourning and very fine linen, bareheaded, with his own hair, the fairest that could be seen, hanging all in curls on his back and shoulders very long. He had a prayer book of black velvet in his hand, and behaved himself with much penitence and devotion. When he was brought under the gibbet, he, seeing his mistress in that condition, showed an infinite concern, and his fair face was covered over with blushes, and, falling at her feet, he humbly asked her pardon for having been the occasion of so great an infamy to her, by a weak confession which the fears of youth and hopes of life had obliged him to make, so greatly to her dishonour, for, indeed, he had wanted that manly strength to bear the efforts of dying as he ought, in silence, rather than of committing so great a crime against his duty and honour itself, and that he could not die in peace unless she would forgive him. The princess only nodded her head, and cried, 'I do.'
And after having spoken a little to his father confessor who was with him, he cheerfully mounted the ladder, and in the sight of the princess he was turned off, while a loud cry was heard through all the market place, especially from the fair sex; he hanging there till the time the princess was to depart, and when she was put into a rich embroidered chair and carried away, Tarquin going into his, for he had all that time stood supporting the princess under the gallows, and was very weary, she was sent back till her releasement came, which was that night about seven of the clock, and then she was conducted to her own house in great state, with a dozen white wax flambeaux about her chair.
If the affairs of Alcidiana and her friends before were impatient of having the portion out of the hands of these extravagants, 'tis not to be imagined but they were now much more so, and the next day they sent an officer according to law to demand it, or to summon the prince to give reasons why he would not. And the officer received for answer that the money should be called in and paid in such a time, setting a certain time which I have not been so curious as to retain, or put in my journal observations, but I am sure it was not long, as may be easily imagined, for they every moment suspected the prince would pack up and be gone some time or other on the sudden, and for that reason they would not trust him without bail, or two officers to remain in his house to watch that nothing should be removed or touched. As for bail or security, he could give none; everyone slunk their heads out of the collar when it came to that, so that he was obliged at his own expense to maintain officers in his house.
The princess finding herself reduced to the last extremity, and that she must either produce the value of a hundred thousand crowns, or see the prince, her husband, lodged for ever in a prison and all their glory vanish, and that it was impossible to fly, since guarded, she had recourse to an extremity worse than the affair of Van Brune. And in order to this, she first puts on a world of sorrow and concern for what she feared might arrive to the prince. And indeed, if ever she shed tears which she did not dissemble, it was upon this occasion. But here she almost overacted. She stirred not from her bed, and refused to eat or sleep or see the light, so that the day being shut out of her chamber, she lived by wax lights, and refused all comfort and consolation.
The prince, all raving with love, tender compassion and grief, never stirred from her bedside, nor ceased to implore that she would suffer herself to live. But she, who was not now so passionately in love with Tarquin as she was with the prince, not so fond of the man as his titles and of glory, foresaw the total ruin of the last if not prevented by avoiding the payment of this great sum, which could no otherwise be than by the death of Alcidiana. And therefore, without ceasing, she wept and cried out she could not live unless Alcidiana died. 'This Alcidiana,' continued she, 'who has been the author of my shame, who has exposed me under a gibbet in the public market place—Oh!—I am deaf to all reason, blind to natural affection. I renounce her. I hate her as my mortal foe, my stop to glory, and the finisher of my days ere half my race of life be run.'
Then throwing her false but snowy, charming arms about the neck of her heartbreaking lord and lover, who lay sighing and listening by her side, he was charmed and bewitched into saying all things that appeased her, and lastly, told her Alcidiana should be no longer an obstacle to her repose, but that, if she would look up, and cast her eyes of sweetness and love upon him as heretofore, forget her sorrows and redeem her lost health, he would take what measures she should propose to dispatch this fatal stop to her happiness out of the way. These words failed not to make her caress him in the most endearing manner that love and flattery could invent, and she kissed him to an oath, a solemn oath, to perform what he had promised, and he vowed liberally, and she assumed in an instant her good humour, and suffered a supper to be prepared and did eat, which in many days before she had not done, so obstinate and powerful was she in dissembling well.
The next thing to be considered was which way this deed was to be done, for they doubted not but when 'twas done, all the world would lay it upon the princess as done by her command. But she urged suspicion was no proof, and that they never put to death anyone but when they had great and certain evidences who were the offenders. She was sure of her own constancy, that racks and tortures should never get the secret from her breast, and if he were as confident on his part, there was no danger. Yet this preparation she made towards the laying the fact on others: that she caused several letters to be written from Germany, as from the relations of Van Brune, who threatened Alcidiana with death for depriving their kinsman (who was a gentleman) of his life, though he had not taken away hers. And it was the report of the town how this young maid was threatened. And indeed, the death of the page had so afflicted a great many, that Alcidiana had procured herself abundance of enemies upon that account, because she might have saved him if she had pleased, but on the contrary, she was a spectator, and in full health and vigour at his execution, and people were not so much concerned for her at this report as they would have been.
The prince, who now had, by reasoning the matter soberly with Miranda, found it absolutely necessary to dispatch Alcidiana, he resolved himself, and with his own hand, to execute it, not daring to trust to any of his most favourite servants, though he had many who, possibly, would have obeyed him, for they loved him as he deserved, and so would all the world, had he not been so poorly deluded by this fair enchantress. He, therefore, as I said, resolved to keep this great secret to himself, and taking a pistol charged well with two bullets, he watched an opportunity to shoot her as she should go out, or into her house or coach some evening. To this end he waited several nights near her lodgings, but still either she went not out, or when she returned, she was so guarded with friends or her lover and flambeaux, that he could not aim at her without endangering the life of some other. But one night above the rest, upon a Sunday, when he knew she would be at the theatre, for she never missed that day seeing the play, he waited at the corner of the Stadt-house near the theatre with his cloak cast over his face, and a black perrywig, all alone, with his pistol ready cocked, and remained not very long but he saw her kinsman's coach come along. 'Twas almost dark; day was just shutting up her beauties, and left such a light to govern the world as served only just to distinguish one object from another, and a convenient help to mischief. He saw alight out of the coach only one young lady, the lover, and then the destined victim, which he (drawing near) knew rather by her tongue than shape. The lady ran into the playhouse and left Alcidiana to be conducted by her lover into it, who led her to the door, and went to give some order to the coachman, so that the lover was about twenty yards from Alcidiana when she stood—the fairest mark in the world—on the threshold of the theatre, there being many coaches about the door, so that hers could not come so near. Tarquin was resolved not to lose so fair an opportunity, and advanced, but went behind the coaches, and when he came over against the door, through a great booted, velvet coach that stood between him and her, he shot, and she, having her train of her gown and petticoat on her arm in great quantity, he missed her body, and shot through her clothes between her arm and her body. She, frightened to find something hit her and to see the smoke and hear the report of the pistol, running in, cried, 'I am shot! I am dead!'
This noise quickly alarmed her lover, and all the coachmen and footmen immediately ran, some one way and some another. One of 'em, seeing a man haste away in a cloak, he being a lusty, bold German, stopped him, and drawing upon him, bade him stand and deliver his pistol, or he would run him through.
Tarquin, being surprised at the boldness of this fellow to demand his pistol, as if he positively knew him to be the murderer (for so he thought himself, since he believed Alcidiana dead), had so much presence of mind as to consider, if he suffered himself to be taken, he should poorly die a public death, and therefore resolved upon one mischief more to secure himself from the first, and in the moment that the German bade him deliver his pistol, he cried, 'Though I have no pistol to deliver, I have a sword to chastise thy insolence.' And throwing off his cloak and flinging his pistol from him, he drew, and wounded and disarmed the fellow.
This noise of swords brought everybody to the place, and immediately the bruit ran: 'The murderer was taken; the murderer was taken', though none knew which was he, nor the cause of the quarrel between the two fighting men, which none yet knew, for it now was darker than before. But at the noise of the murderer being taken, the lover of Alcidiana, who by this time found his lady unhurt, all but the trains of her gown and petticoat, came running to the place just as Tarquin had disarmed the German and was ready to have killed him, when laying hold of his arm, they arrested the stroke, and redeemed the footman.
They then demanded who this stranger was at whose mercy the fellow lay, but the prince, who now found himself venturing for his last stake, made no reply, but with two swords in his hands, went to fight his way through the rabble. And though there were above a hundred persons, some with swords, others with long whips (as coachmen), so invincible was the courage of this poor, unfortunate gentleman at that time, that all these were not able to seize him, but he made his way through the ring that encompassed him and ran away—but was, however, so closely pursued, the company still gathering as they ran, that, toiled with fighting, oppressed with guilt and fear of being taken, he grew fainter and fainter, and suffered himself, at last, to yield to his pursuers, who soon found him to be Prince Tarquin in disguise. And they carried him directly to prison, being Sunday, to wait the coming day to go before a magistrate.
In an hour's time, the whole fatal adventure was carried all over the city, and everyone knew that Prince Tarquin was the intended murderer of Alcidiana, and not one but had a real sorrow and compassion for him. They heard how bravely he had defended himself, how many he had wounded before he could be taken and what numbers he had fought through, and even those that saw his valour and bravery, and who had assisted at his being seized, now repented from the bottom of their hearts their having any hand in the ruin of so gallant a man, especially since they knew the lady was not hurt. A thousand addresses were made to her not to prosecute him, but her lover, a hot-headed fellow, more fierce than brave, would by no means be pacified, but vowed to pursue him to the scaffold.
The Monday came and the Prince, being examined, confessed the matter of fact, since there was no harm done, believing a generous confession the best of his game; but he was sent back to closer imprisonment, loaded with irons, to expect the next sessions. All his household goods were seized and all they could find for the use of Alcidiana. And the princess, all in rage, tearing her hair, was carried to the same prison to behold the cruel effects of her hellish designs. One need not tell here how sad and horrid this meeting appeared between her lord and she; let it suffice it was the most melancholy and mortifying object that ever eyes beheld. On Miranda's part, 'twas sometimes all rage and fire, and sometimes all tears and groans; but still 'twas sad love and mournful tenderness on his. Nor could all his sufferings and the prospect of death itself drive from his soul one spark of that fire the obstinate god had fatally kindled there. And in the midst of all his sighs, he would recall himself and cry, '—I have Miranda still.'
He was eternally visited by his friends and acquaintance, and this last action of bravery had got him more than all his former conduct had lost. The fathers were perpetually with him, and all joined with one common voice in this, that he ought to abandon a woman so wicked as the princess, and that however fate dealt with him, he could not show himself a true penitent while he laid the author of so much evil in his bosom; that Heaven would never bless him till he had renounced her, and on such conditions he would find those that would employ their utmost interest to save his life, who else would not stir in his affair. But he was so deaf to all, that he could not so much as dissemble a repentance for having married her.
He lay a long time in prison, and all that time the poor Father Francisco remained there also. And the good fathers, who daily visited these two amorous prisoners, the prince and princess, and who found by the management of matters it would go very hard with Tarquin, entertained 'em often with holy matters relating to the life to come, from which, before his trial, he gathered what his stars had appointed and that he was destined to die.
This gave an unspeakable torment to the now-repenting beauty, who had reduced him to it, and she began to appear with a more solid grief. Which being perceived by the good fathers, they resolved to attack her on the yielding side, and after some discourse upon the judgement for sin, they came to reflect on the business of Father Francisco, and told her she had never thrived since her accusing of that father, and laid it very home to her conscience, assuring her that they would do their utmost in her service if she would confess that secret sin to all the world, so that she might atone for the crime by the saving that good man. At first she seemed inclined to yield, but shame of being her own detector in so vile a matter recalled her goodness and she faintly persisted in it.
At the end of six months Prince Tarquin was called to his trial, where I will pass over the circumstances, which are only what is usual in such criminal cases, and tell you that he, being found guilty of the intent of killing Alcidiana, was condemned to lose his head in the market place and the princess to be banished her country.
After sentence pronounced, to the real grief of all the spectators, he was carried back to prison. And now the fathers attack her anew, and she, whose griefs daily increased, with a languishment that brought her very near her grave, at last confessed all her life, all the lewdness of her practices with several princes and great men, besides her lusts with people that served her and others in mean capacity, and lastly, the whole truth of the young friar, and how she had drawn the page and the prince her husband to this designed murder of her sister. This she signed with her hand in the presence of the prince her husband, and several holy men who were present. Which being signified to the magistrates, the friar was immediately delivered from his irons (where he had languished more than two whole years) in great triumph and with much honour, and lives a most exemplary, pious life, and as he did before; for he is yet living in Antwerp.
After the condemnation of these two unfortunate persons, who begot such different sentiments in the minds of the people (the prince all the compassion and pity imaginable, and the princess, all the contempt and despite), they languished almost six months longer in prison, so great an interest there was made in order to the saving his life by all the men of the robe. On the other side, the princes and great men of all nations who were at the court of Brussels, who bore a secret revenge in their hearts against a man who had, as they pretended, set up a false title only to take place of them, who, indeed, was but a merchant's son of Holland, as they said, so incensed them against him that they were too hard at court for the churchmen. However, this dispute gave the prince his life some months longer than was expected, which gave him also some hope that a reprieve for ninety years would have been granted, as was desired. Nay, Father Francisco so interested himself in this concern that he writ to his father and several princes of Germany with whom Marquis Casteil Roderigo was well acquainted, to intercede with him for the saving of Tarquin, since 'twas more by his persuasions than those of all who attacked her that made Miranda confess the truth of her affair with him. But at the end of six months, when all applications were found fruitless and vain, the prince received news that in two days he was to die, as his sentence had been before pronounced, and for which he prepared himself with all cheerfulness.
On the following Friday, as soon as it was light, all people of any condition came to take their leaves of him, and none departed with dry eyes or hearts unconcerned to the last degree, for Tarquin, when he found his fate inevitable, bore it with a fortitude that showed no signs of regret, but addressed himself to all about him with the same cheerful, modest and great air he was wont to do in his most flourishing fortune. His valet was dressing him all the morning, so many interruptions they had by visitors, and he was all in mourning and so were all his followers, for even to the last he kept up his grandeur, to the amazement of all people, and indeed, he was so passionately beloved by them that those he had dismissed served him voluntarily and would not be persuaded to abandon him while he lived.
The princess was also dressed in mourning, and her two women, and notwithstanding the unheard of lewdness and villainies she had confessed of herself, the prince still adored her, for she had still those charms that made him first do so; not, to his last moment, could be brought to wish that he had never seen her. But on the contrary, as a man yet vainly proud of his fetters, he said all the satisfaction this short moment of life could afford him was that he died in endeavouring to serve Miranda, his adorable princess.
After he had taken leave of all who thought it necessary to leave him to himself for some time, he retired with his confessor, where they were about an hour in prayer, all the ceremonies of devotions that were fit to be done being already passed. At last the bell tolled, and he was to take leave of the princess as his last work of life and the most hard he had to accomplish. He threw himself at her feet, and gazing on her as she sat, more dead than alive, o'erwhelmed with silent grief, they both remained some moments speechless, and then, as if one rising tide of tears had supplied both their eyes, it burst out in streams at the same instant, and when his sighs gave way, he uttered a thousand farewells, so soft, so passionate and moving, that all who were by were extremely touched with it, and said that nothing could be seen more deplorable and melancholy. A thousand times they bade farewell and still some tender look or word would prevent his going; then embrace and bid farewell again. A thousand times she asked his pardon for being the occasion of that fatal separation; a thousand times assuring him she would follow him, for she could not live without him. And heaven knows when their soft and sad caresses would have ended had not the officers assured him 'twas time to mount the scaffold. At which words the princess fell fainting in the arms of her women and they led Tarquin out of the prison.
When he came to the market place, whither he walked on foot followed by his own domestics, and some bearing a black, velvet coffin with silver hinges, the headsman before him with his fatal scimitar drawn, his confessor by his side, and many gentlemen and churchmen with Father Francisco attending him, the people showering millions of blessings on him and beholding with weeping eyes, he mounted the scaffold, which was strewed with some sawdust about the place where he was to kneel, to receive the blood, for they behead people kneeling, and with the back stroke of a scimitar, and not lying on a block and with an axe as we in England. The scaffold had a low rail about it, that everybody might more conveniently see. This was hung with black, and all that state that such a death could have was here in most decent order.
He did not say much upon the scaffold; the sum of what he said to his friends was to be kind and take care of the poor penitent, his wife; to others, recommending his honest and generous servants, whose fidelity was so well known and commended that they were soon promised all preferment. He was some time in prayer, and a very short time speaking to his confessor; then he turned to the headsman and desired him to do his office well, and gave him twenty louis d'ors, and undressing himself with the help of his valet and page, he pulled off his coat, and had underneath a white satin waistcoat. He took off his perrywig and put on a white, satin cap with a holland one done with point under it, which he pulled a little over his eyes, then took a cheerful leave of all, and kneeled down and said, when he lifted up his hands the third time, the headsman should do his office; which accordingly was done, and the headsman gave him his last stroke, and the prince fell on the scaffold. The people, with one common voice, as if it had been but one entire one, prayed for his soul, and murmurs of sighs were heard from the whole multitude, who scrambled for some of the bloody sawdust to keep for his memory.
The headsman, going to take up the head, as the manner is, to show to the people, he found he had not struck it off, and that the body stirred. With that he stepped to an engine which they always carry with 'em to force those who may be refractory, thinking, as he said, to have twisted the head from the shoulders, conceiving it to hang but by a small matter of flesh. Though 'twas an odd shift of the fellow's, yet 'twas done, and the best shift he could suddenly propose. The margrave and another officer, old men, were on the scaffold with some of the prince's friends and servants who, seeing the headsman put the engine about the neck of the prince, began to call out, and the people made a great noise. The prince, who found himself yet alive, or rather, who was past thinking, but had some sense of feeling left, when the headsman took him up and set his back against the rail, and clapped the engine about his neck, got his two thumbs between the rope and his neck, feeling himself pressed there, and struggling between life and death, and bending himself over the rail backward, while the headsman pulled forward, he threw himself quite over the rail by chance, and not design, and fell upon the heads and shoulders of the people, who were crying out with amazing shouts of joy. The headsman leaped after him, but the rabble had liked to have pulled him to pieces. All the city was in an uproar, but none knew what the matter was, but those who bore the body of the prince, whom they found yet living; but how, or by what strange miracle preserved they knew not, nor did examine, but with one accord, as if the whole crowd had been one body and had had but one motion, they bore the prince on their heads about a hundred yards from the scaffold, where there is a monastery of Jesuits and there they secured him. All this was done—his beheading, his failing, and his being secured-almost in a moment's time, the people rejoicing as at some extraordinary victory won. One of the officers being, as I said, an old, timorous man, was so frightened at the accident, the bustle, the noise, and the confusion, of which he was wholly ignorant, that he died with amazement and fear, and the other was fain to be let blood.
The officers of justice went to demand the prisoner, but they demanded in vain; they had now a right to protect him and would do so. All his overjoyed friends went to see in what condition he was, and all of quality found admittance. They saw him in bed going to be dressed by the most skilful surgeons, who yet could not assure him of life. They desired nobody should speak to him, or ask him any questions. They found that the headsman had struck him too low and had cut him into the shoulder-bone—a very great wound you may be sure, for the sword in such executions carries an extreme force. However, so good care was taken on all sides, and so greatly the fathers were concerned for him, that they found an amendment and hopes of a good effect of their incomparable charity and goodness.
At last, when he was permitted to speak, the first news he asked was after the princess. And his friends were very much afflicted to find that all his loss of blood had not quenched that flame, nor let out that which made him still love that bad woman. He was solicited daily to think no more of her, and all her crimes were laid so open to him and so shamefully represented, and on the other side his virtues so admired, and which, they said, would have been eternally celebrated, but for his folly with this infamous creature, that at last, by assuring him of all their assistance if he abandoned her, and to renounce him and deliver him up if he did not, they wrought so far upon him as to promise he would suffer her to go alone into banishment, and would not follow her or live with her any more. But, alas, this was but his gratitude that compelled this complaisance, for in his heart he resolved never to abandon her, nor was he able to live and think of doing it. However, his reason assured him he could not do a deed more justifiable, and one that would regain his fame sooner.
His friends asked him some questions concerning his escape and that since he was not beheaded but only wounded, why he did not immediately rise up. But he replied, he was so absolutely prepossessed that at the third lifting up his hands he should receive the stroke of death, that at the same instant the sword touched him, he had no sense, nay, not even of pain, so absolutely dead he was with imagination, and knew not that he stirred as the headsman found he did, nor did he remember anything from the lifting up of his hands to his fall, and then awakened as out of a dream, or rather, a moment's sleep without dream, he found he lived, and wondered what was arrived to him, or how he came to live, having not, as yet, any sense of his wound, though so terrible an one.
After this, Alcidiana, who was extremely afflicted for having been the prosecutor of this great man, who, bating his last design against her, which she knew was the instigation of her sister, had obliged her with all the civility imaginable, now sought all means possible of getting his pardon and that of her sister; though of a hundred thousand crowns which she should have paid her, she could get but ten thousand, which was from the sale of her rich beds and some other furniture. So that the young count, who before should have married her, now went off for want of fortune, and a young merchant (perhaps the best of the two) was the man to whom she was destined.
At last, by great intercession, both their pardons were obtained and the prince, who would be no more seen in a place that had proved every way so fatal to him, left Flanders, promising never to live with the fair hypocrite more; but ere he departed, he writ her a letter, wherein he ordered her, in a little time, to follow him into Holland, and left a bill of exchange with one of his trusty servants, whom he had left to wait upon her, for money for her accommodations, so that she was now reduced to one woman, one page, and this gentleman. The prince, in this time of his imprisonment, had several bills of great sums from his father, who was exceeding rich, and this all the children he had in the world and whom he tenderly loved.
As soon as Miranda was come into Holland, she was welcomed with all imaginable respect and endearment by the old father, who was imposed upon so as that he knew not she was the fatal occasion of all these disasters to his son, but rather looked on her as a woman who had brought him a hundred and fifty thousand crowns, which his misfortunes had consumed. But, above all, she was received by Tarquin with a joy unspeakable, who, after some time, to redeem his credit and gain himself a new fame, put himself into the French army, where he did wonders, and after three campaigns, his father dying, he returned home and retired to a country house, where, with his princess, he lives as a private gentleman in all the tranquillity of a man of a good fortune. They say Miranda has been very penitent for her life past, and gives Heaven the glory for having given her these afflictions that have reclaimed her and brought her to as perfect a state of happiness as this troublesome world can afford.
Since I began this relation, I heard that Prince Tarquin died about three-quarters of a year ago.