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Nothing will do. Jack !—I can procure no favour from her, though she has obtained from me the point which she had set her heart upon.
I will give thee a brief account of what passed between us.
I first proposed instant marriage; and this in the most fervent manner: but was denied as fervently.
Would she be pleased to assure me, that she would stay here only till Tuesday morning? I would but just go down and see how my lord was to know whether he had any thing particular to say, or enjoin me, while yet he was sensible, as he was very earnest to see me—perhaps I might be up on Sunday—Concede in something !—I beseech you, madam, show me some little consideration.
Why, Mr. Lovelace, must I be determined by your motions ?—Think you, that I will voluntarily give a sanction to the imprisonment of my person? Of what importance to me ought to be your stay or your return?
Give a sanction to the imprisonment of your person? Do you think, madam, that I fear the law?
I might have spared this foolish question of defiance: but my pride would not let me. I thought she threatened me, Jack.
I don't think you fear the law, sir.—You are too brave to have any regard either to moral or divine sanctions.
'Tis well, madam—But ask me any thing I can do to oblige you; and I will oblige you; though in nothing wiil you oblige me.
Then I ask you, then I request of you, to let me go to Hampstead.
I paused—and at last—By my soul you shall— this very moment I will wait upon you, and see you fixed there, if you'll promise me your hand on Thursday in presence of your uncle.
I want not you to see Hie fixed. I will promise nothing.
Take care, madam, that you don't let me see, that I can have no reliance upon your future favour.
I have been used to be threatened by you, sir— But I will accept of your company to Hampstead— I will be ready to go in a quarter of an hour—my clothes may be sent after me.
You know the condition, madam—next Thursday.
You dare not trust—
My infinite demerits tell me, that I ought not— nevertheless, I mil confide in your generosity— To-morrow morning, (no new cause arising to give reason to the contrary) as early as you please, you may go to Hampstead.
This seemed to oblige her. But yet she looked with a face of doubt.
I will go down to the women, Belford. And having no better judges at hand, will hear what they say upon my critical situation with this proud beauty, who has so insolently rejected a Lovelace kneeling at her feet, though making an earnest tender of himself for a husband, in spite of all his prejudices to the state of shackles.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Just come from the women.
'Have I gone so far, and am I afraid to go further ?—Have I not already, as it is evident by her behaviour, sinned beyond forgiveness ?—A woman's tears used to be to mc but as water sprinkled on a glowing fire, which gives it a fiercer and brighter blaze: what defence has this lady but her tears and her eloquence? She was before taken at no weak advantage. She was insensible in her moments of trial. Had she been sensible, she must have been sensible. So they say. The methods taken with her have augmented her glory and her pride. She has now a tale to tell, that she may tell with honour to herself. No accomplice-inclination. She can look me into confusion, without being conscious of so much as a thought, which she need to be ashamed of.'
This, Jack, is the substance of the women's reasonings with me.
To which let me add, that the dear creature now sees the necessity I am in to leave her. Detecting me is in her head. My contrivances are of such a nature, that I must appear to be the most odious of men, if I am detected on this side matrimony. And yet I have promised, as thou seest, that she shall set out to Hampstead as soon as she pleases in the morning, and that without condition on her side.
Dost thou ask, What I meant by this promise?
No new cause arising, was the proviso on my side, thou'lt remember. But there will be a new cause.
Suppose Dorcas should drop the promissory note given her by her lady? Servants, especially those who cannot read or write, are the most careless people in the world of written papers. Suppose I take it up ?—at a time, too, that I was determined that the dear creature should be her own mistress? —Will not this detection be a new cause?—A cause that will carry with it against her the appearance of ingratitude?
That she designed it a secret to me, argues afear of detection, and indirectly a sense of guilt. I wanted a pretence. Can I have a better ?—If I am
in a violent passion upon the detection, is not passion an universally allowed extenuator of violence? Is not every man and woman obliged to excuse that fault in another, which at times they find attended with such ungovernable effects in themselves?
The mother and sisterhood, suppose, brought to . sit in judgment upon the vile corrupted—the least benefit that must accrue from the accidental discovery, if not a pretence for perpetration, [which, however, may be the case] an excuse for renewing my orders for her detention till my return from M. Hall [the fault her own]; and for keeping a stricter watch over her than before; with direction to send me any letters that may be written by her or to her.—And when I return, the devil's in it if I find not a way to make her choose lodgings for herself (since these are so hateful to her) that shall answer all my purposes; and yet I no more appear to direct her choice, than I did before in these.
Thou wilt curse me when thou comest to this place. I know thou wilt. But thinkest thou, that after such a series of contrivance, I will lose this inimitable woman for want of a little more? A rake's a rake, Jack !—And what rake is withheld by principle from the perpetration of any evil his heart is set upon, and in which he thinks he can succeed? —Besides, am I not in earnest as to marriage ?— Will not the generality of the world acquit me, if I do marry? And what is that injury which a church rite will not at any time repair? Is not the catastrophe of every story that ends in wedlock accounted happy, be the difficulties in the progress to it ever so great?
But here, how am I engrossed by this lady, while poor Lord M. as Simon tells me, lies groaning in the most dreadful agonies!—What must he suffer! —Heaven relieve him !—I have a too compassionate heart. And so would the dear creature have found, could I have thought that the worst of her sufferings is equal to the lightest of his. I mean as to fact; for as to that part of hers, which arises from extreme sensibility, I know nothing of that; and cannot therefore be answerable for it.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Just come from my charmer. She will not suffer me to say half the obliging, the tender things, which my honest heart is ready to overflow with. A confounded situation that, when a man finds himself in humour to be eloquent and pathetic at the same time, yet cannot engage the mistress of his fate to lend an ear to his fine speeches.
I can account now, how it comes about, that lovers, when their mistresses are cruel, run into solitude, and disburthen their minds to stocks and stones: for am I not forced to make my complaints to thee?
She claimed the performance of my promise, the moment she saw me, of permitting her [haughtily she spoke the word] to go to Hampstead, as soon as I was gone to Berks.
Most cheerfully I renewed it.
She desired me to give orders in her hearing.
I sent for Dorcas and Will. They came.—Do you both take notice [but perhaps, sir, I may take you with me] that your lady is to be obeyed in all her commands. She proposes to return to Hampstead as soon as I am gone—My dear, will you not have a servant to attend you.