Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Other reasons for my taking the step I have hinted at, are these:

This wicked man knows I have no friend in the world but you: your neighbourhood therefore would be the first he would seek for me in, were you to think it possible for me to be concealed in it: and in this case you might be subjected to inconveniences

freater even than those which you ave already sustained on my account.

From my cousin Morden, were he to come, I could not hope protection; since, by his letter to me, it is evident, that my brother has engaged him in his party: nor would I, by any means, subject so worthy a man to danger; as might be the case, from the violence of this ungovernable spirit.

These things considered, what better method can I take, than to go abroad to some one of the English colonies; where nobody but yourself shall know any thing of me; nor you, let me tell you, presently, nor till I am fixed, and (if it please God) in a course of living tolerably to my mind? For it is no small part of my concern, that my indiscretions have laid so heavy a tax upon you, my dear friend, to whom, once, I hoped to give more pleasure than pain.

I am at present at one Mrs. Moore's at Hampstead. My heart misgave me at coming to this village, because I had been here with him more than once: but the coach hither was so ready a conveniency, that I knew not what to

do better. Then I shall stay here no longer than till I can receive your answer to this: in which you will be pleased to let me know, if I cannot be hid, according to your former contrivance [happy, had I given into it at the time!] by Mrs. Townsend's assistance, till the heat of his search be over. The Deptford road, I imagine, will be the right direction to near of a passage, and to get safely aboard.

O why was the great fiend of all unchained, and permitted to assume so specious a form, and yet allowed to conceal his feet and his talons, till with the one he was ready to trample upon my honour, and to strike the other into my heart! — And what had I done, that he should be let loose particularly upon me!

Forgive me this murmuring question, the effect of my impatience , my guilty impatience, I doubt: for, as I have escaped with my honour, and nothing but my worldly prospects, and my pride, my ambition, and my vanity, have suffered in this wreck of my hopefuller fortunes, may I not still De more happy than I deserve to be? And is it not in my own power still by the divine favour, to secure the great stake of all? And who knows but that this very path into which my inconsideration has thrown me, strewed as it is with briers and thorns, which tear in pieces my gaudier trappings, may not hie the right path to lead me into the great road to my future happi

ness; which might have been endangered by evil communication?

And after all, are there not still more deserving persons than I, who never failed in any capital point of duty, that have been more humbled than myself; and some too, by the errors of parents and relations, by the tricks and baseness of guardians and trustees, and in which their own rashness or folly had no part?

I will then endeavour to make the best of my present lot. And join with me, my best, my only friend, in praying, that my punishment may end here; and that my present afflictions may be sanctified to me.

This letter will enable you to account for a line or two, which I sent to Wilson's to be carried to you, only for a feint, to get his servant out of the way. He seemed to be left, as I thought, for a spy upon me. But he returning too soon, I was forced to write a few lines for him to carry to his master, to a tavern near Doctors' Commons, with the same view: and this happily answered my end.

I wrote early in the morning a bitter letter to the wretch, which I left for him obvious enough: and I suppose he has it by this time. I kept no copy of it. I shall recollect the contents, and give you the particulars of all, at more leisure.

I am sure you will approve of my escape — the rather, as the people of the house must be very vile: for they, and that Dorcas

too, did hear me (I know they did) cry out for help: if the fire had been other than a villainous plot (although in the morning, to blind them, I pretended to think it otherwise) they would have been alarmed as much as I; and have run in, hearing me scream, to comfort me, supposing my terror was the fire; to relieve me, supposing it were any thing else. But the vile Dorcas went away as soon as she saw the wretch throw his arms about me! — Bless me, my dear, I had only my slippers and an under-petticoat on. I was frighted out of my bed, by her cries of fire; and that I should be burnt to ashes in a moment — and she to go away, and never to return, nor any body else! And yet I heard women's voices in the next room; indeed I did — an evident contrivance of them all: — God be praised, 1 am out of their house!

My terror is not yet over: I can hardly think myself safe: every well-dressed man I see from my windows, whether on horseback or on foot, 1 think to be him.

I know you will expedite an answer. A man and horse will be procured me to-morrow early to carry this. To be sure, you cannot return an answer by the same man, because you must see Mrs. Townsend first: nevertheless, I shall wait with impatience till you can; having no friend but you to apply to; and being such a stran

fer to this part of the world, that know not which way to turn myself; whither to go; nor what to do

— what a dreadful hand have I made of it!

Mrs. Moore, at whose house I am, is a widow, and of good character: and of this one of her neighbours, of whom I bought a handkerchief, purposely to make enquiry before I would venture, informed me.

I will not set my foot out of doors, till I have your direction: and I am the more secure, having dropt words to the people of the house where the coach set me down, as if I expected a chariot to meet me in my way to Hendon; a village a little distance from this. And when I left their house, I walked backward and forward upon the hill; atfirst, notknowing what to do; and afterwards, to be certain that I was not watched before I ventured to enquire after a lodging.

You will direct for me, my dear, by the name of Mrs. Harriet Lucas.

Had I not made my escape when I did, I was resolved to attempt it again and again. He was gone to the Commons for a licence, as he wrote me word; for I refused to see him, notwithstanding the promise he extorted from me.

How hard, how next to impossible, my dear, to avoid many lesser deviations, when we are betrayed into a capital one!

For fear I should not get away at my first effort, I had apprised him, that I would not set eye upon him under a week, in order to gain myself time for it in different ways

— and were I so to have been

watched as to have made it necessary, I would, after such an instance of the connivance of the women of the house, have run out into the street, and thrown myself into the next house I could have entered, or claimed protection from the first person I had met. — Women to desert the cause of a poor creature of their own sex, in such a situation, what must they be! — Then, such a poor guilty sort of figures did they make in the morning after he was gone out — so earnest to get me up stairs, and to convince me, by the scorched window-boards, and burnt curtains and vallens, that the fire was real — that (although I seemed to believe all they would have me believe) I was more and more resolved to get out of their house at all adventures.

When I began, I thought to write but a few lines. But, bemy subject what it will, I know not how to conclude when I write to you. It was always so: it is not therefore owing peculiarly to that most interesting and unhappy situation, which you will allow, however, to engross at present the whole mind of

Your unhappy, but ever affectionate,

Clarissa Harlowe. Letter Vi.

Mr. Lovelace to John Belford, Esq.

Friday morning, past two o'clock. Io triumphe I Io Clarissa, sing! —. Once more what a happy man thy friend! — A silly dear novice, to be heard to tell the coachman whither to carry her! — And to go to Hampstead, of all the villages about London! — The place where we had been together more than once!

Methinks I am sorry she managed no better! — I shall find the recovery of her too easy a task, I fear! Had she but known how much difficulty enhances the value of any thing with me, and had she had the least notion of obliging me by it, she would never nave stopt short at Hampstead, surely.

Well, but after all this exultation , thou wilt ask, 'If I have already got back my charmer?' — I have not: but knowing where she is, is almost the same thing as having her in my power. And it delights me to think how she will start and tremble when I first pop upon her! How she will look with conscious guilt, that will more than wipe off my guilt of Wednesday night, when she sees her injured lover and acknowledged husband, from whom, the greatest of felonies, she would have stolen herself.

But thou wilt be impatient to know how I came by my lights. Bead the inclosed here, and remember the instructions which from time to time, as I have told thee, I have given my fellow, in apprehension of such an elopement; and that will tell thee all, and what I may reasonably expect from the rascal's diligence and management, if he wishes ever to see my face again.

(.received it about half an hour ago/just as I was going to lie down

in my clothes: and it has made me so much alive, that, midnight as it is, I have sent'for a Blunt's chariot, to attend me here by day dawn, with my usual coachman, if possible; and knowing not else what to do with myself, I sat down, and, in the joy of my heart, have not only written thus far, but have concluded upon the measures I shall take when admitted to her presence: for well am I aware of difficulties I shall have to contend with from her perverseness.

HONNORED SUR,

This is to sertifie your honner, as how I am heer at Hamestet, wher I have found out my lady to be in logins at one Mrs. Moore's, near upon Hamestet-Hethe. And I have so ordered matters, that her ladiship cannot stur but I must have notice of her goins and comins. As I knowed I dursted not look into your honner's fase, if I had not found out my lady, thoff she was gone off the prems's in a quarter of an hour, as a man may; so I knowed you would be glad at hart to know I had found her out; and so I send this Petur Patrick, who is to have 5 shillins, it being now near 12 of the clock at nite; for he would not stur without a hearty drink too — besides; and I was willing all shulde be snug likeways at the logins before I sent.

I have munny ofyoure honner's; but I thought as how if the man was payed by me beforend, he moughtplay trix; so left that to your honner.

My lady knows nothing of my being hereaway. But I thoute it best not to leve the plase, because she has taken the logins but for a fue nites.

If your honner come to the Upper Flax, I will be in site all the day about the Tapp-house or the Hethe. I have borroued another cote, instead of your honner's liferie, and a blacke wigg; so cannot be knoen by my lady, iff as howe she shuld see me: and have made as if I hadthetoothe-ake, so with my hancriffe at my mothe, the teth which your honner was pleased to bett out with your honner's fyste, and my damn'd wide mothe, as your honner notifys it to be, cannot be knoen to be mine.

The two inner letters I had from my lady, before she went off the prems's. One was to be left at Mr. Wilson's for Miss Howe. The next was to be for your honner. But I knoed you was not at the plase directed; and being afear'd of what fell out, so I kept them for your honner, and so could not give um to you, until I seed you. Miss How's I only made belief to her ladiship as I carried it, and sed as how there was nothing left for hur, as shee wished to knoe: so here they be bothe.

I am, may it please your honner, Your honner's most dutiful, and, wonce more, happy servant,

Wm. Summers.

The two inner letters, as Will

calls them, 'tis plain, were wrote for no other purpose but to send him out of the way with them, and one of them to amuse me. That directed to Miss Howe is only this:

Thursday, June 8.

I Write this, my dear Miss Howe, only for a feint, and to see if it will go current. I shall write at large very soon, if not miserably prevented!!! Cl. H.

Now, Jack, will not her feints, justify mine! Does she not invade my province, thinkest thou? And is it not now fairly come to who shall most deceive and cheat the other? So, I thank my stars, we are upon a par, at last, as to this point — which is a great ease to my conscience, thou must believe. And if what Hudibras tells us is true, the dear fugitive has also abundance of pleasure to come.

Doubtless the pleasure is as great,

Iu being cheated, as to cheat.

As lookers-on find most delight,

Who least perceive the juggler's sleight;

And still the less they understand,

The more admire the sleight of hand.

This is my dear juggler's letter to me; the other inner letter sent by Will.

Mr. Lovelace, Thursday, June 8.

Do not give me cause to dread your return. If yon would not that I should hate you for ever, send me half a line by the bearer, to assure me that you will not attempt to see me for a week to come. I cannot look you in the face without equal confusion and

« VorigeDoorgaan »