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Clarissa are wedded. The lady is indignant at such a deception—in her own phrase, “raves at him”-not knowing to what it may lead. She is not pacified by his assurances that he had acted for the best ; but softens a little when Lovelace defines more accurately the nature of his communication to Mrs. Sinclair. “This,” he says, “ is what I have told the widow before her kinswomen and before your new servant—that indeed we were privately married at Hertford, but that you had preliminarily bound me under a solemn vow. And I am most religiously resolved to keep, to be content with separate apartments, and even not to lodge under the same roof, till a certain reconciliation shall take place, which is of high consequence to both. And further, I have acquainted them that I have selemnly promised to behave to you before everybody as if we were only betrothed and not married.” Nevertheless, the same night, and much against the wishes of the lady he professed to honour, Lovelace contrives to establish himself in Mrs. Sinclair's house, under a pretence of the difficulty of finding a: convenient lodging elsewhere; and he then, in a letter to his friend Belford, reveals a scheme .by which he hopes to gain access to Clarissa's chamber. On a pretence that the house is full, Miss Harlowe is requested to allow Miss Partington, an innocent looking girl, to pass the night with her. Miss Harlowe refuses with decision, and so puts an end to the project. Lovelace, however, contrives to make her receive, on her supposed marriage, the compliments of all his male friends, who are invited to spend an evening at Mrs. Sinclair's, in order that the glory of the prize he is intent on
debasing may be shown off to them. Clarissa is not · only. much annoyed at this, she is also offended by the behaviour of these gentlemen, and she condemns them severely both to Miss Howe and to Lovelace. Still more is she averse from the women of the party. A child in years, who had never caught a glimpse of such a world as Lovelace and his companions lived in, she shrinks from the bold faces and the meretricious airs of those with whom she is forced into contact. Feminine quickness supplies the place of matured experience, and she suspects that Mr. Lovelace's acquaintance with these gaudy women is of longer date than he would have her believe.—ED.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Tuesday, May 2. I THOUSAND pounds wouldst thou give for the
good opinion of this single lady—to be only by thought tolerably of, and not quite unworthy of her conversation, would make thee happy. And at parting last night, or rather this morning, thou madest me promise a few lines to Edgware, to let thee know what she thinks of thee, and of thy brethren.
Thy thousand pounds, Jack, is all thy own : for most heartily does she dislike ye all—thee as much as any of the rest.
I must never talk of reformation, she told me, having such companions, and taking such delight as I seemed to take, in their frothy conversation.
She did not like Miss Partington--Let her fortune be what it would, and she had heard a great deal said of her fortune, she should not choose an intimacy with her. She thought it was a hardship to be put upon such a difficulty, as she was put upon the preceding night, when there were lodgers in the front house, whom they had reason to be freer with than, upon so short an acquaintance, with her.
I pretended to be an utter stranger as to this parti
cular; and, when she explained herself upon it, condemned Mrs. Sinclair's request, and called it a confident one.
She, artfully, made lighter of her denial of the girl for a bedfellow, than she thought of it, I could see that; for it was plain, she supposed there was room for me to think she bad been either over-nice, or over-cautious.
I offered to resent Mrs. Sinclair's freedom.
No; there was no great matter in it. It was best to let it pass. It might be thought more particular in her to deny such a request, than in Mrs. Sinclair to make it, or in Miss Partington to expect it to be complied with. But as the people below had a large acquaintance, she did not know how often she might have her retirements invaded, if she gave way. And indeed there were levities in the behaviour of that young lady, which she could not so far pass over as to wish an intimacy with her.
I was nettled. Hard would be the lot of more discreet women, as far as I knew, than Miss Partington, were they to be judged by so rigid a virtue as hers.
Not so, she said: but if I really saw nothing exceptionable to a virtuous mind, in that young person's behaviour, my ignorance of better behaviour was, she must needs tell me, as pitiable as hers : and it were to be wished, that minds so raired, for their own sakes, should never be separated.
See, Jack, what I get by my charity!
I thanked her heartily. But said, that I must take the liberty to observe, that good folks were generally so uncharitable, that, devil take me, if I would choose to be good, were the consequence to be that I must think hardly of the whole world besides.
She congratulated me upon my charity : but told me, that to enlarge her own, she hoped it would not be expected of her to approve of the low company I had brought - her into last night.
And now, Jack, let me know, what thy opinion, and the opinions of thy brother varlets, are of my Gloriana.
I have just now heard, that Hannah hopes to be soon well enough to attend her young lady, when in London. It seems the girl has had no physician. I must send her one, out of pure love and respect to her mistress. Who knows but medicine may weaken nature, and strengthen the disease.
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Edgware, Tuesday Night, May 2. E ITHOUT staying for the promised letter from you V to inform us what the lady says of us, I write
to tell you, that we are all of one opinion with regard to her ; which is, that there is not of her age a finer woman in the world, as to her understanding. As for her person, she is at the age of bloom, and an admirable creature ; a perfect beauty : but this poorer praise, a man who has been honoured with her conversation, can hardly descend to give; and yet she was brought amongst us contrary to her will.
And here, let me put a serious question or two. Thinkest thou, truly admirable as this lady is, that the end thou proposest to thyself, if obtained, is answerable to the means, to the trouble thou givest thyself, and to the perfidies, tricks, stratagems, and contrivances thou hast already been guilty of, and still meditatest ? In every real excellence she surpasses all her sex. But in the article thou seekest to subdue her for, a mere sensualist, a Partington, a Horton, a Martin, would make a sensualist a thousand times happier than she either will or can.
Sweet are the joys that come with willingness. And wouldst thou make her unhappy for her whole life, and thyself not happy for a single moment.
Hitherto, it is not too late ; and that perhaps is as much as can be said, if thou meanest to preserve her esteem and good opinion, as well as person ; for I think it is impossible she can get out of thy hands now she is in this cursed house. O that damned hypocritical Sinclair, as thou callest her! How was it possible she should behave so speciously as she did all the time the lady stayed with us !-Be honest, and marry; and be thankful, that she will condescend to have thee. If thou dost not, thou wilt be the worst of men ; and wilt be condemned in this world and the next : as I am sure thou oughtest, and shouldest too, wert thou to be judged by one, who never before was so much touched in a woman's favour : and whom thou knowest to be
Thy partial friend,
J. BELFORD. Our companions consented, that I should withdraw to
write to the above effect. They can make nothing
JAMES TOURVILLE. Just now are brought me both yours. I vary not my
opinion, nor forbear my earnest prayers to you in her behalf, notwithstanding her dislike of me.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
Thursday. E R. LOVELACE is extremely sunk in my opinion GEVA since Monday night: nor see I before me any Meble thing that can afford me a pleasing hope. For what, with a mind so unequal as his, can be my best hope ?
I think I mentioned to you, in my former, that my clothes were brought me. You fluttered me so, that I am