LETTER 130: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE

Thursday, April 20. 

Mr. Lovelace’s servant is already return’d with an answer from his friend Mr. Doleman, who has taken pains in his inquiries, and is very particular. Mr. Lovelace brought me the letter as soon as he had read it; and as he now knows, that I acquaint you with every thing that offers, I desired him to let me send it to you for your perusal. Be pleased to return it by the first opportunity. You will see by it, that his friends in town have a notion, that we are actually married.

 

To Robert Lovelace, Esq; 

Tuesday Night, April 18. 

Dear Sir,
I am extremely rejoiced to hear, that we shall so soon have you in town, after so long an absence. You will be the more welcome still, if what report says, be true; which is, that you are actually marry’d to the fair Lady upon whom we have heard you make such encomiums. Mrs. Doleman, and my sister, both wish you joy, if you are, and joy upon your near prospect, if you are not. I have been in town for this week past, to get help, if I could, from my paralytic complaints, and am in a course for them. — Which, nevertheless, did not prevent me from making the desired inquiries. This is the result.

 

You may have a first floor, well-furnished, at a mercer’s in Bedford-street, Covent-garden, with what conveniencies you please for servants: And these either by the quarter or month. The terms according to the conveniencies required.

 

Mrs. Doleman has seen lodgings in Norfolk-street, and others in Cecil-street; but tho’ the prospects to the Thames, and Surry-hills, look inviting from both these streets, yet I suppose they are too near the city.

 

The owner of those in Norfolk-street would have half the house go together. It would be too much for your description therefore: And I suppose, that you will hardly, when you think fit to declare your marriage, be in lodgings.

 

Those in Cecil-street are neat and convenient. The owner is a widow of good character; but she insists, that you take them for a twelvemonth certain.

 

You may have good accommodations in Dover-street, at a widow’s, the relict of an officer in the guards, who dying soon after he had purchased his commission (to which he had a good title by service, and which cost him most part of what he had), she was obliged to let lodgings.

 

This may possibly be an objection. But she is very careful, she says, that she takes no lodgers, but of figure and reputation. She rents two good houses, distant from each other, only join’d by a large handsome passage. The inner-house is the genteelest, and is very elegantly furnished; but you may have the use of a very handsome parlour in the outer-house, if you choose to look into the street.

 

A little garden belongs to the inner-house, in which the old gentlewoman has display’d a true female fancy, and cramm’d it with vases, flower-plots, and figures, without number.

 

As these lodgings seem’d to me the most likely to please you, I was more particular in my inquiries about them. The apartments she has to let are in the inner-house: They are a dining-room, two neat parlours, a withdrawing-room, two or three handsome bed-chambers (one with a pretty light closet in it, which looks into the little garden); all furnish’d in taste.

 

A dignify’d clergyman, his wife, and maiden-daughter, were the last who lived in them. They have but lately quitted them, on his being presented to a considerable church-preferment in Ireland. The gentlewoman says, that he took the lodgings but for three months certain; but liked them and her usage so well, that he continued in them two years; and left them with regret, tho’ on so good an account. She bragg’d, that this was the way of all the lodgers she ever had, who staid with her four times as long as they at first intended.

 

I had some knowlege of the colonel, who was always looked upon as a man of honour. His relict I never saw before. I think she has a masculine air, and is a little forbidding at first: But when I saw her behaviour to two agreeable maiden gentlewomen, her husband’s nieces, whom, for that reason, she calls doubly hers, and heard their praises of her, I could impute her very bulk to good humour; since we seldom see your four peevish people plump. She lives very reputably, and is, as I find, aforehand in the world.

 

If these, or any other of the lodgings I have mentioned, be not altogether to your Lady’s mind, she may continue in them the less while, and choose others for herself.

 

The widow consents, that you should take them for a month only, and what of them you please: The terms, she says, she will not fall out upon, when she knows what your Lady expects, and what her servants are to do, or yours will undertake; for she observed, that servants are generally worse to deal with, than their masters or mistresses.

 

The Lady may board or not, as she pleases.

 

As we suppose you marry’d, but that you have reason, from family-differences, to keep it private for the present, I thought it not amiss to hint as much to the widow (but as uncertainty, however), and asked her, if she could, in that case, accommodate you and
your servants, as well as the lady and hers? She said, she could; and wish’d; by all means, it were to be so; since the circumstance of a person’s being single, if not as well recommended as this lady, was one of her usual exceptions.

 

If none of these lodgings please, you need not doubt very handsome ones in or near Hanover-Square, Soho-Square, Golden-Square, or in some of the new streets about Grosvenor-Square. And Mrs. Doleman, her sister, and myself, most cordially join to offer to your good lady the best accommodations we can make for her at Uxbridge (and also for you, if you are the happy man we wish you to be), till she fits herself more to her mind.

 

Let me add, that the lodgings at the Mercer’s, those in Cecil-street, those at the widow’s in Dover-street, any of them, may be enter’d upon at a day’s warning.

I am, my dear Sir,
Your sincere and affectionate friend and servant,
Tho. Doleman .

You will easily guess, my dear, when you have read the letter, which lodgings I made choice of. But first, to try him, as in so material a point I thought I could not be too circumspect, I seemed to prefer those in Norfolk-street, for the very reason the writer gives why he thought I would not ; that is to say, for its neighbourhood to a city so well-govern’d as London is said to be. Nor should I have disliked a lodging in the heart of it, having heard but indifferent accounts of the liberties sometimes taken at the other end of the town. —Then seeming to incline to the lodgings in Cecil-street—Then to the Mercer’s. But he made no visible preference: And when I asked his opinion of the widow-gentlewoman’s, he said, He thought these the most to my taste and convenience: But as he hoped, that I would think lodgings necessary but for a very little while, he knew not which to give his vote for.

 

I then fixed upon the widow’s; and he has written accordingly to Mr. Doleman, making my compliments to his lady and sister, for their kind offer.

 

I am to have the dining-room, the bedchamber, with the light closet (of which, if I stay any time at the widow’s, I shall make great use), and a servant’s room; and we propose to set out on Saturday morning. As for a maid-servant, poor Hannah’s illness is a great disappointment to me: But, as he says, I can make the widow satisfaction for one of hers, till I can get one to my mind. And you know, I want not much attendance.

 

  

Mr. Lovelace has just now, of his own accord, given me five guineas for poor Hannah. I send them inclosed. Be so good as to cause them to be convey’d to her; and to let her know from whom they came.

 

He has obliged me much by this little mark of his considerateness. Indeed I have the better opinion of him ever since he proposed her return to me.

 

  

I have just now another instance of his considerateness. He came to me, and said, that, on second thoughts, he could not bear, that I should go up to town without some attendant, were it but for the look of the thing to the widow and her nieces, who according to his friend’s account, lived so genteelly; and especially as I required him to leave me soon after I arrived there; and so would be left alone among strangers. He therefore thought, that I might engage Mrs. Sorlings to lend me one of her two maids, or to let one of her daughters go up with me and stay till I were provided. And if the latter, the young gentlewoman, no doubt, would be glad of so good an opportunity to see a little of the curiosities of the town, and would be a proper attendant to me on the same occasions.

 

I told him, as I had done before, that the servants, and the two young gentlewomen, were so equally useful in their way (and servants in a busy farm were so little to be spared), that I should be loth to take them off of their laudable employments. Nor should I think much of diversions for one while; and so the less want an attendant out of doors.

 

And now, my dear, lest any thing should happen, in so variable a situation as mine, to overcloud my prospects (which at present are more promising than ever yet they have been since I quitted Harlowe-Place), I will snatch the opportunity to subscribe myself

Your not unhopeing,
and ever-obliged friend and servant,
Cl. Harlowe .

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