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employ in his Study. He had several Ladies in his Eye, to whom, as he fays in one of his Letters, he could eafily have recommended himself. For you must understand, that besides his Qualifications mentioned before, he had a vein of Poetry, and made abundance of little eafy Songs, which he would fing with all the Advantage of a gallant Air and pleafant Voice. But tho' he was cut out for a Lover, he was not over-hafly in determining his Choice. He was not of a Humour to be pleafed with the Wanton or Forward; he fcorned eafy Pleafures, and fought to encounter with Difficulties and Impediments, that he might conquer with the greater Glory. In fhort, he had not yet feen the Woman he was to Love.
Not far from the Place where Abelard read his Lectures lived one Doctor Fulbert, a Canon of the Church of Notre-Dame. This Canon had a Niece named Heloife in his Houfe, whom he educated with great Care and Affection. Some Writers fay*, that she was the good Man's natural Daughter; but that, to prevent a public Scandal, he gave out that he was his Nicce, by his Sifter, who upon her Death-bed had charged him with her Education. But though it was well known in thofe Times, as well as fince, that the Niece of an Ec
* Papyr. Maljo, Annal. I. 3. Jeannes Cannonicus Parifinus, Heloyfium naturalem filiam habebat prællanti irgenio, formaque. clefiaftick
clefiaftick is fometimes more nearly related to him, yet of this Damsel's Birth and Parentage we have nothing very certain. There is reafon to think, from one of her Letters to Abelard, that she came of a mean Family; for fhe owns that great Honour was done to her Side by this Alliance, and that he had married much below himself. So that what Francis d'Amboife fays, that fhe was of the Name and Family of Montmorency, has no manner of Foundation. It is very probable fhe was really and truly Fulbert's Niece, as he affirmed her to be. Whatever he was for Birth, she was a very engaging Woman; and if he was not a perfect Beauty, the appeared fuch at least in Abelard's Eyes. Her Person was well proportioned, her Features regular, her Eyes sparkling, her Lips Vermillion and well-formed, her Complexion animated, her Air fine, and her Aspect sweet and agreeable. She had a furprizing Quickness of Wit, an incredible Memory, and a confiderable fhare of Learning, joined with Humility; and all thefe Accomplishments were attended with fomething fo graceful and moving, that it was impoffible for those who kept her Company not to be in Love with her.
As foon as Abelard had feen her and converfed with her, the Charms of her Wit and Beauty made fuch an Impreffion upon his Heart, that he prefently conceived a moft violent Paffion for her, and refolved to make it his whole Endeavour to
win her Affections. quitted his Patrimony to purfue his Studies, laid afide all other Engagements to attend his new Paffion.
And now he that formerly
In vain did Philofophy and Reafon importune him to return; he was deaf to their Call, and thought of nothing but how to enjoy the Sight and Company of his dear Heloife. And he foon met with the luckiest Opportunity in the World. Fulbert, who had the greatest Affection imaginable for his Niece, finding her to have a good fhare of natural Wit, and a particular Genius for Learning, thought himself obliged to improve the Talents which Nature had fo liberally bestowed on her. He had already put her to learn feveral Languages, which fhe quickly came to underftand fo well, that her Fame began to fpread itfelf abroad, and the Wit and Learning of Heloife was every where difcourfed of. And tho' her Uncle for his own fhare was no great Scholar, he was very follicitous that his Niece fhould have all poffible Improvements. He was willing therefore fhe should have Mafters to inftruct her in what the had a Mind to Learn, but he loved his Money; and this kept him from providing for her Education fo well as fhe defired.
Abelard, who knew Heloife's Inclinations, and the Temper of her Uncle, thought this an Opportunity favourable to his Defign, He was already well acquainted with Fulbert, as being his Bro
ther Canon in the fame Church; and he obferved how fond the other was of his Friendship, and what an Honour he esteemed it to be intimate with a Person of his Reputation. He therefore told him one Day in Familiarity, that he was at a lofs for fome Houfe to Board in; and if you could. find Room for me, faid he, in yours, I leave it to you to name the Terms.
The good Man immediately confidering, that by this Means he should provide an able Master for his Niece, who inftead of taking Money of him, offered to pay him well for his Board, embraced his Propofal with all the Joy imaginable, gave him a thoufand Careffes, and defired he would confider him for the future as one ambitious of the ftricteft Friendship with him.
What an unspeakable Joy was this to the amorous Abelard! to confider that he was going to live with her, who was the only Object of his Defires! that he should have the Opportunity of seeing and converfing with her every Day, and of acquainting her with his Paffion! However he concealed his Joy at prefent, left he should make his Intentions fufpected. We told you before how liberal Nature had been to our Lover, in making his Perfon every way agreeable; so that he flattered himfelf that it was almoft impoffible that any Wo
* Tanti quippe tunc nominis eram et juventutis et forma grata præeminebam, ut quamcunque fœminarum noftro dignarer amore nullam vererer repulfam. 1 Epift, Abel. p. 10. B
man should reject his Addreffes. Perhaps he was mistaken the Sex has Variety of Humours. However, confider him as a Philofopher who had hitherto lived in a ftrict Chastity t, he certainly reasoned well in the Business of Love, when he concluded that Heloife would be an eafier Conqueft to him than others, because her Learning gave him an Opportunity of establishing a Correfpondence by Letters, in which he might discover his Paffion with greater freedom, than he durft prefume to use in Conversation.
Some time after the Canon had taken Abelard into his House, as they were discourfing one Day about Things fomewhat above Fulbert's Capacity, the latter turned the Difcourfe infenfibly to the good Qualities of his Niece; he informed Abelard of the Excellency of her Wit, and how strong a Propenfity she had to improve in Learning; and withal made it his earnest Requeft, that he would take the Pains to inftruct her. Abelard pretended to be furprized at a Propofal of this Nature. He.. told him that Learning was not the proper Bufinefs of Women; that fuch Inclinations in them had more of Humour or Curiofity, than a folid Defire of Knowledge; and could hardly pass, among either the Learned or Ignorant, without drawing
Fræna libidini capi laxare, qui antea viveram continentiffimè. Ibid,