But as my loss in her departure is the greatest of any man's, and as she was dearer to me than to any other person in the world, and once she herself wished to be so, what an insolence in any man breathing to pretend to avenge her on me!—Happy! happy! thrice happy! had I known how to value, as I ought to have valued, the glory of such a preference!
I will not aggravate to myself this aggravation of the Colonel's pretending to call me to account for my treatment of a lady so much my own, lest, in the approaching interview, my heart should relent for one so nearly related to her, and who means honour and justice to her memory; and I should thereby give him advantages which otherwise he cannot have. For I know that I shall be inclined to trust to my skill, to save a man who was so much and so justly valued by her; and shall be loath to give way to my resentment, as a threatened man. And in this respect only I am sorry for his skill, and his courage, lest I should be obliged, in my own defence, to add a chalk to a score that is already too long.
Indeed, indeed, Belford, I am, and shall be, to my latest hour, the most miserable of beings. Such exalted generosity!—Why didst thou put into my craving hands the copy of her will? Why sentest thou to me the posthumous letter?—What thou I was earnest to see the will? thou knewest what they both were [I did not]; and that it would be cruel to oblige me.
The meeting of twenty Colonel Mordens, were there twenty to meet in turn, would be nothing to me, would not give me a moment's concern, as to my own safety: but my reflections upon my vile ingratitude to so superior an excellence will ever be my curse.
Had she been a Miss Howe to me, and treated me as if I were a Hickman, I had had a call for revenge; and policy (when I had intended to be an husband) might have justified my attempts to humble her. But a meek and gentle temper was her's, though a true heroine, whenever honour or virtue called for an exertion of spirit.
Nothing but my cursed devices stood in the way of my happiness. Remembrest thou not how repeatedly, from the first, I poured cold water upon her rising flame, by meanly and ungratefully turning upon her the injunctions, which virgin delicacy, and filial duty, induced her to lay me under before I got her into my power?*
* See Vol. III. Letter XV. See also Letters XVII. XLV. XLVI. of that volume, and many other places.
Did she not tell me, and did I not know it, if she had not told me, that she could not be guilty of affectation or tyranny to the man whom she intended to marry?* I knew, as she once upbraided me, that from the time I had got her from her father's house, I had a plain path before me.** True did she say, and I triumphed in the discovery, that from that time I held her soul in suspense an hundred times.*** My ipecacuanha trial alone was enough to convince an infidel that she had a mind in which love and tenderness would have presided, had I permitted the charming buds to put forth and blow.****
* See Vol. V. Letter XXXIV.—It may be observed further, that all Clarissa's occasional lectures to Miss Howe, on that young lady's treatment of Mr. Hickman, prove that she was herself above affectation and tyranny.—See, more particularly, the advice she gives to that friend of her heart, Letter XXXII. of Vol. VIII.—'O my dear,' says she, in that Letter, 'that it had been my lot (as I was not permitted to live single) to have met with a man by whom I could have acted generously and unreservedly!' &c. &c. ** See Vol. V. Letters XXVI. and XXXIV. *** Ibid. Letter XXXIV. **** See Vol. V. Letters II. III.
She would have had no reserve, as once she told me, had I given her cause of doubt.* And did she not own to thee, that once she could have loved me; and, could she have made me good, would have made me happy?** O, Belford! here was love; a love of the noblest kind! A love, as she hints in her posthumous letter,*** that extended to the soul; and which she not only avowed in her dying hours, but contrived to let me know it after death, in that letter filled with warnings and exhortations, which had for their sole end my eternal welfare!
* Ibid. Letter XXXVI. ** See Vol. VIII. Letter LXIV. *** See Letter XXXVI. of this volume.
The cursed women, indeed, endeavoured to excite my vengeance, and my pride, by preaching to me of me. And my pride was, at times, too much excited by their vile insinuations. But had it even been as they said; well might she, who had been used to be courted and admired by every desiring eye, and worshipped by every respectful heart—well might such a woman be allowed to draw back, when she found herself kept in suspense, as to the great question of all, by a designing and intriguing spirit; pretending awe and distance, as reasons for reining-in a fervour, which, if real, cannot be reined-in—Divine creature! Her very doubts, her reserves, (so justly doubting,) would have been my assurance, and my glory!—And what other trial needed her virtue! What other needed a purity so angelic, (blessed with such a command in her passions in the bloom of youth,) had I not been a villain—and a wanton, a conceited, a proud fool, as well as a villain?
These reflections sharpened, rather than their edge by time abated, accompany me in whatever I do, and wherever I go; and mingle with all my diversions and amusements. And yet I go into gay and splendid company. I have made new acquaintance in the different courts I have visited. I am both esteemed and sought after, by persons of rank and merit. I visit the colleges, the churches, the palaces. I frequent the theatre: am present at every public exhibition; and see all that is worth seeing, that I had not see before, in the cabinets of the curious: am sometimes admitted to the toilette of an eminent toast, and make one with distinction at the assemblies of others—yet can think of nothing, nor of any body, with delight, but of my CLARISSA. Nor have I seen one woman with advantage to herself, but as she resembles, in stature, air, complexion, voice, or in some feature, that charmer, that only charmer of my soul.
What greater punishment, than to have these astonishing perfections, which she was mistress of, strike my remembrance with such force, when I have nothing left me but the remorse of having deprived myself and the world of such a blessing? Now and then, indeed, am I capable of a gleam of comfort, arising (not ungenerously) from the moral certainty which I have of her everlasting happiness, in spite of all the machinations and devices which I set on foot to ensnare her virtue, and to bring down so pure a mind to my own level.
For can I be, at worst, [avert that worst, O thou SUPREME, who only canst avert it!] So much a wretch, so very far abandon'd, But that I must, even in the horrid's gloom, Reap intervenient joy, at least some respite, From pain and anguish, in her bliss.—
If I find myself thus miserable abroad, I will soon return to England, and follow your example, I think—turn hermit, or some plaguy thing or other, and see what a constant course of penitence and mortification will do for me. There is no living at this rate—d—n me if there be!
If any mishap should befal me, you'll have the particulars of it from De la Tour. He indeed knows but little English; but every modern tongue is your's. He is a trusty and ingenious fellow; and, if any thing happen, will have some other papers, which I have already sealed up, for you to transmit to Lord M. And since thou art so expert and so ready at executorships, pr'ythee, Belford, accept of the office for me, as well as for my Clarissa—CLARISSA LOVELACE let me call her.
By all that's good, I am bewitched to her memory. Her very name, with mine joined to it, ravishes my soul, and is more delightful to me than the sweetest music.
Had I carried her [I must still recriminate] to any other place than that accursed woman's—for the potion was her invention and mixture; and all the persisted-in violence was at her instigation, and at that of her wretched daughters, who have now amply revenged upon me their own ruin, which they lay at my door—
But this looks so like the confession of a thief at the gallows, that possibly thou wilt be apt to think I am intimidated in prospect of the approaching interview. But far otherwise. On the contrary, most cheerfully do I go to meet the Colonel; and I would tear my heart out of my breast with my own hands, were it capable of fear or concern on that account.
Thus much only I know, that if I should kill him, [which I will not do, if I can help it,] I shall be far from being easy in my mind; that shall I never more be. But as the meeting is evidently of his own seeking, against an option fairly given to the contrary, and I cannot avoid it, I'll think of that hereafter. It is but repenting and mortifying for all at once; for I am sure of victory, as I am that I now live, let him be ever so skillful a swordsman; since, besides that I am no unfleshed novice, this is a sport that, when provoked to it, I love as well as my food. And, moreover, I shall be as calm and undisturbed as the bishop at his prayers; while he, as is evident by his letter, must be actuated by revenge and passion.
Doubt not, therefore, Jack, that I shall give a good account of this affair. Mean time, I remain,
Your's most affectionately, &c. LOVELACE.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. TRENT, DEC. 3—14.
To-morrow is to be the day, that will, in all probability, send either one or two ghosts to attend the manes of my CLARISSA.
I arrived here yesterday; and inquiring for an English gentleman of the name of Morden, soon found out the Colonel's lodgings. He had been in town two days; and left his name at every probable place.
He was gone to ride out; and I left my name, and where to be found; and in the evening he made me a visit.
He was plaguy gloomy. That was not I. But yet he told me that I had acted like a man of true spirit in my first letter; and with honour, in giving him so readily this meeting. He wished I had in other respects; and then we might have seen each other upon better terms than now we did.
I said there was no recalling what was passed; and that I wished some things had not been done, as well as he.
To recriminate now, he said, would be as exasperating as unavailable. And as I had so cheerfully given him this opportunity, words should give place to business.—Your choice, Mr. Lovelace, of time, of place, of weapon, shall be my choice.
The two latter be your's, Mr. Morden. The time to-morrow, or next day, as you please.
Next day, then, Mr. Lovelace; and we'll ride out to-morrow, to fix the place.
Well: now, Mr. Lovelace, do you choose the weapon.
I said I believed we might be upon an equal footing with the single rapier; but, if he thought otherwise, I had no objection to a pistol.
I will only say, replied he, that the chances may be more equal by the sword, because we can neither of us be to seek in that; and you would stand, says he, a worse chance, as I apprehend, with a pistol; and yet I have brought two, that you may take your choice of either; for, added he, I have never missed a mark at pistol-distance, since I knew how to hold a pistol.
I told him, that he spoke like himself; that I was expert enough that way, to embrace it, if he chose it; though not so sure of my mark as he pretended to be. Yet the devil's in it, Colonel, if I, who have slit a bullet in two upon a knife's edge, hit not my man. So I have no objection to a pistol, if it be your choice. No man, I'll venture to say, has a steadier hand or eye than I have.
They may both be of use to you, Sir, at the sword, as well as at the pistol: the sword, therefore, be the thing, if you please.
With all my heart.
We parted with a solemn sort of ceremonious civility: and this day I called upon him; and we rode out together to fix upon the place: and both being of one mind, and hating to put off for the morrow what could be done to-day, would have decided it then: but De la Tour, and the Colonel's valet, who attended us, being unavoidably let into the secret, joined to beg we would have with us a surgeon from Brixen, whom La Tour had fallen in with there, and who had told him he was to ride next morning to bleed a person in a fever, at a lone cottage, which, by the surgeon's description, was not far from the place where we then were, if it were not that very cottage within sight of us.
They overtook so to manage it, that the surgeon should know nothing of the matter till his assistance was called in. And La Tour, being, as I assured the Colonel, a ready contriving fellow, [whom I ordered to obey him as myself, were the chance to be in his favour,] we both agreed to defer the decision till to-morrow, and to leave the whole about the surgeon to the management of our two valets; enjoining them absolute secrecy: and so rode back again by different ways.
We fixed upon a little lone valley for the spot—ten to-morrow morning the time—and single rapier the word. Yet I repeatedly told him, that I valued myself so much upon my skill in that weapon, that I would wish him to choose any other.
He said it was a gentleman's weapon; and he who understood it not, wanted a qualification that he ought to suffer for not having: but that, as to him, one weapon was as good as another, throughout all the instruments of offence.
So, Jack, you see I take no advantage of him: but my devil must deceive me, if he take not his life or his death at my hands before eleven to-morrow morning.
His valet and mine are to be present; but both strictly enjoined to be impartial and inactive: and, in return for my civility of the like nature, he commanded his to be assisting me, if he fell.
We are to ride thither, and to dismount when at the place; and his footman and mine are to wait at an appointed distance, with a chaise to carry off to the borders of the Venetian territories the survivor, if one drop; or to assist either or both, as occasion may demand.
And thus, Belford, is the matter settled.
A shower of rain has left me nothing else to do; and therefore I write this letter; though I might as well have deferred it till to-morrow twelve o'clock, when I doubt not to be able to write again, to assure you much I am
Yours, &c. LOVELACE.
TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM F.J. DE LA TOUR.
TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. NEAR SOHO-SQUARE, LONDON. TRENT, DEC. 18, N.S.
I have melancholy news to inform you of, by order of the Chevalier Lovelace. He showed me his letter to you before he sealed it; signifying, that he was to meet the Chevalier Morden on the 15th. Wherefore, as the occasion of the meeting is so well known to you, I shall say nothing of it here.
I had taken care to have ready, within a little distance, a surgeon and his assistant, to whom, under an oath of secrecy, I had revealed the matter, (though I did not own it to the two gentlemen;) so that they were prepared with bandages, and all things proper. For well was I acquainted with the bravery and skill of my chevalier; and had heard the character of the other; and knew the animosity of both. A post-chaise was ready, with each of their footmen, at a little distance.
The two chevaliers came exactly at their time: they were attended by Monsieur Margate, (the Colonel's gentleman,) and myself. They had given orders over night, and now repeated them in each other's presence, that we should observe a strict impartiality between them: and that, if one fell, each of us should look upon himself, as to any needful help or retreat, as the servant of the survivor, and take his commands accordingly.
After a few compliments, both the gentlemen, with the greatest presence of mind that I ever beheld in men, stript to their shirts, and drew.
They parried with equal judgment several passes. My chevalier drew the first blood, making a desperate push, which, by a sudden turn of his antagonist, missed going clear through him, and wounded him on the fleshy part of the ribs of his right side; which part the sword tore out, being on the extremity of the body; but, before my chevalier could recover himself, the Colonel, in return, pushed him into the inside of the left arm, near the shoulder; and the sword (raking his breast as it passed,) being followed by a great effusion of blood, the Colonel said, Sir, I believe you have enough.
My chevalier swore by G—d he was not hurt; 'twas a pin's point; and so made another pass at his antagonist; which he, with a surprising dexterity, received under his arm, and run my dear chevalier into the body; who immediately fell; saying, The luck is your's, Sir—O my beloved Clarissa!—Now art thou—inwardly he spoke three or four words more. His sword dropt from his hand. Mr. Morden threw his down, and ran to him, saying in French—Ah, Monsieur! you are a dead man!——Call to God for mercy!
We gave the signal agreed upon to the footmen; and they to the surgeons; who instantly came up.
Colonel Morden, I found, was too well used to the bloody work; for he was as cool as if nothing extraordinary had happened, assisting the surgeons, though his own wound bled much. But my dear chevalier fainted away two or three times running, and vomited blood besides.
However, they stopped the bleeding for the present; and we helped him into the voiture; and then the Colonel suffered his own wound to be dressed; and appeared concerned that my chevalier was between whiles (when he could speak, and struggle,) extremely outrageous.—Poor gentleman! he had made quite sure of victory!
The Colonel, against the surgeons' advice, would mount on horseback to pass into the Venetian territories; and generously gave me a purse of gold to pay the surgeons; desiring me to make a present to the footman; and to accept of the remainder, as a mark of his satisfaction in my conduct, and in my care and tenderness of my master.
The surgeons told him that my chevalier could not live over the day.
When the Colonel took leave of him, Mr. Lovelace said, You have well revenged the dear creature.
I have, Sir, said Mr. Morden; and perhaps shall be sorry that you called upon me to this work, while I was balancing whether to obey, or disobey, the dear angel.
There is a fate in it! replied my chevalier—a cursed fate!—or this could not have been!—But be ye all witnesses, that I have provoked my destiny, and acknowledge that I fall by a man of honour.
Sir, said the Colonel, with the piety of a confessor, (wringing Mr. Lovelace's hand,) snatch these few fleeting moments, and commend yourself to God.
And so he rode off.
The voiture proceeded slowly with my chevalier; yet the motion set both his wounds bleeding afresh; and it was with difficulty they again stopped the blood.
We brought him alive to the nearest cottage; and he gave orders to me to dispatch to you the packet I herewith send sealed up; and bid me write to you the particulars of this most unhappy affair: and give you thanks, in his name, for all your favours and friendship to him.
Contrary to all expectation, he lived over the night: but suffered much, as well from his impatience and disappointment, as from his wounds; for he seemed very unwilling to die.
He was delirious, at times, in the two last hours: and then several times cried out, as if he had seen some frightful spectre, Take her away! Take her away! but named nobody. And sometimes praised some lady, (that Clarissa, I suppose, whom he had invoked when he received his death's wound,) calling her Sweet Excellence! Divine Creature! Fair Sufferer!— And once he said, Look down, Blessed Spirit, look down!—And there stopt; —his lips, however, moving.
At nine in the morning he was seized with convulsions, and fainted away; and it was a quarter of an hour before he came out of them.
His few last words I must not omit, as they show an ultimate composure; which may administer some consolation to his honourable friends.
Blessed—said he, addressing himself no doubt to Heaven; for his dying eyes were lifted up—a strong convulsion prevented him for a few moments saying more—but recovering, he again, with great fervour, (lifting up his eyes, and his spread hands,) pronounced the word blessed: Then, in a seeming ejaculation, he spoke inwardly, so as not to be understood: at last, he distinctly pronounced these three words,
LET THIS EXPIATE!
And then, his head sinking on his pillow, he expired, at about half an hour after ten.
He little thought, poor gentleman! his end so near: so had given no direction about his body. I have caused it to be embowelled, and deposited in a vault, till I have orders from England.
This is a favour that was procured with difficulty; and would have been refused, had he not been an Englishman of rank: a nation with reason respected in every Austrian government—for he had refused ghostly attendance, and the sacraments in the Catholic way.—May his soul be happy, I pray God!
I have had some trouble also, on account of the manner of his death, from the magistracy here: who have taken the requisite informations in the affair. And it has cost some money. Of which, and of the dear chevalier's effects, I will give you a faithful account in my next. And so, waiting at this place your commands, I am, Sir,
Your most faithful and obedient servant, F.J. DE LA TOUR.
SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY MR. BELFORD
What remains to be mentioned for the satisfaction of such of the readers as may be presumed to have interested themselves in the fortunes of those other principals in the story, who survived Mr. Lovelace, will be found summarily related as follows:
The news of Mr. LOVELACE's unhappy end was received with as much grief by his own relations, as it was with exultation by the Harlowe family, and by Miss Howe. His own family were most to be pitied, because, being sincere admirers of the inimitable lady, they were greatly grieved for the injustice done her; and now had the additional mortification of losing the only male of it, by a violent death.
That his fate was deserved, was still a heightening of their calamity, as they had, for that very reason, and his unpreparedness for it, but too much ground for apprehension with regard to his future happiness. While the other family, from their unforgiving spirit, and even the noble young lady above mentioned, from her lively resentments, found his death some little, some temporary, alleviation of the heavy loss they had sustained, principally through his means.
Temporary alleviation, we repeat, as to the Harlowe family; for THEY were far from being happy or easy in their reflections upon their own conduct. —And still the less, as the inconsolable mother rested not till she had procured, by means of Colonel Morden, large extracts from some of the letters that compose this history, which convinced them all that the very correspondence which Clarissa, while with them, renewed with Mr. Lovelace, was renewed for their sakes, more than for her own: that she had given him no encouragement contrary to her duty and to that prudence for which she was so early noted: that had they trusted to a discretion which they owned she had never brought into question, she would have extricated them and herself (as she once proposed* to her mother) from all difficulties as to Lovelace: that she, if any woman ever could, would have given a glorious instance of a passion conquered, or at least kept under by reason and by piety; the man being too immoral to be implicitly beloved.
* See Vol. I. Letter XVII.
The unhappy parents and uncles, from the perusal of these extracts, too evidently for their peace, saw that it was entirely owing to the avarice, the ambition, the envy, of her implacable brother and sister, and to the senseless confederacy entered into by the whole family, to compel her to give her hand to a man she must despise, or she had not been a CLARISSA, and to their consequent persecution of her, that she ever thought of quitting her father's house: and that even when she first entertained such a thought, it was with intent, if possible, to procure for herself a private asylum with Mrs. Howe, or at some other place of safety, (but not with Mr. Lovelace, nor with any of the ladies of his family, though invited by the latter,) from whence she might propose terms which ought to have been complied with, and which were entirely consistent with her duty—that though she found herself disappointed of the hoped-for refuge and protection, she intended not, by meeting Mr. Lovelace, to put herself into his power; all that she aimed at by taking that step being to endeavour to pacify so fierce a spirit, lest he should (as he indeed was determined to do) pay a visit to her friends, which might have been attended with fatal consequences; but was spirited away by him in such a manner, as made her an object of pity rather than of blame.
These extracts further convinced them all that it was to her unaffected regret that she found that marriage was not in her power afterwards for a long time; and at last, but on one occasion, when their unnatural cruelty to her (on a new application she had made to her aunt Hervey, to procure mercy and pardon) rendered her incapable of receiving his proffered hand; and so obliged her to suspend the day: intending only to suspend it till recovered.
They saw with equal abhorrence of Lovelace, and of their own cruelty, and with the highest admiration of her, that the majesty of her virtue had awed the most daring spirit in the world, so that he durst not attempt to carry his base designs into execution, till, by wicked potions, he had made her senses the previous sacrifice.
But how did they in a manner adore her memory! How did they recriminate upon each other! when they found, that she had not only preserved herself from repeated outrage, by the most glorious and intrepid behaviour, in defiance, and to the utter confusion of all his libertine notions, but had the fortitude, constantly, and with a noble disdain, to reject him.— Whom?—Why, the man she once could have loved, kneeling for pardon, and begging to be permitted to make her the best reparation then in his power to make her; that is to say, by marriage. His fortunes high and unbroken. She his prisoner at the time in a vile house: rejected by all her friends; upon repeated application to them, for mercy and forgiveness, rejected—mercy and forgiveness, and a last blessing, afterwards imploring; and that as much to lighten their future remorses, as for the comfort of her own pious heart—yet, though savagely refused, on a supposition that she was not so near her end as she was represented departed, forgiving and blessing them all!
Then they recollected that her posthumous letters, instead of reproaches, were filled with comfortings: that she had in her last will, in their own way, laid obligations upon them all; obligations which they neither deserved nor expected; as if she thought to repair the injustice which self-partiality made some of them conclude done to them by her grandfather in his will.
These intelligences and recollections were perpetual subjects of recrimination to them: heightened their anguish for the loss of a child who was the glory of their family; and not seldom made them shun each other, (at the times they were accustomed to meet together,) that they might avoid the mutual reproaches of eyes that spoke, when tongues were silent—their stings also sharpened by time! What an unhappy family was this! Well might Colonel Morden, in the words of Juvenal, challenge all other miserable families to produce such a growing distress as that of the Harlowes (a few months before so happy!) was able to produce.
Humani generis mores tibi nosse volenti Sufficit una domus: paucos consume dies, & Dicere te miserum, postquam illinc veneris, aude.
Mrs. HARLOWE lived about two years and an half after the lamented death of her CLARISSA.
Mr. HARLOWE had the additional affliction to survive his lady about half a year; her death, by new pointing his former anguish and remorse, hastening his own.
Both, in their last hours, however, comforted themselves, that they should be restored to their BLESSED daughter, as they always (from the time they were acquainted with the above particulars of her story, and with her happy exit) called her.
They both lived, however, to see their son James, and their daughter Arabella, married: but not to take joy in either of their nuptials.
Mr. JAMES HARLOWE married a woman of family, an orphan; and is obliged, at a very great expense, to support his claim to estates, which were his principal inducement to make his addresses to her; but which, to this day, he has not recovered; nor is likely to recover; having powerful adversaries to contend with, and a title to assert, which admits of litigation; and he not blessed with so much patience as is necessary to persons embarrassed in law.
What is further observable, with regard to him, is, that the match was entirely of his own head, against the advice of his father, mother, and uncles, who warned him of marrying in this lady a law-suit for life. His ungenerous behaviour to his wife, for what she cannot help, and for what is as much her misfortune as his, has occasioned such estrangements between them (she being a woman of spirit) as, were the law-suits determined, even more favourably than probably they will be, must make him unhappy to the end of his life. He attributes all his misfortunes, when he opens himself to the few friends he has, to his vile and cruel treatment of his angelic sister. He confesses these misfortunes to be just, without having temper to acquiesce in the acknowledged justice. One month in every year he puts on mourning, and that month commences with him on the 7th of September, during which he shuts himself up from all company. Finally, he is looked upon, and often calls himself,
THE MOST MISERABLE OF BEINGS.
ARABELLA'S fortune became a temptation to a man of quality to make his addresses to her: his title an inducement with her to approve of him. Brothers and sisters, when they are not friends, are generally the sharpest enemies to each other. He thought too much was done for in the settlements. She thought not enough. And for some years past, they have so heartily hated each other, that if either know a joy, it is in being told of some new misfortune or displeasure that happens to the other. Indeed, before they came to an open rupture, they were continually loading each other, by way of exonerating themselves (to the additional disquiet of the whole family) with the principal guilt of their implacable behaviour and sordid cruelty to their admirable sister.—May the reports that are spread of this lady's farther unhappiness from her lord's free life; a fault she justly thought so odious in Mr. Lovelace (though that would not have been an insuperable objection with her to his addresses); and of his public slights and contempt of her, and even sometimes of his personal abuses, which are said to be owing to her impatient spirit, and violent passions; be utterly groundless—For, what a heart must that be, which would wish she might be as great a torment to herself, as she had aimed to be to her sister? Especially as she regrets to this hour, and declares that she shall to the last of her life, her cruel treatment of that sister; and (as well as her brother) is but too ready to attribute to that her own unhappiness.
Mr. ANTONY and Mr. JOHN HARLOWE are still (at the writing of this) living: but often declare, that, with their beloved niece, they lost all the joy of their lives: and lament, without reserve, in all companies, the unnatural part they were induced to take against her.
Mr. SOLMES is also still living, if a man of his cast may be said to live; for his general behaviour and sordid manners are such as justify the aversion the excellent lady had to him. He has moreover found his addresses rejected by several women of far inferior fortunes (great as his own are) to those of the lady to whom he was encouraged to aspire.
Mr. MOWBRAY and Mr. TOURVILLE having lost the man in whose conversation they so much delighted; shocked and awakened by the several unhappy catastrophes before their eyes; and having always rather ductile and dictating hearts; took their friend Belford's advice: converted the remainder of their fortunes into annuities for life; and retired, the one into Yorkshire, the other into Nottinghamshire, of which counties they are natives: their friend Belford managing their concerns for them, and corresponding with them, and having more and more hopes, every time he sees them, (which is once or twice a year, when they come to town,) that they will become more and more worthy of their names and families.
As those sisters in iniquity, SALLY MARTIN and POLLY HORTON, had abilities and education superior to what creatures of their cast generally can boast of; and as their histories are no where given in the preceding papers, in which they are frequently mentioned; it cannot fail of gratifying the reader's curiosity, as well as answering the good ends designed by the publication of this work, to give a brief account of their parentage, and manner of training-up, preparative to the vile courses they fell into, and of what became of them, after the dreadful exit of the infamous Sinclair.
SALLY MARTIN was the daughter of a substantial mercer at the court-end of the town; to whom her mother, a grocer's daughter in the city, brought a handsome fortune; and both having a gay turn, and being fond of the fashions which it was their business to promote; and which the wives and daughters of the uppermost tradesmen (especially in that quarter of the town) generally affect to follow; it was no wonder that they brought up their daughter accordingly: nor that she, who was a very sprightly and ready-witted girl, and reckoned very pretty and very genteel, should every year improve upon such examples.
She early found herself mistress of herself. All she did was right: all she said was admired. Early, very early, did she dismiss blushes from her cheek. She could not blush, because she could not doubt: and silence, whatever was the subject, was as much a stranger to her as diffidence.
She never was left out of any party of pleasure after she had passed her ninth year; and, in honour of her prattling vein, was considered as a principal person in the frequent treats and entertainments which her parents, fond of luxurious living, gave with a view to increase their acquaintance for the sake of their business; not duly reflecting, that the part they suffered her to take in what made for their interest, would probably be a mean to quicken their appetites, and ruin the morals of their daughter, for whose sake, as an only child, they were solicitous to obtain wealth.
The CHILD so much a woman, what must the WOMAN be?
At fifteen or sixteen, she affected, both in dress and manners, to ape such of the quality as were most apish. The richest silks in her father's shop were not too rich for her. At all public diversions, she was the leader, instead of the led, of all her female kindred and acquaintances, though they were a third older than herself. She would bustle herself into a place, and make room for her more bashful companions, through the frowns of the first possessors, at a crowded theatre, leaving every one near her amazed at her self-consequence, wondering she had no servant to keep place for her; whisperingly inquiring who she was; and then sitting down admiring her fortitude.
She officiously made herself of consequence to the most noted players; who, as one of their patronesses, applied to her for her interest on their benefit-nights. She knew the christian, as well as sur name of every pretty fellow who frequented public places; and affected to speak of them by the former.
Those who had not obeyed the call her eyes always made upon all of them for notice at her entrance, or before she took her seat, were spoken of with haughtiness, as, Jacks, or Toms; wile her favourites, with an affectedly-endearing familiarity, and a prettiness of accent, were Jackeys and Tommys; and if they stood very high in her graces, dear devils, and agreeable toads.
She sat in judgment, and an inexorable judge she was upon the actions and conduct of every man and woman of quality and fashion, as they became the subjects of conversation. She was deeply learned in the scandalous chronicle: she made every character, every praise, and every censure, serve to exalt herself. She should scorn to do so or so!—or, That was ever her way; and Just what she did, or liked to do; and judging herself by the vileness of the most vile of her sex, she wiped her mouth, and sat down satisfied with her own virtue.
She had her chair to attend her wherever she went, and found people among her betters, as her pride stooped to call some of the most insignificant people in the world, to encourage her visits.
She was practised in all the arts of the card-table: a true Spartan girl; and had even courage, occasionally, to wrangle off a detection. Late hours (turning night into day, and day into night) were the almost unavoidable consequences of her frequent play. Her parents pleased themselves that their Sally had a charming constitution: and, as long as she suffered not in her health, they were regardless of her morals.
The needle she hated: and made the constant subjects of her ridicule the fine works that used to employ, and keep out of idleness, luxury, and extravagance, and at home (were they to have been of no other service) the women of the last age, when there were no Vauxhalls, Ranelaghs, Marybones, and such-like places of diversion, to dress out for, and gad after.
And as to family-management, her parents had not required any knowledge of that sort from her; and she considered it as a qualification only necessary for hirelings, and the low-born, and as utterly unworthy of the attention of a modern fine lady.
Although her father had great business, yet, living in so high and expensive a way, he pretended not to give her a fortune answerable to it. Neither he nor his wife having set out with any notion of frugality could think of retrenching. Nor did their daughter desire that they should retrench. They thought glare or ostentation reputable. They called it living genteely. And as they lifted their heads above their neighbours, they supposed their credit concerned to go forward rather than backward in outward appearances. They flattered themselves, and they flattered their girl, and she was entirely of their opinion, that she had charms and wit enough to attract some man of rank; of fortune at least: and yet this daughter of a mercer-father and grocer-mother could not bear the thoughts of a creeping cit; encouraging herself with the few instances (comcommon ones, of girls much inferior to herself in station, talents, education, and even fortune, who had succeeded—as she doubted not to succeed. Handsome settlements, and a chariot, that tempting gewgaw to the vanity of the middling class of females, were the least that she proposed to herself. But all this while, neither her parents nor herself considered that she had appetites indulged to struggle with, and a turn of education given her, as well as a warm constitution, unguarded by sound principles, and unbenefitted by example, which made her much better qualified for a mistress than a wife.
Her twentieth year, to her own equal wonder and regret, passed over her head, and she had not one offer that her pride would permit her to accept of. A girl from fifteen to eighteen, her beauty then beginning to blossom, will, as a new thing, attract the eyes of men: but if she make her face cheap at public places, she will find, that new faces will draw more attention than fine faces constantly seen. Policy, therefore, if nothing else were considered, would induce a young beauty, if she could tame her vanity, just to show herself, and to be talked of, and then withdrawing, as if from discretion, (and discreet it will be to do so,) expect to be sought after, rather than to be thought to seek for; only reviving now-and-then the memory of herself, at the public places in turn, if she find herself likely to be forgotten; and then she will be new again. But this observation ought young ladies always to have in their heads, that they can hardly ever expect to gratify their vanity, and at the same time gain the admiration of men worthy of making partners for life. They may, in short, have many admirers at public places, but not one lover.
Sally Martin knew nothing of this doctrine. Her beauty was in its bloom, and yet she found herself neglected. 'Sally Martin, the mercer's daughter: she never fails being here;' was the answer, and the accompanying observation, made to every questioner, Who is that lady?
At last, her destiny approached. It was at a masquerade that she first saw the gay, the handsome Lovelace, who was just returned from his travels. She was immediately struck with his figure, and with the brilliant things that she heard fall from his lips as he happened to sit near her. He, who was not then looking out for a wife, was taken with Sally's smartness, and with an air that at the same time showed her to be equally genteel and self-significant; and signs of approbation mutually passing, he found no difficulty in acquainting himself where to visit her next day. And yet it was some mortification to a person of her self-consequence, and gay appearance, to submit to be known by so fine a young gentleman as no more than a mercer's daughter. So natural is it for a girl brought up as Sally was, to be occasionally ashamed of those whose folly had set her above herself.
But whatever it might be to Sally, it was no disappointment to Mr. Lovelace, to find his mistress of no higher degree; because he hoped to reduce her soon to the lowest condition that an unhappy woman can fall into.
But when Miss Martin had informed herself that her lover was the nephew and presumptive heir of Lord M. she thought him the very man for whom she had been so long and so impatiently looking out; and for whom it was worth her while to spread her toils. And here it may not be amiss to observe, that it is very probable that Mr. Lovelace had Sally Martin in his thoughts, and perhaps two or three more whose hopes of marriage from him had led them to their ruin, when he drew the following whimsical picture, in a letter to his friend Belford, not inserted in the preceding collection:
'Methinks,' says he, 'I see a young couple in courtship, having each a design upon the other: the girl plays off: she is very happy as she is: she cannot be happier: she will not change her single state: the man, I will suppose, is one who does not confess, that he desires not that she should: she holds ready a net under her apron; he another under his coat; each intending to throw it over the other's neck; she over his, when her pride is gratified, and she thinks she can be sure of him; he over her's, when the watched-for yielding moment has carried consent too far. And suppose he happens to be the more dexterous of the two, and whips his net over her, before she can cast her's over him; how, I would fain know, can she cast her's over him; how, I would fain know, can she be justly entitled to cry out upon cruelty, barbarity, deception, sacrifices, and all the rest of the exclamatory nonsense, with which the pretty fools, in such a case, are wont to din the ears of their conquerors? Is it not just, thinkest thou, when she makes her appeal to gods and men, that both gods and men should laugh at her, and hitting her in the teeth with her own felonious intentions, bid her sit down patiently under her deserved disappointment?'
In short, Sally's parents, as well as herself, encouraged Mr. Lovelace's visits. They thought they might trust to a discretion in he which she herself was too wise to doubt. Pride they knew she had; and that, in these cases, is often called discretion.—Lord help the sex, says Lovelace, if they had not pride!—Nor did they suspect danger from that specious air of sincerity, and gentleness of manners, which he could assume or lay aside whenever he pleased.
The second masquerade, which was no more than their third meeting abroad, completed her ruin, from so practised, though so young a deceiver; and that before she well knew she was in danger; for, having prevailed on her to go off with him about twelve o'clock to his aunt Forbes's, a lady of honour and fortune, to whom he had given reason to expect her future niece, [the only hint of marriage he ever gave her,] he carried her off to the house of the wicked woman, who bears the name of Sinclair in these papers; and there, by promises, which she understood in the favourable sense, (for where a woman loves she seldom doubts enough for her safety,) obtained an easy conquest over a virtue that was little more than nominal.
He found it not difficult to induce her to proceed in the guilty commerce, till the effects of it became to apparent to be hid. Her parents then (in the first fury of their disappointment, and vexation for being deprived of all hopes of such a son-in-law) turned her out of doors.
Her disgrace thus published, she became hardened; and, protected by her seducer, whose favourite mistress she then was, she was so incensed against her parents for an indignity so little suiting with her pride, and the head they had always given her, that she refused to return to them, when, repenting of their passionate treatment of her, they would have been reconciled to her: and, becoming the favourite daughter of her mother Sinclair, at the persuasions of that abandoned woman she practised to bring on an abortion, which she effected, though she was so far gone that it had like to have cost her her life.
Thus, unchastity her first crime, murder her next, her conscience became seared; and, young as she was, and fond of her deceiver, soon grew indelicate enough, having so thorough-paced a school-mistress, to do all she could to promote the pleasures of the man who had ruined her; scrupling not, with a spirit truly diabolical, to endeavour to draw in others to follow her example. And it is hardly to be believed what mischiefs of this sort she was the means of effecting; woman confiding in and daring woman; and she a creature of specious appearance, and great art.
A still viler wickedness, if possible, remains to be said of Sally Martin.
Her father dying, her mother, in hopes to reclaim her, as she called it, proposed her to quit the house of the infamous Sinclair, and to retire with her into the country, where her disgrace, and her then wicked way of life, would not be known; and there so to live as to save appearances; the only virtue she had ever taught her; besides that of endeavouring rather to delude than be deluded.
To this Sally consented; but with no other intention, as she often owned, (and gloried in it,) than to cheat her mother of the greatest part of her substance, in revenge for consenting to her being turned out of doors long before, and by way of reprisal for having persuaded her father, as she would have it, to cut her off, in his last will, from any share in his fortune.
This unnatural wickedness, in half a year's time, she brought about; and then the serpent retired to her obscene den with her spoils, laughing at what she had done; even after it had broken her mother's heart, as it did in a few months' time: a severe, but just punishment for the unprincipled education she had given her.
It ought to be added, that this was an iniquity of which neither Mr. Lovelace, nor any of his friends, could bear to hear her boast; and always checked her for it whenever she did; condemning it with one voice. And it is certain that this, and other instances of her complicated wickedness, turned early Lovelace's heart against her; and, had she not been subservient to him in his other pursuits, he would not have endured her: for, speaking of her, he would say, Let not any one reproach us, Jack: there is no wickedness like the wickedness of a woman.*
* Eccles. xxv. 19.
A bad education was the preparative, it must be confessed; and for this Sally Martin had reason to thank her parents; as they had reason to thank themselves for what followed: but, had she not met with a Lovelace, she had avoided a Sinclair; and might have gone on at the common rate of wives so educated, and been the mother of children turned out to take their chance in the world, as she was; so many lumps of soft wax, fit to take any impression that the first accidents gave them; neither happy, nor making happy; every thing but useful, and well off, if not extremely miserable.
POLLY HORTON was the daughter of a gentlewoman, well descended; whose husband, a man of family and of honour, was a Captain in the Guards.
He died when Polly was about nine years of age, leaving her to the care of her mother, a lively young lady of about twenty-six; with a genteel provision for both.
Her mother was extremely fond of her Polly; but had it not in herself to manifest the true, the genuine fondness of a parent, by a strict and guarded education; dressing out, and visiting, and being visited by the gay of her own sex, and casting her eye abroad, as one very ready to try her fortune again in the married state.
This induced those airs, and a love to those diversions, which make a young widow, of so lively a turn, the unfittest tutoress in the world, even to her own daughter.
Mrs. Horton herself having had an early turn to music, and that sort of reading which is but an earlier debauchery for young minds, preparative to the grosser at riper years; to wit, romances and novels, songs and plays, and those without distinction, moral or immoral, she indulged her daughter in the same taste; and at those hours, when they could not take part in the more active and lively amusements and kill-times, as some call them, used to employ Miss to read to her, happy enough, in her own imagination, that while she was diverting her own ears, and sometimes, as the piece was, corrupting her own heart, and her child's too, she was teaching Miss to read, and improve her mind; for it was the boast of every tea-table half-hour, That Miss Horton, in propriety, accent, and emphasis, surpassed all the young ladies her age; and, at other times, complimenting the pleased mother—Bless me, Madam, with what a surprising grace Miss Horton reads!—she enters into the very spirit of her subject —this she could have from nobody but you! An intended praise; but, as the subjects were, would have been a severe satire in the mouth of an enemy!—While the fond, the inconsiderate mother, with a delighted air, would cry, Why, I cannot but say, Miss Horton does credit to her tutoress! And then a Come hither, my best Love! and, with a kiss of approbation, What a pleasure to your dear papa, had he lived to see your improvements, my Charmer! Concluding with a sigh of satisfaction, her eyes turning round upon the circle, to take in all the silent applauses of theirs! But little though the fond, the foolish mother, what the plant would be, which was springing up from these seeds! Little imagined she, that her own ruin, as well as her child's, was to be the consequence of this fine education; and that, in the same ill-fated hour, the honour of both mother and daughter was to become a sacrifice to the intriguing invader.
This, the laughing girl, when abandoned to her evil destiny, and in company with her sister Sally, and others, each recounting their settings-out, their progress, and their fall, frequently related to be her education and manner of training-up.
This, and to see a succession of humble servants buzzing about a mother, who took too much pride in addresses of that kind, what a beginning, what an example, to a constitution of tinder, so prepared to receive the spark struck, from the steely forehead and flinty heart of such a libertine as at last it was their fortune to be encountered by!
In short, as Miss grew up under the influences of such a directress, and of books so light and frothy, with the inflaming additions of music, concerts, operas, plays, assemblies, balls, and the rest of the rabble of amusements of modern life, it is no wonder that, like early fruit, she was soon ripened to the hand of the insidious gatherer.
At fifteen, she owned she was ready to fancy herself the heroine of every novel and of every comedy she read, so well did she enter into the spirit of her subject; she glowed to become the object of some hero's flame; and perfectly longed to begin an intrigue, and even to be run away with by some enterprising lover: yet had neither confinement nor check to apprehend from her indiscreet mother, which she thought absolutely necessary to constitute a Parthenissa!
Nevertheless, with all these fine modern qualities, did she complete her nineteenth year, before she met with any address of consequence; one half of her admirers being afraid, because of her gay turn, and but middling fortune, to make serious applications for her favour; while others were kept at a distance, by the superior airs she assumed; and a third sort, not sufficiently penetrating the foibles either of mother or daughter, were kept off by the supposed watchful care of the former.
But when the man of intrepidity and intrigue was found, never was heroine so soon subdued, never goddess so easily stript of her celestials! For, at the opera, a diversion at which neither she nor her mother ever missed to be present, she beheld the specious Lovelace—beheld him invested with all the airs of heroic insult, resenting a slight affront offered to his Sally Martin by two gentlemen who had known her in her more hopeful state, one of whom Mr. Lovelace obliged to sneak away with a broken head, given with the pummel of his sword, the other with a bloody nose; neither of them well supporting that readiness of offence, which, it seems, was a part of their known character to be guilty of.
The gallantry of this action drawing every by-stander on the side of the hero, O the brave man! cried Polly Horton, aloud, to her mother, in a kind of rapture, How needful the protection of the brave to the fair! with a softness in her voice, which she had taught herself, to suit her fancied high condition of life.
A speech so much in his favour, could not but take the notice of a man who was but too sensible of the advantages which his fine person, and noble air, gave him over the gentler hearts, who was always watching every female eye, and who had his ear continually turned to every affected voice; for that was one of his indications of a proper subject to be attempted—Affectation of every sort, he used to say, is a certain sign of a wrong turned head; of a faulty judgment; and upon such a basis I seldom build in vain.
He instantly resolved to be acquainted with a young creature, who seemed so strongly prejudiced in his favour. Never man had a readier invention for all sorts of mischief. He gave his Sally her cue. He called her sister in their hearing; and Sally, whisperingly, gave the young lady and her mother, in her own way, the particulars of the affront she had received; making herself an angel of light, to cast the brighter ray upon the character of her heroic brother. She particularly praised his known and approved courage; and mingled with her praises of him such circumstances relating to his birth, his fortune, and endowments, as left him nothing to do but to fall in love with the enamoured Polly.
Mr. Lovelace presently saw what turn to give his professions. So brave a man, yet of manners so gentle! hit the young lady's taste: nor could she suspect the heart that such an aspect covered. This was the man! the very man! she whispered to her mother. And, when the opera was over, his servant procuring a coach, he undertook, with his specious sister, to set them down at their own lodgings, though situated a quite different way from his: and there were they prevailed upon to alight, and partake of a slight repast.
Sally pressed them to return the favour to her at her aunt Forbes's, and hoped it would be before her brother went to his own seat.
They promised her, and named their evening.
A splendid entertainment was provided. The guests came, having in the interim found all that was said of his name, and family, and fortune to be true. Persons of so little strictness in their own morals, took it not into their heads to be very inquisitive after his.
Music and dancing had their share in the entertainment. These opened their hearts, already half opened by love: The aunt Forbes, and the lover's sister, kept them open by their own example. The hero sung, vowed, promised. Their gratitude was moved, their delights were augmented, their hopes increased, their confidence was engaged, all their appetites up in arms; the rich wines co-operating, beat quite off their guard, and not thought enough remaining for so much as suspicion—Miss, detached from her mother by Sally, soon fell a sacrifice to the successful intriguer.
The widow herself, half intoxicated, and raised as she was with artful mixtures, and inflamed by love, unexpectedly tendered by one of the libertines, his constant companions, (to whom an opportunity was contrived to be given to be alone with her, and that closely followed by importunity, fell into her daughter's error. The consequences of which, in length of time, becoming apparent, grief, shame, remorse, seized her heart, (her own indiscretion not allowing her to arraign her daughter's,) and she survived not her delivery, leaving Polly with child likewise; who, when delivered, being too fond of the gay deluder to renounce his company, even when she found herself deluded, fell into a course of extravagance and dissoluteness; ran through her fortune in a very little time, and, as an high preferment, at last, with Sally, was admitted a quarter partner with the detestable Sinclair.
All that is necessary to add to the history of these unhappy women, will be comprised in a very little compass.
After the death of the profligate Sinclair, they kept on the infamous trade with too much success; till an accident happened in the house—a gentleman of family killed in it in a fray, contending with another for a new-vamped face. Sally was accused of holding the gentleman's arm, while his more-favoured adversary ran him through the heart, and then made off. And she being tried for her life narrowly escaped.
This accident obliged them to break up house-keeping; and not having been frugal enough of their ill-gotten gains, (lavishing upon one what they got by another,) they were compelled, for subsistence sake, to enter themselves as under-managers at such another house as their own had been. In which service, soon after, Sally died of a fever and surfeit got by a debauch; and the other, about a month after, by a violent cold, occasioned through carelessness in a salivation.
Happier scenes open for the remaining characters; for it might be descending too low to mention the untimely ends of Dorcas, and of William, Mr. Lovelace's wicked servant; and the pining and consumptive one's of Betty Barnes and Joseph Leman, unmarried both, and in less than a year after the happy death of their excellent young lady.
The good Mrs. NORTON passed the small remainder of her life, as happily as she wished, in her beloved foster-daughter's dairy-house, as it used to be called: as she wished, we repeat; for she had too strong aspirations after another life, to be greatly attached to this.
She laid out the greatest part of her time in doing good by her advice, and by the prudent management of the fund committed to her direction. Having lived an exemplary life from her youth upwards; and seen her son happily settled in the world; she departed with ease and calmness, without pang or agony, like a tired traveller, falling into a sweet slumber: her last words expressing her hope of being restored to the child of her bosom; and to her own excellent father and mother, to whose care and pains she owed that good education to which she was indebted for all her other blessings.
The poor's fund, which was committed to her care, she resigned a week before her death, into the hands of Mrs. Hickman, according the direction of the will, and all the accounts and disbursements with it; which she had kept with such an exactness, that the lady declares, that she will follow her method, and only wishes to discharge the trust as well.
Miss HOWE was not to be persuaded to quit her mourning for her dear friend, until six months were fully expired: and then she made Mr. HICKMAN one of the happiest men in the world. A woman of her fine sense and understanding, married to a man of virtue and good-nature, (who had no past capital errors to reflect upon, and to abate his joys, and whose behaviour to Mrs. Hickman is as affectionate as it was respectful to Miss Howe,) could not do otherwise. They are already blessed with two fine children; a daughter, to whom, by joint consent, they have given the name of her beloved friend; an a son, who bears that of his father.
She has allotted to Mr. Hickman, who takes delight in doing good, (and that as much for its own sake, as to oblige her,) his part of the management of the poor's fund; to be accountable for it, as she pleasantly says, to her. She has appropriated every Thursday morning for her part of that management; and takes so much delight in the task, that she declares it to be one of the most agreeable of her amusements. And the more agreeable, as she teaches every one whom she benefits, to bless the memory of her departed friend; to whom she attributes the merit of all her own charities, as well as the honour of those which she dispenses in pursuance of her will.
She has declared, That this fund shall never fail while she lives. She has even engaged her mother to contribute annually to it. And Mr. Hickman has appropriated twenty pounds a year to the same. In consideration of which she allows him to recommend four objects yearly to partake of it.—Allows, is her style; for she assumes the whole prerogative of dispensing this charity; the only prerogative she does or has occasion to assume. In every other case, there is but one will between them; and that is generally his or her's, as either speaks first, upon any subject, be it what it will. MRS. HICKMAN, she sometimes as pleasantly as generously tells him, must not quite forget that she was once MISS HOWE, because if he had not loved her as such, and with all her foibles, she had never been MRS. HICKMAN. Nevertheless she seriously, on all occasions, and that to others as well as to himself, confesses that she owes him unreturnable obligations for his patience with her in HER day, and for his generous behaviour to her in HIS.
And still more the highly does she esteem and love him, as she reflects upon his past kindness to her beloved friend; and on that dear friend's good opinion of him. Nor is it less grateful to her, that the worthy man joins most sincerely with her in all those respectful and affectionate recollections, which make the memory of the departed precious to survivors.
Mr. BELFORD was not so destitute of humanity and affection, as to be unconcerned at the unhappy fate of his most intimate friend. But when he reflects upon the untimely ends of several of his companions, but just mentioned in the preceding history*—On the shocking despondency and death of his poor friend Belton—On the signal justice which overtook the wicked Tomlinson—On the dreadful exit of the infamous Sinclair—On the deep remorses of his more valued friend—And, on the other hand, on the example set him by the most excellent of her sex—and on her blessed preparation, and happy departure—And when he considers, as he often does with awe and terror, that his wicked habits were so rooted in his depraved heart, that all these warnings, and this lovely example, seemed to be but necessary to enable him to subdue them, and to reform; and that such awakening-calls are hardly ever afforded to men of his cast, or (if they are) but seldom attended the full vigour of constitution:—When he reflects upon all these things, he adores the Mercy, which through these calls has snatched him as a brand out of the fire: and thinks himself obliged to make it his endeavours to find out, and to reform, any of those who may have been endangered by his means; as well as to repair, to the utmost of his power, any damage or mischiefs which he may have occasioned to others.
* See Letters XLI. and LVII. of this volume.
With regard to the trust with which he was honoured by the inimitable lady, he had the pleasure of acquitting himself of it in a very few months, to every body's satisfaction; even to that of the unhappy family; who sent him their thanks on the occasion. Nor was he, at delivering up his accounts, contented without resigning the legacy bequeathed to him, to the uses of the will. So that the poor's fund, as it is called, is become a very considerable sum: and will be a lasting bank for relief of objects who best deserve relief.
There was but one earthly blessing which remained for Mr. Belford to wish for, in order, morally speaking, to secure to him all his other blessings; and that was, the greatest of all worldly ones, a virtuous and prudent wife. So free a liver as he had been, he did not think that he could be worthy of such a one, till, upon an impartial examination of himself, he found the pleasure he had in his new resolutions so great, and his abhorrence of his former courses so sincere, that he was the less apprehensive of a deviation.
Upon this presumption, having also kept in his mind some encouraging hints from Mr. Lovelace; and having been so happy as to have it in his power to oblige Lord M. and that whole noble family, by some services grateful to them (the request for which from his unhappy friend was brought over, among other papers, with the dead body, by De la Tour); he besought that nobleman's leave to make his addresses to Miss CHARLOTTE MONTAGUE, the eldest of his Lordship's two nieces: and making at the same time such proposals of settlements as were not objected to, his Lordship was pleased to use his powerful interest in his favour. And his worthy niece having no engagement, she had the goodness to honour Mr. Belford with her hand; and thereby made him as completely happy as a man can be, who has enormities to reflect upon, which are out of his power to atone for, by reason of the death of some of the injured parties, and the irreclaimableness of others.
'Happy is the man who, in the time of health and strength, sees and reforms the error of his ways!—But how much more happy is he, who has no capital and wilful errors to repent of!—How unmixed and sincere must the joys of such a one come to him!'
Lord M. added bountifully in his life-time, as did also the two ladies his sisters, to the fortune of their worthy niece. And as Mr. Belford had been blessed with a son by her, his Lordship at his death [which happened just three years after the untimely one of his unhappy nephew] was pleased to devise to that son, and to his descendents for ever (and in case of his death unmarried, to any other children of his niece) his Hertfordshire estate, (designed for Mr. Lovelace,) which he made up to the value of a moiety of his real estates; bequeathing also a moiety of his personal to the same lady.
Miss PATTY MONTAGUE, a fine young lady [to whom her noble uncle, at his death, devised the other moiety of his real and personal estates, including his seat in Berkshire] lives at present with her excellent sister, Mrs. Belford; to whom she removed upon Lord M.'s death: but, in all probability, will soon be the lady of a worthy baronet, of ancient family, fine qualities, and ample fortunes, just returned from his travels, with a character superior to the very good one he set out with: a case that very seldom happens, although the end of travel is improvement.
Colonel MORDEN, who, with so many virtues and accomplishments, cannot be unhappy, in several letters tot eh executor, with whom he corresponds from Florence, [having, since his unhappy affair with Mr. Lovelace changed his purpose of coming so soon to reside in England as he had intended,] declares, That although he thought himself obliged either to accept of what he took to be a challenge, as such; or tamely to acknowledge, that he gave up all resentment of his cousin's wrongs; and in a manner to beg pardon for having spoken freely of Mr. Lovelace behind his back; and although at the time he owns he was not sorry to be called upon, as he was, to take either the one course or the other; yet now, coolly reflecting upon his beloved cousin's reasonings against duelling; and upon the price it had too probably cost the unhappy man; he wishes he had more fully considered those words in his cousin's posthumous letter— 'If God will allow him time for repentance, why should you deny it him?'*
* Several worthy persons have wished, that the heinous practice of duelling had been more forcibly discouraged, by way of note, at the conclusion of a work designed to recommend the highest and most important doctrines of christianity. It is humbly presumed, that these persons have not sufficiently attended to what is already done on that subject in Vol. II. Letter XII. and in this volume, Letter XVI. XLIII. XLIV. and XLV.
To conclude—The worthy widow Lovick continues to live with Mr. Belford; and, by her prudent behaviour, piety, and usefulness, has endeared herself to her lady, and to the whole family.
REFERRED TO IN THE PREFACE
In which several objections that have been made, as well to the catastrophe, as to different parts of the preceding history, are briefly considered.
The foregoing work having been published at three different periods of time, the author, in the course of its publication, was favoured with many anonymous letters, in which the writers differently expressed their wishes with regard to the apprehended catastrophe.
Most of those directed to him by the gentler sex, turned in favour of what they called a fortunate ending. Some of the fair writers, enamoured, as they declared, with the character of the heroine, were warmly solicitous to have her made happy; and others, likewise of their mind, insisted that poetical justice required that it should be so. And when, says one ingenious lady, whose undoubted motive was good-nature and humanity, it must be concluded that it is in an author's power to make his piece end as he pleases, why should he not give pleasure rather than pain to the reader whom he has interested in favour of his principal characters?
Others, and some gentlemen, declared against tragedies in general, and in favour of comedies, almost in the words of Lovelace, who was supported in his taste by all the women at Mrs. Sinclair's and by Sinclair herself. 'I have too much feeling, said he.* There is enough in the world to make our hearts sad, without carrying grief into our diversions, and making the distresses of others our own.'
* See Vol. IV. Letter XL.
And how was this happy ending to be brought about? Why, by this very easy and trite expedient; to wit, by reforming Lovelace, and marrying him to Clarissa—not, however, abating her one of her trials, nor any of her sufferings, [for the sake of the sport her distresses would give to the tender-hearted reader, as she went along,] the last outrage excepted: that, indeed, partly in compliment to Lovelace himself, and partly for her delicacy-sake, they were willing to spare her.
But whatever were the fate of his work, the author was resolved to take a different method. He always thought that sudden conversions, such, especially, as were left to the candour of the reader to suppose and make out, has neither art, nor nature, nor even probability, in them; and that they were moreover of a very bad example. To have a Lovelace, for a series of years, glory in his wickedness, and think that he had nothing to do, but as an act of grace and favour to hold out his hand to receive that of the best of women, whenever he pleased, and to have it thought that marriage would be a sufficient amends for all his enormities to others as well as to her—he could not bear that. Nor is reformation, as he has shown in another piece, to be secured by a fine face; by a passion that has sense for its object; nor by the goodness of a wife's heart, nor even example, if the heart of the husband be not graciously touched by the Divine finger.
It will be seen, by this time, that the author had a great end in view. He had lived to see the scepticism and infidelity openly avowed, and even endeavoured to be propagated from the press; the greatest doctrines of the Gospel brought into question; those of self-denial and mortification blotted out of the catalogue of christian virtues; and a taste even to wantonness for out-door pleasure and luxury, to the general exclusion of domestic as well as public virtue, industriously promoted among all ranks and degrees of people.
In this general depravity, when even the pulpit has lost great part of its weight, and the clergy are considered as a body of interested men, the author thought he should be able to answer it to his own heart, be the success what it would, if he threw in his mite towards introducing a reformation so much wanted: and he imagined, that if in an age given up to diversion and entertainment, if he could steal in, as may be said, and investigate the great doctrines of Christianity under the fashionable guise of an amusement; he should be most likely to serve his purpose, remembering that of the Poet:—
A verse may find him who a sermon flies, And turn delight into a sacrifice.
He was resolved, therefore, to attempt something that never yet had been done. He considered that the tragic poets have as seldom made their heroes true objects of pity, as the comics theirs laudable ones of imitation: and still more rarely have made them in their deaths look forward to a future hope. And thus, when they die, they seem totally to perish. Death, in such instances, must appear terrible. It must be considered as the greatest evil. But why is death set in such shocking lights, when it is the universal lot?
He has, indeed, thought fit to paint the death of the wicked, as terrible as he could paint it. But he has endeavoured to draw that of the good in such an amiable manner, that the very Balaams of the world should not forbear to wish that their latter end might be like that of the heroine.
And after all, what is the poetical justice so much contended for by some, as the generality of writers have managed it, but another sort of dispensation than that with which God, by revelation, teaches us, He has thought fit to exercise mankind; whom placing here only in a state of probation, he hath so intermingled good and evil, as to necessitate us to look forward for a more equal dispensation of both?
The Author of the History (or rather Dramatic Narrative) of Clarissa, is therefore well justified by the christian system, in deferring to extricate suffering virtue to the time in which it will meet with the completion of its reward.
But not absolutely to shelter the conduct observed in it under the sanction of Religion, [an authority, perhaps, not of the greatest weight with some of our modern critics,] it must be observed, that the Author is justified in its catastrophe by the greatest master of reason, and best judge of composition, that ever lived. The learned reader knows we must mean ARISTOTLE; whose sentiments in this matter we shall beg leave to deliver in the words of a very amiable writer of our own country:
'The English writers of Tragedy,' says Mr. Addison,* 'are possessed with a notion, that when they represent a virtuous or innocent person in distress, they ought not to leave him till they have delivered him out of his troubles, or made him triumph over his enemies.
* Spectator, Vol. I. No. XL.
'This error they have been led into by a ridiculous doctrine in modern criticism, that they are obliged to an equal distribution of rewards and punishments, and an impartial execution of poetical justice.
'Who were the first that established this rule, I know not; but I am sure it has no foundation in NATURE, in REASON, or in the PRACTICE OF THE ANTIENTS.
'We find that good and evil happen alike unto ALL MEN on this side the grave: and as the principal design of tragedy is to raise commiseration and terror in the minds of the audience, we shall defeat this great end, if we always make virtue and innocence happy and successful.
'Whatever crosses and disappoints a good man suffers in the body of the tragedy, they will make but small impression on our minds, when we know, that, in the last act, he is to arrive at the end of his wishes and desires.
'When we see him engaged in the depth of his afflictions, we are apt to comfort ourselves, because we are sure he will find his way out of them, and that his grief, however great soever it may be at present, will soon terminate in gladness.
'For this reason, the antient writers of tragedy treated men in their plays, as they are dealt with in the world, by making virtue sometimes happy and sometimes miserable, as they found it in the fable which they made choice of, or as it might affect their audience in the most agreeable manner.
'Aristotle considers the tragedies that were written in either of those kinds; and observes, that those which ended unhappily had always pleased the people, and carried away the prize, in the public disputes of the state, from those that ended happily.
'Terror and commiseration leave a pleasing anguish in the mind, and fix the audience in such a serious composure of thought, as is much more lasting and delightful, than any little transient starts of joy and satisfaction.
'Accordingly, we find, that more of our English tragedies have succeeded, in which the favourites of the audience sink under their calamities, than those in which they recover themselves out of them.
'The best plays of this kind are The Orphan, Venice Preserved, Alexander the Great, Theodosius, All for Love, Oedipus, Oroonoko, Othello, &c.
'King Lear is an admirable tragedy of the same kind, as Shakespeare wrote it: but as it is reformed according to the chimerical notion of POETICAL JUSTICE, in my humble opinion it has lost half its beauty.
'At the same time I must allow, that there are very noble tragedies which have been framed upon the other plan, and have ended happily; as indeed most of the good tragedies which have been written since the starting of the above-mentioned criticism, have taken this turn: The Mourning Bride, Tamerlane,* Ulysses, Phaedra and Hippolitus, with most of Mr. Dryden's. I must also allow, that many of Shakespeare's, and several of the celebrated tragedies of antiquity, are cast in the same form. I do not, therefore, dispute against this way of writing tragedies; but against the criticism that would establish this as the only method; and by that means would very much cramp the English tragedy, and perhaps give a wrong bent to the genius of our writers.'
* Yet, in Tamerlane, two of the most amiable characters, Moneses and Arpasia, suffer death.
This subject is further considered in a letter to the Spectator.*
* See Spect. Vol. VII. No. 548.
'I find your opinion,' says the author of it, 'concerning the late-invented term called poetical justice, is controverted by some eminent critics. I have drawn up some additional arguments to strengthen the opinion which you have there delivered; having endeavoured to go to the bottom of that matter. . . .
'The most perfect man has vices enough to draw down punishments upon his head, and to justify Providence in regard to any miseries that may befall him. For this reason I cannot but think that the instruction and moral are much finer, where a man who is virtuous in the main of his character falls into distress, and sinks under the blows of fortune, at the end of a tragedy, than when he is represented as happy and triumphant. Such an example corrects the insolence of human nature, softens the mind of the beholder with sentiments of pity and compassion, comforts him under his own private affliction, and teaches him not to judge of men's virtues by their successes.* I cannot think of one real hero in all antiquity so far raised above human infirmities, that he might not be very naturally represented in a tragedy as plunged in misfortunes and calamities. The poet may still find out some prevailing passion or indiscretion in his character, and show it in such a manner as will sufficiently acquit Providence of any injustice in his sufferings: for, as Horace observes, the best man is faulty, though not in so great a degree as those whom we generally call vicious men.**
* A caution that our Blessed Saviour himself gives in the case of the eighteen person killed by the fall of the tower of Siloam, Luke xiii. 4. ** Vitiis nemo sine nascitur: optimus ille, Qui minimis urgentur.——
'If such a strict poetical justice (proceeds the letter-writer,) as some gentlemen insist upon, were to be observed in this art, there is no manner of reason why it should not be so little observed in Homer, that his Achilles is placed in the greatest point of glory and success, though his character is morally vicious, and only poetically good, if I may use the phrase of our modern critics. The AEnead is filled with innocent unhappy persons. Nisus and Euryalus, Lausus and Pallas, come all to unfortunate ends. The poet takes notice in particular, that in the sacking of Troy, Ripheus fell, who was the most just character among the Trojans:
'——Cadit & Ripheus, justissimus unus Qui fuit in Teucris, & servantissimus aequi. Diis aliter visum est.—
'The gods thought fit.—So blameless Ripheus fell, Who lov'd fair Justice, and observ'd it well.'
'And that Pantheus could neither be preserved by his transcendent piety, nor by the holy fillets of Apollo, whose priest he was:
'—Nec te tua plurima, Pantheu, Labentum pietas, nec Apollinis infula texit. AEn. II.
'Nor could thy piety thee, Pantheus, save, Nor ev'n thy priesthood, from an early grave.'
'I might here mention the practice of antient tragic poets, both Greek and Latin; but as this particular is touched upon in the paper above-mentioned, I shall pass it over in silence. I could produce passages out of Aristotle in favour of my opinion; and if in one place he says, that an absolutely virtuous man should not be represented as unhappy, this does not justify any one who should think fit to bring in an absolutely virtuous man upon the stage. Those who are acquainted with that author's way of writing, know very well, that to take the whole extent of his subject into his divisions of it, he often makes use of such cases as are imaginary, and not reducible to practice. . . .
'I shall conclude,' says this gentleman, 'with observing, that though the Spectator above-mentioned is so far against the rule of poetical justice, as to affirm, that good men may meet with an unhappy catastrophe in tragedy, it does not say, that ill men may go off unpunished. The reason for this distinction is very plain; namely, because the best of men [as is said above,] have faults enough to justify Providence for any misfortunes and afflictions which may befall them; but there are many men so criminal, that they can have no claim or pretence to happiness. The best of men may deserve punishment; but the worst of men cannot deserve happiness.'