Part 2 out of 6
simperings, to encourage, rather than discourage, the culpable freedoms
of persons, who, in what they went out of their way to say, must either
be guilty of absurdity, meaning nothing, or meaning something of
* Mr. Belford, in Letter XIII. of Vol. V. reminds Mr. Lovelace of some
particular topics which passed in their conversation, extremely to the
But, indeed, I have seen no women, of whom I had a better opinion than I
can say of Mrs. Sinclair, who have allowed gentlemen, and themselves too,
in greater liberties of this sort than I had thought consistent with that
purity of manners which ought to be the distinguishing characteristic of
our sex: For what are words, but the body and dress of thought? And is
not the mind of a person strongly indicated by outward dress?
But to the gentlemen--as they must be called in right of their ancestors,
it seems; for no other do they appear to have:--
Mr. BELTON has had university education, and was designed for the gown;
but that not suiting with the gaiety of his temper, and an uncle dying,
who devised to him a good estate, he quitted the college, came up to
town, and commenced fine gentleman. He is said to be a man of sense.--
Mr. Belton dresses gaily, but not quite foppishly; drinks hard; keeps all
hours, and glories in doing so; games, and has been hurt by that
pernicious diversion: he is about thirty years of age: his face is a
fiery red, somewhat bloated and pimply; and his irregularities threaten a
brief duration to the sensual dream he is in: for he has a short
consumption cough, which seems to denote bad lungs; yet makes himself and
his friends merry by his stupid and inconsiderate jests upon very
threatening symptoms which ought to make him more serious.
Mr. MOWBRAY has been a great traveller; speaks as many languages as Mr.
Lovelace himself, but not so fluently: is of a good family: seems to be
about thirty-three or thirty-four: tall and comely in his person: bold
and daring in his look: is a large-boned, strong man: has a great scar in
his forehead, with a dent, as if his skull had been beaten in there, and
a seamed scar in his right cheek: he likewise dresses very gaily: has his
servants always about him, whom he is continually calling upon, and
sending on the most trifling messages--half a dozen instances of which we
had in the little time I was among them; while they seem to watch the
turn of his fierce eye, to be ready to run, before they have half his
message, and serve him with fear and trembling. Yet to his equals the
man seems tolerable: he talks not amiss upon public entertainments and
diversions, especially upon those abroad: yet has a romancing air, and
avers things strongly which seem quite improbable. Indeed he doubts
nothing but what he ought to believe; for he jests upon sacred things;
and professes to hate the clergy of all religions. He has high notions
of honour, a world hardly ever out of his mouth; but seems to have no
great regard to morals.
Mr. TOURVILLE occasionally told his age; just turned of thirty-one. He
is also of an ancient family; but, in his person and manners, more of what
I call the coxcomb than any of his companions. He dresses richly;
would be thought elegant in the choice and fashion of what he wears; yet,
after all, appears rather tawdry than fine.--One sees by the care he
takes of his outside, and the notice he bespeaks from every one by his
own notice of himself, that the inside takes up the least of his
attention. He dances finely, Mr. Lovelace says; is a master of music,
and singing is one of his principal excellencies. They prevailed upon
him to sing, and he obliged them both in Italian and French; and, to do
him justice, his songs in both were decent. They were all highly
delighted with his performance; but his greatest admirers were, Mrs.
Sinclair, Miss Partington, and himself. To me he appeared to have a
great deal of affectation.
Mr. Tourville's conversation and address are insufferably full of those
really gross affronts upon the understanding of our sex, which the
moderns call compliments, and are intended to pass for so many instances
of good breeding, though the most hyperbolical, unnatural stuff that can
be conceived, and which can only serve to show the insincerity of the
complimenter, and the ridiculous light in which the complimented appears
in his eyes, if he supposes a woman capable of relishing the romantic
absurdities of his speeches.
He affects to introduce into his common talk Italian and French words;
and often answer an English question in French, which language he greatly
prefers to the barbarously hissing English. But then he never fails to
translate into this his odious native tongue the words and the sentences
he speaks in the other two--lest, perhaps, it should be questioned
whether he understands what he says.
He loves to tell stories: always calls them merry, facetious, good, or
excellent, before he begins, in order to bespeak the attention of the
hearers, but never gives himself concern in the progress or conclusion of
them, to make good what he promises in his preface. Indeed he seldom
brings any of them to a conclusion; for if his company have patience to
hear him out, he breaks in upon himself by so many parenthetical
intrusions, as one may call them, and has so many incidents springing in
upon him, that he frequently drops his own thread, and sometimes sits
down satisfied half way; or, if at other times he would resume it, he
applies to his company to help him in again, with a Devil fetch him if he
remembers what he was driving at--but enough, and too much of Mr.
Mr. BELFORD is the fourth gentleman, and one of whom Mr. Lovelace seems
more fond than any of the rest; for he is a man of tried bravery, it
seems; and this pair of friends came acquainted upon occasion of a
quarrel, (possibly about a woman,) which brought on a challenge, and a
meeting at Kensington Gravel-pits; which ended without unhappy
consequences, by the mediation of three gentlemen strangers, just as each
had made a pass at the other.
Mr. Belford, it seems, is about seven or eight and twenty. He is the
youngest of the five, except Mr. Lovelace, and they are perhaps the
wickedest; for they seem to lead the other three as they please. Mr.
Belford, as the others, dresses gaily; but has not those advantages of
person, nor from his dress, which Mr. Lovelace is too proud of. He has,
however, the appearance and air of a gentleman. He is well read in
classical authors, and in the best English poets and writers; and, by his
means, the conversation took now and then a more agreeable turn. And I,
who endeavoured to put the best face I could upon my situation, as I
passed for Mrs. Lovelace with them, made shift to join in it, at such
times, and received abundance of compliments from all the company, on the
observations I made.*
* See Letter XIII. of Vol. V. above referred to.
Mr. Belford seems good-natured and obliging; and although very
complaisant, not so fulsomely so as Mr. Tourville; and has a polite and
easy manner of expressing his sentiments on all occasions. He seems to
delight in a logical way of argumentation, as also does Mr. Belton.
These two attacked each other in this way; and both looked at us women,
as if to observe whether we did not admire this learning, or when they
had said a smart thing, their wit. But Mr. Belford had visibly the
advantage of the other, having quicker parts, and by taking the worst
side of the argument, seemed to think he had. Upon the whole of his
behaviour and conversation, he put me in mind of that character of
Dropt manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reason, to perplex and dash
Maturest counsels; for his thoughts were low;
To vice industrious: but to nobler deeds
Tim'rous and slothful: yet he pleased the ear.
How little soever matters in general may be to our liking, we are apt,
when hope is strong enough to permit it, to endeavour to make the best we
can of the lot we have drawn; and I could not but observe often, how much
Mr. Lovelace excelled all his four friends in every thing they seemed
desirous to excel in. But as to wit and vivacity, he had no equal there.
All the others gave up to him, when his lips began to open. The haughty
Mowbray would call upon the prating Tourville for silence, when Lovelace
was going to speak. And when he had spoken, the words, Charming fellow!
with a free word of admiration or envy, fell from every mouth.
He has indeed so many advantages in his person and manner, that what
would be inexcusable in another, would, if one watched not over one's
self, and did not endeavour to distinguish what is the essence of right
and wrong, look becoming in him.
Mr. Belford, to my no small vexation and confusion, with the forwardness
of a favoured and intrusted friend, singled me out, on Mr. Lovelace's
being sent for down, to make me congratulatory compliments on my supposed
nuptials; which he did with a caution, not to insist too long on the
rigorous vow I had imposed upon a man so universally admired--
'See him among twenty men,' said he, 'all of distinction, and nobody is
regarded but Mr. Lovelace.'
It must, indeed, be confessed, that there is, in his whole deportment, a
natural dignity, which renders all insolent or imperative demeanour as
unnecessary as inexcusable. Then that deceiving sweetness which appears
in his smiles, in his accent, in his whole aspect, and address, when he
thinks it worth his while to oblige, or endeavour to attract, how does
this show that he was born innocent, as I may say; that he was not
naturally the cruel, the boisterous, the impetuous creature, which the
wicked company he may have fallen into have made him! For he has,
besides, as open, and, I think, an honest countenance. Don't you think
so, my dear? On all these specious appearances, have I founded my hopes
of seeing him a reformed man.
But it is amazing to me, I own, that with so much of the gentleman, such
a general knowledge of books and men, such a skill in the learned as well
as modern languages, he can take so much delight as he does in the
company of such persons as I have described, and in subjects of frothy
impertinence, unworthy of his talents, and his natural and acquired
advantages. I can think but of one reason for it, and that must argue a
very low mind,--his vanity; which makes him desirous of being considered
as the head of the people he consorts with.--A man to love praise, yet to
be content to draw it from such contaminated springs!
One compliment passed from Mr. Belford to Mr. Lovelace, which hastened my
quitting the shocking company--'You are a happy man, Mr. Lovelace,' said
he, upon some fine speeches made him by Mrs. Sinclair, and assented to by
Miss Partington:--'You have so much courage, and so much wit, that
neither man nor woman can stand before you.'
Mr. Belford looked at me when he spoke: yes, my dear, he smilingly looked
at me; and he looked upon his complimented friend; and all their
assenting, and therefore affronting eyes, both men's and women's, were
turned upon your Clarissa; at least, my self-reproaching heart made me
think so; for that would hardly permit my eye to look up.
Oh! my dear, were but a woman, who gives reason to the world to think her
to be in love with a man, [And this must be believed to be my case; or to
what can my supposed voluntary going off with Mr. Lovelace be imputed?]
to reflect one moment on the exaltation she gives him, and the disgrace
she brings upon herself,--the low pity, the silent contempt, the insolent
sneers and whispers, to which she makes herself obnoxious from a
censuring world of both sexes,--how would she despise herself! and how
much more eligible would she think death itself than such a discovered
What I have thus in general touched upon, will account to you why I could
not more particularly relate what passed in this evening's conversation:
which, as may be gathered from what I have written, abounded with
approbatory accusations, and supposed witty retorts.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
I am very much vexed and disturbed at an odd incident. Mrs. Sinclair has
just now left me; I believe in displeasure, on my declining to comply
with a request she made me: which was, to admit Miss Partington to a
share in my bed, her house being crowded by her nieces's guests and by
their attendants, as well as by those of Miss Partington.
There might be nothing in it; and my denial carried a stiff and ill-
natured appearance. But instantly, upon her making the request, it came
into my thought, 'that I was in a manner a stranger to every body in the
house: not so much as a servant I could call my own, or of whom I had any
great opinion: that there were four men of free manners in the house,
avowed supporters of Mr. Lovelace in matters of offence; himself a man of
enterprise; all, as far as I knew, (and as I had reason to think by their
noisy mirth after I left them,) drinking deeply: that Miss Partington
herself is not so bashful a person as she was represented to me to be:
that officious pains were taken to give me a good opinion of her: and
that Mrs. Sinclair made a greater parade in prefacing the request, than
such a request needed. To deny, thought I, can carry only an appearance
of singularity to people who already think me singular. To consent may
possibly, if not probably, be attended with inconveniencies. The
consequences of the alternative so very disproportionate, I thought it
more prudent to incur the censure, than to risque the inconvenience.'
I told her that I was writing a long letter: that I should choose to
write till I were sleepy, and that a companion would be a restraint upon
me, and I upon her.
She was loth, she said, that so delicate a young creature, and so great
a fortune as Miss Partington, should be put to lie with Dorcas in a
press-bed. She should be very sorry, if she had asked an improper thing.
She had never been so put to it before. And Miss would stay up with her
till I had done writing.
Alarmed at this urgency, and it being easier to persist in a denial
given, than to give it at first, I said, Miss Partington should be
welcome to my whole bed, and I would retire into the dining-room, and
there, locking myself in, write all the night.
The poor thing, she said, was afraid to lie alone. To be sure Miss
Partington would not put me to such an inconvenience.
She then withdrew,--but returned--begged my pardon for returning, but the
poor child, she said, was in tears.--Miss Partington had never seen a
young lady she so much admired, and so much wished to imitate as me. The
dear girl hoped that nothing had passed in her behaviour to give me
dislike to her.--Should she bring her to me?
I was very busy, I said: the letter I was writing was upon a very
important subject. I hoped to see the young lady in the morning, when I
would apologize to her for my particularity. And then Mrs. Sinclair
hesitating, and moving towards the door, (though she turned round to me
again,) I desired her, (lighting her,) to take care how she went down.
Pray, Madam, said she, on the stairs-head, don't give yourself all this
trouble. God knows my heart, I meant no affront: but, since you seem to
take my freedom amiss, I beg you will not acquaint Mr. Lovelace with it;
for he perhaps will think me bold and impertinent.
Now, my dear, is not this a particular incident, either as I have made
it, or as it was designed? I don't love to do an uncivil thing. And if
nothing were meant by the request, my refusal deserves to be called
uncivil. Then I have shown a suspicion of foul usage by it, which surely
dare not be meant. If just, I ought to apprehend every thing, and fly
the house and the man as I would an infection. If not just, and if I
cannot contrive to clear myself of having entertained suspicions, by
assigning some other plausible reason for my denial, the very staying
here will have an appearance not at all reputable to myself.
I am now out of humour with him,--with myself,--with all the world, but
you. His companions are shocking creatures. Why, again I repeat, should
he have been desirous to bring me into such company? Once more I like
him not.--Indeed I do not like him!
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
TUESDAY, MAY 2.
With infinite regret I am obliged to tell you, that I can no longer write
to you, or receive letters from you.--Your mother has sent me a letter
enclosed in a cover to Mr. Lovelace, directed for him at Lord M.'s, (and
which was brought him just now,) reproaching me on this subject in very
angry terms, and forbidding me, 'as I would not be thought to intend to
make her and you unhappy, to write to you without her leave.'
This, therefore, is the last you must receive from me, till happier days.
And as my prospects are not very bad, I presume we shall soon have leave
to write again; and even to see each other: since an alliance with a
family so honourable as Mr. Lovelace's is will not be a disgrace.
She is pleased to write, 'That if I would wish to inflame you, I should
let you know her written prohibition: but if otherwise, find some way of
my own accord (without bringing her into the question) to decline a
correspondence, which I must know she has for some time past forbidden.'
But all I can say is, to beg of you not to be inflamed: to beg of you not
to let her know, or even by your behaviour to her, on this occasion,
guess, that I have acquainted you with my reason for declining to write
to you. For how else, after the scruples I have heretofore made on this
very subject, yet proceeding to correspond, can I honestly satisfy you
about my motives for this sudden stop? So, my dear, I choose, you see,
rather to rely upon your discretion, than to feign reasons with which you
would not be satisfied, but with your usual active penetration, sift to
the bottom, and at last find me to be a mean and low qualifier; and that
with an implication injurious to you, that I supposed you had not
prudence enough to be trusted with the naked truth.
I repeat, that my prospects are not bad. 'The house, I presume, will
soon be taken. The people here are very respectful, notwithstanding my
nicety about Miss Partington. Miss Martin, who is near marriage with an
eminent tradesman in the Strand, just now, in a very respectful manner,
asked my opinion of some patterns of rich silks for the occasion. The
widow has a less forbidding appearance than at first. Mr. Lovelace, on
my declared dislike of his four friends, has assured me that neither they
nor any body else shall be introduced to me without my leave.'
These circumstances I mention (as you will suppose) that your kind heart
may be at ease about me; that you may be induced by them to acquiesce
with your mother's commands, (cheerfully acquiesce,) and that for my
sake, lest I should be thought an inflamer; who am, with very contrary
intentions, my dearest and best beloved friend,
Your ever obliged and affectionate,
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
WEDN. MAY 3.
I am astonished that my mother should take such a step--purely to
exercise an unreasonable act of authority; and to oblige the most
remorseless hearts in the world. If I find that I can be of use to you,
either by advice or information, do you think I will not give it!--Were
it to any other person, much less dear to me than you are, do you think,
in such a case, I would forbear giving it?
Mr. Hickman, who pretends to a little casuistry in such nice matters, is
of opinion that I ought not to decline such a correspondence thus
circumstanced. And it is well he is; for my mother having set me up, I
must have somebody to quarrel with.
This I will come into if it will make you easy--I will forbear to write
to you for a few days, if nothing extraordinary happen, and till the
rigour of her prohibition is abated. But be assured that I will not
dispense with your writing to me. My heart, my conscience, my honour,
will not permit it.
But how will I help myself?--How!--easily enough. For I do assure you
that I want but very little farther provocation to fly privately to
London. And if I do, I will not leave you till I see you either
honourably married, or absolutely quit of the wretch: and, in this last
case, I will take you down with me, in defiance of the whole world: or,
if you refuse to go with me, stay with you, and accompany you as your
shadow whithersoever you go.
Don't be frightened at this declaration. There is but one consideration,
and but one hope, that withhold me, watched as I am in all my
retirements; obliged to read to her without a voice; to work in her
presence without fingers; and to lie with her every night against my
will. The consideration is, lest you should apprehend that a step of
this nature would look like a doubling of your fault, in the eyes of such
as think your going away a fault. The hope is, that things will still
end happily, and that some people will have reason to take shame to
themselves for the sorry part they have acted. Nevertheless I am often
balancing--but your resolving to give up the correspondence at this
crisis will turn the scale. Write, therefore, or take the consequence.
A few words upon the subject of your last letters. I know not whether
your brother's wise project be given up or not. A dead silence reigns in
your family. Your brother was absent three days; then at home one; and
is now absent: but whether with Singleton, or not, I cannot find out.
By your account of your wretch's companions, I see not but they are a set
of infernals, and he the Beelzebub. What could he mean, as you say, by
his earnestness to bring you into such company, and to give you such an
opportunity to make him and them reflecting-glasses to one another? The
man's a fool, to be sure, my dear--a silly fellow, at least--the wretches
must put on their best before you, no doubt--Lords of the creation!--
noble fellows these!--Yet who knows how many poor despicable souls of our
sex the worst of them has had to whine after him!
You have brought an inconvenience upon yourself, as you observe, by your
refusal of Miss Partington for your bedfellow. Pity you had not admitted
her! watchful as you are, what could have happened? If violence were
intended, he would not stay for the night. You might have sat up after
her, or not gone to bed. Mrs. Sinclair pressed it too far. You was
If any thing happen to delay your nuptials, I would advise you to remove:
but, if you marry, perhaps you may think it no great matter to stay where
you are till you take possession of your own estate. The knot once tied,
and with so resolute a man, it is my opinion your relations will soon
resign what they cannot legally hold: and, were even a litigation to
follow, you will not be able, nor ought you to be willing, to help it:
for your estate will then be his right; and it will be unjust to wish it
to be withheld from him.
One thing I would advise you to think of; and that is, of proper
settlements: it will be to the credit of your prudence and of his justice
(and the more as matters stand) that something of this should be done
before you marry. Bad as he is, nobody accounts him a sordid man. And I
wonder he has been hitherto silent on that subject.
I am not displeased with his proposal about the widow lady's house. I
think it will do very well. But if it must be three weeks before you can
be certain about it, surely you need not put off his day for that space:
and he may bespeak his equipages. Surprising to me, as well as to you,
that he could be so acquiescent!
I repeat--continue to write to me. I insist upon it; and that as
minutely as possible: or, take the consequence. I send this by a
particular hand. I am, and ever will be,
Your most affectionate,
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
THURSDAY, MAY 4.
I forego every other engagement, I suspend ever wish, I banish every
other fear, to take up my pen, to beg of you that you will not think of
being guilty of such an act of love as I can never thank you for; but
must for ever regret. If I must continue to write to you, I must. I
know full well your impatience of control, when you have the least
imagination that your generosity or friendship is likely to be wondered
My dearest, dearest creature, would you incur a maternal, as I have a
paternal, malediction? Would not the world think there was an infection
in my fault, if it were to be followed by Miss Howe? There are some
points so flagrantly wrong that they will not bear to be argued upon.
This is one of them. I need not give reasons against such a rashness.
Heaven forbid that it should be known that you had it but once in your
thought, be your motives ever so noble and generous, to follow so bad an
example, the rather, as that you would, in such a case, want the
extenuations that might be pleaded in my favour; and particularly that
one of being surprised into the unhappy step!
The restraint your mother lays you under would not have appeared heavy to
you but on my account. Would you had once thought it a hardship to be
admitted to a part of her bed?--How did I use to be delighted with such
a favour from my mother! how did I love to work in her presence!--So did
you in the presence of your's once. And to read to her in winter
evenings I know was one of your joys.--Do not give me cause to reproach
myself on the reason that may be assigned for the change in you.
Learn, my dear, I beseech you, learn to subdue your own passions. Be the
motives what they will, excess is excess. Those passions in our sex,
which we take pains to subdue, may have one and the same source with
those infinitely-blacker passions, which we used so often to condemn in
the violent and headstrong of the other sex; and which may only be
heightened in them by custom, and their freer education. Let us both,
my dear, ponder well this thought: look into ourselves, and fear.
If I write, as I find I must, I insist upon your forbearing to write.
Your silence to this shall be the sign to me that you will not think of
the rashness you threaten me with: and that you will obey your mother as
to your own part of the correspondence, however; especially as you can
inform or advise me in every weighty case by Mr. Hickman's pen.
My trembling writing will show you, my dear impetuous creature, what a
trembling heart you have given to
Your ever obliged,
Or, if you take so rash a step,
Your for ever disobliged,
My clothes were brought to me just now. But you have so much discomposed
me, that I have no heart to look into the trunks. Why, why, my dear, will
you fright me with your flaming love? discomposure gives distress to a
weak heart, whether it arise from friendship or enmity.
A servant of Mr. Lovelace carries this to Mr. Hickman for dispatch-sake.
Let that worthy man's pen relieve my heart from this new uneasiness.
MR. HICKMAN, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
[SENT TO WILSON'S BY A PARTICULAR HAND.]
FRIDAY, MAY 5.
I have the honour of dear Miss Howe's commands to acquaint you, without
knowing the occasion, 'That she is excessively concerned for the concern
she has given you in her last letter: and that, if you will but write to
her, under cover as before, she will have no thoughts of what you are so
very apprehensive about.'--Yet she bid me write, 'That if she had bit the
least imagination that she can serve you, and save you,' those are her
words, 'all the censures of the world will be but of second consideration
with her.' I have great temptations, on this occasion, to express my own
resentments upon your present state; but not being fully apprized of what
that is--only conjecturing from the disturbance upon the mind of the
dearest lady in the world to me, and the most sincere of friends to you,
that that is not altogether so happy as were to be wished; and being,
moreover, forbid to enter into the cruel subject; I can only offer, as I
do, my best and faithfullest services! and wish you a happy deliverance
from all your troubles. For I am,
Most excellent young lady,
Your faithful and most obedient servant,
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY, MAY 2.
Mercury, as the fabulist tells us, having the curiosity to know the
estimation he stood in among mortals, descended in disguise, and in a
statuary's shop cheapened a Jupiter, then a Juno, then one, then another,
of the dii majores; and, at last, asked, What price that same statue of
Mercury bore? O Sir, says the artist, buy one of the others, and I'll
throw you in that for nothing.
How sheepish must the god of thieves look upon this rebuff to his vanity!
So thou! a thousand pounds wouldst thou give for the good opinion of this
single lady--to be only thought tolerably of, and not quite unworthy of
her conversation, would make thee happy. And at parting last night, or
rather this morning, thou madest me promise a few lines to Edgware, to
let thee know what she thinks of thee, and of thy brethren.
Thy thousand pounds, Jack, is all thy own: for most heartily does she
dislike ye all--thee as much as any of the rest.
I am sorry for it too, as to thy part; for two reasons--one, that I think
thy motive for thy curiosity was fear of consciousness: whereas that of
the arch-thief was vanity, intolerable vanity: and he was therefore
justly sent away with a blush upon his cheeks to heaven, and could not
brag--the other, that I am afraid, if she dislikes thee, she dislikes me:
for are we not birds of a feather?
I must never talk of reformation, she told me, having such companions,
and taking such delight, as I seemed to take, in their frothy
I, no more than you, Jack, imagined she could possibly like ye: but then,
as my friends, I thought a person of her education would have been more
sparing of her censures.
I don't know how it is, Belford; but women think themselves entitled to
take any freedoms with us; while we are unpolite, forsooth, and I can't
tell what, if we don't tell a pack of cursed lies, and make black white,
in their favour--teaching us to be hypocrites, yet stigmatizing us, at
other times, for deceivers.
I defended ye all as well as I could: but you know there was no
attempting aught but a palliative defence, to one of her principles.
I will summarily give thee a few of my pleas.
'To the pure, every little deviation seemed offensive: yet I saw not,
that there was any thing amiss the whole evening, either in the words or
behaviour of any of my friends. Some people could talk but upon one or
two subjects: she upon every one: no wonder, therefore, they talked to
what they understood best; and to mere objects of sense. Had she
honoured us with more of her conversation, she would have been less
disgusted with ours; for she saw how every one was prepared to admire
her, whenever she opened her lips. You, in particular, had said, when
she retired, that virtue itself spoke when she spoke, but that you had
such an awe upon you, after she had favoured us with an observation or
two on a subject started, that you should ever be afraid in her company
to be found most exceptionable, when you intended to be least so.'
Plainly, she said, she neither liked my companions nor the house she was
I liked not the house any more than she: though the people were very
obliging, and she had owned they were less exceptionable to herself than
at first: And were we not about another of our own?
She did not like Miss Partington--let her fortune be what it would, and
she had heard a great deal said of her fortune, she should not choose an
intimacy with her. She thought it was a hardship to be put upon such a
difficulty as she was put upon the preceding night, when there were
lodgers in the front-house, whom they had reason to be freer with, than,
upon so short an acquaintance, with her.
I pretended to be an utter stranger as to this particular; and, when she
explained herself upon it, condemned Mrs. Sinclair's request, and called
it a confident one.
She, artfully, made lighter of her denial of the girl for a bedfellow,
than she thought of it, I could see that; for it was plain, she supposed
there was room for me to think she had been either over-nice, or over-
I offered to resent Mrs. Sinclair's freedom.
No; there was no great matter in it. It was best to let it pass. It
might be thought more particular in her to deny such a request, than in
Mrs. Sinclair to make it, or in Miss Partington to expect it to be
complied with. But as the people below had a large acquaintance, she did
not know how often she might indeed have her retirements invaded, if she
gave way. And indeed there were levities in the behaviour of that young
lady, which she could not so far pass over as to wish an intimacy with
I said, I liked Miss Partington as little as she could. Miss Partington
was a silly young creature; who seemed to justify the watchfulness of her
guardians over her.--But nevertheless, as to her own, that I thought the
girl (for girl she was, as to discretion) not exceptionable; only
carrying herself like a free good-natured creature who believed herself
secure in the honour of her company.
It was very well said of me, she replied: but if that young lady were so
well satisfied with her company, she must needs say, that I was very kind
to suppose her such an innocent--for her own part, she had seen nothing
of the London world: but thought, she must tell me plainly, that she
never was in such company in her life; nor ever again wished to be in
There, Belford!--Worse off than Mercury!--Art thou not?
I was nettled. Hard would be the lot of more discreet women, as far as I
knew, that Miss Partington, were they to be judged by so rigid a virtue
Not so, she said: but if I really saw nothing exceptionable to a virtuous
mind, in that young person's behaviour, my ignorance of better behaviour
was, she must needs tell me, as pitiable as hers: and it were to be
wished, that minds so paired, for their own sakes should never be
See, Jack, what I get by my charity!
I thanked her heartily. But said, that I must take the liberty to
observe, that good folks were generally so uncharitable, that, devil take
me, if I would choose to be good, were the consequence to be that I must
think hardly of the whole world besides.
She congratulated me upon my charity; but told me, that to enlarge her
own, she hoped it would not be expected of her to approve of the low
company I had brought her into last night.
No exception for thee, Belford!--Safe is thy thousand pounds.
I saw not, I said, begging her pardon, that she liked any body.--[Plain
dealing for plain dealing, Jack!--Why then did she abuse my friends?]
However, let me but know whom and what she did or did not like; and, if
possible, I would like and dislike the very same persons and things.
She bid me then, in a pet, dislike myself.
Cursed severe!--Does she think she must not pay for it one day, or one
night?--And if one, many; that's my comfort.
I was in such a train of being happy, I said, before my earnestness to
procure her to favour my friends with her company, that I wished the
devil had had as well my friends as Miss Partington--and yet, I must say,
that I saw not how good people could answer half their end, which is to
reform the wicked by precept as well as example, were they to accompany
only with the good.
I had the like to have been blasted by two or three flashes of lightning
from her indignant eyes; and she turned scornfully from me, and retired
to her own apartment.
Once more, Jack, safe, as thou seest, is thy thousand pounds.
She says, I am not a polite man. But is she, in the instance before us,
more polite for a woman?
And now, dost thou not think that I owe my charmer some revenge for her
cruelty in obliging such a fine young creature, and so vast a fortune, as
Miss Partington, to crowd into a press-bed with Dorcas the maid-servant
of the proud refuser?--Miss Partington too (with tears) declared, by Mrs.
Sinclair, that would Mrs. Lovelace do her the honour of a visit at
Barnet, the best bed and best room in her guardian's house should be at
her service. Thinkest thou that I could not guess at her dishonourable
fears of me?--that she apprehended, that the supposed husband would
endeavour to take possession of his own?--and that Miss Partington would
be willing to contribute to such a piece of justice?
Thus, then, thou both remindest, and defiest me, charmer!--And since thou
reliest more on thy own precaution than upon my honour; be it unto thee,
fair one, as thou apprehendest.
And now, Jack, let me know, what thy opinion, and the opinions of thy
brother varlets, are of my Gloriana.
I have just now heard, that Hannah hopes to be soon well enough to attend
her young lady, when in London. It seems the girl has had no physician.
I must send her one, out of pure love and respect to her mistress. Who
knows but medicine may weaken nature, and strengthen the disease?--As her
malady is not a fever, very likely it may do so.--But perhaps the wench's
hopes are too forward. Blustering weather in this month yet.--And that
is bad for rheumatic complaints.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY, MAY 2.
Just as I had sealed up the enclosed, comes a letter to my beloved, in a
cover to me, directed to Lord M.'s. From whom, thinkest thou?--From Mrs.
And what the contents?
How should I know, unless the dear creature had communicated them to me?
But a very cruel letter I believe it is, by the effect it had upon her.
The tears ran down her cheeks as she read it; and her colour changed
several times. No end of her persecutions, I think!
'What a cruelty in my fate!' said the sweet lamenter.--'Now the only
comfort of my life must be given up!'
Miss Howe's correspondence, no doubt.
But should she be so much grieved at this? This correspondence was
prohibited before, and that, to the daughter, in the strongest terms:
but yet carried on by both; although a brace of impeccables, an't please
ye. Could they expect, that a mother would not vindicate her authority?
--and finding her prohibition ineffectual with her perverse daughter, was
it not reasonable to suppose she would try what effect it would have upon
her daughter's friend?--And now I believe the end will be effectually
answered: for my beloved, I dare say, will make a point of conscience of
I hate cruelty, especially in women; and should have been more concerned
for this instance of it Mrs. Howe, had I not had a stronger instance of
the same in my beloved to Miss Partington: For how did she know, since
she was so much afraid for herself, whom Dorcas might let in to that
innocent and less watchful young lady? But nevertheless I must needs
own, that I am not very sorry for this prohibition, let it originally
come from the Harlowes, or from whom it will; because I make no doubt,
that it is owing to Miss Howe, in a great measure, that my beloved is so
much upon her guard, and thinks so hardly of me. And who can tell, as
characters here are so tender, and some disguises so flimsy, what
consequences might follow this undutiful correspondence?--I say,
therefore, I am not sorry for it: now will she not have any body to
compare notes with: any body to alarm her: and I may be saved the guilt
and disobligation of inspecting into a correspondence that has long made
How every ting works for me!--Why will this charming creature make such
contrivances necessary, as will increase my trouble, and my guilt too, as
some will account it? But why, rather I should ask, will she fight
against her stars?
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
EDGWARE, TUESDAY NIGHT, MAY 2.
Without staying for the promised letter from you to inform us what the
lady says of us, I write to tell you, that we are all of one opinion with
regard to her; which is, that there is not of her age a finer woman in
the world, as to her understanding. As for her person, she is at the age
of bloom, and an admirable creature; a perfect beauty: but this poorer
praise, a man, who has been honoured with her conversation, can hardly
descend to give; and yet she was brought amongst us contrary to her will.
Permit me, dear Lovelace, to be a mean of saving this excellent creature
from the dangers she hourly runs from the most plotting heart in the
world. In a former, I pleaded your own family, Lord M.'s wishes
particularly; and then I had not seen her: but now, I join her sake,
honour's sake, motives of justice, generosity, gratitude, and humanity,
which are all concerned in the preservation of so fine a woman. Thou
knowest not the anguish I should have had, (whence arising, I cannot
devise,) had I not known before I set out this morning, that the
incomparable creature had disappointed thee in thy cursed view of getting
her to admit the specious Partington for a bed-fellow.
I have done nothing but talk of this lady ever since I saw her. There is
something so awful, and yet so sweet, in her aspect, that were I to have
the virtues and the graces all drawn in one piece, they should be taken,
every one of them, from different airs and attributes in her. She was
born to adorn the age she was given to, and would be an ornament to the
first dignity. What a piercing, yet gentle eye; every glance I thought
mingled with love and fear of you! What a sweet smile darting through
the cloud that overspread her fair face, demonstrating that she had more
apprehensions and grief at her heart than she cared to express!
You may think what I am going to write too flighty: but, by my faith, I
have conceived such a profound reverence for her sense and judgment,
that, far from thinking the man excusable who should treat her basely,
I am ready to regret that such an angel of a woman should even marry.
She is in my eye all mind: and were she to meet with a man all mind
likewise, why should the charming qualities she is mistress of be
endangered? Why should such an angel be plunged so low as into the
vulgar offices of a domestic life? Were she mine, I should hardly wish
to see her a mother, unless there were a kind of moral certainty, that
minds like hers could be propagated. For why, in short, should not the
work of bodies be left to mere bodies? I know, that you yourself have
an opinion of her little less exalted. Belton, Mowbray, Tourville, are
all of my mind; are full of her praises; and swear, it would be a million
of pities to ruin a woman in whose fall none but devils can rejoice.
What must that merit and excellence be which can extort this from us,
freelivers, like yourself, and all of your just resentments against the
rest of her family, and offered our assistance to execute your vengeance
on them? But we cannot think it reasonable that you should punish an
innocent creature, who loves you so well, and who is your protection, and
has suffered so much for you, for the faults of her relations.
And here let me put a serious question or two. Thinkest thou, truly
admirable as this lady is, that the end thou proposest to thyself, if
obtained, is answerable to the means, to the trouble thou givest thyself,
and to the perfidies, tricks, stratagems, and contrivances thou has
already been guilty of, and still meditatest? In every real excellence
she surpasses all her sex. But in the article thou seekest to subdue her
for, a mere sensualist, a Partington, a Horton, a Martin, would make a
sensualist a thousand times happier than she either will or can.
Sweet are the joys that come with willingness.
And wouldst thou make her unhappy for her whole life, and thyself not
happy for a single moment?
Hitherto, it is not too late; and that perhaps is as much as can be said,
if thou meanest to preserve her esteem and good opinion, as well as
person; for I think it is impossible she can get out of thy hands now she
is in this accursed house. O that damned hypocritical Sinclair, as thou
callest her! How was it possible she should behave so speciously as she
did all the time the lady staid with us!--Be honest, and marry; and be
thankful that she will condescend to have thee. If thou dost not, thou
wilt be the worst of men; and wilt be condemned in this world and the
next: as I am sure thou oughtest, and shouldest too, wert thou to be
judged by one, who never before was so much touched in a woman's favour;
and whom thou knowest to be
Thy partial friend,
Our companions consented that I should withdraw to write to the above
effect. They can make nothing of the characters we write in; and so I
read this to them. They approve of it; and of their own motion each man
would set his name to it. I would not delay sending it, for fear of some
detestable scheme taking place.
Just now are brought me both yours. I vary not my opinion, nor forbear
my earnest prayers to you in her behalf, notwithstanding her dislike of
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3.
When I have already taken pains to acquaint thee in full with regard to
my views, designs, and resolutions, with regard to this admirable woman,
it is very extraordinary that thou shouldst vapour as thou dost in her
behalf, when I have made no trial, no attempt: and yet, givest it as thy
opinion in a former letter, that advantage may be taken of the situation
she is in; and that she may be overcome.
Most of thy reflections, particularly that which respects the difference
as to the joys to be given by the virtuous and libertine of her sex, are
fitter to come in as after-reflections than as antecedencies.
I own with thee, and with the poet, that sweet are the joys that come
with willingness--But is it to be expected, that a woman of education,
and a lover of forms, will yield before she is attacked? And have I so
much as summoned this to surrender? I doubt not but I shall meet with
difficulty. I must therefore make my first effort by surprise. There
may possibly be some cruelty necessary: but there may be consent in
struggle; there may be yielding in resistance. But the first conflict
over, whether the following may not be weaker and weaker, till
willingness ensue, is the point to be tried. I will illustrate what I
have said by the simile of a bird new caught. We begin, when boys, with
birds; and when grown up, go on to women; and both perhaps, in turn,
experience our sportive cruelty.
Hast thou not observed, the charming gradations by which the ensnared
volatile has been brought to bear with its new condition? how, at first,
refusing all sustenance, it beats and bruises itself against its wires,
till it makes its gay plumage fly about, and over-spread its well-secured
cage. Now it gets out its head; sticking only at its beautiful
shoulders: then, with difficulty, drawing back its head, it gasps for
breath, and erectly perched, with meditating eyes, first surveys, and
then attempts, its wired canopy. As it gets its pretty head and sides,
bites the wires, and pecks at the fingers of its delighted tamer. Till
at last, finding its efforts ineffectual, quite tired and breathless, it
lays itself down, and pants at the bottom of the cage, seeming to bemoan
its cruel fate and forfeited liberty. And after a few days, its
struggles to escape still diminishing as it finds it to no purpose to
attempt it, its new habitation becomes familiar; and it hops about from
perch to perch, resumes its wonted cheerfulness, and every day sings a
song to amuse itself and reward its keeper.
Now le me tell thee, that I have known a bird actually starve itself, and
die with grief, at its being caught and caged. But never did I meet with
a woman who was so silly.--Yet have I heard the dear souls most
vehemently threaten their own lives on such an occasion. But it is
saying nothing in a woman's favour, if we do not allow her to have more
sense than a bird. And yet we must all own, that it is more difficult to
catch a bird than a lady.
To pursue the comparison--If the disappointment of the captivated lady be
very great, she will threaten, indeed, as I said: she will even refuse
her sustenance for some time, especially if you entreat her much, and she
thinks she gives you concern by her refusal. But then the stomach of the
dear sullen one will soon return. 'Tis pretty to see how she comes to by
degrees: pressed by appetite, she will first steal, perhaps, a weeping
morsel by herself; then be brought to piddle and sigh, and sigh and
piddle before you; now-and-then, if her viands be unsavoury, swallowing
with them a relishing tear or two: then she comes to eat and drink, to
oblige you: then resolves to live for your sake: her exclamations will,
in the next place, be turned into blandishments; her vehement upbraidings
into gentle murmuring--how dare you, traitor!--into how could you,
dearest! She will draw you to her, instead of pushing you from her: no
longer, with unsheathed claws, will she resist you; but, like a pretty,
playful, wanton kitten, with gentle paws, and concealed talons, tap your
cheek, and with intermingled smiles, and tears, and caresses, implore
your consideration for her, and your constancy: all the favour she then
has to ask of you!--And this is the time, were it given to man to confine
himself to one object, to be happier every day than another.
Now, Belford, were I to go no farther than I have gone with my beloved
Miss Harlowe, how shall I know the difference between her and another
bird? To let her fly now, what a pretty jest would that be!--How do I
know, except I try, whether she may not be brought to sing me a fine
song, and to be as well contented as I have brought other birds to be,
and very shy ones too?
But now let us reflect a little upon the confounded partiality of us
human creatures. I can give two or three familiar, and if they were not
familiar, they would be shocking, instances of the cruelty both of men
and women, with respect to other creatures, perhaps as worthy as (at
least more innocent than) themselves. By my soul, Jack, there is more of
the savage on human nature than we are commonly aware of. Nor is it,
after all, so much amiss, that we sometimes avenge the more innocent
animals upon our own species.
How usual a thing is it for women as well as men, without the least
remorse, to ensnare, to cage, and torment, and even with burning
knitting-needles to put out the eyes of the poor feather'd songster [thou
seest I have not yet done with birds]; which however, in proportion to
its bulk, has more life than themselves (for a bird is all soul;) and of
consequence has as much feeling as the human creature! when at the same
time, if an honest fellow, by the gentlest persuasion, and the softest
arts, has the good luck to prevail upon a mew'd-up lady, to countenance
her own escape, and she consents to break cage, and be set a flying into
the all-cheering air of liberty, mercy on us! what an outcry is generally
raised against him!
Just like what you and I once saw raised in a paltry village near
Chelmsford, after a poor hungry fox, who, watching his opportunity, had
seized by the neck, and shouldered a sleek-feathered goose: at what time
we beheld the whole vicinage of boys and girls, old men, and old women,
all the furrows and wrinkles of the latter filled up with malice for the
time; the old men armed with prongs, pitch-forks, clubs, and catsticks;
the old women with mops, brooms, fire-shovels, tongs, and pokers; and the
younger fry with dirt, stones, and brickbats, gathering as they ran like
a snowball, in pursuit of the wind-outstripping prowler; all the mongrel
curs of the circumjacencies yelp, yelp, yelp, at their heels, completing
the horrid chorus.
Rememebrest thou not this scene? Surely thou must. My imagination,
inflamed by a tender sympathy for the danger of the adventurous marauder,
represents it to my eye as if it were but yesterday. And dost thou not
recollect how generously glad we were, as if our own case, that honest
reynard, by the help of a lucky stile, over which both old and young
tumbled upon one another, and a winding course, escaped their brutal
fury, and flying catsticks; and how, in fancy, we followed him to his
undiscovered retreat; and imagined we beheld the intrepid thief enjoying
his dear-earned purchase with a delight proportioned to his past danger?
I once made a charming little savage severely repent the delight she took
in seeing her tabby favourite make cruel sport with a pretty sleek bead-
eyed mouse, before she devoured it. Egad, my love, said I to myself, as
I sat meditating the scene, I am determined to lie in wait for a fit
opportunity to try how thou wilt like to be tost over my head, and be
caught again: how thou wilt like to be parted from me, and pulled to me.
Yet will I rather give life than take it away, as this barbarous
quadruped has at last done by her prey. And after all was over between
my girl and me, I reminded her of the incident to which my resolution was
Nor had I at another time any mercy upon the daughter of an old epicure,
who had taught the girl, without the least remorse, to roast lobsters
alive; to cause a poor pig to be whipt to death; to scrape carp the
contrary way of the scales, making them leap in the stew-pan, and
dressing them in their own blood for sauce. And this for luxury-sake,
and to provoke an appetite; which I had without stimulation, in my way,
and that I can tell thee a very ravenous one.
Many more instances of the like nature could I give, were I to leave
nothing to thyself, to shew that the best take the same liberties, and
perhaps worse, with some sort of creatures, that we take with others; all
creatures still! and creatures too, as I have observed above, replete
with strong life, and sensible feeling!--If therefore people pretend to
mercy, let mercy go through all their actions. I have heard somewhere,
that a merciful man is merciful to his beast.
So much at present for those parts of thy letter in which thou urgest to
me motives of compassion for the lady.
But I guess at thy principal motive in this thy earnestness in behalf of
this charming creature. I know that thou correspondest with Lord M. who
is impatient, and has long been desirous to see me shackled. And thou
wantest to make a merit with the uncle, with a view to one of his nieces.
But knowest thou not, that my consent will be wanting to complete thy
wishes?--And what a commendation will it be of thee to such a girl as
Charlotte, when I shall acquaint her with the affront thou puttest upon
the whole sex, by asking, Whether I think my reward, when I have subdued
the most charming woman in the world, will be equal to my trouble?--
Which, thinkest thou, will a woman of spirit soonest forgive; the
undervaluing varlet who can put such a question; or him, who prefers the
pursuit and conquest of a fine woman to all the joys of life? Have I not
known even a virtuous woman, as she would be thought, vow everlasting
antipathy to a man who gave out that she was too old for him to attempt?
And did not Essex's personal reflection on Queen Elizabeth, that she was
old and crooked, contribute more to his ruin than his treason?
But another word or two, as to thy objection relating to my trouble and
Does not the keen fox-hunter endanger his neck and his bones in pursuit
of a vermin, which, when killed, is neither fit food for men nor dogs?
Do not the hunters of the noble game value the venison less than the
Why then should I be reflected upon, and the sex affronted, for my
patience and perseverance in the most noble of all chases; and for not
being a poacher in love, as thy question be made to imply?
Learn of thy master, for the future, to treat more respectfully a sex
that yields us our principal diversions and delights.
Well sayest thou, that mine is the most plotting heart in the world.
Thou dost me honour; and I thank thee heartily. Thou art no bad judge.
How like Boileau's parson I strut behind my double chin! Am I not
obliged to deserve thy compliment? And wouldst thou have me repent of a
murder before I have committed it?
'The Virtues and Graces are this Lady's handmaids. She was certainly
born to adorn the age she was given to.'--Well said, Jack--'And would be
an ornament to the first dignity.' But what praise is that, unless the
first dignity were adorned with the first merit?--Dignity! gew-gaw!--
First dignity! thou idiot!--Art thou, who knowest me, so taken with
ermine and tinsel?--I, who have won the gold, am only fit to wear it.
For the future therefore correct thy style, and proclaim her the ornament
of the happiest man, and (respecting herself and sex) the greatest
conqueror in the world.
Then, that she loves me, as thou imaginest, by no means appears clear to
me. Her conditional offers to renounce me; the little confidence she
places in me; entitle me to ask, What merit can she have with a man, who
won her in spite of herself; and who fairly, in set and obstinate battle,
took her prisoner?
As to what thou inferrest from her eye when with us, thou knowest nothing
of her heart from that, if thou imaginest there was one glance of love
shot from it. Well did I note her eye, and plainly did I see, that it
was all but just civil disgust to me and to the company I had brought her
into. Her early retiring that night, against all entreaty, might have
convinced thee, that there was very little of the gentle in her heart for
me. And her eye never knew what it was to contradict her heart.
She is, thou sayest, all mind. So say I. But why shouldst thou imagine
that such a mind as hers, meeting with such a one as mine, and, to dwell
upon the word, meeting with an inclination in hers, should not propagate
minds like her own?
Were I to take thy stupid advice, and marry; what a figure should I make
in rakish annals! The lady in my power: yet not have intended to put
herself in my power: declaring against love, and a rebel to it: so much
open-eyed caution: no confidence in my honour: her family expecting the
worst hath passed: herself seeming to expect that the worst will be
attempted: [Priscilla Partington for that!] What! wouldst thou not have
me act in character?
But why callest thou the lady innocent? And why sayest thou she loves
By innocent, with regard to me, and not taken as a general character, I
must insist upon it she is not innocent. Can she be innocent, who, by
wishing to shackle me in the prime and glory of my youth, with such a
capacity as I have for noble mischief,* would make my perdition more
certain, were I to break, as I doubt I should, the most solemn vow I
could make? I say no man ought to take even a common oath, who thinks he
cannot keep it. This is conscience! This is honour!--And when I think I
can keep the marriage-vow, then will it be time to marry.
* See Vol. III. Letter XXIII. Paragr. 4.
No doubt of it, as thou sayest, the devils would rejoice in the fall of
such a woman. But this is my confidence, that I shall have it in my
power to marry when I will. And if I do her this justice, shall I not
have a claim of her gratitude? And will she not think herself the
obliged, rather than the obliger? Then let me tell thee, Belford, it is
impossible so far to hurt the morals of this lady, as thou and thy
brother varlets have hurt others of the sex, who now are casting about
the town firebrands and double death. Take ye that thistle to mumble
A short interruption. I now resume.
That the morals of this lady cannot fail, is a consideration that will
lessen the guilt on both sides. And if, when subdued, she knows but how
to middle the matter between virtue and love, then will she be a wife for
me: for already I am convinced that there is not a woman in the world
that is love-proof and plot-proof, if she be not the person.
And now imagine (the charmer overcome) thou seest me sitting supinely
cross-kneed, reclining on my sofa, the god of love dancing in my eyes,
and rejoicing in every mantling feature; the sweet rogue, late such a
proud rogue, wholly in my power, moving up slowly to me, at my beck, with
heaving sighs, half-pronounced upbraidings from murmuring lips, her
finger in her eye, and quickening her pace at my Come hither, dearest!
One hand stuck in my side, the other extended to encourage her bashful
approach--Kiss me, love!--sweet, as Jack Belford says, are the joys that
come with willingness.
She tenders her purple mouth [her coral lips will be purple then, Jack!]:
sigh not so deeply, my beloved!--Happier hours await thy humble love,
than did thy proud resistance.
Once more bent to my ardent lips the swanny glossiness of a neck late so
There's my precious!
O my ever-blooming glory! I have tried thee enough. To-morrow's sun--
Then I rise, and fold to my almost-talking heart the throbbing-bosom'd
And now shall thy humble pride confess its obligation to me!
To-morrow's sun--and then I disengage myself from the bashful passive,
and stalk about the room--to-morrow's sun shall gild the altar at which
my vows shall be paid thee!
Then, Jack, the rapture! then the darted sun-beams from her gladdened
eye, drinking up, at one sip, the precious distillation from the pearl-
dropt cheek! Then hands ardently folded, eyes seeming to pronounce, God
bless my Lovelace! to supply the joy-locked tongue: her transports too
strong, and expression too weak, to give utterance to her grateful
meanings!--All--all the studies--all the studies of her future life vowed
and devoted (when she can speak) to acknowledge and return the perpetual
If I could bring my charmer to this, would it not be the eligible of
eligibles?--Is it not worth trying for?--As I said, I can marry her when
I will. She can be nobody's but mine, neither for shame, nor by choice,
nor yet by address: for who, that knows my character, believes that the
worst she dreads is now to be dreaded?
I have the highest opinion that man can have (thou knowest I have) of the
merit and perfections of this admirable woman; of her virtue and honour
too, although thou, in a former, art of opinion that she may be
overcome.* Am I not therefore obliged to go further, in order to
contradict thee, and, as I have often urged, to be sure that she is what
I really think her to be, and, if I am ever to marry her, hope to find
* See Vol. III. Letter LI. Paragr. 9.
Then this lady is a mistress of our passions: no one ever had to so much
perfection the art of moving. This all her family know, and have equally
feared and revered her for it. This I know too; and doubt not more and
more to experience. How charmingly must this divine creature warble
forth (if a proper occasion be given) her melodious elegiacs!--Infinite
beauties are there in a weeping eye. I first taught the two nymphs below
to distinguish the several accents of the lamentable in a new subject,
and how admirably some, more than others, become their distresses.
But to return to thy objections--Thou wilt perhaps tell me, in the names
of thy brethren, as well as in thy own name, that, among all the objects
of your respective attempts, there was not one of the rank and merit of
my charming Miss Harlowe.
But let me ask, Has it not been a constant maxim with us, that the
greater the merit on the woman's side, the nobler the victory on the
man's? And as to rank, sense of honour, sense of shame, pride of family,
may make rifled rank get up, and shake itself to rights: and if any thing
come of it, such a one may suffer only in her pride, by being obliged to
take up with a second-rate match instead of a first; and, as it may fall
out, be the happier, as well as the more useful, for the misadventure;
since (taken off of her public gaddings, and domesticated by her
disgrace) she will have reason to think herself obliged to the man who
has saved her from further reproach; while her fortune and alliance will
lay an obligation upon him; and her past fall, if she have prudence and
consciousness, will be his present and future security.
But a poor girl [such a one as my Rosebud for instance] having no recalls
from education; being driven out of every family that pretends to
reputation; persecuted most perhaps by such as have only kept their
secret better; and having no refuge to fly to--the common, the stews, the
street, is the fate of such a poor wretch; penury, want, and disease, her
sure attendants; and an untimely end perhaps closes the miserable scene.
And will you not now all join to say, that it is more manly to attach a
lion than a sheep?--Thou knowest, that I always illustrated my eagleship,
by aiming at the noblest quarries; and by disdaining to make a stoop at
wrens, phyl-tits,* and wag-tails.
* Phyl-tits, q. d. Phyllis-tits, in opposition to Tom-tits. It needs not
now be observed, that Mr. Lovelace, in this wanton gaiety of his heart,
often takes liberties of coining words and phrases in his letters to this
his familiar friend. See his ludicrous reason for it in Vol. III. Letter
XXV. Paragr. antepenult.
The worst respecting myself, in the case before me, is that my triumph,
when completed, will be so glorious a one, that I shall never be able to
keep up to it. All my future attempts must be poor to this. I shall be
as unhappy, after a while, from my reflections upon this conquest, as Don
Juan of Austria was in his, on the renowned victory of Lepanto, when he
found that none of future achievements could keep pace with his early
I am sensible that my pleas and my reasoning may be easily answered, and
perhaps justly censured; But by whom censured? Not by any of the
confraternity, whose constant course of life, even long before I became
your general, to this hour, has justified what ye now in a fit of
squeamishness, and through envy, condemn. Having, therefore, vindicated
myself and my intentions to YOU, that is all I am at present concerned
Be convinced, then, that I (according to our principles) am right, thou
wrong; or, at least, be silent. But I command thee to be convinced. And
in thy next be sure to tell me that thou art.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
EDGEWARE, THURSDAY, MAY 4.
I know that thou art so abandoned a man, that to give thee the best
reasons in the world against what thou hast once resolved upon will be
but acting the madman whom once we saw trying to buffet down a hurricane
with his hat. I hope, however, that the lady's merit will still avail her
with thee. But, if thou persistest; if thou wilt avenge thyself on this
sweet lamb which thou hast singled out from a flock thou hatest, for the
faults of the dogs who kept it: if thou art not to be moved by beauty, by
learning, by prudence, by innocence, all shining out in one charming
object; but she must fall, fall by the man whom she has chosen for her
protector; I would not for a thousand worlds have thy crime to answer
Upon my faith, Lovelace, the subject sticks with me, notwithstanding I
find I have no the honour of the lady's good opinion. And the more, when
I reflect upon her father's brutal curse, and the villainous hard-
heartedness of all her family. But, nevertheless, I should be desirous
to know (if thou wilt proceed) by what gradations, arts, and contrivances
thou effectest thy ingrateful purpose. And, O Lovelace, I conjure thee,
if thou art a man, let not the specious devils thou has brought her among
be suffered to triumph over her; yield to fair seductions, if I may so
express myself! if thou canst raise a weakness in her by love, or by arts
not inhuman; I shall the less pity her: and shall then conclude, that
there is not a woman in the world who can resist a bold and resolute
A messenger is just now arrived from my uncle. The mortification, it
seems, is got to his knee; and the surgeons declare that he cannot live
many days. He therefore sends for me directly, with these shocking
words, that I will come and close his eyes. My servant or his must of
necessity be in town every day on his case, or other affairs; and one of
them shall regularly attend you for any letter or commands. It will be
charity to write to me as often as you can. For although I am likely to
be a considerable gainer by the poor man's death, yet I cannot say that I
at all love these scenes of death and the doctor so near me. The doctor
and death I should have said; for that is the natural order, and
generally speaking, the one is but the harbinger to the other.
If, therefore, you decline to oblige me, I shall think you are displeased
with my freedom. But let me tell you, at the same, that no man has a
right to be displeased at freedoms taken with him for faults he is not
ashamed to be guilty of.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
I thank you and Mr. Hickman for his letter, sent me with such kind
expedition; and proceed to obey my dear menacing tyranness.
[She then gives the particulars of what passed between herself and Mr.
Lovelace on Tuesday morning, in relation to his four friends, and to
Miss Partington, pretty much to the same effect as in Mr. Lovelace's
Letter, No. XIII. And then proceeds:]
He is constantly accusing me of over-scrupulousness. He says, 'I am
always out of humour with him: that I could not have behaved more
reservedly to Mr. Solmes: and that it is contrary to all his hopes and
notions, that he should not, in so long a time, find himself able to
inspire the person, whom he hoped so soon to have the honour to call his,
with the least distinguishing tenderness for him before-hand.'
Silly and partial encroacher! not to know to what to attribute the
reserve I am forced to treat him with! But his pride has eaten up his
prudence. It is indeed a dirty low pride, that has swallowed up the true
pride which should have set him above the vanity that has overrun him.
Yet he pretends that he has no pride but in obliging me: and is always
talking of his reverence and humility, and such sort of stuff: but of
this I am sure that he has, as I observed the first time I saw him,* too
much regard to his own person, greatly to value that of his wife, marry
he whom he will: and I must be blind, if I did not see that he is
exceedingly vain of his external advantages, and of that address, which,
if it has any merit in it to an outward eye, is perhaps owing more to his
confidence that [sic] to any thing else.
* See Vol. I. Letter III.
Have you not beheld the man, when I was your happy guest, as he walked to
his chariot, looking about him, as if to observe what eyes his specious
person and air had attracted?
But indeed we had some homely coxcombs as proud as if they had persons to
be proud of; at the same time that it was apparent, that the pains they
took about themselves but the more exposed their defects.
The man who is fond of being thought more or better than he is, as I have
often observed, but provokes a scrutiny into his pretensions; and that
generally produces contempt. For pride, as I believe I have heretofore
said, is an infallible sign of weakness; of something wrong in the head
or in both. He that exalts himself insults his neighbour; who is
provoked to question in him even that merit, which, were he modest, would
perhaps be allowed to be his due.
You will say that I am very grave: and so I am. Mr. Lovelace is
extremely sunk in my opinion since Monday night: nor see I before me any
thing that can afford me a pleasing hope. For what, with a mind so
unequal as his, can be my best hope?
I think I mentioned to you, in my former, that my clothes were brought
me. You fluttered me so, that I am not sure I did. But I know I
designed to mention that they were. They were brought me on Thursday;
but neither my few guineas with them, nor any of my books, except a
Drexelius on Eternity, the good old Practice of Piety, and a Francis
Spira. My brother's wit, I suppose. He thinks he does well to point out
death and despair to me. I wish for the one, and every now-and-then am
on the brink of the other.
You will the less wonder at my being so very solemn, when, added to the
above, and to my uncertain situation, I tell you, that they have sent me
with these books a letter form my cousin Morden. It has set my heart
against Mr. Lovelace. Against myself too. I send it enclosed. If you
please, my dear, you may read it here:
COL. MORDEN, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
Florence, April 13.
I am extremely concerned to hear of a difference betwixt the rest of a
family so near and dear to me, and you still dearer to than any of the
My cousin James has acquainted me with the offers you have had, and with
your refusals. I wonder not at either. Such charming promises at so
early an age as when I left England; and those promises, as I have often
heard, so greatly exceeded, as well in your person as mind; how much must
you be admired! how few must there be worthy of you!
Your parents, the most indulgent in the world, to a child the most
deserving, have given way it seems to your refusal of several gentlemen.
They have contented themselves at last to name one with earnestness to
you, because of the address of another whom they cannot approve.
They had not reason, it seems, from your behaviour, to think you greatly
averse: so they proceeded: perhaps too hastily for a delicacy like
your's. But when all was fixed on their parts, and most extraordinary
terms concluded in your favour; terms, which abundantly show the
gentleman's just value for you; you flew off with a warmth and vehemence
little suited to that sweetness which gave grace to all your actions.
I know very little of either of the gentlemen: but of Mr. Lovelace I know
more than of Mr. Solmes. I wish I could say more to his advantage than I
can. As to every qualification but one, your brother owns there is no
comparison. But that one outweighs all the rest together. It cannot be
thought that Miss Clarissa Harlowe will dispense with MORALS in a
What, my dearest cousin, shall I plead first to you on this occasion?
Your duty, your interest, your temporal and your eternal welfare, do, and
may all, depend upon this single point, the morality of a husband. A
woman who hath a wicked husband may find it difficult to be good, and out
of her power to do good; and is therefore in a worse situation than the
man can be in, who hath a bad wife. You preserve all your religious
regards, I understand. I wonder not that you do. I should have wondered
had you not. But what can you promise youself, as to perseverance in
them, with an immoral husband?
If your parents and you differ in sentiment on this important occasion,
let me ask you, my dear cousin, who ought to give way? I own to you,
that I should have thought there could not any where have been a more
suitable match for you than Mr. Lovelace, had he been a moral man. I
should have very little to say against a man, of whose actions I am not
to set up myself as a judge, did he not address my cousin. But, on this
occasion, let me tell you, my dear Clarissa, that Mr. Lovelace cannot
possibly deserve you. He may reform, you'll say: but he may not. Habit
is not soon or easily shaken off. Libertines, who are libertines in
defiance of talents, of superior lights, of conviction, hardly ever
reform but by miracle, or by incapacity. Well do I know mine own sex.
Well am I able to judge of the probability of the reformation of a
licentious young man, who has not been fastened upon by sickness, by
affliction, by calamity: who has a prosperous run of fortune before him:
his spirits high: his will uncontroulable: the company he keeps, perhaps
such as himself, confirming him in all his courses, assisting him in
all his enterprises.
As to the other gentleman, suppose, my dear cousin, you do not like him
at present, it is far from being unlikely that you will hereafter:
perhaps the more for not liking him now. He can hardly sink lower in
your opinion: he may rise. Very seldom is it that high expectations are
so much as tolerably answered. How indeed can they, when a fine and
extensive imagination carries its expectation infinitely beyond reality,
in the highest of our sublunary enjoyments? A woman adorned with such an
imagination sees no defect in a favoured object, (the less, if she be not
conscious of any wilful fault in herself,) till it is too late to rectify
the mistakes occasioned by her generous credulity.
But suppose a person of your talents were to marry a man of inferior
talents; Who, in this case, can be so happy in herself as Miss Clarissa
Harlowe? What delight do you take in doing good! How happily do you
devote the several portions of the day to your own improvement, and to
the advantage of all that move within your sphere!--And then, such is
your taste, such are your acquirements in the politer studies, and in the
politer amusements; such your excellence in all the different parts of
economy fit for a young lady's inspection and practice, that your friends
would wish you to be taken off as little as possible by regards that may
be called merely personal.
But as to what may be the consequence respecting yourself, respecting a
young lady of your talents, from the preference you are suspected to give
to a libertine, I would have you, my dear cousin, consider what that may
be. A mind so pure, to mingle with a mind impure! And will not such a
man as this engross all your solitudes? Will he not perpetually fill you
with anxieties for him and for yourself?--The divine and civil powers
defied, and their sanctions broken through by him, on every not merely
accidental but meditated occasion. To be agreeable to him, and to hope
to preserve an interest in his affections, you must probably be obliged
to abandon all your own laudable pursuits. You must enter into his
pleasures and distastes. You must give up your virtuous companions for
his profligate ones--perhaps be forsaken by your's, because of the
scandal he daily gives. Can you hope, cousin, with such a man as this to
be long so good as you now are? If not, consider which of your present
laudable delights you would choose to give up! which of his culpable ones
to follow him in! How could you brook to go backward, instead of
forward, in those duties which you now so exemplarily perform? and how do
you know, if you once give way, where you shall be suffered, where you
shall be able, to stop?
Your brother acknowledges that Mr. Solmes is not near so agreeable in
person as Mr. Lovelace. But what is person with such a lady as I have
the honour to be now writing to? He owns likewise that he has not the
address of Mr. Lovelace: but what a mere personal advantage is a
plausible address, without morals? A woman had better take a husband
whose manners she were to fashion, than to find them ready-fashioned to
her hand, at the price of her morality; a price that is often paid for
travelling accomplishments. O my dear cousin, were you but with us here
at Florence, or at Rome, or at Paris, (where also I resided for many
months,) to see the gentlemen whose supposed rough English manners at
setting out are to be polished, and what their improvement are in their
return through the same places, you would infinitely prefer the man in
his first stage to the same man in his last. You find the difference on
their return--a fondness for foreign fashions, an attachment to foreign
vices, a supercilious contempt of his own country and countrymen;
(himself more despicable than the most despicable of those he despises;)
these, with an unblushing effrontery, are too generally the attainments
that concur to finish the travelled gentleman!
Mr. Lovelace, I know, deserves to have an exception made in his favour;
for he really is a man of parts and learning: he was esteemed so both
here and at Rome; and a fine person, and a generous turn of mind, gave
him great advantages. But you need not be told, that a libertine of weak
parts is able to do. And this I will tell you further, that it was Mr.
Lovelace's own fault that he was not still more respected than he was
among the literati here. There were, in short, some liberties in which
he indulged himself, that endangered his person and his liberty; and made
the best and most worthy of those who honoured him with their notice give
him up, and his stay both at Florence and at Rome shorter than he
This is all I choose to say of Mr. Lovelace. I had much rather have had
reason to give him a quite contrary character. But as to rakes or
libertines in general, I, who know them well, must be allowed, because of
the mischiefs they have always in their hearts, and too often in their
power, to do your sex, to add still a few more words upon this topic.
A libertine, my dear cousin, a plotting, an intriguing libertine, must be
generally remorseless--unjust he must always be. The noble rule of doing
to others what he would have done to himself is the first rule he breaks;
and every day he breaks it; the oftener, the greater his triumph. He has
great contempt for your sex. He believes no woman chaste, because he is
a profligate. Every woman who favours him confirms him in his wicked
incredulity. He is always plotting to extend the mischiefs he delights
in. If a woman loves such a man, how can she bear the thought of
dividing her interest in his affections with half the town, and that
perhaps the dregs of it? Then so sensual!--How will a young lady of your
delicacy bear with so sensual a man? a man who makes a jest of his vows?
and who perhaps will break your spirit by the most unmanly insults. To
be a libertine, is to continue to be every thing vile and inhuman.
Prayers, tears, and the most abject submission, are but fuel to his
pride: wagering perhaps with lewd companions, and, not improbably, with
lewder women, upon instances which he boast of to them of your patient
sufferings, and broken spirit, and bringing them home to witness both.
I write what I know has been.
I mention not fortunes squandered, estates mortgaged or sold, and
posterity robbed--nor yet a multitude of other evils, too gross, too
shocking, to be mentioned to a person of your delicacy.
All these, my dear cousin, to be shunned, all the evils I have named to
be avoided; the power of doing all the good you have been accustomed to,
preserved, nay, increased, by the separate provision that will be made
for you: your charming diversions, and exemplary employments, all
maintained; and every good habit perpetuated: and all by one sacrifice,
the fading pleasure of the eye! who would not, (since every thing is not
to be met with in one man, who would not,) to preserve so many
essentials, give up to light, so unpermanent a pleasure!
Weigh all these things, which I might insist upon to more advantage, did
I think it needful to one of your prudence--weigh them well, my beloved
cousin; and if it be not the will of your parents that you should
continue single, resolve to oblige them; and let it not be said that the
powers of fancy shall (as in many others of your sex) be too hard for
your duty and your prudence. The less agreeable the man, the more
obliging the compliance. Remember, that he is a sober man--a man who has
reputation to lose, and whose reputation therefore is a security for his
good behaviour to you.
You have an opportunity offered you to give the highest instance that can
be given of filial duty. Embrace it. It is worthy of you. It is
expected from you; however, for your inclination-sake, we may be sorry
that you are called upon to give it. Let it be said that you have been
able to lay an obligation upon your parents, (a proud word, my cousin!)
which you could not do, were it not laid against your inclination!--upon
parents who have laid a thousand upon you: who are set upon this point:
who will not give it up: who have given up many points to you, even of
this very nature: and in their turn, for the sake of their own authority,
as well as judgment, expect to be obliged.
I hope I shall soon, in person, congratulate you upon this your
meritorious compliance. To settle and give up my trusteeship is one of
the principal motives of my leaving these parts. I shall be glad to
settle it to every one's satisfaction; to yours particularly.
If on my arrival I find a happy union, as formerly, reign in a family so
dear to me, it will be an unspeakable pleasure to me; and I shall perhaps
so dispose my affairs, as to be near you for ever.
I have written a very long letter, and will add no more, than that I am,
with the greatest respect, my dearest cousin,
Your most affectionate and faithful servant,
I will suppose, my dear Miss Howe, that you have read my cousin's letter.
It is now in vain to wish it had come sooner. But if it had, I might
perhaps have been so rash as to give Mr. Lovelace the fatal meeting, as I
little thought of going away with him.
But I should hardly have given him the expectation of so doing, previous
to the meeting, which made him come prepared; and the revocation of which
he so artfully made ineffectual.
Persecuted as I was, and little expecting so much condescension, as my
aunt, to my great mortification, has told me (and you confirm) I should
have met with, it is, however, hard to say what I should or should not
have done as to meeting him, had it come in time: but this effect I
verily believe it would have had--to have made me insist with all my
might on going over, out of all their ways, to the kind writer of the
instructive letter, and on making a father (a protector, as well as a
friend) of a kinsman, who is one of my trustees. This, circumstanced as
I was, would have been a natural, at least an unexceptionable protection!
--But I was to be unhappy! and how it cuts me to the heart to think, that
I can already subscribe to my cousin's character of a libertine, so well
drawn in the letter which I suppose you now to have read!
That a man of a character which ever was my abhorrence should fall to my
lot!--But, depending on my own strength; having no reason to apprehend
danger from headstrong and disgraceful impulses; I too little perhaps
cast up my eyes to the Supreme Director: in whom, mistrusting myself, I
ought to have placed my whole confidence--and the more, when I saw myself
so perserveringly addressed by a man of this character.
Inexperience and presumption, with the help of a brother and sister who
have low ends to answer in my disgrace, have been my ruin!--A hard word,
my dear! but I repeat it upon deliberation: since, let the best happen
which now can happen, my reputation is destroyed; a rake is my portion:
and what that portion is my cousin Morden's letter has acquainted you.
Pray keep it by you till called for. I saw it not myself (having not the
heart to inspect my trunks) till this morning. I would not for the world
this man should see it; because it might occasion mischief between the
most violent spirit, and the most settled brave one in the world, as my
cousin's is said to be.
This letter was enclosed (opened) in a blank cover. Scorn and detest me
as they will, I wonder that one line was not sent with it--were it but to
have more particularly pointed the design of it, in the same generous
spirit that sent me the spira.
The sealing of the cover was with black wax. I hope there is no new
occasion in the family to give reason for black wax. But if there were,
it would, to be sure, have been mentioned, and laid at my door--perhaps
I had begun a letter to my cousin; but laid it by, because of the
uncertainty of my situation, and expecting every day for several days
past to be at a greater certainty. You bid me write to him some time
ago, you know. Then it was I began it: for I have great pleasure in
obeying you in all I may. So I ought to have; for you are the only
friend left me. And, moreover, you generally honour me with your own
observance of the advice I take the liberty to offer you: for I pretend
to say, I give better advice than I have taken. And so I had need. For,
I know not how it comes about, but I am, in my own opinion, a poor lost
creature: and yet cannot charge myself with one criminal or faulty
inclination. Do you know, my dear, how this can be?
Yet I can tell you how, I believe--one devious step at setting out!--
that must be it:--which pursued, has led me so far out of my path, that I
am in a wilderness of doubt and error; and never, never, shall find my
way out of it: for, although but one pace awry at first, it has led me
hundreds and hundreds of miles out of my path: and the poor estray has
not one kind friend, nor has met with one direct passenger, to help her
to recover it.
But I, presumptuous creature! must rely so much upon my own knowledge of
the right path!--little apprehending that an ignus fatuus with its false
fires (and ye I had heard enough of such) would arise to mislead me! And
now, in the midst of fens and quagmires, it plays around me, and around
me, throwing me back again, whenever I think myself in the right track.
But there is one common point, in which all shall meet, err widely as
they may. In that I shall be laid quietly down at last: and then will
all my calamities be at an end.
But how I stray again; stray from my intention! I would only have said,
that I had begun a letter to my cousin Morden some time ago: but that now
I can never end it. You will believe I cannot: for how shall I tell him
that all his compliments are misbestowed? that all his advice is thrown
away? all his warnings vain? and that even my highest expectation is to
be the wife of that free-liver, whom he so pathetically warns me to shun?
Let me own, however, have your prayers joined with my own, (my fate
depending, as it seems, upon the lips of such a man) 'that, whatever
shall be my destiny, that dreadful part of my father's malediction, that
I may be punished by the man in whom he supposes I put my confidence, may
not take place! that this for Mr. Lovelace's own sake, and for the sake
of human nature, may not be! or, if it be necessary, in support of the
parental authority, that I should be punished by him, that it may not be
by his premeditated or wilful baseness; but that I may be able to acquit
his intention, if not his action!' Otherwise, my fault will appear to be
doubled in the eye of the event-judging world. And yet, methinks, I
would be glad that the unkindness of my father and uncles, whose hearts
have already been too much wounded by my error, may be justified in every
article, excepting in this heavy curse: and that my father will be
pleased to withdraw that before it be generally known: at least the most
dreadful part of it which regards futurity!
I must lay down my pen. I must brood over these reflections. Once more,
before I close my cousin's letter, I will peruse it. And then I shall
have it by heart.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
SUNDAY NIGHT, MAY 7.
When you reflect upon my unhappy situation, which is attended with so
many indelicate and even shocking circumstances, some of which my pride
will not let me think of with patience; all aggravated by the contents of
my cousin's affecting letter; you will not wonder that the vapourishness
which has laid hold of my heart should rise to my pen. And yet it would
be more kind, more friendly in me, to conceal from you, who take such a
generous interest in my concerns, that worst part of my griefs, which
communication and complaint cannot relieve.
But to whom can I unbosom myself but to you: when the man who ought to be
my protector, as he has brought upon me all my distresses, adds to my
apprehensions; when I have not even a servant on whose fidelity I can
rely, or to whom I can break my griefs as they arise; and when his
bountiful temper and gay heart attach every one to him; and I am but a
cipher, to give him significance, and myself pain!--These griefs,
therefore, do what I can, will sometimes burst into tears; and these
mingling with my ink, will blot my paper. And I know you will not grudge
me the temporary relief.
But I shall go on in the strain I left off with in my last, when I
intended rather to apologize for my melancholy. But let what I have
above written, once for all, be my apology. My misfortunes have given
you a call to discharge the noblest offices of the friendship we have
vowed to each other, in advice and consolation; and it would be an injury
to it, and to you, to suppose it needed even that call.
[She then tells Miss Howe, that now her clothes are come, Mr. Lovelace is
continually teasing her to go abroad with him in a coach, attended by
whom she pleases of her own sex, either for the air, or to the public
She gives the particulars of a conversation that has passed between them
on that subject, and his several proposals. But takes notice, that he
says not the least word of the solemnity which he so much pressed for
before they came to town; and which, as she observes, was necessary to
give propriety to his proposals.]
Now, my dear, she says, I cannot bear the life I live. I would be glad
at my heart to be out of his reach. If I were, he should soon find the
difference. If I must be humbled, it had better be by those to whom I
owe duty, than by him. My aunt writes in her letter,* that SHE dare not
propose any thing in my favour. You tell me, that upon inquiry, you
find,* that, had I not been unhappily seduced away, a change of measures
was actually resolved upon; and that my mother, particularly, was
determined to exert herself for the restoration of the family peace; and,
in order to succeed the better, had thoughts of trying to engage my uncle
Harlowe in her party.
* See Vol. III. Letter LII.
** Ibid. Letter VIII.
Let me build on these foundations. I can but try, my dear. It is my
duty to try all probably methods to restore the poor outcast to favour.
And who knows but that once indulgent uncle, who has very great weight in
the family, may be induced to interpose in my behalf? I will give up all
right and title to my grandfather's devises and bequests, with all my
heart and soul, to whom they please, in order to make my proposal
palatable to my brother. And that my surrender may be effectual, I will
engage never to marry.
What think you, my dear, of this expedient? Surely, they cannot resolve
to renounce me for ever. If they look with impartial eyes upon what has
happened, they will have something to blame themselves for, as well as
I presume, that you will be of opinion that this expedient is worth
trying. But here is my difficulty: If I should write, my hard-hearted
brother has so strongly confederated them all against me, that my letter
would be handed about from one to another, till he had hardened every one
to refuse my request; whereas could my uncle be engaged to espouse my
cause, as from himself, I should have some hope, as I presume to think he
would soon have my mother and my aunt of his party.
What, therefore, I am thinking of, is this--'Suppose Mr. Hickman, whose
good character has gained him every body's respect, should put himself in
my uncle Harlowe's way? And (as if from your knowledge of the state of
things between Mr. Lovelace and me) assure him not only of the above
particulars, but that I am under no obligations that shall hinder me from
taking his directions?'
I submit the whole to your consideration, whether to pursue it at all, or
in what manner. But if it be pursued, and if my uncle refuses to
interest himself in my favour upon Mr. Hickman's application as from you,
(for so, for obvious reasons, it must be put,) I can then have no hope;
and my next step, in the mind I am in, shall be to throw myself into the
protection of the ladies of his family.
It were an impiety to adopt the following lines, because it would be
throwing upon the decrees of Providence a fault too much my own. But
often do I revolve them, for the sake of the general similitude which
they bear to my unhappy, yet undersigned error.
To you, great gods! I make my last appeal:
Or clear my virtue, or my crimes reveal.
If wand'ring in the maze of life I run,
And backward tread the steps I sought to shun,
Impute my error to your own decree:
My FEET are guilty: but my HEART is free.
[The Lady dates again on Monday, to let Miss Howe know, that Mr.
Lovelace, on observing her uneasiness, had introduced to her Mr.
Mennell, Mrs. Fretchville's kinsman, who managed all her affairs. She
calls him a young officer of sense and politeness, who gave her an
account of the house and furniture, to the same effect that Mr.
Lovelace had done before;* as also of the melancholy way Mrs.
Fretchville is in.
* See Letter IV. of this volume.
She tells Miss Howe how extremely urgent Mr. Lovelace was with the
gentleman, to get his spouse (as he now always calls her before
company) a sight of the house: and that Mr. Mennell undertook that
very afternoon to show her all of it, except the apartment Mrs.
Fretchville should be in when she went. But that she chose not to
take another step till she knew how she approved of her scheme to have
her uncle sounded, and with what success, if tried, it would be
Mr. Lovelace, in his humourous way, gives his friend an account of the
Lady's peevishness and dejection, on receiving a letter with her
clothes. He regrets that he has lost her confidence; which he
attributes to his bringing her into the company of his four
companions. Yet he thinks he must excuse them, and censure her for
over-niceness; for that he never saw men behave better, at least not
Mentioning his introducing Mr. Mennell to her,]
Now, Jack, says he, was it not very kind of Mr. Mennell [Captain Mennell
I sometimes called him; for among the military there is no such officer,
thou knowest, as a lieutenant, or an ensign--was it not very kind in him]
to come along with me so readily as he did, to satisfy my beloved about
the vapourish lady and the house?
But who is Capt. Mennell? methinks thou askest: I never heard of such a
man as Captain Mennell.
Very likely. But knowest thou not young Newcomb, honest Doleman's
O-ho! Is it he?
It is. And I have changed his name by virtue of my own single authority.
Knowest thou not, that I am a great name-father? Preferment I bestow,
both military and civil. I give estates, and take them away at my
pleasure. Quality too I create. And by a still more valuable
prerogative, I degrade by virtue of my own imperial will, without any
other act of forfeiture than my own convenience. What a poor thing is a
monarch to me!
But Mennell, now he has seen this angel of a woman, has qualms; that's
the devil!--I shall have enough to do to keep him right. But it is the
less wonder, that he should stagger, when a few hours' conversation with
the same lady could make four much more hardened varlets find hearts--
only, that I am confident, that I shall at least reward her virtue, if
her virtue overcome me, or I should find it impossible to persevere--for
at times I have confounded qualms myself. But say not a word of them to
the confraternity: nor laugh at me for them thyself.
In another letter, dated Monday night, he writes as follows:
This perverse lady keeps me at such a distance, that I am sure something
is going on between her and Miss Howe, notwithstanding the prohibition
from Mrs. Howe to both: and as I have thought it some degree of merit in
myself to punish others for their transgressions, I am of opinion that
both these girls are punishable for their breach of parental injunctions.
And as to their letter-carrier, I have been inquiring into his way of
living; and finding him to be a common poacher, a deer-stealer, and
warren-robber, who, under pretence of haggling, deals with a set of
customers who constantly take all he brings, whether fish, fowl, or
venison, I hold myself justified (since Wilson's conveyance must at
present be sacred) to have him stripped and robbed, and what money he has
about him given to the poor; since, if I take not money as well as
letters, I shall be suspected.
To serve one's self, and punish a villain at the same time, is serving
public and private. The law was not made for such a man as me. And I
must come at correspondences so disobediently carried on.
But, on second thoughts, if I could find out that the dear creature
carried any of her letters in her pockets, I can get her to a play or to
a concert, and she may have the misfortune to lose her pockets.
But how shall I find this out; since her Dorcas knows no more of her
dressing and undressing than her Lovelace? For she is dressed for the
day before she appears even to her servant. Vilely suspicious! Upon my
soul, Jack, a suspicious temper is a punishable temper. If a woman
suspects a rogue in an honest man, is it not enough to make the honest
man who knows it a rogue?
But, as to her pockets, I think my mind hankers after them, as the less
mischievous attempt. But they cannot hold all the letters I should wish
to see. And yet a woman's pockets are half as deep as she is high. Tied
round the sweet levities, I presume, as ballast-bags, lest the wind, as
they move with full sail, from whale-ribbed canvass, should blow away the
[He then, in apprehension that something is meditating between the two
ladies, or that something may be set on foot to get Miss Harlowe out
of his hands, relates several of his contrivances, and boasts of his
instructions given in writing to Dorcas, and to his servant Will.
Summers; and says, that he has provided against every possible
accident, even to bring her back if she should escape, or in case she
should go abroad, and then refuse to return; and hopes so to manage,
as that, should he make an attempt, whether he succeeded in it or not,
he may have a pretence to detain her.]
He then proceeds as follows:
I have ordered Dorcas to cultivate by all means her lady's favour; to
lament her incapacity as to writing and reading; to shew letters to her
lady, as from pretended country relations; to beg her advice how to
answer them, and to get them answered; and to be always aiming at
scrawling with a pen, lest inky fingers should give suspicion. I have
moreover given the wench an ivory-leafed pocket-book, with a silver
pencil, that she may make memoranda on occasion.
And, let me tell thee, that the lady has already (at Mrs. Sinclair's
motion) removed her clothes out of the trunks they came in, into an ample
mahogany repository, where they will lie at full length, and which has
drawers in it for linen. A repository, that used to hold the riches
suits which some of the nymphs put on, when they are to be dressed out,
to captivate, or to ape quality. For many a countess, thou knowest, has
our mother equipped; nay, two or three duchesses, who live upon quality-
terms with their lords. But this to such as will come up to her price,
and can make an appearance like quality themselves on the occasion: for
the reputation of persons of birth must not lie at the mercy of every
A master-key, which will open every lock in this chest, is put into
Dorcas's hands; and she is to take care, when she searches for papers,
before she removes any thing, to observe how it lies, that she may
replace all to a hair. Sally and Polly can occasionally help to
transcribe. Slow and sure with such an Argus-eyed charmer must be all