Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXXII


I am come back from Mrs. Moore’s, whither I went in order to attend my charmer’s commands. But no admittance—a very bad night.

Doubtless she must be as much concerned that she has carried her resentments so very far, as I have reason to be that I made such poor use of the opportunity I had on Wednesday night.

But now, Jack, for a brief review of my present situation; and a slight hint or two of my precautions.

I have seen the women this morning, and find them half-right, half- doubting.

Miss Rawlins’s brother tells her, that she lives at Mrs. Moore’s.

Mrs. Moore can do nothing without Miss Rawlins.

People who keep lodgings at public places expect to get by every one who comes into their purlieus. Though not permitted to lodge there myself, I have engaged all the rooms she has to spare, to the very garrets; and that, as I have told thee before, for a month certain, and at her own price, board included; my spouse’s and all: but she must not at present know it. So I hope I have Mrs. Moore fast by the interest.

This, devil-like, is suiting temptations to inclinations.

I have always observed, and, I believe, I have hinted as much formerly,* that all dealers, though but for pins, may be taken in by customers for pins, sooner than by a direct bribe of ten times the value; especially if pretenders to conscience: for the offer of a bribe would not only give room for suspicion, but would startle and alarm their scrupulousness; while a high price paid for what you buy, is but submitting to be cheated in the method of the person makes a profession to get by. Have I not said that human nature is a rogue?**—And do not I know that it is?

* See Vol. III. Letter XXXIV. ** See Vol. III. Letter XXXV. and Vol. IV. Letter XXI.

To give a higher instance, how many proud senators, in the year 1720, were induced, by presents or subscription of South-sea stock, to contribute to a scheme big with national ruin; who yet would have spurned the man who should have presumed to offer them even twice the sum certain that they had a chance to gain by the stock?—But to return to my review and to my precautions.

Miss Rawlins fluctuates, as she hears the lady’s story, or as she hears mine. Somewhat of an infidel, I doubt, is this Miss Rawlins. I have not yet considered her foible. The next time I see her, I will take particular notice of all the moles and freckles in her mind; and then infer and apply.

The widow Bevis, as I have told thee, is all my own.

My man Will. lies in the house. My other new fellow attends upon me; and cannot therefore be quite stupid.

Already is Will. over head and ears in love with one of Mrs. Moore’s maids. He was struck with her the moment he set his eyes upon her. A raw country wench too. But all women, from the countess to the cook- maid, are put into high good humour with themselves when a man is taken with them at first sight. Be they ever so plain [no woman can be ugly, Jack!] they’ll find twenty good reasons, besides the great one (for sake’s sake) by the help of the glass without (and perhaps in spite of it) and conceit within, to justify the honest fellow’s caption.

’The rogue has saved 150£. in my service.’—More by 50 than I bid him save. No doubt, he thinks he might have done so; though I believe not worth a groat. ’The best of masters I—passionate, indeed; but soon appeased.’

The wench is extremely kind to him already. The other maid is also very civil to him. He has a husband for her in his eye. She cannot but say, that Mr. Andrew, my other servant [the girl is for fixing the person] is a very well spoken civil young man.

’We common folks have our joys, and please your honour, says honest Joseph Leman, like as our betters have.’* And true says honest Joseph— did I prefer ease to difficulty, I should envy these low-born sinners some of their joys.

* See Vol. III. Letter XLVII.

But if Will. had not made amorous pretensions to the wenches, we all know, that servants, united in one common compare-note cause, are intimate the moment they see one another—great genealogists too; they know immediately the whole kin and kin’s kin of each other, though dispersed over the three kingdoms, as well as the genealogies and kin’s kin of those whom they serve.

But my precautions end not here.

O Jack, with such an invention, what occasion had I to carry my beloved to Mrs. Sinclair’s?

My spouse may have farther occasion for the messengers whom she dispatched, one to Miss Howe, the other to Wilson’s. With one of these Will. is already well-acquainted, as thou hast heard—to mingle liquor is to mingle souls with these fellows; with the other messenger he will soon be acquainted, if he be not already.

The Captain’s servant has his uses and instructions assigned him. I have hinted at some of them already.* He also serves a most humane and considerate master. I love to make every body respected to my power.

* See Letter XXIX. of this volume.

The post, general and penny, will be strictly watched likewise.

Miss Howe’s Collins is remembered to be described. Miss Howe’s and Hickman’s liveries also.

James Harlowe and Singleton are warned against. I am to be acquainted with any inquiry that shall happen to be made after my spouse, whether by her married or maiden name, before she shall be told of it—and this that I may have it in my power to prevent mischief.

I have ordered Mowbray and Tourville (and Belton, if his health permit) to take their quarters at Hampstead for a week, with their fellows to attend them. I spare thee for the present, because of thy private concerns. But hold thyself in cheerful readiness, however, as a mark of thy allegiance.

As to my spouse herself, has she not reason to be pleased with me for having permitted her to receive Miss Howe’s letter from Wilson’s? A plain case, either that I am no deep plotter, or that I have no farther views than to make my peace with her for an offence so slight and so accidental.

Miss Howe says, though prefaced with an alas! that her charming friend loves me: she must therefore yearn after this reconciliation—prospects so fair—if she showed me any compassion; seemed inclinable to spare me, and to make the most favourable construction: I cannot but say, that it would be impossible not to show her some. But, to be insulted and defied by a rebel in one’s power, what prince can bear that?

But I must return to the scene of action. I must keep the women steady. I had no opportunity to talk to my worthy Mrs. Bevis in private.

Tomlinson, a dog, not come yet!