Incognita; or, Love and Duty Reconcil'd by William Congreve


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Page 2

Aurelian was the only Son to a Principal Gentleman of Florence. The
Indulgence of his Father prompted, and his Wealth enabled him, to bestow
a generous Education upon him, whom, he now began to look upon as the
Type of himself; an Impression he had made in the Gayety and Vigour of
his Youth, before the Rust of Age had debilitated and obscur'd the
Splendour of the Original: He was sensible, That he ought not to be
sparing in the Adornment of him, if he had Resolution to beautifie his
own Memory. Indeed Don Fabio (for so was the Old Gentleman call'd) has
been observ'd to have fix'd his Eyes upon Aurelian, when much Company has
been at Table, and have wept through Earnestness of Intention, if nothing
hapned to divert the Object; whether it were for regret, at the
Recollection of his former self, or for the Joy he conceiv'd in being, as
it were, reviv'd in the Person of his Son, I never took upon me to
enquire, but suppos'd it might be sometimes one, and sometimes both

Aurelian, at the Age of Eighteen Years, wanted nothing (but a Beard) that
the most accomplished Cavalier in Florence could pretend to: he had been
Educated from Twelve Years old at Siena, where it seems his Father kept a
Receiver, having a large Income from the Rents of several Houses in that
Town. Don Fabio gave his Servant Orders, That Aurelian should not be
stinted in his Expences, when he came up to Years of Discretion. By
which means he was enabled, not only to keep Company with, but also to
confer many Obligations upon Strangers of Quality, and Gentlemen who
travelled from other Countries into Italy, of which Siena never wanted
store, being a Town most delightfully Situate, upon a Noble Hill, and
very well suiting with Strangers at first, by reason of the agreeableness
and purity of the Air: There also is the quaintness and delicacy of the
Italian Tongue most likely to be learned, there being many publick
Professors of it in that place; and indeed the very Vulgar of Siena do
express themselves with an easiness and sweetness surprizing, and even
grateful to their Ears who understand not the Language.

Here Aurelian contracted an acquaintance with Persons of Worth of several
Countries, but among the rest an intimacy with a Gentleman of Quality of
Spain, and Nephew to the Archbishop of Toledo, who had so wrought himself
into the Affections of Aurelian, through a Conformity of Temper, an
Equality in Years, and something of resemblance in Feature and
Proportion, that he look'd upon him as his second self. Hippolito, on
the other hand, was not ungrateful in return of Friendship, but thought
himself either alone or in ill Company, if Aurelian were absent: but his
Uncle having sent him to travel, under the Conduct of a Governour, and
the two Years which limited his stay at Siena being expired, he was put
in mind of his departure. His Friend grew melancholy at the News, but
considering that Hippolito had never seen Florence, he easily prevailed
with him to make his first journey thither, whither he would accompany
him, and perhaps prevail with his Father to do the like throughout his

They accordingly set out, but not being able easily to reach Florence the
same Night, they rested a League or two short, at a Villa of the great
Duke's called Poggio Imperiale, where they were informed by some of his
Highness's Servants, That the Nuptials of Donna Catharina (near Kinswoman
to the great Duke) and Don Ferdinand de Rovori, were to be solemnized the
next day, and that extraordinary Preparations had been making for some
time past, to illustrate the Solemnity with Balls and Masques, and other
Divertisements; that a Tilting had been proclaimed, and to that purpose
Scaffolds erected around the Spacious Court, before the Church Di Santa
Croce, where were usually seen all Cavalcades and Shews, performed by
Assemblies of the Young Nobility: That all Mechanicks and Tradesmen were
forbidden to work or expose any Goods to Sale for the space of three
days; during which time all Persons should be entertain'd at the Great
Duke's Cost; and publick Provision was to be made for the setting forth
and furnishing a multitude of Tables, with Entertainment for all Comers
and Goers, and several Houses appointed for that use in all Streets.

This Account alarm'd the Spirits of our Young Travellers, and they were
overjoy'd at the prospect of Pleasures they foresaw. Aurelian could not
contain the satisfaction he conceiv'd in the welcome Fortune had prepar'd
for his dear Hippolito. In short, they both remembred so much of the
pleasing Relation had been made them, that they forgot to sleep, and were
up as soon as it was light, pounding at poor Signior Claudio's Door (so
was Hippolito's Governour call'd) to rouse him, that no time might be
lost till they were arriv'd at Florence, where they would furnish
themselves with Disguises and other Accoutrements necessary for the
Prosecution of their Design of sharing in the publick Merriment; the
rather were they for going so early because Aurelian did not think fit to
publish his being in Town for a time, least his Father knowing of it,
might give some restraint to that loose they designed themselves.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 15th Dec 2019, 20:56