Part 5 out of 7
What a cheerful creature was I then!--my heart at rest! my prospects
charming! and beloved by every body!--but I will not pain you!
Indeed, Madam, said he, I am grieved for you at my soul.
He turned away his face, with visible grief in it.
Her own eyes glistened: but she turned to each of us, presenting one to
the other--him to me, as a gentleman truly deserving to be called so--me
to him, as your friend, indeed, [how was I at that instant ashamed of
myself!] but, nevertheless, as a man of humanity; detesting my friend's
baseness; and desirous of doing her all manner of good offices.
Mr. Hickman received my civilities with a coldness, which, however, was
rather to be expected on your account, than that it deserved exception on
mine. And the lady invited us both to breakfast with her in the morning;
he being obliged to return the next day.
I left them together, and called upon Mr. Dorrell, my attorney, to
consult him upon poor Belton's affairs; and then went home, and wrote
thus far, preparative to what may occur in my breakfasting-visit in the
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
THURSDAY, JULY 27.
I went this morning, according to the lady's invitation, to breakfast,
and found Mr. Hickman with her.
A good deal of heaviness and concern hung upon his countenance: but he
received me with more respect than he did yesterday; which, I presume,
was owing to the lady's favourable character of me.
He spoke very little; for I suppose they had all their talk out
yesterday, and before I came this morning.
By the hints that dropped, I perceived that Miss Howe's letter gave an
account of your interview with her at Col. Ambrose's--of your professions
to Miss Howe; and Miss Howe's opinion, that marrying you was the only way
now left to repair her wrongs.
Mr. Hickman, as I also gathered, had pressed her, in Miss Howe's name, to
let her, on her return from the Isle of Wight, find her at a neighbouring
farm-house, where neat apartments would be made ready to receive her.
She asked how long it would be before they returned? And he told her, it
was proposed to be no more than a fortnight out and in. Upon which she
said, she should then perhaps have time to consider of that kind
He had tendered her money from Miss Howe; but could not induce her to
take any. No wonder I was refused! she only said, that, if she had
occasion, she would be obliged to nobody but Miss Howe.
Mr. Goddard, her apothecary, came in before breakfast was over. At her
desire he sat down with us. Mr. Hickman asked him, if he could give him
any consolation in relation to Miss Harlowe's recovery, to carry down to
a friend who loved her as she loved her own life?
The lady, said he, will do very well, if she will resolve upon it
herself. Indeed you will, Madam. The doctor is entirely of this
opinion; and has ordered nothing for you but weak jellies and innocent
cordials, lest you should starve yourself. And let me tell you, Madam,
that so much watching, so little nourishment, and so much grief, as you
seem to indulge, is enough to impair the most vigorous health, and to
wear out the strongest constitution.
What, Sir, said she, can I do? I have no appetite. Nothing you call
nourishing will stay on my stomach. I do what I can: and have such kind
directors in Dr. H. and you, that I should be inexcusable if I did not.
I'll give you a regimen, Madam, replied he; which, I am sure, the doctor
will approve of, and will make physic unnecessary in your case. And that
is, 'go to rest at ten at night. Rise not till seven in the morning.
Let your breakfast be watergruel, or milk-pottage, or weak broths: your
dinner any thing you like, so you will but eat: a dish of tea, with milk,
in the afternoon; and sago for your supper: and, my life for your's, this
diet, and a month's country air, will set you up.'
We were much pleased with the worthy gentleman's disinterested regimen:
and she said, referring to her nurse, (who vouched for her,) Pray, Mr.
Hickman, let Miss Howe know the good hands I am in: and as to the kind
charge of the gentleman, assure her, that all I promised to her, in the
longest of my two last letters, on the subject of my health, I do and
will, to the utmost of my power, observe. I have engaged, Sir, (to Mr.
Goddard,) I have engaged, Sir, (to me,) to Miss Howe, to avoid all wilful
neglects. It would be an unpardonable fault, and very ill become the
character I would be glad to deserve, or the temper of mind I wish my
friends hereafter to think me mistress of, if I did not.
Mr. Hickman and I went afterwards to a neighbouring coffee-house; and he
gave me some account of your behaviour at the ball on Monday night, and
of your treatment of him in the conference he had with you before that;
which he represented in a more favourable light than you had done
yourself: and yet he gave his sentiments of you with great freedom, but
with the politeness of a gentleman.
He told me how very determined the lady was against marrying you; that
she had, early this morning, set herself to write a letter to Miss Howe,
in answer to one he brought her, which he was to call for at twelve, it
being almost finished before he saw her at breakfast; and that at three
he proposed to set out on his return.
He told me that Miss Howe, and her mother, and himself, were to begin
their little journey for the Isle of Wight on Monday next: but that he
must make the most favourable representation of Miss Harlowe's bad
health, or they should have a very uneasy absence. He expressed the
pleasure he had in finding the lady in such good hands. He proposed to
call on Dr. H. to take his opinion whether it were likely she would
recover; and hoped he should find it favourable.
As he was resolved to make the best of the matter, and as the lady had
refused to accept of the money offered by Mr. Hickman, I said nothing of
her parting with her clothes. I thought it would serve no other end to
mention it, but to shock Miss Howe: for it has such a sound with it, that
a woman of her rank and fortune should be so reduced, that I cannot
myself think of it with patience; nor know I but one man in the world who
This gentleman is a little finical and formal. Modest or diffident men
wear not soon off those little precisenesses, which the confident, if
ever they had them, presently get above; because they are too confident
to doubt any thing. But I think Mr. Hickman is an agreeable, sensible
man, and not at all deserving of the treatment or the character you give
But you are really a strange mortal: because you have advantages in your
person, in your air, and intellect, above all the men I know, and a face
that would deceive the devil, you can't think any man else tolerable.
It is upon this modest principle that thou deridest some of us, who, not
having thy confidence in their outside appearance, seek to hide their
defects by the tailor's and peruke-maker's assistance; (mistakenly
enough, if it be really done so absurdly as to expose them more;) and
sayest, that we do but hang out a sign, in our dress, of what we have in
the shop of our minds. This, no doubt, thou thinkest, is smartly
observed: but pr'ythee, Lovelace, let me tell thee, if thou canst, what
sort of a sign must thou hang out, wert thou obliged to give us a clear
idea by it of the furniture of thy mind?
Mr. Hickman tells me, he should have been happy with Miss Howe some weeks
ago, (for all the settlements have been some time engrossed;) but that
she will not marry, she declares, while her dear friend is so unhappy.
This is truly a charming instance of the force of female friendship;
which you and I, and our brother rakes, have constantly ridiculed as a
chimerical thing in women of equal age, and perfections.
But really, Lovelace, I see more and more that there are not in the
world, with our conceited pride, narrower-souled wretches than we rakes
and libertines are. And I'll tell thee how it comes about.
Our early love of roguery makes us generally run away from instruction;
and so we become mere smatterers in the sciences we are put to learn;
and, because we will know no more, think there is no more to be known.
With an infinite deal of vanity, un-reined imaginations, and no judgments
at all, we next commence half-wits, and then think we have the whole
field of knowledge in possession, and despise every one who takes more
pains, and is more serious, than ourselves, as phlegmatic, stupid
fellows, who have no taste for the most poignant pleasures of life.
This makes us insufferable to men of modesty and merit, and obliges us to
herd with those of our own cast; and by this means we have no
opportunities of seeing or conversing with any body who could or would
show us what we are; and so we conclude that we are the cleverest fellows
in the world, and the only men of spirit in it; and looking down with
supercilious eyes on all who gave not themselves the liberties we take,
imagine the world made for us, and for us only.
Thus, as to useful knowledge, while others go to the bottom, we only skim
the surface; are despised by people of solid sense, of true honour, and
superior talents; and shutting our eyes, move round and round, like so
many blind mill-horses, in one narrow circle, while we imagine we have
all the world to range in.
I threw myself in Mr. Hickman's way, on his return from the lady.
He was excessively moved at taking leave of her; being afraid, as he said
to me, (though he would not tell her so,) that he should never see her
again. She charged him to represent every thing to Miss Howe in the most
favourable light that the truth would bear.
He told me of a tender passage at parting; which was, that having saluted
her at her closet-door, he could not help once more taking the same
liberty, in a more fervent manner, at the stairs-head, whither she
accompanied him; and this in the thought, that it was the last time he
should ever have that honour; and offering to apologize for his freedom
(for he had pressed her to his heart with a vehemence, that he could
neither account for or resist)--'Excuse you, Mr. Hickman! that I will:
you are my brother and my friend: and to show you that the good man, who
is to be happy with my beloved Miss Howe, is very dear to me, you shall
carry to her this token of my love,' [offering her sweet face to his
salute, and pressing his hand between her's:] 'and perhaps her love of me
will make it more agreeable to her, than her punctilio would otherwise
allow it to be: and tell her, said she, dropping on one knee, with
clasped hands, and uplifted eyes, that in this posture you see me, in the
last moment of our parting, begging a blessing upon you both, and that
you may be the delight and comfort of each other, for many, very many
Tears, said he, fell from my eyes: I even sobbed with mingled joy and
sorrow; and she retreating as soon as I raised her, I went down stairs
highly dissatisfied with myself for going; yet unable to stay; my eyes
fixed the contrary way to my feet, as long as I could behold the skirts
of her raiment.
I went to the back-shop, continued the worthy man, and recommended the
angelic lady to the best care of Mrs. Smith; and, when I was in the
street, cast my eye up at her window: there, for the last time, I doubt,
said he, that I shall ever behold her, I saw her; and she waved her
charming hand to me, and with such a look of smiling goodness, and
mingled concern, as I cannot describe.
Pr'ythee tell me, thou vile Lovelace, if thou hast not a notion, even
from these jejune descriptions of mine, that there must be a more exalted
pleasure in intellectual friendship, than ever thou couldst taste in the
gross fumes of sensuality? And whether it may not be possible for thee,
in time, to give that preference to the infinitely preferable, which I
hope, now, that I shall always give?
I will leave thee to make the most of this reflection, from
Thy true friend,
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
THURSDAY, JULY 25.*
* Text error: should be Tuesday.
Your two affecting letters were brought to me (as I had directed any
letter from you should be) to the Colonel's, about an hour before we
broke up. I could not forbear dipping into them there; and shedding
more tears over them than I will tell you of; although I dried my eyes
as well as I could, that the company I was obliged to return to, and my
mother, should see as little of my concern as possible.
I am yet (and was then still more) excessively fluttered. The occasion
I will communicate to you by-and-by: for nothing but the flutters given
by the stroke of death could divert my first attention from the sad and
solemn contents of your last favour. These therefore I must begin with.
How can I bear the thoughts of losing so dear a friend! I will not so
much as suppose it. Indeed I cannot! such a mind as your's was not
vested in humanity to be snatched away from us so soon. There must still
be a great deal for you to do for the good of all who have the happiness
to know you.
You enumerate in your letter of Thursday last,* the particulars in which
your situation is already mended: let me see by effects that you are in
earnest in that enumeration; and that you really have the courage to
resolve to get above the sense of injuries you could not avoid; and then
will I trust to Providence and my humble prayers for your perfect
recovery: and glad at my heart shall I be, on my return from the little
island, to find you well enough to be near us according to the proposal
Mr. Hickman has to make to you.
* See Vol. VII. Letter XXV.
You chide me in your's of Sunday on the freedom I take with your
* Ibid. Letter XLII.
I may be warm. I know I am--too warm. Yet warmth in friendship, surely,
cannot be a crime; especially when our friend has great merit, labours
under oppression, and is struggling with undeserved calamity.
I have no opinion of coolness in friendship, be it dignified or
distinguished by the name of prudence, or what it will.
You may excuse your relations. It was ever your way to do so. But, my
dear, other people must be allowed to judge as they please. I am not
their daughter, nor the sister of your brother and sister--I thank
Heaven, I am not.
But if you are displeased with me for the freedoms I took so long ago as
you mention, I am afraid, if you knew what passed upon an application I
made to your sister very lately, (in hopes to procure you the absolution
your heart is so much set upon,) that you would be still more concerned.
But they have been even with me--but I must not tell you all. I hope,
however, that these unforgivers [my mother is among them] were always
good, dutiful, passive children to their parents.
Once more forgive me. I owned I was too warm. But I have no example to
the contrary but from you: and the treatment you meet with is very little
encouragement to me to endeavour to imitate you in your dutiful meekness.
You leave it to me to give a negative to the hopes of the noble family,
whose only disgrace is, that so very vile a man is so nearly related to
them. But yet--alas! my dear, I am so fearful of consequences, so
selfishly fearful, if this negative must be given--I don't know what I
should say--but give me leave to suspend, however, this negative till I
hear from you again.
This earnest courtship of you into their splendid family is so very
honourable to you--they so justly admire you--you must have had such a
noble triumph over the base man--he is so much in earnest--the world
knows so much of the unhappy affair--you may do still so much good--your
will is so inviolate--your relations are so implacable--think, my dear,
And let me leave you to do so, while I give you the occasion of the
flutter I mentioned at the beginning of this letter; in the conclusion
of which you will find the obligation I have consented to lay myself
under, to refer this important point once more to your discussion, before
I give, in your name, the negative that cannot, when given, be with
honour to yourself repented of or recalled.
Know, then, my dear, that I accompanied my mother to Colonel Ambrose's on
the occasion I mentioned to you in my former. Many ladies and gentlemen
were there whom you know; particularly Miss Kitty D'Oily, Miss Lloyd,
Miss Biddy D'Ollyffe, Miss Biddulph, and their respective admirers, with
the Colonel's two nieces; fine women both; besides many whom you know
not; for they were strangers to me but by name. A splendid company, and
all pleased with one another, till Colonel Ambrose introduced one, who,
the moment he was brought into the great hall, set the whole assembly
into a kind of agitation.
It was your villain.
I thought I should have sunk as soon as I set my eyes upon him. My
mother was also affected; and, coming to me, Nancy, whispered she, can
you bear the sight of that wretch without too much emotion?--If not,
withdraw into the next apartment.
I could not remove. Every body's eyes were glanced from him to me. I
sat down and fanned myself, and was forced to order a glass of water.
Oh! that I had the eye the basilisk is reported to have, thought I, and
that his life were within the power of it!--directly would I kill him.
He entered with an air so hateful to me, but so agreeable to every other
eye, that I could have looked him dead for that too.
After the general salutations he singled out Mr. Hickman, and told him he
had recollected some parts of his behaviour to him, when he saw him last,
which had made him think himself under obligation to his patience and
And so, indeed, he was.
Miss D'Oily, upon his complimenting her, among a knot of ladies, asked
him, in their hearing, how Miss Clarissa Harlowe did?
He heard, he said, you were not so well as he wished you to be, and as
you deserved to be.
O Mr. Lovelace, said she, what have you to answer for on that young
lady's account, if all be true that I have heard.
I have a great deal to answer for, said the unblushing villain: but that
dear lady has so many excellencies, and so much delicacy, that little
sins are great ones in her eye.
Little sins! replied Miss D'Oily: Mr. Lovelace's character is so well
known, that nobody believes he can commit little sins.
You are very good to me, Miss D'Oily.
Indeed I am not.
Then I am the only person to whom you are not very good: and so I am the
less obliged to you.
He turned, with an unconcerned air, to Miss Playford, and made her some
genteel compliments. I believe you know her not. She visits his cousins
Montague. Indeed he had something in his specious manner to say to every
body: and this too soon quieted the disgust each person had at his
I still kept my seat, and he either saw me not, or would not yet see me;
and addressing himself to my mother, taking her unwilling hand, with an
air of high assurance, I am glad to see you here, Madam, I hope Miss Howe
is well. I have reason to complain greatly of her: but hope to owe to
her the highest obligation that can be laid on man.
My daughter, Sir, is accustomed to be too warm and too zealous in her
friendships for either my tranquility or her own.
There had indeed been some late occasion given for mutual displeasure
between my mother and me: but I think she might have spared this to him;
though nobody heard it, I believe, but the person to whom it was spoken,
and the lady who told it me; for my mother spoke it low.
We are not wholly, Madam, to live for ourselves, said the vile hypocrite:
it is not every one who had a soul capable of friendship: and what a
heart must that be, which can be insensible to the interests of a
This sentiment from Mr. Lovelace's mouth! said my mother--forgive me,
Sir; but you can have no end, surely, in endeavouring to make me think as
well of you as some innocent creatures have thought of you to their cost.
She would have flung from him. But, detaining her hand--Less severe,
dear Madam, said he, be less severe in this place, I beseech you. You
will allow, that a very faulty person may see his errors; and when he
does, and owns them, and repents, should he not be treated mercifully?
Your air, Sir, seems not to be that of a penitent. But the place may as
properly excuse this subject, as what you call my severity.
But, dearest Madam, permit me to say, that I hope for your interest with
your charming daughter (was his syncophant word) to have it put in my
power to convince all the world that there never was a truer penitent.
And why, why this anger, dear Madam, (for she struggled to get her hand
out of his,) these violent airs--so maidenly! [impudent fellow!]--May I
not ask, if Miss Howe be here?
She would not have been here, replied my mother, had she known whom she
had been to see.
And is she here, then?--Thank Heaven!--he disengaged her hand, and stept
forward into company.
Dear Miss Lloyd, said he, with an air, (taking her hand as he quitted my
mother's,) tell me, tell me, is Miss Arabella Harlowe here? Or will she
be here? I was informed she would--and this, and the opportunity of
paying my compliments to your friend Miss Howe, were great inducements
with me to attend the Colonel.
Superlative assurance! was it not, my dear?
Miss Arabella Harlowe, excuse me, Sir, said Miss Lloyd, would be very
little inclined to meet you here, or any where else.
Perhaps so, my dear Miss Lloyd: but, perhaps, for that very reason, I am
more desirous to see her.
Miss Harlowe, Sir, and Miss Biddulph, with a threatening air, will hardly
be here without her brother. I imagine, if one comes, both will come.
Heaven grant they both may! said the wretch. Nothing, Miss Biddulph,
shall begin from me to disturb this assembly, I assure you, if they do.
One calm half-hour's conversation with that brother and sister, would be
a most fortunate opportunity to me, in presence of the Colonel and his
lady, or whom else they should choose.
Then, turning round, as if desirous to find out the one or the other, he
'spied me, and with a very low bow, approached me.
I was all in a flutter, you may suppose. He would have taken my hand. I
refused it, all glowing with indignation: every body's eyes upon us.
I went down from him to the other end of the room, and sat down, as I
thought, out of his hated sight; but presently I heard his odious voice,
whispering, behind my chair, (he leaning upon the back of it, with
impudent unconcern,) Charming Miss Howe! looking over my shoulder: one
request--[I started up from my seat; but could hardly stand neither, for
very indignation]--O this sweet, but becoming disdain! whispered on the
insufferable creature--I am sorry to give you all this emotion: but
either here, or at your own house, let me entreat from you one quarter of
an hour's audience.--I beseech you, Madam, but one quarter of an hour, in
any of the adjoining apartments.
Not for a kingdom, fluttering my fan. I knew not what I did.--But I
could have killed him.
We are so much observed--else on my knees, my dear Miss Howe, would I beg
your interest with your charming friend.
She'll have nothing to say to you.
(I had not then your letters, my dear.)
Killing words!--But indeed I have deserved them, and a dagger in my heart
besides. I am so conscious of my demerits, that I have no hope, but in
your interposition--could I owe that favour to Miss Howe's mediation
which I cannot hope for on any other account--
My mediation, vilest of men!--My mediation!--I abhor you!--From my soul,
I abhor you, vilest of men!--Three or four times I repeated these words,
stammering too.--I was excessively fluttered.
You can tell me nothing, Madam, so bad as I will call myself. I have
been, indeed, the vilest of men; but now I am not so. Permit me--every
body's eyes are upon us!--but one moment's audience--to exchange but ten
words with you, dearest Miss Howe--in whose presence you please--for your
dear friend's sake--but ten words with you in the next apartment.
It is an insult upon me to presume that I would exchange with you, if I
could help it!--Out of my way! Out of my sight--fellow!
And away I would have flung: but he took my hand. I was excessively
disordered--every body's eyes more and more intent upon us.
Mr. Hickman, whom my mother had drawn on one side, to enjoin him a
patience, which perhaps needed not to have been enforced, came up just
then, with my mother who had him by his leading-strings--by his sleeve
I should say.
Mr. Hickman, said the bold wretch, be my advocate but for ten words in
the next apartment with Miss Howe, in your presence; and in your's,
Madam, to my mother.
Hear, Nancy, what he has to say to you. To get rid of him, hear his ten
Excuse me, Madam! his very breath--Unhand me, Sir!
He sighed and looked--O how the practised villain sighed and looked! He
then let go my hand, with such a reverence in his manner, as brought
blame upon me from some, that I would not hear him.--And this incensed me
the more. O my dear, this man is a devil! This man is indeed a devil!--
So much patience when he pleases! So much gentleness!--Yet so resolute,
so persisting, so audacious!
I was going out of the assembly in great disorder. He was at the door as
soon as I.
How kind this is, said the wretch; and, ready to follow me, opened the
door for me.
I turned back upon this: and, not knowing what I did, snapped my fan just
in his face, as he turned short upon me; and the powder flew from his
Every body seemed as much pleased as I was vexed.
He turned to Mr. Hickman, nettled at the powder flying, and at the smiles
of the company upon him; Mr. Hickman, you will be one of the happiest men
in the world, because you are a good man, and will do nothing to provoke
this passionate lady; and because she has too much good sense to be
provoked without reason: but else the Lord have mercy upon you!
This man, this Mr. Hickman, my dear, is too meek for a man. Indeed he
is.--But my patient mother twits me, that her passionate daughter ought
to like him the better for that. But meek men abroad are not always meek
at home. I have observed that in more instances than one: and if they
were, I should not, I verily think, like them the better for being so.
He then turned to my mother, resolved to be even with her too: Where,
good Madam, could Miss Howe get all this spirit?
The company around smiled; for I need not tell you that my mother's high
spiritedness is pretty well known; and she, sadly vexed, said, Sir, you
treat me, as you do the rest of the world--but--
I beg pardon, Madam, interrupted he: I might have spared my question--and
instantly (I retiring to the other end of the hall) he turned to Miss
Playford; What would I give, Madam, to hear you sing that song you
obliged us with at Lord M.'s!
He then, as if nothing had happened, fell into a conversation with her
and Miss D'Ollyffe, upon music; and whisperingly sung to Miss Playford;
holding her two hands, with such airs of genteel unconcern, that it vexed
me not a little to look round, and see how pleased half the giddy fools
of our sex were with him, notwithstanding his notorious wicked character.
To this it is that such vile fellows owe much of their vileness: whereas,
if they found themselves shunned, and despised, and treated as beasts of
prey, as they are, they would run to their caverns; there howl by
themselves; and none but such as sad accident, or unpitiable presumption,
threw in their way, would suffer by them.
He afterwards talked very seriously, at times, to Mr. Hickman: at times,
I say; for it was with such breaks and starts of gaiety, turning to this
lady, and to that, and then to Mr. Hickman again, resuming a serious or
a gay air at pleasure, that he took every body's eye, the women's
especially; who were full of their whispering admirations of him,
qualified with if's and but's, and what pity's, and such sort of stuff,
that showed in their very dispraises too much liking.
Well may our sex be the sport and ridicule of such libertines!
Unthinking eye-governed creatures!--Would not a little reflection teach
us, that a man of merit must be a man of modesty, because a diffident
one? and that such a wretch as this must have taken his degrees in
wickedness, and gone through a course of vileness, before he could arrive
at this impenetrable effrontery? an effrontery which can produce only
from the light opinion he has of us, and the high one of himself.
But our sex are generally modest and bashful themselves, and are too apt
to consider that which in the main is their principal grace, as a defect:
and finely do they judge, when they think of supplying that defect by
choosing a man that cannot be ashamed.
His discourse to Mr. Hickman turned upon you, and his acknowledged
injuries of you: though he could so lightly start from the subject, and
return to it.
I have no patience with such a devil--man he cannot be called. To be
sure he would behave in the same manner any where, or in any presence,
even at the altar itself, if a woman were with him there.
It shall ever be a rule with me, that he who does not regard a woman with
some degree of reverence, will look upon her and occasionally treat her
He had the confidence to offer to take me out; but I absolutely refused
him, and shunned him all I could, putting on the most contemptuous airs;
but nothing could mortify him.
I wished twenty times I had not been there.
The gentlemen were as ready as I to wish he had broken his neck, rather
than been present, I believe: for nobody was regarded but he. So little
of the fop; yet so elegant and rich in his dress: his person so specious:
his air so intrepid: so much meaning and penetration in his face: so much
gaiety, yet so little affectation; no mere toupet-man; but all manly; and
his courage and wit, the one so known, the other so dreaded, you must
think the petits-maitres (of which there were four or five present) were
most deplorably off in his company; and one grave gentleman observed to
me, (pleased to see me shun him as I did,) that the poet's observation
was too true, that the generality of ladies were rakes in their hearts,
or they could not be so much taken with a man who had so notorious a
I told him the reflection both of the poet and applier was much too
general, and made with more ill-nature than good manners.
When the wretch saw how industriously I avoided him, (shifting from one
part of the hall to another,) he at last boldly stept up to me, as my
mother and Mr. Hickman were talking to me; and thus before them accosted
I beg your pardon, Madam; but by your mother's leave, I must have a few
moments' conversation with you, either here, or at your own house; and I
beg you will give me the opportunity.
Nancy, said my mother, hear what he has to say to you. In my presence
you may: and better in the adjoining apartment, if it must be, than to
come to you at our own house.
I retired to one corner of the hall, my mother following me, and he,
taking Mr. Hickman under his arm, following her--Well, Sir, said I, what
have you to say?--Tell me here.
I have been telling Mr. Hickman, said he, how much I am concerned for the
injuries I have done to the most excellent woman in the world: and yet,
that she obtained such a glorious triumph over me the last time I had the
honour to see her, as, with my penitence, ought to have abated her former
resentments: but that I will, with all my soul, enter into any measures
to obtain her forgiveness of me. My cousins Montague have told you this.
Lady Betty and Lady Sarah and my Lord M. are engaged for my honour. I
know your power with the dear creature. My cousins told me you gave them
hopes you would use it in my behalf. My Lord M. and his two sisters are
impatiently expecting the fruits of it. You must have heard from her
before now: I hope you have. And will you be so good as to tell me, if I
may have any hopes?
If I must speak on this subject, let me tell you that you have broken her
heart. You know not the value of the lady you have injured. You deserve
her not. And she despises you, as she ought.
Dear Miss Howe, mingle not passion with denunciations so severe. I must
know my fate. I will go abroad once more, if I find her absolutely
irreconcileable. But I hope she will give me leave to attend upon her,
to know my doom from her own mouth.
It would be death immediate for her to see you. And what must you be, to
be able to look her in the face?
I then reproached him (with vehemence enough you may believe) on his
baseness, and the evils he had made you suffer: the distress he had
reduced you to; all your friends made your enemies: the vile house he had
carried you to; hinted at his villanous arts; the dreadful arrest: and
told him of your present deplorable illness, and resolution to die rather
than to have him.
He vindicated not any part of his conduct, but that of the arrest; and so
solemnly protested his sorrow for his usage of you, accusing himself in
the freest manner, and by deserved appellations, that I promised to lay
before you this part of our conversation. And now you have it.
My mother, as well as Mr. Hickman, believes, from what passed on this
occasion, that he is touched in conscience for the wrongs he has done
you: but, by his whole behaviour, I must own, it seems to me that nothing
can touch him for half an hour together. Yet I have no doubt that he
would willingly marry you; and it piques his pride, I could see, that he
should be denied; as it did mine, that such a wretch had dared to think
it in his power to have such a woman whenever he pleased; and that it
must be accounted a condescension, and matter of obligation (by all his
own family at least) that he would vouchsafe to think of marriage.
Now, my dear, you have before you the reason why I suspend the decisive
negative to the ladies of his family. My mother, Miss Lloyd, and Miss
Biddulph, who were inquisitive after the subject of our retired
conversation, and whose curiosity I thought it was right, in some degree,
to gratify, (especially as these young ladies are of our select
acquaintance,) are all of opinion that you should be his.
You will let Mr. Hickman know your whole mind; and when he acquaint me
with it, I will tell you all my own.
Mean time, may the news he will bring me of the state of your health be
favourable! prays, with the utmost fervency,
Your ever faithful and affectionate
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
THURSDAY, JULY 27.
MY DEAREST MISS HOWE,
After I have thankfully acknowledged your favour in sending Mr. Hickman
to visit me before you set out upon your intended journey, I must chide
you (in the sincerity of that faithful love, which could not be the love
it is if it would not admit of that cementing freedom) for suspending the
decisive negative, which, upon such full deliberation, I had entreated
you to give to Mr. Lovelace's relations.
I am sorry that I am obliged to repeat to you, my dear, who know me so
well, that, were I sure I should live many years, I would not have Mr.
Lovelace; much less can I think of him, as it is probable I may not live
As to the world and its censures, you know, my dear, that, however
desirous I always was of a fair fame, yet I never thought it right to
give more than a second place to the world's opinion. The challenges
made to Mr. Lovelace, by Miss D'Oily, in public company, are a fresh
proof that I have lost my reputation: and what advantage would it be to
me, were it retrievable, and were I to live long, if I could not acquit
myself to myself?
Having in my former said so much on the freedoms you have taken with my
friends, I shall say the less now; but your hint, that something else has
newly passed between some of them and you, gives me great concern, and
that as well for my own sake as for theirs, since it must necessarily
incense them against me. I wise, my dear, that I had been left to my own
course on an occasion so very interesting to myself. But, since what is
done cannot be helped, I must abide the consequences: yet I dread more
than before, what may be my sister's answer, if an answer will be at all
Will you give me leave, my dear, to close this subject with one remark?
--It is this: that my beloved friend, in points where her own laudable
zeal is concerned, has ever seemed more ready to fly from the rebuke,
than from the fault. If you will excuse this freedom, I will acknowledge
thus far in favour of your way of thinking, as to the conduct of some
parents in these nice cases, that indiscreet opposition does frequently
as much mischief as giddy love.
As to the invitation you are so kind as to give me, to remove privately
into your neighbourhood, I have told Mr. Hickman that I will consider of
it; but believe, if you will be so good as to excuse me, that I shall not
accept of it, even should I be able to remove. I will give you my
reasons for declining it; and so I ought, when both my love and my
gratitude would make a visit now-and-then from my dear Miss Howe the most
consolate thing in the world to me.
You must know then, that this great town, wicked as it is, wants not
opportunities of being better; having daily prayers at several churches
in it; and I am desirous, as my strength will permit, to embrace those
opportunities. The method I have proposed to myself (and was beginning
to practise when that cruel arrest deprived me of both freedom and
strength) is this: when I was disposed to gentle exercise, I took a chair
to St. Dunstan's church in Fleet-street, where are prayers at seven in
the morning; I proposed if the weather favoured, to walk (if not, to take
chair) to Lincoln's-inn chapel, where, at eleven in the morning, and at
five in the afternoon, are the same desirable opportunities; and at other
times to go no farther than Covent-garden church, where are early morning
This method pursued, I doubt not, will greatly help, as it has already
done, to calm my disturbed thoughts, and to bring me to that perfect
resignation after which I aspire: for I must own, my dear, that sometimes
still my griefs and my reflections are too heavy for me; and all the aid
I can draw from religious duties is hardly sufficient to support my
staggering reason. I am a very young creature you know, my dear, to be
left to my own conduct in such circumstances as I am in.
Another reason why I choose not to go down into your neighbourhood, is
the displeasure that might arise, on my account, between your mother and
If indeed you were actually married, and the worthy man (who would then
have a title to all your regard) were earnestly desirous of near
neighbourhood, I know not what I might do: for although I might not
perhaps intend to give up my other important reasons at the time I should
make you a congratulatory visit, yet I might not know how to deny myself
the pleasure of continuing near you when there.
I send you enclosed the copy of my letter to my sister. I hope it will
be thought to be written with a true penitent spirit; for indeed it is.
I desire that you will not think I stoop too low in it; since there can
be no such thing as that in a child to parents whom she has unhappily
But if still (perhaps more disgusted than before at your freedom with
them) they should pass it by with the contempt of silence, (for I have
not yet been favoured with an answer,) I must learn to think it right in
them to do so; especially as it is my first direct application: for I
have often censured the boldness of those, who, applying for a favour,
which it is in a person's option to grant or refuse, take the liberty of
being offended, if they are not gratified; as if the petitioned had not
as good a right to reject, as the petitioner to ask.
But if my letter should be answered, and that in such terms as will make
me loth to communicate it to so warm a friend--you must not, my dear,
take it upon yourself to censure my relations; but allow for them as they
know not what I have suffered; as being filled with just resentments
against me, (just to them if they think them just;) and as not being able
to judge of the reality of my penitence.
And after all, what can they do for me?--They can only pity me: and what
will that but augment their own grief; to which at present their
resentment is an alleviation? for can they by their pity restore to me my
lost reputation? Can they by it purchase a sponge that will wipe out
from the year the past fatal four months of my life?*
* She takes in the time that she appointed to meet Mr. Lovelace.
Your account of the gay, unconcerned behaviour of Mr. Lovelace, at the
Colonel's, does not surprise me at all, after I am told that he had the
intrepidity to go there, knowing who were invited and expected.--Only
this, my dear, I really wonder at, that Miss Howe could imagine that I
could have a thought of such a man for a husband.
Poor wretch! I pity him, to see him fluttering about; abusing talents
that were given him for excellent purposes; taking in consideration for
courage; and dancing, fearless of danger, on the edge of a precipice!
But indeed his threatening to see me most sensibly alarms and shocks me.
I cannot but hope that I never, never more shall see him in this world.
Since you are so loth, my dear, to send the desired negative to the
ladies of his family, I will only trouble you to transmit the letter I
shall enclose for that purpose; directed indeed to yourself, because it
was to you that those ladies applied themselves on this occasion; but to
be sent by you to any one of the ladies, at your own choice.
I commend myself, my dearest Miss Howe, to your prayers; and conclude
with repeated thanks for sending Mr. Hickman to me; and with wishes for
your health and happiness, and for the speedy celebration of your
Your ever affectionate and obliged,
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
[ENCLOSED IN THE PRECEDING.]
THURSDAY, JULY 27.
MY DEAREST MISS HOWE,
Since you seem loth to acquiesce in my determined resolution, signified
to you as soon as I was able to hold a pen, I beg the favour of you, by
this, or by any other way you think most proper, to acquaint the worthy
ladies, who have applied to you in behalf of their relation, that
although I am infinitely obliged to their generous opinion of me, yet I
cannot consent to sanctify, as I may say, Mr. Lovelace's repeated
breaches of all moral sanctions, and hazard my future happiness by a
union with a man, through whose premeditated injuries, in a long train of
the basest contrivances, I have forfeited my temporal hopes.
He himself, when he reflects upon his own actions, must surely bear
testimony to the justice as well as fitness of my determination. The
ladies, I dare say, would, were they to know the whole of my unhappy
Be pleased to acquaint them that I deceive myself, if my resolution on
this head (however ungratefully and even inhumanely he has treated me) be
not owing more to principle than passion. Nor can I give a stronger
proof of the truth of this assurance, on this one easy condition, that he
will never molest me more.
In whatever way you choose to make this declaration, be pleased to let my
most respectful compliments to the ladies of that noble family, and to my
Lord M., accompany it. And do you, my dear, believe that I shall be, to
the last moment of my life,
Your ever obliged and affectionate
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
FRIDAY, JULY 28.
I have three letters of thine to take notice of:* but am divided in my
mind, whether to quarrel with thee on thy unmerciful reflections, or to
thank thee for thy acceptable particularity and diligence. But several
of my sweet dears have I, indeed, in my time, made to cry and laugh
before the cry could go off the other: Why may I not, therefore, curse
and applaud thee in the same moment? So take both in one: and what
follows, as it shall rise from my pen.
* Letters XLVI. XLVII. and XLVIII. of this volume.
How often have I ingenuously confessed my sins against this excellent
creature?--Yet thou never sparest me, although as bad a man as myself.
Since then I get so little by my confessions, I had a good mind to try to
defend myself; and that not only from antient and modern story, but from
common practice; and yet avoid repeating any thing I have suggested
before in my own behalf.
I am in a humour to play the fool with my pen: briefly then, from antient
story first:--Dost thou not think that I am as much entitled to
forgiveness on Miss Harlowe's account, as Virgil's hero was on Queen
Dido's? For what an ungrateful varlet was that vagabond to the
hospitable princess, who had willingly conferred upon him the last
favour?--Stealing away, (whence, I suppose, the ironical phrase of trusty
Trojan to this day,) like a thief--pretendedly indeed at the command of
the gods; but could that be, when the errand he went upon was to rob
other princes, not only of their dominions, but of their lives?--Yet this
fellow is, at every word, the pious AEneas, with the immortal bard who
Should Miss Harlowe even break her heart, (which Heaven forbid!) for the
usage she has received, (to say nothing of her disappointed pride, to
which her death would be attributable, more than to reason,) what
comparison will her fate hold to Queen Dido's? And have I half the
obligation to her, that AEneas had to the Queen of Carthage? The latter
placing a confidence, the former none, in her man?--Then, whom else have
I robbed? Whom else have I injured? Her brother's worthless life I gave
him, instead of taking any man's; while the Trojan vagabond destroyed his
thousands. Why then should it not be the pious Lovelace, as well as the
pious AEneas? For, dost thou think, had a conflagration happened, and had
it been in my power, that I would not have saved my old Anchises, (as he
did his from the Ilion bonfire,) even at the expense of my Creuesa, had I
a wife of that name?
But for a more modern instance in my favour--Have I used Miss Harlowe, as
our famous Maiden Queen, as she was called, used one of her own blood, a
sister-queen, who threw herself into her protection from her
rebel-subjects, and whom she detained prisoner eighteen years, and at
last cut off her head? Yet do not honest protestants pronounce her pious
too?--And call her particularly their Queen?
As to common practice--Who, let me ask, that has it in his power to
gratify a predominant passion, be it what it will, denies himself the
gratification?--Leaving it to cooler deliberation, (and, if he be a great
man, to his flatterers,) to find a reason for it afterwards?
Then, as to the worst part of my treatment of this lady, How many men are
there, who, as well as I, have sought, by intoxicating liquors, first to
inebriate, then to subdue? What signifies what the potations were, when
the same end was in view?
Let me tell thee, upon the whole, that neither the Queen of Carthage, nor
the Queen of Scots, would have thought they had any reason to complain of
cruelty, had they been used no worse than I have used the queen of my
heart: And then do I not aspire with my whole soul to repair by marriage?
Would the pious AEneas, thinkest thou, have done such a piece of justice
by Dido, had she lived?
Come, come, Belford, let people run away with notions as they will, I am
comparatively a very innocent man. And if by these, and other like
reasonings, I have quieted my own conscience, a great end is answered.
What have I to do with the world?
And now I sit me peaceably down to consider thy letters.
I hope thy pleas in my favour,* when she gave thee, (so generously gave
thee,) for me my letters, were urged with an honest energy. But I
suspect thee much for being too ready to give up thy client. Then thou
hast such a misgiving aspect, an aspect rather inviting rejection than
carrying persuasion with it; and art such an hesitating, such a humming
and hawing caitiff; that I shall attribute my failure, if I do fail,
rather to the inability and ill looks of my advocate, than to my cause.
Again, thou art deprived of the force men of our cast give to arguments;
for she won't let thee swear!-Art, moreover, a very heavy, thoughtless
fellow; tolerable only at a second rebound; a horrid dunce at the
impromptu. These, encountering with such a lady, are great
disadvantages.--And still a greater is thy balancing, (as thou dost at
present,) between old rakery and new reformation; since this puts thee
into the same situation with her, as they told me, at Leipsick, Martin
Luther was in, at the first public dispute which he held in defence of
his supposed new doctrines with Eckius. For Martin was then but a
linsey-wolsey reformer. He retained some dogmas, which, by natural
consequence, made others, that he held, untenable. So that Eckius, in
some points, had the better of him. But, from that time, he made clear
work, renouncing all that stood in his way: and then his doctrines ran
upon all fours. He was never puzzled afterwards; and could boldly
declare that he would defend them in the face of angels and men; and to
his friends, who would have dissuaded him from venturing to appear before
the Emperor Charles at Spires, That, were there as many devils at Spires,
as tiles upon the houses, he would go. An answer that is admired by
every protestant Saxon to this day.
* See Letter XLVII. of this volume.
Since then thy unhappy awkwardness destroys the force of thy arguments, I
think thou hadst better (for the present, however) forbear to urge her on
the subject of accepting the reparation I offer; lest the continual
teasing of her to forgive me should but strengthen her in her denials of
forgiveness; till, for consistency sake, she'll be forced to adhere to a
resolution so often avowed--Whereas, if left to herself, a little time,
and better health, which will bring on better spirits, will give her
quicker resentments; those quicker resentments will lead her into
vehemence; that vehemence will subside, and turn into expostulation and
parley: my friends will then interpose, and guaranty for me: and all our
trouble on both sides will be over.--Such is the natural course of
I cannot endure thee for thy hopelessness in the lady's recovery;* and
that in contradiction to the doctor and apothecary.
* See Letter XLVII. of this volume.
Time, in the words of Congreve, thou sayest, will give increase to her
afflictions. But why so? Knowest thou not that those words (so contrary
to common experience) were applied to the case of a person, while passion
was in its full vigour?--At such a time, every one in a heavy grief
thinks the same: but as enthusiasts do by Scripture, so dost thou by the
poets thou hast read: any thing that carries the most distant allusion
from either to the case in hand, is put down by both for gospel, however
incongruous to the general scope of either, and to that case. So once,
in a pulpit, I heard one of the former very vehemently declare himself to
be a dead dog; when every man, woman, and child, were convinced to the
contrary by his howling.
I can tell thee that, if nothing else will do, I am determined, in spite
of thy buskin-airs, and of thy engagements for me to the contrary, to see
Face to face have I known many a quarrel made up, which distance would
have kept alive, and widened. Thou wilt be a madder Jack than he in the
tale of a Tub, if thou givest an active opposition to this interview.
In short, I cannot bear the thought, that a woman whom once I had bound
to me in the silken cords of love, should slip through my fingers, and be
able, while my heart flames out with a violent passion for her, to
despise me, and to set both love and me at defiance. Thou canst not
imagine how much I envy thee, and her doctor, and her apothecary, and
every one who I hear are admitted to her presence and conversation; and
wish to be the one or the other in turn.
Wherefore, if nothing else will do, I will see her. I'll tell thee of an
admirable expedient, just come cross me, to save thy promise, and my own.
Mrs. Lovick, you say, is a good woman: if the lady be worse, you shall
advise her to send for a parson to pray by her: unknown to her, unknown
to the lady, unknown to thee, (for so it may pass,) I will contrive to be
the man, petticoated out, and vested in a gown and cassock. I once, for
a certain purpose, did assume the canonicals; and I was thought to make a
fine sleek appearance; my broad rose-bound beaver became me mightily; and
I was much admired upon the whole by all who saw me.
Methinks it must be charmingly a propos to see me kneeling down by her
bed-side, (I am sure I shall pray heartily,) beginning out of the
common-prayer book the sick-office for the restoration of the languishing
lady, and concluding with an exhortation to charity and forgiveness for
I will consider of this matter. But, in whatever shape I shall choose to
appear, of this thou mayest assure thyself, I will apprize thee
beforehand of my visit, that thou mayst contrive to be out of the way,
and to know nothing of the matter. This will save thy word; and, as to
mine, can she think worse of me than she does at present?
An indispensable of true love and profound respect, in thy wise opinion,*
is absurdity or awkwardness.--'Tis surprising that thou shouldst be one
of those partial mortals who take their measures of right and wrong from
what they find themselves to be, and cannot help being!--So awkwardness
is a perfection in the awkward!--At this rate, no man ever can be in the
wrong. But I insist upon it, that an awkward fellow will do every thing
awkwardly: and, if he be like thee, will, when he has done foolishly,
rack his unmeaning brain for excuses as awkward as his first fault.
Respectful love is an inspirer of actions worthy of itself; and he who
cannot show it, where he most means it, manifests that he is an unpolite
rough creature, a perfect Belford, and has it not in him.
* See Letter XLVI. of this volume.
But here thou'lt throw out that notable witticism, that my outside is the
best of me, thine the worst of thee; and that, if I set about mending my
mind, thou wilt mend thy appearance.
But, pr'ythee, Jack, don't stay for that; but set about thy amendment in
dress when thou leavest off thy mourning; for why shouldst thou
prepossess in thy disfavour all those who never saw thee before?--It is
hard to remove early-taken prejudices, whether of liking or distaste.
People will hunt, as I may say, for reasons to confirm first impressions,
in compliment to their own sagacity: nor is it every mind that has the
ingenuousness to confess itself half mistaken, when it finds itself to be
wrong. Thou thyself art an adept in the pretended science of reading
men; and, whenever thou art out, wilt study to find some reasons why it
was more probable that thou shouldst have been right; and wilt watch
every motion and action, and every word and sentiment, in the person thou
hast once censured, for proofs, in order to help thee to revive and
maintain thy first opinion. And, indeed, as thou seldom errest on the
favourable side, human nature is so vile a thing that thou art likely to
be right five times in six on what thou findest in thine own heart, to
have reason to compliment thyself on thy penetration.
Here is preachment for thy preachment: and I hope, if thou likest thy
own, thou wilt thank me for mine; the rather, as thou mayest be the
better for it, if thou wilt: since it is calculated for thy own meridian.
Well, but the lady refers my destiny to the letter she has written,
actually written, to Miss Howe; to whom it seems she has given her
reasons why she will not have me. I long to know the contents of this
letter: but am in great hopes that she has so expressed her denials, as
shall give room to think she only wants to be persuaded to the contrary,
in order to reconcile herself to herself.
I could make some pretty observations upon one or two places of the
lady's mediation: but, wicked as I am thought to be, I never was so
abandoned as to turn into ridicule, or even to treat with levity, things
sacred. I think it the highest degree of ill manners to jest upon those
subjects which the world in general look upon with veneration, and call
divine. I would not even treat the mythology of the heathen to a
heathen, with the ridicule that perhaps would fairly lie from some of the
absurdities that strike every common observer. Nor, when at Rome, and in
other popish countries, did I ever behave indecently at those ceremonies
which I thought very extraordinary: for I saw some people affected, and
seemingly edified, by them; and I contented myself to think, though they
were any good end to the many, there was religion enough in them, or
civil policy at least, to exempt them from the ridicule of even a bad man
who had common sense and good manners.
For the like reason I have never given noisy or tumultuous instances of
dislike to a new play, if I thought it ever so indifferent: for I
concluded, first, that every one was entitled to see quietly what he paid
for: and, next, as the theatre (the epitome of the world) consisted of
pit, boxes, and gallery, it was hard, I thought, if there could be such a
performance exhibited as would not please somebody in that mixed
multitude: and, if it did, those somebodies had as much right to enjoy
their own judgments, undisturbedly, as I had to enjoy mine.
This was my way of showing my disapprobation; I never went again. And as
a man is at his option, whether he will go to a play or not, he has not
the same excuse for expressing his dislike clamorously as if he were
compelled to see it.
I have ever, thou knowest, declared against those shallow libertines, who
could not make out their pretensions to wit, but on two subjects, to
which every man of true wit will scorn to be beholden: PROFANENESS and
OBSCENITY, I mean; which must shock the ears of every man or woman of
sense, without answering any end, but of showing a very low and abandoned
nature. And, till I came acquainted with the brutal Mowbray, [no great
praise to myself from such a tutor,] I was far from making so free as I
do now, with oaths and curses; for then I was forced to out-swear him
sometimes in order to keep him in his allegiance to me his general: nay,
I often check myself to myself, for this empty unprofitable liberty of
speech; in which we are outdone by the sons of the common-sewer.
All my vice is women, and the love of plots and intrigues; and I cannot
but wonder how I fell into those shocking freedoms of speech; since,
generally speaking, they are far from helping forward my main end: only,
now-and-then, indeed, a little novice rises to one's notice, who seems to
think dress, and oaths, and curses, the diagnostics of the rakish spirit
she is inclined to favour: and indeed they are the only qualifications
that some who are called rakes and pretty fellows have to boast of. But
what must the women be, who can be attracted by such empty-souled
profligates!--since wickedness with wit is hardly tolerable; but, without
it, is equally shocking and contemptible.
There again is preachment for thy preachment; and thou wilt be apt to
think that I am reforming too: but no such matter. If this were new
light darting in upon me, as thy morality seems to be to thee, something
of this kind might be apprehended: but this was always my way of
thinking; and I defy thee, or any of thy brethren, to name a time when I
have either ridiculed religion, or talked obscenely. On the contrary,
thou knowest how often I have checked that bear, in love-matters,
Mowbray, and the finical Tourville, and thyself too, for what ye have
called the double-entendre. In love, as in points that required a
manly-resentment, it has always been my maxim, to act, rather than to
talk; and I do assure thee, as to the first, the women themselves will
excuse the one sooner than the other.
As to the admiration thou expressest for the books of scripture, thou art
certainly right in it. But 'tis strange to me, that thou wert ignorant
of their beauty, and noble simplicity, till now. Their antiquity always
made me reverence them: And how was it possible that thou couldest not,
for that reason, if for no other, give them a perusal?
I'll tell thee a short story, which I had from my tutor, admonishing me
against exposing myself by ignorant wonder, when I should quit college,
to go to town, or travel.
'The first time Dryden's Alexander's Feast fell into his hands, he told
me, he was prodigiously charmed with it: and, having never heard any body
speak of it before, thought, as thou dost of the Bible, that he had made
a new discovery.
'He hastened to an appointment which he had with several wits, (for he
was then in town,) one of whom was a noted critic, who, according to him,
had more merit than good fortune; for all the little nibblers in wit,
whose writings would not stand the test of criticism, made it, he said, a
common cause to run him down, as men would a mad dog.
'The young gentleman (for young he then was) set forth magnificently in
the praises of that inimitable performance; and gave himself airs of
second-hand merit, for finding out its beauties.
'The old bard heard him out with a smile, which the collegian took for
approbation, till he spoke; and then it was in these mortifying words:
'Sdeath, Sir, where have you lived till now, or with what sort of company
have you conversed, young as you are, that you have never before heard of
the finest piece in the English language?'
This story had such an effect upon me, who had ever a proud heart, and
wanted to be thought a clever fellow, that, in order to avoid the like
disgrace, I laid down two rules to myself. The first, whenever I went
into company where there were strangers, to hear every one of them speak,
before I gave myself liberty to prate: The other, if I found any of them
above my match, to give up all title to new discoveries, contenting
myself to praise what they praised, as beauties familiar to me, though I
had never heard of them before. And so, by degrees, I got the reputation
of a wit myself: and when I threw off all restraint, and books, and
learned conversation, and fell in with some of our brethren who are now
wandering in Erebus, and with such others as Belton, Mowbray, Tourville,
and thyself, I set up on my own stock; and, like what we have been told
of Sir Richard, in his latter days, valued myself on being the emperor of
the company; for, having fathomed the depth of them all, and afraid of no
rival but thee, whom also I had got a little under, (by my gaiety and
promptitude at least) I proudly, like Addison's Cato, delighted to give
laws to my little senate.
Proceed with thee by-and-by.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
But now I have cleared myself of any intentional levity on occasion of my
beloved's meditation; which, as you observe, is finely suited to her
case, (that is to say, as she and you have drawn her case;) I cannot help
expressing my pleasure, that by one or two verses of it, [the arrow,
Jack, and what she feared being come upon her!] I am encouraged to hope,
what it will be very surprising to me if it do not happen: that is, in
plain English, that the dear creature is in the way to be a mamma.
This cursed arrest, because of the ill effects the terror might have had
upon her, in that hoped-for circumstance, has concerned me more than on
any other account. It would be the pride of my life to prove, in this
charming frost-piece, the triumph of Nature over principle, and to have a
young Lovelace by such an angel: and then, for its sake, I am confident
she will live, and will legitimate it. And what a meritorious little
cherub would it be, that should lay an obligation upon both parents
before it was born, which neither of them would be able to repay!--Could
I be sure it is so, I should be out of all pain for her recovery: pain, I
say; since, were she to die--[die! abominable word! how I hate it!] I
verily think I should be the most miserable man in the world.
As for the earnestness she expresses for death, she has found the words
ready to her hand in honest Job; else she would not have delivered
herself with such strength and vehemence.
Her innate piety (as I have more than once observed) will not permit her
to shorten her own life, either by violence or neglect. She has a mind
too noble for that; and would have done it before now, had she designed
any such thing: for to do it, like the Roman matron, when the mischief is
over, and it can serve no end; and when the man, however a Tarquin, as
some may think me in this action, is not a Tarquin in power, so that no
national point can be made of it; is what she has too much good sense to
Then, as I observed in a like case, a little while ago, the distress,
when this was written, was strong upon her; and she saw no end of it: but
all was darkness and apprehension before her. Moreover, has she it not
in her power to disappoint, as much as she has been disappointed?
Revenge, Jack, has induced many a woman to cherish a life, to which grief
and despair would otherwise have put an end.
And, after all, death is no such eligible thing, as Job in his
calamities, makes it. And a death desired merely from worldly
disappointments shows not a right mind, let me tell this lady, whatever
she may think of it.* You and I Jack, although not afraid, in the height
of passion or resentment, to rush into those dangers which might be
followed by a sudden and violent death, whenever a point of honour calls
upon us, would shudder at his cool and deliberate approach in a lingering
sickness, which had debilitated the spirits.
* Mr. Lovelace could not know, that the lady was so thoroughly sensible
of the solidity of this doctrine, as she really was: for, in her letter
to Mrs. Norton, (Letter XLIV. of this volume,) she says,--'Nor let it be
imagined, 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.'
So we read of a famous French general [I forget as well the reign of the
prince as the name of the man] who, having faced with intrepidity the
ghastly varlet on an hundred occasions in the field, was the most
dejected of wretches, when, having forfeited his life for treason, he was
led with all the cruel parade of preparation, and surrounding guards, to
The poet says well:
'Tis not the stoic lesson, got by rote,
The pomp of words, and pedant dissertation,
That can support us in the hour of terror.
Books have taught cowards to talk nobly of it:
But when the trial comes, they start, and stand aghast.
Very true: for then it is the old man in the fable, with his bundle of
The lady is well read in Shakspeare, our English pride and glory; and
must sometimes reason with herself in his words, so greatly expressed,
that the subject, affecting as it is, cannot produce any thing greater.
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible, warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice:
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
Or blown, with restless violence, about
The pendant worlds; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and uncertain thought
Imagines howling: 'tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loaded worldly life,
That pain, age, penury, and imprisonment,
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death.----
I find, by one of thy three letters, that my beloved had some account
from Hickman of my interview with Miss Howe, at Col. Ambrose's. I had a
very agreeable time of it there; although severely rallied by several of
the assembly. It concerns me, however, not a little, to find our affair
so generally known among the flippanti of both sexes. It is all her own
fault. There never, surely, was such an odd little soul as this.--Not to
keep her own secret, when the revealing of it could answer no possible
good end; and when she wants not (one would think) to raise to herself
either pity or friends, or to me enemies, by the proclamation!--Why,
Jack, must not all her own sex laugh in their sleeves at her weakness?
what would become of the peace of the world, if all women should take it
into their heads to follow her example? what a fine time of it would the
heads of families have? Their wives always filling their ears with their
confessions; their daughters with theirs: sisters would be every day
setting their brothers about cutting of throats, if the brothers had at
heart the honour of their families, as it is called; and the whole world
would either be a scene of confusion; or cuckoldom as much the fashion as
it is in Lithuania.*
* In Lithuania, the women are said to have so allowedly their gallants,
called adjutores, that the husbands hardly ever enter upon any part of
pleasure without them.
I am glad, however, that Miss Howe (as much as she hates me) kept her
word with my cousins on their visit to her, and with me at the Colonel's,
to endeavour to persuade her friend to make up all matters by matrimony;
which, no doubt, is the best, nay, the only method she can take, for her
own honour, and that of her family.
I had once thoughts of revenging myself on that vixen, and, particularly,
as thou mayest* remember, had planned something to this purpose on the
journey she is going to take, which had been talked of some time. But, I
think--let me see--yet, I think, I will let this Hickman have her safe
and entire, as thou believest the fellow to be a tolerable sort of a
mortal, and that I have made the worst of him: and I am glad, for his own
sake, he has not launched out too virulently against me to thee.
* See Vol. IV. Letter LIV.
But thou seest, Jack, by her refusal of money from him, or Miss Howe,*
that the dear extravagant takes a delight in oddnesses, choosing to part
with her clothes, though for a song. Dost think she is not a little
touched at times? I am afraid she is. A little spice of that insanity,
I doubt, runs through her, that she had in a stronger degree, in the
first week of my operations. Her contempt of life; her proclamations;
her refusal of matrimony; and now of money from her most intimate
friends; are sprinklings of this kind, and no other way, I think, to be
* See Letter XLVIII. of this volume.
Her apothecary is a good honest fellow. I like him much. But the silly
dear's harping so continually upon one string, dying, dying, dying, is
what I have no patience with. I hope all this melancholy jargon is owing
entirely to the way I would have her to be in. And it being as new to
her, as the Bible beauties to thee,* no wonder she knows not what to make
of herself; and so fancies she is breeding death, when the event will
turn out quite the contrary.
* See Letter XLVI. of this volume.
Thou art a sorry fellow in thy remarks on the education and qualification
of smarts and beaux of the rakish order; if by thy we's and us's thou
meanest thyself or me:* for I pretend to say, that the picture has no
resemblance of us, who have read and conversed as we have done. It may
indeed, and I believe it does, resemble the generality of the fops and
coxcombs about town. But that let them look to; for, if it affects not
me, to what purpose thy random shot?--If indeed thou findest, by the new
light darted in upon thee, since thou hast had the honour of conversing
with this admirable creature, that the cap fits thy own head, why then,
according to the qui capit rule, e'en take and clap it on: and I will
add a string of bells to it, to complete thee for the fore-horse of the
* Ibid. and Letter LXVIII.
Although I just now said a kind thing or two for this fellow Hickman; yet
I can tell thee, I could (to use one of my noble peer's humble phrases)
eat him up without a corn of salt, when I think of his impudence to
salute my charmer twice at parting:* And have still less patience with
the lady herself for presuming to offer her cheek or lip [thou sayest not
which] to him, and to press his clumsy fist between her charming hands.
An honour worth a king's ransom; and what I would give--what would I not
give? to have!--And then he, in return, to press her, as thou sayest he
did, to his stupid heart; at that time, no doubt, more sensible, than
ever it was before!
* See Letter XLVIII. of this volume.
By thy description of their parting, I see thou wilt be a delicate fellow
in time. My mortification in this lady's displeasure, will be thy
exaltation from her conversation. I envy thee as well for thy
opportunities, as for thy improvements: and such an impression has thy
concluding paragraph* made upon me, that I wish I do not get into a
reformation-humour as well as thou: and then what a couple of lamentable
puppies shall we make, howling in recitative to each other's discordant
Let me improve upon the thought, and imagine that, turned hermits, we
have opened the two old caves at Hornsey, or dug new ones; and in each of
our cells set up a death's head, and an hour-glass, for objects of
contemplation--I have seen such a picture: but then, Jack, had not the
old penitent fornicator a suffocating long grey beard? What figures
would a couple of brocaded or laced-waistcoated toupets make with their
sour screw'd up half-cock'd faces, and more than half shut eyes, in a
kneeling attitude, recapitulating their respective rogueries? This
scheme, were we only to make trial of it, and return afterwards to our
old ways, might serve to better purpose by far, than Horner's in the
Country Wife, to bring the pretty wenches to us.
Let me see; the author of Hudibras has somewhere a description that would
suit us, when met in one of our caves, and comparing our dismal notes
together. This is it. Suppose me described--
--He sat upon his rump,
His head like one in doleful dump:
Betwixt his knees his hands apply'd
Unto his cheeks, on either side:
And by him, in another hole,
Sat stupid Belford, cheek by jowl.
I know thou wilt think me too ludicrous. I think myself so. It is
truly, to be ingenuous, a forced put: for my passions are so wound up,
that I am obliged either to laugh or cry. Like honest drunken Jack
Daventry, [poor fellow!--What an unhappy end was his!]--thou knowest, I
used to observe, that whenever he rose from an entertainment, which he
never did sober, it was his way, as soon as he got to the door, to look
round him like a carrier pigeon just thrown up, in order to spy out his
course; and then, taking to his heels, he would run all the way home,
though it were a mile or two, when he could hardly stand, and must have
tumbled on his nose if he had attempted to walk moderately. This then
must be my excuse, in this my unconverted estate, for a conclusion so
unworthy of the conclusion to thy third letter.
What a length have I run!--Thou wilt own, that if I pay thee not in
quality, I do in quantity: and yet I leave a multitude of things
unobserved upon. Indeed I hardly at this present know what to do with
myself but scribble. Tired with Lord M. who, in his recovery, has played
upon me the fable of the nurse, the crying child, and the wolf--tired
with my cousins Montague, though charming girls, were they not so near of
kin--tired with Mowbray and Tourville, and their everlasting identity--
tired with the country--tired of myself--longing for what I have not--I
must go to town; and there have an interview with the charmer of my soul:
for desperate diseases must have desperate remedies; and I only wait to
know my doom from Miss Howe! and then, if it be rejection, I will try my
fate, and receive my sentence at her feet.--But I will apprize thee of it
beforehand, as I told thee, that thou mayest keep thy parole with the
lady in the best manner thou canst.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
[IN ANSWER TO HER'S OF JULY 27, SEE LETTERS L. LI. OF THIS VOLUME.]
FRIDAY NIGHT, JULY 28.
I will now, my dearest friend, write to you all my mind, without reserve,
on your resolution not to have this vilest of men. You gave me, in
your's of Sunday the 23d, reasons so worthy of the pure mind of my
Clarissa, in support of this your resolution, that nothing but self-love,
lest I should lose my ever-amiable friend, could have prevailed upon me
to wish you to alter it.
Indeed, I thought it was impossible there could be (however desirable) so
noble an instance given by any of our sex, of a passion conquered, when
there were so many inducements to give way to it. And, therefore, I was
willing to urge you once more to overcome your just indignation, and to
be prevailed upon by the solicitations of his friends, before you carried
your resentments to so great a height, that it would be more difficult
for you, and less to your honour to comply, than if you had complied at
But now, my dear, that I see you fixed in your noble resolution; and that
it is impossible for your pure mind to join itself with that of so
perjured a miscreant; I congratulate you most heartily upon it; and beg
your pardon for but seeming to doubt that theory and practice were not
the same thing with my beloved Clarissa.
I have only one thing that saddens my heart on this occasion; and that
is, the bad state of health Mr. Hickman (unwillingly) owns you are in.
Hitherto you have well observed the doctrine you always laid down to me,
That a cursed person should first seek the world's opinion of her; and,
in all cases where the two could not be reconciled, have preferred the
first to the last; and are, of consequence, well justified to your own
heart, as well as to your Anna Howe. Let me therefore beseech you to
endeavour, by all possible means, to recover your health and spirits:
and this, as what, if it can be effected, will crown the work, and show
the world, that you were indeed got above the base wretch; and, though
put out of your course for a little while, could resume it again, and go
on blessing all within your knowledge, as well by your example as by your
For Heaven's sake, then, for the world's sake, for the honour of our sex,
and for my sake, once more I beseech you, try to overcome this shock:
and, if you can overcome it, I shall then be as happy as I wish to be;
for I cannot, indeed I cannot, think of parting with you, for many, many
years to come.
The reasons you give for discouraging my wishes to have you near us are
so convincing, that I ought at present to acquiesce in them: but, my
dear, when your mind is fully settled, as, (now you are so absolutely
determined in it, with regard this wretch,) I hope it will soon be, I
shall expect you with us, or near us: and then you shall chalk out every
path that I will set my foot in; nor will I turn aside either to the
right hand or to the left.
You wish I had not mediated for you to your friends. I wish so too;
because my mediation was ineffectual; because it may give new ground for
the malice of some of them to work upon; and because you are angry with
me for doing so. But how, as I said in my former, could I sit down in
quiet, when I knew how uneasy their implacableness made you?--But I will
tear myself from the subject; for I see I shall be warm again--and
displease you--and there is not one thing in the world that I would do,
however agreeable to myself, if I thought it would disoblige you; nor any
one that I would omit to do, if I knew it would give you pleasure. And
indeed, my dear half-severe friend, I will try if I cannot avoid the
fault as willingly as I would the rebuke.
For this reason, I forbear saying any thing on so nice a subject as your
letter to your sister. It must be right, because you think it so--and if
it be taken as it ought, that will show you that it is. But if it beget
insults and revilings, as it is but too likely, I find you don't intend
to let me know it.
You were always so ready to accuse yourself for other people's faults,
and to suspect your own conduct rather than the judgment of your
relations, that I have often told you I cannot imitate you in this. It
is not a necessary point of belief with me, that all people in years are
therefore wise; or that all young people are therefore rash and
headstrong: it may be generally the case, as far as I know: and possibly
it may be so in the case of my mother and her girl: but I will venture
to say that it has not yet appeared to be so between the principals of
Harlowe-place and their second daughter.
You are for excusing them beforehand for their expected cruelty, as not
knowing what you have suffered, nor how ill you are: they have heard of
the former, and are not sorry for it: of the latter they have been told,
and I have most reason to know how they have taken it--but I shall be far
from avoiding the fault, and as surely shall incur the rebuke, if I say
any more upon this subject. I will therefore only add at present, That
your reasonings in their behalf show you to be all excellence; their
returns to you that they are all----Do, my dear, let me end with a little
bit of spiteful justice--but you won't, I know--so I have done, quite
done, however reluctantly: yet if you think of the word I would have
said, don't doubt the justice of it, and fill up the blank with it.
You intimate that were I actually married, and Mr. Hickman to desire it,
you would think of obliging me with a visit on the occasion; and that,
perhaps, when with me, it would be difficult for you to remove far from
Lord, my dear, what a stress do you seem to lay upon Mr. Hickman's
desiring it!--To be sure he does and would of all things desire to have
you near us, and with us, if we might be so favoured--policy, as well as
veneration for you, would undoubtedly make the man, if not a fool, desire
this. But let me tell you, that if Mr. Hickman, after marriage, should
pretend to dispute with me my friendships, as I hope I am not quite a
fool, I should let him know how far his own quiet was concerned in such
an impertinence; especially if they were such friendships as were
contracted before I knew him.
I know I always differed from you on this subject: for you think more
highly of a husband's prerogative than most people do of the royal one.
These notions, my dear, from a person of your sense and judgment, are no
way advantageous to us; inasmuch as they justify the assuming sex in
their insolence; when hardly one out of ten of them, their opportunities
considered, deserves any prerogative at all. Look through all the
families we know; and we shall not find one-third of them have half the
sense of their wives. And yet these are to be vested with prerogatives!
And a woman of twice their sense has nothing to do but hear, tremble, and
obey--and for conscience-sake too, I warrant!
But Mr. Hickman and I may perhaps have a little discourse upon these
sorts of subjects, before I suffer him to talk of the day: and then I
shall let him know what he has to trust to; as he will me, if he be a
sincere man, what he pretends to expect from me. But let me tell you, my
dear, that it is more in your power than, perhaps, you think it, to
hasten the day so much pressed for by my mother, as well as wished for by
you--for the very day that you can assure me that you are in a tolerable
state of health, and have discharged your doctor and apothecary, at their
own motions, on that account--some day in a month from that desirable
news shall be it. So, my dear, make haste and be well, and then this
matter will be brought to effect in a manner more agreeable to your Anna
Howe than it otherwise ever can.
I sent this day, by a particular hand, to the Misses Montague, your
letter of just reprobation of the greatest profligate in the kingdom; and
hope I shall not have done amiss that I transcribe some of the paragraphs
of your letter of the 23d, and send them with it, as you at first
intended should be done.
You are, it seems, (and that too much for your health,) employed in
writing. I hope it is in penning down the particulars of your tragical
story. And my mother has put me in mind to press you to it, with a view
that one day, if it might be published under feigned names, it would be
as much use as honour to the sex. My mother says she cannot help
admiring you for the propriety of your resentment of the wretch; and she
would be extremely glad to have her advice of penning your sad story
complied with. And then, she says, your noble conduct throughout your
trials and calamities will afford not only a shining example to your sex,
but at the same time, (those calamities befalling SUCH a person,) a
fearful warning to the inconsiderate young creatures of it.
On Monday we shall set out on our journey; and I hope to be back in a
fortnight, and on my return will have one pull more with my mother for a
London journey: and, if the pretence must be the buying of clothes, the
principal motive will be that of seeing once more my dear friend, while I
can say I have not finally given consent to the change of a visiter into
a relation, and so can call myself MY OWN, as well as
MISS HOWE, TO THE TWO MISSES MONTAGUE
SAT. JULY 29.
I have not bee wanting to use all my interest with my beloved friend, to
induce her to forgive and be reconciled to your kinsman, (though he has
so ill deserved it;) and have even repeated my earnest advice to her on
this head. This repetition, and the waiting for her answer, having taken
up time, have bee the cause that I could not sooner do myself the honour
of writing to you on this subject.
You will see, by the enclosed, her immovable resolution, grounded on
noble and high-souled motives, which I cannot but regret and applaud at
the same time: applaud, for the justice of her determination, which will
confirm all your worthy house in the opinion you had conceived of her
unequalled merit; and regret, because I have but too much reason to
apprehend, as well by that, as by the report of a gentleman just come
from her, that she is in a declining way, as to her health, that her
thoughts are very differently employed than on a continuance here.
The enclosed letter she thought fit to send to me unsealed, that, after
I had perused it, I might forward it to you: and this is the reason it is
superscribed by myself, and sealed with my seal. It is very full and
peremptory; but as she had been pleased, in a letter to me, dated the 23d
instant, (as soon as she could hold a pen,) to give me more ample reasons
why she could not comply with your pressing requests, as well as mine, I
will transcribe some of the passages in that letter, which will give one
of the wickedest men in the world, (if he sees them,) reason to think
himself one of the most unhappy, in the loss of so incomparable a wife as
he might have gloried in, had he not been so superlatively wicked. These
are the passages.
[See, for these passages, Miss Harlowe's letter, No. XLI. of this volume,
dated July 23, marked with a turned comma, thus ']
And now, Ladies, you have before you my beloved friend's reasons for her
refusal of a man unworthy of the relation he bears to so many excellent
persons: and I will add, [for I cannot help it,] that the merit and rank
of the person considered, and the vile manner of his proceedings, there
never was a greater villany committed: and since she thinks her first and
only fault cannot be expiated but by death, I pray to God daily, and will
hourly from the moment I shall hear of that sad catastrophe, that He will
be pleased to make him the subject of His vengeance, in some such way, as
that all who know of his perfidious crime, may see the hand of Heaven in
the punishment of it!
You will forgive me, Ladies: I love not mine own soul better than I do
Miss Clarissa Harlowe. And the distresses she has gone through; the
persecution she suffers from all her friends; the curse she lies under,
for his sake, from her implacable father; her reduced health and
circumstances, from high health and affluence; and that execrable arrest
and confinement, which have deepened all her other calamities, [and which
must be laid at his door, as it was the act of his vile agents, that,
whether from his immediate orders or not, naturally flowed from his
preceding baseness;] the sex dishonoured in the eye of the world, in the
person of one of the greatest ornaments of it; the unmanly methods,
whatever they were, [for I know not all as yet,] by which he compassed
her ruin; all these considerations join to justify my warmth, and my
execrations of a man whom I think excluded by his crimes from the benefit
even of christian forgiveness--and were you to see all she writes, and to
know the admirable talents she is mistress of, you yourselves would join
with me to admire her, and execrate him.
Believe me to be, with a high sense of your merits,
Your most obedient and humble servant,
MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
FRIDAY, JULY 28.
MY DEAREST YOUNG LADY,
I have the consolation to tell you that my son is once again in a hopeful
way, as to his health. He desires his duty to you. He is very low and
weak. And so am I. But this is the first time that I have been able,
for several days past, to sit up to write, or I would not have been so
Your letter to your sister is received and answered. You have the answer
by this time, I suppose. I wish it may be to your satisfaction: but am
afraid it will not: for, by Betty Barnes, I find they were in a great
ferment on receiving your's, and much divided whether it should be
answered or not. They will not yet believe that you are so ill, as [to
my infinite concern] I find you are. What passed between Miss Harlowe
and Miss Howe has been, as I feared it would be, an aggravation.
I showed Betty two or three passages in your letter to me; and she seemed
moved, and said, She would report them favourably, and would procure me a
visit from Miss Harlowe, if I would promise to show the same to her. But
I have heard no more of that.
Methinks, I am sorry you refuse the wicked man: but doubt not,
nevertheless, that your motives for doing so are more commendable than my
wishes that you would not. But as you would be resolved, as I may say,
on life, if you gave way to such a thought; and as I have so much
interest in your recovery; I cannot forbear showing this regard to
myself; and to ask you, If you cannot get over your just resentments?--
But I dare say no more on this subject.
What a dreadful thing indeed was it for my dearest tender young lady to
be arrested in the streets of London!--How does my heart go over again
and again for you, what your's must have suffered at that time!--Yet
this, to such a mind as your's, must be light, compared to what you had
O my dearest Miss Clary, how shall we know what to pray for, when we
pray, but that God's will may be done, and that we may be resigned to it!
--When at nine years old, and afterwards at eleven, you had a dangerous
fever, how incessantly did we grieve, and pray, and put up our vows to
the Throne of Grace, for your recovery!--For all our lives were bound up
in your life--yet now, my dear, as it has proved, [especially if we are
soon to lose you,] what a much more desirable event, both for you and for
us, would it have been, had we then lost you!
A sad thing to say! But as it is in pure love to you that I say it, and
in full conviction that we are not always fit to be our own choosers, I
hope it may be excusable; and the rather, as the same reflection will
naturally lead both you and me to acquiesce under the
dispensation; since we are assured that nothing happens by chance; and
the greatest good may, for aught we know, be produced from the heaviest
I am glad you are with such honest people; and that you have all your
effects restored. How dreadfully have you been used, that one should be
glad of such a poor piece of justice as that!
Your talent at moving the passions is always hinted at; and this Betty of
your sister's never comes near me that she is not full of it. But, as
you say, whom has it moved, that you wished to move? Yet, were it not
for this unhappy notion, I am sure your mother would relent. Forgive me,
my dear Miss Clary; for I must try one way to be convinced if my opinion
be not just. But I will not tell you what that is, unless it succeeds.
I will try, in pure duty and love to them, as to you.
May Heaven be your support in all your trials, is the constant prayer, my
dearest young lady, of
Your ever affectionate friend and servant,
MRS. NORTON, TO MRS. HARLOWE
FRIDAY, JULY 28.
Being forbid (without leave) to send you any thing I might happen to
receive from my beloved Miss Clary, and so ill, that I cannot attend
you to ask your leave, I give you this trouble, to let you know that I
have received a letter from her; which, I think, I should hereafter be
held inexcusable, as things may happen, if I did not desire permission
to communicate to you, and that as soon as possible.
Applications have been made to the dear young lady from Lord M., from
the two ladies his sisters, and from both his nieces, and from the wicked
man himself, to forgive and marry him. This, in noble indignation for
the usage she has received from him, she has absolutely refused. And
perhaps, Madam, if you and the honoured family should be of opinion that
to comply with their wishes is now the properest measure that can be
taken, the circumstances of things may require your authority or advice,
to induce her to change her mind.
I have reason to believe that one motive for her refusal is her full
conviction that she shall not long be a trouble to any body; and so she
would not give a husband a right to interfere with her family, in
relation to the estate her grandfather devised to her. But of this,
however, I have not the least intimation from her. Nor would she, I dare
say, mention it as a reason, having still stronger reasons, from his vile
treatment of her, to refuse him.
The letter I have received will show how truly penitent the dear creature
is; and, if I have your permission, I will send it sealed up, with a copy
of mine, to which it is an answer. But as I resolve upon this step
without her knowledge, [and indeed I do,] I will not acquaint her with
it, unless it be attended with desirable effects: because, otherwise,
besides making me incur her displeasure, it might quite break her already
half-broken heart. I am,
Your dutiful and ever-obliged servant,
MRS. HARLOWE, TO MRS. JUDITH NORTON
SUNDAY, JULY 30.
We all know your virtuous prudence, worthy woman: we all do. But your
partiality to this your rash favourite is likewise known. And we are no
less acquainted with the unhappy body's power of painting her distresses
so as to pierce a stone.
Every one is of opinion that the dear naughty creature is working about
to be forgiven and received: and for this reason it is that Betty has
been forbidden, [not by me, you may be assured!] to mention any more of
her letters; for she did speak to my Bella of some moving passages you
read to her.
This will convince you that nothing will be heard in her favour. To what
purpose then should I mention any thing about her?--But you may be sure
that I will, if I can have but one second. However, that is not at all
likely, until we see what the consequences of her crime will be: And who
can tell that?--She may--How can I speak it, and my once darling daughter
unmarried?--She may be with child!--This would perpetuate her stain. Her
brother may come to some harm; which God forbid!--One child's ruin, I
hope, will not be followed by another's murder!
As to her grief, and her present misery, whatever it be, she must bear
with it; and it must be short of what I hourly bear for her! Indeed I am
afraid nothing but her being at the last extremity of all will make her
father, and her uncles, and her other friends, forgive her.
The easy pardon perverse children meet with, when they have done the
rashest and most rebellious thing they can do, is the reason (as is
pleaded to us every day) that so may follow their example. They depend
upon the indulgent weakness of their parents' tempers, and, in that
dependence, harden their own hearts: and a little humiliation, when they
have brought themselves into the foretold misery, is to be a sufficient
atonement for the greatest perverseness.
But for such a child as this [I mention what others hourly say, but what
I must sorrowfully subscribe to] to lay plots and stratagems to deceive
her parents as well as herself! and to run away with a libertine! Can
there be any atonement for her crime? And is she not answerable to God,
to us, to you, and to all the world who knew her, for the abuse of such
talents as she has abused?
You say her heart is half-broken: Is it to be wondered at? Was not her
sin committed equally against warning and the light of her own knowledge?
That he would now marry her, or that she would refuse him, if she
believed him in earnest, as she has circumstanced herself, is not at all
probable; and were I inclined to believe it, nobody else here would. He
values not his relations; and would deceive them as soon as any others:
his aversion to marriage he has always openly declared; and still
occasionally declares it. But, if he be now in earnest, which every one
who knows him must doubt, which do you think (hating us too as he
professes to hate and despise us all) would be most eligible here, To
hear of her death, or of her marriage to such a vile man?
To all of us, yet, I cannot say! For, O my good Mrs. Norton, you know
what a mother's tenderness for the child of her heart would make her
choose, notwithstanding all that child's faults, rather than lose her
But I must sail with the tide; my own judgment also joining with the
general resentment; or I should make the unhappiness of the more worthy
still greater, [my dear Mr. Harlowe's particularly;] which is already
more than enough to make them unhappy for the remainder of their days.
This I know; if I were to oppose the rest, our son would fly out to find
this libertine; and who could tell what would be the issue of that with
such a man of violence and blood as that Lovelace is known to be?
All I can expect to prevail for her is, that in a week, or so, Mr. Brand
may be sent up to inquire privately about her present state and way of
life, and to see she is not altogether destitute: for nothing she writes
herself will be regarded.
Her father indeed has, at her earnest request, withdrawn the curse,
which, in a passion, he laid upon her, at her first wicked flight from
us. But Miss Howe, [it is a sad thing, Mrs. Norton, to suffer so many
ways at once,] had made matters so difficult by her undue liberties with
us all, as well by speech in all companies, as by letters written to my
Bella, that we could hardly prevail upon him to hear her letter read.
These liberties of Miss Howe with us; the general cry against us abroad
wherever we are spoken of; and the visible, and not seldom audible,
disrespectfulness, which high and low treat us with to our faces, as we
go to and from church, and even at church, (for no where else have we the
heart to go,) as if none of us had been regarded but upon her account;
and as if she were innocent, we all in fault; are constant aggravations,
you must needs think, to the whole family.
She has made my lot heavy, I am sure, that was far from being light
before!--To tell you truth, I am enjoined not to receive any thing of
her's, from any hand, without leave. Should I therefore gratify my
yearnings after her, so far as to receive privately the letter you
mention, what would the case be, but to torment myself, without being
able to do her good?--And were it to be known--Mr. Harlowe is so
passionate--And should it throw his gout into his stomach, as her rash
flight did--Indeed, indeed, I am very unhappy!--For, O my good woman,
she is my child still!--But unless it were more in my power--Yet do I
long to see the letter--you say it tells of her present way and
circumstances. The poor child, who ought to be in possession of
thousands!--And will!--For her father will be a faithful steward for
her.--But it must be in his own way, and at his own time.
And is she really ill?--so very ill?--But she ought to sorrow--she has
given a double measure of it.
But does she really believe she shall not long trouble us?--But, O my
Norton!--She must, she will, long trouble us--For can she think her
death, if we should be deprived of her, will put an end to our
afflictions?--Can it be thought that the fall of such a child will not
be regretted by us to the last hour of our lives?
But, in the letter you have, does she, without reserve, express her
contrition? Has she in it no reflecting hints? Does she not aim at
extenuations?--If I were to see it, will it not shock me so much, that