Clarissa, Volume 4 (of 9)
Part 4 out of 6
He stopped a moment or two, staring in his usual confident way, in my
downcast face, [Did I not, O my beloved friend, think you, want a father
or a mother just then?] But if he could not, so soon as he wished,
procure my consent to a day; in that case, he thought the compliment
might as well be made to Lord M. as not, [See, my dear!] since the
settlements might be drawn and engrossed in the intervenient time, which
would pacify his impatience, as no time would be lost.
You will suppose how I was affected by this speech, by repeating the
substance of what he said upon it; as follows.
But, by his soul, he knew not, so much was I upon the reserve, and so
much latent meaning did my eye import, whether, when he most hoped to
please me, he was not farthest from doing so. Would I vouchsafe to say,
whether I approved of his compliment to Lord M. or not?
To leave it to me, to choose whether the speedy day he ought to have
urged for with earnestness, should be accelerated or suspended!--Miss
Howe, thought I, at that moment, says, I must not run away from this man!
To be sure, Mr. Lovelace, if this matter be ever to be, it must be
agreeable to me to have the full approbation of one side, since I cannot
have that of the other.
If this matter be ever to be! Good God! what words are these at this
time of day! and full approbation of one side! Why that word
approbation? when the greatest pride of all my family is, that of having
the honour of so dear a creature for their relation? Would to heaven, my
dearest life, added he, that, without complimenting any body, to-morrow
might be the happiest day of my life!--What say you, my angel? with a
trembling impatience, that seemed not affected--What say you for
It was likely, my dear, I could say much to it, or name another day, had
I been disposed to the latter, with such an hinted delay from him.
I was silent.
Next day, Madam, if not to-morrow?--
Had he given me time to answer, it could not have been in the
affirmative, you must think--but, in the same breath, he went on--Or the
day after that?--and taking both my hands in his, he stared me into a
half-confusion--Would you have had patience with him, my dear?
No, no, said I, as calmly as possible, you cannot think that I should
imagine there can be reason for such a hurry. It will be most agreeable,
to be sure, for my Lord to be present.
I am all obedience and resignation, returned the wretch, with a self-
pluming air, as if he had acquiesced to a proposal made by me, and had
complimented me with a great piece of self denial.
Is it not plain, my dear, that he designs to vex and tease me? Proud,
yet mean and foolish man, if so!--But you say all punctilio is at an end
with me. Why, why, will he take pains to make a heart wrap itself up in
reserve, that wishes only, and that for his sake as well as my own, to
observe due decorum?
Modesty, I think, required of me, that it should pass as he had put it:
Did it not?--I think it did. Would to heaven--but what signifies
But when he would have rewarded himself, as he had heretofore called it,
for this self-supposed concession, with a kiss, I repulsed him with a
just and very sincere disdain.
He seemed both vexed and surprised, as one who had made the most
agreeable proposals and concessions, and thought them ungratefully
returned. He plainly said, that he thought our situation would entitle
him to such an innocent freedom: and he was both amazed and grieved to be
thus scornfully repulsed.
No reply could be made be me on such a subject.
I abruptly broke from him. I recollect, as I passed by one of the pier-
glasses, that I saw in it his clenched hand offered in wrath to his
forehead: the words, Indifference, by his soul, next to hatred, I heard
him speak; and something of ice he mentioned: I heard not what.
Whether he intends to write to my Lord, or Miss Montague, I cannot tell.
But, as all delicacy ought to be over with me now, perhaps I am to blame
to expect it from a man who may not know what it is. If he does not, and
yet thinks himself very polite, and intends not to be otherwise, I am
rather to be pitied, than he to be censured.
And after all, since I must take him as I find him, I must: that is to
say, as a man so vain and so accustomed to be admired, that, not being
conscious of internal defect, he has taken no pains to polish more than
his outside: and as his proposals are higher than my expectations; and
as, in his own opinion, he has a great deal to bear from me, I will (no
new offence preventing) sit down to answer them; and, if possible, in
terms as unobjectionable to him, as his are to me.
But after all, see you not, my dear, more and more, the mismatch that
there is in our minds?
However, I am willing to compound for my fault, by giving up, (if that
may be all my punishment) the expectation of what is deemed happiness in
this life, with such a husband as I fear he will make. In short, I will
content myself to be a suffering person through the state to the end of
my life.--A long one it cannot be!
This may qualify him (as it may prove) from stings of conscience from
misbehaviour to a first wife, to be a more tolerable one to a second,
though not perhaps a better deserving one: while my story, to all who
shall know it, will afford these instructions: That the eye is a traitor,
and ought ever to be mistrusted: that form is deceitful: in other words;
that a fine person is seldom paired by a fine mind: and that sound
principle and a good heart, are the only bases on which the hopes of a
happy future, either with respect to this world, or the other, can be
And so much at present for Mr. Lovelace's proposals: Of which I desire
* We cannot forbear observing in this place, that the Lady has been
particularly censured, even by some of her own sex, as over-nice in her
part of the above conversations: but surely this must be owing to want
of attention to the circumstances she was in, and to her character, as
well as to the character of the man she had to deal with: for, although
she could not be supposed to know so much of his designs as the reader
does by means of his letters to Belford, yet she was but too well
convinced of his faulty morals, and of the necessity there was, from the
whole of his behaviour to her, to keep such an encroacher, as she
frequently calls him, at a distance. In Letter XXXIII. of Vol. III. the
reader will see, that upon some favourable appearances she blames herself
for her readiness to suspect him. But his character, his principles,
said she, are so faulty!--He is so light, so vain, so various.----Then,
my dear, I have no guardian to depend upon. In Letter IX. of Vol. III.
Must I not with such a man, says she, be wanting to myself, were I not
jealous and vigilant?
By this time the reader will see, that she had still greater reason for
her jealousy and vigilance. And Lovelace will tell the sex, as he does
in Letter XI. of Vol. V., that the woman who resents not initiatory
freedoms, must be lost. Love is an encroacher, says he: loves never goes
backward. Nothing but the highest act of love can satisfy an indulged
But the reader perhaps is too apt to form a judgment of Clarissa's
conduct in critical cases by Lovelace's complaints of her coldness; not
considering his views upon her; and that she is proposed as an example;
and therefore in her trials and distresses must not be allowed to
dispense with those rules which perhaps some others of the sex, in her
delicate situation, would not have thought themselves so strictly bound
to observe; although, if she had not observed them, a Lovelace would have
carried all his points.
[Four letters are written by Mr. Lovelace from the date of his last,
giving the state of affairs between him and the Lady, pretty much the
same as in hers in the same period, allowing for the humour in his,
and for his resentments expressed with vehemence on her resolution to
leave him, if her friends could be brought to be reconciled to her.--
A few extracts from them will be only given.]
What, says he, might have become of me, and of my projects, had not her
father, and the rest of the implacables, stood my friends?
[After violent threatenings of revenge, he says,]
'Tis plain she would have given me up for ever: nor should I have been
able to prevent her abandoning of me, unless I had torn up the tree by
the roots to come at the fruit; which I hope still to bring down by a
gentle shake or two, if I can but have patience to stay the ripening
[Thus triumphing in his unpolite cruelty, he says,]
After her haughty treatment of me, I am resolved she shall speak out.
There are a thousand beauties to be discovered in the face, in the
accent, in the bush-beating hesitations of a woman who is earnest about a
subject she wants to introduce, yet knows not how. Silly fellows,
calling themselves generous ones, would value themselves for sparing a
lady's confusion: but they are silly fellows indeed; and rob themselves
of prodigious pleasure by their forwardness; and at the same time deprive
her of displaying a world of charms, which can only be manifested on
I'll tell thee beforehand, how it will be with my charmer in this case--
she will be about it, and about it, several times: but I will not
understand her: at least, after half a dozen hem--ings, she will be
obliged to speak out--I think, Mr. Lovelace--I think, Sir--I think you
were saying some days ago--Still I will be all silence--her eyes fixed
upon my shoe-buckles, as I sit over-against her--ladies when put to it
thus, always admire a man's shoe-buckles, or perhaps some particular
beauties in the carpet. I think you said that Mrs. Fretchville--Then a
crystal tear trickles down each crimson cheek, vexed to have her virgin
pride so little assisted. But, come, my meaning dear, cry I to myself,
remember what I have suffered for thee, and what I have suffered by thee!
Thy tearful pausings shall not be helped out by me. Speak out, love!--O
the sweet confusion! Can I rob myself of so many conflicting beauties by
the precipitate charmer-pitying folly, by which a politer man [thou
knowest, lovely, that I am no polite man!] betrayed by his own
tenderness, and unused to female tears, would have been overcome? I will
feign an irresolution of mind on the occasion, that she may not quite
abhor me--that her reflections on the scene in my absence may bring to
her remembrance some beauties in my part of it: an irresolution that
will be owing to awe, to reverence, to profound veneration; and that will
have more eloquence in it than words can have. Speak out then, love, and
Hard-heartedness, as it is called, is an essential of the libertine's
character. Familiarized to the distresses he occasions, he is seldom
betrayed by tenderness into a complaisant weakness unworthy of himself.
[Mentioning the settlements, he says,]
I am in earnest as to the terms. If I marry her, [and I have no doubt
that I shall, after my pride, my ambition, my revenge, if thou wilt, is
gratified,] I will do her noble justice. The more I do for such a
prudent, such an excellent economist, the more shall I do for myself.--
But, by my soul, Belford, her haughtiness shall be brought down to own
both love and obligation to me. Nor will this sketch of settlements
bring us forwarder than I would have it. Modesty of sex will stand my
friend at any time. At the very altar, our hands joined, I will engage
to make this proud beauty leave the parson and me, and all my friends who
should be present, though twenty in number, to look like fools upon one
another, while she took wing, and flew out of the church door, or window,
(if that were open, and the door shut); and this only by a single word.
[He mentions his rash expression, That she should be his, although his
damnation was to be the purchase.]
At that instant, says he, I was upon the point of making a violent
attempt, but was checked in the very moment, and but just in time to save
myself, by the awe I was struck with on again casting my eye upon her
terrified but lovely face, and seeing, as I thought, her spotless heart
in every line of it.
O virtue, virtue! proceeds he, what is there in thee, that can thus
against his will affect the heart of a Lovelace!--Whence these
involuntary tremors, and fear of giving mortal offence?--What art thou,
that acting in the breast of a feeble woman, which never before, no, not
in my first attempt, young as I then was, and frightened at my own
boldness (till I found myself forgiven,) had such an effect upon me!
[He paints in lively colours, that part of the scene between him and the
Lady, where she says, The word father has a sweet and venerable sound
I was exceedingly affected, says he, upon the occasion, but was ashamed
to be surprised into such a fit of unmanly weakness--so ashamed, that I
was resolved to subdue it at the instant, and to guard against the like
for the future. Yet, at that moment, I more than half regretted that I
could not permit her to enjoy a triumph which she so well deserved to
glory in--her youth, her beauty, her artless innocence, and her manner,
equally beyond comparison or description. But her indifference, Belford!
--That she could resolve to sacrifice me to the malice of my enemies; and
carry on the design in so clandestine a manner--and yet love her, as I
do, to phrensy!--revere her, as I do, to adoration!--These were the
recollections with which I fortified my recreant heart against her!--Yet,
after all, if she persevere, she must conquer!--Coward, as she has made
me, that never was a coward before!
[He concludes his fourth letter in a vehement rage, upon her repulsing
him, when he offered to salute her; having supposed, as he owns, that
she would have been all condescension on his proposals to her.]
This, says he, I will for ever remember against her, in order to steel my
heart, that I may cut through a rock of ice to hers; and repay her for
the disdain, the scorn, which glowed in her countenance, and was apparent
in her air, at her abrupt departure for me, after such obliging behaviour
on my side, and after I had so earnestly pressed her for an early day.
The women below say she hates me; she despises me!--And 'tis true: she
does; she must.--And why cannot I take their advice? I will not long,
my fair-one, be despised by thee, and laughed at by them!
Let me acquaint thee, Jack, adds he, by way of postscript, that this
effort of hers to leave me, if she could have been received; her sending
for a coach on Sunday; no doubt, resolving not to return, if she had gone
out without me, (for did she not declare that she had thoughts to retire
to some of the villages about town, where she could be safe and private?)
have, all together, so much alarmed me, that I have been adding to the
written instructions for my fellow and the people below how to act in
case she should elope in my absence: particularly letting Will. know what
he shall report to strangers in case she shall throw herself upon any
such with a resolution to abandon me. To these instructions I shall
further add as circumstances offer.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
THURSDAY, MAY 18.
I have neither time nor patience, my dear friend, to answer every
material article in your last letters just now received. Mr. Lovelace's
proposals are all I like of him. And yet (as you do) I think, that he
concludes them not with the warmth and earnestness which we might
naturally have expected from him. Never in my life did I hear or read of
so patient a man, with such a blessing in his reach. But wretches of his
cast, between you and me, my dear, have not, I fancy, the ardors that
honest men have. Who knows, as your Bell once spitefully said, but he
may have half a dozen creatures to quit his hands of before he engages
for life?--Yet I believe you must not expect him to be honest on this
side of his grand climacteric.
He, to suggest delay from a compliment to be made to Lord M. and to give
time for settlements! He, a part of whose character it is, not to know
what complaisance to his relations is--I have no patience with him! You
did indeed want an interposing friend on the affecting occasion which you
mention in yours of yesterday morning. But, upon my word, were I to have
been that moment in your situation, and been so treated, I would have
torn his eyes out, and left it to his own heart, when I had done, to
furnish the reason for it.
Would to Heaven to-morrow, without complimenting any body, might be his
happy day!--Villain! After he had himself suggested the compliment!--And
I think he accuses YOU of delaying!--Fellow, that he is!--How my heart is
But as matters now stand betwixt you, I am very unseasonable in
expressing my resentments against him.--Yet I don't know whether I am or
not, neither; since it is the most cruel of fates, for a woman to be
forced to have a man whom her heart despises. You must, at least,
despise him; at times, however. His clenched fist offered to his
forehead on your leaving him in just displeasure--I wish it had been a
pole-axe, and in the hand of his worst enemy.
I will endeavour to think of some method, of some scheme, to get you from
him, and to fix you safely somewhere till your cousin Morden arrives--A
scheme to lie by you, and to be pursued as occasion may be given. You
are sure, that you can go abroad when you please? and that our
correspondence is safe? I cannot, however (for the reasons heretofore
mentioned respecting your own reputation,) wish you to leave him while he
gives you not cause to suspect his honour. But your heart I know would be
the easier, if you were sure of some asylum in case of necessity.
Yet once more, I say, I can have no notion that he can or dare mean your
dishonour. But then the man is a fool, my dear--that's all.
However, since you are thrown upon a fool, marry the fool at the first
opportunity; and though I doubt that this man will be the most
ungovernable of fools, as all witty and vain fools are, take him as a
punishment, since you cannot as a reward: in short, as one given to
convince you that there is nothing but imperfection in this life.
And what is the result of all I have written, but this--Either marry,
my dear, or get from them all, and from him too.
You intend the latter, you'll say, as soon as you have opportunity.
That, as above hinted, I hope quickly to furnish you with: and then comes
on a trial between you and yourself.
These are the very fellows that we women do not naturally hate. We don't
always know what is, and what is not, in our power to do. When some
principal point we have long had in view becomes so critical, that we
must of necessity choose or refuse, then perhaps we look about us; are
affrighted at the wild and uncertain prospect before us; and, after a few
struggles and heart-aches, reject the untried new; draw in your horns,
and resolve to snail-on, as we did before, in a track we are acquainted
I shall be impatient till I have your next. I am, my dearest friend,
Your ever affectionate and faithful
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 17.
I cannot conceal from you any thing that relates to yourself so much as
the enclosed does. You will see what the noble writer apprehends from
you, and wishes of you, with regard to Miss Harlowe, and how much at
heart all your relations have it that you do honourably by her. They
compliment me with an influence over you, which I wish with all my soul
you would let me have in this article.
Let me once more entreat thee, Lovelace, to reflect, before it be too
late (before the mortal offence be given) upon the graces and merits of
this lady. Let thy frequent remorses at last end in one effectual
remorse. Let not pride and wantonness of heart ruin the fairer
prospects. By my faith, Lovelace, there is nothing but vanity, conceit,
and nonsense, in our wild schemes. As we grow older, we shall be wiser,
and looking back upon our foolish notions of the present hour, (our youth
dissipated,) shall certainly despise ourselves when we think of the
honourable engagements we might have made: thou, more especially, if thou
lettest such a matchless creature slide through thy fingers. A creature
pure from her cradle. In all her actions and sentiments uniformly noble.
Strict in the performance of all her even unrewarded duties to the most
unreasonable of fathers; what a wife will she make the man who shall have
the honour to call her his!
What apprehensions wouldst thou have had reason for, had she been
prevailed upon by giddy or frail motives, for which one man, by
importunity, might prevail, as well as another?
We all know what an inventive genius thou art master of: we are all
sensible, that thou hast a head to contrive, and a heart to execute.
Have I not called thine the plotting'st heart in the universe? I called
it so upon knowledge. What woulds't thou more? Why should it be the
most villainous, as well as the most able?--Marry the lady; and, when
married, let her know what a number of contrivances thou hadst in
readiness to play off. Beg of her not to hate thee for the
communication; and assure her, that thou gavest them up for remorse, and
in justice to her extraordinary merit: and let her have the opportunity
of congratulating herself for subduing a heart so capable of what thou
callest glorious mischief. This will give her room for triumph; and even
thee no less: she, for hers over thee; thou, for thine over thyself.
Reflect likewise upon her sufferings for thee. Actually at the time thou
art forming schemes to ruin her, (at least in her sense of the word,) is
she not labouring under a father's curse laid upon her by thy means, and
for thy sake? and wouldst thou give operation and completion to that
curse, which otherwise cannot have effect?
And what, Lovelace, all the time is thy pride?--Thou that vainly
imaginest that the whole family of the Harlowes, and that of the Howes
too, are but thy machines, unknown to themselves, to bring about thy
purposes, and thy revenge, what art thou more, or better, than the
instrument even of her implacable brother, and envious sister, to
perpetuate the disgrace of the most excellent of sisters, to which they
are moved by vilely low and sordid motives?--Canst thou bear, Lovelace,
to be thought the machine of thy inveterate enemy James Harlowe?--Nay,
art thou not the cully of that still viler Joseph Leman, who serves
himself as much by thy money, as he does thee by the double part he acts
by thy direction?--And further still, art thou not the devil's agent, who
only can, and who certainly will, suitably reward thee, if thou
proceedest, and if thou effectest thy wicked purpose?
Could any man but thee put together upon paper the following questions
with so much unconcern as thou seemest to have written them?--give them
a reperusal, O heart of adamant! 'Whither can she fly to avoid me? Her
parents will not receive her. Her uncles will not entertain her. Her
beloved Norton is in their direction, and cannot. Miss Howe dare not.
She has not one friend in town but ME--is entirely a stranger to the
town.'*--What must that heart be that can triumph in a distress so deep,
into which she has been plunged by thy elaborate arts and contrivances?
And what a sweet, yet sad reflection was that, which had like to have had
its due effect upon thee, arising from thy naming Lord M. for her nuptial
father? her tender years inclining her to wish for a father, and to hope
a friend.--O my dear Lovelace, canst thou resolve to be, instead of the
father thou hast robbed her of, a devil?
* See Letter XXI. of this volume.
Thou knowest, that I have no interest, that I can have no view, in
wishing thee to do justice to this admirable creature. For thy own sake,
once more I conjure thee, for thy family's sake, and for the sake of our
common humanity, let me beseech thee to be just to Miss Clarissa Harlowe.
No matter whether these expostulations are in character from me, or not.
I have been and am bad enough. If thou takest my advice, which is (as
the enclosed will shew thee) the advice of all thy family, thou wilt
perhaps have it to reproach me (and but perhaps neither) that thou art
not a worse man than myself. But if thou dost not, and if thou ruinest
such a virtue, all the complicated wickedness of ten devils, let loose
among the innocent with full power over them, will not do so much vile
and base mischief as thou wilt be guilty of.
It is said that the prince on his throne is not safe, if a mind so
desperate can be found, as values not its own life. So may it be said,
that the most immaculate virtue is not safe, if a man can be met with who
has no regard to his own honour, and makes a jest of the most solemn vows
Thou mayest by trick, chicane, and false colours, thou who art worse than
a pickeroon in love, overcome a poor lady so entangled as thou hast
entangled her; so unprotected as thou hast made her: but consider, how
much more generous and just to her, and noble to thyself, it is, to
Once more, it is no matter whether my past or future actions countenance
my preachment, as perhaps thou'lt call what I have written: but this I
promise thee, that whenever I meet with a woman of but one half of Miss
Harlowe's perfections, who will favour me with her acceptance, I will
take the advice I give, and marry. Nor will I offer to try her honour
at the hazard of my own.
In other words, I will not degrade an excellent creature in her own eyes,
by trials, when I have no cause for suspicion. And let me add, with
respect to thy eagleship's manifestation, of which thou boastest, in thy
attempts upon the innocent and uncorrupted, rather than upon those whom
thou humourously comparest to wrens, wagtails, and phyl-tits, as thou
callest them,* that I hope I have it not once to reproach myself, that I
ruined the morals of any one creature, who otherwise would have been
uncorrupted. Guilt enough in contributing to the continued guilt of other
poor wretches, if I am one of those who take care she shall never rise
again, when she has once fallen.
* See Letter XVII. of this volume.
Whatever the capital devil, under whose banner thou hast listed, will let
thee do, with regard to this incomparable woman, I hope thou wilt act
with honour in relation to the enclosed, between Lord M. and me; since
his Lordship, as thou wilt see, desires, that thou mayest not know he
wrote on the subject; for reasons, I think, very far from being
creditable to thyself: and that thou wilt take as meant, the honest zeal
for thy service, of
Thy real friend,
LORD M., TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
[ENCLOSED IN THE PRECEDING.]
M. HALL, MONDAY, MAY 15.
If any man in the world has power over my nephew, it is you. I therefore
write this, to beg you to interfere in the affair depending between him
and the most accomplished of women, as every one says; and what every one
says must be true.
I don't know that he has any bad designs upon her; but I know his temper
too well, not to be apprehensive upon such long delays: and the ladies
here have been for some time in fear for her: Lady Sarah in particular,
who (as you must know) is a wise woman, says, that these delays, in the
present case, must be from him, rather than from the lady.
He had always indeed a strong antipathy to marriage, and may think of
playing his dog's tricks by her, as he has by so many others. If there's
any danger of this, 'tis best to prevent it in time: for when a thing is
done, advice comes too late.
He has always had the folly and impertinence to make a jest of me for
using proverbs: but as they are the wisdom of whole nations and ages
collected into a small compass, I am not to be shamed out of sentences
that often contain more wisdom in them than the tedious harangues of most
of our parsons and moralists. Let him laugh at them, if he pleases: you
and I know better things, Mr. Belford--Though you have kept company with
a wolf, you have not learnt to howl of him.
But nevertheless, you must let him know that I have written to you on
this subject. I am ashamed to say it; but he has ever treated me as if I
were a man of very common understanding; and would, perhaps, think never
the better of the best advice in the world for coming from me. Those,
Mr. Belford, who most love, are least set by.--But who would expect
velvet to be made out of a sow's ear?
I am sure he has no reason however to slight me as he does. He may and
will be the better for me, if he outlives me; though he once told me to
my face, that I might do as I would with my estate; for that he, for his
part, loved his liberty as much as he despised money. And at another
time, twitting me with my phrases, that the man was above controul, who
wanted not either to borrow or flatter. He thought, I suppose, that I
could not cover him with my wings, without pecking at him with my bill;
though I never used to be pecking at him, without very great occasion:
and, God knows, he might have my very heart, if he would but endeavour
to oblige me, by studying his own good; for that is all I desire of him.
Indeed, it was his poor mother that first spoiled him; and I have been
but too indulgent to him since. A fine grateful disposition, you'll say,
to return evil for good! but that was always his way. It is a good
saying, and which was verified by him with a witness--Children when
little, make their parents fools; when great, mad. Had his parents lived
to see what I have seen of him, they would have been mad indeed.
This match, however, as the lady has such an extraordinary share of
wisdom and goodness, might set all to rights; and if you can forward it,
I would enable him to make whatever settlements he could wish; and should
not be unwilling to put him in possession of another pretty estate
besides. I am no covetous man, he knows. And, indeed, what is a
covetous man to be likened to so fitly, as to a dog in a wheel which
roasts meat for others? And what do I live for, (as I have often said,)
but to see him and my two nieces well married and settled. May Heaven
settle him down to a better mind, and turn his heart to more of goodness
If the delays are on his side, I tremble for the lady; and, if on hers,
(as he tells my niece Charlotte,) I could wish she were apprized that
delays are dangerous. Excellent as she is, she ought not to depend on
her merits with such a changeable fellow, and such a profest marriage-
hater, as he has been. Desert and reward, I can assure her, seldom keep
But let him remember, that vengeance though it comes with leaden feet,
strikes with iron hands. If he behaves ill in this case, he may find it
so. What a pity it is, that a man of his talents and learning should be
so vile a rake! Alas! alas! Une poignee de bonne vie vaut mieux que
plein muy de clergee; a handful of good life is better than a whole
bushel of learning.
You may throw in, too, as a friend, that, should he provoke me, it may
not be too late for me to marry. My old friend Wycherly did so, when he
was older than I am, on purpose to plague his nephew: and, in spite of
this gout, I might have a child or two still. I have not been without
some thoughts that way, when he has angered me more than ordinary: but
these thoughts have gone off again hitherto, upon my considering, that
the children of very young and very old men (though I am not so very old
neither) last not long; and that old men, when they marry young women,
are said to make much of death: Yet who knows but that matrimony might be
good against the gouty humours I am troubled with?
No man is every thing--you, Mr. Belford, are a learned man. I am a peer.
And do you (as you best know how) inculcate upon him the force of these
wise sayings which follow, as well as those which went before; but yet so
indiscreetly, as that he may not know that you borrow your darts from my
quiver. These be they--Happy is the man who knows his follies in his
youth. He that lives well, lives long. Again, He that lives ill one
year, will sorrow for it seven. And again, as the Spaniards have it--Who
lives well, sees afar off! Far off indeed; for he sees into eternity, as
a man may say. Then that other fine saying, He who perishes in needless
dangers, is the Devil's martyr. Another proverb I picked up at Madrid,
when I accompanied Lord Lexington in his embassy to Spain, which might
teach my nephew more mercy and compassion than is in his nature I doubt
to shew; which is this, That he who pities another, remembers himself.
And this that is going to follow, I am sure he has proved the truth of a
hundred times, That he who does what he will seldom does what he ought.
Nor is that unworthy of his notice, Young men's frolics old men feel. My
devilish gout, God help me--but I will not say what I was going to say.
I remember, that you yourself, complimenting me for my taste in pithy and
wise sentences, said a thing that gave me a high opinion of you; and it
was this: 'Men of talents,' said you, 'are sooner to be convinced by
short sentences than by long preachments, because the short sentences
drive themselves into the heart and stay there, while long discourses,
though ever so good, tire the attention; and one good thing drives out
another, and so on till all is forgotten.'
May your good counsel, Mr. Belford, founded upon these hints which I have
given, pierce his heart, and incite him to do what will be so happy for
himself, and so necessary for the honour of that admirable lady whom I
long to see his wife; and, if I may, I will not think of one for myself.
Should he abuse the confidence she has placed in him, I myself shall
pray, that vengeance may fall upon his head--Raro--I quite forget all my
Latin; but I think it is, Raro antecedentem scelestum deseruit pede paean
claudo: where vice goes before, vengeance (sooner or later) will follow.
But why do I translate these things for you?
I shall make no apologies for this trouble. I know how well you love him
and me; and there is nothing in which you could serve us both more
importantly, than in forwarding this match to the utmost of your power.
When it is done, how shall I rejoice to see you at M. Hall! Mean time, I
shall long to hear that you are likely to be successful with him; and am,
Your most faithful friend and servant,
[Mr. Lovelace having not returned an answer to Mr. Belford's expostulary
letter so soon as Mr. Belford expected, he wrote to him, expressing
his apprehension that he had disobliged him by his honest freedom.
Among other things, he says--]
I pass my time here at Watford, attending my dying uncle, very heavily.
I cannot therefore, by any means, dispense with thy correspondence. And
why shouldst thou punish me, for having more conscience and more remorse
than thyself? Thou who never thoughtest either conscience or remorse an
honour to thee. And I have, besides, a melancholy story to tell thee, in
relation to Belton and his Thomasine; and which may afford a lesson to
all the keeping-class.
I have a letter from each of our three companions in the time. They have
all the wickedness that thou hast, but not the wit. Some new rogueries
do two of them boast of, which, I think, if completed, deserve the
I am far from hating intrigue upon principle. But to have awkward
fellows plot, and commit their plots to paper, destitute of the
seasonings, of the acumen, which is thy talent, how extremely shocking
must their letters be!--But do thou, Lovelace, whether thou art, or art
not, determined upon thy measures with regard to the fine lady in thy
power, enliven my heavy heart by thy communications; and thou wilt oblige
Thy melancholy friend,
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
FRIDAY NIGHT, MAY 19.
When I have opened my view to thee so amply as I have done in my former
letters; and have told thee, that my principal design is but to bring
virtue to a trial, that, if virtue, it need not be afraid of; and that
the reward of it will be marriage (that is to say, if, after I have
carried my point, I cannot prevail upon her to live with me the life of
honour;* for that thou knowest is the wish of my heart); I am amazed at
the repetition of thy wambling nonsense.
* See Vol. III. Letter XVIII.
I am of opinion with thee, that some time hence, when I am grown wiser, I
shall conclude, that there is nothing but vanity, conceit, and nonsense,
in my present wild schemes. But what is this saying, but that I must
be first wiser?
I do not intend to let this matchless creature slide through my fingers.
Art thou able to say half the things in her praise, that I have said, and
am continually saying or writing?
Her gloomy father cursed the sweet creature, because she put it out of
his wicked power to compel her to have the man she hated. Thou knowest
how little merit she has with me on this score.--And shall I not try the
virtue I intended, upon full proof, to reward, because her father is a
tyrant?--Why art thou thus eternally reflecting upon so excellent a
woman, as if thou wert assured she would fail in the trial?--Nay, thou
declarest, every time thou writest on the subject, that she will, that
she must yield, entangled as she is: and yet makest her virtue the
pretence of thy solicitude for her.
An instrument of the vile James Harlowe, dost thou call me?--O Jack! how
could I curse thee!--I am instrument of that brother! of that sister!
But mark the end--and thou shalt see what will become of that brother,
and of that sister!
Play not against me my own acknowledged sensibilities, I desire thee.
Sensibilities, which at the same time that they contradict thy charge of
an adamantine heart in thy friend, thou hadst known nothing of, had I not
communicated them to thee.
If I ruin such a virtue, sayest thou!--Eternal monotonist!--Again; the
most immaculate virtue may be ruined by men who have no regard to their
honour, and who make a jest of the most solemn oaths, &c. What must be
the virtue that will be ruined without oaths? Is not the world full of
these deceptions? And are not lovers' oaths a jest of hundreds of years'
standing? And are not cautions against the perfidy of our sex a
necessary part of the female education?
I do intend to endeavour to overcome myself; but I must first try, if I
cannot overcome this lady. Have I not said, that the honour of her sex
is concerned that I should try?
Whenever thou meetest with a woman of but half her perfections, thou wilt
Can a girl be degraded by trials, who is not overcome?
I am glad that thou takest crime to thyself, for not endeavouring to
convert the poor wretches whom others have ruined. I will not
recriminate upon thee, Belford, as I might, when thou flatterest thyself
that thou never ruinedst the morals of any young creature, who otherwise
would not have been corrupted--the palliating consolation of an Hottentot
heart, determined rather to gluttonize on the garbage of other foul
feeders than to reform.--But tell me, Jack, wouldst thou have spared such
a girl as my Rosebud, had I not, by my example, engaged thy generosity?
Nor was my Rosebud the only girl I spared:--When my power was
acknowledged, who more merciful than thy friend?
It is resistance that inflames desire,
Sharpens the darts of love, and blows its fire.
Love is disarm'd that meets with too much ease;
He languishes, and does not care to please.
The women know this as well as the men. They love to be addressed with
And therefore 'tis their golden fruit they guard
With so much care, to make profession hard.
Whence, for a by-reflection, the ardent, the complaisant gallant is so
often preferred to the cold, the unadoring husband. And yet the sex do
not consider, that variety and novelty give the ardour and the
obsequiousness; and that, were the rake as much used to them as the
husband is, he would be [and is to his own wife, if married] as
indifferent to their favours, as their husbands are; and the husband, in
his turn, would, to another woman, be the rake. Let the women, upon the
whole, take this lesson from a Lovelace--'Always to endeavour to make
themselves as new to a husband, and to appear as elegant and as obliging
to him, as they are desirous to appear to a lover, and actually were to
him as such; and then the rake, which all women love, will last longer in
the husband, than it generally does.'
But to return:--If I have not sufficiently cleared my conduct to thee in
the above; I refer thee once more to mine of the 13th of last month.*
And pr'ythee, Jack, lay me not under a necessity to repeat the same
things so often. I hope thou readest what I write more than once.
* See Vol. II. Letter XIV.
I am not displeased that thou art so apprehensive of my resentment, that
I cannot miss a day without making thee uneasy. Thy conscience, 'tis
plain, tells thee, that thou has deserved my displeasure: and if it has
convinced thee of that, it will make thee afraid of repeating thy fault.
See that this be the consequence. Else, now that thou hast told me how I
can punish thee, it is very likely that I do punish thee by my silence,
although I have as much pleasure in writing on this charming subject, as
thou canst have in reading what I write.
When a boy, if a dog ran away from me through fear, I generally looked
about for a stone, or a stick; and if neither offered to my hand, I
skinned my hat after him to make him afraid for something. What
signifies power, if we do not exert it?
Let my Lord know, that thou hast scribbled to me. But give him not the
contents of thy epistle. Though a parcel of crude stuff, he would think
there was something in it. Poor arguments will do, when brought in
favour of what we like. But the stupid peer little thinks that this lady
is a rebel to Love. On the contrary, not only he, but all the world
believe her to be a volunteer in his service.--So I shall incur blame,
and she will be pitied, if any thing happen amiss.
Since my Lord's heart is set upon this match, I have written already to
let him know, 'That my unhappy character had given my beloved an
ungenerous diffidence of me. That she is so mother-sick and father-fond,
that she had rather return to Harlowe-place than marry. That she is even
apprehensive that the step she has taken of going off with me will make
the ladies of a family of such rank and honour as ours think slightly of
her. That therefore I desire his Lordship (though this hint, I tell him,
must be very delicately touched) to write me such a letter as I can shew
her; (let him treat me in it ever so freely, I shall not take it amiss, I
tell him, because I know his Lordship takes pleasure in writing to me in
a corrective style). That he may make what offers he pleases on the
marriage. That I desire his presence at the ceremony; that I may take
from his hand the greatest blessing that mortal man can give me.'
I have not absolutely told the lady that I would write to his Lordship to
this effect; yet have given her reason to think I will. So that without
the last necessity I shall not produce the answer I expect from him: for
I am very loth, I own, to make use of any of my family's names for the
furthering of my designs. And yet I must make all secure, before I pull
off the mask. Was not this my motive for bringing her hither?
Thus thou seest that the old peer's letter came very seasonably. I thank
thee for that. But as to his sentences, they cannot possibly do me good.
I was early suffocated with his wisdom of nations. When a boy, I never
asked anything of him, but out flew a proverb; and if the tendency of
that was to deny me, I never could obtain the least favour. This gave me
so great an aversion to the very word, that, when a child, I made it a
condition with my tutor, who was an honest parson, that I would not read
my Bible at all, if he would not excuse me one of the wisest books in it:
to which, however, I had no other objection, than that it was called The
Proverbs. And as for Solomon, he was then a hated character with me, not
because of his polygamy, but because I had conceived him to be such
another musty old fellow as my uncle.
Well, but let us leave old saws to old me. What signifies thy tedious
whining over thy departing relation? Is it not generally agreed that he
cannot recover? Will it not be kind in thee to put him out of his
misery? I hear that he is pestered still with visits from doctors, and
apothecaries, and surgeons; that they cannot cut so deep as the
mortification has gone; and that in every visit, in every scarification,
inevitable death is pronounced upon him. Why then do they keep
tormenting him? Is it not to take away more of his living fleece than of
his dead flesh?--When a man is given over, the fee should surely be
refused. Are they not now robbing his heirs?--What has thou to do, if
the will be as thou'dst have it?--He sent for thee [did he not?] to close
his eyes. He is but an uncle, is he?
Let me see, if I mistake not, it is in the Bible, or some other good
book: can it be in Herodotus?--O I believe it is in Josephus, a half-
sacred, and half-profane author. He tells us of a king of Syria put out
of his pain by his prime minister, or one who deserved to be so for his
contrivance. The story says, if I am right, that he spread a wet cloth
over his face, which killing him, he reigned in his place. A notable
fellow! Perhaps this wet cloth in the original, is what we now call
laudanum; a potion that overspreads the faculties, as the wet cloth did
the face of the royal patient; and the translator knew not how to render
But how like forlorn varlet thou subscribest, 'Thy melancholy friend, J.
BELFORD!' Melancholy! For what? To stand by, and see fair play between
an old man and death? I thought thou hadst been more of a man; that thou
art not afraid of an acute death, a sword's point, to be so plaugily
hip'd at the consequences of a chronical one!--What though the
scarificators work upon him day by day? It's only upon a caput mortuum:
and pr'ythee go to, to use the stylum veterum, and learn of the royal
butchers; who, for sport, (an hundred times worse men than thy Lovelace,)
widow ten thousand at a brush, and make twice as many fatherless--learn
of them, I say, how to support a single death.
But art thou sure, Jack, it is a mortification?--My uncle once gave
promises of such a root-and-branch distemper: but, alas! it turned to a
smart gout-fit; and I had the mortification instead of him.--I have heard
that bark, in proper doses, will arrest a mortification in its progress,
and at last cure it. Let thy uncle's surgeon know, that it is worth more
than his ears, if he prescribe one grain of the bark.
I wish my uncle had given me the opportunity of setting thee a better
example: thou shouldst have seen what a brave fellow I had been. And had
I had occasion to write, my conclusion would have been this: 'I hope the
old Trojan's happy. In that hope, I am so; and
'Thy rejoicing friend,
Dwell not always, Jack, upon one subject. Let me have poor Belton's
story. The sooner the better. If I can be of service to him, tell
him he may command me either in purse or person. Yet the former with
a freer will than the latter; for how can I leave my goddess? But
I'll issue my commands to my other vassals to attend thy summons.
If ye want head, let me know. If not, my quota, on this occasion, is
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
SATURDAY, MAY 20.
Not one word will I reply to such an abandoned wretch, as thou hast shewn
thyself to be in thine of last night. I will leave the lady to the
protection of that Power who only can work miracles; and to her own
merits. Still I have hopes that these will save her.
I will proceed, as thou desirest, to poor Belton's case; and the rather,
as it has thrown me into such a train of thinking upon our past lives,
our present courses, and our future views, as may be of service to us
both, if I can give due weight to the reflections that arise from it.
The poor man made me a visit on Thursday, in this my melancholy
attendance. He began with complaints of his ill health and spirits, his
hectic cough, and his increased malady of spitting blood; and then led to
A confounded one it is; and which highly aggravates his other maladies:
for it has come out, that his Thomasine, (who, truly, would be new
christened, you know, that her name might be nearer in sound to the
christian name of the man whom she pretended to doat upon) has for many
years carried on an intrigue with a fellow who had been hostler to her
father (an innkeeper at Darking); of whom, at the expense of poor Belton,
she has made a gentleman; and managed it so, that having the art to make
herself his cashier, she has been unable to account for large sums, which
he thought forthcoming at demand, and had trusted to her custody, in
order to pay off a mortgage upon his parental estate in Kent, which his
heart has run upon leaving clear, but which now cannot be done, and will
soon be foreclosed. And yet she has so long passed for his wife, that he
knows not what to resolve upon about her; nor about the two boys he was
so fond of, supposing them to be his; whereas now he begins to doubt his
share in them.
So KEEPING don't do, Lovelace. 'Tis not the eligible wife. 'A man must
keep a woman, said the poor fellow to me, but not his estate!--Two
interests!--Then, my tottering fabric!' pointing to his emaciated
We do well to value ourselves upon our liberty, or to speak more
properly, upon the liberties we take. We had need to run down matrimony
as we do, and to make that state the subject of our frothy jests; when we
frequently render ourselves (for this of Tom's is not a singular case)
the dupes and tools of women who generally govern us (by arts our wise
heads penetrate not) more absolutely than a wife would attempt to do.
Let us consider this point a little; and that upon our own principles, as
libertines, setting aside what is exacted from us by the laws of our
country, and its customs; which, nevertheless, we cannot get over, till
we have got over almost all moral obligations, as members of society.
In the first place, let us consider (we, who are in possession of estates
by legal descent) how we should have liked to have been such naked
destitute varlets, as we must have been, had our fathers been as wise as
ourselves; and despised matrimony as we do--and then let us ask
ourselves, If we ought not to have the same regard for our posterity, as
we are glad our fathers had for theirs?
But this, perhaps, is too moral a consideration.--To proceed therefore to
those considerations which will be more striking to us: How can we
reasonably expect economy or frugality (or anything indeed but riot and
waste) from creatures who have an interest, and must therefore have
views, different from our own?
They know the uncertain tenure (our fickle humours) by which they hold:
And is it to be wondered at, supposing them to be provident harlots, that
they should endeavour, if they have the power, to lay up against a rainy
day? or, if they have not the power, that they should squander all they
can come at, when they are sure of nothing but the present hour; and when
the life they live, and the sacrifices they have made, put conscience and
honour out of the question?
Whereas a wife, having the same family-interest with her husband, lies
not under either the same apprehensions or temptations; and has not
broken through (of necessity, at least, has not) those restraints which
education has fastened upon her: and if she makes a private purse, which
we are told by anti-matrimonialists, all wives love to do, and has
children, it goes all into the same family at the long-run.
Then as to the great article of fidelity to your bed--Are not women of
family, who are well-educated, under greater restraints, than creatures,
who, if they ever had reputation, sacrifice it to sordid interest, or to
more sordid appetite, the moment they give it up to you? Does not the
example you furnish, of having succeeded with her, give encouragement
for others to attempt her likewise? For with all her blandishments, can
any man be so credulous, or so vain, as to believe, that the woman he
could persuade, another may not prevail upon?
Adultery is so capital a guilt, that even rakes and libertines, if not
wholly abandoned, and as I may say, invited by a woman's levity, disavow
and condemn it: but here, in a state of KEEPING, a woman is in no danger
of incurring (legally, at least) that guilt; and you yourself have broken
through and overthrown in her all the fences and boundaries of moral
honesty, and the modesty and reserves of her sex: And what tie shall hold
her against inclination, or interest? And what shall deter an attempter?
While a husband has this security from legal sanctions, that if his wife
be detected in a criminal conversation with a man of fortune, (the most
likely by bribes to seduce her,) he may recover very great damages, and
procure a divorce besides: which, to say nothing of the ignominy, is a
consideration that must have some force upon both parties. And a wife
must be vicious indeed, and a reflection upon a man's own choice, who,
for the sake of change, and where there are no qualities to seduce, nor
affluence to corrupt, will run so many hazards to injure her husband in
the tenderest of all points.
But there are difficulties in procuring a divorce--[and so there ought]--
and none, says the rake, in parting with a mistress whenever you suspect
her; or whenever you are weary of her, and have a mind to change her for
But must not the man be a brute indeed, who can cast off a woman whom he
has seduced, [if he take her from the town, that's another thing,]
without some flagrant reason; something that will better justify him to
himself, as well as to her, and to the world, than mere power and
But I don't see, if we judge by fact, and by the practice of all we have
been acquainted with of the keeping-class, that we know how to part with
them when we have them.
That we know we can if we will, is all we have for it: and this leads us
to bear many things from a mistress, which we would not from a wife.
But, if we are good-natured and humane: if the woman has art: [and what
woman wants it, who has fallen by art? and to whose precarious situation
art is so necessary?] if you have given her the credit of being called by
your name: if you have a settled place of abode, and have received and
paid visits in her company, as your wife: if she has brought you children
--you will allow that these are strong obligations upon you in the
world's eye, as well as to your own heart, against tearing yourself from
such close connections. She will stick to you as your skin: and it will
be next to flaying yourself to cast her off.
Even if there be cause for it, by infidelity, she will have managed ill,
if she have not her defenders. Nor did I ever know a cause or a person
so bad, as to want advocates, either from ill-will to the one, or pity to
the other: and you will then be thought a hard-hearted miscreant: and
even were she to go off without credit to herself, she will leave you as
little; especially with all those whose good opinion a man would wish to
Well, then, shall this poor privilege, that we may part with a woman if
we will, be deemed a balance for the other inconveniencies? Shall it be
thought by us, who are men of family and fortune, an equivalent for
giving up equality of degree; and taking for the partner of our bed, and
very probably more than the partner in our estates, (to the breach of all
family-rule and order,) a low-born, a low-educated creature, who has not
brought any thing into the common stock; and can possibly make no returns
for the solid benefits she receives, but those libidinous ones, which a
man cannot boast of, but to his disgrace, nor think of, but to the shame
Moreover, as the man advances in years, the fury of his libertinism will
go off. He will have different aims and pursuits, which will diminish
his appetite to ranging, and make such a regular life as the matrimonial
and family life, palatable to him, and every day more palatable.
If he has children, and has reason to think them his, and if his lewd
courses have left him any estate, he will have cause to regret the
restraint his boasted liberty has laid him under, and the valuable
privilege it has deprived him of; when he finds that it must descend to
some relation, for whom, whether near or distant, he cares not one
farthing; and who perhaps (if a man of virtue) has held him in the
utmost contempt for his dissolute life.
And were we to suppose his estate in his power to bequeath as he pleases;
why should a man resolve, for the gratifying of his foolish humour only,
to bastardize his race? Why should he wish to expose his children to the
scorn and insults of the rest of the world? Why should he, whether they
are sons or daughters, lay them under the necessity of complying with
proposals of marriage, either inferior as to fortune, or unequal as to
age? Why should he deprive the children he loves, who themselves may be
guilty of no fault, of the respect they would wish to have, and to
deserve; and of the opportunity of associating themselves with proper,
that is to say, with reputable company? and why should he make them think
themselves under obligation to every person of character, who will
vouchsafe to visit them? What little reason, in a word, would such
children have to bless their father's obstinate defiance of the laws and
customs of his country; and for giving them a mother, of whom they could
not think with honour; to whose crime it was that they owed their very
beings, and whose example it was their duty to shun?
If the education and morals of these children are left to chance, as too
generally they are, (for the man who has humanity and a feeling heart,
and who is capable of fondness for his offspring, I take it for granted
will marry,) the case is still worse; his crime is perpetuated, as I may
say, by his children: and the sea, the army, perhaps the highway, for the
boys; the common for the girls; too often point out the way to a worse
What therefore, upon the whole, do we get by treading in these crooked
paths, but danger, disgrace, and a too-late repentance?
And after all, do we not frequently become the cullies of our own
libertinism; sliding into the very state with those half-worn-out doxies,
which perhaps we might have entered into with their ladies; at least with
their superiors both in degree and fortune? and all the time lived
handsomely like ourselves; not sneaking into holes and corners; and, when
we crept abroad with our women, looking about us, and at ever one that
passed us, as if we were confessedly accountable to the censures of all
My cousin Tony Jenyns, thou knewest. He had not the actively mischievous
spirit, that thou, Belton, Mowbray, Tourville, and myself, have: but he
imbibed the same notions we do, and carried them into practice.
How did he prate against wedlock! how did he strut about as a wit and a
smart! and what a wit and a smart did all the boys and girls of our
family (myself among the rest, then an urchin) think him, for the airs he
gave himself?--Marry! No, not for the world; what man of sense would
bear the insolences, the petulances, the expensiveness of a wife! He
could not for the heart of him think it tolerable, that a woman of equal
rank and fortune, and, as it might happen, superior talents to his own,
should look upon herself to have a right to share the benefit of that
fortune which she brought him.
So, after he had fluttered about the town for two or three years, in all
which time he had a better opinion of himself than any body else had,
what does he do, but enter upon an affair with his fencing-master's
He succeeds; takes private lodgings for her at Hackney; visits her by
stealth; both of them tender of reputations that were extremely tender,
but which neither had quite given up; for rakes of either sex are always
the last to condemn or cry down themselves: visited by nobody, nor
visiting: the life of a thief, or of a man bested by creditors, afraid to
look out of his own house, or to be seen abroad with her. And thus went
on for twelve years, and, though he had a good estate, hardly making both
ends meet; for though no glare, there was no economy; and, beside, he had
ever year a child, and very fond of his children was he. But none of
them lived above three years. And being now, on the death of the
dozenth, grown as dully sober, as if he had been a real husband, his good
Mrs. Thomas (for he had not permitted her to take his own name) prevailed
upon him to think the loss of their children a judgment upon the parents
for their wicked way of life; [a time will come, Lovelace, if we live to
advanced years, in which reflection will take hold of the enfeebled
mind;] and then it was not difficult for his woman to induce him, by way
of compounding with Heaven, to marry her. When this was done, he had
leisure to sit down, and contemplate; an to recollect the many offers of
persons of family and fortune to which he had declined in the prime of
life: his expenses equal at least: his reputation not only less, but
lost: his enjoyments stolen: his partnership unequal, and such as he had
always been ashamed of. But the woman said, that after twelve or
thirteen years' cohabitation, Tony did an honest thing by her. And that
was all my poor cousin got by making his old mistress his new wife--not a
drum, not a trumpet, not a fife, not a tabret, nor the expectation of a
new joy, to animate him on!
What Belton will do with his Thomasine I know not! nor care I to advise
him: for I see the poor fellow does not like that any body should curse
her but himself. This he does very heartily. And so low is he reduced,
that he blubbers over the reflection upon his past fondness for her cubs,
and upon his present doubts of their being his: 'What a damn'd thing is
it, Belford, if Tom and Hal should be the hostler dog's puppies and not
Very true! and I think the strong health of the chubby-faced muscular
whelps confirms the too great probability.
But I say not so to him.
You, he says, are such a gay, lively mortal, that this sad tale would
make no impression upon you: especially now, that your whole heart is
engaged as it is. Mowbray would be too violent upon it: he has not, he
says, a feeling heart. Tourville has no discretion: and, a pretty jest!
although he and his Thomasine lived without reputation in the world,
(people guessing that they were not married, notwithstanding she went by
his name,) yet 'he would not too much discredit the cursed ingrate
Could a man act a weaker part, had he been really married; and were he
sure he was going to separate from the mother of his own children?
I leave this as a lesson upon thy heart, without making any application:
only with this remark, 'That after we libertines have indulged our
licentious appetites, reflecting, (in the conceit of our vain hearts,)
both with our lips and by our lives, upon our ancestors and the good old
ways, we find out, when we come to years of discretion, if we live till
then (what all who knew us found out before, that is to say, we found
out), our own despicable folly; that those good old ways would have been
best for us, as well as for the rest of the world; and that in every step
we have deviated from them we have only exposed our vanity and our
ignorance at the same time.'
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
SATURDAY, MAY 20.
I am pleased with the sober reflection with which thou concludest thy
last; and I thank thee for it. Poor Belton!--I did not think his
Thomasine would have proved so very a devil. But this must everlastingly
be the risk of a keeper, who takes up with a low-bred girl. This I never
did. Nor had I occasion to do it. Such a one as I, Jack, needed only,
till now, to shake the stateliest tree, and the mellowed fruit dropt into
my mouth:--always of Montaigne's taste thou knowest:--thought it a glory
to subdue a girl of family.--More truly delightful to me the seduction-
progress than the crowned act: for that's a vapour, a bubble! and most
cordially do I thank thee for thy indirect hint, that I am right in my
From such a woman as Miss Harlowe, a man is secured from all the
inconveniencies thou expatiatest upon.
Once more, therefore, do I thank thee, Belford, for thy approbation!--A
man need not, as thou sayest, sneak into holes and corners, and shun the
day, in the company of such a woman as this. How friendly in thee, thus
to abet the favourite purpose of my heart!--nor can it be a disgrace to
me, to permit such a lady to be called by my name!--nor shall I be at all
concerned about the world's censure, if I live to the years of
discretion, which thou mentionest, should I be taken in, and prevailed
upon to tread with her the good old path of my ancestors.
A blessing on thy heart, thou honest fellow! I thought thou wert in
jest, and but acquitting thyself of an engagement to Lord M. when thou
wert pleading for matrimony in behalf of this lady!--It could not be
principle, I knew, in thee: it could not be compassion--a little envy
indeed I suspected!--But now I see thee once more thyself: and once more,
say I, a blessing on thy heart, thou true friend, and very honest fellow!
Now will I proceed with courage in all my schemes, and oblige thee with
the continued narrative of my progressions towards bringing them to
effect!--but I could not forbear to interrupt my story, to show my
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
And now will I favour thee with a brief account of our present situation.
From the highest to the lowest we are all extremely happy.--Dorcas stands
well in her lady's graces. Polly has asked her advice in relation to a
courtship-affair of her own. No oracle ever gave better. Sally has had
a quarrel with her woollen-draper; and made my charmer lady-chancellor in
it. She blamed Sally for behaving tyrannically to a man who loves her.
Dear creature! to stand against a glass, and to shut her eyes because she
will not see her face in it!--Mrs. Sinclair has paid her court to so
unerring a judge, by requesting her advice with regard to both nieces.
This the way we have been in for several days with the people below. Yet
sola generally at her meals, and seldom at other times in their company.
They now, used to her ways, [perseverance must conquer,] never press her;
so when they meet, all is civility on both sides. Even married people, I
believe, Jack, prevent abundance of quarrels, by seeing one another but
But how stands it between thyself and the lady, methinks thou askest,
since her abrupt departure from thee, and undutiful repulse of Wednesday
Why, pretty well in the main. Nay, very well. For why? the dear saucy-
face knows not how to help herself. Can fly to no other protection. And
has, besides, overheard a conversation [who would have thought she had
been so near?] which passed between Mrs. Sinclair, Miss Martin, and
myself, that very Wednesday afternoon; which has set her heart at ease
with respect to several doubtful points.
Such as, particularly, 'Mrs. Fretchville's unhappy state of mind--most
humanely pitied by Miss Martin, who knows her very well--the husband she
has lost, and herself, (as Sally says,) lovers from their cradles. Pity
from one begets pity from another, be the occasion for it either strong
or weak; and so many circumstances were given to poor Mrs. Fretchville's
distress, that it was impossible but my beloved must extremely pity her
whom the less tender-hearted Miss Martin greatly pitied.
'My Lord M.'s gout his only hindrance from visiting my spouse. Lady
Betty and Miss Montague soon expected in town.
'My earnest desire signified to have my spouse receive those ladies in
her own hose, if Mrs. Fretchville would but know her own mind; and I
pathetically lamented the delay occasioned by her not knowing it.
'My intention to stay at Mrs. Sinclair's, as I said I had told them
before, while my spouse resides in her own hose, (when Mrs. Fretchville
could be brought to quit it,) in order to gratify her utmost punctilio.
'My passion for my beloved (which, as I told them in a high and fervent
accent, was the truest that man could have for woman) I boasted of. It
was, in short, I said, of the true platonic kind; or I had no notion of
what platonic love was.'
So it is, Jack; and must end as platonic love generally does end.
'Sally and Mrs. Sinclair next praised, but not grossly, my beloved.
Sally particularly admired her purity; called it exemplary; yet (to avoid
suspicion) expressed her thoughts that she was rather over-nice, if she
might presume to say so before me. But nevertheless she applauded me for
the strict observation I made of my vow.
'I more freely blamed her reserves to me; called her cruel; inveighed
against her relations; doubted her love. Every favour I asked of her
denied me. Yet my behaviour to her as pure and delicate when alone, as
when before them. Hinted at something that had passed between us that
very day, that shewed her indifference to me in so strong a light, that I
could not bear it. But that I would ask her for her company to the play
of Venice Preserved, given out for Sunday night as a benefit-play; the
prime actors to be in it; and this, to see if I were to be denied every
favour.--Yet, for my own part, I loved not tragedies; though she did, for
the sake of the instruction, the warning, and the example generally given
'I had too much feeling, I said. There was enough in the world to make
our hearts sad, without carrying grief in our diversions, and making the
distresses of others our own.'
True enough, Belford; and I believe, generally speaking, that all the men
of our cast are of my mind--They love not any tragedies but those in
which they themselves act the parts of tyrants and executioners; and,
afraid to trust themselves with serious and solemn reflections, run to
comedies, in order to laugh away compunction on the distresses they have
occasioned, and to find examples of men as immoral as themselves. For
very few of our comic performances, as thou knowest, give us good ones.--
I answer, however, for myself--yet thou, I think, on recollection, lovest
to deal in the lamentable.
Sally answered for Polly, who was absent; Mrs. Sinclair for herself, and
for all her acquaintance, even for Miss Partington, in preferring the
comic to the tragic scenes.--And I believe they are right; for the
devil's in it, if a confided-in rake does not give a girl enough of
tragedy in his comedy.
'I asked Sally to oblige my fair-one with her company. She was engaged,
[that was right, thou'lt suppose]. I asked Mrs. Sinclair's leave for
Polly. To be sure, she answered, Polly would think it an honour to
attend Mrs. Lovelace: but the poor thing was tender-hearted; and as the
tragedy was deep, would weep herself blind.
'Sally, meantime, objected Singleton, that I might answer the objection,
and save my beloved the trouble of making it, or debating the point with
me; and on this occasion I regretted that her brother's projects were not
laid aside; since, if they had been given up, I would have gone in person
to bring up the ladies of my family to attend my spouse.
'I then, from a letter just before received from one in her father's
family, warned them of a person who had undertaken to find us out, and
whom I thus in writing [having called for pen and ink] described, that
they might arm all the family against him--"A sun-burnt, pock-fretten
sailor, ill-looking, big-boned; his stature about six foot; an heavy eye,
an overhanging brow, a deck-treading stride in his walk; a couteau
generally by his side; lips parched from his gums, as if by staring at
the sun in hot climates; a brown coat; a coloured handkerchief about his
neck; an oaken plant in his hand near as long as himself, and
'No questions asked by this fellow must be answered. They should call me
to him. But not let my beloved know a tittle of this, so long as it
could be helped. And I added, that if her brother or Singleton came, and
if they behaved civilly, I would, for her sake, be civil to them: and in
this case, she had nothing to do but to own her marriage, and there could
be no pretence for violence on either side. But most fervently I swore,
that if she was conveyed away, either by persuasion or force, I would
directly, on missing her but one day, go to demand her at Harlowe-place,
whether she were there or not; and if I recovered not a sister, I would
have a brother; and should find out a captain of a ship as well as he.'
And now, Jack, dost thou think she'll attempt to get from me, do what I
'Mrs. Sinclair began to be afraid of mischief in her house--I was
apprehensive that she would over-do the matter, and be out of character.
I therefore winked at her. She primed; nodded, to show she took me;
twanged out a high-ho through her nose, lapped one horse-lip over the
other, and was silent.'
Here's preparation, Belford!--Dost think I will throw it all away for any
thing thou canst say, or Lord M. write?--No, indeed--as my charmer says,
when she bridles.
And what must necessarily be the consequence of all this with regard to
my beloved's behaviour to me? Canst thou doubt, that it was all
complaisance next time she admitted me into her presence?
Thursday we were very happy. All the morning extremely happy. I kissed
her charming hand.--I need not describe to thee her hand and arm. When
thou sawest her, I took notice that thy eyes dwelt upon them whenever
thou couldst spare them from that beauty spot of wonders, her face--fifty
times kissed her hand, I believe--once her cheek, intending her lip, but
so rapturously, that she could not help seeming angry.
Had she not thus kept me at arms-length; had she not denied me those
innocent liberties which our sex, from step to step, aspire to; could I
but have gained access to her in her hours of heedlessness and
dishabille, [for full dress creates dignity, augments consciousness, and
compels distance;] we had familiarized to each other long ago. But keep
her up ever so late, meet her ever so early, by breakfast-time she is
dressed for the day, and at her earliest hour, as nice as others dressed.
All her forms thus kept up, wonder not that I have made so little
progress in the proposed trial.--But how must all this distance
Thursday morning, as I said, we were extremely happy--about noon, she
numbered the hours she had been with me; all of them to be but as one
minute; and desired to be left to herself. I was loth to comply: but
observing the sun-shine began to shut in, I yielded.
I dined out. Returning, I talked of the house, and of Mrs. Fretchville--
had seen Mennell--had pressed him to get the widow to quit: she pitied
Mrs. Fretchville [another good effect of the overheard conversation]--had
written to Lord M., expected an answer soon from him. I was admitted to
sup with her. I urged for her approbation or correction of my written
terms. She again promised an answer as soon as she had heard from Miss
Then I pressed for her company to the play on Saturday night. She made
objections, as I had foreseen: her brother's projects, warmth of the
weather, &c. But in such a manner, as if half afraid to disoblige me
[another happy effect of the overheard conversation]. I soon got over
these, therefore; and she consented to favour me.
Friday passed as the day before.
Here were two happy days to both. Why cannot I make every day equally
happy? It looks as if it were in my power to do so. Strange, I should
thus delight in teasing a woman I so dearly love! I must, I doubt, have
something in my temper like Miss Howe, who loves to plague the man who
puts himself in her power.--But I could not do thus by such an angel as
this, did I not believe that, after her probation time shall be expired,
and if she be not to be brought to cohabitation, (my darling view,) I
shall reward her as she wishes.
Saturday is half over. We are equally happy--preparing for the play.
Polly has offered her company, and is accepted. I have directed her
where to weep: and this not only to show her humanity, [a weeping eye
indicates a gentle heart,] but to have a pretence to hide her face with a
fan or handkerchief.--Yet Polly is far from being every man's girl; and
we shall sit in the gallery green-box.
The woes of others, so well represented as those of Belvidera
particularly will be, must, I hope, unlock and open my charmer's heart.
Whenever I have been able to prevail upon a girl to permit me to attend
her to a play, I have thought myself sure of her. The female heart (all
gentleness and harmony by nature) expands, and forgets its forms, when
its attention is carried out of itself at an agreeable or affecting
entertainment--music, and perhaps a collation afterwards, co-operating.
Indeed, I have no hope of such an effect here; but I have more than one
end to answer by getting her to a play. To name but one.--Dorcas has a
master-key, as I have told thee.--But it were worth while to carry her to
the play of Venice Preserved, were it but to show her, that there have
been, and may be, much deeper distresses than she can possibly know.
Thus exceedingly happy are we at present. I hope we shall not find any
of Nat. Lee's left-handed gods at work, to dash our bowl of joy with
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
FRIDAY, MAY 19.
I would not, if I could help it, be so continually brooding over the dark
and gloomy face of my condition [all nature, you know, my dear, and every
thing in it, has a bright and a gloomy side] as to be thought unable to
enjoy a more hopeful prospect. And this, not only for my own sake, but
for yours, who take such generous concern in all that befalls me.
Let me tell you then, my dear, that I have known four-and-twenty hours
together not unhappy ones, my situation considered.
[She then gives the particulars of the conversation which she had
overheard between Mr. Lovelace, Mrs. Sinclair, and Miss Martin; but
accounts more minutely than he had done for the opportunity she had of
overhearing it, unknown to them.
She gives the reasons she has to be pleased with what she heard from
each: but is shocked at the measure he is resolved to take, if he
misses her but for one day. Yet is pleased that he proposes to avoid
aggressive violence, if her brother and he meet in town.]
Even Dorcas, says she, appears less exceptionable to me than before; and
I cannot but pity her for her neglected education, as it is matter of so
much regret to herself: else, there would not be much in it; as the low
and illiterate are the most useful people in the common-wealth (since
such constitute the labouring part of the public); and as a lettered
education but too generally sets people above those servile offices by
which the businesses of the world is carried on. Nor have I any doubt
but there are, take the world through, twenty happy people among the
unlettered, to one among those who have had a school-education.
This, however, concludes not against learning or letters; since one would
wish to lift to some little distinction, and more genteel usefulness,
those who have capacity, and whose parentage one respects, or whose
services one would wish to reward.
Were my mind quite at ease, I could enlarge, perhaps not unusefully, upon
this subject; for I have considered it with as much attention as my
years, and little experience and observation, will permit.
But the extreme illiterateness and indocility of this maid are
surprising, considering that she wants not inquisitiveness, appears
willing to learn, and, in other respects, has quick parts. This confirms
to me what I have heard remarked, That there is a docible season, a
learning-time, as I may say, for every person, in which the mind may be
led, step by step, from the lower to the higher, (year by year,) to
improvement. How industriously ought these seasons, as they offer, to be
taken hold of by tutors, parents, and other friends, to whom the
cultivation of the genius of children and youth is committed; since, one
elapsed, and no foundation laid, they hardly ever return!--And yet it
must be confessed, that there are some geniuses, which, like some fruits,
ripen not till late. And industry and perseverance will do prodigious
things--but for a learner to have those first rudiments to master at
twenty years of age, suppose, which others are taught, and they
themselves might have attained, at ten, what an uphill labour!
These kind of observations you have always wished me to intersperse, as
they arise to my thoughts. But it is a sign that my prospects are a
little mended, or I should not, among so many more interesting ones that
my mind has been of late filled with, have had heart's ease enough to
Let me give you my reflections on my more hopeful prospects.
I am now, in the first place, better able to account for the delays about
the house than I was before--Poor Mrs. Fretchville!--Though I know her
not, I pity her!--Next, it looks well, that he had apprized the women
(before this conversation with them, of his intention to stay in this
house, after I was removed to the other. By the tone of his voice he
seemed concerned for the appearance of this new delay would have with me.
So handsomely did Miss Martin express herself of me, that I am sorry,
methinks, that I judged so hardly of her, when I first came hither--free
people may go a great way, but not all the way: and as such are generally
unguarded, precipitate, and thoughtless, the same quickness,
changeableness, and suddenness of spirit, as I may call it, may intervene
(if the heart be not corrupted) to recover them to thought and duty.
His reason for declining to go in person to bring up the ladies of his
family, while my brother and Singleton continue their machinations,
carries no bad face with it; and one may the rather allow for their
expectations, that so proud a spirit as his should attend them for this
purpose, as he speaks of them sometimes as persons of punctilio.
Other reasons I will mention for my being easier in my mind than I was
before I overheard this conversation.
Such as, the advice he had received in relation to Singleton's mate;
which agrees but too well with what you, my dear, wrote to me in your's
of May the 10th.*
* See Letter XXIII. of this volume.
His not intending to acquaint me with it.
His cautions to the servants about the sailor, if he should come and make
inquiries about us.
His resolution to avoid violence, were he to fall in either with my
brother, or this Singleton; and the easy method he has chalked out, in
this case, to prevent mischief; since I need only not to deny my being
his. But yet I should be driven into such a tacit acknowledgement to any
new persons, till I am so, although I have been led (so much against my
liking) to give countenance to the belief of the persons below that we
I think myself obliged, from what passed between Mr. Lovelace and me on
Wednesday, and from what I overheard him say, to consent to go with him
to the play; and the rather, as he had the discretion to propose one of
the nieces to accompany me.
I cannot but acknowledge that I am pleased to find that he has actually
written to Lord M.
I have promised to give Mr. Lovelace an answer to his proposals as soon
as I have heard from you, my dear, on the subject.
I hope that in my next letter I shall have reason to confirm these
favourable appearances. Favourable I must think them in the wreck I have
I hope, that in the trial which you hint may happen between me and
myself, (as you* express it,) if he should so behave as to oblige me to
leave him, I shall be able to act in such a manner as to bring no
discredit upon myself in your eye; and that is all now that I have to
wish for. But, if I value him so much as you are pleased to suppose I
do, the trial, which you imagine will be so difficult to me, will not, I
conceive, be upon getting from him, when the means to affect my escape
are lent me; but how I shall behave when got from him; and if, like the
Israelites of old, I shall be so weak as to wish to return to my Egyptian
* See Letter XXXIV. of this volume.
I think it will not be amiss, notwithstanding the present favourable
appearances, that you should perfect the scheme (whatever it be) which
you tell me* you have thought of, in order to procure for me an asylum,
in case of necessity. Mr. Lovelace is certainly a deep and dangerous
man; and it is therefore but prudence to be watchful, and to be provided
against the worst. Lord bless me, my dear, how I am reduced!--Could I
ever have thought to be in such a situation, as to be obliged to stay
with a man, of whose honour by me I could have but the shadow of a doubt!
--But I will look forward, and hope the best.
I am certain that your letters are safe. Be perfectly easy, therefore,
on that head.
Mr. Lovelace will never be out of my company by his good will, otherwise
I have no doubt that I am mistress of my goings-out and comings-in; and
did I think it needful, and were I not afraid of my brother and Captain
Singleton, I would oftener put it to trial.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
SATURDAY, MAY 20.
I did not know, my dear, that you deferred giving an answer to Mr.
Lovelace's proposals till you had my opinion of them. A particular hand,
occasionally going to town, will leave this at Wilson's, that no delay
may be made on that account.
I never had any doubt of the man's justice and generosity in matters of
settlement; and all his relations are as noble in their spirits as in
their descent; but now, it may not be amiss for you to wait, to see what
returns my Lord makes to his letter of invitation.
The scheme I think of is this:
There is a person, whom I believe you have seen with me, her name
Townsend, who is a great dealer in Indian silks, Brussels and French
laces, cambricks, linen, and other valuable goods; which she has a way
of coming at duty-free; and has a great vend for them (and for other
curiosities which she imports) in the private families of the gentry
She has her days of being in town, and then is at a chamber she rents at
an inn in Southwark, where she keeps patters of all her silks, and much
of her portable goods, for the conveniency of her London customers. But
her place of residence, and where she has her principal warehouse, is at
Depford, for the opportunity of getting her goods on shore.
She was first brought to me by my mother, to whom she was recommended on
the supposal of my speedy marriage, 'that I might have an opportunity to
be as fine as a princess,' was my mother's expression, 'at a moderate
Now, my dear, I must own, that I do not love to encourage these
contraband traders. What is it, but bidding defiance to the laws of our
country, when we do, and hurting fair traders; and at the same time
robbing our prince of his legal due, to the diminution of those duties
which possibly must be made good by new levities upon the public?
But, however, Mrs. Townsend and I, though I have not yet had dealings
with her, are upon a very good foot of understanding. She is a sensible
woman; she has been abroad, and often goes abroad in the way of her
business, and gives very entertaining accounts of all she has seen.
And having applied to me to recommend her to you, (as it is her view to
be known to young ladies who are likely to change their condition,) I am
sure I can engage her to give you protection at her house at Deptford;
which she says is a populous village, and one of the last, I should
think, in which you would be sought for. She is not much there, you will
believe, by the course of her dealings, but, no doubt, must have somebody
on the spot, in whom she can confide: and there, perhaps, you might be
safe till your cousin comes. And I should not think it amiss that you
write to him out of hand. I cannot suggest to you what you should write.
That must be left to your own discretion. For you will be afraid, no
doubt, of the consequence of a variance between the two men.
But, notwithstanding all this, and were I sure of getting you safely out
of his hands, I will nevertheless forgive you, were you to make all up
with him, and marry to-morrow. Yet I will proceed with my projected
scheme in relation to Mrs. Townsend; though I hope there will be no
occasion to prosecute it, since your prospects seem to be changed, and
since you have had twenty-four not unhappy hours together. How my
indignation rises for this poor consolation in the courtship [courtship
must I call it?] of such a woman! let me tell you, my dear, that were you
once your own absolute and independent mistress, I should be tempted,
notwithstanding all I have written, to wish you to be the wife of any man
in the world, rather than the wife either of Lovelace or of Solmes.
Mrs. Townsend, as I have recollected, has two brothers, each a master of
a vessel; and who knows, as she and they have concerns together, but
that, in case of need, you may have a whole ship's crew at your devotion?
If Lovelace give you cause to leave him, take no thought for the people
at Harlowe-place. Let them take care of one another. It is a care they
are used to. The law will help to secure them. The wretch is no
assassin, no night-murderer. He is an open, because a fearless enemy;
and should he attempt any thing that would make him obnoxious to the laws
of society, you might have a fair riddance of him, either by flight or
the gallows; no matter which.
Had you not been so minute in your account of the circumstances that
attended the opportunity you had of overhearing the dialogue between Mr.
Lovelace and two of the women, I should have thought the conference
contrived on purpose for your ear.
I showed Mr. Lovelace's proposals to Mr. Hickman, who had chambers once
in Lincoln's-inn, being designed for the law, had his elder brother
lived. He looked so wise, so proud, and so important, upon the occasion;
and wanted to take so much consideration about them--Would take them home
if I pleased--and weigh them well--and so forth--and the like--and all
that--that I had no patience with him, and snatched them back with anger.
O dear!--to be so angry, an't please me, for his zeal!--
Yes, zeal without knowledge, I said--like most other zeals--if there were
no objections that struck him at once, there were none.
So hasty, dearest Madam--
And so slow, un-dearest Sir, I could have said--But SURELY, said I, with
a look that implied, Would you rebel, Sir!
He begged my pardon--Saw no objection, indeed!--But might he be allowed
No matter--no matter--I would have shown them to my mother, I said, who,
though of no inn of court, knew more of these things than half the
lounging lubbers of them; and that at first sight--only that she would
have been angry at the confession of our continued correspondence.
But, my dear, let the articles be drawn up, and engrossed; and solemnize
upon them; and there's no more to be said.
Let me add, that the sailor-fellow has been tampering with my Kitty, and
offered a bribe, to find where to direct to you. Next time he comes, I
will have him laid hold of; and if I can get nothing out of him, will
have him drawn through one of our deepest fishponds. His attempt to
corrupt a servant of mine will justify my orders.
I send this letter away directly. But will follow it by another; which
shall have for its subject only my mother, myself, and your uncle Antony.
And as your prospects are more promising than they have been, I will
endeavour to make you smile upon the occasion. For you will be pleased
to know, that my mother has had a formal tender from that grey goose,
which may make her skill in settlements useful to herself, were she to
May your prospects be still more and more happy, prays
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
SAT. SUNDAY, MAY 20, 21.
Now, my dear, for the promised subject. You must not ask me how I came
by the originals [such they really are] that I am going to present you
with: for my mother would not read to me those parts of your uncle's
letter which bore hard upon myself, and which leave him without any title
to mercy from me: nor would she let me hear but what she pleased of her's
in answer; for she has condescended to answer him--with a denial,
however; but such a denial as no one but an old bachelor would take from
Any body, except myself, who could have been acquainted with such a
fal-lal courtship as this must have been had it proceeded, would have
been glad it had gone on: and I dare say, but for the saucy daughter, it
had. My good mamma, in that case, would have been ten years the younger
for it, perhaps: and, could I but have approved of it, I should have been
considered by her as if ten years older than I am: since, very likely, it
would have been: 'We widows, my dear, know not how to keep men at a
distance--so as to give them pain, in order to try their love.--You must
advise me, child: you must teach me to be cruel--yet not too cruel
neither--so as to make a man heartless, who has no time, God wot, to
throw away.'--Then would my behaviour to Mr. Hickman have been better
liked; and my mother would have bridled like her daughter.
O my dear, how might we have been diverted by the practisings for the
recovery of the long forgottens! could I have been sure that it would
have been in my power to have put them asunder, in the Irish style,
before they had come together. But there's no trusting to the widow
whose goods and chattels are in her own hands, addressed by an old
bachelor who has fine things, and offers to leave her ten thousand pounds
better than he found her, and sole mistress, besides, of all her
notables! for these, as you will see by-and-by, are his proposals.
The old Triton's address carries the writer's marks upon the very
subscription--To the equally amiable and worthy admired [there's for
you!] Mrs. ANABELLA HOWE, widow, the last word added, I suppose as
Esquire to a man, as a word of honour; or for fear the bella to Anna,
should not enough distinguish the person meant from the spinster: [vain
hussy you'll call me, I know:] And then follows;--These humbly present.
--Put down as a memorandum, I presume, to make a leg, and behave
handsomely at presenting it, he intending, very probably, to deliver it
And now stand by--to see
ENTER OLD NEPTUNE.
His head adorned with sea-weed, and a crown of cockle-shells; as we see
him decked out in Mrs. Robinson's grotto.
MONDAY, MAY 15.
I did make a sort of resolution ten years ago never to marry. I saw in
other families, where they lived best, you will be pleased to mark that,
queernesses I could not away with. Then liked well enough to live single
for the sake of my brother's family; and for one child in it more than
the rest. But that girl has turned us all off the hinges: and why should
I deny myself any comforts for them, as will not thank me for so doing, I
So much for my motives as from self and family: but the dear Mrs. Howe
makes me go farther.
I have a very great fortune, I bless God for it, all of my own getting,
or most of it; you will be pleased to mark that; for I was the youngest
brother of three. You have also, God be thanked, a great estate, which
you have improved by your own frugality and wise management. Frugality,
let me stop to say, is one of the greatest virtues in this mortal life,
because it enables us to do justice to all, and puts it in our power to
benefit some by it, as we see they deserve.
You have but one child; and I am a bachelor, and have never a one--all
bachelors cannot say so: wherefore your daughter may be the better for
me, if she will keep up with my humour; which was never thought bad:
especially to my equals. Servants, indeed, I don't matter being angry
with, when I please; they are paid for bearing it, and too-too often
deserve it; as we have frequently taken notice of to one another. And,
moreover, if we keep not servants at distance, they will be familiar.
I always made it a rule to find fault, whether reasonable or not, that so
I might have no reason to find fault. Young women and servants in
general (as worthy Mr. Solmes observes) are better governed by fear than
love. But this my humour as to servants will not effect either you or
Miss, you know.
I will make very advantageous settlements; such as any common friend
shall judge to be so. But must have all in my own power, while I live:
because, you know, Madam, it is as creditable to the wife, as to the
husband, that it should be so.
I am not at fine words. We are not children; though it is hoped we may
have some; for I am a very healthy sound man. I bless God for it: and
never brought home from my voyages and travels a worser constitution than
I took out with me. I was none of those, I will assure you. But this I
will undertake, that, if you are the survivor, you shall be at the least
ten thousand pounds the better for me. What, in the contrary case, I
shall be the better for you, I leave to you, as you shall think my
kindness to you shall deserve.
But one thing, Madam, I shall be glad of, that Miss Howe might not live
with us then--[she need not know I write thus]--but go home to Mr.
Hickman, as she is upon the point of marriage, I hear: and if she behaves
dutifully, as she should do, to us both, she shall be the better; for I
said so before.
You shall manage all things, both mine and your own; for I know but
little of land-matters. All my opposition to you shall be out of love,
when I think you take too much upon you for your health.
It will be very pretty for you, I should think, to have a man of
experience, in a long winter's evening, to sit down by you, and tell you
stories of foreign parts, and the customs of the nations he has consorted
with. And I have fine curiosities of the Indian growth, such as ladies
love, and some that even my niece Clary, when she was good, never saw.
These, one by one, as you are kind to me, (which I make no question of,
because I shall be kind to you,) shall be all yours. Prettier
entertainment by much, than sitting with a too smartish daughter,
sometimes out of humour; and thwarting, and vexing, as daughters will,
(when women-grown especially, as I have heard you often observe;) and
thinking their parents old, without paying them the reverence due to
years; when, as in your case, I make no sort of doubt, they are young
enough to wipe their noses. You understand me, Madam.
As for me myself, it will be very happy, and I am delighted with the
thinking of it, to have, after a pleasant ride, or so, a lady of like
experience with myself to come home to, and but one interest betwixt us:
to reckon up our comings-in together; and what this day and this week has
produced--O how this will increase love!--most mightily will it increase
it!--and I believe I shall never love you enough, or be able to show you
all my love.
I hope, Madam, there need not be such maiden niceties and hangings-off,
as I may call them, between us, (for hanging-off sake,) as that you will
deny me a line or two to this proposal, written down, although you would
not answer me so readily when I spoke to you; your daughter being, I
suppose, hard by; for you looked round you, as if not willing to be
overheard. So I resolved to write: that my writing may stand as upon
record for my upright meaning; being none of your Lovelaces; you will
mark that, Madam; but a downright, true, honest, faithful Englishman. So
hope you will not disdain to write a line or two to this my proposal: and
I shall look upon it as a great honour, I will assure you, and be proud
thereof. What can I say more?--for you are your own mistress, as I am my
own master: and you shall always be your own mistress, be pleased to mark
that; for so a lady of your prudence and experience ought to be.
This is a long letter. But the subject requires it; because I would not
write twice where once would do. So would explain my sense and meaning
at one time.
I have had writing in my head two whole months very near; but hardly knew
how (being unpracticed in these matters) to begin to write. And now,
good lady, be favourable to
Your most humble lover,
and obedient servant,
Here's a letter of courtship, my dear!--and let me subjoin to it, that if
now, or hereafter, I should treat this hideous lover, who is so free with
me to my mother, with asperity, and you should be disgusted at it, I
shall think you don't give me that preference in your love which you have
And now, which shall I first give you; the answer of my good mamma; or
the dialogue that passed between the widow mother, and the pert daughter,
upon her letting the latter know that she had a love-letter?
I think you shall have the dialogue. But let me promise one thing; that
if you think me too free, you must not let it run in your head that I am
writing of your uncle, or of my mother; but of a couple of old lovers, no
matter whom. Reverence is too apt to be forgotten by children, where the
reverends forget first what belongs to their own characters. A grave
remark, and therefore at your service, my dear.
Well then, suppose my mamma, (after twice coming into my closet to me,
and as often going out, with very meaning features, and lips ready to
burst open, but still closed, as if by compulsion, a speech going off in
a slight cough, that never went near the lungs,) grown more resolute the
third time of entrance, and sitting down by me, thus begin:
Mother. I have a very serious matter to talk with you upon, Nancy, when
you are disposed to attend to matters within ourselves, and not let
matters without ourselves wholly engross you.
A good selve-ish speech!--But I thought that friendship, gratitude, and
humanity, were matters that ought to be deemed of the most intimate
concern to us. But not to dwell upon words.
Daughter. I am now disposed to attend to ever thing my manna is
disposed to say to me.
M. Why then, child--why then, my dear--[and the good lady's face looked
so plump, so smooth, and so shining!]--I see you are all attention,
Nancy!--But don't be surprised!--don't be uneasy!--But I have--I have--
Where is it?--[and yet it lay next her heart, never another near it--so
no difficulty to have found it]--I have a letter, my dear!--[And out from
her bosom it came: but she still held it in her hand]--I have a letter,
child.--It is--it is--it is from--from a gentleman, I assure you!--
[lifting up her head, and smiling.]
There is no delight to a daughter, thought I, in such surprises as seem
to be collecting. I will deprive my mother of the satisfaction of making
a gradual discovery.
D. From Mr. Antony Harlowe, I suppose, Madam?
M. [Lips drawn closer: eye raised] Why, my dear!--I cannot but own--
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