« VorigeDoorgaan »
that he concludes them not with that warmth and earnestness which we might naturally have expected from him. Never in my life did I hear or read of so patient a man, with such a blessing in his reach. But wretches of his cast, between you and me, my dear, have not, I fancy, the ardours that honest men have. Who knows, as your Bell once spitefully said, but he may have half a dozen creatures to quit his hands of before he engages for life ?—Yet I believe you must not expect him to be honest on this side of his grand climacteric.
Would to heaven to-morrow, without complimenting any body, might be his happy day!-Villain! After he had himself suggested the compliment ! — And I think he accuses you of delaying !-Fellow, that he is !—How my heart is wrung.
I will endeavour to think of some method, of some scheme, to get you from him, and to fix you safely somewhere till your Cousin Morden arrives-a scheme to lie by you, and to be pursued as occasion may be given. You are sure, that you can go abroad when you please ? and that our correspondence is safe ? I cannot, however (for the reasons heretofore mentioned respecting your own reputation), wish you to leave him while he gives you not cause to suspect his honour. But your heart I know would be the easier, if you were sure of some asylum in case of necessity.
I shall be impatient till I have your next. I am, my dearest friend, Your ever affectionate and faithful
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Wednesday, May 17. ET me once more entreat thee, Lovelace, to reflect,
before it be too late (before the mortal offence
be given) upon the graces and merits of this lady. Let thy frequent remorses at last end in one effectual
remorse. Let not pride and wantonness of heart ruin thy fairer prospects. By my faith, Lovelace, there is nothing but vanity, conceit, and nonsense, in our wild schemes. As we grow older we shall be wiser, and looking back upon our foolish notions of the present hour (our youth dissipated) shall certainly despise ourselves when we think of the honourable engagements we might have made. Thou, more especially, if thou lettest such a matchless creature slide through thy fingers. A creature pure from her cradle. In all her actions and sentiments uniformly noble. Strict in the performance of all her even unrewarded duties to the most unreasonable of fathers, what a wife will she make the man who shall have the honour to call her his !
Could any man but thee put together upon paper the following questions with so much unconcern as thou seemest to have written them! Give them a re-perusal, O heart of adamant! "Whither can she fly to avoid me? Her parents will not receive her; her uncles will not entertain her; her beloved Norton is in their direction, and cannot; Miss Howe dare not. She has not one friend in town but ME; is entirely a stranger to the town.” What must that heart be that can triumph in a distress so deep, into which she has been plunged by thy elaborate arts and contrivances? And what a sweet, yet sad reflection was that, which had like to have had its due effect upon thee, arising from thy naming Lord M. for her nuptial father! Her tender years inclining her to wish a father, and to hope a friend. O my dear Lovelace, canst thou resolve to be, instead of the father thou has robbed her of, a devil ?
Thou knowest, that I have no interest, that I can have no view, in wishing thee to do justice to this admirable creature. For thy own sake, once more I conjure thee, for thy family's sake, and for the sake of our common humanity, let me beseech thee to be just to Miss Clarissa Harlowe.
Thy real friend,
Mr. Lovelace having not returned an answer to Mr. Bel
ford's expostulatory letter, so soon as Mr. Belford expected, he wrote to him, expressing his apprehension, that he had disobliged him by his honest free
dom. Among other things, he saysI pass my time here at Watford, attending my dying uncle, very heavily. I cannot, therefore, by any means, dispense with thy correspondence. And why shouldst thou punish me, for having more conscience and more remorse than thyself? Thou, who never thoughtest either conscience or remorse an honour to thee. Do thou, Lovelace, whether thou art, or art not, determined upon thy measures with regard to the fine lady in thy power, enliven my heavy heart by thy communications; and thou wilt oblige
Thy melancholy friend,
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Friday Night, May 19. HEN I have opened my views to thee so amply as
I have done in my former letters, and have told
thee that my principal design is but to bring virtue to a trial that, if virtue, it need not be afraid of; and that the reward of it will be marriage;
I am amazed at the repetition of thy wambling nonsense.
I do not intend to let this matchless creature slip through my fingers.
Saturday, May 20. And now will I favour thee with a brief account of our present situation.
From the highest to the lowest we are all extremely happy. Dorcas stands well in her lady's graces. Polly has asked her advice in relation to a courtship affair of her own.
No oracle ever gave better. Sally has had a quarrel with her woollen-draper; and made my charmer lady-chancellor in it. She blamed Sally for behaving tyrannically to a man who loves her.
But how stands it between thyself and the lady, methinks thou askest, since her abrupt departure from thee, and undutiful repulse of Wednesday morning?
Why, pretty well in the main. Nay, very well. For why? The dear saucy-face knows not how to help herself. Can fly to no other protection. And has, besides, overheard a conversation (who would have thought she had been so near ?) which passed between Mrs. Sinclair, Miss Martin, and myself, that very Wednesday afternoon; which has set her heart at ease with respect to several doubtful points.
Such as, particularly, “Mrs. Fretchville's unhappy state of mind — Most humanely pitied by Miss Martin, who knows her very well—The hushand she has lost, and herself (as Sally says) lovers from their cradles. Pity from one begets pity from another, be the occasion for it either strong or weak; and so many circumstances were given to poor Mrs. Fretchville's distress, that it was impossible but my beloved must extremely pity her whom the less tender-hearted Miss Martin greatly pitied.
“My Lord M.'s gout his only hindrance from visiting my spouse. Lady Betty and Miss Montague soon expected in town.
My earnest desire signified to have my spouse receive those ladies in her own house, if Mrs. Fretchville would but know her own mind; and I pathetically lamented the delay occasioned by her not knowing it.
My intention to stay at Mrs. Sinclair's, as I said I had told them before, while my spouse resides in her own house (when Mrs. Fretchville could be brought to quit it,) in order to gratify her utmost punctilio.
My passion for my beloved (which as I told them in a
high and fervent accent, was the truest that man could have for woman,) I boasted of. It was, in short, I said, of the true Platonic kind; or I had no notion of what Platonic love was.”
So it is, Jack; and must end as Platonic love generally does end.
“Sally and Mrs. Sinclair next praised, but not grossly, my beloved. Sally particularly admired her purity; called it exemplary; yet (to avoid suspicion) expressed her thoughts, that she was rather over-nice, if she might presume to say so before me. But nevertheless she applauded me for the strict observation I made of my vow.
“I more freely blamed her reserves to me; called her cruel; inveighed against her relations; doubted her love. Every favour I asked of her denied me. Yet my behaviour to her as pure and delicate when alone, as when before them. Hinted at something that had passed between us that very day, that showed her indifference to me in so strong a light, that I could not bear it.
“I then, from a letter just before received from one in her father's family, warned them of a person who had undertaken to find us out, and whom I thus in writing (having called for pen and ink,) described, that they might arm all the family against him”—'a sun-burnt, pockfretten sailor, ill-looking, big-boned.'
“No questions asked by this fellow must be answered. They should call me to him. But not let my beloved know a tittle of this, so long as it could be helped. And I added, that if her brother or Singleton came, and if they behaved civilly, I would, for her sake, be civil to them : and in this case, she had nothing to do, but to own her marriage, and there could be no pretence for violence on either side. But most fervently I swore, that if she were conveyed away, either by persuasion or force, I would directly, on missing her but one day, go to demand her at Harlowe Place, whether she were there or not; and if I