Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

excellent economist, the more shall I do for myself.—But, by my soul, Belford, her haughtiness shall be brought down to own both love and obligation to me. Nor will this sketch of settlements bring us forwarder than I would have it. Modesty of sex will stand my friend at any time. At the very altar, our hands joined, I would engage to make this proud beauty leave the parson and me, and all my friends who should be present, though twenty in number, to look like fools upon one another, while she took wing, and flew out of the church-door, or window (if that were open, and the door shut); and this only by a single word.

He mentions his rash expression, that she should be his,

although his damnation were to be the purchase. At that instant, says he, I was upon the point of making a violent attempt ; but was checked in the very moment, and but just in time to save myself, by the awe I was struck with on again casting my eye upon her terrified but lovely face, and seeing, as I thought, her spotless heart in every line of it.

O Virtue, Virtue ! proceeds he, what is there in thee, that can thus against his will affect the heart of a Lovelace !Whence these involuntary tremors, and fear of giving mortal offence ?—What art thou, that acting in the breast of a feeble woman, canst strike so much awe into a spirit so intrepid ! Which never before, no, not in my first attempt, young as I then was, and frighted at my own boldness (till I found myself forgiven) had such an effect upon me! He paints, in lively colours, that part of the scene between

him and the lady, where she says, The word father

has a sweet and venerable sound with it.I was exceedingly affected, says he, upon the occasion. But was ashamed to be surprised into such a fit of unmanly weakness—so ashamed, that I was resolved to subdue it at the instant, and to guard against the like for the future. Yet, at that moment, I more than half regretted, that I could not permit her to enjoy a triumph which she so well deserved to glory in—her youth, her beauty, her artless innocence, and her manner, equally beyond comparison or description. But her indifference, Belford !—That she could resolve to sacrifice me to the malice of my enemies; and carry on the design in so clandestine a manner—yet love her, as I do, to frenzy ! revere her, as I do, to adoration !—These were the recollections with which I fortified my recreant heart against her !—Yet, after all, if she persevere, she must conquer !

-Coward, as she has made me, that never was a coward before ! He concludes his fourth letter in a vehement rage upon

her repulsing him, when he offered to salute her ; having supposed, as he owns, that she would have

been all condescension on his proposals to her.

This, says he, I will for ever remember against her, in • order to steel my heart, that I may cut through a rock of

ice to hers; and repay her for the disdain, the scorn, which glowed in her countenance, and was apparent in her air, at her abrupt departure from me, after such obliging behaviour on my side, and after I had so earnestly pressed her for an early day. The women below say, she hates me; she despises me !-and 'tis true : she does; she must. And why cannot I take their advice? I will not long, my fair one, be despised by thee, and laughed at by them !

MISS HOWE TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.

Thursday, May 18. . HAVE neither time nor patience, my dear friend,

to answer every material article in your last K S letters just now received. Mr. Lovelace's proposals are all I like of him. And yet (as you do) I think

that he concludes them not with that warmth and earnestness which we might naturally have expected from him. Never in my life did I hear or read of so patient a man, with such a blessing in his reach. But wretches of his cast, between you and me, my dear, have not, I fancy, the ardours that honest men have. Who knows, as your Bell once spitefully said, but he may have half a dozen creatures to quit his hands of before he engages for life ?—Yet I believe you must not expect him to be honest on this side of bis grand climacteric.

Would to heaven to-morrow, without complimenting any body, might be his happy day!—Villain! After he had himself suggested the compliment ! — And I think he accuses you of delaying !-Fellow, that he is How my heart is wrung

I will endeavour to think of some method, of some scheme, to get you from him, and to fix you safely somewhere till your Cousin Morden arrives--a scheme to lie by you, and to be pursued as occasion may be given. You are sure, that you can go abroad when you please ? and that our correspondence is safe? I cannot, however (for the reasons heretofore mentioned respecting your own reputation), wish you to leave him while he gives you not cause to suspect his honour. But your heart I know would be the easier, if you were sure of some asylum in case of necessity.

I shall be impatient till I have your next. I am, my dearest friend, Your ever affectionate and faithful

ANNA HOWE. MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.

Wednesday, May 17. DET me once more entreat thee, Lovelace, to reflect,

before it be too late (before the mortal offence

be given) upon the graces and merits of this lady. Let thy frequent remorses at last end in one effectual remorse. Let not pride and wantonness of heart ruin thy fairer prospects. By my faith, Lovelace, there is nothing but vanity, conceit, and nonsense, in our wild schemes. As we grow older we shall be wiser, and looking back upon our foolish notions of the present hour (our youth dissipated) shall certainly despise ourselves when we think of the honourable engagements we might have made. Thou, more especially, if thou lettest such a matchless creature slide through thy fingers. A creature pure from her cradle. In all her actions and sentiments uniformly noble. Strict in the performance of all her even unrewarded duties to the most unreasonable of fathers, what a wife will she make the man who shall have the honour to call her his !

Could any man but thee put together upon paper the following questions with so much unconcern as thou seemest to have written them! Give them a re-perusal, O heart of adamant! “Whither can she fly to avoid me? Her parents will not receive her; her uncles will not entertain her ; her beloved Norton is in their direction, and cannot; Miss Howe dare not. She has not one friend in town but ME; is entirely a stranger to the town.” What must that heart be that can triumph in a distress so deep, into which she has been plunged by thy elaborate arts and contrivances? And what a sweet, yet sad reflection was that, which had like to have had its due effect upon thee, arising from thy naming Lord M. for her nuptial father! Her tender years inclining her to wish a father, and to hope a friend. O my dear Lovelace, canst thou resolve to be, instead of the father thou has robbed her of, a devil ?

Thou knowest, that I have no interest, that I can have no view, in wishing thee to do justice to this admirable creature. For thy own sake, once more I conjure thee, for thy family's sake, and for the sake of our common humanity, let me beseech thee to be just to Miss Clarissa Harlowe.

Thy real friend,

J. BELFORD.

Mr. Lovelace having not returned an answer to Mr. Bel

ford's expostulatory letter, so soon as Mr. Belford expected, he wrote to him, expressing his apprehension, that he had disobliged him by his honest free

dom. Among other things, he saysI pass my time here at Watford, attending my dying uncle, very heavily. I cannot, therefore, by any means, dispense with thy correspondence. And why shouldst thou punish me, for having more conscience and more remorse than thyself? Thou, who never thoughtest either conscience or remorse an honour to thee. Do thou, Lovelace, whether thou art, or art not, determined upon thy measures with regard to the fine lady in thy power, enliven my heavy heart by thy communications; and thou wilt oblige

Thy melancholy friend,

J. BELFORD.

MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

Friday Night, May 19. FETHEN I have opened my views to thee so amply as

I have done in my former letters, and have told 65 thee that my principal design is but to bring virtue to a trial that, if virtue, it need not be afraid of; and that the reward of it will be marriage; I am amazed at the repetition of thy wambling nonsense.

I do not intend to let this matchless creature slip through my fingers.

Saturday, May 20. AND now will I favour thee with a brief account of our present situation.

From the highest to the lowest we are all extremely happy. Dorcas stands well in her lady's graces. Polly has asked her advice in relation to a courtship affair of her own.

« VorigeDoorgaan »