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mediate answer; but for my consideration only."—Yet, my dear, your advice was too much in my head at this time. I hesitated.
But he seemed to think it enough that he had asked my leave to propose his settlements. He took no advantage of my silence, as I presume men as modest as Mr. Lovelace would have done, in a like case: yet, gazing in my face very confidently, and seeming to expect my answer, I thought myself obliged to give the subject a more diffuse turn, in order to save myself the mortification of appearing too ready in my compliance, after such a distance as had been between us; and yet (in pursuance of your advice) I was willing to avoid the necessity of giving him such a repulse, as might again throw us out of the course.—A cruel alternative to be reduced to!
I have no spirits just now, sir, I said, to attend to such weighty points. What you have a mind to propose, write to me: and I shall know what answer to return. Only one thing let me remind you of, that if you touch upon any subject, in which my father has a concern, I shall judge by your treatment of the father, what value you have for the daughter.
He looked as if he would choose rather to speak than write: but had he said so, I had a severe return to have made upon him; as possibly he might see by my looks.
Although circumstances have so offered, that I could not take your advice as to the manner of dealing with him, yet you gave me so much courage by it, as has enabled me to conduct things to this issue; as well as determined me against leaving him: which before, I was thinking to do, at all adventures. Whether, when it came to the point, I should have done so, or not, I cannot say, because it would have depended upon his behaviour at the time.
But let his behaviour be what it will, I am afraid (with you) that, should anything offer at last to oblige me to leave him, I shall not mend my situation in the world's eye, but the contrary. And yet I will not be treated by him with indignity while I have any power to help myself.
Mr. Lovelace has sent me, by Dorcas, his proposals, as follow:
"To spare a delicacy so extreme, and to obey you, I write: And the rather, that you may communicate this paper to Miss Howe, who may consult any of her friends you shall think proper to have intrusted on this occasion. I say intrusted; because, as you know, I have given it out to several persons, that we are actually married.
"In the first place, madam, I offer to settle upon you, by way of jointure, your whole estate : and moreover to vest in trustees such a part of mine in Lancashire, as shajl produce a clear four hundred pounds a year, to be paid to your sole and separate use, quarterly.
"My own estate is a clear not nominal £2,000 per annum. Lord M. proposes to give me possession either of that which he has in Lancashire (to which, by the way,.I think I have a better title than he has himself) or that we call The Lawn in Hertfordshire, upon my nuptials with a lady whom he so greatly admires; and to make that I shall choose a clear £1,000 per annum.
"If, as your own estate is at present in your father's hands, you rather choose that I should make a jointure out of mine, tantamount to yours, be it what it will, it shall be done. I will engage Lord M. to write to you, what he proposes to do on the happy occasion: not as your desire or expectation, but to demonstrate, that no advantage is intended to be taken of the situation you are in with your own family.
"To show the beloved daughter the consideration I have for her, I will consent, that she shall prescribe the terms of agreement in relation to the large sums, which must be in her father's hands, arising from her grandfather's estate. I have no doubt, but he will be put upon making large demands upon you. All those it shall be in your power to comply with, for the sake of your own peace. And the remainder shall be paid into your hands, and be entirely at your disposal, as a fund to support those charitable donations, which I have heard you so famed for out of your family; and for which you have been so greatly reflected upon in it.
"These, madam, are my proposals. They are such as I always designed to make, whenever you would permit me to enter into the delightful subject. But you have been so determined to try every method for reconciling yourself to your relations, even by giving me absolutely up for ever, that you have seemed to think it but justice to keep me at a distance, till the event of that your predominant hope could be seen. It is now seen!—And although I have been, and perhaps still am, ready to regret the want of that preference I wished for from you as Miss Clarissa Harlowe; yet I am sure, as the husband of Mrs. Lovelace, I shall be more ready to adore than to blame you for the pangs you have given to a heart, the generosity, or rather justice of which, my implacable enemies have taught you to doubt: and this still the readier, as I am persuaded, that those pangs never would have been given by a mind so noble, had not the doubt been entertained (perhaps with too great an appearance of reason); and as I hope I shall have it to reflect, that the moment the doubt shall be overcome, the indifference will cease.
"I will only add, that if I have omitted anything, that would have given you further satisfaction; or if the above terms be short of what you would wish; you will be pleased to supply them as- you think fit. And when I know your pleasure, I will instantly order articles to be drawn up conformably; that nothing in my power may be wanting to make you happy.
"You will now, dearest madam, judge, how far all the rest depends upon yourself."
I shall now judge how far all the rest depends upon myself! So coldly concludes he such warm, and, in the main, unobjectihle proposals! Would you not, as you read, have supposed, that the paper would conclude with the most earnest demand of a day?—I own, I had that expectation so strong, resulting naturally, as I may say, from the premises, that without studying for dissatisfaction, I could not help being dissatisfied when I came to the conclusion.
But you say there is no help. I must perhaps make further sacrifices. All delicacy it seems is to be at an end with me !—But if so, this man knows not what every wise man knows, that prudence, and virtue, and delicacy of mind in a wife, do the husband more real honour in the eye of the world, than the same qualities (were she destitute of them) in himself, do him: as the want of them in her does him more dishonour: for are not the wife's errors the husband's reproach? How justly his reproach, is another thing.
I will consider this paper; and write to it, if I am able: for it seems now, all the rest depends upon myself.
Mr. Lovelace would fain have engaged me last night. But as I was not prepared to enter upon the subject of his proposals (intending to consider them maturely) and was not highly pleased with his conclusion, I desired to be excused seeing him till morning; and the rather, as there is hardly any getting from him in tolerable time overnight.
Accordingly, about seven o'clock we met in the diningroom.
I find, he was full of expectation that I should meet him with a very favourable, who knows but with a thankful aspect? And I immediately found by his sullen coun
tenance, that he was under no small disappointment that I did not.
My dearest love, are you well? Why look you so solemn upon me? Will your indifference never be over? If I have proposed terms in any respect short of your expectation—
I told him, that he had very considerately mentioned my showing his proposals to Miss Howe; and as I should have a speedy opportunity to send them to her by Collins, I desired to suspend any talk upon that subject till I had her opinion upon them.
Good God !—If there were but the least loop-hole! the least room for delay !—But he was writing a letter to Lord M. to give him an account of his situation with me, and could not finish it so satisfactorily, either to my Lord or to himself, as if I would condescend to say, whether the terms he had proposed were acceptable or not.
He asked me then, if I would so far permit him to touch upon the happy day, as to request the presence of Lord M. on the occasion, and to be my father 1
Father had a sweet and venerable sound with it, I said. I should be glad to have a father who would own me!
Was not this plain speaking, think you, my dear? Yet it rather, I must own, appears so to me on reflection, than was designed freely at the time. For I then, with a sigh from the bottom of my heart, thought of my own father; bitterly regretting, that I am an outcast from him and from my mother.
Mr. Lovelace I thought seemed a little affected; at the manner of my speaking, and perhaps at the sad reflection.
He turned towards the window (rejoice with me, my dear, since I seem to be devoted to him, that the man is not absolutely impenetrable !): his emotion was visible; yet he endeavoured to suppress it. Approaching me again; again he was obliged to turn from me; angelic something, he said : but then, obtaining a heart more suitable to his