LETTER 199: MR LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ

Mr. Lovelace, To John Belford, Esq; 

The next letter is of such a nature, that, I dare say, these proud varletesses would not have had it fall into my hands for the world ( a ) .

 

I see by it to what displeasure with me, in relation to my proposals, was owing. They were not summ’d up, it seems, with the warmth, with the ardor, which she had expected. This whole letter was transcribed by Dorcas, to whose lot it fell. Thou shalt have copies of them all at full length shortly.

 

Men of our cast, this little devil says, she fancies, cannot have the ardors that honest men have . Miss Howe has very pretty fancies, Jack. Charming girl! Would to heaven I knew whether my fair-one answers her as freely as she writes! ‘Twould vex a man’s heart, that this virago should have come honestly by her fancies .

 

Who knows but I may have half a dozen creatures to get off my hands, before I engage for life? —Yet, lest this should mean me a compliment, as if I would reform, she adds her belief, that she must not expect me to be honest on this side my grand climacteric . She has an high opinion of her Sex, to think they can charm so long, with a man so well acquainted with their identicalness .

 

He to suggest delays, she says, from a compliment to be made to Lord M. ! —Yes, I, my dear—Because a man has not been accustomed to be dutiful, must he never be dutiful? —In so important a case as this too; the hearts of his whole family engaged in it? You did indeed, says she, want an interposing friend—But were I to have been in your situation, I would have tore his eyes out, and left it to his own heart to furnish the reason for it . See! See! What sayest thou to this, Jack?

 

Villain—Fellow that he is ! follow. And for what? Only for wishing that the next day were to be my happy one; and for being dutiful to my nearest relation.

 

It is the cruellest of fates, she says, for a woman to be forced to have a man whom her heart despises . —That is what I wanted to be sure of. —I was afraid, that my beloved was too conscious of her talents; of her superiority! —I was afraid that she indeed despised me; and I cannot bear it. But, Belford, I do not intend that this lady shall be bound down by so cruel a fate. Let me perish, if I marry a woman who has given her most intimate friend reason to say, she despises me! —A Lovelace to be despised, Jack!

 

His clench’d fist to his forehead on your leaving him in just displeasure —that is, when she was not satisfied with my ardors, and please ye! —I remember the motion: But her back was toward me at the time. Are these watchful ladies all eye? —But observe her wish, I wish it had been a poll-ax, and in the hands of his worst enemy . —I will have patience, Jack; I will have patience! My day is at hand. —Then will I steel my heart with these remembrances.

 

But here is a scheme to be thought of, in order to get my fair prize out of my hands, in case I give her reason to suspect me .

 

This indeed alarms me. Now the contention becomes arduous. Now wilt thou not wonder, if I let loose my plotting genius upon them both. I will not be out-Norris’d, Belford.

 

But once more, she has no notion, she says, that I can or dare to mean her dishonour . But then the man is a fool—that’s all . —I should indeed be a fool, to proceed as I do, and mean matrimony! However, since you are thrown upon a fool, says she, marry the fool, at the first opportunity; and tho’ I doubt that this man will be the most unmanageable of fools, as all witty and vain fools are, take him as a punishment, since you cannot as a reward . —Is there any bearing this, Belford?

 

But in the letter I came at to-day, while she was at church, her scheme is further opened, and a cursed one it is.

 

Mr. Lovelace then transcribes, from his short-hand notes, that part of Miss Howe’s letter, which relates to the design of engaging Mrs. Townsend (in case of necessity) to give her protection till Colonel Morden come : And repeats his vows of revenge; especially for those words; that should he attempt any thing that would make him obnoxious to the laws of society, she might have a fair riddance of him, either by flight or the gallows; no matter which He then adds ;—‘Tis my pride, to subdue girls who know too much to doubt their knowlege; and to convince them, that they know too little, to defend themselves from the inconveniences of knowing too much .

 

How passion drives a man on! I have written, as thou’lt see, a prodigious quantity in a very few hours! Now my resentments are warm, I will see, and perhaps will punish, this proud, this double -arm’d beauty. I have sent to tell her, that I must be admitted to sup with her. We have neither of us dined: She refused to drink tea in the afternoon. —And I believe neither of us will have much stomach to our supper.

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