« VorigeDoorgaan »
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
Monday, May 15. HOW indeed it is evident, my best, my only friend,
that I have but one choice to make. And now
do I find, that I have carried my resentment against this man too far; since now I am to appear as if under an obligation to his patience with me for a conduct, which perhaps he will think (if not humoursome and childish) plainly demonstrative of my little esteem of him; of but a secondary esteem at least, where before, his pride rather than his merit, had made him expect a first. O my dear! to be cast upon a man, that is not a generous man ; that is indeed a cruel man! A man that is capable of creating a distress to a young creature, who by her evil destiny is thrown into his power; and then of enjoying it, as I may say! What a fate is mine!
Bad as the returns are which my application by Mr. Hickman has met with, you tell me, you
have not acquainted me with all the bad ; nor now, perhaps, ever will.” Have you worse than this, my dear, behind ?Surely my father has not renewed his dreadful malediction -Surely, if so, my mother has not joined in it!. Have my uncles given it their sanction, and made it a family act? And themselves thereby more really faulty, than ever they suppose me to be, though I the cause of that greater fault in them ?-What, my dear, is the worst, that you will leave for ever unrevealed ?
O Lovelace ! why comest thou not just now, while these black prospects are before me? For now, couldst thou look into my heart, wouldst thou see a distress worthy of thy barbarous triumph !
He went out in the morning; intending not to return to dinner, unless (as he sent me word) I would admit him to dine with me.
I excused myself. The man, whose anger is now to be of such high importance to me, was, it seems, displeased.
But let me sit with my hands before me, all patience, all resignation ; for I think I hear him coming up. Or shall I roundly accost him, in the words, in the form, which you, my dear, have prescribed ?
He is come in. He has sent to me, all impatience, as Dorcas says, by his aspect.—But I cannot, cannot see him!
Monday Night. The contents of your letter, and my own heavy reflections, rendered me incapable of seeing this expecting man. The first word he asked Dorcas, was, if I had received a letter since he had been out? She told me this ; and her answer, that I had; and was fasting, and had been in tears ever since.
He sent to desire an interview with me.
I answered by her, that I was not very well. In the morning, if better, I would see him as soon as he pleased.
Very humble ! was it not, my dear? Yet he was too royal to take it for humility; for Dorcas told me, he rubbed one side of his face impatiently; and said a rash word, and was out of humour ; stalking about the room.
Half an hour after, he sent again ; desiring very earnestly, that I would admit him to supper with me. He would enter upon no subjects of conversation, but what I should lead to.
So I should have been at liberty, you see, to court him ! I again desired to be excused.
Indeed, my dear, my eyes were swelled : I was very low-spirited;
and could not think of entering all at once, after the distance I had kept him at for several days, into the freedom of conversation which the utter rejection I have met with from my relations, as well as your advice, has made necessary.
He sent up to tell me, that as he heard I was fasting, if I would promise to eat some chicken which Mrs. Sinclair had ordered for supper, he would acquiesce. --Very kind in his anger !—Is he not?
I promised that I would. Can I be more preparatively condescending ?—How happy, I'll warrant, if I may meet him in a kind and forgiving humour !
I hate myself !—But I won't be insulted-Indeed I won't, for all this.
Tuesday, May 16. I think once more, we seem to be in a kind of train ; but through a storm. I will give you the particulars.
I heard him in the dining-room at five in the morning. I had rested very ill, and was up too. But opened not my door till six : when Dorcas brought me his request for my company.
He approached me, and taking my hand as I entered the dining-room, I went not to bed, Madam, till two, said he; yet slept not a wink. For God's sake, torment me not, as you have done for a week past.
He paused. I was silent.
At first, proceeded he, I thought your resentment of a curiosity, in which I had been disappointed, could not be deep; and that it would go off of itself: but when I found it was to be kept up till you knew the success of some new overtures which you had made, and which, complied with, might have deprived me of you for ever; how, madam, could I support myself under the thoughts of having, with such an union of interests, made so little impression upon your mind in my favour?
This, madam, after the persecutions of those relations ! After what you have suffered! After what you have made me hope! Let me, my dearest creature, ask you what sort of pride must his be, which can dispense with inclination and preference in the lady whom he adores ?- What must be that love
Love, sir ! who talks of love ?--Was not merit the thing we were talking of ?-Have I ever professed, have I ever required of you professions of a passion of that nature ! But there is no end of these debatings; each so faultless, each so full of selfI do not think myself faultless, madam :
-ButBut what, sir !—Would you evermore argue with me, as if you were a child ?–Seeking palliations, and making promises ?—Promises of what, sir ? Of being in future the man it is a shame a gentleman is not ?–Of being the man—
Good God ! interrupted he, with eyes lifted up, if thou wert to be thus severe
Well, well, sir (impatiently), I need only to observe, that all this vast difference in sentiments shows how unpaired our minds are
-So let usLet us what, madam !—My soul is rising into tumults ! And he looked so wildly, that I was a good deal terrified -Let us what, madam !
I was, however, resolved not to desert myself—Why, sir, let us resolve to quit every regard for each other-Nay, flame not out—I am a poor weak-minded creature in some things : But where what I should be, or not deserve to live, if I am not, is in the question, I have a great and invincible spirit, or my own conceit betrays me--Let us resolve to quit every regard for each other that is more than civil. This you may depend upon; I will never marry any other man. I have seen enough of your sex ; at least of you.—A single life shall ever be my choice : while I will leave you at liberty to pursue your own.
By my soul, said he, and grasped my hand with an eagerness that hurt it, we were born for one another : you must be mine--you sball be mine (and put his other arm round me), although my damnation were to be the purchase !
I was still more terrified—Let me leave you, Mr.
Lovelace, said I; or do you begone from me. Is the passion you boast of, to be thus shockingly demonstrated ?
You must not go, madam :-You must not leave me in anger
I will return-I will return-when you can be less violent-less shocking
And he let me go.
The man quite frighted me; insomuch than when I got into my chamber, I found a sudden flow of tears a great relief to me.
In half an hour, he sent a little billet, expressing his concern for the vehemence of his behaviour, and praying to see me.
I went. Because I could not help myself, I went.
He was full of his excuses.—0 my dear, what would you, even you, do with such a man as this; and in my situation ?
I presume, madam, replied he, from what you have said, that your application to Harlowe Place has proved unsuccessful: I therefore hope, that you will now give me leave to mention the terms in the nature of settlements, which I have long intended to propose to you; and which having till now delayed to do, through accidents not proceeding from myself, I had thoughts of urging to you the moment you entered upon your new house; and upon your finding yourself as independent in appearance as you are in fact. Permit me, madam, to propose these matters to you—not with an expectation of your immediate answer; but for your consideration.
Were not hesitation, a self-felt glow, a downcast eye, encouragement more than enough? “And yet you will observe (as I now do on recollection) that he was in no great hurry to solicit for a day; since he had no thoughts of proposing settlements, till I had got into my new house ; and now, in his great complaisance to me, he desired leave to propose his terms, not with an expectation of my im