The Rover; Or, The Banish'd Cavaliers, Part Two by Aphra Behn

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"Beauty Unadorned"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The Rover, a Cavalier named Willmore, is an Englishman, a soldier of fortune since his banishment from England for supporting the crown during the civil wars. He comes to Madrid, where he falls in love with La Nuche, a Spanish courtesan, who also loves him. Their love affair is complicated in several ways. There is, of course, La Nuche's reputation as a courtesan. Also, Ariadne, a young lady of quality, bids for Willmore's love, as a rival to La Nuche, even though she is engaged to marry Beaumond, Willmore's friend. La Nuche, truly in love with Willmore, grumbles from time to time about being a courtesan and finding it difficult to prove to Willmore that she really loves him. One of the persons to whom she complains is Petronella Elenora, her bawd, who is herself a worn-out courtesan. Petronella tries, as she does in this passage, to persuade La Nuche that she ought not to worry about love in general or Willmore, a penniless man, in particular. She admonishes La Nuche that wealth is everything:

. . .
Oh give me Love: I will be poor and love.
She's lost–but hear me–
I won't, from Childhood thou hast trained me up in Cunning, read Lectures to me of the use of Man, but kept me from the knowledge of the Right; taught me to jilt, to flatter and deceive: and hard it was to learn th' ungrateful Lessons. But oh how soon plain Nature taught me Love, and shew'd me all the cheat of thy false Tenents–No–give me Love with any other Curse.
But who will give you that when you are poor? when you are wretchedly despis'd and poor?
Do you not daily see fine Clothes, rich Furniture, Jewels and Plate are more inviting than Beauty unadorn'd? be old, diseas'd, deform'd, be any thing, so you be rich and splendidly attended, you'll find your self lov'd and ador'd by all. . . .