lady: A paper of importance to transcribe. I will cough when I have done."

I put the paper in my pocket, and turned to my -charmer, less disconcerted, as she, by that time, had also a little recovered herself.—One favour, dearest creature— Let me but know, whether Miss Howe approves or disapproves of my proposals 1

Miss Howe likes some of your ways as little as I do ; for I have set everything before her. Yet she is thus far your enemy, as she is mine—She thinks I should not refuse your offers; but endeavour to make the best of my lot. And now you have the truth. Would to heaven you were capable of dealing with equal sincerity!

I am, madam. And here, on my knee, I renew my vows, and my supplication, that you will make me yours —yours for ever.—And let me have cause to bless you and Miss Howe in the same breath.

To say the truth, Belford, I had before begun to think, that the vixen of a girl, who certainly likes not Hickman, was in love with me.

Rise, sir, from your too-ready knees; and mock me not.

Too-ready knees, thought I!—Though this humble posture so little affects this proud beauty, she knows not how much I have obtained of others of her sex, nor how often I have been forgiven for the last attempts, by kneeling.

Mock you, madam !—And I arose, and re-urged her for the day.

My day, sir, said she, is never. Be not surprised. A person of politeness judging between us, would not be surprised that I say so. But indeed, Mr. Lovelace (and wept through impatience) you either know not how to treat with a mind of the least degree of delicacy, notwithstanding your birth and education, or you are an ingrateful man; and (after a pause) a worse than ingrateful one. But I will retire. I will see you again to-morrow. I can

[ocr errors]

not before. I think I hate you—You may look—Indeed I think I hate you. And if, upon a re-examination of my own heart, I find I do, I would not for the world that matters should go on farther between us.

But I see, I see, she does not hate me!

I was however too much vexed, disconcerted, mortified, to hinder her from retiring—And yet she had not gone, if Dorcas had not coughed.

The wench came in, as soon as her lady had retired and gave me the copy she had taken. And what should it be but of the answer the truly admirable creature had intended to give to my written proposals in relation to settlements.

I have but just dipped into this affecting"paper. Were I to read it attentively, not a wink should Ij sleep this night. To-morrow it shall obtain my serious consideration.

Tuesday Morning, May 23.

The dear creature desires to be excusedfseeing me till evening. She is not very well, as Dorcas tells me.

Read here, if thou wilt, the paper transcribed by Dorcas. It is impossible that I should proceed with my projects against this admirable woman, were it not that I am resolved, after a few trials more, if as nobly sustained as those she has already passed through, to make her (if she really hate me not) legally mine.


When a woman is married, that supreme earthly obligation requires that in all instances where her husband's real honour is concerned, she should yield her own will to his. But, beforehand, I could be glad, conformably to what I have always signified, to have the most explicit assurances, that every possible way should be tried to avoid litigation with my father. Time and patience will subdue all things. My prospects of happiness are ex

[ocr errors]

tremely contracted. A husband's right will be always the same. In my life-time I could wish nothing to be done of this sort. Your circumstances, sir, will not oblige you to extort violently from him what is in his hands. All that depends upon me, either with regard to my person, to my diversions, or to the economy that no married woman, of whatever rank or quality, should be above inspecting, shall be done, to prevent a necessity for such measures being taken.

As for myself, sir, I must leave it (so seems it to be destined) to your justice, to treat me as you shall think I deserve.

Were I to accept of the handsome separate provision you seem to intend me; added to the considerable sums arisen from my grandfather's estate since his death (more considerable, than perhaps you may suppose from your offer); I should think it my duty to lay up for the family good, and for unforeseen events, out of it: for, as to my donations, I would generally confine myself in them to the tenth of my income, be it what it would. Two hundred pounds a year would do all I wish to do of the separate sort: for all above, I would content myself to ask you; except, mistrusting your own economy, you would give up to my management and keeping, in order to provide for future contingencies, a larger portion.

As to your complaints of my diffidences, and the like, I appeal to your own heart, if it be possible for you to make my case your own for one moment, and to retrospect some parts of your behaviour, words, and actions, whether I am not rather to be justified than censured: and whether, of all men in the world, avowing what you avow, you ought not to think so. If you do not, let me admonish you, sir, from the very great mismatch, that then must appear to be in our minds, never to seek, nor so much as wish, to bring about the most intimate union of interests between yourself and Clar1ssa Harlowe.

Dorcas found this paper in one of the drawers of her lady's dressing-table. She was re-perusing it, as she supposes, when the honest wench carried my message to desire her to favour me at the tea-table ; for she saw her pop a paper into the drawer as she came in; and there, on her mistress's going to meet me in the dining-room, she found it; and to be this.

But I had better not to have had a copy of it, as far as I know: for, determined as I was before upon my operations, it instantly turned all my resolutions in her favour. Yet I would give something to be convinced, that she did not pop it into her drawer before the wench, in order for me to see it; and perhaps (if I were to take notice of it) to discover whether Dorcas, according to Miss Howe's advice, were most my friend, or hers.

Our mother and her nyniphs say, I am a perfect craven, and no Lovelace: And so I think. But this is no simpering, smiling charmer, as I have found others to be, when I have touched upon affecting subjects at a distance; as once or twice I have tried to her, the mother introducing them (to make sex palliate the freedom to sex) when only we three together. She is above the affectation of not seeming to understand you. She shows by her displeasure, and a fierceness not natural to her eye. that she judges of an impure heart by an impure mouth, and darts dead at once even the embryo hopes of an encroaching lover, however distantly insinuated, before the meaning hint can dawn into double entendre.

By my faith, Jack, as I sit gazing upon her, my whole soul in my eyes, contemplating her perfections, and thinking, when I have seen her easy and serene, what would be her thoughts, did she know my heart as well as I know it; when I behold her disturbed and jealous, and think of the justness of her apprehensions, and that she cannot fear so much, as there is room for her to fear; my heart often misgives me.

Well did I, and but just in time, conclude to have done with Mrs. Fretchville and the house; for here Mennell has declared, that he cannot in conscience and honour go any farther. He would not for the world be accessory to the deceiving of such a lady!—I was a fool to let either you or him see her; for ever since ye have both had scruples, which neither would have had, were a woman to have been in the question.

Well, I can't help it!

Mennell has, however, though with some reluctance consented to write me a letter, provided I will allow it to be the last step he shall take in this affair.

This letter is directed, " To Robert Lovelace, Esq.; or, in his absence, to his Lady." She had refused dining with me, or seeing me; and I was out when it came. She opened it: so is my lady by her own consent, proud and saucy as she is.

I am glad at my heart that it came before we entirely make up. She would else perhaps have concluded it to be contrived for a delay: and now, moreover, we can accommodate our old and new quarrels together; and that's contrivance, you know. But how is her dear haughty heart humbled to what it was when I knew her first, that she can apprehend any delays from me; and have nothing to do but to vex at them!

I came in to dinner. She sent me down the letter, desiring my excuse for opening it.—Did it before she was aware. Lady-pride, Belford!—recollection, then retrogradation.

I requested to see her upon it that moment. But she desires to suspend our interview till morning. I will bring her to own, before I have done with her, that she can-t see me too often.

My impatience was so great, on an occasion so unexpected, that I could not help writing, to tell her, " How much vexed I was at the accident: but that it need not

« VorigeDoorgaan »