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THE SELF RIVAL. A NOUVELLETTE FROM THE FRENCH.
WOM OMEN with an eminent degree of beauty and elegance never fail pleasing at first sight; and, on the other hand, the plain and forbidding may also afsure themselves of a contrary effect; the former have nothing to fear, nor the latter to hope. But they who are neither of a striking beauty nor uglinefs, it much concerns to take great precautions at a first interview, the succefs of which depends not only on the taste of him to whom they are desirous of appearing amiable, but on the different dispositions in which the man may happen to be; as in a gloomy moment of chagrin he may be disgusted with one of those half beauties, with whom amidst the festivity of an entertainment he I would have been charmed.
An only daughter, one of those equivocal beauties we have been speaking of, became, at first sight, enamoured of a gentleman on whom the perceived that the first sight of her had not such an effect. They happened to meet at a judge's chambers about a law suit on which depended the welfare of the two families. In order to adjust an affair of such concern, yet uncertain, a match was agreed on between the two parents, and a day was appointed in which this happy agreement fhould be celebrated by a splendid feast. The heirefs made her appearance on that occasion in a very careless drefs, and her compliments and behaviour were no less void of ceremony. This created some astonishment; and being asked by her mother what reason fhe had for such singularity, fhe made answer, that having perceived, at the judge's chamber, that her person
* From this performance Mrs Cowley has borrowed the plot of her comedy entitled the Belles Stratagem.
was not like to create any love in her future husband, fhe would endeavour at least to gain his esteem by modesty.
The gentleman, who had been for some time expected, came; he was a very personable youth, and though not wanting in manners or good sense, of an excessive franknefs, plainly speaking what he thought. His first speech at coming in was to the mother, saying he came to pay his duty to her; that this morning was the first time he had ever heard of the marriage which his father intended for him. "Had I known, (continued he,) saluting the young lady, that you were the with whom I am to pass my life, I would have entreated you freely to have told me, whether in a marriage concerted between our parents, merely for the mutual interest of the two families, you as willingly conformed to your mother's directions, as I obey my father; for if the match be in the least against your inclination, it is what I will never suffer myself to be brought to." To this the mother, preventing the daugh ter, answered,That her daughter had most willingly obeyed at the very first intimation. But, Sir, allow me to desire that you, with your natural sincerity, would declare, whether you have any liking to my daughter.'" O! (answered he,) I see supper is on the table, I will answer that question at the defsert; but for the present let us sit down." The table talk turned entirely on the oddness of a marriage so suddenly concluded: not a word came from the daughter, and it was very seldom fhe looked at the gentleman, though already in love with him; but she had her drift. At length comes the defsert, and the servants being ordered to withdraw, the mother challenged the gentleman's promise of freely declaring his mind; which he did with all imaginable politenefs; he gave her to understand that her daughter had not touched his heart; but
protested that he might depend on the most civil treatment, and every mark of real affection. This new manner of making love occasioned a good deal of pleasantry, till the company broke up. The mother, in her return home, rallied her daughter for sitting like a mope at table. “I had my reasons for it, (said the daughter,) I did it to make myself loved." Loved! (answered the mother,) you go an odd way to work.' But this sagacious girl laid open her scheme so much to the mother's satisfaction, that she promised to act a part in it.
The day following, the gentleman paid a visit to the daughter, whom he did not love, but whom, for her character, he esteemed. After a fhort silence, the, with a mien which could give him no great idea of her intellects, said, that as he had no hopes of his love, the at least required from him an excessive proof of his esteem, which was, fhould he hereafter take a fancy to any other woman, to make her his confidante. This proposal he looked on in the light which he thought it deserved, and made answer, that as far as he knew himself, he was not the most propense to amours, but that fhould such a thing fall out, his reason would help him to stifle a pafsion, and conceal it from himself, so far from imparting it to his wife. She insisted that he would stand in his heart, at least in the rank of a good friend. This produced a long contest, managed with great indifference on his side, and with a vapid sort of obstinacy on hers. He still would not promise so extravagant a confidence, till, to be rid of her importunities, with a contemptuous laugh, he complied with what he had been soliciting. Another good quality of this gentleman was, that what he had promised he kept to. He took his leave of her, telling her, in a carelefs manner, that he was going to the ball, and always put on a Spanish drefs, and very seldom missed a night; to
which the answered, that fhe could not endure a ball, dancing was a thing that the could never learn.
He was no sooner in the street than fhe sent for an Espagnoletta habit, purposing to follow him.--With the finest fhape in the world, and an advantageous stature, she had all the graces of attitude, and danced inimitably; her neck, the contour of her face, and her eyes were perfectly beautiful; so that with a little mask, and the apertures for the eyes very open, her appearance was quite enchanting. She soon attracted the eyes of the whole company, and her Spaniard was not the least charmed: being taken out to dance, the herein increased the admiration of her person. The Spaniard, who stood forward to have the better sight of her, had the high pleasure of being chosen for her second partner. --After dancing, they fell into conversation. The Spaniard, enraptured with the brilliancy of her repartees, and the turn and delicacy of her thoughts, little imagined this engaging person to be her whom he had seen only in her negligée, which hid her fhape, and disfigured her air, and affected an indolence bordering on stupidity; in a word, he began to love her beyond what he thought himself susceptible of, and rejoiced in the happiness only of being told by her that she was to be at the ball on the following night, and in the same habit.
On the afternoon of the next day he waited on his future bride, whom he found in her usual indolence, and more carelesly drefsed than before; but in her discourse a surprizing alteration. Such judgement, such elevation of thought, such tendernefs of sentiments, and delivered with such amiable sweetnefs, that he began to grow a little easy, though the wanted the sparkling wit, and radiant charms of the Espagnoletta: yet some signs of extreme agitation escaped him; and from time to time, to her great joy, he VOL. XIV.
April 177 fell into unusual distractions. She now plainly saw tha he was smitten. They both kept their word to meet at he ball; and in a conversation still more animated than that of the last night, she threw fresh fuel on his love: but his marriage obtruding itself among his raptures, gave rise to such forcible reflections, that, by a very extraordinary effort of virtue, he was for suddenly leaving the Espagnoletta. "How! will you leave me ?" (says he,) with an air sufficient to have enamoured him, if he had not been so. On this he sunk down again in his chair without speaking a word. "I see, (says fhe,) that to detain you I stand in need of all my charms; well then, I will unmask." 'No such thing no such thing! (cried he, labouring in the noble conflict.) What will become of me?' And, in effect dreading the consequence of a longer stay, he instantly broke from her. This very probably was the first time that a mistress has been pleased at a lover's overcoming the passion he had for her. The Espagnoletta, on this flight of her Spaniard, was no lefs delighted with his virtue than with his love.
To be concluded in our next.
AN Anonyme who had sent a translation of a poem from the French, on a subject the Editor did not judge altogether suitable for his miscellany, writes thus: "Though the translator is by no means mor tified in not, having found admission, since the Editor is pleased to think the subject of salvation unhappily chosen,―though the original author may console himself in the sentiment of an English poet, with a slight variation,
-I might be proud to see
Him who rejects his God rejecting me."
The Editor hopes no answer to this is now necessary on his part. He has too great a respect for religion ever to wish to see that subject mproperly introduced on any occasion.