« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
guilty, first, of such premeditated violence as he has been guilty of; and, as he knows, farther intended me, on the night previous to the day he set out for Berkshire; and, next, pretending to spirit, could be so mean as to wish to lift into that family a person he was capable of abasing into a companionship with the most abandoned of her sex.
Allow me then, dear Madam, to declare with fervour, that I think I never could deserve to be ranked with the ladies of a family so splendid and so noble, if, by vowing love and honour at the altar to such a violator, I could sanctify, as I may say, his unprecedented and elaborate wickedness.
Permit me, however, to make one request to my good Lord M., and to Lady Betty, and Lady Sarah, and to your kind self, and your sister-It is, that you will all be pleased to join your authority and interests to prevail upon Mr. Lovelace not to molest me farther.
Be pleased to tell him, that, if I am designed for life, it will be very cruel in him to attempt to hunt me out of it; for I am determined never to see him more, if I can help it. The more cruel, because he knows that I have nobody to defend me from him: nor do I wish to engage any body to his hurt, or to their own.
If I am, on the other hand, destined for death, it will be no less cruel, if he will not permit me to die in peacesince a peaceable and happy end I wish him; indeed I do.
Every worldly good attend you, dear Madam, and every branch of the honourable family, is the wish of one, whose misfortune it is that she is obliged to disclaim any other title than that of,
Your and their obliged and faithful servant,
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Thursday Afternoon, Aug. 3.
AM just now agreeably surprised by the following letter, delivered into my hands by a messenger from the lady. The letter she mentions, as enclosed*, I have returned, without taking a copy of it. The contents of it will soon be communicated to you, I presume, by other hands. They are an absolute rejection of thee-Poor Lovelace!
TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
You have frequently offered to oblige me in any thing that shall be within your power: and I have such an opinion of you, as to be willing to hope that, at the times you made these offers, you meant more than mere compli ment.
I have therefore two requests to make to you: the first I will now mention; the other, if this shall be complied with, otherwise not.
It behoves me to leave behind me such an account as may clear up my conduct to several of my friends who will not at present concern themselves about me: and Miss Howe, and her mother, are very solicitous that I will do so.
I am apprehensive that I shall not have time to do this; and you will not wonder that I have less and less inclination to set about such a painful task; especially as I find
* See Miss Harlowe's Letter, No. XXV.
myself unable to look back with patience on what I have suffered; and shall be too much discomposed by the retrospection, were I obliged to make it, to proceed with the requisite temper in a task of still greater importance which I have before me.
It is very evident to me that your wicked friend has given you, from time to time, a circumstantial account of all his behaviour to me, and devices against me; and you have more than once assured me, that he has done my character all the justice I could wish for, both by writing and speech.
Now, Sir, if I may have a fair, a faithful specimen from his letters or accounts to you, written upon some of the most interesting occasions, I shall be able to judge whe ther there will or will not be a necessity for me, for my honour's sake, to enter upon the solicited task.
You may be assured, from my enclosed answer to the letter which Miss Montague has honoured me with, (and which you'll be pleased to return me as soon as read,) that that it is impossible for me ever to think of your friend in the way I am importuned to think of him he cannot therefore receive any detriment from the requested specimen: and I give you my honour, that no use shall be made of it to his prejudice, in law, or otherwise. And that it may not, after I am no more, I assure you, that it is a main part of my view that the passages you shall oblige me with shall be always in your own power, and not in that of any other person.
If, Sir, you think fit to comply with my request, the passages I would wish to be transcribed (making neither better nor worse of the matter) are those which he has written to you, on or about the 7th and 8th of June, when I was alarmed by the wicked pretence of a fire; and what
he has written from Sunday, June 11, to the 19th. And in doing this you will much oblige
Your humble servant,
Now, Lovelace, since there are no hopes for thee of her returning favour-since some praise may lie for thy ingenuousness, having never offered [as more diminutiveminded libertines would have done] to palliate thy crimes, by aspersing the lady, or her sex-since she may be made easier by it-since thou must fare better from thine own pen than from her's—and, finally, since thy actions have manifested that thy letters are not the most guilty part of what she knows of thee-I see not why I may not oblige her, upon her honour, and under the restrictions, and for the reasons she has given; and this without breach of the confidence due to friendly communication; especially, as I might have added, since thou gloriest in thy pen and in thy wickedness, and canst not be ashamed.
But, be this as it may, she will be obliged before thy remonstrances or clamours against it can come: so, pr'ythee now, make the best of it, and rave not; except for the sake of a pretence against me, and to exercise thy talent of execration:-and, if thou likest to do so for these reasons, rave and welcome.
I long to know what the second request is: but this I know, that if it be any thing less than cutting thy throat, or endangering my own neck, I will certainly comply; and be proud of having it in my power to oblige her.
And now I am actually going to be busy in the extracts.
MR. BELFORD, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE,
Aug. 3, 4. You have engaged me to communicate to you, upon honour, (making neither better nor worse of the matter,) what Mr. Lovelace has written to me, in relation to yourself, in the period preceding your going to Hampstead, and in that between the 11th and 19th of June: and you assure me you have no view in this request, but to see if it be necessary for you, from the account he gives, to touch the painful subjects yourself, for the sake of your own character.
Your commands, Madam, are of a very delicate nature, as they may seem to affect the secrets of private friendship: but as I know you are not capable of a view, the motives to which you will not own; and as I think the communication may do some credit to my unhappy friend's character, as an ingenuous man; though his actions by the most excellent woman in the world have lost him all title to that of an honourable one; I obey you with the greater cheerfulness.
[He then proceeds with his extracts, and concludes them with an address to her in his friend's behalf, in the following words:]
And now, Madam, I have fulfiled your commands; and, I hope, have not dis.served my friend with you; since you will hereby see the, justice he does to your virtue in every line he writes. He does the same in all his letters, though to his own condemnation: and, give