Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

make Do difficulty of believing, that this their own account of their behaviour to this admirable woman has been far short of their insults: and the less, when I tell thee, that, altogether, their usage bad such effects upon her, that they left her in violent hysterics; ordering an apothecary to be sent for, if she should continue in them, and be worse; and particularly (as they had done from the first) that they kept out of her way any edged or pointed instrument; especially a pen-knife; which, pretending to mend a pen, they said, she might ask for.

At twelve Saturday night, Rowland sent to tell them, that she was so ill, that he knew not what might be the issue; and wished her out of his house.

And this made them as heartily wish to hear from you. For their messenger, to their great surprise, was not then returned from M. Hall. And they were sure he must have reached that place by Friday night.

Early on Sunday morning, both devils went to see how she did. They had such an account of her weakness, lowness, and anguish, that they forbore, (out of compassion, they said, finding their visits so disagreeable to her) to see her. But their apprehension of what might be the issue was, no doubt, their principal consideration: nothing else could have softened such flinty bosoms.

They sent for the apothecary Rowland had had to her, and gave him, and Rowland, and his wife and maid, strict orders many times repeated, for the utmost care to be taken of her—no doubt, with an Old Bailey forecast. And they sent up to let her know what orders they had given: but that, understanding she had taken something to compose her, they would not disturb her.

She had scrupled, it seems, to admit the apothecary's visit over night, because he was a MAN. Nor could she be prevailed upon to see him, till they pleaded their awn safety to her.

They went again, from church, [Lord, Bob, these creatures go to church!] but she sent them down word, that she must have all the remainder of the day to herself.

When I first came, and told them of thy execrations for what they had done, and joined my own to them, they were astonished. The mother said, she had thought she had known Mr. Lovelace better; and expected thanks, and not curses.

While I was with them, came back halting and cursing, most horribly, their messenger; by reason of the ill usage he had received from you, instead of the reward he had been taught to expect for the supposed good news that he carried down—a pretty fellow, art thou not, to abuse people for the consequences of thy own faults?

Dorcas, whose acquaintance this fellow is, and who recommended him for the journey, had conditioned with him, it seems, for a share in the expected bounty from you. Had she been to have had her share made good, I wish thou hadst broken every bone in his skin.

Under what shocking disadvantages, and with this addition to them, that I am thy friend and intimate, am I to make a visit to this unhappy lady to-morrow morning! In thy name, too !—Enough to be refused, that I am of a sex, to which, for thy sake, she has so justifiable an aversion: nor, having such a tyrant of a father, and such an implacable brother, has she reason to make an exception in favour of any of it on their accounts.

It is three o'clock. I will close here; and take a little rest: what I have written will be a proper preparative for what shall offer by and by.

Thy servant is not to return without a letter, he tells me; and that thou expectest him back in the morning. Thou hast fellows enough, where thou art, at thy command. If I find any difficulty in seeing the lady, thy messenger shall post away with this.—Let him look to broken bones, and . other consequences, if what he carries answer not thy expectation. But, if I am admitted, thou shalt have this and the result of my audience both together. In the former case thou mayest send another servant to wait the next advices, from

J. BELFOED.

LETTER LXVI.

MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.

Monday, July 17. About six this morning I went to Rowland's. Mrs. Sinclair was to follow me, in order to dismiss the action; but not to come in sight.

Rowland, upon inquiry, told me that the lady was extremely ill; and that she had desired, that no one but his wife or maid should come near her.

I said, I must see her. I had told him my business over night, and I must see her.

His wife went up: but returned presently, saying, she could not get her to speak to her; yet that her eyelids moved; though she either would not, or could not, open them, to look up at her.

Oons, woman, said I, the lady may be in a fit: the lady may be dying—let me go up. Shew me the way.

A horrid hole of a house, in an alley they call a court; stairs wretchedly narrow, even to the first floor rooms: and into a den they led me, with broken walls, which had been papered, as I saw by a multitude of tacks, and some tom bits held on by the rusty heads.

The floor indeed was clean, but the ceiling was smoked with variety of figures, and initials of names, that had been the woeful employment of wretches who had no other way to amuse themselves.

A bed at one corner, with coarse curtains tacked up at the feet to the ceiling; because the curtain-rings were broken off; but a coverlid upon it with a cleanish look, though plaguily in tatters, and the corners tied up in tassels, that the rents in it might go no further.

The windows dark and double-barred, the tops boarded up to save mending; and only a little four-paned eyelet-hole of a casement to let in the air; more, however, coming in at broken panes, than could come in at that.

Four old Turkey-worked chairs, bustern-bottomed, the stuffing staring out.

An old, tottering, worm-eaten table, that had more nails bestowed in mending it to make it stand, than the table cost fifty years ago, when new.

On the mantle-piece was an iron shove-up candlestick, with a lighted candle in it, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, four of them, I suppose, for a penny.

Near that, on the same shelf, was an old looking glass, cracked through the middle, breaking out into a thousand points; the crack given it, perhaps, in a rage, by some poor creature, to whom it gave the representation of his heart's woes in his face.

The chimney had two half tiles in it on one side, and one whole one on the other; which shewed it tad been in better plight; but now the very mortar

[ocr errors]

had followed the rest of the tiles in every other place, and left the bricks bare.

An old half-barred stove-grate was in the chimney; and in that a large stone bottle without a neck, rilled with baleful yew, as an evergreen, withered southernwood, dead sweet-briar, and sprigs of rue in flower.

To finish the shocking description, in a dark nook stood an old broken-bottomed cane couch, without a squab, or coverlid, sunk at one corner, and unmortised by the failing of one of its wormeaten legs, which lay in two pieces under the wretched piece of furniture it could no longer support.

And this, thou horrid Lovelace, teas the bedchamber of the divine Clarissa!!!

I had leisure to cast my eye on these things: for, going up softly, the poor lady turned not about at our entrance; nor, till I spoke, moved her head.

She was kneeling in a corner of the room, near the dismal window, against the table, on an old bolster (as it seemed to be) of the cane couch, halfcovered with her handkerchief; her back to the 'door; which was only shut to, [no need of fastenings !] her arms crossed upon the table, the forefinger of her right hand m her Bible. She had perhaps been reading in it, and could read no longer.. Paper, pens, ink, lay by her book on the table. Her dress was white lustring, exceeding neat; but her stays seemed not tight laced. I was told afterwards that her laces had been cut, when she fainted away at her entrance into this cursed place; and she had not been solicitous enough about her dress, to send for others. Her head-dress was a little discomposed; her charming hair in

« VorigeDoorgaan »