Part 4 out of 6
But, Sir, you see how weak I am. You must see that I have been consuming
from day to day; and now, if I can judge by what I feel in myself,
putting her hand to her heart, I cannot continue long. If the air would
very probably add to my days, though I am far from being desirous to have
them lengthened, I would go into it; and the rather, as I know Mrs.
Lovick would kindly accompany me. But if I were to be at the trouble of
removing into new lodgings, (a trouble which I think now would be too
much for me,) and this only to die in the country, I had rather the scene
were to shut up here. For here have I meditated the spot, and the
manner, and every thing, as well of the minutest as of the highest
consequence, that can attend the solemn moments. So, Doctor, tell me
truly, may I stay here, and be clear of any imputations of curtailing,
through wilfulness or impatiency, or through resentments which I hope I
am got above, a life that might otherwise be prolonged?--Tell me, Sir;
you are not talking to a coward in this respect; indeed you are not!--
The doctor, turning to me, was at a loss what to say, lifting up his eyes
only in admiration of her.
Never had any patient, said she, a more indulgent and more humane
physician. But since you are loth to answer my question directly, I will
put it in other words--You don't enjoin me to go into the air, Doctor, do
I do not, Madam. Nor do I now visit you as a physician; but as a person
whose conversation I admire, and whose sufferings I condole. And, to
explain myself more directly, as to the occasion of this day's visit in
particular, I must tell you, Madam, that, understanding how much you
suffer by the displeasure of your friends; and having no doubt but that,
if they knew the way you are in, they would alter their conduct to you;
and believing it must cut them to the heart, when too late, they shall be
informed of every thing; I have resolved to apprize them by letter
(stranger as I am to their persons) how necessary it is for some of them
to attend you very speedily. For their sakes, Madam, let me press for
your approbation of this measure.
She paused; and at last said, This is kind, very kind, in you, Sir. But
I hope that you do not think me so perverse, and so obstinate, as to have
left till now any means unessayed which I thought likely to move my
friends in my favour. But now, Doctor, said she, I should be too much
disturbed at their grief, if they were any of them to come or to send to
me: and perhaps, if I found they still loved me, wish to live; and so
should quit unwillingly that life, which I am now really fond of
quitting, and hope to quit as becomes a person who has had such a
weaning-time as I have been favoured with.
I hope, Madam, said I, we are not so near as you apprehend to that
deplorable catastrophe you hint at with such an amazing presence of mind.
And therefore I presume to second the doctor's motion, if it were only
for the sake of your father and mother, that they may have the
satisfaction, if they must lose you, to think they were first reconciled
It is very kindly, very humanely considered, said she. But, if you think
me not so very near my last hour, let me desire this may be postponed
till I see what effect my cousin Morden's mediation may have. Perhaps he
may vouchsafe to make me a visit yet, after his intended interview with
Mr. Lovelace is over; of which, who knows, Mr. Belford, but your next
letters may give an account? I hope it will not be a fatal one to any
body. Will you promise me, Doctor, to forbear writing for two days only,
and I will communicate to you any thing that occurs in that time; and then
you shall take your own way? Mean time, I repeat my thanks for your
goodness to me.--Nay, dear Doctor, hurry not away from me so
precipitately [for he was going, for fear of an offered fee]: I will no
more affront you with tenders that have pained you for some time past:
and since I must now, from this kindly-offered favour, look upon you only
as a friend, I will assure you henceforth that I will give you no more
uneasiness on that head: and now, Sir, I know I shall have the pleasure
of seeing you oftener than heretofore.
The worthy gentleman was pleased with this assurance, telling her that he
had always come to see her with great pleasure, but parted with her, on
the account she hinted at, with as much pain; and that he should not have
forborne to double his visits, could he have had this kind assurance as
early as he wished for it.
There are few instances of like disinterestedness, I doubt, in this
tribe. Till now I always held it for gospel, that friendship and
physician were incompatible things; and little imagined that a man of
medicine, when he had given over his patient to death, would think of any
visits but those of ceremony, that he might stand well with the family,
against it came to their turns to go through his turnpike.
After the doctor was gone, she fell into a very serious discourse of the
vanity of life, and the wisdom of preparing for death, while health and
strength remained, and before the infirmities of body impaired the
faculties of the mind, and disabled them from acting with the necessary
efficacy and clearness: the whole calculated for every one's meridian,
but particularly, as it was easy to observe, for thine and mine.
She was very curious to know farther particulars of the behaviour of poor
Belton in his last moments. You must not wonder at my inquiries, Mr.
Belford, said she; For who is it, that is to undertake a journey into a
country they never travelled to before, that inquires not into the
difficulties of the road, and what accommodations are to be expected in
I gave her a brief account of the poor man's terrors, and unwillingness
to die: and, when I had done, Thus, Mr. Belford, said she, must it always
be with poor souls who have never thought of their long voyage till the
moment they are to embark for it.
She made other such observations upon this subject as, coming from the
mouth of a person who will so soon be a companion for angels, I shall
never forget. And indeed, when I went home, that I might engraft them
the better on my memory, I entered them down in writing: but I will not
let you see them until you are in a frame more proper to benefit by them
than you are likely to be in one while.
Thus far had I written, when the unexpected early return of my servant
with your packet (your's and he meeting at Slough, and exchanging
letters) obliged me to leave off to give its contents a reading.--Here,
therefore, I close this letter.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY MORN. AUG. 29.
Now, Jack, will I give thee an account of what passed on occasion of the
visit made us by Col. Morden.
He came on horseback, attended by one servant; and Lord M. received him
as a relation of Miss Harlowe's with the highest marks of civility and
After some general talk of the times, and of the weather, and such
nonsense as Englishmen generally make their introductory topics to
conversation, the Colonel addressed himself to Lord M. and to me, as
I need not, my Lord, and Mr. Lovelace, as you know the relation I bear to
the Harlowe family, make any apology for entering upon a subject, which,
on account of that relation, you must think is the principal reason of
the honour I have done myself in this visit.
Miss Harlowe, Miss Clarissa Harlowe's affair, said Lord M. with his usual
forward bluntness. That, Sir, is what you mean. She is, by all
accounts, the most excellent woman in the world.
I am glad to hear that is your Lordship's opinion of her. It is every
It is not only my opinion, Col. Morden (proceeded the prating Peer), but
it is the opinion of all my family. Of my sisters, of my nieces, and of
Mr. Lovelace himself.
Col. Would to Heaven it had been always Mr. Lovelace's opinion of her!
Lovel. You have been out of England, Colonel, a good many years.
Perhaps you are not yet fully apprized of all the particulars of this
Col. I have been out of England, Sir, about seven years. My cousin
Clary was then about 12 years of age: but never was there at twenty so
discreet, so prudent, and so excellent a creature. All that knew her, or
saw her, admired her. Mind and person, never did I see such promises of
perfection in any young lady: and I am told, nor is it to be wondered at,
that, as she advanced to maturity, she more than justified and made good
those promises.--Then as to fortune--what her father, what her uncles,
and what I myself, intended to do for her, besides what her grandfather
had done--there is not a finer fortune in the country.
Lovel. All this, Colonel, and more than this, is Miss Clarissa Harlowe;
and had it not been for the implacableness and violence of her family
(all resolved to push her upon a match as unworthy of her as hateful to
her) she had still been happy.
Col. I own, Mr. Lovelace, the truth of what you observed just now, that
I am not thoroughly acquainted with all that has passed between you and
my cousin. But permit me to say, that when I first heard that you made
your addresses to her, I knew but of one objection against you; that,
indeed, a very great one: and upon a letter sent me, I gave her my free
opinion upon that subject.* But had it not been for that, I own, that,
in my private mind, there could not have been a more suitable match: for
you are a gallant gentleman, graceful in your person, easy and genteel in
your deportment, and in your family, fortunes, and expectations, happy as
a man can wish to be. Then the knowledge I had of you in Italy
(although, give me leave to say, your conduct there was not wholly
unexceptionable) convinces me that you are brave: and few gentlemen come
up to you in wit and vivacity. Your education has given you great
advantages; your manners are engaging, and you have travelled; and I
know, if you'll excuse me, you make better observations than you are
governed by. All these qualifications make it not at all surprising that
a young lady should love you: and that this love, joined to that
indiscreet warmth wherewith my cousin's friends would have forced her
inclinations in favour of men who are far your inferiors in the qualities
I have named, should throw herself upon your protection. But then, if
there were these two strong motives, the one to induce, the other to
impel, her, let me ask you, Sir, if she were not doubly entitled to
generous usage from a man whom she chose for her protector; and whom, let
me take the liberty to say, she could so amply reward for the protection
he was to afford her?
* See Vol. IV. Letter XIX.
Lovel. Miss Clarissa Harlowe was entitled, Sir, to have the best usage
that man could give her. I have no scruple to own it. I will always do
her the justice she so well deserves. I know what will be your inference;
and have only to say, that time past cannot be recalled; perhaps I wish
The Colonel then, in a very manly strain, set forth the wickedness of
attempting a woman of virtue and character. He said, that men had
generally too many advantages from the weakness, credulity, and
inexperience of the fair sex: that their early learning, which chiefly
consisted in inflaming novels, and idle and improbable romances,
contributed to enervate and weaken their minds: that his cousin, however,
he was sure, was above the reach of common seduction, and not to be
influenced to the rashness her parents accused her of, by weaker motives
than their violence, and the most solemn promises on my part: but,
nevertheless, having those motives, and her prudence (eminent as it was)
being rather the effect of constitution than experience, (a fine
advantage, however, he said, to ground an unblamable future life upon,)
she might not be apprehensive of bad designs in a man she loved: it was,
therefore, a very heinous thing to abuse the confidence of such a woman.
He was going on in this trite manner; when, interrupting him, I said,
These general observations, Colonel, suit not perhaps this particular
case. But you yourself are a man of gallantry; and, possibly, were you
to be put to the question, might not be able to vindicate every action of
your life, any more than I.
Col. You are welcome, Sir, to put what questions you please to me.
And, I thank God, I can both own an be ashamed of my errors.
Lord M. looked at me; but as the Colonel did not by his manner seem to
intend a reflection, I had no occasion to take it for one; especially as
I can as readily own my errors, as he, or any man, can his, whether
ashamed of them or not.
He proceeded. As you seem to call upon me, Mr. Lovelace, I will tell you
(without boasting of it) what has been my general practice, till lately,
that I hope I have reformed it a good deal.
I have taken liberties, which the laws of morality will by no means
justify; and once I should have thought myself warranted to cut the
throat of any young fellow who should make as free with a sister of mine
as I have made with the sisters and daughters of others. But then I took
care never to promise any thing I intended not to perform. A modest ear
should as soon have heard downright obscenity from my lips, as matrimony,
if I had not intended it. Young ladies are generally ready enough to
believe we mean honourably, if they love us; and it would look lie a
strange affront to their virtue and charms, that it should be supposed
needful to put the question whether in your address you mean a wife. But
when once a man make a promise, I think it ought to be performed; and a
woman is well warranted to appeal to every one against the perfidy of a
deceiver; and is always sure to have the world on her side.
Now, Sir, continued he, I believe you have so much honour as to own, that
you could not have made way to so eminent a virtue, without promising
marriage; and that very explicitly and solemnly--
I know very well, Colonel, interrupted I, all you would say. You will
excuse me, I am sure, that I break in upon you, when you find it is to
answer the end you drive at.
I own to you then that I have acted very unworthily by Miss Clarissa
Harlowe; and I'll tell you farther, that I heartily repent of my
ingratitude and baseness to her. Nay, I will say still farther, that I
am so grossly culpable as to her, that even to plead that the abuses and
affronts I daily received from her implacable relations were in any
manner a provocation to me to act vilely by her, would be a mean and low
attempt to excuse myself--so low and so mean, that it would doubly
condemn me. And if you can say worse, speak it.
He looked upon Lord M. and then upon me, two or three times. And my Lord
said, My kinsman speaks what he thinks, I'll answer for him.
Lovel. I do, Sir; and what can I say more? And what farther, in your
opinion, can be done?
Col. Done! Sir? Why, Sir, [in a haughty tone he spoke,] I need not
tell you that reparation follows repentance. And I hope you make no
scruple of justifying your sincerity as to the one or the other.
I hesitated, (for I relished not the manner of his speech, and his
haughty accent,) as undetermined whether to take proper notice of it or
Col. Let me put this question to you, Mr. Lovelace: Is it true, as I
have heard it is, that you would marry my cousin, if she would have you?
--What say you, Sir?--
This wound me up a peg higher.
Lovel. Some questions, as they may be put, imply commands, Colonel. I
would be glad to know how I am to take your's? And what is to be the end
of your interrogatories?
Col. My questions are not meant by me as commands, Mr. Lovelace. The
end is, to prevail upon a gentleman to act like a gentleman, and a man of
Lovel. (briskly) And by what arguments, Sir, do you propose to prevail
Col. By what arguments, Sir, prevail upon a gentleman to act like a
gentleman!--I am surprised at that question from Mr. Lovelace.
Lovel. Why so, Sir?
Col. WHY so, Sir! (angrily)--Let me--
Lovel. (interrupting) I don't choose, Colonel, to be repeated upon, in
Lord M. Come, come, gentlemen, I beg of you to be willing to understand
one another. You young gentlemen are so warm--
Col. Not I, my Lord--I am neither very young, nor unduly warm. Your
nephew, my Lord, can make me be every thing he would have me to be.
Lovel. And that shall be, whatever you please to be, Colonel.
Col. (fiercely) The choice be your's, Mr. Lovelace. Friend or foe! as
you do or are willing to do justice to one of the finest women in the
Lord M. I guessed, from both your characters, what would be the case
when you met. Let me interpose, gentlemen, and beg you but to understand
one another. You both shoot at one mark; and, if you are patient, will
both hit it. Let me beg of you, Colonel, to give no challenges--
Col. Challenges, my Lord!--They are things I ever was readier to accept
than to offer. But does your Lordship think that a man, so nearly
related as I have the honour to be to the most accomplished woman on
Lord M. (interrupting) We all allow the excellencies of the lady--and
we shall all take it as the greatest honour to be allied to her that can
be conferred upon us.
Col. So you ought, my Lord!--
A perfect Chamont; thought I.*
* See Otway's Orphan.
Lord M. So we ought, Colonel! and so we do!--and pray let every one do
as he ought!--and no more than he ought; and you, Colonel, let me tell
you, will not be so hasty.
Lovel. (coolly) Come, come, Col. Morden, don't let this dispute, whatever
you intend to make of it, go farther than with you and me. You
deliver yourself in very high terms. Higher than ever I was talked to in
my life. But here, beneath this roof, 'twould be inexcusable for me to
take that notice of it which, perhaps, it would become me to take
Col. That is spoken as I wish the man to speak whom I should be pleased
to call my friend, if all his actions were of a piece; and as I would
have the man speak whom I would think it worth my while to call my foe.
I love a man of spirit, as I love my soul. But, Mr. Lovelace, as my Lord
thinks we aim at one mark, let me say, that were we permitted to be alone
for six minutes, I dare say, we should soon understand one another
perfectly well.--And he moved to the door.
Lovel. I am entirely of your opinion, Sir; and will attend you.
My Lord rung, and stept between us: Colonel, return, I beseech you
return, said he: for he had stept out of the room while my Lord held me--
Nephew, you shall not go out.
The bell and my Lord's raised voice brought in Mowbray, and Clements, my
Lord's gentleman; the former in his careless way, with his hands behind
him, What's the matter, Bobby? What's the matter, my Lord?
Only, only, only, stammered the agitated peer, these young gentlemen are,
are, are--are young gentlemen, that's all.--Pray, Colonel Morden, [who
again entered the room with a sedater aspect,] let this cause have a fair
trial, I beseech you.
Col. With all my heart, my Lord.
Mowbray whispered me, What is the cause, Bobby?--Shall I take the
gentleman to task for thee, my boy?
Not for the world, whispered I. The Colonel is a gentleman, and I desire
you'll not say one word.
Well, well, well, Bobby, I have done. I can turn thee loose to the best
man upon God's earth; that's all, Bobby; strutting off to the other end
of the room.
Col. I am sorry, my Lord, I should give your Lordship the least
uneasiness. I came not with such a design.
Lord M. Indeed, Colonel, I thought you did, by your taking fire so
quickly. I am glad to hear you say you did not. How soon a little spark
kindles into a flame; especially when it meets with such combustible
Col. If I had had the least thought of proceeding to extremities, I am
sure Mr. Lovelace would have given me the honour of a meeting where I
should have been less an intruder: but I came with an amicable intention;
to reconcile differences rather than to widen them.
Lovel. Well then, Colonel Morden, let us enter upon the subject in your
own way. I don't know the man I should sooner choose to be upon terms
with than one whom Miss Clarissa Harlowe so much respects. But I cannot
bear to be treated, either in word or accent, in a menacing way.
Lord M. Well, well, well, well, gentlemen, this is somewhat like.
Angry men make to themselves beds of nettles, and, when they lie down in
them, are uneasy with every body. But I hope you are friends. Let me
hear you say you are. I am persuaded, Colonel, that you don't know all
this unhappy story. You don't know how desirous my kinsman is, as well
as all of us, to have this matter end happily. You don't know, do you,
Colonel, that Mr. Lovelace, at all our requests, is disposed to marry the
Col. At all your requests, my Lord?--I should have hoped that Mr.
Lovelace was disposed to do justice for the sake of justice; and when at
the same time the doing of justice was doing himself the highest honour.
Mowbray lifted up his before half-closed eyes to the Colonel, and glanced
them upon me.
Lovel. This is in very high language, Colonel.
Mowbr. By my soul, I thought so.
Col. High language, Mr. Lovelace? Is it not just language?
Lovel. It is, Colonel. And I think, the man that does honour to Miss
Clarissa Harlowe, does me honour. But, nevertheless, there is a manner
in speaking, that may be liable to exception, where the words, without
that manner, can bear none.
Col. Your observation in the general is undoubtedly just: but, if you
have the value for my cousin that you say you have, you must needs think
Lovel. You must allow me, Sir, to interrupt you--IF I have the value I
say I have--I hope, Sir, when I say I have that value, there is no room
for that if, pronounced as you pronounced it with an emphasis.
Col. You have broken in upon me twice, Mr. Lovelace. I am as little
accustomed to be broken in upon, as you are to be repeated upon.
Lord M. Two barrels of gunpowder, by my conscience! What a devil will
it signify talking, if thus you are to blow one another up at every word?
Lovel. No man of honour, my Lord, will be easy to have his veracity
called into question, though but by implication.
Col. Had you heard me out, Mr. Lovelace, you would have found, that my
if was rather an if of inference, than of doubt. But 'tis, really a
strange liberty gentlemen of free principles take; who at the same time
that they would resent unto death the imputation of being capable of
telling an untruth to a man, will not scruple to break through the most
solemn oaths and promises to a woman. I must assure you, Mr. Lovelace,
that I always made a conscience of my vows and promises.
Lovel. You did right, Colonel. But let me tell you, Sir, that you know
not the man you talk to, if you imagine he is not able to rise to a
proper resentment, when he sees his generous confessions taken for a mark
Col. (warmly, and with a sneer,) Far be it from me, Mr. Lovelace, to
impute to you the baseness of spirit you speak of; for what would that be
but to imagine that a man, who has done a very flagrant injury, is not
ready to show his bravery in defending it--
Mowbr. This is d----d severe, Colonel. It is, by Jove. I could not
take so much at the hands of any man breathing as Mr. Lovelace before
this took at your's.
Col. Who are you, Sir? What pretence have you to interpose in a cause
where there is an acknowledged guilt on one side, and the honour of a
considerable family wounded in the tenderest part by that guilt on the
Mowbr. (whispering to the Colonel) My dear child, you will oblige me
highly if you will give me the opportunity of answering your question.
And was going out.
The Colonel was held in by my Lord. And I brought in Mowbray.
Col. Pray, my good Lord, let me attend this officious gentleman, I
beseech you do. I will wait upon your Lordship in three minutes, depend
Lovel. Mowbray, is this acting like a friend by me, to suppose me
incapable of answering for myself? And shall a man of honour and
bravery, as I know Colonel Morden to be, (rash as perhaps in this visit
he has shown himself,) have it to say, that he comes to my Lord M.'s
house, in a manner naked as to attendants and friends, and shall not for
that reason be rather borne with than insulted? This moment, my dear
Mowbray, leave us. You have really no concern in this business; and if
you are my friend, I desire you'll ask the Colonel pardon for interfering
in it in the manner you have done.
Mowbr. Well, well, Bob.; thou shalt be arbiter in this matter; I know I
have no business in it--and, Colonel, (holding out his hand,) I leave you
to one who knows how to defend his own cause as well as any man in
Col. (taking Mowbray's hand, at Lord M.'s request,) You need not tell
me that, Mr. Mowbray. I have no doubt of Mr. Lovelace's ability to
defend his own cause, were it a cause to be defended. And let me tell
you, Mr. Lovelace, that I am astonished to think that a brave man, and a
generous man, as you have appeared to be in two or three instances that
you have given in the little knowledge I have of you, should be capable
of acting as you have done by the most excellent of her sex.
Lord M. Well, but, gentlemen, now Mr. Mowbray is gone, and you have
both shown instances of courage and generosity to boot, let me desire you
to lay your heads together amicably, and think whether there be any thing
to be done to make all end happily for the lady?
Lovel. But hold, my Lord, let me say one thing, now Mowbray is gone;
and that is, that I think a gentleman ought not to put up tamely one or
two severe things that the Colonel has said.
Lord M. What the devil canst thou mean? I thought all had been over.
Why thou hast nothing to do but to confirm to the Colonel that thou art
willing to marry Miss Harlowe, if she will have thee.
Col. Mr. Lovelace will not scruple to say that, I suppose,
notwithstanding all that has passed: but if you think, Mr. Lovelace, I
have said any thing I should not have said, I suppose it is this, that
the man who has shown so little of the thing honour, to a defenceless
unprotected woman, ought not to stand so nicely upon the empty name of
it, with a man who is expostulating with him upon it. I am sorry to have
cause to say this, Mr. Lovelace; but I would, on the same occasion,
repeat it to a king upon his throne, and surrounded by all his guards.
Lord M. But what is all this, but more sacks upon the mill? more coals
upon the fire? You have a mind to quarrel both of you, I see that. Are
you not willing, Nephew, are you not most willing, to marry this lady, if
she can be prevailed upon to have you?
Lovel. D---n me, my Lord, if I'd marry my empress upon such treatment
Lord M. Why now, Bob., thou art more choleric than the Colonel. It was
his turn just now. And now you see he is cool, you are all gunpowder.
Lovel. I own the Colonel has many advantages over me; but, perhaps,
there is one advantage he has not, if it were put to the trial.
Col. I came not hither, as I said before, to seek the occasion: but if
it were offered me, I won't refuse it--and since we find we disturb my
good Lord M. I'll take my leave, and will go home by the way of St.
Lovel. I'll see you part of the way, with all my heart, Colonel.
Col. I accept your civility very cheerfully, Mr. Lovelace.
Lord M. (interposing again, as we were both for going out,) And what
will this do, gentlemen? Suppose you kill one another, will the matter
be bettered or worsted by that? Will the lady be made happier or
unhappier, do you think, by either or both of your deaths? Your
characters are too well known to make fresh instances of the courage of
either needful. And, I think, if the honour of the lady is your view,
Colonel, it can by no other way so effectually promoted as by marriage.
And, Sir, if you would use your interest with her, it is very probable
that you may succeed, though nobody else can.
Lovel. I think, my Lord, I have said all that a man can say, (since
what is passed cannot be recalled:) and you see Colonel Morden rises in
proportion to my coolness, till it is necessary for me to assert myself,
or even he would despise me.
Lord M. Let me ask you, Colonel, have you any way, any method, that you
think reasonable and honourable to propose, to bring about a
reconciliation with the lady? That is what we all wish for. And I can
tell you, Sir, it is not a little owing to her family, and to their
implacable usage of her, that her resentments are heightened against my
kinsman; who, however, has used her vilely; but is willing to repair her
Lovel. Not, my Lord, for the sake of her family; nor for this
gentleman's haughty behaviour; but for her own sake, and in full sense of
the wrongs I have done her.
Col. As to my haughty behaviour, as you call it, Sir, I am mistaken if
you would not have gone beyond it in the like case of a relation so
meritorious, and so unworthily injured. And, Sir, let me tell you, that
if your motives are not love, honour, and justice, and if they have the
least tincture of mean compassion for her, or of an uncheerful assent on
your part, I am sure it will neither be desired or accepted by a person
of my cousin's merit and sense; nor shall I wish that it should.
Lovel. Don't think, Colonel, that I am meanly compounding off a debate,
that I should as willingly go through with you as to eat or drink, if I
have the occasion given me for it: but thus much I will tell you, that my
Lord, that Lady Sarah Sadleir, Lady Betty Lawrance, my two cousins
Montague, and myself, have written to her in the most solemn and sincere
manner, to offer her such terms as no one but herself would refuse, and
this long enough before Colonel Morden's arrival was dreamt of.
Col. What reason, Sir, may I ask, does she give, against listening to
so powerful a mediation, and to such offers?
Lovel. It looks like capitulating, or else--
Col. It looks not like any such thing to me, Mr. Lovelace, who have as
good an opinion of your spirit as man can have. And what, pray, is the
part I act, and my motives for it? Are they not, in desiring that
justice may be done to my Cousin Clarissa Harlowe, that I seek to
establish the honour of Mrs. Lovelace, if matters can once be brought to
Lovel. Were she to honour me with her acceptance of that name, Mr.
Morden, I should not want you or any man to assert the honour of Mrs.
Col. I believe it. But still she has honoured you with that
acceptance, she is nearer to me than to you, Mr. Lovelace. And I speak
this, only to show you that, in the part I take, I mean rather to deserve
your thanks than your displeasure, though against yourself, were there
occasion. Nor ought you take it amiss, if you rightly weigh the matter:
For, Sir, whom does a lady want protection against but her injurers? And
who has been her greatest injurer?--Till, therefore, she becomes entitled
to your protection, as your wife, you yourself cannot refuse me some
merit in wishing to have justice done my cousin. But, Sir, you were
going to say, that if it were not to look like capitulating, you would
hint the reasons my cousin gives against accepting such an honourable
I then told him of my sincere offers of marriage: 'I made no difficulty,
I said, to own my apprehensions, that my unhappy behaviour to her had
greatly affected her: but that it was the implacableness of her friends
that had thrown her into despair, and given her a contempt for life.' I
told him, 'that she had been so good as to send me a letter to divert me
from a visit my heart was set upon making her: a letter on which I built
great hopes, because she assured me that in it she was going to her
father's; and that I might see her there, when she was received, if it
were not my own fault.
Col. Is it possible? And were you, Sir, thus earnest? And did she
send you such a letter?
Lord M. confirmed both; and also, that, in obedience to her desires, and
that intimation, I had come down without the satisfaction I had proposed
to myself in seeing her.
It is very true, Colonel, said I: and I should have told you this before:
but your heat made me decline it; for, as I said, it had an appearance of
meanly capitulating with you. An abjectness of heart, of which, had I
been capable, I should have despised myself as much as I might have
expected you would despise me.
Lord M. proposed to enter into the proof of all this. He said, in his
phraseological way, That one story was good till another was heard; and
that the Harlowe family and I, 'twas true, had behaved like so many
Orsons to one another; and that they had been very free with all our
family besides: that nevertheless, for the lady's sake, more than for
their's, or even for mine, (he could tell me,) he would do greater things
for me than they could ask, if she could be brought to have me: and that
this he wanted to declare, and would sooner have declared, if he could
have brought us sooner to patience, and a good understanding.
The Colonel made excuses for his warmth, on the score of his affection to
My regard for her made me readily admit them: and so a fresh bottle of
Burgundy, and another of Champagne, being put upon the table, we sat down
in good humour, after all this blustering, in order to enter closer into
the particulars of the case: which I undertook, at both their desires, to
But these things must be the subject of another letter, which shall
immediately follow this, if it do not accompany it.
Mean time you will observe that a bad cause gives a man great
disadvantages: for I myself thing that the interrogatories put to me with
so much spirit by the Colonel made me look cursedly mean; at the same
time that it gave him a superiority which I know not how to allow to the
best man in Europe. So that, literally speaking, as a good man would
infer, guilt is its own punisher: in that it makes the most lofty spirit
look like the miscreant he is--a good man, I say: So, Jack, proleptically
I add, thou hast no right to make the observation.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON, AUG. 29.
I went back, in this part of our conversation, to the day that I was
obliged to come down to attend my Lord in the dangerous illness which
some feared would have been his last.
I told the Colonel, 'what earnest letters I had written to a particular
friend, to engage him to prevail upon the lady not to slip a day that had
been proposed for the private celebration of our nuptials; and of my
letters* written to her on that subject;' for I had stepped to my closet,
and fetched down all the letters and draughts and copies of letters
relating to this affair.
* See Vol. VI. Letters XXXVII. XXXVIII. XXXIX. XLIII.
I read to him, 'several passages in the copies of those letters, which,
thou wilt remember, make not a little to my honour.' And I told him,
'that I wished I had kept copies of those to my friend on the same
occasion; by which he would have seen how much in earnest I was in my
professions to her, although she would not answer one of them;' and thou
mayest remember, that one of those four letters accounted to herself why
I was desirous she should remain where I had left her.*
* See Vol. VI. Letter XXXVII.
I then proceeded to give him an account 'of the visit made by Lady Sarah
and Lady Betty to Lord M. and me, in order to induce me to do her
justice: of my readiness to comply with their desires; and of their high
opinion of her merit: of the visit made to Miss Howe by my cousins
Montague, in the name of us all, to engage her interest with her friend
in my behalf: of my conversation with Miss Howe, at a private assembly,
to whom I gave the same assurances, and besought her interest with her
I then read a copy of the letter (though so much to my disadvantage)
which was written to her by Miss Charlotte Montague, Aug. 1,* entreating
her alliance in the names of all our family.
* See Vol. VII. Letter LXVI.
This made him ready to think that his fair cousin carried her resentment
against me too far. He did not imagine, he said, that either myself or
our family had been so much in earnest.
So thou seest, Belford, that it is but glossing over one part of a story,
and omitting another, that will make a bad cause a good one at any time.
What an admirable lawyer should I have made! And what a poor hand would
this charming creature, with all her innocence, have made of it in a
court of justice against a man who had so much to say and to show for
I then hinted at the generous annual tender which Lord M. and his sisters
made to his fair cousin, in apprehension that she might suffer by her
And this also the Colonel highly applauded, and was pleased to lament the
unhappy misunderstanding between the two families, which had made the
Harlowes less fond of an alliance with a family of so much honour as this
instance showed ours to be.
I then told him, 'That having, by my friend, [meaning thee,] who was
admitted into her presence, (and who had always been an admirer of her
virtues, and had given me such advice from time to time in relation to
her as I wished I had followed,) been assured that a visit from me would
be very disagreeable to her, I once more resolved to try what a letter
would do; and that, accordingly, on the seventh of August, I wrote her
'This, Colonel, is the copy of it. I was then out of humour with my Lord
M. and the ladies of my family. You will, therefore, read it to
* See Vol. VII. Letter LXXIX.
This letter gave him high satisfaction. You write here, Mr. Lovelace,
from your heart. 'Tis a letter full of penitence and acknowledgement.
Your request is reasonable--To be forgiven only as you shall appear to
deserve it after a time of probation, which you leave to her to fix.
Pray, Sir, did she return an answer to this letter?
She did, but with reluctance, I own, and not till I had declared by my
friend, that, if I could not procure one, I would go up to town, and
throw myself at her feet.
I wish I might be permitted to see it, Sir, or to hear such parts of it
read as you shall think proper.
Turning over my papers, Here it is, Sir.* I will make no scruple to put
it into your hands.
This is very obliging, Mr. Lovelace.
He read it. My charming cousin!--How strong her resentments!--Yet how
charitable her wishes!--Good Heaven! that such an excellent creature--
But, Mr. Lovelace, it is to your regret, as much as to mine, I doubt not
Interrupting him, I swore that it was.
So it ought, said he. Nor do I wonder that it should be so. I shall
tell you by-and-by, proceeded he, how much she suffers with her friends
by false and villanous reports. But, Sir, will you permit me to take
with me these two letters? I shall make use of them to the advantage of
I told him I would oblige him with all my heart. And this he took very
kindly (as he had reason); and put them in his pocket-book, promising to
return hem in a few days.
I then told him, 'That upon this her refusal, I took upon myself to go to
town, in hopes to move her in my favour; and that, though I went without
giving her notice of my intention, yet had she got some notion of my
coming, and so contrived to be out of the way: and at last, when she
found I was fully determined at all events to see her, before I went
abroad, (which I shall do, said I, if I cannot prevail upon her,) she
sent me the letter I have already mentioned to you, desiring me to
suspend my purposed visit: and that for a reason which amazes and
confounds me; because I don't find there is any thing in it: and yet I
never knew her once dispense with her word; for she always made it a
maxim, that it was not lawful to do evil, that good might come of it: and
yet in this letter, for no reason in the world but to avoid seeing me (to
gratify an humour only) has she sent me out of town, depending upon the
assurance she had given me.'
Col. This is indeed surprising. But I cannot believe that my cousin,
for such an end only, or indeed for any end, according to the character I
hear of her, should stoop to make use of such an artifice.
Lovel. This, Colonel, is the thing that astonishes me; and yet, see
here!--This is the letter she wrote me--Nay, Sir, 'tis her own hand.
Col. I see it is; and a charming hand it is.
Lovel. You observe, Colonel, that all her hopes of reconciliation with
her parents are from you. You are her dear blessed friend! She always
talked of you with delight.
Col. Would to Heaven I had come to England before she left
Harlowe-place!--Nothing of this had then happened. Not a man of those
whom I have heard that her friends proposed for her should have had her.
Nor you, Mr. Lovelace, unless I had found you to be the man every one who
sees you must wish you to be: and if you had been that man, no one living
should I have preferred to you for such an excellence.
My Lord and I both joined in the wish: and 'faith I wished it most
The Colonel read the letter twice over, and then returned it to me. 'Tis
all a mystery, said he. I can make nothing of it. For, alas! her
friends are as averse to a reconciliation as ever.
Lord M. I could not have thought it. But don't you think there is
something very favourable to my nephew in this letter--something that
looks as if the lady would comply at last?
Col. Let me die if I know what to make of it. This letter is very
different from her preceding one!--You returned an answer to it, Mr.
Lovel. An answer, Colonel! No doubt of it. And an answer full of
transport. I told her, 'I would directly set out for Lord M.'s, in
obedience to her will. I told her that I would consent to any thing she
should command, in order to promote this happy reconciliation. I told
her that it should be my hourly study, to the end of my life, to deserve
a goodness so transcendent.' But I cannot forbear saying that I am not a
little shocked and surprised, if nothing more be meant by it than to get
me into the country without seeing her.
Col. That can't be the thing, depend upon it, Sir. There must be more
in it than that. For, were that all, she must think you would soon be
undeceived, and that you would then most probably resume your intention--
unless, indeed, she depended upon seeing me in the interim, as she knew I
was arrived. But I own I know not what to make of it. Only that she
does me a great deal of honour, if it be me that she calls her dear
blessed friend, whom she always loved and honoured. Indeed I ever loved
her: and if I die unmarried, and without children, shall be as kind to
her as her grandfather was: and the rather, as I fear there is too much
of envy and self-love in the resentments her brother and sister endeavour
to keep up in her father and mother against her. But I shall know better
how to judge of this, when my cousin James comes from Edinburgh; and he
is every hour expected.
But let me ask you, Mr. Lovelace, what is the name of your friend, who is
admitted so easily into my cousin's presence? Is it not Belford, pray?
Lovel. It is, Sir; and Mr. Belford's a man of honour; and a great
admirer of your fair cousin.
Was I right, as to the first, Jack? The last I have such strong proof
of, that it makes me question the first; since she would not have been
out of the way of my intended visit but for thee.
Col. Are you sure, Sir, that Mr. Belford is a man of honour?
Lovel. I can swear for him, Colonel. What makes you put this question?
Col. Only this: that an officious pragmatical novice has been sent up
to inquire into my cousin's life and conversation: And, would you believe
it? the frequent visits of this gentlemen have been interpreted basely to
her disreputation.--Read that letter, Mr. Lovelace; and you will be
shocked at ever part of it.
This cursed letter, no doubt, is from the young Levite, whom thou, Jack,
describest as making inquiry of Mrs. Smith about Miss Harlowe's character
* See Vol. VII. Letter LXXXI.
I believe I was a quarter of an hour in reading it: for I made it, though
not a short one, six times as long as it is, by the additions of oaths
and curses to every pedantic line. Lord M. too helped to lengthen it, by
the like execrations. And thou, Jack, wilt have as much reason to curse
it as we.
You cannot but see, said the Colonel, when I had done reading it, that
this fellow has been officious in his malevolence; for what he says is
mere hearsay, and that hearsay conjectural scandal without fact, or the
appearance of fact, to support it; so that an unprejudiced eye, upon the
face of the letter, would condemn the writer of it, as I did, and acquit
my cousin. But yet, such is the spirit by which the rest of my relations
are governed, that they run away with the belief of the worst it
insinuates, and the dear creature has had shocking letters upon it; the
pedant's hints are taken; and a voyage to one of the colonies has been
proposed to her, as the only way to avoid Mr. Belford and you. I have
not seen these letters indeed; but they took a pride in repeating some of
their contents, which must have cut the poor soul to the heart; and
these, joined to her former sufferings,--What have you not, Mr. Lovelace,
to answer for?
Lovel. Who the devil could have expected such consequences as these?
Who could have believe there could be parents so implacable? Brother and
sister so immovably fixed against the only means that could be taken to
put all right with every body?--And what now can be done?
Lord M. I have great hopes that Col. Morden may yet prevail upon his
cousin. And, by her last letter, it runs in my mind that she has some
thoughts of forgiving all that's past. Do you think, Colonel, if there
should not be such a thing as a reconciliation going forward at present,
that her letter may not imply that, if we could bring such a thing to
bear with her friends, she would be reconciled with Mr. Lovelace?
Col. Such an artifice would better become the Italian subtilty than the
English simplicity. Your Lordship has been in Italy, I presume?
Lovel. My Lord has read Boccaccio, perhaps; and that's as well, as to
the hint he gives, which may be borrowed from one of that author's
stories. But Miss Clarissa Harlowe is above all artifice. She must have
some meaning I cannot fathom.
Col. Well, my Lord, I can only say that I will make some use of the
letters Mr. Lovelace has obliged me with: and after I have had some talk
with my cousin James, who is hourly expected; and when I have dispatched
two or three affairs that press upon me; I will pay my respects to my
dear cousin; and shall then be able to form a better judgment of things.
Mean time I will write to her; for I have sent to inquire about her, and
find she wants consolation.
Lovel. If you favour me, Colonel, with the d----d letter of that fellow
Brand for a day or two, you will oblige me.
Col. I will. But remember, the man is a parson, Mr. Lovelace; an
innocent one too, they say. Else I had been at him before now. And
these college novices, who think they know every thing in their
cloisters, and that all learning lies in books, make dismal figures when
they come into the world among men and women.
Lord M. Brand! Brand! It should have been Firebrand, I think in my
Thus ended this doughty conference.
I cannot say, Jack, but I am greatly taken with Col. Morden. He is brave
and generous, and knows the world; and then his contempt of the parsons
is a certain sign that he is one of us.
We parted with great civility: Lord M. (not a little pleased that we did,
and as greatly taken with Colonel) repeated his wish, after the Colonel
was gone, that he had arrived in time to save the lady, if that would
have done it.
I wish so too. For by my soul, Jack, I am every day more and more uneasy
about her. But I hope she is not so ill as I am told she is.
I have made Charlotte transcribe the letter of this Firebrand, as my Lord
calls him; and will enclose her copy of it. All thy phlegm I know will
be roused into vengeance when thou readest it.
I know not what to advise as to showing it to the lady. Yet, perhaps,
she will be able to reap more satisfaction than concern from it, knowing
her own innocence; in that it will give her to hope that her friends'
treatment of her is owing as much to misrepresentation as to their own
natural implacableness. Such a mind as her's, I know, would be glad to
find out the shadow of a reason for the shocking letters the Colonel says
they have sent her, and for their proposal to her of going to some one of
the colonies [confound them all--but, if I begin to curse, I shall never
have done]--Then it may put her upon such a defence as she might be glad
of an opportunity to make, and to shame them for their monstrous
credulity--but this I leave to thy own fat-headed prudence--Only it vexes
me to the heart, that even scandal and calumny should dare to surmise the
bare possibility of any man sharing the favours of a woman, whom now
methinks I could worship with a veneration due only to a divinity.
Charlotte and her sister could not help weeping at the base aspersion:
When, when, said Patty, lifting up her hands, will this sweet lady's
sufferings be at an end?--O cousin Lovelace!--
And thus am I blamed for every one's faults!--When her brutal father
curses her, it is I. I upbraid her with her severe mother. The
implacableness of her stupid uncles is all mine. The virulence of her
brother, and the spite of her sister, are entirely owing to me. The
letter of this rascal Brand is of my writing--O Jack, what a wretch is
Returned without a letter!--This d----d fellow Will. is returned without
a letter!--Yet the rascal tells me that he hears you have been writing to
me these two days!
Plague confound thee, who must know my impatience, and the reason for it!
To send a man and horse on purpose; as I did! My imagination chained me
to the belly of the beast, in order to keep pace with him!--Now he is got
to this place; now to that; now to London; now to thee!
Now [a letter given him] whip and spur upon the return. This town just
entered, not staying to bait: that village passed by: leaves the wind
behind him; in a foaming sweat man and horse.
And in this way did he actually enter Lord M.'s courtyard.
The reverberating pavement brought me down--The letter, Will.! The
letter, dog!--The letter, Sirrah!
No letter, Sir!--Then wildly staring round me, fists clenched, and
grinning like a maniac, Confound thee for a dog, and him that sent thee
without one!--This moment out of my sight, or I'll scatter thy stupid
brains through the air. I snatched from his holsters a pistol, while the
rascal threw himself from the foaming beast, and ran to avoid the fate
which I wished with all my soul thou hadst been within the reach of me to
have met with.
But, to be as meek as a lamb to one who has me at his mercy, and can
wring and torture my soul as he pleases, What canst thou mean to send
back my varlet without a letter?--I will send away by day-dawn another
fellow upon another beast for what thou hast written; and I charge thee
on thy allegiance, that thou dispatch him not back empty-handed.
Charlotte, in a whim of delicacy, is displeased that I send the enclosed
letter to you--that her handwriting, forsooth! should go into the hands
of a single man!
There's encouragement for thee, Belford! This is a certain sign that
thou may'st have her if thou wilt. And yet, till she has given me this
unerring demonstration of her glancing towards thee, I could not have
thought it. Indeed I have often in pleasantry told her that I would
bring such an affair to bear. But I never intended it; because she
really is a dainty girl; and thou art such a clumsy fellow in thy person,
that I should as soon have wished her a rhinoceros for a husband as thee.
But, poor little dears! they must stay till their time's come! They
won't have this man, and they won't have that man, from seventeen to
twenty-five: but then, afraid, as the saying is, that God has forgot
them, and finding their bloom departing, they are glad of whom they can
get, and verify the fable of the parson and the pears.
MR. BRAND, TO JOHN HARLOWE, ESQ.
[ENCLOSED IN THE PRECEDING.]
WORTHY SIR, MY VERY GOOD FRIEND AND PATRON,
I arrived in town yesterday, after a tolerably pleasant journey
(considering the hot weather and dusty roads). I put up at the Bull and
Gate in Holborn, and hastened to Covent-garden. I soon found the house
where the unhappy lady lodgeth. And, in the back shop, had a good deal
of discourse* with Mrs. Smith, (her landlady,) whom I found to be so
'highly prepossessed'** in her 'favour,' that I saw it would not answer
your desires to take my informations 'altogether' from her: and being
obliged to attend my patron, (who to my sorrow,
* See Vol. VII. Letter LXXXI.
** Transcriber's note: Mr. Brand's letters are characterized by a style
that makes excessive use of italics for emphasis. Although in the
remainder of _Clarissa_ I have largely disregarded italics for the sake
of plain-text formatting, this style makes such emphatic use of italics
that I have indicated all such instances in his letters by placing the
italicized words and phrases in quotations, thus ' '.
'Miserum et aliena vivere quadra,')
I find wanteth much waiting upon, and is 'another' sort of man than he
was at college: for, Sir, 'inter nos,' 'honours change manners.' For the
'aforesaid causes,' I thought it would best answer all the ends of the
commission with which you honoured me, to engage, in the desired
scrutiny, the wife of a 'particular friend,' who liveth almost
over-against the house where she lodgeth, and who is a gentlewoman of
'character,' and 'sobriety,' a 'mother of children,' and one who
'knoweth' the 'world' well.
To her I applied myself, therefore, and gave her a short history of the
case, and desired she would very particularly inquire into the 'conduct'
of the unhappy young lady; her 'present way of life' and 'subsistence';
her 'visiters,' her 'employments,' and such-like: for these, Sir, you
know, are the things whereof you wished to be informed.
Accordingly, Sir, I waited upon the gentlewoman aforesaid, this day; and,
to 'my' very great trouble, (because I know it will be to 'your's,' and
likewise to all your worthy family's,) I must say, that I do find things
look a little more 'darkly' than I hoped the would. For, alas! Sir, the
gentlewoman's report turneth out not so 'favourable' for Miss's
reputation, as 'I' wished, as 'you' wished, and as 'every one' of her
friends wished. But so it is throughout the world, that 'one false step'
generally brings on 'another'; and peradventure 'a worse,' and 'a still
worse'; till the poor 'limed soul' (a very fit epithet of the Divine
Quarles's!) is quite 'entangled,' and (without infinite mercy) lost for
It seemeth, Sir, she is, notwithstanding, in a very 'ill state of
health.' In this, 'both' gentlewomen (that is to say, Mrs. Smith, her
landlady, and my friend's wife) agree. Yet she goeth often out in a
chair, to 'prayers' (as it is said). But my friend's wife told me, that
nothing is more common in London, than that the frequenting of the church
at morning prayers is made the 'pretence' and 'cover' for 'private
assignations.' What a sad thing is this! that what was designed for
'wholesome nourishment' to the 'poor soul,' should be turned into 'rank
poison!' But as Mr. Daniel de Foe (an ingenious man, though a
'dissenter') observeth (but indeed it is an old proverb; only I think he
was the first that put it into verse)
God never had a house of pray'r
But Satan had a chapel there.
Yet to do the lady 'justice,' nobody cometh home with her: nor indeed
'can' they, because she goeth forward and backward in a 'sedan,' or
'chair,' (as they call it). But then there is a gentleman of 'no good
character' (an 'intimado' of Mr. Lovelace) who is a 'constant' visiter
of her, and of the people of the house, whom he 'regaleth' and
'treateth,' and hath (of consequence) their 'high good words.'
I have thereupon taken the trouble (for I love to be 'exact' in any
'commission' I undertake) to inquire 'particularly' about this
'gentleman,' as he is called (albeit I hold no man so but by his actions:
for, as Juvenal saith,
--'Nobilitas sola est, atque unica virtus')
And this I did 'before' I would sit down to write to you.
His name is Belford. He hath a paternal estate of upwards of one
thousand pounds by the year; and is now in mourning for an uncle who left
him very considerably besides. He beareth a very profligate character as
to 'women,' (for I inquired particularly about 'that,') and is Mr.
Lovelace's more especial 'privado,' with whom he holdeth a 'regular
correspondence'; and hath been often seen with Miss (tete a tete) at the
'window'--in no 'bad way,' indeed: but my friend's wife is of opinion
that all is not 'as it should be.' And, indeed, it is mighty strange to
me, if Miss be so 'notable a penitent' (as is represented) and if she
have such an 'aversion' to Mr. Lovelace, that she will admit his
'privado' into 'her retirements,' and see 'no other company.'
I understand, from Mrs. Smith, that Mr. Hickman was to see her some time
ago, from Miss Howe; and I am told, by 'another' hand, (you see, Sir, how
diligent I have been to execute the 'commissions' you gave me,) that he
had no 'extraordinary opinion' of this Belford at first; though they were
seen together one morning by the opposite neighbour, at 'breakfast': and
another time this Belford was observed to 'watch' Mr. Hickman's coming
from her; so that, as it should seem, he was mighty zealous to
'ingratiate' himself with Mr. Hickman; no doubt to engage him to make a
'favourable report to Miss Howe' of the 'intimacy' he was admitted into
by her unhappy friend; who ('as she is very ill') may 'mean no harm' in
allowing his visits, (for he, it seemeth, brought to her, or recommended,
at least, the doctor and apothecary that attend her:) but I think (upon
the whole) 'it looketh not well.'
I am sorry, Sir, I cannot give you a better account of the young lady's
'prudence.' But, what shall we say?
'Uvaque conspecta livorem ducit ab uva,'
as Juvenal observeth.
One thing I am afraid of; which is, that Miss may be under 'necessities';
and that this Belford (who, as Mrs. Smith owns, hath 'offered her money,'
which she, 'at the time,' refused) may find an opportunity to 'take
advantage' of those 'necessities': and it is well observed by that poet,
'AEgre formosam poteris servare puellam:
Nunc prece, nunc pretio, forma petita ruit.'
And this Belford (who is a 'bold man,' and hath, as they say, the 'look'
of one) may make good that of Horace, (with whose writings you are so
well acquainted; nobody better;)
'Audax omnia perpeti,
Gens humana ruit per vetitum nefas.'
Forgive me, Sir, for what I am going to write: but if you could prevail
upon the rest of your family to join in the scheme which 'you,' and her
'virtuous sister,' Miss Arabella, and the Archdeacon, and I, once talked
of, (which is to persuade the unhappy young lady to go, in some
'creditable' manner, to some one of the foreign colonies,) it might not
save only her 'own credit' and 'reputation,' but the 'reputation' and
'credit' of all her 'family,' and a great deal of 'vexation' moreover.
For it is my humble opinion, that you will hardly (any of you) enjoy
yourselves while this ('once' innocent) young lady is in the way of being
so frequently heard of by you: and this would put her 'out of the way'
both of 'this Belford' and of 'that Lovelace,' and it might,
peradventure, prevent as much 'evil' as 'scandal.'
You will forgive me, Sir, for this my 'plainness.' Ovid pleadeth for me,
'----Adulator nullus amicus erit.'
And I have no view but that of approving myself a 'zealous well-wisher'
to 'all' your worthy family, (whereto I owe a great number of
obligations,) and very particularly, Sir,
Your obliged and humble servant,
WEDN. AUG. 9.
P.S. I shall give you 'farther hints' when I come down, (which will be in
a few days;) and who my 'informants' were; but by 'these' you will
see, that I have been very assiduous (for the time) in the task you
set me upon.
The 'length' of my letter you will excuse: for I need not tell you, Sir,
what 'narrative,' 'complex,' and 'conversation' letters (such a one
as 'mine') require. Every one to his 'talent.' 'Letter-writing'
is mine. I will be bold to say; and that my 'correspondence' was
much coveted in the university, on that account, by 'tyros,' and
by 'sophs,' when I was hardly a 'soph' myself. But this I should
not have taken upon myself to mention, but only in defence of the
'length' of my letter; for nobody writeth 'shorter' or 'pithier,'
when the subject requireth 'common forms' only--but, in apologizing
for my 'prolixity,' I am 'adding' to the 'fault,' (if it were one,
which, however, I cannot think it to be, the 'subject' considered:
but this I have said before in other words:) so, Sir, if you will
excuse my 'post-script,' I am sure you will not find fault with my
One word more as to a matter of 'erudition,' which you greatly love to
hear me 'start' and 'dwell upon.' Dr. Lewen once, in 'your'
presence, (as you, 'my good patron,' cannot but remember,) in a
'smartish' kind of debate between 'him' and 'me,' took upon him to
censure the 'paranthetical' style, as I call it. He was a very
learned and judicious man, to be sure, and an ornament to 'our
function': but yet I must needs say, that it is a style which I
greatly like; and the good Doctor was then past his 'youth,' and
that time of life, of consequence, when a 'fertile imagination,'
and a 'rich fancy,' pour in ideas so fast upon a writer, that
parentheses are often wanted (and that for the sake of 'brevity,'
as well as 'perspicuity') to save the reader the trouble of reading
a passage 'more than once.' Every man to his talent, (as I said
before.) We are all so apt to set up our 'natural biasses' for
'general standards,' that I wondered 'the less' at the worthy
Doctor's 'stiffness' on this occasion. He 'smiled at me,' you may
remember, Sir--and, whether I was right or not, I am sure I 'smiled
at him.' And 'you,' my 'worthy patron,' (as I had the satisfaction
to observe,) seemed to be of 'my party.' But was it not strange,
that the 'old gentleman' and 'I' should so widely differ, when the
'end' with 'both' (that is to say, 'perspicuity' or 'clearness,')
was the same?--But what shall we say?--
'Errare est hominis, sed non persistere.'
I think I have nothing to add until I have the honour of attending you in
'person'; but I am, (as above,) &c. &c. &c.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT, AUG. 30.
It was lucky enough that our two servants met at Hannah's,* which gave
them so good an opportunity of exchanging their letters time enough for
each to return to his master early in the day.
* The Windmill, near Slough.
Thou dost well to boast of thy capacity for managing servants, and to set
up for correcting our poets in their characters of this class of people,*
when, like a madman, thou canst beat their teeth out, and attempt to
shoot them through the head, for not bringing to thee what they had no
power to obtain.
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
You well observe* that you would have made a thorough-paced lawyer. The
whole of the conversation-piece between you and the Colonel affords a
convincing proof that there is a black and a white side to every cause:
But what must the conscience of a partial whitener of his own cause, or
blackener of another's, tell him, while he is throwing dust in the eyes
of his judges, and all the time knows his own guilt?
* See Letter XL. of this volume.
The Colonel, I see, is far from being a faultless man: but while he
sought not to carry his point by breach of faith, he has an excuse which
thou hast not. But, with respect to him, and to us all, I can now, with
the detestation of some of my own actions, see, that the taking advantage
of another person's good opinion of us to injure (perhaps to ruin) that
other, is the most ungenerous wickedness that can be committed.
Man acting thus by man, we should not be at a loss to give such actions a
name: But is it not doubly and trebly aggravated, when such advantage is
taken of an unexperienced and innocent young creature, whom we pretend to
love above all the women in the world; and when we seal our pretences by
the most solemn vows and protestations of inviolable honour that we can
I see that this gentleman is the best match thou ever couldest have had,
upon all accounts: his spirit such another impetuous one as thy own; soon
taking fire; vindictive; and only differing in this, that the cause he
engages in is a just one. But commend me to honest brutal Mowbray, who,
before he knew the cause, offers his sword in thy behalf against a man
who had taken the injured side, and whom he had never seen before.
As soon as I had run through your letters, and the copy of that of the
incendiary Brand's, (by the latter of which I saw to what cause a great
deal of this last implacableness of the Harlowe family is owing,) I took
coach to Smith's, although I had been come from thence but about an hour,
and had taken leave of the lady for the night.
I sent up for Mrs. Lovick, and desired her, in the first place, to
acquaint the lady (who was busied in her closet,) that I had letters from
Berks: in which I was informed, that the interview between Colonel Morden
and Mr. Lovelace had ended without ill consequences; that the Colonel
intended to write to her very soon, and was interesting himself mean
while, in her favour, with her relations; that I hoped that this
agreeable news would be means of giving her good rest; and I would wait
upon her in the morning, by the time she should return from prayers, with
all the particulars.
She sent me word that she should be glad to see me in the morning; and
was highly obliged to me for the good news I had sent her up.
I then, in the back shop, read to Mrs. Lovick and to Mrs. Smith the copy
of Brand's letter, and asked them if they could guess at the man's
informant? They were not at a loss; Mrs. Smith having seen the same
fellow Brand who had talked with her, as I mentioned in the former,* come
out of a milliner's shop over against them; which milliner, she said, had
also lately been very inquisitive about the lady.
* See Vol. VII. Letter LXXXI.
I wanted no farther hint; but, bidding them take no notice to the lady of
what I had read, I shot over the way, and, asking for the mistress of the
house, she came to me.
Retiring with her, at her invitation, into her parlour, I desired to know
if she were acquainted with a young country clergyman of the name of
Brand. She hesitatingly, seeing me in some emotion, owned that she had
some small knowledge of the gentleman. Just then came in her husband,
who is, it seems, a petty officer of excise, (and not an ill-behaved
man,) who owned a fuller knowledge of him.
I have the copy of a letter, said I, from this Brand, in which he has
taken great liberties with my character, and with that of the most
unblamable lady in the world, which he grounds upon information that you,
Madam, have given him. And then I read to them several passages in his
letter, and asked what foundation she had for giving that fellow such
impressions of either of us?
They knew not what to answer: but at last said, that he had told them how
wickedly the young lady had run away from her parents: what worthy and
rich people they were: in what favour he stood with them; and that they
had employed him to inquire after her behaviour, visiters, &c.
They said, 'That indeed they knew very little of the young lady; but that
[curse upon their censoriousness!] it was but too natural to think, that,
where a lady had given way to a delusion, and taken so wrong a step, she
would not stop there: that the most sacred places and things were but too
often made clokes for bad actions; that Mr. Brand had been informed
(perhaps by some enemy of mine) that I was a man of very free principles,
and an intimado, as he calls it, of the man who had ruined her. And that
their cousin Barker, a manteau-maker, who lodged up one pair of stairs,'
(and who, at their desire, came down and confirmed what they said,) 'had
often, from her window, seen me with the lady in her chamber, and both
talking very earnestly together; and that Mr. Brand, being unable to
account for her admiring my visits, and knowing I was but a new
acquaintance of her's, and an old one of Mr. Lovelace, thought himself
obliged to lay these matters before her friends.'
This was the sum and substance of their tale. O how I cursed the
censoriousness of this plaguy triumvirate! A parson, a milliner, and a
mantua-maker! The two latter, not more by business led to adorn the
persons, than generally by scandal to destroy the reputations, of those
they have a mind to exercise their talents upon!
The two women took great pains to persuade me that they themselves were
people of conscience;--of consequence, I told them, too much addicted, I
feared, to censure other people who pretended not to their strictness;
for that I had ever found censoriousness, with those who affected to be
thought more pious than their neighbours.
They answered, that that was not their case; and that they had since
inquired into the lady's character and manner of life, and were very much
concerned to think any thing they had said should be made use of against
her: and as they heard from Mrs. Smith that she was not likely to live
long, they should be sorry she should go out of the world a sufferer by
their means, or with an ill opinion of them, though strangers to her.
The husband offered to write, if I pleased, to Mr. Brand, in vindication
of the lady; and the two women said they should be glad to wait upon her
in person, to beg her pardon for any thing she had reason to take amiss
from them; because they were now convinced that there was not such
another young lady in the world.
I told them that the least said of the affair to the lady, in her present
circumstances, was best. That she was a heavenly creature, and fond of
taking all occasions to find excuses for her relations on their
implacableness to her: that therefore I should take some notice to her of
the uncharitable and weak surmises which gave birth to so vile a scandal:
but that I would have him, Mr. Walton, (for that is the husband's name,)
write to his acquaintance Brand as soon as possible, as he had offered;
and so I left them.
As to what thou sayest of thy charming cousin, let me know if thou hast
any meaning in it. I have not the vanity to think myself deserving of
such a lady as Miss Montague; and should not therefore care to expose
myself to her scorn and to thy derision. But were I assured I might
avoid both of these, I would soon acquaint thee that I should think no
pains nor assiduity too much to obtain a share in the good graces of such
But I know thee too well to depend upon any thing thou sayest on this
subject. Thou lovest to make thy friends the objects of ridicule to
ladies; and imaginest, from the vanity, (and, in this respect, I will say
littleness,) of thine own heart, that thou shinest the brighter for the
Thus didst thou once play off the rough Mowbray with Miss Hatton, till
the poor fellow knew not how to go either backward or forward.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
THURSDAY, 11 O'CLOCK, AUG. 31.
I am just come from the lady, whom I left cheerful and serene.
She thanked me for my communication of the preceding night. I read to
her such parts of your letters as I could read to her; and I thought it
was a good test to distinguish the froth and whipt-syllabub in them from
the cream, in what one could and could not read to a woman of so fine a
mind; since four parts out of six of thy letters, which I thought
entertaining as I read them to myself, appeared to me, when I should have
read them to her, most abominable stuff, and gave me a very contemptible
idea of thy talents, and of my own judgment.
She as far from rejoicing, as I had done, at the disappointment her
letter gave you when explained.
She said, she meant only an innocent allegory, which might carry
instruction and warning to you, when the meaning was taken, as well as
answer her own hopes for the time. It was run off in a hurry. She was
afraid it was not quite right in her. But hoped the end would excuse (if
it could not justify) the means. And then she again expressed a good
deal of apprehension lest you should still take it into your head to
molest her, when her time, she said, was so short, that she wanted every
moment of it; repeating what she had once said before, that, when she
wrote, she was so ill that she believed she should not have lived till
now: if she had thought she should, she must have studied for an
expedient that would have better answered her intentions. Hinting at a
removal out of the knowledge of us both.
But she was much pleased that the conference between you and Colonel
Morden, after two or three such violent sallies, as I acquainted her you
had had between you, ended so amicably; and said she must absolutely
depend upon the promise I had given her to use my utmost endeavours to
prevent farther mischief on her account.
She was pleased with the justice you did her character to her cousin.
She was glad to hear that he had so kind an opinion of her, and that he
would write to her.
I was under an unnecessary concern, how to break to her that I had the
copy of Brand's vile letter: unnecessary, I say; for she took it just as
you thought she would, as an excuse she wished to have for the
implacableness of her friends; and begged I would let her read it
herself; for, said she, the contents cannot disturb me, be they what they
I gave it to her, and she read it to herself; a tear now and then being
ready to start, and a sigh sometimes interposing.
She gave me back the letter with great and surprising calmness,
considering the subject.
There was a time, said she, and that not long since, when such a letter
as this would have greatly pained me. But I hope I have now go above all
these things: and I can refer to your kind offices, and to those of Miss
Howe, the justice that will be done to my memory among my friends. There
is a good and a bad light in which every thing that befalls us may be
taken. If the human mind will busy itself to make the worst of every
disagreeable occurrence, it will never want woe. This letter, affecting
as the subject of it is to my reputation, gives me more pleasure than
pain, because I can gather from it, that had not my friends been
prepossessed by misinformed or rash and officious persons, who are always
at hand to flatter or soothe the passions of the affluent, they could not
have been so immovably determined against me. But now they are
sufficiently cleared from every imputation of unforgivingness; for, while
I appeared to them in the character of a vile hypocrite, pretending to
true penitence, yet giving up myself to profligate courses, how could I
expect either their pardon or blessing?
But, Madam, said I, you'll see by the date of this letter, that their
severity, previous to that, cannot be excused by it.
It imports me much, replied she, on account of my present wishes, as to
the office you are so kind to undertake, that you should not think
harshly of my friends. I must own to you, that I have been apt sometimes
myself to think them not only severe but cruel. Suffering minds will be
partial to their own cause and merits. Knowing their own hearts, if
sincere, they are apt to murmur when harshly treated: But, if they are
not believed to be innocent, by persons who have a right to decide upon
their conduct according to their own judgments, how can it be helped?
Besides, Sir, how do you know, that there are not about my friends as
well-meaning misrepresenters as Mr. Brand really seems to be? But, be
this as it will, there is no doubt that there are and have been
multitudes of persons, as innocent as myself, who have suffered upon
surmises as little probable as those on which Mr. Brand founds his
judgment. Your intimacy, Sir, with Mr. Lovelace, and (may I say?) a
character which, it seems, you have been less solicitous formerly to
justify than perhaps you will be for the future, and your frequent visits
to me may well be thought to be questionable circumstances in my conduct.
I could only admire her in silence.
But you see, Sir, proceeded she, how necessary it is for young people of
our sex to be careful of our company. And how much, at the same time, it
behoves young persons of your's to be chary of their own reputation, were
it only for the sake of such of our's as they may mean honourably by, and
who otherwise may suffer in their good names for being seen in their
As to Mr. Brand, continued she, he is to be pitied; and let me enjoin
you, Mr. Belford, not to take any resentments against him which may be
detrimental either to his person or his fortunes. Let his function and
his good meaning plead for him. He will have concern enough, when he
finds every body, whose displeasure I now labour under, acquitting my
memory of perverse guilt, and joining in a general pity for me.
This, Lovelace, is the woman whose life thou hast curtailed in the
blossom of it!--How many opportunities must thou have had of admiring her
inestimable worth, yet couldst have thy senses so much absorbed in the
WOMAN, in her charming person, as to be blind to the ANGEL, that shines
out in such full glory in her mind! Indeed, I have ever thought myself,
when blest with her conversation, in the company of a real angel: and I
am sure it would be impossible for me, were she to be as beautiful, and
as crimsoned over with health, as I have seen her, to have the least
thought of sex, when I heard her talk.
THURSDAY, THREE O'CLOCK, AUG. 31.
On my re-visit to the lady, I found her almost as much a sufferer from
joy as she had sometimes been from grief; for she had just received a
very kind letter from her cousin Morden; which she was so good as to
communicate to me. As she had already begun to answer it, I begged leave
to attend her in the evening, that I might not interrupt her in it.
The letter is a very tender one * * * *
[Here Mr. Belford gives the substance of it upon his memory; but that is
omitted; as the letter is given at length (see the next letter.)
And then adds:]
But, alas! all will be now too late. For the decree is certainly gone
out--the world is unworthy of her.
COLONEL MORDEN, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
TUESDAY, AUG. 29.
I should not, my dearest Cousin, have been a fortnight in England,
without either doing myself the honour of waiting upon you in person, or
of writing to you; if I had not been busying myself almost all the time
in your service, in hopes of making my visit or letter still more
acceptable to you--acceptable as I have reason to presume either will be
from the unquestionable love I ever bore you, and from the esteem you
always honoured me with.
Little did I think that so many days would have been required to effect
my well-intended purpose, where there used to be a love so ardent on one
side, and where there still is, as I am thoroughly convinced, the most
exalted merit on the other!
I was yesterday with Mr. Lovelace and Lord M. I need not tell you, it
seems, how very desirous the whole family and all the relations of that
nobleman are of the honour of an alliance with you; nor how exceedingly
earnest the ungrateful man is to make you all the reparation in his
I think, my dear Cousin, that you cannot now do better than to give him
the honour of your hand. He says just and great things of your virtue,
and so heartily condemns himself, that I think there is honorable room
for you to forgive him: and the more room, as it seems you are determined
against a legal prosecution.
Your effectual forgiveness of Mr. Lovelace, it is evident to me, will
accelerate a general reconciliation: for, at present, my other cousins
cannot persuade themselves that he is in earnest to do you justice; or
that you would refuse him, if you believed he was.
But, my dear Cousin, there may possibly be something in this affair, to
which I may be a stranger. If there be, and you will acquaint me with
it, all that a naturally-warm heart can do in your behalf shall be done.
I hope I shall be able, in my next visits to my several cousins, to set
all right with them. Haughty spirits, when convinced that they have
carried resentments too high, want but a good excuse to condescend: and
parents must always love the child they once loved.
But if I find them inflexible, I will set out, and attend you without
delay; for I long to see you, after so many years' absence.
Mean while, I beg the favour of a few lines, to know if you have reason
to doubt Mr. Lovelace's sincerity. For my part, I can have none, if I am
to judge from the conversation that passed between us yesterday, in
presence of Lord M.
You will be pleased to direct for me at your uncle Antony's.
Permit me, my dearest Cousin, till I can procure a happy reconciliation
between you and your father, and brother, and uncles, to supply the place
to you of all those near relations, as well as that of
Your affectionate kinsman, and humble servant,
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO WM. MORDEN, ESQ.
THURSDAY, AUG. 31.
I most heartily congratulate you, dear Sir, on your return to your native
I heard with much pleasure that you were come; but I was both afraid and
ashamed, till you encouraged me by a first notice, to address myself to
How consoling is it to my wounded heart to find that you have not been
carried away by that tide of resentment and displeasure with which I have
been so unhappily overwhelmed--but that, while my still nearer relations
have not thought fit to examine into the truth of vile reports raised
against me, you have informed yourself of my innocence, and generously
credited the information!
I have not the least reason to doubt Mr. Lovelace's sincerity in his
offers of marriage; nor that all his relations are heartily desirous of
ranking me among them. I have had noble instances of their esteem for
me, on their apprehending that my father's displeasure must have had
absolutely refused their pressing solicitations in their kinsman's favour
as well as his own.
Nor think me, my dear Cousin, blamable for refusing him. I had given Mr.
Lovelace no reason to think me a weak creature. If I had, a man of his
character might have thought himself warranted to endeavour to take
ungenerous advantage of the weakness he had been able to inspire. The
consciousness of my own weakness (in that case) might have brought me to
a composition with his wickedness.
I can indeed forgive him. But that is, because I think his crimes have
set me above him. Can I be above the man, Sir, to whom I shall give my
hand and my vows, and with them a sanction to the most premeditated
baseness? No, Sir, let me say, that your cousin Clarissa, were she
likely to live many years, and that (if she married not this man) in
penury or want, despised and forsaken by all her friends, puts not so
high a value upon the conveniencies of life, nor upon life itself, as to
seek to re-obtain the one, or to preserve the other, by giving such a
sanction: a sanction, which (were she to perform her duty,) would reward
Nor is it so much from pride as from principle that I say this. What,
Sir! when virtue, when chastity, is the crown of a woman, and
particularly of a wife, shall form an attempt upon her's but upon a
presumption that she was capable of receiving his offered hand when he
had found himself mistaken in the vile opinion he had conceived of her?
Hitherto he has not had reason to think me weak. Nor will I give an
instance so flagrant, that weak I am in a point in which it would be
criminal to be found weak.
One day, Sir, you will perhaps know all my story. But, whenever it is
known, I beg that the author of my calamities may not be vindictively
sought after. He could not have been the author of them, but for a
strange concurrence of unhappy causes. As the law will not be able to
reach him when I am gone, the apprehension of any other sort of vengeance
terrifies me; since, in such a case, should my friends be safe, what
honour would his death bring to my memory?--If any of them should come to
misfortune, how would my fault be aggravated!
God long preserve you, my dearest Cousin, and bless you but in proportion
to the consolation you have given me, in letting me know that you still
love me; and that I have one near and dear relation who can pity and
forgive me; (and then you will be greatly blessed;) is the prayer of
Your ever grateful and affectionate
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
[IN ANSWER TO HIS LETTERS XXIII. XXXVII. OF THIS VOLUME.]
THURSDAY, AUG. 31.
I cannot but own that I am cut to the heart by this Miss Harlowe's
interpretation of her letter. She ought never to be forgiven. She, a
meek person, and a penitent, and innocent, and pious, and I know not
what, who can deceive with a foot in the grave!--
'Tis evident, that she sat down to write this letter with a design to
mislead and deceive. And if she be capable of that, at such a crisis,
she has as much need of Heaven's forgiveness, as I have of her's: and,
with all her cant of charity and charity, if she be not more sure of it
than I am of her real pardon, and if she take the thing in the light she
ought to take it in, she will have a few darker moments yet to come than
she seems to expect.
Lord M. himself, who is not one of those (to speak in his own phrase) who
can penetrate a millstone, sees the deceit, and thinks it unworthy of
her; though my cousins Montague vindicate her. And no wonder this cursed
partial sex [I hate 'em all--by my soul, I hate 'em all!] will never
allow any thing against an individual of it, where our's is concerned.
And why? Because, if they censure deceit in another, they must condemn
their own hearts.
She is to send me a letter after she is in Heaven, is she? The devil
take such allegories, and the devil take thee for calling this absurdity
an innocent artifice!
I insist upon it, that if a woman of her character, at such a critical
time, is to be justified in such a deception, a man in full health and
vigour of body and mind, as I am, may be excused for all his stratagems
and attempts against her. And, thank my stars, I can now sit me down
with a quiet conscience on that score. By my soul, I can, Jack. Nor has
any body, who can acquit her, a right to blame me. But with some,
indeed, every thing she does must be good, every thing I do must be bad--
And why? Because she has always taken care to coax the stupid misjudging
world, like a woman: while I have constantly defied and despised its
censures, like a man.
But, notwithstanding all, you may let her know from me that I will not
molest her, since my visits would be so shocking to her: and I hope she
will take this into her consideration as a piece of generosity which she
could hardly expect after the deception she has put upon me. And let her
farther know, that if there be any thing in my power, that will
contribute either to her ease or honour, I will obey her, at the very
first intimation, however disgraceful or detrimental to myself. All
this, to make her unapprehensive, and that she may have nothing to pull
If her cursed relations could be brought as cheerfully to perform their
parts, I'd answer life for life for her recovery.
But who, that has so many ludicrous images raised in his mind by the
awkward penitence, can forbear laughing at thee? Spare, I beseech thee,
dear Belford, for the future, all thine own aspirations, if thou wouldst
not dishonour those of an angel indeed.
When I came to that passage, where thou sayest that thou considerest her*
as one sent from Heaven to draw thee after her--for the heart of me I
could not for an hour put thee out of my head, in the attitude of dame
Elizabeth Carteret, on her monument in Westminster Abbey. If thou never
observedst it, go thither on purpose: and there wilt thou see this dame
in effigy, with uplifted head and hand, the latter taken hold of by a
cupid every inch of stone, one clumsy foot lifted up also, aiming, as the
sculptor designed it, to ascend; but so executed, as would rather make
one imagine that the figure (without shoe or stocking, as it is, though
the rest of the body is robed) was looking up to its corn-cutter: the
other riveted to its native earth, bemired, like thee (immersed thou
callest it) beyond the possibility of unsticking itself. Both figures,
thou wilt find, seem to be in a contention, the bigger, whether it should
pull down the lesser about its ears--the lesser (a chubby fat little
varlet, of a fourth part of the other's bigness, with wings not much
larger than those of a butterfly) whether it should raise the larger to a
Heaven it points to, hardly big enough to contain the great toes of
* See Letter XXXVII. of this volume.
Thou wilt say, perhaps, that the dame's figure in stone may do credit, in
the comparison, to thine, both in grain and shape, wooden as thou art all
over: but that the lady, who, in every thing but in the trick she has
played me so lately, is truly an angel, is but sorrily represented by the
fat-flanked cupid. This I allow thee. But yet there is enough in thy
aspirations to strike my mind with a resemblance of thee and the lady to
the figures on the wretched monument; for thou oughtest to remember,
that, prepared as she may be to mount to her native skies, it is
impossible for her to draw after her a heavy fellow who has so much to
repent of as thou hast.
But now, to be serious once more, let me tell you, Belford, that, if the
lady be really so ill as you write she is, it will become you [no Roman
style here!] in a case so very affecting, to be a little less pointed and
sarcastic in your reflections. For, upon my soul, the matter begins to
grate me most confoundedly.
I am now so impatient to hear oftener of her, that I take the hint
accidentally given me by our two fellows meeting at Slough, and resolve
to go to our friend Doleman's at Uxbridge; whose wife and sister, as well
as he, have so frequently pressed me to give them my company for a week
or two. There shall I be within two hours' ride, if any thing should
happen to induce her to see me: for it will well become her piety, and
avowed charity, should the worst happen, [the Lord of Heaven and Earth,
however, avert that worst!] to give me that pardon from her lips, which
she has not denied to me by pen and ink. And as she wishes my
reformation, she knows not what good effects such an interview may have
I shall accordingly be at Doleman's to-morrow morning, by eleven at
farthest. My fellow will find me there at his return from you (with a
letter, I hope). I shall have Joel with me likewise, that I may send
the oftener, as matters fall out. Were I to be still nearer, or in town,
it would be impossible to withhold myself from seeing her.
But, if the worst happen!--as, by your continual knelling, I know not
what to think of it!--[Yet, once more, Heaven avert that worst!--How
natural it is to pray, when once cannot help one's self!]--THEN say not,
in so many dreadful words, what the event is--Only, that you advise me to
take a trip to Paris--And that will stab me to the heart.
I so well approve of your generosity to poor Belton's sister, that I have
made Mowbray give up his legacy, as I do mine, towards her India bonds.
When I come to town, Tourville shall do the like; and we will buy each a
ring to wear in memory of the honest fellow, with our own money, that we
may perform his will, as well as our own.
My fellow rides the rest of the night. I charge you, Jack, if you would
save his life, that you send him not back empty-handed.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
TUESDAY NIGHT, AUG. 30.
When I concluded my last, I hoped that my next attendance upon this
surprising lady would furnish me with some particulars as agreeable as
now could be hoped for from the declining way she is in, by reason of
the welcome letter she had received from her cousin Morden. But it
proved quite otherwise to me, though not to herself; for I think I was
never more shocked in my life than on the occasion I shall mention
When I attended her about seven in the evening, she told me that she
found herself in a very petulant way after I had left her. Strange, said
she, that the pleasure I received from my cousin's letter should have
such an effect upon me! But I could not help giving way to a comparative
humour, as I may call it, and to think it very hard that my nearer
relations did not take the methods which my cousin Morden kindly took, by
inquiring into my merit or demerit, and giving my cause a fair audit
before they proceeded to condemnation.
She had hardly said this, when she started, and a blush overspread her
sweet face, on hearing, as I also did, a sort of lumbering noise upon the
stairs, as if a large trunk were bringing up between two people: and,
looking upon me with an eye of concern, Blunderers! said she, they have
brought in something two hours before the time.--Don't be surprised, Sir
--it is all to save you trouble.
Before I could speak, in came Mrs. Smith: O Madam, said she, what have
you done?--Mrs. Lovick, entering, made the same exclamation. Lord have
mercy upon me, Madam! cried I, what have you done?--For she, stepping at
the same instant to the door, the women told me it was a coffin.--O
Lovelace! that thou hadst been there at that moment!--Thou, the causer of
all these shocking scenes! Surely thou couldst not have been less
affected than I, who have no guilt, as to her, to answer for.
With an intrepidity of a piece with the preparation, having directed them
to carry it to her bed-chamber, she returned to us: they were not to have
brought it in till after dark, said she--Pray, excuse me, Mr. Belford:
and don't you, Mrs. Lovick, be concerned: nor you, Mrs. Smith.--Why
should you? There is nothing more in it than the unusualness of the
thing. Why may we not be as reasonably shocked at going to church where
are the monuments of our ancestors, with whose dust we even hope our dust
shall be one day mingled, as to be moved at such a sight as this?
We all remaining silent, the women having their aprons at their eyes, Why
this concern for nothing at all? said she. If I am to be blamed for any
thing, it is for showing too much solicitude, as it may be thought, for
this earthly part. I love to do every thing for myself that I can do. I
ever did. Every other material point is so far done, and taken care of,
that I have had leisure for things of lesser moment. Minutenesses may be
observed, where greater articles are not neglected for them. I might
have had this to order, perhaps, when less fit to order it. I have no
mother, no sister, no Mrs. Norton, no Miss Howe, near me. Some of you
must have seen this in a few days, if not now; perhaps have had the
friendly trouble of directing it. And what is the difference of a few
days to you, when I am gratified rather than discomposed by it? I shall
not die the sooner for such a preparation. Should not every body that
has any thing to bequeath make their will? And who, that makes a will,
should be afraid of a coffin?--My dear friends, [to the women] I have
considered these things; do not, with such an object before you as you
have had in me for weeks, give me reason to think you have not.
How reasonable was all this!--It showed, indeed, that she herself had
well considered it. But yet we could not help being shocked at the
thoughts of the coffin thus brought in; the lovely person before our
eyes who is, in all likelihood, so soon to fill it.
We were all silent still, the women in grief; I in a manner stunned. She
would not ask me, she said; but would be glad, since it had thus earlier
than she had intended been brought in, that her two good friends would
walk in and look upon it. They would be less shocked when it was made
more familiar to their eye: don't you lead back, said she, a starting
steed to the object he is apt to start at, in order to familiarize him to
it, and cure his starting? The same reason will hold in this case. Come,
my good friends, I will lead you in.
I took my leave; telling her she had done wrong, very wrong; and ought
not, by any means, to have such an object before her.
The women followed her in.--'Tis a strange sex! Nothing is too shocking
for them to look upon, or see acted, that has but novelty and curiosity
Down I posted; got a chair; and was carried home, extremely shocked and
discomposed: yet, weighing the lady's arguments, I know not why I was so
affected--except, as she said, at the unusualness of the thing.
While I waited for a chair, Mrs. Smith came down, and told me that there
were devices and inscriptions upon the lid. Lord bless me! is a coffin a
proper subject to display fancy upon?--But these great minds cannot avoid
doing extraordinary things!
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
FRIDAY MORN. SEPT. 1.
It is surprising, that I, a man, should be so much affected as I was, at
such an object as is the subject of my former letter; who also, in my
late uncle's case, and poor Belton's had the like before me, and the
directing of it: when she, a woman, of so weak and tender a frame, who
was to fill it (so soon perhaps to fill it!) could give orders about it,
and draw out the devices upon it, and explain them with so little concern
as the women tell me she did to them last night after I was gone.
I really was ill, and restless all night. Thou wert the subject of my
execration, as she was of my admiration, all the time I was quite awake:
and, when I dozed, I dreamt of nothing but of flying hour-glasses,
deaths-heads, spades, mattocks, and eternity; the hint of her devices (as
given me by Mrs. Smith) running in my head.