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got above the least wish to have Mr. Lovelace for my husband.
Yes, I warrant, I must creep to the violator, and be thankful to him for doing me poor justice !
Do you not already see me (pursuing the advice you give) with a downcast eye, appear before his friends, and before my own (supposing the latter would at last condescend to own me) divested of that noble confidence, which arises from a mind unconscious of having deserved reproach.
Do you not see me creep about mine own house, preferring all my honest maidens to myself—as if afraid, too, to open my lips, either by way of reproof or admonition, lest their bolder eyes should bid me look inward, and not expect perfection from them ?
And shall I entitle the wretch to upbraid me with his generosity, and his pity; and, perhaps to reproach me, for having been capable of forgiving crimes of such a nature ?
I once indeed hoped, little thinking him so premeditatedly vile a man, that I might have the happiness to reclaim him : but now, what hope is there left?
Let me repeat, that I truly despise this man! If I know my own heart, indeed I do! I pity him! Beneath my very pity as he is, I nevertheless pity him ! But this I could not do, if I still loved him : for, my dear, one must be greatly sensible of the baseness and ingratitude of those we love. I love him not, therefore ! My soul disdains communion with him.
What then, my dear and only friend, can I wish for but death? And what, after all, is death ? 'Tis but a cessation from mortal life: 'tis but the finishing of an appointed course : the refreshing inn after a fatiguing journey: the end of a life of cares and troubles; and, if happy, the beginning of a life of immortal happiness.
But now, my dear, for your satisfaction let me say, that although I wish not for life, yet would I not, like a poor coward, desert my post when I can maintain it, and when it is my duty to maintain it.
More than once, indeed, was I urged by thoughts so sinful: but then it was in the height of my distress : and once, particularly, I have reason to believe, I saved myself by my desperation from the most shocking personal insults; from a repetition, as far as I know, of his vileness ; the base women (with so much reason dreaded by me) present, to intimidate me, if not to assist him! O my dear, you know not what I suffered on that occasion !nor do I what I escaped at the time, if the wicked man had approached me to execute the horrid purposes of his vile heart.
As I am of opinion, that it would have manifested more of revenge and despair, than of principle, had I committed a violence upon myself, when the villany was perpetrated; so I should think it equally criminal, were I now wilfully to neglect myself; were I purposely to run into the arms of death (as that man supposes I shall do) when I might avoid it.
But here, my dear, is another reason; a reason that will convince you yourself, that I ought not to think of wedlock; but of a preparation for a quite different event. I am persuaded, as much as that I am now alive, that I shall not long live. The strong sense I have ever had of my fault, the loss of my reputation, my disappointments, the determined resentment of my friends, aiding the barbarous usage I have met with where I least deserved it, have seized upon my heart : seized upon it, before it was so well fortified by religious considerations as I hope it now is. Don't be concerned, my dear—but I am sure, if I may say it with as little presumption as grief, that God will soon dissolve my substance; and bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.
And now, my dearest friend, you know all my mind. And you will be pleased to write to the ladies of Mr.
Lovelace's family, that I think myself infinitely obliged to them, for their good opinion of me; and that it has given me greater pleasure than I thought I had to come in this life.
I should be glad to know when you set out on your journey ; as also your little stages; and your time of stay at your Aunt Harman's; that my prayers may locally attend you, whithersoever you go, and wherever you are.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS ARAB. HARLOWE.
Friday, July 21.
health very precarious, and that it was my duty
to take this step, I should hardly have dared to approach you, although but with my pen, after having found your censures so dreadfully justified as they have been.
I have not the courage to write to my father himself ; nor yet to my mother. And it is with trembling, that I address myself to you, to beg of you to intercede for me, that my father will have the goodness to revoke that heaviest part of the very heavy curse he laid upon me, which relates to hereafter : for, as to the here, I have indeed met with my punishment from the very wretch in whom I was supposed to place my confidence.
As I hope not for restoration to favour, I may be allowed to be very earnest on this head : yet will I not use any arguments in support of my request, because I am sure my father, were it in his power, would not have his poor child miserable for ever.
I have the most grateful sense of my mother's goodness in sending me up my clothes. I would have acknowledged the favour the moment I received them, with the most
thankful duty, but that I feared any line from me would be unacceptable.
I would not give fresh offence : so will decline all other commendations of duty and love; appealing to my heart for both, where both are flaming with an ardour that nothing but death can extinguish : therefore only subscribe myself, without so much as a name,
My dear and happy sister,
Your afflicted Servant. A letter directed for me, at Mr. Smith's, a glover, in King Street, Covent Garden, will come to hand.
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Monday, July 24. HAT pains thou takest to persuade thyself, that
the lady's ill health is owing to the vile arrest, AVAL and to the implacableness of her friends! both primarily (if they were) to be laid at thy door. What poor excuses will good heads make for the evils they are put upon by bad hearts !—But 'tis no wonder, that he who can sit down premeditatedly to do a bad action, will content himself with a bad excuse: and yet, what fools must he suppose the rest of the world to be, if he imagines them as easy to be imposed upon, as he can impose upon himself ?
The lady shut herself up at six o'clock yesterday afternoon; and intends not to see company till seven or eight this; not even her nurse—imposing upon herself a severe fast. And why? It is her birthday !-Blooming—yet declining in her very blossom !—Every birthday till this, no doubt happy;-What must be her reflections !—What ought to be thine !
What sport dost thou make with my aspirations, and my prostrations, as thou callest them; and with my dropping of the bank-note behind her chair! I had too
much awe of her at the time, and too much apprehended her displeasure at the offer, to make it with the grace that would better have become my intention. But the action, if awkward, was modest. Indeed, the fitter subject for ridicule with thee; who canst no more taste the beauty and delicacy of modest obligingness, than of modest love. For the same may be said of inviolable respect, that the poet says of unfeigned affection.
I speak, I know not what !--
Yet then it speaks most plain. The like may be pleaded in behalf of that modest respect which made the humble offerer afraid to invade the awful eye, or the revered hand; but awkwardly to drop its incense beside the altar it should have been laid upon. But how should that soul, which could treat delicacy itself brutally, know anything of this !
But I am still more amazed at thy courage, to think of throwing thyself in the way of Miss Howe, and Miss Arabella Harlowe !—Thou wilt not dare, surely, to carry this thought into execution !
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Wednesday, July 26. MO HASTENED to Smith's this morning; and had
but a very indifferent account of the lady's KIS health. I sent up my compliments; and she desired to see me in the afternoon.
About three o'clock I went again to Smith's. The lady was writing when I sent up my name ; but admitted of my visit. I saw a visible alteration in her countenance for the worse ; and Mrs. Lovick respectfully accusing her of too great assiduity to her pen, early and late, and of her abstinence the day before, I took notice of the alteration ;