Part 5 out of 6
But how, I wonder, could you think of Mr. Anthony Harlowe?
D. How, Madam, could I think of any body else?
M. How could you think of any body else?--[angry, and drawing back her
face]. But do you know the subject, Nancy?
D. You have told it, Madam, by your manner of breaking it to me. But,
indeed, I question not that he had two motives in his visits--both
equally agreeable to me; for all that family love me dearly.
M. No love lost, if so, between you and them. But this [rising] is
what I get--so like your papa!--I never could open my heart to him!
D. Dear Madam, excuse me. Be so good as to open your heart to me.--
I don't love the Harlowes--but pray excuse me.
M. You have put me quite out with your forward temper! [angrily sitting
D. I will be all patience and attention. May I be allowed to read his
M. I wanted to advise with you upon it.--But you are such a strange
creature!--you are always for answering one before one speaks!
D. You'll be so good as to forgive me, Madam.--But I thought every body
(he among the rest) knew that you had always declared against a second
M. And so I have. But then it was in the mind I was in. Things may
M. Nay, don't be surprised!--I don't intend--I don't intend--
D. Not, perhaps, in the mind you are in, Madam.
M. Pert creature! [rising again]----We shall quarrel, I see!--There's
D. Once more, dear Madam, I beg your excuse. I will attend in silence.
--Pray, Madam, sit down again--pray do [she sat down.]--May I see the
No; there are some things in it you won't like.--Your temper is known, I
find, to be unhappy. But nothing bad against you; intimations, on the
contrary, that you shall be the better for him, if you oblige him.
Not a living soul but the Harlowes, I said, thought me ill-tempered: and
I was contented that they should, who could do as they had done by the
most universally acknowledged sweetness in the world.
Here we broke out a little; but at last she read me some of the passages
in the letter. But not the most mightily ridiculous: yet I could hardly
keep my countenance neither, especially when she came to that passage
which mentions his sound health; and at which she stopped; she best knew
why--But soon resuming:
M. Well now, Nancy, tell me what you think of it.
D. Nay, pray, Madam, tell me what you think of it.
M. I expect to be answered by an answer; not by a question! You don't
use to be so shy to speak your mind.
D. Not when my mamma commands me to do so.
M. Then speak it now.
D. Without hearing the whole of the letter?
M. Speak to what you have heard.
D. Why then, Madam----you won't be my mamma HOWE, if you give way to
M. I am surprised at your assurance, Nancy!
D. I mean, Madam, you will then be my mamma Harlowe.
M. O dear heart!--But I am not a fool.
And her colour went and came.
D. Dear Madam, [but, indeed, I don't love a Harlowe--that's what I
mean,] I am your child, and must be your child, do what you will.
M. A very pert one, I am sure, as ever mother bore! And you must be
my child, do what I will!--as much as to say, you would not, if you could
help it, if I--
D. How could I have such a thought!--It would be forward, indeed, if I
had--when I don't know what your mind is as to the proposal:--when the
proposal is so very advantageous a one too.
M. [Looking a little less discomposed] why, indeed, ten thousand
D. And to be sure of outliving him, Madam!
M. Sure!--nobody can be sure--but it is very likely that----
D. Not at all, Madam. You was going to read something (but stopped)
about his constitution: his sobriety is well known--Why, Madam, these
gentlemen who have used the sea, and been in different climates, and come
home to relax from cares in a temperate one, and are sober--are the
likeliest to live long of any men in the world. Don't you see that his
very skin is a fortification of buff?
M. Strange creature!
D. God forbid, that any body I love and honour should marry a man in
hopes to bury him--but suppose, Madam, at your time of life----
M. My time of life?--Dear heart!--What is my time of life, pray?
D. Not old, Madam; and that you are not, may be your danger!
As I hope to live (my dear) my mother smiled, and looked not displeased
M. Why, indeed, child--why, indeed, I must needs say--and then I should
choose to do nothing (forward as you are sometimes) to hurt you.
D. Why, as to that, Madam, I can't expect that you should deprive
yourself of any satisfaction--
M. Satisfaction, my dear!--I don't say it would be a satisfaction--but
could I do any thing that would benefit you, it would perhaps be an
inducement to hold one conference upon the subject.
D. My fortune already will be more considerable than my match, if I am
to have Mr. Hickman.
M. Why so?--Mr. Hickman has fortune enough to entitle him to your's.
D. If you think so, that's enough.
M. Not but I should thin the worse of myself, if I desired any body's
death; but I think, as you say, Mr. Antony Harlowe is a healthy man, and
bids fair for a long life.
Bless me, thought I, how shall I do to know whether this be an objection
or a recommendation!
D. Will you forgive me, Madam?
M. What would the girl say? [looking as if she was half afraid to hear
D. Only, that if you marry a man of his time of life, you stand two
chances instead of one, to be a nurse at your time of life.
D. Dear Madam!--What I mean is only that these healthy old men
sometimes fall into lingering disorders all at once. And I humbly
conceive, that the infirmities of age are uneasily borne with, where the
remembrance of the pleasanter season comes not in to relieve the
healthier of the two.
M. A strange girl!--Yet his healthy constitution an objection just now!
---But I have always told you, that you know either too much to be argued
with, or too little for me to have patience with you.
D. I can't but say, I should be glad of your commands, Madam, how to
behave myself to Mr. Antony Harlowe next time he comes.
M. How to behave yourself!--Why, if you retire with contempt of him,
when he comes next, it will be but as you have been used to do of late.
D. Then he is to come again, Madam?
M. And suppose he be?
D. I can't help it, if it be your pleasure, Madam. He desires a line
in answer to his fine letter. If he come, it will be in pursuance of
that line, I presume?
M. None of your arch and pert leers, girl!--You know I won't bear them.
I had a mind to hear what you would say to this matter. I have not
written; but I shall presently.
D. It is mighty good of you, Madam, (I hope the man will think so,) to
answer his first application by letter.--Pity he should write twice, if
once will do.
M. That fetch won't let you into my intention as to what I shall write.
It is too saucily put.
D. Perhaps I can guess at your intention, Madam, were it to become me
so to do.
M. Perhaps I would not make Mr. Hickman of any man; using him the worse
for respecting me.
D. Nor, perhaps, would I, Madam, if I liked his respects.
M. I understand you. But, perhaps, it is in your power to make me
hearken, or not, to Mr. Harlowe.
D. Young men, who have probably a good deal of time before them need
not be in haste for a wife. Mr. Hickman, poor man! must stay his time,
or take his remedy.
M. He bears more from you than a man ought.
D. Then, I doubt, he gives a reason for the treatment he meets with.
M. Provoking creature!
D. I have but one request to make to you, Madam.
M. A dutiful one, I suppose. What is it, pray?
D. That if you marry, I may be permitted to live single.
M. Perverse creature, I'm sure!
D. How can I expect, Madam, that you should refuse such terms? Ten
thousand pounds!--At the least ten thousand pounds!--A very handsome
proposal!--So many fine things too, to give you one by one!--Dearest
Madam, forgive me!--I hope it is not yet so far gone, that rallying this
man will be thought want of duty to you.
M. Your rallying of him, and your reverence to me, it is plain, have
D. I hope not, Madam. But ten thousand pounds----
M. Is no unhandsome proposal.
D. Indeed I think so. I hope, Madam, you will not be behind-hand with
him in generosity.
M. He won't be ten thousand pounds the better for me, if he survive me.
D. No, Madam; he can't expect that, as you have a daughter, and as he
is a bachelor, and has not a child!--Poor old soul!
M. Old soul, Nancy!--And thus to call him for being a bachelor, not
having a child!--Does this become you?
D. Not old soul for that, Madam--but half the sum; five thousand
pounds; you can't engage for less, Madam.
M. That sum has your approbation then? [Looking as if she'd be even
D. As he leaves it to your generosity, Madam, to reward his kindness to
you, it can't be less.--Do, dear Madam, permit me, without incurring your
displeasure, to call him poor old soul again.
M. Never was such a whimsical creature!--[turning away to hide her
involuntary smile, for I believe I looked very archly; at least I
intended to do so]--I hate that wicked sly look. You give yourself very
free airs--don't you?
D. I snatched her hand, and kissed it--My dear Mamma, be not angry with
your girl!--You have told me, that you was very lively formerly.
M. Formerly! Good lack!--But were I to encourage his proposals, you
may be sure, that for Mr. Hickman's sake, as well as your's, I should
make a wise agreement.
D. You have both lived to years of prudence, Madam.
M. Yes, I suppose I am an old soul too.
D. He also is for making a wise agreement, or hinting at one, at least.
M. Well, the short and the long I suppose is this: I have not your
consent to marry.
D. Indeed, Madam, you have not my wishes to marry.
M. Let me tell you, that if prudence consists in wishing well to one's
self, I see not but the young flirts are as prudent as the old souls.
D. Dear Madam, would you blame me, if to wish you not to marry Mr.
Antony Harlowe, is to wish well to myself?
M. You are mighty witty. I wish you were as dutiful.
D. I am more dutiful, I hope, than witty; or I should be a fool as well
as a saucebox.
M. Let me be judge of both--Parents are only to live for their
children, let them deserve it or not. That's their dutiful notion!
D. Heaven forbid that I should wish, if there be two interests between
my mother and me, that my mother postpone her own for mine!--or give up
any thing that would add to the real comforts of her life to oblige me!--
Tell me, my dear Mamma, if you think the closing with this proposal will?
M. I say, that ten thousand pounds is such an acquisition to one's
family, that the offer of it deserves a civil return.
D. Not the offer, Madam: the chance only!--if indeed you have a view to
an increase of family, the money may provide--
M. You can't keep within tolerable bounds!--That saucy fleer I cannot
D. Dearest, dearest Madam, forgive me; but old soul ran in my head
again!--Nay, indeed, and upon my word, I will not be robbed of that
charming smile! And again I kissed her hand.
M. Away, bold creature! Nothing can be so provoking as to be made to
smile when one would choose, and ought, to be angry.
D. But, dear Madam, if it be to be, I presume you won't think of it
before next winter.
M. What now would the pert one be at?
D. Because he only proposes to entertain you with pretty stories of
foreign nations in a winter's evening.--Dearest, dearest Madam, let me
have all the reading of his letter through. I will forgive him all he
says about me.
M. It may be a very difficult thing, perhaps, for a man of the best
sense to write a love-letter that may not be cavilled at.
D. That's because lovers in their letters hit not the medium. They
either write too much nonsense, or too little. But do you call this odd
soul's letter [no more will I call him old soul, if I can help it] a
M. Well, well, I see you are averse to this matter. I am not to be
your mother; you will live single, if I marry. I had a mind to see if
generosity govern you in your views. I shall pursue my own inclinations;
and if they should happen to be suitable to yours, pray let me for the
future be better rewarded by you than hitherto I have been.
And away she flung, without staying for a reply.--Vexed, I dare say, that
I did not better approve of the proposal--were it only that the merit of
denying might have been all her own, and to lay the stronger obligation
upon her saucy daughter.
She wrote such a widow-like refusal when she went from me, as might not
exclude hope in any other wooer; whatever it may do in Mr. Tony Harlowe.
It will be my part, to take care to beat her off the visit she half-
promises to make him (as you will see in her answer) upon condition that
he will withdraw his suit. For who knows what effect the old bachelor's
exotics [far-fetched and dear-bought you know is a proverb] might
otherwise have upon a woman's mind, wanting nothing but unnecessaries,
gewgaws, and fineries, and offered such as are not easily to be met with,
Well, but now I give you leave to read here, in this place, the copy of
my mother's answer to your uncle's letter. Not one comment will I make
upon it. I know my duty better. And here, therefore, taking the liberty
to hope, that I may, in your present less disagreeable, though not wholly
agreeable situation, provoke a smile from you, I conclude myself,
Your ever affectionate and faithful,
MRS. ANNABELLA HOWE, TO ANTONY HARLY, ESQ.
MR. ANTONY HARLOWE,
FRIDAY, MAY 19.
It is not usual I believe for our sex to answer by pen and ink the first
letter on these occasions. The first letter! How odd is that! As if I
expected another; which I do not. But then I think, as I do not judge
proper to encourage your proposal, there is no reason why I should not
answer in civility, where so great a civility is intended. Indeed, I was
always of opinion that a person was entitled to that, and not to ill
usage, because he had a respect for me. And so I have often and often
told my daughter.
A woman I think makes but a poor figure in a man's eye afterwards, and
does no reputation to her sex neither, when she behaves like a tyrant to
To be sure, Sir, if I were to change my condition, I know not a gentleman
whose proposal could be more agreeable. Your nephew and your nieces have
enough without you: my daughter has a fine fortune without me, and I
should take care to double it, living or dying, were I to do such a
thing: so nobody need to be the worse for it. But Nancy would not think
All the comfort I know of in children, is, that when young they do with
us what they will, and all is pretty in them to their very faults; and
when they are grown up, they think their parents must live for them only;
and deny themselves every thing for their sakes. I know Nancy could not
bear a father-in-law. She would fly at the very thought of my being in
earnest to give her one. Not that I stand in fear of my daughter
neither. It is not fit I should. But she has her poor papa's spirit.
A very violent one that was. And one would not choose, you know, Sir, to
enter into any affair, that, one knows, one must renounce a daughter for,
or she a mother--except indeed one's heart were much in it; which, I
bless God, mine is not.
I have now been a widow these ten years; nobody to controul me: and I am
said not to bear controul: so, Sir, you and I are best as we are, I
believe: nay, I am sure of it: for we want not what either has; having
both more than we know what to do with. And I know I could not be in the
least accountable for any of my ways.
My daughter indeed, though she is a fine girl, as girls go, (she has too
much sense indeed for one of her sex, and knows she has it,) is more a
check to me than one would wish a daughter to be: for who would choose to
be always snapping at each other? But she will soon be married; and
then, not living together, we shall only come together when we are
pleased, and stay away when we are not; and so, like other lovers, never
see any thing but the best sides of each other.
I own, for all this, that I love her dearly; and she me, I dare say: so
would not wish to provoke her to do otherwise. Besides, the girl is so
much regarded every where, that having lived so much of my prime a widow,
I would not lay myself open to her censures, or even to her indifference,
Your generous proposal requires all this explicitness. I thank you for
your good opinion of me. When I know you acquiesce with this my civil
refusal [and indeed, Sir, I am as much in earnest in it, as if I had
spoken broader] I don't know but Nancy and I may, with your permission,
come to see your fine things; for I am a great admirer of rarities that
come from abroad.
So, Sir, let us only converse occasionally as we meet, as we used to do,
without any other view to each other than good wishes: which I hope may
not be lessened for this declining. And then I shall always think myself
Your obliged servant,
P.S. I sent word by Mrs. Lorimer, that I would write an answer: but
would take time for consideration. So hope, Sir, you won't think it a
slight, I did not write sooner.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
SUNDAY, MAY 21.
I am too much disturbed in my mind to think of any thing but revenge; or
I did intend to give thee an account of Miss Harlowe's observations on
the play. Miss Harlowe's I say. Thou knowest that I hate the name of
Harlowe; and I am exceedingly out of humour with her, and with her saucy
What's the matter now? thou'lt ask.
Matter enough; for while we were at the play, Dorcas, who had her orders,
and a key to her lady's chamber, as well as a master-key to her drawers
and mahogany chest, closet-key and all, found means to come at some of
Miss Howe's last-written letters. The vigilant wench was directed to
them by seeing her lady take a letter out of her stays, and put it to the
others, before she went out with me--afraid, as the women upbraidingly
tell me, that I should find it there.
Dorcas no sooner found them, than she assembled three ready writers of
the non-apparents; and Sally, and she, and they employed themselves with
the utmost diligence, in making extracts, according to former directions,
from these cursed letters, for my use. Cursed, may I well call them--
Such abuses!--Such virulence!--O this little fury Miss Howe!--Well might
her saucy friend (who has been equally free with me, or the occasion
could not have been given) be so violent as she lately was, at my
endeavouring to come at one of these letters.
I was sure, that this fair-one, at so early an age, with a constitution
so firm, health so blooming, eyes so sparkling, expectations therefore so
lively, and hope so predominating, could not be absolutely, and from her
own vigilance, so guarded, and so apprehensive, as I have found her to
Sparkling eyes, Jack, when the poetical tribe have said all they can for
them, are an infallible sign of a rogue, or room for a rogue, in the
Thou mayest go on with thy preachments, and Lord M. with his wisdom of
nations, I am now more assured of her than ever. And now my revenge is
up, and joined with my love, all resistance must fall before it. And
most solemnly do I swear, that Miss Howe shall come in for her snack.
And here, just now, is another letter brought from the same little
virulent devil. I hope to procure scripts from that too, very speedily,
if it be put to the test; for the saucy fair-one is resolved to go to
church this morning; no so much from a spirit of devotion, I have reason
to think, as to try whether she can go out without check, controul, or
I have been denied breakfasting with her. Indeed she was a little
displeased with me last night: because, on our return from the play, I
obliged her to pass the rest of the night with the women and me, in their
parlour, and to stay till near one. She told me at parting, that she
expected to have the whole next day to herself. I had not read the
extracts then; so I had resolved to begin a new course, and, if possible,
to banish all jealousy and suspicion from her heart: and yet I had no
reason to be much troubled at her past suspicions; since, if a woman will
continue with a man whom she suspects, when she can get from him, or
thinks she can, I am sure it is a very hopeful sign.
She is gone. Slipt down before I was aware. She had ordered a chair, on
purpose to exclude my personal attendance. But I had taken proper
precautions. Will. attended her by consent; Peter, the house-servant,
was within Will.'s call.
I had, by Dorcas, represented her danger from Singleton, in order to
dissuade her from going at all, unless she allowed me to attend her; but
I was answered, with her usual saucy smartness, that if there were no
cause of fear of being met with at the playhouse, when there were but two
playhouses, surely there was less at church, when there were so many
churches. The chairmen were ordered to carry her to St. James's Church.
But she would not be so careless of obliging me, if she knew what I have
already come at, and how the women urge me on; for they are continually
complaining of the restraint they lie under in their behaviour; in their
attendance; neglecting all their concerns in the front house; and keeping
this elegant back one entirely free from company, that she may have no
suspicion of them. They doubt not my generosity, they say: But why for
my own sake, in Lord M.'s style, should I make so long a harvest of so
Women, ye reason well. I think I will begin my operations the moment she
I have come at the letter brought her from Miss Howe to-day. Plot,
conjuration, sorcery, witchcraft, all going forward! I shall not be able
to see this Miss Harlowe with patience. As the nymphs below ask, so do
I, Why is night necessary? And Sally and Polly upbraidingly remind me of
my first attempts upon themselves. Yet force answers not my end--and yet
it may, if there be truth in that part of the libertine's creed, That
once subdued, is always subdued! And what woman answers affirmatively to
She is returned: But refuses to admit me: and insists upon having the day
to herself. Dorcas tells me, that she believes her denial is from
motives of piety.--Oons, Jack, is there impiety in seeing me?--Would it
not be the highest act of piety to reclaim me? And is this to be done by
her refusing to see me when she is in a devouter frame than usual?--But I
hate her, hate her heartily! She is old, ugly, and deformed.--But O the
blasphemy! yet she is a Harlowe: and I do and can hate her for that.
But since I must not see her, [she will be mistress of her own will, and
of her time, truly!] let me fill up my time, by telling thee what I have
The first letter the women met with, is dated April 27.* Where can she
have put the preceding ones!--It mentions Mr. Hickman as a busy fellow
between them. Hickman had best take care of himself. She says in it, 'I
hope you have no cause to repent returning my Norris--it is forthcoming
on demand.' Now, what the devil can this mean!--Her Norris forthcoming
on demand!--the devil take me, if I am out-Norris'd!--If such innocents
can allow themselves to plot (to Norris), well may I.
* See Vol. IV. Letter II.
She is sorry, that 'her Hannah can't be with her.'--And what if she
could?--What could Hannah do for her in such a house as this?
'The women in the house are to be found out in one breakfasting.' The
women are enraged at both the correspondents for this; and more than ever
make a point of my subduing her. I had a good mind to give Miss Howe to
them in full property. Say but the word, Jack, and it shall be done.
'She is glad that Miss Harlowe had thoughts of taking me at my word. She
wondered I did not offer again.' Advises her, if I don't soon, 'not to
stay with me.' Cautions her, 'to keep me at a distance; not to permit
the least familiarity.'--See, Jack! see Belford!--Exactly as I thought!--
Her vigilance all owing to a cool friend; who can sit down quietly, and
give that advice, which in her own case she could not take. What an
encouragement to me to proceed in my devices, when I have reason to think
that my beloved's reserves are owing more to Miss Howe's cautions than to
her own inclinations! But 'it is my interest to be honest,' Miss Howe
tells her.--INTEREST, fools!--I thought these girls knew, that my
interest was ever subservient to my pleasure.
What would I give to come at the copies of the letters to which those of
Miss Howe are answers!
The next letter is dated May 3.* In this the little termagant expresses
her astonishment, that her mother should write to Miss Harlowe, to forbid
her to correspond with her daughter. Mr. Hickman, she says, is of
opinion, 'that she ought not to obey her mother.' How the creeping
fellow trims between both! I am afraid, that I must punish him, as well
as this virago; and I have a scheme rumbling in my head, that wants but
half an hour's musing to bring into form, that will do my business upon
both. I cannot bear, that the parental authority should be thus
despised, thus trampled under foot. But observe the vixen, ''Tis well he
is of her opinion; for her mother having set her up, she must have
somebody to quarrel with.'--Could a Lovelace have allowed himself a
greater license? This girl's a devilish rake in her heart. Had she been
a man, and one of us, she'd have outdone us all in enterprise and spirit.
* See Vol. IV. Letter X.
'She wants but very little farther provocation,' she says, 'to fly
privately to London. And if she does, she will not leave her till she
sees her either honourably married, or quit of the wretch.' Here, Jack,
the transcriber Sally has added a prayer--'For the Lord's sake, dear Mr.
Lovealce, get this fury to London!'--Her fate, I can tell thee, Jack, if
we had her among us, should not be so long deciding as her friend's.
What a gantelope would she run, when I had done with her, among a dozen
of her own pitiless sex, whom my charmer shall never see!--But more of
I find by this letter, that my saucy captive has been drawing the
characters of every varlet of ye. Nor am I spared in it more than you.
'The man's a fool, to be sure, my dear.' Let me perish, if they either
of them find me one!--'A silly fellow, at least.' Cursed contemptible!--
'I see not but they are a set of infernals!' There's one for thee,
Lovelace! and yet she would have her friend marry a Beelzebub.--And what
have any of us done, (within the knowledge of Miss Harlowe,) that she
should give such an account of us, as should excuse so much abuse from
Miss Howe!--But the occasion that shall warrant this abuse is to come!
She blames her, for 'not admitting Miss Partington to her bed--watchful,
as you are, what could have happened?--If violence were intended, he
would not stay for the night.' I am ashamed to have this hinted to me by
this virago. Sally writes upon this hint--'See, Sir, what is expected
from you. An hundred, and an hundred times have we told you of this.'--
And so they have. But to be sure, the advice from them was not half the
efficacy as it will be from Miss Howe.--'You might have sat up after her,
or not gone to bed,' proceeds she.
But can there be such apprehensions between them, yet the one advise her
to stay, and the other resolve to wait my imperial motion for marriage?
I am glad I know that.
She approves of my proposal of Mrs. Fretchville's house. She puts her
upon expecting settlements; upon naming a day: and concludes with
insisting upon her writing, notwithstanding her mother's prohibitions;
or bids her 'take the consequence.' Undutiful wretches! How I long to
vindicate against them both the insulted parental character!
Thou wilt say to thyself, by this time, And can this proud and insolent
girl be the same Miss Howe, who sighed for an honest Sir George Colmar;
and who, but for this her beloved friend, would have followed him in all
his broken fortunes, when he was obliged to quit the kingdom?
Yes, she is the very same. And I always found in others, as well as in
myself, that a first passion thoroughly subdued, made the conqueror of it
a rover; the conqueress a tyrant.
Well, but now comes mincing in a letter, from one who has 'the honour of
dear Miss Howe's commands'* to acquaint Miss Harlowe, that Miss Howe is
'excessively concerned for the concern she has given her.'
* See Vol. IV. Letter XII.
'I have great temptations, on this occasion,' says the prim Gothamite,
'to express my own resentments upon your present state.'
'My own resentments!'----And why did he not fall into this temptation?
--Why, truly, because he knew not what that state was which gave him so
tempting a subject--only by a conjecture, and so forth.
He then dances in his style, as he does in his gait! To be sure, to be
sure, he must have made the grand tour, and come home by way of
'And being moreover forbid,' says the prancer, 'to enter into the cruel
subject.'--This prohibition was a mercy to thee, friend Hickman!--But why
cruel subject, if thou knowest not what it is, but conjecturest only from
the disturbance it gives to a girl, that is her mother's disturbance,
will be thy disturbance, and the disturbance, in turn, of every body with
whom she is intimately acquainted, unless I have the humbling of her?
In another letter,* the little fury professes, 'that she will write, and
that no man shall write for her,' as if some medium of that kind had been
proposed. She approves of her fair friend's intention 'to leave me, if
she can be received by her relations. I am a wretch, a foolish wretch.
She hates me for my teasing ways. She has just made an acquaintance with
one who knows a vast deal of my private history.' A curse upon her, and
upon her historiographer!--'The man is really a villain, an execrable
one.' Devil take her!--'Had I a dozen lives, I might have forfeited them
all twenty crimes ago.' An odd way of reckoning, Jack!
* See Letter XXIII. of this volume.
Miss Betterton, Miss Lockyer, are named--the man, (she irreverently
repeats) she again calls a villain. Let me perish, I repeat, if I am
called a villain for nothing!--She 'will have her uncle,' as Miss Harlowe
requests, 'sounded about receiving her. Dorcas is to be attached to her
interest: my letters are to be come at by surprise or trick'--
What thinkest thou of this, Jack?
Miss Howe is alarmed at my attempt to come at a letter of hers.
'Were I to come at the knowledge of her freedoms with my character,' she
says, 'she should be afraid to stir out without a guard.' I would advise
the vixen to get her guard ready.
'I am at the head of a gang of wretches,' [thee, Jack, and thy brother
varlets, she owns she means,] 'who join together to betray innocent
creatures, and to support one another in their villanies.'--What sayest
thou to this, Belford?
'She wonders not at her melancholy reflections for meeting me, for being
forced upon me, and tricked by me.'--I hope, Jack, thou'lt have done
preaching after this!
But she comforts her, 'that she will be both a warning and an example to
all her sex.' I hope the sex will thank me for this!
The nymphs had not time, they say, to transcribe all that was worthy of
my resentment in this letter: so I must find an opportunity to come at it
myself. Noble rant, they say, it contains--But I am a seducer, and a
hundred vile fellows, in it.--'And the devil, it seems, took possession
of my heart, and of the hearts of all her friends, in the same dark hour,
in order to provoke her to meet me.' Again, 'There is a fate in her
error,' she says--Why then should she grieve?--'Adversity is her shining
time,' and I can't tell what; yet never to thank the man to whom she owes
In the next letter,* wicked as I am, 'she fears I must be her lord and
* See Letter XXIX. of this volume.
I hope so.
She retracts what she said against me in her last.--My behaviour to my
Rosebud; Miss Harlowe to take possession of Mrs. Fretchville's house; I
to stay at Mrs. Sinclair's; the stake I have in my country; my
reversions; my economy; my person; my address; [something like in all
this!] are brought in my favour, to induce her now not to leave me. How
do I love to puzzle these long-sighted girls!
Yet 'my teasing ways,' it seems, 'are intolerable.'--Are women only to
tease, I trow? The sex may thank themselves for teaching me to out-tease
them. So the headstrong Charles XII. of Sweden taught the Czar Peter to
beat him, by continuing a war with the Muscovites against the ancient
maxims of his kingdom.
'May eternal vengeance PURSUE the villain, [thank heaven, she does not
say overtake,] if he give room to doubt his honour!'--Women can't swear,
Jack--sweet souls! they can only curse.
I am said, to doubt her love--Have I not reason? And she, to doubt my
ardour--Ardour, Jack!--why, 'tis very right--women, as Miss Howe says,
and as every rake knows, love ardours!
She apprizes her, of the 'ill success of the application made to her
uncle.'--By Hickman no doubt!--I must have this fellow's ears in my
pocket, very quickly I believe.
She says, 'she is equally shocked and enraged against all her family:
Mrs. Norton's weight has been tried upon Mrs. Harlowe, as well as Mr.
Hickman's upon the uncle: but never were there,' says the vixen, 'such
determined brutes in the world. Her uncle concludes her ruined already.'
Is not that a call upon me, as well as a reproach?--'They all expected
applications from her when in distress--but were resolved not to stir an
inch to save her life.' Miss Howe 'is concerned,' she tells her, 'for
the revenge my pride may put me upon taking for the distance she has kept
me at'--and well she may.--It is now evident to her, that she must be
mine (for her cousin Morden, it seems, is set against her too)--an act of
necessity, of convenience!--thy friend, Jack, to be already made a
woman's convenience! Is this to be borne by a Lovelace?
I shall make great use of this letter. From Miss Howe's hints of what
passed between her uncle Harlowe and Hickman, [it must be Hickman,] I can
give room for my invention to play; for she tells her, that 'she will not
reveal all.' I must endeavour to come at this letter myself. I must
have the very words: extracts will not do. This letter, when I have it,
must be my compass to steer by.
The fire of friendship then blazes and crackles. I never before imagined
that so fervent a friendship could subsist between two sister-beauties,
both toasts. But even here it may be inflamed by opposition, and by that
contradiction which gives vigour to female spirits of a warm and romantic
She raves about 'coming up, if by doing so she could prevent so noble a
creature from stooping too low, or save her from ruin.'--One reed to
support another! I think I will contrive to bring her up.
How comes it to pass, that I cannot help being pleased with this virago's
spirit, though I suffer by it? Had I her but here, I'd engage, in a
week's time, to teach her submission without reserve. What pleasure
should I have in breaking such a spirit! I should wish for her but for
one month, I think. She would be too tame and spiritless for me after
that. How sweetly pretty to see the two lovely friends, when humbled and
tame, both sitting in the darkest corner of a room, arm in arm, weeping
and sobbing for each other!--and I their emperor, their then acknowledged
emperor, reclined at my ease in the same room, uncertain to which I
should first, grand signor like, throw out my handkerchief!
Again mind the girl: 'She is enraged at the Harlowes;' she is 'angry at
her own mother;' she is exasperated against her foolish and low-vanity'd
Lovelace.' FOOLISH, a little toad! [God forgive me for calling such a
virtuous girl a toad!]--'Let us stoop to lift the wretch out of his dirt,
though we soil our fingers in doing it! He has not been guilty of direct
indecency to you.' It seems extraordinary to Miss Howe that I have not.
--'Nor dare he!' She should be sure of that. If women have such things
in their heads, why should not I in my heart? Not so much of a devil as
that comes to neither. Such villainous intentions would have shown
themselves before now if I had them.--Lord help them!--
She then puts her friend upon urging for settlements, license, and so
forth.--'No room for delicacy now,' she says; and tells her what she
shall say, 'to bring all forward from me.' Is it not as clear to thee,
Jack, as it is to me, that I should have carried my point long ago, but
for this vixen?--She reproaches her for having MODESTY'D away, as she
calls it, more than one opportunity, that she ought not to have slipt.--
Thus thou seest, that the noblest of the sex mean nothing in the world
by their shyness and distance, but to pound the poor fellow they dislike
not, when he comes into their purlieus.
Though 'tricked into this man's power,' she tells her, she is 'not meanly
subjugated to it.' There are hopes of my reformation, it seems, 'from my
reverence for her; since before her I never had any reverence for what
was good!' I am 'a great, a specious deceiver.' I thank her for this,
however. A good moral use, she says, may be made of my 'having prevailed
upon her to swerve.' I am glad that any good may flow from my actions.
Annexed to this letter is a paper the most saucy that ever was written of
a mother by a daughter. There are in it such free reflections upon
widows and bachelors, that I cannot but wonder how Miss Howe came by her
learning. Sir George Colmar, I can tell thee, was a greater fool than
thy friend, if she had it all for nothing.
The contents of this paper acquaint Miss Harlowe, that her uncle Antony
has been making proposals of marriage to her mother.
The old fellow's heart ought to be a tough one, if he succeed; or she who
broke that of a much worthier man, the late Mr. Howe, will soon get rid
But be this as it may, the stupid family is made more irreconcilable than
ever to their goddess-daughter for old Antony's thoughts of marrying: so
I am more secure of her than ever. And yet I believe at last, that my
tender heart will be moved in her favour. For I did not wish that she
should have nothing but persecution and distress.--But why loves she the
brutes, as Miss Howe justly calls them, so much; me so little?
I have still more unpardonable transcripts from other letters.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
The next letter is of such a nature, that, I dare say, these proud rouges
would not have had it fall into my hands for the world.*
* See Letter XXXIV. of this volume.
I see by it to what her displeasure with me, in relation to my proposals,
was owing. They were not summed up, it seems, with the warmth, with the
ardour, which she had expected.
This whole letter was transcribed by Dorcas, to whose lot it fell. Thou
shalt have copies of them all at full length shortly.
'Men of our cast,' this little devil says, 'she fancies, cannot have the
ardours that honest men have.' Miss Howe has vey pretty fancies, Jack.
Charming girl! Would to Heaven I knew whether my fair-one answers her as
freely as she writes! 'Twould vex a man's heart, that this virago should
have come honestly by her fancies.
Who knows but I may have half a dozen creatures to get off my hands,
before I engage for life?--Yet, lest this should mean me a compliment, as
if I would reform, she adds her belief, that she 'must not expect me to
be honest on this side my grand climacteric.' She has an high opinion of
her sex, to think they can charm so long a man so well acquainted with
'He to suggest delays,' she says, 'from a compliment to be made to Lord
M.!'--Yes, I, my dear.--Because a man has not been accustomed to be
dutiful, must he never be dutiful?--In so important a case as this too!
the hearts of his whole family are engaged in it!--'You did, indeed,'
says she, 'want an interposing friend--but were I to have been in your
situation, I would have torn his eyes out, and left it to his heart to
furnish the reason for it.' See! See! What sayest thou to this, Jack?
'Villain--fellow that he is!' follow. And for what? Only for wishing
that the next day were to be my happy one; and for being dutiful to my
'It is the cruelest of fates,' she says, 'for a woman to be forced to
have a man whom her heart despises.'--That is what I wanted to be sure
of.--I was afraid, that my beloved was too conscious of her talents; of
her superiority! I was afraid that she indeed despises me.--And I cannot
bear to think that she does. But, Belford, I do not intend that this
lady shall be bound down to so cruel a fate. Let me perish if I marry a
woman who has given her most intimate friend reason to say, she despises
me!--A Lovelace to be despised, Jack!
'His clenched fist to his forehead on your leaving him in just
displeasure'--that is, when she was not satisfied with my ardours, if it
please ye!--I remember the motion: but her back was towards me at the
time.* Are these watchful ladies all eye?--But observe what follows; 'I
wish it had been a poll-axe, and in the hands of his worst enemy.'--
* She tells Miss Howe, that she saw this motion in the pier-glass. See
Letter XXXIII. of this volume.
I will have patience, Jack; I will have patience! My day is at hand.--
Then will I steel my heart with these remembrances.
But here is a scheme to be thought of, in order to 'get my fair prize out
of my hands, in case I give her reason to suspect me.'
This indeed alarms me. Now the contention becomes arduous. Now wilt
thou not wonder, if I let loose my plotting genius upon them both. I
will not be out-Norris'd, Belford.
But once more, 'She has no notion,' she says, 'that I can or dare to mean
her dishonour. But then the man is a fool--that's all.'--I should indeed
be a fool, to proceed as I do, and mean matrimony!--'However, since you
are thrown upon a fool,' says she, 'marry the fool at the first
opportunity; and though I doubt that this man will be the most
unmanageable of fools, as all witty and vain fools are, take him as a
punishment, since you cannot as a reward.'--Is there any bearing this,
But, 'such men as myself, are the men that women do not naturally hate.'
--True as the gospel, Jack!--The truth is out at last. Have I not always
told thee so? Sweet creatures and true christians these young girls!
They love their enemies. But rakes in their hearts all of them! Like
turns to like; that's the thing. Were I not well assured of the truth of
this observation of the vixen, I should have thought it worth while, if
not to be a good man, to be more of an hypocrite, than I found it needful
But in the letter I came at to-day, while she was at church, her scheme
is further opened; and a cursed one it is.
[Mr. Lovelace then transcribes, from his short-hand notes, that part of
Miss Howe's letter, which relates to the design of engaging Mrs.
Townsend (in case of necessity) to give her protection till Colonel
Morden come:* and repeats his vows of revenge; especially for these
words; 'That should he attempt any thing that would make him obnoxious
to the laws of society, she might have a fair riddance of him, either
by flight or the gallows, no matter which.' He then adds]--
* See Letter XLII. of this volume.
'Tis my pride to subdue girls who know too much to doubt their knowledge;
and to convince them, that they know too little, to defend themselves
from the inconveniencies of knowing too much.
How passion drives a man on! (proceeds he).--I have written a prodigious
quantity in a very few hours! Now my resentments are warm, I will see,
and perhaps will punish, this proud, this double-armed beauty. I have
sent to tell her, that I must be admitted to sup with her. We have
neither of us dined. She refused to drink tea in the afternoon: and I
believe neither of us will have much stomach to our supper.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
SUNDAY MORNING, SEVEN O'CLOCK.
I was at the play last night with Mr. Lovelace and Miss Horton. It is,
you know, a deep and most affecting tragedy in the reading. You have my
remarks upon it, in the little book you made me write upon the principal
acting-plays. You will not wonder, that Miss Horton, as well as I, was
greatly moved at the representation, when I tell you, and have some
pleasure in telling you, that Mr. Lovelace himself was very sensibly
touched with some of the most affecting scenes. I mention this in praise
of the author's performance; for I take Mr. Lovelace to be one of the
most hard-hearted men in the world. Upon my word, my dear, I do.
His behaviour, however, on this occasion, and on our return, was
unexceptionable; only that he would oblige me to stay to supper with the
women below, when we came back, and to sit up with him and them till near
one o'clock this morning. I was resolved to be even with him; and indeed
I am not very sorry to have the pretence; for I love to pass the Sundays
To have the better excuse to avoid his teasing, I am ready dressed to go
to church this morning. I will go only to St. James's church, and in a
chair; that I may be sure I can go out and come in when I please, without
being intruded upon by him, as I was twice before.
NEAR NINE O'CLOCK.
I have your kind letter of yesterday. He knows I have. And I shall
expect, that he will be inquisitive next time I see him after your
opinions of his proposals. I doubted not your approbation of them, and
had written an answer on that presumption; which is ready for him. He
must study for occasions of procrastination, and to disoblige me, if now
any thing happens to set us at variance again.
He is very importunate to see me. He has desired to attend me to church.
He is angry that I have declined to breakfast with him. I am sure that I
should not have been at my own liberty if I had. I bid Dorcas tell him,
that I desired to have this day to myself. I would see him in the
morning as early as he pleased. She says, she knows not what ails him,
but that he is out of humour with every body.
He has sent again in a peremptory manner. He warns me of Singleton. I
sent him word, that if he was not afraid of Singleton at the playhouse
last night, I need not at church to-day: so many churches to one
playhouse. I have accepted of his servant's proposed attendance. But he
is quite displeased, it seems. I don't care. I will not be perpetually
at his insolent beck.--Adieu my dear, till I return. The chair waits.
He won't stop me, sure, as I go down to it.
I did not see him as I went down. He is, it seems, excessively out of
humour. Dorcas says, not with me neither, she believes: but something
has vexed him. This is perhaps to make me dine with him. But I will
not, if I can help it. I shan't get rid of him for the rest of the day,
if I do.
He was very earnest to dine with me. But I was resolved to carry this
one small point; and so denied to dine myself. And indeed I was
endeavouring to write to my cousin Morden; and had begun three different
times, without being able to please myself.
He was very busy in writing, Dorcas says; and pursued it without dining,
because I denied him my company.
H afterwards demanded, as I may say, to be admitted to afternoon-tea with
me: and appealed by Dorcas to his behaviour to me last night; as if I
sent him word by her, he thought he had a merit in being unexceptionable.
However, I repeated my promise to meet him as early as he pleased in the
morning, or to breakfast with him.
Dorcas says, he raved: I heard him loud, and I heard his servant fly from
him, as I thought. You, my dearest friend, say, in one of yours,* that
you must have somebody to be angry at, when your mother sets you up. I
should be very loth to draw comparisons; but the workings of passion,
when indulged, are but too much alike, whether in man or woman.
* See Letter X. of this volume, Parag. 2.
He has just sent me word, that he insists upon supping with me. As we
had been in a good train for several days past, I thought it not prudent
to break with him for little matters. Yet, to be, in a manner,
threatened into his will, I know not how to bear that.
While I was considering, he came up, and, tapping at my door, told me, in
a very angry tone, he must see me this night. He could not rest, till he
had been told what he had done to deserve the treatment I gave him.
Treatment I gave him! a wretch! Yet perhaps he has nothing new to say to
me. I shall be very angry with him.
[As the Lady could not know what Mr. Lovelace's designs were, nor the
cause of his ill humour, it will not be improper to pursue the subject
from his lette.
Having described his angry manner of demanding, in person, her company at
supper, he proceeds as follows:]
''Tis hard, answered the fair perverse, that I am to be so little my own
mistress. I will meet you in the dining-room half an hour hence.
'I went down to wait the half hour. All the women set me hard to give
her cause for this tyranny. They demonstrated, as well from the nature
of the sex, as of the case, that I had nothing to hope for from my
tameness, and could meet with no worse treatment, were I to be guilty of
the last offence. They urge me vehemently to try at least what effect
some greater familiarities than I had ever taken with her would have: and
their arguments being strengthened by my just resentments on the
discoveries I had made, I was resolved to take some liberties, as they
were received, to take still greater, and lay all the fault upon her
tyranny. In this humour I went up, and never had paralytic so little
command of his joints, as I had, while I walked about the dining-room,
attending her motions.
'With an erect mien she entered, her face averted, her lovely bosom
swelling, and the more charmingly protuberant for the erectness of her
mien. O Jack! that sullenness and reserve should add to the charms of
this haughty maid! but in every attitude, in every humour, in every
gesture, is beauty beautiful. By her averted face, and indignant aspect,
I saw the dear insolent was disposed to be angry--but by the fierceness
of mine, as my trembling hand seized hers, I soon made fear her
predominant passion. And yet the moment I beheld her, my heart was
dastardized; and my reverence for the virgin purity, so visible in her
whole deportment, again took place. Surely, Belford, this is an angel.
And yet, had she not been known to be a female, they would not from
babyhood have dressed her as such, nor would she, but upon that
conviction, have continued the dress.
'Let me ask you, Madam, I beseech you tell me, what I have done to
deserve this distant treatment?
'And let me ask you, Mr. Lovelace, why are my retirements to be thus
invaded?--What can you have to say to me since last night, that I went
with you so much against my will to the play? and after sitting up with
you, equally against my will, till a very late hour?
'This I have to say, Madam, that I cannot bear to be kept at this
distance from you under the same roof.
'Under the same roof, Sir!--How came you----
'Hear me out, Madam--[letting go her trembling hands, and snatching them
back again with an eagerness that made her start]--I have a thousand
things to say, to talk of, relating to our present and future prospects;
but when I want to open my whole soul to you, you are always contriving
to keep me at a distance. You make me inconsistent with myself. Your
heart is set upon delays. You must have views that you will not own.
Tell me, Madam, I conjure you to tell me, this moment, without subterfuge
or reserve, in what light am I to appear to you in future? I cannot bear
this distance. The suspense you hold me in I cannot bear.
'In what light, Mr. Lovelace! [visibly terrified.] In no bad light, I
hope.--Pray, Mr. Lovelace, do not grasp my hands so hard [endeavouring to
withdraw them.] Pray let me go.--
'You hate me, Madam--
'I hate nobody, Sir--
'You hate me, Madam, repeated I.
'Instigated and resolved, as I came up, I wanted some new provocation.
The devil indeed, as soon as my angel made her appearance, crept out of
my heart; but he had left the door open, and was no farther off than my
'You come up in no good temper, I see, Mr. Lovelace.--But pray be not
violent--I have done you no hurt.--Pray be not violent--
'Sweet creature! and I clasped one arm about her, holding one hand in my
other.--You have done me no hurt.--I could have devoured her--but
restraining myself--You have done me the greatest hurt!--In what have I
deserved the distance you keep me at?--I knew not what to say.
'She struggled to disengage herself.--Pray, Mr. Lovelace, let me
withdraw. I know not why this is. I know not what I have done to offend
you. I see you are come with a design to quarrel with me. If you would
not terrify me by the ill humour you are in, permit me to withdraw. I
will hear all you have to say another time--to-morrow morning, as I sent
you word.--But indeed you frighten me--I beseech you, if you have any
value for me, permit me to withdraw.
'Night, mid-night, is necessary, Belford. Surprise, terror, must be
necessary to the ultimate trial of this charming creature, say the women
below what they will. I could not hold my purposes. This was not the
first time that I had intended to try if she could forgive.
'I kissed her hand with a fervour, as if I would have left my lips upon
it.--Withdraw, then, dearest, and ever-dear creature. Indeed I entered
in a very ill humour. I cannot bear the distance at which you so
causelessly keep me. Withdraw, Madam, since it is your will to withdraw;
and judge me generously; judge me but as I deserve to be judged; and let
me hope to meet you to-morrow morning early in such a temper as becomes
our present situation, and my future hopes.
'And so saying, I conducted her to the door, and left her there. But,
instead of going down to the women, I went into my own chamber, and
locked myself in; ashamed of being awed by her majestic loveliness, and
apprehensive virtue, into so great a change of purpose, notwithstanding I
had such just provocations from the letters of her saucy friend, formed
on her own representations of facts and situations between herself and
[The Lady (dated Sunday night) thus describes her terrors, and Mr.
Lovelace's behaviour, on the occasion.]
On my entering the dining-room, he took my hand in his, in such a humour,
I saw plainly he was resolved to quarrel with me--And for what?--What had
I done to him?--I never in my life beheld in any body such wild, such
angry, such impatient airs. I was terrified; and instead of being as
angry as I intended to be, I was forced to be all mildness. I can hardly
remember what were his first words, I was so frighted. But you hate me,
Madam! you hate me, Madam! were some of them--with such a fierceness--I
wished myself a thousand miles distant from him. I hate nobody, said I:
I thank God I hate nobody--You terrify me, Mr. Lovelace--let me leave
you.--The man, my dear, looked quite ugly--I never saw a man look so ugly
as passion made him look--and for what?--And so he grasped my hands!--
fierce creature;--he so grasped my hands! In short, he seemed by his
looks, and by his words (once putting his arms about me) to wish me to
provoke him. So that I had nothing to do but to beg of him (which I did
repeatedly) to permit me to withdraw: and to promise to meet him at his
own time in the morning.
It was with a very ill grace that he complied, on that condition; and at
parting he kissed my hand with such a savageness, that a redness remains
upon it still.
Do you not think, my dear, that I have reason to be incensed at him, my
situation considered? Am I not under a necessity, as it were, of
quarrelling with him; at least every other time I see him? No prudery,
no coquetry, no tyranny in my heart, or in my behaviour to him, that I
know of. No affected procrastination. Aiming at nothing but decorum.
He as much concerned, and so he ought to think, as I, to have that
observed. Too much in his power: cast upon him by the cruelty of my
relations. No other protection to fly to but his. One plain path before
us; yet such embarrasses, such difficulties, such subjects for doubt, for
cavil, for uneasiness; as fast as one is obviated, another to be
introduced, and not by myself--know not how introduced--What pleasure can
I propose to myself in meeting such a wretch?
Perfect for me, my dearest Miss Howe, perfect for me, I beseech you, your
kind scheme with Mrs. Townsend; and I will then leave this man.
My temper, I believe, is changed. No wonder if it be. I question
whether ever it will be what it was. But I cannot make him half so
uneasy by the change, as I am myself. See you not how, from step to
step, he grows upon me?--I tremble to look back upon his encroachments.
And now to give me cause to apprehend more evil from him, than
indignation will permit me to express!--O my dear, perfect your scheme,
and let me fly from so strange a wretch!
Yet, to be first an eloper from my friends to him, as the world supposes;
and now to be so from him [to whom I know not!] how hard to one who ever
endeavoured to shun intricate paths! But he must certainly have views in
quarrelling with me thus, which he dare not own!--Yet what can they be?--
I am terrified but to think of what they may be!
Let me but get from him!--As to my reputation, if I leave him--that is
already too much wounded for me, now, to be careful about any thing, but
how to act so as that my own heart shall not reproach me. As to the
world's censure, I must be content to suffer that--an unhappy
composition, however.--What a wreck have my fortunes suffered, to be
obliged to throw overboard so many valuables, to preserve, indeed, the
only valuable!--A composition that once it would have half broken my
heart to think there would have been the least danger that I should be
obliged to submit to.
You, my dear, could not be a stranger to my most secret failings,
although you would not tell me of them. What a pride did I take in the
applause of every one!--What a pride even in supposing I had not that
pride!--Which concealed itself from my unexamining heart under the
specious veil of humility, doubling the merit to myself by the supposed,
and indeed imputed, gracefulness in the manner of conferring benefits,
when I had not a single merit in what I did, vastly overpaid by the
pleasure of doing some little good, and impelled, as I may say, by
talents given me--for what!--Not to be proud of.
So, desirous, in short, to be considered as an example! A vanity which
my partial admirers put into my head!--And so secure in my own virtue!
I am punished enough, enough mortified, for this my vanity--I hope,
enough, if it so please the all-gracious inflictor: since now, I verily
think, I more despise myself for my presumptuous self-security, as well
as vanity, than ever I secretly vaunted myself on my good inclinations:
secretly, I say, however; for, indeed, I had not given myself leisure to
reflect, till I was thus mortified, how very imperfect I was; nor how
much truth there is in what divines tell us, that we sin in our best
But I was very young.--But here let me watch over myself again: for in
those four words, I was very young, is there not a palliation couched,
that were enough to take all efficacy from the discovery and confession?
What strange imperfect beings!--but self here, which is at the bottom of
all we do, and of all we wish, is the grand misleader.
I will not apologize to you, my dear, for these grave reflections. Is it
not enough to make the unhappy creature look into herself, and endeavour
to detect herself, who, from such a high reputation, left to proud and
presumptuous self, should by one thoughtless step, be brought to the
dreadful situation I am in?
Let me, however, look forward: to despond would be to add sin to sin.
And whom have I to raise me up, whom to comfort me, if I desert myself?--
Thou, O Father, who, I hope, hast not yet deserted, hast not yet cursed
me!--For I am thine!--It is fit that mediation should supply the rest.--
I was so disgusted with him, as well as frighted by him, that on my
return to my chamber, in a fit of passionate despair, I tore almost in
two the answer I had written to his proposals.
I will see him in the morning, because I promised I would. But I will go
out, and that without him, or any attendant. If he account not tolerably
for his sudden change of behaviour, and a proper opportunity offer of a
private lodging in some creditable house, I will not any more return to
this:--at present I think so.--And there will I either attend the
perfecting of your scheme; or, by your epistolary mediation, make my own
terms with the wretch; since it is your opinion, that I must be his, and
cannot help myself: or, perhaps, take a resolution to throw myself at
once into Lady Betty's protection; and this will hinder him from making
his insolently-threatened visit to Harlowe-place.
[The Lady writes again on Monday evening; and gives her friend an account
of all that passed between herself and Mr. Lovelace that day; and of
her being terrified out of her purpose, of going out: but Mr.
Lovelace's next letters giving a more ample account of all, hers are
It is proper, however, to mention, that she re-urges Miss Howe (from the
dissatisfaction she has reason for from what passed between Mr.
Lovelace and herself) to perfect her scheme in relation to Mrs.
Townsend. She concludes this letter in these words:]
I should say something of your last favour (but a few hours ago received)
and of your dialogue with your mother--Are you not very whimsical, my
dear? I have but two things to wish for on this occasion.--The one, that
your charming pleasantry had a better subject than that you find for it
in this dialogue--the other, that my situation were not such, as must too
often damp that pleasantry in you, and will not permit me to enjoy it, as
I used to do. Be, however, happy in yourself, though you cannot in
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
MONDAY MORNING, MAY 22.
No generosity in this lady. None at all. Wouldst thou not have thought,
that after I had permitted her to withdraw, primed for mischief as I was,
she would meet me next morning early; and that with a smile; making me
one of her best courtesies?
I was in the dining-room before six, expecting her. She opened not her
door. I went up stairs and down; and hemm'd; and called Will.; called
Dorcas; threw the doors hard to; but still she opened not her door. Thus
till half an hour after eight, fooled I away my time; and then (breakfast
ready) I sent Dorcas to request her company.
But I was astonished, when (following the wench, as she did at the first
invitation) I saw her enter dressed, all but her gloves, and those and
her fan in her hand; in the same moment bidding Dorcas direct Will. to
get her a chair to the door.
Cruel creature, thought I, to expose me thus to the derision of the women
Going abroad, Madam!
I am, Sir.
I looked cursed silly, I am sure. You will breakfast first, I hope,
Madam; and a very humble strain; yet with an hundred tender looks in my
Had she given me more notice of her intention, I had perhaps wrought
myself up to the frame I was in the day before, and begun my vengeance.
And immediately came into my head all the virulence that had been
transcribed for me from Miss Howe's letters, and in that letter which I
had transcribed myself.
Yes, she would drink one dish; and then laid her gloves and fan in the
window just by.
I was perfectly disconcerted. I hemm'd, and was going to speak several
times; but I knew not in what key. Who's modest now! thought I. Who's
insolent now!--How a tyrant of a woman confounds a bashful man! She was
acting Miss Howe, I thought; and I the spiritless Hickman.
At last, I will begin, thought I.
She a dish--I a dish.
Sip, her eyes her own, she; like a haughty and imperious sovereign,
conscious of dignity, every look a favour.
Sip, like her vassal, I; lips and hands trembling, and not knowing that I
sipp'd or tasted.
I was--I was--I sipp'd--(drawing in my breath and the liquor together,
though I scalded my mouth with it) I was in hopes, Madam--
Dorcas came in just then.--Dorcas, said she, is a chair gone for?
Damn'd impertinence, thought I, thus to put me out in my speech! And I
was forced to wait for the servant's answer to the insolent mistress's
William is gone for one, Madam.
This cost me a minute's silence before I could begin again. And then it
was with my hopes, and my hopes, and my hopes, that I should have been
early admitted to--
What weather is it, Dorcas? said she, as regardless of me as if I had not
A little lowering, Madam--The sun is gone in--it was very fine half an
I had no patience. Up I rose. Down went the tea-cup, saucer and all--
Confound the weather, the sunshine, and the wench!--Begone for a devil,
when I am speaking to your lady, and have so little opportunity given me.
Up rose the saucy-face, half-frighted; and snatched from the window her
gloves and fan.
You must not go, Madam!--Seizing her hand--by my soul you must not--
Must not, Sir!--But I must--you can curse your maid in my absence, as
well as if I were present----Except--except--you intend for me, what you
direct to her.
Dearest creature, you must not go--you must not leave me--Such determined
scorn! such contempts!--Questions asked your servant of no meaning but to
break in upon me--I cannot bear it!
Detain me not [struggling.] I will not be withheld. I like you not, nor
your ways. You sought to quarrel with me yesterday, for no reason in the
world that I can think of, but because I was too obliging. You are an
ungrateful man; and I hate you with my whole heart, Mr. Lovelace!
Do not make me desperate, Madam. Permit me to say, that you shall not
leave me in this humour. Wherever you go, I will attend you. Had Miss
Howe been my friend, I had not been thus treated. It is but too plain to
whom my difficulties are owing. I have long observed, that every letter
you received from her, makes an alteration in your behaviour to me. She
would have you treat me, as she treats Mr. Hickman, I suppose: but
neither does that treatment become your admirable temper to offer, nor me
This startled her. She did not care to have me think hardly of Miss
But recollecting herself, Miss Howe, said she, is a friend to virtue, and
to good men. If she like not you, it is because you are not one of
Yes, Madam; and therefore to speak of Mr. Hickman and myself, as you
both, I suppose, think of each, she treats him as she would not treat a
Lovelace.--I challenge you, Madam, to shew me but one of the many letters
you have received from her, where I am mentioned.
Miss Howe is just; Miss Howe is good, replied she. She writes, she
speaks, of every body as they deserve. If you point me out but any one
occasion, upon which you have reason to build a merit to yourself, as
either just or good, or even generous, I will look out for her letter on
that occasion [if such an occasion there be, I have certainly acquainted
her with it]; and will engage it shall be in your favour.
Devilish severe! And as indelicate as severe, to put a modish man upon
hunting backward after his own merits.
She would have flung from me: I will not be detained, Mr. Lovelace. I
will go out.
Indeed you must not, Madam, in this humour. And I placed myself between
her and the door.----And then, fanning, she threw herself into a chair,
her sweet face all crimsoned over with passion.
I cast myself at her feet.--Begone, Mr. Lovelace, said she, with a
rejecting motion, her fan in her hand; for your own sake leave me!--My
soul is above thee, man! with both her hands pushing me from her!--Urge
me not to tell thee, how sincerely I think my soul above thee!--Thou
hast, in mine, a proud, a too proud heart to contend with!--Leave me, and
leave me for ever!--Thou has a proud heart to contend with!
Her air, her manner, her voice, were bewitchingly noble, though her words
were so severe.
Let me worship an angel, said I, no woman. Forgive me, dearest creature!
--creature if you be, forgive me!--forgive my inadvertencies!--forgive my
inequalities!--pity my infirmities!--Who is equal to my Clarissa?
I trembled between admiration and love; and wrapt my arms about her
knees, as she sat. She tried to rise at the moment; but my clasping
round her thus ardently, drew her down again; and never was woman more
affrighted. But free as my clasping emotion might appear to her
apprehensive heart, I had not, at the instant, any thought but what
reverence inspired. And till she had actually withdrawn [which I
permitted under promise of a speedy return, and on her consent to dismiss
the chair] all the motions of my heart were as pure as her own.
She kept not her word. An hour I waited before I sent to claim her
promise. She could not possibly see me yet, was her answer. As soon as
she could, she would.
Dorcas says, she still excessively trembled; and ordered her to give her
hartshorn and water.
A strange apprehensive creature! Her terror is too great for the
occasion. Evils are often greater in apprehension than in reality. Hast
thou never observed, that the terrors of a bird caught, and actually in
the hand, bear no comparison to what we might have supposed those terrors
would be, were we to have formed a judgment of the same bird by its
shyness before it was taken?
Dear creature!--Did she never romp? Did she never, from girlhood to now,
hoyden? The innocent kinds of freedom taken and allowed on these
occasions, would have familiarized her to greater. Sacrilege but to
touch the hem of her garment!--Excess of delicacy!--O the consecrated
beauty! How can she think to be a wife?
But how do I know till I try, whether she may not by a less alarming
treatment be prevailed upon, or whether [day, I have done with thee!] she
may not yield to nightly surprises? This is still the burden of my song,
I can marry her when I will. And if I do, after prevailing (whether by
surprise, or by reluctant consent) whom but myself shall I have injured?
It is now eleven o'clock. She will see me as soon as she can, she tells
Polly Horton, who made her a tender visit, and to whom she is less
reserved than to any body else. Her emotion, she assures her, was not
owing to perverseness, to nicety, to ill humour; but to weakness of
heart. She has not strength of mind sufficient, she says, to enable her
to support her condition.
Yet what a contradiction!--Weakness of heart, says she, with such a
strength of will!--O Belford! she is a lion-hearted lady, in every case
where her honour, her punctilio rather, calls for spirit. But I have had
reason more than once in her case, to conclude, that the passions of the
gentle, slower to be moved than those of the quick, are the most flaming,
the most irresistible, when raised.--Yet her charming body is not equally
organized. The unequal partners pull two ways; and the divinity within
her tears her silken frame. But had the same soul informed a masculine
body, never would there have been a truer hero.
MONDAY, TWO O'CLOCK.
Not yet visible!--My beloved is not well. What expectations had she from
my ardent admiration of her!--More rudeness than revenge apprehended.
Yet, how my soul thirsts for revenge upon both these ladies? I must have
recourse to my master-strokes. This cursed project of Miss Howe and her
Mrs. Townsend (if I cannot contrive t render it abortive) will be always
a sword hanging over my head. Upon every little disobligations my
beloved will be for taking wing; and the pains I have taken to deprive
her of every other refuge or protection, in order to make her absolutely
dependent upon me, will be all thrown away. But perhaps I shall find out
a smuggler to counterplot Miss Howe.
Thou remembrest the contention between the Sun and the North-wind, in the
fable; which should first make an honest traveller throw off his cloak.
Boreas began first. He puffed away most vehemently; and often made the
poor fellow curve and stagger; but with no other effect, than to cause
him to wrap his surtout the closer about him.
But when it came to Phoebus's turn, he so played upon the traveller with
his beams, that he made him first unbutton, and then throw it quite off:
--Nor left he, till he obliged him to take to the friendly shade of a
spreading beech; where, prostrating himself on the thrown-off cloak, he
took a comfortable nap.
The victor-god then laughed outright, both at Boreas and the traveller,
and pursued his radiant course, shining upon, and warming and cherishing
a thousand new objects, as he danced along: and at night, when he put up
his fiery coursers, he diverted his Thetis with the relation of his
pranks in the passed day.
I, in like manner, will discard all my boisterous inventions: and if I
can oblige my sweet traveller to throw aside, but for one moment, the
cloak of her rigid virtue, I shall have nothing to do, but, like the sun,
to bless new objects with my rays. But my chosen hours of conversation
and repose, after all my peregrinations, will be devoted to my goddess.
And now, Belford, according to my new system, I think this house of Mrs.
Fretchville an embarrass upon me. I will get rid of it; for some time at
least. Mennell, when I am out, shall come to her, inquiring for me.
What for? thou'lt ask. What for--hast thou not heard what has befallen
poor Mrs. Fretchville?--Then I'll tell thee.
One of her maids, about a week ago, was taken with the small-pox. The
rest kept their mistress ignorant of it till Friday; and then she came to
know of it by accident. The greater half of the plagues poor mortals of
condition are tormented with, proceed from the servants they take, partly
for show, partly for use, and with a view to lessen their cares.
This has so terrified the widow, that she is taken with all the symptoms
that threaten an attack from that dreadful enemy of fair faces.--So must
not think of removing: yet cannot expect, that we should be further
delayed on her account.
She now wishes, with all her heart, that she had known her own mind, and
gone into the country at first when I treated about the house. This evil
then had not happened! a cursed cross accident for us, too!--Heigh-ho!
nothing else, I think, in this mortal life! people need not study to
bring crosses upon themselves by their petulancies.
So this affair of the house will be over; at least for one while. But
then I can fall upon an expedient which will make amends for this
disappointment. I must move slow, in order to be sure. I have a
charming contrivance or two in my head, even supposing my beloved should
get away, to bring her back again.
But what is become of Lord M. I trow, that he writes not to me, in
answer to my invitation? If he would send me such a letter as I could
show, it might go a great way towards a perfect reconciliation. I have
written to Charlotte about it. He shall soon hear from me, and that in a
way he won't like, if he writes not quickly. He has sometimes threatened
to disinherit me. But if I should renounce him, it would be but justice,
and would vex him ten times more than any thing he can do will vex me.
Then, the settlements unavoidably delayed, by his neglect!--How shall I
bear such a life of procrastination!--I, who, as to my will, and
impatience, and so forth, am of the true lady-make, and can as little
bear controul and disappointment as the best of them!
Another letter from Miss Howe. I suppose it is that which she promises
in her last to send her relating to the courtship between old Tony the
uncle, and Annabella the mother. I should be extremely rejoiced to see
it. No more of the smuggler-plot in it, surely! This letter, it seems,
she has put in her pocket. But I hope I shall soon find it deposited
with the rest.
At my repeated request she condescended to meet me in the dining-room to
afternoon-tea, and not before.
She entered with bashfulness, as I thought; in a pretty confusion, for
having carried her apprehensions too far. Sullen and slow moved she
towards the tea-table.--Dorcas present, busy in tea-cup preparations. I
took her reluctant hand, and pressed it to my lips.--Dearest, loveliest
of creatures, why this distance? why this displeasure?--How can you thus
torture the faithfullest heart in the world?
She disengaged her hand. Again I would have snatched it.
Be quiet, [peevishly withdrawing it.] And down she sat; a gentle
palpitation in the beauty of beauties indicating a mingled sullenness and
resentment; her snowy handkerchief rising and falling, and a sweet flush
overspreading her charming cheeks.
For God's sake, Madam!--[And a third time I would have taken her
And for the same sake, Sir, no more teasing.
Dorcas retired; I drew my chair nearer her's, and with the most
respectful tenderness took her hand; and told her, that I could not
forbear to express my apprehensions (from the distance she was so
desirous to keep me at) that if any man in the world was more indifferent
to her, to use no harsher word, than another, it was the unhappy wretch
She looked steadily upon me for a moment, and with her other hand, not
withdrawing that I held, pulled her handkerchief out of her pocket; and
by a twinkling motion urged forward a tear or two, which having arisen in
each sweet eye, it was plain by that motion she would rather have
dissipated: but answered me only with a sigh, and an averted face.
I urged her to speak; to look up at me; to bless me with an eye more
I had reason, she told me, for my complaint of her indifference. She saw
nothing in my mind that was generous. I was not a man to be obliged or
favoured. My strange behaviour to her since Saturday night, for no cause
at all that she knew of, convinced her of this. Whatever hopes she had
conceived of me were utterly dissipated: all my ways were disgustful to
This cut me to the heart. The guilty, I believe, in every case, less
patiently bear the detecting truth, than the innocent do the degrading
I bespoke her patience, while I took the liberty to account for this
change on my part.--I re-acknowledged the pride of my heart, which could
not bear the thought of that want of preference in the heart of a lady
whom I hoped to call mine, which she had always manifested. Marriage, I
said, was a state that was not to be entered upon with indifference on
It is insolence, interrupted she, it is a presumption, Sir, to expect
tokens of value, without resolving to deserve them. You have no whining
creature before you, Mr. Lovelace, overcome by weak motives, to love
where there is no merit. Miss Howe can tell you, Sir, that I never loved
the faults of my friend; nor ever wished her to love me for mine. It was
a rule with us not to spare each other. And would a man who has nothing
but faults (for pray, Sir, what are your virtues?) expect that I should
show a value for him? Indeed, if I did, I should not deserve even his
value; but ought to be despised by him.
Well have you, Madam, kept up to this noble manner of thinking. You are
in no danger of being despised for any marks of tenderness or favour
shown to the man before you. You have been perhaps, you'll think,
laudably studious of making and taking occasions to declare, that it was
far from being owing to your choice, that you had any thoughts of me. My
whole soul, Madam, in all its errors, in all its wishes, in all its
views, had been laid open and naked before you, had I been encouraged by
such a share in your confidence and esteem, as would have secured me
against your apprehended worst constructions of what I should from time
to time have revealed to you, and consulted you upon. For never was
there a franker heart; nor a man so ready to accuse himself. [This,
Belford, is true.] But you know, Madam, how much otherwise it has been
between us.--Doubt, distance, reserve, on your part, begat doubt, fear,
awe, on mine.--How little confidence! as if we apprehended each other to
be a plotter rather than a lover. How have I dreaded every letter that
has been brought you from Wilson's!--and with reason: since the last,
from which I expected so much, on account of the proposals I had made you
in writing, has, if I may judge by the effects, and by your denial of
seeing me yesterday, (though you could go abroad, and in a chair too, to
avoid my attendance on you,) set you against me more than ever.
I was guilty, it seems, of going to church, said the indignant charmer;
and without the company of a man, whose choice it would not have been to
go, had I not gone--I was guilty of desiring to have the whole Sunday to
myself, after I had obliged you, against my will, at a play; and after
you had detained me (equally to my dislike) to a very late hour over-
night.--These were my faults: for these I was to be punished: I was to be
compelled to see you, and to be terrified when I did see you, by the most
shocking ill humour that was ever shown to a creature in my
circumstances, and not bound to bear it. You have pretended to find free
fault with my father's temper, Mr. Lovelace: but the worst that he ever
showed after marriage, was not in the least to be compared to what you
have shown twenty times beforehand.--And what are my prospects with you,
at the very best?--My indignation rises against you, Mr. Lovelace, while
I speak to you, when I recollect the many instances, equally ungenerous
and unpolite, of your behaviour to one whom you have brought into
distress--and I can hardly bear you in my sight.
She turned from me, standing up; and, lifting up her folded hands, and
charming eyes swimming in tears, O my father, said the inimitable
creature, you might have spared your heavy curse, had you known how I
have been punished ever since my swerving feet led me out of your
garden-doors to meet this man!--Then, sinking into her chair, a burst
of passionate tears forced their way down her glowing cheeks.
My dearest life, [taking her still folded hands in mine,] who can bear
an invocation so affecting, though so passionate?
And, as I hope to live, my nose tingled, as I once, when a boy, remember
it did (and indeed once more very lately) just before some tears came
into my eyes; and I durst hardly trust my face in view of her's.
What have I done to deserve this impatient exclamation?--Have I, at any
time, by word, by deeds, by looks, given you cause to doubt my honour, my
reverence, my adoration, I may call it, of your virtues? All is owing to
misapprehension, I hope, on both sides. Condescend to clear up but your
part, as I will mine, and all must speedily be happy.--Would to Heaven I
loved that Heaven as I love you! and yet, if I doubted a return in love,
let me perish if I should know how to wish you mine!--Give me hope,
dearest creature, give me but hope, that I am your preferable choice!--
Give me but hope, that you hate me not: that you do not despise me.
O Mr. Lovelace, we have been long enough together to be tired of each
other's humours and ways; ways and humours so different, that perhaps
you ought to dislike me, as much as I do you.--I think, I think, that I
cannot make an answerable return to the value you profess for me. My
temper is utterly ruined. You have given me an ill opinion of all
mankind; of yourself in particular: and withal so bad a one of myself,
that I shall never be able to look up, having utterly and for ever lost
all that self-complacency, and conscious pride, which are so necessary to
carry a woman through this life with tolerable satisfaction to herself.
She paused. I was silent. By my soul, thought I, this sweet creature
will at last undo me!
She proceeded: What now remains, but that you pronounce me free of all
obligation to you? and that you hinder me not from pursuing the destiny
that shall be allotted me?
Again she paused. I was still silent; meditating whether to renounce all
further designs upon her; whether I had not received sufficient evidence
of a virtue, and of a greatness of soul, that could not be questioned or
She went on: Propitious to me be your silence, Mr. Lovelace!--Tell me,
that I am free of all obligation to you. You know, I never made you
promises. You know, that you are not under any to me.--My broken
fortunes I matter not--
She was proceeding--My dearest life, said I, I have been all this time,
though you fill me with doubts of your favour, busy in the nuptial
preparations. I am actually in treaty for equipage.
Equipage, Sir!--Trappings, tinsel!--What is equipage; what is life; what
is any thing; to a creature sunk so low as I am in my own opinion!--
Labouring under a father's curse!--Unable to look backward without self-
reproach, or forward without terror!--These reflections strengthened by
every cross accident!--And what but cross accidents befal me!--All my
darling schemes dashed in pieces, all my hopes at an end; deny me not the
liberty to refuge myself in some obscure corner, where neither the
enemies you have made me, nor the few friends you have left me, may ever
hear of the supposed rash-one, till those happy moments are at hand,
which shall expiate for all!
I had not a word to say for myself. Such a war in my mind had I never
known. Gratitude, and admiration of the excellent creature before me,
combating with villanous habit, with resolutions so premeditatedly made,
and with view so much gloried in!--An hundred new contrivances in my
head, and in my heart, that to be honest, as it is called, must all be
given up, by a heart delighting in intrigue and difficulty--Miss Howe's
virulences endeavoured to be recollected--yet recollection refusing to
bring them forward with the requisite efficacy--I had certainly been a
lost man, had not Dorcas come seasonably in with a letter.--On the
superscription written--Be pleased, Sir, to open it now.
I retired to the window--opened it--it was from Dorcas herself.--These
the contents--'Be pleased to detain my lady: a paper of importance to
transcribe. I will cough when I have done.'
I put the paper in my pocket, and turned to my charmer, less
disconcerted, as she, by that time, had also a little recovered herself.
--One favour, dearest creature--Let me but know, whether Miss Howe
approves or disapproves of my proposals? I know her to be my enemy. I
was intending to account to you for the change of behaviour you accused
me of at the beginning of the conversation; but was diverted from it by
your vehemence. Indeed, my beloved creature, you were very vehement. Do
you think it must not be matter of high regret to me, to find my wishes
so often delayed and postponed in favour of your predominant view to a
reconciliation with relations who will not be reconciled to you?--To this
was owing your declining to celebrate our nuptials before we came to
town, though you were so atrociously treated by your sister, and your
whole family; and though so ardently pressed to celebrate by me--to this
was owing the ready offence you took at my four friends; and at the
unavailing attempt I made to see a dropt letter; little imagining, from
what two such ladies could write to each other, that there could be room
for mortal displeasure--to this was owing the week's distance you held me
at, till you knew the issue of another application.--But, when they had
rejected that; when you had sent my cold-received proposals to Miss Howe
for her approbation or advice, as indeed I advised; and had honoured me
with your company at the play on Saturday night; (my whole behaviour
unobjectionable to the last hour;) must not, Madam, the sudden change in
your conduct the very next morning, astonish and distress me?--and this
persisted in with still stronger declarations, after you had received the
impatiently-expected letter from Miss Howe; must I not conclude, that all
was owing to her influence; and that some other application or project
was meditating, that made it necessary to keep me again at a distance
till the result were known, and which was to deprive me of you for ever?
For was not that your constantly-proposed preliminary?--Well, Madam,
might I be wrought up to a half-phrensy by this apprehension; and well
might I charge you with hating me.--And now, dearest creature, let me
know, I once more ask you, what is Miss Howe's opinion of my proposals?
Were I disposed to debate with you, Mr. Lovelace, I could very easily
answer your fine harangue. But at present, I shall only say, that your
ways have been very unaccountable. You seem to me, if your meanings were
always just, to have taken great pains to embarrass them. Whether owing
in you to the want of a clear head, or a sound heart, I cannot determine;
but it is to the want of one of them, I verily think, that I am to
ascribe the greatest part of your strange conduct.
Curse upon the heart of the little devil, said I, who instigates you to
think so hardly of the faithfullest heart in the world!
How dare you, Sir! And there she stopt; having almost overshot herself;
as I designed she should.
How dare I what, Madam? And I looked with meaning. How dare I what?
Vile man--And do you--And there again she stopt.
Do I what, Madam?--And why vile man?
How dare you curse any body in my presence?
O the sweet receder! But that was not to go off so with a Lovelace.
Why then, dearest creature, is there any body that instigates you?--If
there be, again I curse them, be they whom they will.
She was in a charming pretty passion. And this was the first time that I
had the odds in my favour.
Well, Madam, it is just as I thought. And now I know how to account for
a temper that I hope is not natural to you.
Artful wretch! and is it thus you would entrap me? But know, Sir, that I
received letters from nobody but Miss Howe. Miss Howe likes some of your
ways as little as I do; for I have set every thing before her. Yet she
is thus far your enemy, as she is mine. She thinks I could not refuse
your offers; but endeavour to make the best of my lot. And now you have
the truth. Would to heaven you were capable of dealing with equal
I am, Madam. And here, on my knee, I renew my vows, and my supplication,
that you will make me your's. Your's for ever. And let me have cause to
bless you and Miss Howe in the same breath.
To say the truth, Belford, I had before begun to think that the vixen of
a girl, who certainly likes not Hickman, was in love with me.
Rise, Sir, from your too-ready knees; and mock me not!
Too-ready knees, thought I! Though this humble posture so little affects
this proud beauty, she knows not how much I have obtained of others of
her sex, nor how often I have been forgiven for the last attempts, by
Mock you, Madam! And I arose, and re-urged her for the day. I blamed
myself, at the same time, for the invitation I had given to Lord M., as
it might subject me to delay from his infirmities: but told her, that I
would write to him to excuse me, if she had no objection; or to give him
the day she would give me, and not wait for him, if he could not come in
My day, Sir, said she, is never. Be not surprised. A person of
politeness judging between us, would not be surprised that I say so. But
indeed, Mr. Lovelace, [and wept through impatience,] you either know not
how to treat with a mind of the least degree of delicacy, notwithstanding
your birth and education, or you are an ungrateful man; and [after a
pause] a worse than ungrateful one. But I will retire. I will see you
again to-morrow. I cannot before. I think I hate you. And if, upon a
re-examination of my own heart, I find I do, I would not for the world
that matters should go on farther between us.
But I see, I see, she does not hate me! How it would mortify my vanity,
if I thought there was a woman in the world, much more this, that could
hate me! 'Tis evident, villain as she thinks me, that I should not be an
odious villain, if I could but at last in one instance cease to be a
villain! She could not hold it, determined as she had thought herself, I
saw by her eyes, the moment I endeavoured to dissipate her apprehensions,
on my too-ready knees, as she calls them. The moment the rough covering
my teasing behaviour has thrown over her affections is quite removed, I
doubt not to find all silk and silver at the bottom, all soft, bright,
I was however too much vexed, disconcerted, mortified, to hinder her from
retiring. And yet she had not gone, if Dorcas had not coughed.
The wench came in, as soon as her lady had retired, and gave me the copy
she had taken. And what should it be but of the answer the truly
admirable creature had intended to give to my written proposals in
relation to settlements?
I have but just dipt my pen into this affecting paper. Were I to read it
attentively, not a wink should I sleep this night. To-morrow it shall
obtain my serious consideration.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY MORNING, MAY 23.
The dear creature desires to be excused seeing me till evening. She is
not very well, as Dorcas tells me.