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MR. DELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Walford, Wednesday, June 14. THOU savage-hearted monster! what work hast thou made in one guilty hour, for a whole age of repentance!
I am inexpressibly concerned at the fate of this matchless lady! she could not have fallen into the hands of any other man breathing, and suffered as she has done with thee.
I can tell thee, it is well either for thee or for me, that I am not the brother of the lady. Had I been her brother, her violation must have been followed by the blood of one of us.
Clarissa Lives, thou sayest. That she does, is my wonder; and these words shew, that thou thyself (though thou couldst, nevertheless, proceed) hardly expectedst she would have survived the outrage. What must have been the poor lady's distress (watchful as she had been over her honour) when dreadful certainty took place of cruel apprehension !—and yet a man may guess what it must have been, by that which thou paintest, when she suspected herself tricked, deserted, and betrayed, by the pretended ladies.
That thou couldst behold her phrensy on this occasion, and her half-speechless, half-fainting prostration at thy feet, and yet retain thy evil purposes, will hardly be thought credible, even by those who know thee, if they have seen her.
Poor, poor lady! with such noble qualities as would have adorned the most exalted married life, to fall into the hands of the only man in the world who could have treated her as thou hast treated her !—and to let loose the old dragon, as thou properly callest her, upon the beforeaffrighted innocent, what a barbarity was that! what a poor piece of barbarity! in order to obtain by terror what thou despairedst to gain by love, though supported by stratagems the most insidious!
O Lovelace! Lovelace! had I doubted it before, I should now be convinced, that there must be a world after this, to do justice to injured merit, and to punish barbarous perfidy! Could the divine Socrates, and the divine Clarissa, otherwise have suffered?
But pr'ythee, dear Lovelace, if thou'rt a man, and not a devil, resolve, out of hand, to repair thy sin of ingratitude, by conferring upon thyself the highest honour thou canst receive, in making her lawfully thine.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Thursday, June 15. ET me alone, you great dog, you !—let me alone! —have I heard a lesser boy, his coward arms held over his head and face, say to a bigger, who was pommeling him, for having run away with his apple, his orange, or his ginger-bread.
Well, but, after all, I must own, that there is something very singular in this lady's case: and, at times, I cannot help regretting, that I ever attempted her; since not one power either of body or soul could be moved in my favour; and since, to use the expression of the philosopher, on a much graver occasion, there is no difference to be found between the skull of king Philip, and that of another man.
But people's extravagant notions of things alter not facts, Belford: and, when all's done, Miss Clarissa Harlowe has but run the fate of a thousand others of her sex— only that they did not set such a romantic value upon what they call their honour; that's all.
To thy urgent supplication then, that I will do her grateful justice by marriage, let me answer in Matt Prior's two lines on his hoped-for auditorship; as put into the mouths of his St. John and Harley;
Let that be done, which Matt, doth say.
Yea, quoth the Earl !—but not to-day.
Thou seest, Jack, that I make no resolutions, however, against doing her, one time or other, the wished-for justice, even were I to succeed in my principal view, cohabitation. And of this I do assure thee, that, if I ever marry, it must, it shall be Miss Clarissa Harlowe.—Nor is her honour at all impaired with me, by what she has so far suffered: but the contrary. She must only take care that if she be at last brought to forgive me, she show me, that her Lovelace is the only man on earth, whom she could have forgiven on the like occasion.
But, ah, Jack! what, in the mean time, shall I do with this admirable creature? at present—(I am loth to say it —but, at present) she is quite stupefied.
I had rather, methinks, she should have retained all her active powers, though I have suffered by her nails and her teeth, than that she should be sunk into such a state of absolute—insensibility (shall I call it ?) as she has been in ever since Tuesday morning. Yet, as she begins a little to revive, and now and then to call names, and to exclaim, I dread almost to engage with the anguish of a spirit that owes its extraordinary agitations to a niceness that has no example either in ancient or modern story. For, after all, what is there in her case, that should stupefy such a glowing, such a blooming charmer?—excess of grief, excess of terror, has made a person's hair stand on end, and even (as we have read) changed the colour of it. But that it should so stupefy, as to make a person, at times, insensible to those imaginary wrongs, which would raise others from stupefaction, is very surprising!
But I will leave this subject, lest it should make me too grave.
VOL. II, N
I was yesterday at Hampstead, and discharged all obligations there, with no small applause. I told them that the lady was now as happy as myself: and that is no great untruth; for I am not altogether so, when I allow
myself to think.
I have just now had a specimen of what the resentment of this dear creature will be when quite recovered: an affecting one!—for, entering her apartment after Dorcas; and endeavouring to soothe and pacify her disordered mind; in the midst of my blandishments, she held up to heaven, in a speechless agony, the innocent licence (which she has in her own power); as the poor distressed Catalans held up their English treaty, on an occasion that keeps the worst of my actions in countenance.
She seemed about to call down vengeance upon me; when, happily, the leaden god, in pity to her trembling Lovelace, waved over her half-drowned eyes his somniferous wand, and laid asleep the fair exclaimer, before she could go half through with her intended imprecation.
Thou wilt guess, by what I have written, that some little art has been made use of: but it was with a generous design (if thou'lt allow me the word on such an occasion) in order to lessen the too quick sense she was likely to have of what she was to suffer. A contrivance I never had occasion for before, and had not thought of now, if Mrs. Sinclair had not proposed it to me: to whom I left the management of it: and I have done nothing but curse her ever since, lest the quantity should have for ever damped her charming intellects.
Hence my concern—for I think the poor lady ought not to have been so treated. Poor lady, did I say 1—what have I to do with thy creeping style ?—but have not I the worst of it; since her insensibility has made me but a thief to my own joys?
And now is the whole secret out.
Thou wilt say I am a horrid fellow !—as the lady does, that I am the unchained Beelzebub, and a plotting villain: and as this is what you both said beforehand, and nothing worse can be said, I desire, if thou wouldst not have me quite serious with thee, and that I should think thou meanest more by thy tilting hint, than I am willing to believe thou dost, that thou wilt forbear thy invectives: for is not the thing done ?—can it be helped 1—and must I not now try to make the best of it ?—and the rather do I enjoin thee this, and inviolable secrecy; because I begin to think, that my punishment will be greater than the fault, were it to be only from my own reflection.
I am sorry to hear of thy misfortune; but hope thou wilt not long lie by it. Thy servant tells me, what a narrow escape thou hadst with thy neck.
Thy fellow tells me, thou desirest me to continue to write to thee in order to divert thy chagrin on thy forced confinement: but how can I think it in my power to divert, when my subject is not pleasing to myself?
Caesar never knew what it was to be hypped, I will call it, till he came to be what Pompey was; that is to say, till he arrived at the height of his ambition: nor did thy Lovelace know what it was to be gloomy, till he had completed his wishes upon the most charming creature in the world.
And yet why say I, completed? when the will, the consent, is wanting—and I have still views before me of obtaining that?
Yet I could almost join with thee in the wish, which thou sendest me up by thy servant, unfriendly as it is, that I had had thy misfortune before Monday night last: for here, the poor lady has run into a contrary extreme to that I told thee of in my last: for now is she as much too lively, as before she was too stupid; and, 'bating that she has pretty frequent lucid intervals, would be deemed raving mad, and I should be obliged to confine her.