Eliza Fowler Haywood.

Life's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura online

. (page 7 of 16)
Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 7 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

obliged to wait till that planet had withdrawn her light, before he
durst approach the convent.

The abbess and her companion having dressed themselves in riding
habits, went at the above-mentioned hour to the gate where they
expected the man and horses were attending their coming; but there was
not the least appearance of any. - the abbess, emboldened by her
impatience and despair, would needs venture out some paces beyond the
gate, to listen if she could hear any sound of what she wanted, but
had not long continued in that posture, before she discovered by the
twinkling light of the stars, two men on horseback, galloping directly
to the place where she stood: - impossible was it for her to discern
what sort of persons they were, but easy to know, as there were two
men, and no more than two horses, that they were not those she looked
for; on which she ran with all the haste she could back into the
garden, and clapping the gate after her, in her fright stopped not
till she was almost at the entrance of the cloyster: - both she and her
companion were out of breath; but when they had a little recovered it,
the latter took the liberty of railying her on the terror she had been
in, at the sight of two persons, who were, doubtless, only pursuing
their own affairs, without any thought or notice of them: - the abbess
acknowledged the pleasantry was just, and returned again to the gate,
which having opened, they found two horses tied to a tree, at a little
distance from it, without any person to look after them. She imagined
they belonged to the farmer, but could not guess wherefore there was
not a third, or how it happened that the man was not with them. - The
two lady-adventurers waited in hopes of seeing their attendant with
another horse, till the abbess, fearing the night would be too far
spent for the execution of her design, and grown quite wild with rage
and vexation, resolved to go without a guide; and accordingly she, and
the young nun that was with her, mounted the horses they found there,
and rode away.

Little did this distracted woman imagine to whom she was indebted for
the means of conveying herself where she wished to be; for in effect
these horses were Natura's, and it was no other than himself, attended
by his man, who had put her into that fright, which occasioned her
running so far back into the garden, as gave him time to enter,
without being either seen or heard by her: - he was no sooner within
the gate, than his servant tied the horses to a tree, as has been
related, and retired to a more convenient place, either to lye down to
sleep, or on some other occasion. - Thus did an accident which had like
to have broken all Elgidia's measures, turn wholly to the advantage of
them, and she found as much satisfaction, as a person in her situation
could possibly take, in finding Natura so punctual to the summons she
had sent:

It was with a flood of tears she related to him all that had passed
between the furious abbess and herself after his departure, and
concluded her discourse with beseeching him to see her in the morning,
and omit nothing that might pacify her, 'even,' said she, 'to forswear
ever speaking to me more.'

Natura was touched to the very soul at the grief he saw her in, and
equally with the tender consideration she had for him; and now more
devoted to her than ever, would have done any thing to prove the
sincerity of his passion, but that which she demanded of him: - it was
in vain she urged the impossibility of keeping a correspondence
together under the same roof with a rival who had all the power in her
own hands; or that she represented how much better it would be for
both to break off so dangerous an intercourse of themselves, before
the rage of the abbess should put her upon doing it, in a manner which
might involve them all in destruction: - all the arguments she made use
of, only served to render him more amorous, and consequently less able
to part with her. - The difference he found between these two sisters;
the outrageous temper of the one, compared with the prudence,
sweetness, and gentleness of the other, rendered the comparison almost
odious to him; and as he could not but acknowledge the impractibility
of maintaining a conversation with the latter, without the
participation of the former; nor though he should even consent to
divide himself between them, would either of them be content, he told
Elgidia, that the only way to solve these difficulties, was, for her
to fly from the monastery, and be the partner of his fortune, as she
was the mistress of his heart.

Such a proposition made her start! - to abandon all her friends, and
put herself wholly in the power of a stranger, of whose fortune,
family, or fidelity, she could not be assured, gave her very just
alarms; but whatever was her reluctance at the first mention of such
an enterprize, the extreme passion she had for him, rendered all her
apprehensions, by degrees, less formidable: - he told her he had no
other wishes, than such as were dictated by honour; - that he would
marry her as soon as they should arrive at a place where the ceremony
could be performed with safety: - that he was heir to a considerable
estate after his father's death, that on his return to England he
should have a handsome settlement out of it, and that his present
allowance was sufficient to keep them above want. - People easily
believe what they wish, especially from the mouth of a beloved
person. - Natura indeed had uttered no untruths as to his
circumstances, but as to the main point, his marrying her, it is
impossible to judge whether in that he was sincere, because he knew
not himself whether he was so, tho' in the vehemence of his present
inclinations he might imagine he did so, and at that time really meant
as he said.

Be that as it may, Elgidia suffered herself to be won by his
perswasions; and being so, the present opportunity was not to be
lost. - He had horses at the gate, could conduct her, he said, where
she might be concealed till they got quite out of the reach of her
kindred, and failed not to remonstrate, that if she delayed, but even
till the next morning, not only the jealousy of the abbess, but a
thousand other accidents, might separate them for ever.

As the lovers past their time in this manner, the distracted abbess
was prosecuting her journey, in quest of him she had left behind: as
the way she had to go was so short, there was no great danger of any
mischief attending it, neither did any happen; but how great was her
confusion! when arriving at the house where Natura lodged, she was
told he went out in the evening, on the receipt of a billet brought
him by his servant. - This disappointment destroyed all the remains of
temperance had been left in her; she presently guessed the billet came
from no other than Elgidia, doubted not but they were together, and
figured in her mind a scene of tenderness between them so cruel to her
imagination, that frenzy itself scarce exceeded what she endured: - she
rode back with even more precipitation than she had set out, and being
alighted at the gate thro' the great walk, supposing Elgidia had
brought him into her chamber, where, if she found them, thought of
nothing, but sacrificing one or both of them to her resentment.

In this situation of mind, it cannot be imagined she had any thought
about the horses; but her companion having more the power of
reflection, and judging them to be the farmer's, thought it best to
tye them to a tree within the garden, that so they might be secured,
and sent to him in the morning; which having done, and shut the gate,
she was going to follow the abbess, when she met her coming back: - 'I
have considered,' said she, 'that my perfidious sister would rather
chuse the close arbour for her rendezvous, than her own chamber, where
there would be more danger of being overheard by the nuns who lie near
her; - go you therefore,' continued she, 'and wait me in my apartment,
while I search the garden.'

The nun obeyed, glad to be eased of this nocturnal attendance, and the
abbess drew near, as softly as she could, to the arbour; and standing
behind the covert of the greens of which it was composed, heard the
consent Elgidia gave to accompany Natura, and saw her quit him, with a
promise of returning, as soon as she had put on a habit somewhat more
proper for travelling.

Had she followed the first dictates of her passion in this stabbing
circumstance, she had either pursued her sister, and inflicted on her
all that vindictive malice could suggest, or run into the arbour, and
discharged some part of her fury on Natura: - each alike shared her
resentment, but divided between both, lost its effects on either: - a
revenge more pleasing, and less unbecoming of a female mind, at length
got the better of those furious resolves; - she thought, that as every
thing favoured such a design, and she was equipped for the purpose, to
take the place of her sister, would afford her an exquisite triumph
over the disappointment she should occasion them: accordingly, after
staying long enough to encourage the deception, she came round the
arbour, and entered at the passage by which Elgidia had gone
out: - Natura, not doubting but it was his beloved, took her in his
arms, saying, 'How transporting is the expedition you have made in
your return; and indeed we had need of it, for the night is far
exhausted, and it is necessary you should be out of this part of the
country before day-break.'

The abbess answered not to what he said, but gave him her hand; on
which he led her towards the gate, entertaining her with the most
endearing expressions as they walked, to all which she was still dumb.
Natura was not surprized at it, as imagining she was too much
engrossed by the thoughts of what she was about to do, to be able to
speak: - but how great was his mortification, when having opened the
gate, he found his servant, who having missed the horses, was just
come back from a fruitless search of them. - He drew his sword, and had
not the fellow stept nimbly aside, had certainly killed him: - while he
was venting his passion in the severest terms, the abbess shut the
gate upon him, and locked it with her own key, which, leaving in the
lock, the one he had made use of, could now be of no service. - A
caprice he had so little reason to expect in Elgidia, might very well
surprize him, especially at a time when both had so much cause to be
more grave! - he called to her, he complained, he even reproached the
unkindness, and ill-manners of this treatment, while the abbess
indulged on the other side the most spiteful pleasure in his vexation.

She left him railing at fate and womankind, without convincing him of
his error, when as she was going to the monastery, she met Elgidia
just coming out, and directing her steps towards the arbour: - they
were in the same path, and facing each other: - Elgidia, full of the
fears which usually attend actions of the nature she was about to do,
no sooner perceived the form of a woman, and habited in the same
manner as herself, than she took it for a spirit; and terrified almost
to death, cried out, 'a ghost! a ghost!' and ran, shrieking, with all
her force to the cloyster, resolved, as much as it then was in her
power to resolve on any thing, to desist from her enterprise. - She
made no stop, till she got into her chamber, where she threw herself
on the bed, in a condition not to be described.

The abbess was so well satisfied with the success of this last
stratagem, that it greatly abated the thoughts of taking any further
revenge: - she went laughing to her confidante, and told her the whole
story, who congratulated her upon it, and said, that in her opinion,
she might take it as a peculiar providence of Heaven, that had
disappointed her first design, which could only have increased her
confusion, and probably brought a lasting scandal on the order. The
abbess wanted not reason, when her passion would permit her to exert
it, and could not help confessing the truth of what the other
remonstrated: - she now easily saw they were Natura's horses they had
made use of, but how it came to pass that those she had bespoke, or
the man she had ordered to bring them, happened to fail, remained a
point yet to be discussed: - the morning, however, cleared it up; - the
fellow acquainted her, that the farmer had no horses at home, and that
as he was coming to let her know it, he saw two men at the gate, one
of whom entered, so that he imagined she had provided herself
elsewhere: - she then bad him turn out Natura's horses, which the nun
having said how she had disposed of them, not thinking herself obliged
to take any care of what belonged to a man, who had treated her with
so much ingratitude.

Natura was all this time in the utmost perplexity, not only at the
usage he imagined had been given him by Elgidia, but also for the loss
of his horses; and at being told when he came home, that two women, in
riding habits, well mounted, but without any attendants, had been to
enquire for him: - all these things, the meaning of any one of which he
was not able to fathom, so filled his head, that he could not take any
repose: - pretty early in the morning, a letter was brought him from
Elgidia, which he hastily opened, but found nothing in it, but what
served to heighten his amazement and discontent.

She told him that she could not dispense with letting him know the
occasion of her breach of promise; that intending nothing more than to
perform it, she was hastening to the arbour, when, in the middle of
the garden, she was met by an apparition, which, as near as she could
discern, had the resemblance of herself; - that the terror she was in
had obliged her to retire; and that as she could look on what she had
seen, as no other than a warning from Heaven, she had determined to
use her utmost endeavours for extinguishing a passion obnoxious to its
will; to which end she desired he would make no farther attempts to
engage her to an act so contrary to her duty, or even ever to see her

Natura had so little notion of spirits and ghosts, that at first he
took this story only as a pretence, to cover a levity he had not
suspected her to be guilty of; but when he reflected on the silence of
the person he had taken for her, and the description of those who had
been to enquire for him, he began to imagine, as he had not the least
thought of the abbess, that something supernatural had indeed walked
the garden that night, and had also been at his own lodgings in order
to perplex him more: - a thousand little tales he had been told in his
infancy, concerning the tricks played on mortals by those shadowy
beings, now came fresh into his mind; and as the belief of what
Elgidia had wrote gained ground in him, was not far from being of her
opinion, that it was a warning from Providence, and to repent of
having attempted to snatch from the altar a woman devoted to it.

It is doubtless accidents such as this, that have given rise to so
many stories of apparitions, as have been propagated in the world; and
had not Natura been afterwards informed of the whole truth, it is
likely he would have been as great a defender of these ideas, as any
who are accounted superstitious: - but however that might have been, it
wrought so strongly on his mind at present, that joined with the
considerations of those perpetual perplexities which must infallibly
attend an ecclesiastical intrigue; besides, those which the abbess
would involve him in, made him resolve to obey Elgidia's commands, and
pursue the matter no farther, but go directly to the baron d' Eyrac's,
who he heard was still at his country-house.

The loss of his horses, however, very much vexed him; he bought them,
because he preferred that way of travelling to a post-chaise: they had
cost him forty louis d'ores in Paris, and knew not whether the country
he was in would afford him any so fit for his purpose: - he was just
sending his man to enquire where others were to be had, when his own
were at the door, without the least damage done either to themselves
or saddles: - the farmer who had the care of them while he was at the
monastery, found them wandering in the field, and easily knowing to
whom they belonged, brought them home.

This was some consolation to him for the loss of his mistresses; and
he began to resolve seriously on his departure; but thinking it would
be the highest ungenerosity to quit the convent, without acknowledging
the favours he had received there, he wrote a letter to the abbess,
full of gratitude and civility, telling her, that tho' the necessity
of his affairs required he should take an eternal leave of that place,
he should always preserve the memory of those honours he had received
in it. - To Elgidia he wrote in much the same strain she had done to
him, and concluded with desiring her to believe it was to Heaven alone
he could resign her. Those letters he sent by his man, and ordered him
to leave them with the portress, to avoid any answers which might have
drawn him into a longer correspondence than he desired, or perhaps
even have occasioned a revival of those inclinations in him, which he
was now convinced of the folly and danger of.

This was the first proof he gave of a firmness of resolution, and was
indeed as great a one as could have been expected from a man of the
age he was: - it must be owned, that at that time love is the strongest
passion of the soul, and as neither Elgidia nor the abbess wanted
charms to inspire it, and he had been but too sensible of the force of
both, to be able, I say, to tear himself away in the manner he now
did, was a piece of heroism, which I with every one in the like
circumstance may have power to imitate.

He hired another horse and guide, that he might not lose his way a
second time, and departed the same day for the baron's, where he was
received by that young nobleman with the utmost kindness as well as
politeness, and found so much in his conversation, and those who came
to visit him, and the continual amusements of that place, as made him
soon forget all he had partook in the monastery: - he remained there
while the baron stayed, and then came with him to Paris.

On his return he frequented the same company, and pursued the same
pleasures he had done before; but as nothing extraordinary befel him,
I shall not enter into particulars, my design being only to relate
such adventures as gave an opportunity for the passions to exert
themselves in influencing the conduct of his life.


The pleasures of travelling described, and the improvement a
sensible mind may receive from it: with some hints to the
censorious, not to be too severe on errors, the circumstances of
which they are ignorant of, occasioned by a remarkable instance of
an involuntary slip of nature.

Of all the countries Natura intended to see, Italy was that of which
he had entertained the most favourable idea: - his curiosity led him to
convince himself whether it really deserved to be intitled _the garden
of the world_; and therefore it was thither he resolved to make his
next progress. - Being told that in so long a journey he would find an
excessive expence, as well as incommodity, in travelling on horseback,
by reason he must be obliged to hire a guide from one place to
another, he sold his horses, and after having hired a post-chaise,
took leave of his acquaintance, and of a place where he had enjoyed
all the pleasures agreeable to a youthful taste.

He went by the way of Burgundy, and passing through Dijon proceeded to
Lyons, where the sight of the ruins of some Roman palaces yet
remaining there, the fine churches, and beautiful prospect that city
affords, being situated at the confluence of the rivers Rhone and
Soane, tempted him to stay some days. - He was one evening sitting with
his landlord in the inn-yard, when a post-chaise came in, out of which
alighted a gentleman and a lady, just by the place where they
were. - The man got up with all the obsequiousness of persons of his
calling, to bid them welcome, and shew them into a room: - the lady, in
passing, looked earnestly at Natura, and his eyes were no less
attached on her: he thought he saw in her face features he was
perfectly acquainted with, but could not, at that instant, recollect
where he had been so. Not so with her, she easily remembered him, and
in less than half an hour he received an invitation by his name from
these new guests to sup with them, which he accepted of with great
politeness, but said at the same time, he could not imagine to whom he
was obliged for that honour. - On his coming into the room, 'Difference
of habit,' said the lady, smiling, 'joined with the little probability
there was of meeting me in this place, may well disguise me from your
knowledge; but these impediments to remembrance, are not on your
account; monsieur Natura is the same in person at Lyons, as at the
convent of Riche Dames, though perhaps,' added she, 'somewhat changed
in mind.' There needed no more to make him know she was one of the two
nuns who always dined, when he was there, with the abbess, and was her
particular confidante. - 'By what miracle, madam, are you here?' cried
he: 'by such another,' answered she, 'as might have brought Elgidia
here, had not an unlucky spirit put other thoughts into her head.'

She then proceeded to inform him, that loving, and being equally
beloved by the gentleman who was with her, she had made her escape
with him from the monastery, and was going with him into one of the
Protestant cantons of Switzerland, of which he was a native, and where
they were certain of being safe from any prosecutions, either from her
kindred, or the church.

Natura, after having made his compliments to the gentleman on the
occasion, enquired of her concerning the abbess and Elgidia; on which
she informed him of all the particulars related in the preceding
chapter; adding, that after the receipt of the two letters he had
sent, the sisters came to a mutual understanding, each confessed her
foible to the other, and the cause of their quarrel being for ever
removed, a sincere reconciliation between them ensued.

As gratitude is natural to the soul, and never is erased but by the
worst passions that can obtrude upon the human mind, Natura had enough
for these ladies to make him extremely glad no worse consequences had
attended their acquaintance with him, but was extremely merry, as they
were all indeed, at the story of the supposed spirit: - they passed the
best part of the night together in very entertaining discourses, and
the next day the two lovers proceeded on their journey to Switzerland,
as Natura the following one did his to Avignon.

Here again he halted for some time, to feast his eyes, and give
subject for future contemplation, on the magnificent buildings, fine
gardens, churches, and other curiosities, which he was told of, gave
him a sample, tho' infinitely short, of what he would find in
Rome; - the grandeur in which the nobility lived, the elegance and
politeness in the houses of even the lowest rank of gentry, and the
masquerades, balls, and other public diversions, which every night
afforded, made him already see that neither the pleasures, nor the
delicacies of life were confined to Paris.

The desire of novelty is inherent to a youthful heart, and nothing so
much gratifies that passion as travelling: - variety succeeds
variety; - whether you climb the craggy mountains, or traverse the
flowery vale; - whether thick woods set limits to the light, or the
wide common yields unbounded prospect; - whether the ocean rolls in
solemn state before you, or gentle streams run purling by your side,
nature in all her different shapes delights; each progressive day
brings with it fresh matter to admire, and every stage you come to
presents at night customs and manners new and unknown before.

The stupendous mountains of the Alps, after the plains and soft
embowered recesses of Avignon, gave perhaps a no less grateful
sensation to the mind of Natura: he wanted indeed such a companion as
death had deprived him of in his good governor, to instruct him how to
improve contemplation, and to moralize on the amazing and different
objects he beheld; yet as his thoughts were now wholly at liberty, and
his reason unclouded by any passions of what kind soever, he did not
fail to make reflections suitable to the different occasions.

Whoever has seen Rome will acknowledge he must find sufficient there
to exercise all his faculties; but though the architecture, and the
paintings which ornament that august city might have engrossed his

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 7 of 16)