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English garden with evergreens; and indeed I am so far of your opinion, that I can by no means think the verdure of an evergreen comparable to that which shoots out annually, and clothes our trees in the summer season. But I have often wondered that those who are like myself, and love to live in gardens, have never thought of contriving a wintergarden, which would consist of such trees only as never cast their leaves. We have very often little snatches of sunshine and fair weather in the most uncomfortable parts of the year, and have frequently several days in November and January that are as agreeable as any in the finest months. At such times, therefore, I think there could not be a greater pleasure, than to walk in such a winter-garden as I have proposed. In the summer season the whole country blooms, and is a kind of garden; for which reason we are not so sensible of those beauties that at this time may be everywhere met with ; but when nature is in her desolation, and presents us with nothing but bleak and barren prospects, there is something unspeakably cheerful in a spot of ground which is covered with trees that smile amidst all the rigour of winter, and give us a view of the most gay season in the midst of that which is the most dead and melancholy. I have so far indulged myself in this thought, that I have set apart a whole acre of ground for the executing of it. The walls are covered with ivy instead of vines. The laurel, the horn-beam, and the holly, with many other trees and plants of the same nature, grow so thick in it that you cannot imagine a more lively scene. The glowing redness of the berries with which they are hung at this time, vies with the verdure of their leaves, and is apt to inspire the heart of the beholder with that vernal delight which you have somewhere taken notice of in your former papers. It is very pleasant, at the same time, to see the several kinds of birds retiring into this little green spot, and enjoying themselves among the branches and foliage, when my great garden, which I have before mentioned to you, does not afford a single leaf for their shelter. You must know, sir, that I look upon the pleasure which we take in a garden as one of the most innocent delights in human life. A garden was the habitation of our first parents before the fall. It is naturally apt to fill the mind with calmness and tranquillity, and to lay all its turbulent passions at rest. It gives us a great insight into the contrivance and wisdom of Providence, and suggests innumerable subjects for meditation. I cannot but think the very complacency and satisfaction which a man takes in these works of nature, to be a laudable, if not a virtuous habit of mind. For all which reasons I hope you will pardon the length of my present letter. ADDISON. I am, sir, &c.
RHYNSAULT AND SAPPHIRA. (No. 491).
WHEN Charles duke of Burgundy, surnamed the Bold, reigned over spacious dominions now swallowed up by the power of France, he heaped many favours and honours upon Claudius Rhynsault, a German, who had served him in his wars against the insults of his neighbours. A great part of Zealand was at that time in subjection to that dukedom. The prince himself was a person of singular humanity and justice. Rhynsault, with no other real quality than courage, had dissimulation enough to pass upon his generous and unsuspicious master for a person of blunt honesty and fidelity, without any vice that could bias him from the execution of justice. His highness prepossessed to his advantage, upon the decease of the governor of his chief town of Zealand, gave Rhynsault that command. He was not long seated in that government before he cast his eyes upon Sapphira, a woman of exquisite beauty, the wife of Paul Danvelt, a wealthy merchant of the city under his protection and government. Rhynsault was a man of a warm constitution, and violent inclination to women, and not unskilled in the soft arts which win their favour. He knew what it was to enjoy the satisfactions which are reaped from the possession of beauty, but was an utter stranger to the decencies, honours and delicacies, that attend the passion towards them in elegant minds. However, he had so much of the world, that he had a great share of the language which usually prevails upon the weaker part of that sex, and he could with his tongue utter a passion with which his heart was wholly untouched. He was one of those brutal minds which can be gratified with the violation of innocence and beauty, without the least pity, passion, or love to that with which they are so much delighted. Ingratitude is a vice inseparable to a lustful man; and the possession of a woman by him who has no thought but allaying a passion painful to himself, is necessarily followed by distaste and aversion. Rhynsault, being resolved to accomplish his will on the wife of Danvelt, left no arts untried to get into a familiarity at her house; but she knew his character and disposition too well, not to shun all occasions that might ensnare her into his conversation. The governor, despairing of success by ordinary means, apprehended and imprisoned her husband, under pretence of an information, that he was guilty of a correspondence with the enemies of the duke to betray the town into their possession. This design had its desired effect; and the wife of the unfortunate Danvelt, the day before that which was appointed for his execution, presented herself in the hall of the governor's house, and, as he passed through the apartment, threw herself at his feet, and, holding his knees, beseeched his mercy. Rhynsault beheld her with a dissembled satisfaction, and assuming an air of thought and authority, he bid her arise, and told her she must follow him to his closet; and asking her whether she knew the hand of the letter he pulled out of his pocket, went from her, leaving this admonition aloud: “If you will save your husband, you must give me an account of all you know without prevarication; for everybody is satisfied he was too fond of you to be able to hide from you the names of the rest of the conspirators, or any other particulars whatsoever.” He went to his closet, and soon after the lady was sent for to an audience. The servant knew his distance when matters of state were to be debated; and the governor, laying aside the air with which he had appeared in public, began to be the supplicant, to rally an affliction, which it was in her power easily to remove, and relieve an innocent vol. II. G
man from his imprisonment. She easily perceived his intention, and, bathed in tears, began to deprecate so wicked a design. Lust, like ambition, takes all the faculties of the mind and body into its service and subjection. Her becoming tears, her honest anguish, the wringing of her hands, and the many changes of her posture and figure in the vehemence of speaking, were but so many attitudes in which he beheld her beauty, and further incentives of his desire. All humanity was lost in that one appetite, and he signified to her in so many plain terms, that he was unhappy till he had possessed her, and nothing less should be the price of her husband's life; and she must, before the following noon, pronounce the death or enlargement of Danvelt. After this notification, when he saw Sapphira enough again distracted to make the subject of their discourse to common eyes appear different from what it was, he called servants to conduct her to the gate. Loaded with insupportable affliction, she immediately repairs to her husband; and having signified to his gaolers that she had a proposal to make to her husband from the governor, she was left alone with him, revealed to him all that had passed, and represented the endless conflict she was in between love to his person and fidelity to his bed. It is easy to imagine the sharp affliction this honest pair was in upon such an incident, in lives not used to any but ordinary occurrences. The man was bridled by shame from speaking what his fear prompted, upon so near an approach of death; but let fall words that signified to her, he should not think her polluted, though she had not yet confessed to him that the governor had violated her person, since he knew her will had no part in the action. She parted from him with this oblique permission to save a life he had not resolution enough to resign for the safety of his honour. The next morning the unhappy Sapphira attended the governor, and, being led into a remote apartment, submitted to his desires. Rhynsault commended her charms, claimed a familiarity after what had passed between them, and with an air of gaiety, in the language of a gallant, bid her return, and take her husband out of prison. “But,” continued he, “my fair one must not be offended that I have taken care he should not be an interruption to our future assignations.” These last words foreboded what she found when she came to the gaol—her husband executed by the order of Rhynsault. It was remarkable that the woman, who was full of tears and lamentations during the whole course of her affliction, uttered neither sigh nor complaint, but stood fixed with grief at this consummation of her misfortunes. She betook herself to her abode; and after having in solitude paid her devotions to Him who is the avenger of innocence, she repaired privately to court. Her person, and a certain grandeur of sorrow, negligent of forms, gained her passage into the presence of the duke her sovereign. As soon as she came into the presence, she broke forth into the following words: “Behold, O mighty Charles a wretch weary of life, though it has always been spent with innocence and virtue. It is not in your power to redress my injuries, but it is to avenge them. And if the protection of the distressed, and the punishment of oppressors, is a task worthy a prince, I bring the Duke of Burgundy ample matter for doing honour to his own great name, and wiping infamy off from mine.” When she had spoken this, she delivered the duke a paper reciting her story. He read it with all the emotions that indignation and pity could raise in a prince jealous of his honour in the behaviour of his officers, and prosperity of his subjects. * Upon an appointed day Rhynsault was sent for to court, and in the presence of a few of the counsel confronted by Sapphira: the prince asking, “Do you know that lady ?” Rhynsault, as soon as he could recover his surprise, told the duke he would marry her, if his highness would please to think that a reparation. The duke seemed contented with this answer, and stood by during the immediate solemnisation of the ceremony. At the conclusion of it, he told Rhynsault, “Thus far you have done as constrained by my authority: I shall not be satisfied of your kind usage of her, without you sign a gift of your whole estate to her after your decease.” To the performance of this also