Incognita - or, Love & Duty Reconcil'd. A Novel
by William Congreve
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Aurelian was confounded at the Relation she had made, and began to fear his own Estate to be more desperate than ever he had imagined. He made her a very Passionate and Eloquent Speech in behalf of himself (much better than I intend to insert here) and expressed a mighty concern that she should look upon his ardent Affection to be only Rallery or Gallantry. He was very free of his Oaths to confirm the Truth of what he pretended, nor I believe did she doubt it, or at least was unwilling so to do: For I would Caution the Reader by the bye, not to believe every word which she told him, nor that admirable sorrow which she counterfeited to be accurately true. It was indeed truth so cunningly intermingled with Fiction, that it required no less Wit and Presence of Mind than she was endowed with so to acquit her self on the suddain. She had entrusted her self indeed with a Fellow who proved a Villain, to conduct her to a Monastery; but one which was in the Town, and where she intended only to lie concealed for his sake; as the Reader shall understand ere long: For we have another Discovery to make to him, if he have not found it out of himself already.

After Aurelian had said what he was able upon the Subject in hand, with a mournful tone and dejected look, he demanded his Doom. She asked him if he would endeavour to convey her to the Monastery she had told him of? 'Your commands, Madam, (replied he) 'are Sacred to me; and were they to lay down my Life I would obey them. With that he would have gone out of the Room, to have given order for his Horses to be got ready immediately; but with a Countenance so full of sorrow as moved Compassion in the tender hearted Incognita. 'Stay a little Don Hippolito (said she) I fear I shall not be able to undergo the Fatigue of a Journey this Night.—Stay and give me your Advice how I shall conceal my self if I continue to morrow in this Town. Aurelian could have satisfied her she was not then in a place to avoid discovery: But he must also have told her then the reason of it, viz. whom he was, and who were in quest of him, which he did not think convenient to declare till necessity should urge him; for he feared least her knowledge of those designs which were in agitation between him and Juliana, might deter her more from giving her consent. At last he resolved to try his utmost perswasions to gain her, and told her accordingly, he was afraid she would be disturbed there in the Morning, and he knew no other way (if she had not as great an aversion for him as the Man whom she now endeavour'd to avoid) than by making him happy to make her self secure. He demonstrated to her,—that the disobligation to her Parents would be greater by going to a Monastery, since it was only to avoid a choice which they had made for her, and which she could not have so just a pretence to do till she had made one for her self.

A World of other Arguments he used, which she contradicted as long as she was able, or at least willing. At last she told him, she would consult her Pillow, and in the Morning conclude what was fit to be done. He thought it convenient to leave her to her rest, and having lock'd her up in his Room, went himself to repose upon a Pallat by Signior Claudio.

In the mean time, it may be convenient to enquire what became of Hippolito. He had wandered much in pursuit of Aurelian, though Leonora equally took up his Thoughts; He was reflecting upon the oddness and extravagance of his Circumstances, the Continuation of which had doubtless created in him a great uneasiness, when it was interrupted with the noise of opening the Gates of the Convent of St. Lawrence, whither he was arrived sooner than he thought for, being the place Aurelian had appointed by the Lacquey to meet him in. He wondered to see the Gates opened at so unseasonable an hour, and went to enquire the reason of it from them who were employ'd; but they proved to be Novices, and made him signs to go in, where he might meet with some body allow'd to answer him. He found the Religious Men all up, and Tapers lighting every where: at last he follow'd a Friar who was going into the Garden, and asking him the cause of these Preparations, he was answered, That they were entreated to pray for the Soul of a Cavalier, who was just departing or departed this Life, and whom upon farther talk with him, he found to be the same Lorenzo so often mentioned. Don Mario, it seems Uncle to Lorenzo and Father to Leonora, had a private Door out of the Garden belonging to his House into that of the Convent, which Door this Father was now a going to open, that he and his Family might come and offer up their Oraisons for the Soul of their Kinsman. Hippolito having informed himself of as much as he could ask without suspicion, took his leave of the Friar, not a little joyful at the Hopes he had by such unexpected Means, of seeing his Beautiful Leonora: As soon as he was got at convenient Distance from the Friar, (who 'tis like thought he had return'd into the Convent to his Devotion) he turned back through a close Walk which led him with a little Compass, to the same private Door, where just before he had left the Friar, who now he saw was gone, and the Door open.

He went into Don Mario's Garden, and walk'd round with much Caution and Circumspection; for the Moon was then about to rise, and had already diffused a glimmering Light, sufficient to distinguish a Man from a Tree. By Computation now (which is a very remarkable Circumstance) Hippolito entred this Garden near upon the same Instant, when Aurelian wandred into the Old Monastery and found his Incognita in Distress. He was pretty well acquainted with the Platform, and Sight of the Garden; for he had formerly surveyed the Outside, and knew what part to make to if he should be surpriz'd and driven to a precipitate Escape. He took his Stand behind a well grown Bush of Myrtle, which, should the Moon shine brighter than was required, had the Advantage to be shaded by the Indulgent Boughs of an ancient Bay-Tree. He was delighted with the Choice he had made, for he found a Hollow in the Myrtle, as if purposely contriv'd for the Reception of one Person, who might undiscovered perceive all about him. He looked upon it as a good Omen, that the Tree Consecrated to Venus was so propitious to him in his Amorous Distress. The Consideration of that, together with the Obligation he lay under to the Muses, for sheltering him also with so large a Crown of Bays, had like to have set him a Rhyming.

He was, to tell the Truth, naturally addicted to Madrigal, and we should undoubtedly have had a small desert of Numbers to have pick'd and Criticiz'd upon, had he not been interrupted just upon his Delivery; nay, after the Preliminary Sigh had made Way for his Utterance. But so was his Fortune, Don Mario was coming towards the Door at that very nick of Time, where he met with a Priest just out of Breath, who told him that Lorenzo was just breathing his last, and desired to know if he would come and take his final Leave before they were to administer the Extream Unction. Don Mario, who had been at some Difference with his Nephew, now thought it his Duty to be reconciled to him; so calling to Leonora, who was coming after him, he bid her go to her Devotions in the Chappel, and told her where he was going.

He went on with the Priest, while Hippolito saw Leonora come forward, only accompanied by her Woman. She was in an undress, and by reason of a Melancholy visible in her Face, more Careless than usual in her Attire, which he thought added as much as was possible to the abundance of her Charms. He had not much Time to Contemplate this Beauteous Vision, for she soon passed into the Garden of the Convent, leaving him Confounded with Love, Admiration, Joy, Hope, Fear, and all the Train of Passions, which seize upon Men in his Condition, all at once. He was so teazed with this Variety of Torment, that he never missed the Two Hours that had slipped away during his Automachy and Intestine Conflict. Leonora's Return settled his Spirits, at least united them, and he had now no other Thought but how he should present himself before her. When she calling her Woman, bid her bolt the Garden Door on the Inside, that she might not be Surpriz'd by her Father, if he returned through the Convent, which done, she ordered her to bring down her Lute, and leave her to her self in the Garden.

All this Hippolito saw and heard to his inexpressible Content, yet had he much to do to smother his Joy, and hinder it from taking a Vent, which would have ruined the only Opportunity of his Life. Leonora withdrew into an Arbour so near him, that he could distinctly hear her if she Played or Sung: Having tuned her Lute, with a Voice soft as the Breath of Angels, she flung to it this following Air:


Ah! Whither, whither shall I fly, A poor unhappy Maid; To hopeless Love and Misery By my own Heart betray'd? Not by Alexis Eyes undone, Nor by his Charming Faithless Tongue, Or any Practis'd Art; Such real Ills may hope a Cure, But the sad Pains which I endure Proceed from fansied Smart.


'Twas Fancy gave Alexis Charms, Ere I beheld his Face: Kind Fancy (then) could fold our Arms, And form a soft Embrace. But since I've seen the real Swain, And try'd to fancy him again, I'm by my Fancy taught, Though 'tis a Bliss no Tongue can tell, To have Alexis, yet 'tis Hell To have him but in Thought.

The Song ended grieved Hippolito that it was so soon ended; and in the Ecstacy he was then rapt, I believe he would have been satisfied to have expired with it. He could not help Flattering himself, (though at the same Time he checked his own Vanity) that he was the Person meant in the Song. While he was indulging which thought, to his happy Astonishment, he heard it encouraged by these Words:

'Unhappy Leonora (said she) how is thy poor unwary Heart misled? Whither am I come? The false deluding Lights of an imaginary Flame, have led me, a poor benighted Victim, to a real Fire. I burn and am consumed with hopeless Love; those Beams in whose soft temperate warmth I wanton'd heretofore, now flash destruction to my Soul, my Treacherous greedy Eyes have suck'd the glaring Light, they have united all its Rays, and, like a burning-Glass, convey'd the pointed Meteor to my Heart—Ah! Aurelian, how quickly hast thou Conquer'd, and how quickly must thou Forsake. Oh Happy (to me unfortunately Happy) Juliana! I am to be the subject of thy Triumph—To thee Aurelian comes laden with the Tribute of my Heart and Glories in the Oblation of his broken Vows.—What then, is Aurelian False! False! alass, I know not what I say; How can he be False, or True, or any Thing to me? What Promises did he ere make or I receive? Sure I dream, or I am mad, and fansie it to be Love; Foolish Girl, recal thy banish'd Reason.—Ah! would it were no more, would I could rave, sure that would give me Ease, and rob me of the Sense of Pain; at least, among my wandring Thoughts, I should at sometime light upon Aurelian, and fansie him to be mine; kind Madness would flatter my poor feeble Wishes, and sometimes tell me Aurelian is not lost—not irrecoverably—not for ever lost.

Hippolito could hear no more, he had not Room for half his Transport. When Leonora perceived a Man coming toward her, she fell a trembling, and could not speak. Hippolito approached with Reverence, as to a Sacred Shrine; when coming near enough to see her Consternation, he fell upon his Knees.

'Behold, O Adored Leonora (said he) 'your ravished Aurelian, behold at your Feet the Happiest of Men, be not disturb'd at my Appearance, but think that Heaven conducted me to hear my Bliss pronounced by that dear Mouth alone, whose breath could fill me with new Life.

Here he would have come nearer, but Leonora (scarce come to her self) was getting up in haste to have gone away: he catch'd her Hand, and with all the Endearments of Love and Transport pressed her stay; she was a long time in great Confusion, at last, with many Blushes, she entreated him to let her go where she might hide her Guilty Head, and not expose her shame before his Eyes, since his Ears had been sufficient Witnesses of her Crime. He begg'd pardon for his Treachery in over-hearing, and confessed it to be a Crime he had now repeated. With a Thousand Submissions, Entreaties, Prayers, Praises, Blessings, and passionate Expressions he wrought upon her to stay and hear him. Here Hippolito made use of his Rhetorick, and it proved prevailing: 'Twere tedious to tell the many ingenious Arguments he used, with all her Nice Distinctions and Objections. In short, he convinced her of his Passion, represented to her the necessity they were under, of being speedy in their Resolves: That his Father (for still he was Aurelian) would undoubtedly find him in the Morning, and then it would be too late to Repent. She on the other Hand, knew it was in vain to deny a Passion, which he had heard her so frankly own; (and no doubt was very glad it was past and done;) besides apprehending the danger of delay, and having some little Jealousies and Fears of what Effect might be produced between the Commands of his Father and the Beauties of Juliana; after some decent Denials, she consented to be Conducted by him through the Garden into the Convent, where she would prevail with her Confessor to Marry them. He was a scrupulous Old Father whom they had to deal withal, insomuch that ere they had perswaded him, Don Mario was returned by the Way of his own House, where missing his Daughter, and her Woman not being able to give any farther Account of her, than that she left her in the Garden; he concluded she was gone again to her Devotions, and indeed he found her in the Chappel upon her Knees with Hippolito in her hand, receiving the Father's Benediction upon Conclusion of the Ceremony.

It would have asked a very skilful Hand, to have depicted to the Life the Faces of those Three Persons, at Don Mario's Appearance. He that has seen some admirable Piece of Transmutation by a Gorgon's Head, may form to himself the most probable Idea of the Prototype. The Old Gentleman was himself in a sort of a Wood, to find his Daughter with a Young Fellow and a Priest, but as yet he did not know the Worst, till Hippolito and Leonora came, and kneeling at his Feet, begg'd his Forgiveness and Blessing as his Son and Daughter. Don Mario, instead of that, fell into a most violent Passion, and would undoubtedly have committed some extravagant Action, had he not been restrained, more by the Sanctity of the Place, than the Perswasions of all the Religious, who were now come about him. Leonora stirr'd not off her Knees all this time, but continued begging of him that he would hear her.

'Ah! Ungrateful and Undutiful Wretch (cry'd he) 'how hast thou requited all my Care and Tenderness of thee? Now when I might have expected some return of Comfort, to throw thy self away upon an unknown Person, and, for ought I know, a Villain; to me I'm sure he is a Villain, who has robb'd me of my Treasure, my Darling Joy, and all the future Happiness of my Life prevented. Go—go, thou now-to-be-forgotten Leonora, go and enjoy thy unprosperous Choice; you who wanted not a Father's Counsel, cannot need, or else will slight his Blessing.

These last Words were spoken with so much Passion and feeling Concern, that Leonora, moved with Excess of Grief, fainted at his Feet, just as she had caught hold to Embrace his Knees. The Old Man would have shook her off, but Compassion and Fatherly Affection came upon him in the midst of his Resolve, and melted him into Tears, he Embraced his Daughter in his Arms, and wept over her, while they endeavoured to restore her Senses.

Hippolito was in such Concern he could not speak, but was busily employed in rubbing and chafing her Temples; when she opening her Eyes laid hold of his Arm, and cry'd out—Oh my Aurelian—how unhappy have you made me! With that she had again like to have fainted away, but he took her in his Arms, and begg'd Don Mario to have some pity on his Daughter, since by his Severity she was reduced to that Condition. The Old Man hearing his Daughter name Aurelian, was a little revived, and began to hope Things were in a pretty good Condition; he was perswaded to comfort her, and having brought her wholly to her self, was content to hear her Excuse, and in a little time was so far wrought upon as to beg Hippolito's Pardon for the Ill Opinion he had conceived of him, and not long after gave his Consent.

The Night was spent in this Conflict, and it was now clear Day, when Don Mario Conducting his new Son and Daughter through the Garden, was met by some Servants of the Marquess of Viterbo, who had been enquiring for Donna Leonora, to know if Juliana had lately been with her; for that she was missing from her Father's House, and no conjectures could be made of what might become of her. Don Mario and Leonora were surprized at the News, for he knew well enough of the Match that was design'd for Juliana; and having enquired where the Marquess was, it was told him, That he was gone with Don Fabio and Fabritio toward Aurelian's Lodgings. Don Mario having assured the Servants that Juliana had not been there, dismissed them, and advised with his Son and Daughter how they should undeceive the Marquess and Don Fabio in their Expectations of Aurelian. Hippolito could oftentimes scarce forbear smiling at the old Man's Contrivances who was most deceived himself; he at length advised them to go all down together to his Lodging, where he would present himself before his Father, and ingenuously confess to him the truth, and he did not question his approving of his Choice.

This was agreed to, and the Coach made ready. While they were upon their way, Hippolito pray'd heartily that his Friend Aurelian might be at the Lodging, to satisfie Don Mario and Leonora of his Circumstances and Quality, when he should be obliged to discover himself. His Petitions were granted; for Don Fabio had beset the House long before his Son was up or Incognita awake.

Upon the arrival of Don Mario and Hippolito, they heard a great Noise and Hubbub above Stairs, which Don Mario concluded was occasioned by their not finding Aurelian, whom he thought he could give the best account of: So that it was not in Hippolito's power to disswade him from going up before to prepare his Father to receive and forgive him. While Hippolito and Leonora were left in the Coach at the Door, he made himself known to her, and begg'd her pardon a thousand times for continuing the deceit. She was under some concern at first to find she was still mistaken; but his Behaviour, and the Reasons he gave, soon reconciled him to her; his Person was altogether as agreeable, his Estate and Quality not at all inferiour to Aurelian's; in the mean time, the true Aurelian who had seen his Father, begg'd leave of him to withdraw for a moment; in which time he went into the Chamber where his Incognita was dressing her self, by his design, in Woman's Apparel, while he was consulting with her how they should break the matter to his Father; it happened that Don Mario came up Stairs where the Marquess and Don Fabio were; they undoubtedly concluded him Mad, to hear him making Apologies and Excuses for Aurelian, whom he told them if they would promise to forgive he would present before them immediately. The Marquess asked him if his Daughter had lain with Leonora that Night; he answered him with another question in behalf of Aurelian. In short, they could not understand one another, but each thought 'tother beside himself. Don Mario was so concern'd that they would not believe him, that he ran down Stairs and came to the Door out of Breath, desiring Hippolito that he would come into the House quickly, for that he could not perswade his Father but that he had already seen and spoke to him. Hippolito by that understood that Aurelian was in the House; so taking Leonora by the Hand, he followed Don Mario, who led him up into the Dining-Room, where they found Aurelian upon his Knees, begging his Father to forgive him, that he could not agree to the Choice he had made for him, since he had already disposed of himself, and that before he understood the designs he had for him, which was the reason that he had hitherto concealed himself. Don Fabio knew not how to answer him, but look'd upon the Marquess, and the Marquess upon him, as if the Cement had been cool'd which was to have united their Families.

All was silent, and Don Mario for his part took it to be all Conjuration; he was coming forward to present Hippolito to them, when Aurelian spying his Friend, started from his Knees and ran to embrace him—My dear Hippolito (said he) what happy chance has brought you hither, just at my Necessity? Hippolito pointed to Don Mario and Leonora, and told him upon what terms he came. Don Mario was ready to run mad, hearing him called Hippolito, and went again to examine his Daughter. While she was informing him of the truth, the Marquess's Servants returned with the melancholy News that his Daughter was no where to be found. While the Marquess and Don Fabritio were wondering at, and lamenting the Misfortune of her loss, Hippolito came towards Don Fabio and interceded for his Son, since the Lady perhaps had withdrawn her self out of an Aversion to the Match. Don Fabio, though very much incens'd, yet forgot not the Respect due to Hippolito's Quality; and by his perswasion spoke to Aurelian, though with a stern Look and angry Voice, and asked him where he had disposed the cause of his Disobedience, if he were worthy to see her or no; Aurelian made answer, That he desired no more than for him to see her; and he did not doubt a Consequence of his Approbation and Forgiveness—Well (said Don Fabio) you are very conceited of your own Discretion, let us see this Rarety. While Aurelian was gone in for Incognita, the Marquess of Viterbo and Don Fabritio were taking their leaves in great disorder for their loss and disappointment; but Don Fabio entreated their stay a moment longer till the return of his Son. Aurelian led Incognita into the Room veil'd, who seeing some Company there which he had not told her of, would have gone back again. But Don Fabio came bluntly forwards, and ere she was aware, lifted up her Veil and beheld the Fair Incognita, differing nothing from Juliana, but in her Name. This discovery was so extreamly surprizing and welcome, that either Joy or Amazement had tied up the Tongues of the whole Company. Aurelian here was most at a loss, for he knew not of his Happiness; and that which all along prevented Juliana's confessing her self to him, was her knowing Hippolito (for whom she took him) to be Aurelian's Friend, and she feared if he had known her, that he would never have consented to have deprived him of her. Juliana was the first that spoke, falling upon her Knees to her Father, who was not enough himself to take her up. Don Fabio ran to her, and awakened the Marquess, who then embraced her, but could not yet speak. Fabritio and Leonora strove who should first take her in their Arms; for Aurelian he was out of his wits for Joy, and Juliana was not much behind him, to see how happily their Loves and Duties were reconciled. Don Fabio embraced his Son and forgave him. The Marquess and Fabritio gave Juliana into his hands, he received the Blessing upon his Knees; all were over-joy'd, and Don Mario not a little proud at the discovery of his Son-in-Law, whom Aurelian did not fail to set forth with all the ardent Zeal and Eloquence of Friendship. Juliana and Leonora had pleasant Discourse about their unknown and mistaken Rivalship, and it was the Subject of a great deal of Mirth to hear Juliana relate the several Contrivances which she had to avoid Aurelian for the sake of Hippolito.

Having diverted themselves with many Remarks upon the pleasing surprize, they all thought it proper to attend upon the Great Duke that Morning at the Palace, and to acquaint him with the Novelty of what had pass'd; while, by the way, the two Young Couple entertained the Company with the Relation of several Particulars of their Three Days Adventures.


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