Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXXIII

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. JUNE 23, FRIDAY MORNING.

I went out early this morning, on a design that I know not yet whether I shall or shall not pursue; and on my return found Simon Parsons, my Lord’s Berkshire bailiff, (just before arrived,) waiting for me with a message in form, sent by all the family, to press me to go down, and that at my Lord’s particular desire, who wants to see me before he dies.

Simon has brought my Lord’s chariot-and-six [perhaps my own by this time,] to carry me down. I have ordered it to be in readiness by four to-morrow morning. The cattle shall smoke for the delay; and by the rest they’ll have in the interim, will be better able to bear it.

I am still resolved upon matrimony, if my fair perverse will accept of me. But, if she will not——why then I must give an uninterrupted hearing, not to my conscience, but to these women below.

Dorcas had acquainted her lady with Simon’s arrival and errand. My beloved had desired to see him. But my coming in prevented his attendance on her, just as Dorcas was instructing him what questions he should not answer to, that might be asked of him.

I am to be admitted to her presence immediately, at my repeated request. Surely the acquisition in view will help me to make up all with her. She is just gone up to the dining-room.

Nothing will do, Jack!—I can procure no favour from her, though she has obtained from me the point which she had set her heart upon.

I will give thee a brief account of what passed between us.

I first proposed instant marriage; and this in the most fervent manner: but was denied as fervently.

Would she be pleased to assure me that she would stay here only till Tuesday morning? I would but just go down to see how my Lord was—to know whether he had any thing particular to say, or enjoin me, while yet he was sensible, as he was very earnest to see me: perhaps I might be up on Sunday.—Concede in something!—I beseech you, Madam, show me some little consideration.

Why, Mr. Lovelace, must I be determined by your motions?—Think you that I will voluntarily give a sanction to the imprisonment of my person? Of what importance to me ought to be your stay or your return.

Give a sanction to the imprisonment of your person! Do you think, Madam, that I fear the law?

I might have spared this foolish question of defiance: but my pride would not let me. I thought she threatened me, Jack.

I don’t think you fear the law, Sir.—You are too brave to have any regard either to moral or divine sanctions.

’Tis well, Madam! But ask me any thing I can do to oblige you; and I will oblige you, though in nothing will you oblige me.

Then I ask you, then I request of you, to let me go to Hampstead.

I paused—And at last—By my soul you shall—this very moment I will wait upon you, and see you fixed there, if you’ll promise me your hand on Thursday, in presence of your uncle.

I want not you to see me fixed. I will promise nothing.

Take care, Madam, that you don’t let me see that I can have no reliance upon your future favour.

I have been used to be threatened by you, Sir—but I will accept of your company to Hampstead—I will be ready to go in a quarter of an hour—my clothes may be sent after me.

You know the condition, Madam—Next Thursday.

You dare not trust——

My infinite demerits tell me, that I ought not—nevertheless I will confide in your generosity.—To-morrow morning (no new cause arising to give reason to the contrary) as early as you please you may go to Hampstead.

This seemed to oblige her. But yet she looked with a face of doubt.

I will go down to the women, Belford. And having no better judges at hand, will hear what they say upon my critical situation with this proud beauty, who has so insolently rejected a Lovelace kneeling at her feet, though making an earnest tender of himself for a husband, in spite of all his prejudices to the state of shackles.