Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XII

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. [IN ANSWER TO HIS OF AUG. 17. SEE LETTER X. OF THIS VOLUME.] SUNDAY, AUG. 20.

What an unmerciful fellow art thou! A man has no need of a conscience, who has such an impertinent monitor. But if Nic. Rowe wrote a play that answers not his title, am I to be reflected upon for that?—I have sinned; I repent; I would repair—she forgives my sin: she accepts my repentance: but she won’t let me repair—What wouldst thou have me do?

But get thee gone to Belton, as soon as thou canst. Yet whether thou goest or not, up I must go, and see what I can do with the sweet oddity myself. The moment these prescribing varlets will let me, depend upon it, I go. Nay, Lord M. thinks she ought to permit me one interview. His opinion has great authority with me—when it squares with my own: and I have assured him, and my two cousins, that I will behave with all the decency and respect that man can behave with to the person whom he most respects. And so I will. Of this, if thou choosest not to go to Belton mean time, thou shalt be witness.

Colonel Morden, thou hast heard me say, is a man of honour and bravery:— but Colonel Morden has had his girls, as well as you or I. And indeed, either openly or secretly, who has not? The devil always baits with a pretty wench, when he angles for a man, be his age, rank, or degree, what it will.

I have often heard my beloved speak of the Colonel with great distinction and esteem. I wish he could make matters a little easier, for her mind’s sake, between the rest of the implacables and herself.

Methinks I am sorry for honest Belton. But a man cannot be ill, or vapourish, but thou liftest up thy shriek-owl note, and killest him immediately. None but a fellow, who is for a drummer in death’s forlorn-hope, could take so much delight, as thou dost, in beating a dead-march with thy goose-quills. Whereas, didst thou but know thine own talents, thou art formed to give mirth by thy very appearance; and wouldst make a better figure by half, leading up thy brother-bears at Hockley in the Hole, to the music of a Scot’s bagpipe. Methinks I see thy clumsy sides shaking, (and shaking the sides of all beholders,) in these attitudes; thy fat head archly beating time on thy porterly shoulders, right and left by turns, as I once beheld thee practising to the horn-pipe at Preston. Thou remembrest the frolick, as I have done an hundred times; for I never before saw thee appear so much in character.

But I know what I shall get by this—only that notable observation repeated, That thy outside is the worst of thee, and mine the best of me. And so let it be. Nothing thou writest of this sort can I take amiss.

But I shall call thee seriously to account, when I see thee, for the extracts thou hast given the lady from my letters, notwithstanding what I said in my last; especially if she continue to refuse me. An hundred times have I myself known a woman deny, yet comply at last: but, by these extracts, thou hast, I doubt, made her bar up the door of her heart, as she used to do her chamber-door, against me.—This therefore is a disloyalty that friendship cannot bear, nor honour allow me to forgive.