Samuel Richardson.

Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 4 online

. (page 16 of 25)
Online LibrarySamuel RichardsonClarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 4 → online text (page 16 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

I leave this as a lesson upon thy heart, without making any application:
only with this remark, 'That after we libertines have indulged our
licentious appetites, reflecting, (in the conceit of our vain hearts,)
both with our lips and by our lives, upon our ancestors and the good old
ways, we find out, when we come to years of discretion, if we live till
then (what all who knew us found out before, that is to say, we found
out), our own despicable folly; that those good old ways would have been
best for us, as well as for the rest of the world; and that in every step
we have deviated from them we have only exposed our vanity and our
ignorance at the same time.'




I am pleased with the sober reflection with which thou concludest thy
last; and I thank thee for it. Poor Belton! - I did not think his
Thomasine would have proved so very a devil. But this must everlastingly
be the risk of a keeper, who takes up with a low-bred girl. This I never
did. Nor had I occasion to do it. Such a one as I, Jack, needed only,
till now, to shake the stateliest tree, and the mellowed fruit dropt into
my mouth: - always of Montaigne's taste thou knowest: - thought it a glory
to subdue a girl of family. - More truly delightful to me the seduction-
progress than the crowned act: for that's a vapour, a bubble! and most
cordially do I thank thee for thy indirect hint, that I am right in my

From such a woman as Miss Harlowe, a man is secured from all the
inconveniencies thou expatiatest upon.

Once more, therefore, do I thank thee, Belford, for thy approbation! - A
man need not, as thou sayest, sneak into holes and corners, and shun the
day, in the company of such a woman as this. How friendly in thee, thus
to abet the favourite purpose of my heart! - nor can it be a disgrace to
me, to permit such a lady to be called by my name! - nor shall I be at all
concerned about the world's censure, if I live to the years of
discretion, which thou mentionest, should I be taken in, and prevailed
upon to tread with her the good old path of my ancestors.

A blessing on thy heart, thou honest fellow! I thought thou wert in
jest, and but acquitting thyself of an engagement to Lord M. when thou
wert pleading for matrimony in behalf of this lady! - It could not be
principle, I knew, in thee: it could not be compassion - a little envy
indeed I suspected! - But now I see thee once more thyself: and once more,
say I, a blessing on thy heart, thou true friend, and very honest fellow!

Now will I proceed with courage in all my schemes, and oblige thee with
the continued narrative of my progressions towards bringing them to
effect! - but I could not forbear to interrupt my story, to show my



And now will I favour thee with a brief account of our present situation.

From the highest to the lowest we are all extremely happy. - Dorcas stands
well in her lady's graces. Polly has asked her advice in relation to a
courtship-affair of her own. No oracle ever gave better. Sally has had
a quarrel with her woollen-draper; and made my charmer lady-chancellor in
it. She blamed Sally for behaving tyrannically to a man who loves her.
Dear creature! to stand against a glass, and to shut her eyes because she
will not see her face in it! - Mrs. Sinclair has paid her court to so
unerring a judge, by requesting her advice with regard to both nieces.

This the way we have been in for several days with the people below. Yet
sola generally at her meals, and seldom at other times in their company.
They now, used to her ways, [perseverance must conquer,] never press her;
so when they meet, all is civility on both sides. Even married people, I
believe, Jack, prevent abundance of quarrels, by seeing one another but

But how stands it between thyself and the lady, methinks thou askest,
since her abrupt departure from thee, and undutiful repulse of Wednesday

Why, pretty well in the main. Nay, very well. For why? the dear saucy-
face knows not how to help herself. Can fly to no other protection. And
has, besides, overheard a conversation [who would have thought she had
been so near?] which passed between Mrs. Sinclair, Miss Martin, and
myself, that very Wednesday afternoon; which has set her heart at ease
with respect to several doubtful points.

Such as, particularly, 'Mrs. Fretchville's unhappy state of mind - most
humanely pitied by Miss Martin, who knows her very well - the husband she
has lost, and herself, (as Sally says,) lovers from their cradles. Pity
from one begets pity from another, be the occasion for it either strong
or weak; and so many circumstances were given to poor Mrs. Fretchville's
distress, that it was impossible but my beloved must extremely pity her
whom the less tender-hearted Miss Martin greatly pitied.

'My Lord M.'s gout his only hindrance from visiting my spouse. Lady
Betty and Miss Montague soon expected in town.

'My earnest desire signified to have my spouse receive those ladies in
her own hose, if Mrs. Fretchville would but know her own mind; and I
pathetically lamented the delay occasioned by her not knowing it.

'My intention to stay at Mrs. Sinclair's, as I said I had told them
before, while my spouse resides in her own hose, (when Mrs. Fretchville
could be brought to quit it,) in order to gratify her utmost punctilio.

'My passion for my beloved (which, as I told them in a high and fervent
accent, was the truest that man could have for woman) I boasted of. It
was, in short, I said, of the true platonic kind; or I had no notion of
what platonic love was.'

So it is, Jack; and must end as platonic love generally does end.

'Sally and Mrs. Sinclair next praised, but not grossly, my beloved.
Sally particularly admired her purity; called it exemplary; yet (to avoid
suspicion) expressed her thoughts that she was rather over-nice, if she
might presume to say so before me. But nevertheless she applauded me for
the strict observation I made of my vow.

'I more freely blamed her reserves to me; called her cruel; inveighed
against her relations; doubted her love. Every favour I asked of her
denied me. Yet my behaviour to her as pure and delicate when alone, as
when before them. Hinted at something that had passed between us that
very day, that shewed her indifference to me in so strong a light, that I
could not bear it. But that I would ask her for her company to the play
of Venice Preserved, given out for Sunday night as a benefit-play; the
prime actors to be in it; and this, to see if I were to be denied every
favour. - Yet, for my own part, I loved not tragedies; though she did, for
the sake of the instruction, the warning, and the example generally given
in them.

'I had too much feeling, I said. There was enough in the world to make
our hearts sad, without carrying grief in our diversions, and making the
distresses of others our own.'

True enough, Belford; and I believe, generally speaking, that all the men
of our cast are of my mind - They love not any tragedies but those in
which they themselves act the parts of tyrants and executioners; and,
afraid to trust themselves with serious and solemn reflections, run to
comedies, in order to laugh away compunction on the distresses they have
occasioned, and to find examples of men as immoral as themselves. For
very few of our comic performances, as thou knowest, give us good ones. -
I answer, however, for myself - yet thou, I think, on recollection, lovest
to deal in the lamentable.

Sally answered for Polly, who was absent; Mrs. Sinclair for herself, and
for all her acquaintance, even for Miss Partington, in preferring the
comic to the tragic scenes. - And I believe they are right; for the
devil's in it, if a confided-in rake does not give a girl enough of
tragedy in his comedy.

'I asked Sally to oblige my fair-one with her company. She was engaged,
[that was right, thou'lt suppose]. I asked Mrs. Sinclair's leave for
Polly. To be sure, she answered, Polly would think it an honour to
attend Mrs. Lovelace: but the poor thing was tender-hearted; and as the
tragedy was deep, would weep herself blind.

'Sally, meantime, objected Singleton, that I might answer the objection,
and save my beloved the trouble of making it, or debating the point with
me; and on this occasion I regretted that her brother's projects were not
laid aside; since, if they had been given up, I would have gone in person
to bring up the ladies of my family to attend my spouse.

'I then, from a letter just before received from one in her father's
family, warned them of a person who had undertaken to find us out, and
whom I thus in writing [having called for pen and ink] described, that
they might arm all the family against him - "A sun-burnt, pock-fretten
sailor, ill-looking, big-boned; his stature about six foot; an heavy eye,
an overhanging brow, a deck-treading stride in his walk; a couteau
generally by his side; lips parched from his gums, as if by staring at
the sun in hot climates; a brown coat; a coloured handkerchief about his
neck; an oaken plant in his hand near as long as himself, and
proportionately thick."

'No questions asked by this fellow must be answered. They should call me
to him. But not let my beloved know a tittle of this, so long as it
could be helped. And I added, that if her brother or Singleton came, and
if they behaved civilly, I would, for her sake, be civil to them: and in
this case, she had nothing to do but to own her marriage, and there could
be no pretence for violence on either side. But most fervently I swore,
that if she was conveyed away, either by persuasion or force, I would
directly, on missing her but one day, go to demand her at Harlowe-place,
whether she were there or not; and if I recovered not a sister, I would
have a brother; and should find out a captain of a ship as well as he.'

And now, Jack, dost thou think she'll attempt to get from me, do what I

'Mrs. Sinclair began to be afraid of mischief in her house - I was
apprehensive that she would over-do the matter, and be out of character.
I therefore winked at her. She primed; nodded, to show she took me;
twanged out a high-ho through her nose, lapped one horse-lip over the
other, and was silent.'

Here's preparation, Belford! - Dost think I will throw it all away for any
thing thou canst say, or Lord M. write? - No, indeed - as my charmer says,
when she bridles.


And what must necessarily be the consequence of all this with regard to
my beloved's behaviour to me? Canst thou doubt, that it was all
complaisance next time she admitted me into her presence?

Thursday we were very happy. All the morning extremely happy. I kissed
her charming hand. - I need not describe to thee her hand and arm. When
thou sawest her, I took notice that thy eyes dwelt upon them whenever
thou couldst spare them from that beauty spot of wonders, her face - fifty
times kissed her hand, I believe - once her cheek, intending her lip, but
so rapturously, that she could not help seeming angry.

Had she not thus kept me at arms-length; had she not denied me those
innocent liberties which our sex, from step to step, aspire to; could I
but have gained access to her in her hours of heedlessness and
dishabille, [for full dress creates dignity, augments consciousness, and
compels distance;] we had familiarized to each other long ago. But keep
her up ever so late, meet her ever so early, by breakfast-time she is
dressed for the day, and at her earliest hour, as nice as others dressed.
All her forms thus kept up, wonder not that I have made so little
progress in the proposed trial. - But how must all this distance

Thursday morning, as I said, we were extremely happy - about noon, she
numbered the hours she had been with me; all of them to be but as one
minute; and desired to be left to herself. I was loth to comply: but
observing the sun-shine began to shut in, I yielded.

I dined out. Returning, I talked of the house, and of Mrs. Fretchville -
had seen Mennell - had pressed him to get the widow to quit: she pitied
Mrs. Fretchville [another good effect of the overheard conversation] - had
written to Lord M., expected an answer soon from him. I was admitted to
sup with her. I urged for her approbation or correction of my written
terms. She again promised an answer as soon as she had heard from Miss

Then I pressed for her company to the play on Saturday night. She made
objections, as I had foreseen: her brother's projects, warmth of the
weather, &c. But in such a manner, as if half afraid to disoblige me
[another happy effect of the overheard conversation]. I soon got over
these, therefore; and she consented to favour me.

Friday passed as the day before.

Here were two happy days to both. Why cannot I make every day equally
happy? It looks as if it were in my power to do so. Strange, I should
thus delight in teasing a woman I so dearly love! I must, I doubt, have
something in my temper like Miss Howe, who loves to plague the man who
puts himself in her power. - But I could not do thus by such an angel as
this, did I not believe that, after her probation time shall be expired,
and if she be not to be brought to cohabitation, (my darling view,) I
shall reward her as she wishes.

Saturday is half over. We are equally happy - preparing for the play.
Polly has offered her company, and is accepted. I have directed her
where to weep: and this not only to show her humanity, [a weeping eye
indicates a gentle heart,] but to have a pretence to hide her face with a
fan or handkerchief. - Yet Polly is far from being every man's girl; and
we shall sit in the gallery green-box.

The woes of others, so well represented as those of Belvidera
particularly will be, must, I hope, unlock and open my charmer's heart.
Whenever I have been able to prevail upon a girl to permit me to attend
her to a play, I have thought myself sure of her. The female heart (all
gentleness and harmony by nature) expands, and forgets its forms, when
its attention is carried out of itself at an agreeable or affecting
entertainment - music, and perhaps a collation afterwards, co-operating.

Indeed, I have no hope of such an effect here; but I have more than one
end to answer by getting her to a play. To name but one. - Dorcas has a
master-key, as I have told thee. - But it were worth while to carry her to
the play of Venice Preserved, were it but to show her, that there have
been, and may be, much deeper distresses than she can possibly know.

Thus exceedingly happy are we at present. I hope we shall not find any
of Nat. Lee's left-handed gods at work, to dash our bowl of joy with




I would not, if I could help it, be so continually brooding over the dark
and gloomy face of my condition [all nature, you know, my dear, and every
thing in it, has a bright and a gloomy side] as to be thought unable to
enjoy a more hopeful prospect. And this, not only for my own sake, but
for yours, who take such generous concern in all that befalls me.

Let me tell you then, my dear, that I have known four-and-twenty hours
together not unhappy ones, my situation considered.

[She then gives the particulars of the conversation which she had
overheard between Mr. Lovelace, Mrs. Sinclair, and Miss Martin; but
accounts more minutely than he had done for the opportunity she had of
overhearing it, unknown to them.

She gives the reasons she has to be pleased with what she heard from
each: but is shocked at the measure he is resolved to take, if he
misses her but for one day. Yet is pleased that he proposes to avoid
aggressive violence, if her brother and he meet in town.]

Even Dorcas, says she, appears less exceptionable to me than before; and
I cannot but pity her for her neglected education, as it is matter of so
much regret to herself: else, there would not be much in it; as the low
and illiterate are the most useful people in the common-wealth (since
such constitute the labouring part of the public); and as a lettered
education but too generally sets people above those servile offices by
which the businesses of the world is carried on. Nor have I any doubt
but there are, take the world through, twenty happy people among the
unlettered, to one among those who have had a school-education.

This, however, concludes not against learning or letters; since one would
wish to lift to some little distinction, and more genteel usefulness,
those who have capacity, and whose parentage one respects, or whose
services one would wish to reward.

Were my mind quite at ease, I could enlarge, perhaps not unusefully, upon
this subject; for I have considered it with as much attention as my
years, and little experience and observation, will permit.

But the extreme illiterateness and indocility of this maid are
surprising, considering that she wants not inquisitiveness, appears
willing to learn, and, in other respects, has quick parts. This confirms
to me what I have heard remarked, That there is a docible season, a
learning-time, as I may say, for every person, in which the mind may be
led, step by step, from the lower to the higher, (year by year,) to
improvement. How industriously ought these seasons, as they offer, to be
taken hold of by tutors, parents, and other friends, to whom the
cultivation of the genius of children and youth is committed; since, one
elapsed, and no foundation laid, they hardly ever return! - And yet it
must be confessed, that there are some geniuses, which, like some fruits,
ripen not till late. And industry and perseverance will do prodigious
things - but for a learner to have those first rudiments to master at
twenty years of age, suppose, which others are taught, and they
themselves might have attained, at ten, what an uphill labour!

These kind of observations you have always wished me to intersperse, as
they arise to my thoughts. But it is a sign that my prospects are a
little mended, or I should not, among so many more interesting ones that
my mind has been of late filled with, have had heart's ease enough to
make them.

Let me give you my reflections on my more hopeful prospects.

I am now, in the first place, better able to account for the delays about
the house than I was before - Poor Mrs. Fretchville! - Though I know her
not, I pity her! - Next, it looks well, that he had apprized the women
(before this conversation with them, of his intention to stay in this
house, after I was removed to the other. By the tone of his voice he
seemed concerned for the appearance of this new delay would have with me.

So handsomely did Miss Martin express herself of me, that I am sorry,
methinks, that I judged so hardly of her, when I first came hither - free
people may go a great way, but not all the way: and as such are generally
unguarded, precipitate, and thoughtless, the same quickness,
changeableness, and suddenness of spirit, as I may call it, may intervene
(if the heart be not corrupted) to recover them to thought and duty.

His reason for declining to go in person to bring up the ladies of his
family, while my brother and Singleton continue their machinations,
carries no bad face with it; and one may the rather allow for their
expectations, that so proud a spirit as his should attend them for this
purpose, as he speaks of them sometimes as persons of punctilio.

Other reasons I will mention for my being easier in my mind than I was
before I overheard this conversation.

Such as, the advice he had received in relation to Singleton's mate;
which agrees but too well with what you, my dear, wrote to me in your's
of May the 10th.*

* See Letter XXIII. of this volume.

His not intending to acquaint me with it.

His cautions to the servants about the sailor, if he should come and make
inquiries about us.

His resolution to avoid violence, were he to fall in either with my
brother, or this Singleton; and the easy method he has chalked out, in
this case, to prevent mischief; since I need only not to deny my being
his. But yet I should be driven into such a tacit acknowledgement to any
new persons, till I am so, although I have been led (so much against my
liking) to give countenance to the belief of the persons below that we
are married.

I think myself obliged, from what passed between Mr. Lovelace and me on
Wednesday, and from what I overheard him say, to consent to go with him
to the play; and the rather, as he had the discretion to propose one of
the nieces to accompany me.

I cannot but acknowledge that I am pleased to find that he has actually
written to Lord M.

I have promised to give Mr. Lovelace an answer to his proposals as soon
as I have heard from you, my dear, on the subject.

I hope that in my next letter I shall have reason to confirm these
favourable appearances. Favourable I must think them in the wreck I have

I hope, that in the trial which you hint may happen between me and
myself, (as you* express it,) if he should so behave as to oblige me to
leave him, I shall be able to act in such a manner as to bring no
discredit upon myself in your eye; and that is all now that I have to
wish for. But, if I value him so much as you are pleased to suppose I
do, the trial, which you imagine will be so difficult to me, will not, I
conceive, be upon getting from him, when the means to affect my escape
are lent me; but how I shall behave when got from him; and if, like the
Israelites of old, I shall be so weak as to wish to return to my Egyptian

* See Letter XXXIV. of this volume.

I think it will not be amiss, notwithstanding the present favourable
appearances, that you should perfect the scheme (whatever it be) which
you tell me* you have thought of, in order to procure for me an asylum,
in case of necessity. Mr. Lovelace is certainly a deep and dangerous
man; and it is therefore but prudence to be watchful, and to be provided
against the worst. Lord bless me, my dear, how I am reduced! - Could I
ever have thought to be in such a situation, as to be obliged to stay
with a man, of whose honour by me I could have but the shadow of a doubt!
- But I will look forward, and hope the best.

* Ibid.

I am certain that your letters are safe. Be perfectly easy, therefore,
on that head.

Mr. Lovelace will never be out of my company by his good will, otherwise
I have no doubt that I am mistress of my goings-out and comings-in; and
did I think it needful, and were I not afraid of my brother and Captain
Singleton, I would oftener put it to trial.



I did not know, my dear, that you deferred giving an answer to Mr.
Lovelace's proposals till you had my opinion of them. A particular hand,
occasionally going to town, will leave this at Wilson's, that no delay
may be made on that account.

I never had any doubt of the man's justice and generosity in matters of
settlement; and all his relations are as noble in their spirits as in
their descent; but now, it may not be amiss for you to wait, to see what
returns my Lord makes to his letter of invitation.

The scheme I think of is this:

There is a person, whom I believe you have seen with me, her name
Townsend, who is a great dealer in Indian silks, Brussels and French
laces, cambricks, linen, and other valuable goods; which she has a way
of coming at duty-free; and has a great vend for them (and for other
curiosities which she imports) in the private families of the gentry
round us.

She has her days of being in town, and then is at a chamber she rents at
an inn in Southwark, where she keeps patters of all her silks, and much
of her portable goods, for the conveniency of her London customers. But
her place of residence, and where she has her principal warehouse, is at
Depford, for the opportunity of getting her goods on shore.

She was first brought to me by my mother, to whom she was recommended on
the supposal of my speedy marriage, 'that I might have an opportunity to
be as fine as a princess,' was my mother's expression, 'at a moderate

Now, my dear, I must own, that I do not love to encourage these
contraband traders. What is it, but bidding defiance to the laws of our
country, when we do, and hurting fair traders; and at the same time
robbing our prince of his legal due, to the diminution of those duties

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Online LibrarySamuel RichardsonClarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 4 → online text (page 16 of 25)