Hast thou a mind tot see what it was I permitted Miss Howe to write to her lovely friend? Why then, read it here, so extracted from her's of Wednesday last, with a few additions of my own. The additions underscored.*
* Editor's note: In place of italics, as in the original, I have substituted hooks [ ].
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
You will perhaps think that I have been too long silent. But I had begun two letters at different 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.
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 reperuse 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 knew, for the freedom of some of my expressions, (execrations, if you please.) And when I had gone a good way in the SECOND, and change 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 uncertainty 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.
[Here I was forced to break off. I am too little my own mistress:—My mother* is always up and down—and watching as if I were writing to a fellow. 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.]
* See Letter XX. of this volume. ** Ibid.
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.
[Upon my life, my dear, I am sometimes of opinion, that this vile man was capable of meaning you dishonour. When I look back upon his past conduct, I cannot help, and verily believe, that he has laid aside such thoughts. My reasons for both opinions I will give you.]
[For the first: to-wit, that he had it once in his head to take you at advantage if he could, I consider* 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— yet is a savage in love. 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 undistinguishing, 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.—As his vanity had made him imagine that no woman could be proof against his love, no wonder that he struggled like a lion held in toils,* against a passion that he thought not returned.** 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.***
* See Letter XX. of this volume. ** Ibid. *** Ibid.
[And hence we may account for] his delays—his teasing ways—his bringing you to bear with his lodging in the same house—his making you pass to the other people of it as his wife—his bringing you into the company of his libertine companions—the attempt of imposing upon you that Miss Partington for a bedfellow, &c.
[My reasons for a contrary opinion, to wit, that he is now resolved to do you all the justice in his power to do you,] are these:—That he sees that all his own family* have warmly engaged themselves in your cause: that the horrid wretch loves you; with such a love, however, as Herod loved his Mariamne: that, on inquiry, 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 this very Captain Tomlinson:—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.
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
[I had once resolved to make strict inquiry about Tomlinson; and still, if you will, your uncle's favourite housekeeper may be sounded at a distance.]
[I know that the matter is so laid,*] that Mrs. Hodges is supposed to know nothing of the treaty set on foot by means of Captain Tomlinson. But your uncle is an—
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
But your uncle is an old man;* and old men imagine themselves to be under obligation to their paramours, if younger than themselves, and seldom keep any thing from their knowledge.—Yet, methinks, there can be no need; since Tomlinson, 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 necessary, if Lovelace has villany in his head.—And thus what he communicated to you of Mr. Hickman's application to your uncle, and of Mrs. Norton's to your mother (some of which particulars I am satisfied his vile agent Joseph Leman could not reveal to his viler employer); his pushing on the marriage-day in the name of your uncle; which it could not answer any wicked purpose 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 had 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 [assured that he now at last means honourably.]
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
[But if any unexpected delays should happen on his side, acquaint me, my dear, with the very street where Mrs. Sinclair lives; and where Mrs. Fretchville's house is situated (which I cannot find that you have ever mentioned in your former letters—which is a little odd); and I will make strict inquiries of them, and of Tomlinson too; and I will (if your heart will let you take my advice) soon procure you a refuge from him with Mrs. Townsend.]
[But why do I now, when you seem to be in so good a train, puzzle and perplex you with my retrospections? And yet they may be of use to you, if any delay happen on his part.]
[But that I think cannot well be. What you have therefore now to do, is so to behave to this proud-spirited wretch, as may banish from his mind all remembrance of] past disobligations,* and to receive his addresses, as those of a betrothed lover. You will incur the censure of prudery and affectation, if you keep him at that distance which you have hitherto [kept him at.] 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 has seemed to change his nature, and is all love and gentleness. [And no more quarrels now, I beseech you.]
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
[I am very angry with him, nevertheless, for the freedoms which he took with your person;* and I think some guard is necessary, as he is certainly an encroacher. But indeed all men are so; and you are such a charming creature, and have kept him at such a distance!—But no more of this subject. Only, my dear, be not over-nice, now you are so near the state. You see what difficulties you laid yourself under,] when Tomlinson's letter called you again into [the wretch's] company.
* See Letter XI. of this volume.
If you meet with no impediments, no new causes of doubt,* your reputation in the eye of the world is concerned, that you should be his, [and, as your uncle rightly judges, be thought to have been his before now.] And yet, [let me tell you,] I [can hardly] bear [to think,] 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.
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
I shall send this long letter by Collins,* who changes his day to oblige me. As none of our letters by Wilson's conveyance have miscarried, when you have been in more apparently-disagreeable situations than you are in at present, [I have no doubt] that this will go safe.
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
Miss Lardner* (whom you have seen hat her cousin Biddulph's) saw you at St. James's church on Sunday was fortnight. 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. She [describes the house] as a very genteel house, and fit to receive people of fashion: [and what makes me mention this, is, that perhaps you will have a visit from her; or message, at least.]
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
[So that you have Mr. Doleman's testimony to the credit of the house and people you are with; and he is] a man of fortune, and some reputation; formerly a rake indeed; but married to a woman of family; and having had a palsy blow, one would think a penitent.* You have [also Mr. Mennell's at least passive testimony; Mr.] Tomlinson's; [and now, lastly, Miss Lardner's; so that there will be the less need for inquiry: but you know my busy and inquisitive temper, as well as my affection for you, and my concern for your honour. But all doubt will soon be lost in certainty.]
[Nevertheless I must add, that I would have you] 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 friendship—For is not your honour my honour? And is not your friendship the pride of my life?
* See Letter XX. of this volume.
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. [Excuse indifferent writing; my crow-quills are worn to the stumps, and I must get a new supply.]
These ladies always write with crow-quills, Jack.
If thou art capable of taking in all my providences, in this letter, thou wilt admire my sagacity and contrivance almost as much as I do myself. Thou seest, that Miss Lardner, Mrs. Sinclair, Tomlinson, Mrs. Fretchville, Mennell, are all mentioned in it. My first liberties with her person also. [Modesty, modesty, Belford, I doubt, is more confined to time, place, and occasion, even by the most delicate minds, than these minds would have it believed to be.] And why all these taken notice of by me from the genuine letter, but for fear some future letter from the vixen should escape my hands, in which she might refer to these names? And, if none of them were to have been found in this that is to pass for her's, I might be routed horse and foot, as Lord M. would phrase it in a like case.
Devilish hard (and yet I may thank myself) to be put to all this plague and trouble:—And for what dost thou ask?—O Jack, for a triumph of more value to me beforehand than an imperial crown!—Don't ask me the value of it a month hence. But what indeed is an imperial crown itself when a man is used to it?
Miss Howe might well be anxious about the letter she wrote. Her sweet friend, from what I have let pass of her's, has reason to rejoice in the thought that it fell not into my hands.
And now must all my contrivances be set at work, to intercept the expected letter from Miss Howe: which is, as I suppose, to direct her to a place of safety, and out of my knowledge. Mrs. Townsend is, no doubt, in this case, to smuggle her off: I hope the villain, as I am so frequently called between these two girls, will be able to manage this point.
But what, perhaps, thou askest, if the lady should take it into her head, by the connivance of Miss Rawlins, to quit this house privately in the night?
I have thought of this, Jack. Does not Will. lie in the house? And is not the widow Bevis my fast friend?
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. SATURDAY, SIX O'CLOCK, JUNE 10.
The lady gave Will.'s sweetheart a letter last night to be carried to the post-house, as this morning, directed for Miss Howe, under cover to Hickman. I dare say neither cover nor letter will be seen to have been opened. The contents but eight lines—To own—'The receipt of her double-dated letter in safety; and referring to a longer letter, which she intends to write, when she shall have a quieter heart, and less trembling fingers. But mentions something to have happened [My detecting her she means] which has given her very great flutters, confusions, and apprehensions: but which she will wait the issue of [Some hopes for me hence, Jack!] before she gives her fresh perturbation or concern on her account.—She tells her how impatient she shall be for her next,' &c.
Now, Belford, I thought it would be but kind in me to save Miss Howe's concern on these alarming hints; since the curiosity of such a spirit must have been prodigiously excited by them. Having therefore so good a copy to imitate, I wrote; and, taking out that of my beloved, put under the same cover the following short billet; inscriptive and conclusive parts of it in her own words.
HAMPSTEAD, TUES. EVEN.
MY EVER-DEAR MISS HOWE,
A few lines only, till calmer spirits and quieter fingers be granted me, and till I can get over the shock which your intelligence has given me— to acquaint you—that your kind long letter of Wednesday, and, as I may say, of Thursday morning, is come safe to my hands. On receipt of your's by my messenger to you, I sent for it from Wilson's. There, thank Heaven! it lay. May that Heaven reward you for all your past, and for all your intended goodness to
Your for-ever obliged, CL. HARLOWE.
I took great pains in writing this. It cannot, I hope, be suspected. Her hand is so very delicate. Yet her's is written less beautifully than she usually writes: and I hope Miss Howe will allow somewhat for hurry of spirits, and unsteady fingers.
My consideration for Miss Howe's ease of mind extended still farther than to the instance I have mentioned.
That this billet might be with her as soon as possible, (and before it could have reached Hickman by the post,) I dispatched it away by a servant of Mowbray's. Miss Howe, had there been any failure or delay, might, as thou wilt think, have communicated her anxieties to her fugitive friend; and she to me perhaps in a way I should not have been pleased with.
Once more wilt thou wonderingly question—All this pains for a single girl?
Yes, Jack—But is not this girl a CLARISSA?—And who knows, but kind fortune, as a reward for my perseverance, may toss me in her charming friend? Less likely things have come to pass, Belford. And to be sure I shall have her, if I resolve upon it.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. EIGHT O'CLOCK, SAT. MORN. JUNE 10.
I am come back from Mrs. Moore's, whither I went in order to attend my charmer's commands. But no admittance—a very bad night.
Doubtless she must be as much concerned that she has carried her resentments so very far, as I have reason to be that I made such poor use of the opportunity I had on Wednesday night.
But now, Jack, for a brief review of my present situation; and a slight hint or two of my precautions.
I have seen the women this morning, and find them half-right, half- doubting.
Miss Rawlins's brother tells her, that she lives at Mrs. Moore's.
Mrs. Moore can do nothing without Miss Rawlins.
People who keep lodgings at public places expect to get by every one who comes into their purlieus. Though not permitted to lodge there myself, I have engaged all the rooms she has to spare, to the very garrets; and that, as I have told thee before, for a month certain, and at her own price, board included; my spouse's and all: but she must not at present know it. So I hope I have Mrs. Moore fast by the interest.
This, devil-like, is suiting temptations to inclinations.
I have always observed, and, I believe, I have hinted as much formerly,* that all dealers, though but for pins, may be taken in by customers for pins, sooner than by a direct bribe of ten times the value; especially if pretenders to conscience: for the offer of a bribe would not only give room for suspicion, but would startle and alarm their scrupulousness; while a high price paid for what you buy, is but submitting to be cheated in the method of the person makes a profession to get by. Have I not said that human nature is a rogue?**—And do not I know that it is?
* See Vol. III. Letter XXXIV. ** See Vol. III. Letter XXXV. and Vol. IV. Letter XXI.
To give a higher instance, how many proud senators, in the year 1720, were induced, by presents or subscription of South-sea stock, to contribute to a scheme big with national ruin; who yet would have spurned the man who should have presumed to offer them even twice the sum certain that they had a chance to gain by the stock?—But to return to my review and to my precautions.
Miss Rawlins fluctuates, as she hears the lady's story, or as she hears mine. Somewhat of an infidel, I doubt, is this Miss Rawlins. I have not yet considered her foible. The next time I see her, I will take particular notice of all the moles and freckles in her mind; and then infer and apply.
The widow Bevis, as I have told thee, is all my own.
My man Will. lies in the house. My other new fellow attends upon me; and cannot therefore be quite stupid.
Already is Will. over head and ears in love with one of Mrs. Moore's maids. He was struck with her the moment he set his eyes upon her. A raw country wench too. But all women, from the countess to the cook- maid, are put into high good humour with themselves when a man is taken with them at first sight. Be they ever so plain [no woman can be ugly, Jack!] they'll find twenty good reasons, besides the great one (for sake's sake) by the help of the glass without (and perhaps in spite of it) and conceit within, to justify the honest fellow's caption.
'The rogue has saved 150L. in my service.'—More by 50 than I bid him save. No doubt, he thinks he might have done so; though I believe not worth a groat. 'The best of masters I—passionate, indeed; but soon appeased.'
The wench is extremely kind to him already. The other maid is also very civil to him. He has a husband for her in his eye. She cannot but say, that Mr. Andrew, my other servant [the girl is for fixing the person] is a very well spoken civil young man.
'We common folks have our joys, and please your honour, says honest Joseph Leman, like as our betters have.'* And true says honest Joseph— did I prefer ease to difficulty, I should envy these low-born sinners some of their joys.
* See Vol. III. Letter XLVII.
But if Will. had not made amorous pretensions to the wenches, we all know, that servants, united in one common compare-note cause, are intimate the moment they see one another—great genealogists too; they know immediately the whole kin and kin's kin of each other, though dispersed over the three kingdoms, as well as the genealogies and kin's kin of those whom they serve.
But my precautions end not here.
O Jack, with such an invention, what occasion had I to carry my beloved to Mrs. Sinclair's?
My spouse may have farther occasion for the messengers whom she dispatched, one to Miss Howe, the other to Wilson's. With one of these Will. is already well-acquainted, as thou hast heard—to mingle liquor is to mingle souls with these fellows; with the other messenger he will soon be acquainted, if he be not already.
The Captain's servant has his uses and instructions assigned him. I have hinted at some of them already.* He also serves a most humane and considerate master. I love to make every body respected to my power.
* See Letter XXIX. of this volume.
The post, general and penny, will be strictly watched likewise.
Miss Howe's Collins is remembered to be described. Miss Howe's and Hickman's liveries also.
James Harlowe and Singleton are warned against. I am to be acquainted with any inquiry that shall happen to be made after my spouse, whether by her married or maiden name, before she shall be told of it—and this that I may have it in my power to prevent mischief.
I have ordered Mowbray and Tourville (and Belton, if his health permit) to take their quarters at Hampstead for a week, with their fellows to attend them. I spare thee for the present, because of thy private concerns. But hold thyself in cheerful readiness, however, as a mark of thy allegiance.
As to my spouse herself, has she not reason to be pleased with me for having permitted her to receive Miss Howe's letter from Wilson's? A plain case, either that I am no deep plotter, or that I have no farther views than to make my peace with her for an offence so slight and so accidental.
Miss Howe says, though prefaced with an alas! that her charming friend loves me: she must therefore yearn after this reconciliation—prospects so fair—if she showed me any compassion; seemed inclinable to spare me, and to make the most favourable construction: I cannot but say, that it would be impossible not to show her some. But, to be insulted and defied by a rebel in one's power, what prince can bear that?
But I must return to the scene of action. I must keep the women steady. I had no opportunity to talk to my worthy Mrs. Bevis in private.
Tomlinson, a dog, not come yet!
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. FROM MY APARTMENTS AT MRS. MOORE'S.
Miss Rawlins at her brothers; Mrs. Moore engaged in household matters; widow Bevis dressing; I have nothing to do but write. This cursed Tomlinson not yet arrived!—Nothing to be done without him.
I think he shall complain in pretty high language of the treatment he met with yesterday. 'What are our affairs to him? He can have no view but to serve us. Cruel to send back to town, un-audienced, unseen, a man of his business and importance. He never stirs a-foot, but something of consequence depends upon his movements. A confounded thing to trifle thus humoursomely with such a gentleman's moments!—These women think, that all the business of the world must stand still for their figaries [a good female word, Jack!] the greatest triflers in the creation, to fancy themselves the most important beings in it—marry come up! as I have heard goody Sorlings say to her servants, when she has rated at them with mingled anger and disdain.'
After all, methinks I want those tostications [thou seest how women, and women's words, fill my mind] to be over, happily over, that I may sit down quietly, and reflect upon the dangers I have passed through, and the troubles I have undergone. I have a reflecting mind, as thou knowest; but the very word reflecting implies all got over.
What briars and thorns does the wretch rush into (a scratched face and tattered garments the unavoidable consequence) who will needs be for striking out a new path through overgrown underwood; quitting that beaten out for him by those who have travelled the same road before him!
A visit from the widow Bevis, in my own apartment. She tells me, that my spouse had thoughts last night, after I was gone to my lodgings, of removing from Mrs. Moore's.
I almost wish she had attempted to do so.
Miss Rawlins, it seems, who was applied to upon it, dissuaded her from it.
Mrs. Moore also, though she did not own that Will. lay in the house, (or rather set up in it, courting,) set before her the difficulties, which, in her opinion, she would have to get clear off, without my knowledge; assuring her, that she could be no where more safe than with her, till she had fixed whither to go. And the lady herself recollected, that if she went, she might miss the expected letter from her dear friend Miss Howe! which, as she owned, was to direct her future steps.
She must also surely have some curiosity to know what her uncle's friend had to say to her from her uncle, contemptuously as she yesterday treated a man of his importance. Nor could she, I should think, be absolutely determined to put herself out of the way of receiving the visits of two of the principal ladies of my family, and to break entirely with me in the face of them all.—Besides, whither could she have gone?—Moreover, Miss Howe's letter coming (after her elopement) so safely to her hands, must surely put her into a more confiding temper with me, and with every one else, though she would not immediately own it.
But these good folks have so little charity!—Are such severe censurers! —Yet who is absolutely perfect?—It were to be wished, however, that they would be so modest as to doubt themselves sometimes: then would they allow for others, as others (excellent as they imagine themselves to be) must for them.
SATURDAY, ONE O'CLOCK.
Tomlinson at last is come. Forced to ride five miles about (though I shall impute his delay to great and important business) to avoid the sight of two or three impertinent rascals, who, little thinking whose affairs he was employed in, wanted to obtrude themselves upon him. I think I will make this fellow easy, if he behave to my liking in this affair.
I sent up the moment he came.
She desired to be excused receiving his visit till four this afternoon.
Intolerable!—No consideration!—None at all in this sex, when their cursed humours are in the way!—Pay-day, pay-hour, rather, will come!— Oh! that it were to be the next!
The Captain is in a pet. Who can blame him? Even the women think a man of his consequence, and generously coming to serve us, hardly used. Would to heaven she had attempted to get off last night! The women not my enemies, who knows but the husband's exerted authority might have met with such connivance, as might have concluded either in carrying her back to her former lodgings, or in consummation at Mrs. Moore's, in spite of exclamations, fits, and the rest of the female obsecrations?
My beloved has not appeared to any body this day, except to Mrs. Moore. Is, it seems, extremely low: unfit for the interesting conversation that is to be held in the afternoon. Longs to hear from her dear friend Miss Howe—yet cannot expect a letter for a day or two. Has a bad opinion of all mankind.—No wonder!—Excellent creature as she is! with such a father, such uncles, such a brother, as she has!
How does she look?
Better than could be expected from yesterday's fatigue, and last night's ill rest.
These tender doves know not, till put to it, what they can bear; especially when engaged in love affairs; and their attention wholly engrossed. But the sex love busy scenes. Still life is their aversion. A woman will create a storm, rather than be without one. So that they can preside in the whirlwind, and direct it, they are happy.—But my beloved's misfortune is, that she must live in tumult; yet neither raise them herself, nor be able to controul them.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. SAT NIGHT, JUNE 10.
What will be the issue of all my plots and contrivances, devil take me if I am able to divine. But I will not, as Lord M. would say, forestall my own market.
At four, the appointed hour, I sent up, to desire admittance in the Captain's name and my own.
She would wait upon the Captain presently; [not upon me!] and in the parlour, if it were not engaged.
The dining-room being mine, perhaps that was the reason of her naming the parlour—mighty nice again, if so! No good sign for me, thought I, this stiff punctilio.
In the parlour, with me and the Captain, were Mrs. Moore, Miss Rawlins, and Mrs. Bevis.
The women said, they would withdraw when the lady came down.
Lovel. Not, except she chooses you should, Ladies.—People who are so much above-board as I am, need not make secrets of any of their affairs. Besides, you three ladies are now acquainted with all our concerns.
Capt. I have some things to say to your lady, that perhaps she would not herself choose that any body should hear; not even you, Mr. Lovelace, as you and her family are not upon such a good foot of understanding as were to be wished.
Lovel. Well, well, Captain, I must submit. Give us a sign to withdraw, and we will withdraw.
It was better that the exclusion of the women should come from him, than from me.
Capt. I will bow, and wave my hand, thus—when I wish to be alone with the lady. Her uncle dotes upon her. I hope, Mr. Lovelace, you will not make a reconciliation more difficult, for the earnestness which my dear friend shows to bring it to bear. But indeed I must tell you, as I told you more than once before, that I am afraid you have made lighter of the occasion of this misunderstanding to me, than it ought to have been made.
Lovel. I hope, Captain Tomlinson, you do not question my veracity!
Capt. I beg your pardon, Mr. Lovelace—but those things which we men may think lightly of, may not be light to a woman of delicacy.—And then, if you have bound yourself by a vow, you ought—
Miss Rawlins bridling, her lips closed, (but her mouth stretched to a smile of approbation, the longer for not buttoning,) tacitly showed herself pleased with the Captain for his delicacy.
Mrs. Moore could speak—Very true, however, was all she said, with a motion of her head that expressed the bow-approbatory.
For my part, said the jolly widow, staring with eyes as big as eggs, I know what I know.—But man and wife are man and wife; or they are not man and wife.—I have no notion of standing upon such niceties.
But here she comes! cried one, hearing her chamber-door open—Here she comes! another, hearing it shut after her—And down dropt the angel among us.
We all stood up, bowing and courtesying, and could not help it; for she entered with such an air as commanded all our reverence. Yet the Captain looked plaguy grave.
Cl. Pray keep your seats, Ladies—Pray do not go, [for they made offers to withdraw; yet Miss Rawlins would have burst had she been suffered to retire.] Before this time you have all heard my story, I make no doubt— pray keep your seats—at least all Mr. Lovelace's.
A very saucy and whimsical beginning, thought I.
Captain Tomlinson, your servant, addressing herself to him with inimitable dignity. I hope you did not take amiss my declining your visit yesterday. I was really incapable of talking upon any subject that required attention.
Capt. I am glad to see you better now, Madam. I hope I do.
Cl. Indeed I am not well. I would not have excused myself from attending you some hours ago, but in hopes I should have been better. I beg your pardon, Sir, for the trouble I have given you; and shall the rather expect it, as this day will, I hope, conclude it all.
Thus set; thus determined; thought I,—yet to have slept upon it!—But, as what she said was capable of a good, as well as a bad, construction, I would not put an unfavourable one upon it.
Lovel. The Captain was sorry, my dear, he did not offer his attendance the moment he arrived yesterday. He was afraid that you took it amiss that he did not.
Cl. Perhaps I thought that my uncle's friend might have wished to see me as soon as he came, [how we stared!]—But, Sir, [to me,] it might be convenient to you to detain him.
The devil, thought I!—So there really was resentment as well as head- ache, as my good friend Mrs. Bevis observed, in her refusing to see the honest gentleman.
Capt. You would detain me, Mr. Lovelace—I was for paying my respects to the lady the moment I came—
Cl. Well, Sir, [interrupting him,] to wave this; for I would not be thought captious—if you have not suffered inconvenience, in being obliged to come again, I shall be easy.
Capt. [Half disconcerted.] A little inconvenience, I can't say but I have suffered. I have, indeed, too many affairs upon my hands; but the desire I have to serve you and Mr. Lovelace, as well as to oblige my dear friend, your uncle Harlowe, make great inconveniencies but small ones.
Cl. You are very obliging, Sir.—Here is a great alteration since you parted with us last.
Capt. A great one indeed, Madam! I was very much surprised at it, on Thursday evening, when Mr. Lovelace conducted me to your lodgings, where we hoped to find you.
Cl. Have you any thing to say to me, Sir, from my uncle himself, that requires my private ear!—Don't go, Ladies, [for the women stood up, and offered to withdraw,]—if Mr. Lovelace stays, I am sure you may.
I frowned—I bit my lip—I looked at the women—and shook my head.
Capt. I have nothing to offer, but what Mr. Lovelace is a party to, and may hear, except one private word or two, which may be postponed to the last.
Cl. Pray, Ladies, keep your seats.—Things are altered, Sir, since I saw you. You can mention nothing that relates to me now, to which that gentleman can be a party.
Capt. You surprise me, Madam! I am sorry to hear this!—Sorry for your uncle's sake!—Sorry for your sake!—Sorry for Mr. Lovelace's sake!—And yet I am sure he must have given greater occasion than he has mentioned to me, or—
Lovel. Indeed, Captain,—indeed, Ladies, I have told you great part of my story!—And what I told you of my offence was the truth:—what I concealed of my story was only what I apprehended would, if known, cause this dear creature to be thought more censorious than charitable.
Cl. Well, well, Sir, say what you please. Make me as black as you please—make yourself as white as you can—I am not now in your power: that consideration will comfort me for all.
Capt. God forbid that I should offer to plead in behalf of a crime, that a woman of virtue and honour cannot forgive! But surely, surely, Madam, this is going too far.
Cl. Do not blame me, Captain Tomlinson. I have a good opinion of you, as my uncle's friend; but if you are Mr. Lovelace's friend, that is another thing; for my interest and Mr. Lovelace's must now be for ever separated.
Capt. One word with you, Madam, if you please—offering to retire.
Cl. You may say all that you please to say before these gentlewomen.— Mr. Lovelace may have secrets—I have none:—you seem to think me faulty: I should be glad that all the world knew my heart. Let my enemies sit in judgment upon my actions; fairly scanned, I fear not the result; let them even ask me my most secret thoughts, and, whether they make for me, or against me, I will reveal them.
Capt. Noble Lady! who can say as you say?
The women held up their hands and eyes; each, as if she had said,—Not I.
No disorder here! said Miss Rawlins:—but, (judging by her own heart,) a confounded deal of improbability, I believe she thought.
Finely said, to be sure, said the widow Bevis, shrugging her shoulders.
Mrs. Moore sighed.
Jack Belford, thought I, knows all mine; and in this I am more ingenuous than any of the three, and a fit match for this paragon.
Cl. How Mr. Lovelace has found me out here I cannot tell: but such mean devices, such artful, such worse than Waltham disguises put on, to obtrude himself into my company; such bold, such shocking untruths—
Capt. The favour of but one word, Madam, in private—
Cl. In order to support a right which he has not over me!—O Sir!—O Captain Tomlinson!—I think I have reason to say, that the man, (there he stands!) is capable of any vileness!—
The women looked upon one another, and upon me, by turns, to see how I bore it. I had such dartings in my head at the instant, that I thought I should have gone distracted. My brain seemed on fire. What would I have given to have had her alone with me!—I traversed the room; my clenched fist to my forehead. O that I had any body here, thought I, that, Hercules-lie, when flaming in the tortures of Dejanira's poisoned shirt, I could tear in pieces!
Capt. Dear Lady! see you not how the poor gentleman—Lord, how have I imposed upon your uncle, at this rate! How happy did I tell him I saw you! How happy I was sure you would be in each other!
Cl. O Sir, you don't know how many premeditated offences I had forgiven when I saw you last, before I could appear to you what I hoped then I might for the future be!—But now you may tell my uncle, if you please, that I cannot hope for his mediation. Tell him, that my guilt, in giving this man an opportunity to spirit me away from my tried, my experienced, my natural friends, (harshly as they treated me,) stares me every day more and more in the face; and still the more, as my fate seems to be drawing to a crisis, according to the malediction of my offended father!
And then she burst into tears, which even affected that dog, who, brought to abet me, was himself all Belforded over.
The women, so used to cry without grief, as they are to laugh without reason, by mere force of example, [confound their promptitudes;] must needs pull out their handkerchiefs. The less wonder, however, as I myself, between confusion, surprise, and concern, could hardly stand it.
What's a tender heart good for?—Who can be happy that has a feeling heart?—And yet, thou'lt say, that he who has it not, must be a tiger, and no man.
Capt. Let me beg the favour of one word with you, Madam, in private; and that on my own account.
The women hereupon offered to retire. She insisted that, if they went, I should not stay.
Capt. Sir, bowing to me, shall I beg—
I hope, thought I, that I may trust this solemn dog, instructed as he is. She does not doubt him. I'll stay out no longer than to give her time to spend her first fire.
I then passively withdrew with the women.—But with such a bow to my goddess, that it won for me every heart but that I wanted most to win; for the haughty maid bent not her knee in return.
The conversation between the Captain and the lady, when we were retired, was to the following effect:—They both talked loud enough for me to hear them—the lady from anger, the Captain with design; and thou mayest be sure there was no listener but myself. What I was imperfect in was supplied afterwards; for I had my vellum-leaved book to note all down. If she had known this, perhaps she would have been more sparing of her invectives—and but perhaps neither.
He told her that as her brother was absolutely resolved to see her; and as he himself, in compliance with her uncle's expedient, had reported her marriage; and as that report had reached the ears of Lord M., Lady Betty, and the rest of my relations; and as he had been obliged, in consequence of his first report, to vouch it; and as her brother might find out where she was, and apply to the women here for a confirmation or refutation of the marriage; he had thought himself obliged to countenance the report before the women. That this had embarrassed him not a little, as he would not for the world that she should have cause to think him capable of prevarication, contrivance, or double dealing; and that this made him desirous of a private conversation with her.
It was true, she said, she had given her consent to such an expedient, believing it was her uncle's; and little thinking that it would lead to so many errors. Yet she might have known that one error is frequently the parent of many. Mr. Lovelace had made her sensible of the truth of that observation, on more occasions than one; and it was an observation that he, the Captain, had made, in one of the letters that was shown her yesterday.*
* See Letter XXIV.
He hoped that she had no mistrust of him: that she had no doubt of his honour. If, Madam, you suspect me—if you think me capable—what a man! the Lord be merciful to me!—What a man must you think me!
I hope, Sir, there cannot be a man in the world who could deserve to be suspected in such a case as this. I do not suspect you. If it were possible there could be one such a man, I am sure, Captain Tomlinson, a father of children, a man in years, of sense and experience, cannot be that man.
He told me, that just then, he thought he felt a sudden flash from her eye, an eye-beam as he called it, dart through his shivering reins; and he could not help trembling.
The dog's conscience, Jack!—Nothing else!—I have felt half a dozen such flashes, such eye-beams, in as many different conversations with this soul-piercing beauty.
Her uncle, she must own, was not accustomed to think of such expedients; but she had reconciled this to herself, as the case was unhappily uncommon; and by the regard he had for her honour.
This set the puppy's heart at ease, and gave him more courage.
She asked him if he thought Lady Betty and Miss Montague intended her a visit?
He had no doubt but they did.
And does he imagine, said she, that I could be brought to countenance to them the report you have given out?
[I had hoped to bring her to this, Jack, or she had seen their letters. But I had told the Captain that I believed I must give up this expectation.]
No.—He believed that I had not such a thought. He was pretty sure, that I intended, when I saw them, to tell them, (as in confidence,) the naked truth.
He then told her that her uncle had already made some steps towards a general reconciliation. The moment, Madam, that he knows you are really married, he will enter into confidence with your father upon it; having actually expressed to your mother his desire to be reconciled to you.
And what, Sir, said my mother? What said my dear mother?
With great emotion she asked this question; holding out her sweet face, as the Captain described her, with the most earnest attention, as if she would shorten the way which his words were to have to her heart.
Your mother, Madam, burst into tears upon it: and your uncle was so penetrated by her tenderness, that he could not proceed with the subject. But he intends to enter upon it with her in form, as soon as he hears that the ceremony is over.
By the tone of her voice she wept. The dear creature, thought I, begins to relent!—And I grudged the dog his eloquence. I could hardly bear the thought that any man breathing should have the power which I had lost, of persuading this high-souled woman, though in my own favour. And wouldest thou think it? this reflection gave me more uneasiness at the moment than I felt from her reproaches, violent as they were; or than I had pleasure in her supposed relenting: for there is beauty in every thing she says and does!—Beauty in her passion!—Beauty in her tears!—Had the Captain been a young fellow, and of rank and fortune, his throat would have been in danger; and I should have thought very hardly of her.
O Captain Tomlinson, said she, you know not what I have suffered by this man's strange ways! He had, as I was not ashamed to tell him yesterday, a plain path before him. He at first betrayed me into his power—but when I was in it—There she stopt.—Then resuming—O Sir, you know not what a strange man he has been!—An unpolite, a rough-manner'd man! In disgrace of his birth, and education, and knowledge, an unpolite man!— And so acting, as if his worldly and personal advantages set him above those graces which distinguish a gentleman.
The first woman that ever said, or that ever thought so of me, that's my comfort, thought I!—But this, (spoken of to her uncle's friend, behind my back,) helps to heap up thy already-too-full measure, dearest!—It is down in my vellum-book.
Cl. When I look back on his whole behaviour to a poor young creature, (for I am but a very young creature,) I cannot acquit him either of great folly or of deep design. And, last Wednesday—There she stopt; and I suppose turned away her face.
I wonder she was not ashamed to hint at what she thought so shameful; and that to a man, and alone with him.
Capt. Far be it from me, Madam, to offer to enter too closely into so tender a subject. Mr. Lovelace owns, that you have reason to be displeased with him. But he so solemnly clears himself of premeditated offence—
Cl. He cannot clear himself, Captain Tomlinson. The people of the house must be very vile, as well as he. I am convinced that there was a wicked confederacy—but no more upon such a subject.
Capt. Only one word more, Madam.—He tells me, that you promised to pardon him. He tells me—
He knew, interrupted she, that he deserved not pardon, or he had not extorted the promise from me. Nor had I given it to him, but to shield myself from the vilest outrage—
Capt. I could wish, Madam, inexcusable as his behaviour has been, since he has something to plead in the reliance he made upon your promise, that, for the sake of appearances to the world, and to avoid the mischiefs that may follow if you absolutely break with him, you could prevail upon your naturally-generous mind to lay an obligation upon him by your forgiveness.
She was silent.
Capt. Your father and mother, Madam, deplore a daughter lost to them, whom your generosity to Mr. Lovelace may restore: do not put it to the possible chance, that they may have cause to deplore a double loss; the losing of a son, as well as a daughter, who, by his own violence, which you may perhaps prevent, may be for ever lost to them, and to the whole family.
She paused—she wept—she owned that she felt the force of this argument.
I will be the making of this fellow, thought I.
Capt. Permit me, Madam, to tell you, that I do not think it would be difficult to prevail upon your uncle, if you insist upon it, to come up privately to town, and to give you with his own hand to Mr. Lovelace— except, indeed, your present misunderstanding were to come to his ears. Besides, Madam, your brother, it is likely, may at this very time be in town; and he is resolved to find you out—
Cl. Why, Sir, should I be so much afraid of my brother? My brother has injured me, not I him. Will my brother offer to me what Mr. Lovelace has offered?—Wicked, ungrateful man! to insult a friendless, unprotected creature, made friendless by himself!—I cannot, cannot think of him in the light I once thought of him. What, Sir, to put myself into the power of a wretch, who has acted by me with so much vile premeditation!—Who shall pity, who shall excuse me, if I do, were I to suffer ever so much from him?—No, Sir.—Let Mr. Lovelace leave me—let my brother find me. I am not such a poor creature as to be afraid to face the brother who has injured me.
Capt. Were you and your brother to meet only to confer together, to expostulate, to clear up difficulties, it were another thing. But what, Madam, can you think will be the issue of an interview, (Mr. Solmes with him,) when he finds you unmarried, and resolved never to have Mr. Lovelace; supposing Mr. Lovelace were not to interfere, which cannot be imagined?
Cl. Well, Sir, I can only say, I am a very unhappy creature!—I must resign to the will of Providence, and be patient under evils, which that will not permit me to shun. But I have taken my measures. Mr. Lovelace can never make me happy, nor I him. I wait here only for a letter from Miss Howe—that must determine me—
Determine you as to Mr. Lovelace, Madam? interrupted the Captain.
Cl. I am already determined as to him.
Capt. If it be not in his favour, I have done. I cannot use stronger arguments than I have used, and it would be impertinent to repeat them. If you cannot forgive his offence, I am sure it must have been much greater than he has owned to me. If you are absolutely determined, be pleased to let me know what I shall say to your uncle? You were pleased to tell me, that this day would put an end to what you called my trouble: I should not have thought it any, could I have been an humble mean of reconciling persons of worth and honour to each other.
Here I entered with a solemn air.
Lovel. Captain Tomlinson, I have heard a part of what has passed between you and this unforgiving (however otherwise excellent) lady. I am cut to the heart to find the dear creature so determined. I could not have believed it possible, with such prospects, that I had so little share in her esteem. Nevertheless I must do myself justice with regard to the offence I was so unhappy as to give, since I find you are ready to think it much greater than it really was.
Cl. I hear not, Sir, your recapitulations. I am, and ought to be, the sole judge of insults offered to my person. I enter not into discussion with you, nor hear you on the shocking subject. And was going.
I put myself between her and the door—You may hear all I have to say, Madam. My fault is not of such a nature, but that you may. I will be a just accuser of myself; and will not wound your ears.
I then protested that the fire was a real fire. [So it was.] I disclaimed [less truly] premeditation. I owned that I was hurried on by the violence of a youthful passion, and by a sudden impulse, which few other persons, in the like situation, would have been able to check: that I withdrew, at her command and entreaty, on the promise of pardon, without having offered the least indecency, or any freedom, that would not have been forgiven by persons of delicacy, surprised in an attitude so charming—her terror, on the alarm of fire, calling for a soothing behaviour, and personal tenderness, she being ready to fall into fits: my hoped-for happy day so near, that I might be presumed to be looked upon as a betrothed lover—and that this excuse might be pleaded even for the women of the house, that they, thinking us actually married, might suppose themselves to be the less concerned to interfere on so tender an occasion.—[There, Jack, was a bold insinuation on behalf of the women!]
High indignation filled her disdainful eye, eye-beam after eye-beam flashing at me. Every feature of her sweet face had soul in it. Yet she spoke not. Perhaps, Jack, she had a thought, that this plea for the women accounted for my contrivance to have her pass to them as married, when I first carried her thither.
Capt. Indeed, Sir, I must say that you did not well to add to the apprehensions of a lady so much terrified before.
The dear creature offered to go by me. I set my back against the door, and besought her to stay a few moments. I had not said thus much, my dearest creature, but for your sake, as well as for my own, that Captain Tomlinson should not think I had been viler than I was. Nor will I say one word more on the subject, after I have appealed to your own heart, whether it was not necessary that I should say so much; and to the Captain, whether otherwise he would not have gone away with a much worse opinion of me, if he had judged of my offence by the violence of your resentment.
Capt. Indeed I should. I own I should. And I am very glad, Mr. Lovelace, that you are able to defend yourself thus far.
Cl. That cause must be well tried, where the offender takes his seat upon the same bench with the judge.—I submit not mine to men—nor, give me leave to say, to you, Captain Tomlinson, though I am willing to have a good opinion of you. Had not the man been assured that he had influenced you in his favour, he would not have brought you up to Hampstead.
Capt. That I am influenced, as you call it, Madam, is for the sake of your uncle, and for your own sake, more (I will say to Mr. Lovelace's face) than for his. What can I have in view but peace and reconciliation? I have, from the first, blamed, and I now, again, blame Mr. Lovelace, for adding distress to distress, and terror to terror; the lady, as you acknowledge, Sir, [looking valiantly,] ready before to fall into fits.
Lovel. Let me own to you, Captain Tomlinson, that I have been a very faulty, a very foolish man; and, if this dear creature ever honoured me with her love, an ungrateful one. But I have had too much reason to doubt it. And this is now a flagrant proof that she never had the value for me which my proud heart wished for; that, with such prospects before us; a day so near; settlements approved and drawn; her uncle meditating a general reconciliation which, for her sake, not my own, I was desirous to give into; she can, for an offence so really slight, on an occasion so truly accidental, renounce me for ever; and, with me, all hopes of that reconciliation in the way her uncle had put it in, and she had acquiesced with; and risque all consequences, fatal ones as they may too possibly be.—By my soul, Captain Tomlinson, the dear creature must have hated me all the time she was intending to honour me with her hand. And now she must resolve to abandon me, as far as I know, with a preference in her heart of the most odious of men—in favour of that Solmes, who, as you tell me, accompanies her brother: and with what hopes, with what view, accompanies him!—How can I bear to think of this?—
Cl. It is fit, Sir, that you should judge of my regard for you by your own conscienceness of demerit. Yet you know, or you would not have dared to behave to me as sometimes you did, that you had more of it than you deserved.
She walked from us; and then returning, Captain Tomlinson, said she, I will own to you, that I was not capable of resolving to give my hand, and —nothing but my hand. Had I not given a flagrant proof of this to the once most indulgent of parents? which has brought me into a distress, which this man has heightened, when he ought, in gratitude and honour, to have endeavoured to render it supportable. I had even a bias, Sir, in his favour, I scruple not to own it. Long (much too long!) bore I with his unaccountable ways, attributing his errors to unmeaning gaiety, and to a want of knowing what true delicacy, and true generosity, required from a heart susceptible of grateful impressions to one involved by his means in unhappy circumstances.
It is now wickedness in him (a wickedness which discredits all his professions) to say, that this last cruel and ungrateful insult was not a premeditated one—But what need I say more of this insult, when it was of such a nature, and that it has changed that bias in his favour, and make me choose to forego all the inviting prospects he talks of, and to run all hazards, to free myself from his power?
O my dearest creature! how happy for us both, had I been able to discover that bias, as you condescend to call it, through such reserves as man never encountered with!
He did discover it, Capt. Tomlinson. He brought me, more than once, to own it; the more needlessly brought me to own it, as I dare say his own vanity gave him no cause to doubt it; and as I had apparently no other motive in not being forward to own it, than my too-justly-founded apprehensions of his want of generosity. In a word, Captain Tomlinson, (and now, that I am determined upon my measures, I the less scruple to say,) I should have despised myself, had I found myself capable of affectation or tyranny to the man I intended to marry. I have always blamed the dearest friend I have in the world for a fault of this nature. In a word—
Lovel. And had my angel really and indeed the favour for me she is pleased to own?—Dearest creature, forgive me. Restore me to your good opinion. Surely I have not sinned beyond forgiveness. You say that I extorted from you the promise you made me. But I could not have presumed to make that promise the condition of my obedience, had I not thought there was room to expect forgiveness. Permit, I beseech you, the prospects to take place, that were opening so agreeably before us. I will go to town, and bring the license. All difficulties to the obtaining of it are surmounted. Captain Tomlinson shall be witness to the deeds. He will be present at the ceremony on the part of your uncle. Indeed he gave me hope that your uncle himself—
Capt. I did, Mr. Lovelace: and I will tell you my grounds for the hope I gave. I promised to my dear friend, (your uncle, Madam,) that he should give out that he would take a turn with me to my little farm-house, as I call it, near Northampton, for a week or so.—Poor gentleman! he has of late been very little abroad!—Too visibly declining!—Change of air, it might be given out, was good for him.—But I see, Madam, that this is too tender a subject—
The dear creature wept. She knew how to apply as meant the Captain's hint to the occasion of her uncle's declining state of health.
Capt. We might indeed, I told him, set out in that road, but turn short to town in my chariot; and he might see the ceremony performed with his own eyes, and be the desired father, as well as the beloved uncle.
She turned from us, and wiped her eyes.
Capt. And, really, there seem now to be but two objections to this, as Mr. Harlowe discouraged not the proposal—The one, the unhappy misunderstanding between you; which I would not by any means he should know; since then he might be apt to give weight to Mr. James Harlowe's unjust surmises.—The other, that it would necessarily occasion some delay to the ceremony; which certainly may be performed in a day or two —if—
And then he reverently bowed to my goddess.—Charming fellow!—But often did I curse my stars, for making me so much obliged to his adroitness.
She was going to speak; but, not liking the turn of her countenance (although, as I thought, its severity and indignation seemed a little abated) I said, and had like to have blown myself up by it—one expedient I have just thought of—
Cl. None of your expedients, Mr. Lovelace!—I abhor your expedients, your inventions—I have had too many of them.
Lovel. See, Capt. Tomlinson!—See, Sir!—O how we expose ourselves to you!—Little did you think, I dare say, that we have lived in such a continued misunderstanding together!—But you will make the best of it all. We may yet be happy. Oh! that I could have been assured that this dear creature loved me with the hundredth part of the love I have for her!—Our diffidences have been mutual. I presume to say that she has too much punctilio: I am afraid that I have too little. Hence our difficulties. But I have a heart, Captain Tomlinson, a heart, that bids me hope for her love, because it is resolved to deserve it as much as man can deserve it.
Capt. I am indeed surprised at what I have seen and heard. I defend not Mr. Lovelace, Madam, in the offence he has given you—as a father of daughters myself, I cannot defend him; though his fault seems to be lighter than I had apprehended—but in my conscience, Madam, I think you carry your resentment too high.
Cl. Too high, Sir!—Too high to the man that might have been happy if he would! Too high to the man that has held my soul in suspense an hundred times, since (by artifice and deceit) he obtained a power over me!—Say, Lovelace, thyself say, art thou not the very Lovelace, who by insulting me, hast wronged thine own hopes?—The wretch that appeared in vile disguises, personating an old, lame creature, seeking for lodgings for thy sick wife?—Telling the gentlewomen here stories all of thine own invention; and asserting to them an husband's right over me, which thou hast not!—And is it [turning to the Captain] to be expected, that I should give credit to the protestations of such a man?
Lovel. Treat me, my dearest creature, as you please, I will bear it: and yet your scorn and your violence have fixed daggers in my heart—But was it possible, without those disguises, to come at your speech?—And could I lose you, if study, if invention, would put it in my power to arrest your anger, and give me hope to engage you to confirm to me the promised pardon? The address I made to you before the women, as if the marriage-ceremony had passed, was in consequence of what your uncle had advised, and what you had acquiesced with; and the rather made, as your brother, and Singleton, and Solmes, were resolved to find out whether what was reported of your marriage were true or not, that they might take their measures accordingly; and in hopes to prevent that mischief, which I have been but too studious to prevent, since this tameness has but invited insolence from your brother and his confederates.
Cl. O thou strange wretch, how thou talkest!—But, Captain Tomlinson, give me leave to say, that, were I inclined to enter farther upon this subject, I would appeal to Miss Rawlins's judgment (whom else have I to appeal to?) She seems to be a person of prudence and honour; but not to any man's judgment, whether I carry my resentment beyond fit bounds, when I resolve—
Capt. Forgive, Madam, the interruption—but I think there can be no reason for this. You ought, as you said, to be the sole judge of indignities offered you. The gentlewomen here are strangers to you. You will perhaps stay but a little while among them. If you lay the state of your case before any of them, and your brother come to inquire of them, your uncle's intended mediation will be discovered, and rendered abortive —I shall appear in a light that I never appeared in, in my life—for these women may not think themselves obliged to keep the secret.
Cl. O what difficulties has one fatal step involved me in—but there is no necessity for such an appeal to any body. I am resolved on my measures.
Capt. Absolutely resolved, Madam?
Cl. I am.
Capt. What shall I say to your uncle Harlowe, Madam?—Poor gentleman! how will he be surprised!—You see, Mr. Lovelace—you see, Sir,—turning to me with a flourishing hand—but you may thank yourself—and admirably stalked he from us.
True, by my soul, thought I. I traversed the room, and bit my unpersuasive lips, now upper, now under, for vexation.
He made a profound reverence to her—and went to the window, where lay his hat and whip; and, taking them up, opened the door. Child, said he, to some body he saw, pray order my servant to bring my horse to the door—
Lovel. You won't go, Sir—I hope you won't!—I am the unhappiest man in the world!—You won't go—yet, alas!—But you won't go, Sir!—there may be yet hopes that Lady Betty may have some weight—
Capt. Dear Mr. Lovelace! and may not my worthy friend, and affectionate uncle, hope for some influence upon his daughter-niece?—But I beg pardon —a letter will always find me disposed to serve the lady, and that as well for her sake as for the sake of my dear friend.
She had thrown herself into her chair: her eyes cast down: she was motionless, as in a profound study.
The Captain bowed to her again: but met with no return to his bow. Mr. Lovelace, said he, (with an air of equality and independence,) I am your's.
Still the dear unaccountable sat as immovable as a statue; stirring neither hand, foot, head, nor eye—I never before saw any one in so profound a reverie in so waking a dream.
He passed by her to go out at the door she sat near, though the passage by the other door was his direct way; and bowed again. She moved not. I will not disturb the lady in her meditations, Sir.—Adieu, Mr. Lovelace —no farther, I beseech you.
She started, sighing—Are you going, Sir?
Capt. I am, Madam. I could have been glad to do you service; but I see it is not in my power.
She stood up, holding out one hand, with inimitable dignity and sweetness —I am sorry you are going, Sir!—can't help it—I have no friend to advise with—Mr. Lovelace has the art (or good fortune, perhaps I should call it) to make himself many.—Well, Sir—if you will go, I can't help it.
Capt. I will not go, Madam; his eyes twinkling. [Again seized with a fit of humanity!] I will not go, if my longer stay can do you either service or pleasure. What, Sir, [turning to me,] what, Mr. Lovelace, was your expedient;—perhaps something may be offered, Madam—
She sighed, and was silent.
REVENGE, invoked I to myself, keep thy throne in my heart. If the usurper LOVE once more drive thee from it, thou wilt never again regain possession!
Lovel. What I had thought of, what I had intended to propose, [and I sighed,] was this, that the dear creature, if she will not forgive me, as she promised, will suspend the displeasure she has conceived against me, till Lady Betty arrives.—That lady may be the mediatrix between us. This dear creature may put herself into her protection, and accompany her down to her seat in Oxfordshire. It is one of her Ladyship's purposes to prevail on her supposed new niece to go down with her. It may pass to every one but to Lady Betty, and to you, Captain Tomlinson, and to your friend Mr. Harlowe (as he desires) that we have been some time married: and her being with my relations will amount to a proof to James Harlowe that we are; and our nuptials may be privately, and at this beloved creature's pleasure, solemnized; and your report, Captain, authenticated.
Capt. Upon my honour, Madam, clapping his hand upon his breast, a charming expedient!—This will answer every end.
She mused—she was greatly perplexed—at last, God direct me! said she: I know not what to do—a young unfriended creature! Whom can I have to advise with?—Let me retire, if I can retire.
She withdrew with slow and trembling feet, and went up to her chamber.
For Heaven's sake, said the penetrated varlet [his hands lifted up]; for Heaven's sake, take compassion upon this admirable woman!—I cannot proceed—she deserves all things—
Softly!—d—n the fellow!—the women are coming in.
He sobbed up his grief—turned about—hemm'd up a more manly accent—Wipe thy cursed eyes—He did. The sunshine took place on one cheek, and spread slowly to the other, and the fellow had his whole face again.
The women all three came in, led by that ever-curious Miss Rawlins. I told them, that the lady was gone up to consider of every thing: that we had hopes of her. And such a representation we made of all that had passed, as brought either tacit or declared blame upon the fair perverse for hardness of heart and over-delicacy.
The widow Bevis, in particular, put out one lip, tossed up her head, wrinkled her forehead, and made such motions with her now lifted-up, now cast-down eyes, as showed that she thought there was a great deal of perverseness and affectation in the lady. Now-and-then she changed her censuring looks to looks of pity of me—but (as she said) she loved not to aggravate!—A poor business, God help's! shrugging up her shoulders, to make such a rout about! And then her eyes laughed heartily— Indulgence was a good thing! Love was a good thing!—but too much was too much!
Miss Rawlins, however, declared, after she had called the widow Bevis, with a prudish simper, a comical gentlewoman! that there must be something in our story, which she could not fathom; and went from us into a corner, and sat down, seemingly vexed that she could not.
MR. LOVELACE [IN CONTINUATION.]
The lady staid longer above than we wished; and I hoping that (lady-like) she only waited for an invitation to return to us, desired the widow Bevis, in the Captain's name, (who wanted to go to town,) to request the favour of her company.
I cared not to send up either Miss Rawlins or Mrs. Moore on the errand, lest my beloved should be in a communicative disposition; especially as she had hinted at an appeal to Miss Rawlins; who, besides, has such an unbounded curiosity.
Mrs. Bevis presently returned with an answer (winking and pinking at me) that the lady would follow her down.
Miss Rawlins could not but offer to retire, as the others did. Her eyes, however, intimated that she had rather stay. But they not being answered as she seemed to wish, she went with the rest, but with slower feet; and had hardly left the parlour, when the lady entered it by the other door; a melancholy dignity in her person and air.
She sat down. Pray, Mr. Tomlinson, be seated.
He took his chair over against her. I stood behind her's that I might give him agreed-upon signals, should there be occasion for them.
As thus—a wink of the left eye was to signify push that point, Captain.
A wink of the right, and a nod, was to indicate approbation of what he had said.
My fore-finger held up, and biting my lip, get off of that, as fast as possible.
A right-forward nod, and a frown, swear to it, Captain.
My whole spread hand, to take care not to say too much on that particular subject.
A scowling brow, and a positive nod, was to bid him rise in temper.
And these motions I could make, even those with my hand, without holding up my arm, or moving my wrist, had the women been there; as, when the motions were agreed upon, I knew not but they would.
She hemmed—I was going to speak, to spare her supposed confusion: but this lady never wants presence of mind, when presence of mind is necessary either to her honour, or to that conscious dignity which distinguishes her from all the women I ever knew.
I have been considering, said she, as well as I was able, of every thing that has passed; and of all that has been said; and of my unhappy situation. I mean no ill, I wish no ill, to any creature living, Mr. Tomlinson. I have always delighted to draw favourable rather than unfavourable conclusions; sometimes, as it has proved, for very bad hearts. Censoriousness, whatever faults I have, is not naturally my fault.—But, circumstanced as I am, treated as I have been, unworthily treated, by a man who is full of contrivances, and glories in them—
Lovel. My dearest life!—But I will not interrupt you.
Cl. Thus treated, it becomes me to doubt—it concerns my honour to doubt, to fear, to apprehend—your intervention, Sir, is so seasonable, so kind, for this man—my uncle's expedient, the first of the kind he ever, I believe, thought of! a plain, honest, good-minded man, as he is, not affecting such expedients—your report in conformity to it—the consequences of that report; the alarm taken by my brother; his rash resolution upon it—the alarm taken by Lady Betty, and the rest of Mr. Lovelace's relations—the sudden letters written to him upon it, which, with your's, he showed me—all ceremony, among persons born observers of ceremony, and entitled to value themselves upon their distinction, dispensed with—all these things have happened so quick, and some of them so seasonable—
Lovel. Lady Betty, you see, Madam, in her letter, dispenses with punctilo, avowedly in compliment to you. Charlotte, in her's, professes to do the same for the same reason. Good Heaven! that the respect intended you by my relations, who, in every other case, are really punctilious, should be thus construed! They were glad, Madam, to have an opportunity to compliment you at my expense. Every one of my family takes delight in rallying me. But their joy on the supposed occasion—
Cl. Do I doubt, Sir, that you have not something to say for any thing you think fit to do? I am speaking to Captain Tomlinson, Sir. I will you would be pleased to withdraw—at least to come from behind my chair.
And she looked at the Captain, observing, no doubt, that his eyes seemed to take lessons from mine.
A fair match, by Jupiter!
The Captain was disconcerted. The dog had not had such a blush upon his face for ten years before. I bit my lip for vexation: walked about the room; but nevertheless took my post again; and blinked with my eyes to the Captain, as a caution for him to take more care of his: and then scouling with my brows, and giving the nod positive, I as good as said, resent that, Captain.
Capt. I hope, Madam, you have no suspicion that I am capable—
Cl. Be not displeased with me, Captain Tomlinson. I have told you that I am not of a suspicious temper. Excuse me for the sake of my sincerity. There is not, I will be bold to say, a sincerer heart in the world than her's before you.
She took out her handkerchief, and put it to her eyes.
I was going, at that instant, after her example, to vouch for the honesty of my heart; but my conscience Mennelled upon me; and would not suffer the meditated vow to pass my lips.—A devilish thing, thought I, for a man to be so little himself, when he has most occasion for himself!
The villain Tomlinson looked at me with a rueful face, as if he begged leave to cry for company. It might have been as well, if he had cried. A feeling heart, or the tokens of it given by a sensible eye, are very reputable things, when kept in countenance by the occasion.
And here let me fairly own to thee, that twenty times in this trying conversation I said to myself, that could I have thought that I should have had all this trouble, and incurred all this guilt, I would have been honest at first. But why, Jack, is this dear creature so lovely, yet so invincible?—Ever heardst thou before that the sweets of May blossomed in December?
Capt. Be pleased—be pleased, Madam—if you have any doubts of my honour—
A whining varlet! He should have been quite angry—For what gave I him the nod positive? He should have stalked again to the window, as for his whip and hat.
Cl. I am only making such observations as my youth, my inexperience, and my present unhappy circumstances, suggest to me—a worthy heart (such, I hope, as Captain Tomlinson's) need not fear an examination— need not fear being looked into—whatever doubts that man, who has been the cause of my errors, and, as my severe father imprecated, the punisher of the errors he has caused, might have had of me, or of my honour, I would have forgiven him for them, if he had fairly proposed them to me: for some doubts perhaps such a man might have of the future conduct of a creature whom he could induce to correspond with him against parental prohibition, and against the lights which her own judgment threw in upon her: and if he had propounded them to me like a man and a gentleman, I would have been glad of the opportunity given me to clear my intentions, and to have shown myself entitled to his good opinion—and I hope you, Sir—
Capt. I am ready to hear all your doubts, Madam, and to clear them up—
Cl. I will only put it, Sir, to your conscience and honour—
The dog sat uneasy—he shuffled with his feet—her eye was upon him—he was, therefore, after the rebuff he had met with, afraid to look at me for my motions; and now turned his eyes towards me, then from me, as if he would unlook his own looks.
Cl. That all is true, that you have written, and that you have told me.
I gave him a right forward nod, and a frown—as much as to say, swear to it, Captain. But the varlet did not round it off as I would have had him. However, he averred that it was.
He had hoped, he said, that the circumstances with which his commission was attended, and what he had communicated to her, which he could not know but from his dear friend, her uncle, might have shielded him even from the shadow of suspicion. But I am contented, said he, stammering, to be thought—to be thought—what—what you please to think of me—till, till, you are satisfied—
Cl. The circumstances you refer to, I must own ought to shield you, Sir, from suspicion; but the man before you is a man that would make an angel suspected, should that angel plead for him.
I came forward,—traversed the room,—was indeed in a bl—dy passion.—I have no patience, Madam!—and again I bit my unpersuasive lips.
Cl. No man ought to be impatient at imputations he is not ashamed to deserve. An innocent man will not be outrageous upon such imputations. A guilty man ought not. [Most excellently would this charming creature cap sentences with Lord M.!] But I am not now trying you, Sir, [to me,] on the foot of your merits. I am only sorry that I am constrained to put questions to this worthier gentleman, [worthier gentleman, Jack!] which, perhaps, I ought not to put, so far as they regard himself. And I hope, Captain Tomlinson, that you, who know not Mr. Lovelace so well, as, to my unhappiness, I do, and who have children of your own, will excuse a poor young creature, who is deprived of all worldly protection, and who has been insulted and endangered by the most designing man in the world, and, perhaps, by a confederacy of his creatures.
There she stopt; and stood up, and looked at me; fear, nevertheless, apparently mingled with her anger.—And so it ought. I was glad, however, of this poor sign of love; no one fears whom they value not.
Women's tongues were licensed, I was going to say; but my conscience would not let me call her a woman; nor use to her so vulgar a phrase. I could only rave by my motions, lift up my eyes, spread my hands, rub my face, pull my wig, and look like a fool. Indeed, I had a great mind to run mad. Had I been alone with her, I would; and she should have taken consequences.
The Captain interposed in my behalf; gently, however, and as a man not quite sure that he was himself acquitted. Some of the pleas we had both insisted on he again enforced; and, speaking low, Poor gentleman! said he, who can but pity him? Indeed, Madam, it is easy to see, with all his failings, the power you have over him!
Cl. I have no pleasure, Sir, in distressing any one; not even him, who has so much distressed me. But, Sir, when I THINK, and when I see him before me, I cannot command my temper! Indeed, indeed, Captain Tomlinson, Mr. Lovelace has not acted by me either as a grateful or a generous man, nor even as a prudent one!—He knows not, as I told him yesterday, the value of the heart he has insulted!
There the angel stopt; her handkerchief at her eyes.
O Belford, Belford! that she should so greatly excel, as to make me, at times, appear as a villain in my own eyes!
I besought her pardon. I promised that it should be the study of my whole life to deserve it. My faults, I said, whatever they had been, were rather faults in her apprehension than in fact. I besought her to give way to the expedient I had hit upon—I repeated it. The Captain enforced it, for her uncle's sake. I, once more, for the sake of the general reconciliation; for the sake of all my family; for the sake of preventing further mischief.
She wept. She seemed staggered in her resolution—she turned from me. I mentioned the letter of Lord M. I besought her to resign to Lady Betty's mediation all our differences, if she would not forgive me before she saw her.
She turned towards me—she was going to speak; but her heart was full, and again she turned away her eyes,—And do you really and indeed expect Lady Betty and Miss Montague?—And do you—Again she stopt.
I answered in a solemn manner.
She turned from me her whole face, and paused, and seemed to consider. But, in a passionate accent, again turning towards me, [O how difficult, Jack, for a Harlowe spirit to forgive!] Let her Ladyship come, if she pleases, said she, I cannot, cannot, wish to see her; and if I did see her, and she were to plead for you, I cannot wish to hear her! The more I think, the less I can forgive an attempt, that I am convinced was intended to destroy me. [A plaguy strong word for the occasion, supposing she was right!] What has my conduct been, that an insult of such a nature should be offered to me, and it would be a weakness in me to forgive? I am sunk in my own eyes! And how can I receive a visit that must depress me more?
The Captain urged her in my favour with greater earnestness than before. We both even clamoured, as I may say, for mercy and forgiveness. [Didst thou never hear the good folks talk of taking Heaven by storm?]— Contrition repeatedly avowed; a total reformation promised; the happy expedient again urged.
Cl. I have taken my measures. I have gone too far to recede, or to wish to recede. My mind is prepared for adversity. That I have not deserved the evils I have met with is my consolation; I have written to Miss Howe what my intentions are. My heart is not with you—it is against you, Mr. Lovelace. I had not written to you as I did in the letter I left behind me, had I not resolved, whatever became of me, to renounce you for ever.
I was full of hope now. Severe as her expressions were, I saw she was afraid that I should think of what she had written. And, indeed, her letter is violence itself.—Angry people, Jack, should never write while their passion holds.
Lovel. The severity you have shown me, Madam, whether by pen or by speech, shall never have place in my remembrance, but for your honor. In the light you have taken things, all is deserved, and but the natural result of virtuous resentment; and I adore you, even for the pangs you have given me.
She was silent. She had employment enough with her handkerchief at her eyes.
Lovel. You lament, sometimes, that you have no friends of your own sex to consult with. Miss Rawlins, I must confess, is too inquisitive to be confided in, [I liked not, thou mayest think, her appeal to Miss Rawlins.] She may mean well. But I never in my life knew a person, who was fond of prying into the secrets of others, that was fit to be trusted. The curiosity of such is governed by pride, which is not gratified but by whispering about a secret till it becomes public, in order to show either their consequence, or their sagacity. It is so in every case. What man or woman, who is covetous of power, or of making a right use of it? But in the ladies of my family you may confide. It is their ambition to think of you as one of themselves. Renew but your consent to pass to the world, for the sake of your uncle's expedient, and for the prevention of mischief, as a lady some time married. Lady Betty may be acquainted with the naked truth; and you may, (as she hopes you will,) accompany her to her seat; and, if it must be so, consider me as in a state of penitence or probation, to be accepted or rejected, as I may appear to deserve.
The Captain again clapt his hands on his breast, and declared, upon his honour, that this was a proposal that, were the case that of his own daughter, and she were not resolved upon immediate marriage, (which yet he thought by far the more eligible choice,) he should be very much concerned were she to refuse it.
Cl. Were I with Mr. Lovelace's relations, and to pass as his wife to the world, I could not have any choice. And how could he be then in a state of probation?—O Mr. Tomlinson, you are too much his friend to see into his drift.
Capt. His friend, Madam, as I said before, as I am your's and your uncle's, for the sake of a general reconciliation, which must begin with a better understanding between yourselves.
Lovel. Only, my dearest life, resolve to attend the arrival and visit of Lady Betty; and permit her to arbitrate between us.
Capt. There can be no harm in that, Madam. You can suffer no inconvenience from that. If Mr. Lovelace's offence be such, that a woman of Lady Betty's character judges it to be unpardonable, why then—
Cl. [Interrupting; and to me,] If I am not invaded by you, Sir; if I am, (as I ought to be,) my own mistress, I think to stay here, in this honest house, [and then had I an eye-beam, as the Captain calls it, flashed at me,] till I receive a letter from Miss Howe. That, I hope, will be in a day or two. If in that time the ladies come whom you expect, and if they are desirous to see the creature whom you have made unhappy, I shall know whether I can or cannot receive their visit.
She turned short to the door, and, retiring, went up stairs to her chamber.
O Sir, said the Captain, as soon as she was gone, what an angel of a woman is this! I have been, and I am a very wicked man. But if any thing should happen amiss to this admirable lady, through my means, I shall have more cause for self-reproach than for all the bad actions of my life put together.
And his eyes glistened.
Nothing can happen amiss, thou sorrowful dog!—What can happen amiss? Are we to form our opinion of things by the romantic notions of a girl, who supposes that to be the greatest which is the slightest of evils? Have I not told thee our whole story? Has she not broken her promise? Did I not generously spare her, when in my power? I was decent, though I had her at such advantage.—Greater liberties have I taken with girls of character at a common romping 'bout, and all has been laughed off, and handkerchief and head-clothes adjusted, and petticoats shaken to rights, in my presence. Never man, in the like circumstances, and resolved as I was resolved, goaded on as I was goaded on, as well by her own sex, as by the impulses of a violent passion, was ever so decent. Yet what mercy does she show me?
Now, Jack, this pitiful dog was such another unfortunate one as thyself —his arguments serving to confirm me in the very purpose he brought them to prevail upon me to give up. Had he left me to myself, to the tenderness of my own nature, moved as I was when the lady withdrew, and had he set down, and made odious faces, and said nothing—it is very possible that I should have taken the chair over against him, which she had quitted, and have cried and blubbered with him for half an hour together. But the varlet to argue with me!—to pretend to convince a man, who knows in is heart that he is doing a wrong thing!—He must needs think that this would put me upon trying what I could say for myself; and when the extended compunction can be carried from the heart to the lips it must evaporate in words.
Thou, perhaps, in this place, wouldst have urged the same pleas that he urged. What I answered to him therefore may do for thee, and spare thee the trouble of writing, and me of reading, a good deal of nonsense.
Capt. You were pleased to tell me, Sir, that you only proposed to try her virtue; and that you believed you should actually marry her.
Lovel. So I shall, and cannot help it. I have no doubt but I shall. And as to trying her, is she not now in the height of her trial? Have I not reason to think that she is coming about? Is she not now yielding up her resentment for an attempt which she thinks she ought not to forgive? And if she do, may she not forgive the last attempt?—Can she, in a word, resent that more than she does this? Women often, for their own sakes, will keep the last secret; but will ostentatiously din the ears of gods and men with their clamours upon a successless offer. It was my folly, my weakness, that I gave her not more cause for this her unsparing violence!
Capt. O Sir, you will never be able to subdue this lady without force.
Lovel. Well, then, puppy, must I not endeavour to find a proper time and place—
Capt. Forgive me, Sir! but can you think of force to such a fine creature?
Lovel. Force, indeed, I abhor the thought of; and for what, thinkest thou, have I taken all the pains I have taken, and engaged so many persons in my cause, but to avoid the necessity of violent compulsion? But yet, imaginest thou that I expect direct consent from such a lover of forms as this lady is known to be! Let me tell thee, M'Donald, that thy master, Belford, has urged on thy side of the question all that thou canst urge. Must I have every sorry fellow's conscience to pacify, as well as my own?—By my soul, Patrick, she has a friend here, [clapping my hand on my breast,] that pleads for her with greater and more irresistible eloquence than all the men in the world can plead for her. And had she not escaped me—And yet how have I answered my first design of trying her,* and in her the virtue of the most virtuous of the sex?— Perseverance, man!—Perseverance!—What! wouldst thou have me decline a trial that they make for the honour of a sex we all so dearly love?
* See Vol. III. Letter XVIII.
Then, Sir, you have no thoughts—no thoughts—[looking still more sorrowfully,] of marrying this wonderful lady?
Yes, yes, Patrick, but I have. But let me, first, to gratify my pride, bring down her's. Let me see, that she loves me well enough to forgive me for my own sake. Has she not heretofore lamented that she staid not in her father's house, though the consequence must have been, if she had, that she would have been the wife of the odious Solmes? If now she be brought to consent to be mine, seest thou not that the reconciliation with her detested relations is the inducement, as it always was, and not love of me?—Neither her virtue nor her love can be established but upon full trial; the last trial—but if her resistance and resentment be such as hitherto I have reason to expect they will be, and if I find in that resentment less of hatred of me than of the fact, then shall she be mine in her own way. Then, hateful as is the life of shackles to me, will I marry her.
Well, Sir, I can only say, that I am dough in your hands, to be moulded into what shape you please. But if, as I said before—