LETTER 421: MR LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

Wednesday-Morn, Aug. 23. 

All alive, dear Jack! and in ecstasy! Likely to be once more a happy man! For I have received a letter from my beloved Miss Harlowe ; in consequence, I suppose, of advices that I mentioned in my last from her sister. And I am setting out for Berks directly, to shew the contents to my Lord M. and to receive the congratulations of all my kindred upon it.

 

I went, last night, as I intended, to Smith’s: But the dear creature was not returned at near ten o’clock. And, lighting upon Tourville, I took him home with me, and made him sing me out of my megrims. I went to bed tolerably easy at two; had bright and pleasant dreams, not such a frightful one as that I gave thee an account of: And at eight this morning, as I was dressing, to be in readiness against Will came back, whom I had sent to enquire after his lady’s return, I had this letter brought me by a chairman.

 

To Robert Lovelace, Esq; 

Tuesday night, 11 o’clock. (Aug. 22.) 

SIR,
I have good news to tell you. I am setting out with all diligence for my father’s house. I am bid to hope that he will receive his poor penitent with a goodness peculiar to himself; for I am overjoyed with the assurance of a thorough reconciliation, thro’ the interposition of a dear blessed friend, whom I always loved and honoured

I am so taken up with my preparation for this joyful and long-wished-for journey, that I cannot spare one moment for any other business, having several matters of the last importance to settle first. So, pray, Sir, don’t disturb or interrupt me—I beseech you don’t. —You may, in time, possibly, see me at my father’s; at least, if it be not your own fault.

 

I will write a letter, which shall be sent you when I am got thither and received: Till when, I am, &c.

 

Clarissa Harlowe. 

I dispatched instantly a letter to the dear creature, assuring her, with the most thankful joy, “That I would directly set out for Berks, and wait the issue of the happy reconciliation, and the charming hopes she had filled me with. I poured out upon her a thousand blessings. I declared, that it should be the study of my whole life to merit such transcendent goodness. And that there was nothing which her father or friends should require at my hands, that I would not for her sake comply with, in order to promote and complete so desirable a reconciliation.”

I hurried it away, without taking a copy of it; and I have ordered the chariot-and-six to be got ready; and, hey for M. Hall! —Let me but know how Belton does. I hope a letter from thee is on the road. And if the poor fellow can spare thee, make haste, I advise thee, to attend this truly divine lady, or else thou mayest not see her of months perhaps; at least, not while she is Miss Harlowe . And favour me with one letter before she sets out, if possible, confirming to me, and accounting for, this generous change.

 

But what accounting for it is necessary? The dear creature cannot receive consolation herself, but she must communicate it to others. How noble! —She would not see me in her adversity: But no sooner does the sun of prosperity begin to shine upon her, than she forgives me.

 

I know to whose mediation all this is owing. It is to Col. Morden’s. She always, as she says, lov’d and honour’d him: And he loved her above all his relations.

I shall now be convinced that there is something in dreams. The ceiling opening is the reconciliation in view. The bright form, lifting her up through it to another ceiling stuck round with golden Cherubims and Seraphims, indicates the charming little boys and girls, that will be the fruits of this happy reconciliation. The welcomes, thrice repeated, are those of her family, now no more to be deemed implacable. Yet are they a family too, that my soul cannot mingle with.

But then what is my tumbling over and over, thro’ the floor, into a frightful hole ( descending as she ascends )? Ho! only This; it alludes to my disrelish to matrimony: Which is a bottomless pit, a gulph, and I know not what. And I suppose, had I not awoke (in such a plaguy fright) I had been soused into some river at the bottom of the hole, and then been carried (mundified or purified from my past iniquities) by the same bright form (waiting for me upon the mossy banks) to my beloved girl; and we should have gone on, cherubiming of it, and carolling, to the end of the chapter.

 

But what are the black sweeping mantles and robes of my Lord M. thrown over my face, and what are those of the Ladies? Oh, Jack! I have these too: They indicate nothing in the world but that my Lord will be so good as to die, and leave me all he has. So, rest to thy good natured soul, honest Lord M.

 

Lady Sarah Sadleir and Lady Betty Lawrance, will also die, and leave me swindging legacies.

 

Miss Charlotte and her sister—what will become of them? —O! they will be in mourning of course for their uncle and aunts—That’s right!

 

As to Morden’s flashing through the window, and crying, Die, Lovelace, and be damn’d, if thou wilt not repair my cousin’s wrongs! That is only, that he would have sent me a challenge, had I not been disposed to do the lady justice.

 

All I dislike is This part of the dream: For, even in a dream, I would not be thought to be threatened into any measure, tho’ I liked it ever so well.

 

And so much for my prophetic dream.

 

Dear charming creature! What a meeting will there be between her and her father and mother and uncles! What transports, what pleasure, will this happy, long-wished for reconciliation give her dutiful heart! And indeed, now, methinks, I am glad she is so dutiful to them; for her duty to parents is a conviction to me, that she will be as dutiful to her husband: Since duty upon principle is an uniform thing.

 

Why pr’ythee, now, Jack, I have not been so much to blame, as thou thinkest: For had it not been for me, who have led her into so much distress, she could neither have received nor given the joy that will now overwhelm them all. So here rises great and durable good out of temporary evil!

 

I knew they loved her, (the pride and glory of their family) too well to hold out long!

 

I wish I could have seen Arabella’s letter. She has always been so much eclipsed by her sister, that, I dare say, she has signified this reconciliation to her with intermingled phlegm and wormwood; and her invitation most certainly runs all in the rock-water style.

 

I shall long to see the promised letter too, when she is got thither, which I hope will give an account of the reception she will meet with.

 

There is a solemnity, however, I think, in the style of her letter, which pleases and affects me at the same time. But as it is evident she loves me still, and hopes soon to see me at her father’s; she could not help being a little solemn, and half-ashamed, (dear blushing pretty rogue!) to own her love, after my usage of her.

 

And then her subscription: Till when, I am, Clarissa Harlowe : As much as to say, after that, I shall be, if not your own fault, ClarissaLovelace !

 

O my best love! My ever generous and adorable creature! How much does this thy forgiving goodness exalt us both! —I, for the occasion given thee! Thou for turning it so gloriously to thy advantage, and to the honour of both!

 

And if, my beloved creature, you will but connive at the imperfections of your adorer, and not play the wife upon me: If, while the charms of Novelty have their force with me, I should happen to be drawn aside by the intricacies of intrigue, and of plots that my soul loves to form, and pursue; and if thou wilt not be open-eyed to the follies of my youth, (a transitory state!) every excursion shall serve but the more to endear thee to me, till in time, and in a very little time too, I shall get above sense; and then, charmed by thy soul-attracting converse, and brought to despise my former courses, what I now, at distance, consider as a painful duty, will be my joyful choice, and all my delight will centre in thee!

 

  

Mowbray is just arrived with thy letters. I therefore close my agreeable subject, to attend to one, which I doubt will be very shocking. I have engaged the rough varlet to bear me company in the morning to Berks; where I shall file off the rust he has contracted in his attendance upon the poor fellow.

 

He tells me, that between the dying Belton, and the preaching Belford, he shan’t be his own man these three days. And says, that thou addest to the unhappy fellow’s weakness, instead of giving him courage to help him to bear his destiny.

 

I am sorry he takes the unavoidable lot so heavily. But he has been long ill; and sickness enervates the mind, as well as the body; as he himself very significantly observed to thee.

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