Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXXIX

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. SATURDAY, MAY 20.

I am pleased with the sober reflection with which thou concludest thy last; and I thank thee for it. Poor Belton!—I did not think his Thomasine would have proved so very a devil. But this must everlastingly be the risk of a keeper, who takes up with a low-bred girl. This I never did. Nor had I occasion to do it. Such a one as I, Jack, needed only, till now, to shake the stateliest tree, and the mellowed fruit dropt into my mouth:—always of Montaigne’s taste thou knowest:—thought it a glory to subdue a girl of family.—More truly delightful to me the seduction- progress than the crowned act: for that’s a vapour, a bubble! and most cordially do I thank thee for thy indirect hint, that I am right in my pursuit.

From such a woman as Miss Harlowe, a man is secured from all the inconveniencies thou expatiatest upon.

Once more, therefore, do I thank thee, Belford, for thy approbation!—A man need not, as thou sayest, sneak into holes and corners, and shun the day, in the company of such a woman as this. How friendly in thee, thus to abet the favourite purpose of my heart!—nor can it be a disgrace to me, to permit such a lady to be called by my name!—nor shall I be at all concerned about the world’s censure, if I live to the years of discretion, which thou mentionest, should I be taken in, and prevailed upon to tread with her the good old path of my ancestors.

A blessing on thy heart, thou honest fellow! I thought thou wert in jest, and but acquitting thyself of an engagement to Lord M. when thou wert pleading for matrimony in behalf of this lady!—It could not be principle, I knew, in thee: it could not be compassion—a little envy indeed I suspected!—But now I see thee once more thyself: and once more, say I, a blessing on thy heart, thou true friend, and very honest fellow!

Now will I proceed with courage in all my schemes, and oblige thee with the continued narrative of my progressions towards bringing them to effect!—but I could not forbear to interrupt my story, to show my gratitude.