Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

have wept away all my brain, I believe; for I can weep no more. Indeed I have had my full share; so it is no matter.

But, good now, Lovelace, don't set Mrs. Sinclair upon me again. I never did her any harm. She so affrights me, when I see her -Ever since—when was it? I cannot tell. You can, I suppose. She may be a good woman, as far as I know. She was the wife of a man of honourvery likely—though forced to let lodgings for her livelihood. Poor gentlewoman! let her know I pity her: But don't let her come near me again—pray don't !

Yet she may be a very good woman-
What would I say !—I forget what I was going to say.

O Lovelace, you are Satan himself; or he helps you out in everything; and that's as bad !

But have you really and truly sold yourself to him ? And for how long ? What duration is your reign to have ?

Poor man! The contract will be out : And then what will be your fate !

O Lovelace ! if you could be sorry for yourself, I would be sorry too.-But when all my doors are fast, and nothing but the keyhole open, and the key of late put into that, to be where you are, in a manner without opening any of them.—0 wretched, wretched Clarissa Harlowe !

For I never will be Lovelace-let my uncle take it as he pleases.

Alas! you have killed my head among you—I don't say who did it !-God forgive you all !—But had it not been better to have put me out of all your ways at once? You might safely have done it! for nobody would require me at your hands—no, not a soul-except, indeed, Miss Howe would have said, when she should see you, What, Lovelace, have you done with Clarissa Harlowe ?-And then you could have given any slight gay answer-Sent her beyond sea; or, She has run away from me, as she did from her parents. And this would have been easily credited; for you know, Lovelace, she that could run away from them, might very well run away from you.

But this is nothing to what I wanted to say. Now I have it !

I never shall be myself again : I have been a very wicked creature-a vain, proud, poor creature—full of secret pride—which I carried off under an humble guise, and deceived everybody-my sister says so—and now I am punished-So let me be carried out of this house, and out of your sight; and let me be put into that Bedlam privately, which once I saw : But it was a sad sight to me then! Little as I thought what I should come to myself !—That is all I would say: This is all I have to wish for.—Then I shall be out of all your ways; and I shall be taken care of; and bread and water; without your tormentings, will be dainties; and my straw bed the easiest I have lain in-for-I cannot tell how long!

My clothes will sell for what will keep me there, perhaps as long as I shall live. But, Lovelace, dear Lovelace I will call you; for you have cost me enough, I'm sure don't let me be made a show of, for my family's sake; nay, for your own sake, don't do that,for when I know all I have suffered, which yet I do not, and no matter if I never do—I may be apt to rave against you by name, and tell of all your baseness to a poor humbled creature, that once was as proud as anybodybut of what I can't tell—except of mine own folly and vanity-But let that pass—since I am punished enough for it

So, suppose, instead of Bedlam, it were a private madhouse, where nobody comes !—that will be better a great deal.

But, another thing, Lovelace : Don't let them use me cruelly when I am there—You have used me cruelly

enough, you know !-Don't let them use me cruelly ; for I will be very tractable; and do as anybody would have me do-except what you would have me do—for that I never will.--Another thing, Lovelace: Don't let this good woman; I was going to say vile woman; but don't tell her that–because she won't let you send me to this happy refuge perhaps, if she were to know it

Another thing, Lovelace : And let me have pen, and ink, and paper, allowed me—it will be all my amusement.But they need not send to anybody I shall write to, what I write, because it will but trouble them: And somebody may do you a mischief, may be,I wish not that anybody do anybody a mischief upon my account.

You tell me, that Lady Betty Lawrance, and your Cousin Montague, were here to take leave of me; but that I was asleep, and could not be waked. So you told me at first I was married, you know ; and that you were my husband.—Ah! Lovelace ! look to what you say.-But let not them (for they will sport with my misery) let not that Lady Betty, let not that Miss Montague, whatever the real ones may do ; nor Mrs. Sinclair neither, nor any of her lodgers, nor her nieces, come to see me in my place -real ones, I say; for, Lovelace, I shall find out all your villanies in time-indeed I shall.—So put me there as soon as you can-it is for your good—then all will pass for ravings that I can say, as, I doubt not, many poor creatures' exclamations do pass, though there may be too much truth in them for all that.-And you know I began to be mad at Hampstead-so you said.—Ah! villanous man! what have you not to answer for! The miserably abused

CLARISSA HARLOWE.

I will not hear thy heavy preachments, Belford, upon this affecting letter. So, not a word of that sort! The paper, thou'lt see, is blistered with the tears even of the hardened transcriber; which has made her ink run here and there.

Mrs. Sinclair is a true heroine, and, I think, shames us all. And she is a woman too! Thou'lt say, the best things corrupted become the worst. But this is certain, that whatever the sex set their hearts upon, they make thorough work of it. And hence it is, that a mischief which would end in simple robbery among men rogues, becomes murder, if a woman be in it.

I know thou wilt blame me for having had recourse to art. But do not physicians prescribe opiates in acute cases, where the violence of the disorder would be apt to throw the patient into a fever or delirium ? I aver, that my motive for this expedient was mercy; nor could it be anything else.

If she escape a settled delirium when my plots unravel, I think it is all I ought to be concerned about. What therefore I desire of thee is, That, if two constructions may be made of my actions, thou wilt afford me the most favourable. For this, not only friendship, but my own ingenuousness, which has furnished thee with the knowledge of the facts against which thou art so ready to inveigh, require of thee.

Will is just returned from an errand to Hampstead; and acquaints me, that Mrs. Townsend was yesterday at Mrs. Moore's, accompanied by three or four rough fellows; a greater number (as supposed) at a distance. She was strangely surprised at the news that my spouse and I are entirely reconciled; and that two fine ladies, my relations, came to visit her, and went to town with her: where she is very happy with me. She was sure we were not married, she said, unless it was while we were at Hampstead : and they were sure the ceremony was not performed there. But that the lady is happy and easy, is unquestionable : And a fling was thrown out by Mrs. Moore at mischief-makers, as they knew Mrs. Townsend to be acquainted with Miss Howe.

Now, since my fair one can neither receive, nor send away letters, I am pretty easy as to this Mrs. Townsend and her employer. And I fancy Miss Howe will be puzzled to know what to think of the matter, and perhaps suppose that her friend slights her; or has changed her mind in my favour, and is ashamed to own it; as she has not had an answer to what she wrote ; and will believe that the rustic delivered her last letter into her own hand.

Saturday night. By Dorcas's account of her lady's behaviour, the dear creature seems to be recovering. I shall give the earliest notice of this to the worthy Captain Tomlinson, that he may apprise Uncle John of it. I must be properly enabled, from that quarter, to pacify her, or at least, to rebate her first violence.

VO

MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

Sunday Afternoon. WENT out early this morning, and returned not

2 till just now; when I was informed, that my KOH beloved, in my absence, had taken it into her head to attempt to get away.

She tripped down, with a parcel tied up in a handkerchief, her hood on; and was actually in the entry, when Mrs. Sinclair saw her.

Pray, madam, whipping between her and the streetdoor, be pleased to let me know whither you are going ?

Who has a right to control me? was the word.

I have, madam, by order of your spouse: and, kemboing her arms, as she owned, I desire you will be pleased to walk up again.

She would have spoken ; but could not : and, bursting

« VorigeDoorgaan »