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Clarissa, Volume 5 (of 9)
by Samuel Richardson
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But I was justly punished; for her door was fast: and hearing her sigh and sob, as if her heart would burst, My beloved creature, said I, rapping gently, [the sobbings then ceasing,] I want but to say three words to you, which must be the most acceptable you ever heard from me. Let me see you out for one moment.

I thought I heard her coming to open the door, and my heart leapt in that hope; but it was only to draw another bolt, to make it still the faster; and she either could not or would not answer me, but retired to the farther end of her apartment, to her closet, probably; and, more like a fool than before, again I sneaked away.

This was mine, my plot! and this was all I made of it!—I love her more than ever!—And well I may!—never saw I polished ivory so beautiful as her arms and shoulders; never touched I velvet so soft as her skin: her virgin bosom—O Belford, she is all perfection! then such an elegance!— In her struggling losing her shoe, (but just slipt on, as I told thee,) her pretty foot equally white and delicate as the hand of any other woman, or even her own hand!

But seest thou not that I have a claim of merit for a grace that every body hitherto had denied me? and that is for a capacity of being moved by prayers and tears—Where, where, on this occasion, was the callous, where the flint, by which my heart was said to be surrounded?

This, indeed, is the first instance, in the like case, that ever I was wrought upon. But why? because, I never before encountered a resistance so much in earnest: a resistance, in short, so irresistible.

What a triumph has her sex obtained in my thoughts by this trial, and this resistance?

But if she can now forgive me—can!—she must. Has she not upon her honour already done it?—But how will the dear creature keep that part of her promise which engages her to see me in the morning as if nothing had happened?

She would give the world, I fancy, to have the first interview over!—She had not best reproach me—yet not to reproach me!—what a charming puzzle!—Let her break her word with me at her peril. Fly me she cannot—no appeals lie from my tribunal—What friend has she in the world, if my compassion exert not itself in her favour?—and then the worthy Captain Tomlinson, and her uncle Harlowe, will be able to make all up for me, be my next offence what it may.

As to thy apprehensions of her committing any rashness upon herself, whatever she might have done in her passion, if she could have seized upon her scissors, or found any other weapon, I dare say there is no fear of that from her deliberate mind. A man has trouble enough with these truly pious, and truly virtuous girls; [now I believe there are such;] he had need to have some benefit from, some security in, the rectitude of their minds.

In short, I fear nothing in this lady but grief: yet that's a slow worker, you know; and gives time to pop in a little joy between its sullen fits.



LETTER XVII

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. THURSDAY MORNING, EIGHT O'CLOCK.

Her chamber-door has not yet been opened. I must not expect she will breakfast with me. Nor dine with me, I doubt. A little silly soul, what troubles does she make to herself by her over-niceness!—All I have done to her, would have been looked upon as a frolic only, a romping bout, and laughed off by nine parts in ten of the sex accordingly. The more she makes of it, the more painful to herself, as well as to me.

Why now, Jack, were it not better, upon her own notions, that she seemed not so sensible as she will make herself to be, if she is very angry?

But perhaps I am more afraid than I need. I believe I am. From her over-niceness arises my fear, more than from any extraordinary reason for resentment. Next time, she may count herself very happy, if she come off no worse.

The dear creature was so frightened, and so fatigued, last night, no wonder she lies it out this morning.

I hope she has had more rest than I have had. Soft and balmy, I hope, have been her slumbers, that she may meet me in tolerable temper. All sweetly blushing and confounded—I know how she will look!—But why should she, the sufferer, be ashamed, when I, the trespasser, am not?

But custom is a prodigious thing. The women are told how much their blushes heighten their graces: they practise for them therefore: blushes come as hastily when they call for them, as their tears: aye, that's it! While we men, taking blushes for a sign of guilt or sheepishness, are equally studious to suppress them.

***

By my troth, Jack, I am half as much ashamed to see the women below, as my fair-one can be to see me. I have not yet opened my door, that I may not be obtruded upon my them.

After all, what devils may one make of the sex! To what a height of— what shall I call it?—must those of it be arrived, who once loved a man with so much distinction, as both Polly and Sally loved me; and yet can have got so much above the pangs of jealousy, so much above the mortifying reflections that arise from dividing and sharing with new objects the affections of them they prefer to all others, as to wish for, and promote a competitorship in his love, and make their supreme delight consist in reducing others to their level!—For thou canst not imagine, how even Sally Martin rejoiced last night in the thought that the lady's hour was approaching.

PAST TEN O'CLOCK.

I never longed in my life for any thing with so much impatience as to see my charmer. She has been stirring, it seems, these two hours.

Dorcas just now tapped at her door, to take her morning commands.

She had none for her, was the answer.

She desired to know, if she would not breakfast?

A sullen and low-voiced negative received Dorcas.

I will go myself.

***

Three different times tapped I at the door, but had no answer.

Permit me, dearest creature, to inquire after your health. As you have not been seen to-day, I am impatient to know how you do.

Not a word of answer; but a deep sigh, even to sobbing.

Let me beg of you, Madam, to accompany me up another pair of stairs— you'll rejoice to see what a happy escape we have all had.

A happy escape indeed, Jack!—For the fire had scorched the window-board, singed the hangings, and burnt through the slit-deal linings of the window-jambs.

No answer, Madam!—Am I not worthy of one word?—Is it thus you keep your promise with me?—Shall I not have the favour of your company for two minutes [only for two minutes] in the dining-room?

Hem!—and a deep sigh!—were all the answer.

Answer me but how you do! Answer me but that you are well! Is this the forgiveness that was the condition of my obedience?

Then, with a faintish, but angry voice, begone from my door!—Wretch! inhuman, barbarous, and all that is base and treacherous! begone from my door! Nor tease thus a poor creature, entitled to protection, not outrage.

I see, Madam, how you keep your word with me—if a sudden impulse, the effects of an unthought-of accident, cannot be forgiven—

O the dreadful weight of a father's curse, thus in the very letter of it—

And then her voice dying away in murmurs inarticulate, I looked through the key-hole, and saw her on her knees, her face, though not towards me, lifted up, as well as hands, and these folded, depreciating, I suppose, that gloomy tyrant's curse.

I could not help being moved.

My dearest life! admit me to your presence but for two minutes, and confirm your promised pardon; and may lightning blast me on the spot, if I offer any thing but my penitence, at a shrine so sacred!—I will afterwards leave you for a whole day; till to-morrow morning; and then attend you with writings, all ready to sign, a license obtained, or if it cannot, a minister without one. This once believe me! When you see the reality of the danger that gave occasion for this your unhappy resentment, you will think less hardly of me. And let me beseech you to perform a promise on which I made a reliance not altogether ungenerous.

I cannot see you! Would to Heaven I never had! If I write, that's all I can do.

Let your writing then, my dearest life, confirm your promise: and I will withdraw in expectation of it.

PAST ELEVEN O'CLOCK.

She rung her bell for Dorcas; and, with her door in her hand, only half opened, gave her a billet for me.

How did the dear creature look, Dorcas?

She was dressed. She turned her face quite from me; and sighed, as if her heart would break.

Sweet creature:—I kissed the wet wafer, and drew it from the paper with my breath.

These are the contents.—No inscriptive Sir! No Mr. Lovelace!

I cannot see you: nor will I, if I can help it. Words cannot express the anguish of my sou on your baseness and ingratitude.

If the circumstances of things are such, that I can have no way for reconciliation with those who would have been my natural protectors from such outrages, but through you, [the only inducement I have to stay a moment longer in your knowledge,] pen and ink must be, at present, the only means of communication between us.

Vilest of men, and most detestable of plotters! how have I deserved from you the shocking indignities—but no more—only for your own sake, wish not, at least for a week to come, to see

The undeservedly injured and insulted CLARISSA HARLOWE

***

So thou seest, nothing could have stood me in stead, but this plot of Tomlinson and her uncle! To what a pretty pass, nevertheless, have I brought myself!—Had Caesar been such a fool, he had never passed the rubicon. But after he had passed it, had he retreated re infecta, intimidated by a senatorial edict, what a pretty figure would he have made in history!—I might have known, that to attempt a robbery, and put a person in bodily fear, is as punishable as if the robbery had been actually committed.

But not to see her for a week!—Dear, pretty soul! how she anticipates me in every thing! The counsellor will have finished the writings to-day or to-morrow, at furthest: the license with the parson, or the parson without the license, must also be procured within the next four-and- twenty hours; Prtichard is as good as ready with his indentures tripartite: Tomlinson is at hand with a favourable answer from her uncle —yet not to see her for a week!——Dear sweet soul;—her good angel is gone a journey: is truanting at least. But nevertheless, in thy week's time, or in much less, my charmer, I doubt not to complete my triumph!

But what vexes me of all things is, that such an excellent creature should break her word:—Fie, fie, upon her!—But nobody is absolutely perfect! 'Tis human to err, but not to persevere—I hope my charmer cannot be inhuman!



LETTER XVIII

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. KING'S ARMS, PALL-MALL, THURSDAY, TWO O'CLOCK.

Several billets passed between us before I went out, by the internuncioship of Dorcas: for which reason mine are superscribed by her married name.—She would not open her door to receive them; lest I should be near it, I suppose: so Dorcas was forced to put them under the door (after copying them for thee); and thence to take the answers. Read them, if thou wilt, at this place.

***

TO MRS. LOVELACE

Indeed, my dearest life, you carry this matter too far. What will the people below, who suppose us one as to the ceremony, think of so great a niceness? Liberties so innocent! the occasion so accidental!—You will expose yourself as well as me.—Hitherto they know nothing of what has passed. And what indeed has passed to occasion all this resentment?—I am sure you will not, by a breach of your word of honour, give me reason to conclude that, had I not obeyed you, I could have fared no worse.

Most sincerely do I repent the offence given to your delicacy—But must I, for so accidental an occurrence, be branded by such shocking names?— Vilest of men, and most detestable of plotters, are hard words!—From the pen of such a lady too.

If you step up another pair of stairs, you will be convinced, that, however detestable I may be to you, I am no plotter in this affair.

I must insist upon seeing you, in order to take your directions upon some of the subjects we talked of yesterday in the evening.

All that is more than necessary is too much. I claim your promised pardon, and wish to plead it on my knees.

I beg your presence in the dining-room for one quarter of an hour, and I will then leave you for the day, I am,

My dearest life, Your ever adoring and truly penitent LOVELACE.

***

TO MR. LOVELACE

I will not see you. I cannot see you. I have no directions to give you. Let Providence decide for me as it pleases.

The more I reflect upon your vileness, your ungrateful, your barbarous vileness, the more I am exasperated against you.

You are the last person whose judgment I will take upon what is or is not carried too far in matters of decency.

'Tis grievous to me to write, or even to think of you at present. Urge me no more then. Once more, I will not see you. Nor care I, now you have made me vile to myself, what other people think of me.

***

TO MRS. LOVELACE

Again, Madam, I remind you of your promise: and beg leave to say, I insist upon the performance of it.

Remember, dearest creature, that the fault of a blameable person cannot warrant a fault in one more perfect. Overniceness may be underniceness!

I cannot reproach myself with any thing that deserves this high resentment.

I own that the violence of my passion for you might have carried me beyond fit bounds—but that your commands and adjurations had power over me at such a moment, I humbly presume to say, deserves some consideration.

You enjoin me not to see you for a week. If I have not your pardon before Captain Tomlinson comes to town, what shall I say to him?

I beg once more your presence in the dining-room. By my soul, Madam, I must see you.

I want to consult you about the license, and other particulars of great importance. The people below think us married; and I cannot talk to you upon such subjects with the door between us.

For Heaven's sake, favour me with your presence for a few minutes: and I will leave you for the day.

If I am to be forgiven, according to your promise, the earlier forgiveness will be most obliging, and will save great pain to yourself, as well as to

Your truly contrite and afflicted LOVELACE.

***

TO MR. LOVELACE

The more you tease me, the worse it will be for you.

Time is wanted to consider whether I ever should think of you at all.

At present, it is my sincere wish, that I may never more see your face.

All that can afford you the least shadow of favour from me, arises from the hoped-for reconciliation with my real friends, not my Judas protector.

I am careless at present of consequences. I hate myself: And who is it I have reason to value?—Not the man who could form a plot to disgrace his own hopes, as well as a poor friendless creature, (made friendless by himself,) by insults not to be thought of with patience.

***

TO MRS. LOVELACE

MADAM, I will go to the Commons, and proceed in every particular as if I had not the misfortune to be under your displeasure.

I must insist upon it, that however faulty my passion, on so unexpected an incident, made me appear to a lady of your delicacy, yet my compliance with your entreaties at such a moment [as it gave you an instance of your power over me, which few men could have shown] ought, duly considered, to entitle me to the effects of that solemn promise which was the condition of my obedience.

I hope to find you in a kinder, and, I will say, juster disposition on my return. Whether I get the license, or not, let me beg of you to make the soon you have been pleased to bid me hope for, to-morrow morning. This will reconcile every thing, and make me the happiest of men.

The settlements are ready to sign, or will be by night.

For Heaven's sake, Madam, do not carry your resentment into a displeasure so disproportionate to the offence. For that would be to expose us both to the people below; and, what is of infinite more consequence to us, to Captain Tomlinson. Let us be able, I beseech you, Madam, to assure him, on his next visit, that we are one.

As I have no hope to be permitted to dine with you, I shall not return till evening: and then, I presume to say, I expect [your promise authorizes me to use the word] to find you disposed to bless, by your consent for to-morrow,

Your adoring LOVELACE.

***

What pleasure did I propose to take, how to enjoy the sweet confusion in which I expected to find her, while all was so recent!—But she must, she shall, see me on my return. It were better to herself, as well as for me, that she had not made so much ado about nothing. I must keep my anger alive, lest it sink into compassion. Love and compassion, be the provocation ever so great, are hard to be separated: while anger converts what would be pity, without it, into resentment. Nothing can be lovely in a man's eye with which he is thoroughly displeased.

I ordered Dorcas, on putting the last billet under the door, and finding it taken up, to tell her, that I hoped an answer to it before I went out.

Her reply was verbal, tell him that I care not whither he goes, nor what he does.—And this, re-urged by Dorcas, was all she had to say to me.

I looked through the key-hole at my going by her door, and saw her on her knees, at her bed's feet, her head and bosom on the bed, her arms extended; [sweet creature how I adore her!] and in an agony she seemed to be, sobbing, as I heard at that distance, as if her heart would break.— By my soul, Jack, I am a pityful fellow! Recollection is my enemy!— Divine excellence!—Happy with her for so many days together! Now so unhappy!—And for what?—But she is purity herself. And why, after all, should I thus torment—but I must not trust myself with myself, in the humour I am in.

***

Waiting here for Mowbray and Mallory, by whose aid I am to get the license, I took papers out of my pocket, to divert myself; and thy last popt officiously the first into my hand. I gave it the honour of a re-perusal; and this revived the subject with me, with which I had resolved not to trust myself.

I remember, that the dear creature, in her torn answer to my proposals, says, condescension is not meanness. She better knows how to make this out, than any mortal breathing. Condescension indeed implies dignity: and dignity ever was there in her condescension. Yet such a dignity as gave grace to the condescension; for there was no pride, no insult, no apparent superiority, indicated by it.—This, Miss Howe confirms to be a part of her general character.*

* See Vol. IV. Letter XXIII.

I can tell her, how she might behave, to make me her own for ever. She knows she cannot fly me. She knows she must see me sooner or later; the sooner the more gracious.—I would allow her to resent [not because the liberties I took with her require resentment, were she not a CLARISSA; but as it becomes her particular niceness to resent]: but would she show more love than abhorrence of me in her resentment; would she seem, if it were but to seem, to believe the fire no device, and all that followed merely accidental; and descend, upon it, to tender expostulation, and upbraiding for the advantage I would have taken of her surprise; and would she, at last, be satisfied (as well she may) that it was attended with no further consequence; and place some generous confidence in my honour, [power loves to be trusted, Jack;] I think I would put an end to all her trials, and pay her my vows at the altar.

Yet, to have taken such bold steps, as with Tomlinson and her uncle—to have made such a progress—O Belford, Belford, how I have puzzled myself, as well as her!—This cursed aversion to wedlock how it has entangled me!—What contradictions has it made me guilty of!

How pleasing to myself, to look back upon the happy days I gave her; though mine would doubtless have been unmixedly so, could I have determined to lay aside my contrivances, and to be as sincere all the time, as she deserved that I should be!

If I find this humour hold but till to-morrow morning, [and it has now lasted two full hours, and I seem, methinks, to have pleasure in encouraging it,] I will make thee a visit, I think, or get thee to come to me; and then will I—consult thee upon it.

But she will not trust me. She will not confide in my honour. Doubt, in this case, is defiance. She loves me not well enough to forgive me generously. She is so greatly above me! How can I forgive her for a merit so mortifying to my pride! She thinks, she knows, she has told me, that she is above me. These words are still in my ears, 'Be gone, Lovelace!—My soul is above thee, man!—Thou hast a proud heart to contend with!—My soul is above thee, man!'* Miss Howe thinks her above me too. Thou, even thou, my friend, my intimate friend and companion, art of the same opinion. Then I fear her as much as I love her.—How shall my pride bear these reflections? My wife (as I have often said, because it so often recurs to my thoughts) to be so much my superior!— Myself to be considered but as the second person in my own family!—Canst thou teach me to bear such a reflection as this!—To tell me of my acquisition in her, and that she, with all her excellencies, will be mine in full property, is a mistake—it cannot be so—for shall I not be her's; and not my own?—Will not every act of her duty (as I cannot deserve it) be a condescension, and a triumph over me?—And must I owe it merely to her goodness that she does not despise me?—To have her condescend to bear with my follies!—To wound me with an eye of pity!—A daughter of the Harlowes thus to excel the last, and as I have heretofore said, not the meanest of the Lovelaces**—forbid it!

* See Vol. IV. Letter XLVII. ** See Vol. III. Letter XVIII.

Yet forbid it not—for do I not now—do I not every moment—see her before me all over charms, and elegance and purity, as in the struggles of the past midnight? And in these struggles, heart, voice, eyes, hand, and sentiments, so greatly, so gloriously consistent with the character she has sustained from her cradle to the present hour?

But what advantages do I give thee?

Yet have I not always done her justice? Why then thy teasing impertinence?

However, I forgive thee, Jack—since (so much generous love am I capable of!) I had rather all the world should condemn me, than that her character should suffer the least impeachment.

The dear creature herself once told me, that there was a strange mixture in my mind.* I have been called Devil and Beelzebub, between the two proud beauties: I must indeed be a Beelzebub, if I had not some tolerable qualities.

* See Vol. III. Letter XXXIII.

But as Miss Howe says, the suffering time of this excellent creature is her shining time.* Hitherto she has done nothing but shine.

* See Vol. IV. Letter XXIII.

She called me villain, Belford, within these few hours. And what is the sum of the present argument; but that had I not been a villain in her sense of the word, she had not been such an angel?

O Jack, Jack! This midnight attempt has made me mad; has utterly undone me! How can the dear creature say, I have made her vile in her own eyes, when her behaviour under such a surprise, and her resentment under such circumstances, have so greatly exalted her in mine?

Whence, however, this strange rhapsody?—Is it owing to my being here? That I am not at Sinclair's? But if there be infection in that house, how has my beloved escaped it?

But no more in this strain!—I will see what her behaviour will be on my return—yet already do I begin to apprehend some little sinkings, some little retrogradations: for I have just now a doubt arisen, whether, for her own sake, I should wish her to forgive me lightly, or with difficulty?

***

I am in a way to come at the wished-for license.

I have now given every thing between my beloved and me a full consideration; and my puzzle is over. What has brought me to a speedier determination is, that I think I have found out what she means by the week's distance at which she intends to hold me. It is, that she may have time to write to Miss Howe, to put in motion that cursed scheme of her's, and to take measures upon it which shall enable her to abandon and renounce me for ever. Now, Jack, if I obtain not admission to her presence on my return; but am refused with haughtiness; if her week be insisted upon (such prospects before her); I shall be confirmed in my conjecture; and it will be plain to me, that weak at best was that love, which could give place to punctilio, at a time when that all-reconciling ceremony, as she must think, waits her command:—then will I recollect all her perversenesses; then will I re-peruse Miss Howe's letters, and the transcripts from others of them; give way to my aversion to the life of shackles: and then shall she be mine in my own way.

But, after all, I am in hopes that she will have better considered of every thing by the evening; that her threat of a week's distance was thrown out in the heat of passion; and that she will allow, that I have as much cause to quarrel with her for breach of her word, as she has with me for breach of the peace.

These lines of Rowe have got into my head; and I shall repeat them very devoutly all the way the chairman shall poppet me towards her by-and-by.

Teach me, some power, the happy art of speech, To dress my purpose up in gracious words; Such as may softly steal upon her soul, And never waken the tempestuous passions.



LETTER XIX

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 8.

O for a curse to kill with!—Ruined! Undone! Outwitted! Tricked!—Zounds, man, the lady has gone off!—Absolutely gone off! Escaped!—

Thou knowest not, nor canst conceive, the pangs that wring my heart!— What can I do!—O Lord, O Lord, O Lord!

And thou, too, who hast endeavoured to weaken my hands, wilt but clap thy dragon's wings at the tidings!

Yet I must write, or I shall go distracted! Little less have I been these two hours; dispatching messengers to every stage, to every inn, to every waggon or coach, whether flying or creeping, and to every house with a bill up, for five miles around.

The little hypocrite, who knows not a soul in this town, [I thought I was sure of her at any time,] such an unexperienced traitress—giving me hope too, in her first billet, that her expectation of the family- reconciliation would withhold her from taking such a step as this—curse upon her contrivances!—I thought, that it was owing to her bashfulness, to her modesty, that, after a few innocent freedoms, she could not look me in the face; when, all the while, she was impudently [yes, I say, impudently, though she be Clarissa Harlowe] contriving to rob me of the dearest property I had ever purchased—purchased by a painful servitude of many months; fighting through the wild-beasts of her family for her, and combating with a wind-mill virtue, which hath cost me millions of perjuries only to attempt; and which now, with its damn'd air-fans, has tost me a mile and a half beyond hope!—And this, just as I had arrived within view of the consummation of all my wishes!

O Devil of Love! God of Love no more—how have I deserved this of thee!—Never before the friend of frozen virtue?—Powerless demon, for powerless thou must be, if thou meanedest not to frustrate my hopes; who shall henceforth kneel at thy altars!—May every enterprising heart abhor, despise, execrate, renounce thee, as I do!—But, O Belford, Belford, what signifies cursing now!

***

How she could effect this her wicked escape is my astonishment; the whole sisterhood having charge of her;—for, as yet, I have not had patience enough to inquire into the particulars, nor to let a soul of them approach me.

Of this I am sure, or I had not brought her hither, there is not a creature belonging to this house, that could be corrupted either by virtue or remorse: the highest joy every infernal nymph, of this worse than infernal habitation, could have known, would have been to reduce this proud beauty to her own level.—And as to my villain, who also had charge of her, he is such a seasoned varlet, that he delights in mischief for the sake of it: no bribe could seduce him to betray his trust, were there but wickedness in it!—'Tis well, however, he was out of my way when the cursed news was imparted to me!—Gone, the villain! in quest of her: not to return, nor to see my face [so it seems he declared] till he has heard some tidings of her; and all the out-of-place varlets of his numerous acquaintance are summoned and employed in the same business.

To what purpose brought I this angel (angel I must yet call her) to this hellish house?—And was I not meditating to do her deserved honour? By my soul, Belford, I was resolved—but thou knowest what I had conditionally resolved—And now, who can tell into what hands she may have fallen!

I am mad, stark mad, by Jupiter, at the thoughts of this!—Unprovided, destitute, unacquainted—some villain, worse than myself, who adores her not as I adore her, may have seized her, and taken advantage of her distress!—Let me perish, Belford, if a whole hecatomb of innocents, as the little plagues are called, shall atone for the broken promises and wicked artifices of this cruel creature!

***

Going home, as I did, with resolutions favourable to her, judge thou of my distraction, when her escape was first hinted to me, although but in broken sentences. I knew not what I said, nor what I did. I wanted to kill somebody. I flew out of one room into another, who broke the matter to me. I charged bribery and corruption, in my first fury, upon all; and threatened destruction to old and young, as they should come in my way.

Dorcas continues locked up from me: Sally and Polly have not yet dared to appear: the vile Sinclair—

But here comes the odious devil. She taps at the door, thought that's only a-jar, whining and snuffling, to try, I suppose, to coax me into temper.

***

What a helpless state, where a man can only execrate himself and others; the occasion of his rage remaining; the evil increasing upon reflection; time itself conspiring to deepen it!—O how I curs'd her!

I have her now, methinks, before me, blubbering—how odious does sorrow make an ugly face!—Thine, Jack, and this old beldam's, in penitentials, instead of moving compassion, must evermore confirm hatred; while beauty in tears, is beauty heightened, and what my heart has ever delighted to see.——

'What excuse!—Confound you, and your cursed daughters, what excuse can you make?—Is she not gone—Has she not escaped?—But before I am quite distracted, before I commit half a hundred murders, let me hear how it was.'——

***

I have heard her story!—Art, damn'd, confounded, wicked, unpardonable art, is a woman of her character—But show me a woman, and I'll show thee a plotter!—This plaguy sex is art itself: every individual of it is a plotter by nature.

This is the substance of the old wretch's account.

She told me, 'That I had no sooner left the vile house, than Dorcas acquainted the syren' [Do, Jack, let me call her names!—I beseech thee, Jack, to permit me to call her names!] 'that Dorcas acquainted her lady with it; and that I had left word, that I was gone to doctors-commons, and should be heard of for some hours at the Horn there, if inquired after by the counsellor, or anybody else: that afterwards I should be either at the Cocoa-tree, or King's-Arms, and should not return till late. She then urged her to take some refreshment.

'She was in tears when Dorcas approached her; her saucy eyes swelled with weeping: she refused either to eat or drink; sighed as if her heart would break.'—False, devilish grief! not the humble, silent, grief, that only deserves pity!—Contriving to ruin me, to despoil me of all that I held valuable, in the very midst of it.

'Nevertheless, being resolved not to see me for a week at least, she ordered her to bring up three or four French rolls, with a little butter, and a decanter of water; telling her, she would dispense with her attendance; and that should be all she should live upon in the interim. So artful creature! pretending to lay up for a week's siege.'—For, as to substantial food, she, no more than other angels—Angels! said I—the devil take me if she be any more an angel!—for she is odious in my eyes; and I hate her mortally!

But O Lovelace, thou liest!—She is all that is lovely. All that is excellent!

But is she, can she be gone!—Oh! how Miss Howe will triumph!—But if that little fury receive her, fate shall make me rich amends; for then will I contrive to have them both.

I was looking back for connection—but the devil take connection; I have no business with it: the contrary best befits distraction, and that will soon be my lot!

'Dorcas consulted the old wretch about obeying her: O yes, by all means; for Mr. Lovelace knew how to come at her at any time: and directed a bottle of sherry to be added.

'This cheerful compliance so obliged her, that she was prevailed upon to go up, and look at the damage done by the fire; and seemed not only shocked by it, but, as they thought, satisfied it was no trick; as she owned she had at first apprehended it to be. All this made them secure; and they laughed in their sleeves, to think what a childish way of showing her resentment she had found out; Sally throwing out her witticisms, that Mrs. Lovelace was right, however, not to quarrel with her bread and butter.'

Now this very childishness, as they imagined it, in such a genius, would have made me suspect either her head, after what had happened the night before; or her purpose, when the marriage was (so far as she knew) to be completed within the week in which she was resolved to secrete herself from me in the same house.

'She sent Will. with a letter to Wilson's, directed to Miss Howe, ordering him to inquire if there were not one for her there.

'He only pretended to go, and brought word there was none; and put her letter in his pocket for me.

'She then ordered him to carry another (which she gave him) to the Horn Tavern to me.—All this done without any seeming hurry: yet she appeared to be very solemn; and put her handkerchief frequently to her eyes.

'Will. pretended to come to me with this letter. But thou the dog had the sagacity to mistrust something on her sending him out a second time; (and to me, whom she had refused to see;) which he thought extraordinary; and mentioned his mistrusts to Sally, Polly, and Dorcas; yet they made light of his suspicions; Dorcas assuring them all, that her lady seemed more stupid with her grief, than active; and that she really believed she was a little turned in her head, and knew not what she did. But all of them depended upon her inexperience, her open temper, and upon her not making the least motion towards going out, or to have a coach or chair called, as sometimes she had done; and still more upon the preparations she had made for a week's siege, as I may call it.

'Will. went out, pretending to bring the letter to me; but quickly returned; his heart still misgiving him, on recollecting my frequent cautions, that he was not to judge for himself, when he had positive orders; but if any doubt occurred, from circumstances I could not foresee, literally to follow them, as the only way to avoid blame.

'But it must have been in this little interval, that she escaped; for soon after his return, they made fast the street-door and hatch, the mother and the two nymphs taking a little turn into the garden; Dorcas going up stairs, and Will. (to avoid being seen by his lady, or his voice heard) down into the kitchen.

'About half an hour after, Dorcas, who had planted herself where she could see her lady's door open, had the curiosity to go look through the keyhole, having a misgiving, as she said, that the lady might offer some violence to herself, in the mood she had been in all day; and finding the key in the door, which was not very usual, she tapped at it three or four times, and having no answer, opened it, with Madam, Madam, did you call? —Supposing her in her closet.

'Having no answer, she stept forward, and was astonished to find she was not there. She hastily ran into the dining-room, then into my apartments; searched every closet; dreading all the time to behold some sad catastrophe.

'Not finding her any where, she ran down to the old creature, and her nymphs, with a Have you seen my lady?—Then she's gone!—She's no where above!

'They were sure she could not be gone out.

'The whole house was in an uproar in an instant; some running up-stairs, some down, from the upper rooms to the lower; and all screaming, How should they look me in the face!

'Will. cried out, he was a dead man: he blamed them; they him; and every one was an accuser, and an excuser, at the same time.

'When they had searched the whole house, and every closet in it, ten times over, to no purpose, they took it into their heads to send to all the porters, chairmen, and hackney-coachmen, that had been near the house for two hours past, to inquire if any of them saw such a young lady; describing her.

'This brought them some light: the only dawning for hope, that I can have, and which keeps me from absolute despair. One of the chairmen gave them this account: That he saw such a one come out of the house a little before four (in a great hurry, and as if frighted) with a little parcel tied up in a handkerchief, in her hand: that he took notice to his fellow, who plied her without her answering, that she was a fine young lady: that he'd warrant, she had either a husband, or very cross parents; for that her eyes seemed swelled with crying. Upon which, a third fellow replied, that it might be a doe escaped from mother Damnable's park. This Mrs. Sinclair told me with a curse, and a wish that she had a better reputation; so handsomely as she lived, and so justly as she paid every body for what she bought; her house visited by the best and civilest of gentlemen; and no noise or brawls ever heard or known in it.

'From these appearances, the fellow who gave this information, had the curiosity to follow her, unperceived. She often looked back. Every body who passed her, turned to look after her; passing their verdict upon her tears, her hurry, and her charming person; till coming to a stand of coaches, a coachman plied her; was accepted; alighted; opened the coach-door in a hurry, seeing her hurry; and in it she stumbled for haste; and, as the fellow believed, hurt her shin with the stumble.'

The devil take me, Belford, if my generous heart is not moved for her, notwithstanding her wicked deceit, to think what must be her reflections and apprehensions at the time:—A mind so delicate, heeding no censures; yet, probably afraid of being laid hold of by a Lovelace in every one she saw! At the same time, not knowing to what dangers she was about to expose herself; nor of whom she could obtain shelter; a stranger to the town, and to all its ways; the afternoon far gone: but little money; and no clothes but those she had on!

It is impossible, in this little interval since last night, that Miss Howe's Townsend could be co-operating.

But how she must abhor me to run all these risques; how heartily she must detest me for my freedoms of last night! Oh! that I had given her greater reason for a resentment so violent!—As to her virtue, I am too much enraged to give her the merit due to that. To virtue it cannot be owing that she should fly from the charming prospects that were before her; but to malice, hatred, contempt, Harlowe pride, (the worst of pride,) and to all the deadly passions that ever reigned in a female breast—and if I can but recover her—But be still, be calm, be hushed, my stormy passions; for is it not Clarissa [Harlowe must I say?] that thus far I rave against?

'The fellow heard her say, drive fast! very fast! Where, Madam? To Holborn-bars, answered she; repeating, Drive very fast!—And up she pulled both the windows: and he lost sight of the coach in a minute.

'Will., as soon as he had this intelligence, speeded away in hopes to trace her out; declaring, that he would never think of seeing me, till he had heard some tidings of his lady.'

And now, Belford, all my hope is, that this fellow (who attended us in our airing to Hampstead, to Highgate, to Muswell-hill, to Kentish-town) will hear of her at some one or other of those places. And on this I the rather build, as I remember she was once, after our return, very inquisitive about the stages, and their prices; praising the conveniency to passengers in their going off every hour; and this in Will.'s hearing, who was then in attendance. Woe be to the villain, if he recollect not this!

***

I have been traversing her room, meditating, or taking up every thing she but touched or used: the glass she dressed at, I was ready to break, for not giving me the personal image it was wont to reflect of her, whose idea is for ever present with me. I call for her, now in the tenderest, now in the most reproachful terms, as if within hearing: wanting her, I want my own soul, at least every thing dear to it. What a void in my heart! what a chilness in my blood, as if its circulation was arrested! From her room to my own; in the dining-room, and in and out of every place where I have seen the beloved of my heart, do I hurry; in none can I tarry; her lovely image in every one, in some lively attitude, rushing cruelly upon me, in differently remembered conversations.

But when in my first fury, at my return, I went up two pairs of stairs, resolved to find the locked-up Dorcas, and beheld the vainly-burnt window-board, and recollected my baffled contrivances, baffled by my own weak folly, I thought my distraction completed; and down I ran as one frighted at a spectre, ready to howl for vexation; my head and my temples shooting with a violence I had never felt before; and my back aching as if the vertebrae were disjointed, and falling in pieces.

But now that I have heard the mother's story, and contemplated the dawning hopes given by the chairman's information, I am a good deal easier, and can make cooler reflections. Most heartily pray I for Will.'s success, every four or five minutes. If I lose her, all my rage will return with redoubled fury. The disgrace to be thus outwitted by a novice, an infant in stratagem and contrivance, added to the violence of my passion for her, will either break my heart, or (what saves many a heart, in evils insupportable) turn my brain. What had I to do to go out a license-hunting, at least till I had seen her, and made up matters with her? And indeed, were it not the privilege of a principal to lay all his own faults upon his underlings, and never be to blame himself, I should be apt to reflect, that I am more in fault than any body. And, as the sting of this reflection will sharpen upon me, if I recover her not, how shall I ever be able to bear it?

If ever—

[Here Mr. Lovelace lays himself under a curse, too shocking to be repeated, if he revenge not himself upon the Lady, should he once more get her into his hands.]

***

I have just now dismissed the sniveling toad Dorcas, who was introduced to me for my pardon by the whining mother. I gave her a kind of negative and ungracious forgiveness. Yet I shall as violently curse the two nymphs, by-and-by, for the consequences of my own folly: and if this will be a good way too to prevent their ridicule upon me, for losing so glorious an opportunity as I had last night, or rather this morning.

I have corrected, from the result of the inquiries made of the chairman, and from Dorcas's observations before the cruel creature escaped, a description of her dress; and am resolved, if I cannot otherwise hear of her, to advertise her in the gazette, as an eloped wife, both by her maiden and acknowledged name; for her elopement will soon be known by every enemy: why then should not my friends be made acquainted with it, from whose inquiries and informations I may expect some tidings of her?

'She had on a brown lustring night-gown, fresh, and looking like new, as every thing she wears does, whether new or not, from an elegance natural to her. A beaver hat, a black ribbon about her neck, and blue knots on her breast. A quilted petticoat of carnation-coloured satin; a rose diamond ring, supposed on her finger; and in her whole person and appearance, as I shall express it, a dignity, as well as beauty, that commands the repeated attention of every one who sees her.'

The description of her person I shall take a little more pains about. My mind must be more at ease, before I undertake that. And I shall threaten, 'that if, after a certain period given for her voluntary return, she be not heard of, I will prosecute any person who presumes to entertain, harbour, abet, or encourage her, with all the vengeance that an injured gentleman and husband may be warranted to take by law, or otherwise.'

***

Fresh cause of aggravation!—But for this scribbling vein, or I should still run mad.

Again going into her chamber, because it was her's, and sighing over the bed, and every piece of furniture in it, I cast my eye towards the drawers of the dressing-glass, and saw peep out, as it were, in one of the half-drawn drawers, the corner of a letter. I snatched it out, and found it superscribed, by her, To Mr. Lovelace. The sight of it made my heart leap, and I trembled so, that I could hardly open the seal.

How does this damn'd love unman me!—but nobody ever loved as I love!—It is even increased by her unworthy flight, and my disappointment. Ungrateful creature, to fly from a passion thus ardently flaming! which, like the palm, rises the more for being depressed and slighted.

I will not give thee a copy of this letter. I owe her not so much service.

But wouldst thou think, that this haughty promise-breaker could resolve as she does, absolutely and for ever to renounce me for what passed last night? That she could resolve to forego all her opening prospects of reconciliation; the reconciliation with a worthless family, on which she has set her whole heart?—Yet she does—she acquits me of all obligation to her, and herself of all expectations from me—And for what?—O that indeed I had given her real cause! Damn'd confounded niceness, prudery, affectation, or pretty ignorance, if not affectation!—By my soul, Belford, I told thee all—I was more indebted to her struggles, than to my own forwardness. I cannot support my own reflections upon a decency so ill-requited.—She could not, she would not have been so much a Harlowe in her resentment. All she feared had then been over; and her own good sense, and even modesty, would have taught her to make the best of it.

But if ever again I get her into my hands, art, and more art, and compulsion too, if she make it necessary, [and 'tis plain that nothing else will do,] shall she experience from the man whose fear of her has been above even his passion for her; and whose gentleness and forbearance she has thus perfidiously triumphed over. Well, says the Poet,

'Tis nobler like a lion to invade When appetite directs, and seize my prey, Than to wait tamely, like a begging dog, Till dull consent throws out the scraps of love.

Thou knowest what I have so lately vowed—and yet, at times [cruel creature, and ungrateful as cruel!] I can subscribe with too much truth to those lines of another Poet:

She reigns more fully in my soul than ever; She garrisons my breast, and mans against me Ev'n my own rebel thoughts, with thousand graces, Ten thousand charms, and new-discovered beauties!



LETTER XX

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

A letter is put into my hands by Wilson himself.—Such a letter!

A letter from Miss Howe to her cruel friend!—

I made no scruple to open it.

It is a miracle that I fell not into fits at the reading of it; and at the thought of what might have been the consequence, had it come into the hands of this Clarissa Harlowe. Let my justly-excited rage excuse my irreverence.

Collins, though not his day, brought it this afternoon to Wilson's, with a particular desire that it might be sent with all speed to Miss Beaumont's lodgings, and given, if possible, into her own hands. He had before been here (at Mrs. Sinclair's with intent to deliver it to the lady with his own hand; but was told [too truly told!] that she was abroad; but that they would give her any thing he should leave for her the moment she returned.) But he cared not to trust them with his business, and went away to Wilson's, (as I find by the description of him at both places,) and there left the letter; but not till he had a second time called here, and found her not come in.

The letter [which I shall enclose; for it is too long to transcribe] will account to thee for Collins's coming hither.

O this devilish Miss Howe;—something must be resolved upon and done with that little fury!

***

Thou wilt see the margin of this cursed letter crowded with indices [>>>]. I put them to mark the places which call for vengeance upon the vixen writer, or which require animadversion. Return thou it to me the moment thou hast perused it.

Read it here; and avoid trembling for me, if thou canst.

TO MISS LAETITIA BEAUMONT WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7.

MY DEAREST FRIEND,

You will perhaps think that I have been too long silent. But I had begun two letters at differ- ent times since my last, and written a great deal >>> each time; and with spirit enough, I assure you; incensed as I was against the abominable wretch you are with; particularly on reading your's of the 21st of the past month.*

* See Vol. IV. Letter XLVI.

>>> The first I intended to keep open till I could give you some account of my proceedings with Mrs. Townsend. It was some days before I saw her: and this intervenient space giving me time to re- peruse what I had written, I thought it proper to lay >>> that aside, and to write in a style a little less fervent; >>> for you would have blamed me, I know, for the free- dom of some of my expressions. [Execrations, if you please.] And when I had gone a good way in the second, the change in your prospects, on his communicating to you Miss Montague's letter, and his better behaviour, occasioning a change in your mind, I laid that aside also. And in this uncer- tainty, thought I would wait to see the issue of affairs between you before I wrote again; believing that all would soon be decided one way or other.

I had still, perhaps, held this resolution, [as every appearance, according to your letters, was more and more promising,] had not the two passed days fur- nished me with intelligence which it highly imports you to know.

But I must stop here, and take a little walk, to try to keep down that just indignation which rises to my pen, when I am about to relate to you what I must communicate.

***

I am not my own mistress enough—then my mother—always up and down—and watching as if I were writing to a fellow. But I will try if I can contain myself in tolerable bounds.

The women of the house where you are—O my dear, the women of the house—but you never thought highly of them—so it cannot be very sur- >>> prising—nor would you have staid so long with them, had not the notion of removing to one of your own, made you less uneasy, and less curious about their characters, and behaviour. Yet I could now wish, that you had been less reserved among them >>> —But I tease you—In short, my dear, you are certainly in a devilish house!—Be assured that the woman is one of the vilest women—nor does she go to you by her right name—[Very true!]— Her name is not Sinclair, nor is the street she lives in Dover-street. Did you never go out by your- self, and discharge the coach or chair, and return >>> by another coach or chair? If you did, [yet I don't remember that you ever wrote to me, that you did,] you would never have found your way to the vile house, either by the woman's name, Sin- clair, or by the street's name, mentioned by that Doleman in his letter about the lodgings.*

* Vol. III. Letters XXXVIII. and XXXIX.

The wretch might indeed have held out these false lights a little more excusably, had the house been an honest house; and had his end only been to prevent mischief from your brother. But this contrivance was antecedent, as I think, to your brother's project; so that no excuse can be made >>> for his intentions at the time—the man, whatever he may now intend, was certainly then, even then, a villain in his heart.

***

>>> I am excessively concerned that I should be pre- vailed upon, between your over-niceness, on one hand, and my mother's positiveness, on the other, to be satisfied without knowing how to direct to you at your lodgings. I think too, that the proposal that I should be put off to a third-hand knowledge, or rather veiled in a first-hand ignorance, came from him, and that it was only acquiesced in by you, as it was by me,* upon needless and weak considera- tions; because, truly, I might have it to say, if challenged, that I knew not where to send to you! I am ashamed of myself!—Had this been at first excusable, it could not be a good reason for going on in the folly, when you had no liking to the >>> house, and when he began to play tricks, and delay with you.—What! I was to mistrust myself, was I? I was to allow it to be thought, that I could >>> not keep my own secret?—But the house to be >>> taken at this time, and at that time, led us both on >>> —like fools, like tame fools, in a string. Upon my life, my dear, this man is a vile, a contemptible villain—I must speak out!—How has he laughed in his sleeve at us both, I warrant, for I can't tell how long!

* See Vol. III. Letter LVI. par. 12. and Letter LVIII. par. 12.—Where the reader will observe, that the proposal came from herself; which, as it was also mentioned by Mr. Lovelace, (towards the end of Letter I. in Vol. IV.) she may be presumed to have forgotten. So that Clarissa had a double inducement for acquiescing with the proposed method of carrying on the correspondence between Miss Howe and herself by Wilson's conveyance, and by the name of Laetitia Beaumont.

And yet who could have thought that a man of >>> fortune, and some reputation, [this Doleman, I mean—not your wretch, to be sure!] formerly a rake, indeed, [I inquired after him long ago; and so was the easier satisfied;] but married to a woman of family—having had a palsy-blow—and, >>> one would think, a penitent, should recommend such a house [why, my dear, he could not inquire of it, but must find it to be bad] to such a man as Lovelace, to bring his future, nay, his then supposed, bride to?

***

>>> I write, perhaps, with too much violence, to be clear, but I cannot help it. Yet I lay down my pen, and take it up every ten minutes, in order to write with some temper—my mother too, in and out—What need I, (she asks me,) lock myself in, if I am only reading past correspondencies? For >>> that is my pretence, when she comes poking in with her face sharpened to an edge, as I may say, by a curiosity that gives her more pain than pleasure.— >>> The Lord forgive me; but I believe I shall huff her next time she comes in.

***

Do you forgive me too, my dear—my mother ought; because she says, I am my father's girl; and because I am sure I am her's. I don't kow what to do—I don't know what to write next—I have so much to write, yet have so little patience, and so little opportunity.

But I will tell you how I came by my intelli- >>> gence. That being a fact, and requiring the less attention, I will try to account to you for that.

Thus, then, it came about: 'Miss Lardner (whom you have seen at her cousin Biddulph's) saw you at St. James's Church on Sunday was fort- night. She kept you in her eye during the whole time; but could not once obtain the notice of your's, though she courtesied to you twice. She thought to pay her compliments to you when the service was over, for she doubted not but you were married— >>> and for an odd reason—because you came to church by yourself. Every eye, (as usual, wherever you are, she said,) was upon you; and this seeming to give you hurry, and you being nearer the door than she, you slid out, before she could get to you.—But she ordered her servant to follow you till you were housed. This servant saw you step into a chair, which waited for you; and you ordered the men to carry you to the place where they took you up.

'The next day, Miss Lardner sent the same servant, out of mere curiosity, to make private in- quiry whether Mr. Lovelace were, or were not, with you there.—And this inquiry brought out, >>> from different people, that the house was suspected to be one of those genteel wicked houses, which receive and accommodate fashionable people of both sexes.

'Miss Lardner, confounded at this strange intel- ligence, made further inquiry; enjoining secrecy to the servant she had sent, as well as to the gentle- >>> man whom she employed; who had it confirmed from a rakish friend, who knew the house; and told him, that there were two houses: the one in which all decent appearances were preserved, and guests rarely admitted; the other, the receptacle of those who were absolutely engaged, and broken to the vile yoke.'

>>> Say—my dear creature—say—Shall I not exe- crate the wretch?—But words are weak—What can I say, that will suitably express my abhorrence of such a villain as he must have been, when he meditated to carry a Clarissa to such a place!

'Miss Lardner kept this to herself some days, not knowing what to do; for she loves you, and admires you of all women. At last she revealed it, but in confidence, to Miss Biddulph, by letter. Miss Biddulph, in like confidence, being afraid it would distract me, were I to know it, communi- cated it to Miss Lloyd; and so, like a whispered scandal, it passed through several canals, and then it came to me; which was not till last Monday.'

I thought I should have fainted upon the surpris- ing communication. But rage taking place, it blew away the sudden illness. I besought Miss Lloyd to re-enjoin secrecy to every one. I told her that >>> I would not for the world that my mother, or any of your family, should know it. And I instantly caused a trusty friend to make what inquiries he could about Tomlinson.

>>> I had thoughts to have done it before I had this intelligence: but not imagining it to be needful, and little thinking that you could be in such a house, and as you were pleased with your changed prospects, I >>> forbore. And the rather forbore, as the matter is so laid, that Mrs. Hodges is supposed to know nothing of the projected treaty of accommodation; but, on the contrary, that it was designed to be a secret to her, and to every body but immediate parties; and it was Mrs. Hodges that I had pro- posed to sound by a second hand.

>>> Now, my dear, it is certain, without applying to that too-much-favoured housekeeper, that there is not such a man within ten miles of your uncle.— Very true!—One Tomkins there is, about four miles off; but he is a day-labourer: and one Thompson, about five miles distant the other way; but he is a parish schoolmaster, poor, and about seventy.

>>> A man, thought but of L.800 a year, cannot come from one country to settle in another, but every body in both must know it, and talk of it.

>>> Mrs. Hodges may yet be sounded at a distance, if you will. Your uncle is an old man. Old men imagine themselves under obligation to their para- >>> mours, if younger than themselves, and seldom keep any thing from their knowledge. But if we suppose him to make secret of this designed treaty, it is impossible, before that treaty was thought of, but she must have seen him, at least have heard your uncle speak praisefully of a man he is said to be so intimate with, let him have been ever so little a while in those parts.

>>> Yet, methinks, the story is so plausible—Tom- linson, as you describe him, is so good a man, and so much of a gentleman; the end to be answered >>> by his being an impostor, so much more than neces- sary if Lovelace has villany in his head; and as >>> you are in such a house—your wretch's behaviour to him was so petulant and lordly; and Tomlin- son's answer so full of spirit and circumstance; >>> and then what he communicated to you of Mr. Hickman's application to your uncle, and of Mrs. Norton's to your mother, [some of which particu- >>> lars, I am satisfied, his vile agent, Joseph Leman, could not reveal to his vile employer;] his press- ing on the marriage-day, in the name of your uncle, which it could not answer any wicked pur- >>> pose for him to do; and what he writes of your uncle's proposal, to have it thought that you were married from the time that you have lived in one house together; and that to be made to agree with the time of Mr. Hickman's visit to your uncle. >>> The insisting on a trusty person's being present at the ceremony, at that uncle's nomination—These things make me willing to try for a tolerable construc- tion to be made of all. Though I am so much puzzled by what occurs on both sides of the ques- >>> tion, that I cannot but abhor the devilish wretch, whose inventions and contrivances are for ever em- ploying an inquisitive head, as mine is, without affording the means of absolute detection.

But this is what I am ready to conjecture, that Tomlinson, specious as he is, is a machine of Love- >>> lace; and that he is employed for some end, which has not yet been answered. This is certain, that not only Tomlinson, but Mennell, who, I think, attended you more than once at this vile house, must know it to be a vile house.

What can you then think of Tomlinson's declar- ing himself in favour of it upon inquiry?

Lovelace too must know it to be so; if not before he brought you to it, soon after.

>>> Perhaps the company he found there, may be the most probable way of accounting for his bearing with the house, and for his strange suspensions of marriage, when it was in his power to call such an angel of a woman his.—

>>> O my dear, the man is a villain!—the greatest of villains, in every light!—I am convinced that he is.—And this Doleman must be another of his implements!

>>> There are so many wretches who think that to be no sin, which is one of the greatest and most ungrateful of all sins,—to ruin young creatures of our sex who place their confidence in them; that the wonder is less than the shame, that people, of appearance at least, are found to promote the horrid purposes of profligates of fortune and interest!

>>> But can I think [you will ask with indignant astonishment] that Lovelace can have designs upon your honour?

>>> That such designs he has had, if he still hold them or not, I can have no doubt, now that I know the house he has brought you to, to be a vile one. This is a clue that has led me to account for all his behaviour to you ever since you have been in his hands.

Allow me a brief retrospection of it all.

We both know, that pride, revenge, and a delight to tread in unbeaten paths, are principal ingredients in the character of this finished libertine.

>>> He hates all your family—yourself excepted: and I have several times thought, that I have seen >>> him stung and mortified that love has obliged him to kneel at your footstool, because you are a Har- lowe. Yet is this wretch a savage in love.—Love >>> that humanizes the fiercest spirits, has not been able to subdue his. His pride, and the credit which a >>> few plausible qualities, sprinkled among his odious ones, have given him, have secured him too good a reception from our eye-judging, our undistinguish- ing, our self-flattering, our too-confiding sex, to make assiduity and obsequiousness, and a conquest of his unruly passions, any part of his study.

>>> He has some reason for his animosity to all the men, and to one woman of your family. He has always shown you, and his own family too, that he >>> prefers his pride to his interest. He is a declared marriage-hater; a notorious intriguer; full of his inventions, and glorying in them: he never could draw you into declarations of love; nor till your >>> wise relations persecuted you as they did, to receive his addresses as a lover. He knew that you pro- fessedly disliked him for his immoralities; he could not, therefore, justly blame you for the coldness and indifference of your behaviour to him.

>>> The prevention of mischief was your first main view in the correspondence he drew you into. He ought not, then, to have wondered that you declared your preference of the single life to any matrimonial engagement. He knew that this was always you >>> preference; and that before he tricked you away so artfully. What was his conduct to you afterwards, that you should of a sudden change it?

Thus was your whole behaviour regular, con- sistent, and dutiful to those to whom by birth you owed duty; and neither prudish, coquettish, nor tyrannical to him.

>>> He had agreed to go on with you upon those your own terms, and to rely only on his own merits and future reformation for your favour.

>>> It was plain to me, indeed, to whom you com- municated all that you knew of your own heart, though not all of it that I found out, that love had pretty early gained footing in it. And this you yourself would have discovered sooner than you >>> did, had not his alarming, his unpolite, his rough conduct, kept it under.

>>> I knew by experience that love is a fire that is not to be played with without burning one's fingers: I knew it to be a dangerous thing for two single persons of different sexes to enter into familiarity and correspondence with each other: Since, as to the latter, must not a person be capable of premedi- tated art, who can sit down to write, and not write from the heart?—And a woman to write her heart to a man practised in deceit, or even to a man of some character, what advantage does it give him over her?

>>> As this man's vanity had made him imagine, that no woman could be proof against love, when his address was honourable; no wonder that he struggled, like a lion held in toils, against a passion that he thought not returned. And how could you, at first, show a return in love, to so fierce a spirit, and who had seduced you away by vile artifices, but to the approval of those artifices.

>>> Hence, perhaps, it is not difficult to believe, that it became possible for such a wretch as this to give way to his old prejudices against marriage; and to that revenge which had always been a first passion with him.

This is the only way, I think, to account for his horrid views in bringing you to a vile house.

And now may not all the rest be naturally accounted for?—His delays—his teasing ways— his bringing you to bear with his lodging in the same house—his making you pass to the people of >>> it as his wife, though restrictively so, yet with hope, no doubt, (vilest of villains as he is!) to take you >>> at an advantage—his bringing you into the com- pany of his libertine companions—the attempt of imposing upon you that Miss Partington for a bedfellow, very probably his own invention for the worst of purposes—his terrifying you at many different times—his obtruding himself upon you when you went out to church; no doubt to prevent your finding out what the people of the house were —the advantages he made of your brother's foolish project with Singleton.

See, my dear, how naturally all this follows from >>> the discovery made by Miss Lardner. See how the monster, whom I thought, and so often called, >>> a fool, comes out to have been all the time one of the greatest villains in the world!

But if this is so, what, [it would be asked by an indifferent person,] has hitherto saved you? Glorious creature!—What, morally speaking, but your watchfulness! What but that, and the majesty of your virtue; the native dignity, which, in a situation so very difficult, (friendless, destitute, passing for a wife, cast into the company of crea- tures accustomed to betray and ruin innocent hearts,) has hitherto enabled you to baffle, over-awe, and confound, such a dangerous libertine as this; so habitually remorseless, as you have observed him to be; so very various in his temper, so inventive, so seconded, so supported, so instigated, too pro- bably, as he has been!—That native dignity, that heroism, I will call it, which has, on all proper occasions, exerted itself in its full lustre, unmingled >>> with that charming obligingness and condescending sweetness, which is evermore the softener of that dignity, when your mind is free and unapprehen- sive!

>>> Let me stop to admire, and to bless my beloved friend, who, unhappily for herself, at an age so tender, unacquainted as she was with the world, and with the vile arts of libertines, having been called upon to sustain the hardest and most shocking trials, from persecuting relations on one hand, and from a villanous lover on the other, has been enabled to give such an illustrious example of fortitude and prudence as never woman gave before her; and who, as I have heretofore observed,* has made a far greater figure in adversity, than she possibly could have made, had all her shining qualities been exerted in their full force and power, by the con- >>> tinuance of that prosperous run of fortune which attended her for eighteen years of life out of nineteen.

* See Vol. IV. Letters XXIV.

***

>>> But now, my dear, do I apprehend, that you are in greater danger than ever yet you have been in; if you are not married in a week; and yet stay in this abominable house. For were you out of it, I own I should not be much afraid for you.

These are my thoughts, on the most deliberate >>> consideration: 'That he is now convinced, that he has not been able to draw you off your guard: that therefore, if he can obtain no new advantage over you as he goes along, he is resolved to do you all the poor justice that it is in the power of such a wretch as he to do you. He is the rather induced to this, as he sees that all his own family have warmly engaged themselves in your cause: and that it is >>> his highest interest to be just to you. Then the horrid wretch loves you (as well he may) above all women. I have no doubt of this: with such a love >>> as such a wretch is capable of: with such a love as Herod loved his Marianne. He is now therefore, very probably, at last, in earnest.'

I took time for inquiries of different natures, as I knew, by the train you are in, that whatever his designs are, they cannot ripen either for good or >>> evil till something shall result from this device of his about Tomlinson and your uncle.

Device I have no doubt that it is, whatever this dark, this impenetrable spirit intends by it.

>>> And yet I find it to be true, that Counsellor Williams (whom Mr. Hickman knows to be a man of eminence in his profession) has actually as good >>> as finished the settlements: that two draughts of them have been made; one avowedly to be sent to one Captain Tomlinson, as the clerk says:—and I find that a license has actually been more than once endeavoured to be obtained; and that difficulties have hitherto been made, equally to Lovelace's >>> vexation and disappointment. My mother's proctor, who is very intimate with the proctor applied to by the wretch, has come at this information in confidence; and hints, that, as Mr. Lovelace is a man of high fortunes, these difficulties will probably be got over.

But here follow the causes of my apprehension of your danger; which I should not have had a thought >>> of (since nothing very vile has yet been attempted) but on finding what a house you are in, and, on that discovery, laying together and ruminating on past occurrences.

'You are obliged, from the present favourable >>> appearances, to give him your company whenever he requests it.—You are under a necessity of for- getting, or seeming to forget, past disobligations; and to receive his addresses as those of a betrothed lover.—You will incur the censure of prudery and affectation, even perhaps in your own apprehension, if you keep him at that distance which has hitherto >>> been your security.—His sudden (and as suddenly recovered) illness has given him an opportunity to find out that you love him. [Alas! my dear, I knew you loved him!] He is, as you relate, every >>> hour more and more an encroacher upon it. He has seemed to change his nature, and is all love and >>> gentleness. The wolf has put on the sheep's cloth- ing; yet more than once has shown his teeth, and his hardly-sheathed claws. The instance you have given of his freedom with your person,* which you could not but resent; and yet, as matters are cricumstanced between you, could not but pass over, when Tomlinson's letter called you into his >>> company,** show the advantage he has now over you; and also, that if he can obtain greater, he will.—And for this very reason (as I apprehend) it >>> is, that Tomlinson is introduced; that is to say, to give you the greater security, and to be a mediator, if mortal offence be given you by any villanous attempt.—The day seems not now to be so much in your power as it ought to be, since that now partly depends on your uncle, whose presence, at your own motion, he has wished on the occasion. A wish, were all real, very unlikely, I think, to be granted.'

* She means the freedom Mr. Lovelace took with her before the fire-plot. See Vol. V. Letter XI. When Miss Howe wrote this letter she could not know of that. ** See Vol. V. Letter XII.

>>> And thus situated, should he offer greater free- doms, must you not forgive him?

I fear nothing (as I know who has said) that devil carnate or incarnate can fairly do against a >>> virtue so established.*—But surprizes, my dear, in such a house as you are in, and in such circum- stances as I have mentioned, I greatly fear! the >>> man one who has already triumphed over persons worthy of his alliance.

>>> What then have you to do, but to fly this house, this infernal house!—O that your heart would let you fly the man!

>>> If you should be disposed so to do, Mrs. Towns- end shall be ready at your command.—But if you meet with no impediments, no new causes of doubt, I think your reputation in the eye of the world, >>> though not your happiness, is concerned, that you should be his—and yet I cannot bear that these libertines should be rewarded for their villany with the best of the sex, when the worst of it are too good for them.

But if you meet with the least ground for suspicion; if he would detain you at the odious house, or wish you to stay, now you know what >>> the people are; fly him, whatever your prospects are, as well as them.

In one of your next airings, if you have no other >>> way, refuse to return with him. Name me for your intelligencer, that you are in a bad house, and if you think you cannot now break with him, seem rather >>> to believe that he may not know it to be so; and that I do not believe he does: and yet this belief in us both must appear to be very gross.

But suppose you desire to go out of town for the air, this sultry weather, and insist upon it? You may plead your health for so doing. He dare not >>> resist such a plea. Your brother's foolish scheme, I am told, is certainly given up; so you need not be afraid on that account.

If you do not fly the house upon reading of this, or some way or other get out of it, I shall judge of his power over you, by the little you will have over either him or yourself.

>>> One of my informers has made such slight inquiries concerning Mrs. Fretchville. Did he ever name to you the street or square she lived in?—I don't >>> remember that you, in any of your's, mentioned the place of her abode to me. Strange, very strange, this, I think! No such person or house can be found, near any of the new streets or squares, where the lights I had from your letters led me to imagine >>> her house might be.—Ask him what street the house is in, if he has not told you; and let me >>> know. If he make a difficulty of that circumstance, it will amount to a detection.—And yet, I think, you will have enough without this.

I shall send this long letter by Collins, who changes his day to oblige me; and that he may try (now I know where you are) to get it into your own hands. If he cannot, he will leave it at Wilson's. As none of our letters by that convey- ance have miscarried when you have been in more apparently disagreeable situations than you are in at present. I hope that this will go safe, if Collins should be obliged to leave it there.

>>> I wrote a short letter to you in my first agitations. It contained not above twenty lines, all full of fright, alarm, and execration. But being afraid that my vehemence would too much affect you, I thought it better to wait a little, as well for the reasons already hinted at, as to be able to give you as many par- ticulars as I could, and my thoughts upon all. And as they have offered, or may offer, you will be sufficiently armed to resist all his machinations, be what they will.

>>> One word more. Command me up, if I can be of the least service or pleasure to you. I value not fame; I value not censure; nor even life itself, I verily think, as I do your honour, and your friend- ship—For, is not your honour my honour? And is not your friendship the pride of my life?

May Heaven preserve you, my dearest creature, in honour and safety, is the prayer, the hourly prayer, of

Your ever-faithful and affectionate ANNA HOWE.

THURSDAY MORN. 5. I have written all night

***

TO MISS HOWE

MY DEAREST CREATURE,

How you have shocked, confounded, surprised, astonished me, by your dreadful communication!—My heart is too weak to bear up against such a stroke as this!—When all hope was with me! When my prospects were so much mended!—But can there be such villany in men, as in this vile principal, and equally vile agent!

I am really ill—very ill—grief and surprise, and, now I will say, despair, have overcome me!—All, all, you have laid down as conjecture, appears to me now to be more than conjecture!

O that your mother would have the goodness to permit me the presence of the only comforter that my afflicted, my half-broken heart, could be raised by. But I charge you, think not of coming up without her indulgent permission. I am too ill at present, my dear, to think of combating with this dreadful man; and of flying from this horrid house!— My bad writing will show you this.—But my illness will be my present security, should he indeed have meditated villany.—Forgive, O forgive me, my dearest friend, the trouble I have given you!—All must soon—But why add I grief to grief, and trouble to trouble?—But I charge you, my beloved creature, not to think of coming up without your mother's love, to the truly desolate and broken-spirited

CLARISSA HARLOWE.

***

Well, Jack!—And what thinkest thou of this last letter? Miss Howe values not either fame or censure; and thinkest thou, that this letter will not bring the little fury up, though she could procure no other conveyance than her higgler's panniers, one for herself, the other for her maid? She knows whither to come now. Many a little villain have I punished for knowing more than I would have her know, and that by adding to her knowledge and experience. What thinkest thou, Belford, if, by getting hither this virago, and giving cause for a lamentable letter from her to the fair fugitive, I should be able to recover her? Would she not visit that friend in her distress, thinkest thou, whose intended visit to her in her's brought her into the condition from which she herself had so perfidiously escaped?

Let me enjoy the thought!

Shall I send this letter?—Thou seest I have left room, if I fail in the exact imitation of so charming a hand, to avoid too strict a scrutiny. Do they not both deserve it of me? Seest thou now how the raving girls threatens her mother? Ought she not to be punished? And can I be a worse devil, or villain, or monster, that she calls me in the long letter I enclose (and has called me in her former letters) were I to punish them both as my vengeance urges me to punish them? And when I have executed that my vengeance, how charmingly satisfied may they both go down into the country and keep house together, and have a much better reason than their pride could give them, for living the single life they have both seemed so fond of!

I will set about transcribing it this moment, I think. I can resolve afterwards. Yet what has poor Hickman done to deserve this of me!—But gloriously would it punish the mother (as well as daughter) for all her sordid avarice; and for her undutifulness to honest Mr. Howe, whose heart she actually broke. I am on tiptoe, Jack, to enter upon this project. Is not one country as good to me as another, if I should be obliged to take another tour upon it?

***

But I will not venture. Hickman is a good man, they tell me. I love a good man. I hope one of these days to be a good man myself. Besides, I have heard within this week something of this honest fellow that shows he has a soul; when I thought, if he had one, that it lay a little of the deepest to emerge to notice, except on very extraordinary occasions; and that then it presently sunk again into its cellula adiposa.—The man is a plump man.—Didst ever see him, Jack?

But the principal reason that withholds me [for 'tis a tempting project!] is, for fear of being utterly blown up, if I should not be quick enough with my letter, or if Miss Howe should deliberate on setting out, to try her mother's consent first; in which time a letter from my frighted beauty might reach her; for I have no doubt, wherever she has refuged, but her first work was to write to her vixen friend. I will therefore go on patiently; and take my revenge upon the little fury at my leisure.

But in spite of my compassion for Hickman, whose better character is sometimes my envy, and who is one of those mortals that bring clumsiness into credit with the mothers, to the disgrace of us clever fellows, and often to our disappointment, with the daughters; and who has been very busy in assisting these double-armed beauties against me; I swear by all the dii majores, as well as minores, that I will have Miss Howe, if I cannot have her more exalted friend! And then, if there be as much flaming love between these girls as they pretend, will my charmer profit by her escape?

And now, that I shall permit Miss Howe to reign a little longer, let me ask thee, if thou hast not, in the enclosed letter, a fresh instance, that a great many of my difficulties with her sister-toast are owing to this flighty girl?—'Tis true that here was naturally a confounded sharp winter air; and if a little cold water was thrown into the path, no wonder that it was instantly frozen; and that the poor honest traveller found it next to impossible to keep his way; one foot sliding back as fast as the other advanced, to the endangering of his limbs or neck. But yet I think it impossible that she should have baffled me as she has done (novice as she is, and never before from under her parents' wings) had she not been armed by a virago, who was formerly very near showing that she could better advise than practise. But this, I believe, I have said more than once before.

I am loth to reproach myself, now the cruel creature has escaped me; For what would that do, but add to my torment? since evils self-caused, and avoidable, admit not of palliation or comfort. And yet, if thou tellest me, that all her strength was owing to my weakness, and that I have been a cursed coward in this whole affair; why, then, Jack, I may blush, and be vexed; but, by my soul, I cannot contradict thee.

But this, Belford, I hope—that if I can turn the poison of the enclosed letter into wholesome ailment; that is to say, if I can make use of it to my advantage; I shall have thy free consent to do it.

I am always careful to open covers cautiously, and to preserve seals entire. I will draw out from this cursed letter an alphabet. Nor was Nick Rowe ever half so diligent to learn Spanish, at the Quixote recommendation of a certain peer, as I will be to gain the mastery of this vixen's hand.



LETTER XXI

MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 8.

After my last, so full of other hopes, the contents of this will surprise you. O my dearest friend, the man has at last proved himself to be a villain!

It was with the utmost difficulty last night, that I preserved myself from the vilest dishonour. He extorted from me a promise of forgiveness, and that I would see him next day, as if nothing had happened: but if it were possible to escape from a wretch, who, as I have too much reason to believe, formed a plot to fire the house, to frighten me, almost naked, into his arms, how could I see him next day?

I have escaped—Heaven be praised that I have!—And now have no other concern, than that I fly from the only hope that could have made such a husband tolerable to me; the reconciliation with my friends, so agreeably undertaken by my uncle.

All my present hope is, to find some reputable family, or person of my own sex, who is obliged to go beyond sea, or who lives abroad; I care not whether; but if I might choose, in some one of our American colonies— never to be heard of more by my relations, whom I have so grievously offended.

Nor let your generous heart be moved at what I write. If I can escape the dreadfullest part of my father's malediction, (for the temporary part is already, in a manner, fulfilled, which makes me tremble in apprehension of the other,) I shall think the wreck of my worldly fortunes a happy composition.

Neither is there need of the renewal of your so-often-tendered goodness to me: for I have with me rings and other valuables, that were sent me with my clothes, which will turn into money to answer all I can want, till Providence shall be pleased to put me into some want to help myself, if, for my further punishment, my life is to be lengthened beyond my wishes.

Impute not this scheme, my beloved friend, either to dejection on one hand, or to that romantic turn on the other, which we have supposed generally to obtain with our sex, from fifteen to twenty-two: for, be pleased to consider my unhappy situation, in the light in which it really must appear to every considerate person who knows it. In the first place, the man, who has endeavoured to make me, his property, will hunt me as a stray: and he knows he may do so with impunity; for whom have I to protect me from him?

Then as to my estate, the envied estate, which has been the original cause of all my misfortunes, it shall never be mine upon litigated terms. What is there in being enabled to boast, that I am worth more than I can use, or wish to use? And if my power is circumscribed, I shall not have that to answer for, which I should have, if I did not use it as I ought: which very few do. I shall have no husband, of whose interest I ought to be so regardful, as to prevent me doing more than justice to others, that I may not do less for him. If therefore my father will be pleased (as I shall presume, in proper time, to propose to him) to pay two annuities out of it, one to my dear Mrs. Norton, which may make her easy for the remainder of her life, as she is now growing into years; the other of 50L. per annum, to the same good woman, for the use of my poor, as I had the vanity to call a certain set of people, concerning whom she knows all my mind; that so as few as possible may suffer by the consequences of my error; God bless them, and give them heart's ease and content, with the rest!

Other reasons for my taking the step I have hinted at, are these.

This wicked man knows I have no friend in the world but you: your neighbourhood therefore would be the first he would seek for me in, were you to think it possible for me to be concealed in it: and in this case you might be subjected to inconveniencies greater even than those which you have already sustained on my account.

From my cousin Morden, were he to come, I could not hope protection; since, by his letter to me, it is evident, that my brother has engaged him in his party: nor would I, by any means, subject so worthy a man to danger; as might be the case, from the violence of this ungovernable spirit.

These things considered, what better method can I take, than to go abroad to some one of the English colonies; where nobody but yourself shall know any thing of me; nor you, let me tell you, presently, nor till I am fixed, and (if it please God) in a course of living tolerably to my mind? For it is no small part of my concern, that my indiscretions have laid so heavy a tax upon you, my dear friend, to whom, once, I hoped to give more pleasure than pain.

I am at present at one Mrs. Moore's at Hampstead. My heart misgave me at coming to this village, because I had been here with him more than once: but the coach hither was so ready a conveniency, that I knew not what to do better. Then I shall stay here no longer than till I can receive your answer to this: in which you will be pleased to let me know, if I cannot be hid, according to your former contrivance, [happy, had I given into it at the time!] by Mrs. Townsend's assistance, till the heat of his search be over. The Deptford road, I imagine, will be the right direction to hear of a passage, and to get safely aboard.

O why was the great friend of all unchained, and permitted to assume so specious a form, and yet allowed to conceal his feet and his talons, till with the one he was ready to trample upon my honour, and to strike the other into my heart!—And what had I done, that he should be let loose particularly upon me!

Forgive me this murmuring question, the effect of my impatience, my guilty impatience, I doubt: for, as I have escaped with my honour, and nothing but my worldly prospects, and my pride, my ambition, and my vanity, have suffered in this wretch of my hopefuller fortunes, may I not still be more happy than I deserve to be? And is it not in my own power still, by the Divine favour, to secure the greatest stake of all? And who knows but that this very path into which my inconsideration has thrown me, strewed as it is with briers and thorns, which tear in pieces my gaudier trappings, may not be the right path to lead me into the great road to my future happiness; which might have been endangered by evil communication?

And after all, are there not still more deserving persons than I, who never failed in any capital point of duty, than have been more humbled than myself; and some too, by the errors of parents and relations, by the tricks and baseness of guardians and trustees, and in which their own rashness or folly had no part?

I will then endeavour to make the best of my present lot. And join with me, my best, my only friend, in praying, that my punishment may end here; and that my present afflictions may be sanctified to me.

This letter will enable you to account for a line or two, which I sent to Wilson's, to be carried to you, only for a feint, to get his servant out of the way. He seemed to be left, as I thought, for a spy upon me. But he returning too soon, I was forced to write a few lines for him to carry to his master, to a tavern near Doctors Commons, with the same view: and this happily answered my end.

I wrote early in the morning a bitter letter to the wretch, which I left for him obvious enough; and I suppose he has it by this time. I kept no copy of it. I shall recollect the contents, and give you the particulars of all, at more leisure.

I am sure you will approve of my escape—the rather, as the people of the house must be very vile: for they, and that Dorcas too, did hear me (I know they did) cry out for help: if the fire had been other than a villanous plot (although in the morning, to blind them, I pretended to think it otherwise) they would have been alarmed as much as I; and have run in, hearing me scream, to comfort me, supposing my terror was the fire; to relieve me, supposing it was any thing else. But the vile Dorcas went away as soon as she saw the wretch throw his arms about me!— Bless me, my dear, I had only my slippers and an under-petticoat on. I was frighted out of my bed, by her cries of fire; and that I should be burnt to ashes in a moment—and she to go away, and never to return, nor any body else! And yet I heard women's voices in the next room; indeed I did—an evident contrivance of them all:—God be praised, I am out of their house!

My terror is not yet over: I can hardly think myself safe: every well- dressed man I see from my windows, whether on horseback or on foot, I think to be him.

I know you will expedite an answer. A man and horse will be procured me to-morrow early, to carry this. To be sure, you cannot return an answer by the same man, because you must see Mrs. Townsend first: nevertheless, I shall wait with impatience till you can; having no friend but you to apply to; and being such a stranger to this part of the world, that I know not which way to turn myself; whither to go; nor what to do—What a dreadful hand have I made of it!

Mrs. Moore, at whose house I am, is a widow, and of good character: and of this one of her neighbours, of whom I bought a handkerchief, purposely to make inquiry before I would venture, informed me.

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