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took not your lodgings. But he that could treat me as he
has done, could do this!
Don't speak against Mr. Lovelace, Miss Harlowe. He
is a man I greatly esteem (cursed toad !) And, 'bating
that he will take his advantage, where he can, of us silly
credulous women, he is a man of honour.
She lifted up her hands and eyes, instead of speaking:
and well she might! For any words she could have used,
could not have expressed the anguish she must feel, on
being comprehended in the US.
She must write for one hundred and fifty guineas, at
least: two hundred, if she were short of money, might as
well be written for.
Mrs. Sinclair, she said, had all her clothes. Let them be
sold, fairly sold, and the money go as far as it would go.
She had also a few other valuables; but no money (none
at all) but the poor half guinea, and the little silver they
had seen. She would give bond to pay all that her
apparel, and the other matters she had, would fall short of.
She had great effects belonging to her of right. Her bond
would, and must, be paid, were it for a thousand pounds.
But her clothes she should never want. She believed, if
not too much undervalued, those, and her few valuables,
would answer everything. She wished for no surplus, but
to discharge the last expenses; and forty shillings would
do as well for those as forty pounds. Let my ruin, said
she, lifting up her eyes, be large! Let it be complete, in
this life!—For a composition, let it be complete—And
there she stopped.
Early on Sunday morning, both devils went to see how she did. They had such an account of her weakness, lowness, and anguish, that they forbore (out of compassion, they said, finding their visits so disagreeable to her) to see her. But their apprehension of what might be the issue was, no doubt, their principal consideration: Nothing else could have softened such flinty bosoms.
They sent for the apothecary Rowland had had to her, and gave him, and Rowland, and his wife and maid, strict orders, many times repeated, for the utmost care to be taken of her—No doubt, with an Old Bailey forecraft. And they sent up to let her know what orders they had given: But that, understanding she had taken something to compose herself they would not disturb her.
She had scrupled, it seems, to admit the apothecary's visit over-night, because he was a man. Nor could she be prevailed upon to see him, till they pleaded their own safety to her.
They went again, from church (Lord, Bob, these creatures go to church !): But she sent them down word, that she must have all the remainder of the day to herself.
When I first came, and told them of thy execrations for what they had done, and joined my own to them, they were astonished. The mother said, she had thought she had known Mr. Lovelace better; and expected thanks, and not curses.
While I was with them, came back halting and cursing, most horribly, their messenger; by reason of the ill-usage he had received from you, instead of the reward he had been taught to expect for the supposed good news that he carried down.—A pretty fellow! art thou not, to abuse people for the consequences of thy own faults?
Dorcas, whose acquaintance this fellow is, and who recommended him for the journey, had conditioned with him, it seems, for a share in the expected bounty from you. Had she been to have had her share made good, I wish thou hadst broken every bone in his skin.
Under what shocking disadvantages, and with this addition to them, that I am thy friend and intimate, am I to make a visit to this unhappy lady to-morrow morning! In thy name too !—Enough to be refused, that I am of a sex, to which, for thy sake, she has so justifiable an aversion: Nor, having such a tyrant of a father, and such an implacable brother, has she reason to make an exception in favour of any of it on their accounts.
It is three o'clock. I will close here; and take a little rest: What I have written will be a proper preparative for what I shall offer by-and-by. J. Belford.
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Monday, July 17. BOUT six this morning I went to Rowland's. Mrs. Sinclair was to follow me, in order to dismiss the action; but not to come in sight. Rowland, upon enquiry, told me, that the lady was extremely ill; and that she had desired, that no one but his wife or maid should come near her.
I said, I must see her. I had told him my business over night; and I must see her.
His wife went up: but returned presently, saying, she could not get her to speak to her; yet that her eyelids moved; though she either would not, or could not, open them, to look up at her.
Oons, woman, said I, the lady may be in a fit: The lady may be dying.—Let me go up. Show me the way.
A horrid hole of a house, in an alley they call a court; stairs wretchedly narrow, even to the first-floor rooms: And into a den they led me, with broken walls, which had been papered, as I saw by a multitude of tacks, and some torn bits held on by the rusty heads.
The floor indeed was clean, but the ceiling was smoked with variety of figures, and initials of names, that had been the woful employment of wretches who had no other way to amuse themselves.
A bed at one corner, with coarse curtains tacked up at the feet to the ceiling; because the curtain-rings were broken off; but a coverlid upon it with a cleanish look, though plaguily in tatters, and the corners tied up in tassels, that the rents in it might go no further.
The windows dark and double-barred ; the tops boarded up to save mending; and only a little four-paned eyelethole of a casement to let in air; more, however, coming in at broken panes, than could come in at that.
Four old turkey-worked chairs, bursten-bottomed, the stuffing staring out.
An old, tottering, worm-eaten table, that had more nails bestowed in mending it to make it stand, than the table cost fifty years ago, when new.
On the mantel-piece was an iron shove-up candle-stick, with a lighted candle in it, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, four of them, 1 suppose, for a penny.
Near that, on the same shelf, was an old looking-glass, cracked through the middle, breaking out into a thousand points; the crack given it, perhaps, in a rage, by some poor creature, to whom it gave the representation of its heart's woes in his face.
The chimney had two half-tiles in it on one side, and one whole one on the other; which showed it had been in better plight; but now the very mortar had followed the rest of the tiles in every other place, and left the bricks bare.
An old half-barred stove-grate was in the chimney; and in that a large stone-bottle without a neck, filled with baleful yew, as an ever-green, withered southernwood, dead sweet-briar, and sprigs of rue in flower.
To finish the shocking description, in a dark nook stood an old broken-bottomed cane couch, without a squab, or coverlid, sunk at one corner, and unmortified by the failing of one of its worm-eaten legs, which lay in two pieces under the wretched piece of furniture it could no longer support.
And this, thou horrid Lovelace, was the bedchamber of the divine Clarissa!
I had leisure to cast my eye on these things: for, going up softly, the poor lady turned not about at our entrance; nor, till I spoke, moved her head.
She was kneeling in a corner of the room, near the dismal window, against the table, on an old bolster (as it seemed to be) of the cane couch, half covered with her handkerchief; her back to the door; which was only shut to (no need of fastenings !); her arms crossed upon the table, the fore-finger of her right hand in her Bible. She had perhaps been reading in it, and could read no longer. Paper, pens, ink, lay by her book, on the table. Her dress was white damask, exceeding neat; but her stays seemed not tight-laced. I was told afterwards, that her laces had been cut, when she fainted away at her entrance into this cursed place; and she had not been solicitous enough about her dress, to send for others. Her head-dress was a little discomposed; her charming hair, in natural ringlets, as you have heretofore described it, but a little tangled, as if not lately combed, irregularly shading one side of the loveliest neck in the world; as her disordered, rumpled handkerchief did the other. Her face (O how altered from what I had seen it! Yet lovely in spite of all her griefs and sufferings !) was reclined, when we entered, upon her crossed arms; but so, as not more than one side of it to be hid.
When I surveyed the room around, and the kneeling lady, sunk with majesty too in her white flowing robes (for she had not on a hoop) spreading the dark, though not dirty, floor, and illuminating that horrid corner; her linen beyond imagination white, considering that she had not been undressed ever since she had been here; I thought my concern would have choked me. Something rose in my throat, I know not what, which made me, for a moment, guggle, as it were, for speech: which, at last, forcing its way, Con—con—confound you both, said I to the man and woman, is this an apartment for such a lady? And could