Samuel Richardson.

Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 8 online

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I know to whose mediation all this is owing. It is to Colonel Morden's.
She always, as she says, loved and honoured him! And he loved her above
all his relations.

I shall now be convinced that there is something in dreams. The opening
cloud is the reconciliation in view. The bright form, lifting up my
charmer through it to a firmament 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
family, too, that my soul cannot mingle with.

But then what is my tumbling over and over through 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 caroling to the end of
the chapter.

But what are the black sweeping mantles and robes of Lord M. thrown over
my face? And what are those of the ladies? O 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
swinging legacies.

Miss Charlotte and her sister - what will become of the? - Oh! 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 d - - d, if thou wilt not repair my cousin's wrong! 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, though 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 her
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 know 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 must certainly runs all in the rock-water style.

I shall long to see the promised letter too when she is got to her
father's, 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 to your own fault,
CLARISSA LOVELACE!

O my best love! My ever-generous and adorable creature! How much does
this thy forgiving goodness exalt us both! - Me, for the occasion given
thee! Thee, 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 with me: if, while the charms of
novelty have their force with me, I should happen to be drawn aside by
the love of intrigue, and of plots that my soul delights 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.



LETTER XIX

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
WEDN. EVENING.


I have been reading thy shocking letter - Poor Belton! what a multitude of
lively hours have we passed together! He was a fearless, cheerful
fellow: who'd have thought all that should end in such dejected
whimpering and terror?

But why didst thou not comfort the poor man about the rencounter between
him and that poltroon Metcalfe? He acted in that affair like a man of
true honour, and as I should have acted in the same circumstances. Tell
him I say so; and that what happened he could neither help nor foresee.

Some people are as sensible of a scratch from a pin's point, as others
from a push of a sword: and who can say any thing for the sensibility of
such fellows? Metcalfe would resent for his sister, when his sister
resented not for herself. Had she demanded her brother's protection and
resentment, that would have been another man's matte, to speak in Lord
M.'s phrase: but she herself thought her brother a coxcomb to busy
himself undesired in her affairs, and wished for nothing but to be
provided for decently and privately in her lying-in; and was willing to
take the chance of Maintenon-ing his conscience in her favour,* and
getting him to marry when the little stranger came; for she knew what
an easy, good-natured fellow he was. And indeed if she had prevailed
upon him, it might have been happy for both; as then he would not have
fallen in with his cursed Thomasine. But truly this officious brother of
her's must interpose. This made a trifling affair important: And what
was the issue? Metcalfe challenged; Belton met him; disarmed him; gave
him his life: but the fellow, more sensible in his skin than in his head,
having received a scratch, was frighted: it gave him first a puke, then
a fever, and then he died, that was all. And how could Belton help that?
- But sickness, a long tedious sickness, will make a bugbear of any thing
to a languishing heart, I see that. And so far was Mowbray à-propos in
the verses from Nat. Lee, which thou hast described.


* Madam Maintenon was reported to have prevailed upon Lewis XIV. of
France, in his old age, (sunk, as he was, by ill success in the field,)
to marry her, by way of compounding with his conscience for the freedoms
of his past life, to which she attributed his public losses.


Merely to die, no man of reason fears, is a mistake, say thou, or say
thy author, what ye will. And thy solemn parading about the natural
repugnance between life and death, is a proof that it is.

Let me tell thee, Jack, that so much am I pleased with this world, in
the main; though, in some points too, the world (to make a person of it,)
has been a rascal to me; so delighted am I with the joys of youth; with
my worldly prospects as to fortune; and now, newly, with the charming
hopes given me by my dear, thrice dear, and for ever dear CLARISSA; that
were I even sure that nothing bad would come hereafter, I should be very
loth (very much afraid, if thou wilt have it so,) to lay down my life
and them together; and yet, upon a call of honour, no man fears death
less than myself.

But I have not either inclination or leisure to weigh thy leaden
arguments, except in the pig, or, as thou wouldst say, in the lump.

If I return thy letters, let me have them again some time hence, that is
to say, when I am married, or when poor Belton is half forgotten; or when
time has enrolled the honest fellow among those whom we have so long
lost, that we may remember them with more pleasure than pain; and then I
may give them a serious perusal, and enter with thee as deeply as thou
wilt into the subject.

When I am married, said I? - What a sound has that!

I must wait with patience for a sight of this charming creature, till she
is at her father's. And yet, as the but blossoming beauty, as thou
tellest me, is reduced to a shadow, I should have been exceedingly
delighted to see her now, and every day till the happy one; that I might
have the pleasure of observing how sweetly, hour by hour, she will rise
to her pristine glories, by means of that state of ease and contentment,
which will take place of the stormy past, upon her reconciliation with
her friends, and our happy nuptials.



LETTER XX

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.


Well, but now my heart is a little at ease, I will condescend to take
brief notice of some other passages in thy letters.

I find I am to thank thee, that the dear creature has avoided my visit.
Things are now in so good a train that I must forgive thee; else thou
shouldst have heard more of this new instance of disloyalty to thy
general.

Thou art continually giving thyself high praise, by way of opposition, as
I may say, to others; gently and artfully blaming thyself for qualities
thou wouldst at the same time have to be thought, and which generally are
thought, praise-worthy.

Thus, in the airs thou assumest about thy servants, thou wouldst pass for
a mighty humane mortal; and that at the expense of Mowbray and me, whom
thou representest as kings and emperors to our menials. Yet art thou
always unhappy in thy attempts of this kind, and never canst make us, who
know thee, believe that to be a virtue in thee, which is but the effect
of constitutional phlegm and absurdity.

Knowest thou not, that some men have a native dignity in their manner,
that makes them more regarded by a look, than either thou canst be in thy
low style, or Mowbray in his high?

I am fit to be a prince, I can tell thee, for I reward well, and I punish
seasonably and properly; and I am generally as well served by any man.

The art of governing these underbred varlets lies more in the dignity of
looks than in words; and thou art a sorry fellow, to think humanity
consists in acting by thy servants, as men must act who are not able to
pay them their wages; or had made them masters of secrets, which, if
divulged, would lay them at the mercy of such wretches.

Now to me, who never did any thing I was ashamed to own, and who have
more ingenuousness than ever man had; who can call a villany by its own
right name, though practised by myself, and (by my own readiness to
reproach myself) anticipate all reproach from others; who am not such a
hypocrite, as to wish the world to think me other or better than I am -
it is my part, to look a servant into his duty, if I can; nor will I keep
one who knows not how to take me by a nod, or a wink; and who, when I
smile, shall not be all transport; when I frown, all terror. If, indeed,
I am out of the way a little, I always take care to rewards the varlets
for patiently bearing my displeasure. But this I hardly ever am but when
a fellow is egregiously stupid in any plain point of duty, or will be
wiser than his master; and when he shall tell me, that he thought acting
contrary to my orders was the way to serve me best.

One time or other I will enter the lists with thee upon thy conduct and
mine to servants; and I will convince thee, that what thou wouldst have
pass for humanity, if it be indiscriminately practised to all tempers,
will perpetually subject thee to the evils thou complainest of; and
justly too; and that he only is fit to be a master of servants, who can
command their attention as much by a nod, as if he were to pr'ythee a
fellow to do his duty, on one hand, or to talk of flaying, and
horse-whipping, like Mowbray, on the other: for the servant who being
used to expect thy creeping style, will always be master of his master,
and he who deserves to be treated as the other, is not fit to be any
man's servant; nor would I keep such a fellow to rub my horse's heels.

I shall be the readier to enter the lists with thee upon this argument,
because I have presumption enough to think that we have not in any of our
dramatic poets, that I can at present call to mind, one character of a
servant of either sex, that is justly hit off. So absurdly wise some,
and so sottishly foolish others; and both sometime in the same person.
Foils drawn from lees or dregs of the people to set off the characters of
their masters and mistresses; nay, sometimes, which is still more absurd,
introduced with more wit than the poet has to bestow upon their
principals. - Mere flints and steels to strike fire with - or, to vary the
metaphor, to serve for whetstones to wit, which, otherwise, could not be
made apparent; or, for engines to be made use of like the machinery of
the antient poets, (or the still more unnatural soliloquy,) to help on a
sorry plot, or to bring about a necessary eclaircissement, to save the
poet the trouble of thinking deeply for a better way to wind up his
bottoms.

Of this I am persuaded, (whatever my practice be to my own servants,)
that thou wilt be benefited by my theory, when we come to controvert the
point. For then I shall convince thee, that the dramatic as well as
natural characteristics of a good servant ought to be fidelity, common
sense, cheerful obedience, and silent respect; that wit in his station,
except to his companions, would be sauciness; that he should never
presume to give his advice; that if he venture to expostulate upon any
unreasonable command, or such a one a appeared to him to be so, he should
do it with humility and respect, and take a proper season for it. But
such lessons do most of the dramatic performances I have seen give, where
servants are introduced as characters essential to the play, or to act
very significant or long parts in it, (which, of itself, I think a
fault;) such lessons, I say, do they give to the footmen's gallery, that
I have not wondered we have so few modest or good men-servants among
those who often attend their masters or mistresses to plays. Then how
miserably evident must that poet's conscious want of genius be, who can
stoop to raise or give force to a clap by the indiscriminate roar of the
party-coloured gallery!

But this subject I will suspend to a better opportunity; that is to say,
to the happy one, when my nuptials with my Clarissa will oblige me to
increase the number of my servants, and of consequence to enter more
nicely into their qualifications.


***


Although I have the highest opinion that man can have of the generosity
of my dear Miss Harlowe, yet I cannot for the heart of me account for
this agreeable change in her temper but one way. Faith and troth,
Belford, I verily believe, laying all circumstances together, that the
dear creature unexpectedly finds herself in the way I have so ardently
wished her to be in; and that this makes her, at last, incline to favour
me, that she may set the better face upon her gestation, when at her
father's.

If this be the case, all her falling away, and her fainting fits, are
charmingly accounted for. Nor is it surprising, that such a sweet novice
in these matters should not, for some time, have known to what to
attribute her frequent indispositions. If this should be the case, how I
shall laugh at thee! and (when I am sure of her) at the dear novice
herself, that all her grievous distresses shall end in a man-child; which
I shall love better than all the cherubims and seraphims that may come
after; though there were to be as many of them as I beheld in my dream;
in which a vast expanse of firmament was stuck as full of them as it
could hold!

I shall be afraid to open thy next, lest it bring me the account of poor
Belton's death. Yet, as there are no hopes of his recovery - but what
should I say, unless the poor man were better fitted - but thy heavy
sermon shall not affect me too much neither.

I enclose thy papers; and do thou transcribe them for me, or return them;
for there are some things in them, which, at a proper season, a mortal
man should not avoid attending to; and thou seemest to have entered
deeply into the shocking subject. - But here I will end, lest I grow too
serious.


***


Thy servant called here about an hour ago, to know if I had any commands;
I therefore hope that thou wilt have this early in the morning. And if
thou canst let me hear from thee, do. I'll stretch an hour or two in
expectation of it. Yet I must be at Lord M.'s to-morrow night, if
possible, though ever so late.

Thy fellow tells me the poor man is much as he was when Mowbray left him.

Wouldst thou think that this varlet Mowbray is sorry that I am so near
being happy with Miss Harlowe? And, 'egad, Jack, I know not what to say
to it, now the fruit seems to be within my reach - but let what will come,
I'll stand to't: for I find I can't live without her.



LETTER XXI

MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY, THREE O'CLOCK.


I will proceed where I left off in my last.

As soon as I had seen Mowbray mounted, I went to attend upon poor Belton;
whom I found in dreadful agonies, in which he awoke, after he generally
does.

The doctor came in presently after, and I was concerned at the scene that
passed between them.

It opened with the dying man's asking him, with melancholy earnestness,
if nothing - if nothing at all could be done for him?

The doctor shook his head, and told him, he doubted not.

I cannot die, said the poor man - I cannot think of dying. I am very
desirous of living a little longer, if I could but be free from these
horrible pains in my stomach and head. Can you give me nothing to make
me pass one week - but one week, in tolerable ease, that I may die like a
man, if I must die!

But, Doctor, I am yet a young man; in the prime of my years - youth is a
good subject for a physician to work upon - Can you do nothing - nothing at
all for me, Doctor?

Alas! Sir, replied his physician, you have been long in a bad way. I
fear, I fear, nothing in physic can help you!

He was then out of all patience: What, then, is your art, Sir? - I have
been a passive machine for a whole twelvemonth, to be wrought upon at the
pleasure of you people of the faculty. - I verily believe, had I not taken
such doses of nasty stuff, I had been now a well man - But who the plague
would regard physicians, whose art is to cheat us with hopes while they
help to destroy us? - And who, not one of you, know any thing but by
guess?

Sir, continued he, fiercely, (and with more strength of voice and
coherence, than he had shown for several hours before,) if you give me
over, I give you over. - The only honest and certain part of the art of
healing is surgery. A good surgeon is worth a thousand of you. I have
been in surgeons' hands often, and have always found reason to depend
upon their skill; but your art, Sir, what is it? - but to daub, daub,
daub; load, load, load; plaster, plaster, plaster; till ye utterly
destroy the appetite first, and the constitution afterwards, which you
are called in to help. I had a companion once, my dear Belford, thou
knewest honest Blomer, as pretty a physician he would have made as any
in England, had he kept himself from excess in wine and women; and he
always used to say, there was nothing at all but the pick-pocket parade
in the physician's art; and that the best guesser was the best physician.
And I used to believe him too - and yet, fond of life, and fearful of
death, what do we do, when we are taken ill, but call ye in? And what
do ye do, when called in, but nurse our distempers, till from pigmies you
make giants of them? and then ye come creeping with solemn faces, when ye
are ashamed to prescribe, or when the stomach won't bear its natural
food, by reason of your poisonous potions, - Alas, I am afraid physic can
do no more for him! - Nor need it, when it has brought to the brink of the
grave the poor wretch who placed all his reliance in your cursed slops,
and the flattering hopes you gave him.

The doctor was out of countenance; but said, if we could make mortal men
immortal, and would not, all this might be just.

I blamed the poor man; yet excused him to the physician. To die, dear
Doctor, when, like my poor friend, we are so desirous of life, is a
melancholy thing. We are apt to hope too much, not considering that the
seeds of death are sown in us when we begin to live, and grow up, till,
like rampant weeds, they choke the tender flower of life; which declines
in us as those weeds flourish. We ought, therefore, to begin early to
study what our constitutions will bear, in order to root out, by
temperance, the weeds which the soil is most apt to produce; or, at
least, to keep them down as they rise; and not, when the flower or plant
is withered at the root, and the weed in its full vigour, expect, that
the medical art will restore the one, or destroy the other; when that
other, as I hinted, has been rooting itself in the habit from the time of
our birth.

This speech, Bob., thou wilt call a prettiness; but the allegory is just;
and thou hast not quite cured me of the metaphorical.

Very true, said the doctor; you have brought a good metaphor to
illustrate the thing. I am sorry I can do nothing for the gentleman; and
can only recommend patience, and a better frame of mind.

Well, Sir, said the poor angry man, vexed at the doctor, but more at
death, you will perhaps recommend the next succession to the physician,
when he can do no more; and, I suppose, will send your brother to pray by
me for those virtues which you wish me.

It seems the physician's brother is a clergyman in the neighbourhood.

I was greatly concerned to see the gentleman thus treated; and so I told
poor Belton when he was gone; but he continued impatient, and would not
be denied, he said, the liberty of talking to a man, who had taken so
many guineas of him for doing nothing, or worse than nothing, and never
declined one, though he know all the time he could do him no good.

It seems the gentleman, though rich, is noted for being greedy after
fees! and poor Belton went on raving at the extravagant fees of English
physicians, compared with those of the most eminent foreign ones. But,
poor man! he, like the Turks, who judge of a general by his success, (out
of patience to think he must die,) would have worshipped the doctor, and
not grudged thee times the sum, could he have given him hopes of
recovery.

But, nevertheless, I must needs say, that gentlemen of the faculty should
be more moderate in their fees, or take more pains to deserve them; for,
generally, they only come into a room, feel the sick man's pulse, ask the
nurse a few questions, inspect the patient's tongue, and, perhaps, his
water; then sit down, look plaguy wise, and write. The golden fee finds
the ready hand, and they hurry away, as if the sick man's room were
infectious. So to the next they troll, and to the next, if men of great
practice; valuing themselves upon the number of visits they make in a
morning, and the little time they make them in. They go to dinner and
unload their pockets; and sally out again to refill them. And thus, in a
little time, they raise vast estates; for, as Ratcliffe said, when first
told of a great loss which befell him, It was only going up and down one
hundred pairs of stairs to fetch it up.

Mrs. Sambre (Belton's sister) had several times proposed to him a



Online LibrarySamuel RichardsonClarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 8 → online text (page 7 of 24)