Samuel Richardson.

Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 5 online

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or both of my cousins to assist my bride, and to support her spirits on
the occasion; since, as he understands, she is so much afraid to venture
with me.

'Pritchard, he tells me, has his final orders to draw up deeds for
assigning over to me, in perpetuity, 1000£. per annum: which he will
execute the same hour that the lady in person owns her marriage.'

He consents, 'that the jointure be made from my own estate.'

He wishes, 'that the Lady would have accepted of his draught; and
commends me for tendering it to her. But reproaches me for my pride in
not keeping it myself. What the right side gives up, the left, he says,
may be the better for.'

The girls, the left-sided girls, he means.

With all my heart. If I can have my Clarissa, the devil take every thing
else.

A good deal of other stuff writes the stupid peer; scribbling in several
places half a dozen lines, apparently for no other reason but to bring in
as many musty words in an old saw.

If thou sawest, 'How I can manage, since my beloved will wonder that I
have not an answer from my Lord to such a letter as I wrote to him; and
if I own I have one, will expect that I should shew it to her, as I did
my letter? - This I answer - 'That I can be informed by Pritchard, that my
Lord has the gout in his right-hand; and has ordered him to attend me in
form, for my particular orders about the transfer:' And I can see
Pritchard, thou knowest, at the King's Arms, or wherever I please, at an
hour's warning; though he be at M. Hall, I in town; and he, by word of
mouth, can acquaint me with every thing in my Lord's letter that is
necessary for my charmer to know.

Whenever it suits me, I can resolve the old peer to his right hand, and
then can make him write a much more sensible letter than this that he has
now sent me.

Thou knowest, that an adroitness in the art of manual imitation, was one
of my earliest attainments. It has been said, on this occasion, that had
I been a bad man in meum and tuum matters, I should not have been fit to
live. As to the girls, we hold it no sin to cheat them. And are we not
told, that in being well deceived consists the whole of human happiness?


WEDNESDAY, MAY 31.

All still happier and happier. A very high honour done me: a chariot,
instead of a coach, permitted, purposely to indulge me in the subject of
subjects.

Our discourse in this sweet airing turned upon our future manner of life.
The day is bashfully promised me. Soon was the answer to my repeated
urgency. Our equipage, our servants, our liveries, were parts of the
delightful subject. A desire that the wretch who had given me
intelligence out of the family (honest Joseph Leman) might not be one of
our menials; and her resolution to have her faithful Hannah, whether
recovered or not; were signified; and both as readily assented to.

Her wishes, from my attentive behaviour, when with her at St. Paul's,*
that I would often accompany her to the Divine Service, were greatly
intimated, and as readily engaged for. I assured her, that I ever had
respected the clergy in a body; and some individuals of them (her Dr.
Lewen for one) highly: and that were not going to church an act of
religion, I thought it [as I told thee once] a most agreeable sight to
see rich and poor, all of a company, as I might say, assembled once a
week in one place, and each in his or her best attire, to worship the God
that made them. Nor could it be a hardship upon a man liberally
educated, to make one on so solemn an occasion, and to hear the harangue
of a man of letters, (though far from being the principal part of the
service, as it is too generally looked upon to be,) whose studies having
taken a different turn from his own, he must always have something new to
say.


* See Vol. IV. Letter V.
** Ibid.


She shook her head, and repeated the word new: but looked as if willing
to be satisfied for the present with this answer. To be sure, Jack, she
means to do great despight to his Satanic majesty in her hopes of
reforming me. No wonder, therefore, if he exerts himself to prevent her,
and to be revenged. But how came this in! - I am ever of party against
myself. - One day, I fancy, I shall hate myself on recollecting what I am
about at this instant. But I must stay till then. We must all of us do
something to repent of.

The reconciliation-prospect was enlarged upon. If her uncle Harlowe will
but pave the way to it, and if it can be brought about, she shall be
happy. - Happy, with a sigh, as it is now possible she can be!

She won't forbear, Jack!

I told her, that I had heard from Pritchard, just before we set out on
our airing, and expected him in town to-morrow from Lord M. to take my
directions. I spoke with gratitude of my Lord's kindness to me; and with
pleasure of Lady Sarah's, Lady Betty's, and my two cousins Montague's
veneration for her: as also of his Lordship's concern that his gout
hindered him from writing a reply with his own hand to my last.

She pitied my Lord. She pitied poor Mrs. Fretchville too; for she had
the goodness to inquire after her. The dear creature pitied every body
that seemed to want pity. Happy in her own prospects, she had leisure to
look abroad, and wishes every body equally happy.

It is likely to go very hard with Mrs. Fretchville. Her face, which she
had valued herself upon, will be utterly ruined. 'This good, however, as
I could not but observe, she may reap from so great an evil - as the
greater malady generally swallows up the less, she may have a grief on
this occasion, that may diminish the other grief, and make it tolerable.'

I had a gentle reprimand for this light turn on so heavy an evil - 'For
what was the loss of beauty to the loss of a good husband?' - Excellent
creature!

Her hopes (and her pleasure upon those hopes) that Miss Howe's mother
would be reconciled to her, were also mentioned. Good Mrs. Howe was her
word, for a woman so covetous, and so remorseless in her covetousness,
that no one else will call her good. But this dear creature has such an
extension in her love, as to be capable of valuing the most insignificant
animal related to those whom she respects. Love me, and love my dog, I
have heard Lord M. say. - Who knows, but that I may in time, in compliment
to myself, bring her to think well of thee, Jack?

But what am I about? Am I not all this time arraigning my own heart? - I
know I am, by the remorse I feel in it, while my pen bears testimony to
her excellence. But yet I must add (for no selfish consideration shall
hinder me from doing justice to this admirable creature) that in this
conversation she demonstrated so much prudent knowledge in every thing
that relates to that part of the domestic management which falls under
the care of a mistress of a family, that I believe she has no equal of
her years in the world.

But, indeed, I know not the subject on which she does not talk with
admirable distinction; insomuch that could I but get over my prejudices
against matrimony, and resolve to walk in the dull beaten path of my
ancestors, I should be the happiest of men - and if I cannot, I may be ten
times more to be pitied than she.

My heart, my heart, Belford, is not to be trusted - I break off, to
re-peruse some of Miss Howe's virulence.


***


Cursed letters, these of Miss Howe, Jack! - Do thou turn back to those of
mine, where I take notice of them - I proceed -

Upon the whole, my charmer was all gentleness, all ease, all serenity,
throughout this sweet excursion. Nor had she reason to be otherwise: for
it being the first time that I had the honour of her company alone, I was
resolved to encourage her, by my respectfulness, to repeat the favour.

On our return, I found the counsellor's clerk waiting for me, with a
draught of the marriage-settlements.

They are drawn, with only the necessary variations, from those made for
my mother. The original of which (now returned by the counsellor) as
well as the new draughts, I have put into my beloved's hands.

These settlements of my mother made the lawyer's work easy; nor can she
have a better precedent; the great Lord S. having settled them, at the
request of my mother's relations; all the difference, my charmer's are
100l. per annum more than my mother's.

I offered to read to her the old deed, while she looked over the draught;
for she had refused her presence at the examination with the clerk: but
this she also declined.

I suppose she did not care to hear of so many children, first, second,
third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons, and as many daughters, to
be begotten upon the body of the said Clarissa Harlowe.

Charming matrimonial recitativoes! - though it is always said lawfully
begotten too - as if a man could beget children unlawfully upon the body
of his own wife. - But thinkest thou not that these arch rogues the
lawyers hereby intimate, that a man may have children by his wife before
marriage? - This must be what they mean. Why will these sly fellows put
an honest man in minds of such rogueries? - but hence, as in numberless
other instances, we see, that law and gospel are two very different
things.

Dorcas, in our absence, tried to get at the wainscot-box in the dark
closet. But it cannot be done without violence. And to run a risk of
consequence now, for mere curiosity-sake, would be inexcusable.

Mrs. Sinclair and the nymphs are all of opinion, that I am now so much a
favourite, and have such a visible share in her confidence, and even in
her affections, that I may do what I will, and plead for excuse violence
of passion; which, they will have it, makes violence of action pardonable
with their sex; as well as allowed extenuation with the unconcerned of
both sexes; and they all offer their helping hands. Why not? they say:
Has she not passed for my wife before them all? - And is she not in a fine
way of being reconciled to her friends? - And was not the want of that
reconciliation the pretence for postponing the consummation?

They again urge me, since it is so difficult to make night my friend, to
an attempt in the day. They remind me, that the situation of their house
is such, that no noises can be heard out of it; and ridicule me for
making it necessary for a lady to be undressed. It was not always so
with me, poor old man! Sally told me; saucily flinging her handkerchief
in my face.



LETTER X

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
FRIDAY, JUNE 2.


Notwithstanding my studied-for politeness and complaisance for some days
past; and though I have wanted courage to throw the mask quite aside; yet
I have made the dear creature more than once look about her, by the warm,
though decent expression of my passion. I have brought her to own, that
I am more than indifferent with her: but as to LOVE, which I pressed her
to acknowledge, what need of acknowledgments of that sort, when a woman
consents to marrying? - And once repulsing me with displeasure, the proof
of true love I was vowing for her, was RESPECT, not FREEDOM. And
offering to defend myself, she told me, that all the conception she had
been able to form of a faulty passion, was, that it must demonstrate
itself as mine sought to do.

I endeavoured to justify my passion, by laying over-delicacy at her door.
Over-delicacy, she said, was not my fault, if it were her's. She must
plainly tell me, that I appeared to her incapable of distinguishing what
were the requisites of a pure mind. Perhaps, had the libertine
presumption to imagine, that there was no difference in heart, nor any
but what proceeded from difference of education and custom, between the
pure and impure - and yet custom alone, as she observed, if I did so
think, would make a second nature, as well in good as in bad habits.


***


I have just now been called to account for some innocent liberties which
I thought myself entitled to take before the women; as they suppose us to
be married, and now within view of consummation.

I took the lecture very hardly; and with impatience wished for the happy
day and hour when I might call her all my own, and meet with no check
from a niceness that had no example.

She looked at me with a bashful kind of contempt. I thought it contempt,
and required the reason for it; not being conscious of offence, as I told
her.

This is not the first time, Mr. Lovelace, said she, that I have had cause
to be displeased with you, when you, perhaps, have not thought yourself
exceptionable. - But, Sir, let me tell you, that the married state, in my
eye, is a state of purity, and [I think she told me] not of
licentiousness; so, at least, I understood her.

Marriage-purity, Jack! - Very comical, 'faith - yet, sweet dears, half the
female world ready to run away with a rake, because he is a rake; and for
no other reason; nay, every other reason against their choice of such a
one.

But have not you and I, Belford, seen young wives, who would be thought
modest! and, when maids, were fantastically shy; permit freedoms in
public from their uxorious husbands, which have shown, that both of them
have forgotten what belongs either to prudence or decency? while every
modest eye has sunk under the shameless effrontery, and every modest face
been covered with blushes for those who could not blush.

I once, upon such an occasion, proposed to a circle of a dozen, thus
scandalized, to withdraw; since they must needs see that as well the
lady, as the gentleman, wanted to be in private. This motion had its
effect upon the amorous pair; and I was applauded for the check given to
their licentiousness.

But, upon another occasion of this sort, I acted a little more in
character. For I ventured to make an attempt upon a bride, which I
should not have had the courage to make, had not the unblushing
passiveness with which she received her fond husband's public toyings
(looking round her with triumph rather than with shame, upon every lady
present) incited my curiosity to know if the same complacency might not
be shown to a private friend. 'Tis true, I was in honour obliged to keep
the secret. But I never saw the turtles bill afterwards, but I thought
of number two to the same female; and in my heart thanked the fond
husband for the lesson he had taught his wife.

From what I have said, thou wilt see, that I approve of my beloved's
exception to public loves. That, I hope, is all the charming icicle
means by marriage-purity, but to return.

From the whole of what I have mentioned to have passed between my beloved
and me, thou wilt gather, that I have not been a mere dangler, a Hickman,
in the passed days, though not absolutely active, and a Lovelace.

The dear creature now considers herself as my wife-elect. The unsaddened
heart, no longer prudish, will not now, I hope, give the sable turn to
every address of the man she dislikes not. And yet she must keep up so
much reserve, as will justify past inflexibilities. 'Many and many a
pretty soul would yield, were she not afraid that the man she favoured
would think the worse of her for it.' That is also a part of the rake's
creed. But should she resent ever so strongly, she cannot now break with
me; since, if she does, there will be an end of the family
reconciliation; and that in a way highly discreditable to herself.


SATURDAY, JUNE 3.

Just returned from Doctors Commons. I have been endeavouring to get a
license. Very true, Jack. I have the mortification to find a
difficulty, as the lady is of rank and fortune, and as there is no
consent of father or next friend, in obtaining this all-fettering
instrument.

I made report of this difficulty. 'It is very right,' she says, 'that
such difficulties should be made.' - But not to a man of my known fortune,
surely, Jack, though the woman were the daughter of a duke.

I asked, if she approved of the settlements? She said, she had compared
them with my mother's, and had no objection to them. She had written to
Miss Howe upon the subject, she owned; and to inform her of our present
situation.*


* As this letter of the Lady to Miss Howe contains no new matter, but
what may be collected from one of those of Mr. Lovelace, it is omitted.


***


Just now, in high good humour, my beloved returned me the draughts of the
settlements: a copy of which I have sent to Captain Tomlinson. She
complimented me, 'that she never had any doubt of my honour in cases of
this nature.'

In matters between man and man nobody ever had, thou knowest.

I had need, thou wilt say, to have some good qualities.

Great faults and great virtues are often found in the same person. In
nothing very bad, but as to women: and did not one of them begin with
me.*


* See Vol. I. Letter XXXI.


We have held, that women have no souls. I am a very Turk in this point,
and willing to believe they have not. And if so, to whom shall I be
accountable for what I do to them? Nay, if souls they have, as there is
no sex in ethereals, nor need of any, what plea can a lady hold of
injuries done her in her lady-state, when there is an end of her
lady-ship?



LETTER XI

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
MONDAY, JUNE 5.


I am now almost in despair of succeeding with this charming frost-piece
by love or gentleness. - A copy of the draughts, as I told thee, has been
sent to Captain Tomlinson; and that by a special messenger. Engrossments
are proceeding with. I have been again at the Commons. - Should in all
probability have procured a license by Mallory's means, had not Mallory's
friend, the proctor, been suddenly sent for to Chestnut, to make an old
lady's will. Pritchard has told me by word of mouth, though my charmer
saw him not, all that was necessary for her to know in the letter my Lord
wrote, which I could not show her: and taken my directions about the
estates to be made over to me on my nuptials. - Yet, with all these
favourable appearances, no conceding moment to be found, no improvable
tenderness to be raised.

But never, I believe, was there so true, so delicate a modesty in the
human mind as in that of this lady. And this has been my security all
along; and, in spite of Miss Howe's advice to her, will be so still;
since, if her delicacy be a fault, she can no more overcome it than I can
my aversion to matrimony. Habit, habit, Jack, seest thou not? may
subject us both to weaknesses. And should she not have charity for me,
as I have for her?

Twice indeed with rapture, which once she called rude, did I salute her;
and each time resenting the freedom, did she retire; though, to do her
justice, she favoured me again with her presence at my first entreaty,
and took no notice of the cause of her withdrawing.

Is it policy to show so open a resentment for innocent liberties, which,
in her situation, she must so soon forgive?

Yet the woman who resents not initiatory freedoms must be lost. For love
is an encroacher. Love never goes backward. Love is always aspiring.
Always must aspire. Nothing but the highest act of love can satisfy an
indulged love. And what advantages has a lover, who values not breaking
the peace, over his mistress who is solicitous to keep it!

I have now at this instant wrought myself up, for the dozenth time, to a
half-resolution. A thousand agreeable things I have to say to her. She
is in the dining-room. Just gone up. She always expects me when there.


***


High displeasure! - followed by an abrupt departure.

I sat down by her. I took both her hands in mine. I would have it so.
All gentle my voice. Her father mentioned with respect. Her mother with
reverence. Even her brother amicably spoken of. I never thought I could
have wished so ardently, as I told her I did wish, for a reconciliation
with her family.

A sweet and grateful flush then overspread her fair face; a gentle sigh
now-and-then heaved her handkerchief.

I perfectly longed to hear from Captain Tomlinson. It was impossible for
the uncle to find fault with the draught of the settlements. I would
not, however, be understood, by sending them down, that I intended to put
it in her uncle's power to delay my happy day. When, when was it to be?

I would hasten again to the Commons; and would not return without the
license.

The Lawn I proposed to retire to, as soon as the happy ceremony was over.
This day and that day I proposed.

It was time enough to name the day, when the settlements were completed,
and the license obtained. Happy should she be, could the kind Captain
Tomlinson obtain her uncle's presence privately.

A good hint! - It may perhaps be improved upon - either for a delay or a
pacifier.

No new delays for Heaven's sake, I besought her; and reproached her
gently for the past. Name but the day - (an early day, I hoped it would
be, in the following week) - that I might hail its approach, and number
the tardy hours.

My cheek reclined on her shoulder - kissing her hands by turns. Rather
bashfully than angrily reluctant, her hands sought to be withdrawn; her
shoulder avoiding my reclined cheek - apparently loth, and more loth to
quarrel with me; her downcast eye confessing more than her lips can
utter. Now surely, thought I, is my time to try if she can forgive a
still bolder freedom than I had ever yet taken.

I then gave her struggling hands liberty. I put one arm round her waist:
I imprinted a kiss on her sweet lip, with a Be quiet only, and an averted
face, as if she feared another.

Encouraged by so gentle a repulse, the tenderest things I said; and then,
with my other hand, drew aside the handkerchief that concealed the beauty
of beauties, and pressed with my burning lips the most charming breast
that ever my ravished eyes beheld.

A very contrary passion to that which gave her bosom so delightful a
swell, immediately took place. She struggled out of my encircling arms
with indignation. I detained her reluctant hand. Let me go, said she.
I see there is no keeping terms with you. Base encroacher! Is this the
design of your flattering speeches? Far as matters have gone, I will for
ever renounce you. You have an odious heart. Let me go, I tell you.

I was forced to obey, and she flung from me, repeating base, and adding
flattering, encroacher.


***


In vain have I urged by Dorcas for the promised favour of dining with her.
She would not dine at all. She could not.

But why makes she every inch of her person thus sacred? - So near the time
too, that she must suppose, that all will be my own by deed of purchase
and settlement?

She has read, no doubt, of the art of the eastern monarchs, who sequester
themselves from the eyes of their subjects, in order to excite their
adoration, when, upon some solemn occasions, they think fit to appear in
public.

But let me ask thee, Belford, whether (on these solemn occasions) the
preceding cavalcade; here a greater officer, and there a great minister,
with their satellites, and glaring equipages; do not prepare the eyes of
the wondering beholders, by degrees, to bear the blaze of canopy'd
majesty (what though but an ugly old man perhaps himself? yet) glittering
in the collected riches of his vast empire?

And should not my beloved, for her own sake, descend, by degrees, from
goddess-hood into humanity? If it be pride that restrains her, ought not
that pride to be punished? If, as in the eastern emperors, it be art as
well as pride, art is what she of all women need not use. If shame, what
a shame to be ashamed to communicate to her adorer's sight the most
admirable of her personal graces?

Let me perish, Belford, if I would not forego the brightest diadem in the
world, for the pleasure of seeing a twin Lovelace at each charming
breast, drawing from it his first sustenance; the pious task, for
physical reasons,* continued for one month and no more!


* In Pamela, Vol. III. Letter XXXII. these reasons are given, and are
worthy of every parent's consideration, as is the whole Letter, which
contains the debate between Mr. B. and his Pamela, on the important
subject of mothers being nurses to their own children.


I now, methinks, behold this most charming of women in this sweet office:
her conscious eye now dropt on one, now on the other, with a sigh of
maternal tenderness, and then raised up to my delighted eye, full of
wishes, for the sake of the pretty varlets, and for her own sake, that I
would deign to legitimate; that I would condescend to put on the nuptial
fetters.



LETTER XII

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
MONDAY AFTERNOON.


A letter received from the worthy Captain Tomlinson has introduced me
into the presence of my charmer sooner than perhaps I should otherwise



Online LibrarySamuel RichardsonClarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 5 → online text (page 5 of 24)