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TO MISs UETITIA BEAUMONT.
Wednesday, June 7.
MY DEAKEST FRIEND,
You will perhaps think, that I have been too long silent. But I had begun two letters at different times since my last, and written a great deal each time; and with spirit enough I as
itS"sure you; incensed as I was against the abominable wretch you are with; particularly on reading yours of the 21st of the past month*.
mat" The first I intended to keep open till I could give you some account of my proceedings with Mrs. Townsend. It was some days before I saw her: and this intervenient space giving me time to re-peruse what I had written, I thought it proper to lay that aside, and to write in a style a little less fervent; for you would have
itiT blamed me, I know, for the
OfcS" freedom of some of my expressions [execrations, if you please]. And when I had gone a good way in the second, the change in your prospects, on his communicating to you Miss Montague's letter, and his better behaviour, occasioning a change in your mind, I laid that aside also. And in this uncertainty, thought I would wait to see the issue of affairs between you before I wrote again; believing that all would soon be decided one way or other.
• See Vol. II. Letter eiv.
I had still, perhaps, held this resolution [as every appearance, according to your letters, was more and more promising] had not the two passed days furnished me with intelligence which it highly imports you to know.
But I must stop here, and take a little walk, to try to keep down that just indignation which rises to my pen, when I am about to relate to You whatl must communicate. * * *
I Am not my own mistress enough — then my mother — always up and down — and watching as if I were writing to a fellow — but I will try if I can contain myself in tolerable bounds —
The women of the house where you are — O my dear
— the women of the house — but you never thought highly of them — so it cannot be very surprising — nor would you
afcsr ha.vestaid so long with them had not the notion of removing to one of your own, made you less uneasy, and less curious about their characters,and behaviour. Yet I could now wish, that you had been less reserved among them — but I tease you — in
JtS" short, my dear, you are certainly in a devilish house! — Be assured, that the woman is one of the vilest of women.
— Nor does she go to you by her right name — very true!
— her name is not Sinclair — nor is the street she lives in, Dover Street — did you never go out by yourself, and discbarge the coach or chair, and itS" return by another coach or chair? If you did [yet I don't remember that you ever wrote to me, that you did] you would never have found your way to the vile house, either by the woman's name, Sinclair, or by the street's name, mentioned by that Doleman in his letter about the lodgings*.
The wretch might indeed have held out the false lights a little more excusably, had the house been an honest house; and had his end only been to
Erevent mischief from your rother.—Butthis contrivance was antecedent, as I think, to your brother's project: so that no excuse can be made for his intentions at the time — the 3tS" man, whatever he may now intend, was certainly then, even then, a villain in his heart!
* * # 213" I Am excessively concerned, that I should be prevailed upon, between your over-niceness, on one hand, and my mother's positiveness, on the other, to be satisfied without knowing how to direct to you at your lodgings. I think too, that the proposal that I should be put off to a third-hand knowledge, or rather veiled in a rst-hand ignorance, came from im — and that it was only acquiesced in by you, as it was • Vol. II. Letters xxxlv. irxv.
by me*, upon needless and weak considerations — because, truly, I might have it to say, if challenged, that I knew not where to send to you!
— I am ashamed of myself!
— Had this been at first excusable, it could not be a good reason for going on in the folly, when you had no liking to the house, and when he began to
play tricks, and delay with you. — What! I was to mistrust myself, was I? — I was to allow it to be thought, that I could not keep my own
its' secret? — But the house to
3tS" be taken at this time, and at that time, led us both on — like fools, like tame fools in a
itS" string. — Upon my life, my dear, this man is a vile, a contemptible villain — I must speak out! — How has he laughed in his sleeve at us both, I warrant, for I can't tell how long!
And yet who could have thought that a man of fortune,
.33" and some reputation [this Doleman, I mean! not your wretch, to be sure! 1 — formerly a rake indeed — [I inquired after him
— long ago; and so was the
• See Vol. II. Letter lii. Par. 12. and Letter liv. Par. 12. Where the reader will observe, that the proposal came from herself; which, as it was also mentioned by Mr. Lovelace, (towards the end of Letter lix. in Vol. II.) she may be presumed to have forgotten. So that Clarissa had a double inducement foracquiescingwith the proposed method of carrying on the correspondence between Miss Howe and herself by Wilson's conveyance, and by the name of Lauitia Beaumont.
easier satisfied] — but married to a woman of family — having had a palsy-blow — and one would think a penitent — itS" should recommend such a house [why, my dear, he could not inquire of it, but must find it to be bad] to such a man as Lovelace, to bring his future, nay, his then supposed, bride to?
* # *
■ItS" I White, perhaps, with too much violence, to be clear. But I cannot help it. Yet I lay down my pen, and take it up every ten minutes, in order to write with some temper — my mother too in and out — what need I (she asks me) lock myself in, if I am only reading past correspondences? — For
ifcsT" that is my pretence, when she comes poking in with her face sharpened to an edge, as I
■Its'may say, by a curiosity that gives her more pain than pleasure — Lord forgive me: But I believe I shall huff her next time she comes in.
* * *
Do you forgive me too, my dear. My mother ought; because she says, I am my father's girl; and because I am sure I am hers. I don't know what to do — I don't know what to write next — I have so much to write, yet have so little patience, and so little opportunity.
But I will tell you how I came by my intelligence. its That being a fact, and re
quiring the less attention, I will try to account to you for that.
Thus then it came about — "Miss Larduer (whom you have seen at her cousin Biddulph's) saw you at St. James's church on Sunday was fortnight. She kept you in her eye during the whole time; but could not once obtain the notice of yours, though she courtsied to you twice. She thought to pay her compliments to you when the service was over; for she doubted not but you were married — and itS" for an odd reason — because you came to church by yourself. Every eye (as usual, wherever you are, she said) was upon you: and this seeming to give you hurry, and you being nearer the door than she, you slid out, before she could get to you. But she ordered her servant to follow you till you were housed. This servant saw you step into a chair, which waited for you; and you ordered the men to carry you to the place where they took you up.
"The next day, MissLardner sent the same servant, out of mere curiosity, to make
Erivate inquiry whether Mr. iovelace were , or were not, with you there. And this inJtS" quiry brought out from different people, that the house was suspected to be one of those genteel wicked houses, which receive and accommodate fashionable, .people of both sexes.
"Miss Lardner, confounded at this strange intelligence, made further inquiry; enjoining secresy to the servant she had sent, as well as to the gentleman whom she employed: who had it confirmed
UtS" from a rakish friend , who knew the house; and told him, that there were two houses; the one in which all decent appearances were preserved, and guests rarely admitted; the other, the receptacle of those who were absolutely engaged, and broken to the vile yoke."
J.VS" Say, my dear creature — say — shall I not execrate the wretch'?— But words are weak —■ what can I say, that will suitably express my abhorrence of such a villain as he must have been, when he meditated to carry a Clarissa to such a place!
"Miss Lardner kept this to herself some days, not knowing what to do; for she loves you, and admires you of all women. At last, she revealed it, but in confidence, to Miss Biddulph, by letter. Miss Biddulph, in like confidence, being afraid it would distract me, were I to know it, communicated it to Miss Lloyd; and so, like a whispered scandal, it passed through several canals; and then it came to me. Which was not till last Monday."
I thought I should have
fainted upon the surprising communication. But rage taking place, it blew away the sudden illness. I besought Miss Lloyd to re-enjoin secresy to every one. I told her, that I would not for the world that
Jfc*T my mother, or any of your family, should know it. And I instantly caused a trusty friend to make what inquiries he could about Tomlinson.
its* I had thoughts to have done itbeforelhadthis intelligence: but not imaginingitto be needful, andlittle thinkingthatyou could be in such a house, and as you were pleased with your
JtS" changed prospects, I forbore. And the rather forbore, as the matter is so laid, that Mrs. Hodges is supposed to know nothing of the projected treaty of accommodation; but, on the contrary, that it was designed to be a secret to her, and to every body but immediate parties; and it was Mrs. Hodges that I had proposed to sound by a second band.
Now, my dear, it is certain, without applying to that toomuch favoured housekeeper, that there is not such a man within ten miles of your uncle. Very true! One Tomkins there is, about four miles off; but he is a day-labourer, and one Thomson, about five miles distant the other way; but he is a parish schoolmaster, poor, and about seventy.
US' A man, though but of 800;. a year, cannot come from one country to settle in another, but every body in both must know it, and talk of it. Ut^f Mrs. Hodges may yet be sounded at a distance, if you will. Your uncle is an old man. Old men imagine themselves under obligation to their paramours, if younger than themselves, and seldom keep JJUS any thing from their knowledge. But if we suppose him to make a secret of the designed treaty, it is impossible, before that treaty was thought of, but she must have seen him, at least have heard your uncle speak praisefully of a man he is said to be so intimate with, let him have been ever so little a while in those parts, jtsf Yet, methinks, the story is so plausible: Tomlinson, as you describe him, is so good a man, and so much of a gentleman; the end to be answered UtS by his being an impostor, so much more than necessary if Lovelace has villany in his US head; and as you are in such a house — your wretch's behaviour to him was so petulant and lordly; and Tomlinson's answer so full of spirit and circumstance; and then what he atS* communicated to you of Mr. Hickman's application to your uncle, and of Mrs. Norton's to your mother [some of which particulars, I am satisfied, his JI8"vile agent Joseph Leman could not reveal to his viler employer]; his pressing on the marriage-day, in the name of
MS your uncle, which it could not answer any wicked purpose for him to do; and what he writes of your uncle's proposal, to have it thought that you were married from the time that you have lived in one house together; and thattobemadeagree with the time of Mr. Hickman's
MS visit to your uncle: the insisting on a trusty person's being present at the ceremony, at that uncle's nomination— these things make me willing to try for a tolerable construction to be made'of all; though 1 am
JCS" so much puzzled by what occurs on both sides of the question, that I cannot but abhor the devilish wretch, whose inventions and contrivances are for ever employing an inquisitive head, as mine is, without affording the means of absolute detection.
But this is what I am ready to conjecture that Tomlinson, specious as he is, is a machine of Lovelace; and that he is employed for some end, which
MS has not yet been answered. This is certain, that not only Tomlinson, but Mennell, who, I think, attended you more than once at this vile housi', must know it to be a vile house.
What can you then think of Tomlinson's declaring himself in favour of it upon inquiry?
Lovelace too must know it to be so; if not before he brought you to it, soon after.
its' Perhaps the company he found there, may be the most