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wanted the money: that she would not be obliged to any body, when she had effects by her for which she had no occasion: and yet, said she, I expect not that they will fetch a price answerable to their value.
They were both very much concerned, as they owned; and asked my advice upon it: and the richness of her apparel having given them a still higher notion of her rank than they had before, they supposed she must be of quality; and again wanted to know her story.
I told them, that she was indeed a woman of family and fortune: I still gave them room to suppose her married: but left it to her to tell them all in her own time and manner: all I would say, was, that she had been very vilely treated; deserved it not; and was all innocence and purity.
You may suppose, that they both expressed their astonishment, that there could be a man in the world, who could ill treat so fine a creature.
As to disposing of the two suits of apparel, I told Mrs. Smith, that she should pretend, that, upon inquiry, she had found a friend who would purchase the richest of them; but (that she might not mistrust J would stand upon a good bargain. And having twenty guineas about me, I left them with her, in part of payment; and bid her pretend to get her .to part with it for as little more as she could induce her to take.
I am setting out for Edgware with poor Belton— more of whom in my next. I shall return to-mor,row; and leave this in readiness for your messenger, if he call in my absence.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ES<1.
M. Hall, Wedn. night, J«!y 19.
You might well apprehend, that I should think you were playing me booty in communicating my letter to the lady.
You ask, who would think you might not read to her the least exceptionable parts of a letter written in my own defence?—I'll tell you who— the man, who in the same letter that he asks this question, tells the friend whom he exposes to her resentment, 'That there is such an air of levity runs through his most serious letters, that those of his are least fit to be seen, which ought to be most to his 'credit:' and now what thinkest thou of thyself-condemned folly? Be, however, I charge thee, more circumspect for the future, that so this clumsy error may stand singly by itself.
'It is painful to her to think of me!'—' Libertine froth!'—' So pernicious and so despicable a' plotter!'—' A man whose friendship is no credit to anybody!'—'Hardenedwretch!*—'The devil's counterpart!'—' A wicked, wicked man!'—But did she, could she, dared she, to say, or imply all this? —And say it to a man whom she praises for humanity, and prefers to myself for that virtue; when all the humanity he shews, and she knows it too, is by my direction—so robs me of the credit of my own works; admirably entitled, all this shews her, to thy refinement upon the words resentment and revenge. But thou wert always aiming and blundering at something thou never couldst juake out.
VOL. VI. G G
The praise thou givest to her ingenuousness, is another of thy peculiars. I think not as thou dost, of her tell-tale recapitulations and exclamations: —what end can they answer?—Only that thou hast an holy love for her, [the devil fetch thee for thy oddity!] or it is extremely provoking to suppose one sees such a charming creature stand upright before a libertine, and talk of the sin against her, that cannot be forgiven!—I wish at my heart, that these chaste ladies would have a little modesty in their anger!—It would sound very strange if I Robert Lovelace should pretend to have more true delicacy, in a point that requires the utmost, than Miss Clarissa Harlowe.
I think I will put it into the head of her nurse Norton, and her Miss Howe, by some one of my agents, to chide the dear novice for her proclamations.
But to be serious: let me tell thee, that, severe as she is, and saucy, in asking so contemptuously, 'what a man is your friend, sir, to set himself to punish guilty people!' I will never forgive the cursed woman, who could commit this last horrid violence on so excellent a creature.
The barbarous insults of the two nymphs, in their visits to her; the choice of the most execrable den that could be found out, in order, no doubt, to induce her to go back to theirs; and the still more execrable attempt to propose to her a man who would pay the debt; a snare, I make no question, laid for her despairing and. resenting heart by that devilish Sally, (thinking her, no doubt, a woman) in order to ruin her with me, and to provoke me, in a fury, to give her up to their remorseless cruelty; are outrages, that, to express myself in her style, I never can, never mill, forgive.
But as to thy opinion, and the two women's at Smith's, that her heart is broken; that is the true women's language: I wonder how thou earnest into it: thou who hast seen and heard of so many female deaths and revivals.
I'll tell thee what makes against this notion of theirs.
Her time of life, and charming constitution: the good she ever delighted to do, and fancied she was born to do; and which she may still continue to do, to as high a degree as ever; nay, higher: since I am no sordid varlet, thou knowest: her religious turn: a turn that will always teach her to bear inevitable evils with patience: the contemplation upon her last noble triumph over me, and over the whole crew; and upon her succeeding escape from us all: her will unviolated: and the inward pride of having not deserved the treatment she has met with.
How is it possible to imagine, that a woman, who has all these consolations to reflect upon, will die of a broken heart?
On the contrary, I make no doubt, but that, as she recovers from the dejection into which this last scurvy villany (which none but wretches of her own sex could have been guilty of) has thrown her, returning love will re-enter her time-pacified mind: her thoughts will then turn once more on the conjugal pivot: of course she will have livelier notions in her head; and these will make her perform all her circumvolutions with ease and pleasure; though not with so high a degree of either, as if the dear proud rogue could have exalted herself above the rest of her sex, as she turned round.
Thou askest, on reciting the bitter invectives that the lady made against thy poor friend, (standing before her, I suppose, with thy fingers in thy mouth) what couldst thou say For me?
Have I not, in my former letters, suggested an hundred things, which a friend in earnest to vindicate or excuse a friend, might say, on such an occasion?
But now to current topics, and the present state of matters here.—It is true, as my servant told thee, that Miss Howe had engaged, before this cursed woman's officiousness, to use her interest with her friend in my behalf: and yet she told my cousins, in the visit they made her, that it was her opinion, that she would never forgive me. I send to thee inclosed copies of all that passed on this occasion between my cousins Montague, Miss Howe, myself, Lady Betty, Lady Sarah, and Lord M.
I long to know what Miss Howe wrote to her friend, in order to induce her to marry the despicable plotter: the man whose friendship is no credit to any body! the wicked, wicked man. Thou hadst the two letters in thy hand. Had they been in mine, the seal would have yielded to the touch of my warm finger, [perhaps without the help of the post-office bullet] and the folds, as other plications have done, opened of themselves to oblige my curiosity. A wicked omission, Jack, not to contrive to send them down to me, by man and horse! It might have passed, that the messenger who brought the second letter, took them both back. I could have returned them by another, when copied, as from Miss Howe, and nobody but myself and thee the wiser.
That's a charming girl! Her spirit, her delightful spirit!—Not to be married to it—how I wish to