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She called me villain, Belford, within these few hours. And what is the sum of the present argument; but that had I not been a villain in her sense of the word, she had not been so much an angel I
0 Jack, Jack! this midnight attempt has made me mad; has utterly undone me! How can the dear creature say, I have made her vile in her own eyes, when her behaviour under such a surprise, and her resentment under such circumstances, have so greatly exalted her in mine?
Whence, however, this strange rhapsody: — Is it owing to my being We? That I am not atA'mclair s? But if there be infection in that house, how has my beloved escaped it?
But no more in this strain! — I will see what her behaviour will be on my return — yet already do I begin to apprehend some little sinkings, some little retrogradations: for I have just now a doubt arisen, whether, for lier own sake, I should wish her to forgive me lightly, or with difficulty?
I Am in a way to come at the wished-for licence.
I have now given every thing between my beloved and me a full consideration; and my puzzle is over. What has brought me to a speedier determination, is, that I think I have found out what she means by the week's distance at which she intends to hold me. It is, that she may have time to write to Miss Howe, to put in motion
that cursed scheme of hers, and to take measures upon it which shall enable her to abandon and renounce me for ever. Now, Jack, if I obtain not admission to tier presence on my return; but am refused with haughtiness; if her week be insisted upon (such prospects before her); I shall be confirmed in my conjecture; and it will be plain to me, that weak at best was that love, which could give place to punctilio, at a time when the all-reconciling ceremony, as she must think, waits her command: — then will I recollect all her perversenesses; then will I reperuse Miss Howe's letters, and the transcripts from others of them, give way to my aversion to the life of shackles: and then shall she be mine in my own way.
But, after all, I am in hopes, that she will have better considered of every thing by the evening; that her threat of a week's distance was thrown out in the heat of passion; and that she will allow, that I have as much cause to quarrel with her for breach of her word, as she has with me for breach of the peace.
These lines of Rowe have got into my head; and I shall repeat them very devoutly all the way the chairmen shall poppet me towards her by-and-by.
Teach me, some power, the happy art of
To dress my purpose up in gracious words,
Such as may softly steal upon her soul, And never waken the tempestuous passions.
Thursday evening, June 8.
O for a curse to kill with! — Ruined! Undone! Outwitted! Tricked! — Zounds, man, the lady is .gone off! — Absolutely gone off! Escaped! —
Thou knowest not, nor canst conceive, the pangs that wring my heart! — What can I do! — O Lord, OLord, OLord!
And thou, too, who hast endeavoured to weaken my hands, wilt but clap thy dragon's wings at the tidings.
Yet I must write, or I shall go distracted. Little less have I been these two hours: dispatching messengers to every stage, to every inn, to every waggon or coach, whether flying or creeping, and to every house with a bill up, for five miles round.
The little hypocrite, who knows not a soul in this town, [/ thought I icas sure of her at any time] such an unexperienced traitress; giving me hope too, in her first Dillet, that her expectation of the familyreconciliation would withhold her from taking such a step as this — curse upon her contrivances! — I thought, that it was owing to her bashfulness, to her modesty, that, after a few innocent freedoms, she could not look me in the face; when, all the while, she was impudently [yes, I say, impudently, though she be Clarissa Harlowe] contriving to rob me of the dearest property I had ever purchased — purchased by a painful servitude
of manymonths; fighting through the wild-beasts of her family for her, and combating with a windmill virtue, which hath cost me millions of perjuries only to attempt; and which now, with its d—n'd air-fans, has tost me a mile and an half beyond hope! — And this, just as I had arrived within view of the consummation of all my wishes!
O devil of love! god of love no more — how have I deserved this of thee! —Never before the friend of frozen virtue! — Powerless demon, for powerless thou must be, if thou meanest not to frustrate my hopes; who shall henceforth kneel at thy altars! — May every enterprising heart abhor, despise, execrate, renounce thee, as I do! — But, O Belford, Belford, what signifies cursing now!
* * *
How she could effect this her wicked escape, is my astonishment; the whole sisterhood having charge of her: — for, as yet, I have not had patience enough to inquire into the particulars, nor to let a soul of them approach me.
Of this I am sure, or I had not brought her hither; there is not a creature belonging to this house, that could be corrupted either by virtue or remorse: the highest joy every infernal nymph of this worse than infernal habitation could have known, would have been to reduce this proud beauty to her own level. — And as to my villain, who also had charge of her, he is such a seasoned varlet, that he delights in mischief for the sake of it: no bribe could seduce him to betray his trust, were there but wickedness in it! — 'Tis well, however, he was out of my way when the cursed news was imparted to me! — Gone, the villain! in quest of her: not to return, nor see my face [so it seems he declared] till he has heard some tidings of her; and all the out-of-place varlets of his numerous acquaintance are summoned and employed in the same business.
To what purpose brovight I this angel (angel I must yet call her) to this hellish house? — And was I not meditating to do her deserved honour? — By my soul, Belford, I was resolved — but thou knowest what I had conditionally resolved — and now, who can tell into what hands she may have fallen!
l am mad, stark mad, by Jupiter, at the thoughts of this! — Unprovided, destitute, unacquainted — some villain, worse than myself, who adores her not as I adore her, may have seized her, and taken advantage of her distress! — Let me perish, Belford, if a whole hecatomb of innocents, as the little plagues are called, shall atone for the broken promise and wicked artifices of this cruel creature I
# * *
Going home, as I did, with resolutions favourable to her, judge thou of my distraction, when her escape was first hinted to me, although but in broken sentences. I knew not what I said, nor what
I did. I wanted to kill somebody. I flew out of one room into another, while all avoided me but the veteran Betty Carberry, who broke the matter to me. I charged bribery and corruption, in my first fury, upon all; and threatened destruction to old and young, as they should come in my way.
IJorcas continues locked up from me: Sally and Polly have not yet dared to appear: the vile Sinclair
But here comes the odious devil. She taps at the door, though that's only ajar, whining and snuffling, to try, I suppose, to coax me into temper.
* * #
What a helpless state, where a man can only execrate himself and others; the occasion of his rage remaining; the evil increasing upon reflection; time itself conspiring to deepen it! — O how I cursed her!
I have her now, methinks, before me, blubbering— how odious does sorrow make an ugly face! — Thine, Jack, and this old bedlam's, in penitentials, instead of moving compassion, must evermore confirm hatred; while beauty in tears, is beauty heightened, and what my heart has ever delighted to see. —
"What excuse! — Confound you, and your cursed daughters, what excuse can you make? — Is she not gone! — Has she not escaped! — But before I am quite distracted, before I commit half an hundred murders, let me hear how it was." —
* * *
I Have heard her story! — Art, d — ned, confounded, wicked, unpardonable art, in a woman of her character— but shewmeawoman, and I'll shew thee a plotter! — This plaguy sex is ar(itself: every individual of it is a plotter by nature.
This is the substance of the old wretch's account.
She told me, "That I had no sooner left the vile house, than Dorcas acquainted the Syren" [do, Jack, let me call her names! — / beseech thee, Jack, to permit me to call her names!] "Than Dorcas acquainted her lady with it; and that 1 had left word, that I was gone to Doctors' Commons, and should be heard of for some hours at the Horn there, if inquired after by the counsellor, or any body else: that afterwards I should be either at the Cocoa Tree, or King's Arms, and should not return till Jate. She then urged her to take some refreshment.
"She was in tears when Dorcas approached her; her saucy eyes swelled with weeping: she refused either to eat or drink: sighed as if her heart would break." — False, devilish grief: not the humble, silent, grief, that only deserves -pity! — Contriving to ruin me, to despoil me of all that I held valuable, in the very midst of it.
"Nevertheless, being resolved not to see me for a week at least, she ordered her to bring up three or four French rolls, with a little butter, and a decanter of water;
telling her, she would dispense with her attendance; and that should be all she would live upon in the interim." So, artful creature! pretending to lay up for a week's siege. — For, as to substantial food, she, no more than other angels — angels, said I — the devil take me if she shall be any more an angel! — For she is odious in my eyes; and I hate her mortally! —
But on! Lovelace, thou liest! — She is all that is lovely! All that is excellent!
But is she, can she be gone! — O how Miss Howe will triumph! — But if that little fury receive her, fate shall make me rich amends; for then will I contrive to have them both.
I was looking back for connection — but the devil take connection: I have no business with it: the contrary best befits distraction, and that will soon be my lot!
"Dorcas consulted the old wretch about obeying her: Oyes, by all means: for Mr. Lovelace knew how to come at her at any time: and directed a bottle of sherry to be added.
"This cheerful compliance so obliged her, that she was prevailed upon to go up, and look at the damage done by the fire; and seemed not only shocked at it, but, as they thought, satisfied it was no trick; as she owned she had at first apprehended it to be. All this made them secure; and they laughed in their sleeves, to think what a childish way of shewing her resentment she had found out; Sally throwing out her witticisms, that Mrs. Lovelace was right, however, not to quarrel with her bread and butter."
Now this very childishness, as they imagined it, in such a genius, would nave made me suspect either her head, after what had happened the night before; or her purpose, when the marriage was (so far as she knew) to be completed within the week in which she was resolved to secrete herself from me in the same house.
"She sent Will, with a letter to Wilson's, directed to Miss Howe, ordering him to inquire if there were not one for her there.
"He only pretended to go, and brought word there was none; and put her letter in his pocket for me.
"She then ordered him to carry another (which she gave him) to the Horn Tavern to me. — All this done without any seeming hurry: yet she appeared to be very solemn; and put her handkerchief frequently to her eyes.
"Will pretended to come to me with this letter. But though the dog had the sagacity to mistrust something on her sending him out a second time (and to me, whom she had refused to see); which he thought extraordinary; and mentioned his mistrusts to Sally, Polly, and Dorcas; yet they made light of his suspicions; Dorcas assuring them all, that her lady seemed more stupid with her grief, than active; and that she really
believed she was a little turned in her head, and knew not what she did. But all of them depended upon her inexperience, her open temper, and upon her not making the least motion towards going out, or to have a coach or chair called, as sometimes she had done; and still more upon the preparations she had made for a week's siege, as I may call it.
"Will went out, pretending to bring the letter to me; butquickly returned; his heart still misgiving him, on recollecting my frequent cautions, that he was not to judge for himself, when he had positive orders; but if any doubt occurred, from circumstances I could not foresee, literally to follow them, as the only way to avoid blame.
"But it must have been in this little interval, that she escaped; for soon after his return, they made fast the street-door and hatch, the mother and the two nymphs taking a little turn into the garden; Dorcas going up stairs, and Will (to avoid being seen by his lady, or his voice heard) down into the kitchen.
"About half an hour after, Dorcas, who had planted herself where she could see her lady's door open, had the curiosity to go to look through the keyhole, having a misgiving, as she said, that her lady might offer some violence to herself, in the mood she had been in all day; and finding the key in the door, which was not very usual, she tapped at it three or four times, and having no answer, opened it, with Madam,