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Anti-Pamela by Eliza Heywood (1742)

The Covent Garden Calendar - Chapter IX.

Chapter IX.


Syrena was now once more at home with her mother, who knowing how little was to be got either by Mr P末 or Vardine who resolved to see her no more as well as the other, was not much troubled at what had happened; but her daughter was of a different way of thinking; she had for a long time been accustomed to be admired and caressed; and to live without the conversation of a man was wretchedly irksome, and what her gay and amorous constitution could not endure with any tolerable degree of patience. She made some efforts to retain Vardine, but that young gentleman finding what a consummate jilt she was grown, and fearful of being brought into more broils on her account, declined any farther acceptance of her favours; this, together with the poverty to which she was reduced, made her almost distracted; the notion she had been bred up in, that a woman who had beauty to attract the men, and cunning to manage them afterwards, was secure of making her fortune, appeared now altogether fallacious; since she had not been able to do it in four years incessant application, and such a variety of adventures, as in that time she had been engaged in. This naturally led her to reproach her mother for having given her ill advice; and the mother retorted that the misfortunes and disappointments she had met with, had not been owing to her advice, but to her own ill conduct. "What," said she, "hindered you from being married to Mr W末 but your amour with his son? Or what from being still the darling of Mr P末 but your renewing your acquaintance with Vardine? By which you have lost both, and will always do so while you are silly enough to love any man." "And pray," interrupted Syrena, "whom may I thank for losing Mr D末 but you, first for counselling me to be Captain H末's mistress, and then by your unlucky letter betraying it to the other?" Thus with mutual upbraidings did they add to their ill fate, and as there can be neither true duty or affection where interest presides, that prevailing guide being at present suspended, whoever had seen them together, and heard the bitter things they said, without knowing who they were would little have imagined, how near they were by blood.

The manner in which Syrena had lived, entitled her not to keep any reputable company of her own sex, and as for women of the town, she always avoided any acquaintance with them, as being too much addicted to tattling, and also malicious to a face preferred before their own; so that whenever she went to the play or opera, or walked in the park, she had been always obliged to dress up some tirewoman,<153> sempstress, or such like person to accompany her; but she had now a very poor stock of clothes, most of those as well as her watch and jewels being gone to satisfy demands of a more pressing nature; so that she had no opportunity to show herself to advantage; for a woman can give herself a thousand enticing airs, when she has somebody to talk to, which cannot be practised when alone. To stay at home, however, she knew could be of no service to her, so she went out every day, sometimes to church, and sometimes to shops, cheapening goods, and to all the auctions she could hear of.

It was at one of these last places, she had the good luck, as she then thought it, to be taken particular notice of by Mr E末, a gentleman of a vast estate, and most agreeable person: he had seen her in the park some months before, and then languished for an opportunity to entertain her; but a relation of his wife, for he was married, being with him, he was obliged to put a constraint upon his inclinations, at that time, and fortune had never since thrown her in his way. To meet with her, therefore, in a place where the most reserved of either sex, make no scruple of speaking to each other, was an infinite satisfaction to him: he went round the room with her, as if examining the value of the goods; but in reality telling her how handsome she was, and how much he admired her: to give her some proof, that what he said were not words of course, a fine India cabinet being put up to sale, which she seemed to praise, he out-bid all the company, and made her a present of it. This he did in hope of knowing by that means, where he might wait upon her; and she, no less desirous that he should do so, took care to give very exact directions to the auctioneer where it should be sent. Though she affected to receive a favour of this kind, from a gentleman who was a perfect stranger to her, with a great deal of reluctance; yet she omitted not to let fall hints, as if she accepted the donation merely for the sake of the donor; having found by experience, that men, as well as women, have vanity enough to be delighted with the belief they have anything in them capable of charming at first sight, she called so much tenderness into her voice and eyes, whenever she looked upon him, or spoke to him; yet at the same time blended with it such an innocence, as made him, while he flattered himself with having inspired her with the softest passion, imagine also, that she was ashamed of her own thoughts, and was endeavouring all she could to suppress the rising inclination: he fancied he saw in every glance, desire struggling with modesty, and the sweet contest, which he fancied he found there, so heightened the idea of her charms, that he looked upon himself as the happiest man alive.

As she was about leaving the room, "I would attend you to your chair, madam," said he; "but, as I know how to direct, will give you the trouble of a line, if I may be permitted to hope you will allow it the favour of a perusal." "I am too fond of improving the little genius I owe to nature," answered she, with the most seemingly artless blush, "not to read with pleasure whatever falls from the pen of a gentleman like you." She waited not to hear how he would reply; but believing he would think she had said enough, turned hastily away, in an admirably well dissembled confusion, and went home to acquaint her mother with what had happened.

Early the next morning a porter brought a letter directed to Miss Tricksy; her orders to the auctioneer being to carry the cabinet to Mrs Tricksy at Mr N末's in H末 street; and her youth and seeming innocence making Mr E末 suppose her unmarried, occasioned him to write the superscription in that manner. She opened it with impatience enough, and found in it these words:

Charming miss,
As it is impossible to see you without feeling a mixture of love and admiration, I fear you are too much accustomed to declarations of this nature, to have that compassion which is necessary to save the life of your votaries; permit me, however, to tell you, that I have a claim beyond what yet you have been sensible of, which is having adored you for a great length of time. Yes, most angelic creature! I have languished in a hopeless flame for many months; one sight of you at a distance, made me your everlasting slave; and though I have taken all imaginable pains, I never since that fatal moment could gain a second interview; till, yesterday, chance, more favourable than my industry, restored you to my longing eyes. What agonies I have sustained till then, you cannot be able to comprehend, nor am I to describe; but as I have already passed those sufferings, which are a kind of probation that love exacts from all those who profess themselves his votaries; if you are equally just as fair, you will allow some little recompense is due from one who is an old lover, though a new acquaintance; that of being permitted to visit you sometimes, and to sigh my wishes at your feet, is all I yet presume to implore, who am,
Divinest of your sex,
Your most humble,
Most passionate, and most faithful adorer.

P.S. If I have your leave to visit you, I will inform you, not only who I am, but everything you shall ask; and also endeavour to give you greater proofs than words of the sincerity of my flame. In the meantime, favour me with an answer directed to A. Z.

There was something so particular in the style of this letter, that neither Syrena nor her mother knew how to form a judgment of it; by some expressions they would have imagined, he took her for a girl of virtue, and intended to address her on the most honourable score, had not others again contradicted that belief. As they yet were ignorant of the circumstances of him who wrote it, there was, indeed, no possibility of fathoming his design; but as there was a necessity of giving an answer, and the porter waited, they contrived one between both, which should encourage him to be more open, and at the same time leave him as much in the dark concerning their affairs, as they were at present on the account of his.

To Mr A. Z.
S
ir,
Though without ever having been what they call, in love myself, I have suffered so much from that passion, that I have reason to tremble at the very name; yet as I cannot be vain enough to imagine what is meant by it in yours, any more than mere gallantry, I shall make no difficulty of receiving the visits of a person who has so much the appearance of a man of honour, and whose civilities to me demand somewhat as an acknowledgement from a grateful mind; which is all the merit to be boasted of by,
Sir,
Your most obliged, and humble servant,
Syrena Tricksy.

Mr E末 was too impatient to defer any longer than the evening of the same day waiting on the admired object, but was a little startled when he found there was a mother in the way; and who, in the midst of the civilities she received him with, mingled a certain severity, which rendered him very much at a loss how to behave. Syrena, however, said a thousand obliging things to him, and whenever she had an opportunity, gave him looks sufficient to have encouraged a man who had a less opinion of himself. Tea was not over when a pretended messenger came to inform Mrs Tricksy her company was desired on a business of great importance. She made an apology for being obliged to leave him, which he very readily excused, rejoiced to be rid of the company of one, who seemed not likely to favour the purpose he came there upon.

She was no sooner gone, than he declared himself in the most passionate manner to Syrena, who replied to all he said with a well-affected modesty; but with a kindness also, which confirmed the hopes her glances had before inspired him with. She told him the same story of her marriage and widowhood, as she had done others, and gave him to understand her circumstances were none of the best. He, in return for her supposed sincerity, acquainted her that he was married, obliged by his friends to enter into that state when he was very young; but that he never loved his lady, nor, indeed, any other woman, till he saw the object before him. Syrena seemed shocked at hearing he had a wife, and gave him an opportunity of discovering, as he imagined, that she liked him infinitely. She told him, her mother would never permit her to receive his visits when she should know it; and as it was impossible it could be long kept a secret from her, she could not but look on herself as very unhappy in being deprived of the company of a man, who by an irresistible impulse, she could not help wishing to be eternally with. All this she spoke as in the first emotions of her surprise, and as though it escaped her without design, then afterwards appeared confounded at having so far betrayed herself.

Mr E末, who by this behaviour had reason to believe she loved him to a very great excess, was transported, and used many more arguments than he need to have done, to persuade her to leave her mother, and retire to lodgings of his preparing for her.

Syrena thought it not proper to yield to these proposals immediately, but did not seem altogether averse to them; and in this first visit he had cause to expect everything he could wish, so departed highly satisfied; not that he imagined he had to deal with a woman of that strict virtue she pretended; but his opinion of her was, that if she had fallen, it was merely for the sake of interest, and that if he gained any favours, they would be the effect of love: in effect, he languished not long; the circumstances Syrena and her mother were in at this juncture, would not permit them time for the artifices they might otherwise have practised on this gentleman, so they thought it best to accept of his offer, and trust to his future generosity and their own management, for a settlement.

In fine, the agreement in a few days was concluded between the amorous pair, and Syrena went to an apartment he had provided, the elegance of which showed both his love and liberality; he made her a present of 500l. the moment she set her foot in it; and assured her, that whatever he was master of she should command; Mrs Tricksy was to seem ignorant of all this, to the end, that finding it out afterwards, the reproaches of a mother might oblige him to do something farther to appease her.

Many stratagems they had in embryo, in order to impose upon him, but they were all rendered abortive, by a misfortune which fell upon them when they least expected it, and from a quarter they little dreamed of.

Syrena had now provoked a woman no less cunning, though more virtuous than herself, the wife of Mr E末, who being informed by some spies, she ever kept upon his actions, of his fondness of this new favourite, resolved to break off the intimacy between them, and effected it by this means.

She had among her acquaintance a lady extremely jealous of her husband, and of a temper too violent and outrageous to forgive the least infringement on her rights; this person she contrived to make her instrument of revenge on Syrena, without being seen in it herself, or giving Mr E末 any reason to imagine she even knew of the injury he did her.

Mr C末 was a man of a very amorous constitution, though secret in his amours, on account of his wife's excessive tenaciousness that way; to him did Mrs E末 contrive a letter should be sent, containing these lines.

To Mr C末.
S
ir,
Love being a passion that admits of no control, the custom that obliges women to conceal it, is cruel and unjust; and what I hope you'll excuse the breach of, when made in favour of yourself. In fine, sir, there is a lady in the world, who for a long time has looked on you with the eyes of tenderness. The circumstances both of you are in, will not permit her to take any other steps, than she now does to let you know it; but if you will venture to meet her at the King's Arms in 末 Street, to-morrow at six in the evening, I believe you will not think your time ill bestowed. She is a woman of reputation, young, and accounted handsome. As to the rest, a few hours of her conversation will enable you to judge better, than any description can be given by
Sir,
Your unknown humble servant.

P.S. Enquire for number 1.

Mrs E末 took care to make the appointment, contained in this letter, at a time when she knew her husband was too deeply engaged with other company, to be able to see his mistress; and early in the morning sent a porter to Syrena, as from Mr E末, to tell her, that an extraordinary accident had made it improper for him to come to her lodgings any more; and that he desired to see her to inform her of it, at the King's Arms tavern in 末 Street. Everything happened as Mrs E末 wished. Syrena told the porter she would come; and the subtle wife having a letter ready prepared, sent it directly to Mrs C, the contents of it were as follows.

To Mrs C末,
Madam, I am sorry to acquaint you that you are injured in the most tender part. Mr C末 has long kept company with one of the most lewd, expensive, insinuating women about town, who if not timely prevented, will be the ruin of his estate, as she has already been of his honour and fidelity, to so excellent a wife. To accuse him will be of little consequence; he is too firmly attached to the creature, to break off with her by any moderate measures; but if you think proper to assert the prerogative the law allows a wife wronged in this manner, and take a warrant and proper officers with you; you will find her with your husband at six this evening, at the King's Arms in 末 Street. Slight not this intelligence, because it comes from one you know not, but convince yourself of the truth, and at the same time punish the wretch who dares to invade your right. Her name is Syrena Tricksy, she passes for a widow, and at this time lodges in Maiden Lane; but as Mr C seldom sees her at home, you can never have an opportunity like the present of doing yourself justice, and reclaiming the man, whom both divine and human laws ought to bind entirely to you. I am,
Madam,
Your sincere well-wisher.

P.S. If you enquire for number 1, you will be shown directly to the scene of guilt and shame.

The rage this lady was in at the receipt of this, was not at all inferior to what Mrs E末 imagined. She went immediately to a justice of peace, obtained a warrant, and had a constable ready to attend her when the hour should arrive.

Mrs E末 in the meantime was not idle, she knew her husband was engaged the whole day with his lawyers on some business relating to an estate in debate between him, and a near relation. So she disguised herself, and went to the tavern, resolving to be a witness how her plot succeeded. Having placed herself in a convenient room, she saw Mr C末 come in, and soon after him, the deceiving, but now deceived Syrena, what would she have given for the gratification of her curiosity in hearing what passed between them, but that was impossible, and she was obliged to content herself with that of her revenge which she soon saw completed to her wish.

The reader however, must not be left in ignorance; when Syrena first came into the room, and found a strange gentleman instead of him she expected; she guessed the drawer who showed her up, had made some mistake, and was turning to go out of again, but Mr C末 taking it as modesty or affectation prevented her, by saying, "Sure madam you do not already repent of your goodness, and would leave me before I tell you how happy I think myself in meeting you here." "Sir," answered she, "I asked for number 1, being to see a friend here by that token, but perhaps it may so have happened, that there may be two who left that direction at the bar." "I know not that, madam," replied he, "but I was made to hope, I should here meet with a lady young, beautiful, but one altogether a stranger to me; so whether you are the person who designed me that favour or not, I am certain you have all the marks, and must at least detain you till another more agreeable than yourself (which is altogether impossible) shall come and relieve you." Syrena was at a loss what to make of this adventure, she could have liked well enough to stay with him, but she feared some trick in the case: she was apprehensive that Mr E末 had formed this contrivance to make trial of her constancy, and might be in the next room a witness of her behaviour; so with all the appearance of a virtuous indignation, she told Mr C末 who had fast hold of her hand, that she was surprised at the accident which had brought two persons together, in such a place, who were entire strangers to each othe; that she came there to meet a near relation and friend on business, which since she was disappointed in, begged he would not pretend to enforce her stay, nor imagine she was a woman who would submit to anything, that the most strict modesty would not allow of.

She spoke this with so serious and resolute an air, that Mr C末 began indeed to fear this was not the person from whose kindness he had so much to expect. To convince himself he took the letter had been sent him out of his pocket, and showed it to her, which made her more than before imagine that there was something in agitation against her. She assured him, as indeed she well might, that she knew nothing of the sending it, had never seen him before to her knowledge; "Or if I had," continued she, blushing, "I have a heart already too much taken up to entertain the thoughts of any other, though ever so deserving." As she still was possessed of the opinion, that this gentleman was a friend of Mr E末, and would report to him everything she said, she spoke this the more to ingratiate herself with him, when he should be told it; but the amazement Mr C was in, and the vexation he expressed to find he had been imposed upon, a little staggered her former conjecture. "I wish, sir," said she, "there is not some treachery put in practice against us both; but for what end, or from what quarter, I cannot guess; but," added she, "the surest way to disappoint it, is immediately to separate, therefore, I beg sir, you'll not offer to detain me longer." With these words she endeavoured to draw back her hand; but he, whose desires had been raised by the expectation of a different entertainment, and were now quite enflamed by so pleasing an object, could not tell how to let her go so easily; and instead of quitting his hold, threw his other arm about her neck, and in that defenceless posture almost smothered her with kisses. She was no less susceptible than himself of the strenuous embrace; and beginning now to believe, that if there was a plot, he at least had no hand in it, made but faint efforts to oblige him to desist what was equally pleasing to her as to himself, till quite overcome with the dangerous temptation, he found her lips not only yield, but return kiss for kiss. The amorous pair thus equally dissolved, had not stopped here, but were proceeding to much greater liberties, when Mrs C末 rushed into the room more like a fury than a woman. She flew upon Syrena, called her all the names that jealous rage could suggest; then turning to her husband, "Ungrateful monster! cried she, "is this the reward of all my love and virtue? Was it for this I slighted so many noble matches, and brought you such a fortune?" He was beginning to protest his innocence, but the very mention made her more outrageous. "O! Horrid impudence," said she, "have I not caught you almost in the odious act! Dare you deny it; but I forbear saying farther to you at present. Your strumpet here shall curse the hour she ever tempted you to wrong my bed." As she spoke these words she stamped with her foot, and immediately came up the constable, and other persons she had placed in a room under that where they were. "Do your office," man, cried she, "and carry that filthy creature, where your warrant directs." Mr C末 begged she would not expose herself and him; and Syrena frighted almost to death, fell on her knees, and entreated her mercy and forgiveness, but all attempts to quell her fury, were like fencing the sea with a battledore,<154> when it was mountains high. The more they humbled themselves, the more insolent and impetuous she became; and Mrs E末, who in her disguise was now mingled with the crowd of servants, porters, and others, whom the noise drew together, had the satisfaction to see her hated rival in Mr E末's affections, dragged away like the lowest and most common prostitute, that plies the streets for the poor pittance of a half-crown fare; a fate, indeed, she long since had deserved, though fallen on her when she gave the least occasion.

How Mr C末 and his spouse made up this quarrel between themselves, is not to our present purpose; but Mrs E末 who knew not but Syrena might have the confidence to send to her husband, even from the place she now was in, in hopes of being set at liberty; did not here give over. She had by bribes and incessant application, made herself thoroughly acquainted with every circumstance of Syrena's family and circumstances; she knew she had pretty near kindred in the city, who were men of worth and character, and very rich: to one of these she went, and having made an apology for coming on a business, which she knew could not but be shocking, told him that Syrena, was at that time a prisoner in the house of correction: "The lady whose resentment confines her there," said she, "is my particular friend; but having suffered a great deal from her husband's intimacy with loose women, all I can say in favour of your unhappy cousin, will not prevail on her to give her a release; unless she could be certain of her being removed too far from London, for her husband to continue any correspondence with her. Now, sir," added she, "though she alone is guilty, her brothers, unfortunate in being so, will share in her disgrace; they are young, and might be eminent men in time; but what sober person will match his daughter, where so near a relative as a sister is, every day, nay every hour, guilty of actions, which render her a shame, not only to her family, but her whole sex? Besides, sir, if she continues in the wretched place she now is, the horrid society she in time will there become acquainted with, may excite her to crimes worthy of her second removal to Newgate. In fine, there is no knowing to what lengths, crimes will extend in a person of abandoned morals; so that for the sake of her family, I could wish she were disposed of, so as not to bring herself to farther infamy, nor her friends to trouble by the hearing it."

The person to whom this speech was addressed, seemed infinitely shocked, though by some things he had heard of his kinswoman's behaviour, he had dreaded to receive some such intelligence for a long time. He thanked Mrs E末 however, with the utmost civility, and told her he would consult with some others of the family; and she might depend upon it, order the affair, so that the lady her friend, should receive no farther injury from his abandoned relative.

This worthy citizen, in effect, summoned all who were unhappy enough to be nearly allied to the wicked Syrena, and having made them a brief recital of what crimes had come to his knowledge, committed by her, and the shameful situation she now was in, they all agreed, that to avoid hearing anything farther of her viciousness, it was best to send her to some remote place, where she should be strictly confined, till time, and a just sensibility of her infamy, should bring her to an abhorrence of her past life. One of them having a handsome estate in the farther part of Wales, proposed sending her to a tenant he had there; to which the others readily complied and each promised to contribute somewhat towards her keeping there.

This being agreed upon, the person to whom Mrs E末 had spoke, having her directions, waited on her, and begged she would now perform her promise in exerting her whole interest with Mrs C末, for the discharge of Syrena; and he would engage in return, that the unhappy girl should never wrong her more. Mrs E末 assured him, she would undertake the office. She did so, and Mrs C was easily enough prevailed upon, on the conditions her friend mentioned.

All that remained now was to let Syrena know what had been done for her, who, glad to submit to anything that would deliver her from the place she was in, made a thousand vows never to return to London any more.

Thus was Syrena taken from the first captivity she had ever been in; but when she considered, she was going to a second, which, though less shameful, would in all probability deprive her entirely from all conversation with mankind, she was almost inconsolable. Fatal necessity, however, must be obeyed, and she was sent under the conduct of an old servant of one of her kinsmen to Wales, where what befell her, must be the subject of future entertainment.

FINIS.

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