Clarissa, Volume 4 (of 9)
Part 6 out of 6
Read here, if thou wilt, the paper transcribed by Dorcas. It is
impossible that I should proceed with my projects against this admirable
woman, were it not that I am resolved, after a few trials more, if as
nobly sustained as those she has passed through, to make her (if she
really hate me not) legally mine.
TO MR. LOVELACE
'When a woman is married, that supreme earthly obligation requires, that
in all instances, where her husband's real honour is concerned, she
should yield her own will to his. But, beforehand, I could be glad,
conformably to what I have always signified, to have the most explicit
assurances, that every possible way should be tried to avoid litigation
with my father. Time and patience will subdue all things. My prospects
of happiness are extremely contracted. A husband's right will be always
the same. In my lifetime I could wish nothing to be done of this sort.
Your circumstances, Sir, will not oblige you to extort violently from him
what is in his hands. All that depends upon me, either with regard to my
person, to my diversions, or to the economy that no married woman, of
whatever rank or quality, should be above inspecting, shall be done, to
prevent a necessity for such measures being taken. And if there will be
no necessity for them, it is to be hoped that motives less excusable will
not have force--motives which must be founded in a littleness of mind,
which a woman, who has not that littleness of mind, will be under such
temptations, as her duty will hardly be able at all times to check, to
despise her husband for having; especially in cases where her own family,
so much a part of herself, and which will have obligations upon her
(though then but secondary ones) from which she can never be freed, is
'This article, then, I urge to your most serious consideration, as what
lies next my heart. I enter not here minutely into the fatal
misunderstanding between them and you: the fault may be in both. But,
Sir, your's was the foundation-fault: at least, you gave a too-plausible
pretence for my brother's antipathy to work upon. Condescension was no
part of your study. You chose to bear the imputations laid to your
charge, rather than to make it your endeavour to obviate them.
'But this may lead into hateful recrimination.--Let it be remembered, I
will only say, in this place, that, in their eye, you have robbed them of
a daughter they doated upon; and that their resentments on this occasion
rise but in proportion to their love and their disappointment. If they
were faulty in some of the measures they took, while they themselves did
not think so, who shall judge for them? You, Sir, who will judge every
body as you please, and will let nobody judge you in your own particular,
must not be their judge.--It may therefore be expected that they will
'As for myself, Sir, I must leave it (so seems it to be destined) to your
justice, to treat me as you shall think I deserve: but, if your future
behaviour to them is not governed by that harsh-sounding implacableness,
which you charge upon some of their tempers, the splendour of your
family, and the excellent character of some of them (of all indeed,
unless your own conscience furnishes you with one only exception) will,
on better consideration, do every thing with them: for they may be
overcome; perhaps, however, with the more difficulty, as the greatly
prosperous less bear controul and disappointment than others: for I will
own to you, that I have often in secret lamented, that their great
acquirements have been a snare to them; perhaps as great a snare, as some
other accidentals have been to you; which being less immediately your own
gifts, you have still less reason than they to value yourself upon them.
'Let me only, on this subject, further observe, that condescension is not
meanness. There is a glory in yielding, that hardly any violent spirit
can judge of. My brother, perhaps, is no more sensible of this than you.
But as you have talents, which he has not, (who, however, has, as I hope,
that regard for morals, the want of which makes one of his objections to
you,) I could wish it may not be owing to you, that your mutual dislikes
to each other do not subside! for it is my earnest hope, that in time you
may see each other, without exciting the fears of a wife and a sister for
the consequence. Not that I should wish you to yield in points that
truly concerned your honour: no, Sir; I would be as delicate in such, as
you yourself: more delicate, I will venture to say, because more
uniformly so. How vain, how contemptible, is that pride, which shows
itself in standing upon diminutive observances; and gives up, and makes a
jest of, the most important duties!
'This article being considered as I wish, all the rest will be easy.
Were I to accept of the handsome separate provision you seem to intend
me; added to the considerate sums arisen from my grandfather's estate
since his death (more considerable than perhaps you may suppose from your
offer); I should think it my duty to lay up for the family good, and for
unforseen events, out of it: for, as to my donations, I would generally
confine myself in them to the tenth of my income, be it what it would. I
aim at no glare in what I do of that sort. All I wish for, is the power
of relieving the lame, the blind, the sick, and the industrious poor, and
those whom accident has made so, or sudden distress reduced. The common
or bred beggars I leave to others, and to the public provision. They
cannot be lower: perhaps they wish not to be higher: and, not able to do
for every one, I aim not at works of supererogation. Two hundred pounds
a year would do all I wish to do of the separate sort: for all above, I
would content myself to ask you; except, mistrusting your own economy,
you would give up to my management and keeping, in order to provide for
future contingencies, a larger portion; for which, as your steward, I
would regularly account.
'As to clothes, I have particularly two suits, which, having been only in
a manner tried on, would answer for any present occasion. Jewels I have
of my grandmother's, which want only new-setting: another set I have,
which on particular days I used to wear. Although these are not sent me,
I have no doubt, being merely personals, but they will, when I should
send for them in another name: till when I should not choose to wear any.
'As to your complaints of my diffidences, and the like, I appeal to your
own heart, if it be possible for you to make my case your own for one
moment, and to retrospect some parts of your behaviour, words, and
actions, whether I am not rather to be justified than censured: and
whether, of all the men in the world, avowing what you avow, you ought
not to think so. If you do not, let me admonish you, Sir, from the very
great mismatch that then must appear to be in our minds, never to seek,
nor so much as to wish, to bring about the most intimate union of
interests between yourself and
The original of this charming paper, as Dorcas tells me, was torn almost
in two. In one of her pets, I suppose! What business have the sex,
whose principal glory is meekness, and patience, and resignation, to be
in a passion, I trow?--Will not she who allows herself such liberties as
a maiden take greater when married?
And a wife to be in a passion!--Let me tell the ladies, it is an
impudent thing, begging their pardon, and as imprudent as impudent, for a
wife to be in a passion, if she mean not eternal separation, or wicked
defiance, by it: For is it not rejecting at once all that expostulatory
meekness, and gentle reasoning, mingled with sighs as gentle, and graced
with bent knees, supplicating hands, and eyes lifted up to your imperial
countenance, just running over, that you should make a reconciliation
speedy, and as lasting as speedy? Even suppose the husband is in the
wrong, will not this being so give the greater force to her
Now I think of it, a man should be in the wrong now-and-then, to make his
wife shine. Miss Howe tells my charmer, that adversity is her shining-
time. 'Tis a generous thing in a man to make his wife shine at his own
expense: to give her leave to triumph over him by patient reasoning: for
were he to be too imperial to acknowledge his fault on the spot, she will
find the benefit of her duty and submission in future, and in the high
opinion he will conceive of her prudence and obligingness--and so, by
degrees, she will become her master's master.
But for a wife to come up with kemboed arm, the other hand thrown out,
perhaps with a pointing finger--Look ye here, Sir!--Take notice!--If you
are wrong, I'll be wrong!--If you are in a passion, I'll be in a passion!
--Rebuff, for rebuff, Sir!--If you fly, I'll tear!--If you swear, I'll
curse!--And the same room, and the same bed, shall not hold us, Sir!-
For, remember, I am married, Sir!--I am a wife, Sir!--You can't help
yourself, Sir!--Your honour, as well as your peace, is in my keeping!
And, if you like not this treatment, you may have worse, Sir!
Ah! Jack! Jack! What man, who has observed these things, either implied
or expressed, in other families, would wish to be a husband!
Dorcas found this paper in one of the drawers of her lady's dressing-
table. She was reperusing it, as she supposes, when the honest wench
carried my message to desire her to favour me at the tea-table; for she
saw her pop a paper into the drawer as she came in; and there, on her
mistress's going to meet me in the dining-room, she found it; and to be
But I had better not to have had a copy of it, as far as I know: for,
determined as I was before upon my operations, it instantly turned all my
resolutions in her favour. Yet I would give something to be convinced
that she did not pop it into her drawer before the wench, in order for me
to see it; and perhaps (if I were to take notice of it) to discover
whether Dorcas, according to Miss Howe's advice, were most my friend, or
The very suspicion of this will do her no good: for I cannot bear to be
artfully dealt with. People love to enjoy their own peculiar talents in
monopoly, as arguments against me in her behalf. But I know ever tittle
thou canst say upon it. Spare therefore thy wambling nonsense, I desire
thee; and leave this sweet excellence and me to our fate: that will
determine for us, as it shall please itself: for as Cowley says,
An unseen hand makes all our moves:
And some are great, and some are small;
Some climb to good, some from great fortunes fall:
Some wise men, and some fools we call:
Figures, alas! of speech!--For destiny plays us all.
But, after all, I am sorry, almost sorry (for how shall I do to be quite
sorry, when it is not given to me to be so?) that I cannot, until I have
made further trials, resolve upon wedlock.
I have just read over again this intended answer to my proposals: and how
I adore her for it!
But yet; another yet!--She has not given it or sent it to me.--It is not
therefore her answer. It is not written for me, though to me.
Nay, she has not intended to send it to me: she has even torn it, perhaps
with indignation, as thinking it too good for me. By this action she
absolutely retracts it. Why then does my foolish fondness seek to
establish for her the same merit in my heart, as if she avowed it?
Pr'ythee, dear Belford, once more, leave us to our fate; and do not thou
interpose with thy nonsense, to weaken a spirit already too squeamish,
and strengthen a conscience that has declared itself of her party.
Then again, remember thy recent discoveries, Lovelace! Remember her
indifference, attended with all the appearance of contempt and hatred.
View her, even now, wrapt up in reserve and mystery; meditating plots, as
far as thou knowest, against the sovereignty thou hast, by right of
conquest, obtained over her. Remember, in short, all thou hast
threatened to remember against this insolent beauty, who is a rebel to
the power she has listed under.
But yet, how dost thou propose to subdue thy sweet enemy!--Abhorred be
force, be the necessity of force, if that can be avoided! There is no
triumph in force--no conquest over the will--no prevailing by gentle
degrees over the gentle passions!--force is the devil!
My cursed character, as I have often said, was against me at setting out
--Yet is she not a woman? Cannot I find one yielding or but half-
yielding moment, if she do not absolutely hate me?
But with what can I tempt her?--RICHES she was born to, and despises,
knowing what they are. JEWELS and ornaments, to a mind so much a jewel,
and so richly set, her worthy consciousness will not let her value. LOVE
--if she be susceptible of love, it seems to be so much under the
direction of prudence, that one unguarded moment, I fear, cannot be
reasonably hoped for: and so much VIGILANCE, so much apprehensiveness,
that her fears are ever aforehand with her dangers. Then her LOVE or
VIRTUE seems to be principle, native principle, or, if not native, so
deeply rooted, that its fibres have struck into her heart, and, as she
grew up, so blended and twisted themselves with the strings of life, that
I doubt there is no separating of the one without cutting the others
What then can be done to make such a matchless creature get over the
first tests, in order to put her to the grand proof, whether once
overcome, she will not be always overcome?
Our mother and her nymphs say, I am a perfect Craven, and no Lovelace:
and so I think. But this is no simpering, smiling charmer, as I have
found others to be, when I have touched upon affecting subjects at a
distance; as once or twice I have tried to her, the mother introducing
them (to make sex palliate the freedom to sex) when only we three
together. She is above the affectation of not seeming to understand you.
She shows by her displeasure, and a fierceness not natural to her eye,
that she judges of an impure heart by an impure mouth, and darts dead at
once even the embryo hopes of an encroaching lover, however distantly
insinuated, before the meaning hint can dawn into double entendre.
By my faith, Jack, as I sit gazing upon her, my whole soul in my eyes,
contemplating her perfections, and thinking, when I have seen her easy
and serene, what would be her thoughts, did she know my heart as well as
I know it; when I behold her disturbed and jealous, and think of the
justness of her apprehensions, and that she cannot fear so much as there
is room for her to fear; my heart often misgives me.
And must, think I, O creature so divinely excellent, and so beloved of my
soul, those arms, those encircling arms, that would make a monarch happy,
be used to repel brutal force; all their strength, unavailingly perhaps,
exerted to repel it, and to defend a person so delicately framed? Can
violence enter into the heart of a wretch, who might entitle himself to
all her willing yet virtuous love, and make the blessings he aspireth
after, her duty to confer?--Begone, villain-purposes! Sink ye all to the
hell that could only inspire ye! And I am then ready to throw myself at
her feet, to confess my villainous designs, to avow my repentance, and
put it out of my power to act unworthily by such an excellence.
How then comes it, that all these compassionate, and, as some would call
them, honest sensibilities go off!--Why, Miss Howe will tell thee: she
says, I am the devil.--By my conscience, I think he has at present a
great share in me.
There's ingenuousness!--How I lay myself open to thee!--But seest thou not,
that the more I say against myself, the less room there is for thee
to take me to task?--O Belford, Belford! I cannot, cannot (at least at
present) I cannot marry.
Then her family, my bitter enemies--to supple to them, or if I do not, to
make her as unhappy as she can be from my attempts----
Then does she not love them too much, me too little?
She now seems to despise me: Miss Howe declares, that she really does
despise me. To be despised by a WIFE--What a thought is that!--To be
excelled by a WIFE too, in every part of praise-worthy knowledge!--To
take lessons, to take instructions, from a WIFE!--More than despise me,
she herself has taken time to consider whether she does not hate me:--
I hate you, Lovelace, with my whole heart, said she to me but yesterday!
My soul is above thee, man!--Urge me not to tell thee how sincerely I
think my soul above thee!--How poor indeed was I then, even in my own
heart!--So visible a superiority, to so proud a spirit as mine!--And here
from below, from BELOW indeed! from these women! I am so goaded on----
Yet 'tis poor too, to think myself a machine in the hands of such
wretches.--I am no machine.--Lovelace, thou art base to thyself, but to
suppose thyself a machine.
But having gone thus far, I should be unhappy, if after marriage, in the
petulance of ill humour, I had it to reproach myself, that I did not try
her to the utmost. And yet I don't know how it is, but this lady, the
moment I come into her presence, half-assimilates me to her own virtue.--
Once or twice (to say nothing of her triumph over me on Sunday night) I
was prevailed upon to fluster myself, with an intention to make some
advances, which, if obliged to recede, I might lay upon raised spirits:
but the instant I beheld her, I was soberized into awe and reverence: and
the majesty of her even visible purity first damped, and then extinguished,
my double flame.
What a surprisingly powerful effect, so much and so long in my power she!
so instigated by some of her own sex, and so stimulated by passion I!--
How can this be accounted for in a Lovelace!
But what a heap of stuff have I written!--How have I been run away with!
--By what?--Canst thou say by what?--O thou lurking varletess CONSCIENCE!
--Is it thou that hast thus made me of party against myself?--How camest
thou in?--In what disguise, thou egregious haunter of my more agreeable
hours?--Stand thou, with fate, but neuter in this controversy; and, if I
cannot do credit to human nature, and to the female sex, by bringing down
such an angel as this to class with and adorn it, (for adorn it she does
in her very foibles,) then I am all your's, and never will resist you
Here I arose. I shook myself. The window was open. Always the
troublesome bosom-visiter, the intruder, is flown.--I see it yet!--And
now it lessens to my aching eye!--And now the cleft air is closed after it,
and it is out of sight!--and once more I am
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY, MAY 23.
Well did I, and but just in time to conclude to have done with Mrs.
Fretchville and the house: for here Mennell has declared, that he cannot
in conscience and honour go any farther.--He would not for the world be
accessory to the deceiving of such a lady!--I was a fool to let either
you or him see her; for ever since ye have both had scruples, which
neither would have had, were a woman to have been in the question.
Well, I can't help it!
Mennell has, however, though with some reluctance, consented to write me
a letter, provided I will allow it to be the last step he shall take in
I presumed, I told him, that if I could cause Mrs. Fretchville's woman to
supply his place, he would have no objection to that.
None, he says--But is it not pity--
A pitiful fellow! Such a ridiculous kind of pity his, as those silly
souls have, who would not kill an innocent chicken for the world; but
when killed to their hands, are always the most greedy devourers of it.
Now this letter gives the servant the small-pox: and she has given it to
her unhappy vapourish lady. Vapourish people are perpetual subjects for
diseases to work upon. Name but the malady, and it is theirs in a
moment. Ever fitted for inoculation.--The physical tribe's milch-cows.
--A vapourish or splenetic patient is a fiddle for the doctors; and they
are eternally playing upon it. Sweet music does it make them. All their
difficulty, except a case extraordinary happens, (as poor Mrs.
Fretchville's, who has realized her apprehensions,) is but to hold their
countenance, while their patient is drawing up a bill of indictment
against himself;--and when they have heard it, proceed to punish--the
right word for prescribe. Why should they not, when the criminal has
confessed his guilt?--And punish they generally do with a vengeance.
Yet, silly toads too, now I think of it. For why, when they know they
cannot do good, may they not as well endeavour to gratify, as to
nauseate, the patient's palate?
Were I a physician, I'd get all the trade to myself: for Malmsey, and
Cyprus, and the generous product of the Cape, a little disguised, should
be my principal doses: as these would create new spirits, how would the
revived patient covet the physic, and adore the doctor!
Give all the paraders of the faculty whom thou knowest this hint.--There
could but one inconvenience arise from it. The APOTHECARIES would find
their medicines cost them something: but the demand for quantities would
answer that: since the honest NURSE would be the patient's taster;
perpetually requiring repetitions of the last cordial julap.
Well, but to the letter--Yet what need of further explanation after the
hints in my former? The widow can't be removed; and that's enough: and
Mennell's work is over; and his conscience left to plague him for his own
sins, and not another man's: and, very possibly, plague enough will give
him for those.
This letter is directed, To Robert Lovelace, Esq. or, in his absence, to
his Lady. She has refused dining with me, or seeing me: and I was out
when it came. She opened it: so is my lady by her own consent, proud and
saucy as she is.
I am glad at my heart that it came before we entirely make up. She would
else perhaps have concluded it to be contrived for a delay: and now,
moreover, we can accommodate our old and new quarrels together; and
that's contrivance, you know. But how is her dear haughty heart humbled
to what it was when I knew her first, that she can apprehend any delays
from me; and have nothing to do but to vex at them!
I came in to dinner. She sent me down the letter, desiring my excuse for
opening it.--Did it before she was aware. Lady-pride, Belford!
recollection, then retrogradation!
I requested to see her upon it that moment.--But she desires to suspend
our interview till morning. I will bring her to own, before I have done
with her, that she can't see me too often.
My impatience was so great, on an occasion so unexpected, that I could
not help writing to tell her, 'how much vexed I was at the accident: but
that it need not delay my happy day, as that did not depend upon the
house. [She knew that before, she'll think; and so did I.] And as Mrs.
Fretchville, by Mr. Mennell, so handsomely expressed her concern upon it,
and her wishes that it could suit us to bear with the unavoidable delay,
I hoped, that going down to The Lawn for two or three of the summer-
months, when I was made the happiest of men, would be favourable to all
The dear creature takes this incident to heart, I believe: She has sent
word to my repeated request to see her notwithstanding her denial, that
she cannot till the morning: it shall be then at six o'clock, if I
To be sure I do please!
Can see her but once a day now, Jack!
Did I tell thee, that I wrote a letter to my cousin Montague, wondering
that I heard not from Lord M. as the subject was so very interesting! In
it I acquainted her with the house I was about taking; and with Mrs.
Fretchville's vapourish delays.
I was very loth to engage my own family, either man or woman, in this
affair; but I must take my measures securely: and already they all think
as bad of me as they well can. You observe by my Lord M.'s letter to
yourself, that the well-manner'd peer is afraid I should play this
admirable creature one of my usual dog's tricks.
I have received just now an answer from Charlotte.
Charlot i'n't well. A stomach disorder!
No wonder a girl's stomach should plague her. A single woman; that's it.
When she has a man to plague, it will have something besides itself to
prey upon. Knowest thou not moreover, that man is the woman's sun; woman
is the man's earth?--How dreary, how desolate, the earth, that the suns
shines not upon!
Poor Charlotte! But I heard she was not well: that encouraged me to
write to her; and to express myself a little concerned, that she had not,
of her own accord, thought of a visit in town to my charmer.
Here follows a copy of her letter. Thou wilt see by it that every little
monkey is to catechise me. They all depend upon my good-nature.
M. HALL, MAY 22.
We have been in daily hope for a long time, I must call it, of hearing
that the happy knot was tied. My Lord has been very much out of order:
and yet nothing would serve him, but he would himself write an answer to
your letter. It was the only opportunity he should ever have, perhaps,
to throw in a little good advice to you, with the hope of its being of
any signification; and he has been several hours in a day, as his gout
would let him, busied in it. It wants now only his last revisal. He
hopes it will have the greater weight with you, as it appear all in his
Indeed, Mr. Lovelace, his worthy heart is wrapt up in you. I wish you
loved yourself but half as well. But I believe too, that if all the
family loved you less, you would love yourself more.
His Lordship has been very busy, at the times he could not write, in
consulting Pritchard about those estates which he proposes to transfer to
you on the happy occasion, that he may answer your letter in the most
acceptable manner; and show, by effects, how kindly he takes your
invitation. I assure you he is mighty proud of it.
As for myself, I am not at all well, and have not been for some weeks
past, with my old stomach-disorder. I had certainly else before now have
done myself the honour you wonder I have not done myself. Lady Betty,
who would have accompanied me, (for we have laid it all out,) has been
exceedingly busy in her law-affair; her antagonist, who is actually on
the spot, having been making proposals for an accommodation. But you may
assure yourself, that when our dear relation-elect shall be entered upon
the new habitation you tell me of, we will do ourselves the honour of
visiting her; and if any delay arises from the dear lady's want of
courage, (which considering her man, let me tell you, may very well be,)
we will endeavour to inspire her with it, and be sponsors for you;--for,
cousin, I believe you have need to be christened over again before you
are entitled to so great a blessing. What think you?
Just now, my Lord tells me, he will dispatch a man on purpose with his
letter to-morrow: so I needed not to have written. But now I have, let
it go; and by Empson, who sets out directly on his return to town.
My best compliments, and sister's, to the most deserving lady in the
world [you will need no other direction to the person meant] conclude me
Your affectionate cousin and servant,
Thou seest how seasonably this letter comes. I hope my Lord will write
nothing but what I may show to my beloved. I have actually sent her up
this letter of Charlotte's, and hope for happy effects from it.
[The Lady, in her next letter, gives Miss Howe an account of what passed
between Mr. Lovelace and herself. She resents his behaviour with her
usual dignity. But when she comes to mention Mr. Mennell's letter,
she re-urges Miss Howe to perfect her scheme for her deliverance;
being resolved to leave him. But, dating again, on his sending up to
her Miss Montague's letter, she alters her mind, and desires her to
suspend for the present her application to Mrs. Townsend.]
I had begun, says she, to suspect all he had said of Mrs. Fretchville and
her house; and even Mr. Mennell himself, though so well-appearing a man.
But now that I find Mr. Lovelace has apprized his relations of his intent
to take it, and had engaged some of the ladies to visit me there, I could
hardly forbear blaming myself for censuring him as capable of so vile an
imposture. But may he not thank himself for acting so very
unaccountably, and taking such needlessly-awry steps, as he had done,
embarrassing, as I told him, his own meanings, if they were good?
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24.
[He gives his friend an account of their interview that morning; and of
the happy effects of his cousin Montague's letter in his favour. Her
reserves, however, he tells him, are not absolutely banished. But
this he imputes to form.]
It is not in the power of woman, says he, to be altogether sincere on
these occasions. But why?--Do they think it so great a disgrace to be
found out to be really what they are?
I regretted the illness of Mrs. Fretchville; as the intention I had to
fix her dear self in the house before the happy knot was tied, would have
set her in that independence in appearance, as well as fact, which was
necessary to show to all the world that her choice was free; and as the
ladies of my family would have been proud to make their court to her
there, while the settlements and our equipages were preparing. But, on
any other account, there was no great matter in it; since when my happy
day was over, we could, with so much convenience, go down to The Lawn, to
my Lord M.'s, and to Lady Sarah's or Lady Betty's, in turn; which would
give full time to provide ourselves with servants and other
How sweetly the charmer listened!
I asked her, if she had had the small-pox?
Ten thousand pounds the worse in my estimation, thought I, if she has
not; for no one of her charming graces can I dispense with.
'Twas always a doubtful point with her mother and Mrs. Norton, she owned.
But although she was not afraid of it, she chose not unnecessarily to
rush into places where it was.
Right, thought I--Else, I said, it would not have been amiss for her to
see the house before she went into the country; for if she liked it not,
I was not obliged to have it.
She asked, if she might take a copy of Miss Montague's letter?
I said, she might keep the letter itself, and send it to Miss Howe, if
she pleased; for that, I suppose, was her intention.
She bowed her head to me.
There, Jack! I shall have her courtesy to me by-and-by, I question not.
What a-devil had I to do, to terrify the sweet creature by my termagant
projects!--Yet it was not amiss, I believe, to make her afraid of me.
She says, I am an unpolite man. And every polite instance from such a
one is deemed a favour.
Talking of the settlements, I told her I had rather that Pritchard
(mentioned by my cousin Charlotte) had not been consulted on this
occasion. Pritchard, indeed, was a very honest man; and had been for a
generation in the family; and knew of the estates, and the condition of
them, better than either my Lord or myself: but Pritchard, like other old
men, was diffident and slow; and valued himself upon his skill as a
draughts-man; and, for the sake of the paltry reputation, must have all
his forms preserved, were an imperial crown to depend upon his dispatch.
I kissed her unrepulsing hand no less than five times during this
conversation. Lord, Jack, how my generous heart ran over!--She was quite
obliging at parting.--She in a manner asked me leave to retire; to
reperuse Charlotte's letter.--I think she bent her knees to me; but I
won't be sure.--How happy might we both have been long ago, had the dear
creature been always as complaisant to me! For I do love respect, and,
whether I deserve it or not, always had it, till I knew this proud
And now, Belford, are we in a train, or the deuce is in it. Every
fortified town has its strong and its weak place. I have carried on my
attacks against the impregnable parts. I have not doubt but I shall
either shine or smuggle her out of her cloke, since she and Miss Howe
have intended to employ a smuggler against me.--All we wait for now is
my Lord's letter.
But I had like to have forgot to tell thee, that we have been not a
little alarmed, by some inquiries that have been made after me and my
beloved by a man of good appearance; who yesterday procured a tradesman
in the neighbourhood to send for Dorcas: of whom he asked several
questions relating to us; particularly (as we boarded and lodged in one
house) whether we were married?
This has given my beloved great uneasiness. And I could not help
observing upon it, to her, how right a thing it was that we had given out
below that we were married. The inquiry, most probably, I said, was from
her brother's quarter; and now perhaps that our marriage was owned, we
should hear no more of his machinations. The person, it seems, was
curious to know the day that the ceremony was performed. But Dorcas
refused to give him any other particulars than that we were married; and
she was the more reserved, as he declined to tell her the motives of his
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
The devil take this uncle of mine! He has at last sent me a letter which
I cannot show, without exposing the head of our family for a fool. A
confounded parcel of pop-guns has he let off upon me. I was in hopes he
had exhausted his whole stock of this sort in his letter to you.--To keep
it back, to delay sending it, till he had recollected all this farrago of
nonsense--confound his wisdom of nations, if so much of it is to be
scraped together, in disgrace of itself, to make one egregious simpleton!
--But I am glad I am fortified with this piece of flagrant folly,
however; since, in all human affairs, the convenient are so mingled, that
there is no having the one without the other.
I have already offered the bill enclosed in it to my beloved; and read to
her part of the letter. But she refused the bill: and, as I am in cash
myself, I shall return it. She seemed very desirous to peruse the whole
letter. And when I told her, that, were it not for exposing the writer,
I would oblige her, she said, it would not be exposing his Lordship to
show it to her; and that she always preferred the heart to the head. I
knew her meaning; but did not thank her for it.
All that makes for me in it I will transcribe for her--yet, hang it, she
shall have the letter, and my soul with it, for one consenting kiss.
She has got the letter from me without the reward. Deuce take me, if I
had the courage to propose the condition. A new character this of
bashfulness in thy friend. I see, that a truly modest woman may make
even a confident man keep his distance. By my soul, Belford, I believe,
that nine women in ten, who fall, fall either from their own vanity or
levity, or for want of circumspection and proper reserves.
I did intend to take my reward on her returning a letter so favourable
to us both. But she sent it to me, sealed up, by Dorcas. I might have
thought that there were two or three hints in it, that she would be too
nice immediately to appear to. I send it to thee; and here will stop,
to give thee time to read it. Return it as soon as thou hast perused it.
LORD M. TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
TUESDAY, MAY 23.
It is a long lane that has no turning.--Do not despise me for my proverbs
--you know I was always fond of them; and if you had been so too, it
would have been the better for you, let me tell you. I dare swear, the
fine lady you are so likely to be soon happy with, will be far from
despising them; for I am told, that she writes well, and that all her
letters are full of sentences. God convert you! for nobody but he and
this lady can.
I have no manner of doubt but that you will marry, as your father, and
all your ancestors, did before you: else you would have had no title to
be my heir; nor can your descendants have any title to be your's, unless
they are legitimate; that's worth your remembrance, Sir!--No man is
always a fool, every man is sometimes.--But your follies, I hope, are now
at an end.
I know, you have vowed revenge against this fine lady's family: but no
more of that, now. You must look upon them all as your relations; and
forgive and forget. And when they see you make a good husband and a good
father, [which God send, for all our sakes!] they will wonder at their
nonsensical antipathy, and beg your pardon: But while they think you a
vile fellow, and a rake, how can they either love you, or excuse their
And methinks I could wish to give a word of comfort to the lady, who,
doubtless, must be under great fears, how she shall be able to hold in
such a wild creature as you have hitherto been. I would hint to her,
that by strong arguments, and gentle words, she may do any thing with
you; for though you are apt to be hot, gentle words will cool you, and
bring you into the temper that is necessary for your cure.
Would to God, my poor lady, your aunt, who is dead and gone, had been a
proper patient for the same remedy! God rest her soul! No reflections
upon her memory! Worth is best known by want! I know her's now; and if
I had went first, she would by this time have known mine.
There is great wisdom in that saying, God send me a friend, that may tell
me of my faults: if not, an enemy, and he will. Not that I am your
enemy; and that you well know. The more noble any one is, the more
humble; so bear with me, if you would be thought noble.--Am I not your
uncle? and do I not design to be better to you than your father could be?
Nay, I will be your father too, when the happy day comes; since you
desire it: and pray make my compliments to my dear niece; and tell her, I
wonder much that she has so long deferred your happiness.
Pray let her know as that I will present HER (not you) either my
Lancashire seat or The Lawn in Hertfordshire, and settle upon her a
thousand pounds a year penny-rents; to show her, that we are not a family
to take base advantages: and you may have writings drawn, and settle as
you will.--Honest Pritchard has the rent-roll of both these estates; and
as he has been a good old servant, I recommend him to your lady's favour.
I have already consulted him: he will tell you what is best for you, and
most pleasing to me.
I am still very bad with my gout, but will come in a litter, as soon as
the day is fixed; it would be the joy of my heart to join your hands.
And, let me tell you, if you do not make the best of husbands to so good
a young lady, and one who has had so much courage for your sake, I will
renounce you; and settle all I can upon her and her's by you, and leave
you out of the question.
If any thing be wanting for your further security, I am ready to give it;
though you know, that my word has always been looked upon as my bond.
And when the Harlowes know all this, let us see whether they are able to
blush, and take shame to themselves.
Lady Sarah and Lady Betty want only to know the day, to make all the
country round them blaze, and all their tenants mad. And, if any one of
mine be sober upon the occasion, Pritchard shall eject him. And, on the
birth of the first child, if a son, I will do something more for you, and
repeat all our rejoicings.
I ought indeed to have written sooner. But I knew, that if you thought
me long, and were in haste as to your nuptials, you would write and tell
me so. But my gout was very troublesome: and I am but a slow writer, you
know, at best: for composing is a thing that, though formerly I was very
ready at it, (as my Lord Lexington used to say,) yet having left it off a
great while, I am not so now. And I chose, on this occasion, to write
all out of my own hand and memory; and to give you my best advice; for I
may never have such an opportunity again. You have had [God mend you!] a
strange way of turning your back upon all I have said: this once, I hope,
you will be more attentive to the advice I give you for your own good.
I have still another end; nay, two other ends.
The one was, that now you are upon the borders of wedlock, as I may say,
and all your wild oats will be sown, I would give you some instructions
as to your public as well as private behaviour in life; which, intending
you so much good as I do, you ought to hear; and perhaps would never have
listened to, on any less extraordinary occasion.
The second is, that your dear lady-elect (who is it seems herself so fine
and so sententious a writer) will see by this, that it is not our faults,
nor for want of the best advice, that you was not a better man than you
have hitherto been.
And now, in a few words, for the conduct I would wish you to follow in
public, as well as in private, if you would think me worthy of advising.
--It shall be short; so be not uneasy.
As to the private life: Love your lady as she deserves. Let your actions
praise you. Be a good husband; and so give the lie to all your enemies;
and make them ashamed of their scandals. And let us have pride in
saying, that Miss Harlowe has not done either herself or family any
discredit by coming among us. Do this; and I, and Lady Sarah, and Lady
Betty, will love you for ever.
As to your public conduct: This as follows is what I could wish: but I
reckon your lady's wisdom will put us both right--no disparagement, Sir;
since, with all your wit, you have not hitherto shown much wisdom, you
Get into parliament as soon as you can: for you have talons to make a
great figure there. Who so proper to assist in making new holding laws,
as those whom no law in being could hold?
Then, for so long as you will give attendance in St. Stephen's chapel--
its being called a chapel, I hope, will not disgust you: I am sure I have
known many a riot there--a speaker has a hard time of it! but we peers
have more decorum--But what was I going to say?--I must go back.
For so long as you will give your attendance in parliament, for so long
will you be out of mischief; out of private mischief, at least: and may
St. Stephen's fate be your's, if you wilfully do public mischief!
When a new election comes, you will have two or three boroughs, you know,
to choose out of:--but if you stay till then, I had rather you were for
You will have interest enough, I am sure; and being so handsome a man,
the women will make their husbands vote for you.
I shall long to read your speeches. I expect you will speak, if occasion
offer, the very first day. You want no courage, and think highly enough
of yourself, and lowly enough of every body else, to speak on all
As to the methods of the house, you have spirit enough, I fear, to be too
much above them: take care of that.--I don't so much fear your want of
good-manners. To men, you want no decency, if they don't provoke you: as
to that, I wish you would only learn to be as patient of contradiction
from others, as you would have other people be to you.
Although I would not have you to be a courtier; neither would I have you
to be a malcontent. I remember (for I have it down) what my old friend
Archibald Hutcheson said; and it was a very good saying--(to Mr.
Secretary Craggs, I think it was)--'I look upon an administration, as
entitled to every vote I can with good conscience give it; for a house of
commons should not needlessly put drags upon the wheels of government:
and when I have not given it my vote, it was with regret: and, for my
country's sake, I wished with all my heart the measure had been such as I
could have approved.'
And another saying he had, which was this: 'Neither can an opposition,
neither can a ministry, be always wrong. To be a plumb man therefore
with either, is an infallible mark, that that man must mean more and
worse than he will own he does mean.'
Are these sayings bad, Sir? are they to be despised?--Well, then, why
should I be despised for remembering them, and quoting them, as I love to
do? Let me tell you, if you loved my company more than you do, you would
not be the worse for it. I may say so without any vanity; since it is
other men's wisdom, and not my own, that I am so fond of.
But to add a word or two more on this occasion; and I may never have such
another; for you must read this through--Love honest men, and herd with
them, in the house and out of the house; by whatever names they be
dignified or distinguished: Keep good men company, and you shall be out
of their number. But did I, or did I not, write this before?--Writing,
at so many different times, and such a quantity, one may forget.
You may come in for the title when I am dead and gone--God help me!--So I
would have you keep an equilibrium. If once you get the name of being a
fine speaker, you may have any thing: and, to be sure, you have naturally
a great deal of elocution; a tongue that would delude an angel, as the
women say--to their sorrow, some of them, poor creatures!--A leading man
in the house of commons is a very important character; because that house
has the giving of money: and money makes the mare to go; ay, and queens
and kings too, sometimes, to go in a manner very different from what they
might otherwise choose to go, let me tell you.
However, methinks, I would not have you take a place neither--it will
double your value, and your interest, if it be believed, that you will
not: for, as you will then stand in no man's way, you will have no envy;
but pure sterling respect; and both sides will court you.
For your part, you will not want a place, as some others do, to piece up
their broken fortunes. If you can now live reputably upon two thousand
pounds a year, it will be hard if you cannot hereafter live upon seven or
eight--less you will not have, if you oblige me; as now, by marrying so
fine a lady, very much you will--and all this, and above Lady Betty's and
Lady Sarah's favours! What, in the name of wonder, could possibly
possess the proud Harlowes!--That son, that son of theirs!--But, for his
dear sister's sake, I will say no more of him.
I never was offered a place myself: and the only one I would have taken,
had I been offered it, was master of the buckhounds; for I loved hunting
when I was young; and it carries a good sound with it for us who live in
the country. Often have I thought of that excellent old adage; He that
eats the king's goose, shall be choked with his feathers. I wish to the
Lord, this was thoroughly considered by place-hunters! it would be better
for them, and for their poor families.
I could say a great deal more, and all equally to the purpose. But
really I am tired; and so I doubt are you. And besides, I would reserve
something for conversation.
My nieces Montague, and Lady Sarah and Lady Betty, join in compliments to
my niece that is to be. If she would choose to have the knot tied among
us, pray tell her that we shall all see it securely done: and we will
make all the country ring and blaze for a week together. But so I
believe I said before.
If any thing further may be needful toward promoting your reciprocal
felicity, let me know it; and how you order about the day; and all that.
The enclosed bill is very much at your service. 'Tis payable at sight,
as whatever else you may have occasion for shall be.
So God bless you both; and make things as convenient to my gout as you
can; though, be it whenever it will, I will hobble to you; for I long to
see you; and still more to see my niece; and am (in expectation of that
Your most affectionate Uncle
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
THURSDAY, MAY 25.
Thou seest, Belford, how we now drive before the wind.--The dear creature
now comes almost at the first word, whenever I desire the honour of her
company. I told her last night, that apprehending delay from Pritchard's
slowness, I was determined to leave it to my Lord to make his compliments
in his own way; and had actually that afternoon put my writings into the
hands of a very eminent lawyer, Counsellor Willians, with directions for
him to draw up settlements from my own estate, and conformably to those
of my mother! which I put into his hands at the same time. It had been,
I assured her, no small part of my concern, that her frequent
displeasure, and our mutual misapprehensions, had hindered me from
advising with her before on this subject. Indeed, indeed, my dearest
life, said I, you have hitherto afforded me but a very thorny courtship.
She was silent. Kindly silent. For well know I, that she could have
recriminated upon me with a vengeance. But I was willing to see if she
were not loth to disoblige me now. I comforted myself, I said, with the
hopes that all my difficulties were now over; and that every past
disobligations would be buried in oblivion.
Now, Belford, I have actually deposited these writings with Counsellor
Williams; and I expect the draughts in a week at farthest. So shall be
doubly armed. For if I attempt, and fail, these shall be ready to throw
in, to make her have patience with me till I can try again.
I have more contrivances still in embryo. I could tell thee of an
hundred, and yet hold another hundred in petto, to pop in as I go along,
to excite thy surprize, and to keep up thy attention. Nor rave thou at
me; but, if thou art my friend, think of Miss Howe's letters, and of her
smuggling scheme. All owing to my fair captive's informations
incitements. Am I not a villain, a fool, a Beelzebub, with them already?
--Yet no harm done by me, nor so much as attempted?
Every thing of this nature, the dear creature answered, (with a downcast
eye, and a blushing cheek,) she left to me.
I proposed my Lord's chapel for the celebration, where we might have the
presence of Lady Betty, Lady Sarah, and my two cousins Montague.
She seemed not to favour a public celebration! and waved this subject for
the present. I doubted not but she would be as willing as I to decline a
public wedding; so I pressed not this matter farther just then.
But patterns I actually produced; and a jeweller was to bring as this day
several sets of jewels for her choice. But the patterns she would not
open. She sighed at the mention of them: the second patterns, she said,
that had been offered to her:* and very peremptorily forbid the
jeweller's coming; as well as declined my offer of causing my mother's to
be new-set, at least for the present.
* See Vol. I. Letter XLI.
I do assure thee, Belford, I was in earnest in all this. My whole estate
is nothing to me, put in competition with her hoped-for favour.
She then told me, that she had put into writing her opinion of my general
proposals; and there had expressed her mind as to clothes and jewels: but
on my strange behaviour to her (for no cause that she knew of) on Sunday
night, she had torn the paper in two.
I earnestly pressed her to let me be favoured with a sight of this paper,
torn as it was. And, after some hesitation, she withdrew, and sent it to
me by Dorcas.
I perused it again. It was in a manner new to me, though I had read it
so lately: and, by my soul, I could hardly stand it. An hundred
admirable creatures I called her to myself. But I charge thee, write not
a word to me in her favour, if thou meanest her well; for, if I spare
her, it must be all ex mero motu.
You may easily suppose, when I was re-admitted to her presence, that I
ran over in her praises, and in vows of gratitude, and everlasting love.
But here's the devil; she still receives all I say with reserve; or if
it be not with reserve, she receives it so much as her due, that she is
not at all raised by it. Some women are undone by praise, by flattery.
I myself, a man, am proud of praise. Perhaps thou wilt say, that those
are most proud of it who least deserve it; as those are of riches and
grandeur who are not born to either. I own, that to be superior to these
foibles, it requires a soul. Have I not then a soul?--Surely, I have.--
Let me then be considered as an exception to the rule.
Now have I foundation to go upon in my terms. My Lord, in the exuberance
of his generosity, mentions a thousand pounds a year penny-rents. This I
know, that were I to marry this lady, he would rather settle upon her all
he has a mind to settle, than upon me. He has event threatened, that if
I prove not a good husband to her, he will leave all he can at his death
from me to her. Yet considers not that a woman so perfect can never be
displeased with her husband but to his disgrace: For who will blame her?
--Another reason why a LOVELACE should not wish to marry a CLARISSA.
But what a pretty fellow of an uncle is this foolish peer, to think of
making a wife independent of her emperor, and a rebel of course; yet
smarted himself for an error of this kind!
My beloved, in her torn paper, mentions but two hundred pounds a year,
for her separate use. I insisted upon her naming a larger sum. She said
it might be three; and I, for fear she should suspect very large offers,
named only five; but added the entire disposal of all arrears in her
father's hands for the benefit of Mrs. Norton, or whom she pleased.
She said, that the good woman would be uneasy if any thing more than a
competency were done for her. She was more for suiting all her
dispositions of this kind, she said, to the usual way of life of the
person. To go beyond it, was but to put the benefited upon projects,
or to make them awkward in a new state; when they might shine in that to
which they were accustomed. And to put it into so good a mother's power
to give her son a beginning in his business at a proper time; yet to
leave her something for herself, to set her above want, or above the
necessity of taking back from her child what she had been enabled to
bestow upon him; would be the height of such a worthy parent's ambition.
Here's prudence! Here's judgment in so young a creature! How do I hate
the Harlowes for producing such an angel!--O why, why, did she refuse my
sincere address to tie the knot before we came to this house!
But yet, what mortifies my pride is, that this exalted creature, if I
were to marry her, would not be governed in her behaviour to me by love,
but by generosity merely, or by blind duty; and had rather live single,
than be mine.
I cannot bear this. I would have the woman whom I honour with my name,
if ever I confer this honour upon any, forego even her superior duties
for me. I would have her look after me when I go out as far as she can
see me, as my Rosebud after her Johnny; and meet me at my return with
rapture. I would be the subject of her dreams, as well as of her waking
thoughts. I would have her think every moment lost that is not passed
with me: sing to me, read to me, play to me when I pleased: no joy so
great as in obeying me. When I should be inclined to love, overwhelm me
with it; when to be serious or solitary, if apprehensive of intrusion,
retiring at a nod; approaching me only if I smiled encouragement: steal
into my presence with silence; out of it, if not noticed, on tiptoe. Be
a lady easy to all my pleasures, and valuing those most who most
contributed to them; only sighing in private, that it was not herself at
the time. Thus of old did the contending wives of the honest patriarchs;
each recommending her handmaid to her lord, as she thought it would
oblige him, and looking upon the genial product as her own.
The gentle Waller says, women are born to be controuled. Gentle as he
was, he knew that. A tyrant husband makes a dutiful wife. And why do
the sex love rakes, but because they know how to direct their uncertain
wills, and manage them?
Another agreeable conversation. The day of days the subject. As to
fixing a particular one, that need not be done, my charmer says, till the
settlements are completed. As to marrying at my Lord's chapel, the
Ladies of my family present, that would be making a public affair of it;
and the dear creature observed, with regret, that it seemed to be my
Lord's intention to make it so.
It could not be imagined, I said, but that his Lordship's setting out in
a litter, and coming to town, as well as his taste for glare, and the joy
he would take to see me married at last, and to her dear self, would give
it as much the air of a public marriage as if the ceremony were performed
at his own chapel, all the Ladies present.
I cannot, said she, endure the thoughts of a public day. It will carry
with it an air of insult upon my whole family. And for my part, if my
Lord will not take it amiss, [and perhaps he will not, as the motion came
not from himself, but from you, Mr. Lovelace,] I will very willingly
dispense with his Lordship's presence; the rather, as dress and
appearance will then be unnecessary; for I cannot bear to think of
decking my person while my parents are in tears.
How excellent this! Yet do not her parents richly deserve to be in
See, Belford, with so charming a niceness, we might have been a long time
ago upon the verge of the state, and yet found a great deal to do before
we entered into it.
All obedience, all resignation--no will but her's. I withdrew, and wrote
directly to my Lord; and she not disapproving of it, I sent it away. The
purport as follows; for I took no copy.
'That I was much obliged to his Lordship for his intended goodness to me
on an occasion the most solemn of my life. That the admirable Lady, whom
he so justly praised, thought his Lordship's proposals in her favour too
high. That she chose not to make a public appearance, if, without
disobliging my friends, she could avoid it, till a reconciliation with
her own could be effected. That although she expressed a grateful sense
of his Lordship's consent to give her to me with his own hand; yet,
presuming that the motive to this kind intention was rather to do her
honour, than it otherwise would have been his own choice, (especially as
travelling would be at this time so inconvenient to him,) she thought it
advisable to save his Lordship trouble on this occasion; and hoped he
would take as meant her declining the favour.
'That The Lawn will be most acceptable to us both to retire to; and the
rather, as it is so to his Lordship.
'But, if he pleases, the jointure may be made from my own estate; leaving
to his Lordship's goodness the alternative.'
I conclude with telling him, 'that I had offered to present the Lady his
Lordship's bill; but on her declining to accept of it (having myself no
present occasion for it) I return it enclosed, with my thanks, &c.'
And is not this going a plaguy length? What a figure should I make in
rakish annals, if at last I should be caught in my own gin?
The sex may say what they will, but a poor innocent fellow had need to
take great care of himself, when he dances upon the edge of the
matrimonial precipice. Many a faint-hearted man, when he began to jest,
or only designed to ape gallantry, has been forced into earnest, by being
over-prompt, and taken at his word, not knowing how to own that he meant
less than the lady supposed he meant. I am the better enabled to judge
that this must have been the case of many a sneaking varlet; because I,
who know the female world as well as any man in it of my standing, am so
frequently in doubt of myself, and know not what to make of the matter.
Then these little sly rogues, how they lie couchant, ready to spring upon
us harmless fellows the moment we are in their reach!--When the ice is
once broken for them, how swiftly can they make to port!--Mean time, the
subject they can least speak to, they most think of. Nor can you talk of
the ceremony, before they have laid out in their minds how it is all to
be. Little saucy-faced designers! how first they draw themselves in,
But be all these things as they will, Lord M. never in his life received
so handsome a letter as this from his nephew
[The Lady, after having given to Miss Howe on the particulars contained
in Mr. Lovelace's last letter, thus expresses herself:]
A principal consolation arising from these favourable appearances, is,
that I, who have now but one only friend, shall most probably, and if it
be not my own fault, have as many new ones as there are persons in Mr.
Lovelace's family; and this whether Mr. Lovelace treat me kindly or not.
And who knows, but that, by degrees, those new friends, by their rank and
merit, may have weight enough to get me restored to the favour of my
relations? till which can be effected, I shall not be tolerably easy.
Happy I never expect to be. Mr. Lovelace's mind and mine are vastly
different; different in essentials.
But as matters are at present circumstanced, I pray you, my dear friend,
to keep to yourself every thing that might bring discredit to him, if
revealed.--Better any body expose a man than a wife, if I am to be his;
and what is said by you will be thought to come from me.
It shall be my constant prayer, that all the felicities which this world
can afford may be your's: and that the Almighty will never suffer you nor
your's, to the remotest posterity, to want such a friend as my Anna Howe
has been to
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
And now, that my beloved seems secure in my net, for my project upon the
vixen Miss Howe, and upon her mother: in which the officious prancer
Hickman is to come in for a dash.
But why upon her mother, methinks thou askest, who, unknown to herself,
has only acted, by the impulse, through thy agent Joseph Leman, upon the
folly of old Tony the uncle?
No matter for that: she believes she acts upon her own judgment: and
deserves to be punished for pretending to judgment, when she has none.--
Every living soul, but myself, I can tell thee, shall be punished, that
treats either cruelly or disrespectfully so adored a lady.--What a
plague! is it not enough that she is teased and tormented in person by
I have already broken the matter to our three confederates; as a
supposed, not a resolved-on case indeed. And yet they know, that with
me, in a piece of mischief, execution, with its swiftest feel, is seldom
three paces behind projection, which hardly ever limps neither.
MOWBRAY is not against it. It is a scheme, he says, worthy of us: and we
have not done any thing for a good while that has made a noise.
BELTON, indeed, hesitates a little, because matters go wrong between him
and his Thomasine; and the poor fellow has not the courage to have his
sore place probed to the bottom.
TOURVILLE has started a fresh game, and shrugs his shoulders, and should
not choose to go abroad at present, if I please. For I apprehend that
(from the nature of the project) there will be a kind of necessity to
travel, till all is blown over.
To ME, one country is as good as another; and I shall soon, I suppose,
choose to quit this paltry island; except the mistress of my fate will
consent to cohabit at home; and so lay me under no necessity of
surprising her into foreign parts. TRAVELLING, thou knowest, gives the
sexes charming opportunities of being familiar with one another. A very
few days and nights must now decide all matters betwixt me and my fair
DOLEMAN, who can act in these causes only as chamber-counsel, will inform
us by pen and ink [his right hand and right side having not yet been
struck, and the other side beginning to be sensible] of all that shall
occur in our absence.
As for THEE, we had rather have thy company than not; for, although thou
art a wretched fellow at contrivance, yet art thou intrepid at execution.
But as thy present engagements make thy attendance uncertain, I am not
for making thy part necessary to our scheme; but for leaving thee to come
after us when abroad. I know thou canst not long live without us.
The project, in short, is this:--Mrs. Howe has an elder sister in the
Isle of Wight, who is lately a widow; and I am well informed, that the
mother and daughter have engaged, before the latter is married, to pay a
visit to this lady, who is rich, and intends Miss for her heiress; and in
the interim will make her some valuable presents on her approaching
nuptials; which, as Mrs. Howe, who loves money more than any thing but
herself, told one of my acquaintance, would be worth fetching.
Now, Jack, nothing more need be done, than to hire a little trim vessel,
which shall sail a pleasuring backward and forward to Portsmouth, Spithead,
and the Isle of Wight, for a week or fortnight before we enter
upon our parts of the plot. And as Mrs. Howe will be for making the best
bargain she can for her passage, the master of the vessel may have orders
(as a perquisite allowed him by his owners) to take what she will give:
and the master's name, be it what it will, shall be Ganmore on the
occasion; for I know a rogue of that name, who is not obliged to be of
any country, any more than we.
Well, then, we will imagine them on board. I will be there in disguise.
They know not any of ye four--supposing (the scheme so inviting) that
thou canst be one.
'Tis plaguy hard, if we cannot find, or make a storm.
Perhaps they will be sea-sick: but whether they be or not, no doubt they
will keep their cabin.
Here will be Mrs. Howe, Miss Howe, Mr. Hickman, a maid, and a footman, I
suppose: and thus we will order it.
I know it will be hard weather: I know it will: and, before there can be
the least suspicion of the matter, we shall be in sight of Guernsey,
Jersey, Dieppe, Cherbourg, or any where on the French coast that it shall
please us to agree with the winds to blow us: and then, securing the
footman, and the women being separated, one of us, according to lots that
may be cast, shall overcome, either by persuasion or force, the maid
servant: that will be no hard task; and she is a likely wench, [I have
seen her often:] one, Mrs. Howe; nor can there be much difficulty there;
for she is full of health and life, and has been long a widow: another,
[that, says the princely lion, must be I!] the saucy daughter; who will
be much too frightened to make great resistance, [violent spirits, in
that sex, are seldom true spirits--'tis but where they can:] and after
beating about the coast for three or four days for recreation's sake, and
to make sure work, till we see our sullen birds begin to eat and sip, we
will set them all ashore where it will be most convenient; sell the
vessel, [to Mrs. Townsend's agents, with all my heart, or to some other
smugglers,] or give it to Ganmore; and pursue our travels, and tarry
abroad till all is hushed up.
Now I know thou wilt make difficulties, as it is thy way; while it is
mine to conquer them. My other vassals made theirs; and I condescended
to obviate them: as thus I will thine, first stating them for thee
according to what I know of thy phlegm.
What, in the first place, wilt thou ask, shall be done with Hickman? who
will be in full parade of dress and primness, in order to show the old
aunt what a devilish clever fellow of a nephew she is to have.
What!--I'll tell thee--Hickman, in good manners, will leave the women in
their cabin--and, to show his courage with his breeding, be upon deck--
Well, and suppose he is!--Why then I hope it is easy for Ganmore, or any
body else, myself suppose in my pea-jacket and great watch coat, (if any
other make scruple to do it), while he stands in the way, gaping and
staring like a novice, to stumble against him, and push him overboard!
--A rich thought--is it not, Belford?--He is certainly plaguy officious
in the ladies' correspondence; and I am informed, plays double between
mother and daughter, in fear of both.--Dost not see him, Jack?--I do--
popping up and down, his wig and hat floating by him; and paddling,
pawing, and dashing, like a frighted mongrel--I am afraid he never
ventured to learn to swim.
But thou wilt not drown the poor fellow; wilt thou?
No, no!--that is not necessary to the project--I hate to do mischiefs
supererogatory. The skiff shall be ready to save him, while the vessel
keeps its course: he shall be set on shore with the loss of wig and hat
only, and of half his little wits, at the place where he embarked, or any
Well, but shall we not be in danger of being hanged for three such
enormous rapes, although Hickman should escape with only a bellyful of
Yes, to be sure, when caught--But is there any likelihood of that?--
Besides, have we not been in danger before now for worse facts? and what
is there in being only in danger?--If we actually were to appear in open
day in England before matters are made up, there will be greater
likelihood that these women will not prosecute that they will.--For my
own part, I should wish they may. Would not a brave fellow choose to
appear in court to such an arraignment, confronting women who would do
credit to his attempt? The country is more merciful in these cases, than
in any others: I should therefore like to put myself upon my country.
Let me indulge in a few reflections upon what thou mayest think the worst
that can happen. I will suppose that thou art one of us; and that all
five are actually brought to trial on this occasion: how bravely shall we
enter a court, I at the head of you, dressed out each man, as if to his
wedding appearance!--You are sure of all the women, old and young, of
your side.--What brave fellows!--what fine gentlemen!--There goes a
charming handsome man!--meaning me, to be sure!--who could find in their
hearts to hang such a gentleman as that? whispers one lady, sitting
perhaps on the right hand of the recorder: [I suppose the scene to be in
London:] while another disbelieves that any woman could fairly swear
against me. All will crowd after me: it will be each man's happiness (if
ye shall chance to be bashful) to be neglected: I shall be found to be
the greatest criminal; and my safety, for which the general voice will be
engaged, will be yours.
But then comes the triumph of triumphs, that will make the accused look
up, while the accusers are covered with confusion.
Make room there!--stand by!--give back!--One receiving a rap, another an
elbow, half a score a push a piece!--
Enter the slow-moving, hooded-faced, down-looking plaintiffs.--
And first the widow, with a sorrowful countenance, though half-veiled,
pitying her daughter more than herself. The people, the women
especially, who on this occasion will be five-sixths of the spectators,
reproaching her--You'd have the conscience, would you, to have five such
brave gentlemen as these hanged for you know not what?
Next comes the poor maid--who, perhaps, has been ravished twenty times
before; and had not appeared now, but for company-sake; mincing,
simpering, weeping, by turns; not knowing whether she should be sorry
But every eye dwells upon Miss!--See, see, the handsome gentleman bows to
To the very ground, to be sure, I shall bow; and kiss my hand.
See her confusion! see! she turns from him!--Ay! that's because it is in
open court, cries an arch one!--While others admire her--Ay! that's a
girl worth venturing one's neck for!
Then we shall be praised--even the judges, and the whole crowded bench,
will acquit us in their hearts! and every single man wish he had been me!
--the women, all the time, disclaiming prosecution, were the case to be
their own. To be sure, Belford, the sufferers cannot put half so good a
face upon the matter as we.
Then what a noise will this matter make!--Is it not enough, suppose us
moving from the prison to the sessions-house,* to make a noble heart
thump it away most gloriously, when such an one finds himself attended to
his trial by a parade of guards and officers, of miens and aspects
warlike and unwarlike; himself of their whole care, and their business!
weapons in their hands, some bright, some rusty, equally venerable for
their antiquity and inoffensiveness! others of more authoritative
demeanour, strutting before with fine painted staves! shoals of people
following, with a Which is he whom the young lady appears against?--
Then, let us look down, look up, look round, which way we will, we shall
see all the doors, the shops, the windows, the sign-irons, and balconies,
(garrets, gutters, and chimney-tops included,) all white-capt, black-
hooded, and periwigg'd, or crop-ear'd up by the immobile vulgus: while
the floating street-swarmers, who have seen us pass by at one place, run
with stretched-out necks, and strained eye-balls, a roundabout way, and
elbow and shoulder themselves into places by which we have not passed, in
order to obtain another sight of us; every street continuing to pour out
its swarms of late-comers, to add to the gathering snowball; who are
content to take descriptions of our persons, behaviour, and countenances,
from those who had the good fortune to have been in time to see us.
* Within these few years past, a passage has been made from the prison to
the sessions-house, whereby malefactors are carried into court without
going through the street. Lovelace's triumph on their supposed march
shows the wisdom of this alteration.
Let me tell thee, Jack, I see not why (to judge according to our
principles and practices) we should not be as much elated in our march,
were this to happen to us, as others may be upon any other the most mob-
attracting occasion--suppose a lord-mayor on his gawdy--suppose a
victorious general, or ambassador, on his public entry--suppose (as I
began with the lowest) the grandest parade that can be supposed, a
coronation--for, in all these, do not the royal guard, the heroic
trained-bands, the pendent, clinging throngs of spectators, with their
waving heads rolling to-and-fro from house-tops to house-bottoms and
street-ways, as I have above described, make the principal part of the
And let me ask thee, if thou dost not think, that either the mayor, the
ambassador, or the general would not make very pitiful figures on their
galas, did not the trumpets and tabrets call together the canaille to
gaze at them?--Nor perhaps should we be the most guilty heroes neither:
for who knows how the magistrate may have obtained his gold chain? while
the general probably returns from cutting of throats, and from murders,
sanctified by custom only.--Caesar, we are told,* had won, at the age of
fifty-six, when he was assassinated, fifty pitched battles, had taken by
assault above a thousand towns, and slain near 1,200,000 men; I suppose
exclusive of those who fell on his own side in slaying them. Are not you
and I, Jack, innocent men, and babes in swaddling-clothes, compared to
Caesar, and to his predecessor in heroism, Alexander, dubbed, for murders
and depredation, Magnus?
* Pliny gives this account, putting the number of men slain at 1,100,092.
See also Lipsius de Constandia.
The principal difference that strikes me in the comparison between us and
the mayor, the ambassador, the general, on their gawdies, is, that the
mob make a greater noise, a louder huzzaing, in the one case than the
other, which is called acclamation, and ends frequently in higher taste,
by throwing dead animals at one another, before they disperse; in which
they have as much joy, as in the former part of the triumph: while they
will attend us with all the marks of an awful or silent (at most only a
whispering) respect; their mouths distended, as if set open with gags,
and their voices generally lost in goggle-ey'd admiration.
Well, but suppose, after all, we are convicted; what have we to do, but
in time make over our estates, that the sheriffs may not revel in our
spoils?--There is no fear of being hanged for such a crime as this, while
we have money or friends.--And suppose even the worst, that two or three
were to die, have we not a chance, each man of us, to escape? The
devil's in them, if they'll hang five for ravishing three!
I know I shall get off for one--were it but for family sake: and being a
handsome fellow, I shall have a dozen or two young maidens, all dressed
in white, go to court to beg my life--and what a pretty show they will
make, with their white hoods, white gowns, white petticoats, white
scarves, white gloves, kneeling for me, with their white handkerchiefs
at their eyes, in two pretty rows, as his Majesty walks through them and
nods my pardon for their sakes!--And, if once pardoned, all is over: for,
Jack, in a crime of this nature there lies no appeal, as in a murder.
So thou seest the worst that can happen, should we not make the grand
tour upon this occasion, but stay and take our trials. But it is most
likely, that they will not prosecute at all. If not, no risque on our
side will be run; only taking our pleasure abroad, at the worst; leaving
friends tired of us, in order, after a time, to return to the same
friends endeared to us, as we to them, by absence.
This, Jack, is my scheme, at the first running. I know it is capable of
improvement--for example: I can land these ladies in France; whip over
before they can get a passage back, or before Hickman can have recovered
his fright; and so find means to entrap my beloved on board--and then all
will be right; and I need not care if I were never to return to England.
Memorandum, To be considered of--Whether, in order to complete my
vengeance, I cannot contrive to kidnap away either James Harlowe or
Solmes? or both? A man, Jack, would not go into exile for nothing.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
If, Belford, thou likest not my plot upon Miss Howe, I have three or four
more as good in my own opinion; better, perhaps, they will be in thine:
and so 'tis but getting loose from thy present engagement, and thou shalt
pick and choose. But as for thy three brethren, they must do as I would
have them: and so, indeed, must thou--Else why am I your general? But I
will refer this subject to its proper season. Thou knowest, that I never
absolutely conclude upon a project, till 'tis time for execution; and
then lightning strikes not quicker than I.
And now to the subject next my heart.
Wilt thou believe me, when I tell thee, that I have so many contrivances
rising up and crowding upon me for preference, with regard to my
Gloriana, that I hardly know which to choose?--I could tell thee of no
less than six princely ones, any of which must do. But as the dear
creature has not grudged giving me trouble, I think I ought not, in
gratitude, to spare combustibles for her; but, on the contrary, to make
her stare and stand aghast, by springing three or four mines at once.
Thou remembrest what Shakespeare, in his Troilus and Cressida, makes
Hector, who, however, is not used to boast, say to Achilles in an
interview between them; and which, applied to this watchful lady, and to
the vexation she has given me, and to the certainty I now think I have of
subduing her, will run thus: supposing the charmer before me; and I
meditating her sweet person from head to foot:
Henceforth, O watchful fair-one, guard thee well:
For I'll not kill thee there! nor there! nor there!
But, by the zone that circles Venus' waist,
I'll kill thee ev'ry where; yea, o'er and o'er.--
Thou, wisest Belford, pardon me this brag:
Her watchfulness draws folly from my lips;
But I'll endeavour deeds to match the words,
Or I may never----
Then I imagine thee interposing to qualify my impatience, as Ajax did to
----Do not chafe thee, cousin:
----And let these threats alone,
Till accident or purpose bring thee to it.
All that vexes me, in the midst of my gloried-in devices, is, that there
is a sorry fellow in the world, who has presumed to question, whether the
prize, when obtained, is worthy of the pains it costs me: yet knows, with
what patience and trouble a bird-man will spread an acre of ground with
gins and snares; set up his stalking horse, his glasses; plant his decoy-
birds, and invite the feathered throng by his whistle; and all his prize
at last (the reward of early hours, and of a whole morning's pains) only
a simple linnet.
To be serious, Belford, I must acknowledge, that all our pursuits, from
childhood to manhood, are only trifles of different sort and sizes,
proportioned to our years and views: but then is not a fine woman the
noblest trifle, that ever was or could be obtained by man?--And to what
purpose do we say obtained, if it be not in the way we wish for?--If a man
is rather to be her prize, than she his?
And now, Belford, what dost think?
That thou art a cursed fellow, if--
If--no if's--but I shall be very sick to-morrow. I shall, 'faith.
Sick!--Why sick? What a-devil shouldst thou be sick for?
For more good reasons than one, Jack.
I should be glad to hear but one.--Sick, quotha! Of all thy roguish
inventions I should not have thought of this.
Perhaps thou thinkest my view to be, to draw the lady to my bedside.
That's a trick of three or four thousand years old; and I should find it
much more to my purpose, if I could get to her's. However, I'll
condescend to make thee as wise as myself.
I am excessively disturbed about this smuggling scheme of Miss Howe. I
have no doubt, that my fair-one, were I to make an attempt, and miscarry,
will fly from me, if she can. I once believed she loved me: but now I
doubt whether she does or not: at least, that it is with such an ardour,
as Miss Howe calls it, as will make her overlook a premeditated fault,
should I be guilty of one.
And what will being sick do for thee?
Have patience. I don't intend to be so very bad as Dorcas shall
represent me to be. But yet I know I shall reach confoundedly, and bring
up some clotted blood. To be sure, I shall break a vessel: there's no
doubt of that: and a bottle of Eaton's styptic shall be sent for; but no
doctor. If she has humanity, she will be concerned. But if she has
love, let it have been pushed ever so far back, it will, on this
occasion, come forward, and show itself; not only in her eye, but in
every line of her sweet face.
I will be very intrepid. I will not fear death, or any thing else. I
will be sure of being well in an hour or two, having formerly found great
benefit by this astringent medicine, on occasion of an inward bruise by a
fall from my horse in hunting, of which perhaps this malady may be the
remains. And this will show her, that though those about me may make the
most of it, I do not; and so can have no design in it.
Well, methinks thou sayest, I begin to think tolerably of this device.
I knew thou wouldst, when I explained myself. Another time prepare to
wonder; and banish doubt.
Now, Belford, I shall expect, that she will show some concern at the
broken vessel, as it may be attended with fatal effects, especially to
one so fiery in his temper as I have the reputation to be thought to be:
and the rather, as I shall calmly attribute the accident to the harasses
and doubts under which I have laboured for some time past. And this will
be a further proof of my love, and will demand a grateful return--
And what then, thou egregious contriver?
Why then I shall have the less remorse, if I am to use a little violence:
for can she deserve compassion, who shows none?
And what if she shows a great deal of concern?
Then shall I be in hopes of building on a good foundation. Love hides a
multitude of faults, and diminishes those it cannot hide. Love, when
acknowledged, authorizes freedom; and freedom begets freedom; and I shall
then see how far I can go.
Well but, Lovelace, how the deuce wilt thou, with that full health and
vigour of constitution, and with that bloom in thy face, make any body
believe thou art sick?
How!--Why, take a few grains of ipecacuanha; enough to make me reach like
Good!--But how wilt thou manage to bring up blood, and not hurt thyself?
Foolish fellow! Are there no pigeons and chickens in every poulterer's
Cry thy mercy.
But then I will be persuaded by Mrs. Sinclair, that I have of late
confined myself too much; and so will have a chair called, and be carried
to the Park; where I will try to walk half the length of the Mall, or so;
and in my return, amuse myself at White's or the Cocoa.
And what will this do?
Questioning again!--I am afraid thou'rt an infidel, Belford--Why then
shall I not know if my beloved offers to go out in my absence?--And shall
I not see whether she receives me with tenderness at my return? But this
is not all: I have a foreboding that something affecting will happen
while I am out. But of this more in its place.
And now, Belford, wilt thou, or wilt thou not, allow, that it is a right
thing to be sick?--Lord, Jack, so much delight do I take in my
contrivances, that I shall be half sorry when the occasion for them is
over; for never, never, shall I again have such charming exercise for my
Mean time these plaguy women are so impertinent, so full of reproaches,
that I know not how to do any thing but curse them. And then, truly,
they are for helping me out with some of their trite and vulgar
artifices. Sally, particularly, who pretends to be a mighty contriver,
has just now, in an insolent manner, told me, on my rejecting her
proffered aids, that I had no mind to conquer; and that I was so wicked
as to intend to marry, though I would not own it to her.
Because this little devil made her first sacrifice at my altar, she
thinks she may take any liberty with me: and what makes her outrageous at
times is, that I have, for a long time, studiously, as she says, slighted
her too-readily-offered favours: But is it not very impudent in her to
think, that I will be any man's successor? It is not come to that
neither. This, thou knowest, was always my rule--Once any other man's,
and I know it, and never more mine. It is for such as thou, and thy
brethren, to take up with harlots. I have been always aiming at the
merit of a first discoverer.
The more devil I, perhaps thou wilt say, to endeavour to corrupt the
But I say, not; since, hence, I have but very few adulteries to answer
One affair, indeed, at Paris, with a married lady [I believe I never told
thee of it] touched my conscience a little: yet brought on by the spirit
of intrigue, more than by sheer wickedness. I'll give it thee in brief:
'A French marquis, somewhat in years, employed by his court in a public
function at that of Madrid, had put his charming young new-married wife
under the controul and wardship, as I may say, of his insolent sister, an
'I saw the lady at the opera. I liked her at first sight, and better at
second, when I knew the situation she was in. So, pretending to make my
addresses to the prude, got admittance to both.
'The first thing I had to do, was to compliment the prude into shyness by
complaints of shyness: next, to take advantage of the marquise's
situation, between her husband's jealousy and his sister's arrogance; and
to inspire her with resentment; and, as I hoped, with a regard to my
person. The French ladies have no dislike to intrigue.
'The sister began to suspect me: the lady had no mind to part with the
company of the only man who had been permitted to visit her; and told me
of her sister's suspicions. I put her upon concealing the prude, as if
unknown to me, in a closet in one of her own apartments, locking her in,
and putting the key in her own pocket: and she was to question me on the
sincerity of my professions to her sister, in her sister's hearing.
'She complied. My mistress was locked up. The lady and I took our
seats. I owned fervent love, and made high professions: for the marquise
put it home to me. The prude was delighted with what she heard.
'And how dost thou think it ended?--I took my advantage of the lady
herself, who durst not for her life cry out; and drew her after me to the
next apartment, on pretence of going to seek her sister, who all the time
was locked up in the closet.'
No woman ever gave me a private meeting for nothing; my dearest Miss
'My ingenuity obtained my pardon: the lady being unable to forbear
laughing throughout the whole affair, to find both so uncommonly tricked;
her gaoleress her prisoner, safe locked up, and as much pleased as either
The English, Jack, do not often out-wit the French.
'We had contrivances afterwards equally ingenious, in which the lady, the
ice once broken [once subdued, always subdued] co-operated. But a more
tender tell-tale revealed the secret--revealed it, before the marquise
could cover the disgrace. The sister was inveterate; the husband
irreconcilable; in every respect unfit for a husband, even for a French
one--made, perhaps, more delicate to these particulars by the customs of
a people among whom he was then resident, so contrary to those of his own
countrymen. She was obliged to throw herself into my protection--nor
thought herself unhappy in it, till childbed pangs seized her: then
penitence, and death, overtook her the same hour!'
Excuse a tear, Belford!--She deserved a better fate! What hath such a
vile inexorable husband to answer for!--The sister was punished
effectually--that pleases me on reflection--the sister effectually
punished!--But perhaps I have told thee this story before.
END OF VOL.4
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