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wish, he once more approached me.—For his own part, he said, as Lord M. was so subject to the gout, he was afraid, that the compliment he had just proposed to make him, might, if made, occasion a longer suspension than he could bear to think of: and if it did, it would vex him to the heart that he had made it.
I could not say a single word to this, you know, my dear. But you will guess at my thoughts of what he said --so much passionate love, lip-deep! So prudent, and so dutifully patient at heart to a relation he had till now so undutifully despised !— Why, why, am I thrown upon
such a man, thought I !
He hesitated, as if contending with himself; and after taking a turn or two about the room, he was at a great loss what to determine upon, he said, because he had not the honour of knowing when he was to be made the happiest of men—would to God it might that very instant be resolved upon!
He stopped a moment or two, staring in his usual confident way, in my downcast face (did I not, O my beloved friend, think you, want a father or a mother just then ) : but if he could not, so soon as he wished, procure my consent to a day; in that case, he thought the compliment might as well be made to Lord M. as not-(See, my dear!) since the settlements might be drawn and engrossed in the intervenient time, which would pacify his impatience, as no time would be lost.
You will suppose how I was affected by this speech, by repeating the substance of what he said upon it; as follows.
-But, by his soul, he knew not, so much was I upon the reserve, and so much latent meaning did my eye import, whether, when he most hoped to please me, he was not farthest from doing so. Would I vouchsafe to say, whether I approved of his compliment to Lord M. or not?
Would to Heaven, my dearest life, added he, that, without complimenting anybody, to-morrow might be the happiest day of my life !—What say you, my angel ? with a trembling impatience that seemed not affected—what say you
for to-morrow? It was likely, my dear, I could say much to it, or name another day, had I been disposed to the latter, with such an hinted delay from him.
I was silent.
Had he given me time to answer, it could not have been in the affirmative, you must think-but in the same breath, he went on—or the day after that ?—and taking both my hands in his, he stared me into a half-confusionWould you have had patience with him, my dear?
No, no, said I, as calmly as possible, you cannot think that I should imagine there can be reason for such a hurry. It will be most agreeable, to be sure, for my Lord to be present.
I am all obedience and resignation, returned the wretch, with a self-pluming air, as if he had acquiesced to a proposal made by me, and had complimented me with a great piece of self-denial.
But when he would have rewarded himself, as he had heretofore called it, for this self-supposed concession, with a kiss, I repulsed him with a just and very sincere disdain.
He seemed both vexed and surprised, as one who had made the most agreeable proposals and concessions, and thought them ungratefully returned. He plainly said, that he thought our situation would entitle him to such an innocent freedom : and he was both amazed and grieved to be thus scornfully repulsed.
No reply could be made by me on such a subject. I abruptly broke from him. I recollect, as I passed by one of the pier-glasses, that I saw in it his clenched hand offered in wrath to his forehead: the words, indifference,
by his soul, next to hatred, I heard him speak : and something of ice he mentioned: I heard not what.
Whether he intends to write to my Lord, or to Miss Montague, I cannot tell. But as all delicacy ought to be over with me now, perhaps I am to blame to expect it from a man who may not know what it is. If he does not, and yet thinks himself very polite, and intends not to be otherwise, I am rather to be pitied, than he to be censured.
MR. LOVELACE TO MR. BELFORD.
his last, giving the state of affairs between him and
my projects, had not her father, and the rest of
the implacables stood my friends? After violent threatenings of revenge, he says,
'Tis plain she would have given me up for ever : nor should I have been able to prevent her abandoning of me, unless I had torn up the tree by the roots to come at the fruit ; which I hope still to bring down by a gentle shake or two, if I can but have patience to stay the ripening
Mentioning the settlement, he says,
I am in earnest as to the terms. If I marry her (and I have no doubt but that I shall, after my pride, my ambition, my revenge, if thou wilt, is gratified) I will do her noble justice. The more I do for such a prudent, such an
excellent economist, the more shall I do for myself.-But, by my soul, Belford, her haughtiness shall be brought down to own both love and obligation to me. Nor will this sketch of settlements bring us forwarder than I would have it. Modesty of sex will stand my friend at any time. . At the very altar, our hands joined, I would engage to make this proud beauty leave the parson and me, and all my friends who should be present, though twenty in number, to look like fools upon one another, while she took wing, and flew out of the church-door, or window (if that were open, and the door shut); and this only by a single word.
He mentions his rash expression, that she should be his,
although his damnation were to be the purchase. At that instant, says he, I was upon the point of making a violent attempt; but was checked in the very moment, and but just in time to save myself, by the awe I was struck with on again casting my eye upon her terrified but lovely face, and seeing, as I thought, her spotless heart in every line of it.
O Virtue, Virtue ! proceeds he, what is there in thee, that can thus against his will affect the heart of a Lovelace !—Whence these involuntary tremors, and fear of giving mortal offence ?—What art thou, that acting in the breast of a feeble woman, canst strike so much awe into a spirit so intrepid ! Which never before, no, not in my first attempt, young as I then was, and frighted at my own boldness (till I found myself forgiven) had such an effect
. upon me!
He paints, in lively colours, that part of the scene between
him and the lady, where she says, “ The word father has a sweet and venerable sound with it."
I was exceedingly affected, says he, upon the occasion. But was ashamed to be surprised into such a fit of un
manly weakness—so ashamed, that I was resolved to subdue it at the instant, and to guard against the like for the future. Yet, at that moment, I more than half regretted, that I could not permit her to enjoy a triumph which she so well deserved to glory in—her youth, her beauty, her artless innocence, and her manner, equally beyond comparison or description. But her indifference, Belford !—That she could resolve to sacrifice me to the malice of my enemies; and carry on the design in so clandestine a manner—yet love her, as I do, to frenzy !revere her, as I do, to adoration !—These were the recollections with which I fortified my recreant heart against her !-Yet, after all, if she persevere, she must conquer !
-Coward, as she has made me, that never was a coward before ! He concludes his fourth letter in a vehement rage upon
her repulsing him, when he offered to salute her ; having supposed, as he owns, that she would have
been all condescension on his proposals to her. This, says he, I will for ever remember against her, in order to steel my heart, that I may cut through a rock of ice to hers; and repay her for the disdain, the scorn, which glowed in her countenance, and was apparent in her air, at her abrupt departure from me, after such obliging behaviour on my side, and after I had so earnestly pressed her for an early day. The women below say, she hates me; she despises me !—and 'tis true : she does; she must. And why cannot I take their advice? I will not long, my fair one, be despised by thee, and laughed at by them!
MISS HOWE TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
Thursday, May 18. HAVE neither time nor patience, my dear friend, to answer every material article in
last letters just now received.
Mr. Lovelace's proposals are all I like of him. And yet (as you do) I think