LETTER 256: MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

 

At Mrs. Sinclair’s, Monday Afternoon.

 

All’s right, as heart can wish! —In spite of all objection—in spite of a reluctance next to fainting —In spite of all her foresight, vigilance, suspicion, once more is the charmer of my soul in her new lodgings!

 

Now throbs away every pulse! Now thump, thump, thumps my bounding heart for something!

 

But I have not time for the particulars of our management.

 

My Beloved is now directing some of her cloaths to be packed up—Never more to enter this house! Nor ever more will she, I dare say, when once again out of it!

 

Yet not so much as a condition of forgiveness! — The Harlowe-spirited Fair-one will not deserve my mercy! —She will wait for Miss Howe’s next letter; and then, if she find a difficulty in her new schemes [Thank her for nothing]—will—Will what? — Why Even then will take time to consider, whether I am to be forgiven, or for ever rejected. An indifference that revives in my heart the remembrance of a thousand of the like nature. —And yet Lady Betty and Miss Montague [One would be tempted to think, Jack, that they wish her to provoke my vengeance] declare, that I ought to be satisfied with such a proud suspension!

 

They are intirely attached to her. Whatever she says is, must be, gospel! —They are guarantees for her return to Hamstead this night. They are to go back with her. A supper bespoke by Lady Betty at Mrs. Moore’s. All the vacant apartments there, by my permission (for I had engaged them for a month certain), to be filled with them and their attendants, for a week at least, or till they can prevail upon the dear Perverse, as they hope they shall, to restore me to her favour, and to accompany Lady Betty to Oxfordshire.

 

The dear creature has thus far condescended— That she will write to Miss Howe, and acquaint her with the present situation of things.

 

If she write, I shall see what she writes. But I believe she will have other employment soon.

 

Lady Betty is sure, she tells her, that she shall prevail upon her to forgive me; tho’ she dares say, that I deserve not forgiveness. Lady Betty is too delicate to inquire strictly into the nature of my offence. But it must be an offence against herself, against Miss Montague, against the virtuous of the whole Sex, or it could not be so highly resented. Yet she will not leave her till she forgive me, and till she see our nuptials privately celebrated. Mean time, as she approves of her uncle’s expedient, she will address her as already my wife, before strangers .

 

Stedman her solicitor may attend her for orders, in relation to her Chancery-affair, at Hamstead. Not one hour they can be favoured with, will they lose from the company and conversation of so dear, so charming a new relation.

 

Hard then if she had not obliged them with her company, in their coach-and-four, to and from their cousin Leeson’s, who longed (as they themselves had done) to see a lady so justly celebrated!

 

‘How will Lord M. be raptured when he sees her, and can salute her as his niece!

 

‘How will Lady Sarah bless herself! —She will now think her loss of the dear daughter she mourns for, happily supplied!’

 

Miss Montague dwells upon every word that falls from her lips. She perfectly adores her new cousin: ‘For her cousin she must be. And her cousin will she call her! She answers for equal admiration in her sister Patty.’
‘Ay, cry I (whispering loud enough for her to hear), how will my cousin Patty’s dove’s eyes glisten, and run over, on the very first interview! —So gracious, so noble, so unaffected a dear creature!’

 

“What a happy family,” chorus we all, “will ours be!”

 

These, and such-like congratulatory admirations, every hour repeated: Her modesty hurt by the ecstatic praises: —‘Her graces are too natural to herself, for her to be proud of them: —But she must be content to be punished for excellencies that cast a shade upon the most excellent!’

 

In short, we are here, as at Hamstead, all joy and rapture: All of us, except my beloved, in whose sweet face [her almost fainting reluctance to re-enter these doors not overcome] reigns a kind of anxious serenity! —But how will even that be changed in a few hours!

 

Methinks I begin to pity the half-apprehensive Beauty! —But avaunt, thou unseasonably-intruding pity! Thou hast more than once, already, well nigh undone me! —And, Adieu reflection! Begone consideration! and commiseration! I dismiss ye all, for, at least, a week to come! —Be remembred her broken word! Her flight, when my fond soul was meditating mercy to her! —Be remembred her treatment of me, in her letter on her escape to Hamstead! — Her Hamstead virulence! —What is it she ought not to expect from an unchained Beelzebub, and a plotting villain?

 

Be her preference of the single life to me, also remembred! —That she despises me! —That she even refuses to be my WIFE! —A proud Lovelace to be denied a Wife ! —To be more proudly rejected by a daughter of the Harlowes ! —The ladies of my own family [She thinks them the ladies of my family] supplicating in vain for her returning favour to their despised kinsman, and taking laws from her still prouder punctilio!
Be the execrations of her vixen friend likewise remembred, poured out upon me from her representations, and thereby made her own execrations!

 

Be remembred still more particularly, the Townsend plot, set on foot between them, and now, in a day or two, ready to break out; and the sordid threatenings thrown out against me by that little fury.

 

Is not this the crisis for which I have been long waiting? Shall Tomlinson, shall these women, be engaged; shall so many engines be set at work, at an immense expence, with infinite contrivance; and all to no purpose?

 

Is not this the hour of her trial—And in her, of the trial of the virtue of her whole Sex, so long premeditated, so long threatened? —Whether her frost is frost indeed? Whether her virtue is principle? Whether, if once subdued, she will not be always subdued ? And will she not want the very crown of her glory, the proof of her till now all-surpassing excellence, if I stop short of the ultimate trial?

 

Now is the end of purposes long over-awed, often suspended, at hand. And need I to throw the sins of her cursed family into the too weighty scale?

 

Abhorred be force! —Be the thoughts of force! There’s no triumph over the will in force! This I know I have said ( a ) . But would I not have avoided it, if I could? —Have I not try’d every other method? And have I any other recourse left me? Can she resent the last outrage more than she has resented a fainter effort ? —And if her resentments run ever so high, cannot I repair by matrimony? —She will not refuse me, I know, Jack; the haughty Beauty will not refuse me, when her pride of being corporally inviolate is brought down; when she can tell no tales, but when (be her resistance what it will) even her own sex will suspect a yielding in resistance; and when that modesty, which may fill her bosom with resentment, will lock up her speech.

 

But how know I, that I have not made my own difficulties? —Is she not a woman? —What redress lies for a perpetrated evil? —Must she not live ? — Her piety will secure her life. —And will not time be my friend? —What, in a word, will be her behaviour afterwards? —She cannot fly me! —She must forgive me—And, as I have often said, once forgiven, will be for ever forgiven .

 

Why then should this enervating pity unsteel my foolish heart?—

 

It shall not. All these things will I remember; and think of nothing else, in order to keep up a resolution, which the women about me will have it I shall be still unable to hold.

 

I’ll teach the dear charming creature to emulate me in contrivance! —I’ll teach her to weave webs and plots against her conqueror! —I’ll shew her, that in her smuggling schemes she is but a spider compared to me, and that she has all this time been spinning only a cobweb!

 

What shall we do now! —We are immersed in the depth of grief and apprehension! —How ill do women bear disappointment! —Set upon going to Hamstead, and upon quitting for ever a house she re-enter’d with infinite reluctance; what things she intended to take with her, ready pack’d up; herself on tip-toe to be gone; and I prepared to attend her thither; she begins to be afraid, that she shall not go this night; and, in grief and despair, has flung herself into her old apartment; lock’d herself in; and, thro’ the key-hole, Dorcas sees her on her knees— praying, I suppose, for a safe deliverance.

 

And from what? —And wherefore these agonizing apprehensions?

 

Why, here, this unkind Lady Betty, with the dear creature’s knowlege, tho’ to her concern, and this mad-headed cousin Montague without it, while she was employ’d in directing her package, have hurried away in the coach to their own lodgings—Only, indeed, to put up some night-cloaths, and so forth, in order to attend their sweet cousin to Hamstead; and, no less to my surprize than hers, are not yet returned.

 

I have sent to know the meaning of it.

 

In a great hurry of spirits, she would have had me gone myself. Hardly any pacifying her! —The girl! God bless her! is wild with her own idle apprehensions! —What is she afraid of?

 

I curse them both for their delay—My tardy villain, how he stays! —Devil fetch them! Let them send their coach, and we’ll go without them. In her hearing, I bid the fellow tell them so. —Perhaps he stays to bring the coach, if any thing happens to hinder the ladies from attending my Beloved this night.

 

Devil take them, again say I! —They promised too, they would not stay, because it was but two nights ago, that a chariot was robb’d at the foot of Hamstead hill; which alarmed my fair-one, when told of it!

 

Oh! here’s my aunt’s servant, with a billet.

 

( a ) See L 202.

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