LETTER 159: MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD

Sunday.

Have been at church, Jack. —Behaved admirably well too! —My charmer is pleased with me now: —For I was exceedingly attentive to the discourse, and very ready in the auditor’s part of the service. —Eyes did not much wander. How could they? When the loveliest object, infinitely the loveliest, in the whole church, was in my view.

 

Dear creature! how fervent, how amiable, in her devotions! —I have got her to own, that she pray’d for me! —I hope a prayer from so excellent a mind will not be made in vain.

 

There is, after all, something beautifully solemn in devotion! —The Sabbath is a charming institution to keep the heart right, when it is right. One day in seven, how reasonable! —I think I’ll go to church once a day often. I fancy it will go a great way towards making me a reformed man. To see multitudes of well-appearing people, all joining in one reverent act: An exercise worthy of a sentient being! Yet it adds a sting or two to my former stings, when I think of my projects with regard to this charming creature. In my conscience, I believe, if I were to go constantly to church, I could not pursue them.

 

I had a scheme come into my head while there: But I will renounce it, because it obtruded itself upon me in so good a place. Excellent creature!How many ruins has she prevented by attaching me to herself!— by ingrossing my whole attention!

 

But let me tell thee what passed between us in my first visit of this morning; and then I will acquaint thee more largely with my good behaviour at church.

 

I could not be admitted till after eight. I found her ready prepared to go out. I pretended to be ignorant of her intention, having charged Dorcas not to own, that she had told me of it.

 

Going abroad, Madam?—with an air of indifference.

 

Yes, Sir; I intend to go to church.

 

I hope, Madam, I shall have the honour to attend you.

 

No: She design’d to take a chair, and go to the next church.

 

This startled me: A chair to carry her to the next church from Mrs. Sinclair’s, her right name not Sinclair, and to bring her back thither, in the face of people who might not think well of the house! There was no permitting That: —Yet I was to appear indifferent. —But said, I should take it for a favour, if she would permit me to attend her in a coach, as there was time for it, to St. Paul’s.

 

She made objections to the gaiety of my dress; and told me, that, if she went to St. Paul’s, she could go in a coach without me .

 

I objected Singleton and her brother, and offered to dress in the plainest suit I had.

 

I beg the favour of attending you, dear Madam, said I. I have not been at church a great while: We shall sit in different stalls: And the next time I go, I hope it will be to give myself a title to the greatest blessing I can receive.

 

She made some further objections: But at last permitted me the honour of attending her.

 

I got myself placed in her eye, that the time might not seem tedious to me; for we were there early. And I gain’d her good opinion, as I mention’d above, by my behaviour.

The subject of the discourse was particular enough: It was about a prophet’s story or parable of an ewelamb taken by a rich man from a poor one, who dearly loved it, and whose only comfort it was: Designed to strike remorse into David, on his adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, and his murder of the husband. [These women, Jack, have been the occasion of all manner of mischief from the beginning!] Now, when David, full of indignation, swore [King David would swear, Jack: But how shouldst thou know who King David was? The story is in the Bible], that the rich man should surely die; Nathan, which was the prophet’s name, and a good ingenious fellow, cry’d out (which were the words of the text), Thou art the man ! —By my soul I thought the parson look’d directly at me: And at that moment I cast my eye full at my ewe-lamb. But I must tell thee too, that I thought a good deal of my Rosebud. —A better man than King David, in that point, however, thought I!

 

When we came home, we talk’d upon the subject; and I shew’d my charmer my attention to the discourse, by letting her know where the doctor made the most of his subject, and where it might have been touch’d to greater advantage (For it is really a very affecting story, and has as pretty a contrivance in it as ever I read). And this I did in such a grave way, that she seemed more and more pleas’d with me; and I have no doubt, that I shall get her to favour me tomorrow night with her company at my collation.

 

Sunday evening.

We all dined together in Mrs. Sinclair’s parlour! All ex- cessive -ly right! The two nieces have topp’d their parts: Mrs. Sinclair hers. Never so easy yet as now! —‘She really thought a little oddly of these people at first, she said: Mrs. Sinclair seem’d very forbidding! Her nieces were persons, with whom she could not wish to be acquainted. But really we should not be too hasty in our censures. Some people improve upon us. The widow seems tolerable .’ [She went no farther than tolerable ]. ‘Miss Martin and Miss Horton are young people of good sense, and have read a good deal. What Miss Martin particularly said of marriage, and of her humble servant, was very solid. She believes, with such notions, she cannot make a bad wife.’ —By the way, Sally’s humble servant is a woolen-draper of great reputation; and she is soon to be marry’d.

 

I have been letting her into thy character, and into the characters of my other three Esquires, in hopes to excite her curiosity to see you to-morrow night. I have told her some of the worst, as well as best parts of your characters, in order to exalt myself, and to obviate any sudden surprizes, as well as to teach her what sort of men she may expect to see, if she will oblige me.

 

By her observations upon each of you, I shall judge what I may or may not do to obtain or keep her good opinion: What she will like, what not ; and so pursue the one, or avoid the other, as I see proper. —So, while she is penetrating into your shallow heads, I shall enter her heart, and know what to bid my own hope for.

 

The house is to be taken in three weeks: All will be over in three weeks, or bad will be my luck! — Who knows but in three days? —Have I not carry’d that great point of making her pass for my wife to the people below? And that other great one of fixing myself here night and day? —What lady ever escaped me, that lodg’d under one roof with me? —The house too, THE house; the people, people after my own heart: Her servants Will and Dorcas both my servants. — Three days did I say! Pho! pho! — Three hours !

 

I have carried my third point, Jack; but extremely to the dislike of my charmer. Miss Partington was introduced to her; and being engaged on condition, that my beloved would honour me at my collation, there was no denying her; so fine a young lady! seconded by my earnest intreaties.

 

I long to have your opinions of my fair prize! —If you love to see features that glow, tho’ the heart is frozen, and never yet was thaw’d; if you love fine sense, and adages flowing thro’ tecth of ivory, and lips of coral; an eye that penetrates all things; a voice that is harmony itself; an air of grandeur, mingled with a sweetness that cannot be described; a politeness that, if ever equalled, was never excelled—You’ll see all these excellencies, and ten times more, in this my Gloriana .

Mark her majestic fabric!—She’s a temple
Sacred by birth, and built by hands divine;
Her soul the deity that lodges there:
Nor is the pile unworthy of the god.

Or, to describe her in a softer stile, with Rowe,

The bloom of op’ning flow’rs, unfully’d beauty,
Softness, and sweetness innocence, she wears,
And looks like nature in the world’s first spring.

Adieu, varlets four! —At six on Monday evening, I expect ye all.

 

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