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counsellor will have finished the writings to-day or to-morrow, at furthest: the licence with the arson, or the parson without the cence, must be also procured within the next four-and-twenty hours; Pritchard is as good as ready with his indentures tripartite: Tomlinson is at hand with a favourable answer from her uncle — yet not to see her for a week! — Dear, sweet soul! her good angel is gone a journey: is truanting at least. But nevertheless, in thy week's time, or in much less, my charmer, I doubt not to complete my triumph!
But what vexes me of all things, is, that such an excellent creature should break her word: — fie, fie, upon her! — But nobody is absolutely perfect! 'Tis human to err, but not to persevere — I hope my charmer cannot be inhuman!
Mr. Lovelace to John Belford, Esq.
King's Arms, Fall Mall, Thursday, two o'clock.
Several billets passed between us before I went out, by the internuncioship of Dorcas: for which reason mine are superscribed by her married name. — She would not open her door to receive them; lest I should be near it, I suppose. So Dorcas was forced to put them under the door (after copying them for thee); and thence to take the answers. Read them, if thou wilt, at this place.
TO MRS. LOVELACE.
'Indeed , my dearest life, you
carry this matter too far. What will the people below, who suppose us one as to the ceremony, think of so great a niceness? Liberties so innocent! the occasion so accidental! — You will expose yourself as well as me. — Hitherto they know nothing of what has passed. And what indeed has passed, to occasion all this resentment? — I am sure, you will not, by a breach of your word of honour, give me reason to conclude that had I not obeyed you, I could have fared no worse.
Most sincerely do I repeat the offence given to your delicacy — but must I, for so accidental an occurrence, be branded by such shocking names? — Vilest of men, and most detestable of plotters, are hard words! — From the pen of such a lady too.
If you step up another pair of stairs, you will be convinced, that however detestable I may be to you, I am no plotter in this affair.
I must insist upon seeing you, in order to take your directions upon some of the subjects we talked of yesterday in the evening.
All that is more than necessary is too much. I claim your promised pardon, and wish to plead it on my knees.
I beg your presence in the dining-room for one quarter of an hour, and I will then leave you for the day. I am,
My dearest life,
TO Mil. LOVELACE.
I Will not see you. I cannot see you. I have no directions to give you. Let Providence decide tor me as it pleases.
The more I reflect upon your vileness , your ungrateful, your barbarous vileness, the more I am exasperated against you.
You are the last person, whose judgment I will take upon what is or in not carried too far in matters of decency.
'Tis grievous to me to write, or even to think of you at present. Urge me no more then. Once more, I will not see you. Nor care 1, now you have made me vile to myself, what other people think of me.
TO HKS. LOVELACE.
Again, madam, I remind you of your promise: and beg leave to say, 1 insist upon tbe performance of it.
Remember, dearest creature, that the fault of a blameable person cannot warrant a fault in one more perfect. Over-niceness may be under-niceness!
I cannot reproach myself with any thing that deserves this high resentment.
I own that the violence of my passion for you might have carried me beyond fit bounds — but that your commands and adjurations had power over me at such a moment, I humbly presume to say, deserves some consideration.
You enjoin me not to see you for a week. If I have not your pardon before Captain Toinlinson
comes to town, what shall I say to
I beg once more your presence in the dining-room. By my soul, madam, I must see you.
1 want to consult you about the licence, and other particulars of great importance. The people below think us married; and I cannot talk to you upon such subjects with the door between us.
For Heaven's sake, favour me with your presence for a few minutes: and I will leave you for the day.
If I am to be forgiven, according to your promise, the earliest forgiveness will be most obliging, and will save great pain to yourself, as well as to
Your truly contrite and afflicted Lovelace.
To Mr. Lovelace.
The more you tease me, the worse it will be for you.
Time is wanted to consider whether I ever should think of you at all.
At present, it is my sincere wish, that I may never more see your face.
All that can afford you that least shadow of favour from me, arises from the hoped-for reconciliation with my real friends, not my Judas protector.
I am careless at present of consequences. I hate myself: and who is it I have reason to value? — Not the man who could form a plot to disgrace his own hopes, as well as a poor friendless creature (tnade friendless by himself) by iusuits not to be thought of with patience.
TO MRS. LOVELACE.
I Will go to the Commons, and proceed in every particular as if I had not the misfortune to be under your displeasure.
I must insist upon it, that however faulty my passion on so unexpected an incident, made me appear to a lady of your delicacy, yet my compliance with your entreaties at such a moment (as it gave you an instance of your power over me, which few men could have shown) ought, duly considered, to entitle me to the effects of that solemn promise which was the condition of my obedience.
I hope to find you in a kinder, and, I will say, juster disposition on my return. Whether I get the licence, or not, let me beg of you to make the soon you have been pleased to bid me hope for, tomorrow morning. This will reconcile every thing, and make me the happiest of men.
The settlements are ready to sign, or will be by night.
For Heaven's sake, madam, do not carry your resentment into a displeasure so disproportionate to the offence. For that would be, to expose us both to the people below; and, what is of infinite more consequence to us, to Captain Tomlinson. Let us be able, I beseech you, madam, to assure him, on his next visit, that we are one.
As I have no hope to be permitted to dine with you, I shall not return till evening: and then, I presume to say, I expect (your promise authorizes me to use the word) to find you disposed to bless, by your consent for tomorrow,
What pleasure did I propose to take, how to enjoy the sweet confusion in which I expected to find her, while all was so recent! But she must, she shall, see me on my return. It were better for herself, as well as for me, that she had not made so much ado about nothing. I must keep my anger alive, lest it sink into compassion. Love and compassion, be the provocation ever so great, are hard to be separated: while anger converts what would be pity without it, into resentment. Nothing can be lovely in a man's eye, with which he is thoroughly displeased.
I ordered Dorcas on putting the last billet under the door, and finding it taken up, to tell her, that I hoped an answer to it before I went out .
Her reply was verbal, Tell him that I care not whither he goes, nor what he does. — And this, reurged by Dorcas, was all she had to say to me.
I looked through the key-hole at my going by her door, and saw her onher knees, at her bed's feet, her head and bosom on the bed, her arms extended, [sweet creature, how I adore her! J and in an agony she seemed to be, sobbing, as I beard at that distance, as if her heart would break —; by my soul, Jack, I am a pity-tal fellow. Recollection is my enemy! — Divine excellence! — Happy with her for so many days together! Now so unhappy! — And for what? — But she is purity itself. And why, after all, should I thus torment — but I must not trust myself with myself, in the humour I am in. * * *
Waiting here for Mowbray and Mallory, by whose aid I am to get the licence, I took papers out of my pocket, to divert myself; and thy last popt officiously the first into my hand. I gave it the honour of a re-perusal; and this revived the subject with me, with which I had resolved not to trust myself.
I remember, that the dear creature, in her torn answer to my proposals, says, that condescension is not meanness. She better knows how to make this out, than any mortal breathing. Condescension indeed implies dignity: and dignity ever was there in her condescension. Yet such a dignity as gave grace to the condescension; for there was no pride, no insult, no apparent superiority, indicated by it — this, Miss Howe confirms to be a part of her general character.*
I can tell her, how she might behave, to make me her own "for ever. She knows she cannot fly me. She knows she must see me sooner or later; the sooner the * See Vol. n. p. 269.
j more gracious. — I would allow her to resent [not because the liberties I took with her require resentment, were she not a ClaRissa; but as it becomes her particular niceness to resent]: but would she shew more love than abhorrence of me in her resentment; would she seem, if it were but to seem, to believe the fire no device, and all that followed merely accidental; and descend, upon it, to tender expostulation, and upbraiding for the advantage I would have taken of her surprise; and would she, at last, be satisfied (as well she may) that it was attended with no further consequence; and place some generous confidence in my honour [power loves to be trusted, Jack; 1I think I would put an end to all her trials, and pay her my vows at the altar.
Yet to have taken such bold steps, as with Tomlinson and her uncle. — To have made such a progress — O Belford, Belford, how have I puzzled myself, as well as her! — This cursed aversion to wedlock how has it entangled me! — What contradictions has it made me guilty of!
How pleasing to myself, to look back upon the happy days I gave her: though mine would doubtless have been more unmixedly so, could I have determined to lay aside my contrivances, and to be as sincere all the time, as she deserved that I should be!
If I find this humour hold but till to-morrow morning, [and it has now lasted two full hours, and I seem, methinks,to have pleasure in encouraging it] I will make thee avisit, I think, or get thee to come to me; and then will I — consult thee upon it.
But she will not trust me. She will not confide in my honour. Doubt, in this case, is defiance. She loves me not well enough to forgive me generously. She is so greatly above me! How can I forgive her for a merit so mortifying to my pride! She thinks, she knows, she has told me, that she is above me. These words are still in my ears, "Begone, Lovelace!— My soul is above thee, man! — Thou hast a proud heart to contend with! — My soul is above thee, man*!" Miss Howe thinks her above me too. Thou, even thou, my friend, my intimate friend and companion, art of the same opinion. Then I fear her as much as I love her. — How shall my pride bear these reflections? My wife (as I have so often said, because it so often recurs to my thoughts) to be so much my superior! — Myself to be considered but as the second person in my own family! — Canst thou teach me to bear such a reflection as this! — To tell me of my acquisition in her, and that she, with all her excellences, will be mine in full property, is a mistake — it cannot be so — for shall I not be hers; and not my own ? — Will not every act of her duty (as I cannot deserve it) be a condescension, and a triumph over me? — And must I owe it merely to her goodness that she does not despise me? * See Vol. II. Letter ex.
— To have her condescend to bear with my follies! — To wound me with an eye of pity! — A daughter of the Harlowes thus to excel the last, and as I have heretofore said, not the meanest of theLovelaces*
— forbid it! —
Yet forbid it not — for do I not now — do I not eveiy moment
— see her before me all over charms, and elegance and purity, as in the struggles of the past midnight? And in these struggles, heart, voice, eyes, hands, and sentiments , so greatly, so gloriously consistent with the character she has sustained from her cradle to the present hour?
But what advantages do I give thee?
Yet have I not always done her justice? Why then thy teasing impertinence?
However, I forgive thee, Jack
— since (so much generous love am I capable of!) I had rather all the world should condemn me, than that her character should suffer the least impeachment.
The dear creature herself once told me, that there was a strange mixture in my mind. **
I have been called Devil and Beelzebub, between the two proud beauties: I must indeed be a Beelzebub, if I had not some tolerable qualities.
But as Miss Howe says, the suffering time of this excellent creature is her shining time.*** Hitherto she has done nothing but shine.
• See Vol. n. p. 51.