This consolation you may take to yourself, that all this honourable family have a due (that is, the highest) sense of your merit, and greatly admire you. The horrid creature has not spared himself in doing justice to your virtue; and the young ladies gave us such an account of his confessions, and self-condemnation, that my mother was quite charmed with you; and we all four shed tears of joy, that there is one of our sex [I, that that one is my dearest friend,] who has done so much honour to it, as to deserve the exalted praises given you by a wretch so self-conceited; though pity for the excellent creature mixed with our joy.
He promises by them to make the best of husbands; and my Lord, and Lady Sarah, and Lady Betty, are all three to be guarantees that he will be so. Noble settlements, noble presents, they talked of: they say, they left Lord M. and his two sisters talking of nothing else but of those presents and settlements, how most to do you honour, the greater in proportion for the indignities you have suffered; and of changing of names by act of parliament, preparative to the interest they will all join to make to get the titles to go where the bulk of the estate must go, at my Lord's death, which they apprehend to be nearer than they wish. Nor doubt they of a thorough reformation in his morals, from your example and influence over him.
I made a great many objections for you—all, I believe, that you could have made yourself, had you been present. But I have no doubt to advise you, my dear, (and so does my mother,) instantly to put yourself into Lady Betty's protection, with a resolution to take the wretch for your husband. All his future grandeur [he wants not pride] depends upon his sincerity to you; and the young ladies vouch for the depth of his concern for the wrongs he has done you.
All his apprehension is, in your readiness to communicate to every one, as he fears, the evils you have suffered; which he thinks will expose you both. But had you not revealed them to Lady Betty, you had not had so warm a friend; since it is owing to two letters you wrote to her, that all this good, as I hope it will prove, was brought about. But I advise you to be more sparing in exposing what is past, whether you have thoughts of accepting him or not: for what, my dear, can that avail now, but to give a handle to vile wretches to triumph over your friends; since every one will not know how much to your honour your very sufferings have been?
Your melancholy letter brought by Rogers,* with his account of your indifferent health, confirmed to him by the woman of the house, as well as by your looks and by your faintness while you talked with him, would have given me inexpressible affliction, had I not bee cheered by this agreeable visit from the young ladies. I hope you will be equally so on my imparting the subject of it to you.
* See Letter II. of this volume.
Indeed, my dear, you must not hesitate. You must oblige them. The alliance is splendid and honourable. Very few will know any thing of his brutal baseness to you. All must end, in a little while, in a general reconciliation; and you will be able to resume your course of doing the good to every deserving object, which procured you blessings wherever you set your foot.
I am concerned to find, that your father's inhuman curse affects you so much as it does. Yet you are a noble creature to put it, as you put it— I hope you are indeed more solicitous to get it revoked for their sakes than for your own. It is for them to be penitent, who hurried you into evils you could not well avoid. You are apt to judge by the unhappy event, rather than upon the true merits of your case. Upon my honour, I think you faultless almost in every step you have taken. What has not that vilely-insolent and ambitious, yet stupid, brother of your's to answer for?—that spiteful thing your sister too!
But come, since what is past cannot be helped, let us look forward. You have now happy prospects opening to you: a family, already noble, prepared to receive you with open arms and joyful heart; and who, by their love to you, will teach another family (who know not what an excellence they have confederated to persecute) how to value you. Your prudence, your piety, will crown all. You will reclaim a wretch that, for an hundred sakes more than for his own, one would wish to be reclaimed.
Like a traveller, who has been put out of his way, by the overflowing of some rapid stream, you have only had the fore-right path you were in overwhelmed. A few miles about, a day or two only lost, as I may say, and you are in a way to recover it; and, by quickening your speed, will get up the lost time. The hurry upon your spirits, mean time, will be all your inconvenience; for it was not your fault you were stopped in your progress.
Think of this, my dear; and improve upon the allegory, as you know how. If you can, without impeding your progress, be the means of assuaging the inundation, of bounding the waters within their natural channel, and thereby of recovering the overwhelmed path for the sake of future passengers who travel the same way, what a merit will your's be!
I shall impatiently expect your next letter. The young ladies proposed that you should put yourself, if in town, or near it, into the Reading stage-coach, which inns somewhere in Fleet-street: and, if you give notice of the day, you will be met on the road, and that pretty early in your journey, by some of both sexes; one of whom you won't be sorry to see.
Mr. Hickman shall attend you at Slough; and Lady Betty herself, and one of the Miss Montagues, with proper equipages, will be at Reading to receive you; and carry you directly to the seat of the former: for I have expressly stipulated, that the wretch himself shall not come into your presence till your nuptials are to be solemnized, unless you give leave.
Adieu, my dearest friend. Be happy: and hundreds will then be happy of consequence. Inexpressibly so, I am sure, will then be
Your ever affectionate ANNA HOWE.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE SUNDAY NIGHT, JULY 16.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
Why should you permit a mind, so much devoted to your service, to labour under such an impatience as you must know it would labour under, for want of an answer to a letter of such consequence to you, and therefore to me, as was mine of Thursday night?—Rogers told me, on Thursday, you were so ill; your letter sent by him was so melancholy!—Yet you must be ill indeed, if you could not write something to such a letter; were it but a line, to say you would write as soon as you could. Sure you have received it. The master of your nearest post-office will pawn his reputation that it went safe: I gave him particular charge of it.
God send me good news of your health, of your ability to write; and then I will chide you—indeed I will—as I never yet did chide you.
I suppose your excuse will be, that the subject required consideration— Lord! my dear, so it might; but you have so right a mind, and the matter in question is so obvious, that you could not want half an hour to determine.—Then you intended, probably, to wait Collins's call for your letter as on to-morrow!—Suppose something were to happen, as it did on Friday, that he should not be able to go to town to-morrow?—How, child, could you serve me so!—I know not how to leave off scolding you!
Dear, honest Collins, make haste: he will: he will. He sets out, and travels all night: for I have told him, that the dearest friend I have in the world has it in her own choice to be happy, and to make me so; and that the letter he will bring from her will assure it to me.
I have ordered him to go directly (without stopping at the Saracen's-head-inn) to you at your lodgings. Matters are now in so good a way, that he safely may.
Your expected letter is ready written I hope: if it can be not, he will call for it at your hour.
You can't be so happy as you deserve to be: but I doubt not that you will be as happy as you can; that is, that you will choose to put yourself instantly into Lady Betty's protection. If you would not have the wretch for your own sake; have him you must, for mine, for your family's, for your honour's, sake!—Dear, honest Collins, make haste! make haste! and relieve the impatient heart of my beloved's
Ever faithful, ever affectionate, ANNA HOWE.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CHARLOTTE MONTAGUE TUESDAY MORN. JULY 18.
I take the liberty to write to you, by this special messenger. In the phrensy of my soul I write to you, to demand of you, and of any of your family who can tell news of my beloved friend, who, I doubt, has been spirited away by the base arts of one of the blackest—O help me to a name black enough to call him by! Her piety is proof against self-attempts. It must, it must be he, the only wretch, who could injure such an innocent; and now—who knows what he has done with her!
If I have patience, I will give you the occasion of this distracted vehemence.
I wrote to her the very moment you and your sister left me. But being unable to procure a special messenger, as I intended, was forced to send by the post. I urged her, [you know I promised that I would: I urged her,] with earnestness, to comply with the desires of all your family. Having no answer, I wrote again on Sunday night; and sent it by a particular hand, who travelled all night; chiding her for keeping a heart so impatient as mine in such cruel suspense, upon a matter of so much importance to her, and therefore to me. And very angry I was with her in my mind.
But, judge my astonishment, my distraction, when last night, the messenger, returning post-haste, brought me word, that she had not been heard of since Friday morning! and that a letter lay for her at her lodgings, which came by the post; and must be mine!
She went out about six that morning; only intending, as they believe, to go to morning-prayers at Covent-Garden church, just by her lodgings, as she had done divers times before—Went on foot!—Left word she should be back in an hour!—Very poorly in health!
Lord, have mercy upon me! What shall I do!—I was a distracted creature all last night!
O Madam! you know not how I love her!—My own soul is not dearer to me, than my Clarissa Harlowe!—Nay! she is my soul—for I now have none—only a miserable one, however—for she was the joy, the stay, the prop of my life. Never woman loved woman as we love one another. It is impossible to tell you half her excellencies. It was my glory and my pride, that I was capable of so fervent a love of so pure and matchless a creature.— But now—who knows, whether the dear injured has not all her woes, her undeserved woes, completed in death; or is not reserved for a worse fate! —This I leave to your inquiry—for—your—[shall I call the man—— your?] relation I understand is still with you.
Surely, my good Ladies, you were well authorized in the proposals you made in presence of my mother!—Surely he dare not abuse your confidence, and the confidence of your noble relations! I make no apology for giving you this trouble, nor for desiring you to favour with a line, by this messenger,
Your almost distracted ANNA HOWE.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. M. HALL, SAT. NIGHT, JUNE 15.
All undone, undone, by Jupiter!—Zounds, Jack, what shall I do now! a curse upon all my plots and contrivances!—But I have it——in the very heart and soul of me I have it!
Thou toldest me, that my punishments were but beginning—Canst thou, O fatal prognosticator, cans thou tell me, where they will end?
Thy assistance I bespeak. The moment thou receivest this, I bespeak thy assistance. This messenger rides for life and death—and I hope he'll find you at your town-lodgings; if he meet not with you at Edgware; where, being Sunday, he will call first.
This cursed, cursed woman, on Friday dispatched man and horse with the joyful news (as she thought it would be to me) in an exulting letter from Sally Martin, that she had found out my angel as on Wednesday last; and on Friday morning, after she had been at prayers at Covent-Garden church —praying for my reformation perhaps—got her arrested by two sheriff's officers, as she was returning to her lodgings, who (villains!) put her into a chair they had in readiness, and carried her to one of the cursed fellow's houses.
She has arrested her for 150L. pretendedly due for board and lodging: a sum (besides the low villany of the proceeding) which the dear soul could not possibly raise: all her clothes and effects, except what she had on and with her when she went away, being at the old devil's.
And here, for an aggravation, has the dear creature lain already two days; for I must be gallanting my two aunts and my two cousins, and giving Lord M. an airing after his lying-in—pox upon the whole family of us! and returned not till within this hour: and now returned to my distraction, on receiving the cursed tidings, and the exulting letter.
Hasten, hasten, dear Jack; for the love of God, hasten to the injured charmer! my heart bleeds for her!—she deserved not this!—I dare not stir. It will be thought done by my contrivance—and if I am absent from this place, that will confirm the suspicion.
Damnation seize quick this accursed woman!—Yet she thinks she has made no small merit with me. Unhappy, thrice unhappy circumstances!—At a time too, when better prospects were opening for the sweet creature!
Hasten to her!—Clear me of this cursed job. Most sincerely, by all that's sacred, I swear you may!——Yet have I been such a villanous plotter, that the charming sufferer will hardly believe it: although the proceeding be so dirtily low.
Set her free the moment you see her: without conditioning, free!—On your knees, for me, beg her pardon: and assure her, that, wherever she goes, I will not molest her: no, nor come near her without her leave: and be sure allow not any of the d——d crew to go near her—only let her permit you to receive her commands from time to time.—You have always been her friend and advocate. What would I now give, had I permitted you to have been a successful one!
Let her have all her clothes and effects sent her instantly, as a small proof of my sincerity. And force upon the dear creature, who must be moneyless, what sums you can get her to take. Let me know how she has been treated. If roughly, woe be to the guilty!
Take thy watch in thy hand, after thou hast freed her, and d—n the whole brood, dragon and serpents, by the hour, till thou'rt tired; and tell them, I bid thee do so for their cursed officiousness.
They had nothing to do when they had found her, but to wait my orders how to proceed.
The great devil fly away with them all, one by one, through the roof of their own cursed house, and dash them to pieces against the tops of chimneys as he flies; and let the lesser devils collect the scattered scraps, and bag them up, in order to put them together again in their allotted place, in the element of fire, with cements of molten lead.
A line! a line! a kingdom for a line! with tolerable news, the first moment thou canst write!—This fellow waits to bring it.
MISS CHARLOTTE MONTAGUE, TO MISS HOWE M. HALL, TUESDAY AFTERNOON.
DEAR MISS HOWE,
Your letter has infinitely disturbed us all.
This wretched man has been half distracted ever since Saturday night.
We knew not what ailed him, till your letter was brought.
Vile wretch, as he is, he is however innocent of this new evil.
Indeed he is, he must be; as I shall more at large acquaint you.
But will not now detain your messenger.
Only to satisfy your just impatience, by telling you, that the dear young lady is safe, and we hope well.
A horrid mistake of his general orders has subjected her to the terror and disgrace of an arrest.
Poor dear Miss Harlowe!—Her sufferings have endeared her to us, almost as much as her excellencies can have endeared her to you.
But she must now be quite at liberty.
He has been a distracted man, ever since the news was brought him; and we knew not what ailed him.
But that I said before.
My Lord M. my lady Sarah Sadleir, and my Lady Betty Lawrance, will all write to you this very afternoon.
And so will the wretch himself.
And send it by a servant of their own, not to detain your's.
I know not what I write.
But you shall have all the particulars, just, and true, and fair, from
Dear Madam, Your most faithful and obedient servant, CH. MONTAGUE.
MISS MONTAGUE, TO MISS HOWE M. HALL, JULY 18.
In pursuance of my promise, I will minutely inform you of every thing we know relating to this shocking transaction.
When we returned from you on Thursday night, and made our report of the kind reception both we and our message met with, in that you had been so good as to promise to use your interest with your dear friend, it put us all into such good humour with one another, and with my cousin Lovelace, that we resolved upon a little tour of two days, the Friday and Saturday, in order to give an airing to my Lord, and Lady Sarah, both having been long confined, one by illness, the other by melancholy. My Lord, Lady Sarah, Lady Betty, and myself, were in the coach; and all our talk was of dear Miss Harlowe, and of our future happiness with her: Mr. Lovelace and my sister (who is his favourite, as he is her's) were in his phaeton: and, whenever we joined company, that was still the subject.
As to him, never man praised woman as he did her: Never man gave greater hopes, and made better resolutions. He is none of those that are governed by interest. He is too proud for that. But most sincerely delighted was he in talking of her; and of his hopes of her returning favour. He said, however, more than once, that he feared she would not forgive him; for, from his heart, he must say, he deserved not her forgiveness: and often and often, that there was not such a woman in the world.
This I mention to show you, Madam, that he could not at this time be privy to such a barbarous and disgraceful treatment of her.
We returned not till Saturday night, all in as good humour with one another as we went out. We never had such pleasure in his company before. If he would be good, and as he ought to be, no man would be better beloved by relations than he. But never was there a greater alteration in man when he came home, and received a letter from a messenger, who, it seems, had been flattering himself in hopes of a reward, and had been waiting for his return from the night before. In such a fury!—The man fared but badly. He instantly shut himself up to write, and ordered man and horse to be ready to set out before day-light the next morning, to carry the letter to a friend in London.
He would not see us all that night; neither breakfast nor dine with us next day. He ought, he said, never to see the light; and bid my sister, whom he called an innocent, (and who was very desirous to know the occasion of all this,) shun him, saying, he was a wretch, and made so by his own inventions, and the consequences of them.
None of us could get out of him what so disturbed him. We should too soon hear, he said, to the utter dissipation of all his hopes, and of all ours.
We could easily suppose that all was not right with regard to the worthy young lady and him.
He went out each day; and said he wanted to run away from himself.
Late on Monday night he received a letter from Mr. Belford, his most favoured friend, by his own messenger; who came back in a foam, man and horse. Whatever were the contents, he was not easier, but like a madman rather: but still would not let us know the occasion. But to my sister he said, nobody, my dear Patsey, who can think but of half the plagues that pursue an intriguing spirit, would ever quit the fore-right path.
He was out when your messenger came: but soon came in; and bad enough was his reception from us all. And he said, that his own torments were greater than ours, than Miss Harlowe's, or your's, Madam, all put together. He would see your letter. He always carries every thing before him: and said, when he had read it, that he thanked God, he was not such a villain, as you, with too great an appearance of reason, thought him.
Thus, then, he owned the matter to be.
He had left general instructions to the people of the lodgings the dear lady went from, to find out where she was gone to, if possible, that he might have an opportunity to importune her to be his, before their difference was public. The wicked people (officious at least, if not wicked) discovered where she was on Wednesday; and, for fear she should remove before they could have his orders, they put her under a gentle restraint, as they call it; and dispatched away a messenger to acquaint him with it; and to take his orders.
This messenger arrived Friday afternoon; and staid here till we returned on Saturday night:—and, when he read the letter he brought—I have told you, Madam, what a fury he was in.
The letter he retired to write, and which he dispatched away so early on Sunday morning, was to conjure his friend, Mr. Belford, on receipt of it, to fly to the lady, and set her free; and to order all her things to be sent to her; and to clear him of so black and villanous a fact, as he justly called it.
And by this time he doubts not that all is happily over; and the beloved of his soul (as he calls her at ever word) in an easier and happier way than she was before the horrid fact. And now he owns that the reason why Mr. Belford's letter set him into stronger ravings was, because of his keeping him wilfully (and on purpose to torment him) in suspense; and reflecting very heavily upon him, (for Mr. Belford, he says, was ever the lady's friend and advocate); and only mentioning, that he had waited upon her; referring to his next for further particulars; which Mr. Belford could have told him at the time.
He declares, and we can vouch for him, that he has been, ever since last Saturday night, the most miserable of men.
He forbore going up himself, that it might not be imagined he was guilty of so black a contrivance; and that he went up to complete any base views in consequence of it.
Believe us all, dear Miss Howe, under the deepest concern at this unhappy accident; which will, we fear, exasperate the charming sufferer; not too much for the occasion, but too much for our hopes.
O what wretches are these free-living men, who love to tread in intricate paths; and, when once they err, know not how far out of the way their headstrong course may lead them!
My sister joins her thanks with mine to your good mother and self, for the favours you heaped upon us last Thursday. We beseech your continued interest as to the subject of our visit. It shall be all our studies to oblige and recompense the dear lady to the utmost of our power, and for what she has suffered from the unhappy man.
We are, dear Madam, Your obliged and faithful servants, CHARLOTTE MONTAGUE. MARTHA
DEAR MISS HOWE,
We join in the above request of Miss Charlotte and Miss Patty Montague, for your favour and interest; being convinced that the accident was an accident, and no plot or contrivance of a wretch too full of them. We are, Madam,
Your most obedient humble servants,
M. SARAH SADLEIR. ELIZ. LAWRANCE.
DEAR MISS HOWE,
After what is written above, by names and characters of unquestionable honour, I might have been excused signing a name almost as hateful to myself, as I KNOW it is to you. But the above will have it so. Since, therefore, I must write, it shall be the truth; which is, that if I may be once more admitted to pay my duty to the most deserving and most injured of her sex, I will be content to do it with a halter about my neck; and, attended by a parson on my right hand, and the hangman on my left, be doomed, at her will, either to the church or the gallows.
Your most humble servant, ROBERT LOVELACE.
TUESDAY, JULY 18.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. SUNDAY NIGHT, JULY 16.
What a cursed piece of work hast thou made of it, with the most excellent of women! Thou mayest be in earnest, or in jest, as thou wilt; but the poor lady will not be long either thy sport, or the sport of fortune!
I will give thee an account of a scene that wants but her affecting pen to represent it justly; and it would wring all the black blood out of thy callous heart.
Thou only, who art the author of her calamities, shouldst have attended her in her prison. I am unequal to such a task: nor know I any other man but would.
This last act, however unintended by thee, yet a consequence of thy general orders, and too likely to be thought agreeable to thee, by those who know thy other villanies by her, has finished thy barbarous work. And I advise thee to trumpet forth every where, how much in earnest thou art to marry her, whether true or not.
Thou mayest safely do it. She will not live to put thee to the trial; and it will a little palliate for thy enormous usage of her, and be a mean to make mankind, who know not what I know of the matter, herd a little longer with thee, and forbear to hunt thee to thy fellow-savages in the Lybian wilds and desarts.
Your messenger found me at Edgware expecting to dinner with me several friends, whom I had invited three days before. I sent apologies to them, as in a case of life and death; and speeded to town to the woman's: for how knew I but shocking attempts might be made upon her by the cursed wretches: perhaps by your connivance, in order to mortify her into your measures?
Little knows the public what villanies are committed by vile wretches, in these abominable houses upon innocent creatures drawn into their snares.
Finding the lady not there, I posted away to the officer's, although Sally told me that she had but just come from thence; and that she had refused to see her, or (as she sent down word) any body else; being resolved to have the remainder of that Sunday to herself, as it might, perhaps, be the last she should ever see.
I had the same thing told me, when I got thither.
I sent up to let her know, that I came with a commission to set her at liberty. I was afraid of sending up the name of a man known to be your friend. She absolutely refused to see any man, however, for that day, or to answer further to any thing said from me.
Having therefore informed myself of all that the officer, and his wife, and servant, could acquaint me with, as well in relation to the horrid arrest, as to her behaviour, and the women's to her; and her ill state of health; I went back to Sinclair's, as I will still call her, and heard the three women's story. From all which I am enabled to give you the following shocking particulars: which may serve till I can see the unhappy lady herself to-morrow, if then I gain admittance to her. You will find that I have been very minute in my inquiries.
Your villain it was that set the poor lady, and had the impudence to appear, and abet the sheriff's officers in the cursed transaction. He thought, no doubt, that he was doing the most acceptable service to his blessed master. They had got a chair; the head ready up, as soon as service was over. And as she came out of the church, at the door fronting Bedford-street, the officers, stepping up to her, whispered that they had an action against her.
She was terrified, trembled, and turned pale.
Action, said she! What is that!——I have committed no bad action!—— Lord bless me! men, what mean you?
That you are our prisoner, Madam.
Prisoner, Sirs!—What—How—Why—What have I done?
You must go with us. Be pleased, Madam, to step into this chair.
With you!—With men! Must go with men!—I am not used to go with strange men!——Indeed you must excuse me!
We can't excuse you. We are sheriff's officers, We have a writ against you. You must go with us, and you shall know at whose suit.
Suit! said the charming innocent; I don't know what you mean. Pray, men, don't lay hands upon me; (they offering to put her into the chair.) I am not used to be thus treated—I have done nothing to deserve it.
She then spied thy villain—O thou wretch, said she, where is thy vile master?—Am I again to be his prisoner? Help, good people!
A crowd had begun to gather.
My master is in the country, Madam, many miles off. If you please to go with these men, they will treat you civilly.
The people were most of them struck with compassion. A fine young creature!—A thousand pities cried some. While some few threw out vile and shocking reflections! But a gentleman interposed, and demanded to see the fellow's authority.
They showed it. Is your name Clarissa Harlowe, Madam? said he.
Yes, yes, indeed, ready to sink, my name was Clarissa Harlowe:—but it is now Wretchedness!——Lord be merciful to me, what is to come next?
You must go with these men, Madam, said the gentleman: they have authority for what they do.
He pitied her, and retired.
Indeed you must, said one chairman.
Indeed you must, said the other.
Can nobody, joined in another gentleman, be applied to, who will see that so fine a creature is not ill used?
Thy villain answered, orders were given particularly for that. She had rich relations. She need but ask and have. She would only be carried to the officer's house till matters could be made up. The people she had lodged with loved her:—but she had left her lodgings privately.
Oh! had she those tricks already? cried one or two.
She heard not this—but said—Well, if I must go, I must—I cannot resist —but I will not be carried to the woman's! I will rather die at your feet, than be carried to the woman's.
You won't be carried there, Madam, cried thy fellow.
Only to my house, Madam, said one of the officers.
Where is that?
In High-Holborn, Madam.
I know not where High-Holborn is: but any where, except to the woman's. ——But am I to go with men only?
Looking about her, and seeing the three passages, to wit, that leading to Henrietta-street, that to King-street, and the fore-right one, to Bedford-street, crowded, she started—Any where—any where, said she, but to the woman's! And stepping into the chair, threw herself on the seat, in the utmost distress and confusion—Carry me, carry me out of sight— cover me—cover me up—for ever—were her words.
Thy villain drew the curtain: she had not power: and they went away with her through a vast crowd of people.
Here I must rest. I can write no more at present.
Only, Lovelace, remember, all this was to a Clarissa.
The unhappy lady fainted away when she was taken out of the chair at the officer's house.
Several people followed the chair to the very house, which is in a wretched court. Sally was there; and satisfied some of the inquirers, that the young gentlewoman would be exceedingly well used: and they soon dispersed.
Dorcas was also there; but came not in her sight. Sally, as a favour, offered to carry her to her former lodgings: but she declared they should carry her thither a corpse, if they did.
Very gentle usage the women boast of: so would a vulture, could it speak, with the entrails of its prey upon its rapacious talons. Of this you'll judge from what I have to recite.
She asked, what was meant by this usage of her? People told me, said she, that I must go with the men: that they had authority to take me: so I submitted. But now, what is to be the end of this disgraceful violence?
The end, said the vile Sally Martin, is, for honest people to come at their own.
Bless me! have I taken away any thing that belongs to those who have obtained the power over me?—I have left very valuable things behind me; but have taken away that is not my own.
And who do you think, Miss Harlowe; for I understand, said the cursed creature, you are not married; who do you think is to pay for your board and your lodgings! such handsome lodgings! for so long a time as you were at Mrs. Sinclair's?
Lord have mercy upon me!—Miss Martin, (I think you are Miss Martin!)— And is this the cause of such a disgraceful insult upon me in the open streets?
And cause enough, Miss Harlowe! (fond of gratifying her jealous revenge, by calling her Miss,)—One hundred and fifty guineas, or pounds, is no small sum to lose—and by a young creature who would have bilked her lodgings.
You amaze me, Miss Martin!—What language do you talk in?—Bilk my lodgings?—What is that?
She stood astonished and silent for a few moments.
But recovering herself, and turning from her to the window, she wrung her hands [the cursed Sally showed me how!] and lifting them up—Now, Lovelace: now indeed do I think I ought to forgive thee!—But who shall forgive Clarissa Harlowe!——O my sister!—O my brother!—Tender mercies were your cruelties to this!
After a pause, her handkerchief drying up her falling tears, she turned to Sally: Now, have I noting to do but acquiesce—only let me say, that if this aunt of your's, this Mrs. Sinclair, or this man, this Mr. Lovelace, come near me; or if I am carried to the horrid house; (for that, I suppose, is the design of this new outrage;) God be merciful to the poor Clarissa Harlowe!——Look to the consequence!——Look, I charge you, to the consequence!
The vile wretch told her, it was not designed to carry her any where against her will: but, if it were, they should take care not to be frighted again by a penknife.
She cast up her eyes to Heaven, and was silent—and went to the farthest corner of the room, and, sitting down, threw her handkerchief over her face.
Sally asked her several questions; but not answering her, she told her, she would wait upon her by-and-by, when she had found her speech.
She ordered the people to press her to eat and drink. She must be fasting—nothing but her prayers and tears, poor thing!—were the merciless devil's words, as she owned to me.—Dost think I did not curse her?
She went away; and, after her own dinner, returned.
The unhappy lady, by this devil's account of her, then seemed either mortified into meekness, or to have made a resolution not to be provoked by the insults of this cursed creature.
Sally inquired, in her presence, whether she had eat or drank any thing; and being told by the woman, that she could not prevail upon her to taste a morsel, or drink a drop, she said, this is wrong, Miss Harlowe! Very wrong!—Your religion, I think, should teach you, that starving yourself is self-murder.
She answered not.
The wretch owned she was resolved to make her speak.
She asked if Mabell should attend her, till it were seen what her friends would do for her in discharge of the debt? Mabell, said she, had not yet earned the clothes you were so good as to give her.
Am I not worthy an answer, Miss Harlowe?
I would answer you (said the sweet sufferer, without any emotion) if I knew how.
I have ordered pen, ink, and paper, to be brought you, Miss Harlowe. There they are. I know you love writing. You may write to whom you please. Your friend, Miss Howe, will expect to hear from you.
I have no friend, said she, I deserve none.
Rowland, for that's the officer's name, told her, she had friends enow to pay the debt, if she would write.
She would trouble nobody; she had no friends; was all they could get from her, while Sally staid: but yet spoken with a patience of spirit, as if she enjoyed her griefs.
The insolent creature went away, ordering them, in the lady's hearing, to be very civil to her, and to let her want for nothing. Now had she, she owned, the triumph of her heart over this haughty beauty, who kept them all at such a distance in their own house!
What thinkest thou, Lovelace, of this!—This wretch's triumph was over a Clarissa!
About six in the evening, Rowland's wife pressed her to drink tea. She said, she had rather have a glass of water; for her tongue was ready to cleave to the roof of her mouth.
The woman brought her a glass, and some bread and butter. She tried to taste the latter; but could not swallow it: but eagerly drank the water; lifting up her eyes in thankfulness for that!!!
The divine Clarissa, Lovelace,—reduced to rejoice for a cup of cold water!—By whom reduced?
About nine o'clock she asked if any body were to be her bedfellow.
Their maid, if she pleased; or, as she was so weak and ill, the girl should sit up with her, if she chose she should.
She chose to be alone both night and day, she said. But might she not be trusted with the key of the room where she was to lie down; for she should not put off her clothes!
That, they told her, could not be.
She was afraid not, she said.—But indeed she would not get away, if she could.
They told me, that they had but one bed, besides that they lay in themselves, (which they would fain have had her accept of,) and besides that their maid lay in, in a garret, which they called a hole of a garret: and that that one bed was the prisoner's bed; which they made several apologies to me about. I suppose it is shocking enough.
But the lady would not lie in theirs. Was she not a prisoner? she said —let her have the prisoner's room.
Yet they owned that she started, when she was conducted thither. But recovering herself, Very well, said she—why should not all be of a piece?—Why should not my wretchedness be complete?
She found fault, that all the fastenings were on the outside, and none within; and said, she could not trust herself in a room where others could come in at their pleasure, and she not go out. She had not been used to it!!!
Dear, dear soul!—My tears flow as I write!——Indeed, Lovelace, she had not been used to such treatment.
They assured her, that it was as much their duty to protect her from other persons' insults, as from escaping herself.
Then they were people of more honour, she said, than she had been of late used to.
She asked if they knew Mr. Lovelace?
No, was their answer.
Have you heard of him?
Well, then, you may be good sort of folks in your way.
Pause here for a moment, Lovelace!—and reflect—I must.
Again they asked her if they should send any word to her lodgings?
These are my lodgings now; are they not?—was all her answer.
She sat up in a chair all night, the back against the door; having, it seems, thrust a piece of a poker through the staples where a bolt had been on the inside.
Next morning Sally and Polly both went to visit her.
She had begged of Sally, the day before, that she might not see Mrs. Sinclair, nor Dorcas, nor the broken-toothed servant, called William.
Polly would have ingratiated herself with her; and pretended to be concerned for her misfortunes. But she took no more notice of her than of the other.
They asked if she had any commands?—If she had, she only need to mention what they were, and she should be obeyed.
None at all, she said.
How did she like the people of the house? Were they civil to her?
Pretty well, considering she had no money to give them.
Would she accept of any money? they could put it to her account.
She would contract no debts.
Had she any money about her?
She meekly put her hand in her pocket, and pulled out half a guinea, and a little silver. Yes, I have a little.——But here should be fees paid, I believe. Should there not? I have heard of entrance-money to compound for not being stript. But these people are very civil people, I fancy; for they have not offered to take away my clothes.
They have orders to be civil to you.
It is very kind.
But we two will bail you, Miss, if you will go back with us to Mrs. Sinclair's.
Not for the world!
Her's are very handsome apartments.
The fitter for those who own them!
These are very sad ones.
The fitter for me!
You may be happy yet, Miss, if you will.
I hope I shall.
If you refuse to eat or drink, we will give bail, and take you with us.
Then I will try to eat and drink. Any thing but go with you.
Will you not send to your new lodgings; the people will be frighted.
So they will, if I send. So they will, if they know where I am.
But have you no things to send for from thence?
There is what will pay for their lodgings and trouble: I shall not lessen their security.
But perhaps letters or messages may be left for you there.
I have very few friends; and to those I have I will spare the mortification of knowing what has befallen me.
We are surprised at your indifference, Miss Harlowe! Will you not write to any of your friends?
Why, you don't think of tarrying here always?
I shall not live always.
Do you think you are to stay here as long as you live?
That's as it shall please God, and those who have brought me hither.
Should you like to be at liberty?
I am miserable!—What is liberty to the miserable, but to be more miserable.
How miserable, Miss?—You may make yourself as happy as you please.
I hope you are both happy.
May you be more and more happy!
But we wish you to be so too.
I shall never be of your opinion, I believe, as to what happiness is.
What do you take our opinion of happiness to be?
To live at Mrs. Sinclair's.
Perhaps, said Sally, we were once as squeamish and narrow-minded as you.
How came it over with you?
Because we saw the ridiculousness of prudery.
Do you come hither to persuade me to hate prudery, as you call it, as much as you do?
We came to offer our service to you.
It is out of your power to serve me.
It is not in my inclination to trouble you.
You may be worse offered.
Perhaps I may.
You are mighty short, Miss.
As I wish your visit to be, Ladies.
They owned to me, that they cracked their fans, and laughed.
Adieu, perverse beauty!
Your servant, Ladies.
Adieu, haughty airs!
You see me humbled—
As you deserve, Miss Harlowe. Pride will have a fall.
Better fall, with what you call pride, than stand with meanness.
I had once a better opinion of you, Miss Horton!—Indeed you should not insult the miserable.
Neither should the miserable, said Sally, insult people for their civility.
I should be sorry if I did.
Mrs. Sinclair shall attend you by-and-by, to know if you have any commands for her.
I have no wish for any liberty, but that of refusing to see her, and one more person.
What we came for, was to know if you had any proposals to make for your enlargement.
Then, it seems, the officer put in. You have very good friends, Madam, I understand. Is it not better that you make it up? Charges will run high. A hundred and fifty guineas are easier paid than two hundred. Let these ladies bail you, and go along with them; or write to your friends to make it up.
Sally said, There is a gentleman who saw you taken, and was so much moved for you, Miss Harlowe, that he would gladly advance the money for you, and leave you to pay it when you can.
See, Lovelace, what cursed devils these are! This is the way, we know, that many an innocent heart is thrown upon keeping, and then upon the town. But for these wretches thus to go to work with such an angel as this!—How glad would have been the devilish Sally, to have had the least handle to report to thee a listening ear, or patient spirit, upon this hint!
Sir, said she, with high indignation, to the officer, did not you say, last night, that it was as much your business to protect me from the insults of others, as from escaping?—Cannot I be permitted to see whom I please? and to refuse admittance to those I like not?
Your creditors, Madam, will expect to see you.
Not if I declare I will not treat with them.
Then, Madam, you will be sent to prison.
Prison, friend!—What dost thou call thy house?
Not a prison, Madam.
Why these iron-barred windows, then? Why these double locks and bolts all on the outside, none on the in?
And down she dropt into her chair, and they could not get another word from her. She threw her handkerchief over her face, as one before, which was soon wet with tears; and grievously, they own, she sobbed.
Gentle treatment, Lovelace!—Perhaps thou, as well as these wretches, will think it so!
Sally then ordered a dinner, and said, They would soon be back a gain, and see that she eat and drank, as a good christian should, comporting herself to her condition, and making the best of it.
What has not this charming creature suffered, what has she not gone through, in these last three months, that I know of!—Who would think such a delicately-framed person could have sustained what she has sustained! We sometimes talk of bravery, of courage, of fortitude!—Here they are in perfection!—Such bravoes as thou and I should never have been able to support ourselves under half the persecutions, the disappointments, and contumelies, that she has met with; but, like cowards, should have slid out of the world, basely, by some back-door; that is to say, by a sword, by a pistol, by a halter, or knife;—but here is a fine-principled woman, who, by dint of this noble consideration, as I imagine, [What else can support her?] that she has not deserved the evils she contends with; and that this world is designed but as a transitory state of the probation; and that she is travelling to another and better; puts up with all the hardships of the journey; and is not to be diverted from her course by the attacks of thieves and robbers, or any other terrors and difficulties; being assured of an ample reward at the end of it.
If thou thinkest this reflection uncharacteristic from a companion and friend of thine, imaginest thou, that I profited nothing by my long attendance on my uncle in his dying state; and from the pious reflections of the good clergyman, who, day by day, at the poor man's own request, visited and prayed by him?—And could I have another such instance, as this, to bring all these reflections home to me?
Then who can write of good persons, and of good subjects, and be capable of admiring them, and not be made serious for the time? And hence may we gather what a benefit to the morals of men the keeping of good company must be; while those who keep only bad, must necessarily more and more harden, and be hardened.
'Tis twelve of the clock, Sunday night—I can think of nothing but this excellent creature. Her distresses fill my head and my heart. I was drowsy for a quarter of an hour; but the fit is gone off. And I will continue the melancholy subject from the information of these wretches. Enough, I dare say, will arise in the visit I shall make, if admitted to-morrow, to send by thy servant, as to the way I am likely to find her in.
After the women had left her, she complained of her head and her heart; and seemed terrified with apprehensions of being carried once more to Sinclair's.
Refusing any thing for breakfast, Mrs. Rowland came up to her, and told her, (as these wretches owned they had ordered her, for fear she should starve herself,) that she must and should have tea, and bread and butter: and that, as she had friends who could support her, if she wrote to them, it was a wrong thing, both for herself and them, to starve herself thus.
If it be for your own sakes, said she, that is another thing: let coffee, or tea, or chocolate, or what you will, be got: and put down a chicken to my account every day, if you please, and eat it yourselves. I will taste it, if I can. I would do nothing to hinder you. I have friends will pay you liberally, when they know I am gone.
They wondered, they told her, at her strange composure in such distresses.
They were nothing, she said, to what she had suffered already from the vilest of all men. The disgrace of seizing her in the street; multitudes of people about her; shocking imputations wounding her ears; had indeed been very affecting to her. But that was over.—Every thing soon would! —And she should be still more composed, were it not for the apprehensions of seeing one man, and one woman; and being tricked or forced back to the vilest house in the world.
Then were it not better to give way to the two gentlewoman's offer to bail her?—They could tell her, it was a very kind proffer; and what was not to be met every day.
She believed so.
The ladies might, possibly, dispense with her going back to the house to which she had such an antipathy. Then the compassionate gentleman, who was inclined to make it up with her creditors on her own bond—it was very strange to them she hearkened not to so generous a proposal.
Did the two ladies tell you who the gentleman was?—Or, did they say any more on the subject?
Yes, they did! and hinted to me, said the woman, that you had nothing to do but to receive a visit from the gentleman, and the money, they believed, would be laid down on your own bond or note.
She was startled.
I charge you, said she, as you will answer it one day to my friends, I charge you don't. If you do, you know not what may be the consequence.
They apprehended no bad consequence, they said, in doing their duty: and if she knew not her own good, her friends would thank them for taking any innocent steps to serve her, though against her will.
Don't push me upon extremities, man!—Don't make me desperate, woman!—I have no small difficulty, notwithstanding the seeming composure you just now took notice of, to bear, as I ought to bear, the evils I suffer. But if you bring a man or men to me, be the pretence what it will——
She stopt there, and looked so earnestly, and so wildly, they said, that they did not know but she would do some harm to herself, if they disobeyed her; and that would be a sad thing in their house, and might be their ruin. They therefore promised, that no man should be brought to her but by her own consent.
Mrs. Rowland prevailed on her to drink a dish of tea, and taste some bread and butter, about eleven on Saturday morning: which she probably did to have an excuse not to dine with the women when they returned.
But she would not quit her prison-room, as she called it, to go into their parlour.
'Unbarred windows, and a lightsomer apartment,' she said, 'had too cheerful an appearance for her mind.'
A shower falling, as she spoke, 'What,' said she, looking up, 'do the elements weep for me?'
At another time, 'The light of the sun was irksome to her. The sun seemed to shine in to mock her woes.'
'Methought,' added she, 'the sun darting in, and gilding these iron bars, plays upon me like the two women, who came to insult my haggard looks, by the word beauty; and my dejected heart, by the word haughty airs!'
Sally came again at dinner-time, to see how she fared, as she told her; and that she did not starve herself: and, as she wanted to have some talk with her, if she gave her leave, she would dine with her.
I cannot eat.
You must try, Miss Harlowe.
And, dinner being ready just then, she offered her hand, and desired her to walk down.
No; she would not stir out of her prison-room.
These sullen airs won't do, Miss Harlowe: indeed they won't.
She was silent.
You will have harder usage than any you have ever yet known, I can tell you, if you come not into some humour to make matters up.
She was still silent.
Come, Miss, walk down to dinner. Let me entreat you, do. Miss Horton is below: she was once your favourite.
She waited for an answer: but received none.
We came to make some proposals to you, for your good; though you affronted us so lately. And we would not let Mrs. Sinclair come in person, because we thought to oblige you.
This is indeed obliging.
Come, give me your hand. Miss Harlowe: you are obliged to me, I can tell you that: and let us go down to Miss Horton.
Excuse me: I will not stir out of this room.
Would you have me and Miss Horton dine in this filthy bed-room?
It is not a bed-room to me. I have not been in bed; nor will, while I am here.
And yet you care not, as I see, to leave the house.—And so, you won't go down, Miss Harlowe?
I won't, except I am forced to it.
Well, well, let it alone. I sha'n't ask Miss Horton to dine in this room, I assure you. I will send up a plate.
And away the little saucy toad fluttered down.
When they had dined, up they came together.
Well, Miss, you would not eat any thing, it seems?—Very pretty sullen airs these!—No wonder the honest gentleman had such a hand with you.
She only held up her hands and eyes; the tears trickling down her cheeks.
Insolent devils!—how much more cruel and insulting are bad women even than bad men!
Methinks, Miss, said Sally, you are a little soily, to what we have seen you. Pity such a nice lady should not have changes of apparel! Why won't you send to your lodgings for linen, at least?
I am not nice now.
Miss looks well and clean in any thing, said Polly. But, dear Madam, why won't you send to your lodgings? Were it but in kindness to the people? They must have a concern about you. And your Miss Howe will wonder what's become of you; for, no doubt, you correspond.
She turned from them, and, to herself, said, Too much! Too much!—She tossed her handkerchief, wet before with her tears, from her, and held her apron to her eyes.
Don't weep, Miss! said the vile Polly.
Yet do, cried the viler Sally, it will be a relief. Nothing, as Mr. Lovelace once told me, dries sooner than tears. For once I too wept mightily.
I could not bear the recital of this with patience. Yet I cursed them not so much as I should have done, had I not had a mind to get from them all the particulars of their gentle treatment: and this for two reasons; the one, that I might stab thee to the heart with the repetition; and the other, that I might know upon what terms I am likely to see the unhappy lady to-morrow.
Well, but, Miss Harlowe, cried Sally, do you think these forlorn airs pretty? You are a good christian, child. Mrs. Rowland tells me, she has got you a Bible-book.—O there it lies!—I make no doubt but you have doubled down the useful places, as honest Matt. Prior says.
Then rising, and taking it up.—Ay, so you have.—The Book of Job! One opens naturally here, I see—My mamma made me a fine Bible-scholar.—You see, Miss Horton, I know something of the book.
They proposed once more to bail her, and to go home with them. A motion which she received with the same indignation as before.
Sally told her, That she had written in a very favourable manner, in her behalf, to you; and that she every hour expected an answer; and made no doubt, that you would come up with a messenger, and generously pay the whole debt, and ask her pardon for neglecting it.
This disturbed her so much, that they feared she would have fallen into fits. She could not bear your name, she said. She hoped she should never see you more: and, were you to intrude yourself, dreadful consequences might follow.
Surely, they said, she would be glad to be released from her confinement.
Indeed she should, now they had begun to alarm her with his name, who was the author of all her woes: and who, she now saw plainly, gave way to this new outrage, in order to bring her to his own infamous terms.
Why then, they asked, would she not write to her friends, to pay Mrs. Sinclair's demand?
Because she hoped she should not trouble any body; and because she knew that the payment of the money if she should be able to pay it, was not what was aimed at.
Sally owned that she told her, That, truly, she had thought herself as well descended, and as well educated, as herself, though not entitled to such considerable fortunes. And had the impudence to insist upon it to me to be truth.
She had the insolence to add, to the lady, That she had as much reason as she to expect Mr. Lovelace would marry her; he having contracted to do so before he knew Miss Clarissa Harlowe: and that she had it under his hand and seal too—or else he had not obtained his end: therefore it was not likely she should be so officious as to do his work against herself, if she thought Mr. Lovelace had designs upon her, like what she presumed to hint at: that, for her part, her only view was, to procure liberty to a young gentlewoman, who made those things grievous to her which would not be made such a rout about by any body else—and to procure the payment of a just debt to her friend Mrs. Sinclair.
She besought them to leave her. She wanted not these instances, she said, to convince her of the company she was in; and told them, that, to get rid of such visiters, and of the still worse she was apprehensive of, she would write to one friend to raise the money for her; though it would be death for her to do so; because that friend could not do it without her mother, in whose eye it would give a selfish appearance to a friendship that was above all sordid alloys.
They advised her to write out of hand.
But how much must I write for? What is the sum? Should I not have had a bill delivered me? God knows, I took not your lodgings. But he that could treat me as he has done, could do this!
Don't speak against Mr. Lovelace, Miss Harlowe. He is a man I greatly esteem. [Cursed toad!] And, 'bating that he will take his advantage, where he can, of US silly credulous women, he is a man of honour.
She lifted up her hands and eyes, instead of speaking: and well she might! For any words she could have used could not have expressed the anguish she must feel on being comprehended in the US.
She must write for one hundred and fifty guineas, at least: two hundred, if she were short of more money, might well be written for.
Mrs. Sinclair, she said, had all her clothes. Let them be sold, fairly sold, and the money go as far as it would go. She had also a few other valuables; but no money, (none at all,) but the poor half guinea, and the little silver they had seen. She would give bond to pay all that her apparel, and the other maters she had, would fall short of. She had great effects belonging to her of right. Her bond would, and must be paid, were it for a thousand pounds. But her clothes she should never want. She believed, if not too much undervalued, those, and her few valuables, would answer every thing. She wished for no surplus but to discharge the last expenses; and forty shillings would do as well for those as forty pounds. 'Let my ruin, said she, lifting up her eyes, be LARGE! Let it be COMPLETE, in this life!—For a composition, let it be COMPLETE.'—And there she stopped.
The wretches could not help wishing to me for the opportunity of making such a purchase for their own wear. How I cursed them! and, in my heart, thee!—But too probable, thought I, that this vile Sally Martin may hope, [though thou art incapable of it,] that her Lovelace, as she has the assurance, behind thy back, to call thee, may present her with some of the poor lady's spoils!
Will not Mrs. Sinclair, proceeded she, think my clothes a security, till they can be sold? They are very good clothes. A suit or two but just put on, as it were; never worn. They cost much more than it demanded of me. My father loved to see me fine.—All shall go. But let me have the particulars of her demand. I suppose I must pay for my destroyer [that was her well-adapted word!] and his servants, as well as for myself. I am content to do so—I am above wishing that any body, who could thus act, should be so much as expostulated with, as to the justice and equity of this payment. If I have but enough to pay the demand, I shall be satisfied; and will leave the baseness of such an action as this, as ana aggravation of a guilt which I thought could not be aggravated.
I own, Lovelace, I have malice in this particularity, in order to sting thee on the heart. And, let me ask thee, what now thou can'st think of thy barbarity, thy unprecedented barbarity, in having reduced a person of her rank, fortune, talents, and virtue, so low?
The wretched women, it must be owned, act but in their profession: a profession thou hast been the principal means of reducing these two to act in. And they know what thy designs have been, and how far prosecuted. It is, in their opinions, using her gently, that they have forborne to bring her to the woman so justly odious to her: and that they have not threatened her with the introducing to her strange men: nor yet brought into her company their spirit-breakers, and humbling-drones, (fellows not allowed to carry stings,) to trace and force her back to their detested house; and, when there, into all their measures.
Till I came, they thought thou wouldst not be displeased at any thing she suffered, that could help to mortify her into a state of shame and disgrace; and bring her to comply with thy views, when thou shouldst come to release her from these wretches, as from a greater evil than cohabiting with thee.
When thou considerest these things, thou wilt make no difficulty of believing, that this their own account of their behaviour to this admirable woman has been far short of their insults: and the less, when I tell thee, that, all together, their usage had such effect upon her, that they left her in violent hysterics; ordering an apothecary to be sent for, if she should continue in them, and be worse; and particularly (as they had done from the first) that they kept out of her way any edged or pointed instrument; especially a pen-knife; which, pretending to mend a pen, they said, she might ask for.
At twelve, Saturday night, Rowland sent to tell them, that she was so ill, that he knew not what might be the issue; and wished her out of his house.
And this made them as heartily wish to hear from you. For their messenger, to their great surprise, was not then returned from M. Hall. And they were sure he must have reached that place by Friday night.
Early on Sunday morning, both devils went to see how she did. They had such an account of her weakness, lowness, and anguish, that they forebore (out of compassion, they said, finding their visits so disagreeable to her) to see her. But their apprehension of what might be the issue was, no doubt, their principal consideration: nothing else could have softened such flinty bosoms.
They sent for the apothecary Rowland had had to her, and gave him, and Rowland, and his wife and maid, strict orders, many times repeated, for the utmost care to be taken of her—no doubt, with an Old-Bailey forecast. And they sent up to let her know what orders they had given: but that, understanding she had taken something to compose herself, they would not disturb her.
She had scrupled, it seems, to admit the apothecary's visit over night, because he was a MAN. Nor could she be prevailed upon to see him, till they pleaded their own safety to her.
They went again, from church, [Lord, Bob., these creatures go to church!] but she sent them down word that she must have all the remainder of the day to herself.
When I first came, and told them of thy execrations for what they had done, and joined my own to them, they were astonished. The mother said, she had thought she had known Mr. Lovelace better; and expected thanks, and not curses.
While I was with them, came back halting and cursing, most horribly, their messenger; by reason of the ill-usage he had received from you, instead of the reward he had been taught to expect for the supposed good news that he carried down.—A pretty fellow, art thou not, to abuse people for the consequences of thy own faults?
Dorcas, whose acquaintance this fellow is, and who recommended him for the journey, had conditioned with him, it seems, for a share in the expected bounty from you. Had she been to have had her share made good, I wish thou hadst broken every bone in his skin.
Under what shocking disadvantages, and with this addition to them, that I am thy friend and intimate, am I to make a visit to this unhappy lady to-morrow morning! In thy name, too!—Enough to be refused, that I am of a sex, to which, for thy sake, she has so justifiable an aversion: nor, having such a tyrant of a father, and such an implacable brother, has she the reason to make an exception in favour of any of it on their accounts.
It is three o'clock. I will close here; and take a little rest: what I have written will be a proper preparative for what shall offer by-and-by.
Thy servant is not to return without a letter, he tells me; and that thou expectest him back in the morning. Thou hast fellows enough where thou art at thy command. If I find any difficulty in seeing the lady, thy messenger shall post away with this.—Let him look to broken bones, and other consequences, if what he carries answer not thy expectation. But, if I am admitted, thou shalt have this and the result of my audience both together. In the former case, thou mayest send another servant to wait the next advices from
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. MONDAY, JULY 17.
About six this morning, I went to Rowland's. Mrs. Sinclair was to follow me, in order to dismiss the action; but not to come in sight.
Rowland, upon inquiry, told me, that the lady was extremely ill; and that she had desired, that no one but his wife or maid should come near her.
I said, I must see her. I had told him my business over-night, and I must see her.
His wife went up: but returned presently, saying, she could not get her to speak to her; yet that her eyelids moved; though she either would not, or could not, open them, to look up at her.
Oons, woman, said I, the lady may be in a fit: the lady may be dying—let me go up. Show me the way.
A horrid hole of a house, in an alley they call a court; stairs wretchedly narrow, even to the first-floor rooms: and into a den they led me, with broken walls, which had been papered, as I saw by a multitude of tacks, and some torn bits held on by the rusty heads.
The floor indeed was clean, but the ceiling was smoked with variety of figures, and initials of names, that had been the woeful employment of wretches who had no other way to amuse themselves.
A bed at one corner, with coarse curtains tacked up at the feet to the ceiling; because the curtain-rings were broken off; but a coverlid upon it with a cleanish look, though plaguily in tatters, and the corners tied up in tassels, that the rents in it might go no farther.
The windows dark and double-barred, the tops boarded up to save mending; and only a little four-paned eyelet-hole of a casement to let in air; more, however, coming in at broken panes than could come in at that.
Four old Turkey-worked chairs, bursten-bottomed, the stuffing staring out.
An old, tottering, worm-eaten table, that had more nails bestowed in mending it to make it stand, than the table cost fifty years ago, when new.
On the mantle-piece was an iron shove-up candlestick, with a lighted candle in it, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, four of them, I suppose, for a penny.
Near that, on the same shelf, was an old looking-glass, cracked through the middle, breaking out into a thousand points; the crack given it, perhaps, in a rage, by some poor creature, to whom it gave the representation of his heart's woes in his face.
The chimney had two half-tiles in it on one side, and one whole one on the other; which showed it had been in better plight; but now the very mortar had followed the rest of the tiles in every other place, and left the bricks bare.
An old half-barred stove grate was in the chimney; and in that a large stone-bottle without a neck, filled with baleful yew, as an evergreen, withered southern-wood, dead sweet-briar, and sprigs of rue in flower.
To finish the shocking description, in a dark nook stood an old broken-bottomed cane couch, without a squab, or coverlid, sunk at one corner, and unmortised by the failing of one of its worm-eater legs, which lay in two pieces under the wretched piece of furniture it could no longer support.
And this, thou horrid Lovelace, was the bed-chamber of the divine Clarissa!!!
I had leisure to cast my eye on these things: for, going up softly, the poor lady turned not about at our entrance; nor, till I spoke, moved her head.
She was kneeling in a corner of the room, near the dismal window, against the table, on an old bolster (as it seemed to be) of the cane couch, half-covered with her handkerchief; her back to the door; which was only shut to, [no need of fastenings;] her arms crossed upon the table, the fore-finger of her right-hand in her Bible. She had perhaps been reading in it, and could read no longer. Paper, pens, ink, lay by her book on the table. Her dress was white damask, exceeding neat; but her stays seemed not tight-laced. I was told afterwards, that her laces had been cut, when she fainted away at her entrance into this cursed place; and she had not been solicitous enough about her dress to send for others. Her head-dress was a little discomposed; her charming hair, in natural ringlets, as you have heretofore described it, but a little tangled, as if not lately combed, irregularly shading one side of the loveliest neck in the world; as her disordered rumpled handkerchief did the other. Her face [O how altered from what I had seen it! yet lovely in spite of all her griefs and sufferings!] was reclined, when we entered, upon her crossed arms; but so, as not more than one side of it could be hid.
When I surveyed the room around, and the kneeling lady, sunk with majesty too in her white flowing robes, (for she had not on a hoop,) spreading the dark, though not dirty, floor, and illuminating that horrid corner; her linen beyond imagination white, considering that she had not been undressed every since she had been here; I thought my concern would have choked me. Something rose in my throat, I know not what, which made me, for a moment, guggle, as it were, for speech: which, at last, forcing its way, con—con—confound you both, said I, to the man and woman, is this an apartment for such a lady? and could the cursed devils of her own sex, who visited this suffering angel, see her, and leave her, in so d——d a nook?
Sir, we would have had the lady to accept of our own bed-chamber: but she refused it. We are poor people—and we expect nobody will stay with us longer than they can help it.
You are people chosen purposely, I doubt not, by the d——d woman who has employed you: and if your usage of this lady has been but half as bad as your house, you had better never to have seen the light.
Up then raised the charming sufferer her lovely face; but with such a significance of woe overspreading it, that I could not, for the soul of me, help being visibly affected.
She waved her hand two or three times towards the door, as if commanding me to withdraw; and displeased at my intrusion; but did not speak.
Permit me, Madam—I will not approach one step farther without your leave —permit me, for one moment, the favour of your ear!
No—no—go, go, MAN! with an emphasis—and would have said more; but, as if struggling in vain for words, she seemed to give up speech for lost, and dropped her head down once more, with a deep sigh, upon her left arm; her right, as if she had not the use of it (numbed, I suppose) self-moved, dropping on her side.
O that thou hadst been there! and in my place!—But by what I then felt, in myself, I am convinced, that a capacity of being moved by the distresses of our fellow creatures, is far from being disgraceful to a manly heart. With what pleasure, at that moment, could I have given up my own life, could I but first have avenged this charming creature, and cut the throat of her destroyer, as she emphatically calls thee, though the friend that I best love: and yet, at the same time, my heart and my eyes gave way to a softness of which (though not so hardened a wretch as thou) they were never before so susceptible.
I dare not approach you, dearest lady, without your leave: but on my knees I beseech you to permit me to release you from this d——d house, and out of the power of the cursed woman, who was the occasion of your being here!
She lifted up her sweet face once more, and beheld me on my knees. Never knew I before what it was to pray so heartily.
Are you not—are you not Mr. Belford, Sir? I think your name is Belford?
It is, Madam, and I ever was a worshipper of your virtues, and an advocate for you; and I come to release you from the hands you are in.
And in whose to place me?—O leave me, leave me! let me never rise from this spot! let me never, never more believe in man!
This moment, dearest lady, this very moment, if you please, you may depart whithersoever you think fit. You are absolutely free, and your own mistress.
I had now as lieve die here in this place, as any where. I will owe no obligation to any friend of him in whose company you have seen me. So, pray, Sir, withdraw.
Then turning to the officer, Mr. Rowland I think your name is? I am better reconciled to your house than I was at first. If you can but engage that I shall have nobody come near me but your wife, (no man!) and neither of those women who have sported with my calamities, I will die with you, and in this very corner. And you shall be well satisfied for the trouble you have had with me—I have value enough for that—for, see, I have a diamond ring; taking it out of her bosom; and I have friends will redeem it at a high price, when I am gone.
But for you, Sir, looking at me, I beg you to withdraw. If you mean well by me, God, I hope, will reward you for your good meaning; but to the friend of my destroyer will I not owe an obligation.
You will owe no obligation to me, nor to any body. You have been detained for a debt you do not owe. The action is dismissed; and you will only be so good as to give me your hand into the coach, which stands as near to this house as it could draw up. And I will either leave you at the coach-door, or attend you whithersoever you please, till I see you safe where you would wish to be.
Will you then, Sir, compel me to be beholden to you?
You will inexpressibly oblige me, Madam, to command me to do you either service or pleasure.
Why then, Sir, [looking at me]—but why do you mock me in that humble posture! Rise, Sir! I cannot speak to you else.
Only, Sir, take this ring. I have a sister, who will be glad to have it, at the price it shall be valued at, for the former owner's sake!—Out of the money she gives, let this man be paid! handsomely paid: and I have a few valuables more at my lodging, (Dorcas, or the MAN William, can tell where that is;) let them, and my clothes at the wicked woman's, where you have seen me, be sold for the payment of my lodging first, and next of your friend's debts, that I have been arrested for, as far as they will go; only reserving enough to put me into the ground, any where, or any how, no matter——Tell your friend, I wish it may be enough to satisfy the whole demand; but if it be not, he must make it up himself; or, if he think fit to draw for it on Miss Howe, she will repay it, and with interest, if he insist upon it.——And this, Sir, if you promise to perform, you will do me, as you offer, both pleasure and service: and say you will, and take the ring and withdraw. If I want to say any thing more to you (you seem to be an humane man) I will let you know——and so, Sir, God bless you!
I approached her, and was going to speak——
Don't speak, Sir: here's the ring.
I stood off.
And won't you take it? won't you do this last office for me?—I have no other person to ask it of; else, believe me, I would not request it of you. But take it, or not, laying it upon the table——you must withdraw, Sir: I am very ill. I would fain get a little rest, if I could. I find I am going to be bad again.
And offering to rise, she sunk down through excess of weakness and grief, in a fainting fit.
Why, Lovelace, was thou not present thyself?——Why dost thou commit such villanies, as even thou art afraid to appear in; and yet puttest a weaker heart and head upon encountering with them?
The maid coming in just then, the woman and she lifted her up on a decrepit couch; and I withdrew with this Rowland; who wept like a child, and said, he never in his life was so moved.
Yet so hardened a wretch art thou, that I question whether thou wilt shed a tear at my relation.
They recovered her by hartshorn and water. I went down mean while; for the detestable woman had been below some time. O how I did curse her! I never before was so fluent in curses.
She tried to wheedle me; but I renounced her; and, after she had dismissed the action, sent her away crying, or pretending to cry, because of my behaviour to her.
You will observe, that I did not mention one word to the lady about you. I was afraid to do it. For 'twas plain, that she could not bear your name: your friend, and the company you have seen me in, were the words nearest to naming you she could speak: and yet I wanted to clear your intention of this brutal, this sordid-looking villany.
I sent up again, by Rowland's wife, when I heard that the lady was recovered, beseeching her to quit that devilish place; and the woman assured her that she was at liberty to do so, for that the action was dismissed.
But she cared not to answer her: and was so weak and low, that it was almost as much out of her power as inclination, the woman told me, to speak.
I would have hastened away for my friend Doctor H., but the house is such a den, and the room she was in such a hole, that I was ashamed to be seen in it by a man of his reputation, especially with a woman of such an appearance, and in such uncommon distress; and I found there was no prevailing upon her to quit it for the people's bed-room, which was neat and lightsome.
The strong room she was in, the wretches told me, should have been in better order, but that it was but the very morning that she was brought in that an unhappy man had quitted it; for a more eligible prison, no doubt; since there could hardly be a worse.
Being told that she desired not to be disturbed, and seemed inclined to doze, I took this opportunity to go to her lodgings in Covent-garden: to which Dorcas (who first discovered her there, as Will. was the setter from church) had before given me a direction.
The man's name is Smith, a dealer in gloves, snuff, and such petty merchandize: his wife the shopkeeper: he a maker of the gloves they sell. Honest people, it seems.
I thought to have got the woman with me to the lady; but she was not within.
I talked with the man, and told him what had befallen the lady; owing, as I said, to a mistake of orders; and gave her the character she deserved; and desired him to send his wife, the moment she came in, to the lady; directing him whither; not doubting that her attendance would be very welcome to her; which he promised.
He told me that a letter was left for her there on Saturday; and, about half an hour before I came, another, superscribed by the same hand; the first, by the post; the other, by a countryman; who having been informed of her absence, and of all the circumstances they could tell him of it, posted away, full of concern, saying, that the lady he was sent from would be ready to break her heart at the tidings.
I thought it right to take the two letters back with me; and, dismissing my coach, took a chair, as a more proper vehicle for the lady, if I (the friend of her destroyer) could prevail upon her to leave Rowland's.
And here, being obliged to give way to an indispensable avocation, I will make thee taste a little, in thy turn, of the plague of suspense; and break off, without giving thee the least hint of the issue of my further proceedings. I know, that those least bear disappointment, who love most to give it. In twenty instances, hast thou afforded me proof of the truth of this observation. And I matter not thy raving.
Another letter, however, shall be ready, send for it a soon as thou wilt. But, were it not, have I not written enough to convince thee, that I am
Thy ready and obliging friend, J. BELFORD.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. MONDAY, JULY 17, ELEVEN AT NIGHT.
Curse upon thy hard heart, thou vile caitiff! How hast thou tortured me, by thy designed abruption! 'tis impossible that Miss Harlowe should have ever suffered as thou hast made me suffer, and as I now suffer!
That sex is made to bear pain. It is a curse that the first of it entailed upon all her daughters, when she brought the curse upon us all. And they love those best, whether man or child, who give them most—But to stretch upon thy d——d tenter-hooks such a spirit as mine—No rack, no torture, can equal my torture!
And must I still wait the return of another messenger?
Confound thee for a malicious devil! I wish thou wert a post-horse, and I upon the back of thee! how would I whip and spur, and harrow up thy clumsy sides, till I make thee a ready-roasted, ready-flayed, mess of dog's meat; all the hounds in the country howling after thee, as I drove thee, to wait my dismounting, in order to devour thee piece-meal; life still throbbing in each churned mouthful!
Give this fellow the sequel of thy tormenting scribble.
Dispatch him away with it. Thou hast promised it shall be ready. Every cushion or chair I shall sit upon, the bed I shall lie down upon (if I go to bed) till he return, will be stuffed with bolt-upright awls, bodkins, corking-pins, and packing needles: already I can fancy that, to pink my body like my mind, I need only to be put into a hogshead stuck full of steel-pointed spikes, and rolled down a hill three times as high as the Monument.
But I lose time; yet know not how to employ it till this fellow returns with the sequel of thy soul-harrowing intelligence!
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. MONDAY NIGHT, JULY 17.
On my return to Rowland's, I found that the apothecary was just gone up. Mrs. Rowland being above with him, I made the less scruple to go up too, as it was probable, that to ask for leave would be to ask to be denied; hoping also, that the letters had with me would be a good excuse.
She was sitting on the side of the broken couch, extremely weak and low; and, I observed, cared not to speak to the man: and no wonder; for I never saw a more shocking fellow, of a profession tolerably genteel, nor heard a more illiterate one prate—physician in ordinary to this house, and others like it, I suppose! He put me in mind of Otway's apothecary in his Caius Marius; as borrowed from the immortal Shakspeare:
Meagre and very rueful were his looks: Sharp misery had worn him to the bones. —————— Famine in his cheeks: Need and oppression staring in his eyes: Contempt and beggary hanging on his back: The world no friend of his, nor the world's law.
As I am in black, he took me, at my entrance, I believe, to be a doctor; and slunk behind me with his hat upon his two thumbs, and looked as if he expected the oracle to open, and give him orders.
The lady looked displeased, as well at me as at Rowland, who followed me, and at the apothecary. It was not, she said, the least of her present misfortunes, that she could not be left to her own sex; and to her option to see whom she pleased.
I besought her excuse; and winking for the apothecary to withdraw, [which he did,] told her, that I had been at her new lodgings, to order every thing to be got ready for reception, presuming she would choose to go thither: that I had a chair at the door: that Mr. Smith and his wife [I named their names, that she should not have room for the least fear of Sinclair's] had been full of apprehensions for her safety: that I had brought two letters, which were left there fore her; the one by the post, the other that very morning.
This took her attention. She held out her charming hand for them; took them, and, pressing them to her lips—From the only friend I have in the world! said she; kissing them again; and looking at the seals, as if to see whether they had been opened. I can't read them, said she, my eyes are too dim; and put them into her bosom.
I besought her to think of quitting that wretched hole.
Whither could she go, she asked, to be safe and uninterrupted for the short remainder of her life; and to avoid being again visited by the creatures who had insulted her before?
I gave her the solemnest assurances that she should not be invaded in her new lodgings by any body; and said that I would particularly engage my honour, that the person who had most offended her should not come near her, without her own consent.
Your honour, Sir! Are you not that man's friend!
I am not a friend, Madam, to his vile actions to the most excellent of women.
Do you flatter me, Sir? then you are a MAN.—But Oh, Sir, your friend, holding her face forward with great earnestness, your barbarous friend, what has he not to answer for!
There she stopt: her heart full; and putting her hand over her eyes and forehead, the tears tricked through her fingers: resenting thy barbarity, it seemed, as Caesar did the stab from his distinguished Brutus!
Though she was so very much disordered, I thought I would not lose this opportunity to assert your innocence of this villanous arrest.
There is no defending the unhappy man in any of his vile actions by you, Madam; but of this last outrage, by all that's good and sacred, he is innocent.
O wretches; what a sex is your's!—Have you all one dialect? good and sacred!—If, Sir, you can find an oath, or a vow, or an adjuration, that my ears have not been twenty times a day wounded with, then speak it, and I may again believe a MAN.
I was excessively touched at these words, knowing thy baseness, and the reason she had for them.
But say you, Sir, for I would not, methinks, have the wretch capable of this sordid baseness!—Say you, that he is innocent of this last wickedness? can you truly say that he is?
By the great God of Heaven!——
Nay, Sir, if you swear, I must doubt you!—If you yourself think your WORD insufficient, what reliance can I have on your OATH!—O that this my experience had not cost me so dear! but were I to love a thousand years, I would always suspect the veracity of a swearer. Excuse me, Sir; but is it likely, that he who makes so free with his GOD, will scruple any thing that may serve his turn with his fellow creature?
This was a most affecting reprimand!
Madam, said I, I have a regard, a regard a gentleman ought to have, to my word; and whenever I forfeit it to you——
Nay, Sir, don't be angry with me. It is grievous to me to question a gentleman's veracity. But your friend calls himself a gentleman—you know not what I have suffered by a gentleman!——And then again she wept.
I would give you, Madam, demonstration, if your grief and your weakness would permit it, that he has no hand in this barbarous baseness: and that he resents it as it ought to be resented.
Well, well, Sir, [with quickness,] he will have his account to make up somewhere else; not to me. I should not be sorry to find him able to acquit his intention on this occasion. Let him know, Sir, only one thing, that when you heard me in the bitterness of my spirit, most vehemently exclaim against the undeserved usage I have met with from him, that even then, in that passionate moment, I was able to say [and never did I see such an earnest and affecting exultation of hands and eyes,] 'Give him, good God! repentance and amendment; that I may be the last poor creature, who shall be ruined by him!—and, in thine own good time, receive to thy mercy the poor wretch who had none on me!—'
By my soul, I could not speak.—She had not her Bible before her for nothing.
I was forced to turn my head away, and to take out my handkerchief.
What an angel is this!—Even the gaoler, and his wife and maid, wept.
Again I wish thou hadst been there, that thou mightest have sunk down at her feet, and begun that moment to reap the effect of her generous wishes for thee; undeserving, as thou art, of any thing but perdition.
I represented to her that she would be less free where she was from visits she liked not, than at her own lodgings. I told her, that it would probably bring her, in particular, one visiter, who, otherwise I would engage, [but I durst not swear again, after the severe reprimand she had just given me,] should not come near her, without her consent. And I expressed my surprize, that she should be unwilling to quit such a place as this; when it was more than probable that some of her friends, when it was known how bad she was, would visit her.
She said the place, when she was first brought into it, was indeed very shocking to her: but that she had found herself so weak and ill, and her griefs had so sunk her, that she did not expect to have lived till now: that therefore all places had been alike to her; for to die in a prison, was to die; and equally eligible as to die in a palace, [palaces, she said, could have no attractions for a dying person:] but that, since she feared she was not so soon to be released, as she had hoped; since she was suffered to be so little mistress of herself here; and since she might, by removal, be in the way of her dear friend's letters; she would hope that she might depend upon the assurances I gave her of being at liberty to return to her last lodgings, (otherwise she would provide herself with new ones, out of my knowledge, as well as your's;) and that I was too much of a gentleman, to be concerned in carrying her back to the house she had so much reason to abhor, and to which she had been once before most vilely betrayed to her ruin.
I assured her, in the strongest terms [but swore not,] that you were resolved not to molest her: and, as a proof of the sincerity of my professions, besought her to give me directions, (in pursuance of my friend's express desire,) about sending all her apparel, and whatever belonged to her, to her new lodgings.
She seemed pleased; and gave me instantly out of her pocket her keys; asking me, If Mrs. Smith, whom I had named, might not attend me; and she would give her further directions? To which I cheerfully assented; and then she told me that she would accept of the chair I had offered her.
I withdrew; and took the opportunity to be civil to Rowland and his maid; for she found no fault with their behaviour, for what they were; and the fellow seems to be miserably poor. I sent also for the apothecary, who is as poor as the officer, (and still poorer, I dare say, as to the skill required in his business,) and satisfied him beyond his hopes.
The lady, after I had withdrawn, attempted to read the letters I had brought her. But she could read but a little way in one of them, and had great emotions upon it.
She told the woman she would take a speedy opportunity to acknowledge her civilities and her husband's, and to satisfy the apothecary, who might send her his bill to her lodgings.
She gave the maid something; probably the only half-guinea she had: and then with difficulty, her limbs trembling under her, and supported by Mrs. Rowland, got down stairs.
I offered my arm: she was pleased to lean upon it. I doubt, Sir, said she, as she moved, I have behaved rudely to you: but, if you knew all, you would forgive me.
I know enough, Madam, to convince me, that there is not such purity and honour in any woman upon earth; nor any one that has been so barbarously treated.
She looked at me very earnestly. What she thought, I cannot say; but, in general, I never saw so much soul in a woman's eyes as in her's.
I ordered my servant, (whose mourning made him less observable as such, and who had not been in the lady's eye,) to keep the chair in view; and to bring me word, how she did, when set down. The fellow had the thought to step into the shop, just before the chair entered it, under pretence of buying snuff; and so enabled himself to give me an account, that she was received with great joy by the good woman of the house; who told her, she was but just come in; and was preparing to attend her in High Holborn.—O Mrs. Smith, said she, as soon as she saw her, did you not think I was run away?—You don't know what I have suffered since I saw you. I have been in a prison!——Arrested for debts I owe not!—But, thank God, I am here!—Will your maid—I have forgot her name already——
Will you let Catharine assist me to bed?—I have not had my clothes off since Thursday night.
What she further said the fellow heard not, she leaning upon the maid, and going up stairs.
But dost thou not observe, what a strange, what an uncommon openness of heart reigns in this lady? She had been in a prison, she said, before a stranger in the shop, and before the maid-servant: and so, probably, she would have said, had there been twenty people in the shop.
The disgrace she cannot hide from herself, as she says in her letter to Lady Betty, she is not solicitous to conceal from the world!
But this makes it evident to me, that she is resolved to keep no terms with thee. And yet to be able to put up such a prayer for thee, as she did in her prison; [I will often mention the prison-room, to tease thee!] Does this not show, that revenge has very little sway in her mind; though she can retain so much proper resentment?
And this is another excellence in this admirable woman's character: for whom, before her, have we met with in the whole sex, or in ours either, that knew how, in practice, to distinguish between REVENGE and RESENTMENT, for base and ungrateful treatment?
'Tis a cursed thing, after all, that such a woman as this should be treated as she has been treated. Hadst thou been a king, and done as thou hast done by such a meritorious innocent, I believe, in my heart, it would have been adjudged to be a national sin, and the sword, the pestilence, or famine, must have atoned for it!—But as thou art a private man, thou wilt certainly meet with thy punishment, (besides what thou mayest expect from the justice of the country, and the vengeance of her friends,) as she will her reward, HEREAFTER.
It must be so, if there be really such a thing as future remuneration; as now I am more and more convinced there must:—Else, what a hard fate is her's, whose punishment, to all appearance, has so much exceeded her fault? And, as to thine, how can temporary burnings, wert thou by some accident to be consumed in thy bed, expiate for thy abominable vileness to her, in breach of all obligations moral and divine?
I was resolved to lose no time in having every thing which belonged to the lady at the cursed woman's sent her. Accordingly, I took coach to Smith's, and procured the lady, (to whom I sent up my compliments, and inquiries how she bore her removal,) ill as she sent down word she was, to give proper direction to Mrs. Smith: whom I took with me to Sinclair's: and who saw every thing looked out, and put into the trunks and boxes they were first brought in, and carried away in two coaches.
Had I not been there, Sally and Polly would each of them have taken to herself something of the poor lady's spoils. This they declared: and I had some difficulty to get from Sally a fine Brussels-lace head, which she had the confidence to say she would wear for Miss Harlowe's sake. Nor should either I or Mrs. Smith have known she had got it, had she not been in search of the ruffles belonging to it.
My resentment on this occasion, and the conversation which Mrs. Smith and I had, (in which I not only expatiated on the merits of the lady, but expressed my concern for her sufferings; though I left her room to suppose her married, yet without averring it,) gave me high credit with the good woman: so that we are perfectly well acquainted already: by which means I shall be enabled to give you accounts from time to time of all that passes; and which I will be very industrious to do, provided I may depend upon the solemn promises I have given the lady, in your name, as well as in my own, that she shall be free from all personal molestation from you. And thus shall I have it in my power to return in kind your writing favours; and preserve my short-hand besides: which, till this correspondence was opened, I had pretty much neglected.
I ordered the abandoned women to make out your account. They answered, That they would do it with a vengeance. Indeed they breathe nothing but vengeance. For now, they say, you will assuredly marry; and your example will be followed by all your friends and companions—as the old one says, to the utter ruin of her poor house.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. TUESDAY MORN. JULY 18, SIX O'CLOCK.
Having sat up so late to finish and seal in readiness my letter to the above period, I am disturbed before I wished to have risen, by the arrival of thy second fellow, man and horse in a foam.
While he baits, I will write a few lines, most heartily to congratulate thee on thy expected rage and impatience, and on thy recovery of mental feeling.
How much does the idea thou givest me of thy deserved torments, by thy upright awls, bodkins, pins, and packing-needles, by thy rolling hogshead with iron spikes, and by thy macerated sides, delight me!
I will, upon every occasion that offers, drive more spikes into thy hogshead, and roll thee down hill, and up, as thou recoverest to sense, or rather returnest back to senselessness. Thou knowest therefore the terms on which thou art to enjoy my correspondence. Am not I, who have all along, and in time, protested against thy barbarous and ungrateful perfidies to a woman so noble, entitled to drive remorse, if possible, into thy hitherto-callous heart?