Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

indignation. The obliging me in' this is but a poor atonement for your last night's vile behaviour.

You may pass this time in a journey to Lord M.'s: and I cannot doubt, if the ladies of your family are as favourable to me, as you have assured me they are, butthat you will have interest enough to prevail with one of them to oblige me with her company. After your baseness of last night, you willnot wonder, that I insist upon this proof of your future honour.

If Captain Tomlinson comes meantime, I can hear what he has to say, and send you an account of it.

But in less than a week if you see me, it must be owing to a fresh act of violence, of which you know not the consequence.

Send me the requested line, if ever you expect to have the forgiveness confirmed, the promise of which you extorted from

The unhappy

Cl. H.

Now, Belford, what canst thou say in behalf of this sweet rogue of a lady? What canst thou say for her? 'Tis apparent, that she was fully determined upon an elopement, when she wrote it: and thus would she make me of party against myself, by drawing me in to give her a week's time to complete it: and, more wicked still, send me upon a fool's errand to bring up one of my cousins: — when we came to have the satisfaction of finding her gone off, and me exposed for ever! — What

punishment can be bad enough for such a little villain of a lady.

But mind, moreover, how plausibly she accounts by this billet (supposing she should not find an opportunity of eloping before I returned)for the resolution of not seeing me for a week; and for the bread and butter expedient! — So childish as we thought it!

The chariot is not come; and if it were, it is yet too soon for every thing but my impatience. And as I have already taken all my measures, and can think of nothing but my triumph, I will resume her violent letter, in order to strengthen my resolutions against her. I was before in too gloomy a way to proceed with it: but now the subject is all alive to me, and my gayer fancy, like the sunbeams, will irradiate it, and turn the solemn deep green into a brighter verdure.

When I have called upon my charmer to explain some parts of her letter, and to atone for others, I will send it, or a copy of it, to thee.

Suffice it at present to tell thee, in the first place that she is determined never to be my wife — to be sure, there ought to be no compulsion in so material a case. Compulsion was her parents'fault, which I have censured so severely, that I shall hardly be guilty of the same. I am therefore glad I know her mind as to this essential point.

I have ruined her, she says! — Now that's a fib, take it in her own way — if I had, she would not perhaps have run away from me.

She is Uirown upon the wide world: Now I own that Hampstead Heath affords very pretty and very extensive prospects; but 'tis not the wide world neither: and suppose that to be her grievance, I hope soon to restore her to a narrower.

I am the enemy of her soul as well as of her honour! — Confoundedly severe! Nevertheless, another fib! — For I love her soul very well; but think no more of it in this case than of my own.

She is to be thrown upon strangers! — And is not that her own fault? — much against my will, I am sure.

She is cast from a state of independency into one of obligation. She never was in a state of independency; nor is it fit a woman should, of any age, or in any state of life. And as to the state of obligation, there is no such thing as living without being beholden to somebody. Mutual obligation is the very essence and soul of the social and commercial life: why should she be exempt from it? — I am sure the person she raves at, desires not such an exemption ; —. has been long dependant upon her; and would rejoice to owe farther obligations to her than he can boast of hitherto.

She talks of her father's curse — but have I not repaid him for it an hundred fold in the same coin? But why must the faults of other

feoplebelaidatmydoor? Have not enow of my own? But the grey-eyed dawn begins to peep — let me sum up all. In short, then, the dear crea

ture's letter is a collection of invectives not very new to me; though the occasion for them, no doubt, is new to her. A little sprinkling of the romantic and contradictory runs through it. She loves, and she hates: she encourages me to pursue her, by telling me I safely may; and yet she begs I will not: she apprehends poverty and want, yet resolves to give away her estate; to gratify whom? why in short, those who have been the cause of her misfortunes. And finally, though she resolves never to be mine, yet she has some regrets at leaving me, because of the opening prospects of a reconciliation with her friends.

But never did morning dawn so tardily as this! — neither is the chariot yet come.

* * *

A Gentleman to speak with me, Dorcas? — Who can want me thus early?

Captain Tomlinson, sayest thou? Surely he must have travelled all night! — Early riser as I am, how could he think to find me up thus early!

Let but the chariot come, and he shall accompany me in it to the bottom of the hill (though he return to town on foot; for the captain is all obliging goodness) that I may hear all he has to say, and tell him all my mind, and lose no time.

Well, now I am satisfied that this rebellious flight will turn to my advantage, as all crushed rebellions do to the advantage of a sovereign in possession.

* * *

Dear captain, I rejoice to see you — just in the nick of time — See! see;

The rosy flnger'd morn appoars ,
And from her mantle shakes her tears:
The sun arising, mortals cheers;
And drives the rising mists away,
In promise of a glorious day.

Excuse me, sir, that I salute you from my favourite bard. He that rises with the lark, will sing with the lark. Strange news since I saw you, captain! — Poor mistaken lady! — But you have too much goodness, I know, to reveal to her uncle Harlowe the errors of this capricious beauty. It will all turn out for the best. You must accompany me part of the way. I know the delight you take in composing differences. But 'tis the task of the prudent to heal the breaches made by the rashness and folly of the imprudent.

* * *

And now (all around me so still, and so silent) the rattling of the chariot-wheels at a street's distance do I hear! — and to this angel of a woman I fly!

Keward, O God of love (the cause is thy own) reward thou, as it deserves, my suffering perseverance! — Succeed my endeavours to bring back to thy obedience this charming fugitive! — make her acknowledge her rashness; repent her insults; implore my forgiveness; beg to be reinstated in my favour, and that I will bury in oblivion the remembrance of her heinous offence against thee,

and against me, thy faithful votary.

* * * The chariot at the door! — I come! I come — I attend you good captain — Indeed, sir —

Pray, sir — civility is not ceremony.

And now, dressed like a bridegroom, my heart elated beyond that of the most desiring one (attended by a footman whom my beloved never saw) I am already at Hampstead!

Letter To

Mr. Lovelace to John Belford, Esq.

Upper Flask, Hampstead, Fri. morn.

7 o'clock. (June 9.)

I Am now here, and here have been this hour and half. What an industrious spirit have I; — nobody can say that I eat the bread of idleness. I take true pains for all the pleasure I enjoy. I cannot but admire myself strangely; for certainly, with this active soul, I should have made a very great figure in whatever station I had filled. But had I been a prince! To be sure I should have made a most noble prince! I should have led up a military dance equal to that of the great Macedonian. I should have added kingdom to kingdom, and despoiled all my neighbour sovereigns, in order to have obtained the name of Robert the Great. And I would have gone to war with the great Turk, and the Persian, andMogholl,for their seraglios; for not one of those Eastern monarchs should have had a pretty woman to bless himself with, till I had done with her.

And now I have so much leisure upon my hands, that, after having informed myself of all necessary particulars, I am set to my short-hand writing in order to keep up with time as well as I can: for the subject is now become worthy of me; and it is yet too soon, I doubt, to pay my compliments to my charmer, after all her fatigues for two or three days past: and moreover, I have abundance of matters preparative to my future proceedings to recount, in order to connect and render all intelligible.

I parted with the captain at the foot of the hill, trebly instructed; that is to say, as to the fact, to the probable, and to the possible. If my beloved and I can meet and make up without the mediation of this worthy gentleman, it will be so much the better. As little foreign aid as possible in my amorous conflicts has always been a rule with me; though here I have been obliged to call in so much. And who knows but it may be the better for the lady the less 6he makes necessary. I can not bear that she should sit so indifferent to me as to be in earnest to part with me for ever upon so slight, or even upon any occasion. If I find she is — but no more threatenings till she is in my power — Thou knowest what I have vowed.

All Will's account from the lady's flight to his finding her

again, all the accounts of the people of the house, the coachman's information to Will, and so forth, collected together, stand thus.

"The Hampstead coach, when the dear fugitive caine to it, had but two passengers in it. But she made the fellow go off directly, paying for the vacant places.

"The two passengers directing the coachman to set them down at the Upper Flask, she bid him set her down there also.

"They took leave of her (very respectfully no doubt); and she went into the house, and asked, if, she could not have a dish of tea, and a room to herself for half an hour.

"They shewed her up to the very room where I now am. She sat at the very table I now write upon; and, I believe, the chair I sit in was hers. O lielford, if thou knowest what love is, thou wilt be able to account for these minutia.

"She seemed spiritless and fatigued. The landlady herself chose to attend so genteel and lovely a guest. She asked her, if she would have bread and butter with her tea?

"No. She could not eat.

"They had very good biscuits.

"As she pleased.

"The woman stept out for some; and returning on a sudden, she observed the sweet fugitive endeavouring to restrain a violent burst of grief, to which she had given way in that little interval.

"However, when the tea came, she made the landlady sit down with her, and asked her abundance of questions about the villages and roads in that neighbourhood.

"The woman took notice to her, that she seemed to be troubled in viind,

"Tender spirits, she replied, could not part with dear friends without concern."

She meant me, no doubt.

"She made no inquiry about a lodging, though by the sequel, thou'lt observe, that she seemed to intend to go no further that sight than Hampstead. But after she had drank two dishes, and put a biscuit in her pocket — (Sweet soul! to serve for her supper perhaps) she laid down half a crown; and refusing change, sighing, took leave, saying, she would proceed towards Hendon; the distance to which had been one of her questions.

They offered to send to know, if a Hampstead coach was not to go to Hendon that evening.

"No matter, she said — perhaps she might meet the chariot."

Another of her feints, I suppose: for how, or with whom, could any thing of this sort have been concerted since yesterday morning?

"She had, as the people took notice to one another, something so uncommonly noble in her air, and in her person and behaviour, that they were sure she was of quality. And having no servant with her of either sex, her eyes [her fine eyes, the landlady called

1 them, stranger as she was, and a woman!] being swelled and red, they were sure there was an elopement in the case, either from parents or guardians: for they supposed her too young and too maidenly to be a married lady: and were she married, no husband would let such a fine young creature be unattended and alone; nor give her cause for so much grief as seemed to be settled in her countenance. Then, at times, she seemed to be so bewildered, they said, that they were afraid she had it in her head to make away with herself.

"All these things put together, excited their curiosity, and they engaged a peery servant, as they called a footman who was drinking with Kit the ostler at the taphouse, to watch all her motions. This fellow reported the following particulars, as they were re-reported to me.

"She indeed went towards Hendon, passing by the sign of the Castle on the Heath; then stopping, looked about her, and down in the valley before her. Then, turning her face towards London, she seemed, by the motion of her handkerchief to her eyes, to weep; repenting [who knows?] the rash step she had taken and wishing herself back again."

Better for her, if she do, Jack, once more I say! — Woe be to the girl who could think of marrying me, yet be able to run away from me, and renounce me for ever! "Then, continuing on a few

« VorigeDoorgaan »