LETTER 240: MR LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ

 

Saturday, 6 o’clock, June 10.

The lady gave Will’s sweetheart a letter last night to be carried to the post-house as this morning, directed for Miss Howe, under cover to Hickman. I dare say neither cover nor letter will be seen to have been open’d. The contents but eight lines—To own—‘The receipt of her double-dated letter in safety: and referring to a longer letter, which she intends to write, when she shall have a quieter heart, and less trembling fingers. But mentions something to have happen’d [My detecting her, she means], which has given her very great flutters, confusions, and apprehensions: But which she will await the issue of [Some hopes for me hence, Jack!] before she gives her fresh perturbation or concern on her account. —She tells her how impatient she shall be for her next, &c.’

 

Now, Belford, I thought it would be but kind in me to save Miss Howe’s concern on these alarming hints; since the curiosity of such a spirit must have been prodigiously excited by them. Having therefore so good a copy to imitate, I wrote; and, taking out that of my Beloved, put under the same cover the following short billet; inscriptive and conclusive parts of it in her own words.

 

Hamstead, Tuesday evening.

My ever-dear Miss Howe,
A few lines only, till calmer spirits and quieter fingers be granted me, and till I can get over the shock which your intelligence has given me—To acquaint you—that your kind long letter of Wednesday, and, as I may say, of Thursday morning, is come safe to my hands. On receipt of yours by my messenger to you, I sent for it from Wilson’s. There, thank heaven! it lay. May that heaven reward you for all your past, and for all your intendedgoodness to

 

Your for-ever obliged,
Cl. Harlowe .

 

I took great pains in writing this. It cannot, I hope, be suspected. Her hand is so very delicate.

 

Yet hers is written less beautifully than she usually writes: And I hope Miss Howe will allow somewhat for hurry of spirits, and unsteady fingers .

 

My consideration for Miss Howe’s ease of mind extended still farther than to the instance I have mentioned.

 

That this billet might be with her as soon as possible (and before it could have reach’d Hickman by the post), I dispatch’d it away by a servant of Mowbray’s. Miss Howe, had there been any failure or delay, might, as thou wilt think, have communicated her anxieties to her fugitive friend; and she to me, perhaps, in a way I should not have been pleased with.

 

Once more wilt thou wonderingly question—All this pains for a single girl?

 

Yes, Jack! —But is not this girl a Clarissa ? — And who knows, but kind Fortune, as a reward for my perseverance, may toss me in her charming friend? Less likely things have come to pass, Belford! —And to be sure I shall have her, if I resolve upon it.

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