I went up to my new-taken apartment,
and fell to writing in character, as usual.
I thought I had made good my quarters, but the cruel
creature, understanding that I intended to take up
my lodgings there, declared with so much violence
against it, that I was obliged to submit, and to accept
of another lodging, about twelve doors off, which Mrs.
Moore recommended. And all the advantage I could
obtain was, that Will., unknown to my spouse, and
for fear of a freak, should lie in the house.
Mrs. Moore, indeed, was unwilling
to disoblige either of us. But Miss Rawlins
was of opinion, that nothing more ought to be allowed
me: and yet Mrs. Moore owned, that the refusal
was a strange piece of tyranny to a husband, if I
were a husband.
I had a good mind to make Miss Rawlins
smart for it. Come and see Miss Rawlins, Jack. If
thou likest her, I’ll get her for thee with a
wet-finger, as the saying is!
The widow Bevis indeed stickled hard
for me. [An innocent, or injured man, will have friends
every where.] She said, that to bear much with some
wives, was to be obliged to bear more; and I reflected,
with a sigh, that tame spirits must always be imposed
upon. And then, in my heart, I renewed my vows
of revenge upon this haughty and perverse beauty.
The second fellow came back from town
about nine o’clock, with Miss Howe’s letter
of Wednesday last. ’Collins, it seems,
when he left it, had desired, that it might be safely
and speedily delivered into Miss Laetitia Beaumont’s
own hands. But Wilson, understanding that neither
she nor I were in town, [he could not know of our difference
thou must think,] resolved to take care of it till
our return, in order to give it into one of our own
hands; and now delivered it to her messenger.’
This was told her. Wilson, I
doubt not, is in her favour upon it.
She took the letter with great eagerness;
opened it in a hurry, [am glad she did; yet, I believe,
all was right,] before Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Bevis,
[Miss Rawlins was gone home;] and said, she would not
for the world that I should have had that letter,
for the sake of her dear friend the writer, who had
written to her very uneasily about it.
Her dear friend! repeated Mrs. Bevis,
when she told me this: such mischief-makers
are always deemed dear friends till they are found
The widow says that I am the finest
gentleman she ever beheld.
I have found a warm kiss now-and-then very kindly
I might be a very wicked fellow, Jack,
if I were to do all the mischief in my power.
But I am evermore for quitting a too-easy prey to
reptile rakes! What but difficulty, (though
the lady is an angel,) engages me to so much perseverance
here? And here, conquer or die! is now the
I have just now parted with this honest
widow. She called upon me at my new lodgings.
I told her, that I saw I must be further obliged to
her in the course of this difficult affair.
She must allow me to make her a handsome present when
all was happily over. But I desired that she
would take no notice of what should pass between us,
not even to her aunt; for that she, as I saw, was
in the power of Miss Rawlins: and Miss Rawlins,
being a maiden gentlewoman, knew not the right and
the fit in matrimonial matters, as she, my dear widow,
Very true: How should she? said
Mrs. Bevis, proud of knowing nothing!
But, for her part, she desired no present. It
was enough if she could contribute to reconcile man
and wife, and disappoint mischief-makers. She
doubted not, that such an envious creature as Miss
Howe was glad that Mrs. Lovelace had eloped jealousy
and love was Old Nick!
See, Belford, how charmingly things
work between me and my new acquaintance, the widow! Who
knows, but that she may, after a little farther intimacy,
(though I am banished the house on nights,) contrive
a midnight visit for me to my spouse, when all is
still and fast asleep?
Where can a woman be safe, who has
once entered the lists with a contriving and intrepid
But as to this letter, methinkest
thou sayest, of Miss Howe?
I knew thou wouldest be uneasy for
me. But did not I tell thee that I had provided
for every thing? That I always took care to keep
seals entire, and to preserve covers? Was it not
easy then, thinkest thou, to contrive a shorter letter
out of a longer; and to copy the very words?
I can tell thee, it was so well ordered,
that, not being suspected to have been in my hands,
it was not easy to find me out. Had it been my
beloved’s hand, there would have been no imitating
it for such a length. Her delicate and even mind
is seen in the very cut of her letters. Miss
Howe’s hand is no bad one, but it is not so equal
and regular. That little devil’s natural
impatience hurrying on her fingers, gave, I suppose,
from the beginning, her handwriting, as well as the
rest of her, its fits and starts, and those peculiarities,
which, like strong muscular lines in a face, neither
the pen, nor the pencil, can miss.
Hast thou a mind tot see what it was
I permitted Miss Howe to write to her lovely friend?
Why then, read it here, so extracted from her’s
of Wednesday last, with a few additions of my own.
The additions underscored.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
You will perhaps think that I have
been too long silent. But I had begun two letters
at different times since my last, and written a great
deal each time; and with spirit enough I assure you;
incensed as I was against the abominable wretch you
are with; particularly on reading your’s of the
21st of the past month.
The first I intended to keep
open till I could give you some account of my proceedings
with Mrs. Townsend. It was some days before I
saw her: and this intervenient space giving me
time to reperuse what I had written, I thought it
proper to lay that aside, and to write in a style a
little less fervent; for you would have blamed me,
I knew, for the freedom of some of my expressions,
(exécrations, if you please.) And when I had
gone a good way in the second, and change your
prospects, on his communicating to you Miss Montague’s
letter, and his better behaviour, occasioning a change
in your mind, I laid that aside also. And in
this uncertainty thought I would wait to see the issue
of affairs between you before I wrote again; believing
that all would soon be decided one way or other.
[Here I was forced to break off.
I am too little my own mistress: My mother
is always up and down and watching as if
I were writing to a fellow. What need I (she
asks me,) lock myself in, if I am only reading past
correspondencies? For that is my pretence, when
she comes poking in with her face sharpened to an
edge, as I may say, by a curiosity that gives her
more pain than pleasure. The Lord forgive
me; but I believe I shall huff her next time she comes
Do you forgive me too, my dear my
mother ought; because she says I am my father’s
girl; and because I am sure I am her’s.
[Upon my life, my dear, I am sometimes
of opinion, that this vile man was capable of meaning
you dishonour. When I look back upon his past
conduct, I cannot help, and verily believe, that he
has laid aside such thoughts. My reasons for
both opinions I will give you.]
[For the first: to-wit, that
he had it once in his head to take you at advantage
if he could, I consider that] pride, revenge, and
a delight to tread in unbeaten paths, are principal
ingredients in the character of this finished libertine.
He hates all your family, yourself excepted
yet is a savage in love. His pride, and the credit
which a few plausible qualities, sprinkled among his
odious ones, have given him, have secured him too
good a reception from our eye-judging, our undistinguishing,
our self flattering, our too-confiding
sex, to make assiduity and obsequiousness, and a conquest
of his unruly passions, any part of his study.
He has some reason for his animosity
to all the men, and to one woman of your family.
He has always shown you, and his own family too, that
he prefers his pride to his interest. He is
a declared marriage-hater; a notorious intriguer;
full of his inventions, and glorying in them. As
his vanity had made him imagine that no woman could
be proof against his love, no wonder that he struggled
like a lion held in toils, against a passion that
he thought not returned. Hence, perhaps, it is not
difficult to believe, that it became possible for such
a wretch as this to give way to his old prejudices
against marriage; and to that revenge which had always
been a first passion with him.
[And hence we may account for] his
delays his teasing ways his bringing
you to bear with his lodging in the same house his
making you pass to the other people of it as his wife his
bringing you into the company of his libertine companions the
attempt of imposing upon you that Miss Partington
for a bedfellow, &c.
[My reasons for a contrary opinion,
to wit, that he is now resolved to do you all the
justice in his power to do you,] are these: That
he sees that all his own family have warmly engaged
themselves in your cause: that the horrid wretch
loves you; with such a love, however, as Herod loved
his Mariamne: that, on inquiry, I find it to be
true, that Counsellor Williams, (whom Mr. Hickman
knows to be a man of eminence in his profession,)
has actually as good as finished the settlements:
that two draughts of them have been made; one avowedly
to be sent to this very Captain Tomlinson: and
I find, that a license has actually been more than
once endeavoured to be obtained, and that difficulties
have hitherto been made, equally to Lovelace’s
vexation and disappointment. My mother’s
proctor, who is very intimate with the proctor applied
to by the wretch, has come at this information in
confidence; and hints, that, as Mr. Lovelace is a
man of high fortunes, these difficulties will probably
be got over.
[I had once resolved to make strict
inquiry about Tomlinson; and still, if you will, your
uncle’s favourite housekeeper may be sounded
at a distance.]
[I know that the matter is so laid,]
that Mrs. Hodges is supposed to know nothing of the
treaty set on foot by means of Captain Tomlinson.
But your uncle is an
But your uncle is an old man; and
old men imagine themselves to be under obligation
to their paramours, if younger than themselves, and
seldom keep any thing from their knowledge. Yet,
methinks, there can be no need; since Tomlinson, as
you describe him, is so good a man, and so much of
a gentleman; the end to be answered by his being an
impostor so much more than necessary, if Lovelace
has villany in his head. And thus what
he communicated to you of Mr. Hickman’s application
to your uncle, and of Mrs. Norton’s to your
mother (some of which particulars I am satisfied his
vile agent Joseph Leman could not reveal to his viler
employer); his pushing on the marriage-day in the
name of your uncle; which it could not answer any
wicked purpose for him to do; and what he writes of
your uncle’s proposal, to have it thought that
you were married from the time that you had lived
in one house together; and that to be made to agree
with the time of Mr. Hickman’s visit to your
uncle; the insisting on a trusty person’s being
present at the ceremony, at that uncle’s nomination
these things make me [assured that he now
at last means honourably.]
[But if any unexpected delays should
happen on his side, acquaint me, my dear, with the
very street where Mrs. Sinclair lives; and where Mrs.
Fretchville’s house is situated (which I cannot
find that you have ever mentioned in your former letters which
is a little odd); and I will make strict inquiries
of them, and of Tomlinson too; and I will (if your
heart will let you take my advice) soon procure you
a refuge from him with Mrs. Townsend.]
[But why do I now, when you seem to
be in so good a train, puzzle and perplex you with
my rétrospections? And yet they may be of
use to you, if any delay happen on his part.]
[But that I think cannot well be.
What you have therefore now to do, is so to behave
to this proud-spirited wretch, as may banish from his
mind all remembrance of] past disobligations, and
to receive his addresses, as those of a betrothed
lover. You will incur the censure of prudery
and affectation, if you keep him at that distance
which you have hitherto [kept him at.] His sudden
(and as suddenly recovered) illness has given him
an opportunity to find out that you love him (Alas!
my dear, I knew you loved him!) He has seemed to
change his nature, and is all love and gentleness.
[And no more quarrels now, I beseech you.]
[I am very angry with him, nevertheless,
for the freedoms which he took with your person;
and I think some guard is necessary, as he is certainly
an encroacher. But indeed all men are so; and
you are such a charming creature, and have kept him
at such a distance! But no more of this
subject. Only, my dear, be not over-nice, now
you are so near the state. You see what difficulties
you laid yourself under,] when Tomlinson’s letter
called you again into [the wretch’s] company.
If you meet with no impediments, no
new causes of doubt, your reputation in the eye of
the world is concerned, that you should be his, [and,
as your uncle rightly judges, be thought to have been
his before now.] And yet, [let me tell you,] I [can
hardly] bear [to think,] that these libertines should
be rewarded for their villany with the best of the
sex, when the worst of it are too good for them.
I shall send this long letter by Collins,
who changes his day to oblige me. As none of
our letters by Wilson’s conveyance have miscarried,
when you have been in more apparently-disagreeable
situations than you are in at present, [I have no
doubt] that this will go safe.
Miss Lardner (whom you have seen
hat her cousin Biddulph’s) saw you at St. James’s
church on Sunday was fortnight. She kept you
in her eye during the whole time; but could not once
obtain the notice of your’s, though she courtesied
to you twice. She thought to pay her compliments
to you when the service was over; for she doubted not
but you were married and for an odd reason because
you came to church by yourself. Every eye, (as
usual, wherever you are,) she said was upon you; and
this seeming to give you hurry, and you being nearer
the door than she, you slid out before she could get
to you. But she ordered her servant to follow
you till you were housed. This servant saw you
step into a chair which waited for you; and you ordered
the men to carry you to the place where they took
you up. She [describes the house] as a very genteel
house, and fit to receive people of fashion: [and
what makes me mention this, is, that perhaps you will
have a visit from her; or message, at least.]
[So that you have Mr. Doleman’s
testimony to the credit of the house and people you
are with; and he is] a man of fortune, and some reputation;
formerly a rake indeed; but married to a woman of family;
and having had a palsy blow, one would think a penitent.
You have [also Mr. Mennell’s at least passive
testimony; Mr.] Tomlinson’s; [and now, lastly,
Miss Lardner’s; so that there will be the less
need for inquiry: but you know my busy and inquisitive
temper, as well as my affection for you, and my concern
for your honour. But all doubt will soon be lost
[Nevertheless I must add, that I would
have you] command me up, if I can be of the least
service or pleasure to you. I value not fame; I value
not censure; nor even life itself, I verily think,
as I do your honour, and your friendship For
is not your honour my honour? And is not your
friendship the pride of my life?
May Heaven preserve you, my dearest creature, in honour and safety, is
the prayer, the hourly prayer, of
Your ever-faithful and affectionate,
I have written all night. [Excuse
indifferent writing; my crow-quills are worn to the
stumps, and I must get a new supply.]
These ladies always write with crow-quills, Jack.
If thou art capable of taking in all
my providences, in this letter, thou wilt admire
my sagacity and contrivance almost as much as I do
myself. Thou seest, that Miss Lardner, Mrs. Sinclair,
Tomlinson, Mrs. Fretchville, Mennell, are all mentioned
in it. My first liberties with her person also.
[Modesty, modesty, Belford, I doubt, is more confined
to time, place, and occasion, even by the most delicate
minds, than these minds would have it believed to
be.] And why all these taken notice of by me from
the genuine letter, but for fear some future letter
from the vixen should escape my hands, in which she
might refer to these names? And, if none of them
were to have been found in this that is to pass for
her’s, I might be routed horse and foot, as Lord
M. would phrase it in a like case.
Devilish hard (and yet I may thank
myself) to be put to all this plague and trouble: And
for what dost thou ask? O Jack, for a triumph
of more value to me beforehand than an imperial crown! Don’t
ask me the value of it a month hence. But what
indeed is an imperial crown itself when a man is used
Miss Howe might well be anxious about
the letter she wrote. Her sweet friend, from
what I have let pass of her’s, has reason to
rejoice in the thought that it fell not into my hands.
And now must all my contrivances be
set at work, to intercept the expected letter from
Miss Howe: which is, as I suppose, to direct her
to a place of safety, and out of my knowledge.
Mrs. Townsend is, no doubt, in this case, to smuggle
her off: I hope the villain, as I am so frequently
called between these two girls, will be able to manage
But what, perhaps, thou askest, if
the lady should take it into her head, by the connivance
of Miss Rawlins, to quit this house privately in the
I have thought of this, Jack.
Does not Will. lie in the house? And is not
the widow Bevis my fast friend?