Clarissa, Volume 6 (of 9)
Part 4 out of 7
She flew from me. The angel, as soon as she found her wings, flew from
me. I, the reptile kneeler, the despicable slave, no more the proud
victor, arose; and, retiring, tried to comfort myself, that,
circumstanced as she is, destitute of friends and fortune; her uncle
moreover, who is to reconcile all so soon, (as I thank my stars she still
O that she would forgive me!--Would she but generously forgive me, and
receive my vows at the altar, at the instant of her forgiving me, that I
might not have time to relapse into my old prejudices! By my soul,
Belford, this dear girl gives the lie to all our rakish maxims. There
must be something more than a name in virtue!--I now see that there is!--
Once subdued, always subdued--'Tis an egregious falsehood!--But, O Jack,
she never was subdued. What have I obtained but an increase of shame and
confusion!--While her glory has been established by her sufferings!
This one merit is, however, left me, that I have laid all her sex under
obligation to me, by putting this noble creature to trials, which, so
gloriously supported, have done honour to them all.
However--But no more will I add--What a force have evil habits!--I will
take an airing, and try to fly from myself!--Do not thou upbraid me on my
weak fits--on my contradictory purposes--on my irresolution--and all will
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
A man is just now arrived from M. Hall, who tells me, that my Lord is in
a very dangerous way. The gout in his stomach to an extreme degree,
occasioned by drinking a great quantity of lemonade.
A man of 8000L. a year to prefer his appetite to his health!--He deserves
to die!--But we have all of us our inordinate passions to gratify: and
they generally bring their punishment along with them--so
witnesses the nephew, as well as the uncle.
The fellow was sent upon other business; but stretched his orders a
little, to make his court to a successor.
I am glad I was not at M. Hall, at the time my Lord took the grateful
dose: [it was certainly grateful to him at the time:] there are people
in the world, who would have had the wickedness to say, that I had
persuaded him to drink.
The man says, that his Lordship was so bad when he came away, that the
family began to talk of sending for me in post haste. As I know the
old peer has a good deal of cash by him, of which he seldom keeps
account, it behoves me to go down as soon as I can. But what shall I
do with this dear creature the while?--To-morrow over, I shall, perhaps,
be able to answer my own question. I am afraid she will make
For here have I sent to implore her company, and am denied with scorn.
I have been so happy as to receive, this moment, a third letter from
the dear correspondent Miss Howe. A little severe devil!--It would
have broken the heart of my beloved, had it fallen into her hands. I
will enclose a copy of it. Read it here.
TUESDAY, JUNE 20.
MY DEAREST MISS HARLOWE,
Again I venture to you, (almost against inclination;) and that by your
former conveyance, little as I like it.
I know not how it is with you. It may be bad; and then it would be hard
to upbraid you, for a silence you may not be able to help. But if not,
what shall I say severe enough, that you have not answered either of my
last letters? the first* of which [and I think it imported you too much
to be silent upon it] you owned the receipt of. The other which was
delivered into your own hands,** was so pressing for the favour of a line
from you, that I am amazed I could not be obliged; and still more, that I
have not heard from you since.
* See Vol. V. Letter XX.
** See Vol. VI. Letter VII.
The fellow made so strange a story of the condition he saw you in, and
of your speech to him, that I know not what to conclude from it: only,
that he is a simple, blundering, and yet conceited fellow, who, aiming
at description, and the rustic wonderful, gives an air of bumkinly
romance to all he tells. That this is his character, you will believe,
when you are informed that he described you in grief excessive,* yet so
improved in your person and features, and so rosy, that was his word,
in your face, and so flush-coloured, and so plump in your arms, that
one would conclude you were labouring under the operation of some
malignant poison; and so much the rather, as he was introduced to you,
when you were upon a couch, from which you offered not to rise, or sit
* See Vol. VI. Letter VI.
Upon my word, Miss Harlowe, I am greatly distressed upon your account;
for I must be so free as to say, that in your ready return with your
deceiver, you have not at all answered my expectations, nor acted up to
your own character; for Mrs. Townsend tells me, from the women at
Hampstead, how cheerfully you put yourself into his hands again: yet, at
the time, it was impossible you should be married!--
Lord, my dear, what pity it is, that you took much pains to get from
the man!--But you know best!--Sometimes I think it could not be you to
whom the rustic delivered my letter. But it must too: yet, it is strange
I could not have one line by him:--not one:--and you so soon well enough
to go with the wretch back again!
I am not sure that the letter I am now writing will come to your hands:
so shall not say half that I have upon my mind to say. But, if you
think it worth your while to write to me, pray let me know what fine
ladies his relations those were who visited you at Hampstead, and carried
you back again so joyfully to a place that I had so fully warned you.--
But I will say no more: at least till I know more: for I can do nothing
but wonder and stand amazed.
Notwithstanding all the man's baseness, 'tis plain there was more than
a lurking love--Good Heaven!--But I have done!--Yet I know not how to
have done neither!--Yet I must--I will.
Only account to me, my dear, for what I cannot at all account for: and
inform me, whether you are really married, or not.--And then I shall
know whether there must or must not, be a period shorter than that of
one of our lives, to a friendship which has hitherto been the pride and
Dorcas tells me, that she has just now had a searching conversation, as
she calls it, with her lady. She is willing, she tells the wench, still
to place her confidence in her. Dorcas hopes she has re-assured her: but
wishes me not to depend upon it. Yet Captain Tomlinson's letter must
assuredly weigh with her.
I sent it in just now by Dorcas, desiring her to re-peruse it. And it
was not returned me, as I feared it would be. And that's a good sign,
I say I think, and I think; for this charming creature, entangled as I
am in my own inventions, puzzles me ten thousand times more than I her.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
THURSDAY NOON, JUNE 22.
Let me perish if I know what to make either of myself or of this
surprising creature--now calm, now tempestuous.--But I know thou lovest
not anticipation any more than I.
At my repeated requests, she met me at six this morning.
She was ready dressed; for she had not her clothes off every since she
declared, that they never more should be off in this house. And
charmingly she looked, with all the disadvantages of a three-hours
violent stomach-ache--(for Dorcas told me that she had been really ill)--
no rest, and eyes red and swelled with weeping. Strange to me that those
charming fountains have not been so long ago exhausted! But she is a
woman. And I believe anatomists allow, that women have more watry heads
Well, my dearest creature, I hope you have now thoroughly considered of
the contents of Captain Tomlinson's letter. But as we are thus early
met, let me beseech you to make this my happy day.
She looked not favourably upon me. A cloud hung upon her brow at her
entrance: but as she was going to answer me, a still greater solemnity
took possession of her charming features.
Your air, and your countenance, my beloved creature, are not propitious
to me. Let me beg of you, before you speak, to forbear all further
recriminations: for already I have such a sense of my vileness to you,
that I know not how to bear the reproaches of my own mind.
I have been endeavouring, said she, since I am not permitted to avoid
you, to obtain a composure which I never more expected to see you in.
How long I may enjoy it, I cannot tell. But I hope I shall be enabled
to speak to you without that vehemence which I expressed yesterday, and
could not help it.*
* The Lady, in her minutes, says, 'I fear Dorcas is a false one. May I
not be able to prevail upon him to leave me at my liberty? Better to
try than to trust to her. If I cannot prevail, but must meet him and
my uncle, I hope I shall have fortitude enough to renounce him then.
But I would fain avoid qualifying with the wretch, or to give him an
expectation which I intend not to answer. If I am mistress of my own
resolutions, my uncle himself shall not prevail with me to bind my soul
in covenant with so vile a man.'
After a pause (for I was all attention) thus she proceeded:
It is easy for me, Mr. Lovelace, to see that further violences are
intended me, if I comply not with your purposes, whatever they are, I
will suppose them to be what you solemnly profess they are. But I have
told you as solemnly my mind, that I never will, that I never can be
your's; nor, if so, any man's upon earth. All vengeance, nevertheless,
for the wrongs you have done me, I disclaim. I want but to slide into
some obscure corner, to hide myself from you and from every one who
once loved me. The desire lately so near my heart, of a reconciliation
with my friends, is much abated. They shall not receive me now, if they
would. Sunk in mine own eyes, I now think myself unworthy of their
favour. In the anguish of my soul, therefore, I conjure you, Lovelace,
[tears in her eyes,] to leave me to my fate. In doing so, you will give
me a pleasure the highest I now can know.
Where, my dearest life----
No matter where. I will leave to Providence, when I am out of this
house, the direction of my future steps. I am sensible enough of my
destitute condition. I know that I have not now a friend in the world.
Even Miss Howe has given me up--or you are--But I would fain keep my
temper!--By your means I have lost them all--and you have been a
barbarous enemy to me. You know you have.
I could not speak.
The evils I have suffered, proceeded she, [turning from me,] however
irreparable, are but temporarily evils. Leave me to my hopes of being
enabled to obtain the Divine forgiveness for the offence I have been
drawn in to give to my parents and to virtue; that so I may avoid the
evils that are more than temporary. This is now all I have to wish
for. And what is it that I demand, that I have not a right to, and
from which it is an illegal violence to withhold me?
It was impossible for me, I told her plainly, to comply.
I besought her to give me her hand as this very day. I could not live
without her. I communicated to her my Lord's illness, as a reason why
I wished not to stay for her uncle's anniversary. I besought her to
bless me with her consent; and, after the ceremony was passed, to
accompany me down to Berks. And thus, my dearest life, said I, will
you be freed from a house, to which you have conceived so great an
This, thou wilt own, was a princely offer. And I was resolved to be as
good as my word. I thought I had killed my conscience, as I told thee,
Belford, some time ago. But conscience, I find, though it may be
temporarily stifled, cannot die, and, when it dare not speak aloud, will
whisper. And at this instant I thought I felt the revived varletess (on
but a slight retrograde motion) writhing round my pericardium like a
serpent; and in the action of a dying one, (collecting all its force into
its head,) fix its plaguy fangs into my heart.
She hesitated, and looked down, as if irresolute. And this set my
heart up at my mouth. And, believe me, I had instantly popt in upon
me, in imagination, an old spectacled parson, with a white surplice
thrown over a black habit, [a fit emblem of the halcyon office, which,
under a benign appearance, often introduced a life of storms and
tempests,] whining and snuffling through his nose the irrevocable
I hope now, my dearest life, said I, snatching her hand, and pressing
it to my lips, that your silence bodes me good. Let me, my beloved
creature, have but your tacit consent; and this moment I will step out
and engage a minister. And then I promised how much my whole future
life should be devoted to her commands, and that I would make her the
best and tenderest of husbands.
At last, turning to me, I have told you my mind, Mr. Lovelace, said she.
Think you, that I could thus solemnly--There she stopt--I am too much in
your power, proceeded she; your prisoner, rather than a person free to
choose for myself, or to say what I will do or be. But as a testimony
that you mean me well, let me instantly quit this house; and I will then
give you such an answer in writing, as best befits my unhappy
And imaginest thou, fairest, thought I, that this will go down with a
Lovelace? Thou oughtest to have known that free-livers, like ministers
of state, never part with a power put into their hands, without an
equivalent of twice the value.
I pleaded, that if we joined hands this morning, (if not, to-morrow; if
not, on Thursday, her uncle's birth-day, and in his presence); and
afterwards, as I had proposed, set out for Berks; we should, of course,
quit this house; and, on our return to town, should have in readiness
the house I was in treaty for.
She answered me not, but with tears and sighs; fond of believing what I
hoped I imputed her silence to the modesty of her sex. The dear
creature, (thought I,) solemnly as she began with me, is ruminating, in
a sweet suspence, how to put into fit words the gentle purposes of her
condescending heart. But, looking in her averted face with a soothing
gentleness, I plainly perceived, that it was resentment, and not
bashfulness, that was struggling in her bosom.*
* The Lady, in her minutes, owns the difficulty she lay under to keep
her temper in this conference. 'But when I found,' says she, 'that all
my entreaties were ineffectual, and that he was resolved to detain me,
I could no longer withhold my impatience.'
At last she broke silence--I have no patience, said she, to find myself
a slave, a prisoner, in a vile house--Tell me, Sir, in so many words
tell me, whether it be, or be not, your intention to permit me to quit
it?--To permit me the freedom which is my birthright as an English
Will not the consequence of your departure hence be that I shall lose
you for ever, Madam?--And can I bear the thoughts of that?
She flung from me--My soul disdains to hold parley with thee! were her
violent words.--But I threw myself at her feet, and took hold of her
reluctant hand, and began to imprecate, avow, to promise--But thus the
passionate beauty, interrupting me, went on:
I am sick of thee, MAN!--One continued string of vows, oaths, and
protestations, varied only by time and place, fills thy mouth!--Why
detainest thou me? My heart rises against thee, O thou cruel implement
of my brother's causeless vengeance.--All I beg of thee is, that thou
wilt remit me the future part of my father's dreadful curse! the
temporary part, base and ungrateful as thou art! thou hast completed!
I was speechless!--Well I might!--Her brother's implement!--James
Harlowe's implement!--Zounds, Jack! what words were these!
I let go her struggling hand. She took two or three turns cross the
room, her whole haughty soul in her air. Then approaching me, but in
silence, turning from me, and again to me, in a milder voice--I see thy
confusion, Lovelace. Or is it thy remorse?--I have but one request to
make thee--the request so often repeated--That thou wilt this moment
permit me to quit this house. Adieu, then, let me say, for ever adieu!
And mayest thou enjoy that happiness in this world, which thou hast
robbed me of; as thou hast of every friend I have in it!
And saying this, away she flung, leaving me in a confusion so great, that
I knew not what to think, say, or do!
But Dorcas soon roused me--Do you know, Sir, running in hastily, that my
lady is gone down stairs!
No, sure!--And down I flew, and found her once more at the street-door,
contending with Polly Horton to get out.
She rushed by me into the fore parlour, and flew to the window, and
attempted once more to throw up the sash--Good people! good people! cried
I caught her in my arms, and lifted her from the window. But being
afraid of hurting the charming creature, (charming in her very rage,)
she slid through my arms on the floor.--Let me die here! let me die here!
were her words; remaining jointless and immovable, till Sally and Mrs.
Sinclair hurried in.
She was visibly terrified at the sight of the old wretch; while I
(sincerely affected) appealed, Bear witness, Mrs. Sinclair!--bear
witness, Miss Martin!--Miss Horton!--Every one bear witness, that I
offer not violence to this beloved creature!
She then found her feet--O house [look towards the windows, and all round
her, O house,] contrived on purpose for my ruin! said she--but let not
that woman come into my presence--not that Miss Horton neither, who would
not have dared to controul me, had she not been a base one!--
Hoh, Sir! Hoh, Madam! vociferated the old dragon, her armed kemboed, and
flourishing with one foot to the extent of her petticoats--What's ado
here about nothing! I never knew such work in my life, between a chicken
of a gentleman and a tiger of a lady!--
She was visibly affrighted: and up stairs she hastened. A bad woman is
certainly, Jack, more terrible to her own sex than even a bad man.
I followed her up. She rushed by her own apartment into the dining-room:
no terror can make her forget her punctilio.
To recite what passed there of invective, exclamations, threatenings,
even of her own life, on one side; of expostulations, supplications, and
sometimes menaces, on the other; would be too affecting; and, after my
particularity in like scenes, these things may as well be imagined as
I will therefore only mention, that, at length, I extorted a concession
from her. She had reason* to think it would have been worse for her on
the spot, if she had not made it. It was, That she would endeavour to
make herself easy till she saw what next Thursday, her uncle's birth-day,
would produce. But Oh! that it were not a sin, she passionately
exclaimed on making this poor concession, to put and end to her own life,
rather than yield to give me but that assurance!
* The Lady mentions, in her memorandum-book, that she had no other way,
as is apprehended, to save herself from instant dishonour, but by making
this concession. Her only hope, now, she says, if she cannot escape by
Dorcas's connivance, (whom, nevertheless she suspects,) is to find a way
to engage the protection of her uncle, and even of the civil magistrate,
on Thursday next, if necessary. 'He shall see,' says she, 'tame and
timid as he thought me, what I dare to do, to avoid so hated a
compulsion, and a man capable of a baseness so premeditatedly vile and
This, however, shows me, that she is aware that the reluctantly-given
assurance may be fairly construed into a matrimonial expectation on my
side. And if she will now, even now, look forward, I think, from my
heart, that I will put on her livery, and wear it for life.
What a situation am I in, with all my cursed inventions! I am puzzled,
confounded, and ashamed of myself, upon the whole. To take such pains to
be a villain!--But (for the fiftieth time) let me ask thee, Who would
have thought that there had been such a woman in the world?--
Nevertheless, she had best take care that she carries not her obstinacy
much farther. She knows not what revenge for slighted love will make me
The busy scenes I have just passed through have given emotions to my
heart, which will not be quieted one while. My heart, I see,
(on re-perusing what I have written,) has communicated its tremors to my
fingers; and in some places the characters are so indistinct and
unformed, that thou'lt hardly be able to make them out. But if one half
of them is only intelligible, that will be enough to expose me to thy
contempt, for the wretched hand I have made of my plots and contrivances.
--But surely, Jack, I have gained some ground by this promise.
And now, one word to the assurances thou sendest me, that thou hast not
betrayed my secrets in relation to this charming creature. Thou mightest
have spared them, Belford. My suspicions held no longer than while I
wrote about them.* For well I knew, when I allowed myself time to think,
that thou hadst no principles, no virtue, to be misled by. A great deal
of strong envy, and a little of weak pity, I knew to be thy motives.
Thou couldst not provoke my anger, and my compassion thou ever hadst; and
art now more especially entitled to it; because thou art a pityful
All thy new expostulations in my beloved's behalf I will answer when I
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Confoundedly out of humour with this perverse woman!--Nor wilt thou blame
me, if thou art my friend. She regards the concession she made, as a
concession extorted from her: and we are but just where we were before
she made it.
With great difficulty I prevailed upon her to favour me with her company
for one half hour this evening. The necessity I was under to go down to
M. Hall was the subject I wanted to talk upon.
I told her, that as she had been so good as to promise that she would
endeavour to make herself easy till she saw the Thursday in next week
over, I hoped that she would not scruple to oblige me with her word, that
I should find her here at my return from M. Hall.
Indeed she would make no such promise. Nothing of this house was
mentioned to me, said she: you know it was not. And do you think that I
would have given my consent to my imprisonment in it?
I was plaguily nettled, and disappointed too. If I go not down to Mr.
Hall, Madam, you'll have no scruple to stay here, I suppose, till
Thursday is over?
If I cannot help myself I must--but I insist upon being permitted to go
out of this house, whether you leave it or not.
Well, Madam, then I will comply with your commands. And I will go out
this very evening in quest of lodgings that you shall have no objections
I will have no lodgings of your providing, Sir--I will go to Mrs.
Moore's, at Hampstead.
Mrs. Moore's, Madam!--I have no objection to Mrs. Moore's--but will you
give me your promise, to admit me there to your presence?
As I do here--when I cannot help it.
Very well, Madam--Will you be so good as to let me know what you intend
by your promise to make yourself easy.
To endeavour, Sir, to make myself easy--were the words----
Till you saw what next Thursday would produce?
Ask me no questions that may ensnare me. I am too sincere for the
company I am in.
Let me ask you, Madam, What meant you, when you said, 'that, were it
not a sin, you would die before you gave me that assurance?'
She was indignantly silent.
You thought, Madam, you had given me room to hope your pardon by it?
When I think I ought to answer you with patience I will speak.
Do you think yourself in my power, Madam?
If I were not--And there she stopt----
Dearest creature, speak out--I beseech you, dearest creature, speak out
She was silent; her charming face all in a glow.
Have you, Madam, any reliance upon my honour?
You hate me, Madam! You despise me more than you do the most odious of
You ought to despise me, if I did not.
You say, Madam, you are in a bad house. You have no reliance upon my
honour--you believe you cannot avoid me----
She arose. I beseech you, let me withdraw.
I snatched her hand, rising, and pressed it first to my lips, and then to
my heart, in wild disorder. She might have felt the bounding mischief
ready to burst its bars--You shall go--to your own apartment, if you
please--But, by the great God of Heaven, I will accompany you thither!
She trembled--Pray, pray, Mr. Lovelace, don't terrify me so!
Be seated, Madam! I beseech you, be seated!----
I will sit down----
Do then--All my soul is in my eyes, and my heart's blood throbbing at my
I will--I will--You hurt me--Pray, Mr. Lovelace, don't--don't frighten me
so--And down she sat, trembling; my hand still grasping her's.
I hung over her throbbing bosom, and putting my other arm round her waist
--And you say, you hate me, Madam--and you say, you despise me--and you
say, you promise me nothing----
Yes, yes, I did promise you--let me not be held down thus--you see I sat
down when you bid me--Why [struggling] need you hold me down thus?--I did
promise to endeavour to be easy till Thursday was over! But you won't
let me!--How can I be easy?--Pray, let me not be thus terrified.
And what, Madam, meant you by your promise? Did you mean any thing in my
favour?--You designed that I should, at that time, think you did. Did
you mean any thing in my favour, Madam?--Did you intend that I should
think you did?
Let go my hand, Sir--Take away your arm from about me, [struggling, yet
trembling,]--Why do you gaze upon me so?
Answer me, Madam--Did you mean any thing in my favour by your promise?
Let me be not thus constrained to answer.
Then pausing, and gaining more spirit, Let me go, said she: I am but a
woman--but a weak woman.
But my life is in my own power, though my person is not--I will not be
You shall not, Madam, quitting her hand, bowing; but my heart is at my
mouth, and hoping farther provocation.
She arose, and was hurrying away.
I pursue you not, Madam--I will try your generosity. Stop--return--this
moment stop, return, if, Madam, you would not make me desperate.
She stopt at the door; burst into tears--O Lovelace!--How, how, have I
Be pleased, dearest angel, to return.
She came back--but with declared reluctance; and imputing her compliance
Terror, Jack, as I have heretofore found out, though I have so little
benefited by the discovery, must be my resort, if she make it necessary--
nothing else will do with the inflexible charmer.
She seated herself over-against me; extremely discomposed--but
indignation had a visible predominance in her features.
I was going towards her, with a countenance intendedly changed to love
and softness: Sweetest, dearest angel, were my words, in the tenderest
accent:--But, rising up, she insisted upon my being seated at a distance
I obeyed, and begged her hand over the table, to my extended hand;
to see, if in any thing she would oblige me. But nothing gentle, soft,
or affectionate, would do. She refused me her hand!--Was she wise, Jack,
to confirm to me, that nothing but terror would do?
Let me only know, Madam, if your promise to endeavour to wait with
patience the event of next Thursday meant me favour?
Do you expect any voluntary favour from one to whom you give not a free
Do you intend, Madam, to honour me with your hand, in your uncle's
presence, or do you not?
My heart and my hand shall never be separated. Why, think you, did I
stand in opposition to the will of my best, my natural friends.
I know what you mean, Madam--Am I then as hateful to you as the vile
Ask me not such a question, Mr. Lovelace.
I must be answered. Am I as hateful to you as the vile Solmes?
Why do you call Mr. Solmes vile?
Don't you think him so, Madam?
Why should I? Did Mr. Solmes ever do vilely by me?
Dearest creature! don't distract me by hateful comparisons! and perhaps
by a more hateful preference.
Don't you, Sir, put questions to me that you know I will answer truly,
though my answer were ever so much to enrage you.
My heart, Madam, my soul is all your's at present. But you must give me
hope, that your promise, in your own construction, binds you, no new
cause to the contrary, to be mine on Thursday. How else can I leave you?
Let me go to Hampstead; and trust to my favour.
May I trust to it?--Say only may I trust to it?
How will you trust to it, if you extort an answer to this question?
Say only, dearest creature, say only, may I trust to your favour, if you
go to Hampstead?
How dare you, Sir, if I must speak out, expect a promise of favour from
me?--What a mean creature must you think me, after the ungrateful
baseness to me, were I to give you such a promise?
Then standing up, Thou hast made me, O vilest of men! [her hands clasped,
and a face crimsoned with indignation,] an inmate of the vilest of houses
--nevertheless, while I am in it, I shall have a heart incapable of any
thing but abhorrence of that and of thee!
And round her looked the angel, and upon me, with fear in her sweet
aspect of the consequence of her free declaration--But what a devil must
I have been, I who love bravery in a man, had I not been more struck with
admiration of her fortitude at the instant, than stimulated by revenge?
Noblest of creatures!--And do you think I can leave you, and my interest
in such an excellence, precarious? No promise!--no hope!--If you make me
not desperate, may lightning blast me, if I do you not all the justice
'tis in my power to do you!
If you have any intention to oblige me, leave me at my own liberty, and
let me not be detained in this abominable house. To be constrained as I
have been constrained! to be stopt by your vile agents! to be brought up
by force, and be bruised in my own defence against such illegal violence!
--I dare to die, Lovelace--and she who fears not death, is not to be
intimidated into a meanness unworthy of her heart and principles!
Wonderful creature! But why, Madam, did you lead me to hope for
something favourable for next Thursday?--Once more, make me not desperate
--With all your magnanimity, glorious creature! [I was more than half
frantic, Belford,] you may, you may--but do not, do not make me brutally
threaten you--do not, do not make me desperate!
My aspect, I believe, threatened still more than my words. I was rising
--She rose--Mr. Lovelace, be pacified--you are even more dreadful than
the Lovelace I have long dreaded--let me retire--I ask your leave to
retire--you really frighten me--yet I give you no hope--from my heart I
Say not, Madam, you abhor me. You must, for your own sake, conceal your
hatred--at least not avow it. I seized her hand.
Let me retire--let me, retire, said she, in a manner out of breath.
I will only say, Madam, that I refer myself to your generosity. My heart
is not to be trusted at this instant. As a mark of my submission to your
will, you shall, if you please, withdraw--but I will not go to M. Hall--
live or die my Lord M. I will not go to M. Hall--but will attend the
effect of your promise. Remember, Madam, you have promised to endeavour
to make yourself easy till you see the event of next Thursday--next
Thursday, remember, your uncle comes up, to see us married--that's the
event.--You think ill of your Lovelace--do not, Madam, suffer your own
morals to be degraded by the infection, as you called it, of his example.
Away flew the charmer with this half permission--and no doubt thought that
she had an escape--nor without reason.
I knew not for half an hour what to do with myself. Vexed at the heart,
nevertheless, (now she was from me, and when I reflected upon her hatred
of me, and her defiances,) that I suffered myself to be so overawed,
And now I have written thus far, (have of course recollected the whole of
our conversation,) I am more and more incensed against myself.
But I will go down to these women--and perhaps suffer myself to be
laughed at by them.
Devil fetch them, they pretend to know their own sex. Sally was a woman
well educated--Polly also--both have read--both have sense--of parentage
not mean--once modest both--still, they say, had been modest, but for me
--not entirely indelicate now; though too little nice for my personal
intimacy, loth as they both are to have me think so--the old one, too, a
woman of family, though thus (from bad inclination as well as at first
from low circumstances) miserably sunk:--and hence they all pretend to
remember what once they were; and vouch for the inclinations and
hypocrisy of the whole sex, and wish for nothing so ardently, as that I
will leave the perverse lady to their management while I am gone to
Berkshire; undertaking absolutely for her humility and passiveness on my
return; and continually boasting of the many perverse creatures whom they
have obliged to draw in their traces.
I am just come from the sorceresses.
I was forced to take the mother down; for she began with her Hoh, Sir!
with me; and to catechize and upbraid me, with as much insolence as if I
owed her money.
I made her fly the pit at last. Strange wishes wished we against each
other at her quitting it----What were they?--I'll tell thee----She wished
me married, and to be jealous of my wife; and my heir-apparent the child
of another man. I was even with her with a vengeance. And yet thou wilt
think that could not well be.--As how?--As how, Jack!--Why, I wished for
her conscience come to life! And I know, by the gripes mine gives me
every half-hour, that she would then have a cursed time of it.
Sally and Polly gave themselves high airs too. Their first favours were
thrown at me, [women to boast of those favours which they were as willing
to impart, first forms all the difficulty with them! as I to receive!] I
was upbraided with ingratitude, dastardice and all my difficulties with
my angel charged upon myself, for want of following my blows; and for
leaving the proud lady mistress of her own will, and nothing to reproach
herself with. And all agreed, that the arts used against her on a
certain occasion, had too high an operation for them or me to judge what
her will would have been in the arduous trial. And then they blamed one
another; as I cursed them all.
They concluded, that I should certainly marry, and be a lost man. And
Sally, on this occasion, with an affected and malicious laugh, snapt her
fingers at me, and pointing two of each hand forkedly at me, bid me
remember the lines I once showed her of my favourite Jack Dryden, as she
always familiarly calls that celebrated poet:
We women to new joys unseen may move:
There are no prints left in the paths of love.
All goods besides by public marks are known:
But those men most desire to keep, have none.
This infernal implement had the confidence further to hint, that when a
wife, some other man would not find half the difficulty with my angel
that I had found. Confidence indeed! But yet, I must say, if a man
gives himself up to the company of these devils, they never let him rest
till he either suspects or hate his wife.
But a word or two of other matters, if possible.
Methinks I long to know how causes go at M. Hall. I have another private
intimation, that the old peer is in the greatest danger.
I must go down. Yet what to do with this lady the mean while! These
cursed women are full of cruelty and enterprise. She will never be easy
with them in my absence. They will have provocation and pretence
therefore. But woe be to them, if----
Yet what will vengeance do, after an insult committed? The two nymphs
will have jealous rage to goad them on. And what will withhold a jealous
and already-ruined woman?
To let her go elsewhere; that cannot be done. I am still too resolved to
be honest, if she'll give me hope: if yet she'll let me be honest. But
I'll see how she'll be after the contention she will certainly have
between her resentment and the terror she has reason for from our last
conversation. So let this subject rest till the morning. And to the old
peer once more.
I shall have a good deal of trouble, I reckon, though no sordid man, to
be decent on the expected occasion. Then how to act (I who am no
hypocrite) in the days of condolement! What farces have I to go through;
and to be the principal actor in them! I'll try to think of my own
latter end; a gray beard, and a graceless heir; in order to make me
Thou, Belford, knowest a good deal of this sort of grimace; and canst
help a gay heart to a little of the dismal. But then every feature of
thy face is cut out for it. My heart may be touched, perhaps, sooner
than thine; for, believe me or not, I have a very tender one. But then,
no man looking into my face, be the occasion for grief ever so great,
will believe that heart to be deeply distressed.
All is placid, easy, serene, in my countenance. Sorrow cannot sit half
an hour together upon it. Nay, I believe, that Lord M.'s recovery,
should it happen, would not affect me above a quarter of an hour. Only
the new scenery, (and the pleasure of aping an Heraclitus to the family,
while I am a Democritus among my private friends,) or I want nothing that
the old peer can leave me. Wherefore then should grief sadden and
distort such blythe, such jocund, features as mine?
But as for thine, were there murder committed in the street, and thou
wert but passing by, the murderer even in sight, the pursuers would
quit him, and lay hold of thee: and thy very looks would hang, as well
as apprehend thee.
But one word to business, Jack. Whom dealest thou with for thy blacks?--
Wert thou well used?--I shall want a plaguy parcel of them. For I intend
to make every soul of the family mourn--outside, if not in.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
JUNE 23, FRIDAY MORNING.
I went out early this morning, on a design that I know not yet whether
I shall or shall not pursue; and on my return found Simon Parsons, my
Lord's Berkshire bailiff, (just before arrived,) waiting for me with a
message in form, sent by all the family, to press me to go down, and
that at my Lord's particular desire, who wants to see me before he
Simon has brought my Lord's chariot-and-six [perhaps my own by this
time,] to carry me down. I have ordered it to be in readiness by four
to-morrow morning. The cattle shall smoke for the delay; and by the
rest they'll have in the interim, will be better able to bear it.
I am still resolved upon matrimony, if my fair perverse will accept of
me. But, if she will not----why then I must give an uninterrupted
hearing, not to my conscience, but to these women below.
Dorcas had acquainted her lady with Simon's arrival and errand. My
beloved had desired to see him. But my coming in prevented his
attendance on her, just as Dorcas was instructing him what questions he
should not answer to, that might be asked of him.
I am to be admitted to her presence immediately, at my repeated
request. Surely the acquisition in view will help me to make up all
with her. She is just gone up to the dining-room.
Nothing will do, Jack!--I can procure no favour from her, though she
has obtained from me the point which she had set her heart upon.
I will give thee a brief account of what passed between us.
I first proposed instant marriage; and this in the most fervent manner:
but was denied as fervently.
Would she be pleased to assure me that she would stay here only till
Tuesday morning? I would but just go down to see how my Lord was--to
know whether he had any thing particular to say, or enjoin me, while yet
he was sensible, as he was very earnest to see me: perhaps I might be up
on Sunday.--Concede in something!--I beseech you, Madam, show me some
Why, Mr. Lovelace, must I be determined by your motions?--Think you that
I will voluntarily give a sanction to the imprisonment of my person? Of
what importance to me ought to be your stay or your return.
Give a sanction to the imprisonment of your person! Do you think, Madam,
that I fear the law?
I might have spared this foolish question of defiance: but my pride would
not let me. I thought she threatened me, Jack.
I don't think you fear the law, Sir.--You are too brave to have any
regard either to moral or divine sanctions.
'Tis well, Madam! But ask me any thing I can do to oblige you; and I
will oblige you, though in nothing will you oblige me.
Then I ask you, then I request of you, to let me go to Hampstead.
I paused--And at last--By my soul you shall--this very moment I will
wait upon you, and see you fixed there, if you'll promise me your hand
on Thursday, in presence of your uncle.
I want not you to see me fixed. I will promise nothing.
Take care, Madam, that you don't let me see that I can have no reliance
upon your future favour.
I have been used to be threatened by you, Sir--but I will accept of your
company to Hampstead--I will be ready to go in a quarter of an hour--my
clothes may be sent after me.
You know the condition, Madam--Next Thursday.
You dare not trust----
My infinite demerits tell me, that I ought not--nevertheless I will
confide in your generosity.--To-morrow morning (no new cause arising to
give reason to the contrary) as early as you please you may go to
This seemed to oblige her. But yet she looked with a face of doubt.
I will go down to the women, Belford. And having no better judges at
hand, will hear what they say upon my critical situation with this
proud beauty, who has so insolently rejected a Lovelace kneeling at her
feet, though making an earnest tender of himself for a husband, in spite
of all his prejudices to the state of shackles.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Just come from the women.
'Have I gone so far, and am I afraid to go farther?--Have I not already,
as it is evident by her behaviour, sinned beyond forgiveness?--A woman's
tears used to be to me but as water sprinkled on a glowing fire, which
gives it a fiercer and brighter blaze: What defence has this lady but her
tears and her eloquence? She was before taken at no weak advantage. She
was insensible in her moments of trial. Had she been sensible, she must
have been sensible. So they say. The methods taken with her have
augmented her glory and her pride. She has now a tale to tell, that she
may tell with honour to herself. No accomplice-inclination. She can
look me into confusion, without being conscious of so much as a thought
which she need to be ashamed of.'
This, Jack, is the substance of the women's reasonings with me.
To which let me add, that the dear creature now sees the necessity I am
in to leave her. Detecting me is in her head. My contrivances are of
such a nature, that I must appear to be the most odious of men if I am
detected on this side matrimony. And yet I have promised, as thou seest,
that she shall set out to Hampstead as soon as she pleases in the
morning, and that without condition on her side.
Dost thou ask, What I meant by this promise?
No new cause arising, was the proviso on my side, thou'lt remember.
But there will be a new cause.
Suppose Dorcas should drop the promissory note given her by her lady?
Servants, especially those who cannot read or write, are the most
careless people in the world of written papers. Suppose I take it up?--
at a time, too, that I was determined that the dear creature should be
her own mistress?--Will not this detection be a new cause?--A cause that
will carry with it against her the appearance of ingratitude!
That she designed it a secret to me, argues a fear of detection, and
indirectly a sense of guilt. I wanted a pretence. Can I have a better?
--If I am in a violent passion upon the detection, is not passion an
universally-allowed extenuator of violence? Is not every man and woman
obliged to excuse that fault in another, which at times they find
attended with such ungovernable effects in themselves?
The mother and sisterhood, suppose, brought to sit in judgment upon the
vile corrupted--the least benefit that must accrue from the accidental
discovery, if not a pretence for perpetration, [which, however, may be
the case,] an excuse for renewing my orders for her detention till my
return from M. Hall, [the fault her own,] and for keeping a stricter
watch over her than before; with direction to send me any letters that
may be written by her or to her.--And when I return, the devil's in it
if I find not a way to make her choose lodgings for herself, (since
these are so hateful to her,) that shall answer all my purposes; and
yet I no more appear to direct her choice, than I did before in these.
Thou wilt curse me when thou comest to this place. I know thou wilt.
But thinkest thou that, after such a series of contrivance, I will lose
this inimitable woman for want of a little more? A rake's a rake, Jack!
--And what rake is withheld by principle from the perpetration of any
evil his heart is set upon, and in which he thinks he can succeed?--
Besides, am I not in earnest as to marriage?--Will not the generality of
the world acquit me, if I do marry? And what is that injury which a
church-rite will not at any time repair? Is not the catastrophe of every
story that ends in wedlock accounted happy, be the difficulties in the
progress of it ever so great.
But here, how am I engrossed by this lady, while poor Lord M. as Simon
tells me, lies groaning in the most dreadful agonies!--What must he
suffer!--Heaven relieve him!--I have a too compassionate heart. And so
would the dear creature have found, could I have thought that the worst
of her sufferings is equal to the lightest of his. I mean as to fact;
for as to that part of her's, which arises from extreme sensibility, I
know nothing of that; and cannot therefore be answerable for it.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Just come from my charmer. She will not suffer me to say half the
obliging, the tender things, which my honest heart is ready to overflow
with. A confounded situation that, when a man finds himself in humour
to be eloquent, and pathetic at the same time, yet cannot engage the
mistress of his fate to lend an ear to his fine speeches.
I can account now how it comes about that lovers, when their mistresses
are cruel, run into solitude, and disburthen their minds to stocks and
stones: For am I not forced to make my complaints to thee?
She claimed the performance of my promise, the moment she saw me, of
permitting her [haughtily she spoke the word] to go to Hampstead as soon
as I was gone to Berks.
Most cheerfully I renewed it.
She desired me to give orders in her hearing.
I sent for Dorcas and Will. They came.--Do you both take notice, (but,
perhaps, Sir, I may take you with me,) that your lady is to be obeyed in
all her commands. She purposes to return to Hampstead as soon as I am
gone--My dear, will you not have a servant to attend you?
I shall want no servant there.
Will you take Dorcas?
If I should want Dorcas, I can send for her.
Dorcas could not but say, She should be very proud--
Well, well, that may be at my return, if your lady permit.--Shall I, my
dear, call up Mrs. Sinclair, and give her orders, to the same effect, in
I desire not to see Mrs. Sinclair; nor any that belong to her.
As you please, Madam.
And then (the servants being withdrawn) I urged her again for the
assurance, that she would meet me at the altar on Thursday next. But to
no purpose.--May she not thank herself for all that may follow?
One favour, however, I would not be denied, to be admitted to pass the
evening with her.
All sweetness and obsequiousness will I be on this occasion. My whole
soul shall be poured out to move her to forgive me. If she will not, and
if the promissory note should fall in my way, my revenge will doubtless
take total possession of me.
All the house in my interest, and every one in it not only engaging to
intimidate and assist, as occasion shall offer, but staking all their
experience upon my success, if it be not my own fault, what must be the
This, Jack, however, shall be her last trial; and if she behave as nobly
in and after this second attempt (all her senses about her) as she has
done after the first, she will come out an angel upon full proof, in
spite of man, woman, and devil: then shall there be an end of all her
sufferings. I will then renounce that vanquished devil, and reform. And
if any vile machination start up, presuming to mislead me, I will sooner
stab it in my heart, as it rises, than give way to it.
A few hours will now decide all. But whatever be the event, I shall be
too busy to write again, till I get to M. Hall.
Mean time, I am in strange agitations. I must suppress them, if
possible, before I venture into her presence.--My heart bounces my bosom
from the table. I will lay down my pen, and wholly resign to its
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
FRIDAY NIGHT, OR RATHER SAT. MORN. ONE O'CLOCK.
I thought I should not have had either time or inclination to write
another line before I got to M. Hall. But, having the first, must find
the last; since I can neither sleep, nor do any thing but write, if I can
do that. I am most confoundedly out of humour. The reason let it
follow; if it will follow--nor preparation for it from me.
I tried by gentleness and love to soften--What?--Marble. A heart
incapable either of love or gentleness. Her past injuries for ever in
her head. Ready to receive a favour; the permission to go to
Hampstead: but neither to deserve it, nor return any. So my scheme of
the gentle kind was soon given over.
I then wanted to provoke her: like a coward boy, who waits for the first
blow before he can persuade himself to fight, I half challenged her to
challenge or defy me. She seemed aware of her danger; and would not
directly brave my resentment: but kept such a middle course, that I
neither could find a pretence to offend, nor reason to hope: yet she
believed my tale, that her uncle would come to Kentish-town, and seemed
not to apprehend that Tomlinson was an impostor.
She was very uneasy, upon the whole, in my company: wanted often to
break from me: yet so held me to my purpose of permitting her to go to
Hampstead, that I knew not how to get off it; although it was impossible,
in my precarious situation with her, to think of performing
In this situation; the women ready to assist; and, if I proceeded not,
as ready to ridicule me; what had I left me, but to pursue the concerted
scheme, and to seek a pretence to quarrel with her, in order to revoke my
promised permission, and to convince her that I would not be upbraided as
the most brutal of ravishers for nothing?
I had agreed with the women, that if I could not find a pretence in her
presence to begin my operations, the note should lie in my way, and I was
to pick it up, soon after her retiring from me. But I began to doubt at
near ten o'clock, (so earnest was she to leave me, suspecting my
over-warm behaviour to her, and eager grasping of her hand two or three
times, with eye-strings, as I felt, on the strain, while her eyes showed
uneasiness and apprehension,) that if she actually retired for the night,
it might be a chance whether it would be easy to come at her again. Loth,
therefore, to run such a risk, I stept out a little after ten, with intent
to alter the preconcerted disposition a little; saying I would attend her
again instantly. But as I returned I met her at the door, intending to
withdraw for the night. I could not persuade her to go back: nor had I
presence of mind (so full of complaisance as I was to her just before) to
stay her by force: so she slid through my hands into her own apartment. I
had nothing to do, therefore, but to let my former concert take place.
I should have promised (but care not for order of time, connection, or
any thing else) that, between eight and nine in the evening, another
servant of Lord M. on horseback came, to desire me to carry down with me
Dr. S., the old peer having been once (in extremis, as they judge he is
now) relieved and reprieved by him. I sent and engaged the doctor to
accompany me down: and am to call upon him by four this morning: or the
devil should have both my Lord and the Doctor, if I'd stir till I got all
Poke thy damn'd nose forward into the event, if thou wilt--Curse me if
thou shalt have it till its proper time and place. And too soon then.
She had hardly got into her chamber, but I found a little paper, as I was
going into mine, which I took up; and opening it, (for it was carefully
pinned in another paper,) what should it be but a promissory note, given
as a bribe, with a further promise of a diamond ring, to induce Dorcas to
favour her mistress's escape?
How my temper changed in a moment!--Ring, ring, ring, ring, I my bell,
with a violence enough to break the string, and as if the house were on
Every devil frighted into active life: the whole house in an uproar. Up
runs Will.--Sir--Sir--Sir!--Eyes goggling, mouth distended--Bid the
damn'd toad Dorcas come hither, (as I stood at the stair-head,) in a
horrible rage, and out of breath, cried I.
In sight came the trembling devil--but standing aloof, from the report
made her by Will. of the passion I was in, as well as from what she had
Flash came out my sword immediately; for I had it ready on--Cursed,
confounded, villanous bribery and corruption----
Up runs she to her lady's door, screaming out for safety and protection.
Good your honour, interposed Will., for God's sake!--O Lord, O Lord!--
receiving a good cuff.--
Take that, varlet, for saving the ungrateful wretch from my vengeance.
Wretch! I intended to say; but if it were some other word of like
ending, passion must be my excuse.
Up ran two or three of the sisterhood, What's the matter! What's the
The matter! (for still my beloved opened not the door; on the contrary,
drew another bolt,) This abominable Dorcas!--(call her aunt up!--let her
see what a traitress she has placed about me!--and let her bring the toad
to answer for herself)--has taken a bribe, a provision for life, to
betray her trust; by that means to perpetuate a quarrel between a man and
his wife, and frustrate for ever all hopes of reconciliation between us!
Let me perish, Belford, if I have patience to proceed with the farce!
If I must resume, I must----
Up came the aunt, puffing and blowing--As she hoped for mercy, she was
not privy to it! She never knew such a plotting, perverse lady in her
life!--Well might servants be at the pass they were, when such ladies as
Mrs. Lovelace made no conscience of corrupting them. For her part she
desired no mercy for the wretch; no niece of her's, if she were not
faithful to her trust!--But what was the proof?----
She was shown the paper----
But too evident!--Cursed, cursed toad, devil, jade, passed from each
mouth:--and the vileness of the corrupted, and the unworthiness of the
corruptress, were inveighed against.
Up we all went, passing the lady's door into the dining-room, to proceed
Stamp, stamp, stamp up, each on her heels; rave, rave, rave, every tongue
Bring up the creature before us all this instant!----
And would she have got out of the house, say you?--
These the noises and the speeches as we clattered by the door of the fair
Up was brought Dorcas (whimpering) between two, both bawling out--You
must go--You shall go--'Tis fit you should answer for yourself--You are a
discredit to all worthy servants--as they pulled and pushed her up
stairs.--She whining, I cannot see his honour--I cannot look so good and
so generous a gentleman in the face--O how shall I bear my aunt's
Come up, and be d--n'd--Bring her forward, her imperial judge--What a
plague, it is the detection, not the crime, that confounds you. You
could be quiet enough for days together, as I see by the date, under the
villany. Tell me, ungrateful devil, tell me who made the first advances?
Ay, disgrace to my family and blood, cried the old one--tell his honour--
tell the truth!--Who made the first advances?----
Ay, cursed creature, cried Sally, who made the first advances?
I have betrayed one trust already!--O let me not betray another!--My lady
is a good lady!--O let not her suffer!--
Tell all you know. Tell the whole truth, Dorcas, cried Polly Horton.--
His honour loves his lady too well to make her suffer much: little as she
requites his love!----
Every body sees that, cried Sally--too well, indeed, for his honour, I
was going to say.
Till now, I thought she deserved my love--But to bribe a servant thus,
who she supposed had orders to watch her steps, for fear of another
elopement; and to impute that precaution to me as a crime!--Yet I must
love her--Ladies, forgive my weakness!----
Curse upon my grimaces!--if I have patience to repeat them!--But thou
shalt have it all--thou canst not despise me more than I despise myself!
But suppose, Sir, said Sally, you have my lady and the wench face to
face! You see she cares not to confess.
O my carelessness! cried Dorcas--Don't let my poor lady suffer!--Indeed,
if you all knew what I know, you would say her ladyship has been cruelly
See, see, see, see!--repeatedly, every one at once--Only sorry for the
detection, as your honour said--not for the fault.
Cursed creature, and devilish creature, from every mouth.
Your lady won't, she dare not come out to save you, cried Sally; though
it is more his honour's mercy, than your desert, if he does not cut your
vile throat this instant.
Say, repeated Polly, was it your lady that made the first advances, or
was it you, you creature----
If the lady had so much honour, bawled the mother, excuse me, so--Excuse
me, Sir, [confound the old wretch! she had like to have said son!]--If
the lady has so much honour, as we have supposed, she will appear to
vindicate a poor servant, misled, as she has been, by such large
promises!--But I hope, Sir, you will do them both justice: I hope you
will!--Good lack!--Good lack! clapping her hands together, to grant her
every thing she could ask--to indulge her in her unworthy hatred to my
poor innocent house!--to let her go to Hampstead, though your honour told
us, you could get no condescension from her; no, not the least--O Sir, O
Sir--I hope--I hope--if your lady will not come out--I hope you will find
a way to hear this cause in her presence. I value not my doors on such
an occasion as this. Justice I ever loved. I desire you will come to
the bottom of it in clearance to me. I'll be sworn I had no privity in
this black corruption.
Just then we heard the lady's door, unbar, unlock, unbolt----
Now, Mr. Lovelace!
Now, Sir! from every encouraging mouth!----
But, O Jack! Jack! Jack! I can write no more!
If you must have it all, you must!
Now, Belford, see us all sitting in judgment, resolved to punish the fair
bribress--I, and the mother, the hitherto dreaded mother, the nieces
Sally, Polly, the traitress Dorcas, and Mabell, a guard, as it were, over
Dorcas, that she might not run away, and hide herself:--all
pre-determined, and of necessity pre-determined, from the journey I was
going to take, and my precarious situation with her--and hear her unbolt,
unlock, unbar, the door; then, as it proved afterwards, put the key into
the lock on the outside, lock the door, and put it in her pocket--Will. I
knew, below, who would give me notice, if, while we were all above, she
should mistake her way, and go down stairs, instead of coming into the
dining-room: the street-door also doubly secured, and every shutter to the
windows round the house fastened, that no noise or screaming should be
heard--[such was the brutal preparation]--and then hear her step towards
us, and instantly see her enter among us, confiding in her own innocence;
and with a majesty in her person and manner, that is natural to her; but
which then shone out in all its glory!--Every tongue silent, every eye
awed, every heart quaking, mine, in a particular manner sunk, throbless,
and twice below its usual region, to once at my throat:--a shameful
recreant:--She silent too, looking round her, first on me; then on the
mother, no longer fearing her; then on Sally, Polly, and the culprit
Dorcas!--such the glorious power of innocence exerted at that awful
She would have spoken, but could not, looking down my guilt into
confusion. A mouse might have been heard passing over the floor: her own
light feet and rustling silks could not have prevented it; for she seemed
to tread air, and to be all soul. She passed backwards and forwards, now
towards me, now towards the door several times, before speech could get
the better of indignation; and at last, after twice or thrice hemming to
recover her articulate voice--'O thou contemptible and abandoned
Lovelace, thinkest thou that I see not through this poor villanous plot
of thine, and of these thy wicked accomplices?
'Thou, woman, [looking at the mother] once my terror! always my dislike!
but now my detestation! shouldst once more (for thine perhaps was the
preparation) have provided for me intoxicating potions, to rob me of my
'And then, thus, wretch, [turning to me,] mightest thou more securely
have depended upon such a low contrivance as this!
'And ye, vile women, who perhaps have been the ruin, body and soul, of
hundreds of innocents, (you show me how, in full assembly,) know, that I
am not married--ruined as I am, by your help, I bless God, I am not
married to this miscreant--and I have friends that will demand my honour
at your hands!--and to whose authority I will apply; for none has this
man over me. Look to it then, what farther insults you offer me, or
incite him to offer me. I am a person, though thus vilely betrayed, of
rank and fortune. I never will be his; and, to your utter ruin, will
find friends to pursue you: and now I have this full proof of your
detestable wickedness, and have heard your base incitements, will have
no mercy upon you!'
They could not laugh at the poor figure I made.--Lord! how every devil,
What a dejection must ever fall to the lot of guilt, were it given to
innocence always thus to exert itself!
'And as for thee, thou vile Dorcas! Thou double deceiver!--whining out
thy pretended love for me!--Begone, wretch!--Nobody will hurt thee!--
Begone, I say!--thou has too well acted thy part to be blamed by any here
but myself--thou art safe: thy guilt is thy security in such a house as
this!--thy shameful, thy poor part, thou hast as well acted as the low
farce could give thee to act!--as well as they each of them (thy
superiors, though not thy betters), thou seest, can act theirs.--Steal
away into darkness! No inquiry after this will be made, whose the first
advances, thine or mine.'
And, as I hope to live, the wench, confoundedly frightened, slunk away;
so did her sentinel Mabell; though I, endeavouring to rally, cried out
for Dorcas to stay--but I believe the devil could not have stopt her,
when an angel bid her begone.
Madam, said I, let me tell you; and was advancing towards her with a
fierce aspect, most cursedly vexed, and ashamed too----
But she turned to me: 'Stop where thou art, O vilest and most abandoned
of men!--Stop where thou art!--nor, with that determined face, offer to
touch me, if thou wouldst not that I should be a corps at thy feet!'
To my astonishment, she held forth a penknife in her hand, the point to
her own bosom, grasping resolutely the whole handle, so that there was no
offering to take it from her.
'I offer not mischief to any body but myself. You, Sir, and ye women,
are safe from every violence of mine. The LAW shall be all my resource:
the LAW,' and she spoke the word with emphasis, the LAW! that to such
people carries natural terror with it, and now struck a panic into them.
No wonder, since those who will damn themselves to procure ease and
plenty in this world, will tremble at every thing that seems to threaten
their methods of obtaining that ease and plenty.----
'The LAW only shall be my refuge!'----
The infamous mother whispered me, that it were better to make terms with
this strange lady, and let her go.
Sally, notwithstanding all her impudent bravery at other times, said, If
Mr. Lovelace had told them what was not true, of her being his wife----
And Polly Horton, That she must needs say, the lady, if she were not my
wife, had been very much injured; that was all.
That is not now a matter to be disputed, cried I: you and I know, Madam
'We do, said she; and I thank God, I am not thine--once more I thank God
for it--I have no doubt of the farther baseness that thou hast intended
me, by this vile and low trick: but I have my SENSES, Lovelace: and from
my heart I despise thee, thou very poor Lovelace!--How canst thou stand
in my presence!--Thou, that'----
Madam, Madam, Madam--these are insults not to be borne--and was
She withdrew to the door, and set her back against it, holding the
pointed knife to her heaving bosom; while the women held me, beseeching
me not to provoke the violent lady--for their house sake, and be curs'd
to them, they besought me--and all three hung upon me--while the truly
heroic lady braved me at that distance:
'Approach me, Lovelace, with resentment, if thou wilt. I dare die. It
is in defence of my honour. God will be merciful to my poor soul! I
expect no more mercy from thee! I have gained this distance, and two
steps nearer me, and thou shalt see what I dare do!'----
Leave me, women, to myself, and to my angel!--[They retired at a
distance.]--O my beloved creature, how you terrify me! Holding out my
arms, and kneeling on one knee--not a step, not a step farther, except to
receive my death at that injured hand which is thus held up against a
life far dearer to me than my own! I am a villain! the blackest of
villains!--Say you will sheath your knife in the injurer's, not the
injured's heart, and then will I indeed approach you, but not else.
The mother twanged her d--n'd nose; and Sally and Polly pulled out their
handkerchiefs, and turned from us. They never in their lives, they told
me afterwards, beheld such a scene----
Innocence so triumphant: villany so debased, they must mean!
Unawares to myself, I had moved onward to my angel--'And dost thou, dost
thou, still disclaiming, still advancing--dost thou, dost thou, still
insidiously move towards me?'--[And her hand was extended] 'I dare--I
dare--not rashly neither--my heart from principle abhors the act, which
thou makest necessary!--God, in thy mercy! [lifting up her eyes and
hands] God, in thy mercy!'
I threw myself to the farther end of the room. An ejaculation, a silent
ejaculation, employing her thoughts that moment; Polly says the whites of
her lovely eyes were only visible: and, in the instant that she extended
her hand, assuredly to strike the fatal blow, [how the very recital
terrifies me!] she cast her eye towards me, and saw me at the utmost
distance the room would allow, and heard my broken voice--my voice was
utterly broken; nor knew I what I said, or whether to the purpose or not
--and her charming cheeks, that were all in a glow before, turned pale,
as if terrified at her own purpose; and lifting up her eyes--'Thank God!
--thank God! said the angel--delivered for the present; for the present
delivered--from myself--keep, Sir, that distance;' [looking down towards
me, who was prostrate on the floor, my heart pierced, as with an hundred
daggers;] 'that distance has saved a life; to what reserved, the Almighty
To be happy, Madam; and to make happy!--And, O let me hope for your
favour for to-morrow--I will put off my journey till then--and may God--
Swear not, Sir!--with an awful and piercing aspect--you have too often
sworn!--God's eye is upon us!--His more immediate eye; and looked wildly.
--But the women looked up to the ceiling, as if afraid of God's eye, and
trembled. And well they might, and I too, who so very lately had each of
us the devil in our hearts.
If not to-morrow, Madam, say but next Thursday, your uncle's birth-day;
say but next Thursday!
'This I say, of this you may assure yourself, I never, never will be
your's.--And let me hope, that I may be entitled to the performance of
your promise, to be permitted to leave this innocent house, as one called
it, (but long have my ears been accustomed to such inversions of words),
as soon as the day breaks.'
Did my perdition depend upon it, that you cannot, Madam, but upon terms.
And I hope you will not terrify me--still dreading the accursed knife.
'Nothing less than an attempt upon my honour shall make me desperate. I
have no view but to defend my honour: with such a view only I entered
into treaty with your infamous agent below. The resolution you have
seen, I trust, God will give me again, upon the same occasion. But for a
less, I wish not for it.--Only take notice, women, that I am no wife of
this man: basely as he has used me, I am not his wife. He has no
authority over me. If he go away by-and-by, and you act by his authority
to detain me, look to it.'
Then, taking one of the lights, she turned from us; and away she went,
unmolested.--Not a soul was able to molest her.
Mabell saw her, tremblingly, and in a hurry, take the key of her
chamber-door out of her pocket, and unlock it; and, as soon as she
entered, heard her double-lock, bar, and bolt it.
By her taking out her key, when she came out of her chamber to us, she no
doubt suspected my design: which was, to have carried her in my arms
thither, if she made such force necessary, after I had intimidated her; and
to have been her companion for that night.
She was to have had several bedchamber-women to assist to undress her
upon occasion: but from the moment she entered the dining-room with so
much intrepidity, it was absolutely impossible to think of prosecuting my
villanous designs against her.
This, this, Belford, was the hand I made of a contrivance from which I
expected so much!--And now I am ten times worse off than before.
Thou never sawest people in thy life look so like fools upon one another,
as the mother, her partners, and I, did, for a few minutes. And at last,
the two devilish nymphs broke out into insulting ridicule upon me; while
the old wretch was concerned for her house, the reputation of her house.
I cursed them all together; and, retiring to my chamber, locked myself
And now it is time to set out: all I have gained, detection, disgrace,
fresh guilt by repeated perjuries, and to be despised by her I doat upon;
and, what is still worse to a proud heart, by myself.
Success, success in projects, is every thing. What an admirable
contriver did I think myself till now! Even for this scheme among the
rest! But how pitifully foolish does it now appear to me!--Scratch out,
erase, never to be read, every part of my preceding letters, where I have
boastingly mentioned it. And never presume to rally me upon the cursed
subject: for I cannot bear it.
But for the lady, by my soul, I love her. I admire her more than ever!
I must have her. I will have her still--with honour or without, as I
have often vowed. My cursed fright at her accidental bloody nose, so
lately, put her upon improving upon me thus. Had she threatened ME, I
should have soon been master of one arm, and in both! But for so sincere
a virtue to threaten herself, and not to offer to intimidate any other,
and with so much presence of mind, as to distinguish, in the very
passionate intention, the necessity of the act, defence of her honour,
and so fairly to disavow lesser occasions: showed such a deliberation,
such a choice, such a principle; and then keeping me so watchfully at a
distance that I could not seize her hand, so soon as she could have given
the fatal blow; how impossible not to be subdued by so true and so
discreet a magnanimity!
But she is not gone. She shall not go. I will press her with letters
for the Thursday. She shall yet be mine, legally mine. For, as to
cohabitation, there is no such thing to be thought of.
The Captain shall give her away, as proxy for her uncle. My Lord will
die. My fortune will help my will, and set me above every thing and
But here is the curse--she despises me, Jack!--What man, as I have
heretofore said, can bear to be despised--especially by his wife!--O
Lord!--O Lord! What a hand, what a cursed hand, have I made of this
plot!--And here ends
The history of the lady and the penknife!--The devil take the penknife!
--It goes against me to say,
God bless the lady!
NEAR 5, SAT. MORN.
MR. LOVELACE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
[SUPERSCRIBED TO MRS. LOVELACE.]
M. HALL, SAT. NIGHT, JUNE 24.
MY DEAREST LIFE,
If you do not impute to live, and to terror raised by love, the poor
figure I made before you last night, you will not do me justice. I
thought I would try to the very last moment, if, by complying with you in
every thing, I could prevail upon you to promise to be mine on Thursday
next, since you refused me an earlier day. Could I have been so happy,
you had not been hindered going to Hampstead, or wherever else you
pleased. But when I could not prevail upon you to give me this
assurance, what room had I, (my demerit so great,) to suppose, that your
going thither would not be to lose you for ever?
I will own to you, Madam, that yesterday afternoon I picked up the paper
dropt by Dorcas; who has confessed that she would have assisted you in
getting away, if she had had opportunity so to do; and undoubtedly
dropped it by accident. And could I have prevailed upon you as to
Thursday next, I would have made no use of it; secure as I should have
been in your word given, to be mine. But when I found you inflexible,
I was resolved to try, if, by resenting Dorcas's treachery, I could not
make your pardon of me the condition of mine to her: and if not, to make
a handle of it to revoke my consent to your going away from Mrs.
Sinclair's; since the consequence of that must have been so fatal to me.
So far, indeed, was my proceeding low and artful: and when I was
challenged with it, as such, in so high and noble a manner, I could not
avoid taking shame to myself upon it.
But you must permit me, Madam, to hope, that you will not punish me too
heavily for so poor a contrivance, since no dishonour was meant you: and
since, in the moment of its execution, you had as great an instance of my
incapacity to defend a wrong, a low measure, and, at the same time, in
your power over me, as mortal man could give--in a word, since you must
have seen, that I was absolutely under the controul both of conscience
and of love.
I will not offer to defend myself, for wishing you to remain where you
are, till either you give me your word to meet me at the altar on
Thursday; or till I have the honour of attending you, preparative to the
solemnity which will make that day the happiest of my life.
I am but too sensible, that this kind of treatment may appear to you with
the face of an arbitrary and illegal imposition: but as the consequences,
not only to ourselves, but to both our families, may be fatal, if you
cannot be moved in my favour; let me beseech you to forgive this act of
compulsion, on the score of the necessity you your dear self have laid me
under to be guilty of it; and to permit the solemnity of next Thursday to
include an act of oblivion for all past offences.
The orders I have given to the people of the house are: 'That you shall
be obeyed in every particular that is consistent with my expectations of
finding you there on my return on Wednesday next: that Mrs. Sinclair and
her nieces, having incurred your just displeasure, shall not, without
your orders, come into your presence: that neither shall Dorcas, till she
has fully cleared her conduct to your satisfaction, be permitted to
attend you: but Mabell, in her place; of whom you seemed some time ago to
express some liking. Will. I have left behind me to attend your
commands. If he be either negligent or impertinent, your dismission
shall be a dismission of him from my service for ever. But, as to
letters which may be sent you, or any which you may have to send, I must
humbly entreat, that none such pass from or to you, for the few days that
I shall be absent.' But I do assure you, madam, that the seals of both
sorts shall be sacred: and the letters, if such be sent, shall be given
into your own hands the moment the ceremony is performed, or before, if
you require it.
Mean time I will inquire, and send you word, how Miss Howe does; and to
what, if I can be informed, her long silence is owing.
Dr. Perkins I found here, attending my Lord, when I arrived with Dr. S.
He acquaints me that your father, mother, uncles, and the still less
worthy persons of your family, are well; and intend to be all at your
uncle Harlowe's next week; I presume, with intent to keep his
anniversary. This can make no alteration, but a happy one, as to
persons, on Thursday; because Mr. Tomlinson assured me, that if any thing
fell out to hinder your uncle's coming up in person, (which, however, he
did not then expect,) he would be satisfied if his friend the Captain
were proxy for him. I shall send a man and horse to-morrow to the
Captain, to be at greater certainty.
I send this by a special messenger, who will wait your pleasure in
relation to the impatiently-wished-for Thursday: which I humbly hope will
be signified by a line.
My Lord, though hardly sensible, and unmindful of every thing but of your
felicity, desires his most affectionate compliments to you. He has in
readiness to present to you a very valuable set of jewels, which he hopes
will be acceptable, whether he lives to see you adorn them or not.
Lady Sarah and Lady Betty have also their tokens of respect ready to
court your acceptance: but may Heaven incline you to give the opportunity
of receiving their personal compliments, and those of my cousins
Montague, before the next week be out!
His Lordship is exceeding ill. Dr. S. has no hopes of him. The only
consolation I can have for the death of a relation who loves me so well,
if he do die, must arise from the additional power it will put into my
hands of showing how much I am,
My dearest life,
Your ever-affectionate, faithful,
MR. LOVELACE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
[SUPERSCRIBED TO MRS. LOVELACE.]
M. HALL, SUNDAY NIGHT, JUNE 25.
MY DEAREST LOVE,
I cannot find words to express how much I am mortified at the return of
my messenger without a line from you.
Thursday is so near, that I will send messenger after messenger every
four hours, till I have a favourable answer; the one to meet the other,
till its eve arrives, to know if I may venture to appear in your presence
with the hope of having my wishes answered on that day.
Your love, Madam, I neither expect, nor ask for; nor will, till my future
behaviour gives you cause to think I deserve it. All I at present
presume to wish is, to have it in my power to do you all the justice I
can now do you: and to your generosity will I leave it, to reward me, as
I shall merit, with your affection.
At present, revolving my poor behaviour of Friday night before you, I
think I should sooner choose to go to my last audit, unprepared for it as
I am, than to appear in your presence, unless you give me some hope, that
I shall be received as your elected husband, rather than, (however
deserved,) as a detested criminal.
Let me, therefore, propose an expedient, in order to spare my own
confusion; and to spare you the necessity for that soul-harrowing
recrimination, which I cannot stand, and which must be disagreeable to
yourself--to name the church, and I will have every thing in readiness;
so that our next interview will be, in a manner, at the very altar; and
then you will have the kind husband to forgive for the faults of the
ungrateful lover. If your resentment be still too high to write more,
let it only be in your own dear hand, these words, St. Martin's church,
Thursday--or these, St. Giles's church, Thursday; nor will I insist upon
any inscription or subscription, or so much as the initials of your name.
This shall be all the favour I will expect, till the dear hand itself is
given to mine, in presence of that Being whom I invoke as a witness of
the inviolable faith and honour of
MR. LOVELACE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
[SUPERSCRIBED TO MRS. LOVELACE.]
M. HALL, MONDAY, JUNE 26.
Once more, my dearest love, do I conjure you to send me the four
requested words. There is no time to be lost. And I would not have next
Thursday go over, without being entitled to call you mine, for the world;
and that as well for your sake as for my own. Hitherto all that has
passed is between you and me only; but, after Thursday, if my wishes are
unanswered, the whole will be before the world.
My Lord is extremely ill, and endures not to have me out of his sight for
one half hour. But this shall not have the least weight with me, if you
be pleased to hold out the olive-branch to me in the four requested
I have the following intelligence from Captain Tomlinson.
'All your family are at your uncle Harlowe's. Your uncle finds he cannot
go up; and names Captain Tomlinson for his proxy. He proposes to keep
all your family with him till the Captain assures him that the ceremony
'Already he has begun, with hope of success, to try to reconcile your
mother to you.'
My Lord M. but just now has told me how happy he should think himself to
have an opportunity, before he dies, to salute you as his niece. I have
put him in hopes that he shall see you; and have told him that I will go
to town on Wednesday, in order to prevail upon you to accompany me down
on Thursday or Friday. I have ordered a set to be in readiness to carry
me up; and, were not my Lord so very ill, my cousin Montague tells me
that she would offer her attendance on you. If you please, therefore, we
can set out for this place the moment the solemnity is performed.
Do not, dearest creature, dissipate all those promising appearances, and
by refusing to save your own and your family's reputation in the eye of
the world, use yourself worse than the ungratefullest wretch on earth has
used you. For if we were married, all the disgrace you imagine you have
suffered while a single lady, will be my own, and only known to
Once more, then, consider well the situation we are both in; and
remember, my dearest life, that Thursday will be soon here; and that you
have no time to lose.
In a letter sent by the messenger whom I dispatch with this, I have
desired that my friend, Mr. Belford, who is your very great admirer, and
who knows all the secrets of my heart, will wait upon you, to know what I
am to depend upon as to the chosen day.
Surely, my dear, you never could, at any time, suffer half so much from
cruel suspense, as I do.
If I have not an answer to this, either from your own goodness, or
through Mr. Belford's intercession, it will be too late for me to set
out: and Captain Tomlinson will be disappointed, who goes to town on
purpose to attend your pleasure.
One motive for the gentle resistance I have presumed to lay you under is,
to prevent the mischiefs that might ensue (as probably to the more
innocent, as to the less) were you to write to any body while your
passions were so much raised and inflamed against me. Having apprized
you of my direction to the women in town on this head, I wonder you
should have endeavoured to send a letter to Miss Howe, although in a
cover directed to that young lady's* servant; as you must think it would
be likely to fall into my hands.
* The lady had made an attempt to send away a letter.
The just sense of what I have deserved the contents should be, leaves me
no room to doubt what they are. Nevertheless, I return it you enclosed,
with the seal, as you will see, unbroken.
Relieve, I beseech you, dearest Madam, by the four requested words, or by
Mr. Belford, the anxiety of
Your ever-affectionate and obliged
Remember, there will not, there cannot be time for further writing, and
for coming up by Thursday, your uncle's birth-day.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
MONDAY, JUNE 26.
Thou wilt see the situation I am in with Miss Harlowe by the enclosed
copies of three letters; to two of which I am so much scorned as not to
have one word given me in answer; and of the third (now sent by the
messenger who brings thee this) I am afraid as little notice will be
taken--and if so, her day of grace is absolutely over.
One would imagine (so long used to constraint too as she has been) that
she might have been satisfied with the triumph she had over us all on
Friday night! a triumph that to this hour has sunk my pride and my vanity
so much, that I almost hate the words, plot, contrivance, scheme; and
shall mistrust myself in future for every one that rises to my inventive
But seest thou not that I am under a necessity to continue her at
Sinclair's and to prohibit all her correspondencies?
Now, Belford, as I really, in my present mood, think of nothing less
than marrying her, if she let not Thursday slip, I would have thee attend
her, in pursuance of the intimation I have given her in my letter of this
date; and vow for me, swear for me, bind thy soul to her for my honour,
and use what arguments thy friendly heart can suggest, in order to
procure me an answer from her; which, as thou wilt see, she may give in
four words only. And then I purpose to leave Lord M. (dangerously ill as
he is,) and meet her at her appointed church, in order to solemnize. If
she will but sign Cl. H. to thy writing the four words, that shall do:
for I would not come up to be made a fool of in the face of all my family
If she should let the day go off, I shall be desperate. I am entangled
in my own devices, and cannot bear that she should detect me.
O that I had been honest!--What a devil are all my plots come to! What
do they end in, but one grand plot upon myself, and a title to eternal
infamy and disgrace! But, depending on thy friendly offices, I will say
no more of this.--Let her send me but one line!--But one line!--To treat
me as unworthy of her notice;--yet be altogether in my power--I cannot--I
will not bear that.
My Lord, as I said, is extremely ill. The doctors give him over. He
gives himself over. Those who would not have him die, are afraid he will
die. But as to myself, I am doubtful: for these long and violent
struggles between the constitution and the disease (though the latter has
three physicians and an apothecary to help it forward, and all three, as
to their prescriptions, of different opinions too) indicate a plaguy
habit, and savour more of recovery than death: and the more so, as he has
no sharp or acute mental organs to whet out his bodily ones, and to raise
his fever above the sympathetic helpful one.
Thou wilt see in the enclosed what pains I am at to dispatch messengers;
who are constantly on the road to meet each other, and one of them to
link in the chain with the fourth, whose station is in London, and five
miles onwards, or till met. But in truth I have some other matters for
them to perform at the same time, with my Lord's banker and his lawyer;
which will enable me, if his Lordship is so good as to die this bout, to
be an over match for some of my other relations. I don't mean Charlotte
and Patty; for they are noble girls: but others, who have been scratching
and clawing under-ground like so many moles in my absence; and whose
workings I have discovered since I have been down, by the little heaps of
dirt they have thrown up.
A speedy account of thy commission, dear Jack! The letter travels all
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
LONDON, JUNE 27. TUESDAY.
You must excuse me, Lovelace, from engaging in the office you would have
me undertake, till I can be better assured you really intend honourably
at last by this much-injured lady.
I believe you know your friend Belford too well to think he would be easy
with you, or with any man alive, who should seek to make him promise for
him what he never intended to perform. And let me tell thee, that I have
not much confidence in the honour of a man, why by imitation of hands (I
will only call it) has shown so little regard to the honour of his own
Only that thou hast such jesuitical qualifyings, or I should think thee
at last touched with remorse, and brought within view of being ashamed
of thy cursed inventions by the ill success of thy last: which I heartily
congratulate thee upon.
O the divine lady!--But I will not aggravate!
Nevertheless, when thou writest that, in thy present mood, thou thinkest
of marrying, and yet canst so easily change thy mood; when I know thy
heart is against the state: that the four words thou courtest from the
lady are as much to thy purpose, as if she wrote forty; since it will
show she can forgive the highest injury that can be offered to woman; and
when I recollect how easily thou canst find excuses to postpone; thou
must be more explicit a good deal, as to thy real intentions, and future
honour, than thou art: for I cannot trust to temporary remorse; which
brought on by disappointment too, and not by principle, and the like of
which thou hast so often got over.
If thou canst convince me time enough for the day, that thou meanest to
do honourably by her, in her own sense of the word; or, if not time
enough, wilt fix some other day, (which thou oughtest to leave to her
option, and not bind her down for the Thursday; and the rather, as thy
pretence for so doing is founded on an absolute fiction;) I will then
most cheerfully undertake thy cause; by person, if she will admit me to
her presence; if she will not, by pen. But, in this case, thou must
allow me to be guarantee for thy family. And, if so, so much as I value
thee, and respect thy skill in all the qualifications of a gentleman,
thou mayest depend upon it, that I will act up to the character of a
guarantee, with more honour than the princes of our day usually do----to
their shame be it spoken.
Mean time let me tell thee, that my heart bleeds for the wrong this
angelic lady has received: and if thou dost not marry her, if she will
have thee, and, when married, make her the best and tenderest of
husbands, I would rather be a dog, a monkey, a bear, a viper, or a toad,
Command me with honour, and thou shalt find none readier to oblige thee
Thy sincere friend,
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
M. HALL, JUNE 27. TUESDAY NIGHT, NEAR 12.
Your's reached me this moment, by an extraordinary push in the
What a man of honour thou of a sudden!----
And so, in the imaginary shape of a guarantee, thou threatenest me!
Had I not been in earnest as to the lady, I should not have offered to
employ thee in the affair. But, let me say, that hadst thou undertaken
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