LETTER 231: MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ

Mr. Lovelace, To John Belford, Esq; 

Friday morning, past Two o’clock. 

Io Triumphe ! Io Clarissa, sing! —One more, what a happy man thy friend! —A silly dear novice, to be heard to tell the coachman whither to carry her! —And to go to Hampstead, of all the villages about London! —The place where we had been together more than once!

Me thinks I am sorry she managed no better! —I shall find the recovery of her too easy a task, I fear! Had she but known, how much difficulty enhances the value of any thing with me, and had she had the least notion of obliging me, she would never have stopt short at Hampstead, surely.

Well, but after all this exultation, thou wilt ask,
If I have already got back my charmer? —I have not. —But knowing where she is, is almost the same thing as having her in my power: And it delights me to think, how she will start and tremble, when I first pop upon her! How she will look with conscious guilt, that will more than wipe off my guilt of Wednesday night, when she sees her injured lover, and acknowleged husband, from whom, the greatest of felonies, she would have stollen herself.

But thou wilt be impatient to know how this came about. Read the inclosed here, and remember the instructions, which, from time to time, I have given my fellow, in apprehension of such an elopement; and that will tell thee all, and what I may reasonably expect From the rascal’s diligence and management, if he wishes ever to see my face again.

I received it about half an hour ago, just as I was going to lie down in my cloaths: And it has made me so much alive, that, midnight as it is, I have sent for a Blunt’s chariot, to attend me here by day-peep, with my usual coachman, if possible; and knowing not else what to do with myself, I sat down, and, in the joy of my heart, have not only wrote thus far, but have concluded upon the measures I shall take when admitted to her presence: For well am I aware of the difficulties I shall have to contend with from her perverseness.

 

Honoured Sur,
This is to sertifie your honner, as how I am heer at Hamester, wher I have found out my Lady to be in logins at one Mrs. Moore’s, near upon Hamestet hethe. And I have so ordered matters, that her Ladiship cannot stur but I must have notice of her goins and comins. As I knowed I dursted not look into your Honner’s fase, if I had not found out my Lady, thoff she was gone off the prems’s in a quartir off an hour, as a man may say; so I knowed you would be glad at heart to know I had found her out: And so I send this Petur Partrick, who is to haf 5 shillins, it being now nere 12 of the clock at nite; for he would not stur without a hartie drinck too besides: And I was willing all shulde be snug likewayes at the logins befoer I sent.

I have munny of youre Honner’s, but I thout as how if the man was payed by me beforend, he mought play trix; so left that to youre Honner.

My Lady knows nothing of my being hereaway. But I thoute it best not to leve the plase, because she has tacken the logins but for a fue nites.

If your Honner cum to the Upper Flax, I will be in site all the day about the Tapp-house or the Hethe; I have borroued an othir cote, instead off your Honner’s liferie, and a blacke wigge; soe cannot be knoen by my Lady, iff as howe she shuld see me: And have made as if I had the toothe-ake; so with my hancriffe at my mothe, the tethe which your Honner was plesed to bett out with your honner’s fyste, and my dam’d wide mothe, as youre Honner notifys it to be, cannot be knoen to be mine.

The tow inner letters I had from my Lady, before she went off the prems’s. One was to be left at Mr. Wilson’s for Miss Howe. The next was to be for your Honner. But I knew you was not at the plase directed; and being afear’d of what fell out, so I kept them for your Honner, and so could not give um to you, until I seed you. Miss How’s I only made belief to her Ladiship as I carred it, and fed as how there was nothing left for hur, as shee wished to knoe: So here they be bothe.

I am, may it pless your Honner,

Your Honner’s most dutiful,
and, wonce more, happy servant,
Wm. Summers .

 

The two inner letters, as Will. calls them, ’tis plain, were wrote for no other purpose, but to send him out of the way with them, and one of them to amuse me. That directed to Miss Howe is only this:

Thursday, June 8. 

I write this, my dear Miss Howe, only for a feint, and to see if it will go current. I shall write at large very soon, if not miserably prevented! ! !

Cl. H. 

 

Now, Jack, will not her feints justify mine? Does she not invade my province, thinkest thou? And is it not now fairly come to Who shall most deceive and cheat the other ? So, I thank my stars, we are upon a par, at last, as to this point—Which is a great ease to my conscience, thou must believe. And if what Hudibras tells us is true, the dear fugitive has also abundance of pleasure to come.

Doubtless the pleasure is as great
In being cheated, as to cheat.
As lookers-on find most delight,
Who least perceive the juggler’s sleight;
And still the less they understand,
The more admire the sleight of hand. 

This is my dear juggler’s letter to me; the other inner letter sent by Will.

 

Thursday, June 8. 

Mr. Lovelace,
Do not give me cause to dread your return. If you would not that I should hate you for ever, send me half a line by the bearer, to assure me that you will not attempt to see me for a week to come. I cannot look you in the face without equal confusion and indignation. The obliging me in This is but a poor atonement for your last night’s vile behaviour.

You may pass this time in a journey to your uncle’s; and I cannot doubt, if the Ladies of your family are as favourable to me, as you have assured me they are, but that you will have interest enough to prevail with one of them, to oblige me with her company. After your baseness of last night, you will not wonder, that I insist upon this proof of your future honour.

If Captain Tomlinson comes mean time, I can hear what he has to say, and send you an account of it.

But in less than a week, if you see me, it must be owing to a fresh act of violence, of which you know not the consequence.

Send me the requested line, if ever you expect to have the forgiveness confirmed; the promise of which you extorted from

The Unhappy
Cl. H.

 

Now, Belford, what canst thou say in behalf of this sweet rogue of a Lady? What canst thou say for her? ‘Tis apparent, that she was fully determined upon an elopement, when she wrote it: And thus would she make me of party against myself, by drawing me in to give her a week’s time to compleat it in: And, wickeder still, send me upon a fool’s errand to bring up one of my cousins: —When we came, to have the satisfaction of finding her gone off, and me exposed for ever! —What punishment can be bad enough for such a little villain of a Lady!

But mind, moreover, how plausibly she accounts by this billet (supposing she had no opportunity of eloping before I returned) for the resolution of not seeing me for a week; and for the bread and butter expedient! —So childish as we thought it!

The chariot is not come; and if it were, it is yet too soon for every-thing but my impatience. And as I have already taken all my measures, and can think of nothing but my triumph, I will resume her violent letter, in order to strengthen my resolutions against her. I was before in too gloomy a way to proceed with it: But now the subject is all alive to me, and my gayer fancy, like the sun-beams, will irradiate it, and turn the solemn deep green into a brighter verdure.

When I have called upon my charmer to explain some parts of her letter, and to atone for others, I will send it, or a copy of it, to thee.

Suffice it at present to tell thee, in the first place, that she is determined never to be my wife . —To be sure, there ought to be no compulsion in so material a case. Compulsion was her parents fault, which I have censured so severely, that I shall hardly be guilty of the same. And I am glad I know her mind as to this essential point.

I have ruined her, she says! —Now that’s a fib, take it in her own way: —If I had, she would not perhaps have run away from me.

She is thrown upon the wide world : Now I own, that Hampstead-Heath affords very pretty, and very extensive prospects; but ’tis not the wide worldneither: And suppose that to be her grievance, I hope soon to restore her to a narrower .

I am the enemy of her soul, as well as of her honour ! —Confoundedly severe! Nevertheless, another fib! —For I love her soul very well; but think no more of it in this case than of my own.

She is to be thrown upon strangers ! —And is not that her own fault? —Much against my will, I am sure!

She is cast from a state of independency into one of obligation . She never was in a state of independency ; nor is it fit a woman should, of any age, or in any state of life. And as to the state of obligation, there is no such thing as living without being beholden to somebody. Mutual obligation is the very essence and soul of the social and commercial life: —Why should she be exempt from it? —I am sure the person she raves at, desires not such an exemption;—has been long dependent upon her, and would rejoice to owe further obligations to her, than he can boast of hitherto.

She talks of her father’s curse : —But have I not repaid him for it an hundred-fold, in the same coin? But why must the faults of other people be laid at my door? Have I not enow of my own?

But the grey-eyed dawn begins to peep—Let me sum up all.

In short, then, the dear creature’s letter is a collection of invectives not very new to me ; though the occasion for them, no doubt, is new to her . A little sprinkling of the romantic and contradictory runs thro’ it. She loves, and she hates: She encourages me to pursue her, by telling me I safely may; and yet she begs I will not: She apprehends poverty and want, yet resolves to give away her estate: To gratify whom? —Why, in short, those who have been the cause of her misfortunes. And finally, tho’ she resolves never to be mine, yet she has some regrets at leaving me, because of the opening prospects of a reconciliation with her friends.

But never did morning dawn so tardily as this! — The chariot not yet come neither.

 

 

A Gentleman to speak with me, Dorcas? — Who can want me thus early?

Captain Tomlinson, sayst thou! Surely, he must have travelled all night! —Early riser as I am, how could he think to find me up thus early?

Let but the chariot come, and he shall accompany me in it to the bottom of the hill (tho’ he return to town on foot; for the Captain is all obliging goodness), that I may hear all he has to say, and tell him all my mind, and lose no time.

Well, now am I satisfied, that this rebellious flight will turn to my advantage, as all crush’d rebellions do to the advantage of a Sovereign in possession.

 

Dear Captain, I rejoice to see you: Just in the nick of time: —See! See!

The rosy-finger’d morn appears,
And from her mantle shakes her tears;
The sun arising, mortals chears,
And drives the rising mists away,
In promise of a glorious day. 

Excuse me, Sir, that I salute you, from my favourite Bard. He that rises with the Lark, will sing with the Lark. Strange news since I saw you, Captain! Poor mistaken Lady! —But you have too much goodness, I know, to reveal to her uncle Harlowe the errors of this capricious Beauty. It will all turn out for the best. You must accompany me part of the way. I know the delight you take in composing differences. But ’tis the task of the Prudent to heal the breaches made by the rashness and folly of the Imprudent.

 

 

And now (all around me so still, and so silent) the rattling of the chariot-wheels at a street’s distance, do I hear! —And to this angel of a Lady I fly!

Reward, O God of Love (the cause is thy own); reward thou, as it deserves, my suffering persevereance! —Succeed my endeavours to bring back to thy obedience, this charming fugitive! —Make her acknowlege her rashness; repent her insults; implore my forgiveness; beg to be re-instated in my favour, and that I will bury in oblivion the remembrance of her heinous offence against thee, and against me, thy faithful votary.

 

 

The chariot at the door! —I come! I come!—

I attend you, good Captain—

Indeed, Sir—

Pray, Sir—Civility is not ceremony.

And now, dressed like a bridegroom, my heart elated beyond that of the most desiring one (attended by a footman whom my Beloved never saw), I am already at Hampstead!

This entry was posted in from Robert Lovelace, to John Belford and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *