Mr. Lovelace ; In Continuation.
I obliged the dear creature highly, I could perceive, by bringing Mrs. Greme to attend her, and to suffer that good woman’s recommendation of lodgings to take place, on her refusal to go to the Lawn.
She must observe, that all my views were honourable, when I had provided for her no particular lodgings, leaving it to her choice, whether she’d go to M. Hall, to the Lawn, to London, or to either of my aunts.
She was visibly pleased with my motion of putting Mrs. Greme into the chaise with her, and riding on horseback myself.
Some people would have been apprehensive of what might pass between her and Mrs. Greme. But as all my relations know the justice of my intentions by her, I was in no pain on that account. Especially as I had been always above hypocrisy, or wanting to be thought better than I am. And indeed, what occasion has a man to be an hypocrite, who has hitherto found his views upon the Sex better answer’d, for his being known to be a rake? —Why, even my beloved here, deny’d not to correspond with me, tho’ her friends had taught her to think me one. —Who then would be trying a new and worse character?
And then Mrs. Greme is a pious matron; who would not have been biass’d against the truth on any consideration. She used formerly, while there were any hopes of my reformation, to pray for me. She hardly continues the good custom, I doubt; for her worthy Lord makes no scruple, occasionally, to rave against me to man, woman, and child, as they come in his way. He is very undutiful, as thou knowest. Surely, I may say so; since all duties are reciprocal. But for Mrs. Greme, poor woman! when my Lord has the gout, and is at the Lawn, and the chaplain not to be found, she prays by him, or reads a chapter to him in the Bible, or some other good book.
Was it not therefore right, to introduce such a good sort of woman to my beloved; and to leave them, without reserve, to their own talk? —And very busy in talk I saw they were, as they rode; and felt it too —For most charmingly glowed my cheeks.
I hope I shall be honest, I once more say: But as we frail mortals are not our own masters, at all times, I must endeavour to keep the dear creature unapprehensive, until I can get her to our acquaintance’s in London, or to some other safe place there. Should I, in the interim, give her the least room for suspicion; or offer to restrain her, or refuse to leave her at her own will; she can make her appeals to strangers, and call the country in upon me; and, perhaps, throw herself upon her relations, on their own terms. And were I now to lose her, how unworthy should I be, to be the prince and leader of such a confraternity as ours! —How unable to look up among men! or to shew my face among women! —As things at present stand, she dare not own, that she went off against her own consent; and I have taken care to make all the Implacables believe, that she escaped with it.
She has received an answer from Miss Howe, to the letter written to her from St. Albans ( a ) .
Whatever are the contents, I know not; but she was drown’d in tears; and I am the sufferer.
Miss Howe is a charming creature too; but confoundedly smart, and spiritful. I am a good deal afraid of her. Her mother can hardly keep her in. I must continue to play off old Antony, by my honest Joseph, upon That Mother, in order to manage That daughter, and oblige my Beloved to an absolute dependence upon myself ( b ).
Mistress Howe is impatient of contradiction. So is Miss. A young lady who is sensible that she has all the maternal requisites herself, to be under maternal controul;—fine ground for a man of intrigue to build upon! —A mother over-notable; a daughter over-sensible; and their Hickman, who is—over-neither, but merely a passive—
Only that I have an object still more desirable!—
Yet how unhappy, that these two young ladies lived so near each other, and are so well acquainted! Else how charmingly might I have managed them both!
But one man cannot have every woman worth having. —Pity tho’—when the man is such a VERY clever fellow!
( a ) See L 92.
( b ) See L 31.