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Love, sir! who talks of love ?—Was not merit the thing we were talking of?—Have I ever professed, have I ever required of you professions of a passion of that nature!— But there is no end of these debatings; each so faultless, each so full of self—
I do not think myself faultless, madam :—But—
But what, sir!—Would you evermore argue with me, as if you were a child ?—Seeking palliations, and making promises?—Promises of what, sir? Of being in future the man it is a shame a gentleman is not?—Of being the man—
Good God! interrupted he, with eyes lifted up, if thou wert to be thus severe—
Well, well, sir (impatiently), I need only to observe, that all this vast difference in sentiments shows how unpaired our minds are—So let us—
Let us what, madam !—My soul is rising into tumults I And he looked so wildly, that I was a good deal terrified —Let us what, madam!—
I was, however, resolved not to desert myself—Why, sir, let us resolve to quit every regard for each other—-Nay, flame not out—I am a poor weak-minded creature in some things: But where what I should be, or not deserve to live, if I am not, is in the question, I have a great and invincible spirit, or my own conceit betrays me—Let us resolve to quit every regard for each other that is more than civil. Tnis you may depend upon; I will never marry any other man. I have seen enough of your sex; at least of you.—A single life shall ever be my choice: while I will leave you at liberty to pursue your own.
By my soul, said he, and grasped my hand with an eagerness that hurt it, we were born for one another: you must be mine—you shall be mine (and put his other arm round me), although my damnation were to be the purchase!
I was still more terrified—Let me leave you, Mr. Lovelace, said I; or do you begone from me. Is the passion you boast of, to be thus shockingly demonstrated? You must not go, madam !—You must not leave me in anger—
I will return—I will return—when you can be less violent—less shocking. And he let me go.
The man quite frighted me; insomuch than when I got into my chamber, I found a sudden flow of tears a great relief to me.
In half an hour, he sent a little billet, expressing his concern for the vehemence of his behaviour, and praying to see me.
I went. Because I could not help myself, I went. He was full of his excuses.—O my dear, what would you, even you, do with such a man as this; and in my situation?
I presume, madam, replied he, from what you have said, that your application to Harlowe Place has proved unsuccessful: I therefore hope, that you will now give me leave to mention the terms in the nature of settlements, which I have long intended to propose to you ; and which having till now delayed to do, through accidents not proceeding from myself, I had thoughts of urging to you the moment you entered upon your new house; and upon your finding yourself as independent in appearance as you are in fact. Permit me, madam, to propose these matters to you—not with an expectation of your immediate answer; but for your consideration.
Were not hesitation, a self-felt glow, a downcast eye, encouragement more than enough? "And yet you will observe (as I now do on recollection) that he was in nogreat hurry to solicit for a day; since he had no thoughts of proposing settlements, till I had got into my new house; and now, in his great complaisance to me, he desired leave to propose his terms, not with an expectation of my immediate answer; but for my consideration only."—Yet, my dear, your advice was too much in my head at this time. I hesitated.
But he seemed to think it enough that he had asked my leave to propose his settlements. He took no advantage of my silence, as I presume men as modest as Mr. Lovelace would have done, in a like case: yet, gazing in my face very confidently, and seeming to expect my answer, I thought myself obliged to give the subject a more diffuse turn, in order to save myself the mortification of appearing too ready in my compliance, after such a distance as had been between us; and yet (in pursuance of your advice) I was willing to avoid the necessity of giving him such a repulse, as might again throw us out of the course.—A cruel alternative to be reduced to!
I have no spirits just now, sir, I said, to attend to such weighty points. What you have a mind to propose, write to me : and I shall know what answer to return. Only one thing let me remind you of, that if you touch upon any subject, in which my father has a concern, I shall judge by your treatment of the father, what value you have for the daughter.
He looked as if he would choose rather to speak than write: but had he said so, I had a severe return to have made upon him; as possibly he might see by my looks.
Although circumstances have so offered, that I could not take your advice as to the manner of dealing with him, yet you gave me so much courage by it, as has enabled me to conduct things to this issue; as well as determined me against leaving him: which before, I was thinking to do, at all adventures. Whether, when it came to the point, I should have done so, or not, I cannot say, because it would have depended upon his behaviour at the time.
But let his behaviour be what it will, I am afraid (with you) that, should anything offer at last to oblige me to leave him, I shall not mend my situation in the world's eye, but the contrary. And yet I will not be treated by him with indignity while I have any power to help myself.
Mr. Lovelace has sent me, by Dorcas, his proposals, as follow:
"To spare a delicacy so extreme, and to obey you, I write: And the rather, that you may communicate this paper to Miss Howe, who may consult any of her friends you shall think proper to have intrusted on this occasion. I say intrusted; because, as you know, I have given it out to several persons, that we are actually married.
"In the first place, madam, I offer to settle upon you, by way of jointure, your whole estate : and moreover to vest in trustees such a part of mine in Lancashire, as shall produce a clear four hundred pounds a year, to be paid to your sole and separate use, quarterly.
"My own estate is a clear not nominal £2,000 per annum. Lord M. proposes to give me possession either of that which he has in Lancashire (to which, by the way, I think I have a better title than he has himself) or that we call The Lawn in Hertfordshire, upon my nuptials with a lady whom he so greatly admires; and to make that I shall choose a clear £1,000 per annum.
"If, as your own estate is at present in your father's hands, you rather choose that I should make a jointure out of mine, tantamount to yours, be it what it will, it shall be done. I will engage Lord M. to write to you, what he proposes to do on the happy occasion: not as your desire or expectation, but to demonstrate, that no advantage is intended to be taken of the situation you are in with your own family.
"To show the beloved daughter the consideration I have for her, I will consent, that she shall prescribe the terms of agreement in relation to the large sums, which must be in her father's hands, arising from her grandfather's estate. I have no doubt, but he will be put upon making large demands upon you. All those it shall be in your power to comply with, for the sake of your own peace. And the remainder shall be paid into your hands, and be entirely at your disposal, as a fund to support those charitable donations, which I have heard you so famed for out of your family; and for which you have been so greatly reflected upon in it.
"These, madam, are my proposals. They are such as I always designed to make, whenever you would permit me to enter into the delightful subject. But you have been so determined to try every method for reconciling yourself to your relations, even by giving me absolutely up for ever, that you have seemed to think it but justice to keep me at a distance, till the event of that your predominant hope could be seen. It is now seen!—And although I have been, and perhaps still am, ready to regret the want of that preference I wished for from you as Miss Clarissa Harlowe; yet I am sure, as the husband of Mrs. Lovelace, I shall be more ready to adore than to blame you for the pangs you have given to a heart, the generosity, or rather justice of which, my implacable enemies have taught you to doubt: and this still the readier, as I am persuaded, that those pangs never would have been given-by a mind so noble, had not the doubt been entertained (perhaps with too great an appearance of reason) ; and as I hope I shall have it to reflect, that the moment the doubt shall be overcome, the indifference will cease.
"I will only add, that if I have omitted anything, that would have given you further satisfaction; or if the above terms be short of what you would wish; you will be pleased to supply them as you think fit. And when I know your pleasure, I will instantly order articles to be drawn up conformably; that nothing in my power may be wanting to make you happy.