Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XLVII



This is to let you Honner kno’, as how I have been emploied in a bisness I would have been excused from, if so be I could, for it is to gitt evidense from a young man, who has of late com’d out to be my cuzzen by my grandmother’s side; and but lately come to live in these partes, about a very vile thing, as younge master calls it, relating to your Honner. God forbid I should call it so without your leafe. It is not for so plane a man as I be, to tacks my betters. It is consarning one Miss Batirton, of Notingam; a very pretty crature, belike.

Your Honner got her away, it seems, by a false letter to her, macking believe as how her she-cuzzen, that she derely loved, was coming to see her; and was tacken ill upon the rode: and so Miss Batirton set out in a shase, and one sarvant, to fet her cuzzen from the inne where she laid sick, as she thote: and the sarvant was tricked, and braute back the shase; but Miss Batirton was not harde of for a month, or so. And when it came to passe, that her frends founde her out and would have prossekutid your Honner, your Honner was gone abroad: and so she was broute to bed, as one may say, before your Honner’s return: and she got colde in her lyin-inn, and lanquitched, and soon died: and the child is living; but your Honner never troubles your Honner’s hedd about it in the least. And this, and some other matters, of verry bad reporte, ’Squier Solmes was to tell my young lady of, if so be she would have harde him speke, before we lost her sweet company, as I may say, from heere.*

* See Vol.II. Letters XV. and XVI.

Your Honner helped me to many ugly stories to tell against you Honner to my younge master, and younge mistriss; but did not tell me about this.

I most humbelly beseche your Honner to be good and kinde and fethful to my deerest younge lady, now you have her; or I shall brake my harte for having done some dedes that have helped to bringe things to this passe. Pray youre dere, good Honner, be just! Prayey do!—As God shall love ye! prayey do!—I cannot write no more for this pressent, for verry fear and grief—

But now I am cumm’d to my writing agen, will your Honner be pleased to tell me, if as how there be any danger to your Honner’s life from this bisness; for my cuzzen is actile hier’d to go down to Miss Batirton’s frendes to see if they will stir in it: for you must kno’ your Honner, as how he lived in the Batirton family at the time, and could be a good evidense, and all that.

I hope it was not so verry bad as Titus says it was; for he ses as how there was a rape in the case betwixt you at furste, and plese your Honner; and my cuzzen Titus is a very honist younge man as ever brocke bred. This is his carackter; and this made me willinger to owne him for my relation, when we came to talck.

If there should be danger of your Honner’s life, I hope your Honner will not be hanged like as one of us common men; only have your hedd cut off, or so: and yet it is pit such a hedd should be lossed: but if as how it should be prossekutid to that furr, which God forbid, be plesed natheless to thinck of youre fethful Joseph Leman, before your hedd be condemned; for after condemnation, as I have been told, all will be the king’s or the shreeve’s.

I thote as how it was best to acquent you Honner of this; and for you to let me kno’ if I could do any think to sarve your Honner, and prevent mischief with my cuzzen Titus, on his coming back from Nottingam, before he mackes his reporte.

I have gin him a hint already: for what, as I sed to him, cuzzen Titus, signifies stirring up the coles and macking of strife, to make rich gentilfolkes live at varience, and to be cutting of throtes, and such-like?

Very trewe, sed little Titus. And this, and plese your Honner, gis me hopes of him, if so be your Honner gis me direction; sen’, as God kno’es, I have a poor, a verry poor invenshon; only a willing mind to prevent mischief, that is the chief of my aim, and always was, I bless my God!—Els I could have made much mischief in my time; as indeed any sarvant may. Your Honner nathaless praises my invenshon every now-and-then: Alas! and plese your Honner, what invenshon should such a plane man as I have?—But when your Honner sets me agoing by your fine invenshon, I can do well enuff. And I am sure I have a hearty good will to deserve your Honner’s faver, if I mought.

Two days, as I may say, off and on, have I been writing this long letter. And yet I have not sed all I would say. For, be it knone unto your Honner, as how I do not like that Captain Singleton, which I told you of in my last two letters. He is always laying his hedd and my young master’s hedd together; and I suspect much if so be some mischief is not going on between them: and still the more, as because my eldest younge lady seemes to be joined to them sometimes.

Last week my younge master sed before my fase, My harte’s blood boils over, Capten Singleton, for revenge upon this—and he called your Honner by a name it is not for such a won as me to say what.—Capten Singleton whispred my younge master, being I was by. So young master sed, You may say any thing before Joseph; for, althoff he looks so seelie, he has as good a harte, and as good a hedd, as any sarvante in the world need to have. My conscience touched me just then. But why shoulde it? when all I do is to prevent mischeff; and seeing your Honner has so much patience, which younge master has not; so am not affeard of telling your Honner any thing whatsomever.

And furthermore, I have such a desire to desarve your Honner’s bounty to me, as mackes me let nothing pass I can tell you of, to prevent harm: and too, besides, your Honner’s goodness about the Blew Bore; which I have so good an accounte of!—I am sure I shall be bounden to bless your Honner the longest day I have to live.

And then the Blew Bore is not all neither: sen’, and please your Honner, the pretty Sowe (God forgive me for gesting in so serus a matter) runs in my hedd likewise. I believe I shall love her mayhap more than your Honner would have me; for she begins to be kind and good-humered, and listens, and plese your Honour, licke as if she was among beans, when I talke about the Blew Bore, and all that.

Prayey, your Honner, forgive the gesting of a poor plane man. We common fokes have our joys, and plese your Honner, lick as our betters have; and if we be sometimes snubbed, we can find our underlings to snub them agen; and if not, we can get a wife mayhap, and snub her: so are masters some how or other oursells.

But how I try your Honner’s patience!—Sarvants will shew their joyful hartes, tho’ off but in partinens, when encourag’d.

Be plesed from the prems’s to let me kno’ if as how I can be put upon any sarvice to sarve your Honner, and to sarve my deerest younge lady; which God grant! for I begin to be affearde for her, hearing what peple talck—to be sure your Honner will not do her no harme, as a man may say. But I kno’ your Honner must be good to so wonderous a younge lady. How can you help it?—But here my conscience smites me, that, but for some of my stories, which your Honner taute me, my old master, and my old lady, and the two old ’squires, would not have been able to be half so hardhearted as they be, for all my younge master and younge mistress sayes.

And here is the sad thing; they cannot come to clere up matters with my deerest young lady, because, as your Honner has ordered it, they have these stories as if bribed by me out of your Honner’s sarvant; which must not be known for fere you should kill’n and me too, and blacken the briber!—Ah! your Honner! I doubte as tha I am a very vild fellow, (Lord bless my soil, I pray God!) and did not intend it.

But if my deerest younge lady should come to harm, and plese your Honner, the horsepond at the Blew Bore—but Lord preserve us all from all bad mischeff, and all bad endes, I pray the Lord!—For tho’ff you Honner is kinde to me in worldly pelf, yet what shall a man get to loos his soul, as holy Skrittuer says, and plese your Honner?

But natheless I am in hope of reppentence hereafter, being but a younge man, if I do wrong thro’ ignorens: your Honner being a grate man, and a grave wit; and I a poor crature, not worthy notice; and your Honner able to answer for all. But, howsomever, I am

Your Honner’s fetheful sarvant in all dewtie, JOSEPH LEMAN.

APRIL 15 AND 16.