« VorigeDoorgaan »
Had you not been so minute in your account of the circumstances that attended the opportunity you had of overhearing the dialogue between Mr. Lovelace and two of the women, I should have thought the conference contrived on purpose for your ear.
I showed Mr. Lovelace's proposals to Mr. Hickman, who had chambers once at Lincoln's Inn, being designed for the law, had his elder brother lived. He looked so wise, so proud, and so important, upon the occasion, and wanted to take so much consideration about them—would take them home if I pleased, and weigh them well, and so forth, and the like, and all that—that I had no patience with him, and snatched them back with anger.
O dear!—to be so angry, an't please me, for his zeal—
Yes, zeal without knowledge, I said; like most other zeals. If there were no objections that struck him at once, there were none.
So hasty, dearest madam!
And so slow, undearest sir, I could have said. But, surely, said I, with a look which implied, would you rebel, sir!
He begged my pardon. Saw no objection, indeed! But might he be allowed once more.
But, my dear, let the articles be drawn up, and engrossed, and solemnize upon them; and there's no more to be said.
Let me add, that the sailor fellow has been tampering with my Kitty, and offered a bribe to find where to direct to you. Next time he comes I will have him laid hold of; and if I can get nothing out of him, will have him drawn through one of our deepest fish-ponds. His attempt to corrupt a servant of mine will justify my orders.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Sunday, May 21.
AM too much disturbed in my mind, to think of
What's the matter now, thou'lt ask?
Matter enough; for Dorcas has found means to come at some of Miss Howe's last-written letters; and Sally, and she, employed themselves with the utmost diligence, in making extracts, according to former directions, from these cursed letters, for my use. Cursed, I may well call them —such abuses !—such virulence !—O this little fury Miss Howe !—Well might her saucy friend (who has been equally free with me, or the occasion could not have been given) be so violent as she lately was, at my endeavouring to come at one of these letters.
And here, just now, is another letter brought from the same little virulent devil.
May eternal vengeance pursue the villain if he give room to doubt his honour!—Women can't swear, Jack—sweet souls! they can only curse.
I am said, to doubt her love—Have I not reason? And she, to doubt my ardour.—Ardour, Jack! Why, 'tis very right—Women, as Miss Howe says, and as every rake knows, love ardours!
She apprises her of the ill-success of the application made to her uncle—by Hickman, no doubt!—I must have this fellow's ears in my pocket, very quickly, I believe.
She raves about coming up, if by so doing she could prevent so noble a creature from stooping too low, or save her from ruin—one reed to support another! I think I will contrive to bring her up.
How comes it to pass, that I cannot help being pleased with this virago's spirit, though I suffer by it? Had I her
but here, I'd engage in a week's time, to teach her submission without reserve. What pleasure should I have in breaking such a spirit! I should wish for her but for one month, in all, I think. She would be too tame and spiritless for me after that. How sweetly pretty to see the two lovely friends, when humbled and tame, both sitting in the darkest corner of a room, arm in arm, weeping and sobbing for each other!—And I their emperor, their then acknowledged emperor, reclined at my ease in the same room, uncertain to which I should first, grand signor like, throw out my handkerchief?
Again mind the girl: she is enraged at the Harlowes: she is angry at her own mother; she is exasperated against her foolish and low-vanity'd Lovelace. Foolish, a little toad! Let us stoop to lift the wretch out of his dirt, though we soil our fingers in doing it! He has not been guilty of direct indecency to you.—It seems extraordinary to Miss Howe that I have not. Nor dare he. She should be sure of that. If women have such things in their heads, why should not I in my heart ?—Not so much of a devil as that comes to neither. Such villainous intentions would have shown themselves before now if I had them.—Lord help them!
She then puts her friend upon urging for settlements, licence, and so forth.—No room for delicacy now, she says; and tells her what she shall say, to bring all forward from me.—Is it not as clear to thee, Jack, as it is to me, that I should have carried my point long ago, but for this vixen? She reproaches her for having modesty'd away, as she calls it, more than one opportunity, that she ought not to have slipt.—Thus thou seest, that the noblest of the sex mean nothing in the world by their shyness and distance, but topound the poor fellow they dislike not, when he comes into their purlieus.
I have still more unpardonable transcripts from other letters.
Mr. Lovelace then transcribes from his short-hand notes, that part of Miss Howe's letter, which relates to the design of engaging Mrs. Townsend (in case of necessity) to give her protection till Colonel Morden come: and repeats his vows of vengeance. He then adds;—'Tis my pride, to subdue girls who know too much to doubt their knowledge; and to convince them, that they know too little, to defend themselves from the inconveniences of knowing too much.
How passion drives a man on! proceeds he. I have written a prodigious quantity in a very few hours! Now my resentments are warm, I will see, and perhaps will punish, this proud, this double-armed beauty. I have sent to tell her, that I must be admitted to sup with her. We have neither of us dined. She refused to drink tea in the afternoon: and I believe neither of us will have much stomach to our supper.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE.
HAVE your kind letter of yesterday. He knows I have. And I shall expect, that he will be inquisitive next time I see him after your opinion of his proposals. I doubted not your approbation of them, and had written an answer on that presumption; which is ready for him. He must study for occasions of procrastination, and to disoblige me, if now anything happen to set us at variance again.
He is very importunate to see me. He has desired to attend me to church. He is angry that I have declined to breakfast with him. I am sure that I should not have been at my own liberty if I had. I bid Dorcas tell him that I desired to have this day to myself. I would see him in the morning as early as he pleased. She says, she knows not what ails him, but that he is out of humour with everybody.
I have accepted of his servant's proposed attendance. But he is quite displeased, it seems. I don't care. I will not be perpetually at his insolent beck. Adieu, my dear, till I return. The chair waits. He won't stop me, sure, as I go down to it.
He has just sent me word, that he insists upon supping with me. As we had been in a good train for several days past, I thought it not prudent to break with him for little matters. Yet, to be, in a manner, threatened into his will, I know not how to bear that.
While I was considering, he came up, and, tapping at my door, told me, in a very angry tone, he must see me this night. He could not rest, till he had been told what he had done to deserve the treatment I gave him.
Treatment I gave him!—A wretch! Yet perhaps he has nothing new to say to me. I shall be very angry with him.
MB. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
As the lady could not know what Mr. Lovelace's designs were, nor the cause of his ill-humour, it will not be improper to pursue the subject from his letter. Having described his angry manner of demanding, in person, her company at supper; he proceeds as folloxvs:
IS hard, answered the fair perverse, that I am to be so little my own mistress. I will meet you in the dining-room half an hour hence.
I went down to wait that half-hour. All the women set me hard to give her cause for this tyranny. They demonstrated, as well from the nature of the sex, as of the case, that I had nothing to hope for from my tameness, and could meet with no worse treatment, were I to be guilty of the last offence. They urged me vehemently to try at least what effect some greater familiarities than I had ever taken with her, would have: and their argu