Part 4 out of 7
As I had played so much upon him, it would have been wrong to take him at
his more than half-menace: yet I think I owe him a grudge, for his
presuming to address Miss Howe.
You mean no defiance, I presume, Mr. Hickman, any more than I do offence.
On that presumption, I ask your excuse. But this is my way. I mean no
harm. I cannot let sorrow touch my heart. I cannot be grave six minutes
together, for the blood of me. I am a descendant of old Chancellor
Moore, I believe; and should not forbear to cut a joke, were I upon the
scaffold. But you may gather, from what I have said, that I prefer Miss
Harlowe, and that upon the justest grounds, to all the women in the
world: and I wonder that there should be any difficulty to believe, from
what I have signed, and from what I have promised to my relations, and
enabled them to promise for me, that I should be glad to marry that
excellent creature upon her own terms. I acknowledge to you, Mr.
Hickman, that I have basely injured her. If she will honour me with her
hand, I declare that is my intention to make her the best of husbands.--
But, nevertheless, I must say that if she goes on appealing her case, and
exposing us both, as she does, it is impossible to think the knot can be
knit with reputation to either. And although, Mr. Hickman, I have
delivered my apprehensions under so ludicrous a figure, I am afraid that
she will ruin her constitution: and, by seeking Death when she may shun
him, will not be able to avoid him when she would be glad to do so.
This cool and honest speech let down his stiffened muscles into
complacence. He was my very obedient and faithful humble servant several
times over, as I waited on him to his chariot: and I was his almost as
And so exit Hickman.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
[IN ANSWER TO LETTERS XXII. XXVI. XXVII. OF THIS VOLUME.]
FRIDAY NIGHT, JULY 21.
I will throw away a few paragraphs upon the contents of thy last shocking
letters just brought me; and send what I shall write by the fellow who
carries mine on the interview with Hickman.
Reformation, I see, is coming fast upon thee. Thy uncle's slow death,
and thy attendance upon him through every stage towards it, prepared thee
for it. But go thou on in thine own way, as I will in mine. Happiness
consists in being pleased with what we do: and if thou canst find delight
in being sad, it will be as well for thee as if thou wert merry, though
no other person should join to keep thee in countenance.
I am, nevertheless, exceedingly disturbed at the lady's ill health. It
is entirely owing to the cursed arrest. She was absolutely triumphant
over me and the whole crew before. Thou believest me guiltless of that:
so, I hope, does she.--The rest, as I have often said, is a common case;
only a little uncommonly circumstanced; that's all: Why, then, all these
severe things from her, and from thee?
As to selling her clothes, and her laces, and so forth, it has, I own, a
shocking sound to it. What an implacable as well as unjust set of
wretches are those of her unkindredly kin, who have money of her's in
their hands, as well as large arrears of her own estate; yet with-hold
both, avowedly to distress her! But may she not have money of that proud
and saucy friend of her's, Miss Howe, more than she wants?--And should
not I be overjoyed, thinkest thou, to serve her?----What then is there in
the parting with her apparel but female perverseness?--And I am not sure,
whether I ought not to be glad, if she does this out of spite to me.--
Some disappointed fair-ones would have hanged, some drowned themselves.
My beloved only revenges herself upon her clothes. Different ways of
working has passion in different bosoms, as humours or complexion induce.
--Besides, dost think I shall grudge to replace, to three times the
value, what she disposes of? So, Jack, there is no great matter in this.
Thou seest how sensible she is of the soothings of the polite doctor:
this will enable thee to judge how dreadfully the horrid arrest, and her
gloomy father's curse, must have hurt her. I have great hope, if she
will but see me, that my behaviour, my contrition, my soothings, may have
some happy effect upon her.
But thou art too ready to give up. Let me seriously tell thee that, all
excellence as she is, I think the earnest interposition of my relations;
the implored mediation of that little fury Miss Howe; and the commissions
thou actest under from myself; are such instances of condescension and
high value in them, and such contrition in me, that nothing farther can
be done.--So here let the matter rest for the present, till she considers
better of it.
But now a few words upon poor Belton's case. I own I was at first a
little startled at the disloyalty of his Thomasine. Her hypocrisy to be
for so many years undetected!--I have very lately had some intimations
given me of her vileness; and had intended to mention them to thee when I
saw thee. To say the truth, I always suspected her eye: the eye, thou
knowest, is the casement at which the heart generally looks out. Many
a woman, who will not show herself at the door, has tipt the sly, the
intelligible wink from the windows.
But Tom. had no management at all. A very careless fellow. Would never
look into his own affairs. The estate his uncle left him was his ruin:
wife, or mistress, whoever was, must have had his fortune to sport with.
I have often hinted his weakness of this sort to him; and the danger he
was in of becoming the property of designing people. But he hated to
take pains. He would ever run away from his accounts; as now, poor
fellow! he would be glad to do from himself. Had he not had a woman to
fleece him, his coachman or valet, would have been his prime-minister,
and done it as effectually.
But yet, for many years, I thought she was true to his bed. At least I
thought the boys were his own. For though they are muscular, and
big-boned, yet I supposed the healthy mother might have furnished them
with legs and shoulders: for she is not of a delicate frame; and then
Tom., some years ago, looked up, and spoke more like a man, than he has
done of late; squeaking inwardly, poor fellow! for some time past, from
contracted quail-pipes, and wheezing from lungs half spit away.
He complains, thou sayest, that we all run away from him. Why, after
all, Belford, it is no pleasant thing to see a poor fellow one loves,
dying by inches, yet unable to do him good. There are friendships which
are only bottle-deep: I should be loth to have it thought that mine for
any of my vassals is such a one. Yet, with gay hearts, which become
intimate because they were gay, the reason for their first intimacy
ceasing, the friendship will fade: but may not this sort of friendship be
more properly distinguished by the word companionship?
But mine, as I said, is deeper than this: I would still be as ready as
ever I was in my life, to the utmost of my power, to do him service.
As once instance of this my readiness to extricate him from all his
difficulties as to Thomasine, dost thou care to propose to him an
expedient, that is just come into my head?
It is this: I would engage Thomasine and her cubs (if Belton be convinced
they are neither of them his) in a party of pleasure. She was always
complaisant to me. It should be in a boat, hired for the purpose, to
sail to Tilbury, to the Isle Shepey, or pleasuring up the Medway; and
'tis but contriving to turn the boat bottom upward. I can swim like a
fish. Another boat shall be ready to take up whom I should direct, for
fear of the worst: and then, if Tom. has a mind to be decent, one suit of
mourning will serve for all three: Nay, the hostler-cousin may take his
plunge from the steerage: and who knows but they may be thrown up on the
beach, Thomasine and he, hand in hand?
This, thou'lt say, is no common instance of friendship.
Mean time, do thou prevail on him to come down to us: he never was more
welcome in his life than he shall be now. If he will not, let him find
me some other service; and I will clap a pair of wings to my shoulders,
and he shall see me come flying in at his windows at the word of command.
Mowbray and Tourville each intend to give thee a letter; and I leave to
those rough varlets to handle thee as thou deservest, for the shocking
picture thou hast drawn of their last ends. Thy own past guilt has
stared thee full in the face, one may see by it; and made thee, in
consciousness of thy demerits, sketch out these cursed out-lines. I am
glad thou hast got the old fiend to hold the glass* before thy own face
so soon. Thou must be in earnest surely, when thou wrotest it, and have
severe conviction upon thee: for what a hardened varlet must he be, who
could draw such a picture as this in sport?
* See Letter XXVI. of this volume.
As for thy resolution of repenting and marrying; I would have thee
consider which thou wilt set about first. If thou wilt follow my advice,
thou shalt make short work of it: let matrimony take place of the other;
for then thou wilt, very possibly, have repentance come tumbling in fast
upon thee, as a consequence, and so have both in one.
MR. BELFORD, TO MR. ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
FRIDAY NOON, JULY 21.
This morning I was admitted, as soon as I sent up my name, into the
presence of the divine lady. Such I may call her; as what I have to
relate will fully prove.
She had had a tolerable night, and was much better in spirits; though
weak in person; and visibly declining in looks.
Mrs. Lovick and Mrs. Smith were with her; and accused her, in a gentle
manner, of having applied herself too assiduously to her pen for her
strength, having been up ever since five. She said, she had rested
better than she had done for many nights: she had found her spirits free,
and her mind tolerably easy: and having, as she had reason to think, but
a short time, and much to do in it, she must be a good housewife of her
She had been writing, she said, a letter to her sister: but had not
pleased herself in it; though she had made two or three essays: but that
the last must go.
By hints I had dropt from time to time, she had reason, she said, to
think that I knew every thing that concerned her and her family; and, if
so, must be acquainted with the heavy curse her father had laid upon her;
which had been dreadfully fulfilled in one part, as to her prospects in
this life, and that in a very short time; which gave her great
apprehensions of the other part. She had been applying herself to her
sister, to obtain a revocation of it. I hope my father will revoke it,
said she, or I shall be very miserable--Yet [and she gasped as she spoke,
with apprehension]--I am ready to tremble at what the answer may be; for
my sister is hard-hearted.
I said something reflecting upon her friends; as to what they would
deserve to be thought of, if the unmerited imprecation were not
withdrawn. Upon which she took me up, and talked in such a dutiful
manner of her parents as must doubly condemn them (if they remain
implacable) for their inhuman treatment of such a daughter.
She said, I must not blame her parents: it was her dear Miss Howe's fault
to do so. But what an enormity was there in her crime, which could set
the best of parents (they had been to her, till she disobliged them) in a
bad light, for resenting the rashness of a child from whose education
they had reason to expect better fruits! There were some hard
circumstances in her case, it was true: but my friend could tell me, that
no one person, throughout the whole fatal transaction, had acted out of
character, but herself. She submitted therefore to the penalty she had
incurred. If they had any fault, it was only that they would not inform
themselves of such circumstances, which would alleviate a little her
misdeed; and that supposing her a more guilty creature than she was, they
punished her without a hearing.
Lord!--I was going to curse thee, Lovelace! How every instance of
excellence, in this all excelling creature, condemns thee;--thou wilt
have reason to think thyself of all men the most accursed, if she die!
I then besought her, while she was capable of such glorious instances of
generosity, and forgiveness, to extend her goodness to a man, whose heart
bled in every vein of it for the injuries he had done her; and who would
make it the study of his whole life to repair them.
The women would have withdrawn when the subject became so particular.
But she would not permit them to go. She told me, that if after this
time I was for entering with so much earnestness into a subject so very
disagreeable to her, my visits must not be repeated. Nor was there
occasion, she said, for my friendly offices in your favour; since she
had begun to write her whole mind upon that subject to Miss Howe, in
answer to letters from her, in which Miss Howe urged the same arguments,
in compliment to the wishes of your noble and worthy relations.
Mean time, you may let him know, said she, that I reject him with my
whole heart:--yet, that although I say this with such a determination as
shall leave no room for doubt, I say it not however with passion. On the
contrary, tell him, that I am trying to bring my mind into such a frame
as to be able to pity him; [poor perjured wretch! what has he not to
answer for!] and that I shall not think myself qualified for the state I
am aspiring to, if, after a few struggles more, I cannot forgive him too:
and I hope, clasping her hands together, uplifted as were her eyes, my
dear earthly father will set me the example my heavenly one has already
set us all; and, by forgiving his fallen daughter, teach her to forgive
the man, who then, I hope, will not have destroyed my eternal prospects,
as he has my temporal!
Stop here, thou wretch!--but I need not bid thee!----for I can go no
You will imagine how affecting her noble speech and behaviour were to me,
at the time when the bare recollecting and transcribing them obliged me
to drop my pen. The women had tears in their eyes. I was silent for a
few moments.--At last, Matchless excellence! Inimitable goodness! I
called her, with a voice so accented, that I was half-ashamed of myself,
as it was before the women--but who could stand such sublime generosity
of soul in so young a creature, her loveliness giving grace to all she
said? Methinks, said I, [and I really, in a manner, involuntarily bent
my knee,] I have before me an angel indeed. I can hardly forbear
prostration, and to beg your influence to draw me after you to the world
you are aspiring to!--Yet--but what shall I say--Only, dearest
excellence, make me, in some small instances, serviceable to you, that I
may (if I survive you) have the glory to think I was able to contribute
to your satisfaction, while among us.
Here I stopt. She was silent. I proceeded--Have you no commission to
employ me in; deserted as you are by all your friends; among strangers,
though I doubt not, worthy people? Cannot I be serviceable by message,
by letter-writing, by attending personally, with either message or
letter, your father, your uncles, your brother, your sister, Miss Howe,
Lord M., or the Ladies his sisters?--any office to be employed to serve
you, absolutely independent of my friend's wishes, or of my own wishes
to oblige him?--Think, Madam, if I cannot?
I thank you, Sir: very heartily I thank you: but in nothing that I can at
present think of, or at least resolve upon, can you do me service. I
will see what return the letter I have written will bring me.--Till then
My life and my fortune, interrupted I, are devoted to your service.
Permit me to observe, that here you are, without one natural friend; and
(so much do I know of your unhappy case) that you must be in a manner
destitute of the means to make friends----
She was going to interrupt me, with a prohibitory kind of earnestness in
I beg leave to proceed, Madam: I have cast about twenty ways how to
mention this before, but never dared till now. Suffer me now, that I
have broken the ice, to tender myself--as your banker only.--I know you
will not be obliged: you need not. You have sufficient of your own, if
it were in your hands; and from that, whether you live or die, will I
consent to be reimbursed. I do assure you, that the unhappy man shall
never know either my offer, or your acceptance--Only permit me this small
And down behind her chair dropt a bank note of 100L. which I had brought
with me, intending some how or other to leave it behind me: nor shouldst
thou ever have known it, had she favoured me with the acceptance of it;
as I told her.
You give me great pain, Mr. Belford, said she, by these instances of your
humanity. And yet, considering the company I have seen you in, I am not
sorry to find you capable of such. Methinks I am glad, for the sake of
human nature, that there could be but one such man in the world, as he
you and I know. But as to your kind offer, whatever it be, if you take
it not up, you will greatly disturb me. I have no need of your kindness.
I have effects enough, which I never can want, to supply my present
occasion: and, if needful, can have recourse to Miss Howe. I have
promised that I would--So, pray, Sir, urge not upon me this favour.--Take
it up yourself.--If you mean me peace and ease of mind, urge not this
favour.--And she spoke with impatience.
I beg, Madam, but one word----
Not one, Sir, till you have taken back what you have let fall. I doubt
not either the honour, or the kindness, of your offer; but you must not
say one word more on this subject. I cannot bear it.
She was stooping, but with pain. I therefore prevented her; and besought
her to forgive me for a tender, which, I saw, had been more discomposing
to her than I had hoped (from the purity of my intentions) it would be.
But I could not bear to think that such a mind as her's should be
distressed: since the want of the conveniencies she was used to abound in
might affect and disturb her in the divine course she was in.
You are very kind to me, Sir, said she, and very favourable in your
opinion of me. But I hope that I cannot now be easily put out of my
present course. My declining health will more and more confirm me in it.
Those who arrested and confined me, no doubt, thought they had fallen
upon the most ready method to distress me so as to bring me into all
their measures. But I presume to hope that I have a mind that cannot be
debased, in essential instances, by temporal calamities.
Little do those poor wretches know of the force of innate principles,
(forgive my own implied vanity, was her word,) who imagine, that a
prison, or penury, can bring a right-turned mind to be guilty of a wilful
baseness, in order to avoid such short-lived evils.
She then turned from me towards the window, with a dignity suitable to her
words; and such as showed her to be more of soul than of body at that
What magnanimity!--No wonder a virtue so solidly founded could baffle all
thy arts: and that it forced thee (in order to carry thy accursed point)
to have recourse to those unnatural ones, which robbed her of her
The women were extremely affected, Mrs. Lovick especially; who said,
whisperingly to Mrs. Smith, We have an angel, not a woman, with us, Mrs.
I repeated my offers to write to any of her friends; and told her, that,
having taken the liberty to acquaint Dr. H. with the cruel displeasure of
her relations, as what I presumed lay nearest to her heart, he had
proposed to write himself, to acquaint her friends how ill she was, if
she would not take it amiss.
It was kind in the Doctor, she said: but begged, that no step of that
sort might be taken without her knowledge or consent. She would wait to
see what effects her letter to her sister would have. All she had to
hope for was, that her father would revoke his malediction, previous to
the last blessing she should then implore. For the rest, her friends
would think she could not suffer too much; and she was content to suffer:
for now nothing could happen that could make her wish to live.
Mrs. Smith went down; and, soon returning, asked, if the lady and I would
not dine with her that day; for it was her wedding-day. She had engaged
Mrs. Lovick she said; and should have nobody else, if we would do her
The charming creature sighed, and shook her head.--Wedding-day, repeated
she!--I wish you, Mrs. Smith, many happy wedding-days!--But you will
Mr. Smith came up with the same request. They both applied to me.
On condition the lady would, I should make no scruple; and would suspend
an engagement: which I actually had.
She then desired they would all sit down. You have several times, Mrs.
Lovick and Mrs. Smith, hinted your wishes, that I would give you some
little history of myself: now, if you are at leisure, that this
gentleman, who, I have reason to believe, knows it all, is present, and
can tell you if I give it justly, or not, I will oblige your curiosity.
They all eagerly, the man Smith too, sat down; and she began an account
of herself, which I will endeavour to repeat, as nearly in her own words
as I possibly can: for I know you will think it of importance to be
apprized of her manner of relating your barbarity to her, as well as what
her sentiments are of it; and what room there is for the hopes your
friends have in your favour for her.
'At first when I took these lodgings, said she, I thought of staying but
a short time in them; and so Mrs. Smith, I told you: I therefore avoided
giving any other account of myself than that I was a very unhappy young
creature, seduced from good, and escaped from very vile wretches.
'This account I thought myself obliged to give, that you might the less
wonder at seeing a young creature rushing through your shop, into your
back apartment, all trembling and out of breath; an ordinary garb over my
own; craving lodging and protection; only giving my bare word, that you
should be handsomely paid: all my effects contained in a
'My sudden absence, for three days and nights together when arrested,
must still further surprise you: and although this gentleman, who,
perhaps, knows more of the darker part of my story, than I do myself, has
informed you (as you, Mrs. Lovick, tell me) that I am only an unhappy,
not a guilty creature; yet I think it incumbent upon me not to suffer
honest minds to be in doubt about my character.
'You must know, then, that I have been, in one instance (I had like to
have said but in one instance; but that was a capital one) an undutiful
child to the most indulgent of parents: for what some people call cruelty
in them, is owing but to the excess of their love, and to their
disappointment, having had reason to expect better from me.
'I was visited (at first, with my friends connivance) by a man of birth
and fortune, but of worse principles, as it proved, than I believed any
man could have. My brother, a very headstrong young man, was absent at
that time; and, when he returned, (from an old grudge, and knowing the
gentleman, it is plain, better than I knew him) entirely disapproved of
his visits: and, having a great sway in our family, brought other
gentlemen to address me: and at last (several having been rejected) he
introduced one extremely disagreeable: in every indifferent person's eyes
disagreeable. I could not love him. They all joined to compel me to
have him; a rencounter between the gentleman my friends were set against,
and my brother, having confirmed them all his enemies.
'To be short; I was confined, and treated so very hardly, that, in a rash
fit, I appointed to go off with the man they hated. A wicked intention,
you'll say! but I was greatly provoked. Nevertheless, I repented, and
resolved not to go off with him: yet I did not mistrust his honour to me
neither; nor his love; because nobody thought me unworthy of the latter,
and my fortune was not to be despised. But foolishly (wickedly and
contrivingly, as my friends still think, with a design, as they imagine,
to abandon them) giving him a private meeting, I was tricked away; poorly
enough tricked away, I must needs say; though others who had been first
guilty of so rash a step as the meeting of him was, might have been so
deceived and surprised as well as I.
'After remaining some time at a farm-house in the country, and behaving
to me all the time with honour, he brought me to handsome lodgings in
town till still better provision could be made for me. But they proved
to be (as he indeed knew and designed) at a vile, a very vile creature's;
though it was long before I found her to be so; for I knew nothing of the
town, or its ways.
'There is no repeating what followed: such unprecedented vile arts!--For
I gave him no opportunity to take me at any disreputable advantage.'--
And here (half covering her sweet face, with her handkerchief put to her
tearful eyes) she stopt.
Hastily, as if she would fly from the hateful remembrance, she resumed:--
'I made escape afterward from the abominable house in his absence, and
came to your's: and this gentleman has almost prevailed on me to think,
that the ungrateful man did not connive at the vile arrest: which was
made, no doubt, in order to get me once more to those wicked lodgings:
for nothing do I owe them, except I were to pay them'--[she sighed, and
again wiped her charming eyes--adding in a softer, lower voice]--'for
Indeed, Madam, said I, guilty, abominably guilty, as he is in all the
rest, he is innocent of this last wicked outrage.
'Well, and so I wish him to be. That evil, heavy as it was, is one of
the slightest evils I have suffered. But hence you'll observe, Mrs.
Lovick, (for you seemed this morning curious to know if I were not a
wife,) that I never was married.--You, Mr. Belford, no doubt, knew before
that I am no wife: and now I never will be one. Yet, I bless God, that
I am not a guilty creature!
'As to my parentage, I am of no mean family; I have in my own right, by
the intended favour of my grandfather, a fortune not contemptible:
independent of my father; if I had pleased; but I never will please.
'My father is very rich. I went by another name when I came to you
first: but that was to avoid being discovered to the perfidious man: who
now engages, by this gentleman, not to molest me.
'My real name you now know to be Harlowe: Clarissa Harlowe. I am not yet
twenty years of age.
'I have an excellent mother, as well as father; a woman of family, and
fine sense--worthy of a better child!--they both doated upon me.
'I have two good uncles: men of great fortune; jealous of the honour of
their family; which I have wounded.
'I was the joy of their hearts; and, with theirs and my father's, I had
three houses to call my own; for they used to have me with them by turns,
and almost kindly to quarrel for me; so that I was two months in the year
with the one; two months with the other; six months at my father's; and
two at the houses of others of my dear friends, who thought themselves
happy in me: and whenever I was at any one's, I was crowded upon with
letters by all the rest, who longed for my return to them.
'In short, I was beloved by every body. The poor--I used to make glad
their hearts: I never shut my hand to any distress, wherever I was--but
now I am poor myself!
'So Mrs. Smith, so Mrs. Lovick, I am not married. It is but just to tell
you so. And I am now, as I ought to be, in a state of humiliation and
penitence for the rash step which has been followed by so much evil.
God, I hope, will forgive me, as I am endeavouring to bring my mind to
forgive all the world, even the man who has ungratefully, and by dreadful
perjuries, [poor wretch! he thought all his wickedness to be wit!]
reduced to this a young creature, who had his happiness in her view, and
in her wish, even beyond this life; and who was believed to be of rank,
and fortune, and expectations, considerable enough to make it the
interest of any gentleman in England to be faithful to his vows to her.
But I cannot expect that my parents will forgive me: my refuge must be
death; the most painful kind of which I would suffer, rather than be the
wife of one who could act by me, as the man has acted, upon whose birth,
education, and honour, I had so much reason to found better expectations.
'I see, continued she, that I, who once was every one's delight, am now
the cause of grief to every one--you, that are strangers to me, are moved
for me! 'tis kind!--but 'tis time to stop. Your compassionate hearts,
Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Lovick, are too much touched,' [For the women sobbed,
and the man was also affected.] 'It is barbarous in me, with my woes,
thus to sadden your wedding-day.' Then turning to Mr. and Mrs. Smith--
'May you see many happy ones, honest, good couple!--how agreeable is it
to see you both join so kindly to celebrate it, after many years are gone
over you!--I once--but no more!--All my prospects of felicity, as to this
life, are at an end. My hopes, like opening buds or blossoms in an
over-forward spring, have been nipt by a severe frost!--blighted by an
eastern wind!--but I can but once die; and if life be spared me, but till
I am discharged from a heavy malediction, which my father in his wrath
laid upon me, and which is fulfilled literally in every article relating
to this world; that, and a last blessing, are all I have to wish for; and
death will be welcomer to me, than rest to the most wearied traveller
that ever reached his journey's end.'
And then she sunk her head against the back of her chair, and, hiding her
face with her handkerchief, endeavoured to conceal her tears from us.
Not a soul of us could speak a word. Thy presence, perhaps, thou
hardened wretch, might have made us ashamed of a weakness which perhaps
thou wilt deride me in particular for, when thou readest this!----
She retired to her chamber soon after, and was forced, it seems, to lie
down. We all went down together; and, for an hour and a half, dwelt upon
her praises; Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Lovick repeatedly expressing their
astonishment, that there could be a man in the world, capable of
offending, much more of wilfully injuring such a lady; and repeating,
that they had an angel in their house.--I thought they had; and that
as assuredly as there is a devil under the roof of good Lord M.
I hate thee heartily!--by my faith I do!--every hour I hate thee more
than the former!----
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
SATURDAY, JULY 22.
What dost hate me for, Belford!--and why more and more! have I been
guilty of any offence thou knewest not before?--If pathos can move such a
heart as thine, can it alter facts!--Did I not always do this
incomparable creature as much justice as thou canst do her for the heart
of thee, or as she can do herself?----What nonsense then thy hatred, thy
augmented hatred, when I still persist to marry her, pursuant to word
given to thee, and to faith plighted to all my relations? But hate, if
thou wilt, so thou dost but write. Thou canst not hate me so much as I
do myself: and yet I know if thou really hatedst me, thou wouldst not
venture to tell me so.
Well, but after all, what need of her history to these women? She will
certainly repent, some time hence, that she has thus needless exposed us
Sickness palls every appetite, and makes us hate what we loved: but
renewed health changes the scene; disposes us to be pleased with
ourselves; and then we are in a way to be pleased with every one else.
Every hope, then, rises upon us: every hour presents itself to us on
dancing feet: and what Mr. Addison says of liberty, may, with still
greater propriety, be said of health, for what is liberty itself without
It makes the gloomy face of nature gay;
Gives beauty to the sun, and pleasure to the day.
And I rejoice that she is already so much better, as to hold with
strangers such a long and interesting conversation.
Strange, confoundedly strange, and as perverse [that is to say, womanly]
as strange, that she should refuse, and sooner choose to die [O the
obscene word! and yet how free does thy pen make with it to me!] than be
mine, who offended her by acting in character, while her parents acted
shamefully out of theirs, and when I am now willing to act out of my own
to oblige her; yet I am not to be forgiven; they to be faultless with
her!--and marriage the only medium to repair all breaches, and to salve
her own honour!--Surely thou must see the inconsistence of her forgiving
unforgiveness, as I may call it!--yet, heavy varlet as thou art, thou
wantest to be drawn up after her! And what a figure dost thou make with
thy speeches, stiff as Hickman's ruffles, with thy aspirations and
protestations!--unused, thy weak head, to bear the sublimities that fall,
even in common conversation, from the lips of this ever-charming
But the prettiest whim of all was, to drop the bank note behind her
chair, instead of presenting it on thy knees to her hand!--To make such a
woman as this doubly stoop--by the acceptance, and to take it from the
ground!--What an ungrateful benefit-conferrer art thou!--How awkward, to
take in into thy head, that the best way of making a present to a lady
was to throw the present behind her chair!
I am very desirous to see what she has written to her sister; what she is
about to write to Miss Howe; and what return she will have from the
Harlowe-Arabella. Canst thou not form some scheme to come at the copies
of these letters, or the substance of them at least, and of that of her
other correspondencies? Mrs. Lovick, thou seemest to say, is a pious
woman. The lady, having given such a particular history of herself, will
acquaint her with every thing. And art thou not about to reform!--Won't
this consent of minds between thee and the widow, [what age is she, Jack?
the devil never trumpt up a friendship between a man and a woman, of any
thing like years, which did not end in matrimony, or in the ruin of their
morals!] Won't it strike out an intimacy between ye, that may enable
thee to gratify me in this particular? A proselyte, I can tell thee, has
great influence upon your good people: such a one is a saint of their own
creation: and they will water, and cultivate, and cherish him, as a plant
of their own raising: and this from a pride truly spiritual!
One of my lovers in Paris was a devotee. She took great pains to convert
me. I gave way to her kind endeavours for the good of my soul. She
thought it a point gained to make me profess some religion. The catholic
has its conveniencies. I permitted her to bring a father to me. My
reformation went on swimmingly. The father had hopes of me: he applauded
her zeal: so did I. And how dost thou think it ended?--Not a girl in
England, reading thus far, but would guess!--In a word, very happily: for
she not only brought me a father, but made me one: and then, being
satisfied with each other's conversation, we took different routes: she
into Navarre; I into Italy: both well inclined to propagate the good
lessons in which we had so well instructed each other.
But to return. One consolation arises to me, from the pretty regrets
which this admirable creature seems to have in indulging reflections on
the people's wedding-day.--I ONCE!--thou makest her break off with
She once! What--O Belford! why didst thou not urge her to explain what
she once hoped?
What once a woman hopes, in love matters, she always hopes, while there
is room for hope: And are we not both single? Can she be any man's but
mine? Will I be any woman's but her's?
I never will! I never can!--and I tell thee, that I am every day, every
hour, more and more in love with her: and, at this instant, have a more
vehement passion for her than ever I had in my life!--and that with views
absolutely honourable, in her own sense of the word: nor have I varied,
so much as in wish, for this week past; firmly fixed, and wrought into my
very nature, as the life of honour, or of generous confidence in me, was,
in preference to the life of doubt and distrust. That must be a life of
doubt and distrust, surely, where the woman confides nothing, and ties up
a man for his good behaviour for life, taking church-and-state sanctions
in aid of the obligation she imposes upon him.
I shall go on Monday to a kind of ball, to which Colonel Ambrose has
invited me. It is given on a family account. I care not on what: for
all that delights me in the thing is, that Mrs. and Miss Howe are to be
there;--Hickman, of course; for the old lady will not stir abroad without
him. The Colonel is in hopes that Miss Arabella Harlowe will be there
likewise; for all the men and women of fashion round him are invited.
I fell in by accident with the Colonel, who I believe, hardly thought I
would accept of the invitation. But he knows me not, if he thinks I am
ashamed to appear at any place, where women dare show their faces. Yet
he hinted to me that my name was up, on Miss Harlowe's account. But, to
allude to one of Lord M.'s phrases, if it be, I will not lie a bed when
any thing joyous is going forward.
As I shall go in my Lord's chariot, I would have had one of my cousins
Montague to go with me: but they both refused: and I shall not choose to
take either of thy brethren. It would look as if I thought I wanted a
bodyguard: besides, one of them is too rough, the other too smooth, and
too great a fop for some of the staid company that will be there; and for
me in particular. Men are known by their companions; and a fop [as
Tourville, for example] takes great pains to hang out a sign by his dress
of what he has in his shop. Thou, indeed, art an exception; dressing
like a coxcomb, yet a very clever fellow. Nevertheless so clumsy a beau,
that thou seemest to me to owe thyself a double spite, making thy
ungracefulness appear the more ungraceful, by thy remarkable tawdriness,
when thou art out of mourning.
I remember, when I first saw thee, my mind laboured with a strong puzzle,
whether I should put thee down for a great fool, or a smatterer in wit.
Something I saw was wrong in thee, by thy dress. If this fellow, thought
I, delights not so much in ridicule, that he will not spare himself, he
must be plaguy silly to take so much pains to make his ugliness more
conspicuous than it would otherwise be.
Plain dress, for an ordinary man or woman, implies at least modesty, and
always procures a kind quarter from the censorious. Who will ridicule a
personal imperfection in one that seems conscious, that it is an
imperfection? Who ever said an anchoret was poor? But who would spare
so very absurd a wrong-head, as should bestow tinsel to make his
deformity the more conspicuous?
But, although I put on these lively airs, I am sick at my soul!--My whole
heart is with my charmer! with what indifference shall I look upon all
the assembly at the Colonel's, my beloved in my ideal eye, and engrossing
my whole heart?
MISS HOWE, TO MISS ARABELLA HARLOWE
THURSDAY, JULY 20.
I cannot help acquainting you (however it may be received, coming from
me) that your poor sister is dangerously ill, at the house of one Smith,
who keeps a glover's and perfume shop, in King-street, Covent-garden.
She knows not that I write. Some violent words, in the nature of an
imprecation, from her father, afflict her greatly in her weak state. I
presume not to direct you what to do in this case. You are her sister.
I therefore could not help writing to you, not only for her sake, but for
your own. I am, Madam,
Your humble servant,
MISS ARABELLA HARLOWE
THURSDAY, JULY 20.
I have your's of this morning. All that has happened to the unhappy body
you mentioned, is what we foretold and expected. Let him, for whose sake
she abandoned us, be her comfort. We are told he has remorse, and would
marry her. We don't believe it, indeed. She may be very ill. Her
disappointment may make her so, or ought. Yet is she the only one I know
who is disappointed.
I cannot say, Miss, that the notification from you is the more welcome,
for the liberties you have been pleased to take with our whole family for
resenting a conduct, that it is a shame any young lady should justify.
Excuse this freedom, occasioned by greater. I am, Miss,
Your humble servant,
FRIDAY, JULY 21.
MISS ARABELLA HARLOWE,
If you had half as much sense as you have ill-nature, you would
(notwithstanding the exuberance of the latter) have been able to
distinguish between a kind intention to you all (that you might have the
less to reproach yourselves with, if a deplorable case should happen) and
an officiousness I owed you not, by reason of freedoms at least
reciprocal. I will not, for the unhappy body's sake, as you call a
sister you have helped to make so, say all that I could say. If what I
fear happen, you shall hear (whether desired or not) all the mind of
MISS ARABELLA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
FRIDAY, JULY 21.
MISS ANNA HOWE,
Your pert letter I have received. You, that spare nobody, I cannot
expect should spare me. You are very happy in a prudent and watchful
mother.--But else mine cannot be exceeded in prudence; but we had all too
good an opinion of somebody, to think watchfulness needful. There may
possibly be some reason why you are so much attached to her in an error
of this flagrant nature.
I help to make a sister unhappy!--It is false, Miss!--It is all her own
doings!--except, indeed, what she may owe to somebody's advice--you know
who can best answer for that.
Let us know your mind as soon as you please: as we shall know it to be
your mind, we shall judge what attention to give it. That's all, from,
MISS HOWE, TO MISS ARABELLA HARLOWE
SAT. JULY 22.
It may be the misfortune of some people to engage every body's notice:
others may be the happier, though they may be the more envious, for
nobody's thinking them worthy of any. But one would be glad people had
the sense to be thankful for that want of consequence, which subject them
not to hazards they would heartily have been able to manage under.
I own to you, that had it not been for the prudent advice of that
admirable somebody (whose principal fault is the superiority of her
talents, and whose misfortune to be brother'd and sister'd by a couple of
creatures, who are not able to comprehend her excellencies) I might at
one time have been plunged into difficulties. But pert as the
superlatively pert may think me, I thought not myself wiser, because I
was older; nor for that poor reason qualified to prescribe to, much less
to maltreat, a genius so superior.
I repeat it with gratitude, that the dear creature's advice was of very
great service to me--and this before my mother's watchfulness became
necessary. But how it would have fared with me, I cannot say, had I had
a brother or sister, who had deemed it their interest, as well as a
gratification of their sordid envy, to misrepresent me.
Your admirable sister, in effect, saved you, Miss, as well as me--with
this difference--you, against your will--me with mine: and but for your
own brother, and his own sister, would not have been lost herself.
Would to Heaven both sisters had been obliged with their own wills!--the
most admirable of her sex would never then have been out of her father's
house!--you, Miss--I don't know what had become of you.--But, let what
would have happened, you would have met with the humanity you have not
shown, whether you had deserved it or not:--nor, at the worst, lost
either a kind sister, or a pitying friend, in the most excellent of
But why run I into length to such a poor thing? why push I so weak an
adversary? whose first letter is all low malice, and whose next is made
up of falsehood and inconsistence, as well as spite and ill-manners! yet
I was willing to give you a part of my mind. Call for more of it; it
shall be at your service: from one, who, though she thanks God she is not
your sister, is not your enemy: but that she is not the latter, is
withheld but by two considerations; one that you bear, though unworthily,
a relation to a sister so excellent; the other, that you are not of
consequence enough to engage any thing but the pity and contempt of
MRS. HARLOWE, TO MRS. HOWE
SAT. JULY 22.
I send you, enclosed, copies of five letters that have passed between
Miss Howe and my Arabella. You are a person of so much prudence and good
sense, and (being a mother yourself) can so well enter into the
distresses of all our family, upon the rashness and ingratitude of a
child we once doated upon, that, I dare say, you will not countenance the
strange freedoms your daughter has taken with us all. These are not the
only ones we have to complain of; but we were silent on the others, as
they did not, as these have done, spread themselves out upon paper. We
only beg, that we may not be reflected upon by a young lady who knows not
what we have suffered, and do suffer by the rashness of a naughty
creature who has brought ruin upon herself, and disgrace upon a family
which she had robbed of all comfort. I offer not to prescribe to your
known wisdom in this case; but leave it to you to do as you think most
proper. I am, Madam,
Your most humble servant,
SAT. JULY 22.
I am highly offended with my daughter's letters to Miss Harlowe. I knew
nothing at all of her having taken such a liberty. These young creatures
have such romantic notions, some of live, some of friendship, that there
is no governing them in either. Nothing but time, and dear experience,
will convince them of their absurdities in both. I have chidden Miss
Howe very severely. I had before so just a notion of what your whole
family's distress must be, that, as I told your brother, Mr. Antony
Harlowe, I had often forbid her corresponding with the poor fallen angel
--for surely never did young lady more resemble what we imagine of
angels, both in person and mind. But, tired out with her headstrong
ways, [I am sorry to say this of my own child,] I was forced to give way
to it again. And, indeed, so sturdy was she in her will, that I was
afraid it would end in a fit of sickness, as too often it did in fits of
None but parents know the trouble that children give. They are happiest,
I have often thought, who have none. And these women-grown girls, bless
my heart! how ungovernable!
I believe, however, you will have no more such letters from my Nancy. I
have been forced to use compulsion with her upon Miss Clary's illness,
[and it seems she is very bad,] or she would have run away to London, to
attend upon her: and this she calls doing the duty of a friend;
forgetting that she sacrifices to her romantic friendship her duty to her
fond indulgent mother.
There are a thousand excellencies in the poor sufferer, notwithstanding
her fault: and, if the hints she has given to my daughter be true, she
has been most grievously abused. But I think your forgiveness and her
father's forgiveness of her ought to be all at your own choice; and
nobody should intermeddle in that, for the sake of due authority in
parents: and besides, as Miss Harlowe writes, it was what every body
expected, though Miss Clary would not believe it till she smarted for her
credulity. And, fir these reasons, I offer not to plead any thing in
alleviation of her fault, which is aggravated by her admirable sense, and
a judgment above her years.
I am, Madam, with compliments to good Mr. Harlowe, and all your afflicted
Your most humble servant,
I shall set out for the Isle of Wight in a few days, with my daughter. I
will hasten our setting out, on purpose to break her mind from her
friend's distresses; which afflict us as much, nearly, as Miss
Clary's rashness has done you.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
SAT. JULY 22.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
We are busy in preparing for our little journey and voyage: but I will be
ill, I will be very ill, if I cannot hear you are better before I go.
Rogers greatly afflicted me, by telling me the bad way you are in. But
now you have been able to hold a pen, and as your sense is strong and
clear, I hope that the amusement you will receive from writing will make
I dispatch this by an extraordinary way, that it may reach you time
enough to move you to consider well before you absolutely decide upon the
contents of mine of the 13th, on the subject of the two Misses Montague's
visit to me; since, according to what you write, must I answer them.
In your last, conclude very positively that you will not be his. To be
sure, he rather deserves an infamous death than such a wife. But as I
really believe him innocent of the arrest, and as all his family are such
earnest pleaders, and will be guarantees, for him, I think the compliance
with their entreaties, and his own, will be now the best step you can
take; your own family remaining implacable, as I can assure you they do.
He is a man of sense; and it is not impossible but he may make you a good
husband, and in time may become no bad man.
My mother is entirely of my opinion: and on Friday, pursuant to a hint I
gave you in my last, Mr. Hickman had a conference with the strange
wretch: and though he liked not, by any means, his behaviour to himself;
nor indeed, had reason to do so; yet he is of opinion that he is
sincerely determined to marry you, if you will condescend to have him.
Perhaps Mr. Hickman may make you a private visit before we set out. If
I may not attend you myself, I shall not be easy except he does. And he
will then give you an account of the admirable character the surprising
wretch gave of you, and of the justice he does to your virtue.
He was as acknowledging to his relations, though to his own condemnation,
as his two cousins told me. All he apprehends, as he said to Mr.
Hickman, is that if you go on exposing him, wedlock itself will not wipe
off the dishonour to both: and moreover, 'that you would ruin your
constitution by your immoderate sorrow; and, by seeking death when you
might avoid it, would not be able to escape it when you would wish to do
So, my dearest friend, I charge you, if you can, to get over your
aversion to this vile man. You may yet live to see many happy days, and
be once more the delight of all your friends, neighbours, and
acquaintance, as well as a stay, a comfort, and a blessing to your Anna
I long to have your answer to mine of the 13th. Pray keep the messenger
till it be ready. If he return on Monday night, it will be time enough
for his affairs, and to find me come back from Colonel Ambrose's; who
gives a ball on the anniversary of Mrs. Ambrose's birth and marriage both
in one. The gentry all round the neighbourhood are invited this time, on
some good news they have received from Mrs. Ambrose's brother, the
My mother promised the Colonel for me and herself, in my absence. I
would fain have excused myself to her; and the rather, as I had
exceptions on account of the day:* but she is almost as young as her
daughter; and thinking it not so well to go without me, she told me. And
having had a few sparring blows with each other very lately, I think I
must comply. For I don't love jingling when I can help it; though I
seldom make it my study to avoid the occasion, when it offers of itself.
I don't know, if either were not a little afraid of the other, whether it
would be possible that we could live together:--I, all my father!--My
mamma--What?--All my mother--What else should I say?
* The 24th of July, Miss Clarissa Harlowe's birth-day.
O my dear, how many things happen in this life to give us displeasure!
How few to give us joy!--I am sure I shall have none on this occasion;
since the true partner of my heart, the principal of the one soul, that
it used to be said, animated the pair of friends, as we were called; you,
my dear, [who used to irradiate every circle you set your foot into, and
to give me real significance in a second place to yourself,] cannot be
there!--One hour of your company, my ever instructive friend, [I thirst
for it!] how infinitely preferable would it be to me to all the
diversions and amusements with which our sex are generally most delighted
--Adieu, my dear!
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
SUNDAY, JULY 23.
What pain, my dearest friend, does your kind solicitude for my welfare
give me! How much more binding and tender are the ties of pure
friendship, and the union of like minds, than the ties of nature! Well
might the sweet-singer of Israel, when he was carrying to the utmost
extent the praises of the friendship between him and his beloved friend,
say, that the love of Jonathan to him was wonderful; that it surpassed
the love of women! What an exalted idea does it give of the soul of
Jonathan, sweetly attempered for the sacred band, if we may suppose it
but equal to that of my Anna Howe for her fallen Clarissa?--But, although
I can glory in your kind love for me, think, my dear, what concern must
fill a mind, not ungenerous, when the obligation lies all on one side.
And when, at the same time that your light is the brighter for my
darkness, I must give pain to a dear friend, to whom I delighted to give
pleasure; and not pain only, but discredit, for supporting my blighted
fame against the busy tongues of uncharitable censures!
This is that makes me, in the words of my admired exclaimer, very little
altered, often repeat: 'Oh! that I were as in months past! as in the days
when God preserved me! when his candle shined upon my head, and when by
his light I walked through darkness! As I was in the days of my
childhood--when the Almighty was yet with me: when I was in my father's
house: when I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out
rivers of oil.'
You set before me your reasons, enforced by the opinion of your honoured
mother, why I should think of Mr. Lovelace for a husband.*
* See the preceding Letter.
And I have before me your letter of the 13th,* containing the account of
the visit and proposals, and kind interposition of the two Misses
Montague, in the names of the good Ladies Sadleir and Betty Lawrance, and
in that of my Lord M.
* See Letter IX. of this vol.
Also your's of the 18th,* demanding me, as I may say, of those ladies,
and of that family, when I was so infamously and cruelly arrested, and
you knew not what was become of me.
* See Letter XI. ibid.
The answer likewise of those ladies, signed in so full and generous a
manner by themselves,* and by that nobleman, and those two venerable
ladies; and, in his light way, by the wretch himself.
* See Letter XIV. ibid.
Thse, my dearest Miss Howe; and your letter of the 16th,* which came when
I was under arrest, and which I received not till some days after; are
all before me.
* See Letter X. of this volume.
And I have as well weighed the whole matter, and your arguments in
support of your advice, as at present my head and my heart will let me
I am, moreover, willing to believe, not only from your own opinion, but
from the assurances of one of Mr. Lovelace's friends, Mr. Belford, a
good-natured and humane man, who spares not to censure the author of my
calamities (I think, with undissembled and undesigning sincerity) that
that man is innocent of the disgraceful arrest.
And even, if you please, in sincere compliment to your opinion, and to
that of Mr. Hickman, that (over-persuaded by his friends, and ashamed of
his unmerited baseness to me) he would in earnest marry me, if I would
'*Well, and now, what is the result of all?--It is this--that I must
abide by what I have already declared--and that is, [don't be angry at
me, my best friend,] that I have much more pleasure in thinking of death,
than of such a husband. In short, as I declared in my last, that I
cannot [forgive me, if I say, I will not] ever be his.
* Those parts of this letter which are marked with an inverted comma
[thus ' ] were afterwards transcribed by Miss Howe in Letter LV. written
to the Ladies of Mr. Lovelace's family; and are thus distinguished to
avoid the necessity of repeating them in that letter.
'But you will expect my reasons; I know you will: and if I give them not,
will conclude me either obstinate, or implacable, or both: and those
would be sad imputations, if just, to be laid to the charge of a person
who thinks and talks of dying. And yet, to say that resentment and
disappointment have no part in my determination, would be saying a thing
hardly to be credited. For I own I have resentment, strong resentment,
but not unreasonable ones, as you will be convinced, if already you are
not so, when you know all my story--if ever you do know it--for I begin
to fear (so many things more necessary to be thought of than either this
man, or my own vindication, have I to do) that I shall not have time to
compass what I have intended, and, in a manner, promised you.*
* See Vol. VI. Letter LXXIII.
'I have one reason to give in support of my resolution, that, I believe,
yourself will allow of: but having owned that I have resentments, I will
begin with those considerations in which anger and disappointment have
too great a share; in hopes that, having once disburdened my mind upon
paper, and to my Anna Howe, of those corroding uneasy passions, I shall
prevent them for ever from returning to my heart, and to have their place
supplied by better, milder, and more agreeable ones.
'My pride, then, my dearest friend, although a great deal mortified, is
not sufficiently mortified, if it be necessary for me to submit to make
that man my choice, whose actions are, and ought to be, my abhorrence!--
What!--Shall I, who have been treated with such premeditated and
perfidious barbarity, as is painful to be thought of, and cannot, with
modesty be described, think of taking the violator to my heart? Can I
vow duty to one so wicked, and hazard my salvation by joining myself to
so great a profligate, now I know him to be so? Do you think your
Clarissa Harlowe so lost, so sunk, at least, as that she could, for the
sake of patching up, in the world's eye, a broken reputation, meanly
appear indebted to the generosity, or perhaps compassion, of a man, who
has, by means so inhuman, robbed her of it? Indeed, my dear, I should
not think my penitence for the rash step I took, any thing better than a
specious delusion, if I had not got above the least wish to have Mr.
Lovelace for my husband.
'Yes, I warrant, I must creep to the violator, and be thankful to him for
doing me poor justice!
'Do you not already see me (pursuing the advice you give) with a downcast
eye, appear before his friends, and before my own, (supposing the latter
would at last condescend to own me,) divested of that noble confidence
which arises from a mind unconscious of having deserved reproach?
'Do you not see me creep about mine own house, preferring all my honest
maidens to myself--as if afraid, too, to open my lips, either by way of
reproof or admonition, lest their bolder eyes should bid me look inward,
and not expect perfection from them?
'And shall I entitle the wretch to upbraid me with his generosity, and
his pity; and perhaps to reproach me for having been capable of forgiving
crimes of such a nature?
'I once indeed hoped, little thinking him so premeditatedly vile a man,
that I might have the happiness to reclaim him: I vainly believed that he
loved me well enough to suffer my advice for his good, and the example I
humbly presumed I should be enabled to set him, to have weight with him;
and the rather, as he had no mean opinion of my morals and understanding:
But now what hope is there left for this my prime hope?--Were I to marry
him, what a figure should I make, preaching virtue and morality to a man
whom I had trusted with opportunities to seduce me from all my own
duties!--And then, supposing I were to have children by such a husband,
must it not, think you, cut a thoughtful person to the heart; to look
round upon her little family, and think she had given them a father
destined, without a miracle, to perdition; and whose immoralities,
propagated among them by his vile example, might, too probably, bring
down a curse upon them? And, after all, who knows but that my own sinful
compliances with a man, who might think himself entitled to my obedience,
might taint my own morals, and make me, instead of a reformer, an
imitator of him?--For who can touch pitch, and not be defiled?
'Let me then repeat, that I truly despise this man! If I know my own
heart, indeed I do!--I pity him! beneath my very pity as he is, I
nevertheless pity him!--But this I could not do, if I still loved him:
for, my dear, one must be greatly sensible of the baseness and
ingratitude of those we love. I love him not, therefore! my soul
disdains communion with him.
'But, although thus much is due to resentment, yet have I not been so
far carried away by its angry effects as to be rendered incapable of
casting about what I ought to do, and what could be done, if the
Almighty, in order to lengthen the time of my penitence, were to bid
me to live.
'The single life, at such times, has offered to me, as the life, the
only life, to be chosen. But in that, must I not now sit brooding over
my past afflictions, and mourning my faults till the hour of my release?
And would not every one be able to assign the reason why Clarissa Harlowe
chose solitude, and to sequester herself from the world? Would not the
look of every creature, who beheld me, appear as a reproach to me? And
would not my conscious eye confess my fault, whether the eyes of others
accused me or not? One of my delights was, to enter the cots of my poor
neighbours, to leave lessons to the boys, and cautions to the elder
girls: and how should I be able, unconscious, and without pain, to say
to the latter, fly the delusions of men, who had been supposed to have
run away with one?
'What then, my dear and only friend, can I wish for but death?--And what,
after all, is death? 'Tis but a cessation from mortal life: 'tis but the
finishing of an appointed course: the refreshing inn after a fatiguing
journey; the end of a life of cares and troubles; and, if happy, the
beginning of a life of immortal happiness.
'If I die not now, it may possibly happen that I may be taken when I am
less prepared. Had I escaped the evils I labour under, it might have
been in the midst of some gay promising hope; when my heart had beat high
with the desire of life; and when the vanity of this earth had taken hold
'But now, my dear, for your satisfaction let me say that, although I wish
not for life, yet would I not, like a poor coward, desert my post when I
can maintain it, and when it is my duty to maintain it.
'More than once, indeed, was I urged by thoughts so sinful: but then it
was in the height of my distress: and once, particularly, I have reason
to believe, I saved myself by my desperation from the most shocking
personal insults; from a repetition, as far as I know, of his vileness;
the base women (with so much reason dreaded by me) present, to intimidate
me, if not to assist him!--O my dear, you know not what I suffered on
that occasion!--Nor do I what I escaped at the time, if the wicked man
had approached me to execute the horrid purposes of his vile heart.'
As I am of opinion, that it would have manifested more of revenge and
despair than of principle, had I committed a violence upon myself, when
the villany was perpetrated; so I should think it equally criminal, were
I now wilfully to neglect myself; were I purposely to run into the arms
of death, (as that man supposes I shall do,) when I might avoid it.
Nor, my dear, whatever are the suppositions of such a short-sighted, such
a low-souled man, must you impute to gloom, to melancholy, to
despondency, nor yet to a spirit of faulty pride, or still more faulty
revenge, the resolution I have taken never to marry this: and if not
this, any man. So far from deserving this imputation, I do assure you,
(my dear and only love,) that I will do every thing I can to prolong my
life, till God, in mercy to me, shall be pleased to call for it. I have
reason to think my punishment is but the due consequence of my fault, and
I will not run away from it; but beg of Heaven to sanctify it to me.
When appetite serves, I will eat and drink what is sufficient to support
nature. A very little, you know, will do for that. And whatever my
physicians shall think fit to prescribe, I will take, though ever so
disagreeable. In short, I will do every thing I can do to convince all
my friends, who hereafter may think it worth their while to inquire after
my last behaviour, that I possessed my soul with tolerable patience; and
endeavoured to bear with a lot of my own drawing; for thus, in humble
imitation of the sublimest exemplar, I often say:--Lord, it is thy will;
and it shall be mine. Thou art just in all thy dealings with the
children of men; and I know thou wilt not afflict me beyond what I can
bear: and, if I can bear it, I ought to bear it; and (thy grace assisting
me) I will bear it.
'But here, my dear, is another reason; a reason that will convince you
yourself that I ought not to think of wedlock; but of a preparation for a
quite different event. I am persuaded, as much as that I am now alive,
that I shall not long live. The strong sense I have ever had of my
fault, the loss of my reputation, my disappointments, the determined
resentment of my friends, aiding the barbarous usage I have met with
where I least deserved it, have seized upon my heart: seized upon it,
before it was so well fortified by religious considerations as I hope it
now is. Don't be concerned, my dear--But I am sure, if I may say it with
as little presumption as grief, That God will soon dissolve my substance;
and bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.'
And now, my dearest friend, you know all my mind. And you will be
pleased to write to the ladies of Mr. Lovelace's family, that I think
myself infinitely obliged to them for their good opinion of me; and that
it has given me greater pleasure than I thought I had to come in this
life, that, upon the little knowledge they have of me, and that not
personal, I was thought worthy (after the ill usage I have received) of
an alliance with their honourable family: but that I can by no means
think of their kinsman for a husband: and do you, my dear, extract from
the above such reasons as you think have any weight with them.
I would write myself to acknowledge their favour, had I not more
employment for my head, my heart, and my fingers, than I doubt they will
be able to go through.
I should be glad to know when you set out on your journey; as also your
little stages; and your time of stay at your aunt Harman's; that my
prayers may locally attend you whithersoever you go, and wherever you
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
SUNDAY, JULY 23.
The letter accompanying this being upon a very particular subject, I
would not embarrass it, as I may say, with any other. And yet having
some farther matters upon my mind, which will want your excuse for
directing them to you, I hope the following lines will have that excuse.
My good Mrs. Norton, so long ago as in a letter dated the 3d of this
month,* hinted to me that my relations took amiss some severe things you
were pleased, in love to me, to say to them. Mrs. Norton mentioned it
with that respectful love which she bears to my dearest friend: but
wished, for my sake, that you would rein in a vivacity, which, on most
other occasions, so charmingly becomes you. This was her sense. You
know that I am warranted to speak and write freer to my Anna Howe than
Mrs. Norton would do.
* See Vol. VI. Letter LXIII.
I durst not mention it to you at that time, because appearances were so
strong against me, on Mr. Lovelace's getting me again into his power,
(after my escape to Hampstead,) as made you very angry with me when you
answered mine on my second escape. And, soon afterwards, I was put under
that barbarous arrest; so that I could not well touch upon the subject
Now, therefore, my dearest Miss Howe, let me repeat my earnest request
(for this is not the first time by several that I have been obliged to
chide you on this occasion,) that you will spare my parents, and other
relations, in all your conversations about me. Indeed, I wish they had
thought fit to take other measures with me: But who shall judge for them?
--The event has justified them, and condemned me.--They expected nothing
good of this vile man; he had not, therefore, deceived them: but they
expected other things from me; and I have. And they have the more reason
to be set against me, if (as my aunt Hervey wrote* formerly,) they
intended not to force my inclinations in favour of Mr. Solmes; and if
they believe that my going off was the effect of choice and
* See Vol. III. Letter LII.
I have no desire to be received to favour by them: For why should I sit
down to wish for what I have no reason to expect?--Besides, I could not
look them in the face, if they would receive me. Indeed I could not.
All I have to hope for is, first, that my father will absolve me from his
heavy malediction: and next, for a last blessing. The obtaining of these
favours are needful to my peace of mind.
I have written to my sister; but have only mentioned the absolution.
I am afraid I shall receive a very harsh answer from her: my fault, in
the eyes of my family, is of so enormous a nature, that my first
application will hardly be encouraged. Then they know not (nor perhaps
will believe) that I am so very ill as I am. So that, were I actually to
die before they could have time to take the necessary informations, you
must not blame them too severely. You must call it a fatality. I know
not what you must call it: for, alas! I have made them as miserable as I
am myself. And yet sometimes I think that, were they cheerfully to
pronounce me forgiven, I know not whether my concern for having offended
them would not be augmented: since I imagine that nothing can be more
wounding to a spirit not ungenerous than a generous forgiveness.
I hope your mother will permit our correspondence for one month more,
although I do not take her advice as to having this man. When
catastrophes are winding up, what changes (changes that make one's heart
shudder to think of,) may one short month produce?--But if she will not--
why then, my dear, it becomes us both to acquiesce.
You can't think what my apprehensions would have been, had I known Mr.
Hickman was to have had a meeting (on such a questioning occasion as must
have been his errand from you) with that haughty and uncontroulable man.
You give me hope of a visit from Mr. Hickman: let him expect to see me
greatly altered. I know he loves me: for he loves every one whom you
love. A painful interview, I doubt! But I shall be glad to see a man
whom you will one day, and that on an early day, I hope, make happy;
whose gentle manners, and unbounded love for you, will make you so, if it
be not your own fault.
I am, my dearest, kindest friend, the sweet companion of my happy hours,
the friend ever dearest and nearest to my fond heart,
Your equally obliged and faithful,
MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
MONDAY, JULY 24.
Excuse, my dearest young lady, my long silence. I have been extremely
ill. My poor boy has also been at death's door; and, when I hoped that
he was better, he has relapsed. Alas! my dear, he is very dangerously
ill. Let us both have your prayers!
Very angry letters have passed between your sister and Miss Howe. Every
one of your family is incensed against that young lady. I wish you would
remonstrate against her warmth; since it can do no good; for they will
not believe but that her interposition had your connivance; nor that you
are so ill as Miss Howe assures them you are.
Before she wrote, they were going to send up young Mr. Brand, the
clergyman, to make private inquiries of your health, and way of life.--
But now they are so exasperated that they have laid aside their
We have flying reports here, and at Harlowe-place, of some fresh insults
which you have undergone: and that you are about to put yourself into
Lady Betty Lawrance's protection. I believe they would not be glad (as I
should be) that you would do so; and this, perhaps, will make them
suspend, for the present, any determination in your favour.
How unhappy am I, that the dangerous way my son is in prevents my
attendance on you! Let me beg of you to write to me word how you are,
both as to person and mind. A servant of Sir Robert Beachcroft, who
rides post on his master's business to town, will present you with this;
and, perhaps, will bring me the favour of a few lines in return. He will
be obliged to stay in town several hours for an answer to his dispatches.
This is the anniversary that used to give joy to as many as had the
pleasure and honour of knowing you. May the Almighty bless you, and
grant that it may be the only unhappy one that may ever be known by you,
my dearest young lady, and by
Your ever affectionate
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MRS. NORTON
MONDAY NIGHT, JULY 24.
MY DEAR MRS. NORTON,
Had I not fallen into fresh troubles, which disabled me for several days
from holding a pen, I should not have forborne inquiring after your
health, and that of your son; for I should have been but too ready to
impute your silence to the cause to which, to my very great concern, I
find it was owing. I pray to Heaven, my dear good friend, to give you
comfort in the way most desirable to yourself.
I am exceedingly concerned at Miss Howe's writing about me to my friends.
I do assure you, that I was as ignorant of her intention so to do as of
the contents of her letter. Nor has she yet let me know (discouraged, I
suppose, by her ill success) that she did write. It is impossible to
share the delight which such charming spirits give, without the
inconvenience that will attend their volatility.--So mixed are our best
It was but yesterday that I wrote to chide the dear creature for freedoms
of that nature, which her unseasonably-expressed love for me had made her
take, as you wrote me word in your former. I was afraid that all such
freedoms would be attributed to me. And I am sure that nothing but my
own application to my friends, and a full conviction of my contrition,
will procure me favour. Least of all can I expect that either your
mediation or her's (both of whose fond and partial love of me is so well
known) will avail me.
[She then gives a brief account of the arrest: of her dejection under it:
of her apprehensions of being carried to her former lodgings: of
Mr. Lovelace's avowed innocence as to that insult: of her release
by Mr. Belford: of Mr. Lovelace's promise not to molest her: of her
clothes being sent her: of the earnest desire of all his friends,
and of himself, to marry her: of Miss Howe's advice to comply with
their requests: and of her declared resolution rather to die than
be his, sent to Miss Howe, to be given to his relations, but as the
day before. After which she thus proceeds:]
Now, my dear Mrs. Norton, you will be surprised, perhaps, that I should
have returned such an answer: but when you have every thing before you,
you, who know me so well, will not think me wrong. And, besides, I am
upon a better preparation than for an earthly husband.
Nor let it be imagined, my dear and ever venerable friend, that my
present turn of mind proceeds from gloominess or melancholy; for although
it was brought on by disappointment, (the world showing me early, even at
my first rushing into it, its true and ugly face,) yet I hope that it has
obtained a better root, and will every day more and more, by its fruits,
demonstrate to me, and to all my friends, that it has.
I have written to my sister. Last Friday I wrote. So the die is thrown.
I hope for a gentle answer. But, perhaps, they will not vouchsafe me
any. It is my first direct application, you know. I wish Miss Howe had
left me to my own workings in this tender point.
It will be a great satisfaction to me to hear of your perfect recovery;
and that my foster-brother is out of danger. But why, said I, out of
danger?--When can this be justly said of creatures, who hold by so
uncertain a tenure? This is one of those forms of common speech, that
proves the frailty and the presumption of poor mortal at the same time.
Don't be uneasy, you cannot answer your wishes to be with me. I am
happier than I could have expected to be among mere strangers. It was
grievous at first; but use reconciles every thing to us. The people of
the house where I am are courteous and honest. There is a widow who
lodges in it [have I not said so formerly?] a good woman; who is the
better for having been a proficient in the school of affliction.
An excellent school! my dear Mrs. Norton, in which we are taught to know
ourselves, to be able to compassionate and bear with one another, and to
look up to a better hope.
I have as humane a physician, (whose fees are his least regard,) and as
worthy an apothecary, as ever patient was visited by. My nurse is
diligent, obliging, silent, and sober. So I am not unhappy without: and
within--I hope, my dear Mrs. Norton, that I shall be every day more and
more happy within.
No doubt it would be one of the greatest comforts I could know to have
you with me: you, who love me so dearly: who have been the watchful
sustainer of my helpless infancy: you, by whose precepts I have been so
much benefited!--In your dear bosom could I repose all my griefs: and by
your piety and experience in the ways of Heaven, should I be strengthened
in what I am still to go through.
But, as it must not be, I will acquiesce; and so, I hope, will you: for
you see in what respects I am not unhappy; and in those that I am, they
lie not in your power to remedy.
Then as I have told you, I have all my clothes in my own possession. So
I am rich enough, as to this world, in common conveniencies.
You see, my venerable and dear friend, that I am not always turning the
dark side of my prospects, in order to move compassion; a trick imputed
to me, too often, by my hard-hearted sister; when, if I know my own
heart, it is above all trick or artifice. Yet I hope at last I shall be
so happy as to receive benefit rather than reproach from this talent, if
it be my talent. At last, I say; for whose heart have I hitherto moved?
--Not one, I am sure, that was not predetermined in my favour.
As to the day--I have passed it, as I ought to pass it. It has been a
very heavy day to me!--More for my friends sake, too, than for my own!--
How did they use to pass it!--What a festivity!--How have they now passed
it?--To imagine it, how grievous!--Say not that those are cruel, who
suffer so much for my fault; and who, for eighteen years together,
rejoiced in me, and rejoiced me by their indulgent goodness!--But I will
think the rest!--Adieu, my dearest Mrs. Norton!--
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS ARABELLA HARLOWE
FRIDAY, JULY 21.
If, my dearest Sister, I did not think the state of my health very
precarious, and that it was my duty to take this step, I should hardly
have dared to approach you, although but with my pen, after having found
your censures so dreadfully justified as they have been.
I have not the courage to write to my father himself, nor yet to my
mother. And it is with trembling that I address myself to you, to beg of
you to intercede for me, that my father will have the goodness to revoke
that heaviest part of the very heavy curse he laid upon me, which relates
to HEREAFTER; for, as to the HERE, I have indeed met with my punishment
from the very wretch in whom I was supposed to place my confidence.
As I hope not for restoration to favour, I may be allowed to be very
earnest on this head: yet will I not use any arguments in support of my
request, because I am sure my father, were it in his power, would not
have his poor child miserable for ever.
I have the most grateful sense of my mother's goodness in sending me up
my clothes. I would have acknowledged the favour the moment I received
them, with the most thankful duty, but that I feared any line from me
would be unacceptable.
I would not give fresh offence: so will decline all other commendations
of duty and love: appealing to my heart for both, where both are flaming
with an ardour that nothing but death can extinguish: therefore only
subscribe myself, without so much as a name,
My dear and happy Sister,
Your afflicted servant.
A letter directed for me, at Mr. Smith's, a glover, in King-street,
Covent-garden, will come to hand.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
[IN ANSWER TO LETTERS XXIX. XXXII. OF THIS VOLUME.]
EDGWARE, MONDAY, JULY 24.
What pains thou takest to persuade thyself, that the lady's ill health
is owing to the vile arrest, and to the implacableness of her friends.
Both primarily (if they were) to be laid at thy door. What poor excuses
will good hearts make for the evils they are put upon by bad hearts!--But
'tis no wonder that he who can sit down premeditatedly to do a bad
action, will content himself with a bad excuse: and yet what fools must
he suppose the rest of the world to be, if he imagines them as easy to be
imposed upon as he can impose upon himself?
In vain dost thou impute to pride or wilfulness the necessity to which
thou hast reduced this lady of parting with her clothes; For can she do
otherwise, and be the noble-minded creature she is?
Her implacable friends have refused her the current cash she left behind
her; and wished, as her sister wrote to her, to see her reduced to want:
probably therefore they will not be sorry that she is reduced to such
straights; and will take it for a justification from Heaven of their
wicked hard heartedness. Thou canst not suppose she would take supplies
from thee: to take them from me would, in her opinion, be taking them
from thee. Miss Howe's mother is an avaricious woman; and, perhaps, the
daughter can do nothing of that sort unknown to her; and, if she could,
is too noble a girl to deny it, if charged. And then Miss Harlowe is
firmly of opinion, that she shall never want nor wear the think she
Having heard nothing from town that obliges me to go thither, I shall
gratify poor Belton with my company till to-morrow, or perhaps till
Wednesday. For the unhappy man is more and more loth to part with me.
I shall soon set out for Epsom, to endeavour to serve him there, and
re-instate him in his own house. Poor fellow! he is most horribly low
spirited; mopes about; and nothing diverts him. I pity him at my heart;
but can do him no good.--What consolation can I give him, either from his
past life, or from his future prospects?
Our friendships and intimacies, Lovelace, are only calculated for strong
life and health. When sickness comes, we look round us, and upon one
another, like frighted birds, at the sight of a kite ready to souse upon
them. Then, with all our bravery, what miserable wretches are we!
Thou tallest me that thou seest reformation is coming swiftly upon me. I
hope it is. I see so much difference in the behaviour of this admirable
woman in her illness, and that of poor Belton in his, that it is plain to
me the sinner is the real coward, and the saint the true hero; and,
sooner or later, we shall all find it to be so, if we are not cut off
The lady shut herself up at six o'clock yesterday afternoon; and intends
not to see company till seven or eight this; not even her nurse--imposing
upon herself a severe fast. And why? It is her BIRTH-DAY!--Every
birth-day till this, no doubt, happy!--What must be her reflections!--
What ought to be thine!
What sport dost thou make with my aspirations, and my prostrations, as
thou callest them; and with my dropping of the banknote behind her chair!
I had too much awe of her at the time, to make it with the grace that
would better have become my intention. But the action, if awkward, was
modest. Indeed, the fitter subject for ridicule with thee; who canst no
more taste the beauty and delicacy of modest obligingness than of modest
love. For the same may be said of inviolable respect, that the poet says
of unfeigned affection,
I speak! I know not what!--
Speak ever so: and if I answer you
I know not what, it shows the more of love.
Love is a child that talks in broken language;
Yet then it speaks most plain.
The like may be pleaded in behalf of that modest respect which made the
humble offerer afraid to invade the awful eye, or the revered hand; but
awkwardly to drop its incense behind the altar it should have been laid
upon. But how should that soul, which could treat delicacy itself
brutally, know any thing of this!
But I am still more amazed at thy courage, to think of throwing thyself
in the way of Miss Howe, and Miss Arabella Harlowe!--Thou wilt not dare,
surely, to carry this thought into execution!
As to my dress, and thy dress, I have only to say, that the sum total of
thy observation is this: that my outside is the worst of me; and thine
the best of thee: and what gettest thou by the comparison? Do thou
reform the one, I'll try to mend the other. I challenge thee to begin.
Mrs. Lovick gave me, at my request, the copy of a meditation she showed
me, which was extracted by the lady from the scriptures, while under
arrest at Rowland's, as appears by the date. The lady is not to know
that I have taken a copy.
You and I always admired the noble simplicity, and natural ease and
dignity of style, which are the distinguishing characteristics of these
books, whenever any passages from them, by way of quotation in the works
of other authors, popt upon us. And once I remember you, even you,
observed, that those passages always appeared to you like a rich vein of
golden ore, which runs through baser metals; embellishing the work they
were brought to authenticate.
Try, Lovelace, if thou canst relish a Divine beauty. I think it must
strike transient (if not permanent) remorse into thy heart. Thou
boastest of thy ingenuousness: let this be the test of it; and whether
thou canst be serious on a subject too deep, the occasion of it resulting
Saturday, July 15.
O that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the
For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words
are swallowed up!
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; the poison whereof drinketh
up my spirit. The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise? When will the night be gone?
And I am full of tossings to and fro, unto the dawning of the day.
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope--
mine eye shall no more see good.
Wherefore is light given to her that is in misery; and life unto the
bitter in soul?
Who longeth for death; but it cometh not; and diggeth for it more than
for hid treasures?
Why is light given to one whose way is hid; and whom God hath hedged in?
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me!
I was not in safety; neither had I rest; neither was I quiet; yet trouble
But behold God is mighty, and despiseth not any.
He giveth right to the poor--and if they be found in fetters, and holden
in cords of affliction, then he showeth them their works and their
I have a little leisure, and am in a scribbing vein: indulge me,
Lovelace, a few reflections on these sacred books.
We are taught to read the Bible, when children, as a rudiment only; and,
as far as I know, this may be the reason why we think ourselves above it
when at a maturer age. For you know that our parents, as well as we,
wisely rate our proficiency by the books we are advanced to, and not by
our understanding of those we have passed through. But, in my uncle's
illness, I had the curiosity, in some of my dull hours, (lighting upon
one in his closet,) to dip into it: and then I found, wherever I turned,
that there were admirable things in it. I have borrowed one, on
receiving from Mrs. Lovick the above meditation; for I had a mind to
compare the passages contained in it by the book, hardly believing they
could be so exceedingly apposite as I find they are. And one time or
another, it is very likely, that I shall make a resolution to give the
whole Bible a perusal, by way of course, as I may say.
This, meantime, I will venture to repeat, is certain, that the style is
that truly easy, simple, and natural one, which we should admire in each
other authors excessively. Then all the world join in an opinion of the
antiquity, and authenticity too, of the book; and the learned are fond of
strengthening their different arguments by its sanctions. Indeed, I was
so much taken with it at my uncle's, that I was half ashamed that it
appeared so new to me. And yet, I cannot but say, that I have some of
the Old Testament history, as it is called, in my head: but, perhaps, am
more obliged for it to Josephus than to the Bible itself.
Odd enough, with all our pride of learning, that we choose to derive the
little we know from the under currents, perhaps muddy ones too, when the
clear, the pellucid fountain-head, is much nearer at hand, and easier to
be come at--slighted the more, possibly, for that very reason!
But man is a pragmatical, foolish creature; and the more we look into
him, the more we must despise him--Lords of the creation!--Who can
forbear indignant laughter! When we see not one of the individuals of
that creation (his perpetually-eccentric self excepted) but acts within
its own natural and original appointment: is of fancied and
self-dependent excellence, he is obliged not only for the ornaments, but
for the necessaries of life, (that is to say, for food as well as
raiment,) to all the other creatures; strutting with their blood and
spirits in his veins, and with their plumage on his back: for what has he
of his own, but a very mischievous, monkey-like, bad nature! Yet thinks
himself at liberty to kick, and cuff, and elbow out every worthier
creature: and when he has none of the animal creation to hunt down and
abuse, will make use of his power, his strength, or his wealth, to
oppress the less powerful and weaker of his own species!
When you and I meet next, let us enter more largely into this subject:
and, I dare say, we shall take it by turns, in imitation of the two sages
of antiquity, to laugh and to weep at the thoughts of what miserable, yet
conceited beings, men in general, but we libertines in particular, are.
I fell upon a piece at Dorrell's, this very evening, intituled, The
Sacred Classics, written by one Blackwell.
I took it home with me, and had not read a dozen pages, when I was
convinced that I ought to be ashamed of myself to think how greatly I
have admired less noble and less natural beauties in Pagan authors; while
I have known nothing of this all-exciting collection of beauties, the
Bible! By my faith, Lovelace, I shall for the future have a better
opinion of the good sense and taste of half a score of parsons, whom I
have fallen in with in my time, and despised for magnifying, as I thought
they did, the language and the sentiments to be found in it, in
preference to all the ancient poets and philosophers. And this is now a
convincing proof to me, and shames as much an infidel's presumption as
his ignorance, that those who know least are the greatest scoffers. A
pretty pack of would-be wits of us, who censure without knowledge, laugh
without reason, and are most noisy and loud against things we know least
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 26.
I came not to town till this morning early: poor Belton clinging to me,
as a man destitute of all other hold.
I hastened to Smith's, and had but a very indifferent account of the
lady's health. I sent up my compliments; and she desired to see me in
Mrs. Lovick told me, that after I went away on Saturday, she actually
parted with one of her best suits of clothes to a gentlewoman who is her
[Mrs. Lovick's] benefactress, and who bought them for a niece who is very
speedily to be married, and whom she fits out and portions as her
intended heiress. The lady was so jealous that the money might come from
you or me, that she would see the purchaser: who owned to Mrs. Lovick
that she bought them for half their worth: but yet, though her conscience
permitted her to take them at such an under rate, the widow says her
friend admired the lady, as one of the loveliest of her sex: and having
been let into a little of her story, could not help shedding tears at
taking away her purchase.
She may be a good sort of woman: Mrs. Lovick says she is: but SELF is an
odious devil, that reconciles to some people the most cruel and dishonest
actions. But, nevertheless, it is my opinion, that those who can suffer
themselves to take advantage of the necessities of their
fellow-creatures, in order to buy any thing at a less rate than would
allow them the legal interest of their purchase-money (supposing they
purchase before they want) are no better than robbers for the difference.
--To plunder a wreck, and to rob at a fire, are indeed higher degrees of
wickedness: but do not those, as well as these, heighten the distresses
of the distressed, and heap misery on the miserable, whom it is the duty
of every one to relieve?
About three o'clock I went again to Smith's. The lady was writing when I
sent up my name; but admitted of my visit. I saw a miserable alteration
in her countenance for the worse; and Mrs. Lovick respectfully accusing
her of too great assiduity to her pen, early and late, and of her
abstinence the day before, I took notice of the alteration; and told her,
that her physician had greater hopes of her than she had of herself; and
I would take the liberty to say, that despair of recovery allowed not
room for cure.
She said she neither despaired nor hoped. Then stepping to the glass,
with great composure, My countenance, said she, is indeed an honest
picture of my heart. But the mind will run away with the body at any
Writing is all my diversion, continued she: and I have subjects that
cannot be dispensed with. As to my hours, I have always been an early
riser: but now rest is less in my power than ever. Sleep has a long time
ago quarreled with me, and will not be friends, although I have made the
first advances. What will be, must.
She then stept to her closet, and brought me a parcel sealed up with
three seals: Be so kind, said she, as to give this to your friend. A
very grateful present it ought to be to him: for, Sir, this packet
contains such letters of his to me, as, compared with his actions, would
reflect dishonour upon all his sex, were they to fall into other hands.
As to my letters to him, they are not many. He may either keep or
destroy them, as he pleases.
I thought, Lovelace, I ought not to forego this opportunity to plead for
you: I therefore, with the packet in my hand, urged all the arguments I
could think of in your favour.
She heard me out with more attention than I could have promised myself,
considering her determined resolution.
I would not interrupt you, Mr. Belford, said she, though I am far from
being pleased with the subject of your discourse. The motives for your
pleas in his favour are generous. I love to see instances of generous
friendship in either sex. But I have written my full mind on this
subject to Miss Howe, who will communicate it to the ladies of his
family. No more, therefore, I pray you, upon a topic that may lead to
Her apothecary came in. He advised her to the air, and blamed her for so
great an application, as he was told she made to her pen; and he gave it
as the doctor's opinion, as well as his own, that she would recover, if
she herself desired to recover, and would use the means.
She may possibly write too much for her health: but I have observed, on
several occasions, that when the medical men are at a loss what to
prescribe, they inquire what their patients like best, or are most
diverted with, and forbid them that.
But, noble minded as they see this lady is, they know not half her
nobleness of mind, nor how deeply she is wounded; and depend too much
upon her youth, which I doubt will not do in this case; and upon time,
which will not alleviate the woes of such a mind: for, having been bent
upon doing good, and upon reclaiming a libertine whom she loved, she is
disappointed in all her darling views, and will never be able, I fear, to
look up with satisfaction enough in herself to make life desirable to
her. For this lady had other views in living, than the common ones of
eating, sleeping, dressing, visiting, and those other fashionable
amusements, which fill up the time of most of her sex, especially of
those of it who think themselves fitted to shine in and adorn polite
assemblies. Her grief, in short, seems to me to be of such a nature,
that time, which alleviates most other person's afflictions, will, as the
poet says, give increase to her's.
Thou, Lovelace, mightest have seen all this superior excellence, as thou
wentest along. In every word, in every sentiment, in every action, is it
visible.--But thy cursed inventions and intriguing spirit ran away with
thee. 'Tis fit that the subject of thy wicked boast, and thy reflections
on talents so egregiously misapplied, should be thy punishment and thy
Mr. Goddard took his leave; and I was going to do so too, when the maid
came up, and told her a gentleman was below, who very earnestly inquired
after her health, and desired to see her: his name Hickman.
She was overjoyed; and bid the maid desire the gentleman to walk up.
I would have withdrawn; but I supposed she thought it was likely I should
have met him upon the stairs; and so she forbid it.
She shot to the stairs-head to receive him, and, taking his hand, asked
half a dozen questions (without waiting for any answer) in relation to
Miss Howe's health; acknowledging, in high terms, her goodness in sending
him to see her, before she set out upon her little journey.
He gave her a letter from that young lady, which she put into her bosom,
saying, she would read it by-and-by.
He was visibly shocked to see how ill she looked.
You look at me with concern, Mr. Hickman, said she--O Sir! times are
strangely altered with me since I saw you last at my dear Miss Howe's!--