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attended us in our airing to Hampstead, to Highgate, to Muswell Hill, to Kentish Town) will hear of her at some one or other of those places. And on this I the rather build, as I remember she was once, after our return, veryinquisitive about the stages, and their prices; praising the conveniency to passengers in their going off every hour; and this in Will's hearing, who was then in attendance. Woe be to the villain, if he recollect not this!
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
LETTER is put into my hands by Wilson himself —Such a letter!
A letter from Miss Howe to her cruel friend!—
I made no scruple to open it.
It is a miracle that I fell not into fits at the reading of it; and at the thought of what might have been the consequences, had it come to the hands of this Clarissa Harlowe. Let my justly-excited rage excuse my irreverence.
TO MISS LET1TIA BEAUMONT.
Wednesday, June 7.
My Dearest Fr1end.—You are certainly in a devilish house !—Be assured, that the woman is one of the vilest of women—nor does she go to you by her right name— Her name is not Sinclair—nor is the street she lives in, Dover Street.—Did you never go out by yourself, and discharge the coach or chair, and return by another coach or chair? If you did (yet I don't remember that you ever wrote to me, that you did) you would never have found your way to the vile house, either by the woman's name, Sinclair, or by the street's name, mentioned by that Dolernan in his letter about the lodgings.
But I will tell you how I came by my intelligence.
Miss Lardner (whom you have seen at her cousin Biddulph's) saw you at St. James's Church on Sunday was fortnight. She kept you in her eye during the whole
time; but could not once obtain the notice of yours though she curtsied to you twice. But she ordered her servant to follow you till you were housed. This servant saw you step into a chair, which waited for you; and you ordered the men to carry you to the place where they took you up.
The next day, Miss Lardner sent the same servant, out of mere curiosity, to make private inquiry whether Mr. Lovelace were, or were not, with you there. And this inquiry brought out, from different people, that the house was suspected to be one of those genteel wicked houses, which receive and accommodate fashionable people of both sexes.
Miss Lardner kept this to herself some days, not knowing what to do; for she loves you, and admires you of all women. At last she revealed it, but in confidence, to Miss Biddulph, by letter. Miss Biddulph, in like confidence, being afraid it would distract me were I to know it, communicated it to Miss Lloyd; and so, like a whispered scandal, it passed through several canals; and then it came to me. Which was not till last Monday.
I thought I should have fainted upon the surprising communication. But rage taking place, it blew away the sudden illness. I besought Miss Lloyd to re-enjoin secrecy to every one. I told her that I would not for the world that my mother, or any of your family, should know it. And I instantly caused a trusty friend to make what inquiries he could about Tomlinson.
Now, my dear, it is certain, that there is not such a man within ten miles of your uncle.
But this is what I am ready to conjecture, that Tomlinson, specious as he is, is a machine of Lovelace; and that he is employed for some end, which has not yet been answered. This is certain, that not only Tomlinson, but Mennell, who, I think, attended you more than once at this vile house, must know it to be a vile house.
What can you then think of Tomlinson's declaring himself in favour of it, upon enquiry?
Lovelace too must know it to be so; if not before he brought you to it, soon after.
But if this be so what (it would be asked by an indifferent person) has hitherto saved you? Glorious creature!— What, morally speaking, but your watchfulness! What but that, and the majesty of your virtue; the native dignity, which, in a situation so very difficult (friendless, destitute, passing for a wife, cast into the company of creatures accustomed to betray and ruin innocent hearts) has hitherto enabled you to baffle, overawe, and confound, such a dangerous libertine as this; so habitually remorseless, as you have observed him to be; so very various in his temper; so inventive; so seconded, so supported, so instigated, too probably as he has been!—That native dignity, that heroism I will call it, which has, on all proper occasions, exerted itself in its full lustre, unmingled with that charming obligingness and condescending sweetness, which is evermore the softener of that dignity, when your mind is free and unapprehensive!
If you do not fly the house upon reading of this, or some way or other get out of it, I shall judge of his power over you, by the little you will have over either him or yourself.
One word more. Command me up, if I can be of the least service or pleasure to you. I value not fame; I value not censure; nor even life itself, I verily think, as I do your honour, and your friendship—for, is not your honour my honour? and is not your friendship the pride of my life?
May heaven preserve you, my dearest creature, in honour and safety, is the prayer, the hourly prayer, of Your ever faithful and affectionate
But this, Belford, I hope—that if I can turn the poison of the inclosed letter into wholesome aliment; that is to say, if I can make use of it to my advantage; I shall have thy free consent to do it.
I am always careful to open covers cautiously, and to preserve seals entire. I will draw out from this cursed letter an alphabet. Nor was Nick Rowe ever half so diligent to learn Spanish, at the Quixote recommendation of a certain peer, as I will be to gain a mastery of this vixen's hand.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
Thursday Evening, June 8.
llFTER my last, so full of other hopes, the contents of this will surprise you. O my dearest friend, the man has at last proved himself to be a villain!
It was with the utmost difficulty last night, that I preserved myself from the vilest dishonour. He extorted from me a promise of forgiveness; and that I would see him next day, as if nothing had happened: but if it were possible to escape from a wretch, who, as I have too much reason to believe, formed a plot to fire the house, to frighten me, almost naked, into his arms, how could I see him next day?
I have escaped—heaven be praised that I have !—and have now no other concern, than that I fly from the only hope that could have made such a husband tolerable to me; the reconciliation with my friends, so agreeably undertaken by my uncle.
All my present hope is, to find some reputable family, or person of my own sex, who is obliged to go beyond sea, or who lives abroad; I care not whither; but if I might choose, in some one of our American colonies—never to be heard of more by my relations, whom I have so grievously offended.
I am at present at one Mrs. Moore's at Hampstead. My heart misgave me at coming to this village, because I had been here with him more than once: but the coach hither was so ready a conveniency, that I knew not what to do better. Then I shall stay here no longer than till I can receive your answer to this: in which you will be pleased to let me know, if I cannot be hid, according to your former contrivance (happy, had I given into it at the time !) by Mrs. Townsend's assistance, till the heat of his search be over. The Deptford road, I imagine, will be the right direction to hear of a passage, and to get safely aboard.
Mrs. Moore, at whose house I am, is a widow, and of good character: And of this, one of her neighbours, of whom I bought a handkerchief, purposely to make enquiry before I would venture, informed me.
I will not set my foot out of doors, till I have your direction: And I am the more secure, having dropped words to the people of the house where the coach set me down, as if I expected a chariot to meet me in my way to Hendon; a village a little distance from this. And when I left their house, I walked backward and forward upon the hill; at first, not knowing what to do; and afterwards, to be certain that I was not watched before I ventured to enquire after a lodging.
You will direct for me, my dear, by the name of Mrs. Harriot Lucas.
Your unhappy, but ever affectionate
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFOED, ESQ.
Friday Morning, past Two o'clock. O TRIUMPHE! Io Clarissa, sing !—Once more, what a happy man thy friend !—A silly dear novice, to be heard to tell the coachman whither to carry her !—And to go to Hampstead, of all the villages