Produced by Julie C. Sparks, and David Widger
HISTORY OF A YOUNG LADY
By Samuel Richardson
LETTERS OF VOLUME III
LETTER I. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—Is astonished, confounded, aghast. Repeats her advice to marry Lovelace.
LETTER II. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Gives a particular account of her meeting Lovelace; of her vehement contention with him; and, at last, of her being terrified out of her predetermined resolution, and tricked away. Her grief and compunction of heart upon it. Lays all to the fault of corresponding with him at first against paternal prohibition. Is incensed against him for his artful dealings with her, and for his selfish love.
LETTER III. Mr. Lovelace to Joseph Leman.—A letter which lays open the whole of his contrivance to get off Clarissa.
LETTER IV. Joseph Leman. In answer.
LETTER V. Lovelace to Belford.—In ecstasy on the success of his contrivances. Well as he loves Clarissa, he would show her no mercy, if he thought she preferred any man living to him. Will religiously observe the INJUNCTIONS she laid upon him previous to their meeting.
LETTER VI. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—A recriminating conversation between her and Lovelace. He reminds her of her injunctions; and, instead of beseeching her to dispense with them, promises a sacred regard to them. It is not, therefore, in her power, she tells Miss Howe, to take her advice as to speedy marriage. [A note on the place, justifying her conduct.] Is attended by Mrs. Greme, Lord M.’s housekeeper at The Lawn, who waits on her to her sister Sorlings, with whom she consents to lodge. His looks offend her. Has written to her sister for her clothes.
LETTER VII. Lovelace to Belford.—Gives briefly the particulars of his success. Describes her person and dress on her first meeting him. Extravagant exultation. Makes Belford question him on the honour of his designs by her: and answers doubtfully.
LETTER VIII. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—Her sentiments on her narrative. Her mother, at the instigation of Antony Harlowe, forbids their correspondence. Mr. Hickman’s zeal to serve them in it. What her family now pretend, if she had not left them. How they took her supposed projected flight. Offers her money and clothes. Would have her seem to place some little confidence in Lovelace. Her brother and sister will not permit her father and uncles to cool.
LETTER IX. X. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Advises her to obey her mother, who prohibits their correspondence. Declines to accept her offers of money: and why. Mr. Lovelace not a polite man. She will be as ready to place a confidence in him, as he will be to deserve it. Yet tricked away by him as she was, cannot immediately treat him with great complaisance. Blames her for her liveliness to her mother. Encloses the copy of her letter to her sister.
LETTER XI. Lovelace to Belford.—Prides himself in his arts in the conversations between them. Is alarmed at the superiority of her talents. Considers opposition and resistance as a challenge to do his worst. His artful proceedings with Joseph Leman.
LETTER XII. From the same.—Men need only be known to be rakes, he says, to recommend themselves to the favour of the sex. Wishes Miss Howe were not so well acquainted with Clarissa: and why.
LETTER XIII. From the same.—Intends to set old Antony at Mrs. Howe, to prevent the correspondence between the two young ladies. Girl, not gold, his predominant passion. Rallies Belford on his person and appearance. Takes humourous notice of the two daughters of the widow Sorlings.
LETTER XIV. From the same.—Farther triumphs over the Harlowes. Similitude of the spider and fly. Is for having separate churches as well as separate boarding-schools for the sexes. The women ought to love him, he says: and why. Prides himself that they do.
LETTER XV. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Particulars of an angry conference with Lovelace. Seeing her sincerely displeased, he begs the ceremony may immediately pass. He construes her bashful silence into anger, and vows a sacred regard to her injunctions.
LETTER XVI. XVII. XVIII. Lovelace to Belford.—The pleasure of a difficult chace. Triumphs in the distress and perplexity he gave her by his artful and parading offer of marriage. His reasons for and against doing her justice. Resolves to try her to the utmost. The honour of the whole sex concerned in the issue of her trial. Matrimony, he sees, is in his power, now she is.
LETTER XIX. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—Will not obey her mother in her prohibition of their correspondence: and why. Is charmed with her spirit.
LETTER XX. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Knows not what she can do with Lovelace. He may thank himself for the trouble he has had on her account. Did she ever, she asks, make him any promises? Did she ever receive him as a lover?
LETTER XXI. XXII. From the same.—She calls upon Lovelace to give her a faithful account of the noise and voices she heard at the garden-door, which frightened her away with him. His confession, and daring hints in relation to Solmes, and her brother, and Betty Barnes. She is terrified.
LETTER XXIII. Lovelace to Belford.—Rejoices in the stupidity of the Harlowes. Exults in his capacity for mischief. The condescensions to which he intends to bring the lady. Libertine observations to the disadvantage of women; which may serve as cautions to the sex.
LETTER XXIV. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—A conversation with Mr. Lovelace wholly agreeable. His promises of reformation. She remembers, to his advantage, his generosity to his Rosebud and his tenants. Writes to her aunt Hervey.
LETTER XXV. XXVI. Lovelace to Belford.—His acknowledged vanity. Accounts for his plausible behaviour, and specious promises and proposals. Apprehensive of the correspondence between Miss Howe and Clarissa. Loves to plague him with out-of-the-way words and phrases.
LETTER XXVII. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—How to judge of Lovelace’s suspicious proposals and promises. Hickman devoted to their service. Yet she treats him with ridicule.
LETTER XXVIII. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Lovelace complains, she hears, to Mrs. Greme, of her adhering to her injunctions. What means he by it, she asks, yet forego such opportunities as he had? She is punished for her vanity in hoping to be an example. Blames Miss Howe for her behaviour to Hickman.
LETTER XXIX. From the same.—Warm dialogues with Lovelace. She is displeased with him for his affectedly-bashful hints of matrimony. Mutual recriminations. He looks upon her as his, she says, by a strange sort of obligation, for having run away with her against her will. Yet but touches on the edges of matrimony neither. She is sick of herself.
LETTER XXX. From the same.—Mr. Lovelace a perfect Proteus. He now applauds her for that treatment of him which before he had resented; and communicates to her two letters, one from Lady Betty Lawrance, the other from Miss Montague. She wonders he did not produce those letters before, as he must know they would be highly acceptable to her.
LETTER XXXI. XXXII. XXXIII. XXXIV. From the same.—The contents of the letters from Lady Betty and Miss Montague put Clarissa in good humour with Mr. Lovelace. He hints at marriage; but pretends to be afraid of pursuing the hint. She is earnest with him to leave her: and why. He applauds her reasonings. Her serious questions, and his ludicrous answer.—He makes different proposals.—He offers to bring Mrs. Norton to her. She is ready to blame herself for her doubts of him: but gives reasons for her caution.—He writes by her consent to his friend Doleman, to procure lodgings for her in town.
LETTER XXXV. Lovelace to Belford.—Glories in his contrivances. Gives an advantageous description of Clarissa’s behaviour. Exults on her mentioning London. None but impudent girls, he says, should run away with a man. His farther views, plots, and designs.
LETTER XXXVI. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—Humourously touches on her reproofs in relation to Hickman. Observations on smooth love. Lord M.’s family greatly admire her. Approves of her spirited treatment of Lovelace, and of her going to London. Hints at the narrowness of her own mother. Advises her to keep fair with Lovelace.
LETTER XXXVII. XXXVIII. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Wonders not that her brother has weight to make her father irreconcilable.—Copy of Mr. Doleman’s answer about London lodgings. Her caution in her choice of them. Lovelace has given her five guineas for Hannah. Other instances of his considerateness. Not displeased with her present prospects.
LETTER XXXIX. Lovelace to Belford.—Explains what is meant by Doleman’s answer about the lodgings. Makes Belford object to his scheme, that he may answer the objections. Exults. Swells. Despises every body. Importance of the minutiae. More of his arts, views, and contrivances.
LETTER XL. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—Acquaints her with a scheme formed by her brother and captain Singleton, to carry her off. Hickman’s silent charities. She despises all his sex, as well as him. Ill terms on which her own father and mother lived. Extols Clarissa for her domestic good qualities. Particulars of a great contest with her mother, on their correspondence. Has been slapt by her. Observations on managing wives.
LETTER XLI. XLII. XLIII. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—A strong remonstrance on her behaviour to her mother; in which she lays down the duty of children. Accuses her of want of generosity to Hickman. Farther excuses herself on declining to accept of her money offers. Proposes a condition on which Mrs. Howe may see all they write.
LETTER XLIV. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—Her mother rejects the proposed condition. Miss Howe takes thankfully her reprehensions: but will continue the correspondence. Some excuses for herself. Humourous story of game-chickens.
LETTER XLV. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Lovelace communicates her brother’s and Singleton’s project; but treats it with seeming contempt. She asks his advice what to do upon it. This brings on an offer of marriage from him. How it went off.
LETTER XLVI. Lovelace to Belford.—He confesses his artful intentions in the offer of marriage: yet had like, he says, to have been caught in his own snares.
LETTER XLVII. Joseph Leman to Mr. Lovelace.—With intelligence of a design formed against him by the Harlowes. Joseph’s vile hypocrisy and selfishness.
LETTER XLVIII. Lovelace. In answer.—Story of Miss Betterton. Boast of his treatment of his mistresses. The artful use he makes of Joseph’s intelligence.
LETTER XLIX. Clarissa to her aunt Hervey.—Complains of her silence. Hints at her not having designed to go away with Lovelace. She will open her whole heart to her, if she encourage her to do so, by the hopes of a reconciliation.
LETTER L. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—Observations on Lovelace’s meanness, pride, and revenge. Politeness not to be expected from him. She raves at him for the artful manner in which he urges Clarissa to marry him. Advises her how to act in her present situation.
LETTER LI. Belford to Lovelace.—Becomes a warm advocate for the lady. Gives many instructive reasons to enforce his arguments in her favour.
LETTER LII. Mrs. Hervey to Clarissa.—A severe and cruel letter in answer to her’s, Letter XLIX. It was not designed, she says, absolutely to force her to marry to her dislike.
LETTER LIII. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—Her deep regret on this intelligence, for having met Lovelace. The finer sensibilities make not happy. Her fate too visibly in her power. He is unpolite, cruel, insolent, unwise, a trifler in his own happiness. Her reasons why she less likes him than ever. Her soul his soul’s superior. Her fortitude. Her prayer.
LETTER LIV. LV. From the same.—Now indeed is her heart broken, she says. A solemn curse laid upon her by her father. Her sister’s barbarous letters on the occasion.
LETTER LVI. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—A letter full of generous consolation and advice. Her friendly vow. Sends her fifty guineas in the leaves of a Norris’s miscellanies.
LETTER LVII. Clarissa to Miss Howe.—A faithful friend the medicine of life. She is just setting out for London. Lovelace has offered marriage to her in so unreserved a manner, that she wishes she had never written with diffidence of him. Is sorry it was not in her power to comply with his earnest solicitations. Returns her Norris: and why.
LETTER LVIII. LIX. Miss Howe to Clarissa.—Sorry she has returned her Norris. Wishes she had accepted of Lovelace’s unreserved offer of marriage. Believes herself to have a sneaking kindness for Hickman: and why. She blames Mrs. Harlowe: and why.
In answer to Letter VIII. Clarissa states the difference in the characters of Mr. Lovelace and Mr. Hickman; and tells her, that her motives for suspending marriage were not merely ceremonious ones. Regrets Mrs. Howe’s forbidding the correspondence between them. Her dutiful apology for her own mother. Lesson to children.
LETTER LX. Lovelace to Belford.—Thinks he shall be inevitably manacled at last. The lady’s extreme illness. Her filial piety gives her dreadful faith in a father’s curses. She lets not Miss Howe know how very ill she was. His vows of marriage bring her back to life. Absolutely in earnest in those vows. [The only time he was so.] He can now talk of love and marriage without check. Descants upon Belford’s letter, No. LI.
LETTER LXI. From the same.—Is setting out for London. A struggle with his heart. Owns it to be a villain of a heart. A fit of strong, but transitory remorse. If he do marry, he doubts he shall have a vapourish wife. Thinks it would be better for both not to marry. His libertine reasons. Lessons to the sex.
LETTER LXII. From the same.—They arrive at Mrs. Sinclair’s. Sally Martin and Polly Horton set upon him. He wavers in his good purposes. Dorcas Wykes proposed, and reluctantly accepted for a servant, till Hannah can come. Dorcas’s character. He has two great points to carry. What they are.
THE HISTORY OF CLARISSA HARLOWE
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TUESDAY, NINE O’CLOCK.
I write, because you enjoin me to do so. Love you still!—How can I help it, if I would? You may believe how I stand aghast, your letter communicating the first news—Good God of Heaven and Earth!—But what shall I say?—I am all impatient for particulars.
Lord have mercy upon me!—But can it be?
My mother will indeed be astonished!—How can I tell it her!—It was but last night (upon some jealousies put into her head by your foolish uncle) that I assured her, and this upon the strength of your own assurances, that neither man nor devil would be able to induce you to take a step that was in the least derogatory to the most punctilious honour.
But, once more, can it be? What woman at this rate!—But, God preserve you!
Let nothing escape you in your letters. Direct them for me, however, to Mrs. Knolly’s, till further notice.
Observe, my dear, that I don’t blame you by all this—Your relations only are in fault!—Yet how you came to change your mind is the surprising thing.
How to break it to my mother, I know not. Yet if she hear it first from any other, and find I knew it before, she will believe it to be my connivance!—Yet, as I hope to live, I know not how to break it to her.
But this is teasing you.—I am sure, without intention.
Let me now repeat my former advice—If you are not married by this time, be sure delay not the ceremony. Since things are as they are, I wish it were thought that you were privately married before you went away. If these men plead AUTHORITY to our pain, when we are theirs—Why should we not, in such a case as this, make some good out of the hated word, for our reputation, when we are induced to violate a more natural one?
Your brother and sister [that vexes me almost as much as any thing!] have now their ends. Now, I suppose, will go forward alterations of wills, and such-like spiteful doings.
Miss Lloyd and Miss Biddulph this moment send up their names. They are out of breath, Kitty says, to speak to me—easy to guess their errand;—I must see my mother, before I see them. I have no way but to shew her your letter to clear myself. I shall not be able to say a word, till she has run herself out of her first breath.—Forgive me, my dear—surprise makes me write thus. If your messenger did not wait, and were not those young ladies below, I could write it over again, for fear of afflicting you.
I send what you write for. If there be any thing else you want that is in my power, command without reserve
Your ever affectionate ANNA HOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE. TUESDAY NIGHT.
I think myself obliged to thank you, my dear Miss Howe, for your condescension, in taking notice of a creature who has occasioned you so much scandal.
I am grieved on this account, as much, I verily think, as for the evil itself.
Tell me—but yet I am afraid to know—what your mother said.
I long, and yet I dread, to be told, what the young ladies my companions, now never more perhaps to be so, say of me.
They cannot, however, say worse of me than I will of myself. Self accusation shall flow in every line of my narrative where I think I am justly censurable. If any thing can arise from the account I am going to give you, for extenuation of my fault (for that is all a person can hope for, who cannot excuse herself) I know I may expect it from your friendship, though not from the charity of any other: since by this time I doubt not every mouth is opened against me; and all that know Clarissa Harlowe condemn the fugitive daughter.
After I had deposited my letter to you, written down to the last hour, as I may say, I returned to the ivy summer-house; first taking back my letter from the loose bricks: and there I endeavoured, as coolly as my situation would permit, to recollect and lay together several incidents that had passed between my aunt and me; and, comparing them with some of the contents of my cousin Dolly’s letter, I began to hope, that I needed not to be so very apprehensive as I have been of next Wednesday. And thus I argued with myself.
‘Wednesday cannot possibly be the day they intend, although to intimidate me they may wish me to think it is: for the settlements are unsigned: nor have they been offered me to sign. I can choose whether I will or will not put my hand to them; hard as it will be to refuse if my father and mother propose, if I made compulsion necessary, to go to my uncle’s themselves in order to be out of the way of my appeals? Whereas they intend to be present on Wednesday. And, however affecting to me the thought of meeting them and all my friends in full assembly is, perhaps it is the very thing I ought to wish for: since my brother and sister had such an opinion of my interest in them, that they got me excluded from their presence, as a measure which they thought previously necessary to carry on their designs.
‘Nor have I reason to doubt, but that (as I had before argued with myself) I shall be able to bring over some of my relations to my party; and, being brought face to face with my brother, that I shall expose his malevolence, and of consequence weaken his power.
‘Then supposing the very worst, challenging the minister as I shall challenge him, he will not presume to proceed: nor surely will Mr. Solmes dare to accept my refusing and struggling hand. And finally, if nothing else will do, nor procure me delay, I can plead scruples of conscience, and even pretend prior obligation; for, my dear, I have give Mr. Lovelace room to hope (as you will see in one of my letters in your hands) that I will be no other man’s while he is single, and gives me not wilful and premeditated cause of offence against him; and this in order to rein-in his resentment on the declared animosity of my brother and uncles to him. And as I shall appeal, or refer my scruples on this head, to the good Dr. Lewen, it is impossible but that my mother and aunt (if nobody else) must be affected with this plea.’
Revolving cursorily these things, I congratulated myself, that I had resolved against going away with Mr. Lovelace.
I told you, my dear, that I would not spare myself: and I enumerate these particulars as so many arguments to condemn the actions I have been so unhappily betrayed into. An argument that concludes against me with the greater force, as I must acknowledge, that I was apprehensive, that what my cousin Dolly mentions as from Betty, and from my sister who told her, that she should tell me, in order to make me desperate, and perhaps to push me upon some such step as I have been driven to take, as the most effectual means to ruin me with my father and uncles.
God forgive me, if I judge too harshly of their views!—But if I do not, it follows, that they laid a wicked snare for me; and that I have been caught in it.—And now they triumph, if they can triumph, in the ruin of a sister, who never wished or intended to hurt them!
As the above kind of reasoning had lessened my apprehensions as to the Wednesday, it added to those I had of meeting Mr. Lovelace—now, as it seemed, not only the nearest, but the heaviest evil; principally indeed because nearest; for little did I dream (foolish creature that I was, and every way beset!) of the event proving what it has proved. I expected a contention with him, ’tis true, as he had not my letter: but I thought it would be very strange, as I mentioned in one of my former,* if I, who had so steadily held out against characters so venerable, against authorities so sacred, as I may say, when I thought them unreasonably exerted, should not find myself more equal to such a trial as this; especially as I had so much reason to be displeased with him for not having taken away my letter.
On what a point of time may one’s worldly happiness depend! Had I but two hours more to consider of the matter, and to attend to and improve upon these new lights, as I may call them—but even then, perhaps, I might have given him a meeting.—Fool that I was! what had I to do to give him hope that I would personally acquaint him with the reason for my change of mind, if I did change it?
O my dear! an obliging temper is a very dangerous temper!—By endeavouring to gratify others, it is evermore disobliging itself!
When the bell rang to call the servants to dinner, Betty came to me and asked, if I had any commands before she went to hers; repeating her hint, that she should be employed; adding, that she believed it was expected that I should not come up till she came down, or till I saw my aunt or Miss Hervey.
I asked her some questions about the cascade, which had been out of order, and lately mended; and expressed a curiosity to see how it played, in order to induce her [how cunning to cheat myself, as it proved!] to go thither, if she found me not where she left me; it being a part of the garden most distant from the ivy summer-house.
She could hardly have got into the house when I heard the first signal—O how my heart fluttered!—but no time was to be lost. I stept to the garden-door; and seeing a clear coast, unbolted the already-unlocked door—and there was he, all impatience, waiting for me.
A panic next to fainting seized me when I saw him. My heart seemed convulsed; and I trembled so, that I should hardly have kept my feet, had he not supported me.
Fear nothing, dearest creature, said he—let us hasten away—the chariot is at hand—and, by this sweet condescension, you have obliged me beyond expression or return.
Recovering my spirits a little, as he kept drawing me after him, O Mr. Lovelace, said I, I cannot go with you—indeed I cannot—I wrote you word so—let go my hand, and you shall see my letter. It is lain there from yesterday morning, till within this half-hour. I bid you watch to the last for a letter from me, lest I should be obliged to revoke the appointment; and, had you followed the direction, you would have found it.
I have been watched, my dearest life, said he, half out of breath—I have been watched in every step I took: and my trusty servant has been watched too, ever since Saturday; and dared not to come near your wall. And here we shall be discovered in a moment.—Speed away, my charmer—this is the moment of your deliverance—if you neglect this opportunity, you can never have such another.
What is it you mean, Sir?—Let go my hand: for I tell you [struggling vehemently] that I will sooner die than go with you.
Good God! said he, with a look of wildness and surprise, what is it I hear?—But [still drawing me after him, as he retreated farther from the door] it is no time to argue—by all that’s good you must go—surely you cannot doubt my honour, nor give me cause to question your own.
As you value me, Mr. Lovelace, urge me no farther. I come fixed and resolved. Let me give you the letter I have written. My further reasons shall follow; and they will convince you that I ought not to go.
Nothing, Madam, can convince me—by all that’s sacred, I will not leave you. To leave you now, would be to lose you for ever—
Am I to be thus compelled? interrupted I, with equal indignation and vehemence.—Let go my hands—I am resolved not to go with you—and I will convince you that I ought not.
All my friends expect you, Madam—all your own are determined against you—Wednesday next is the day, the important, perhaps the fatal day! Would you stay to be Solmes’s wife?—Can this be your determination at last?
No, never, never will I be that man’s—But I will not go with you! [draw me not thus—How dare you, Sir? I would not have seen you, but to tell you so]. I had not met you, but for fear you would have been guilty of some rashness—and, once more, I will not go—What mean you?—striving with all my force to get from him.
What can have possessed my angel, said he [quitting my hands, and with a gentler voice] that after so much ill-usage from your relations; vows so solemn on my part; an affection so ardent; you stab me with a refusal to stand by your own appointment?
We have no time to talk, Mr. Lovelace. I will give you my reasons at a better opportunity. I cannot go with you now—and once more urge me no farther—surely, I am not to be compelled by every body!
I see how it is, said he, with a dejected but passionate air—What a severe fate is mine!—At length your spirit is subdued!—Your brother and sister have prevailed; and I must give up all my hopes to a wretch so truly despicable—
Once more I tell you, interrupted I, I never will be his—all may end on Wednesday differently from what you expect—
And it may not!—And then, good heavens!
It is to be their last effort, as I have reason to believe—
And I have reason to believe so too—since if you stay, you will inevitably be Solmes’s wife.
Not so, interrupted I—I have obliged them in one point. They will be in good-humour with me. I shall gain time at least. I am sure I shall. I have several ways to gain time.
And what, Madam, will gaining time do? It is plain you have not a hope beyond that—it is plain you have not, by putting all upon that precarious issue. O my dearest, dearest life, let me beseech you not to run a risque of this consequence. I can convince you that it will be more than a risque if you go back, that you will on Wednesday next be Solmes’s wife.—Prevent, therefore, now that it is in your power to prevent, the fatal mischief that will follow such a dreadful certainty.
While I have any room for hope, it concerns your honour, Mr. Lovelace, as well as mine, (if you have the value for me you pretend, and wish me to believe you,) that my conduct in this great point should justify my prudence.
Your prudence, Madam! When has that been questionable? Yet what stead has either your prudence or your duty stood you in, with people so strangely determined?
And then he pathetically enumerated the different instances of the harsh treatment I had met with; imputing all to the malice and caprice of a brother, who set every body against him: and insisting, that I had no other way to bring about a reconciliation with my father and uncles, than by putting myself out of the power of my brother’s inveterate malice.
Your brother’s whole reliance, proceeded he, has been upon your easiness to bear his insults. Your whole family will seek to you, when you have freed yourself from this disgraceful oppression. When they know you are with those who can and will right you, they will give up to you your own estate. Why then, putting his arms around me, and again drawing me with a gentle force after him, do you hesitate a moment?—Now is the time—Fly with me, then, I beseech you, my dearest creature! Trust your persecuted adorer. Have we not suffered in the same cause? If any imputations are cast upon you, give me the honour (as I shall be found to deserve it) to call you mine; and, when you are so, shall I not be able to protect both your person and character?
Urge me no more, Mr. Lovelace, I conjure you. You yourself have given me a hint, which I will speak plainer to, than prudence, perhaps, on any other occasion, would allow. I am convinced, that Wednesday next (if I had time I would give you my reasons) is not intended to be the day we had both so much dreaded: and if after that day shall be over, I find my friends determined in Mr. Solmes’s favour, I will then contrive some way to meet you with Miss Howe, who is not your enemy: and when the solemnity has passed, I shall think that step a duty, which till then will be criminal to take: since now my father’s authority is unimpeached by any greater.
Nay, Mr. Lovelace, if you now dispute—if, after this more favourable declaration, than I had the thought of making, you are not satisfied, I shall know what to think both of your gratitude and generosity.
The case, Madam, admits not of this alternative. I am all gratitude upon it. I cannot express how much I should be delighted with the charming hope you have given me, were you not next Wednesday, if you stay, to be another man’s. Think, dearest creature! what an heightening of my anguish the distant hope you bid me look up to is, taken in this light!
Depend, depend upon it, I will die sooner than be Mr. Solmes’s. If you would have me rely upon your honour, why should you doubt of mine?
I doubt not your honour, Madam; your power is all I doubt. You never, never can have such another opportunity.—Dearest creature, permit me—and he was again drawing me after him.
Whither, Sir, do you draw me?—Leave me this moment—Do you seek to keep me till my return shall grow dangerous or impracticable? This moment let me go, if you would have me think tolerably of you.
My happiness, Madam, both here and hereafter, and the safety of all your implacable family, depend upon this moment.
To Providence, Mr. Lovelace, and to the law, will I leave the safety of my friends. You shall not threaten me into a rashness that my heart condemns!—Shall I, to promote your happiness, as you call it, depend upon future peace of mind?
You trifle with me, my dear life, just as our better prospects begin to open. The way is clear; just now it is clear; but you may be prevented in a moment. What is it you doubt?—May I perish eternally, if your will shall not be a law to me in every thing! All my relations expect you.—Next Wednesday!—Dearest creature! think of next Wednesday!—And to what is it I urge you, but to take a step that sooner than any other will reconcile you to all whom you have most reason to value in your family?
Let my judge for myself, Sir. Do not you, who blame my friends for endeavouring to compel me, yourself seek to compel. I won’t bear it. Your earnestness gives me greater apprehensions, and greater reluctance. Let me go back, then—let me, before it is too late, go back, that it may not be worse for both—What mean you by this forcible treatment? Is it thus that I am to judge of the entire submission to my will which you have so often vowed?—Unhand me this moment, or I will cry out for help.
I will obey you, my dearest creature!—And quitted my hand with a look full of tender despondency, that, knowing the violence of his temper, half-concerned me for him. Yet I was hastening from him, when, with a solemn air, looking upon his sword, but catching, as it were, his hand from it, he folded both his arms, as if a sudden thought had recovered him from an intended rashness.
Stay, one moment—but one moment stay, O best beloved of my soul!—Your retreat is secure, if you will go: the key lies at the door.—But, O Madam, next Wednesday, and you are Mr. Solmes’s!—Fly me not so eagerly—hear me but a few words.
When near the garden-door, I stopped; and was the more satisfied, as I saw the key there, by which I could let myself in again at pleasure. But, being uneasy lest I should be missed, I told him, I could stay no longer. I had already staid too long. I would write to him all my reasons. And depend upon it, Mr. Lovelace, said I [just upon the point of stooping for the key, in order to return] I will die, rather than have that man. You know what I have promised, if I find myself in danger.
One word, Madam, however; one word more [approaching me, his arms still folded, as if, I thought, he would not be tempted to mischief]. Remember only, that I come at your appointment, to redeem you, at the hazard of my life, from your gaolers and persecutors, with a resolution, God is my witness, or may he for ever blast me! [that was his shocking imprecation] to be a father, uncle, brother, and, as I humbly hoped, in your own good time, a husband to you, all in one. But since I find you are so ready to cry out for help against me, which must bring down upon me the vengeance of all your family, I am contented to run all risques. I will not ask you to retreat with me; I will attend you into the garden, and into the house, if I am not intercepted.
Nay, be not surprised, Madam. The help you would have called for, I will attend you to; for I will face them all: but not as a revenger, if they provoke me not too much. You shall see what I can further bear for your sake—and let us both see, if expostulation, and the behaviour of a gentleman to them, will not procure me the treatment due to a gentleman from them.
Had he offered to draw his sword upon himself, I was prepared to have despised him for supposing me such a poor novice, as to be intimidated by an artifice so common. But this resolution, uttered with so serious an air, of accompanying me in to my friends, made me gasp with terror.
What mean you, Mr. Lovelace? said I: I beseech you leave me—leave me, Sir, I beseech you.
Excuse me, Madam! I beg you to excuse me. I have long enough skulked like a thief about these lonely walls—long, too long, have I borne the insults of your brother, and other of your relations. Absence but heightens malice. I am desperate. I have but this one chance for it; for is not the day after to-morrow Wednesday? I have encouraged virulence by my tameness.—Yet tame I will still be. You shall see, Madam, what I will bear for your sake. My sword shall be put sheathed into your hands [and he offered it to me in the scabbard].—My heart, if you please, clapping one hand upon his breast, shall afford a sheath for your brother’s sword. Life is nothing, if I lose you—be pleased, Madam, to shew me the way into the garden [moving toward the door]. I will attend you, though to my fate!—But too happy, be it what it will, if I receive it in your presence. Lead on, dear creature! [putting his sword into his belt]—You shall see what I can bear for you. And he stooped and took up the key; and offered it to the lock; but dropped it again, without opening the door, upon my earnest expostulations.
What can you mean, Mr. Lovelace?—said I—Would you thus expose yourself? Would you thus expose me?—Is this your generosity? Is every body to take advantage thus of the weakness of my temper?
And I wept. I could not help it.
He threw himself upon his knees at my feet—Who can bear, said he, [with an ardour that could not be feigned, his own eyes glistening,] who can bear to behold such sweet emotion?—O charmer of my heart, [and, respectfully still kneeling, he took my hand with both his, pressing it to his lips,] command me with you, command me from you; in every way I am implicit to obedience—but I appeal to all you know of your relations’ cruelty to you, their determined malice against me, and as determined favour to the man you tell me you hate, (and, O Madam, if you did not hate him, I should hardly think there would be a merit in your approbation, place it where you would)—I appeal to every thing you know, to all you have suffered, whether you have not reason to be apprehensive of that Wednesday, which is my terror!—whether you can possibly have another opportunity—the chariot ready: my friends with impatience expecting the result of your own appointment: a man whose will shall be entirely your will, imploring you, thus, on his knees, imploring you—to be your own mistress; that is all: nor will I ask for your favour, but as upon full proof I shall appear to deserve it. Fortune, alliance, unobjectionable!—O my beloved creature! pressing my hand once more to his lips, let not such an opportunity slip. You never, never will have such another.
I bid him rise. He arose; and I told him, that were I not thus unaccountably hurried by his impatience, I doubted not to convince him, that both he and I had looked upon next Wednesday with greater apprehension than was necessary. I was proceeding to give him my reasons; but he broke in upon me—
Had I, Madam, but the shadow of a probability to hope what you hope, I would be all obedience and resignation. But the license is actually got: the parson is provided: the pedant Brand is the man. O my dearest creature, do these preparations mean only a trial?
You know not, Sir, were the worst to be intended, and weak as you think me, what a spirit I have: you know not what I can do, and how I can resist when I think myself meanly or unreasonably dealt with: nor do you know what I have already suffered, what I have already borne, knowing to whose unbrotherly instigations all is to be ascribed—
I may expect all things, Madam, interrupted he, from the nobleness of your mind. But your spirits may fail you. What may not be apprehended from the invincible temper of a father so positive, to a daughter so dutiful?—Fainting will not save you: they will not, perhaps, be sorry for such an effect of their barbarity. What will signify expostulations against a ceremony performed? Must not all, the dreadful all follow, that is torture to my heart but to think of? Nobody to appeal to, of what avail will your resistance be against the consequences of a rite witnessed to by the imposers of it, and those your nearest relations?
I was sure, I said, of procuring a delay at least. Many ways I had to procure a delay. Nothing could be so fatal to us both, as for me now to be found with him. My apprehensions on this score, I told him, grew too strong for my heart. I should think very hardly of him, if he sought to detain me longer. But his acquiescence should engage my gratitude.
And then stooping to take up the key to let myself into the garden, he started, and looked as if he had heard somebody near the door, on the inside; clapping his hand on his sword.
This frighted me so, that I thought I should have sunk down at his feet. But he instantly re-assured me: He thought, he said, he had heard a rustling against the door: but had it been so, the noise would have been stronger. It was only the effect of his apprehension for me.
And then taking up the key, he presented it to me.—If you will go, Madam—Yet, I cannot, cannot leave you!—I must enter the garden with you—forgive me, but I must enter the garden with you.
And will you, will you thus ungenerously, Mr. Lovelace, take advantage of my fears? of my wishes to prevent mischief? I, vain fool, to be concerned for every one; nobody for me!
Dearest creature! interrupted he, holding my hand, as I tremblingly offered to put the key to the lock—let me, if you will go, open the door. But once more, consider, could you possibly obtain that delay which seems to be your only dependence, whether you may not be closer confined? I know they have already had that in consideration. Will you not, in this case, be prevented from corresponding either with Miss Howe, or with me?—Who then shall assist you in your escape, if escape you would?—From your chamber-window only permitted to view the garden you must not enter into, how will you wish for the opportunity you now have, if your hatred to Solmes continue!—But alas! that cannot continue. If you go back, it must be from the impulses of a yielding (which you’ll call, a dutiful) heart, tired and teased out of your own will.
I have no patience, Sir, to be thus constrained. Must I never be at liberty to follow my own judgment? Be the consequence what it may, I will not be thus constrained.
And then, freeing my hand, I again offered the key to the door.
Down the ready kneeler dropt between me and that: And can you, can you, Madam, once more on my knees let me ask you, look with an indifferent eye upon the evils that may follow? Provoked as I have been, and triumphed over as I shall be, if your brother succeeds, my own heart shudders, at times, at the thoughts of what must happen: And can yours be unconcerned? Let me beseech you, dearest creature, to consider all these things; and lose not this only opportunity. My intelligence—
Never, Mr. Lovelace, interrupted I, give so much credit to the words of a traitor. Your base intelligencer is but a servant. He may pretend to know more than he has grounds for, in order to earn the wages of corruption. You know not what contrivances I can find out.
I was once more offering the key to the lock, when, starting from his knees, with a voice of affrightment, loudly whispering, and as if out of breath, they are at the door, my beloved creature! and taking the key from me, he fluttered with it, as if he would double lock it. And instantly a voice from within cried out, bursting against the door, as if to break it open, the person repeating his violent pushes, Are you there?—come up this moment!—this moment!—here they are—here they are both together!—your pistol this moment!—your gun!—Then another push, and another. He at the same moment drew his sword, and clapping it naked under his arm, took both my trembling hands in his; and drawing me swiftly after him, Fly, fly, my charmer; this moment is all you have for it, said he.—Your brother!—your uncles!—or this Solmes!—they will instantly burst the door—fly, my dearest life, if you would not be more cruelly used than ever—if you would not see two or three murders committed at your feet, fly, fly, I beseech you.
O Lord:—help, help, cried the fool, all in amaze and confusion, frighted beyond the power of controuling.
Now behind me, now before me, now on this side, now on that, turned I my affrighted face, in the same moment; expecting a furious brother here, armed servants there, an enraged sister screaming, and a father armed with terror in his countenance more dreadful than even the drawn sword which I saw, or those I apprehended. I ran as fast as he; yet knew not that I ran; my fears adding wings to my feet, at the same time that they took all power of thinking from me—my fears, which probably would not have suffered me to know what course to take, had I not had him to urge and draw me after him: especially as I beheld a man, who must have come out of the door, keeping us in his eye, running now towards us; then back to the garden; beckoning and calling to others, whom I supposed he saw, although the turning of the wall hindered me from seeing them; and whom I imagined to be my brother, my father, and their servants.
Thus terrified, I was got out of sight of the door in a very few minutes: and then, although quite breathless between running and apprehension, he put my arm under his, his drawn sword in the other hand, and hurried me on still faster: my voice, however, contradicting my action; crying, no, no, no, all the while; straining my neck to look back, as long as the walls of the garden and park were within sight, and till he brought me to the chariot: where, attending, were two armed servants of his own, and two of Lord M.’s on horseback.
Here I must suspend my relation for a while: for now I am come to this sad period of it, my indiscretion stares me in the face; and my shame and my grief give me a compunction that is more poignant methinks than if I had a dagger in my heart. To have it to reflect, that I should so inconsiderately give in to an interview, which, had I known either myself or him, or in the least considered the circumstances of the case, I might have supposed would put me into the power of his resolution, and out of that of my own reason.
For, might I not have believed, that he, who thought he had cause to apprehend that he was on the point of losing a person who had cost him so much pains and trouble, would not hinder her, if possible, from returning? That he, who knew I had promised to give him up for ever, if insisted as a condition of reconciliation, would not endeavour to put it out of my power to do so? In short, that he, who had artfully forborne to send for my letter, (for he could not be watched, my dear,) lest he should find in it a countermand to my appointment, (as I myself could apprehend, although I profited by the apprehension,) would want a device to keep me with him till the danger of having our meeting discovered might throw me absolutely into his power, to avoid my own worse usage, and the mischiefs which might have ensued (perhaps in my very sight) had my friends and he met?
But if it shall come out, that the person within the garden was his corrupted implement, employed to frighten me away with him, do you think, my dear, that I shall not have reason to hate him and myself still more? I hope his heart cannot be so deep and so vile a one: I hope it cannot! But how came it to pass, that one man could get out at the garden-door, and no more? how, that that man kept aloof, as it were, and pursued us not; nor ran back to alarm the house? my fright, and my distance, would not let me be certain; but really this man, as I now recollect, had the air of that vile Joseph Leman.
O why, why, my dear friends!—But wherefore blame I them, when I had argued myself into a hope, not improbable, that even the dreadful trial I was to undergo so soon might turn out better than if I had been directly carried away from the presence of my once indulgent parents, who might possibly intend that trial to be the last I should have had?
Would to Heaven, that I had stood it, however! then if I had afterwards done, what now I have been prevailed upon, or perhaps foolishly frightened to do, I should not have been stung so much by inward reproach as now I am: and this would have been a great evil avoided.
You know, my dear, that your Clarissa’s mind was ever above justifying her own failings by those of others. God forgive those of my friends who have acted cruelly by me! But their faults are their own, and not excuses for mine. And mine began early: for I ought not to have corresponded with him.
O the vile encroacher! how my indignation, at times, rises at him! thus to lead a young creature (too much indeed relying upon her own strength) from evil to evil!—This last evil, although the remote, yet sure consequence of my first—my prohibited correspondence! by a father early prohibited.
How much more properly had I acted, with regard to that correspondence, had I, once for all, when he was forbidden to visit me, and I to receive his visits, pleaded the authority by which I ought to have been bound, and denied to write to him!—But I thought I could proceed, or stop, as I pleased. I supposed it concerned me, more than any other, to be the arbitress of the quarrels of unruly spirits.—And now I find my presumption punished—punished, as other sins frequently are, by itself!
As to this last rashness; now, that it is too late, I plainly see how I ought to have conducted myself. As he knew I had but one way of transmitting to him the knowledge of what befel me; as he knew that my fate was upon a crisis with my friends; and that I had in my letter to him reserved the liberty of revocation; I should not have been solicitous whether he had got my letter or not: when he had come, and found I did not answer to his signal, he would presently have resorted to the loose bricks, and there been satisfied, by the date of my letter, that it was his own fault that he had it not before. But, governed by the same pragmatical motives which induced me to correspond with him at first, I was again afraid, truly, with my foolish and busy prescience; and the disappointment would have thrown him into the way of receiving fresh insults from the same persons; which might have made him guilty of some violence to them. And so to save him an apprehended rashness, I rushed into a real one myself. And what vexes me more is, that it is plain to me now, by all his behaviour, that he had as great a confidence in my weakness, as I had in my own strength. And so, in a point entirely relative to my honour, he has triumphed; for he has not been mistaken in me, while I have in myself!
Tell me, my dear Miss Howe, tell me truly, if your unbiassed heart does not despise me?—It must! for your mind and mine were ever one; and I despise myself!—And well I may: For could the giddiest and most inconsiderate girl in England have done worse than I shall appear to have done in the eye of the world? Since my crime will be known without the provocations, and without the artifices of the betrayer too; while it will be a high aggravation, that better things were expected from me than from many others.
You charge me to marry the first opportunity—Ah! my dear! another of the blessed effects of my folly—That’s as much in my power now as—as I am myself!—And can I besides give a sanction immediately to his deluding arts?—Can I avoid being angry with him for tricking me thus, as I may say, (and as I have called it to him,) out of myself?—For compelling me to take a step so contrary to all my resolutions and assurances given to you; a step so dreadfully inconvenient to myself; so disgraceful and so grievous (as it must be) to my dear mother, were I to be less regardful of any other of my family or friends?—You don’t know, nor can you imagine, my dear, how I am mortified!—How much I am sunk in my own opinion! I, that was proposed for an example, truly, to others!—O that I were again in my father’s house, stealing down with a letter to you; my heart beating with expectation of finding one from you!
This is the Wednesday morning I dreaded so much, that I once thought of it as the day of my doom: but of the Monday, it is plain, I ought to have been most apprehensive. Had I staid, and had the worst I dreaded happened, my friends would then have been answerable for the consequences, if any bad ones had followed:—but now, I have only this consolation left me (a very poor one, you’ll say!) that I have cleared them of blame, and taken it all upon myself!
You will not wonder to see this narrative so dismally scrawled. It is owing to different pens and ink, all bad, and written in snatches of time; my hand trembling too with fatigue and grief.
I will not add to the length of it, by the particulars of his behaviour to me, and of our conversation at St. Alban’s, and since; because those will come in course in the continuation of my story; which, no doubt, you will expect from me.
Only thus much will I say, that he is extremely respectful (even obsequiously so) at present, though I am so much dissatisfied with him and myself that he has hitherto had no great cause to praise my complaisance to him. Indeed, I can hardly, at times, bear the seducer in my sight.
The lodgings I am in are inconvenient. I shall not stay in them: so it signifies nothing to tell you how to direct to me hither. And where my next may be, as yet I know not.
He knows that I am writing to you; and has offered to send my letter, when finished, by a servant of his. But I thought I could not be too cautious, as I am now situated, in having a letter of this importance conveyed to you. Who knows what such a man may do? So very wicked a contriver! The contrivance, if a contrivance, to get me away, so insolently mean!—But I hope it is not a co