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as also of the melancholy way Mrs. Fretchville
is in. She tells Miss Howe, how extremely urgent Mr. Lovelace
was with the gentleman, to get his spouse (as he now always calls her before company) a sight of the house: And that Mr. Mennell undertook that very afternoon to show her all of it, except the apartment Mrs. Fretchville should be in when she went. But that she chose not to take another step till she knew how she approved of her scheme to have her uncle sounded ; and with what success, if tried, it would be attended.
MR. LOVELACE TO MR. BELFORD. Mr. Lovelace, in his humorous way, gives his friend an
account of the lady's peevishness and dejection, on receiving a letter with her clothes. He regrets that he has lost her confidence ; which he attributes to his bringing her into the company of his four companions. Yet he thinks he must excuse them, and censure her for over niceness ; for that he never saw
men behave better, at least not them. Mentioning his introducing Mr. Mennell to her,
o w, Jack, says he, was it not very kind of Mr.
Mennell (Captain Mennell I sometimes call him ; sed for among the military men there is no such officer, thou knowest, as a Lieutenant, or an Ensign—was it not very kind in him) to come along with me so readily as he did, to satisfy my beloved about the vapourish lady and the house?
But who is Captain Mennell? methinks thou askest : I never heard of such a man as Captain Mennell.
Very likely. But knowest thou not young Newcomb, honest Doleman's nephew ?
(-ho! is it he?
It is. And I have changed his name by virtue of my own single authority.
But Mennell, now he has seen this angel of a woman, has qualms; that's the devil ! I shall have enough to do to keep him right. But it is the less wonder, that he should stagger, when a few hours conversation with the same lady could make four much more hardened varlets find hearts.—Only, that I am confident, that I shall at last reward her virtue, if her virtue overcome me, or I should find it impossible to persevere—for at times, I have confounded qualms myself. But say not a word of them to the confraternity : nor laugh at me for them thyself. In another letter, dated Monday night, he writes as
follows: This perverse lady keeps me at such distance, that I am sure something is going on between her and Miss Howe, notwithstanding the prohibition from Mrs. Howe to both :
It is impossible that one so young and so inexperienced as she is, can have all her caution from herself; the behaviour of the women so unexceptionable ; no revellings, no company ever admitted into this inner house ; all genteel, quiet, and easy, in it; the nymphs well bred, and well read; her first disgusts to the old one got over-It must be Miss Howe therefore (who once was in danger of being taken in by one of our class, by honest Sir George Colmar, as thou hast heard) that makes my progress difficult.
I shall never rest till I have discovered in the first place, where the dear creature puts her letters; and in the next till I have got her to a play, to a concert, or to take an airing with me out of town for a day or two.
Dorcas, who is ever attentive to all her lady's motions, has given me some instances of her mistress's precautions. She wafers her letters, it seems, in two places ; pricks the wafers; and then seals upon them. No doubt but the same care is taken with regard to those brought to her ;
for she always examines the seals of the latter before she opens them.
I must, I must come at them. This difficulty augments my curiosity. Strange, so much as she writes, and at all hours, that not one sleepy or forgetful moment has offered in our favour!
I am a very unhappy man. This lady is said to be one of the sweetest tempered creatures in the world : And so I thought her. But to me, she is one of the most perverse. I never was supposed to be an ill-natured mortal neither. How can it be? I imagined for a long while, that we were born to make each other happy : But, quite the contrary:; we really seem to be sent to plague each other.
But I will lead to the occasion of this preamble.
I had been out. On my return, meeting Dorcas on the stairs—Your lady in her chamber, Dorcas ? In the diningroom, sir : And if ever you hope for an opportunity to come at a letter, it must be now. For at her feet I saw one lie, which, as may be seen by its open folds, she has been reading, with a little parcel of others she is now busied with All pulled out of her pocket, as I believe : So, sir, you'll know where to find them another time.
I was ready to leap for joy, and instantly resolved to bring forward an expedient which I had held in petto; and entering into the dining-room, with an air of transport, I boldly clasped my arms about her, as she sat; she huddling up her papers in her handkerchief all the time; the dropped paper unseen.. O my dearest life, a lucky expedient have Mr. Mennell and I hit upon, just now. In order to hasten Mrs. Fretchville to quit the house, I have agreed, if you approve of it, to entertain her cook, her housemaid, and two men-servants (about whom she was very solicitous) till you are provided to your mind. And. that no accommodations may be wanted, I have consented to take the household linen at an appraisement.
I am to pay down five hundred pounds, and the remain
der as soon as the bills can be looked up, and the amount of them adjusted. Thus will you have a charming house entirely ready to receive you. Some of the ladies of my family will soon be with you : They will not permit you long to suspend my happy day. And that nothing may be wanted to gratify your utmost punctilio, I will till then consent to stay here at Mrs. Sinclair's, while you reside at your new house ; and leave the rest to your own generosity. O my beloved creature, will not this be agreeable to you? I am sure it will—it must—and clasping her closer to me, I gave her a more fervent kiss than ever I had dared to give her before. I permitted not my ardour to overcome my discretion however; for I took care to set my foot upon the letter, and scraped it farther from her, as it were behind her chair,
She was in a passion at the liberty I took. Bowing low, I begged her pardon; and stooping still lower, in the same motion, took up the letter, and whipt it into my bosom.
Pox on me, for a puppy, a fool, a blockhead, a clumsy varlet, a mere Jack Belford !I thought myself a much cleverer fellow than I am !-Why could I not have been followed in by Dorcas ; who might have taken it up, while I addressed her lady ?
For here, the letter being unfolded, I could not put it into my bosom, without alarming her ears, as my sudden motion did her eyes.-Up she flew in a moment: Traitor ! Judas ! her eyes flashing lightning, and a perturbation in her eager countenance, so charming !—What have you taken up ?-And then, what for both my ears I durst not to have done to her, she made no scruple to seize the stolen letter, though in my bosom.
What was to be done on so palpable a detection ?-I clasped her hand, which had hold of the ravished paper, between mine : 0 my beloved creature ! said I, can you think I have not some curiosity? Is it possible you can ibe thus for ever employed; and I, loving narrative letter
writing above every other species of writing, and admiring your talent that way, should not (thus upon the dawn of my happiness, as I presume to hope) burn with a desire to be admitted into so sweet a correspondence ?
Let go my hand stamping with her pretty foot : how dare you, sir! At this rate, I see—too plainly I see
—and more she could not say: but, gasping, was ready to faint with passion and affright; the devil a bit of her accustomed gentleness to be seen in her charming face, or to be heard in her musical voice.
Having gone thus far, loth, very loth was I to lose my prize—Once more I got hold of the rumpled-up letter ! Impudent man! were her words : stamping again. For God's sake, then it was. I let go my prize, lest she should faint away: but had the pleasure first to find my hand within both hers, she trying to open my reluctant fingers. How near was my heart at that moment to my hand, throbbing to my fingers' ends, to be thus familiarly, although angrily, treated by the charmer of my soul !
When she had got it in her possession, she flew to the door. I threw myself in her way, shut it, and, in the humblest manner, besought her to forgive me. And yet do you think the Harlowe-hearted charmer (notwithstanding the agreeable annunciation I came in with) would forgive me ?-No truly; but pushing me rudely from the door, as if I had been nothing, she gaining that force through passion, which I had lost through fear, out she shot to her own apartment (thank my stars she could fly no further !); and as soon as she entered it, in a passion still, she doubled-locked and double-bolted herself in. This my comfort, on reflection, that, upon a greater offence, it cannot be worse.
I retreated to my own apartment, with my heart full : and, my man Will not being near me, gave myself a plaguey knock on the forehead, with my double fist.
And now is my charmer shut up from me : refusing to