Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LI

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. MAY 24.

The devil take this uncle of mine! He has at last sent me a letter which I cannot show, without exposing the head of our family for a fool. A confounded parcel of pop-guns has he let off upon me. I was in hopes he had exhausted his whole stock of this sort in his letter to you.—To keep it back, to delay sending it, till he had recollected all this farrago of nonsense—confound his wisdom of nations, if so much of it is to be scraped together, in disgrace of itself, to make one egregious simpleton! —But I am glad I am fortified with this piece of flagrant folly, however; since, in all human affairs, the convenient are so mingled, that there is no having the one without the other.

I have already offered the bill enclosed in it to my beloved; and read to her part of the letter. But she refused the bill: and, as I am in cash myself, I shall return it. She seemed very desirous to peruse the whole letter. And when I told her, that, were it not for exposing the writer, I would oblige her, she said, it would not be exposing his Lordship to show it to her; and that she always preferred the heart to the head. I knew her meaning; but did not thank her for it.

All that makes for me in it I will transcribe for her—yet, hang it, she shall have the letter, and my soul with it, for one consenting kiss.

***

She has got the letter from me without the reward. Deuce take me, if I had the courage to propose the condition. A new character this of bashfulness in thy friend. I see, that a truly modest woman may make even a confident man keep his distance. By my soul, Belford, I believe, that nine women in ten, who fall, fall either from their own vanity or levity, or for want of circumspection and proper reserves.

***

I did intend to take my reward on her returning a letter so favourable to us both. But she sent it to me, sealed up, by Dorcas. I might have thought that there were two or three hints in it, that she would be too nice immediately to appear to. I send it to thee; and here will stop, to give thee time to read it. Return it as soon as thou hast perused it.