HISTORY OF A YOUNG LADY
Nine Volumes Volume VII.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME VII
LETTER I. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Beseeches her to take comfort, and not despair. Is dreadfully apprehensive of her own safety from Mr. Lovelace. An instruction to mothers.
LETTER II. Clarissa To Miss Howe.— Averse as she is to appear in a court of justice against Lovelace, she will consent to prosecute him, rather than Miss Howe shall live in terror. Hopes she shall not despair: but doubts not, from so many concurrent circumstances, that the blow is given.
LETTER III. IV. Lovelace to Belford.— Has no subject worth writing upon now he has lost his Clarissa. Half in jest, half in earnest, [as usual with him when vexed or disappointed,] he deplores the loss of her.—Humourous account of Lord M., of himself, and of his two cousins Montague. His Clarissa has made him eyeless and senseless to every other beauty.
LETTER V. VI. VII. VIII. From the same.— Lady Sarah Sadleir and Lady Betty Lawrance arrive, and engage Lord M. and his two cousins Montague against him, on account of his treatment of the lady. His trial, as he calls it. After many altercations, they obtain his consent that his two cousins should endeavour to engage Miss Howe to prevail upon Clarissa to accept of him, on his unfeigned repentance. It is some pleasure to him, he however rakishly reflects, to observe how placable the ladies of his family would have been, had they met with a Lovelace. MARRIAGE, says he, with these women, is an atonement for the worst we can do to them; a true dramatic recompense. He makes several other whimsical, but characteristic observations, some of which may serve as cautions and warnings to the sex.
LETTER IX. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Has had a visit from the two Miss Montague's. Their errand. Advises her to marry Lovelace. Reasons for her advice.
LETTER X. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Chides her with friendly impatience for not answering her letter. Re-urges her to marry Lovelace, and instantly to put herself under Lady Betty's protection.
LETTER XI. Miss Howe to Miss Montague.— In a phrensy of her soul, writes to her to demand news of her beloved friend, spirited away, as she apprehends, by the base arts of the blackest of men.
LETTER XII. Lovelace to Belford.— The suffering innocent arrested and confined, by the execrable woman, in a sham action. He curses himself, and all his plots and contrivances. Conjures him to fly to her, and clear him of this low, this dirty villany; to set her free without conditions; and assure her, that he will never molest her more. Horribly execrates the diabolical women, who thought to make themselves a merit with him by this abominable insult.
LETTER XIII. XIV. Miss Montague to Miss Howe, with the particulars of all that has happened to the lady.—Mr. Lovelace the most miserable of men. Reflections on libertines. She, her sister, Lady Betty, Lady Sarah, Lord M., and Lovelace himself, all sign letters to Miss Howe, asserting his innocence of this horrid insult, and imploring her continued interest in his and their favour with Clarissa.
LETTER XV. Belford to Lovelace.— Particulars of the vile arrest. Insolent visits of the wicked women to her. Her unexampled meekness and patience. Her fortitude. He admires it, and prefers it to the false courage of men of their class.
LETTER XVI. From the same.— Goes to the officer's house. A description of the horrid prison-room, and of the suffering lady on her knees in one corner of it. Her great and moving behaviour. Breaks off, and sends away his letter, on purpose to harass him by suspense.
LETTER XVII. Lovelace to Belford.— Curses him for his tormenting abruption. Clarissa never suffered half what he suffers. That sex made to bear pain. Conjures him to hasten to him the rest of his soul-harrowing intelligence.
LETTER XVIII. Belford to Lovelace.— His farther proceedings. The lady returns to her lodgings at Smith's. Distinction between revenge and resentment in her character. Sends her, from the vile women, all her apparel, as Lovelace had desired.
LETTER XIX. Belford to Lovelace.— Rejoices to find he can feel. Will endeavour from time to time to add to his remorse. Insists upon his promise not to molest the lady.
LETTER XX. From the same.— Describes her lodgings, and gives a character of the people, and of the good widow Lovick. She is so ill, that they provide her an honest nurse, and send for Mr. Goddard, a worthy apothecary. Substance of a letter to Miss Howe, dictated by the lady.
LETTER XXI. From the same.— Admitted to the lady's presence. What passed on the occasion. Really believes that she still loves him. Has a reverence, and even a holy love for her. Astonished that Lovelace could hold his purposes against such an angel of a woman. Condemns him for not timely exerting himself to save her.
LETTER XXII. From the same.— Dr. H. called in. Not having a single guinea to give him, she accepts of three from Mrs. Lovick on a diamond ring. Her dutiful reasons for admitting the doctor's visit. His engaging and gentlemanly behaviour. She resolves to part with some of her richest apparel. Her reasons.
LETTER XXIII. Lovelace to Belford.— Raves at him. For what. Rallies him, with his usual gayety, on several passages in his letters. Reasons why Clarissa's heart cannot be broken by what she has suffered. Passionate girls easily subdued. Sedate ones hardly ever pardon. He has some retrograde motions: yet is in earnest to marry Clarissa. Gravely concludes, that a person intending to marry should never be a rake. His gay resolutions. Renews, however, his promises not to molest her. A charming encouragement for a man of intrigue, when a woman is known not to love her husband. Advantages which men have over women, when disappointed in love. He knows she will permit him to make her amends, after she has plagued him heartily.
LETTER XXIV. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Is shocked at receiving a letter from her written by another hand. Tenderly consoles her, and inveighs against Lovelace. Re-urges her, however, to marry him. Her mother absolutely of her opinion. Praises Mr. Hickman's sister, who, with her Lord, had paid her a visit.
LETTER XXV. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Her condition greatly mended. In what particulars. Her mind begins to strengthen; and she finds herself at times superior to her calamities. In what light she wishes her to think of her. Desires her to love her still, but with a weaning love. She is not now what she was when they were inseparable lovers. Their views must now be different.
LETTER XXVI. Belford to Lovelace.— A consuming malady, and a consuming mistress, as in Belton's case, dreadful things to struggle with. Farther reflections on the life of keeping. The poor man afraid to enter into his own house. Belford undertakes his cause. Instinct in brutes equivalent to natural affection in men. Story of the ancient Sarmatians, and their slaves. Reflects on the lives of rakes, and free-livers; and how ready they are in sickness to run away from one another. Picture of a rake on a sick bed. Will marry and desert them all.
LETTER XXVII. From the same.— The lady parts with some of her laces. Instances of the worthiness of Dr. H. and Mr. Goddard. He severely reflects upon Lovelace.
LETTER XXVIII. Lovelace to Belford.— Has an interview with Mr. Hickman. On what occasion. He endeavours to disconcert him, by assurance and ridicule; but finds him to behave with spirit.
LETTER XXIX. From the same.— Rallies him on his intentional reformation. Ascribes the lady's ill health entirely to the arrest, (in which, he says, he had no hand,) and to her relations' cruelty. Makes light of her selling her clothes and laces. Touches upon Belton's case. Distinguishes between companionship and friendship. How he purposes to rid Belton of his Thomasine and her cubs.
LETTER XXX. Belford to Lovelace.— The lady has written to her sister, to obtain a revocation of her father's malediction. Defends her parents. He pleads with the utmost earnestness to her for his friend.
LETTER XXXI. From the same.— Can hardly forbear prostration to her. Tenders himself as her banker. Conversation on this subject. Admires her magnanimity. No wonder that a virtue so solidly based could baffle all his arts. Other instances of her greatness of mind. Mr. Smith and his wife invite him, and beg of her to dine with them, it being their wedding day. Her affecting behaviour on the occasion. She briefly, and with her usual noble simplicity, relates to them the particulars of her life and misfortunes.
LETTER XXXII. Lovelace to Belford.— Ridicules him on his address to the lady as her banker, and on his aspirations and prostrations. Wants to come at letters she has written. Puts him upon engaging Mrs. Lovick to bring this about. Weight that proselytes have with the good people that convert them. Reasons for it. He has hopes still of the lady's favour; and why. Never adored her so much as now. Is about to go to a ball at Colonel Ambrose's. Who to be there. Censures affectation and finery in the dress of men; and particularly with a view to exalt himself, ridicules Belford on this subject.
LETTER XXXIII. XXXIV. XXXV. XXXVI. XXXVII. Sharp letters that pass between Miss Howe and Arabella Harlowe.
LETTER XXXVIII. Mrs. Harlowe to Mrs. Howe.— Sent with copies of the five foregoing letters.
LETTER XXXIX. Mrs. Howe to Mrs. Harlowe. In answer.
LETTER XL. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Desires an answer to her former letters for her to communicate to Miss Montague. Farther enforces her own and her mother's opinion, that she should marry Lovelace. Is obliged by her mother to go to a ball at Colonel Ambrose's. Fervent professions of her friendly love.
LETTER XLI. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Her noble reasons for refusing Lovelace. Desires her to communicate extracts from this letter to the Ladies of his family.
LETTER XLII. From the same.— Begs, for her sake, that she will forbear treating her relations with freedom and asperity. Endeavours, in her usual dutiful manner, to defend their conduct towards her. Presses her to make Mr. Hickman happy.
LETTER XLIII. Mrs. Norton to Clarissa.— Excuses her long silence. Her family, who were intending to favour her, incensed against her by means of Miss Howe's warm letters to her sister.
LETTER XLIV. Clarissa to Mrs. Norton.— Is concerned that Miss Howe should write about her to her friends. Gives her a narrative of all that has befallen her since her last. Her truly christian frame of mind. Makes reflections worthy of herself, upon her present situation, and upon her hopes, with regard to a happy futurity.
LETTER XLV. Copy of Clarissa's humble letter to her sister, imploring the revocation of her father's heavy malediction.
LETTER XLVI. Belford to Lovelace.— Defends the lady from the perverseness he (Lovelace) imputes to her on parting with some of her apparel. Poor Belton's miserable state both of body and mind. Observations on the friendship of libertines. Admires the noble simplicity, and natural ease and dignity of style, of the sacred books. Expatiates upon the pragmatical folly of man. Those who know least, the greatest scoffers.
LETTER XLVII. From the same.— The lady parts with one of her best suits of clothes. Reflections upon such purchasers as take advantage of the necessities of their fellow-creatures. Self an odious devil. A visible alteration in the lady for the worse. She gives him all Mr. Lovelace's letters. He (Belford) takes this opportunity to plead for him. Mr. Hickman comes to visit her.
LETTER XLVIII. From the same.— Breakfasts next morning with the lady and Mr. Hickman. His advantageous opinion of that gentleman. Censures the conceited pride and narrow-mindedness of rakes and libertines. Tender and affecting parting between Mr. Hickman and the lady. Observations in praise of intellectual friendship.
LETTER XLIX. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— Has no notion of coldness in friendship. Is not a daughter of those whom she so freely treats. Delays giving the desired negative to the solicitation of the ladies of Lovelace's family; and why. Has been exceedingly fluttered by the appearance of Lovelace at the ball given by Colonel Ambrose. What passed on that occasion. Her mother and all the ladies of their select acquaintance of opinion that she should accept of him.
LETTER L. Clarissa. In answer.— Chides her for suspending the decisive negative. Were she sure she should live many years, she would not have Mr. Lovelace. Censures of the world to be but of second regard with any body. Method as to devotion and exercise she was in when so cruelly arrested.
LETTER LI. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Designed to be communicated to Mr. Lovelace's relations.
LETTER LII. LIII. Lovelace to Belford.— Two letters entirely characteristic yet intermingled with lessons and observations not unworthy of a better character. He has great hopes from Miss Howe's mediation in his favour. Picture of two rakes turned Hermits, in their penitentials.
LETTER LIV. Miss Howe to Clarissa.— She now greatly approves of her rejection of Lovelace. Admires the noble example she has given her sex of a passion conquered. Is sorry she wrote to Arabella: but cannot imitate her in her self-accusations, and acquittals of others who are all in fault. Her notions of a husband's prerogative. Hopes she is employing herself in penning down the particulars of her tragical story. Use to be made of it to the advantage of her sex. Her mother earnest about it.
LETTER LV. Miss Howe to Miss Montague.— With Clarissa's Letter, No. XLI. of this volume. Her own sentiments of the villanous treatment her beloved friend had met with from their kinsman. Prays for vengeance upon him, if she do not recover.
LETTER LVI. Mrs. Norton to Clarissa.— Acquaints her with some of their movements at Harlowe-place. Almost wishes she would marry the wicked man; and why. Useful reflections on what has befallen a young lady so universally beloved. Must try to move her mother in her favour. But by what means, will not tell her, unless she succeed.
LETTER LVII. Mrs. Norton to Mrs. Harlowe.
LETTER LVIII. Mrs. Harlowe's affecting answer.
LETTER LIX. Clarissa to Mrs. Norton.— Earnestly begs, for reasons equally generous and dutiful, that she may be left to her own way of working with her relations. Has received her sister's answer to her letter, No. XLV. of this volume. She tries to find an excuse for the severity of it, though greatly affected by it. Other affecting and dutiful reflections.
LETTER LX. Her sister's cruel letter, mentioned in the preceding.
LETTER LXI. Clarissa to Miss Howe.— Is pleased that she now at last approved of her rejecting Lovelace. Desires her to be comforted as to her. Promises that she will not run away from life. Hopes she has already got above the shock given her by the ill treatment she has met with from Lovelace. Has had an escape, rather than a loss. Impossible, were it not for the outrage, that she could have been happy with him; and why. Sets in the most affecting, the most dutiful and generous lights, the grief of her father, mother, and other relations, on her account. Had begun the particulars of her tragical story; but would fain avoid proceeding with it; and why. Opens her design to make Mr. Belford her executor, and gives her reasons for it. Her father having withdrawn his malediction, she now has only a last blessing to supplicate for.
LETTER LXII. Clarissa to her sister.— Beseeching her, in the most humble and earnest manner, to procure her a last blessing.
LETTER LXIII. Mrs. Norton to Clarissa.— Mr. Brand to be sent up to inquire after her way of life and health. His pedantic character. Believes they will withhold any favour till they hear his report. Doubts not that matters will soon take a happy turn.
LETTER LXIV. Clarissa. In answer.— The grace she asks for is only a blessing to die with, not to live with. Their favour, if they design her any, may come too late. Doubts her mother can do nothing for her of herself. A strong confederacy against a poor girl, their daughter, sister, niece. Her brother perhaps got it renewed before he went to Edinburgh. He needed not, says she: his work is done, and more than done.
LETTER LXV. Lovelace to Belford.— Is mortified at receiving letters of rejection. Charlotte writes to the lady in his favour, in the name of all the family. Every body approves of what she has written; and he has great hopes from it.
LETTER LXVI. Copy of Miss Montague's letter to Clarissa.— Beseeching her, in the names of all their noble family, to receive Lovelace to favour.
LETTER LXVII. Belford to Lovelace.— Proposes to put Belton's sister into possession of Belton's house for him. The lady visibly altered for the worse. Again insists upon his promise not to molest her.
LETTER LXVIII. Clarissa to Miss Montague.— In answer to her's, No. LXVI.
LETTER LXIX. Belford to Lovelace.— Has just now received a letter from the lady, which he encloses, requesting extracts form the letters written to him by Mr. Lovelace within a particular period. The reasons which determine him to oblige her.
LETTER LXX. Belford to Clarissa.— With the requested extracts; and a plea in his friend's favour.
LETTER LXXI. Clarissa to Belford.— Thanks him for his communications. Requests that he will be her executor; and gives her reasons for her choice of him for that solemn office.
LETTER LXXII. Belford to Clarissa.— His cheerful acceptance of the trust.
LETTER LXXIII. Belford to Lovelace.— Brief account of the extracts delivered to the lady. Tells him of her appointing him her executor. The melancholy pleasure he shall have in the perusal of her papers. Much more lively and affecting, says he, must be the style of those who write in the height of a present distress than the dry, narrative, unanimated style of a person relating difficulties surmounted, can be.
LETTER LXXIV. Arabella to Clarissa.— In answer to her letter, No. LXII., requesting a last blessing.
LETTER LXXV. Clarissa to her mother.— Written in the fervour of her spirit, yet with the deepest humility, and on her knees, imploring her blessing, and her father's, as what will sprinkle comfort through her last hours.
LETTER LXXVI. Miss Montague to Clarissa.— In reply to her's, No. LXVIII.—All their family love and admire her. Their kinsman has not one friend among them. Beseech her to oblige them with the acceptance of an annuity, and the first payment now sent her, at least till she can be put in possession of her own estate. This letter signed by Lord M., Lady Sarah, Lady Betty, and her sister and self.
LETTER LXXVII. Lovelace to Belford.— Raves against the lady for rejecting him; yet adores her the more for it. Has one half of the house to himself, and that the best; having forbid Lord M. and the ladies to see him, in return for their forbidding him to see them. Incensed against Belford for the extracts he has promised from his letters. Is piqued to death at her proud refusal of him. Curses the vile women, and their potions. But for these latter, the majesty of her virtue, he says, would have saved her, as it did once before.
LETTER LXXVIII. Lovelace to Belford.— He shall not, he tells him, be her executor. Nobody shall be any thing to her but himself. What a reprobation of a man, who was once so dear to her! Farther instances of his raving impatience.
LETTER LXXIX. Lovelace to Clarissa.— A letter full of penitence, promises, praises, and admiration of her virtue. Has no hopes of escaping from perdition but by her precepts and example. All he begs for the present is a few lines to encourage him to hope for forgiveness, if he can justify his vows by his future conduct.
LETTER LXXX. Clarissa to Lord M. and the ladies of the house.— Thankfully declines accepting of their offered bounty. Pleads for their being reconciled to their kinsman, for reasons respecting her own peace. Hopes that they may be enabled to rejoice in the effects of his reformation many years after she is laid low and forgotten.
LETTER LXXXI. Belford to Lovelace.— Brief account of his expelling Thomasine, her sons, and her gallant. Farther reflections on keeping. A state not calculated for a sick bed. Gives a short journal of what had passed relating to the lady since his last. Mr. Brand inquires after her character and behaviour of Mrs. Smith. His starchedness, conceit, and pedantry.
LETTER LXXXII. From the same.— Farther particulars relating to the lady. Power left her by her grandfather's will.
LETTER LXXXIII. Clarissa to Lovelace.— In answer to his letter, No. LXXIX.
LETTER LXXXIV. Her uncle Harlowe's cruel answer, in answer to her's to her mother, No. LXXV. Meditation stitched to it with black silk.
LETTER LXXXV. Clarissa to her uncle Harlowe. In reply.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE WED. NIGHT, JULY 12.
I write, my dearest creature, I cannot but write, to express my concern on your dejection. Let me beseech you, my charming excellence, let me beseech you, not to give way to it.
Comfort yourself, on the contrary, in the triumphs of a virtue unsullied; a will wholly faultless. Who could have withstood the trials you have surmounted?—Your cousin Morden will soon come. He will see justice done you, I make no doubt, as well with regard to what concerns your person as your estate. And many happy days may you yet see; and much good may you still do, if you will not heighten unavoidable accidents into guilty despondency.
But why, why, my dear, this pining solicitude continued after a reconciliation with relations as unworthy as implacable; whose wills are governed by an all-grasping brother, who finds his account in keeping the breach open? On this over-solicitude it is now plain to me, that the vilest of men built all his schemes. He saw that you thirsted after it beyond all reason for hope. The view, the hope, I own, extremely desirable, had your family been Christians: or even had they been Pagans who had had bowels.
I shall send this short letter [I am obliged to make it a short one] by young Rogers, as we call him; the fellow I sent to you to Hampstead; an innocent, though pragmatical rustic. Admit him, I pray you, into you presence, that he may report to me how you look, and how you are.
Mr. Hickman should attend you; but I apprehend, that all his motions, and mine own too, are watched by the execrable wretch: and indeed his are by an agent of mine; for I own, that I am so apprehensive of his plots and revenge, now I know that he has intercepted my vehement letters against him, that he is the subject of my dreams, as well as of my waking fears.
My mother, at my earnest importunity, has just given me leave to write, and to receive your letters—but fastened this condition upon the concession, that your's must be under cover to Mr. Hickman, [this is a view, I suppose, to give him consideration with me]; and upon this further consideration, that she is to see all we write.—'When girls are set upon a point,' she told one who told me again, 'it is better for a mother, if possible, to make herself of their party, than to oppose them; since there will be then hopes that she will still hold the reins in her own hands.'
Pray let me know what the people are with whom you lodge?—Shall I send Mrs. Townsend to direct you to lodgings either more safe or more convenient for you?
Be pleased to write to me by Rogers; who will wait on you for your answer, at your own time.
Adieu, my dearest creature. Comfort yourself, as you would in the like unhappy circumstances comfort
Your own ANNA HOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE THURSDAY, JULY 13.
I am extremely concerned, my dear Miss Howe, for being primarily the occasion of the apprehensions you have of this wicked man's vindictive attempts. What a wide-spreading error is mine!——
If I find that he has set foot on any machination against you, or against Mr. Hickman, I do assure you I will consent to prosecute him, although I were sure I could not survive my first appearance at the bar he should be arraigned at.
I own the justice of your mother's arguments on that subject; but must say, that I think there are circumstances in my particular case, which will excuse me, although on a slighter occasion than that you are apprehensive of I should decline to appear against him. I have said, that I may one day enter more particularly into this argument.
Your messenger has now indeed seen me. I talked with him on the cheat put upon him at Hampstead: and am sorry to have reason to say, that had not the poor young man been very simple, and very self-sufficient, he had not been so grossly deluded. Mrs. Bevis has the same plea to make for herself. A good-natured, thoughtless woman; not used to converse with so vile and so specious a deceiver as him, who made his advantage of both these shallow creatures.
I think I cannot be more private than where I am. I hope I am safe. All the risque I run, is in going out, and returning from morning-prayers; which I have two or three times ventured to do; once at Lincoln's-inn chapel, at eleven; once at St. Dunstan's, Fleet-street, at seven in the morning,* in a chair both times; and twice, at six in the morning, at the neighbouring church in Covent-garden. The wicked wretches I have escaped from, will not, I hope, come to church to look for me; especially at so early prayers; and I have fixed upon the privatest pew in the latter church to hide myself in; and perhaps I may lay out a little matter in an ordinary gown, by way of disguise; my face half hid by my mob.—I am very careless, my dear, of my appearance now. Neat and clean takes up the whole of my attention.
* The seven-o'clock prayers at St. Dunstan's have been since discontinued.
The man's name at whose house I belong, is Smith—a glove maker, as well as seller. His wife is the shop-keeper. A dealer also in stockings, ribbands, snuff, and perfumes. A matron-like woman, plain-hearted, and prudent. The husband an honest, industrious man. And they live in good understanding with each other: a proof with me that their hearts are right; for where a married couple live together upon ill terms, it is a sign, I think, that each knows something amiss of the other, either with regard to temper or morals, which if the world knew as well as themselves, it would perhaps as little like them as such people like each other. Happy the marriage, where neither man nor wife has any wilful or premeditated evil in their general conduct to reproach the other with!— for even persons who have bad hearts will have a veneration for those who have good ones.
Two neat rooms, with plain, but clean furniture, on the first floor, are mine; one they call the dining-room.
There is, up another pair of stairs, a very worthy widow-lodger, Mrs. Lovick by name; who, although of low fortunes, is much respected, as Mrs. Smith assures me, by people of condition of her acquaintance, for her piety, prudence, and understanding. With her I propose to be well acquainted.
I thank you, my dear, for your kind, your seasonable advice and consolation. I hope I shall have more grace given me than to despond, in the religious sense of the word: especially as I can apply to myself the comfort you give me, that neither my will, nor my inconsiderateness, has contributed to my calamity. But, nevertheless, the irreconcilableness of my relations, whom I love with an unabated reverence; my apprehensions of fresh violences, [this wicked man, I doubt, will not let me rest]; my being destitute of protection; my youth, my sex, my unacquaintedness with the world, subjecting me to insults; my reflections on the scandal I have given, added to the sense of the indignities I have received from a man, of whom I deserved not ill; all together will undoubtedly bring on the effect that cannot be undesirable to me.—The situation; and, as I presume to imagine, from principles which I hope will, in due time, and by due reflection, set me above the sense of all worldly disappointments.
At present, my head is much disordered. I have not indeed enjoyed it with any degree of clearness, since the violence done to that, and to my heart too, by the wicked arts of the abandoned creatures I was cast among.
I must have more conflicts. At times I find myself not subdued enough to my condition. I will welcome those conflicts as they come, as probationary ones.—But yet my father's malediction—the temporary part so strangely and so literally completed!—I cannot, however, think, when my mind is strongest—But what is the story of Isaac, and Jacob, and Esau, and of Rebekah's cheating the latter of the blessing designed for him, (in favour of Jacob,) given us for in the 27th chapter of Genesis? My father used, I remember, to enforce the doctrine deducible from it, on his children, by many arguments. At least, therefore, he must believe there is great weight in the curse he has announced; and shall I not be solicitous to get it revoked, that he may not hereafter be grieved, for my sake, that he did not revoke it?
All I will at present add, are my thanks to your mother for her indulgence to us; due compliments to Mr. Hickman; and my request, that you will believe me to be, to my last hour, and beyond it, if possible, my beloved friend, and my dearer self (for what is now myself!)
Your obliged and affectionate CLARISSA HARLOWE.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. FRIDAY, JULY 7.
I have three of thy letters at once before me to answer; in each of which thou complainest of my silence; and in one of them tallest me, that thou canst not live without I scribble to thee every day, or every other day at least.
Why, then, die, Jack, if thou wilt. What heart, thinkest thou, can I have to write, when I have lost the only subject worth writing upon?
Help me again to my angel, to my CLARISSA; and thou shalt have a letter from me, or writing at least part of a letter, every hour. All that the charmer of my heart shall say, that will I put down. Every motion, every air of her beloved person, every look, will I try to describe; and when she is silent, I will endeavour to tell thee her thoughts, either what they are, or what I would have them to be—so that, having her, I shall never want a subject. Having lost her, my whole soul is a blank: the whole creation round me, the elements above, beneath, and every thing I behold, (for nothing can I enjoy,) are a blank without her.
Oh! return, return, thou only charmer of my soul! return to thy adoring Lovelace! What is the light, what the air, what the town, what the country, what's any thing, without thee? Light, air, joy, harmony, in my notion, are but parts of thee; and could they be all expressed in one word, that word would be CLARISSA.
O my beloved CLARISSA, return thou then; once more return to bless thy LOVELACE, who now, by the loss of thee, knows the value of the jewel he has slighted; and rises every morning but to curse the sun that shines upon every body but him!
Well, but, Jack, 'tis a surprising thing to me, that the dear fugitive cannot be met with; cannot be heard of. She is so poor a plotter, (for plotting is not her talent,) that I am confident, had I been at liberty, I should have found her out before now; although the different emissaries I have employed about town, round the adjacent villages, and in Miss Howe's vicinage, have hitherto failed of success. But my Lord continues so weak and low-spirited, that there is no getting from him. I would not disoblige a man whom I think in danger still: for would his gout, now it has got him down, but give him, like a fair boxer, the rising-blow, all would be over with him. And here [pox of his fondness for me! it happens at a very bad time] he makes me sit hours together entertaining him with my rogueries: (a pretty amusement for a sick man!) and yet, whenever he has the gout, he prays night and morning with his chaplain. But what must his notions of religion be, who after he has nosed and mumbled over his responses, can give a sigh or groan of satisfaction, as if he thought he had made up with Heaven; and return with a new appetite to my stories? —encouraging them, by shaking his sides with laughing at them, and calling me a sad fellow, in such an accent as shows he takes no small delight in his kinsman.
The old peer has been a sinner in his day, and suffers for it now: a sneaking sinner, sliding, rather than rushing into vices, for fear of his reputation.—Paying for what he never had, and never daring to rise to the joy of an enterprise at first hand, which could bring him within view of a tilting, or of the honour of being considered as a principal man in a court of justice.
To see such an old Trojan as this, just dropping into the grave, which I hoped ere this would have been dug, and filled up with him; crying out with pain, and grunting with weakness; yet in the same moment crack his leathern face into an horrible laugh, and call a young sinner charming varlet, encoreing him, as formerly he used to do to the Italian eunuchs; what a preposterous, what an unnatural adherence to old habits!
My two cousins are generally present when I entertain, as the old peer calls it. Those stories must drag horribly, that have not more hearers and applauders than relaters.
Ay, Belford, applauders, repeat I; for although these girls pretend to blame me sometimes for the facts, they praise my manner, my invention, my intrepidity.—Besides, what other people call blame, that call I praise: I ever did; and so I very early discharged shame, that cold-water damper to an enterprising spirit.
These are smart girls; they have life and wit; and yesterday, upon Charlotte's raving against me upon a related enterprise, I told her, that I had had in debate several times, whether she were or were not too near of kin to me: and that it was once a moot point with me, whether I could not love her dearly for a month or so: and perhaps it was well for her, that another pretty little puss started up, and diverted me, just as I was entering upon the course.
They all three held up their hands and eyes at once. But I observed that, though the girls exclaimed against me, they were not so angry at this plain speaking as I have found my beloved upon hints so dark that I have wondered at her quick apprehension.
I told Charlotte, that, grave as she pretended to be in her smiling resentments on this declaration, I was sure I should not have been put to the expense of above two or three stratagems, (for nobody admired a good invention more than she,) could I but have disentangled her conscience from the embarrasses of consanguinity.
She pretended to be highly displeased: so did her sister for her. I told her, she seemed as much in earnest as if she had thought me so; and dared the trial. Plain words, I said, in these cases, were more shocking to their sex than gradatim actions. And I bid Patty not be displeased at my distinguishing her sister; since I had a great respect for her likewise.
An Italian air, in my usual careless way, a half-struggled-for kiss from me, and a shrug of the shoulder, by way of admiration, from each pretty cousin, and sad, sad fellow, from the old peer, attended with a side-shaking laugh, made us all friends.
There, Jack!—Wilt thou, or wilt thou not, take this for a letter? there's quantity, I am sure.—How have I filled a sheet (not a short-hand one indeed) without a subject! My fellow shall take this; for he is going to town. And if thou canst think tolerably of such execrable stuff, I will send thee another.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. SIX, SATURDAY MORNING, JULY 8.
Have I nothing new, nothing diverting, in my whimsical way, thou askest, in one of thy three letters before me, to entertain thee with?—And thou tallest me, that, when I have least to narrate, to speak, in the Scottish phrase, I am most diverting. A pretty compliment, either to thyself, or to me. To both indeed!—a sign that thou hast as frothy a heart as I a head. But canst thou suppose that this admirable woman is not all, is not every thing with me? Yet I dread to think of her too; for detection of all my contrivances, I doubt, must come next.
The old peer is also full of Miss Harlowe: and so are my cousins. He hopes I will not be such a dog [there's a specimen of his peer-like dialect] as to think of doing dishonourably by a woman of so much merit, beauty, and fortune; and he says of so good a family. But I tell him, that this is a string he must not touch: that it is a very tender point: in short, is my sore place; and that I am afraid he would handle it too roughly, were I to put myself in the power of so ungentle an operator.
He shakes his crazy head. He thinks all is not as it should be between us; longs to have me present her to him as my wife; and often tells me what great things he will do, additional to his former proposals; and what presents he will make on the birth of the first child. But I hope the whole of his estate will be in my hands before such an event takes place. No harm in hoping, Jack! Lord M. says, were it not for hope, the heart would break.
Eight o'clock at Midsummer, and these lazy varletesses (in full health) not come down yet to breakfast!—What a confounded indecency in young ladies, to let a rake know that they love their beds so dearly, and, at the same time, where to have them! But I'll punish them—they shall breakfast with their old uncle, and yawn at one another as if for a wager; while I drive my phaeton to Colonel Ambroses's, who yesterday gave me an invitation both to breakfast and dine, on account of two Yorkshire nieces, celebrated toasts, who have been with him this fortnight past; and who, he says, want to see me. So, Jack, all women do not run away from me, thank Heaven!—I wish I could have leave of my heart, since the dear fugitive is so ungrateful, to drive her out of it with another beauty. But who can supplant her? Who can be admitted to a place in it after Miss Clarissa Harlowe?
At my return, if I can find a subject, I will scribble on, to oblige thee.
My phaeton's ready. My cousins send me word they are just coming down: so in spite I'll be gone.
I did stay to dine with the Colonel, and his lady, and nieces: but I could not pass the afternoon with them, for the heart of me. There was enough in the persons and faces of the two young ladies to set me upon comparisons. Particular features held my attention for a few moments: but these served but to whet my impatience to find the charmer of my soul; who, for person, for air, for mind, never had any equal. My heart recoiled and sickened upon comparing minds and conversation. Pert wit, a too-studied desire to please; each in high good humour with herself; an open-mouth affectation in both, to show white teeth, as if the principal excellence; and to invite amorous familiarity, by the promise of a sweet breath; at the same time reflecting tacitly upon breaths arrogantly implied to be less pure.
Once I could have borne them.
They seemed to be disappointed that I was so soon able to leave them. Yet have I not at present so much vanity [my Clarissa has cured me of my vanity] as to attribute their disappointment so much to particular liking of me, as to their own self-admiration. They looked upon me as a connoisseur in beauty. They would have been proud of engaging my attention, as such: but so affected, so flimsy-witted, mere skin-deep beauties!—They had looked no farther into themselves than what their glasses were flattering-glasses too; for I thought them passive-faced, and spiritless; with eyes, however, upon the hunt for conquests, and bespeaking the attention of others, in order to countenance their own. ——I believe I could, with a little pains, have given them life and soul, and to every feature of their faces sparkling information—but my Clarissa!—O Belford, my Clarissa has made me eyeless and senseless to every other beauty!—Do thou find her for me, as a subject worthy of my pen, or this shall be the last from
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. SUNDAY NIGHT, JULY 9.
Now, Jack, have I a subject with a vengeance. I am in the very height of my trial for all my sins to my beloved fugitive. For here to-day, at about five o'clock, arrived Lady Sarah Sadleir and Lady Betty Lawrance, each in her chariot-and-six. Dowagers love equipage; and these cannot travel ten miles without a sett, and half a dozen horsemen.
My time had hung heavy upon my hands; and so I went to church after dinner. Why may not handsome fellows, thought I, like to be looked at, as well as handsome wenches? I fell in, when service was over, with Major Warneton; and so came not home till after six; and was surprised, at entering the court-yard here, to find it littered with equipages and servants. I was sure the owners of them came for no good to me.
Lady Sarah, I soon found, was raised to this visit by Lady Betty; who has health enough to allow her to look out to herself, and out of her own affairs, for business. Yet congratulation to Lord M. on his amendment, [spiteful devils on both accounts!] was the avowed errand. But coming in my absence, I was their principal subject; and they had opportunity to set each other's heart against me.
Simon Parsons hinted this to me, as I passed by the steward's office; for it seems they talked loud; and he was making up some accounts with old Pritchard.
However, I hastened to pay my duty to them—other people not performing theirs, is no excuse for the neglect of our own, you know.
And now I enter upon my TRIAL.
With horrible grave faces was I received. The two antiquities only bowed their tabby heads; making longer faces than ordinary; and all the old lines appearing strong in their furrowed foreheads and fallen cheeks; How do you, Cousin? And how do you, Mr. Lovelace? looking all round at one another, as who should say, do you speak first: and, do you: for they seemed resolved to lose no time.
I had nothing for it, but an air as manly, as theirs was womanly. Your servant, Madam, to Lady Betty; and, Your servant, Madam, I am glad to see you abroad, to Lady Sarah.
I took my seat. Lord M. looked horribly glum; his fingers claspt, and turning round and round, under and over, his but just disgouted thumb; his sallow face, and goggling eyes, on his two kinswomen, by turns; but not once deigning to look upon me.
Then I began to think of the laudanum, and wet cloth, I told thee of long ago; and to call myself in question for a tenderness of heart that will never do me good.
At last, Mr. Lovelace!——Cousin Lovelace!——Hem!—Hem!—I am sorry, very sorry, hesitated Lady Sarah, that there is no hope of your ever taking up——
What's the matter now, Madam?
The matter now!——Why Lady Betty has two letters from Miss Harlowe, which have told us what's the matter——Are all women alike with you?
Yes; I could have answered; 'bating the difference which pride makes.
Then they all chorus'd upon me—Such a character as Miss Harlowe's! cried one——A lady of so much generosity and good sense! Another—How charmingly she writes! the two maiden monkeys, looking at her find handwriting: her perfections my crimes. What can you expect will be the end of these things! cried Lady Sarah—d——d, d——d doings! vociferated the Peer, shaking his loose-fleshe'd wabbling chaps, which hung on his shoulders like an old cow's dewlap.
For my part, I hardly knew whether to sing or say what I had to reply to these all-at-once attacks upon me!-Fair and softly, Ladies—one at a time, I beseech you. I am not to be hunted down without being heard, I hope. Pray let me see these letters. I beg you will let me see them.
There they are:—that's the first—read it out, if you can.
I opened a letter from my charmer, dated Thursday, June 29, our wedding-day, that was to be, and written to Lady Betty Lawrance. By the contents, to my great joy, I find the dear creature is alive and well, and in charming spirits. But the direction where to send an answer to was so scratched out that I could not read it; which afflicted me much.
She puts three questions in it to Lady Betty.
1st. About a letter of her's, dated June 7, congratulating me on my nuptials, and which I was so good as to save Lady Betty the trouble of writing——A very civil thing of me, I think!
Again—'Whether she and one of her nieces Montague were to go to town, on an old chancery suit?'—And, 'Whether they actually did go to town accordingly, and to Hampstead afterwards?' and, 'Whether they brought to town from thence the young creature whom they visited?' was the subject of the second and third questions.
A little inquisitive, dear rogue! and what did she expect to be the better for these questions?——But curiosity, d——d curiosity, is the itch of the sex—yet when didst thou know it turned to their benefit?— For they seldom inquire, but what they fear—and the proverb, as my Lord has it, says, It comes with a fear. That is, I suppose, what they fear generally happens, because there is generally occasion for the fear.
Curiosity indeed she avows to be her only motive for these interrogatories: for, though she says her Ladyship may suppose the questions are not asked for good to me, yet the answer can do me no harm, nor her good, only to give her to understand, whether I have told her a parcel of d——d lyes; that's the plain English of her inquiry.
Well, Madam, said I, with as much philosophy as I could assume; and may I ask—Pray, what was your Ladyship's answer?
There's a copy of it, tossing it to me, very disrespectfully.
This answer was dated July 1. A very kind and complaisant one to the lady, but very so-so to her poor kinsman—That people can give up their own flesh and blood with so much ease!—She tells her 'how proud all our family would be of an alliance with such an excellence.' She does me justice in saying how much I adore her, as an angel of a woman; and begs of her, for I know not how many sakes, besides my soul's sake, 'that she will be so good as to have me for a husband:' and answers—thou wilt guess how—to the lady's questions.
Well, Madam; and pray, may I be favoured with the lady's other letter? I presume it is in reply to your's.
It is, said the Peer: but, Sir, let me ask you a few questions, before you read it—give me the letter, Lady Betty.
There it is, my Lord.
Then on went the spectacles, and his head moved to the lines—a charming pretty hand!—I have often heard that this lady is a genius.
And so, Jack, repeating my Lord's wise comments and questions will let thee into the contents of this merciless letter.
'Monday, July 3,' [reads my Lord.]—Let me see!—that was last Monday; no longer ago! 'Monday, July the third—Madam—I cannot excuse myself'—um, um, um, um, um, um, [humming inarticulately, and skipping,]—'I must own to you, Madam, that the honour of being related'——
Off went the spectacles—Now, tell me, Sir-r, Has not this lady lost all the friends she had in the world for your sake?
She has very implacable friends, my Lord: we all know that.
But has she not lost them all for your sake?—Tell me that.
I believe so, my Lord.
Well then!—I am glad thou art not so graceless as to deny that.
On went the spectacles again—'I must own to you, Madam, that the honour of being related to ladies as eminent for their virtue as for their descent.'—Very pretty, truly! saith my Lord, repeating, 'as eminent for their virtue as for their descent, was, at first, no small inducement with me to lend an ear to Mr. Lovelace's address.'
There is dignity, born-dignity, in this lady, cried my Lord.
Lady Sarah. She would have been a grace to our family.
Lady Betty. Indeed she would.
Lovel. To a royal family, I will venture to say.
Lord M. Then what a devil—-
Lovel. Please to read on, my Lord. It cannot be her letter, if it does not make you admire her more and more as you read. Cousin Charlotte, Cousin Patty, pray attend——Read on, my Lord.
Miss Charlotte. Amazing fortitude!
Miss Patty only lifted up her dove's eyes.
Lord M. [Reading.] 'And the rather, as I was determined, had it come to effect, to do every thing in my power to deserve your favourable opinion.'
Then again they chorus'd upon me!
A blessed time of it, poor I!—I had nothing for it but impudence!
Lovel. Pray read on, my Lord—I told you how you would all admire her ——or, shall I read?
Lord M. D——d assurance! [Then reading.] 'I had another motive, which I knew would of itself give me merit with your whole family: [they were all ear:] a presumptuous one; a punishably-presumptuous one, as it has proved: in the hope that I might be an humble mean, in the hand of Providence, to reclaim a man who had, as I thought, good sense enough at bottom to be reclaimed; or at least gratitude enough to acknowledge the intended obligation, whether the generous hope were to succeed or not.' —Excellent young creature!—
Excellent young creature! echoed the Ladies, with their handkerchiefs at their eyes, attended with music.
Lovel. By my soul, Miss Patty, you weep in the wrong place: you shall never go with me to a tragedy.
Lady Betty. Hardened wretch.
His Lordship had pulled off his spectacles to wipe them. His eyes were misty; and he thought the fault in his spectacles.
I saw they were all cocked and primed—to be sure that is a very pretty sentence, said I——that is the excellency of this lady, that in every line, as she writes on, she improves upon herself. Pray, my Lord, proceed—I know her style; the next sentence will still rise upon us.
Lord M. D——d fellow! [Again saddling, and reading.] 'But I have been most egregiously mistaken in Mr. Lovelace!' [Then they all clamoured again.]—'The only man, I persuade myself'——
Lovel. Ladies may persuade themselves to any thing: but how can she answer for what other men would or would not have done in the same circumstances?
I was forced to say any thing to stifle their outcries. Pox take ye altogether, thought I; as if I had not vexation enough in losing her!
Lord M. [Reading.] 'The only man, I persuade myself, pretending to be a gentleman, in whom I could have been so much mistaken.'
They were all beginning again—Pray, my Lord, proceed!—Hear, hear—pray, Ladies, hear!—Now, my Lord, be pleased to proceed. The Ladies are silent.
So they were; lost in admiration of me, hands and eyes uplifted.
Lord M. I will, to thy confusion; for he had looked over the next sentence.
What wretches, Belford, what spiteful wretches, are poor mortals!—So rejoiced to sting one another! to see each other stung!
Lord M. [Reading.] 'For while I was endeavouring to save a drowning wretch, I have been, not accidentally, but premeditatedly, and of set purpose, drawn in after him.'—What say you to that, Sir-r?
Lady S. Ay, Sir, what say you to this? Lady B.
Lovel. Say! Why I say it is a very pretty metaphor, if it would but hold.—But, if you please, my Lord, read on. Let me hear what is further said, and I will speak to it all together.
Lord M. I will. 'And he has had the glory to add to the list of those he has ruined, a name that, I will be bold to say, would not have disparaged his own.'
They all looked at me, as expecting me to speak.
Lovel. Be pleased to proceed, my Lord: I will speak to this by-and-by— How came she to know I kept a list?—I will speak to this by-and-by.
Lord M. [Reading on.] 'And this, Madam, by means that would shock humanity to be made acquainted with.'
Then again, in a hurry, off went the spectacles.
This was a plaguy stroke upon me. I thought myself an oak in impudence; but, by my troth, this almost felled me.
Lord M. What say you to this, SIR-R!
Remember, Jack, to read all their Sirs in this dialogue with a double rr, Sir-r! denoting indignation rather than respect.
They all looked at me as if to see if I could blush.
Lovel. Eyes off, my Lord!——Eyes off, Ladies! [Looking bashfully, I believe.]—What say I to this, my Lord!—Why, I say, that this lady has a strong manner of expressing herself!—That's all.—There are many things that pass among lovers, which a man cannot explain himself upon before grave people.
Lady Betty. Among lovers, Sir-r! But, Mr. Lovelace, can you say that this lady behaved either like a weak, or a credulous person?—Can you say—
Lovel. I am ready to do the lady all manner of justice.—But, pray now, Ladies, if I am to be thus interrogated, let me know the contents of the rest of the letter, that I may be prepared for my defence, as you are all for my arraignment. For, to be required to answer piecemeal thus, without knowing what is to follow, is a cursed ensnaring way of proceeding.
They gave me the letter: I read it through to myself:—and by the repetition of what I said, thou wilt guess at the remaining contents.
You shall find, Ladies, you shall find, my Lord, that I will not spare myself. Then holding the letter in my hand, and looking upon it, as a lawyer upon his brief,
Miss Harlowe says, 'That when your Ladyship,' [turning to Lady Betty,] 'shall know, that, in the progress to her ruin, wilful falsehoods, repeated forgeries, and numberless perjuries, were not the least of my crimes, you will judge that she can have no principles that will make her worthy of an alliance with ladies of your's, and your noble sister's character, if she could not, from her soul, declare, that such an alliance can never now take place.'
Surely, Ladies, this is passion! This is not reason. If our family would not think themselves dishonoured by my marrying a person whom I had so treated; but, on the contrary, would rejoice that I did her this justice: and if she has come out pure gold from the assay; and has nothing to reproach herself with; why should it be an impeachment of her principles, to consent that such an alliance take place?
She cannot think herself the worse, justly she cannot, for what was done against her will.
Their countenances menaced a general uproar—but I proceeded.
Your Lordship read to us, that she had an hope, a presumptuous one: nay, a punishably-presumptuous one, she calls it; 'that she might be a mean, in the hand of Providence, to reclaim me; and that this, she knew, if effected, would give her a merit with you all.' But from what would she reclaim me?—She had heard, you'll say, (but she had only heard, at the time she entertained that hope,) that, to express myself in the women's dialect, I was a very wicked fellow!—Well, and what then?—Why, truly, the very moment she was convinced, by her own experience, that the charge against me was more than hearsay; and that, of consequence, I was a fit subject for her generous endeavours to work upon; she would needs give me up. Accordingly, she flies out, and declares, that the ceremony which would repair all shall never take place!—Can this be from any other motive than female resentment?
This brought them all upon me, as I intended it should: it was as a tub to a whale; and after I had let them play with it a while, I claimed their attention, and, knowing that they always loved to hear me prate, went on.
The lady, it is plain, thought, that the reclaiming of a man from bad habits was a much easier task than, in the nature of things, it can be.
She writes, as your Lordship has read, 'That, in endeavouring to save a drowning wretch, she had been, not accidentally, but premeditatedly, and of set purpose, drawn in after him.' But how is this, Ladies?—You see by her own words, that I am still far from being out of danger myself. Had she found me, in a quagmire suppose, and I had got out of it by her means, and left her to perish in it; that would have been a crime indeed. —But is not the fact quite otherwise? Has she not, if her allegory prove what she would have it prove, got out herself, and left me floundering still deeper and deeper in?—What she should have done, had she been in earnest to save me, was, to join her hand with mine, that so we might by our united strength help one another out.—I held out my hand to her, and besought her to give me her's:—But, no truly! she was determined to get out herself as fast as she could, let me sink or swim: refusing her assistance (against her own principles) because she saw I wanted it.—You see, Ladies, you see, my Lord, how pretty tinkling words run away with ears inclined to be musical.
They were all ready to exclaim again: but I went on, proleptically, as a rhetorician would say, before their voices would break out into words.
But my fair accuser says, that, 'I have added to the list of those I have ruined, a name that would not have disparaged my own.' It is true, I have been gay and enterprising. It is in my constitution to be so. I know not how I came by such a constitution: but I was never accustomed to check or controul; that you all know. When a man finds himself hurried by passion into a slight offence, which, however slight, will not be forgiven, he may be made desperate: as a thief, who only intends a robbery, is often by resistance, and for self-preservation, drawn in to commit murder.
I was a strange, a horrid wretch, with every one. But he must be a silly fellow who has not something to say for himself, when every cause has its black and its white side.—Westminster-hall, Jack, affords every day as confident defences as mine.
But what right, proceeded I, has this lady to complain of me, when she as good as says—Here, Lovelace, you have acted the part of a villain by me! —You would repair your fault: but I won't let you, that I may have the satisfaction of exposing you; and the pride of refusing you.
But, was that the case? Was that the case? Would I pretend to say, I would now marry the lady, if she would have me?
Lovel. You find she renounces Lady Betty's mediation——
Lord M. [Interrupting me.] Words are wind; but deeds are mind: What signifies your cursed quibbling, Bob?—Say plainly, if she will have you, will you have her? Answer me, yes or no; and lead us not a wild-goose chace after your meaning.
Lovel. She knows I would. But here, my Lord, if she thus goes on to expose herself and me, she will make it a dishonour to us both to marry.
Charl. But how must she have been treated—
Lovel. [Interrupting her.] Why now, Cousin Charlotte, chucking her under the chin, would you have me tell you all that has passed between the lady and me? Would you care, had you a bold and enterprizing lover, that proclamation should be made of every little piece of amorous roguery, that he offered to you?
Charlotte reddened. They all began to exclaim. But I proceeded.
The lady says, 'She has been dishonoured' (devil take me, if I spare myself!) 'by means that would shock humanity to be made acquainted with them.' She is a very innocent lady, and may not be a judge of the means she hints at. Over-niceness may be under-niceness: Have you not such a proverb, my Lord?—tantamount to, One extreme produces another!——Such a lady as this may possibly think her case more extraordinary than it is. This I will take upon me to say, that if she has met with the only man in the world who would have treated her, as she says I have treated her, I have met in her with the only woman in the world who would have made such a rout about a case that is uncommon only from the circumstances that attend it.
This brought them all upon me; hands, eyes, voices, all lifted at once. But my Lord M. who has in his head (the last seat of retreating lewdness) as much wickedness as I have in my heart, was forced (upon the air I spoke this with, and Charlotte's and all the rest reddening) to make a mouth that was big enough to swallow up the other half of his face; crying out, to avoid laughing, Oh! Oh!—as if under the power of a gouty twinge.
Hadst thou seen how the two tabbies and the young grimalkins looked at one another, at my Lord, and at me, by turns, thou would have been ready to split thy ugly face just in the middle. Thy mouth hath already done half the work. And, after all, I found not seldom in this conversation, that my humourous undaunted airs forced a smile into my service from the prim mouths of the young ladies. They perhaps, had they met with such another intrepid fellow as myself, who had first gained upon their affections, would not have made such a rout as my beloved has done, about such an affair as that we were assembled upon. Young ladies, as I have observed on an hundred occasions, fear not half so much for themselves as their mothers do for them. But here the girls were forced to put on grave airs, and to seem angry, because the antiques made the matter of such high importance. Yet so lightly sat anger and fellow-feeling at their hearts, that they were forced to purse in their mouths, to suppress the smiles I now-and-then laid out for: while the elders having had roses (that is to say, daughters) of their own, and knowing how fond men are of a trifle, would have been very loth to have had them nipt in the bud, without saying to the mother of them, By your leave, Mrs. Rose-bush.
The next article of my indictment was for forgery; and for personating of Lady Betty and my cousin Charlotte.
Two shocking charges, thou'lt say: and so they were!—The Peer was outrageous upon the forgery charge. The Ladies vowed never to forgive the personating part.
Not a peace-maker among them. So we all turned women, and scolded.
My Lord told me, that he believed in his conscience there was not a viler fellow upon God's earth than me.—What signifies mincing the matter? said he—and that it was not the first time I had forged his hand.
To this I answered, that I supposed, when the statute of Scandalum Magnatum was framed, there were a good many in the peerage who knew they deserved hard names; and that that law therefore was rather made to privilege their qualities, than to whiten their characters.
He called upon me to explain myself, with a Sir-r, so pronounced, as to show that one of the most ignominious words in our language was in his head.
People, I said, that were fenced in by their quality, and by their years, should not take freedoms that a man of spirit could not put up with, unless he were able heartily to despise the insulter.
This set him in a violent passion. He would send for Pritchard instantly. Let Pritchard be called. He would alter his will; and all he could leave from me, he would.
Do, do, my Lord, said I: I always valued my own pleasure above your estate. But I'll let Pritchard know, that if he draws, he shall sign and seal.
Why, what would I do to Pritchard?—shaking his crazy head at me.
Only, what he, or any man else, writes with his pen, to despoil me of what I think my right, he shall seal with his ears; that's all, my Lord.
Then the two Ladies interposed.
Lady Sarah told me, that I carried things a great way; and that neither Lord M. nor any of them, deserved the treatment I gave them.
I said, I could not bear to be used ill by my Lord, for two reasons; first, because I respected his Lordship above any man living; and next, because it looked as if I were induced by selfish considerations to take that from him, which nobody else would offer to me.
And what, returned he, shall be my inducement to take what I do at your hands?—Hay, Sir?
Indeed, Cousin Lovelace, said Lady Betty, with great gravity, we do not any of us, as Lady Sarah says, deserve at your hands the treatment you give us: and let me tell you, that I don't think my character and your cousin Charlotte's ought to be prostituted, in order to ruin an innocent lady. She must have known early the good opinion we all have of her, and how much we wished her to be your wife. This good opinion of ours has been an inducement to her (you see she says so) to listen to your address. And this, with her friends' folly, has helped to throw her into your power. How you have requited her is too apparent. It becomes the character we all bear, to disclaim your actions by her. And let me tell you, that to have her abused by wicked people raised up to personate us, or any of us, makes a double call upon us to disclaim them.
Lovel. Why this is talking somewhat like. I would have you all disclaim my actions. I own I have done very vilely by this lady. One step led to another. I am curst with an enterprizing spirit. I hate to be foiled—
Foiled! interrupted Lady Sarah. What a shame to talk at this rate!—Did the lady set up a contention with you? All nobly sincere, and plain-hearted, have I heard Miss Clarissa Harlowe is: above art, above disguise; neither the coquette, nor the prude!—Poor lady! she deserved a better fare from the man for whom she took the step which she so freely blames!
This above half affected me.—Had this dispute been so handled by every one, I had been ashamed to look up. I began to be bashful.
Charlotte asked if I did not still seem inclinable to do the lady justice, if she would accept of me? It would be, she dared to say, the greatest felicity the family could know (she would answer for one) that this fine lady were of it.
They all declared to the same effect; and Lady Sarah put the matter home to me.
But my Lord Marplot would have it that I could not be serious for six minutes together.
I told his Lordship that he was mistaken; light as he thought I made of his subject, I never knew any that went so near my heart.
Miss Patty said she was glad to hear that: and her soft eyes glistened with pleasure.
Lord M. called her sweet soul, and was ready to cry.
Not from humanity neither, Jack. This Peer has no bowels; as thou mayest observe by this treatment of me. But when people's minds are weakened by a sense of their own infirmities, and when they are drawing on to their latter ends, they will be moved on the slightest occasions, whether those offer from within or without them. And this, frequently, the unpenetrating world, calls humanity; when all the time, in compassionating the miseries of human nature, they are but pitying themselves; and were they in strong health and spirits, would care as little for any body else as thou or I do.
Here broke they off my trial for this sitting. Lady Sarah was much fatigued. It was agreed to pursue the subject in the morning. They all, however, retired together, and went into private conference.
MR. LOVELACE [IN CONTINUATION.]
The Ladies, instead of taking up the subject where we had laid it down, must needs touch upon passage in my fair accuser's letter, which I was in hopes they would have let rest, as we were in a tolerable way. But, truly, they must hear all they could hear of our story, and what I had to say to those passages, that they might be better enabled to mediate between us, if I were really and indeed inclined to do her the hoped-for justice.
These passages were, 1st, 'That, after I had compulsorily tricked her into the act of going off with me, I carried her to one of the worst houses in London.'
2nd, 'That I had made a wicked attempt upon her; in resentment of which she fled to Hampstead privately.'
3dly, Came the forgery, and personating charges again; and we were upon the point of renewing out quarrel, before we could get to the next charge: which was still worse.
For that (4thly) was 'That having betrayed her back to the vile house, I first robbed her of her senses, and then her honour; detaining her afterwards a prisoner there.'
Were I to tell thee the glosses I put upon these heavy charges, what would it be, but repeat many of the extenuating arguments I have used in my letters to thee?—Suffice it, therefore, to say, that I insisted much, by way of palliation, on the lady's extreme niceness: on her diffidence in my honour: on Miss Howe's contriving spirit; plots on their parts begetting plots on mine: on the high passions of the sex. I asserted, that my whole view, in gently restraining her, was to oblige her to forgive me, and to marry me; and this for the honour of both families. I boasted of my own good qualities; some of which none that knew me deny; and to which few libertines can lay claim.
They then fell into warm admirations and praises of the lady; all of them preparatory, as I knew, to the grand question: and thus it was introduced by Lady Sarah.
We have said as much as I think we can say upon these letters of the poor lady. To dwell upon the mischiefs that may ensue from the abuse of a person of her rank, if all the reparation be not made that now can be made, would perhaps be to little purpose. But you seem, Sir, still to have a just opinion of her, as well as affection for her. Her virtue is not in the least questionable. She could not resent as she does, had she any thing to reproach herself with. She is, by every body's account, a fine woman; has a good estate in her own right; is of no contemptible family; though I think, with regard to her, they have acted as imprudently as unworthily. For the excellency of her mind, for good economy, the common speech of her, as the worthy Dr. Lewen once told me, is that her prudence would enrich a poor man, and her piety reclaim a licentious one. I, who have not been abroad twice this twelvemonth, came hither purposely, so did Lady Betty, to see if justice may not be done her; and also whether we, and my Lord M. (your nearest relations, Sir,) have, or have not, any influence over you. And, for my own part, as your determination shall be in this article, such shall be mine, with regard to the disposition of all that is within my power.
Lady Betty. And mine.
And mine, said my Lord: and valiantly he swore to it.
Lovel. Far be it from me to think slightly of favours you may any of you be glad I would deserve! but as far be it from me to enter into conditions against my own liking, with sordid views!—As to future mischiefs, let them come. I have not done with the Harlowes yet. They were the aggressors; and I should be glad they would let me hear from them, in the way they should hear from me in the like case. Perhaps I should not be sorry to be found, rather than be obliged to seek, on this occasion.
Miss Charlotte. [Reddening.] Spoke like a man of violence, rather than a man of reason! I hope you'll allow that, Cousin.
Lady Sarah. Well, but since what is done, and cannot be undone, let us think of the next best, Have you any objection against marrying Miss Harlowe, if she will have you?
Lovel. There can possibly be but one: That she is to every body, no doubt, as well as to Lady Betty, pursuing that maxim peculiar to herself, (and let me tell you so it ought to be:) that what she cannot conceal from herself, she will publish to the world.
Miss Patty. The lady, to be sure, writes this in the bitterness of her grief, and in despair.——
Lovel. And so when her grief is allayed; when her despairing fit is over—and this from you, Cousin Patty!—Sweet girl! And would you, my dear, in the like case [whispering her] have yielded to entreaty—would you have meant no more by the like exclamations?
I had a rap with her fan, and blush; and from Lord M. a reflection, That I turn'd into jest every thing they said.
I asked, if they thought the Harlowes deserved any consideration from me? And whether that family would not exult over me, were I to marry their daughter, as if I dared not to do otherwise?
Lady Sarah. Once I was angry with that family, as we all were. But now I pity them; and think, that you have but too well justified the worse treatment they gave you.
Lord M. Their family is of standing. All gentlemen of it, and rich, and reputable. Let me tell you, that many of our coronets would be glad they could derive their descents from no worse a stem than theirs.
Lovel. The Harlowes are a narrow-souled and implacable family. I hate them: and, though I revere the lady, scorn all relation to them.
Lady Betty. I wish no worse could be said of him, who is such a scorner of common failings in others.
Lord M. How would my sister Lovelace have reproached herself for all her indulgent folly to this favourite boy of her's, had she lived till now, and been present on this occasion!
Lady Sarah. Well, but, begging your Lordship's pardon, let us see if any thing can be done for this poor lady.
Miss Ch. If Mr. Lovelace has nothing to object against the lady's character, (and I presume to think he is not ashamed to do her justice, though it may make against himself,) I cannot but see her honour and generosity will compel from him all that we expect. If there be any levities, any weaknesses, to be charged upon the lady, I should not open my lips in her favour; though in private I would pity her, and deplore her hard hap. And yet, even then, there might not want arguments, from honour to gratitude, in so particular a case, to engage you, Sir, to make good the vows it is plain you have broken.
Lady Betty. My niece Charlotte has called upon you so justly, and has put the question to you so properly, that I cannot but wish you would speak to it directly, and without evasion.
All in a breath then bespoke my seriousness, and my justice: and in this manner I delivered myself, assuming an air sincerely solemn.
'I am very sensible that the performance of the task you have put me upon will leave me without excuse: but I will not have recourse either to evasion or palliation.
'As my cousin Charlotte has severely observed, I am not ashamed to do justice to Miss Harlowe's merit.
'I own to you all, and, what is more, with high regret, (if not with shame, cousin Charlotte,) that I have a great deal to answer for in my usage of this lady. The sex has not a nobler mind, nor a lovelier person of it. And, for virtue, I could not have believed (excuse me, Ladies) that there ever was a woman who gave, or could have given, such illustrious, such uniform proofs of it: for, in her whole conduct, she has shown herself to be equally above temptation and art; and, I had almost said, human frailty.
'The step she so freely blames herself for taking, was truly what she calls compulsatory: for though she was provoked to think of going off with me, she intended it not, nor was provided to do so: neither would she ever have had the thought of it, had her relations left her free, upon her offered composition to renounce the man she did not hate, in order to avoid the man she did.
'It piqued my pride, I own, that I could so little depend upon the force of those impressions which I had the vanity to hope I had made in a heart so delicate; and, in my worst devices against her, I encouraged myself that I abused no confidence; for none had she in my honour.
'The evils she has suffered, it would have been more than a miracle had she avoided. Her watchfulness rendered more plots abortive than those which contributed to her fall; and they were many and various. And all her greater trials and hardships were owing to her noble resistance and just resentment.
'I know, proceeded I, how much I condemn myself in the justice I am doing to this excellent creature. But yet I will do her justice, and cannot help it if I would. And I hope this shows that I am not so totally abandoned as I have been thought to be.
'Indeed, with me, she has done more honour to her sex in her fall, if it be to be called a fall, (in truth it ought not,) than ever any other could do in her standing.
'When, at length, I had given her watchful virtue cause of suspicion, I was then indeed obliged to make use of power and art to prevent her escaping from me. She then formed contrivances to elude mine; but all her's were such as strict truth and punctilious honour would justify. She could not stoop to deceit and falsehood, no, not to save herself. More than once justly did she tell me, fired by conscious worthiness, that her soul was my soul's superior!—Forgive me, Ladies, for saying, that till I knew her, I questioned a soul in a sex, created, as I was willing to suppose, only for temporary purposes.—It is not to be imagined into what absurdities men of free principle run in order to justify to themselves their free practices; and to make a religion to their minds: and yet, in this respect, I have not been so faulty as some others.
'No wonder that such a noble creature as this looked upon every studied artifice as a degree of baseness not to be forgiven: no wonder that she could so easily become averse to the man (though once she beheld him with an eye not wholly indifferent) whom she thought capable of premeditated guilt. Nor, give me leave, on the other hand, to say, is it to be wondered at, that the man who found it so difficult to be forgiven for the slighter offences, and who had not the grace to recede or repent, (made desperate,) should be hurried on to the commission of the greater.
'In short, Ladies, in a word, my Lord, Miss Clarissa Harlowe is an angel; if ever there was or could be one in human nature: and is, and ever was, as pure as an angel in her will: and this justice I must do her, although the question, I see by every glistening eye, is ready to be asked, What then, Lovelace, art thou?'—
Lord M. A devil!—a d——d devil! I must answer. And may the curse of God follow you in all you undertake, if you do not make her the best amends now in your power to make her!
Lovel. From you, my Lord, I could expect no other: but from the Ladies I hope for less violence from the ingenuousness of my confession.
The Ladies, elder and younger, had their handkerchiefs to their eyes, at the just testimony which I bore to the merits of this exalted creature; and which I would make no scruple to bear at the bar of a court of justice, were I to be called to it.
Lady Betty. Well, Sir, this is a noble character. If you think as you speak, surely you cannot refuse to do the lady all the justice now in your power to do her.
They all joined in this demand.
I pleaded, that I was sure she would not have me: that, when she had taken a resolution, she was not to be moved. Unpersuadableness was an Harlowe sin: that, and her name, I told them, were all she had of theirs.
All were of opinion, that she might, in her present desolate circumstances, be brought to forgive me. Lady Sarah said, that Lady Betty and she would endeavour to find out the noble sufferer, as they justly called her; and would take her into their protection, and be guarantees of the justice that I would do her; as well after marriage as before.
It was some pleasure to me, to observe the placability of these ladies of my own family, had they, any or either of them, met with a LOVELACE. But 'twould be hard upon us honest fellows, Jack, if all women were CLARISSAS.
Here I am obliged to break off.
MR. LOVELACE [IN CONTINUATION.]
It is much better, Jack, to tell your own story, when it must be known, than to have an adversary tell it for you. Conscious of this, I gave them a particular account how urgent I had been with her to fix upon the Thursday after I left her (it being her uncle Harlowe's anniversary birth-day, and named to oblige her) for the private celebration; having some days before actually procured a license, which still remained with her.
That, not being able to prevail upon her to promise any thing, while under a supposed restraint! I offered to leave her at full liberty, if she would give me the least hope for that day. But neither did this offer avail me.
That this inflexibleness making me desperate, I resolved to add to my former fault, by giving directions that she should not either go or correspond out of the house, till I returned from M. Hall; well knowing, that if she were at full liberty, I must for ever lose her.
That this constraint had so much incensed her, that although I wrote no less than four different letters, I could not procure a single word in answer; though I pressed her but for four words to signify the day and the church.
I referred to my two cousins to vouch for me the extraordinary methods I took to send messengers to town, though they knew not the occasion; which now I told them was this.
I acquainted them, that I even had wrote to you, Jack, and to another gentleman of whom I thought she had a good opinion, to attend her, in order to press for her compliance; holding myself in readiness the last day, at Salt-hill, to meet the messenger they should send, and proceed to London, if his message were favourable. But that, before they could attend her, she had found means to fly away once more: and is now, said I, perched perhaps somewhere under Lady Betty's window at Glenham-hall; and there, like the sweet Philomela, a thorn in her breast, warbles forth her melancholy complaints against her barbarous Tereus.
Lady Betty declared that she was not with her; nor did she know where she was. She should be, she added, the most welcome guest to her that she ever received.
In truth, I had a suspicion that she was already in their knowledge, and taken into their protection; for Lady Sarah I imagined incapable of being roused to this spirit by a letter only from Miss Harlowe, and that not directed to herself; she being a very indolent and melancholy woman. But her sister, I find had wrought her up to it: for Lady Betty is as officious and managing a woman as Mrs. Howe; but of a much more generous and noble disposition—she is my aunt, Jack.
I supposed, I said, that her Ladyship might have a private direction where to send to her. I spoke as I wished: I would have given the world to have heard that she was inclined to cultivate the interest of any of my family.
Lady Betty answered that she had no direction but what was in the letter; which she had scratched out, and which, it was probable, was only a temporary one, in order to avoid me: otherwise she would hardly have directed an answer to be left at an inn. And she was of opinion, that to apply to Miss Howe would be the only certain way to succeed in any application for forgiveness, would I enable that young lady to interest herself in procuring it.
Miss Charlotte. Permit me to make a proposal.——Since we are all of one mind, in relation to the justice due to Miss Harlowe, if Mr. Lovelace will oblige himself to marry her, I will make Miss Howe a visit, little as I am acquainted with her; and endeavour to engage her interest to forward the desired reconciliation. And if this can be done, I make no question but all may be happily accommodated; for every body knows the love there is between Miss Harlowe and Miss Howe.
MARRIAGE, with these women, thou seest, Jack, is an atonement for all we can do to them. A true dramatic recompense!
This motion was highly approved of; and I gave my honour, as desired, in the fullest manner they could wish.
Lady Sarah. Well then, Cousin Charlotte, begin your treaty with Miss Howe, out of hand.
Lady Betty. Pray do. And let Miss Harlowe be told, that I am ready to receive her as the most welcome of guests: and I will not have her out of my sight till the knot is tied.
Lady Sarah. Tell her from me, that she shall be my daughter, instead of my poor Betsey!——And shed a tear in remembrance of her lost daughter.
Lord M. What say you, Sir, to this?
Lovel. CONTENT, my Lord, I speak in the language of your house.
Lord M. We are not to be fooled, Nephew. No quibbling. We will have no slur put upon us.
Lovel. You shall not. And yet, I did not intend to marry, if she exceeded the appointed Thursday. But, I think (according to her own notions) that I have injured her beyond reparation, although I were to make her the best of husbands; as I am resolved to be, if she will condescend, as I will call it, to have me. And be this, Cousin Charlotte, my part of your commission to say.
This pleased them all.
Lord M. Give me thy hand, Bob!—Thou talkest like a man of honour at last. I hope we may depend upon what thou sayest!
The Ladies eyes put the same question to me.
Lovel. You may, my Lord—You may, Ladies—absolutely you may.
Then was the personal character of the lady, as well as her more extraordinary talents and endowments again expatiated upon: and Miss Patty, who had once seen her, launched out more than all the rest in her praise. These were followed by such inquiries as are never forgotten to be made in marriage-treaties, and which generally are the principal motives with the sages of a family, though the least to be mentioned by the parties themselves, and yet even by them, perhaps, the first thought of: that is to say, inquisition into the lady's fortune; into the particulars of the grandfather's estate; and what her father, and her single-souled uncles, will probably do for her, if a reconciliation be effected; as, by their means, they make no doubt but it will be between both families, if it be not my fault. The two venerables [no longer tabbies with me now] hinted at rich presents on their own parts; and my Lord declared that he would make such overtures in my behalf, as should render my marriage with Miss Harlowe the best day's work I ever made; and what, he doubted not, would be as agreeable to that family as to myself.
Thus, at present, by a single hair, hangs over my head the matrimonial sword. And thus ended my trial. And thus are we all friends, and Cousin and Cousin, and Nephew and Nephew, at every word.
Did ever comedy end more happily than this long trial?
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. WEDN. JULY 12.
So, Jack, they think they have gained a mighty point. But, were I to change my mind, were I to repent, I fancy I am safe.—And yet this very moment it rises to my mind, that 'tis hard trusting too; for surely there must be some embers, where there was fire so lately, that may be stirred up to give a blaze to combustibles strewed lightly upon them. Love, like some self-propagating plants, or roots, (which have taken strong hold in the earth) when once got deep into the heart, is hardly ever totally extirpated, except by matrimony indeed, which is the grave of love, because it allows of the end of love. Then these ladies, all advocates for herself, with herself, Miss Howe at their head, perhaps,——not in favour to me—I don't expect that from Miss Howe—but perhaps in favour to herself: for Miss Howe has reason to apprehend vengeance from me, I ween. Her Hickman will be safe too, as she may think, if I marry her beloved friend: for he has been a busy fellow, and I have long wished to have a slap at him!—The lady's case desperate with her friends too; and likely to be so, while single, and her character exposed to censure.
A husband is a charming cloke, a fig-leaved apron for a wife: and for a lady to be protected in liberties, in diversions, which her heart pants after—and all her faults, even the most criminal, were she to be detected, to be thrown upon the husband, and the ridicule too; a charming privilege for a wife!
But I shall have one comfort, if I marry, which pleases me not a little. If a man's wife has a dear friend of her sex, a hundred liberties may be taken with that friend, which could not be taken, if the single lady (knowing what a title to freedoms marriage had given him with her friend) was not less scrupulous with him than she ought to be as to herself. Then there are broad freedoms (shall I call them?) that may be taken by the husband with his wife, that may not be quite shocking, which, if the wife bears before her friends, will serve for a lesson to that friend; and if that friend bears to be present at them without check or bashfulness, will show a sagacious fellow that she can bear as much herself, at proper time and place.
Chastity, Jack, like piety, is an uniform thing. If in look, if in speech, a girl give way to undue levity, depend upon it the devil has got one of his cloven feet in her heart already—so, Hickman, take care of thyself, I advise thee, whether I marry or not.
Thus, Jack, have I at once reconciled myself to all my relations—and if the lady refuses me, thrown the fault upon her. This, I knew, would be in my power to do at any time: and I was the more arrogant to them, in order to heighten the merit of my compliance.
But, after all, it would be very whimsical, would it not, if all my plots and contrivances should end in wedlock? What a punishment should this come out to be, upon myself too, that all this while I have been plundering my own treasury?
And then, can there be so much harm done, if it can be so easily repaired by a few magical words; as I Robert take thee, Clarissa; and I Clarissa take thee, Robert, with the rest of the for-better and for-worse legerdemain, which will hocus pocus all the wrongs, the crying wrongs, that I have done to Miss Harlowe, into acts of kindness and benevolence to Mrs. Lovelace?
But, Jack, two things I must insist upon with thee, if this is to be the case.—Having put secrets of so high a nature between me and my spouse into thy power, I must, for my own honour, and for the honour of my wife and illustrious progeny, first oblige thee to give up the letters I have so profusely scribbled to thee; and in the next place, do by thee, as I have head whispered in France was done by the true father of a certain monarque; that is to say, cut thy throat, to prevent thy telling of tales.
I have found means to heighten the kind opinion my friends here have begun to have of me, by communicating to them the contents of the four last letters which I wrote to press my elected spouse to solemnize. My Lord repeated one of his phrases in my favour, that he hopes it will come out, that the devil is not quite so black as he is painted.
Now pr'ythee, dear Jack, since so many good consequences are to flow from these our nuptials, (one of which to thyself; since the sooner thou diest, the less thou wilt have to answer for); and that I now-and-then am apt to believe there may be something in the old fellow's notion, who once told us, that he who kills a man, has all that man's sins to answer for, as well as his own, because he gave him not the time to repent of them that Heaven designed to allow him, [a fine thing for thee, if thou consentest to be knocked of the head; but a cursed one for the manslayer!] and since there may be room to fear that Miss Howe will not give us her help; I pr'ythee now exert thyself to find out my Clarissa Harlowe, that I may make a LOVELACE of her. Set all the city bellmen, and the country criers, for ten miles round the metropolis, at work, with their 'Oye's! and if any man, woman, or child can give tale or tidings.' —Advertise her in all the news-papers; and let her know, 'That if she will repair to Lady Betty Lawrance, or to Miss Charlotte Montague, she may hear of something greatly to her advantage.'
My two cousins Montague are actually to set out to-morrow to Mrs. Howe's, to engage her vixen daughter's interest with her friend. They will flaunt it away in a chariot-and-six, for the greater state and significance.
Confounded mortification to be reduced this low!—My pride hardly knows how to brook it.
Lord M. has engaged the two venerables to stay here to attend the issue: and I, standing very high at present in their good graces, am to gallant them to Oxford, to Blenheim, and to several other places.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE THURSDAY NIGHT, JULY 13.
Collins sets not out to-morrow. Some domestic occasion hinders him. Rogers is but now returned from you, and cannot be well spared. Mr. Hickman is gone upon an affair of my mother's, and has taken both his servants with him, to do credit to his employer: so I am forced to venture this by post, directed by your assumed name.
I am to acquaint you, that I have been favoured with a visit from Miss Montague and her sister, in Lord M.'s chariot-and-six. My Lord's gentleman rode here yesterday, with a request that I would receive a visit from the two young ladies, on a very particular occasion; the greater favour if it might be the next day.
As I had so little personal knowledge of either, I doubted not but it must be in relation to the interests of my dear friend; and so consulting with my mother, I sent them an invitation to favour me (because of the distance) with their company at dinner; which they kindly accepted.
I hope, my dear, since things have been so very bad, that their errand to me will be as agreeable to you, as any thing that can now happen. They came in the name of Lord M. and Lady Sarah and Lady Betty his two sisters, to desire my interest to engage you to put yourself into the protection of Lady Betty; who will not part with you till she sees all the justice done you that now can be done.
Lady Sarah had not stirred out for a twelve-month before; never since she lost her agreeable daughter whom you and I saw at Mrs. Benson's: but was induced to take this journey by Lady Betty, purely to procure you reparation, if possible. And their joint strength, united with Lord M.'s, has so far succeeded, that the wretch has bound himself to them, and to these young ladies, in the solemnest manner, to wed you in their presence, if they can prevail upon you to give him your hand.