Samuel Richardson.

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

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nothing in this whole scene to contradict (not flagrantly to contradict)
what I had asserted. They believed they saw in her returning temper, and
staggered resolution, a love for me, which her indignation had before
suppressed; and they joined to persuade her to tarry till the Captain
came, and to hear his proposals; representing the dangers to which she
would be exposed; the fatigues she might endure; a lady of her
appearance, unguarded, unprotected. On the other hand they dwelt upon my
declared contrition, and on my promises; for the performance of which
they offered to be bound. So much had my kneeling humility affected
them.

Women, Jack, tacitly acknowledge the inferiority of their sex, in the
pride they take to behold a kneeling lover at their feet.

She turned from me, and threw herself into a chair.

I arose and approached her with reverence. My dearest creature, said I,
and was proceeding, but, with a face glowing with conscious dignity, she
interrupted me - Ungenerous, ungrateful Lovelace! You know not the value
of the heart you have insulted! Nor can you conceive how much my soul
despises your meanness. But meanness must ever be the portion of the
man, who can act vilely!

The women believing we were likely to be on better terms, retired. The
dear perverse opposed their going; but they saw I was desirous of their
absence; and when they had withdrawn, I once more threw myself at her
feet, and acknowledged my offences; implored her forgiveness for this one
time, and promised the most exact circumspection for the future.

It was impossible for her she said to keep her memory and forgive me.
What hadst thou seen in the conduct of Clarissa Harlowe, that should
encourage such an insult upon her as thou didst dare to make? How meanly
must thou think of her, that thou couldst presume to be so guilty, and
expect her to be so weak as to forgive thee?

I besought her to let me read over to her Captain Tomlinson's letter. I
was sure it was impossible she could have given it the requisite
attention.

I have given it the requisite attention, said she; and the other letters
too. So that what I say is upon deliberation. And what have I to fear
from my brother and sister? They can but complete the ruin of my
fortunes with my father and uncles. Let them and welcome. You, Sir, I
thank you, have lowered my fortunes; but, I bless God, that my mind is
not sunk with my fortunes. It is, on the contrary, raised above fortune,
and above you; and for half a word they shall have the estate they envied
me for, and an acquittal from me of all the expectations from my family
that may make them uneasy.

I lifted up my hands and eyes in silent admiration of her.

My brother, Sir, may think me ruined; to the praise of your character, he
may think it impossible to be with you and be innocent. You have but too
well justified their harshest censures by every part of your conduct.
But now that I have escaped from you, and that I am out of the reach of
your mysterious devices, I will wrap myself up in mine own innocence,
[and then the passionate beauty folded her arms about herself,] and leave
to time, and to my future circumspection, the re-establishment of my
character. Leave me then, Sir, pursue me not! -

Good Heaven! [interrupting her] - and all this, for what? - Had I not
yielded to your entreaties, (forgive me, Madam,) you could not have
carried farther your resentments -

Wretch! Was it not crime enough to give occasion for those entreaties?
Wouldst thou make a merit to me, that thou didst not utterly ruin her
whom thou oughtest to have protected? Begone, man! (turning from me, her
face crimsoned over with passion.) - See me no more! - I cannot bear thee
in my sight! -

Dearest, dearest creature!

If I forgive thee, Lovelace - And there she stopped. - To endeavour,
proceeded she, to endeavour by premeditation, by low contrivances, by
cries of Fire! to terrify a poor creature who had consented to take a
wretched chance with thee for life!

For Heaven's sake, - offering to take her repulsing hand, as she was
flying from me towards the closet.

What hast thou to do to plead for the sake of Heaven in thy favour! - O
darkest of human minds!

Then turning from me, wiping her eyes, and again turning towards me, but
her sweet face half aside, What difficulties hast thou involved me in!
That thou hadst a plain path before thee, after thou hadst betrayed me
into thy power. - At once my mind takes in the whole of thy crooked
behaviour; and if thou thinkest of Clarissa Harlowe as her proud heart
tells her thou oughtest to think of her, thou wilt seek thy fortunes
elsewhere. How often hast thou provoked me to tell thee, that my soul
is above thee!

For Heaven's sake, Madam, for a soul's sake, which it is in your power
to save from perdition, forgive me the past offence. I am the greatest
villain on earth if it was a premeditated one; yet I presume not to
excuse myself. On your mercy I throw myself. I will not offer at any
plea but that of penitence. See but Captain Tomlinson. - See but Lady
Betty and my cousin; let them plead for me; let them be guarantees for
my honour.

If Captain Tomlinson come while I stay here, I may see him; but as for
you, Sir -

Dearest creature! let me beg of you not to aggravate my offence to the
Captain when he comes. Let me beg of you -

What askest thou? It is not that I shall be of party against myself?
That I shall palliate -

Do not charge me, Madam, interrupted I, with villainous premeditation!
- Do not give such a construction to my offence as may weaken your
uncle's opinion - as may strengthen your brother's -

She flung from me to the further end of the room, [she could go no
further,] and just then Mrs. Moore came up, and told her that dinner was
ready, and that she had prevailed upon Miss Rawlins to give her her
company.

You must excuse me, Mrs. Moore, said she. Miss Rawlins I hope also will
- but I cannot eat - I cannot go down. As for you, Sir, I suppose you
will think it right to depart hence; at least till the gentleman comes
whom you expect.

I respectfully withdrew into the next room, that Mrs. Moore might
acquaint her, (I durst not myself,) that I was her lodger and boarder,
as, whisperingly, I desired that she would; and meeting Miss Rawlins in
the passage, Dearest Miss Rawlins, said I, stand my friend; join with Mrs.
Moore to pacify my spouse, if she has any new flights upon my having
taken lodgings, and intending to board here. I hope she will have more
generosity than to think of hindering a gentlewoman from letting her
lodgings.

I suppose Mrs. Moore, (whom I left with my fair-one,) had apprized her of
this before Miss Rawlins went in; for I heard her say, while I withheld
Miss Rawlins, - 'No, indeed: he is much mistaken - surely he does not think
I will.'

They both expostulated with her, as I could gather from bits and scraps
of what they said; for they spoke so low, that I could not hear any
distinct sentence, but from the fair perverse, whose anger made her
louder. And to this purpose I heard her deliver herself in answer to
different parts of their talk to her: - 'Good Mrs. Moore, dear Miss
Rawlins, press me no further: - I cannot sit down at table with him!'

They said something, as I suppose in my behalf - 'O the insinuating
wretch! What defence have I against a man, who, go where I will, can
turn every one, even of the virtuous of my sex, in his favour?'

After something else said, which I heard not distinctly - 'This is
execrable cunning! - Were you to know his wicked heart, he is not without
hope of engaging you two good persons to second him in the vilest of his
machinations.'

How came she, (thought I, at the instant,) by all this penetration? My
devil surely does not play me booty. If I thought he did, I would marry,
and live honest, to be even with him.

I suppose then they urged the plea which I hinted to Miss Rawlins at
going in, that she would not be Mrs. Moore's hindrance; for thus she
expressed herself - 'He will no doubt pay you your own price. You need
not question his liberality; but one house cannot hold us. - Why, if it
would, did I fly from him, to seek refuge among strangers?'

Then, in answer to somewhat else they pleaded - ''Tis a mistake, Madam;
I am not reconciled to him, I will believe nothing he says. Has he not
given you a flagrant specimen of what a man he is, and of what his is
capable, by the disguises you saw him in? My story is too long, and my
stay here will be but short; or I could convince you that my resentments
against him are but too well founded.'

I suppose that they pleaded for her leave for my dining with them; for
she said - 'I have nothing to say to that: it is your own house, Mrs.
Moore - it is your own table - you may admit whom you please to it, only
leave me at my liberty to choose my company.'

Then, in answer, as I suppose, to their offer of sending her up a plate -
'A bit of bread, if you please, and a glass of water; that's all I can
swallow at present. I am really very much discomposed. Saw you not how
bad I was? Indignation only could have supported my spirits! -

'I have no objections to his dining with you, Madam;' added she, in
reply, I suppose, to a farther question of the same nature - 'But I will
not stay a night in the same house where he lodges.'

I presume Miss Rawlins had told her that she would not stay dinner: for
she said, - 'Let me not deprive Mrs. Moore of your company, Miss Rawlins.
You will not be displeased with his talk. He can have no design upon
you.'

Then I suppose they pleaded what I might say behind her back, to make my
own story good: - 'I care not what he says or what he thinks of me.
Repentance and amendment are all the harm I wish him, whatever becomes of
me!'

By her accent she wept when she spoke these last words.

They came out both of them wiping their eyes; and would have persuaded me
to relinquish the lodgings, and to depart till her uncle's friend came.
But I knew better. I did not care to trust the Devil, well as she and
Miss Howe suppose me to be acquainted with him, for finding her out
again, if once more she escaped me.

What I am most afraid of is, that she will throw herself among her own
relations; and, if she does, I am confident they will not be able to
withstand her affecting eloquence. But yet, as thou'lt see, the
Captain's letter to me is admirably calculated to obviate my
apprehensions on this score; particularly in that passage where it is
said, that her uncle thinks not himself at liberty to correspond directly
with her, or to receive applications from her - but through Captain
Tomlinson, as is strongly implied.*


* See Letter XXIV. of this volume.


I must own, (notwithstanding the revenge I have so solemnly vowed,) that
I would very fain have made for her a merit with myself in her returning
favour, and have owed as little as possible to the mediation of Captain
Tomlinson. My pride was concerned in this: and this was one of my
reasons for not bringing him with me. - Another was, that, if I were
obliged to have recourse to his assistance, I should be better able, (by
visiting without him,) to direct him what to say or do, as I should find
out the turn of her humour.

I was, however, glad at my heart that Mrs. Moore came up so seasonably
with notice that dinner was ready. The fair fugitive was all in all.
She had the excuse for withdrawing, I had time to strengthen myself; the
Captain had time to come; and the lady to cool. - Shakspeare advises
well:

Oppose not rage, whilst rage is in its force;
But give it way awhile, and let it waste.
The rising deluge is not stopt with dams;
Those it o'erbears, and drowns the hope of harvest.
But, wisely manag'd, its divided strength
Is sluic'd in channels, and securely drain'd:
And when its force is spent, and unsupply'd,
The residue with mounds may be restrain'd,
And dry-shod we may pass the naked ford.

I went down with the women to dinner. Mrs. Moore sent her fair boarder
up a plate, but she only ate a little bit of bread, and drank a glass of
water. I doubted not but she would keep her word, when it was once gone
out. Is she not an Harlowe? She seems to be enuring herself to
hardships, which at the worst she can never know; since, though she
should ultimately refuse to be obliged to me, or (to express myself more
suitable to my own heart,) to oblige me, every one who sees her must
befriend her.

But let me ask thee, Belford, Art thou not solicitous for me in relation
to the contents of the letter which the angry beauty had written and
dispatched away by man and horse; and for what may be Miss Howe's answer
to it? Art thou not ready to inquire, Whether it be not likely that Miss
Howe, when she knows of her saucy friend's flight, will be concerned
about her letter, which she must know could not be at Wilson's till after
that flight, and so, probably, would fall into my hands? -

All these things, as thou'lt see in the sequel, are provided for with as
much contrivance as human foresight can admit.

I have already told thee that Will. is upon the lookout for old Grimes -
old Grimes is, it seems, a gossiping, sottish rascal; and if Will. can
but light of him, I'll answer for the consequence; For has not Will. been
my servant upwards of seven years?



LETTER XXVII

MR. LOVELACE
[IN CONTINUATION.]


We had at dinner, besides Miss Rawlins, a young widow-niece of Mrs.
Moore, who is come to stay a month with her aunt - Bevis her name; very
forward, very lively, and a great admirer of me, I assure you; - hanging
smirkingly upon all I said; and prepared to approve of every word before
I spoke: and who, by the time we had half-dined, (by the help of what she
had collected before,) was as much acquainted with our story as either of
the other two.

As it behoved me to prepare them in my favour against whatever might come
from Miss Howe, I improved upon the hint I had thrown out above-stairs
against that mischief-making lady. I represented her to be an arrogant
creature, revengeful, artful, enterprising, and one who, had she been a
man, would have sworn and cursed, and committed rapes, and played the
devil, as far as I knew: [I have no doubt of it, Jack!] but who, by
advantage of a female education, and pride and insolence, I believed was
personally virtuous.

Mrs. Bevis allowed, that there was a vast deal in education - and in
pride too, she said. While Miss Rawlins came with a prudish God forbid
that virtue should be owing to education only! However, I declared that
Miss Howe was a subtle contriver of mischief; one who had always been my
enemy: her motives I knew not: but despised the man whom her mother was
desirous she should have, one Hickman; although I did not directly aver
that she would rather have had me; yet they all immediately imagined that
that was the ground of her animosity to me, and of her envy to my
beloved: and it was pity, they said, that so fine a young lady did not
see through such a pretended friend.

And yet nobody [added I] has more reason than she to know by experience
the force of a hatred founded in envy; as I hinted to you above, Mrs.
Moore, and to you, Miss Rawlins, in the case of her sister Arabella.

I had compliments made to my person and talents on this occasion: which
gave me a singular opportunity of displaying my modesty, by disclaiming
the merit of them, with a No, indeed! - I should be very vain, Ladies, if
I thought so. While thus abusing myself, and exalting Miss Howe, I got
their opinion both for modesty and generosity; and had all the graces
which I disclaimed thrown in upon me besides.

In short, they even oppressed that modesty, which (to speak modestly of
myself) their praises created, by disbelieving all I said against myself.

And, truly, I must needs say, they have almost persuaded even me myself,
that Miss Howe is actually in love with me. I have often been willing to
hope this. And who knows but she may? The Captain and I have agreed,
that it shall be so insinuated occasionally - And what's thy opinion,
Jack? She certainly hates Hickman; and girls who are disengaged seldom
hate, though they may not love: and if she had rather have another, why
not that other ME? For am I not a smart fellow, and a rake? And do not
your sprightly ladies love your smart fellow, and your rakes? And where
is the wonder, that the man who could engage the affections of Miss
Harlowe, should engage those of a lady (with her* alas's) who would be
honoured in being deemed her second?


* See Letter XX. of this volume, where Miss Howe says, Alas! my dear, I
know you loved him!


Nor accuse thou me of SINGULAR vanity in this presumption, Belford. Wert
thou to know the secret vanity that lurks in the hearts of those who
disguise or cloke it best, thou wouldst find great reason to acquit, at
least, to allow for me: since it is generally the conscious over-fulness
of conceit, that makes the hypocrite most upon his guard to conceal it.
Yet with these fellows, proudly humble as they are, it will break out
sometimes in spite of their clokes, though but in self-denying,
compliment-begging self-degradation.

But now I have undervalued myself, in apologizing to thee on this
occasion, let me use another argument in favour of my observation, that
the ladies generally prefer a rake to a sober man; and of my presumption
upon it, that Miss Howe is in love with me: it is this: common fame says,
That Hickman is a very virtuous, a very innocent fellow - a male-virgin, I
warrant! - An odd dog I always thought him. Now women, Jack, like not
novices. Two maidenheads meeting together in wedlock, the first child
must be a fool, is their common aphorism. They are pleased with a love
of the sex that is founded in the knowledge of it. Reason good; novices
expect more than they can possibly find in the commerce with them. The
man who knows them, yet has ardours for them, to borrow a word from Miss
Howe,* though those ardours are generally owing more to the devil within
him, than to the witch without him, is the man who makes them the highest
and most grateful compliment. He knows what to expect, and with what to
be satisfied.


* See Vol. IV. Letters XXIX. and XXXIV.


Then the merit of a woman, in some cases, must be ignorance, whether real
or pretended. The man, in these cases, must be an adept. Will it then
be wondered at, that a woman prefers a libertine to a novice? - While she
expects in the one the confidence she wants, she considers the other and
herself as two parallel lines, which, though they run side by side, can
never meet.

Yet in this the sex is generally mistaken too; for these sheepish fellows
are sly. I myself was modest once; and this, as I have elsewhere hinted
to thee,* has better enabled me to judge of both sexes.


* See Vol. III. Letter XXIII.


But to proceed with my narrative:

Having thus prepared every one against any letter should come from Miss
Howe, and against my beloved's messenger returns, I thought it proper to
conclude that subject with a hint, that my spouse could not bear to have
any thing said that reflected upon Miss Howe; and, with a deep sigh,
added, that I had been made very unhappy more than once by the ill-will
of ladies whom I had never offended.

The widow Bevis believed that might very easily be. Will. both without
and within, [for I intend he shall fall in love with widow Moore's maid,
and have saved one hundred pounds in my service, at least,] will be great
helps, as things may happen.



LETTER XXVIII

MR. LOVELACE
[IN CONTINUATION.]


We had hardly dined, when my coachman, who kept a look-out for Captain
Tomlinson, as Will. did for old Grimes, conducted hither that worthy
gentleman, attended by one servant, both on horseback. He alighted. I
went out to meet him at the door.

Thou knowest his solemn appearance, and unblushing freedom; and yet canst
not imagine what a dignity the rascal assumed, nor how respectful to him
I was.

I led him into the parlour, and presented him to the women, and them to
him. I thought it highly imported me (as they might still have some
diffidences about our marriage, from my fair-one's home-pushed questions
on that head) to convince them entirely of the truth of all I had
asserted. And how could I do this better, than by dialoguing a little
with him before them?

Dear Captain, I thought you long; for I have had a terrible conflict with
my spouse.

Capt. I am sorry that I am later than my intention - my account with my
banker - [There's a dog, Jack!] took me up longer time to adjust than I
had foreseen [all the time pulling down and stroking his ruffles]: for
there was a small difference between us - only twenty pounds, indeed,
which I had taken no account of.

The rascal has not seen twenty pounds of his own these ten years.

Then had we between us the character of the Harlowe family; I railed
against them all; the Captain taking his dear friend Mr. John Harlowe's
part; with a Not so fast! - not so fast, young gentleman! - and the like
free assumptions.

He accounted for their animosity by my defiances: no good family, having
such a charming daughter, would care to be defied, instead of courted: he
must speak his mind: never was a double-tongued man. - He appealed to the
ladies, if he were not right?

He got them on his side.

The correction I had given the brother, he told me, must have aggravated
matters.

How valiant this made me look to the women! - The sex love us mettled
fellows at their hearts.

Be that as it would, I should never love any of the family but my spouse;
and wanting nothing from them, I would not, but for her sake, have gone
so far as I had gone towards a reconciliation.

This was very good of me; Mrs. Moore said.

Very good indeed; Miss Rawlins.

Good; - It is more than good; it is very generous; said the widow.

Capt. Why so it is, I must needs say: for I am sensible that Mr.
Lovelace has been rudely treated by them all - more rudely, than it could
have been imagined a man of his quality and spirit would have put up
with. But then, Sir, [turning to me,] I think you are amply rewarded in
such a lady; and that you ought to forgive the father for the daughter's
sake.

Mrs. Moore. Indeed so I think.

Miss R. So must every one think who has seen the lady.

Widow B. A fine lady, to be sure! But she has a violent spirit; and
some very odd humours too, by what I have heard. The value of good
husbands is not known till they are lost!

Her conscience then drew a sigh from her.

Lovel. Nobody must reflect upon my angel! - An angel she is - some little
blemishes, indeed, as to her over-hasty spirit, and as to her unforgiving
temper. But this she has from the Harlowes; instigated too by that Miss
Howe. - But her innumerable excellencies are all her own.

Capt. Ay, talk of spirit, there's a spirit, now you have named Miss
Howe! [And so I led him to confirm all I had said of that vixen.] Yet
she was to be pitied too; looking with meaning at me.

As I have already hinted, I had before agreed with him to impute secret
love occasionally to Miss Howe, as the best means to invalidate all that
might come from her in my disfavour.

Capt. Mr. Lovelace, but that I know your modesty, or you could give a
reason -

Lovel. Looking down, and very modest - I can't think so, Captain - but
let us call another cause.

Every woman present could look me in the face, so bashful was I.

Capt. Well, but as to our present situation - only it mayn't be proper -
looking upon me, and round upon the women.

Lovel. O Captain, you may say any thing before this company - only,
Andrew, [to my new servant, who attended us at table,] do you withdraw:
this good girl [looking at the maid-servant] will help us to all we want.

Away went Andrew: he wanted not his cue; and the maid seemed pleased at
my honour's preference of her.

Capt. As to our present situation, I say, Mr. Lovelace - why, Sir, we
shall be all untwisted, let me tell you, if my friend Mr. John Harlowe
were to know what that is. He would as much question the truth of your
being married, as the rest of the family do.

Here the women perked up their ears; and were all silent attention.

Capt. I asked you before for particulars, Mr. Lovelace; but you
declined giving them. - Indeed it may not be proper for me to be
acquainted with them. - But I must own, that it is past my comprehension,
that a wife can resent any thing a husband can do (that is not a breach


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Online LibrarySamuel RichardsonClarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 5 → online text (page 18 of 24)