LETTER 138: MR LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ

 

Friday, April 21.

As it was not probable, that the Lady could give so particular an account of her own confusion, in the affecting scene she mentions on his offering himself to her acceptance; the following extracts are made from his of the above date.

 

And now, Belford, what wilt thou say, if like the fly buzzing about the bright taper, I had like to have sindg’d the silken wings of my liberty? —Never was man in greater danger of being caught in his own snares: —All his views anticipated: All his schemes untry’d; and not having brought the admirable creature to town; nor made an effort to know if she be really angel or woman.

 

I offer’d myself to her acceptance, with a suddenness, ’tis true, that gave her no time to wrap herself in reserve; and in terms less tender thanfervent, tending to upbraid her for her past indifference, and reminding her of her injunctions. —For it was her

 

brother’s plot, not love of me, that had inclined her to dispense with them.

 

I never beheld so sweet a confusion. What a glory to the pencil, could it do justice to it, and to the mingled impatience which visibly inform’d every feature of the most meaning and most beautiful face in the world. She hemm’d twice or thrice: Her look, now so charmingly silly, then so sweetly significant; till at last, the lovely teazer, teazed by my hesitating expectation of her answer, out of all power of articulate speech, burst into tears, and was turning from me, with precipitation, when, taking the liberty of folding her in my happy arms—O think not, best beloved of my heart, think not that this motion, which you may believe to be so contrary to your former injunctions, proceeds from a design to avail myself of the cruelty of your relations: If I have disoblig’d you by it [and you know with what respectful tenderness I have presumed to hint it], it shall be my utmost care for the future—There I stopt—

 

Then she spoke; but with vexation—I am—I am — very unhappy—Tears trickling down her crimson cheeks; and her sweet face, as my arms still incircled the finest waist in the world, sinking upon my shoulder; the dear creature so absent, that she knew not the honour she permitted me.

 

But why, but why unhappy, my dearest life, said I? —All the gratitude that ever overflow’d the heart of the most oblig’d of men —Justice to myself there stopt my mouth; for what gratitude did I owe her for obligations so involuntary?

 

Then recovering herself, and her usual reserves, and struggling to free herself from my clasping arms, How now, Sir! said she, with a cheek more indignantly glowing, and eyes of a fiercer lustre.

 

I gave way to her angry struggle;—but, absolutely overcome by so charming a display of innocent confusion,

 

I caught hold of her hand, as she was flying from me; and, kneeling at her feet, O my angel, said I (quite destitute of reserve, and hardly knowing the tenor of my own speech; and had a parson been there, I had certainly been a gone man), receive the vows of your faithful Lovelace—Make him yours, and only yours, for ever! —This will answer every end! —Who will dare to form plots and stratagems against my wife? That you are not so, is the ground of all their foolish attempts, and of their insolent hopes in Solmes’s favour. —O be mine! —I beseech you [thus on my knee I beseechyou] to be mine. —We shall then have all the world with us: And every-body will applaud an event that every-body expects.

 

Was the devil in me! —I no more intended all this ecstatic nonsense, than I thought the same moment of flying in the air! —All power is with this charming creature! —It is I, not she, at this rate, that must fail in the arduous tryal.

 

Didst thou ever before hear of a man uttering solemn things by an involuntary impulse, in defiance of premeditation, and of all his own proud schemes? But this sweet creature is able to make a man forego every purpose of his heart, that is not favourable to her. —And I verily think, I should be inclined to spare her all further tryal [and yet no tryal has she had], were it not for the contention that her vigilance has set on foot,which shall overcome the other . Thou knowest my generosity to my un-contending Rosebud. —And sometimes do I qualify my ardent aspirations after even this very fine creature, by this reflection: —That the charming’st woman on earth, were she an empress, can excel the meanest, in the customary visibles only. —Such is the equality of the dispensation, to the prince and the peasant, in this prime gift, Woman .

 

Well, but what was the result of this involuntary impulse on my part? Wouldst thou not think, I

 

was taken at my offer? —An offer so solemnly made, and on one knee too?

 

No such thing! —The pretty trifler let me off as easily as I could have wished.

 

Her brother’s project, and to find, that there were no hopes of a reconciliation for her; and the apprehension she had of the mischiefs that might ensue— These, not my offer, nor love of me, were the causes to which she ascribed all her sweet confusion. —High-treason the ascription against my sovereign pride—To make marriage with me, but a second-place refuge! —and as good as to tell me, that her confusion was owing to her concern, that there were no hopes, that my enemies would accept of her intended offer to renounce a man, who had ventured his life for her, and was still ready to run the same risk in her behalf!

 

I re-urged her to make me happy—But I was to be postponed to her cousin Morden’s arrival. On him are now placed all her hopes.

 

I raved; but to no purpose.

 

Another letter was to be sent, or had been sent, to her aunt Hervey; to which she hoped an answer.

 

Yet sometimes, I think, that fainter and fainter would have been her procrastinations, had I been a man of courage. —But so fearful was I of offending!—

 

A confounded thing! The man to be so bashful; the lady to want so much courting! —How shall two such come together; no kind mediatress in the way?

 

But I can’t help it. I must be contented. ‘Tis seldom, however, that a love so ardent meets with a spirit so resigned in the same person. But true love, I am now convinced, only wishes: Nor has it any active will but that of the adorable object.

 

But, O the charming creature! again to mention London of herself! —Had Singleton’s plot been of my own contriving, it could not have been a happier expedient to hasten her thither; after she had deferr’d

 

her journey;—for what reason deferr’d it, I cannot divine.

 

I inclose the letter from Joseph Leman, which I mentioned to thee in mine of Monday last ( a ) , with my answer to it. I cannot resist the vanity that urges me to the communication. Otherwise, it were better, perhaps, that I suffer thee to imagine, that this Lady’s stars fight against her, and dispense the opportunities in my favour, which are only the consequences of my own superlative invention.

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