Clarissa, Volume 6 (of 9)
Part 3 out of 7
and her action, but her voice, so solemn, was inexpressibly affecting:
and then my cursed guilt, and her innocence, and merit, and rank, and
superiority of talents, all stared me at that instant in the face so
formidably, that my present account, to which she unexpectedly called me,
seemed, as I then thought, to resemble that general one, to which we are
told we shall be summoned, when our conscience shall be our accuser.
But she had had time to collect all the powers of her eloquence. The
whole day probably in her intellects. And then I was the more
disappointed, as I had thought I could have gazed the dear creature into
confusion--but it is plain, that the sense she has of her wrongs sets
this matchless woman above all lesser, all weaker considerations.
My dear--my love--I--I--I never--no never--lips trembling, limbs quaking,
voice inward, hesitating, broken--never surely did miscreant look so like
a miscreant! while thus she proceeded, waving her snowy hand, with all
the graces of moving oratory.
I have no pride in the confusion visible in thy whole person. I have
been all the day praying for a composure, if I could not escape from this
vile house, that should once more enable me to look up to my destroyer
with the consciousness of an innocent sufferer. Thou seest me, since my
wrongs are beyond the power of words to express, thou seest me, calm
enough to wish, that thou may'st continue harassed by the workings of thy
own conscience, till effectual repentance take hold of thee, that so thou
may'st not forfeit all title to that mercy which thou hast not shown to
the poor creature now before thee, who had so well deserved to meet with
a faithful friend where she met with the worst of enemies.
But tell me, (for no doubt thou hast some scheme to pursue,) tell me,
since I am a prisoner, as I find, in the vilest of houses, and have not a
friend to protect or save me, what thou intendest shall become of the
remnant of a life not worth the keeping!--Tell me, if yet there are more
evils reserved for me; and whether thou hast entered into a compact with
the grand deceiver, in the person of his horrid agent in this house; and
if the ruin of my soul, that my father's curse may be fulfilled, is to
complete the triumphs of so vile a confederacy?--Answer me!--Say, if thou
hast courage to speak out to her whom thou hast ruined, tell me what
farther I am to suffer from thy barbarity?
She stopped here, and, sighing, turned her sweet face from me, drying up
with her handkerchief those tears which she endeavoured to restrain; and,
when she could not, to conceal from my sight.
As I told thee, I had prepared myself for high passions, raving, flying,
tearing execration; these transient violences, the workings of sudden
grief, and shame, and vengeance, would have set us upon a par with each
other, and quitted scores. These have I been accustomed to; and as
nothing violent is lasting, with these I could have wished to encounter.
But such a majestic composure--seeking me--whom, yet it is plain, by her
attempt to get away, she would have avoided seeking--no Lucretia-like
vengeance upon herself in her thought--yet swallowed up, her whole mind
swallowed up, as I may say, by a grief so heavy, as, in her own words, to
be beyond the power of speech to express--and to be able, discomposed as
she was, to the very morning, to put such a home-question to me, as if
she had penetrated my future view--how could I avoid looking like a fool,
and answering, as before, in broken sentences and confusion?
What--what-a--what has been done--I, I, I--cannot but say--must own--must
confess--hem--hem----is not right--is not what should have been--but-a--
but--but--I am truly--truly--sorry for it--upon my soul I am--and--and--
will do all--do every thing--do what--whatever is incumbent upon me--all
that you--that you--that you shall require, to make you amends!----
O Belford! Belford! whose the triumph now! HER'S, or MINE?
Amends! O thou truly despicable wretch! Then lifting up her eyes--Good
Heaven! who shall pity the creature who could fall by so base a mind!--
Yet--[and then she looked indignantly upon me!] yet, I hate thee not
(base and low-souled as thou art!) half so much as I hate myself, that I
saw thee not sooner in thy proper colours! That I hoped either morality,
gratitude, or humanity, from a libertine, who, to be a libertine, must
have got over and defied all moral sanctions.*
* Her cousin Morden's words to her in his letter from Florence. See Vol.
IV. Letter XIX.
She then called upon her cousin Morden's name, as if he had warned her
against a man of free principles; and walked towards the window; her
handkerchief at her eyes. But, turning short towards me, with an air of
mingled scorn and majesty, [what, at the moment, would I have given never
to have injured her!] What amends hast thou to propose! What amends can
such a one as thou make to a person of spirit, or common sense, for the
evils thou hast so inhumanely made me suffer?
As soon, Madam--as soon--as--as soon as your uncle--or--not waiting----
Thou wouldest tell me, I suppose--I know what thou wouldest tell me--But
thinkest thou, that marriage will satisfy for a guilt like thine?
Destitute as thou hast made me both of friends and fortune, I too much
despise the wretch, who could rob himself of his wife's virtue, to endure
the thoughts of thee in the light thou seemest to hope I will accept thee
I hesitated an interruption; but my meaning died away upon my trembling
lips. I could only pronounce the word marriage--and thus she proceeded:
Let me, therefore, know whether I am to be controuled in the future
disposal of myself? Whether, in a country of liberty, as this, where the
sovereign of it must not be guilty of your wickedness, and where you
neither durst have attempted it, had I one friend or relation to look
upon me, I am to be kept here a prisoner, to sustain fresh injuries?
Whether, in a word, you intend to hinder me from going where my destiny
shall lead me?
After a pause--for I was still silent:
Can you not answer me this plain question?--I quit all claim, all
expectation, upon you--what right have you to detain me here?
I could not speak. What could I say to such a question?
O wretch! wringing her uplifted hands, had I not been robbed of my
senses, and that in the basest manner--you best know how--had I been able
to account for myself, and your proceedings, or to have known but how the
days passed--a whole week should not have gone over my head, as I find it
has done, before I had told you, what I now tell you--That the man who
has been the villain to me you have been, shall never make me his wife.--
I will write to my uncle, to lay aside his kind intentions in my favour--
all my prospects are shut in--I give myself up for a lost creature as to
this world--hinder me not from entering upon a life of severe penitence,
for corresponding, after prohibition, with a wretch who has too well
justified all their warnings and inveteracy; and for throwing myself into
the power of your vile artifices. Let me try to secure the only hope I
have left. This is all the amends I ask of you. I repeat, therefore, Am
I now at liberty to dispose of myself as I please?
Now comes the fool, the miscreant again, hesitating his broken answer: My
dearest love, I am confounded, quite confounded, at the thought of what--
of what has been done; and at the thought of--to whom. I see, I see,
there is no withstanding your eloquence!--Such irresistible proofs of the
love of virtue, for its own sake, did I never hear of, nor meet with, in
all my reading. And if you can forgive a repentant villain, who thus on
his knees implores your forgiveness, [then down I dropt, absolutely in
earnest in all I said,] I vow by all that's sacred and just, (and may a
thunderbolt strike me dead at your feet, if I am not sincere!) that I
will by marriage before to-morrow noon, without waiting for your uncle,
or any body, do you all the justice I now can do you. And you shall ever
after controul and direct me as you please, till you have made me more
worthy of your angelic purity than now I am: nor will I presume so much
as to touch your garment, till I have the honour to call so great a
blessing lawfully mine.
O thou guileful betrayer! there is a just God, whom thou invokest: yet
the thunderbolt descends not; and thou livest to imprecate and deceive!
My dearest life! rising; for I hoped she was relenting----
Hadst thou not sinned beyond the possibility of forgiveness, interrupted
she; and this had been the first time that thus thou solemnly promisest
and invokest the vengeance thou hast as often defied; the desperateness
of my condition might have induced me to think of taking a wretched
chance with a man so profligate. But, after what I have suffered by
thee, it would be criminal in me to wish to bind my soul in covenant to
a man so nearly allied to perdition.
Good God!--how uncharitable!--I offer not to defend--would to Heaven that
I could recall--so nearly allied to perdition, Madam!--So profligate a
O how short is expression of thy crimes, and of my sufferings! Such
premeditation is thy baseness! To prostitute the characters of persons
of honour of thy own family--and all to delude a poor creature, whom thou
oughtest--But why talk I to thee? Be thy crimes upon thy head! Once
more I ask thee, Am I, or am I not, at my own liberty now?
I offered to speak in defence of the women, declaring that they really
were the very persons----
Presume not, interrupted she, base as thou art, to say one word in thine
own vindication. I have been contemplating their behaviour, their
conversation, their over-ready acquiescences, to my declarations in thy
disfavour; their free, yet affectedly-reserved light manners: and now
that the sad event has opened my eyes, and I have compared facts and
passages together, in the little interval that has been lent me, I wonder
I could not distinguish the behaviour of the unmatron-like jilt, whom
thou broughtest to betray me, from the worthy lady whom thou hast the
honour to call thy aunt: and that I could not detect the superficial
creature whom thou passedst upon me for the virtuous Miss Montague.
Amazing uncharitableness in a lady so good herself!--That the high
spirits those ladies were in to see you, should subject them to such
censures!--I do must solemnly vow, Madam----
That they were, interrupting me, verily and indeed Lady Betty Lawrance
and thy cousin Montague!--O wretch! I see by thy solemn averment [I had
not yet averred it,] what credit ought to be given to all the rest. Had
I no other proof----
Interrupting her, I besought her patient ear. 'I had found myself, I
told her, almost avowedly despised and hated. I had no hope of gaining
her love, or her confidence. The letter she had left behind her, on her
removal to Hampstead, sufficiently convinced me that she was entirely
under Miss Howe's influence, and waited but the return of a letter from
her to enter upon measures that would deprive me of her for ever: Miss
Howe had ever been my enemy: more so then, no doubt, from the contents of
the letter she had written to her on her first coming to Hampstead; that
I dared not to stand the event of such a letter; and was glad of an
opportunity, by Lady Betty's and my cousin's means (though they knew not
my motive) to get her back to town; far, at the time, from intending the
outrage which my despair, and her want of confidence in me, put me so
I would have proceeded; and particularly would have said something of
Captain Tomlinson and her uncle; but she would not hear me further. And
indeed it was with visible indignation, and not without several angry
interruptions, that she heard me say so much.
Would I dare, she asked me, to offer at a palliation of my baseness? The
two women, she was convinced, were impostors. She knew not but Captain
Tomlinson and Mr. Mennell were so too. But whether they were so or not,
I was. And she insisted upon being at her own disposal for the remainder
of her short life--for indeed she abhorred me in every light; and more
particularly in that in which I offered myself to her acceptance.
And, saying this, she flung from me; leaving me absolutely shocked and
confounded at her part of a conversation which she began with such
uncommon, however severe, composure, and concluded with so much sincere
and unaffected indignation.
And now, Jack, I must address one serious paragraph particularly to thee.
I have not yet touched upon cohabitation--her uncle's mediation she does
not absolutely discredit, as I had the pleasure to find by one hint in
this conversation--yet she suspects my future views, and has doubt about
Mennell and Tomlinson.
I do say, if she come fairly at her lights, at her clues, or what shall I
call them? her penetration is wonderful.
But if she do not come at them fairly, then is her incredulity, then is
her antipathy to me evidently accounted for.
I will speak out--thou couldst not, surely, play me booty, Jack?--Surely
thou couldst not let thy weak pity for her lead thee to an unpardonable
breach of trust to thy friend, who has been so unreserved in his
communications to thee?
I cannot believe thee capable of such a baseness. Satisfy me, however,
upon this head. I must make a cursed figure in her eye, vowing and
protesting, as I shall not scruple occasionally to vow and protest, if
all the time she has had unquestionable informations of my perfidy. I
know thou as little fearest me, as I do thee, if any point of manhood;
and wilt scorn to deny it, if thou hast done it, when thus home-pressed.
And here I have a good mind to stop, and write no farther, till I have
And so I will.
MONDAY MORN. PAST THREE.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
MONDAY MORN. FIVE O'CLOCK (JUNE 19.)
I must write on. Nothing else can divert me: and I think thou canst not
have been a dog to me.
I would fain have closed my eyes: but sleep flies me. Well says Horace,
as translated by Cowley:
The halcyon sleep will never build his nest
In any stormy breast.
'Tis not enough that he does find
Clouds and darkness in the mind:
Darkness but half his work will do.
'Tis not enough: he must find quiet too.
Now indeed do I from my heart wish that I had never known this lady. But
who would have thought there had been such a woman in the world? Of all
the sex I have hitherto known, or heard, or read of, it was once subdued,
and always subdued. The first struggle was generally the last; or, at
least, the subsequent struggles were so much fainter and fainter, that a
man would rather have them than be without them. But how know I yet----
It is now near six--the sun for two hours past has been illuminating
every thing about me: for that impartial orb shines upon Mother
Sinclair's house as well as upon any other: but nothing within me can it
At day-dawn I looked through the key-hole of my beloved's door. She had
declared she would not put off her clothes any more in this house. There
I beheld her in a sweet slumber, which I hope will prove refreshing to
her disturbed senses; sitting in her elbow-chair, her apron over her
head; her head supported by one sweet hand, the other hand hanging down
upon her side, in a sleepy lifelessness; half of one pretty foot only
See the difference in our cases! thought I: she, the charming injured,
can sweetly sleep, while the varlet injurer cannot close his eyes; and
has been trying, to no purpose, the whole night to divert his melancholy,
and to fly from himself!
As every vice generally brings on its own punishment, even in this life;
if any thing were to tempt me to doubt of future punishment, it would be,
that there can hardly be a greater than that in which I at this instant
experience in my own remorse.
I hope it will go off. If not, well will the dear creature be avenged;
for I shall be the most miserable of men.
Just now Dorcas tells me, that her lady is preparing openly, and without
disguise, to be gone. Very probable. The humour she flew away from me
in last night has given me expectation of such an enterprize.
Now, Jack, to be thus hated and despised!--And if I have sinned beyond
But she has sent me a message by Dorcas, that she will meet me in the
dining-room; and desires [odd enough] that the wretch may be present at
the conversation that shall pass between us. This message gives me hope.
Confounded art, cunning villany!--By my soul, she had like to have
slipped through my fingers! She meant nothing by her message but to get
Dorcas out of the way, and a clear coast. Is a fancied distress,
sufficient to justify this lady for dispensing with her principles? Does
she not show me that she can wilfully deceive, as well as I?
Had she been in the fore-house, and no passage to go through to get at
the street-door, she had certainly been gone. But her haste betrayed
her: for Sally Martin happening to be in the fore-parlour, and hearing a
swifter motion than usual, and a rustling of silks, as if from somebody
in a hurry, looked out; and seeing who it was, stept between her and the
door, and set her back against it.
You must not go, Madam. Indeed you must not.
By what right?--And how dare you?--And such-like imperious airs the dear
creature gave herself.--While Sally called out for her aunt; and half a
dozen voiced joined instantly in the cry, for me to hasten down, to
hasten down in a moment.
I was gravely instructing Dorcas above stairs, and wondering what would
be the subject of the conversation to which the wench was to be a
witness, when these outcries reached my ears. And down I flew.--And
there was the charming creature, the sweet deceiver, panting for breath,
her back against the partition, a parcel in her hand, [women make no
excursions without their parcels,] Sally, Polly, (but Polly obligingly
pleaded for her,) the mother, Mabell, and Peter, (the footman of the
house,) about her; all, however, keeping their distance; the mother and
Sally between her and the door--in her soft rage the dear soul repeating,
I will go--nobody has a right--I will go--if you kill me, women, I won't
go up again!
As soon as she saw me, she stept a pace or two towards me; Mr. Lovelace,
I will go! said she--do you authorize these women--what right have they,
or you either, to stop me?
Is this, my dear, preparative to the conversation you led me to expect in
the dining-room? And do you thing [sic] I can part with you thus?--Do
you think I will.
And am I, Sir, to be thus beset?--Surrounded thus?--What have these women
to do with me?
I desired them to leave us, all but Dorcas, who was down as soon as I. I
then thought it right to assume an air of resolution, having found my
tameness so greatly triumphed over. And now, my dear, said I, (urging
her reluctant feet,) be pleased to walk into the fore-parlour. Here,
since you will not go up stairs, here we may hold our parley; and Dorcas
will be witness to it. And now, Madam, seating her, and sticking my
hands in my sides, your pleasure!
Insolent villain! said the furious lady. And rising, ran to the window,
and threw up the sash, [she knew not, I suppose, that there were iron
rails before the windows.] And, when she found she could not get out
into the street, clasping her uplifted hands together, having dropt her
parcel--For the love of God, good honest man!--For the love of God,
mistress--[to two passers by,] a poor, a poor creature, said she, ruined!
I clasped her in my arms, people beginning to gather about the window:
and then she cried out Murder! help! help! and carried her up to the
dining-room, in spite of her little plotting heart, (as I may now call
it,) although she violently struggled, catching hold of the banisters
here and there, as she could. I would have seated her there; but she
sunk down half-motionless, pale as ashes. And a violent burst of tears
happily relieved her.
Dorcas wept over her. The wench was actually moved for her!
Violent hysterics succeeded. I left her to Mabell, Dorcas, and Polly;
the latter the most supportable to her of the sisterhood.
This attempt, so resolutely made, alarmed me not a little.
Mrs. Sinclair and her nymphs, are much more concerned; because of the
reputation of their house as they call it, having received some insults
(broken windows threatened) to make them produce the young creature who
While the mobbish inquisitors were in the height of their office, the
women came running up to me, to know what they should do; a constable
being actually fetched.
Get the constable into the parlour, said I, with three or four of the
forwardest of the mob, and produce one of the nymphs, onion-eyed, in a
moment, with disordered head-dress and handkerchief, and let her own
herself the person: the occasion, a female skirmish: but satisfied with
the justice done her. Then give a dram or two to each fellow, and all
will be well.
All done as I advised; and all is well.
Mrs. Sinclair wishes she had never seen the face of so skittish a lady;
and she and Sally are extremely pressing with me, to leave the perverse
beauty to their breaking, as they call it, for four or five days. But I
cursed them into silence; only ordering double precaution for the future.
Polly, though she consoled the dear perverse one all she could, when with
her, insists upon it to me, that nothing but terror will procure me
Dorcas was challenged by the women upon her tears. She owned them real.
Said she was ashamed of herself: but could not help it. So sincere, so
unyielding a grief, in so sweet a lady!--
The women laughed at her; but I bid her make no apologies for her tears,
nor mind their laughing. I was glad to see them so ready. Good use
might be made of such strangers. In short, I would not have her indulge
them often, and try if it were not possible to gain her lady's confidence
by her concern for her.
She said that her lady did take kind notice of them to her; and was glad
to see such tokens of humanity in her.
Well then, said I, your part, whether any thing come of it or not, is to
be tender-hearted. It can do no harm, if no good. But take care you are
not too suddenly, or too officiously compassionate.
So Dorcas will be a humane, good sort of creature, I believe, very
quickly with her lady. And as it becomes women to be so, and as my
beloved is willing to think highly of her own sex; it will the more
readily pass with her.
I thought to have had one trial (having gone so far) for cohabitation.
But what hope can there be of succeeding?--She is invincible!--Against
all my motions, against all my conceptions, (thinking of her as a woman,
and in the very bloom of her charms,) she is absolutely invincible. My
whole view, at the present, is to do her legal justice, if I can but once
more get her out of her altitudes.
The consent of such a woman must make her ever new, ever charming. But
astonishing! Can the want of a church-ceremony make such a difference!
She owes me her consent; for hitherto I have had nothing to boast of.
All of my side, has been deep remorse, anguish of mind, and love
increased rather than abated.
How her proud rejection stings me!--And yet I hope still to get her to
listen to my stories of the family-reconciliation, and of her uncle and
Capt. Tomlinson--and as she has given me a pretence to detain her against
her will, she must see me, whether in temper or not.--She cannot help it.
And if love will not do, terror, as the women advise, must be tried.
A nice part, after all, has my beloved to act. If she forgive me easily,
I resume perhaps my projects:--if she carry her rejection into violence,
that violence may make me desperate, and occasion fresh violence. She
ought, since she thinks she has found the women out, to consider where
I am confoundedly out of conceit with myself. If I give up my
contrivances, my joy in stratagem, and plot, and invention, I shall be
but a common man; such another dull heavy creature as thyself. Yet what
does even my success in my machinations bring me but regret, disgrace,
repentance? But I am overmatched, egregiously overmatched, by this
woman. What to do with her, or without her, I know not.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
I have this moment intelligence from Simon Parsons, one of Lord M.'s
stewards, that his Lordship is very ill. Simon, who is my obsequious
servant, in virtue of my presumptive heirship, gives me a hint in his
letter, that my presence at M. Hall will not be amiss. So I must
accelerate, whatever be the course I shall be allowed or compelled to
No bad prospects for this charming creature, if the old peer would be so
kind as to surrender; and many a summons has this gout given him. A good
8000L. a-year, and perhaps the title reversionary, or a still higher,
would help me up with her.
Proudly as this lady pretends to be above all pride, grandeur will have
its charms with her; for grandeur always makes a man's face shine in a
woman's eye. I have a pretty good, because a clear, estate, as it is.
But what a noble variety of mischief will 8000L. a-year, enable a man to
Perhaps thou'lt say, I do already all that comes into my head; but that's
a mistake--not one half I will assure thee. And even good folks, as I
have heard, love to have the power of doing mischief, whether they make
use of it or not. The late Queen Anne, who was a very good woman, was
always fond of prerogative. And her ministers, in her name, in more
instances than one, made a ministerial use of this her foible.
But now, at last, am I to be admitted to the presence of my angry
fair-one; after three denials, nevertheless; and a peremptory from me, by
Dorcas, that I must see her in her chamber, if I cannot see her in the
Dorcas, however, tells me that she says, if she were at her own liberty,
she would never see me more; and that she had been asking after the
characters and conditions of the neighbours. I suppose, now she has
found her voice, to call out for help from them, if there were any to
She will have it now, it seems, that I had the wickedness from the very
beginning, to contrive, for her ruin, a house so convenient for dreadful
Dorcas begs of her to be pacified--entreats her to see me with patience--
tells her that I am one of the most determined of men, as she has heard
say. That gentleness may do with me; but that nothing else will, she
believes. And what, as her ladyship (as she always styles her,) is
married, if I had broken my oath, or intended to break it!--
She hinted plain enough to the honest wench, that she was not married.
But Dorcas would not understand her.
This shows she is resolved to keep no measures. And now is to be a trial
of skill, whether she shall or not.
Dorcas has hinted to her my Lord's illness, as a piece of intelligence
that dropt in conversation from me.
But here I stop. My beloved, pursuant to my peremptory message, is just
gone up into the dining-room.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Pity me, Jack, for pity's sake; since, if thou dost not, nobody else
will: and yet never was there a man of my genius and lively temper that
wanted it more. We are apt to attribute to the devil every thing happens
to us, which we would not have happen: but here, being, (as perhaps
thou'lt say,) the devil myself, my plagues arise from an angel. I
suppose all mankind is to be plagued by its contrary.
She began with me like a true woman, [she in the fault, I to be blamed,]
the moment I entered the dining-room: not the least apology, not the
least excuse, for the uproar she had made, and the trouble she had given
I come, said she, into thy detested presence, because I cannot help it.
But why am I to be imprisoned here?--Although to no purpose, I cannot
Dearest Madam, interrupted I, give not way to so much violence. You must
know, that your detention is entirely owing to the desire I have to make
you all the amends that is in my power to make you. And this, as well for
your sake as my own. Surely there is still one way left to repair
the wrongs you have suffered----
Canst thou blot out the past week! Several weeks past, I should say;
ever since I have been with thee? Canst thou call back time?--If thou
Surely, Madam, again interrupting her, if I may be permitted to call you
legally mine, I might have but anticip----
Wretch, that thou art! Say not another word upon this subject. When
thou vowedst, when thou promisedst at Hampstead, I had begun to think
that I must be thine. If I had consented, at the request of those I
thought thy relations, this would have been a principal inducement, that
I could then have brought thee, what was most wanted, an unsullied honour
in dowry, to a wretch destitute of all honour; and could have met the
gratulations of a family to which thy life has been one continued
disgrace, with a consciousness of deserving their gratulations. But
thinkest thou, that I will give a harlot niece to thy honourable uncle,
and to thy real aunts; and a cousin to thy cousins from a brothel? for
such, in my opinion, is this detested house!--Then, lifting up her
clasped hands, 'Great and good God of Heaven,' said she, 'give me
patience to support myself under the weight of those afflictions, which
thou, for wise and good ends, though at present impenetrable by me, hast
Then, turning towards me, who knew neither what to say to her, nor for
myself, I renounce thee for ever, Lovelace!--Abhorred of my soul! for
ever I renounce thee!--Seek thy fortunes wheresoever thou wilt!--only
now, that thou hast already ruined me!--
Ruined you, Madam--the world need not--I knew not what to say.
Ruined me in my own eyes; and that is the same to me as if all the world
knew it--hinder me not from going whither my mysterious destiny shall
Why hesitate you, Sir? What right have you to stop me, as you lately
did; and to bring me up by force, my hands and arms bruised by your
violence? What right have you to detain me here?
I am cut to the heart, Madam, with invectives so violent. I am but too
sensible of the wrong I have done you, or I could not bear your
reproaches. The man who perpetrates a villany, and resolves to go on
with it, shows not the compunction I show. Yet, if you think yourself
in my power, I would caution you, Madam, not to make me desperate. For
you shall be mine, or my life shall be the forfeit! Nor is life worth
having without you!--
Be thine!--I be thine!--said the passionate beauty. O how lovely in her
Yes, Madam, be mine! I repeat you shall be mine! My very crime is your
glory. My love, my admiration of you is increased by what has passed--
and so it ought. I am willing, Madam, to court your returning favour;
but let me tell you, were the house beset by a thousand armed men,
resolved to take you from me, they should not effect their purpose, while
I had life.
I never, never will be your's, said she, clasping her hands together, and
lifting up her eyes!--I never will be your's!
We may yet see many happy years, Madam. All your friends may be
reconciled to you. The treaty for that purpose is in greater forwardness
than you imagine. You know better than to think the worse of yourself
for suffering what you could not help. Enjoin but the terms I can make
my peace with you upon, and I will instantly comply.
Never, never, repeated she, will I be your's!
Only forgive me, my dearest life, this one time!--A virtue so invincible!
what further view can I have against you?--Have I attempted any further
outrage?--If you will be mine, your injuries will be injuries done to
myself. You have too well guessed at the unnatural arts that have been
used. But can a greater testimony be given of your virtue?--And now I
have only to hope, that although I cannot make you complete amends, yet
you will permit me to make you all the amends that can possibly be made.
Here [sic] me out, I beseech you, Madam; for she was going to speak with
an aspect unpacifiedly angry: the God, whom you serve, requires but
repentance and amendment. Imitate him, my dearest love, and bless me
with the means of reforming a course of life that begins to be hateful to
me. That was once your favourite point. Resume it, dearest creature, in
charity to a soul, as well as body, which once, as I flattered myself,
was more than indifferent to you, resume it. And let to-morrow's sun
witness to our espousals.
I cannot judge thee, said she; but the GOD to whom thou so boldly
referrest can, and, assure thyself, He will. But, if compunction has
really taken hold of thee--if, indeed, thou art touched for thy
ungrateful baseness, and meanest any thing by this pleading the holy
example thou recommendest to my imitation; in this thy pretended
repentant moment, let me sift thee thoroughly, and by thy answer I shall
judge of the sincerity of thy pretended declarations.
Tell me, then, is there any reality in the treaty thou has pretended to
be on foot between my uncle and Capt. Tomlinson, and thyself?--Say, and
hesitate not, is there any truth in that story?--But, remember, if there
be not, and thou avowest that there is, what further condemnation attends
to thy averment, if it be as solemn as I require it to be!
This was a cursed thrust! What could I say!--Surely this merciless lady
is resolved to d--n me, thought I, and yet accuses me of a design against
her soul!--But was I not obliged to proceed as I had begun?
In short, I solemnly averred that there was!--How one crime, as the good
folks say, brings on another!
I added, that the Captain had been in town, and would have waited on her,
had she not been indisposed; that he went down much afflicted, as well on
her account, as on that of her uncle; though I had not acquainted him
either with the nature of her disorder, or the ever-to-be-regretted
occasion of it, having told him that it was a violent fever; That he had
twice since, by her uncle's desire, sent up to inquire after her health;
and that I had already dispatched a man and horse with a letter, to
acquaint him, (and her uncle through him,) with her recovery; making it
my earnest request, that he would renew his application to her uncle for
the favour of his presence at the private celebrations of our nuptials;
and that I expected an answer, if not this night, as to-morrow.
Let me ask thee next, said she, (thou knowest the opinion I have of the
women thou broughtest to me at Hampstead; and who have seduced me hither
to my ruin; let me ask thee,) If, really and truly, they were Lady Betty
Lawrance and thy cousin Montague?--What sayest thou--hesitate not--what
sayest thou to this question?
Astonishing, my dear, that you should suspect them!--But, knowing your
strange opinion of them, what can I say to be believed?
And is this the answer thou returnest me? Dost thou thus evade my
question? But let me know, for I am trying thy sincerity now, and all
shall judge of thy new professions by thy answer to this question; let me
know, I repeat, whether those women be really Lady Betty Lawrance and thy
Let me, my dearest love, be enabled to-morrow to call you lawfully mine,
and we will set out the next day, if you please, to Berkshire to my Lord
M.'s, where they both are at this time; and you shall convince yourself
by your own eyes, and by your own ears; which you will believe sooner
than all I can say or swear.
Now, Belford, I had really some apprehension of treachery from thee;
which made me so miserably evade; for else, I could as safely have sworn
to the truth of this, as to that of the former: but she pressing me still
for a categorical answer, I ventured plumb; and swore to it, [lover's
oaths, Jack!] that they were really and truly Lady Betty Lawrance and my
She lifted up her hands and eyes--What can I think!--what can I think!
You think me a devil, Madam; a very devil! or you could not after you
have put these questions to me, seem to doubt the truth of answers so
solemnly sworn to.
And if I do think thee so, have I not cause? Is there another man in the
world, (I hope for the sake of human nature, there is not,) who could act
by any poor friendless creature as thou hast acted by me, whom thou hast
made friendless--and who, before I knew thee, had for a friend every one
who knew me?
I told you, Madam, before that Lady Betty and my cousin were actually
here, in order to take leave of you, before they set out for Berkshire:
but the effects of my ungrateful crime, (such, with shame and remorse, I
own it to be,) were the reason you could not see them. Nor could I be
fond that they should see you; since they never would have forgiven me,
had they known what had passed--and what reason had I to expect your
silence on the subject, had you been recovered?
It signifies nothing now, that the cause of their appearance has been
answered in my ruin, who or what they are: but if thou hast averred thus
solemnly to two falsehoods, what a wretch do I see before me!
I thought she had now reason to be satisfied; and I begged her to allow
me to talk to her of to-morrow, as of the happiest day of my life. We
have the license, Madam--and you must excuse me, that I cannot let you go
hence till I have tried every way I can to obtain your forgiveness.
And am I then, [with a kind of frantic wildness,] to be detained a
prisoner in this horrid house--am I, Sir?--Take care! take care! holding
up her hand, menacing, how you make me desperate! If I fall, though by
my own hand, inquisition will be made for my blood; and be not out in thy
plot, Lovelace, if it should be so--make sure work, I charge thee--dig a
hole deep enough to cram in and conceal this unhappy body; for, depend
upon it, that some of those who will not stir to protect me living, will
move heaven and earth to avenge me dead!
A horrid dear creature!--By my soul she made me shudder! She had need
indeed to talk of her unhappiness in falling into the hands of the only
man in the world, who could have used her as I have used her--she is the
only woman in the world, who could have shocked and disturbed me as she
has done. So we are upon a foot in that respect. And I think I have the
worst of it by much: since very little has been my joy--very much my
trouble. And her punishment, as she calls it, is over: but when mine
will, or what it may be, who can tell?
Here, only recapitulating, (think, then, how I must be affected at the
time,) I was forced to leave off, and sing a song to myself. I aimed at
a lively air; but I croaked rather than sung. And fell into the old
dismal thirtieth of January strain; I hemmed up for a sprightlier note;
but it would not do; and at last I ended, like a malefactor, in a dead
Heigh-ho!--I gape like an unfledged kite in its nest, wanting to swallow
a chicken, bobbed at its mouth by its marauding dam!--
What a-devil ails me?--I can neither think nor write!
Lie down, pen, for a moment!
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
There is certainly a good deal in the observation, that it costs a man
ten times more pains to be wicked, than it would cost him to be good. What
a confounded number of contrivances have I had recourse to, in order
to carry my point with this charming creature; and yet after all, how
have I puzzled myself by it; and yet am near tumbling into the pit which
it was the end of all my plots to shun! What a happy man had I been with
such an excellence, could I have brought my mind to marry when I first
prevailed upon her to quit her father's house! But then, as I have often
reflected, how had I known, that a but blossoming beauty, who could carry
on a private correspondence, and run such risques with a notorious wild
fellow, was not prompted by inclination, which one day might give such a
free-liver as myself as much pain to reflect upon, as, at the time it
gave me pleasure? Thou rememberest the host's tale in Ariosto. And thy
experience, as well as mine, can furnish out twenty Fiametta's in proof
of the imbecility of the sex.
But to proceed with my narrative.
The dear creature resumed the topic her heart was so firmly fixed upon;
and insisted upon quitting the odious house, and that in very high terms.
I urged her to meet me the next day at the altar in either of the two
churches mentioned in the license. And I besought her, whatever was her
resolution, to let me debate this matter calmly with her.
If, she said, I would have her give what I desired the least moment's
consideration, I must not hinder her from being her own mistress. To
what purpose did I ask her consent, if she had not a power over either
her own person or actions?
Will you give me your honour, Madam, if I consent to your quitting a
house so disagreeable to you?--
My honour, Sir! said the dear creature--Alas!--And turned weeping from
me with inimitable grace--as if she had said--Alas!--you have robbed me
of my honour!
I hoped then, that her angry passions were subsiding; but I was mistaken;
for, urging her warmly for the day; and that for the sake of our mutual
honour, and the honour of both our families; in this high-flown and
high-souled strain she answered me:
And canst thou, Lovelace, be so mean--as to wish to make a wife of the
creature thou hast insulted, dishonoured, and abused, as thou hast me?
Was it necessary to humble me down to the low level of thy baseness,
before I could be a wife meet for thee? Thou hadst a father, who was a
man of honour: a mother, who deserved a better son. Thou hast an uncle,
who is no dishonour to the Peerage of a kingdom, whose peers are more
respectable than the nobility of any other country. Thou hast other
relations also, who may be thy boast, though thou canst not be theirs--
and canst thou not imagine, that thou hearest them calling upon thee; the
dead from their monuments; the living from their laudable pride; not to
dishonour thy ancient and splendid house, by entering into wedlock with a
creature whom thou hast levelled with the dirt of the street, and classed
with the vilest of her sex?
I extolled her greatness of soul, and her virtue. I execrated myself for
my guilt: and told her, how grateful to the manes of my ancestors, as
well as to the wishes of the living, the honour I supplicated for would
But still she insisted upon being a free agent; of seeing herself in
other lodgings before she would give what I urged the least
consideration. Nor would she promise me favour even then, or to permit
my visits. How then, as I asked her, could I comply, without resolving
to lose her for ever?
She put her hand to her forehead often as she talked; and at last,
pleading disorder in her head, retired; neither of us satisfied with the
other. But she ten times more dissatisfied with me, than I with her.
Dorcas seems to be coming into favour with her--
What now!--What now!
How determined is this lady!--Again had she like to have escaped us!--
What a fixed resentment!--She only, I find, assumed a little calm, in
order to quiet suspicion. She was got down, and actually had unbolted
the street-door, before I could get to her; alarmed as I was by Mrs.
Sinclair's cookmaid, who was the only one that saw her fly through the
passage: yet lightning was not quicker than I.
Again I brought her back to the dining-room, with infinite reluctance on
her part. And, before her face, ordered a servant to be placed
constantly at the bottom of the stairs for the future.
She seemed even choked with grief and disappointment.
Dorcas was exceedingly assiduous about her; and confidently gave it as
her own opinion, that her dear lady should be permitted to go to another
lodging, since this was so disagreeable to her: were she to be killed for
saying so, she would say it. And was good Dorcas for this afterwards.
But for some time the dear creature was all passion and violence--
I see, I see, said she, when I had brought her up, what I am to expect
from your new professions, O vilest of men!--
Have I offered t you, my beloved creature, any thing that can justify
this impatience after a more hopeful calm?
She wrung her hands. She disordered her head-dress. She tore her
ruffles. She was in a perfect phrensy.
I dreaded her returning malady: but, entreaty rather exasperating, I
affected an angry air.--I bid her expect the worst she had to fear--and
was menacing on, in hopes to intimidate her; when, dropping to my feet,
'Twill be a mercy, said she, the highest act of mercy you can do, to kill
me outright upon this spot--this happy spot, as I will, in my last
moments, call it!--Then, baring, with a still more frantic violence, part
of her enchanting neck--Here, here, said the soul-harrowing beauty, let
thy pointed mercy enter! and I will thank thee, and forgive thee for all
the dreadful past!--With my latest gasp will I forgive and thank thee!--
Or help me to the means, and I will myself put out of the way so
miserable a wretch! And bless thee for those means!
Why all this extravagant passion? Why all these exclamations? Have I
offered any new injury to you, my dearest life? What a phrensy is this!
Am I not ready to make you all the reparation that I can make you? Had I
not reason to hope--
No, no, no, no, as before, shaking her head with wild impatience, as
resolved not to attend to what I said.
My resolutions are so honourable, if you will permit them to take effect,
that I need not be solicitous where you go, if you will but permit my
visits, and receive my vows.--And God is my witness, that I bring you not
back from the door with any view to your dishonour, but the contrary: and
this moment I will send for a minister to put an end to all your doubts
Say this, and say a thousand times more, and bind every word with a
solemn appeal to that God whom thou art accustomed to invoke to the truth
of the vilest falsehoods, and all will still be short of what thou has
vowed and promised to me. And, were not my heart to abhor thee, and to
rise against thee, for thy perjuries, as it does, I would not, I tell
thee once more, I would not, bind my soul in covenant with such a man,
for a thousand worlds!
Compose yourself, however, Madam; for your own sake, compose yourself.
Permit me to raise you up; abhorred as I am of your soul!
Nay, if I must not touch you; for she wildly slapt my hands; but with
such a sweet passionate air, her bosom heaving and throbbing as she
looked up to me, that although I was most sincerely enraged, I could with
transport have pressed her to mine.
If I must not touch you, I will not.--But depend upon it, [and I assumed
the sternest air I could assume, to try what it would do,] depend upon
it, Madam, that this is not the way to avoid the evils you dread. Let me
do what I will, I cannot be used worse--Dorcas, begone!
She arose, Dorcas being about to withdraw; and wildly caught hold of her
arm: O Dorcas! If thou art of mine own sex, leave me not, I charge thee!
--Then quitting Dorcas, down she threw herself upon her knees, in the
furthermost corner of the room, clasping a chair with her face laid upon
the bottom of it!--O where can I be safe?--Where, where can I be safe,
from this man of violence?--
This gave Dorcas an opportunity to confirm herself in her lady's
confidence: the wench threw herself at my feet, while I seemed in violent
wrath; and embracing my knees, Kill me, Sir, kill me, Sir, if you please!
--I must throw myself in your way, to save my lady. I beg your pardon,
Sir--but you must be set on!--God forgive the mischief-makers!--But your
own heart, if left to itself, would not permit these things--spare,
however, Sir! spare my lady, I beseech you!--bustling on her knees about
me, as if I were intending to approach her lady, had I not been
restrained by her.
This, humoured by me, Begone, devil!--Officious devil, begone!--startled
the dear creature: who, snatching up hastily her head from the chair, and
as hastily popping it down again in terror, hit her nose, I suppose,
against the edge of the chair; and it gushed out with blood, running in a
stream down her bosom; she herself was too much frighted to heed it!
Never was mortal man in such terror and agitation as I; for I instantly
concluded, that she had stabbed herself with some concealed instrument.
I ran to her in a wild agony--for Dorcas was frighted out of all her mock
What have you done!--O what have you done!--Look up to me, my dearest
life!--Sweet injured innocence, look up to me! What have you done!--Long
will I not survive you!--And I was upon the point of drawing my sword to
dispatch myself, when I discovered--[What an unmanly blockhead does this
charming creature make me at her pleasure!] that all I apprehended was
but a bloody nose, which, as far as I know (for it could not be stopped
in a quarter of an hour) may have saved her head and her intellects.
But I see by this scene, that the sweet creature is but a pretty coward
at bottom; and that I can terrify her out of her virulence against me,
whenever I put on sternness and anger. But then, as a qualifier to the
advantage this gives me over her, I find myself to be a coward too, which
I had not before suspected, since I was capable of being so easily
terrified by the apprehensions of her offering violence to herself.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
But with all this dear creature's resentment against me, I cannot, for my
heart, think but she will get all over, and consent to enter the pale
with me. Were she even to die to-morrow, and to know she should, would
not a woman of her sense, of her punctilio, and in her situation, and of
so proud a family, rather die married, than otherwise?--No doubt but she
would; although she were to hate the man ever so heartily. If so, there
is now but one man in the world whom she can have--and that is me.
Now I talk [familiar writing is but talking, Jack] thus glibly of
entering the pale, thou wilt be ready to question me, I know, as to my
intentions on this head.
As much of my heart, as I know of it myself, will I tell thee.--When I am
from her, I cannot still help hesitating about marriage; and I even
frequently resolve against it, and determine to press my favourite scheme
for cohabitation. But when I am with her, I am ready to say, to swear,
and to do, whatever I think will be the most acceptable to her, and were
a parson at hand, I should plunge at once, no doubt of it, into the
I have frequently thought, in common cases, that it is happy for many
giddy fellows [there are giddy fellows, as well as giddy girls, Jack; and
perhaps those are as often drawn in, as these] that ceremony and parade
are necessary to the irrevocable solemnity; and that there is generally
time for a man to recollect himself in the space between the heated
over-night, and the cooler next morning; or I know not who could escape
the sweet gypsies, whose fascinating powers are so much aided by our own
A wife at any time, I used to say. I had ever confidence and vanity
enough to think that no woman breathing could deny her hand when I held
out mine. I am confoundedly mortified to find that this lady is able to
hold me at bay, and to refuse all my honest vows.
What force [allow me a serious reflection, Jack: it will be put down!
What force] have evil habits upon the human mind! When we enter upon a
devious course, we think we shall have it in our power when we will
return to the right path. But it is not so, I plainly see: For, who can
acknowledge with more justice this dear creature's merits, and his own
errors, than I? Whose regret, at times, can be deeper than mine, for the
injuries I have done her? Whose resolutions to repair those injuries
stronger?--Yet how transitory is my penitence!--How am I hurried away--
Canst thou tell by what?--O devil of youth, and devil of intrigue, how do
you mislead me!--How often do we end in occasions for the deepest
remorse, what we begin in wantonness!--
At the present writing, however, the turn of the scale is in behalf of
matrimony--for I despair of carrying with her my favourite point.
The lady tells Dorcas, that her heart is broken: and that she shall live
but a little while. I think nothing of that, if we marry. In the first
place, she knows not what a mind unapprehensive will do for her, in a
state to which all the sex look forwards with high satisfaction. How
often have the whole of the sacred conclave been thus deceived in their
choice of a pope; not considering that the new dignity is of itself
sufficient to give new life! A few months' heart's ease will give my
charmer a quite different notion of things: and I dare say, as I have
heretofore said,* once married, and I am married for life.
* See Letter IX. of this volume.
I will allow that her pride, in one sense, has suffered abasement: but
her triumph is the greater in every other. And while I can think that
all her trials are but additions to her honour, and that I have laid the
foundations of her glory in my own shame, can I be called cruel, if I am
not affected with her grief as some men would be?
And for what should her heart be broken? Her will is unviolated;--at
present, however, her will is unviolated. The destroying of good habits,
and the introducing of bad, to the corrupting of the whole heart, is the
violation. That her will is not to be corrupted, that her mind is not to
be debased, she has hitherto unquestionably proved. And if she give
cause for farther trials, and hold fast her integrity, what ideas will
she have to dwell upon, that will be able to corrupt her morals? What
vestigia, what remembrances, but such as will inspire abhorrence of the
What nonsense then to suppose that such a mere notional violation as she
has suffered should be able to cut asunder the strings of life?
Her religion, married, or not married, will set her above making such a
trifling accident, such an involuntary suffering fatal to her.
Such considerations as these they are that support me against all
apprehensions of bugbear consequences; and I would have them have weight
with thee; who are such a doughty advocate for her. And yet I allow thee
this; that she really makes too much of it; takes it too much to heart.
To be sure she ought to have forgot it by this time, except the charming,
charming consequence happen, that still I am in hopes will happen, were I
to proceed no farther. And, if she apprehended this herself, then has
the dear over-nice soul some reason for taking it so much to heart; and
yet would not, I think, refuse to legitimate.
O Jack! had I am imperial diadem, I swear to thee, that I would give it
up, even to my enemy, to have one charming boy by this lady. And should
she escape me, and no such effect follow, my revenge on her family, and,
in such a case, on herself, would be incomplete, and I should reproach
myself as long as I lived.
Were I to be sure that this foundation is laid [And why may I not hope it
is?] I should not doubt to have her still (should she withstand her day
of grace) on my own conditions; nor should I, if it were so, question
that revived affection in her, which a woman seldom fails to have for the
father of her first child, whether born in wedlock, or out of it.
And pr'ythee, Jack, see in this my ardent hope, a distinction in my
favour from other rakes; who, almost to a man, follow their inclinations
without troubling themselves about consequences. In imitation, as one
would think, of the strutting villain of a bird, which from feathered
lady to feathered lady pursues his imperial pleasures, leaving it to his
sleek paramours to hatch the genial product in holes and corners of their
own finding out.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY MORN. JUNE 20.
Well, Jack, now are we upon another footing together. This dear creature
will not let me be good. She is now authorizing all my plots by her own
Thou must be partial in the highest degree, if now thou blamest me for
resuming my former schemes, since in that case I shall but follow her
cue. No forced construction of her actions do I make on this occasion,
in order to justify a bad cause or a worse intention. A slight pretence,
indeed, served the wolf when he had a mind to quarrel with the lamb; but
this is not now my case.
For here (wouldst thou have thought it?) taking advantage of Dorcas's
compassionate temper, and of some warm expressions which the
tender-hearted wench let fall against the cruelty of men, and wishing to
have it in her power to serve her, has she given her the following note,
signed by her maiden name: for she has thought fit, in positive and plain
words, to own to the pitying Dorcas that she is not married.
MONDAY, JUNE 19.
I then underwritten do hereby promise, that, on my coming into possession
of my own estate, I will provide for Dorcas Martindale in a gentlewoman-
like manner, in my own house: or, if I do not soon obtain that
possession, or should first die, I do hereby bind myself, my executors,
and administrators, to pay to her, or her order, during the term of her
natural life, the sum of five pounds on each of the four usual quarterly
days in the year; on condition that she faithfully assist me in my escape
from an illegal confinement under which I now labour. The first
quarterly payment to commence and be payable at the end of three months
immediately following the day of my deliverance. And I do also promise
to give her, as a testimony of my honour in the rest, a diamond ring,
which I have showed her. Witness my hand this nineteenth day of June, in
the year above written.
Now, Jack, what terms wouldst thou have me to keep with such a sweet
corruptress? Seest thou not how she hates me? Seest thou not that she
is resolved never to forgive me? Seest thou not, however, that she must
disgrace herself in the eye of the world, if she actually should escape?
That she must be subjected to infinite distress and hazard! For whom has
she to receive and protect her? Yet to determine to risque all these
evils! and furthermore to stoop to artifice, to be guilty of the reigning
vice of the times, of bribery and corruption! O Jack, Jack! say not,
write not another word in her favour!
Thou hast blamed me for bringing her to this house: but had I carried her
to any other in England, where there would have been one servant or
inmate capable either of compassion or corruption, what must have been
But seest thou not, however, that in this flimsy contrivance, the dear
implacable, like a drowning man, catches at a straw to save herself!--A
straw shall she find to be the refuge she has resorted to.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUES. MORN. TEN O'CLOCK
Very ill--exceedingly ill--as Dorcas tells me, in order to avoid seeing
me--and yet the dear soul may be so in her mind. But is not that
equivocation? Some one passion predominating in every human breast,
breaks through principle, and controuls us all. Mine is love and revenge
taking turns. Her's is hatred.--But this is my consolation, that hatred
appeased is love begun; or love renewed, I may rather say, if love ever
had footing here.
But reflectioning apart, thou seest, Jack, that her plot is beginning to
work. To-morrow is to break out.
I have been abroad, to set on foot a plot of circumvention. All fair
I insisted upon visiting my indisposed fair-one. Dorcas made officious
excuses for her. I cursed the wench in her hearing for her impertinence;
and stamped and made a clutter; which was improved into an apprehension
to the lady that I would have flung her faithful confidante from the top
of the stairs to the bottom.
He is a violent wretch!--But, Dorcas, [dear Dorcas, now it is,] thou
shalt have a friend in me to the last day of my life.
And what now, Jack, dost think the name of her good angel is!--Why Dorcas
Martindale, christian and super (no more Wykes) as in the promissory note
in my former--and the dear creature has bound her to her by the most
solemn obligations, besides the tie of interest.
Whither, Madam, do you design to go when you get out of this house?
I will throw myself into the first open house I can find; and beg
protection till I can get a coach, or a lodging in some honest family.
What will you do for clothes, Madam? I doubt you'll be able to take any
away with you, but what you'll have on.
O, no matter for clothes, if I can but get out of this house.
What will you do for money, Madam? I have heard his honour express his
concern, that he could not prevail upon you to be obliged to him, though
he apprehended that you must be short of money.
O, I have rings and other valuables. Indeed I have but four guineas, and
two of them I found lately wrapt up in a bit of lace, designed for a
charitable use. But now, alas! charity begins at home!--But I have one
dear friend left, if she be living, as I hope in God she is! to whom I
can be obliged, if I want. O Dorcas! I must ere now have heard from her,
if I had had fair play.
Well, Madam, your's is a hard lot. I pity you at my heart!
Thank you, Dorcas!--I am unhappy, that I did not think before, that I might
have confided in thy pity, and in thy sex!
I pitied you, Madam, often and often: but you were always, as I thought,
diffident of me. And then I doubted not but you were married; and I
thought his honour was unkindly used by you. So that I thought it my
duty to wish well to his honour, rather than to what I thought to be your
humours, Madam. Would to Heaven that I had known before that you were
not married!--Such a lady! such a fortune! to be so sadly betrayed;----
Ah, Dorcas! I was basely drawn in! My youth--my ignorance of the world
--and I have some things to reproach myself with when I look back.
Lord, Madam, what deceitful creatures are these men!--Neither oaths, nor
vows--I am sure! I am sure! [and then with her apron she gave her eyes
half a dozen hearty rubs] I may curse the time that I came into this
Here was accounting for her bold eyes! And was it not better for Dorcas
to give up a house which her lady could not think worse of than she did,
in order to gain the reputation of sincerity, than by offering to
vindicate it, to make her proffered services suspected.
Poor Dorcas!--Bless me! how little do we, who have lived all our time in
the country, know of this wicked town!
Had I been able to write, cried the veteran wench, I should certainly
have given some other near relations I have in Wales a little inkling of
matters; and they would have saved me from----from----from----
Her sobs were enough. The apprehensions of women on such subjects are
ever aforehand with speech.
And then, sobbing on, she lifted her apron to her face again. She showed
Poor Dorcas!--Again wiping her own charming eyes.
All love, all compassion, is this dear creature to every one in
affliction but me.
And would not an aunt protect her kinswoman?--Abominable wretch!
I can't--I can't--I can't--say, my aunt was privy to it. She gave me
good advice. She knew not for a great while that I was--that I was--that
No more, no more, good Dorcas--What a world do we live in!--What a house
am I in!--But come, don't weep, (though she herself could not forbear:)
my being betrayed into it, though to my own ruin, may be a happy event
for thee: and, if I live, it shall.
I thank you, my good lady, blubbering. I am sorry, very sorry, you have
had so hard a lot. But it may be the saving of my soul, if I can get to
your ladyship's house. Had I but known that your ladyship was not
married, I would have eat my own flesh, before----before----before----
Dorcas sobbed and wept. The lady sighed and wept also.
But now, Jack, for a serious reflection upon the premises.
How will the good folks account for it, that Satan has such faithful
instruments, and that the bond of wickedness is a stronger bond than the
ties of virtue; as if it were the nature of the human mind to be villanous?
For here, had Dorcas been good, and been tempted as she was tempted to any
thing evil, I make no doubt but she would have yielded to the temptation.
And cannot our fraternity in an hundred instances give proof of the like
predominance of vice over virtue? And that we have risked more to serve
and promote the interests of the former, than ever a good man did to
serve a good man or a good cause? For have we not been prodigal of life
and fortune? have we not defied the civil magistrate upon occasion? and
have we not attempted rescues, and dared all things, only to extricate a
Whence, Jack, can this be?
O! I have it, I believe. The vicious are as bad as they can be; and do
the Devil's work without looking after; while he is continually spreading
snares for the others; and, like a skilful angler, suiting his baits to
the fish he angles for.
Nor let even honest people, so called, blame poor Dorcas for her fidelity
in a bad cause. For does not the general, who implicitly serves an
ambitious prince in his unjust designs upon his neighbours, or upon his
own oppressed subjects; and even the lawyer, who, for the sake of a
paltry fee, undertakes to whiten a black cause, and to defend it against
one he knows to be good, do the very same thing as Dorcas? And are they
not both every whit as culpable? Yet the one shall be dubbed a hero, the
other called an admirable fellow, and be contended for by every client,
and his double-tongued abilities shall carry him through all the high
preferments of the law with reputation and applause.
Well, but what shall be done, since the lady is so much determined on
removing!--Is there no way to oblige her, and yet to make the very act
subservient to my other views? I fancy such a way may be found out.
I will study for it----
Suppose I suffer her to make an escape? Her heart is in it. If she
effect it, the triumph she will have over me upon it will be a
counterbalance for all she has suffered.
I will oblige her if I can.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Tired with a succession of fatiguing days and sleepless nights, and with
contemplating the precarious situation I stand in with my beloved, I fell
into a profound reverie; which brought on sleep; and that produced a
dream; a fortunate dream; which, as I imagine, will afford my working
mind the means to effect the obliging double purpose my heart is now once
more set upon.
What, as I have often contemplated, is the enjoyment of the finest woman
in the world, to the contrivance, the bustle, the surprises, and at last
the happy conclusion of a well-laid plot!--The charming round-abouts, to
come to the nearest way home;--the doubts; the apprehensions; the
heart-achings; the meditated triumphs--these are the joys that make the
blessing dear.--For all the rest, what is it?--What but to find an angel
in imagination dwindled down to a woman in fact?----But to my dream----
Methought it was about nine on Wednesday morning that a chariot, with a
dowager's arms upon the doors, and in it a grave matronly lady [not
unlike mother H. in the face; but, in her heart, Oh! how unlike!] stopped
at a grocer's shop, about ten doors on the other side of the way, in
order to buy some groceries: and methought Dorcas, having been out to see
if the coast were clear for her lady's flight, and if a coach were to be
got near the place, espied the chariot with the dowager's arms, and this
matronly lady: and what, methought, did Dorcas, that subtle traitress,
do, but whip up to the old matronly lady, and lifting up her voice, say,
Good my Lady, permit me one word with your Ladyship!
What thou hast to say to me, say on, quoth the old lady; the grocer
retiring, and standing aloof, to give Dorcas leave to speak; who,
methought, in words like these accosted the lady:
'You seem, Madam, to be a very good lady; and here, in this
neighbourhood, at a house of no high repute, is an innocent lady of rank
and fortune, beautiful as a May morning, and youthful as a rose-bud, and
full as sweet and lovely, who has been tricked thither by a wicked
gentleman, practised in the ways of the town, and this very night will
she be ruined if she get not out of his hands. Now, O Lady! if you will
extend your compassionate goodness to this fair young lady, in whom, the
moment you behold her, you will see cause to believe all I say, and let
her but have a place in your chariot, and remain in your protection for
one day only, till she can send a man and horse to her rich and powerful
friends, you may save from ruin a lady who has no equal for virtue as
well as beauty.'
Methought the old lady, moved with Dorcas's story, answered and said,
'Hasten, O damsel, who in a happy moment art come to put it in my power
to serve the innocent and virtuous, which it has always been my delight
to do: hasten to this young lady, and bid her hie hither to me with all
speed; and tell her, that my chariot shall be her asylum: and if I find
all that thou sayest true, my house shall be her sanctuary, and I will
protect her from all her oppressors.'
Hereupon, methought, this traitress Dorcas hied back to the lady, and
made report of what she had done. And, methought, the lady highly
approved of Dorcas's proceeding and blessed her for her good thought.
And I lifted up mine eyes, and behold the lady issued out of the house,
and without looking back, ran to the chariot with the dowager's coat upon
it; and was received by the matronly lady with open arms, and 'Welcome,
welcome, welcome, fair young lady, who so well answer the description of
the faithful damsel: and I will carry you instantly to my house, where
you shall meet with all the good usage your heart can wish for, till you
can apprize your rich and powerful friends of your past dangers, and
'Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, worthy, thrice worthy lady,
who afford so kindly your protection to a most unhappy young creature,
who has been basely seduced and betrayed, and brought to the very brink
Methought, then, the matronly lady, who had, by the time the young lady
came to her, bought and paid for the goods she wanted, ordered her
coachman to drive home with all speed; who stopped not till he had
arrived in a certain street not far from Lincoln's-inn-fields, where the
matronly lady lived in a sumptuous dwelling, replete with damsels who
wrought curiously in muslins, cambrics, and fine linen, and in every good
work that industrious damsels love to be employed about, except the loom
and the spinning-wheel.
And, methought, all the way the young lady and the old lady rode, and
after they came in, till dinner was ready, the young lady filled up the
time with the dismal account of her wrongs and her sufferings, the like
of which was never heard by mortal ear; and this in so moving a manner,
that the good old lady did nothing but weep, and sigh, and sob, and
inveigh against the arts of wicked men, and against that abominable
'Squire Lovelace, who was a plotting villain, methought she said; and
more than that, an unchained Beelzebub.
Methought I was in a dreadful agony, when I found the lady had escaped,
and in my wrath had like to have slain Dorcas, and our mother, and every
one I met. But, by some quick transition, and strange metamorphosis,
which dreams do not usually account for, methought, all of a sudden, this
matronly lady turned into the famous mother H. herself; and, being an old
acquaintance of mother Sinclair, was prevailed upon to assist in my plot
upon the young lady.
Then, methought, followed a strange scene; for mother H. longing to hear
more of the young lady's story, and night being come, besought her to
accept of a place in her own bed, in order to have all the talk to
themselves. For, methought, two young nieces of her's had broken in upon
them, in the middle of the dismal tale.
Accordingly, going early to bed, and the sad story being resumed, with as
great earnestness on one side as attention on the other, before the young
lady had gone far in it, mother H. methought was taken with a fit of the
colic; and her tortures increasing, was obliged to rise to get a cordial
she used to find specific in this disorder, to which she was unhappily
Having thus risen, and stept to her closet, methought she let fall the
wax taper in her return; and then [O metamorphosis still stranger than
the former! what unaccountable things are dreams!] coming to bed again in
the dark, the young lady, to her infinite astonishment, grief, and
surprise, found mother H. turned into a young person of the other sex;
and although Lovelace was the abhorred of her soul, yet, fearing it was
some other person, it was matter of consolation to her, when she found it
was no other than himself, and that she had been still the bed-fellow of
but one and the same man.
A strange promiscuous huddle of adventures followed, scenes perpetually
shifting; now nothing heard from the lady, but sighs, groans,
exclamations, faintings, dyings--From the gentleman, but vows, promises,
protestations, disclaimers of purposes pursued, and all the gentle and
ungentle pressures of the lover's warfare.
Then, as quick as thought (for dreams, thou knowest confine not
themselves to the rules of the drama) ensued recoveries, lyings-in,
christenings, the smiling boy, amply, even in her own opinion, rewarding
the suffering mother.
Then the grandfather's estate yielded up, possession taken of it: living
very happily upon it: her beloved Norton her companion; Miss Howe her
visiter; and (admirable! thrice admirable!) enabled to compare notes with
her; a charming girl, by the same father, to her friend's charming boy;
who, as they grow up, in order to consolidate their mamma's friendships,
(for neither have dreams regard to consanguinity,) intermarry; change
names by act of parliament, to enjoy my estate--and I know not what of
the like incongruous stuff.
I awoke, as thou mayest believe, in great disorder, and rejoiced to find
my charmer in the next room, and Dorcas honest.
Now thou wilt say this was a very odd dream. And yet, (for I am a
strange dreamer,) it is not altogether improbable that something like it
may happen; as the pretty simpleton has the weakness to confide in
Dorcas, whom till now she disliked.
But I forgot to tell thee one part of my dream; and that was, that, the
next morning, the lady gave way to such transports of grief and
resentment, that she was with difficulty diverted from making an attempt
upon her own life. But, however, at last was prevailed upon to resolve
to live, and make the best of the matter: a letter, methought, from
Captain Tomlinson helping to pacify her, written to apprize me, that her
uncle Harlowe would certainly be at Kentish-town on Wednesday night, June
28, the following day (the 29th) being his birth-day; and be doubly
desirous, on that account, that our nuptials should be then privately
solemnized in his presence.
But is Thursday, the 29th, her uncle's anniversary, methinks thou askest?
--It is; or else the day of celebration should have been earlier still.
Three weeks ago I heard her say it was: and I have down the birthday of
every one in the family, and the wedding-day of her father and mother.
The minutest circumstances are often of great service in matters of the
And what sayest thou now to my dream?
Who says that, sleeping and waking, I have not fine helps from somebody,
some spirit rather, as thou'lt be apt to say? But no wonder that a
Beelzebub has his devilkins to attend his call.
I can have no manner of doubt of succeeding in mother H.'s part of the
scheme; for will the lady (who resolves to throw herself into the first
house she can enter, or to bespeak the protection of the first person she
meets, and who thinks there can be no danger out of this house, equal to
what she apprehends from me in it) scruple to accept of the chariot of a
dowager, accidentally offered? and the lady's protection engaged by her
faithful Dorcas, so highly bribed to promote her escape?--And then Mrs.
H. has the air and appearance of a venerable matron, and is not such a
forbidding devil as Mrs. Sinclair.
The pretty simpleton knows nothing in the world; nor that people who have
money never want assistants in their views, be they what they will. How
else could the princes of the earth be so implicitly served as they are,
change they hands every so often, and be their purposes ever so wicked.
If I can but get her to go on with me till Wednesday next week, we shall
be settled together pretty quietly by that time. And indeed if she has
any gratitude, and has in her the least of her sex's foibles, she must
think I deserve her favour, by the pains she has cost me. For dearly do
they all love that men should take pains about them and for them.
And here, for the present, I will lay down my pen, and congratulate
myself upon my happy invention (since her obstinacy puts me once more
upon exercising it.)--But with this resolution, I think, that, if the
present contrivance fail me, I will exert all the faculties of my mind,
all my talents, to procure for myself a regal right to her favour and
that in defiance of all my antipathies to the married state; and of the
suggestions of the great devil out of the house, and of his secret agents
in it.--Since, if now she is not to be prevailed upon, or drawn in, it
will be in vain to attempt her further.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY NIGHT, JUNE 20.
No admittance yet to my charmer! she is very ill--in a violent fever,
Dorcas thinks. Yet will have no advice.
Dorcas tells her how much I am concerned at it.
But again let me ask, Does this lady do right to make herself ill, when
she is not ill? For my own part, libertine as people think me, when I
had occasion to be sick, I took a dose of ipecacuanha, that I might not
be guilty of a falsehood; and most heartily sick was I; as she, who
then pitied me, full well knew. But here to pretend to be very ill,
only to get an opportunity to run away, in order to avoid forgiving a
man who has offended her, how unchristian!--If good folks allow
themselves in these breaches of a known duty, and in these presumptuous
contrivances to deceive, who, Belford, shall blame us?
I have a strange notion that the matronly lady will be certainly at the
grocer's shop at the hour of nine tomorrow morning: for Dorcas heard me
tell Mrs. Sinclair, that I should go out at eight precisely; and then
she is to try for a coach: and if the dowager's chariot should happen
to be there, how lucky will it be for my charmer! how strangely will my
dream be made out!
I have just received a letter from Captain Tomlinson. Is it not
wonderful? for that was part of my dream.
I shall always have a prodigious regard to dreams henceforward. I know
not but I may write a book upon that subject; for my own experience
will furnish out a great part of it. 'Glanville of Witches,' 'Baxter's
History of Spirits and Apparitions,' and the 'Royal Pedant's Demonology,'
will be nothing at all to Lovelace's Reveries.
The letter is just what I dreamed it to be. I am only concerned that
uncle John's anniversary did not happen three or four days sooner; for
should any new misfortune befal my charmer, she may not be able to
support her spirits so long as till Thursday in the next week. Yet it
will give me the more time for new expedients, should my present
contrivance fail; which I cannot however suppose.
TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
MONDAY, JUNE 19.
I can now return your joy, for the joy you have given me, as well as my
dear friend Mr. Harlowe, in the news of his beloved niece's happy
recovery; for he is determined to comply with her wishes and your's,
and to give her to you with his own hand.
As the ceremony has been necessarily delayed by reason of her illness,
and as Mr. Harlowe's birth-day is on Thursday the 29th of this instant
June, when he enters into the seventy-fourth year of his age; and as
time may be wanted to complete the dear lady's recovery; he is very
desirous that the marriage shall be solemnized upon it; that he may
afterwards have double joy on that day to the end of his life.
For this purpose he intends to set out privately, so as to be at
Kentish-town on Wednesday se'nnight in the evening.
All the family used, he says, to meet to celebrate it with him; but as
they are at present in too unhappy a situation for that, he will give
out, that, not being able to bear the day at home, he has resolved to
be absent for two or three days.
He will set out on horseback, attended only with one trusty servant,
for the greater privacy. He will be at the most creditable-looking
public house there, expecting you both next morning, if he hear nothing
from me to prevent him. And he will go to town with you after the
ceremony is performed, in the coach he supposes you will come in.
He is very desirous that I should be present on the occasion. But this
I have promised him, at his request, that I will be up before the day,
in order to see the settlements executed, and every thing properly
He is very glad you have the license ready.
He speaks very kindly of you, Mr. Lovelace; and says, that, if any of
the family stand out after he has seen the ceremony performed, he will
separate from them, and unite himself to his dear niece and her
I owned to you, when in town last, that I took slight notice to my dear
friend of the misunderstanding between you and his niece; and that I
did this, for fear the lady should have shown any little discontent in
his presence, had I been able to prevail upon him to go up in person,
as then was doubtful. But I hope nothing of that discontent remains
My absence, when your messenger came, must excuse me for not writing by
Be pleased to make my most respectful compliments acceptable to the
admirable lady, and believe me to be
Your most faithful and obedient servant,
This letter I sealed, and broke open. It was brought, thou mayest
suppose, by a particular messenger; the seal such a one as the writer
need be ashamed of. I took care to inquire after the Captain's health,
in my beloved's hearing; and it is now ready to be produced as a
pacifier, according as she shall take on or resent, if the two
metamorphoses happen pursuant to my wonderful dream; as, having great
faith in dreams, I dare say they will.--I think it will not be amiss,
in changing my clothes, to have this letter of the worthy Captain lie
in my beloved's way.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
WEDN. NOON, JUNE 21.
What shall I say now!--I, who but a few hours ago had such faith in
dreams, and had proposed out of hand to begin my treatise of dreams
sleeping and dreams waking, and was pleasing myself with the dialogues
between the old matronal lady and the young lady, and with the
metamorphoses, (absolutely assured that every thing would happen as my
dream chalked it out,) shall never more depend upon those flying follies,
those illusions of a fancy depraved, and run mad.
Thus confoundedly have matters happened.
I went out at eight o'clock in high good humour with myself, in order
to give the sought-for opportunity to the plotting mistress and corrupted
maid; only ordering Will. to keep a good look-out for fear his lady
should mistrust my plot, or mistake a hackney-coach for the
dowager-lady's chariot. But first I sent to know how she did; and
receiving for answer, Very ill: had a very bad night: which latter was but
too probable; since this I know, that people who have plots in their heads
as seldom have as deserve good ones.
I desired a physician might be called in; but was refused.
I took a walk in St. James's Park, congratulating myself all the way on
my rare inventions: then, impatient, I took coach, with one of the
windows quite up, the other almost up, playing at bo-peep in every
chariot I saw pass in my way to Lincoln's-inn-fields: and when arrived
there I sent the coachman to desire any one of Mother H.'s family to
come to me to the coach-side, not doubting but I should have
intelligence of my fair fugitive there; it being then half an hour
A servant came, who gave me to understand that the matronly lady was
just returned by herself in the chariot.
Frighted out of my wits, I alighted, and heard from the mother's own
mouth, that Dorcas had engaged her to protect the lady; but came to
tell her afterwards, that she had changed her mind, and would not quit
Quite astonished, not knowing what might have happened, I ordered the
coachman to lash away to our mother's.
Arriving here in an instant, the first word I asked, was, If the lady
[Mr. Lovelace here gives a very circumstantial relation of all that
passed between the Lady and Dorcas. But as he could only guess at her
motives for refusing to go off, when Dorcas told her that she had
engaged for her the protection of the dowager-lady, it is thought
proper to omit this relation, and to supply it by some memoranda of
the Lady's. But it is first necessary to account for the occasion on
which those memoranda were made.
The reader may remember, that in the letter written to Miss Howe, on
her escape to Hampstead,* she promises to give her the particulars of
her flight at leisure. She had indeed thoughts of continuing her
account of every thing that had passed between her and Mr. Lovelace
since her last narrative letter. But the uncertainty she was in from
that time, with the execrable treatment she met with on her being
deluded back again, followed by a week's delirium, had hitherto
hindered her from prosecuting her intention. But, nevertheless,
having it still in her view to perform her promise as soon as she had
opportunity, she made minutes of every thing as it passed, in order to
help her memory:--'Which,' as she observes in one place, 'she could
less trust to since her late disorders than before.' In these
minutes, or book of memoranda, she observes, 'That having
apprehensions that Dorcas might be a traitress, she would have got
away while she was gone out to see for a coach; and actually slid down
stairs with that intent. But that, seeing Mrs. Sinclair in the entry,
(whom Dorcas had planted there while she went out,) she speeded up
* See Vol. V. Letter XXI.
She then went up to the dining-room, and saw the letter of Captain
Tomlinson: on which she observes in her memorandum-book as follows:]
'How am I puzzled now!--He might leave this letter on purpose: none of
the other papers left with it being of any consequence: What is the
alternative?--To stay, and be the wife of the vilest of men--how my
heart resists that!--To attempt to get off, and fail, ruin inevitable!--
Dorcas may betray me!--I doubt she is still his implement!--At his going
out, he whispered her, as I saw, unobserved--in a very familiar manner
too--Never fear, Sir, with a courtesy.
'In her agreeing to connive at my escape, she provided not for her own
safety, if I got away: yet had reason, in that case, to expect his
vengeance. And wants not forethought.--To have taken her with me, was
to be in the power of her intelligence, if a faithless creature.--Let
me, however, though I part not with my caution, keep my charity!--Can
there be any woman so vile to a woman?--O yes!--Mrs. Sinclair: her
aunt.--The Lord deliver me!--But, alas!--I have put myself out of the
course of his protection by the natural means--and am already ruined!
A father's curse likewise against me! Having made vain all my friends'
cautions and solicitudes, I must not hope for miracles in my favour!
'If I do escape, what may become of me, a poor, helpless, deserted
creature!--Helpless from sex!--from circumstances!--Exposed to every
danger!--Lord protect me!
'His vile man not gone with him!--Lurking hereabouts, no doubt, to
watch my steps!--I will not go away by the chariot, however.----
'That the chariot should come so opportunely! So like his many
opportunities!--That Dorcas should have the sudden thought!--Should
have the courage with the thought, to address a lady in behalf of an
absolute stranger to that lady! That the lady should so readily
consent! Yet the transaction between them to take up so much time,
their distance in degree considered: for, arduous as the case was, and
precious as the time, Dorcas was gone above half an hour! Yet the
chariot was said to be ready at a grocer's not many doors off!
'Indeed some elderly ladies are talkative: and there are, no doubt,
some good people in the world.----
'But that it should chance to be a widow lady, who could do what she
pleased! That Dorcas should know her to be so by the lozenge! Persons
in her station are not usually so knowing, I believe, in heraldry.
'Yet some may! for servants are fond of deriving collateral honours and
distinctions, as I may call them, from the quality, or people of rank,
whom they serve. But this sly servant not gone with him! Then this
letter of Tomlinson!----
'Although I am resolved never to have this wretch, yet, may I not throw
myself into my uncle's protection at Kentish-town, or Highgate, if I
cannot escape before: and so get clear of him? May not the evil I know
be less than what I may fall into, if I can avoid farther villany?
Farther villany he has not yet threatened; freely and justly as I have
treated him!--I will not go, I think. At least, unless I can send this
* She tried to do this; but was prevented by the fellow's pretending to
put his ankle out, by a slip down stairs--A trick, says his contriving
master, in his omitted relation, I had taught him, on a like occasion,
'The fellow a villain! The wench, I doubt, a vile wench. At last
concerned for her own safety. Plays off and on about a coach.
'All my hopes of getting off at present over!--Unhappy creature! to what
farther evils art thou reserved! Oh! how my heart rises at the necessity
I must still be under to see and converse with so very vile a man!'
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Disappointed in her meditated escape; obliged, against her will, to
meet me in the dining-room; and perhaps apprehensive of being upbraided
for her art in feigning herself ill; I expected that the dear perverse
would begin with me with spirit and indignation. But I was in hopes,
from the gentleness of her natural disposition; from the consideration
which I expected from her on her situation; from the contents of the
letter of Captain Tomlinson, which Dorcas told me she had seen; and
from the time she had had to cool and reflect since she last admitted
me to her presence, that she would not have carried it so strongly
through as she did.
As I entered the dining-room, I congratulated her and myself upon her
sudden recovery. And would have taken her hand, with an air of
respectful tenderness; but she was resolved to begin where she left
She turned from me, drawing in her hand, with a repulsing and indignant
aspect--I meet you once more, said she, because I cannot help it. What
have you to say to me? Why am I to be thus detained against my will?
With the utmost solemnity of speech and behaviour, I urged the ceremony.
I saw I had nothing else for it. I had a letter in my pocket I said,
[feeling for it, although I had not taken it from the table where I left
it in the same room,] the contents of which, if attended to, would make
us both happy. I had been loth to show it to her before, because I hoped
to prevail upon her to be mine sooner than the day mentioned in it.
I felt for it in all my pockets, watching her eye mean time, which I saw
glance towards the table where it lay.
I was uneasy that I could not find it--at last, directed again by her sly
eye, I spied it on the table at the farther end of the room.
With joy I fetched it. Be pleased to read that letter, Madam; with an
air of satisfied assurance.
She took it, and cast her eye over it, in such a careless way, as made it
evident, that she had read it before: and then unthankfully tossed it
into the window-seat before her.
I urged her to bless me to-morrow, or Friday morning; at least, that she
would not render vain her uncle's journey, and kind endeavours to bring
about a reconciliation among us all.
Among us all! repeated she, with an air equally disdainful and
incredulous. O Lovelace, thou art surely nearly allied to the grand
deceiver, in thy endeavour to suit temptations to inclinations?--But what
honour, what faith, what veracity, were it possible that I could enter
into parley with thee on this subject, (which it is not,) may I expect
from such a man as thou hast shown thyself to be?
I was touched to the quick. A lady of your perfect character, Madam, who
has feigned herself sick, on purpose to avoid seeing the man who adored
her, should not--
I know what thou wouldst say, interrupted she--Twenty and twenty low
things, that my soul would have been above being guilty of, and which I
have despised myself for, have I been brought into by the infection of
thy company, and by the necessity thou hadst laid me under, of appearing
mean. But, I thank God, destitute as I am, that I am not, however, sunk
so low, as to wish to be thine.
I, Madam, as the injurer, ought to have patience. It is for the injured
to reproach. But your uncle is not in a plot against you, it is to be
hoped. There are circumstances in the letter you cast your eyes over----
Again she interrupted me, Why, once more I ask you, am I detained in this
house?--Do I not see myself surrounded by wretches, who, though they wear
the habit of my sex, may yet, as far as I know, lie in wait for my
She would be very loth, I said, that Mrs. Sinclair and her nieces should
be called up to vindicate themselves and their house.
Would but they kill me, let them come, and welcome, I will bless the hand
that will strike the blow! Indeed I will.
'Tis idle, very idle, to talk of dying. Mere young-lady talk, when
controuled by those they hate. But let me beseech you, dearest creature
Beseech me nothing. Let me not be detained thus against my will!--
Unhappy creature that I am, said she, in a kind of phrensy, wringing her
hands at the same time, and turning from me, her eyes lifted up! 'Thy
curse, O my cruel father, seems to be now in the height of its operation!
--My weakened mind is full of forebodings, that I am in the way of being
a lost creature as to both worlds! Blessed, blessed God, said she,
falling on her knees, save me, O save me, from myself and from this man!'
I sunk down on my knees by her, excessively affecting--O that I could
recall yesterday!--Forgive me, my dearest creature, forgive what is past,
as it cannot now, but by one way, be retrieved. Forgive me only on this
condition--That my future faith and honour--
She interrupted me, rising--If you mean to beg of me never to seek to
avenge myself by law, or by an appeal to my relations, to my cousin
Morden in particular, when he comes to England----
D--n the law, rising also, [she started,] and all those to whom you talk
of appealing!--I defy both the one and the other--All I beg is YOUR
forgiveness; and that you will, on my unfeigned contrition, re-establish
me in your favour----
O no, no, no! lifting up her clasped hands, I never never will, never,
never can forgive you!--and it is a punishment worse than death to me,
that I am obliged to meet you, or to see you.
This is the last time, my dearest life, that you will ever see me in this
posture, on this occasion: and again I kneeled to her. Let me hope, that
you will be mine next Thursday, your uncle's birth-day, if not before.
Would to Heaven I had never been a villain! Your indignation is not,
cannot be greater, than my remorse--and I took hold of her gown for she
was going from me.
Be remorse thy portion!--For thine own sake, be remorse thy portion!--I
never, never will forgive thee!--I never, never will be thine!--Let me
retire!--Why kneelest thou to the wretch whom thou hast so vilely humbled?
Say but, dearest creature, you will consider--say but you will take time
to reflect upon what the honour of both our families requires of you. I
will not rise. I will not permit you to withdraw [still holding her
gown] till you tell me you will consider.--Take this letter. Weigh well
your situation, and mine. Say you will withdraw to consider; and then I
will not presume to withold [sic] you.
Compulsion shall do nothing with me. Though a slave, a prisoner, in
circumstance, I am no slave in my will!--Nothing will I promise thee!--
Withheld, compelled--nothing will I promise thee!
Noble creature! but not implacable, I hope!--Promise me but to return in
Nothing will I promise thee!
Say but that you will see me again this evening!
O that I could say--that it were in my power to say--I never will see
thee more!--Would to Heaven I never were to see thee more!
Passionate beauty!--still holding her--
I speak, though with vehemence, the deliberate wish of my heart.--O that
I could avoid looking down upon thee, mean groveler, and abject as
insulting--Let me withdraw! My soul is in tumults! Let we [sic]
I quitted my hold to clasp my hands together--Withdraw, O sovereign of my
fate!--Withdraw, if you will withdraw! My destiny is in your power!--It
depends upon your breath!--Your scorn but augments my love! Your
resentment is but too well founded!--But, dearest creature, return,
return, return, with a resolution to bless with pardon and peace your
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