« VorigeDoorgaan »
I was resolved to fetch her out, if possible: and pretending to be going—you can't agree as to any time, Mrs. Moore, when we can have this third room, can you ?—Not that (whispered I, loud enough to be heard in the next room; not that) I would incommode the lady : but I would tell my wife when abouts—and women, you know, Mrs. Moore, love to have everything before them of this nature.
Mrs. Moore, said my charmer (and never did her voice sound so harmonious to me: oh how my heart bounded again! It even talked to me, in a manner; for I thought I heard, as well as felt, its unruly flutters; and every vein about me seemed a pulse :) Mrs. Moore you may acquaint the gentleman, that I shall stay here only for two or three days at most, till I receive an answer to a letter I have written into the country; and rather than be your hindrance, I will take up with any apartment a pair of stairs higher.
Not for the world !—not for the world, young lady, cried I!—my wife, well as I love her, should lie in a garret, rather than put such a considerate lady as you seem to be, to the least inconveniency.
She opened not the door yet; and I said, but since you have so much goodness, madam, if I could but just look into the closet as I stand, I could tell my wife whether it is large enough to hold a cabinet she much values, and will have with her wherever she goes.
Then my charmer opened the door, and blazed upon me, as it were, in a flood of light, like what one might imagine would strike a man, who, born blind, had by some propitious power been blessed with his sight, all at once, in a meridian sun.
Upon my soul, I never was so strangely affected before. I had much ado to forbear discovering myself that instant: but, hesitatingly, and in great disorder, I said, looking into the closet, and around it, there is room, I see, for my wife's cabinet; and it has many jewels in it of high price; but, upon my soul (for I could not forbear swearing, like a puppy:—habit is a cursed thing, Jack—) nothing so valuable as the lady I see, can be brought into it.
She started, and looked at me with terror. The truth of the compliment, as far as I know, had taken dissimulation from my accent.
I saw it was impossible to conceal myself longer from her, any more than (from the violent impulses of my passion) to forbear manifesting myself. I unbuttoned therefore my cape, I pulled off my flapt slouched hat; I threw open my great coat, and, like the devil in Milton (an odd comparison though !)
I started up in my own form divine,
Now, Belford, for a similitude—now for a likeness to illustrate the surprising scene, and the effect it had upon my charmer, and the gentlewoman!—But nothing was like it, or equal to it. The plain fact can only describe it, and set it off—thus then take it.
She no sooner saw who it was, than she gave three violent screams; and, before I could catch her in my arms (as I was about to do the moment I discovered myself) down she sunk at my feet, in a fit; which made me curse my indiscretion for so suddenly, and with so much emotion, revealing myself.
It is needless to follow in detail all the cajoleries by which Lovelace manages to convince the people of the lodgings with whom his poor hunted victim had found refuge, of the integrity of his intentions and of his relation to Clarissa. He deludes them into a belief that he is already married to her, and that he abstains from living with her on the terms of a husband only to satisfy some punctilio of her own,
VOL. II. M
because she fancies that by keeping hinn at a distance she may more easily be reconciled to her family. He confesses that he was led away by circumstances connected with the fire (a real fire he insists) to assert his claims to the lady rather more warmly than was pleasing to her; and he dazzles the eyes of these simple-minded people by frequent reference to his high connections and unexceptionable worldly position. Further, he insinuates that Clarissa's opposition to him is heightened by the interference of one of her friends (Miss Howe), to whom he ascribes an interested motive—namely, that of an unrequited attachment to himself. Having thus enlisted the sympathies of Clarissa's new-found friends in his behalf, Lovelace next addresses himself to the task of pacifying the terrors of the lady.
The task is difficult, for her soul is in arms against him. All the pure impulses of her nature revolt against the memory of the insult which had been offered to her by his presence in her chamber on the night of the fire. She is tired of the atmosphere of deceit which has surrounded her since her lot has been mixed with his, and she desires nothing so much as an immunity from his attentions. Oh, that she may be allowed to finish her days in some quiet refuge where she shall be free alike from the persecutions of her lover and from the tyrannies of her family. She still, however, cherishes a hope that reconciliation with her family is not impossible; and it is on this hope that Lovelace founds most of his schemes and arguments by which Clarissa is gradually lured to her doom.
Then the plausible Tomlinson once more appears in the foreground. He declares it to be essential to the success of the scheme of reconciliation that Clarissa shoidd adhere to the assertion that she is already married; he hints that her brother, James Harlowe, disbelieving this report, is determined to take instant measures to ascertain its truth; and he declares that her uncle, John Harlowe, anxious to make an end of the strife, entreats that the marriage should at once take place, adding, that should he himself be unable to attend the ceremony, he consents, "with all his heart," that Tomlinson should represent him on the occasion. Clarissa has an interview with Tomlinson, in which her grief goodness, and beauty so affect this panderer to Lovelace's wickedness, that he is scarce able to continue the concerted conversation by which she is to be deluded once more into faith. Lovelace, however, being in the intensity of his selfishness perfectly reckless as to the amount of suffering which the gratification of his lust and his vanity may inflict on the girl he professes to love, is more obdurate, and in concert with Tomlinson persuades her that his aunt, Lady Betty Lawrance, and his cousin, Miss Charlotte Montague, are coming to visit her, and that they will assist at the celebration of her nuptials. 80 many specious arguments are used to shoiu that she should not cloud the apparent sunshine of her prosperity by untimely resentment, that site at last wavers, only reserving to herself the right of waiting for the arrival of a letter from Miss Howe, in which she expects to find help and counsel. When Clarissa is at church, Lovelace intercepts Miss Howe's messenger, a simple country fellow, and induces him to believe that one of the women of the lodging (a woman who falls innocently enough into Lovelace's scheme) is Clarissa herself To this woman—a red-faced, vulgar-looking woman—the messenger delivers Miss Howe's letter, and Lovelace then takes possession of it. Clarissa, however, continues to decline his suit.
She tells him that she can never be happy with him nor he with her; and the only immediate concession he can wring from Iter is that sfie will wait and receive the promised visit of his kinswomen. The scheme involved in this visit—one of the darkest and most shameful of all Lovelace's tortuous designs—is thus unfolded in a letter to his friend Belford.—Ed.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Monday, June 12.
But thou hast; and lain with her too; or fame does thee more credit than thou deservest—why, Jack knowest thou not Lady Betty's other name?
Other name !—has she two?
She has. And what thinkest thou of Lady Bab. Wallis?
O the devil!
Now thou hast it. Lady Barbara, thou knowest, lifted up in circumstances, and by pride, never appears or produces herself, but on occasions special—to pass to men of quality or price, for a duchess, or countess, at least. She has always been admired for a grandeur in her air, that few women of quality can come up to: and never was supposed to be other than what she passed for; though often and often a paramour for lords.
And who, thinkest thou, is my cousin Montague?
Nay, how should I know?
How indeed! Why, my little Johanetta Golding, a lively, yet modest-looking girl, is my cousin Montague.
There, Belford, is an aunt!—there's a cousin! Both have wit at will. Both are accustomed to ape quality. Both are genteelly descended. Mistresses of themselves