LETTER 154: MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

Wedn. Apr. 26.

 

At last, my lucky star has directed us into the desired port, and we are safely landed. Well says Rowe:


The wise and active conquer difficulties
By daring to attempt them. Sloth and folly
Shiver and shrink at sight of toil and hazard,
And make th’ impossibility they fear . 

 

But in the midst of my exultation, something, I know not what to call it, checks my joys, and glooms over my brighter prospects. If it be not conscience, it is wondrously like what I thought so, many, many years ago.

 

Surely, Lovelace, methinks thou sayst, thy good motions are not gone off already! Surely thou wilt not now at last be a villain to this lady.

 

I can’t tell what to say to it. —Why would not the dear creature accept of me, when I so sincerely offer’d myself to her acceptance? Things already appear with a very different face now I have got her here. Already have our mother and her daughters been about me. ‘Charming Lady!’ What a complexion! ‘What eyes! What majesty in her person! —O Mr. Lovelace, you are a happy man! —You owe us such a Lady!’ —Then they remind me of my revenge, and of my hatred to her whole family. Sally was so struck with her, at first sight, that she broke out to me in those lines of Dryden:


—Fairer to be seen
Than the fair lily on the flow’ry green!
More fresh than May herself in blossoms new!—

I sent to thy lodgings within half an hour after our arrival, to receive thy congratulations upon it: But thou wert at Edgware, it seems.

 

My beloved, who is charmingly amended, is retired to her constant employment, writing. I must content myself with the same amusement, till she shall be pleased to admit me to her presence: Having already given to every one her cue.

 

But here comes the widow, with Dorcas Wykes in her hand. —Dorcas Wykes, Jack, is to be the maid-servant to my fair-one; and I am to introduce them both to her. In so many ways will it be in my power to have the dear creature now, that I shall not know which of them to choose!—

 

So! The honest girl is accepted! —Of good parentage: But, thro’ a neglected education, plaguy illiterate: —She can neither write, nor read writing. A kinswoman of Mrs. Sinclair’s: So could not well be refused, the widow in person recommending her; and the wench only taken till her Hannah can come. What an advantage has an imposing or forward nature over a courteous one! —So here may something arise to lead into correspondencies, and so forth! —To be sure, a person need not be so wary, so cautious of what she writes, or what she leaves upon her table or toilet, when her attendant cannot read.

 

Dorcas is a neat girl both in person and dress; a countenance not vulgar. And I am in hopes that she accept of her for her bedfellow, in astrange house, for a week or so. But I saw she had a dislike to her at her very first appearance: —Yet I thought the girl behaved very modestly—Over-did it a little perhaps! —She shrunk back, and looked shy upon her. The doctrine of sympathies and antipathies is a surprising doctrine. —But Dorcas will be excessively obliging, and win her Lady’s favour soon, I doubt not. —I am secure in her incorruptibility . A great point that! —For a Lady and her Maid of one party will be too hard for half a score devils.

 

The dear creature was no less shy when the widow first accosted her, at her alighting. Yet, I thought, that honest Doleman’s letter had prepared her for her masculine appearance.

 

And now I mention that letter, why dost thou not wish me joy, Jack?

 

Joy of what?

 

Why, joy of my nuptials. —Know then, that said, is done with me, when I have a mind to have it so; and that we are actually man and wife. Only that consummation has not passed: Bound down to the contrary of that, by a solemn vow, till a reconciliation with her family take place. The women here are told so. They know it, before my beloved knows it; and that’s odd, thou’lt say.

 

But how shall I do to make my fair-one temperate on the intimation? Why is she not here? —At Mrs. Sinclair’s? —But if she will hear reason, I doubt not to convince her, that she ought to acquisce.

 

She will insist, I suppose, upon my leaving her, and that I shall not take up my lodgings under the same roof. But circumstances are changed since I first made her that promise. I have taken all the vacant apartments; and must carry this point also.

 

I hope in a while to get her with me to the public entertainments. She knows nothing of the town, and has seen less of its diversions than ever woman of her taste, her fortune, her endowments, did see. She has indeed a natural politeness, which transcends all acquirement. The most capable of any one I ever knew, of judging what an hundred things are, by seeing one of a like nature. Indeed she took so much pleasure in her own chosen amusements till persecuted out of them, that she had neither leisure nor inclination for the town diversions.

 

These diversions will amuse. And the duce is in it, if a little susceptibility will not put forth, now she receives my address, and if I can manage it so, as to be allowed to live under one roof with her. What tho’ the appearance be at first no more than that of an early spring-flower in frosty weather, that seems afraid of being nipp’d by an easterly blast; that will be enough for me.

 

I hinted to thee in a former ( a ) , that I had provided for the lady’s in-door amusement. Sally and Polly are readers. My beloved’s light closet was their library. And several pieces of devotion have been put in, bought on purpose, at second-hand.

 

I was always for forming a judgment of the reading part of the sex by their books. The observations I have made on this occasion have been of great use to me, as well in England as out of it. This sagacious lady may possibly be as curious in this point, as her Lovelace.

 

So much for the present. Thou seest, that I have a great deal of business before me. Yet I will write again soon.

 

Mr. Lovelace sends another letter with this; in which he takes notice of young Mrs. Sorlings’s setting out with them, and leaving them at Barnet: But as its contents are nearly the same with those in the lady’s next, it is omitted.

 

( a ) See L 131.

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