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and told her, that her physician had greater hopes of her than she had of herself; and I would take the liberty to say, that despair of recovery allowed not room for cure.
She said, she neither despaired nor hoped. Then stepping to the glass, with great composure. My countenance, said she, is indeed an honest picture of my heart. But the mind will run away with the body at any time.
Writing is all my diversion, continued she; and I have subjects that cannot be dispensed with. As to my hours, I have always been an early riser: but now rest is less in my power than ever : sleep has a long time ago quarrelled with me, and will not be friends, although I have made the first advances. What will be, must.
She then stepped to her closet, and brought to me a parcel sealed up with three seals: be so kind, said she, as to give this to your friend. A very grateful present it ought to be to him : for, sir, this packet contains such letters of his to me, as, compared with his actions, would reflect dishonour upon all his sex, were they to fall into other hands.
As to my letters to him, they are not many. He may either keep or destroy them, as he pleases.
I thought, Lovelace, I ought not to forego this opportunity to plead for you: I therefore, with the packet in my hand, urged all the arguments I could think of in your favour.
She heard me out with more attention than I could have promised myself, considering her determined resolution.
I would not interrupt you, Mr. Belford, said she, though I am far from being pleased with the subject of your discourse. The motives for your pleas in his favour, are generous. I love to see instances of generous friendship in either sex. But I have written my full mind on this subject to Miss Howe, who will communicate it to the ladies of his family. No more, therefore, I pray you, upon a topic that may lead to disagreeable recriminations.
Her apothecary came in. He advised her to the air, and blamed her for so great an application, as he was told she made, to her pen ; and he gave it as the doctor's opinion, as well as his own, that she would recover, if she herself desired to recover, and would use the means.
She may possibly write too much for her health : but I have observed on several occasions, that when the physical men are at a loss what to prescribe, they enquire what their patients best like, or are most diverted with, and forbid them that.
Mr. Goddard took his leave ; and I was going to do so too, when the maid came up, and told her, a gentleman was below, who very earnestly enquired after her health, and desired to see her: his name Hickman.
She was overjoyed; and bid the maid desire the gentleman to walk up.
I would have withdrawn; but, I suppose, she thought it was likely I should have met him upon the stairs; and so she forbid it.
She shot to the stairs-head to receive him, and, taking his hand, asked half a dozen questions (without waiting for any answer) in relation to Miss Howe's health ; acknowledging, in high terms, ber goodness in sending him to see her, before she set out upon her little journey.
He gave her a letter from that young lady; which she put into her bosom, saying, she would read it by-and-by.
He was visibly shocked to see how ill she looked.
You look at me with concern, Mr. Hickman, said sheO sir! times are strangely altered with me, since I saw you last at my dear Miss Howe's !—What a cheerful creature was I then !—My heart at rest ! My prospects charming! And beloved by everybody !--But I will not pain you.
Indeed, madam, said he, I am grieved for you at my soul.
He turned away his face with visible grief in it.
Her own eyes glistened: but she turned to each of us, presenting one to the other-him to me, as a gentleman truly deserving to be called so—me to him, as your friend, indeed (how was I, at that instant, ashamed of myself!) ; but, nevertheless, as a man of humanity; detesting my friend's baseness; and desirous of doing her all manner of good offices.
Mr. Hickman received my civilities with a coldness, which, however, was rather to be expected on your account, than that it deserved exception on mine. And the lady invited us both to breakfast with her in the morning; he being obliged to return the next day.
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Thursday, July 27. | WENT this morning, according to the lady's in
vitation, to breakfast, and found Mr. Hickman Ky with her.
A good deal of heaviness and concern hung upon his countenance; but he received me with more respect than he did yesterday; which, I presume, was owing to the lady's favourable character of me.
He spoke very little ; for I suppose they had all their talk out yesterday and before I came this morning.
By the hints that dropped, I perceived that Miss Howe's letter gave an account of your interview with her at Col. Ambrose's—of your professions to Miss Howe; and Miss Howe's opinion, that marrying you was the only way now left to repair her wrongs.
Mr. Hickman, as I also gathered, had pressed her, in Miss Howe's name, to let her, on her return from the Isle of Wight, find her at a neighbouring farm-house, where neat apartments would be made ready to receive her. She asked, how long it would be before they returned ? And he told her, it was proposed to be no more than a fortnight out and in. Upon which, she said, she should then perhaps have time to consider of that kind proposal.
He had tendered her money from Miss Howe; but could not induce her to take any. No wonder I was refused ! She only said, that, if she had occasion, she would be obliged to nobody but Miss Howe.
He told me, that Miss Howe and her mother, and himself, were to begin their little journey for the Isle of Wight on Monday next: but that he must make the most favourable representation of Miss Harlowe's bad health, or they should have a very uneasy absence. He expressed the pleasure he had in finding the lady in such good hands. He proposed to call on Dr. H. to take his opinion whether it were likely she would recover; and hoped he should find it favourable.
Mr. Hickman tells me, he should have been happy with Miss Howe some weeks ago (for all the settlements have been some time engrossed); but that she will not marry, she declares, while her dear friend is so unhappy.
I threw myself in Mr. Hickman's way, on his return from the lady.
He was excessively moved at taking leave of her ; being afraid, as he said to me (though he would not tell her so) that he should never see her again. She charged him to represent everything to Miss Howe in the most favourable light that the truth would bear.
He told me of a tender passage at parting ; which was, that having saluted her at her closet-door, he could not help once more taking the same liberty, in a more fervent manner, at the stairs head, whither she accompanied him; and this in the thought, that it was the last time he should ever have that honour; and offering to apologize for his freedom (for he had pressed her to his heart with a vehemence, that he could neither account for nor resist) — “ Excuse you, Mr. Hickman! that I will : you are my brother and my friend : and to show you, that the good man, who is to be happy with my beloved Miss Howe, is very dear to me, you shall carry to her this token of my love ”-(offering her sweet face to his salute, and pressing his hand between hers): “and perhaps her love of me will make it more agreeable to her, than her punctilio would otherwise allow it to be : and tell her,” said she, dropping on one knee, with clasped hands, and uplifted eyes, “that in this posture you see me, in the last moment of our parting, begging a blessing upon you both, and that you may be the delight and comfort of each other, for many, very many, happy years !"
Tears, said he, fell from my eyes : I even sobbed with mingled joy and sorrow; and she retreating as soon as I . raised her, I went down stairs, highly dissatisfied with myself for going; yet unable to stay ; my eyes fixed the contrary way to my feet, as long as I could behold the skirts of her raiment.
I went into the back shop, continued the worthy man, and recommended the angelic lady to the best care of Mrs. Smith ; and, when I was in the street, cast my eye up at her window : there, for the last time, I doubt, said he, that I shall ever behold her, I saw her; and she waved her charming hand to me, and with such a look of smiling goodness, and mingled concern, as I cannot describe.
Pr’ythee tell me, thou vile Lovelace, if thou hast not a notion even from these jejune descriptions of mine, that there must be a more exalted pleasure in intellectual friendship, than ever thou couldst taste in the gross fumes of sensuality? And whether it may not be possible for thee, in time, to give that preference to the infinitely preferable, which I hope, now, that I shall always give ?
I will leave thee to make the most of this reflection, from
Thy true friend,