Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

former! What unaccountable things are dreams !] coming to bed again in the dark, the young lady, to her infinite astonishment, grief, and surprise, found mother H. turned into a young person of the other sex: and although Lovelace was the abhorred of her soul, yet, fearing it was some other person, it was matter of some consolation to her, when she found it was no other than himself, and that she had been still the bedfellow of but one and the same man.

A strange promiscuous huddle of adventures followed, scenes perpetually shifting; now nothing heard from the lady, but sighs, groans, exclamations, faintings, dyingg—from the gentleman, but vows, promises, protestations, disclaimers of purposes pursued; and all the gentle and ungentle pressures of the lover's warfare.

Then, as quick as thought (for dreams, thou knowest, confine not themselves to the rules of the drama) ensued recoveries, lyings-in, christenings, the .smiling boy, amply, even in her own opinion, rewarding the suffering mother.

Then the grandfather's estate yielded up, possession taken of it: living very happily upon it: her beloved Norton her companion; Miss Howe her visitor; and (admirable! thrice admirable!) enabled to compare notes with her; a charming girl, by the same father, to her friend's charming boy: who, as they grow up, in order to consolidate their mammas' friendship (for neither have dreams regard to consanguinityJ intermarry; change names by act 'of parliament, to enjoy my estate—and I know not what of the like incongruous stuff.

I awoke, as thou mayest believe, in great disorder, and rejoiced to find my charmer in the next room, and Dorcas honest.

Now thou wilt say this was a very odd dream. And yet, (for I am a strange dreamer) it is not altogether improbable that something like it may happen; as the pretty simpleton has the weakness to confide in 'Dorcas, whom till now she disliked.

But I forgot to tell thee one part of my dream; and that was, that, the next morning, the lady gave way to such transports of grief and resentment, that she was with difficulty diverted from making an attempt upon her own life. But however at last was prevailed upon to resolve to live, and to make the best of the matter. A letter, methought, from Captain Tomlinson helping to pacify her, written to apprise me, that her uncle Harlowe would certainly be at Kentish Town on Wednesday night, June 28, the following day (the 29th) being his birth-day; and he doubly desirous, on that account, that our nuptials should be then privately solemnized in his presence.

But is Thursday the 29th her uncle's anniversary, methinks thou askest ?—It is ; or else the day of celebration should have been earlier still. Three weeks ago I heard her say it was; and I have down the birth-day of every one of her family, and the wedding-day of her father and mother. The minutest circumstances are often of great service, in matters of the last importance.

And what sayest thou now to my dream?

Who says, that, sleeping and waking, I have not fine helps from some body, some spirit rather, as thou'lt be apt to say? But no wonder that a Beelzebub has his devilkins to attend his call.

I can have no manner of doubt of succeeding in mother H.'s part of the scheme; for will the lady (who resolves to throw herself into the first house she can enter, or to bespeak the protection of the first person she meets; and who thinks there can be no danger out of this house, equal to what she apprehends from me in it) scruple to accept of the chariot of a dowager, accidentally offering? And the lady's protection engaged by her faithful Dorcas, so highly bribed to promote her escape?— And then Mrs. H. has the air and appearance of a venerable matron, and is not such a forbidding devil as Mrs. Sinclair.

The pretty simpleton knows nothing of the world; nor that people who have money, never want assistants in their views, be they what they will. How else could the princes of the earth be so implicitly served as they are, change they hands ever so often, and be their purposes ever so wicked?

If I can but get her to go on with me till Wednesday next week, we shall be settled together pretty quietly by that time. And indeed if she has any gratitude, and has in her the least of her sex's foibles, she must think I deserve her favour, by the pains she has cost me. For dearly do they all love that men should take pains about them and for them.

And here, for the present, I will lay down my pen, and congratulate myself upon my happy invention (since her obstinacy puts me once more upon exercising it)—but with this resolution, I think, that, if the present contrivance fail me, I will exert all the faculties of my mind, all my talents, to procure for myself a legal right to her favour, and that in defiance of all my antipathies to the married state; and of the suggestions of the great devil out of the house, and of his secret agents in it—since, if now she is not to be prevailed upon, or drawn in, it will be in vain to attempt her further.

LETTER IV.

MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD,. ESQ.

Tuesday night, June 20.

No admittance yet to my charmer! She is very ill—in a violent fever, Dorcas thinks. Yet will have no advice.

. Dorcas tells her how much I am concerned at it.

But again let me ask, does this lady do right to make herself ill, when she is not ill? for my own part, libertine as people think me, when I had occasion to be sick, I took a dose of Ipecacuanha, that I might not be guilty of a falsehood; and most heartily sick was I; as she, who then pitied me, full well knew. But here to pretend to be very ill, only to get an opportunity to run away, in order to avoid forgiving a man who has offended her, how unchristian!—If good folks allow themselves in these breaches of a known duty, and in these presumptuous contrivances to deceive, who, Belford, shall blame us?

I have a strange notion, that the matronly lady

will be certainly at the grocer's shop at the hour

of nine to-morrow morning: for Dorcas heard me

tell Mrs. Sinclair, that I should go out at eight

precisely; and then she is to try for a coach: and

if the dowager's chariot should happen to be there,

how lucky will it be for my charmer! How

strangely will my dream be made out!

# * #

I Have just received a letter from Capt. Tomlinson. Is it not wonderful? For that was part of my dream.

I shall always have a prodigious regard to dreams henceforward. I know not but I may write a book upon that subject: for my own experience will furnish out a great part of it. Ghnville of Witches, Baxter's History of Spirits and Apparitions, and the Royal Pedant's Demonology, will be nothing at all to Lovelace's Reveries.

The letter is just what I dreamed it to be. I am only concerned that uncle John's anniversary did not happen three or four days sooner; for should any new misfortune befal my charmer, she may not be able to support her spirits so long as till Thursday in the next week. . Yet it will give me the more time for new expedients, should my present contrivance fail; which I cannot however suppose.

TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. Hear Sir, Monday, June 19.

I Can now return you joy, for the joy you have given me, as well as my dear friend Mr. Harlowe, in the news of his beloved niece's happy recovery; for he is determined to comply with her wishes and yours, and to give her to you with his own hand.

As the ceremony has been necessarily delayed by reason of her illness, and as Mr. Harlowe's birth-day is on Thursday the 29th of this instant June, when he enters into the sixty-fourth year of his age: and as time may be wanted to complete the dear lady's recovery; he is very desirous that the marriage shall be solemnized upon it; that he may afterwards have double joy on that day to the end of .his life.

For this purpose he intends to set out privately, so as to be at Kentish Town on Wednesday se'nnight in the evening.

All the family used, he says, to meet to celebrate it with him; but as they are at present in too u«happy a situation for that, he will give out,

« VorigeDoorgaan »