Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

“ You will now, dearest madam, judge, how far all the rest depends upon yourself.”

I shall now judge how far all the rest depends upon myself! So coldly concludes she such warm, and, in the main, unobjectible. proposals ! Would you not, as you read, have supposed, that the paper would conclude with the most earnest demand of a day?-I own, I had that expectation so strong, resulting naturally, as I may say, from the premises, that without studying for dissatisfaction, I could not help being dissatisfied when I came to the conclusion.

But you say there is no help. I must perhaps make further sacrifices. All delicacy, it seems is to be at an end with me !--But if so, this man knows not what every wise man knows, that prudence, and virtue, and delicacy of mind in a wife, do the husband more real honour in the eye of the world, than the same qualities (were she destitute of them) in himself, do him : as the want of them in her does him more dishonour : for are not the wife's errors the husband's reproach ? How justly his reproach, is another thing.

I will consider this paper; and write to it, if I am able : for it seems now, all the rest depends upon myself.

Mr. Lovelace would fain have engaged me last night. But as I was not prepared to enter upon the subject of his proposals (intending to consider them maturely) and was not highly pleased with his conclusion, I desired to be excused seeing him till morning; and the rather, as there is hardly any getting from him in tolerable time overnight.

Accordingly, about seven o'clock we met in the diningroom.. ,

I find, he was full of expectation that I should meet him with a very favourable, who knows but with a thankful aspect? And I immediately found by his sullen countenance, that he was under no small disappointment that I did not.

My dearest love, are you well? Why look you so solemn upon me? Will your indifference never be over ? If I have proposed terms in any respect short of your expectation

I told him, that he had very considerately mentioned my showing his proposals to Miss Howe; and as I should have a speedy opportunity to send them to her by Collins, J desired to suspend any talk upon that subject till I had her opinion upon them.

Good God !—If there were but the least loop-hole! the least room for delay !—But he was writing a letter to Lord M. to give him an account of his situation with me, and could not finish it so satisfactorily, either to my Lord or to himself, as if I would condescend to say, whether the terms he had proposed were acceptable or not.

He asked me then, if I would so far permit him to touch upon the happy day, as to request the presence of Lord M. on the occasion, and to be my father ?

Father had a sweet and venerable sound with it, I said. I should be glad to have a father who would own me !

Was not this plain speaking, think you, my dear? Yet it rather, I must own, appears so to me on reflection, than was designed freely at the time. For I then, with a sigh from the bottom of my heart, thought of my own father ; bitterly regretting, that I am an outcast from him and from my mother.

Mr. Lovelace I thought seemed a little affected ; at the manner of my speaking, and perhaps at the sad reflection.

He turned towards the window (rejoice with me, my dear, since I seem to be devoted to him, that the man is not absolutely impenetrable !): his emotion was visible; yet he endeavoured to suppress it. Approaching me again ; again he was obliged to turn from me; angelic something, he said : but then, obtaining a heart more suitable to his

[graphic]

wish, he once more approached me. For his own part, he said, as Lord M. was so subject to the gout, he was afraid, that the compliment he had just proposed to make him, might, if made, occasion a longer suspension than he could bear to think of: and if it did, it would vex him to the heart that he had made it.

I could not say a single word to this, you know, my dear. But you will guess at my thoughts of what he said

-So much passionate love, lip-deep! So prudent, and so dutifully patient at heart to a relation he had till now so undutifully despised !— Why, why, am I thrown upon such a man, thought I !

He hesitated, as if contending with himself; and after taking a turn or two about the room, he was at a great loss what to determine upon, he said, because he had not the honour of knowing when he was to be made the happiest of men—would to God it might that very instant be resolved upon!

He stopped a moment or two, staring in his usual confident way, in my downcast face (did I not, O my beloved friend, think you, want a father or a mother just then ?) : but if he could not, so soon as he wished, procure my consent to a day; in that case, he thought the compliment might as well be made to Lord M. as not—(See, my dear !) since the settlements might be drawn and engrossed in the intervenient time, which would pacify his impatience, as no time would be lost.

You will suppose how I was affected by this speech, by repeating the substance of what he said upon it; as follows.

-But, by his soul, he knew not, so much was I upon the reserve, and so much latent meaning did my eye import, whether, when he most hoped to please me, he was not farthest from doing so. Would I vouchsafe to say, whether I approved of his compliment to Lord M. or not?

Would to Heaven, my dearest life, added he, that, without complimenting anybody, to-morrow might be the bappiest day of my life !What say you, my angel ? with a trembling impatience that seemed not affected—what say you for to-morrow?

It was likely, my dear, I could say much to it, or name another day, had I been disposed to the latter, with such an hinted delay from him.

I was silent.
Next day, madam, if not to-morrow ?

Had he given me time to answer, it could not have been in the affirmative, you must think-but in the same breath, he went on-or the day after that and taking both my hands in his, he stared me into a half-confusionWould you have had patience with him, my dear?

No, no, said I, as calmly as possible, you cannot think that I should imagine there can be reason for such a hurry. It will be most agreeable, to be sure, for my Lord to be present.

I am all obedience and resignation, returned the wretch, with a self-pluming air, as if he had acquiesced to a proposal made by me, and had complimented me with a great piece of self-denial.

But when he would have rewarded himself, as he had heretofore called it, for this self-supposed concession, with a kiss, I repulsed him with a just and very sincere disdain.

He seemed both vexed and surprised, as one who had made the most agreeable proposals and concessions, and thought them ungratefully returned. He plainly said, that he thought our situation would entitle him to such an innocent freedom : and he was both amazed and grieved to be thus scornfully repulsed.

No reply could be made by me on such a subject. I abruptly broke from him. I recollect, as I passed by one of the pier-glasses, that I saw in it his clenched hand offered in wrath to his forehead : the words, indifference, by his soul, next to hatred, I heard him speak : and something of ice he mentioned : I heard not what..

Whether he intends to write to my Lord, or to Miss Montague, I cannot tell. But as all delicacy ought to be over with me now, perhaps I am to blame to expect it from a man who may not know what it is. If he does not, and yet thinks himself very polite, and intends not to be otherwise, I am rather to be pitied, than he to be censured.:

MR. LOVELACE TO MR. BELFORD. Four letters are written by Mr. Lovelace from the date of

his last, giving the state of affairs between him and the lady, pretty much the same as in hers in the same period, allowing for the humour in his, and for his resentment expressed with vehemence on her resolution to leave him, if her friends could be brought to be reconciled to her.A few extracts from

them will be only given. por HAT, says he, might have become of me, and of

my projects, had not her father, and the rest of

the implacables stood my friends? After violent threatenings of revenge, he says,

'Tis plain she would have given me up for ever : nor should I have been able to prevent her abandoning of me, unless I had torn up the tree by the roots to come at the fruit; which I hope still to bring down by a gentle shake or two, if I can but have patience to stay the ripening season. Mentioning the settlement, he says,

I am in earnest as to the terms. If I marry her (and I have no doubt but that I shall, after my pride, my ambition, my revenge, if thou wilt, is gratified) I will do her noble justice. The more I do for such a prudent, such an

« VorigeDoorgaan »