« VorigeDoorgaan »
THE HISTORY OF A YOUNG LADY:
THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCERNS
COMPLETE IN FOUR VOLUMES.
THE HISTORY OF CLARISSA HARLOWE.
St. Alban's, Monday night.
I Snatch a few moments while my beloved is retired [as I hope, to rest] to perform my promise. No pursuit — nor have I apprehensions of any; though I must make my charmer dread that there will be one.
And now, let me tell thee, that never was joy so complete as mine! — But let me enquire — is not the angel flown away? * * *
Ono! she is in the next apartment!— Securely mine! — Mine forever!
0 ecstasy I — My heart will burst my
breast, To leap into her bosom!
I knew that the whole stupid family were in a combination to do my business for me. I told thee that they were all working for me, like so many under-ground moles; and still more blind than the moles are said to be, unknowing that they did so. I myself the director of their principal motions; which falling in with the malice of their little hearts, they took to be all their own.
But did I say my joy was perfect? — O no! — It receives some abatement from my disgusted pride. For how can I endure to think that I owe more to her relations' persecutions than to her favour for me? — Or even, as far as I know, to her preference of me to another man?
But let me not indulge this thought. Were I to do so, it might cost my charmer dear. Let me rejoice that she has passed the Rubicon: that she cannot return: that, as I have ordered it, the flight will appear to the implacables to be altogether with her own consent: and that if I doubt her love, I can put her to trials as mortifying to her niceness as glorious to my pride. — For, let me tell thee, dearly as I love her, if I thought there was but the shadow of a doubt in her mind, whether she preferred me to any man living, I would shew her no mercy.
But, on the wings of love, I fly to my charmer, who perhaps by this time is rising to encourage the tardy dawn. I have not slept a wink of the hour and half I lay down to invite sleep. It seems to 1
me, that I am not so much body. as to require such vulgar renovation.
But why, as in the chariot, as in the inn, at alighting, all heartbursting grief, my dearest creature? So persecuted as thou wert persecuted! — So much in danger of the most abhorred compulsion! — Yet grief so unsuspectedly sincere for an escape so critical! — Take care — take care — O beloved of my soul! for jealous is the heart in which love has erected a temple to thee.
Yet, it must be allowed, that such a sudden transition must affect her; must ice her over. When a little more used to her new situation; when her hurries are at an end; when she sees how religiously I shall observe all her Injunctions; she will undoubtedly have the gratitude to distinguish between the confinement she has escaped from and the liberty she has reason to rejoice in.
She comes! — She comes! — and the sun is just rising to attend her! —Adieu! —Be half as happy as I am (for all diffidences, like night-fogs before thesun, disperse atTier approach) and, next to myself, thou wilt be the happiest man in the world.
Miss Clarissa Harlowe to Miss Howe.
Wednesday, April 12.
I Will pursue my melancholy story.
Being thus hurried to the chariot, it would have been to no
purpose to have refused entering into it, had he not in my fright lifted me in, as he did: and it instantly drove away at full gallop, and stopped not till it brought us to St. Alban's; which was just as the day shut in.
I thought I should have fainted several times by the way. With uplifted hands and eyes, God protect me! said I often to myself— can it be I that am here! — My eyes running over, and my heart ready to buret with sighs as involuntary as my flight.
How different, how inexpressibly different, the gay wretch; visibly triumphing (as I could not but construe his almost rapturous joy) in the success of his arts! But overflowing with complimental flourishes, yet respectfully distant his address, all the way we flew; for that, rather than galloping, was the motion of the horses; which took, as I believe, a round - about way, to prevent being traced.
I nave reason to think there were other horsemen at his devotion; three or four different persons, above the rank of servants, galloping by us now and then, on each side of the chariot: but he took no notice of them; and I had too much grief, mingled with indignation , notwithstanding all his blandishments, to ask any questions about them, or any thing else.
Think, my dear, what were my thoughts on alighting from the chariot; having no attendant of my own sex; no clothes but what I had on, and those little suited to such a journey as I had already taken, and was still to take: neither cloak nor hat, nor any thing but a handkerchief about my neck and shoulders: fatigued to death: my mind still more fatigued than my body: and in such a foam the horses, that every one in the innweputup at guessed [they could not do otherwise] that I was a young giddy creature, who had run away from her friends. This it was easy to see, by their whispering and gaping: more of the people of the house also coming in by turns than were necessary for the attendance.
The mistress of the house, whom he sent in to me, shewed me another apartment; and seeing me ready to faint, brought me hartshorn and water; and then, upon my desiring to be left alone for half an hour, retired: for I found my heart ready to burst, on revolving every thing in my thoughts: and the moment she was gone, fastening the door, I threw myself into an old great chair, and gave way to a violent flood of tears, which a little relieved me.
Mr. Lovelace, sooner than I wished, sent up the gentlewoman, who pressed me, in his name, to admit my brother, or to come down to him: for he had told her I was his sister; and that he had brought me against my will, and without warning, from a friend's house, where 1 had been all the winter, in order to prevent my marrying against the consent of
my friends, to whom he was now conducting me; and that having
fiven me no time for a travelling ress, I was greatly offended at him.
So, my dear, your frank, your open-hearted friend, was forced to countenance this tale; which indeed suited me the better, because I was unable for some time to talk, speak, or look up: and so my dejection, and grief, and silence, might very well pass before the gentlewoman and her niece, who attended me, as a fit of sullenness.
The room I was in being a bedchamber, I chose to go down, at his repeated message, attended by the mistress of the house, to that in which he was. He approached me with great respect, yet not exceeding a brotherly politeness, where a brother is polite: and, calling me his dearest sister, asked after the state of my mind: and hoped I would forgive him; for never brother half so well loved a sister as he me.
A wretch! how naturally did he fall into the character, although I was so much out of mine!
Unthinking creatures havesome comfort in the shortness of their views: in their unapprehensiveness: and that they penetrate not beyond the present moment: in short that they are unthinking! —' But, for a person of my thoughtful disposition, who has been accustomed to look forward, as well to the possible as to the probable, what comfort can I have m my reflections?