I desired a physician might be called in; but was refused.
I took a walk in St. James's Park, congratulating myself all the way on my rare inventions: then, impatient, I took coach, with one of the windows quite up, the other almost up, playing at bo-peep in every chariot I saw pass in my way to Lincoln's-inn-fields: and when arrived there I sent the coachman to desire any one of Mother H.'s family to come to me to the coach-side, not doubting but I should have intelligence of my fair fugitive there; it being then half an hour after ten.
A servant came, who gave me to understand that the matronly lady was just returned by herself in the chariot.
Frighted out of my wits, I alighted, and heard from the mother's own mouth, that Dorcas had engaged her to protect the lady; but came to tell her afterwards, that she had changed her mind, and would not quit the house.
Quite astonished, not knowing what might have happened, I ordered the coachman to lash away to our mother's.
Arriving here in an instant, the first word I asked, was, If the lady was safe?
[Mr. Lovelace here gives a very circumstantial relation of all that passed between the Lady and Dorcas. But as he could only guess at her motives for refusing to go off, when Dorcas told her that she had engaged for her the protection of the dowager-lady, it is thought proper to omit this relation, and to supply it by some memoranda of the Lady's. But it is first necessary to account for the occasion on which those memoranda were made.
The reader may remember, that in the letter written to Miss Howe, on her escape to Hampstead,* she promises to give her the particulars of her flight at leisure. She had indeed thoughts of continuing her account of every thing that had passed between her and Mr. Lovelace since her last narrative letter. But the uncertainty she was in from that time, with the execrable treatment she met with on her being deluded back again, followed by a week's delirium, had hitherto hindered her from prosecuting her intention. But, nevertheless, having it still in her view to perform her promise as soon as she had opportunity, she made minutes of every thing as it passed, in order to help her memory:—'Which,' as she observes in one place, 'she could less trust to since her late disorders than before.' In these minutes, or book of memoranda, she observes, 'That having apprehensions that Dorcas might be a traitress, she would have got away while she was gone out to see for a coach; and actually slid down stairs with that intent. But that, seeing Mrs. Sinclair in the entry, (whom Dorcas had planted there while she went out,) she speeded up again unseen.'
* See Vol. V. Letter XXI.
She then went up to the dining-room, and saw the letter of Captain Tomlinson: on which she observes in her memorandum-book as follows:]
'How am I puzzled now!—He might leave this letter on purpose: none of the other papers left with it being of any consequence: What is the alternative?—To stay, and be the wife of the vilest of men—how my heart resists that!—To attempt to get off, and fail, ruin inevitable!— Dorcas may betray me!—I doubt she is still his implement!—At his going out, he whispered her, as I saw, unobserved—in a very familiar manner too—Never fear, Sir, with a courtesy.
'In her agreeing to connive at my escape, she provided not for her own safety, if I got away: yet had reason, in that case, to expect his vengeance. And wants not forethought.—To have taken her with me, was to be in the power of her intelligence, if a faithless creature.—Let me, however, though I part not with my caution, keep my charity!—Can there be any woman so vile to a woman?—O yes!—Mrs. Sinclair: her aunt.—The Lord deliver me!—But, alas!—I have put myself out of the course of his protection by the natural means—and am already ruined! A father's curse likewise against me! Having made vain all my friends' cautions and solicitudes, I must not hope for miracles in my favour!
'If I do escape, what may become of me, a poor, helpless, deserted creature!—Helpless from sex!—from circumstances!—Exposed to every danger!—Lord protect me!
'His vile man not gone with him!—Lurking hereabouts, no doubt, to watch my steps!—I will not go away by the chariot, however.——
'That the chariot should come so opportunely! So like his many opportunities!—That Dorcas should have the sudden thought!—Should have the courage with the thought, to address a lady in behalf of an absolute stranger to that lady! That the lady should so readily consent! Yet the transaction between them to take up so much time, their distance in degree considered: for, arduous as the case was, and precious as the time, Dorcas was gone above half an hour! Yet the chariot was said to be ready at a grocer's not many doors off!
'Indeed some elderly ladies are talkative: and there are, no doubt, some good people in the world.——
'But that it should chance to be a widow lady, who could do what she pleased! That Dorcas should know her to be so by the lozenge! Persons in her station are not usually so knowing, I believe, in heraldry.
'Yet some may! for servants are fond of deriving collateral honours and distinctions, as I may call them, from the quality, or people of rank, whom they serve. But this sly servant not gone with him! Then this letter of Tomlinson!——
'Although I am resolved never to have this wretch, yet, may I not throw myself into my uncle's protection at Kentish-town, or Highgate, if I cannot escape before: and so get clear of him? May not the evil I know be less than what I may fall into, if I can avoid farther villany? Farther villany he has not yet threatened; freely and justly as I have treated him!—I will not go, I think. At least, unless I can send this fellow away.*——
* She tried to do this; but was prevented by the fellow's pretending to put his ankle out, by a slip down stairs—A trick, says his contriving master, in his omitted relation, I had taught him, on a like occasion, at Amiens.
'The fellow a villain! The wench, I doubt, a vile wench. At last concerned for her own safety. Plays off and on about a coach.
'All my hopes of getting off at present over!—Unhappy creature! to what farther evils art thou reserved! Oh! how my heart rises at the necessity I must still be under to see and converse with so very vile a man!'
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.
Disappointed in her meditated escape; obliged, against her will, to meet me in the dining-room; and perhaps apprehensive of being upbraided for her art in feigning herself ill; I expected that the dear perverse would begin with me with spirit and indignation. But I was in hopes, from the gentleness of her natural disposition; from the consideration which I expected from her on her situation; from the contents of the letter of Captain Tomlinson, which Dorcas told me she had seen; and from the time she had had to cool and reflect since she last admitted me to her presence, that she would not have carried it so strongly through as she did.
As I entered the dining-room, I congratulated her and myself upon her sudden recovery. And would have taken her hand, with an air of respectful tenderness; but she was resolved to begin where she left off.
She turned from me, drawing in her hand, with a repulsing and indignant aspect—I meet you once more, said she, because I cannot help it. What have you to say to me? Why am I to be thus detained against my will?
With the utmost solemnity of speech and behaviour, I urged the ceremony. I saw I had nothing else for it. I had a letter in my pocket I said, [feeling for it, although I had not taken it from the table where I left it in the same room,] the contents of which, if attended to, would make us both happy. I had been loth to show it to her before, because I hoped to prevail upon her to be mine sooner than the day mentioned in it.
I felt for it in all my pockets, watching her eye mean time, which I saw glance towards the table where it lay.
I was uneasy that I could not find it—at last, directed again by her sly eye, I spied it on the table at the farther end of the room.
With joy I fetched it. Be pleased to read that letter, Madam; with an air of satisfied assurance.
She took it, and cast her eye over it, in such a careless way, as made it evident, that she had read it before: and then unthankfully tossed it into the window-seat before her.
I urged her to bless me to-morrow, or Friday morning; at least, that she would not render vain her uncle's journey, and kind endeavours to bring about a reconciliation among us all.
Among us all! repeated she, with an air equally disdainful and incredulous. O Lovelace, thou art surely nearly allied to the grand deceiver, in thy endeavour to suit temptations to inclinations?—But what honour, what faith, what veracity, were it possible that I could enter into parley with thee on this subject, (which it is not,) may I expect from such a man as thou hast shown thyself to be?
I was touched to the quick. A lady of your perfect character, Madam, who has feigned herself sick, on purpose to avoid seeing the man who adored her, should not—
I know what thou wouldst say, interrupted she—Twenty and twenty low things, that my soul would have been above being guilty of, and which I have despised myself for, have I been brought into by the infection of thy company, and by the necessity thou hadst laid me under, of appearing mean. But, I thank God, destitute as I am, that I am not, however, sunk so low, as to wish to be thine.
I, Madam, as the injurer, ought to have patience. It is for the injured to reproach. But your uncle is not in a plot against you, it is to be hoped. There are circumstances in the letter you cast your eyes over——
Again she interrupted me, Why, once more I ask you, am I detained in this house?—Do I not see myself surrounded by wretches, who, though they wear the habit of my sex, may yet, as far as I know, lie in wait for my perdition?
She would be very loth, I said, that Mrs. Sinclair and her nieces should be called up to vindicate themselves and their house.
Would but they kill me, let them come, and welcome, I will bless the hand that will strike the blow! Indeed I will.
'Tis idle, very idle, to talk of dying. Mere young-lady talk, when controuled by those they hate. But let me beseech you, dearest creature ——
Beseech me nothing. Let me not be detained thus against my will!— Unhappy creature that I am, said she, in a kind of phrensy, wringing her hands at the same time, and turning from me, her eyes lifted up! 'Thy curse, O my cruel father, seems to be now in the height of its operation! —My weakened mind is full of forebodings, that I am in the way of being a lost creature as to both worlds! Blessed, blessed God, said she, falling on her knees, save me, O save me, from myself and from this man!'
I sunk down on my knees by her, excessively affecting—O that I could recall yesterday!—Forgive me, my dearest creature, forgive what is past, as it cannot now, but by one way, be retrieved. Forgive me only on this condition—That my future faith and honour—
She interrupted me, rising—If you mean to beg of me never to seek to avenge myself by law, or by an appeal to my relations, to my cousin Morden in particular, when he comes to England——
D—n the law, rising also, [she started,] and all those to whom you talk of appealing!—I defy both the one and the other—All I beg is YOUR forgiveness; and that you will, on my unfeigned contrition, re-establish me in your favour——
O no, no, no! lifting up her clasped hands, I never never will, never, never can forgive you!—and it is a punishment worse than death to me, that I am obliged to meet you, or to see you.
This is the last time, my dearest life, that you will ever see me in this posture, on this occasion: and again I kneeled to her. Let me hope, that you will be mine next Thursday, your uncle's birth-day, if not before. Would to Heaven I had never been a villain! Your indignation is not, cannot be greater, than my remorse—and I took hold of her gown for she was going from me.
Be remorse thy portion!—For thine own sake, be remorse thy portion!—I never, never will forgive thee!—I never, never will be thine!—Let me retire!—Why kneelest thou to the wretch whom thou hast so vilely humbled?
Say but, dearest creature, you will consider—say but you will take time to reflect upon what the honour of both our families requires of you. I will not rise. I will not permit you to withdraw [still holding her gown] till you tell me you will consider.—Take this letter. Weigh well your situation, and mine. Say you will withdraw to consider; and then I will not presume to withold [sic] you.
Compulsion shall do nothing with me. Though a slave, a prisoner, in circumstance, I am no slave in my will!—Nothing will I promise thee!— Withheld, compelled—nothing will I promise thee!
Noble creature! but not implacable, I hope!—Promise me but to return in an hour!
Nothing will I promise thee!
Say but that you will see me again this evening!
O that I could say—that it were in my power to say—I never will see thee more!—Would to Heaven I never were to see thee more!
Passionate beauty!—still holding her—
I speak, though with vehemence, the deliberate wish of my heart.—O that I could avoid looking down upon thee, mean groveler, and abject as insulting—Let me withdraw! My soul is in tumults! Let we [sic] withdraw!
I quitted my hold to clasp my hands together—Withdraw, O sovereign of my fate!—Withdraw, if you will withdraw! My destiny is in your power!—It depends upon your breath!—Your scorn but augments my love! Your resentment is but too well founded!—But, dearest creature, return, return, return, with a resolution to bless with pardon and peace your faithful adorer!
She flew from me. The angel, as soon as she found her wings, flew from me. I, the reptile kneeler, the despicable slave, no more the proud victor, arose; and, retiring, tried to comfort myself, that, circumstanced as she is, destitute of friends and fortune; her uncle moreover, who is to reconcile all so soon, (as I thank my stars she still believes,) expected.
O that she would forgive me!—Would she but generously forgive me, and receive my vows at the altar, at the instant of her forgiving me, that I might not have time to relapse into my old prejudices! By my soul, Belford, this dear girl gives the lie to all our rakish maxims. There must be something more than a name in virtue!—I now see that there is!— Once subdued, always subdued—'Tis an egregious falsehood!—But, O Jack, she never was subdued. What have I obtained but an increase of shame and confusion!—While her glory has been established by her sufferings!
This one merit is, however, left me, that I have laid all her sex under obligation to me, by putting this noble creature to trials, which, so gloriously supported, have done honour to them all.
However—But no more will I add—What a force have evil habits!—I will take an airing, and try to fly from myself!—Do not thou upbraid me on my weak fits—on my contradictory purposes—on my irresolution—and all will be well.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. WEDNESDAY NIGHT.
A man is just now arrived from M. Hall, who tells me, that my Lord is in a very dangerous way. The gout in his stomach to an extreme degree, occasioned by drinking a great quantity of lemonade.
A man of 8000L. a year to prefer his appetite to his health!—He deserves to die!—But we have all of us our inordinate passions to gratify: and they generally bring their punishment along with them—so witnesses the nephew, as well as the uncle.
The fellow was sent upon other business; but stretched his orders a little, to make his court to a successor.
I am glad I was not at M. Hall, at the time my Lord took the grateful dose: [it was certainly grateful to him at the time:] there are people in the world, who would have had the wickedness to say, that I had persuaded him to drink.
The man says, that his Lordship was so bad when he came away, that the family began to talk of sending for me in post haste. As I know the old peer has a good deal of cash by him, of which he seldom keeps account, it behoves me to go down as soon as I can. But what shall I do with this dear creature the while?—To-morrow over, I shall, perhaps, be able to answer my own question. I am afraid she will make me desperate.
For here have I sent to implore her company, and am denied with scorn.
I have been so happy as to receive, this moment, a third letter from the dear correspondent Miss Howe. A little severe devil!—It would have broken the heart of my beloved, had it fallen into her hands. I will enclose a copy of it. Read it here.
TUESDAY, JUNE 20.
MY DEAREST MISS HARLOWE,
Again I venture to you, (almost against inclination;) and that by your former conveyance, little as I like it.
I know not how it is with you. It may be bad; and then it would be hard to upbraid you, for a silence you may not be able to help. But if not, what shall I say severe enough, that you have not answered either of my last letters? the first* of which [and I think it imported you too much to be silent upon it] you owned the receipt of. The other which was delivered into your own hands,** was so pressing for the favour of a line from you, that I am amazed I could not be obliged; and still more, that I have not heard from you since.
* See Vol. V. Letter XX. ** See Vol. VI. Letter VII.
The fellow made so strange a story of the condition he saw you in, and of your speech to him, that I know not what to conclude from it: only, that he is a simple, blundering, and yet conceited fellow, who, aiming at description, and the rustic wonderful, gives an air of bumkinly romance to all he tells. That this is his character, you will believe, when you are informed that he described you in grief excessive,* yet so improved in your person and features, and so rosy, that was his word, in your face, and so flush-coloured, and so plump in your arms, that one would conclude you were labouring under the operation of some malignant poison; and so much the rather, as he was introduced to you, when you were upon a couch, from which you offered not to rise, or sit up.
* See Vol. VI. Letter VI.
Upon my word, Miss Harlowe, I am greatly distressed upon your account; for I must be so free as to say, that in your ready return with your deceiver, you have not at all answered my expectations, nor acted up to your own character; for Mrs. Townsend tells me, from the women at Hampstead, how cheerfully you put yourself into his hands again: yet, at the time, it was impossible you should be married!—
Lord, my dear, what pity it is, that you took much pains to get from the man!—But you know best!—Sometimes I think it could not be you to whom the rustic delivered my letter. But it must too: yet, it is strange I could not have one line by him:—not one:—and you so soon well enough to go with the wretch back again!
I am not sure that the letter I am now writing will come to your hands: so shall not say half that I have upon my mind to say. But, if you think it worth your while to write to me, pray let me know what fine ladies his relations those were who visited you at Hampstead, and carried you back again so joyfully to a place that I had so fully warned you.— But I will say no more: at least till I know more: for I can do nothing but wonder and stand amazed.
Notwithstanding all the man's baseness, 'tis plain there was more than a lurking love—Good Heaven!—But I have done!—Yet I know not how to have done neither!—Yet I must—I will.
Only account to me, my dear, for what I cannot at all account for: and inform me, whether you are really married, or not.—And then I shall know whether there must or must not, be a period shorter than that of one of our lives, to a friendship which has hitherto been the pride and boast of
Your ANNA HOWE.
Dorcas tells me, that she has just now had a searching conversation, as she calls it, with her lady. She is willing, she tells the wench, still to place her confidence in her. Dorcas hopes she has re-assured her: but wishes me not to depend upon it. Yet Captain Tomlinson's letter must assuredly weigh with her.
I sent it in just now by Dorcas, desiring her to re-peruse it. And it was not returned me, as I feared it would be. And that's a good sign, I think.
I say I think, and I think; for this charming creature, entangled as I am in my own inventions, puzzles me ten thousand times more than I her.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. THURSDAY NOON, JUNE 22.
Let me perish if I know what to make either of myself or of this surprising creature—now calm, now tempestuous.—But I know thou lovest not anticipation any more than I.
At my repeated requests, she met me at six this morning.
She was ready dressed; for she had not her clothes off every since she declared, that they never more should be off in this house. And charmingly she looked, with all the disadvantages of a three-hours violent stomach-ache—(for Dorcas told me that she had been really ill)— no rest, and eyes red and swelled with weeping. Strange to me that those charming fountains have not been so long ago exhausted! But she is a woman. And I believe anatomists allow, that women have more watry heads than men.
Well, my dearest creature, I hope you have now thoroughly considered of the contents of Captain Tomlinson's letter. But as we are thus early met, let me beseech you to make this my happy day.
She looked not favourably upon me. A cloud hung upon her brow at her entrance: but as she was going to answer me, a still greater solemnity took possession of her charming features.
Your air, and your countenance, my beloved creature, are not propitious to me. Let me beg of you, before you speak, to forbear all further recriminations: for already I have such a sense of my vileness to you, that I know not how to bear the reproaches of my own mind.
I have been endeavouring, said she, since I am not permitted to avoid you, to obtain a composure which I never more expected to see you in. How long I may enjoy it, I cannot tell. But I hope I shall be enabled to speak to you without that vehemence which I expressed yesterday, and could not help it.*
* The Lady, in her minutes, says, 'I fear Dorcas is a false one. May I not be able to prevail upon him to leave me at my liberty? Better to try than to trust to her. If I cannot prevail, but must meet him and my uncle, I hope I shall have fortitude enough to renounce him then. But I would fain avoid qualifying with the wretch, or to give him an expectation which I intend not to answer. If I am mistress of my own resolutions, my uncle himself shall not prevail with me to bind my soul in covenant with so vile a man.'
After a pause (for I was all attention) thus she proceeded:
It is easy for me, Mr. Lovelace, to see that further violences are intended me, if I comply not with your purposes, whatever they are, I will suppose them to be what you solemnly profess they are. But I have told you as solemnly my mind, that I never will, that I never can be your's; nor, if so, any man's upon earth. All vengeance, nevertheless, for the wrongs you have done me, I disclaim. I want but to slide into some obscure corner, to hide myself from you and from every one who once loved me. The desire lately so near my heart, of a reconciliation with my friends, is much abated. They shall not receive me now, if they would. Sunk in mine own eyes, I now think myself unworthy of their favour. In the anguish of my soul, therefore, I conjure you, Lovelace, [tears in her eyes,] to leave me to my fate. In doing so, you will give me a pleasure the highest I now can know.
Where, my dearest life——
No matter where. I will leave to Providence, when I am out of this house, the direction of my future steps. I am sensible enough of my destitute condition. I know that I have not now a friend in the world. Even Miss Howe has given me up—or you are—But I would fain keep my temper!—By your means I have lost them all—and you have been a barbarous enemy to me. You know you have.
I could not speak.
The evils I have suffered, proceeded she, [turning from me,] however irreparable, are but temporarily evils. Leave me to my hopes of being enabled to obtain the Divine forgiveness for the offence I have been drawn in to give to my parents and to virtue; that so I may avoid the evils that are more than temporary. This is now all I have to wish for. And what is it that I demand, that I have not a right to, and from which it is an illegal violence to withhold me?
It was impossible for me, I told her plainly, to comply.
I besought her to give me her hand as this very day. I could not live without her. I communicated to her my Lord's illness, as a reason why I wished not to stay for her uncle's anniversary. I besought her to bless me with her consent; and, after the ceremony was passed, to accompany me down to Berks. And thus, my dearest life, said I, will you be freed from a house, to which you have conceived so great an antipathy.
This, thou wilt own, was a princely offer. And I was resolved to be as good as my word. I thought I had killed my conscience, as I told thee, Belford, some time ago. But conscience, I find, though it may be temporarily stifled, cannot die, and, when it dare not speak aloud, will whisper. And at this instant I thought I felt the revived varletess (on but a slight retrograde motion) writhing round my pericardium like a serpent; and in the action of a dying one, (collecting all its force into its head,) fix its plaguy fangs into my heart.
She hesitated, and looked down, as if irresolute. And this set my heart up at my mouth. And, believe me, I had instantly popt in upon me, in imagination, an old spectacled parson, with a white surplice thrown over a black habit, [a fit emblem of the halcyon office, which, under a benign appearance, often introduced a life of storms and tempests,] whining and snuffling through his nose the irrevocable ceremony.
I hope now, my dearest life, said I, snatching her hand, and pressing it to my lips, that your silence bodes me good. Let me, my beloved creature, have but your tacit consent; and this moment I will step out and engage a minister. And then I promised how much my whole future life should be devoted to her commands, and that I would make her the best and tenderest of husbands.
At last, turning to me, I have told you my mind, Mr. Lovelace, said she. Think you, that I could thus solemnly—There she stopt—I am too much in your power, proceeded she; your prisoner, rather than a person free to choose for myself, or to say what I will do or be. But as a testimony that you mean me well, let me instantly quit this house; and I will then give you such an answer in writing, as best befits my unhappy circumstances.
And imaginest thou, fairest, thought I, that this will go down with a Lovelace? Thou oughtest to have known that free-livers, like ministers of state, never part with a power put into their hands, without an equivalent of twice the value.
I pleaded, that if we joined hands this morning, (if not, to-morrow; if not, on Thursday, her uncle's birth-day, and in his presence); and afterwards, as I had proposed, set out for Berks; we should, of course, quit this house; and, on our return to town, should have in readiness the house I was in treaty for.
She answered me not, but with tears and sighs; fond of believing what I hoped I imputed her silence to the modesty of her sex. The dear creature, (thought I,) solemnly as she began with me, is ruminating, in a sweet suspence, how to put into fit words the gentle purposes of her condescending heart. But, looking in her averted face with a soothing gentleness, I plainly perceived, that it was resentment, and not bashfulness, that was struggling in her bosom.*
* The Lady, in her minutes, owns the difficulty she lay under to keep her temper in this conference. 'But when I found,' says she, 'that all my entreaties were ineffectual, and that he was resolved to detain me, I could no longer withhold my impatience.'
At last she broke silence—I have no patience, said she, to find myself a slave, a prisoner, in a vile house—Tell me, Sir, in so many words tell me, whether it be, or be not, your intention to permit me to quit it?—To permit me the freedom which is my birthright as an English subject?
Will not the consequence of your departure hence be that I shall lose you for ever, Madam?—And can I bear the thoughts of that?
She flung from me—My soul disdains to hold parley with thee! were her violent words.—But I threw myself at her feet, and took hold of her reluctant hand, and began to imprecate, avow, to promise—But thus the passionate beauty, interrupting me, went on:
I am sick of thee, MAN!—One continued string of vows, oaths, and protestations, varied only by time and place, fills thy mouth!—Why detainest thou me? My heart rises against thee, O thou cruel implement of my brother's causeless vengeance.—All I beg of thee is, that thou wilt remit me the future part of my father's dreadful curse! the temporary part, base and ungrateful as thou art! thou hast completed!
I was speechless!—Well I might!—Her brother's implement!—James Harlowe's implement!—Zounds, Jack! what words were these!
I let go her struggling hand. She took two or three turns cross the room, her whole haughty soul in her air. Then approaching me, but in silence, turning from me, and again to me, in a milder voice—I see thy confusion, Lovelace. Or is it thy remorse?—I have but one request to make thee—the request so often repeated—That thou wilt this moment permit me to quit this house. Adieu, then, let me say, for ever adieu! And mayest thou enjoy that happiness in this world, which thou hast robbed me of; as thou hast of every friend I have in it!
And saying this, away she flung, leaving me in a confusion so great, that I knew not what to think, say, or do!
But Dorcas soon roused me—Do you know, Sir, running in hastily, that my lady is gone down stairs!
No, sure!—And down I flew, and found her once more at the street-door, contending with Polly Horton to get out.
She rushed by me into the fore parlour, and flew to the window, and attempted once more to throw up the sash—Good people! good people! cried she.
I caught her in my arms, and lifted her from the window. But being afraid of hurting the charming creature, (charming in her very rage,) she slid through my arms on the floor.—Let me die here! let me die here! were her words; remaining jointless and immovable, till Sally and Mrs. Sinclair hurried in.
She was visibly terrified at the sight of the old wretch; while I (sincerely affected) appealed, Bear witness, Mrs. Sinclair!—bear witness, Miss Martin!—Miss Horton!—Every one bear witness, that I offer not violence to this beloved creature!
She then found her feet—O house [look towards the windows, and all round her, O house,] contrived on purpose for my ruin! said she—but let not that woman come into my presence—not that Miss Horton neither, who would not have dared to controul me, had she not been a base one!—
Hoh, Sir! Hoh, Madam! vociferated the old dragon, her armed kemboed, and flourishing with one foot to the extent of her petticoats—What's ado here about nothing! I never knew such work in my life, between a chicken of a gentleman and a tiger of a lady!—
She was visibly affrighted: and up stairs she hastened. A bad woman is certainly, Jack, more terrible to her own sex than even a bad man.
I followed her up. She rushed by her own apartment into the dining-room: no terror can make her forget her punctilio.
To recite what passed there of invective, exclamations, threatenings, even of her own life, on one side; of expostulations, supplications, and sometimes menaces, on the other; would be too affecting; and, after my particularity in like scenes, these things may as well be imagined as expressed.
I will therefore only mention, that, at length, I extorted a concession from her. She had reason* to think it would have been worse for her on the spot, if she had not made it. It was, That she would endeavour to make herself easy till she saw what next Thursday, her uncle's birth-day, would produce. But Oh! that it were not a sin, she passionately exclaimed on making this poor concession, to put and end to her own life, rather than yield to give me but that assurance!
* The Lady mentions, in her memorandum-book, that she had no other way, as is apprehended, to save herself from instant dishonour, but by making this concession. Her only hope, now, she says, if she cannot escape by Dorcas's connivance, (whom, nevertheless she suspects,) is to find a way to engage the protection of her uncle, and even of the civil magistrate, on Thursday next, if necessary. 'He shall see,' says she, 'tame and timid as he thought me, what I dare to do, to avoid so hated a compulsion, and a man capable of a baseness so premeditatedly vile and inhuman.'
This, however, shows me, that she is aware that the reluctantly-given assurance may be fairly construed into a matrimonial expectation on my side. And if she will now, even now, look forward, I think, from my heart, that I will put on her livery, and wear it for life.
What a situation am I in, with all my cursed inventions! I am puzzled, confounded, and ashamed of myself, upon the whole. To take such pains to be a villain!—But (for the fiftieth time) let me ask thee, Who would have thought that there had been such a woman in the world?— Nevertheless, she had best take care that she carries not her obstinacy much farther. She knows not what revenge for slighted love will make me do.
The busy scenes I have just passed through have given emotions to my heart, which will not be quieted one while. My heart, I see, (on re-perusing what I have written,) has communicated its tremors to my fingers; and in some places the characters are so indistinct and unformed, that thou'lt hardly be able to make them out. But if one half of them is only intelligible, that will be enough to expose me to thy contempt, for the wretched hand I have made of my plots and contrivances. —But surely, Jack, I have gained some ground by this promise.
And now, one word to the assurances thou sendest me, that thou hast not betrayed my secrets in relation to this charming creature. Thou mightest have spared them, Belford. My suspicions held no longer than while I wrote about them.* For well I knew, when I allowed myself time to think, that thou hadst no principles, no virtue, to be misled by. A great deal of strong envy, and a little of weak pity, I knew to be thy motives. Thou couldst not provoke my anger, and my compassion thou ever hadst; and art now more especially entitled to it; because thou art a pityful fellow.
All thy new expostulations in my beloved's behalf I will answer when I see thee.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. THURSDAY NIGHT.
Confoundedly out of humour with this perverse woman!—Nor wilt thou blame me, if thou art my friend. She regards the concession she made, as a concession extorted from her: and we are but just where we were before she made it.
With great difficulty I prevailed upon her to favour me with her company for one half hour this evening. The necessity I was under to go down to M. Hall was the subject I wanted to talk upon.
I told her, that as she had been so good as to promise that she would endeavour to make herself easy till she saw the Thursday in next week over, I hoped that she would not scruple to oblige me with her word, that I should find her here at my return from M. Hall.
Indeed she would make no such promise. Nothing of this house was mentioned to me, said she: you know it was not. And do you think that I would have given my consent to my imprisonment in it?
I was plaguily nettled, and disappointed too. If I go not down to Mr. Hall, Madam, you'll have no scruple to stay here, I suppose, till Thursday is over?
If I cannot help myself I must—but I insist upon being permitted to go out of this house, whether you leave it or not.
Well, Madam, then I will comply with your commands. And I will go out this very evening in quest of lodgings that you shall have no objections to.
I will have no lodgings of your providing, Sir—I will go to Mrs. Moore's, at Hampstead.
Mrs. Moore's, Madam!—I have no objection to Mrs. Moore's—but will you give me your promise, to admit me there to your presence?
As I do here—when I cannot help it.
Very well, Madam—Will you be so good as to let me know what you intend by your promise to make yourself easy.
To endeavour, Sir, to make myself easy—were the words——
Till you saw what next Thursday would produce?
Ask me no questions that may ensnare me. I am too sincere for the company I am in.
Let me ask you, Madam, What meant you, when you said, 'that, were it not a sin, you would die before you gave me that assurance?'
She was indignantly silent.
You thought, Madam, you had given me room to hope your pardon by it?
When I think I ought to answer you with patience I will speak.
Do you think yourself in my power, Madam?
If I were not—And there she stopt——
Dearest creature, speak out—I beseech you, dearest creature, speak out ——
She was silent; her charming face all in a glow.
Have you, Madam, any reliance upon my honour?
You hate me, Madam! You despise me more than you do the most odious of God's creatures!
You ought to despise me, if I did not.
You say, Madam, you are in a bad house. You have no reliance upon my honour—you believe you cannot avoid me——
She arose. I beseech you, let me withdraw.
I snatched her hand, rising, and pressed it first to my lips, and then to my heart, in wild disorder. She might have felt the bounding mischief ready to burst its bars—You shall go—to your own apartment, if you please—But, by the great God of Heaven, I will accompany you thither!
She trembled—Pray, pray, Mr. Lovelace, don't terrify me so!
Be seated, Madam! I beseech you, be seated!——
I will sit down——
Do then—All my soul is in my eyes, and my heart's blood throbbing at my fingers' ends.
I will—I will—You hurt me—Pray, Mr. Lovelace, don't—don't frighten me so—And down she sat, trembling; my hand still grasping her's.
I hung over her throbbing bosom, and putting my other arm round her waist —And you say, you hate me, Madam—and you say, you despise me—and you say, you promise me nothing——
Yes, yes, I did promise you—let me not be held down thus—you see I sat down when you bid me—Why [struggling] need you hold me down thus?—I did promise to endeavour to be easy till Thursday was over! But you won't let me!—How can I be easy?—Pray, let me not be thus terrified.
And what, Madam, meant you by your promise? Did you mean any thing in my favour?—You designed that I should, at that time, think you did. Did you mean any thing in my favour, Madam?—Did you intend that I should think you did?
Let go my hand, Sir—Take away your arm from about me, [struggling, yet trembling,]—Why do you gaze upon me so?
Answer me, Madam—Did you mean any thing in my favour by your promise?
Let me be not thus constrained to answer.
Then pausing, and gaining more spirit, Let me go, said she: I am but a woman—but a weak woman.
But my life is in my own power, though my person is not—I will not be thus constrained.
You shall not, Madam, quitting her hand, bowing; but my heart is at my mouth, and hoping farther provocation.
She arose, and was hurrying away.
I pursue you not, Madam—I will try your generosity. Stop—return—this moment stop, return, if, Madam, you would not make me desperate.
She stopt at the door; burst into tears—O Lovelace!—How, how, have I deserved——
Be pleased, dearest angel, to return.
She came back—but with declared reluctance; and imputing her compliance to terror.
Terror, Jack, as I have heretofore found out, though I have so little benefited by the discovery, must be my resort, if she make it necessary— nothing else will do with the inflexible charmer.
She seated herself over-against me; extremely discomposed—but indignation had a visible predominance in her features.
I was going towards her, with a countenance intendedly changed to love and softness: Sweetest, dearest angel, were my words, in the tenderest accent:—But, rising up, she insisted upon my being seated at a distance from her.
I obeyed, and begged her hand over the table, to my extended hand; to see, if in any thing she would oblige me. But nothing gentle, soft, or affectionate, would do. She refused me her hand!—Was she wise, Jack, to confirm to me, that nothing but terror would do?
Let me only know, Madam, if your promise to endeavour to wait with patience the event of next Thursday meant me favour?
Do you expect any voluntary favour from one to whom you give not a free choice?
Do you intend, Madam, to honour me with your hand, in your uncle's presence, or do you not?
My heart and my hand shall never be separated. Why, think you, did I stand in opposition to the will of my best, my natural friends.
I know what you mean, Madam—Am I then as hateful to you as the vile Solmes?
Ask me not such a question, Mr. Lovelace.
I must be answered. Am I as hateful to you as the vile Solmes?
Why do you call Mr. Solmes vile?
Don't you think him so, Madam?
Why should I? Did Mr. Solmes ever do vilely by me?
Dearest creature! don't distract me by hateful comparisons! and perhaps by a more hateful preference.
Don't you, Sir, put questions to me that you know I will answer truly, though my answer were ever so much to enrage you.
My heart, Madam, my soul is all your's at present. But you must give me hope, that your promise, in your own construction, binds you, no new cause to the contrary, to be mine on Thursday. How else can I leave you?
Let me go to Hampstead; and trust to my favour.
May I trust to it?—Say only may I trust to it?
How will you trust to it, if you extort an answer to this question?
Say only, dearest creature, say only, may I trust to your favour, if you go to Hampstead?
How dare you, Sir, if I must speak out, expect a promise of favour from me?—What a mean creature must you think me, after the ungrateful baseness to me, were I to give you such a promise?
Then standing up, Thou hast made me, O vilest of men! [her hands clasped, and a face crimsoned with indignation,] an inmate of the vilest of houses —nevertheless, while I am in it, I shall have a heart incapable of any thing but abhorrence of that and of thee!
And round her looked the angel, and upon me, with fear in her sweet aspect of the consequence of her free declaration—But what a devil must I have been, I who love bravery in a man, had I not been more struck with admiration of her fortitude at the instant, than stimulated by revenge?
Noblest of creatures!—And do you think I can leave you, and my interest in such an excellence, precarious? No promise!—no hope!—If you make me not desperate, may lightning blast me, if I do you not all the justice 'tis in my power to do you!
If you have any intention to oblige me, leave me at my own liberty, and let me not be detained in this abominable house. To be constrained as I have been constrained! to be stopt by your vile agents! to be brought up by force, and be bruised in my own defence against such illegal violence! —I dare to die, Lovelace—and she who fears not death, is not to be intimidated into a meanness unworthy of her heart and principles!
Wonderful creature! But why, Madam, did you lead me to hope for something favourable for next Thursday?—Once more, make me not desperate —With all your magnanimity, glorious creature! [I was more than half frantic, Belford,] you may, you may—but do not, do not make me brutally threaten you—do not, do not make me desperate!
My aspect, I believe, threatened still more than my words. I was rising —She rose—Mr. Lovelace, be pacified—you are even more dreadful than the Lovelace I have long dreaded—let me retire—I ask your leave to retire—you really frighten me—yet I give you no hope—from my heart I ab——
Say not, Madam, you abhor me. You must, for your own sake, conceal your hatred—at least not avow it. I seized her hand.
Let me retire—let me, retire, said she, in a manner out of breath.
I will only say, Madam, that I refer myself to your generosity. My heart is not to be trusted at this instant. As a mark of my submission to your will, you shall, if you please, withdraw—but I will not go to M. Hall— live or die my Lord M. I will not go to M. Hall—but will attend the effect of your promise. Remember, Madam, you have promised to endeavour to make yourself easy till you see the event of next Thursday—next Thursday, remember, your uncle comes up, to see us married—that's the event.—You think ill of your Lovelace—do not, Madam, suffer your own morals to be degraded by the infection, as you called it, of his example.
Away flew the charmer with this half permission—and no doubt thought that she had an escape—nor without reason.
I knew not for half an hour what to do with myself. Vexed at the heart, nevertheless, (now she was from me, and when I reflected upon her hatred of me, and her defiances,) that I suffered myself to be so overawed, checked, restrained——
And now I have written thus far, (have of course recollected the whole of our conversation,) I am more and more incensed against myself.
But I will go down to these women—and perhaps suffer myself to be laughed at by them.
Devil fetch them, they pretend to know their own sex. Sally was a woman well educated—Polly also—both have read—both have sense—of parentage not mean—once modest both—still, they say, had been modest, but for me —not entirely indelicate now; though too little nice for my personal intimacy, loth as they both are to have me think so—the old one, too, a woman of family, though thus (from bad inclination as well as at first from low circumstances) miserably sunk:—and hence they all pretend to remember what once they were; and vouch for the inclinations and hypocrisy of the whole sex, and wish for nothing so ardently, as that I will leave the perverse lady to their management while I am gone to Berkshire; undertaking absolutely for her humility and passiveness on my return; and continually boasting of the many perverse creatures whom they have obliged to draw in their traces.
I am just come from the sorceresses.
I was forced to take the mother down; for she began with her Hoh, Sir! with me; and to catechize and upbraid me, with as much insolence as if I owed her money.
I made her fly the pit at last. Strange wishes wished we against each other at her quitting it——What were they?—I'll tell thee——She wished me married, and to be jealous of my wife; and my heir-apparent the child of another man. I was even with her with a vengeance. And yet thou wilt think that could not well be.—As how?—As how, Jack!—Why, I wished for her conscience come to life! And I know, by the gripes mine gives me every half-hour, that she would then have a cursed time of it.
Sally and Polly gave themselves high airs too. Their first favours were thrown at me, [women to boast of those favours which they were as willing to impart, first forms all the difficulty with them! as I to receive!] I was upbraided with ingratitude, dastardice and all my difficulties with my angel charged upon myself, for want of following my blows; and for leaving the proud lady mistress of her own will, and nothing to reproach herself with. And all agreed, that the arts used against her on a certain occasion, had too high an operation for them or me to judge what her will would have been in the arduous trial. And then they blamed one another; as I cursed them all.
They concluded, that I should certainly marry, and be a lost man. And Sally, on this occasion, with an affected and malicious laugh, snapt her fingers at me, and pointing two of each hand forkedly at me, bid me remember the lines I once showed her of my favourite Jack Dryden, as she always familiarly calls that celebrated poet:
We women to new joys unseen may move: There are no prints left in the paths of love. All goods besides by public marks are known: But those men most desire to keep, have none.
This infernal implement had the confidence further to hint, that when a wife, some other man would not find half the difficulty with my angel that I had found. Confidence indeed! But yet, I must say, if a man gives himself up to the company of these devils, they never let him rest till he either suspects or hate his wife.
But a word or two of other matters, if possible.
Methinks I long to know how causes go at M. Hall. I have another private intimation, that the old peer is in the greatest danger.
I must go down. Yet what to do with this lady the mean while! These cursed women are full of cruelty and enterprise. She will never be easy with them in my absence. They will have provocation and pretence therefore. But woe be to them, if——
Yet what will vengeance do, after an insult committed? The two nymphs will have jealous rage to goad them on. And what will withhold a jealous and already-ruined woman?
To let her go elsewhere; that cannot be done. I am still too resolved to be honest, if she'll give me hope: if yet she'll let me be honest. But I'll see how she'll be after the contention she will certainly have between her resentment and the terror she has reason for from our last conversation. So let this subject rest till the morning. And to the old peer once more.
I shall have a good deal of trouble, I reckon, though no sordid man, to be decent on the expected occasion. Then how to act (I who am no hypocrite) in the days of condolement! What farces have I to go through; and to be the principal actor in them! I'll try to think of my own latter end; a gray beard, and a graceless heir; in order to make me serious.
Thou, Belford, knowest a good deal of this sort of grimace; and canst help a gay heart to a little of the dismal. But then every feature of thy face is cut out for it. My heart may be touched, perhaps, sooner than thine; for, believe me or not, I have a very tender one. But then, no man looking into my face, be the occasion for grief ever so great, will believe that heart to be deeply distressed.
All is placid, easy, serene, in my countenance. Sorrow cannot sit half an hour together upon it. Nay, I believe, that Lord M.'s recovery, should it happen, would not affect me above a quarter of an hour. Only the new scenery, (and the pleasure of aping an Heraclitus to the family, while I am a Democritus among my private friends,) or I want nothing that the old peer can leave me. Wherefore then should grief sadden and distort such blythe, such jocund, features as mine?
But as for thine, were there murder committed in the street, and thou wert but passing by, the murderer even in sight, the pursuers would quit him, and lay hold of thee: and thy very looks would hang, as well as apprehend thee.
But one word to business, Jack. Whom dealest thou with for thy blacks?— Wert thou well used?—I shall want a plaguy parcel of them. For I intend to make every soul of the family mourn—outside, if not in.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. JUNE 23, FRIDAY MORNING.
I went out early this morning, on a design that I know not yet whether I shall or shall not pursue; and on my return found Simon Parsons, my Lord's Berkshire bailiff, (just before arrived,) waiting for me with a message in form, sent by all the family, to press me to go down, and that at my Lord's particular desire, who wants to see me before he dies.
Simon has brought my Lord's chariot-and-six [perhaps my own by this time,] to carry me down. I have ordered it to be in readiness by four to-morrow morning. The cattle shall smoke for the delay; and by the rest they'll have in the interim, will be better able to bear it.
I am still resolved upon matrimony, if my fair perverse will accept of me. But, if she will not——why then I must give an uninterrupted hearing, not to my conscience, but to these women below.
Dorcas had acquainted her lady with Simon's arrival and errand. My beloved had desired to see him. But my coming in prevented his attendance on her, just as Dorcas was instructing him what questions he should not answer to, that might be asked of him.
I am to be admitted to her presence immediately, at my repeated request. Surely the acquisition in view will help me to make up all with her. She is just gone up to the dining-room.
Nothing will do, Jack!—I can procure no favour from her, though she has obtained from me the point which she had set her heart upon.
I will give thee a brief account of what passed between us.
I first proposed instant marriage; and this in the most fervent manner: but was denied as fervently.
Would she be pleased to assure me that she would stay here only till Tuesday morning? I would but just go down to see how my Lord was—to know whether he had any thing particular to say, or enjoin me, while yet he was sensible, as he was very earnest to see me: perhaps I might be up on Sunday.—Concede in something!—I beseech you, Madam, show me some little consideration.
Why, Mr. Lovelace, must I be determined by your motions?—Think you that I will voluntarily give a sanction to the imprisonment of my person? Of what importance to me ought to be your stay or your return.
Give a sanction to the imprisonment of your person! Do you think, Madam, that I fear the law?
I might have spared this foolish question of defiance: but my pride would not let me. I thought she threatened me, Jack.
I don't think you fear the law, Sir.—You are too brave to have any regard either to moral or divine sanctions.
'Tis well, Madam! But ask me any thing I can do to oblige you; and I will oblige you, though in nothing will you oblige me.
Then I ask you, then I request of you, to let me go to Hampstead.
I paused—And at last—By my soul you shall—this very moment I will wait upon you, and see you fixed there, if you'll promise me your hand on Thursday, in presence of your uncle.
I want not you to see me fixed. I will promise nothing.
Take care, Madam, that you don't let me see that I can have no reliance upon your future favour.
I have been used to be threatened by you, Sir—but I will accept of your company to Hampstead—I will be ready to go in a quarter of an hour—my clothes may be sent after me.
You know the condition, Madam—Next Thursday.
You dare not trust——
My infinite demerits tell me, that I ought not—nevertheless I will confide in your generosity.—To-morrow morning (no new cause arising to give reason to the contrary) as early as you please you may go to Hampstead.
This seemed to oblige her. But yet she looked with a face of doubt.
I will go down to the women, Belford. And having no better judges at hand, will hear what they say upon my critical situation with this proud beauty, who has so insolently rejected a Lovelace kneeling at her feet, though making an earnest tender of himself for a husband, in spite of all his prejudices to the state of shackles.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Just come from the women.
'Have I gone so far, and am I afraid to go farther?—Have I not already, as it is evident by her behaviour, sinned beyond forgiveness?—A woman's tears used to be to me but as water sprinkled on a glowing fire, which gives it a fiercer and brighter blaze: What defence has this lady but her tears and her eloquence? She was before taken at no weak advantage. She was insensible in her moments of trial. Had she been sensible, she must have been sensible. So they say. The methods taken with her have augmented her glory and her pride. She has now a tale to tell, that she may tell with honour to herself. No accomplice-inclination. She can look me into confusion, without being conscious of so much as a thought which she need to be ashamed of.'
This, Jack, is the substance of the women's reasonings with me.
To which let me add, that the dear creature now sees the necessity I am in to leave her. Detecting me is in her head. My contrivances are of such a nature, that I must appear to be the most odious of men if I am detected on this side matrimony. And yet I have promised, as thou seest, that she shall set out to Hampstead as soon as she pleases in the morning, and that without condition on her side.
Dost thou ask, What I meant by this promise?
No new cause arising, was the proviso on my side, thou'lt remember. But there will be a new cause.
Suppose Dorcas should drop the promissory note given her by her lady? Servants, especially those who cannot read or write, are the most careless people in the world of written papers. Suppose I take it up?— at a time, too, that I was determined that the dear creature should be her own mistress?—Will not this detection be a new cause?—A cause that will carry with it against her the appearance of ingratitude!
That she designed it a secret to me, argues a fear of detection, and indirectly a sense of guilt. I wanted a pretence. Can I have a better? —If I am in a violent passion upon the detection, is not passion an universally-allowed extenuator of violence? Is not every man and woman obliged to excuse that fault in another, which at times they find attended with such ungovernable effects in themselves?
The mother and sisterhood, suppose, brought to sit in judgment upon the vile corrupted—the least benefit that must accrue from the accidental discovery, if not a pretence for perpetration, [which, however, may be the case,] an excuse for renewing my orders for her detention till my return from M. Hall, [the fault her own,] and for keeping a stricter watch over her than before; with direction to send me any letters that may be written by her or to her.—And when I return, the devil's in it if I find not a way to make her choose lodgings for herself, (since these are so hateful to her,) that shall answer all my purposes; and yet I no more appear to direct her choice, than I did before in these.
Thou wilt curse me when thou comest to this place. I know thou wilt. But thinkest thou that, after such a series of contrivance, I will lose this inimitable woman for want of a little more? A rake's a rake, Jack! —And what rake is withheld by principle from the perpetration of any evil his heart is set upon, and in which he thinks he can succeed?— Besides, am I not in earnest as to marriage?—Will not the generality of the world acquit me, if I do marry? And what is that injury which a church-rite will not at any time repair? Is not the catastrophe of every story that ends in wedlock accounted happy, be the difficulties in the progress of it ever so great.
But here, how am I engrossed by this lady, while poor Lord M. as Simon tells me, lies groaning in the most dreadful agonies!—What must he suffer!—Heaven relieve him!—I have a too compassionate heart. And so would the dear creature have found, could I have thought that the worst of her sufferings is equal to the lightest of his. I mean as to fact; for as to that part of her's, which arises from extreme sensibility, I know nothing of that; and cannot therefore be answerable for it.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Just come from my charmer. She will not suffer me to say half the obliging, the tender things, which my honest heart is ready to overflow with. A confounded situation that, when a man finds himself in humour to be eloquent, and pathetic at the same time, yet cannot engage the mistress of his fate to lend an ear to his fine speeches.
I can account now how it comes about that lovers, when their mistresses are cruel, run into solitude, and disburthen their minds to stocks and stones: For am I not forced to make my complaints to thee?
She claimed the performance of my promise, the moment she saw me, of permitting her [haughtily she spoke the word] to go to Hampstead as soon as I was gone to Berks.
Most cheerfully I renewed it.
She desired me to give orders in her hearing.
I sent for Dorcas and Will. They came.—Do you both take notice, (but, perhaps, Sir, I may take you with me,) that your lady is to be obeyed in all her commands. She purposes to return to Hampstead as soon as I am gone—My dear, will you not have a servant to attend you?
I shall want no servant there.
Will you take Dorcas?
If I should want Dorcas, I can send for her.
Dorcas could not but say, She should be very proud—
Well, well, that may be at my return, if your lady permit.—Shall I, my dear, call up Mrs. Sinclair, and give her orders, to the same effect, in your hearing?
I desire not to see Mrs. Sinclair; nor any that belong to her.
As you please, Madam.
And then (the servants being withdrawn) I urged her again for the assurance, that she would meet me at the altar on Thursday next. But to no purpose.—May she not thank herself for all that may follow?
One favour, however, I would not be denied, to be admitted to pass the evening with her.
All sweetness and obsequiousness will I be on this occasion. My whole soul shall be poured out to move her to forgive me. If she will not, and if the promissory note should fall in my way, my revenge will doubtless take total possession of me.
All the house in my interest, and every one in it not only engaging to intimidate and assist, as occasion shall offer, but staking all their experience upon my success, if it be not my own fault, what must be the consequence?
This, Jack, however, shall be her last trial; and if she behave as nobly in and after this second attempt (all her senses about her) as she has done after the first, she will come out an angel upon full proof, in spite of man, woman, and devil: then shall there be an end of all her sufferings. I will then renounce that vanquished devil, and reform. And if any vile machination start up, presuming to mislead me, I will sooner stab it in my heart, as it rises, than give way to it.
A few hours will now decide all. But whatever be the event, I shall be too busy to write again, till I get to M. Hall.
Mean time, I am in strange agitations. I must suppress them, if possible, before I venture into her presence.—My heart bounces my bosom from the table. I will lay down my pen, and wholly resign to its impulses.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. FRIDAY NIGHT, OR RATHER SAT. MORN. ONE O'CLOCK.
I thought I should not have had either time or inclination to write another line before I got to M. Hall. But, having the first, must find the last; since I can neither sleep, nor do any thing but write, if I can do that. I am most confoundedly out of humour. The reason let it follow; if it will follow—nor preparation for it from me.
I tried by gentleness and love to soften—What?—Marble. A heart incapable either of love or gentleness. Her past injuries for ever in her head. Ready to receive a favour; the permission to go to Hampstead: but neither to deserve it, nor return any. So my scheme of the gentle kind was soon given over.
I then wanted to provoke her: like a coward boy, who waits for the first blow before he can persuade himself to fight, I half challenged her to challenge or defy me. She seemed aware of her danger; and would not directly brave my resentment: but kept such a middle course, that I neither could find a pretence to offend, nor reason to hope: yet she believed my tale, that her uncle would come to Kentish-town, and seemed not to apprehend that Tomlinson was an impostor.
She was very uneasy, upon the whole, in my company: wanted often to break from me: yet so held me to my purpose of permitting her to go to Hampstead, that I knew not how to get off it; although it was impossible, in my precarious situation with her, to think of performing it.
In this situation; the women ready to assist; and, if I proceeded not, as ready to ridicule me; what had I left me, but to pursue the concerted scheme, and to seek a pretence to quarrel with her, in order to revoke my promised permission, and to convince her that I would not be upbraided as the most brutal of ravishers for nothing?
I had agreed with the women, that if I could not find a pretence in her presence to begin my operations, the note should lie in my way, and I was to pick it up, soon after her retiring from me. But I began to doubt at near ten o'clock, (so earnest was she to leave me, suspecting my over-warm behaviour to her, and eager grasping of her hand two or three times, with eye-strings, as I felt, on the strain, while her eyes showed uneasiness and apprehension,) that if she actually retired for the night, it might be a chance whether it would be easy to come at her again. Loth, therefore, to run such a risk, I stept out a little after ten, with intent to alter the preconcerted disposition a little; saying I would attend her again instantly. But as I returned I met her at the door, intending to withdraw for the night. I could not persuade her to go back: nor had I presence of mind (so full of complaisance as I was to her just before) to stay her by force: so she slid through my hands into her own apartment. I had nothing to do, therefore, but to let my former concert take place.
I should have promised (but care not for order of time, connection, or any thing else) that, between eight and nine in the evening, another servant of Lord M. on horseback came, to desire me to carry down with me Dr. S., the old peer having been once (in extremis, as they judge he is now) relieved and reprieved by him. I sent and engaged the doctor to accompany me down: and am to call upon him by four this morning: or the devil should have both my Lord and the Doctor, if I'd stir till I got all made up.
Poke thy damn'd nose forward into the event, if thou wilt—Curse me if thou shalt have it till its proper time and place. And too soon then.
She had hardly got into her chamber, but I found a little paper, as I was going into mine, which I took up; and opening it, (for it was carefully pinned in another paper,) what should it be but a promissory note, given as a bribe, with a further promise of a diamond ring, to induce Dorcas to favour her mistress's escape?
How my temper changed in a moment!—Ring, ring, ring, ring, I my bell, with a violence enough to break the string, and as if the house were on fire.
Every devil frighted into active life: the whole house in an uproar. Up runs Will.—Sir—Sir—Sir!—Eyes goggling, mouth distended—Bid the damn'd toad Dorcas come hither, (as I stood at the stair-head,) in a horrible rage, and out of breath, cried I.
In sight came the trembling devil—but standing aloof, from the report made her by Will. of the passion I was in, as well as from what she had heard.
Flash came out my sword immediately; for I had it ready on—Cursed, confounded, villanous bribery and corruption——
Up runs she to her lady's door, screaming out for safety and protection.
Good your honour, interposed Will., for God's sake!—O Lord, O Lord!— receiving a good cuff.—
Take that, varlet, for saving the ungrateful wretch from my vengeance.
Wretch! I intended to say; but if it were some other word of like ending, passion must be my excuse.
Up ran two or three of the sisterhood, What's the matter! What's the matter!
The matter! (for still my beloved opened not the door; on the contrary, drew another bolt,) This abominable Dorcas!—(call her aunt up!—let her see what a traitress she has placed about me!—and let her bring the toad to answer for herself)—has taken a bribe, a provision for life, to betray her trust; by that means to perpetuate a quarrel between a man and his wife, and frustrate for ever all hopes of reconciliation between us!
Let me perish, Belford, if I have patience to proceed with the farce!
If I must resume, I must——
Up came the aunt, puffing and blowing—As she hoped for mercy, she was not privy to it! She never knew such a plotting, perverse lady in her life!—Well might servants be at the pass they were, when such ladies as Mrs. Lovelace made no conscience of corrupting them. For her part she desired no mercy for the wretch; no niece of her's, if she were not faithful to her trust!—But what was the proof?——
She was shown the paper——
But too evident!—Cursed, cursed toad, devil, jade, passed from each mouth:—and the vileness of the corrupted, and the unworthiness of the corruptress, were inveighed against.
Up we all went, passing the lady's door into the dining-room, to proceed to trial.——
Stamp, stamp, stamp up, each on her heels; rave, rave, rave, every tongue ——
Bring up the creature before us all this instant!——
And would she have got out of the house, say you?—
These the noises and the speeches as we clattered by the door of the fair bribress.
Up was brought Dorcas (whimpering) between two, both bawling out—You must go—You shall go—'Tis fit you should answer for yourself—You are a discredit to all worthy servants—as they pulled and pushed her up stairs.—She whining, I cannot see his honour—I cannot look so good and so generous a gentleman in the face—O how shall I bear my aunt's ravings?——
Come up, and be d—n'd—Bring her forward, her imperial judge—What a plague, it is the detection, not the crime, that confounds you. You could be quiet enough for days together, as I see by the date, under the villany. Tell me, ungrateful devil, tell me who made the first advances?
Ay, disgrace to my family and blood, cried the old one—tell his honour— tell the truth!—Who made the first advances?——
Ay, cursed creature, cried Sally, who made the first advances?
I have betrayed one trust already!—O let me not betray another!—My lady is a good lady!—O let not her suffer!—
Tell all you know. Tell the whole truth, Dorcas, cried Polly Horton.— His honour loves his lady too well to make her suffer much: little as she requites his love!——
Every body sees that, cried Sally—too well, indeed, for his honour, I was going to say.
Till now, I thought she deserved my love—But to bribe a servant thus, who she supposed had orders to watch her steps, for fear of another elopement; and to impute that precaution to me as a crime!—Yet I must love her—Ladies, forgive my weakness!——
Curse upon my grimaces!—if I have patience to repeat them!—But thou shalt have it all—thou canst not despise me more than I despise myself!
But suppose, Sir, said Sally, you have my lady and the wench face to face! You see she cares not to confess.
O my carelessness! cried Dorcas—Don't let my poor lady suffer!—Indeed, if you all knew what I know, you would say her ladyship has been cruelly treated—
See, see, see, see!—repeatedly, every one at once—Only sorry for the detection, as your honour said—not for the fault.
Cursed creature, and devilish creature, from every mouth.
Your lady won't, she dare not come out to save you, cried Sally; though it is more his honour's mercy, than your desert, if he does not cut your vile throat this instant.
Say, repeated Polly, was it your lady that made the first advances, or was it you, you creature——
If the lady had so much honour, bawled the mother, excuse me, so—Excuse me, Sir, [confound the old wretch! she had like to have said son!]—If the lady has so much honour, as we have supposed, she will appear to vindicate a poor servant, misled, as she has been, by such large promises!—But I hope, Sir, you will do them both justice: I hope you will!—Good lack!—Good lack! clapping her hands together, to grant her every thing she could ask—to indulge her in her unworthy hatred to my poor innocent house!—to let her go to Hampstead, though your honour told us, you could get no condescension from her; no, not the least—O Sir, O Sir—I hope—I hope—if your lady will not come out—I hope you will find a way to hear this cause in her presence. I value not my doors on such an occasion as this. Justice I ever loved. I desire you will come to the bottom of it in clearance to me. I'll be sworn I had no privity in this black corruption.
Just then we heard the lady's door, unbar, unlock, unbolt——
Now, Mr. Lovelace!
Now, Sir! from every encouraging mouth!——
But, O Jack! Jack! Jack! I can write no more!
If you must have it all, you must!
Now, Belford, see us all sitting in judgment, resolved to punish the fair bribress—I, and the mother, the hitherto dreaded mother, the nieces Sally, Polly, the traitress Dorcas, and Mabell, a guard, as it were, over Dorcas, that she might not run away, and hide herself:—all pre-determined, and of necessity pre-determined, from the journey I was going to take, and my precarious situation with her—and hear her unbolt, unlock, unbar, the door; then, as it proved afterwards, put the key into the lock on the outside, lock the door, and put it in her pocket—Will. I knew, below, who would give me notice, if, while we were all above, she should mistake her way, and go down stairs, instead of coming into the dining-room: the street-door also doubly secured, and every shutter to the windows round the house fastened, that no noise or screaming should be heard—[such was the brutal preparation]—and then hear her step towards us, and instantly see her enter among us, confiding in her own innocence; and with a majesty in her person and manner, that is natural to her; but which then shone out in all its glory!—Every tongue silent, every eye awed, every heart quaking, mine, in a particular manner sunk, throbless, and twice below its usual region, to once at my throat:—a shameful recreant:—She silent too, looking round her, first on me; then on the mother, no longer fearing her; then on Sally, Polly, and the culprit Dorcas!—such the glorious power of innocence exerted at that awful moment!
She would have spoken, but could not, looking down my guilt into confusion. A mouse might have been heard passing over the floor: her own light feet and rustling silks could not have prevented it; for she seemed to tread air, and to be all soul. She passed backwards and forwards, now towards me, now towards the door several times, before speech could get the better of indignation; and at last, after twice or thrice hemming to recover her articulate voice—'O thou contemptible and abandoned Lovelace, thinkest thou that I see not through this poor villanous plot of thine, and of these thy wicked accomplices?
'Thou, woman, [looking at the mother] once my terror! always my dislike! but now my detestation! shouldst once more (for thine perhaps was the preparation) have provided for me intoxicating potions, to rob me of my senses——
'And then, thus, wretch, [turning to me,] mightest thou more securely have depended upon such a low contrivance as this!
'And ye, vile women, who perhaps have been the ruin, body and soul, of hundreds of innocents, (you show me how, in full assembly,) know, that I am not married—ruined as I am, by your help, I bless God, I am not married to this miscreant—and I have friends that will demand my honour at your hands!—and to whose authority I will apply; for none has this man over me. Look to it then, what farther insults you offer me, or incite him to offer me. I am a person, though thus vilely betrayed, of rank and fortune. I never will be his; and, to your utter ruin, will find friends to pursue you: and now I have this full proof of your detestable wickedness, and have heard your base incitements, will have no mercy upon you!'
They could not laugh at the poor figure I made.—Lord! how every devil, conscience-shaken, trembled!—
What a dejection must ever fall to the lot of guilt, were it given to innocence always thus to exert itself!
'And as for thee, thou vile Dorcas! Thou double deceiver!—whining out thy pretended love for me!—Begone, wretch!—Nobody will hurt thee!— Begone, I say!—thou has too well acted thy part to be blamed by any here but myself—thou art safe: thy guilt is thy security in such a house as this!—thy shameful, thy poor part, thou hast as well acted as the low farce could give thee to act!—as well as they each of them (thy superiors, though not thy betters), thou seest, can act theirs.—Steal away into darkness! No inquiry after this will be made, whose the first advances, thine or mine.'
And, as I hope to live, the wench, confoundedly frightened, slunk away; so did her sentinel Mabell; though I, endeavouring to rally, cried out for Dorcas to stay—but I believe the devil could not have stopt her, when an angel bid her begone.
Madam, said I, let me tell you; and was advancing towards her with a fierce aspect, most cursedly vexed, and ashamed too——
But she turned to me: 'Stop where thou art, O vilest and most abandoned of men!—Stop where thou art!—nor, with that determined face, offer to touch me, if thou wouldst not that I should be a corps at thy feet!'
To my astonishment, she held forth a penknife in her hand, the point to her own bosom, grasping resolutely the whole handle, so that there was no offering to take it from her.
'I offer not mischief to any body but myself. You, Sir, and ye women, are safe from every violence of mine. The LAW shall be all my resource: the LAW,' and she spoke the word with emphasis, the LAW! that to such people carries natural terror with it, and now struck a panic into them.
No wonder, since those who will damn themselves to procure ease and plenty in this world, will tremble at every thing that seems to threaten their methods of obtaining that ease and plenty.——
'The LAW only shall be my refuge!'——
The infamous mother whispered me, that it were better to make terms with this strange lady, and let her go.
Sally, notwithstanding all her impudent bravery at other times, said, If Mr. Lovelace had told them what was not true, of her being his wife——
And Polly Horton, That she must needs say, the lady, if she were not my wife, had been very much injured; that was all.
That is not now a matter to be disputed, cried I: you and I know, Madam ——
'We do, said she; and I thank God, I am not thine—once more I thank God for it—I have no doubt of the farther baseness that thou hast intended me, by this vile and low trick: but I have my SENSES, Lovelace: and from my heart I despise thee, thou very poor Lovelace!—How canst thou stand in my presence!—Thou, that'——
Madam, Madam, Madam—these are insults not to be borne—and was approaching her.
She withdrew to the door, and set her back against it, holding the pointed knife to her heaving bosom; while the women held me, beseeching me not to provoke the violent lady—for their house sake, and be curs'd to them, they besought me—and all three hung upon me—while the truly heroic lady braved me at that distance:
'Approach me, Lovelace, with resentment, if thou wilt. I dare die. It is in defence of my honour. God will be merciful to my poor soul! I expect no more mercy from thee! I have gained this distance, and two steps nearer me, and thou shalt see what I dare do!'——
Leave me, women, to myself, and to my angel!—[They retired at a distance.]—O my beloved creature, how you terrify me! Holding out my arms, and kneeling on one knee—not a step, not a step farther, except to receive my death at that injured hand which is thus held up against a life far dearer to me than my own! I am a villain! the blackest of villains!—Say you will sheath your knife in the injurer's, not the injured's heart, and then will I indeed approach you, but not else.
The mother twanged her d—n'd nose; and Sally and Polly pulled out their handkerchiefs, and turned from us. They never in their lives, they told me afterwards, beheld such a scene——
Innocence so triumphant: villany so debased, they must mean!
Unawares to myself, I had moved onward to my angel—'And dost thou, dost thou, still disclaiming, still advancing—dost thou, dost thou, still insidiously move towards me?'—[And her hand was extended] 'I dare—I dare—not rashly neither—my heart from principle abhors the act, which thou makest necessary!—God, in thy mercy! [lifting up her eyes and hands] God, in thy mercy!'
I threw myself to the farther end of the room. An ejaculation, a silent ejaculation, employing her thoughts that moment; Polly says the whites of her lovely eyes were only visible: and, in the instant that she extended her hand, assuredly to strike the fatal blow, [how the very recital terrifies me!] she cast her eye towards me, and saw me at the utmost distance the room would allow, and heard my broken voice—my voice was utterly broken; nor knew I what I said, or whether to the purpose or not —and her charming cheeks, that were all in a glow before, turned pale, as if terrified at her own purpose; and lifting up her eyes—'Thank God! —thank God! said the angel—delivered for the present; for the present delivered—from myself—keep, Sir, that distance;' [looking down towards me, who was prostrate on the floor, my heart pierced, as with an hundred daggers;] 'that distance has saved a life; to what reserved, the Almighty only knows!'—
To be happy, Madam; and to make happy!—And, O let me hope for your favour for to-morrow—I will put off my journey till then—and may God—
Swear not, Sir!—with an awful and piercing aspect—you have too often sworn!—God's eye is upon us!—His more immediate eye; and looked wildly. —But the women looked up to the ceiling, as if afraid of God's eye, and trembled. And well they might, and I too, who so very lately had each of us the devil in our hearts.
If not to-morrow, Madam, say but next Thursday, your uncle's birth-day; say but next Thursday!
'This I say, of this you may assure yourself, I never, never will be your's.—And let me hope, that I may be entitled to the performance of your promise, to be permitted to leave this innocent house, as one called it, (but long have my ears been accustomed to such inversions of words), as soon as the day breaks.'
Did my perdition depend upon it, that you cannot, Madam, but upon terms. And I hope you will not terrify me—still dreading the accursed knife.
'Nothing less than an attempt upon my honour shall make me desperate. I have no view but to defend my honour: with such a view only I entered into treaty with your infamous agent below. The resolution you have seen, I trust, God will give me again, upon the same occasion. But for a less, I wish not for it.—Only take notice, women, that I am no wife of this man: basely as he has used me, I am not his wife. He has no authority over me. If he go away by-and-by, and you act by his authority to detain me, look to it.'
Then, taking one of the lights, she turned from us; and away she went, unmolested.—Not a soul was able to molest her.
Mabell saw her, tremblingly, and in a hurry, take the key of her chamber-door out of her pocket, and unlock it; and, as soon as she entered, heard her double-lock, bar, and bolt it.
By her taking out her key, when she came out of her chamber to us, she no doubt suspected my design: which was, to have carried her in my arms thither, if she made such force necessary, after I had intimidated her; and to have been her companion for that night.
She was to have had several bedchamber-women to assist to undress her upon occasion: but from the moment she entered the dining-room with so much intrepidity, it was absolutely impossible to think of prosecuting my villanous designs against her.
This, this, Belford, was the hand I made of a contrivance from which I expected so much!—And now I am ten times worse off than before.
Thou never sawest people in thy life look so like fools upon one another, as the mother, her partners, and I, did, for a few minutes. And at last, the two devilish nymphs broke out into insulting ridicule upon me; while the old wretch was concerned for her house, the reputation of her house. I cursed them all together; and, retiring to my chamber, locked myself in.
And now it is time to set out: all I have gained, detection, disgrace, fresh guilt by repeated perjuries, and to be despised by her I doat upon; and, what is still worse to a proud heart, by myself.
Success, success in projects, is every thing. What an admirable contriver did I think myself till now! Even for this scheme among the rest! But how pitifully foolish does it now appear to me!—Scratch out, erase, never to be read, every part of my preceding letters, where I have boastingly mentioned it. And never presume to rally me upon the cursed subject: for I cannot bear it.
But for the lady, by my soul, I love her. I admire her more than ever! I must have her. I will have her still—with honour or without, as I have often vowed. My cursed fright at her accidental bloody nose, so lately, put her upon improving upon me thus. Had she threatened ME, I should have soon been master of one arm, and in both! But for so sincere a virtue to threaten herself, and not to offer to intimidate any other, and with so much presence of mind, as to distinguish, in the very passionate intention, the necessity of the act, defence of her honour, and so fairly to disavow lesser occasions: showed such a deliberation, such a choice, such a principle; and then keeping me so watchfully at a distance that I could not seize her hand, so soon as she could have given the fatal blow; how impossible not to be subdued by so true and so discreet a magnanimity!
But she is not gone. She shall not go. I will press her with letters for the Thursday. She shall yet be mine, legally mine. For, as to cohabitation, there is no such thing to be thought of.
The Captain shall give her away, as proxy for her uncle. My Lord will die. My fortune will help my will, and set me above every thing and every body.
But here is the curse—she despises me, Jack!—What man, as I have heretofore said, can bear to be despised—especially by his wife!—O Lord!—O Lord! What a hand, what a cursed hand, have I made of this plot!—And here ends
The history of the lady and the penknife!—The devil take the penknife! —It goes against me to say,
God bless the lady!
NEAR 5, SAT. MORN.
MR. LOVELACE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE [SUPERSCRIBED TO MRS. LOVELACE.] M. HALL, SAT. NIGHT, JUNE 24.
MY DEAREST LIFE,
If you do not impute to live, and to terror raised by love, the poor figure I made before you last night, you will not do me justice. I thought I would try to the very last moment, if, by complying with you in every thing, I could prevail upon you to promise to be mine on Thursday next, since you refused me an earlier day. Could I have been so happy, you had not been hindered going to Hampstead, or wherever else you pleased. But when I could not prevail upon you to give me this assurance, what room had I, (my demerit so great,) to suppose, that your going thither would not be to lose you for ever?
I will own to you, Madam, that yesterday afternoon I picked up the paper dropt by Dorcas; who has confessed that she would have assisted you in getting away, if she had had opportunity so to do; and undoubtedly dropped it by accident. And could I have prevailed upon you as to Thursday next, I would have made no use of it; secure as I should have been in your word given, to be mine. But when I found you inflexible, I was resolved to try, if, by resenting Dorcas's treachery, I could not make your pardon of me the condition of mine to her: and if not, to make a handle of it to revoke my consent to your going away from Mrs. Sinclair's; since the consequence of that must have been so fatal to me.
So far, indeed, was my proceeding low and artful: and when I was challenged with it, as such, in so high and noble a manner, I could not avoid taking shame to myself upon it.
But you must permit me, Madam, to hope, that you will not punish me too heavily for so poor a contrivance, since no dishonour was meant you: and since, in the moment of its execution, you had as great an instance of my incapacity to defend a wrong, a low measure, and, at the same time, in your power over me, as mortal man could give—in a word, since you must have seen, that I was absolutely under the controul both of conscience and of love.
I will not offer to defend myself, for wishing you to remain where you are, till either you give me your word to meet me at the altar on Thursday; or till I have the honour of attending you, preparative to the solemnity which will make that day the happiest of my life.
I am but too sensible, that this kind of treatment may appear to you with the face of an arbitrary and illegal imposition: but as the consequences, not only to ourselves, but to both our families, may be fatal, if you cannot be moved in my favour; let me beseech you to forgive this act of compulsion, on the score of the necessity you your dear self have laid me under to be guilty of it; and to permit the solemnity of next Thursday to include an act of oblivion for all past offences.
The orders I have given to the people of the house are: 'That you shall be obeyed in every particular that is consistent with my expectations of finding you there on my return on Wednesday next: that Mrs. Sinclair and her nieces, having incurred your just displeasure, shall not, without your orders, come into your presence: that neither shall Dorcas, till she has fully cleared her conduct to your satisfaction, be permitted to attend you: but Mabell, in her place; of whom you seemed some time ago to express some liking. Will. I have left behind me to attend your commands. If he be either negligent or impertinent, your dismission shall be a dismission of him from my service for ever. But, as to letters which may be sent you, or any which you may have to send, I must humbly entreat, that none such pass from or to you, for the few days that I shall be absent.' But I do assure you, madam, that the seals of both sorts shall be sacred: and the letters, if such be sent, shall be given into your own hands the moment the ceremony is performed, or before, if you require it.
Mean time I will inquire, and send you word, how Miss Howe does; and to what, if I can be informed, her long silence is owing.
Dr. Perkins I found here, attending my Lord, when I arrived with Dr. S. He acquaints me that your father, mother, uncles, and the still less worthy persons of your family, are well; and intend to be all at your uncle Harlowe's next week; I presume, with intent to keep his anniversary. This can make no alteration, but a happy one, as to persons, on Thursday; because Mr. Tomlinson assured me, that if any thing fell out to hinder your uncle's coming up in person, (which, however, he did not then expect,) he would be satisfied if his friend the Captain were proxy for him. I shall send a man and horse to-morrow to the Captain, to be at greater certainty.
I send this by a special messenger, who will wait your pleasure in relation to the impatiently-wished-for Thursday: which I humbly hope will be signified by a line.
My Lord, though hardly sensible, and unmindful of every thing but of your felicity, desires his most affectionate compliments to you. He has in readiness to present to you a very valuable set of jewels, which he hopes will be acceptable, whether he lives to see you adorn them or not.
Lady Sarah and Lady Betty have also their tokens of respect ready to court your acceptance: but may Heaven incline you to give the opportunity of receiving their personal compliments, and those of my cousins Montague, before the next week be out!
His Lordship is exceeding ill. Dr. S. has no hopes of him. The only consolation I can have for the death of a relation who loves me so well, if he do die, must arise from the additional power it will put into my hands of showing how much I am,