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wench let fall against the cruelty of men; and wishing to have it in her power to serve her; has she given her the following note, signed by her maiden name: for she has thought fit, in positive and plain words, to own to the pitying Dorcas, that she is not married.
Monday, June 19
J the underwritten do hereby promise, that, on my coming into possession of my own estate, I will provide for Dorcas Martindale in a gentlewoman-like manner, in my own house: or, if I do not soon obtain that possession, or shouldJirst die, I do hereby bind myself, my executors and administrators to pay to her, or her order, during the term of her natural life, the sum of Jive pounds on each of theJour usual quarterly days in the year, that is to say twenty pounds by the year; on condition that she faithfully assist me in my escape from an illegal confinement, under which 1 now labour. Thefirst quarterly payment to commence and be payable at the end <if three months immediatelyfollowing the day of my deliverance. And I do also promise to give her, as a testimony of my honour in the rest, a diamond ring which I have shewed her. Witness my hand this 'nineteenth day of June, in the year above written.
Now, Jack, what terms wouldst thou have me to keep with such a sweet corruptress? Seest thou not how she hates me? Seest thou not, that she is resolved never to forgive me? Seest thou not, however, that she must disgrace herself in the eye of the world, if she actually should escape? That she must be subjected to infinite distress and hazard! For whom has she to receive and protect her? Yet to determine to risk all these evils! And fur
thermore to stoop to artifice, to be guilty of the reigning vice of the times, of bribery and corruption! O Jack, Jack! say not, write not, another word in her favour!
Thou hast blamed me for bringing her to this house: but had I carried her to any other in England, where there would have been one servant or inmate capable either of compassion or corruption, what must have been the consequence?
But seest thou not, however, that in this flimsy contrivance, the dear implacable, like a drowning man, catches at a straw to save herself! A straw shall she find to be the refuge she has resorted to.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Tuesday morn. 10. o'clock. Very ill—exceeding ill—as Dorcas tells me, in order to avoid seeing me—and yet the dear soul may be so in her mind. But is not that equivocation? Some one passion, predominating in every human breast, breaks through principle, and controls us all. Mine is love and revenge taking turns. Hers is hatred—but this is my consolation, that hatred appeased is love begun; or love renewed, I may rather say, if love ever had footing here!
But reflectioning apart, thou seest, Jack, that her plot is beginning to work. To-morrow it is to break out.
I have been abroad, to set on foot a plot of circumvention. All fair, now, Belford!
I insisted upon visiting my indisposed fair one. Dorcas made officious excuses for her. I cursed the wench in her hearing for her impertinence: B %
and stamped, and made a clutter; which was improved into an apprehension to the lady that I would have flung her faithful confidante from the top of the stairs to the bottom.
He is a violent wretch!—But, Dorcas, [dearDorcas, now it is] thou shalt have a friend in me to the last day of my life.
And what now, Jack, dost think the name of her good angel is! Why Dorcas Martindale, christian and super (no more Wykes) as in the promissory note in my former—and the dear creature has bound her to her by the most solemn obligations, besides the tie of interest.
Whither, madam, do you design to go when you get out of this house?
I will throw myself into the first open house I can find; and beg protection till I can get a coach or a lodging in some honest family.
What will you do for clothes, madam? I doubt you'll not be able to take any away with you, but what you'll have on.
O, no matter for clothes, if I can but get out of this house.
What will you do for money, madam? I have heard his honour express his concern, that he could not prevail upon you to be obliged to him, though he apprehended that you must be short of money.
O, I have rings and other valuables. Indeed I have but four guineas, and two of them I found lately wrapt up in a bit of lace, designed for a charitable use: but now, alas! charity begins at home! —But I have one dear friend left, if she be living, as I hope in God she is! to whom I can be obliged if I want. O, Dorcas! I must ere now have heard from her, if 1 had had fair play.
Well, madam, yours is a hard lot. I pity you at my heart!
Thank you, Dorcas!—I am unhappy, that I did not think before, that I might have confided in thy pity, and in thy sex!
I pitied you, madam, often and often: but you were always, as I thought, diffident of me. And then I doubted not but you were married; and I thought his honour was unkindly used by you. So that I thought it my duty to wish well to his honour, rather than to what I thought to be your humours, madam. Would to heaven, that I had known before that you were not married!—Such a lady! Such a fortune! to be so sadly betrayed!
Ah, Dorcas! I was basely'drawn in! My youth —my ignorance of the world—and I have some things to reproach myse If with when I look back.
Lord, madam, what deceitful creatures are these men!—Neither oaths, nor vows—I am sure— I am sure I [.and then with her apron she gave her eyes half a dozen hearty rubs] I may curse the time that I came into this house!
Here was accounting for her bold eyes! and was it not better for Dorcas to give up a house which her lady could not think worse of than she did, in order to gain the reputation of sincerity, than by offering to vindicate it, to make her proffered services suspected.
Poor Dorcas!—Bless me! how little do we, who have lived all our time in the country, know of this wicked town!
Had I been able to write, cried the veteran wench, I should certainly have given some other near relations I have in Wales, a little inkling of matters!
and they would have saved me from—from
Her sobs were enough. The apprehensions of women on such subjects are ever aforchand with speech. ,
And then, sobbing on, she lifted her apron to her face again. She shewed me how.
Poor Dorcas!—Again wiping her own charming eyes.
All love, all compassion, is this dear creature to every one in affliction, but me.
And would not an aunt protect her kinswoman? —abominable wretch!
I can't—I can't—I can't—say, my aunt was privy to it. She gave me good advice. She knew not for a great while. that I was—that I was—that I was—ugh! ugh!—ugh!—
No more, no more, good Dorcas—What a world do we live in !—What a house am I in!—But come, dom't weep: (though she herself could notforbear) my being betrayed into it, though to my own ruin, may be a happy event for thee: and if I live, it shall.
I thank you, my good lady, blubbering. I am sorry, very sorry, you have had so hard a lot. But it may be the saving of my soul, if I can get to your ladyship's house. Had I but known that your ladyship was not married, I would have eat my own flesh, before, before, before
Dorcas sobbed and wept. The lady sighed and wept also.
But now, Jack, for a serious reflection upon the premises.
How will the good folks account for it, that Satan has such faithful instruments, and that the bond of wickedness is a stronger bond than the ties of virtue; as if it were the nature of the human mind to be villanous? For here, had Dorcas been good and been tempted as she was tempted to any thing