HISTORY OF A YOUNG LADY
Nine Volumes Volume IV.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME IV
LETTER I. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Likes her lodgings; but not greatly the widow. Chides Miss Howe for her rash, though friendly vow. Catalogue of good books she finds in her closet. Utterly dissatisfied with him for giving out to the women below that they were privately married. Has a strong debate with him on this subject. He offers matrimony to her, but in such a manner that she could not close with his offer. Her caution as to doors, windows, and seals of letters.
LETTER II. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Her expedient to correspond with each other every day. Is glad she had thoughts of marrying him had he repeated his offer. Wonders he did not.
LETTER III. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Breakfasts with him and the widow, and her two nieces. Observations upon their behaviour and looks. He makes a merit of leaving her, and hopes, ON HIS RETURN, that she will name his happy day. She is willing to make the best constructions in his favour.
In his next letter (extracts from which are only given) he triumphs on the points he has carried. Stimulated by the women, he resumes his resolution to try her to the utmost.
LETTER IV. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Lovelace returns the next day. She thinks herself meanly treated, and is angry. He again urges marriage; but before she can return his answer makes another proposal; yet she suspects not that he means a studied delay. He is in treaty for Mrs. Fretchville's house. Description of it. An inviting opportunity offers for him to propose matrimony to her. She wonders he let it slip. He is very urgent for her company at a collation he is to give to four of his select friends, and Miss Partington. He gives an account who Miss Partington is.
In Mr. Lovelace's next letter he invites Belford, Mowbray, Belton, and Tourville, to his collation. His humourous instructions for their behaviour before the lady. Has two views in getting her into their company.
LETTER V. Lovelace to Belford.— Has been at church with Clarissa. The sabbath a charming institution. The text startles him. Nathan the prophet he calls a good ingenious fellow. She likes the women better than she did at first. She reluctantly consents to honour his collation with her presence. Longs to have their opinions of his fair prize. Describes her to great advantage.
LETTER VI. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— She praises his good behaviour at St. Paul's. Is prevailed on to dine with Mrs. Sinclair and her nieces. Is better pleased with them than she thought she should be. Blames herself for her readiness to censure, where reputation is concerned. Her charitable allowances on this head. This day an agreeable day. Interprets ever thing she can fairly interpret in Mr. Lovelace's favour. She could prefer him to all the men she ever knew, if he would always be what he had been that day. Is determined, as much as possible, by true merit, and by deeds. Dates again, and is offended at Miss Partington's being introduced to her, and at his making her yield to be present at his intended collation.
LETTER VII. From the same.— Disgusted wit her evening. Characterizes his four companions. Likes not Miss Partington's behaviour.
LETTER VIII. From the same.— An attempt to induce her to admit Miss Partington to a share in her bed for that night. She refuses. Her reasons. Is highly dissatisfied.
LETTER IX. From the same.— Has received an angry letter from Mrs. Howe, forbidding her to correspond with her daughter. She advises compliance, though against herself; and, to induce her to it, makes the best of her present prospects.
LETTER X. Miss Howe. In answer.— Flames out upon this step of her mother. Insists upon continuing the correspondence. Her menaces if Clarissa write not. Raves against Lovelace. But blames her for not obliging Miss Partington: and why. Advises her to think of settlements. Likes Lovelace's proposal of Mrs. Fretchville's house.
LETTER XI. Clarissa. In reply.— Terrified at her menaces, she promises to continue writing. Beseeches her to learn to subdue her passions. Has just received her clothes.
LETTER XII. Mr. Hickman to Clarissa.— Miss Howe, he tells her, is uneasy for the vexation she has given her. If she will write on as before, Miss Howe will not think of doing what she is so apprehensive of. He offers her his most faithful services.
LETTER XIII. XIV. Lovelace to Belford.— Tells him how much the lady dislikes the confraternity; Belford as well as the rest. Has a warm debate with her in her behalf. Looks upon her refusing a share in her bed to Miss Partington as suspecting and defying him. Threatens her.—Savagely glories in her grief, on receiving Miss Howe's prohibitory letter: which appears to be instigated by himself.
LETTER XV. Belford to Lovelace.— His and his compeer's high admiration of Clarissa. They all join to entreat him to do her justice.
LETTER XVI. XVII. Lovelace. In answer.— He endeavours to palliate his purposes by familiar instances of cruelty to birds, &c.—Farther characteristic reasonings in support of his wicked designs. The passive condition to which he wants to bring the lady.
LETTER XVIII. Belford. In reply.— Still warmly argues in behalf of the lady. Is obliged to attend a dying uncle: and entreats him to write from time to time an account of all his proceedings.
LETTER XIX. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Lovelace, she says, complains of the reserves he gives occasion for. His pride a dirty low pride, which has eaten up his prudence. He is sunk in her opinion. An afflicting letter sent her from her cousin Morden.
Encloses the letter. In which her cousin (swayed by the representations of her brother) pleads in behalf of Solmes, and the family-views; and sets before her, in strong and just lights, the character of a libertine.
Her heavy reflections upon the contents. Her generous prayer.
LETTER XX. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— He presses her to go abroad with him; yet mentions not the ceremony that should give propriety to his urgency. Cannot bear the life she lives. Wishes her uncle Harlowe to be sounded by Mr. Hickman, as to a reconciliation. Mennell introduced to her. Will not take another step with Lovelace till she know the success of the proposed application to her uncle.
Substance of two letters from Lovelace to Belford; in which he tells him who Mennell is, and gives an account of many new contrivances and precautions. Women's pockets ballast-bags. Mrs. Sinclair's wardrobe. Good order observed in her house. The lady's caution, he says, warrants his contrivances.
LETTER XXI. Lovelace to Belford.— Will write a play. The title of it, The Quarrelsome Lovers. Perseverance his glory; patience his hand-maid. Attempts to get a letter the lady had dropt as she sat. Her high indignation upon it. Farther plots. Paul Wheatly, who; and for what employed. Sally Martin's reproaches. Has overplotted himself. Human nature a well-known rogue.
LETTER XXII. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Acquaints her with their present quarrel. Finds it imprudent to stay with him. Re-urges the application to her uncle. Cautions her sex with regard to the danger of being misled by the eye.
LETTER XXIII. Miss Howe. In answer.— Approves of her leaving Lovelace. New stories of his wickedness. Will have her uncle sounded. Comforts her. How much her case differs from that of any other female fugitive. She will be an example, as well as a warning. A picture of Clarissa's happiness before she knew Lovelace. Brief sketches of her exalted character. Adversity her shining time.
LETTER XXIV. Clarissa. In reply.— Has a contest with Lovelace about going to church. He obliges her again to accept of his company to St. Paul's.
LETTER XXV. Miss Howe to Mrs. Norton.— Desiring her to try to dispose Mrs. Harlowe to forward a reconciliation.
LETTER XXVI. Mrs. Norton. In answer.
LETTER XXVII. Miss Howe. In reply.
LETTER XXVIII. Mrs. Harlowe's pathetic letter to Mrs. Norton.
LETTER XXIX. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Fruitless issue of Mr. Hickman's application to her uncle. Advises her how to proceed with, and what to say to, Lovelace. Endeavours to account for his teasing ways. Who knows, she says, but her dear friend was permitted to swerve, in order to bring about his reformation? Informs her of her uncle Antony's intended address to her mother.
LETTER XXX. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Hard fate to be thrown upon an ungenerous and cruel man. Reasons why she cannot proceed with Mr. Lovelace as she advises. Affecting apostrophe to Lovelace.
LETTER XXXI. From the same.— Interesting conversation with Lovelace. He frightens her. He mentions settlements. Her modest encouragements of him. He evades. True generosity what. She requires his proposals of settlements in writing. Examines herself on her whole conduct to Lovelace. Maidenly niceness not her motive for the distance she has kept him at. What is. Invites her correction if she deceive herself.
LETTER XXXII. From the same.— With Mr. Lovelace's written proposals. Her observations on the cold conclusion of them. He knows not what every wise man knows, of the prudence and delicacy required in a wife.
LETTER XXXIII. From the same.— Mr. Lovelace presses for the day; yet makes a proposal which must necessarily occasion a delay. Her unreserved and pathetic answer to it. He is affected by it. She rejoices that he is penetrable. He presses for her instant resolution; but at the same time insinuates delay. Seeing her displeased, he urges for the morrow: but, before she can answer, gives her the alternative of other days. Yet, wanting to reward himself, as if he had obliged her, she repulses him on a liberty he would have taken. He is enraged. Her melancholy reflections on her future prospects with such a man. The moral she deduces from her story. [A note, defending her conduct from the censure which passed upon her as over nice.]
Extracts from four of his letters: in which he glories in his cruelty. Hardheartedness he owns to be an essential of the libertine character. Enjoys the confusion of a fine woman. His apostrophe to virtue. Ashamed of being visibly affected. Enraged against her for repulsing him. Will steel his own heart, that he may cut through a rock of ice to her's. The women afresh instigate him to attempt her virtue.
LETTER XXXIV. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Is enraged at his delays. Will think of some scheme to get her out of his hands. Has no notion that he can or dare to mean her dishonour. Women do not naturally hate such men as Lovelace.
LETTER XXXV. Belford to Lovelace.— Warmly espouses the lady's cause. Nothing but vanity and nonsense in the wild pursuits of libertines. For his own sake, for his family's sake, and for the sake of their common humanity, he beseeches him to do this lady justice.
LETTER XXXVI. Lord M. to Mr. Belford.— A proverbial letter in the lady's favour.
LETTER XXXVII. Lovelace to Belford.— He ludicrously turns Belford's arguments against him. Resistance inflames him. Why the gallant is preferred to the husband. Gives a piece of advice to married women. Substance of his letter to Lord M. desiring him to give the lady to him in person. His view in this letter. Ridicules Lord M. for his proverbs. Ludicrous advice to Belford in relation to his dying uncle. What physicians should do when a patient is given over.
LETTER XXXVIII. Belford to Lovelace.— Sets forth the folly, the inconvenience, the impolicy of KEEPING, and the preference of MARRIAGE, upon the foot of their own principles, as libertines.
LETTER XXXIX. Lovelace to Belford.— Affects to mistake the intention of Belford's letter, and thanks him for approving his present scheme. The seduction progress is more delightful to him, he says, than the crowning act.
LETTER XL. From the same.— All extremely happy at present. Contrives a conversation for the lady to overhear. Platonic love, how it generally ends. Will get her to a play; likes not tragedies. Has too much feeling. Why men of his cast prefer comedy to tragedy. The nymphs, and Mrs. Sinclair, and all their acquaintances, of the same mind. Other artifices of his. Could he have been admitted in her hours of dishabille and heedlessness, he had been long ago master of his wishes. His view in getting her to a play: a play, and a collation afterwards, greatly befriend a lover's designs; and why. She consents to go with him to see the tragedy of Venice Preserved.
LETTER XLI. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Gives the particulars of the overheard conversation. Thinks her prospects a little mended. Is willing to compound for tolerable appearances, and to hope, when reason for hope offers.
LETTER XLII. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Her scheme of Mrs. Townsend. Is not for encouraging dealers in prohibited goods; and why. Her humourous treatment of Hickman on consulting him upon Lovelace's proposals of settlements.
LETTER XLIII. From the same.— Her account of Antony Harlowe's address to her mother, and of what passed on her mother's communicating it to her. Copy of Mrs. Howe's answer to his letter.
LETTER XLIV. XLV. Lovelace to Belford.— Comes at several letters of Miss Howe. He is now more assured of Clarissa than ever; and why. Sparkling eyes, what they indicate. She keeps him at distance. Repeated instigations from the women. Account of the letters he has come at. All rage and revenge upon the contents of them. Menaces Hickman. Wishes Miss Howe had come up to town, as she threatened.
LETTER XLVI. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Is terrified by him. Disclaims prudery. Begs of Miss Howe to perfect her scheme, that she may leave him. She thinks her temper changed for the worse. Trembles to look back upon his encroachments. Is afraid, on the close self-examination which her calamities have caused her to make, that even in the best actions of her past life she has not been quite free from secret pride, &c. Tears almost in two the answer she had written to his proposals. Intends to go out next day, and not to return. Her farther intentions.
LETTER XLVII. Lovelace to Belford.— Meets the lady at breakfast. Flings the tea-cup and saucer over his head. The occasion. Alarms and terrifies her by his free address. Romping, the use of it by a lover. Will try if she will not yield to nightly surprises. A lion-hearted lady where her honour is concerned. Must have recourse to his master-strokes. Fable of the sun and north wind. Mrs. Fretchville's house an embarrass. He gives that pretended lady the small-pox. Other contrivances in his head to bring Clarissa back, if she should get away. Miss Howe's scheme of Mrs. Townsend is, he says, a sword hanging over his head. He must change his measures to render it abortive. He is of the true lady-make. What that is. Another conversation between them. Her apostrophe to her father. He is temporarily moved. Dorcas gives him notice of a paper she has come at, and is transcribing. In order to detain the lady, he presses for the day. Miss Howe he fancies in love with him; and why. He sees Clarissa does not hate him.
LETTER XLVIII. From the same.— Copy of the transcribed paper. It proves to be her torn answer to his proposals. Meekness the glory of a woman. Ludicrous image of a termagant wife. He had better never to have seen this paper. Has very strong remorses. Paints them in lively colours. Sets forth the lady's transcendent virtue, and greatness of mind. Surprised into these arguments in her favour by his conscience. Puts it to flight.
LETTER XLIX. From the same.— Mennell scruples to aid him farther in his designs. Vapourish people the physical tribe's milch-cows. Advice to the faculty. Has done with the project about Mrs. Fretchville's house. The lady suspects him. A seasonable letter for him from his cousin Charlotte. Sends up the letter to the lady. She writes to Miss Howe, upon perusing it, to suspend for the present her application to Mrs. Townsend.
LETTER L. From the same.— An interview all placid and agreeable. Now is he in a train. All he now waits for is a letter from Lord M. Inquires after their marriage by a stranger of good appearance. The lady alarmed at them.
LETTER LI. Lovelace to Belford.— Curses his uncle for another proverbial letter he has sent him. Permits the lady to see it. Nine women in ten that fall, fall, he says, through their own fault.
LETTER LII. Lord M.'s characteristic letter.
LETTER LIII. Lovelace to Belford.— The lady now comes to him at the first word. Triumphs in her sweetness of temper, and on her patience with him. Puts his writings into counsellor Williams's hands, to prepare settlements. Shall now be doubly armed. Boasts of his contrivances in petto. Brings patterns to her. Proposes jewels. Admires her for her prudence with regard to what he puts her upon doing for her Norton. What his wife must do and be. She declines a public wedding. Her dutiful reasons. She is willing to dispense with Lord M.'s presence. He writes to Lord M. accordingly.
Extract from a letter from Clarissa.— After giving Miss Howe an account of the present favourable appearances, she desires her to keep herself all such of the particulars which she has communicated to her as may discredit Mr. Lovelace.
LETTER LIV. Lovelace to Belford.— His projected plot to revenge himself upon Miss Howe.
LETTER LV. From the same.— Fresh contrivances crowd in upon him. He shall be very sick on the morrow; and why. Women below impertinently reproachful. He will be no man's successor. Will not take up with harlots.—History of the French marquis.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, APRIL 26.
At length, my dearest Miss Howe, I am in London, and in my new lodgings. They are neatly furnished, and the situation, for the town, is pleasant.
But I think you must not ask me how I like the old gentlewoman. Yet she seems courteous and obliging.—Her kinswomen just appeared to welcome me at my alighting. They seemed to be genteel young women. But more of their aunt and them, as I shall see more.
Miss Sorlings has an uncle at Barnet, whom she found so very ill, that her uneasiness, on that account, (having large expectations from him,) made me comply with her desire to stay with him. Yet I wished, as her uncle did not expect her, that she would see me settled in London; and Mr. Lovelace was still more earnest that she would, offering to send her back again in a day or two, and urging that her uncle's malady threatened not a sudden change. But leaving the matter to her choice, after she knew what would have been mine, she made me not the expected compliment. Mr. Lovelace, however, made her a handsome present at parting.
His genteel spirit, on all occasions, makes he often wish him more consistent.
As soon as he arrived, I took possession of my apartment. I shall make good use of the light closet in it, if I stay here any time.
One of his attendants returns in the morning to The Lawn; and I made writing to you by him an excuse for my retiring.
And now give me leave to chide you, my dearest friend, for your rash, and I hope revocable resolution not to make Mr. Hickman the happiest man in the world, while my happiness is in suspense. Suppose I were to be unhappy, what, my dear, would this resolution of yours avail me? Marriage is the highest state of friendship: if happy, it lessens our cares, by dividing them, at the same time that it doubles our pleasures by a mutual participation. Why, my dear, if you love me, will you not rather give another friend to one who has not two she is sure of? Had you married on your mother's last birth-day, as she would have had you, I should not, I dare say, have wanted a refuge; that would have saved me many mortifications, and much disgrace.
Here I was broke in upon by Mr. Lovelace; introducing the widow leading in a kinswoman of her's to attend me, if I approved of her, till my Hannah should come, or till I had provided myself with some other servant. The widow gave her many good qualities; but said, that she had one great defect; which was, that she could not write, nor read writing; that part of her education having been neglected when she was young; but for discretion, fidelity, obligingness, she was not to be out-done by any body. So commented her likewise for her skill at the needle.
As for her defect, I can easily forgive that. She is very likely and genteel—too genteel indeed, I think, for a servant. But what I like least of all in her, she has a strange sly eye. I never saw such an eye; half-confident, I think. But indeed Mrs. Sinclair herself, (for that is the widow's name,) has an odd winking eye; and her respectfulness seems too much studied, methinks, for the London ease and freedom. But people can't help their looks, you know; and after all she is extremely civil and obliging,—and as for the young woman, (Dorcas is her name,) she will not be long with me.
I accepted her: How could I do otherwise, (if I had had a mind to make objections, which, in my present situation, I had not,) her aunt present, and the young woman also present; and Mr. Lovelace officious in his introducing them, to oblige me? But, upon their leaving me, I told him, (who seemed inclinable to begin a conversation with me,) that I desired that this apartment might be considered as my retirement: that when I saw him it might be in the dining-room, (which is up a few stairs; for this back-house, being once two, the rooms do not all of them very conveniently communicate with each other,) and that I might be as little broken in upon as possible, when I am here. He withdrew very respectfully to the door, but there stopt; and asked for my company then in the dining-room. If he were about setting out for other lodgings, I would go with him now, I told him; but, if he did not just then go, I would first finish my letter to Miss Howe.
I see he has no mind to leave me if he can help it. My brother's scheme may give him a pretence to try to engage me to dispense with his promise. But if I now do I must acquit him of it entirely.
My approbation of his tender behaviour in the midst of my grief, has given him a right, as he seems to think, of addressing me with all the freedom of an approved lover. I see by this man, that when once a woman embarks with this sex, there is no receding. One concession is but the prelude to another with them. He has been ever since Sunday last continually complaining of the distance I keep him at; and thinks himself entitled now to call in question my value for him; strengthening his doubts by my former declared readiness to give him up to a reconciliation with my friends; and yet has himself fallen off from that obsequious tenderness, if I may couple the words, which drew from me the concessions he builds upon.
While we were talking at the door, my new servant came up with an invitation to us both to tea. I said he might accept of it, if he pleased: but I must pursue my writing; and not choosing either tea or supper, I desired him to make my excuses below, as to both; and inform them of my choice to be retired as much as possible; yet to promise for me my attendance on the widow and her nieces at breakfast in the morning.
He objected particularly in the eye of strangers as to avoiding supper.
You know, said I, and you can tell them, that I seldom eat suppers. My spirits are low. You must never urge me against a declared choice. Pray, Mr. Lovelace, inform them of all my particularities. If they are obliging, they will allow for them—I come not hither to make new acquaintance.
I have turned over the books I found in my closet; and am not a little pleased with them; and think the better of the people of the house for their sakes.
Stanhope's Gospels; Sharp's, Tillotson's, and South's Sermons; Nelson's Feasts and Fasts; a Sacramental Piece of the Bishop of Man, and another of Dr. Gauden, Bishop of Exeter; and Inett's Devotions, are among the devout books:—and among those of a lighter turn, the following not ill- chosen ones: A Telemachus, in French; another in English; Steel's, Rowe's, and Shakespeare's Plays; that genteel Comedy of Mr. Cibber, The Careless Husband, and others of the same author; Dryden's Miscellanies; the Tatlers, Spectators, and Guardians; Pope's, and Swift's, and Addison's Works.
In the blank leaves of the Nelson and Bishop Gauden, is Mrs. Sinclair's name; and in those of most of the others, either Sarah Martin, or Mary Horton, the names of the two nieces.
I am exceedingly out of humour with Mr. Lovelace: and have great reason to be so, as you will allow, when you have read the conversation I am going to give you an account of; for he would not let me rest till I gave him my company in the dining-room.
He began with letting me know, that he had been out to inquire after the character of the widow, which was the more necessary, he said, as he supposed that I would expect his frequent absence.
I did, I said; and that he would not think of taking up his lodging in the same house with me. But what, said I, is the result of your inquiry?
Why, indeed, the widow's character was, in the main, what he liked well enough. But as it was Miss Howe's opinion, as I had told him, that my brother had not given over his scheme; as the widow lived by letting lodgings, and had others to let in the same part of the house, which might be taken by an enemy; he knew no better way than for him to take them all, as it could not be for a long time, unless I would think of removing to others.
So far was well enough. But as it was easy for me to see, that he spoke the slighter of the widow, in order to have a pretence to lodge here himself, I asked him his intention in that respect. And he frankly owned, that if I chose to stay here, he could not, as matters stood, think of leaving me for six hours together; and he had prepared the widow to expect, that we should be here but for a few days; only till we could fix ourselves in a house suitable to our condition; and this, that I might be under the less embarrassment, if I pleased to remove.
Fix our-selves in a house, and we, and our, Mr. Lovelace—Pray, in what light—
He interrupted me—Why, my dearest life, if you will hear me with patience—yet, I am half afraid that I have been too forward, as I have not consulted you upon it—but as my friends in town, according to what Mr. Doleman has written, in the letter you have seen, conclude us to be married—
Surely, Sir, you have not presumed—
Hear me out, my dearest creature—you have received with favour, my addresses: you have made me hope for the honour of your consenting hand: yet, by declining my most fervent tender of myself to you at Mrs. Sorlings's, have given me apprehensions of delay: I would not for the world be thought so ungenerous a wretch, now you have honoured me with your confidence, as to wish to precipitate you. Yet your brother's schemes are not given up. Singleton, I am afraid, is actually in town; his vessel lies at Rotherhithe—your brother is absent from Harlowe- place; indeed not with Singleton yet, as I can hear. If you are known to be mine, or if you are but thought to be so, there will probably be an end of your brother's contrivances. The widow's character may be as worthy as it is said to be. But the worthier she is, the more danger, if your brother's agent should find us out; since she may be persuaded, that she ought in conscience to take a parent's part against a child who stands in opposition to them. But if she believes us married, her good character will stand us instead, and give her a reason why two apartments are requisite for us at the hour of retirement.
I perfectly raved at him. I would have flung from him in resentment; but he would not let me: and what could I do? Whither go, the evening advanced?
I am astonished at you! said I.—If you are a man of honour, what need of all this strange obliquity? You delight in crooked ways—let me know, since I must stay in your company (for he held my hand), let me know all you have said to the people below.—Indeed, indeed, Mr. Lovelace, you are a very unaccountable man.
My dearest creature, need I to have mentioned any thing of this? and could I not have taken up my lodgings in this house unknown to you, if I had not intended to make you the judge of all my proceedings?—But this is what I have told the widow before her kinswomen, and before your new servant—'That indeed we were privately married at Hertford; but that you had preliminarily bound me under a solemn vow, which I am most religiously resolved to keep, to be contented with separate apartments, and even not to lodge under the same roof, till a certain reconciliation shall take place, which is of high consequence to both.' And further that I might convince you of the purity of my intentions, and that my whole view in this was to prevent mischief, I have acquainted them, 'that I have solemnly promised to behave to you before every body, as if we were only betrothed, and not married; not even offering to take any of those innocent freedoms which are not refused in the most punctilious loves.'
And then he solemnly vowed to me the strictest observance of the same respectful behaviour to me.
I said, that I was not by any means satisfied with the tale he had told, nor with the necessity he wanted to lay me under of appearing what I was not: that every step he took was a wry one, a needless wry one: and since he thought it necessary to tell the people below any thing about me, I insisted that he should unsay all he had said, and tell them the truth.
What he had told them, he said, was with so many circumstances, that he could sooner die than contradict it. And still he insisted upon the propriety of appearing to be married, for the reasons he had given before—And, dearest creature, said he, why this high displeasure with me upon so well-intended an expedient? You know, that I cannot wish to shun your brother, or his Singleton, but upon your account. The first step I would take, if left to myself, would be to find them out. I have always acted in this manner, when any body has presumed to give out threatenings against it.
'Tis true I would have consulted you first, and had your leave. But since you dislike what I have said, let me implore you, dearest Madam, to give the only proper sanction to it, by naming an early day. Would to Heaven that were to be to-morrow!—For God's sake, let it be to-morrow! But, if not, [was it his business, my dear, before I spoke (yet he seemed to be afraid of me) to say, if not?] let me beseech you, Madam, if my behaviour shall not be to your dislike, that you will not to-morrow, at breakfast-time, discredit what I have told them. The moment I give you cause to think that I take any advantage of your concession, that moment revoke it, and expose me, as I shall deserve.—And once more, let me remind you, that I have no view either to serve or save myself by this expedient. It is only to prevent a probable mischief, for your own mind's sake; and for the sake of those who deserve not the least consideration from me.
What could I say? What could I do?—I verily think, that had he urged me again, in a proper manner, I should have consented (little satisfied as I am with him) to give him a meeting to-morrow morning at a more solemn place than in the parlour below.
But this I resolve, that he shall not have my consent to stay a night under this roof. He has now given me a stronger reason for this determination than I had before.
Alas! my dear, how vain a thing to say, what we will, or what we will not do, when we have put ourselves into the power of this sex!—He went down to the people below, on my desiring to be left to myself; and staid till their supper was just ready; and then, desiring a moment's audience, as he called it, he besought my leave to stay that one night, promising to set out either for Lord M.'s, or for Edgeware, to his friend Belford's, in the morning, after breakfast. But if I were against it, he said, he would not stay supper; and would attend me about eight next day—yet he added, that my denial would have a very particular appearance to the people below, from what he had told them; and the more, as he had actually agreed for all the vacant apartments, (indeed only for a month,) for the reasons he before hinted at: but I need not stay here two days, if, upon conversing with the widow and her nieces in the morning, I should have any dislike to them.
I thought, notwithstanding my resolution above-mentioned, that it would seem too punctilious to deny him, under the circumstances he had mentioned: having, besides, no reason to think he would obey me; for he looked as if he were determined to debate the matter with me. And now, as I see no likelihood of a reconciliation with my friends, and as I have actually received his addresses, I thought I would not quarrel with him, if I could help it, especially as he asked to stay but for one night, and could have done so without my knowing it; and you being of opinion, that the proud wretch, distrusting his own merits with me, or at least my regard for him, will probably bring me to some concessions in his favour —for all these reasons, I thought proper to yield this point: yet I was so vexed with him on the other, that it was impossible for me to comply with that grace which a concession should be made with, or not made at all.
This was what I said—What you will do, you must do, I think. You are very ready to promise; very ready to depart from your promise. You say, however, that you will set out to-morrow for the country. You know how ill I have been. I am not well enough now to debate with you upon your encroaching ways. I am utterly dissatisfied with the tale you have told below. Nor will I promise to appear to the people of the house to-morrow what I am not.
He withdrew in the most respectful manner, beseeching me only to favour him with such a meeting in the morning as might not make the widow and her nieces think he had given me reason to be offended with him.
I retired to my own apartment, and Dorcas came to me soon after to take my commands. I told her, that I required very little attendance, and always dressed and undressed myself.
She seemed concerned, as if she thought I had repulsed her; and said, it should be her whole study to oblige me.
I told her, that I was not difficult to be pleased: and should let her know from time to time what assistance I should expect from her. But for that night I had no occasion for her further attendance.
She is not only genteel, but is well bred, and well spoken—she must have had what is generally thought to be the polite part of education: but it is strange, that fathers and mothers should make so light, as they generally do, of that preferable part, in girls, which would improve their minds, and give a grace to all the rest.
As soon as she was gone, I inspected the doors, the windows, the wainscot, the dark closet as well as the light one; and finding very good fastenings to the door, and to all the windows, I again had recourse to my pen.
Mrs. Sinclair is just now gone from me. Dorcas, she told me, had acquainted her, that I had dismissed her for the night. She came to ask me how I liked my apartment, and to wish me good rest. She expressed her concern, that they could not have my company at supper. Mr. Lovelace, she said, had informed them of my love of retirement. She assured me, that I should not be broken in upon. She highly extolled him, and gave me a share in the praise as to person. But was sorry, she said, that she was likely to lose us so soon as Mr. Lovelace talked of.
I answered her with suitable civility; and she withdrew with great tokens of respect. With greater, I think, than should be from distance of years, as she was the wife of a gentleman; and as the appearance of every thing about her, as well house as dress, carries the marks of such good circumstances, as require not abasement.
If, my dear, you will write, against prohibition, be pleased to direct, To Miss Laetitia Beaumont; to be left till called for, at Mr. Wilson's, in Pall Mall.
Mr. Lovelace proposed this direction to me, not knowing of your desire that your letters should pass by a third hand. As his motive for it was, that my brother might not trace out where we are, I am glad, as well from this instance as from others, that he seems to think he has done mischief enough already.
Do you know how my poor Hannah does?
Mr. Lovelace is so full of his contrivances and expedients, that I think it may not be amiss to desire you to look carefully to the seals of my letters, as I shall to those of yours. If I find him base in this particular, I shall think him capable of any evil; and will fly him as my worst enemy.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE [WITH HER TWO LAST LETTERS, NO. LVIII. LIX. OF VOL. III., ENCLOSED.] THURSDAY NIGHT, APRIL 27.
I have your's; just brought me. Mr. Hickman has helped me to a lucky expedient, which, with the assistance of the post, will enable me to correspond with you every day. An honest higler, [Simon Collins his name,] by whom I shall send this, and the two enclosed, (now I have your direction whither,) goes to town constantly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and can bring back to me from Mr. Wilson's what you shall have caused to be left for me.
I congratulate you on your arrival in town, so much amended in spirits. I must be brief. I hope you'll have no cause to repent returning my Norris. It is forthcoming on demand.
I am sorry your Hannah can't be with you. She is very ill still; but not dangerously.
I long for your account of the women you are with. If they are not right people, you will find them out in one breakfasting.
I know not what to write upon his reporting to them that you are actually married. His reasons for it are plausible. But he delights in odd expedients and inventions.
Whether you like the people or not, do not, by your noble sincerity and plain dealing, make yourself enemies. You are in the real world now you know.
I am glad you had thoughts of taking him at his offer, if he had re-urged it. I wonder he did not. But if he do not soon, and in such a way as you can accept of it, don't think of staying with him.
Depend upon it, my dear, he will not leave you, either night or day, if he can help it, now he has got footing.
I should have abhorred him for his report of your marriage, had he not made it with such circumstances as leave it still in your power to keep him at distance. If once he offer at the least familiarity—but this is needless to say to you. He can have, I think, no other design but what he professes; because he must needs think, that his report of being married to you must increase your vigilance.
You may depend upon my looking narrowly into the sealings of your letters. If, as you say, he be base in that point, he will be so in every thing. But to a person of your merit, of your fortune, of your virtue, he cannot be base. The man is no fool. It is his interest, as well with regard to his expectations from his own friends, as from you, to be honest. Would to Heaven, however, you were really married! This is now the predominant wish of
Your ANNA HOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE THURSDAY MORNING, EIGHT O'CLOCK.
I am more and more displeased with Mr. Lovelace, on reflection, for his boldness in hoping to make me, though but passively, as I may say, testify to his great untruth. And I shall like him still less for it, if his view in it does not come out to be the hope of accelerating my resolution in his favour, by the difficulty it will lay me under as to my behaviour to him. He has sent me his compliments by Dorcas, with a request that I will permit him to attend me in the dining-room,—meet him in good humour, or not: but I have answered, that as I shall see him at breakfast-time I desired to be excused.
I tried to adjust my countenance, before I went down, to an easier air than I had a heart, and was received with the highest tokens of respect by the widow and her two nieces: agreeable young women enough in their persons; but they seemed to put on an air of reserve; while Mr. Lovelace was easy and free to all, as if he were of long acquaintance with them: gracefully enough, I cannot but say; an advantage which travelled gentlemen have over other people.
The widow, in the conversation we had after breakfast, gave us an account of the military merit of the Colonel her husband, and, upon this occasion, put her handkerchief to her eyes twice or thrice. I hope for the sake of her sincerity, she wetted it, because she would be thought to have done so; but I saw not that she did. She wished that I might never know the loss of a husband so dear to me, as her beloved Colonel was to her: and she again put the handkerchief to her eyes.
It must, no doubt, be a most affecting thing to be separated from a good husband, and to be left in difficult circumstances besides, and that not by his fault, and exposed to the insults of the base and ungrateful, as she represented her case to be at his death. This moved me a good deal in her favour.
You know, my dear, that I have an open and free heart; and naturally have as open and free a countenance; at least my complimenters have told me so. At once, where I like, I mingle minds without reserve, encouraging reciprocal freedoms, and am forward to dissipate diffidences. But with these two nieces of the widow I never can be intimate—I don't know why.
Only that circumstances, and what passed in conversation, encouraged not the notion, or I should have been apt to think, that the young ladies and Mr. Lovelace were of longer acquaintance than of yesterday. For he, by stealth as it were, cast glances sometimes at them, when they returned; and, on my ocular notice, their eyes fell, as I may say, under my eye, as if they could not stand its examination.
The widow directed all her talk to me, as to Mrs. Lovelace; and I, with a very ill grace bore it. And once she expressed more forwardly than I thanked her for, her wonder that any vow, any consideration, however weighty, could have force enough with so charming a couple, as she called him and me, to make us keep separate beds.
Their eyes, upon this hint, had the advantage of mine. Yet was I not conscious of guilt. How know I then, upon recollection, that my censures upon there are not too rash? There are, no doubt, many truly modest persons (putting myself out of the question) who, by blushes at an injurious charge, have been suspected, by those who cannot distinguish between the confusion which guilt will be attended with, and the noble consciousness that overspreads the face of a fine spirit, to be thought but capable of an imputed evil.
The great Roman, as we read, who took his surname from one part in three (the fourth not then discovered) of the world he had triumphed over, being charged with a great crime to his soldiery, chose rather to suffer exile (the punishment due to it, had he been found guilty) than to have it said, that Scipio was questioned in public, on so scandalous a charge. And think you, my dear, that Scipio did not blush with indignation, when the charge was first communicated to him?
Mr. Lovelace, when the widow expressed her forward wonder, looked sly and leering, as if to observe how I took it: and said, they might take notice that his regard for my will and pleasure (calling me his dear creature) had greater force upon him than the oath by which he had bound himself.
Rebuking both him and the widow, I said, it was strange to me to hear an oath or vow so lightly treated, as to have it thought but of second consideration, whatever were the first.
The observation was just, Miss Martin said; for that nothing could excuse the breaking of a solemn vow, be the occasion of making it what it would.
I asked her after the nearest church; for I have been too long a stranger to the sacred worship. They named St. James's, St. Anne's, and another in Bloomsbury; and the two nieces said they oftenest went to St. James's church, because of the good company, as well as for the excellent preaching.
Mr. Lovelace said, the Royal Chapel was the place he oftenest went to, when he was in town. Poor man! little did I expect to hear he went to any place of devotion. I asked, if the presence of the visible king of, comparatively, but a small territory, did not take off, too generally, the requisite attention to the service of the invisible King and Maker of a thousand worlds?
He believed this might be so with such as came for curiosity, when the royal family were present. But otherwise, he had seen as many contrite faces at the Royal Chapel, as any where else: and why not? Since the people about court have as deep scores to wipe off, as any people whatsoever.
He spoke this with so much levity, that I could not help saying, that nobody questioned but he knew how to choose his company.
Your servant, my dear, bowing, were his words; and turning to them, you will observe upon numberless occasions, ladies, as we are further acquainted, that my beloved never spares me upon these topics. But I admire her as much in her reproofs, as I am fond of her approbation.
Miss Horton said, there was a time for every thing. She could not but say, that she thought innocent mirth was mighty becoming in young people.
Very true, joined in Miss Martin. And Shakespeare says well, that youth is the spring of life, the bloom of gaudy years [with a theatrical air, she spoke it:] and for her part, she could not but admire in my spouse that charming vivacity which so well suited his time of life.
Mr. Lovelace bowed. The man is fond of praise. More fond of it, I doubt, than of deserving it. Yet this sort of praise he does deserve. He has, you know, an easy free manner, and no bad voice: and this praise so expanded his gay heart, that he sung the following lines from Congreve, as he told us they were:
Youth does a thousand pleasures bring, Which from decrepid age will fly; Sweets that wanton in the bosom of the spring, In winter's cold embraces die.
And this for a compliment, as he said, to the two nieces. Nor was it thrown away upon them. They encored it; and his compliance fixed them in my memory.
We had some talk about meals, and the widow very civilly offered to conform to any rules I would set her. I told her how easily I was pleased, and how much I chose to dine by myself, and that from a plate sent me from any single dish. But I will not trouble you, my dear, with such particulars.
They thought me very singular; and with reason: but as I liked them not so very well as to forego my own choice in compliment to them, I was the less concerned for what they thought.—And still the less, as Mr. Lovelace had put me very much out of humour with him.
They, however, cautioned me against melancholy. I said, I should be a very unhappy creature if I could not bear my own company.
Mr. Lovelace said, that he must let the ladies into my story, and then they would know how to allow for my ways. But, my dear, as you love me, said the confident wretch, give as little way to melancholy as possible. Nothing but the sweetness of your temper, and your high notions of a duty that never can be deserved where you place it, can make you so uneasy as you are.—Be not angry, my dear love, for saying so, [seeing me frown, I suppose:] and snatched my hand and kissed it.—I left him with them; and retired to my closet and my pen.
Just as I have written thus far, I am interrupted by a message from him, that he is setting out on a journey, and desires to take my commands.—So here I will leave off, to give him a meeting in the dining-room.
I was not displeased to see him in his riding-dress.
He seemed desirous to know how I liked the gentlewomen below. I told him, that although I did not think them very exceptionable; yet as I wanted not, in my present situation, new acquaintance, I should not be fond of cultivating theirs.
He urged me still farther on this head.
I could not say, I told him, that I greatly liked either of the young gentlewomen, any more than their aunt: and that, were my situation ever so happy, they had much too gay a turn for me.
He did not wonder, he said, to hear me say so. He knew not any of the sex, who had been accustomed to show themselves at the town diversions and amusements, that would appear tolerable to me. Silences and blushes, Madam, are now no graces with our fine ladies in town. Hardened by frequent public appearances, they would be as much ashamed to be found guilty of these weaknesses, as men.
Do you defend these two gentlewomen, Sir, by reflections upon half the sex? But you must second me, Mr. Lovelace, (and yet I am not fond of being thought particular,) in my desire of breakfasting and supping (when I do sup) by myself.
If I would have it so, to be sure it should be so. The people of the house were not of consequence enough to be apologized to, in any point where my pleasure was concerned. And if I should dislike them still more on further knowledge of them, he hoped I would think of some other lodgings.
He expressed a good deal of regret at leaving me, declaring, that it was absolutely in obedience to my commands: but that he could not have consented to go, while my brother's schemes were on foot, if I had not done him the credit of my countenance in the report he had made that we were married; which, he said, had bound all the family to his interest, so that he could leave me with the greater security and satisfaction.
He hoped, he said, that on his return I would name his happy day; and the rather, as I might be convinced, by my brother's projects, that no reconciliation was to be expected.
I told him, that perhaps I might write one letter to my uncle Harlowe. He once loved me. I should be easier when I had made one direct application. I might possibly propose such terms, in relation to my grandfather's estate, as might procure me their attention; and I hoped he would be long enough absent to give me time to write to him, and receive an answer from him.
That, he must beg my pardon, he could not promise. He would inform himself of Singleton's and my brother's motions; and if on his return he found no reason for apprehension, he would go directly for Berks, and endeavour to bring up with him his cousin Charlotte, who, he hoped, would induce me to give him an earlier day than at present I seemed to think of.—I seemed to think of, my dear, very acquiescent, as I should imagine!
I told him, that I should take that young lady's company for a great favour.
I was the more pleased with this motion, as it came from himself, and with no ill grace.
He earnestly pressed me to accept of a bank note: but I declined it. And then he offered me his servant William for my attendant in his absence; who, he said, might be dispatched to him, if any thing extraordinary fell out. I consented to that.
He took his leave of me in the most respectful manner, only kissing my hand. He left the bank note, unobserved by me, upon the table. You may be sure, I shall give it him back at his return.
I am in a much better humour with him than I was.
Where doubts of any person are removed, a mind not ungenerous is willing, by way of amends for having conceived those doubts, to construe every thing that happens, capable of a good instruction, in that person's favour. Particularly, I cannot but be pleased to observe, that although he speaks of the ladies of his family with the freedom of relationship, yet it is always of tenderness. And from a man's kindness to his relations of the sex, a woman has some reason to expect his good behaviour to herself, when married, if she be willing to deserve it from him.
And thus, my dear, am I brought to sit down satisfied with this man, where I find room to infer that he is not by nature a savage. But how could a creature who (treating herself unpolitely) gave a man an opportunity to run away with her, expect to be treated by that man with a very high degree of politeness?
But why, now, when fairer prospects seem to open, why these melancholy reflections? will my beloved friend ask of her Clarissa?
Why? Can you ask why, my dearest Miss Howe, of a creature, who, in the world's eye, had enrolled her name among the giddy and inconsiderate; who labours under a parent's curse, and the cruel uncertainties, which must arise from reflecting, that, equally against duty and principle, she has thrown herself into the power of a man, and that man an immoral one?— Must not the sense she has of her inconsideration darken her most hopeful prospects? Must it not even rise strongest upon a thoughtful mind, when her hopes are the fairest? Even her pleasures, were the man to prove better than she expects, coming to her with an abatement, like that which persons who are in possession of ill-gotten wealth must then most poignantly experience (if they have reflecting and unseared minds) when, all their wishes answered, (if answered,) they sit down in hopes to enjoy what they have unjustly obtained, and find their own reflections their greatest torment.
May you, my dear friend, be always happy in your reflections, prays
Your ever affectionate CL. HARLOWE.
[Mr. Lovelace, in his next letter, triumphs on his having carried his two great points of making the Lady yield to pass for his wife to the people of the house, and to his taking up his lodging in it, though but for one night. He is now, he says, in a fair way, and doubts not but that he shall soon prevail, if not by persuasion, by surprise. Yet he pretends to have some little remorse, and censures himself as to acting the part of the grand tempter. But having succeeded thus far, he cannot, he says, forbear trying, according to the resolution he had before made, whether he cannot go farther.
He gives the particulars of their debates on the above-mentioned subjects, to the same effect as in the Lady's last letters.
It will by this time be seen that his whole merit, with regard to the Lady, lies in doing justice to her excellencies both of mind and person, though to his own condemnation. Thus he begins his succeeding letter:]
And now, Belford, will I give thee an account of our first breakfast- conversation.
All sweetly serene and easy was the lovely brow and charming aspect of my goddess, on her descending among us; commanding reverence from every eye, a courtesy from every knee, and silence, awful silence, from every quivering lip: while she, armed with conscious worthiness and superiority, looked and behaved as an empress would look and behave among her vassals; yet with a freedom from pride and haughtiness, as if born to dignity, and to a behaviour habitually gracious.
[He takes notice of the jealousy, pride, and vanity of Sally Martin and Polly Horton, on his respectful behaviour to the Lady: creatures who, brought up too high for their fortunes, and to a taste of pleasure, and the public diversions, had fallen an easy prey to his seducing arts (as will be seen in the conclusion of this work:) and who, as he observed, 'had not yet got over that distinction in their love, which makes a woman prefer one man to another.']
How difficult is it, says he, to make a woman subscribe to a preference against herself, though ever so visible; especially where love is concerned! This violent, this partial little devil, Sally, has the insolence to compare herself with my angel—yet owns her to be an angel. I charge you, Mr. Lovelace, say she, show none of your extravagant acts of kindness before me to this sullen, this gloomy beauty—I cannot bear it. Then was I reminded of her first sacrifice.
What a rout do these women make about nothing at all! Were it not for what the learned Bishop, in his Letter from Italy, calls the entanglements of amour, and I the delicacies of intrigue, what is there, Belford, in all they can do for us?
How do these creatures endeavour to stimulate me! A fallen woman is a worse devil than ever a profligate man. The former is incapable of remorse: that am not I—nor ever shall they prevail upon me, though aided by all the powers of darkness, to treat this admirable creature with indignity—so far, I mean, as indignity can be separated from the trials which will prove her to be either woman or angel.
Yet with them I am a craven. I might have had her before now, if I would. If I would treat her as flesh and blood, I should find her such. They thought I knew, if any man living did, that if a man made a goddess of a woman, she would assume the goddess; that if power were given to her, she would exert that power to the giver, if to nobody else. And D——r's wife is thrown into my dish, who, thou knowest, kept her ceremonious husband at haughty distance, and whined in private to her insulting footman. O how I cursed the blasphemous wretches! They will make me, as I tell them, hate their house, and remove from it. And by my soul, Jack, I am ready at times to think that I should not have brought her hither, were it but on Sally's account. And yet, without knowing either Sally's heart, or Polly's, the dear creature resolves against having any conversation with them but such as she can avoid. I am not sorry for this, thou mayest think; since jealousy in a woman is not to be concealed from woman. And Sally has no command of herself.
What dost think!—Here this little devil Sally, not being able, as she told me, to support life under my displeasure, was going into a fit: but when I saw her preparing for it, I went out of the room; and so she thought it would not be worth her while to show away.
[In this manner he mentions what his meaning was in making the Lady the compliment of his absence:]
As to leaving her: if I go but for one night, I have fulfilled my promise: and if she think not, I can mutter and grumble, and yield again, and make a merit of it; and then, unable to live out of her presence, soon return. Nor are women ever angry at bottom for being disobeyed through excess of love. They like an uncontroulable passion. They like to have every favour ravished from them, and to be eaten and drunk quite up by a voracious lover. Don't I know the sex?—Not so, indeed, as yet, my Clarissa: but, however, with her my frequent egresses will make me look new to her, and create little busy scenes between us. At the least, I may surely, without exception, salute her at parting, and at return; and will not those occasional freedoms (which civility will warrant) by degrees familiarize my charmer to them?
But here, Jack, what shall I do with my uncle and aunts, and all my loving cousins? For I understand that they are more in haste to have me married than I am myself.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE FRIDAY, APRIL 28.
Mr. Lovelace is returned already. My brother's projects were his pretence. I could not but look upon this short absence as an evasion of his promise; especially as he had taken such precautions with the people below; and as he knew that I proposed to keep close within-doors. I cannot bear to be dealt meanly with; and angrily insisted that he should directly set out for Berkshire, in order to engage his cousin, as he had promised.
O my dearest life, said he, why will you banish me from your presence? I cannot leave you for so long a time as you seem to expect I should. I have been hovering about town ever since I left you. Edgware was the farthest place I went to, and there I was not able to stay two hours, for fear, at this crisis, any thing should happen. Who can account for the workings of an apprehensive mind, when all that is dear and valuable to it is at stake? You may spare yourself the trouble of writing to any of your friends, till the solemnity has passed that shall entitle me to give weight to your application. When they know we are married, your brother's plots will be at an end; and your father and mother, and uncles, must be reconciled to you. Why then should you hesitate a moment to confirm my happiness? Why, once more, would you banish me from you? Why will you not give the man who has brought you into difficulties, and who so honourably wishes to extricate you from them, the happiness of doing so?
He was silent. My voice failed to second the inclination I had to say something not wholly discouraging to a point so warmly pressed.
I'll tell you, my angel, resumed he, what I propose to do, if you approve of it. I will instantly go out to view some of the handsome new squares or fine streets round them, and make a report to you of any suitable house I find to be let. I will take such a one as you shall choose, and set up an equipage befitting our condition. You shall direct the whole. And on some early day, either before, or after we fix, [it must be at your own choice], be pleased to make me the happiest of men. And then will every thing be in a desirable train. You shall receive in your own house (if it can be so soon furnished as I wish) the compliments of all my relations. Charlotte shall visit you in the interim: and if it take up time, you shall choose whom you will honour with your company, first, second, or third, in the summer months; and on your return you shall find all that was wanting in your new habitation supplied, and pleasures in a constant round shall attend us. O my angel, take me to you, instead of banishing me from you, and make me your's for ever.
You see, my dear, that here was no day pressed for. I was not uneasy about that, and the sooner recovered myself, as there was not. But, however, I gave him no reason to upbraid me for refusing his offer of going in search of a house.
He is accordingly gone out for this purpose. But I find that he intends to take up his lodging here tonight; and if to-night, no doubt on other nights, while he is in town. As the doors and windows of my apartment have good fastenings; as he has not, in all this time, given me cause for apprehension; as he has the pretence of my brother's schemes to plead; as the people below are very courteous and obliging, Miss Horton especially, who seems to have taken a great liking to me, and to be of a gentler temper and manners than Miss Martin; and as we are now in a tolerable way; I imagine it would look particular to them all, and bring me into a debate with a man, who (let him be set upon what he will) has always a great deal to say for himself, if I were to insist upon his promise: on all these accounts, I think, I will take no notice of his lodging here, if he don't.—Let me know, my dear, your thoughts of every thing.
You may believe I gave him back his bank note the moment I saw him.
Mr. Lovelace has seen two or three houses, but none to his mind. But he has heard of one which looks promising, he says, and which he is to inquire about in the morning.
He has made his inquiries, and actually seen the house he was told of last night. The owner of it is a young widow lady, who is inconsolable for the death of her husband; Fretchville her name. It is furnished quite in taste, every thing being new within these six months. He believes, if I like not the furniture, the use of it may be agreed for, with the house, for a time certain: but, if I like it, he will endeavour to take the one, and purchase the other, directly.
The lady sees nobody; nor are the best apartments above-stairs to be viewed, till she is either absent, or gone into the country; which she talks of doing in a fortnight, or three weeks, at farthest, and to live there retired.
What Mr. Lovelace saw of the house (which were the saloon and two parlours) was perfectly elegant; and he was assured all is of a piece. The offices are also very convenient; coach-house and stables at hand.
He shall be very impatient, he says, till I see the whole; nor will he, if he finds he can have it, look farther till I have seen it, except any thing else offer to my liking. The price he values not.
He now does nothing but talk of the ceremony, but not indeed of the day. I don't want him to urge that—but I wonder he does not.
He has just now received a letter from Lady Betty Lawrance, by a particular hand; the contents principally relating to an affair she has in chancery. But in the postscript she is pleased to say very respectful things of me.
They are all impatient, she says, for the happy day being over; which they flatter themselves will ensure his reformation.
He hoped, he told me, that I would soon enable him to answer their wishes and his own.
But, my dear, although the opportunity was so inviting, he urged not for the day. Which is the more extraordinary, as he was so pressing for marriage before we came to town.
He was very earnest with me to give him, and four of his friends, my company on Monday evening, at a little collation. Miss Martin and Miss Horton cannot, he says, be there, being engaged in a party of their own, with two daughters of Colonel Solcombe, and two nieces of Sir Anthony Holmes, upon an annual occasion. But Mrs. Sinclair will be present, and she gave him hope of the company of a young lady of very great fortune and merit (Miss Partington), an heiress to whom Colonel Sinclair, it seems, in his lifetime was guardian, and who therefore calls Mrs. Sinclair Mamma.
I desired to be excused. He had laid me, I said, under a most disagreeable necessity of appearing as a married person, and I would see as few people as possible who were to think me so.
He would not urge it, he said, if I were much averse: but they were his select friends; men of birth and fortune, who longed to see me. It was true, he added, that they, as well as his friend Doleman, believed we were married: but they thought him under the restrictions that he had mentioned to the people below. I might be assured, he told me, that his politeness before them should be carried into the highest degree of reverence.
When he is set upon any thing, there is no knowing, as I have said heretofore, what one can do.* But I will not, if I can help it, be made a show of; especially to men of whose character and principles I have no good opinion. I am, my dearest friend,
Your ever affectionate CL. HARLOWE.
* See Letter I. of this volume. See also Vol. II. Letter XX.
[Mr. Lovelace, in his next letter, gives an account of his quick return: of his reasons to the Lady for it: of her displeasure upon it: and of her urging his absence from the safety she was in from the situation of the house, except she were to be traced out by his visits.]
I was confoundedly puzzled, says he, on this occasion, and on her insisting upon the execution of a too-ready offer which I made her go down to Berks, to bring up my cousin Charlotte to visit and attend her. I made miserable excuses; and fearing that they would be mortally resented, as her passion began to rise upon my saying Charlotte was delicate, which she took strangely wrong, I was obliged to screen myself behind the most solemn and explicit declarations.
[He then repeats those declarations, to the same effect with the account she gives of them.]
I began, says he, with an intention to keep my life of honour in view, in the declaration I made her; but, as it has been said of a certain orator in the House of Commons, who more than once, in a long speech, convinced himself as he went along, and concluded against the side he set out intending to favour, so I in earnest pressed without reserve for matrimony in the progress of my harangue, which state I little thought of urging upon her with so much strength and explicitness.
[He then values himself upon the delay that his proposal of taking and furnishing a house must occasion.
He wavers in his resolutions whether to act honourable or not by a merit so exalted.
He values himself upon his own delicacy, in expressing his indignation against her friends, for supposing what he pretends his heart rises against them for presuming to suppose.]
But have I not reason, says he, to be angry with her for not praising me for this my delicacy, when she is so ready to call me to account for the least failure in punctilio?—However, I believe I can excuse her too, upon this generous consideration, [for generous I am sure it is, because it is against myself,] that her mind being the essence of delicacy, the least want of it shocks her; while the meeting with what is so very extraordinary to me, is too familiar to her to obtain her notice, as an extraordinary.
[He glories in the story of the house, and of the young widow possessor of it, Mrs. Fretchville he calls her; and leaves it doubtful to Mr. Belford, whether it be a real or a fictitious story.
He mentions his different proposals in relation to the ceremony, which he so earnestly pressed for; and owns his artful intention in avoiding to name the day.]
And now, says he, I hope soon to have an opportunity to begin my operations; since all is halcyon and security.
It is impossible to describe the dear creature's sweet and silent confusion, when I touched upon the matrimonial topics.
She may doubt. She may fear. The wise in all important cases will doubt, and will fear, till they are sure. But her apparent willingness to think well of a spirit so inventive, and so machinating, is a happy prognostic for me. O these reasoning ladies!—How I love these reasoning ladies!—'Tis all over with them, when once love has crept into their hearts: for then will they employ all their reasoning powers to excuse rather than to blame the conduct of the doubted lover, let appearances against him be ever so strong.
Mowbray, Belton, and Tourville, long to see my angel, and will be there. She has refused me; but must be present notwithstanding. So generous a spirit as mine is cannot enjoy its happiness without communication. If I raise not your envy and admiration both at once, but half-joy will be the joy of having such a charming fly entangled in my web. She therefore must comply. And thou must come. And then will show thee the pride and glory of the Harlowe family, my implacable enemies; and thou shalt join with me in my triumph over them all.
I know not what may still be the perverse beauty's fate: I want thee, therefore, to see and admire her, while she is serene and full of hope: before her apprehensions are realized, if realized they are to be; and if evil apprehensions of me she really has; before her beamy eyes have lost their lustre; while yet her charming face is surrounded with all its virgin glories; and before the plough of disappointment has thrown up furrows of distress upon every lovely feature.
If I can procure you this honour you will be ready to laugh out, as I have often much ado to forbear, at the puritanical behaviour of the mother before this lady. Not an oath, not a curse, nor the least free word, escapes her lips. She minces in her gait. She prims up her horse-mouth. Her voice, which, when she pleases, is the voice of thunder, is sunk into an humble whine. Her stiff hams, that have not been bent to a civility for ten years past, are now limbered into courtesies three deep at ever word. Her fat arms are crossed before her; and she can hardly be prevailed upon to sit in the presence of my goddess.
I am drawing up instructions for ye all to observe on Monday night.
Most confoundedly alarmed!—Lord, Sir, what do you think? cried Dorcas —My lady is resolved to go to church to-morrow! I was at quadrille with the women below.—To church! said I, and down I laid my cards. To church! repeated they, each looking upon the other. We had done playing for that night.
Who could have dreamt of such a whim as this?—Without notice, without questions! Her clothes not come! No leave asked!—Impossible she should think of being my wife!—Besides, she don't consider, if she go to church, I must go too!—Yet not to ask for my company! Her brother and Singleton ready to snap her up, as far as she knows!—Known by her clothes—her person, her features, so distinguished!—Not such another woman in England!—To church of all places! Is the devil in the girl? said I, as soon as I could speak.
Well, but to leave this subject till to-morrow morning, I will now give you the instructions I have drawn up for your's and your companions' behaviour on Monday night.
Instructions to be observed by John Belford, Richard Mowbray, Thomas Belton, and James Tourville, Esquires of the Body to General Robert Lovelace, on their admission to the presence of his Goddess.
Ye must be sure to let it sink deep into your heavy heads, that there is no such lady in the world as Miss Clarissa Harlowe; and that she is neither more nor less than Mrs. Lovelace, though at present, to my shame be it spoken, a virgin.
Be mindful also, that your old mother's name, after that of her mother when a maid, is Sinclair: that her husband was a lieutenant-colonel, and all that you, Belford, know from honest Doleman's letter of her,* that let your brethren know.
* See Letter XXXVIII. Vol. III.
Mowbray and Tourville, the two greatest blunderers of the four, I allow to be acquainted with the widow and nieces, from the knowledge they had of the colonel. They will not forbear familiarities of speech to the mother, as of longer acquaintance than a day. So I have suited their parts to their capacities.
They may praise the widow and the colonel for people of great honour—but not too grossly; nor to labour the point so as to render themselves suspected.
The mother will lead ye into her own and the colonel's praises! and Tourville and Mowbray may be both her vouchers—I, and you, and Belton, must be only hearsay confirmers.
As poverty is generally suspectible, the widow must be got handsomely aforehand; and no doubt but she is. The elegance of her house and furniture, and her readiness to discharge all demands upon her, which she does with ostentation enough, and which makes her neighbours, I suppose, like her the better, demonstrate this. She will propose to do handsome things by her two nieces. Sally is near marriage—with an eminent woollen-draper in the Strand, if ye have a mind to it; for there are five or six of them there.
The nieces may be inquired after, since they will be absent, as persons respected by Mowbray and Tourville, for their late worthy uncle's sake.
Watch ye diligently every turn of my countenance, every motion of my eye; for in my eye, and in my countenance will ye find a sovereign regulator. I need not bid you respect me mightily: your allegiance obliges you to that: And who that sees me, respects me not?
Priscilla Partington (for her looks so innocent, and discretion so deep, yet seeming so softly) may be greatly relied upon. She will accompany the mother, gorgeously dressed, with all her Jew's extravagance flaming out upon her; and first induce, then countenance, the lady. She has her cue, and I hope will make her acquaintance coveted by my charmer.
Miss Partington's history is this: the daughter of Colonel Sinclair's brother-in-law: that brother-in-law may have been a Turkey-merchant, or any merchant, who died confoundedly rich: the colonel one of her guardians [collateral credit in that to the old one:] whence she always calls Mrs. Sinclair Mamma, though not succeeding to the trust.
She is just come to pass a day or two, and then to return to her surviving guardian's at Barnet.
Miss Partington has suitors a little hundred (her grandmother, an alderman's dowager, having left her a great additional fortune,) and is not trusted out of her guardian's house without an old governante, noted for discretion, except to her Mamma Sinclair, with whom now-and-then she is permitted to be for a week together.
Pris. will Mamma-up Mrs. Sinclair, and will undertake to court her guardian to let her pass a delightful week with her—Sir Edward Holden he may as well be, if your shallow pates will not be clogged with too many circumstantials. Lady Holden, perhaps, will come with her; for she always delighted in her Mamma Sinclair's company, and talks of her, and her good management, twenty times a day.
Be it principally thy part, Jack, who art a parading fellow, and aimest at wisdom, to keep thy brother-varlets from blundering; for, as thou must have observed from what I have written, we have the most watchful and most penetrating lady in the world to deal with; a lady worth deceiving! but whose eyes will piece to the bottom of your shallow souls the moment she hears you open. Do you therefore place thyself between Mowbray and Tourville: their toes to be played upon and commanded by thine, if they go wrong: thy elbows to be the ministers of approbation.
As to your general behaviour; no hypocrisy!—I hate it: so does my charmer. If I had studied for it, I believe I could have been an hypocrite: but my general character is so well known, that I should have been suspected at once, had I aimed at making myself too white. But what necessity can there be for hypocrisy, unless the generality of the sex were to refuse us for our immoralities? The best of them love to have the credit for reforming us. Let the sweet souls try for it: if they fail, their intent was good. That will be a consolation to them. And as to us, our work will be the easier; our sins the fewer: since they will draw themselves in with a very little of our help; and we shall save a parcel of cursed falsehoods, and appear to be what we are both to angels and men.—Mean time their very grandmothers will acquit us, and reproach them with their self-do, self-have, and as having erred against knowledge, and ventured against manifest appearances. What folly, therefore, for men of our character to be hypocrites!
Be sure to instruct the rest, and do thou thyself remember, not to talk obscenely. You know I never permitted any of you to talk obscenely. Time enough for that, when ye grow old, and can ONLY talk. Besides, ye must consider Prisc.'s affected character, my goddess's real one. Far from obscenity, therefore, do not so much as touch upon the double entendre. What! as I have often said, cannot you touch a lady's heart without wounding her ear?
It is necessary that ye should appear worse men than myself. You cannot help appearing so, you'll say. Well, then, there will be the less restraint upon you—the less restraint, the less affectation.—And if Belton begins his favourite subject in behalf of keeping, it may make me take upon myself to oppose him: but fear not; I shall not give the argument all my force.
She must have some curiosity, I think, to see what sort of men my companions are: she will not expect any of you to be saints. Are you not men born to considerable fortunes, although ye are not all of you men of parts? Who is it in this mortal life that wealth does not mislead? And as it gives people the power of being mischievous, does it not require great virtue to forbear the use of that power? Is not the devil said to be the god of this world? Are we not children of this world? Well, then! let me tell thee my opinion—It is this, that were it not for the poor and the middling, the world would probably, long ago, have been destroyed by fire from Heaven. Ungrateful wretches the rest, thou wilt be apt to say, to make such sorry returns, as they generally do make, to the poor and the middling!
This dear lady is prodigiously learned in theories. But as to practices, as to experimentals, must be, as you know from her tender years, a mere novice. Till she knew me, I dare say, she did not believe, whatever she had read, that there were such fellows in the world, as she will see in you four. I shall have much pleasure in observing how she'll stare at her company, when she finds me the politest man of the five.
And so much for instructions general and particular for your behaviour on Monday night.
And let me add, that you must attend to every minute circumstance, whether you think there be reason for it, or not. Deep, like golden ore, frequently lies my meaning, and richly worth digging for. The hint of least moment, as you may imagine it, is often pregnant with events of the greatest. Be implicit. Am I not your general? Did I ever lead you on that I brought you not off with safety and success?—Sometimes to your own stupid astonishment.
And now, methinks, thou art curious to know, what can be my view in risquing the displeasure of my fair-one, and alarming her fears, after four or five halcyon days have gone over our heads? I'll satisfy thee.
The visiters of the two nieces will crowd the house.—Beds will be scarce:—Miss Partington, a sweet, modest, genteel girl, will be prodigiously taken with my charmer;—will want to begin a friendship with her—a share in her bed, for one night only, will be requested. Who knows, but on that very Monday night I may be so unhappy as to give mortal offence to my beloved? The shyest birds may be caught napping. Should she attempt to fly me upon it, cannot I detain her? Should she actually fly, cannot I bring her back, by authority civil or uncivil, if I have evidence upon evidence that she acknowledged, though but tacitly, her marriage? And should I, or should I not succeed, and she forgive me, or if she but descend to expostulate, or if she bear me in her sight, then will she be all my own. All delicacy is my charmer. I long to see how such a delicacy, on any of these occasions, will behave, and in my situation it behoves me to provide against every accident.
I must take care, knowing what an eel I have to do with, that the little riggling rogue does not slip through my fingers. How silly should I look, staring after her, when she had shot from me into the muddy river, her family, from which with so much difficulty I have taken her!
Well then, here are—let me see—How many persons are there who, after Monday night, will be able to swear that she has gone by my name, answered to my name, had no other view in leaving her friends but to go by my name? her own relations neither able nor willing to deny it.— First, here are my servants, her servant, Dorcas, Mrs. Sinclair, Mrs. Sinclair's two nieces, and Miss Partington.
But for fear these evidences should be suspected, here comes the jet of the business—'No less than four worthy gentlemen of fortune and family, who were all in company such a night particularly, at a collation to which they were invited by Robert Lovelace, of Sandoun-hall, in the county of Lancaster, esquire, in company with Magdalen Sinclair, widow, and Priscilla Partington, spinster, and the lady complainant, when the said Robert Lovelace addressed himself to the said lady, on a multitude of occasions, as his wife; as they and others did, as Mrs. Lovelace; every one complimenting and congratulating her upon her nuptials; and that she received such their compliments and congratulations with no other visible displeasure or repugnance, than such as a young bride, full of blushes and pretty confusion, might be supposed to express upon such contemplative revolvings as those compliments would naturally inspire.' Nor do thou rave at me, Jack, nor rebel. Dost think I brought the dear creature hither for nothing?
And here's a faint sketch of my plot.—Stand by, varlets—tanta-ra-ra-ra! —Veil your bonnets, and confess your master!
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. SUNDAY.
Have been at church, Jack—behaved admirably well too! My charmer is pleased with me now: for I was exceedingly attentive to the discourse, and very ready in the auditor's part of the service.—Eyes did not much wander. How could they, when the loveliest object, infinitely the loveliest in the whole church, was in my view!
Dear creature! how fervent, how amiable, in her devotions! I have got her to own that she prayed for me. I hope a prayer from so excellent a mind will not be made in vain.
There is, after all, something beautifully solemn in devotion. The Sabbath is a charming institution to keep the heart right, when it is right. One day in seven, how reasonable!—I think I'll go to church once a day often. I fancy it will go a great way towards making me a reformed man. To see multitudes of well-appearing people all joining in one reverend act. An exercise how worthy of a rational being! Yet it adds a sting or two to my former stings, when I think of my projects with regard to this charming creature. In my conscience, I believe, if I were to go constantly to church, I could not pursue them.
I had a scheme come into my head while there; but I will renounce it, because it obtruded itself upon me in so good a place. Excellent creature! How many ruins has she prevented by attaching me to herself —by engrossing my whole attention.
But let me tell thee what passed between us in my first visit of this morning; and then I will acquaint thee more largely with my good behaviour at church.
I could not be admitted till after eight. I found her ready prepared to go out. I pretended to be ignorant of her intention, having charged Dorcas not to own that she had told me of it.
Going abroad, Madam?—with an air of indifference.
Yes, Sir: I intend to go to church.
I hope, Madam, I shall have the honour to attend you.
No: she designed to take a chair, and go to the next church.
This startled me:—A chair to carry her to the next church from Mrs. Sinclair's, her right name not Sinclair, and to bring her back hither in the face of people who might not think well of the house!—There was no permitting that. Yet I was to appear indifferent. But said, I should take it for a favour, if she would permit me to attend her in a coach, as there was time for it, to St. Paul's.
She made objections to the gaiety of my dress; and told me, that if she went to St. Paul's, she could go in a coach without me.
I objected Singleton and her brother, and offered to dress in the plainest suit I had.
I beg the favour of attending you, dear Madam, said I. I have not been at church a great while; we shall sit in different stalls, and the next time I go, I hope it will be to give myself a title to the greatest blessing I can receive.
She made some further objections: but at last permitted me the honour of attending her.
I got myself placed in her eye, that the time might not seem tedious to me, for we were there early. And I gained her good opinion, as I mentioned above, by my behaviour.
The subject of the discourse was particular enough: It was about a prophet's story or parable of an ewe-lamb taken by a rich man from a poor one, who dearly loved it, and whose only comfort it was: designed to strike remorse into David, on his adultery with Uriah's wife Bathsheba, and his murder of the husband. These women, Jack, have been the occasion of all manner of mischief from the beginning! Now, when David, full of indignation, swore [King David would swear, Jack: But how shouldst thou know who King David was?—The story is in the Bible,] that the rich man should surely die; Nathan, which was the prophet's name, and a good ingenious fellow, cried out, (which were the words of the text,) Thou art the man! By my soul I thought the parson looked directly at me; and at that moment I cast my eye full on my ewe-lamb.—But I must tell thee too, that, that I thought a good deal of my Rosebud.—A better man than King David, in that point, however, thought I!
When we came home we talked upon the subject; and I showed my charmer my attention to the discourse, by letting her know where the Doctor made the most of his subject, and where it might have been touched to greater advantage: for it is really a very affecting story, and has as pretty a contrivance in it as ever I read. And this I did in such a grave way, that she seemed more and more pleased with me; and I have no doubt, that I shall get her to favour me to-morrow night with her company at my collation.
We all dined together in Mrs. Sinclair's parlour:—All excessively right! The two nieces have topped their parts—Mrs. Sinclair her's. Never was so easy as now!—'She really thought a little oddly of these people at first, she said! Mrs. Sinclair seemed very forbidding! Her nieces were persons with whom she could not wish to be acquainted. But really we should not be too hasty in our censures. Some people improve upon us. The widow seems tolerable.' She went no farther than tolerable.—'Miss Martin and Miss Horton are young people of good sense, and have read a great deal. What Miss Martin particularly said of marriage, and of her humble servant, was very solid. She believes with such notions she cannot make a bad wife.' I have said Sally's humble servant is a woolen- draper of great reputation; and she is soon to be married.
I have been letting her into thy character, and into the characters of my other three esquires, in hopes to excite her curiosity to see you to-morrow night. I have told her some of the worst, as well as best parts of your characters, in order to exalt myself, and to obviate any sudden surprizes, as well as to teach her what sort of men she may expect to see, if she will oblige me with her company.
By her after-observation upon each of you, I shall judge what I may or may not do to obtain or keep her good opinion; what she will like, or what not; and so pursue the one or avoid the other, as I see proper. So, while she is penetrating into your shallow heads, I shall enter her heart, and know what to bid my own to hope for.
The house is to be taken in three weeks.—All will be over in three weeks, or bad will be my luck!—Who knows but in three days?—Have I not carried that great point of making her pass for my wife to the people below? And that other great one, of fixing myself here night and day? —What woman ever escaped me, who lodged under one roof with me?—The house too, THE house; the people—people after my own heart; her servants, Will. and Dorcas, both my servants.—Three days, did I say! Pho! Pho! Pho!—three hours!
I have carried my third point: but so extremely to the dislike of my charmer, that I have been threatened, for suffering Miss Partington to be introduced to her without her leave. Which laid her under a necessity to deny or comply with the urgent request of so fine a young lady; who had engaged to honour me at my collation, on condition that my beloved would be present at it.
To be obliged to appear before my friends as what she was not! She was for insisting, that I should acquaint the women here with the truth of the matter; and not go on propagating stories for her to countenance, making her a sharer in my guilt.
But what points will not perseverance carry? especially when it is covered over with the face of yielding now, and, Parthian-like, returning to the charge anon. Do not the sex carry all their points with their men by the same methods? Have I conversed with them so freely as I have done, and learnt nothing of them? Didst thou ever know that a woman's denial of any favour, whether the least or the greatest, that my heart was set upon, stood her in any stead? The more perverse she, the more steady I—that is my rule.
But the point thus so much against her will carried, I doubt thou will see in her more of a sullen than of an obliging charmer: for, when Miss Partington was withdrawn, 'What was Miss Partington to her? In her situation she wanted no new acquaintances. And what were my four friends to her in her present circumstances? She would assure me, if ever again' —And there she stopped, with a twirl of her hand.
When we meet, I will, in her presence, tipping thee a wink, show thee the motion, for it was a very pretty one. Quite new. Yet have I seen an hundred pretty passionate twirls too, in my time, from other fair-ones. How universally engaging is it to put a woman of sense, to whom a man is not married, in a passion, let the reception given to every ranting scene in our plays testify. Take care, my charmer, now thou art come to delight me with thy angry twirls, that thou temptest me not to provoke a variety of them from one, whose every motion, whose every air, carries in it so much sense and soul.