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'Hereupon all the pack opened at the poor wench, while the mother, foaming at the mouth, bellowed out her orders for seizing the suspected offender; who could neither be heard in her own defence, nor, had she been heard, would have been believed.
'That such a perfidious wretch should ever disgrace her house, was the mother's cry; good people might be corrupted; but it was a fine thing if such a house as hers could not be faithfully served by cursed creatures, who were hired knowing the business they were to be employed in, and who had no pretence to principle !—D—n her! the wretch proceeded—She had no patience with her! Call the cook, and call the scullion!
'They were at hand.
'See that guilty pyeballdevil, washer word (her lady's gown upon ner back)—but I'll punish her for a warning to all betrayers of their trust. Put on the great gridiron this moment [an oath or a curse at every word]: make up a roaring fire— the cleaver bring me this instant—I'll cut her into quarters with my own hands; and carbonade and broil the traitress for a feast to all the dogs and cats in the neighbourhood, and eat the first slice of the toad myself, without salt or pepper.
'The poor Mabell, frighted out of her wits, expected every moment to be torn in pieces, having half a score open clawed paws upon her all at once. She promised to confess all. But that all, when she had obtained a hearing, was nothing; for nothing had she to confess.
'Sally hereupon, with a curse of mercy, ordered her to retire; undertaking that she and Polly would examine her themselves, that they might be able to write all particulars to his honour; and then, if she could not clear herself, or, if guilty, give some account of the lady, (who had been so wicked as to give them all this trouble) so as they might get her again, then the cleaver and the gridiron might go to work with all her heart.
'The wench, glad of this reprieve, went up stairs, and while Sally was laying out the law, and prating away in her usual dictatorial manner, whipt on another gown, and sliding down stairs, escaped to her relations. And this flight, which was certainly more owing to terror than guilt, was, in the true Old Bailey construction, made a confirmation of the latter.'
These are the particulars of Miss Harlowe's flight. Thou'lt hardly think me too minute.—' How I long to triumph over thy impatience and fury on the occasion.
Let me beseech thee, my dear Lovelace, in thy next letter, to rave most gloriously!—I shall be grievously disappointed, if thou dost not.
Where, Lovelace, can the poor lady be gone? And who can describe the distress she must be in?
By thy former letters, it may be supposed, that she can have very little money: nor, by the suddenness of her flight, more clothes than those she had on. And thou knowest who once said*, her parents will not receive her: her uncles will not entertain her: her Norton is in their direction, and cannot: Miss Howe dare not. She has not one friend or intimate in town; entirely a stranger to it.' And, let me add, has been despoiled of her honour by the man for whom she made all these sacrifices; and who stood bound to her by a thousand oaths and vows, to be her husband, her protector, and friend!
How strong must b6 her resentment of the bar* See Vol. IV. p. 57.
barous treatment she has received! How worthy of herself, that it has made her hate the man she once loved! And rather than marry him, choose to expose her disgrace to the whole world; to forego the reconciliation with her friends which her heart was so set upon: and to hazard a thousand evils to which her youth and her sex may too probably expose an indigent and friendless beauty!
Rememberest thou not thathomepush upon thee, in one of the papers written in her delirium; of which however it savours not?
I will assure thee, that I have very often since most seriously reflected upon it: and as thy intended second outrage convinces me, that it made no impression upon thee then, and perhaps thou hast never thought of it since, I will transcribe the sentence.
'If, as religion teaches us, God will judge us, in a great measure, by our benevolent or evil actions to one another—O wretch, bethink thee, in time bethink thee, how great must be thy condemnation *.'
And is this amiable doctrine the sum of religion? Upon my faith, I believe it is. For, to indulge a serious thought, since we are not Atheists, except in practice, does God, the Being of Beings, want any thing of us for Himself! And does he not enjoin us works of mercy to one another, as the means to obtain his mercy? A sublime principle, and worthy of the Supreme Superintendent and Father of all things!—But if we are to be judged by this noble principle, what, indeed, must be thy condemnation on the score of this lady only? And what mine, and what all our confraternity s on the score of other women : though we are none of ug
half so bad as thou art, as well for want of inclination, I hope, as of opportunity!
I must add, that as well for thy own sake, as for the lady's, I wish ye were yet to be married to each other. It is the only medium that can be hit upon to salve the honour of both. All that's past may yet be concealed from the world, and from her relations; and thou mayest make amends for all her sufferings, if thou resolvest to be a tender and kind husband to her.
And if this really be thy intention, I will accept with pleasure of a commission from thee, that shall tend to promote so good an end, whenever she can be found; that is to say, if she will admit to her presence a man who professes friendship to thee. Nor can I give a greater demonstration that I am
Thy sincere friend,
P. S. Mabell's clothes were thrown into the passage this morning; nobody knows by whom.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Friday, June 30. I Am ruined, undone, blown up, destroyed, and worse than annihilated, that's certain!—But was not the news shocking enough, dost thou think, without thy throwing into the too weighty scale reproaches, which thou couldst have had no opportunity to make but for my own voluntary communications? At a time too, when, as it falls out, I
VOL. VI. Ir
have another very sensible dissappointment to struggle with?
I imagine, if there be such a thing as future punishment, it must be none of the smallest mortifications, that a new devil should be punished by a worse old one. And, Take that! and, Take that! to have the old satyr cry to the screaming sufferer, laying on with a cat-o'nine. tails, with a star of burning brass at the end of each: and, For what! For what!—Why, if the truth may be fairly told for not being so bad a devil as myself.
Thou art, surely, casuist good enough to know (what I have insisted upon* heretofore) that the sin of seducing a credulous and easy girl, is as great as that of bringing to your lure an incredulous and watchful one.
However ungenerous an appearance what I am going to say may have from my pen, let me tell thee, that if such a woman as Miss Harlowe chose to enter into the matrimonial state, [/ am resolved to dissappoint thee in thy meditated triumph over my rage and despair.'] and, according to the old Patriarchal system, to go on contributing to get sons and daughters, with no other view than to bring them up piously, and to be good and useful members of the commonwealth, what a devil had she to do, to let her fancy run a gadding after a rake? One whom she knew to be a rake?
Oh, but truly she hoped to have the merit of reclaiming him. She had formed pretty notions how charming it would look to have a penitent of her own making dangling at her side to church, through an applauding neighbourhood: and, as their family increased, marching with her thither, at the head of their boys and girls, processionally as it