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about an hour before we broke up. I could not forbear dipping into them there; and shedding more tears over them than I will tell you of; although I dried my eyes as well as I could, that the company I was obliged to return to, and my mother, should see as little of my concern as possible.
I am yet (and was then still more) excessively fluttered. The occasion I will communicate to you by-and-by: for nothing but the flutters given by the stroke of death could divert my first attention from the sad and solemn contents of your last favour. These therefore I must begin with.
How can I bear the thoughts of losing so dear a friend! I will not so much as suppose it. Indeed I cannot! such a mind as your's was not vested in humanity to be snatched away from us so soon. There must be still a great deal for you to do for the good of all who have the happiness to know you.
You enumerate in your letter of Thursday last*, the particulars in which your situation is already mended: let me see by effects that you are in earnest in that enumeration; and that you really have the courage to resolve to get above the sense of injuries you could not avoid; and then will I trust to Providence and my humble prayers for your perfect recovery: and glad at my heart shall I be, on my return from the little island, to find you well enough to be near us according to the proposal Mr. Hickman has to make to you?
You chide me in your's of Sunday on the freedom I take with your friendst.
I may be warm. I know I am-too warm. Yet warmth in friendship, surely, cannot be a crime; espe
* See Vol. VI. Letter LXXV.
Ibid, Letter XCII.
cially when our friend has great merit, labours under pression, and is struggling with undeserved calamity.
I have no notion of coolness in friendship, be it dignified or distinguished by the name of prudence, or what it will.
You may excuse your relations. It was ever your way to do so. But, my dear, other people must be allowed to judge as they please. I am not their daughter, nor the sister of your brother and sister-I thank Heaven, I am
But if you are displeased with me for the freedoms I took so long ago as you mention, I am afraid, if you knew what passed upon an application I made to your sister very lately, (in hopes to procure you the absolution your heart is so much set upon,) that you would be still more concerned. But they have been even with me--but I must not tell you all. I hope, however, that these unforgivers [my mother is among them] were always good, dutiful, passive children to their parents.
Once more forgive me. I owned I was too warm. But I have no example to the contrary but from you: and the treatment you meet with is very little encouragement to me to endeavour to imitate you in your dutiful meek
You leave it to me to give a negative to the hopes of the noble family, whose only disgrace is, that so very vile a man is so nearly related to them. But yet-alas! my dear, I am so fearful of consequences, so selfishly fearful, if this negative must be given-I don't know what I should say--but give me leave to suspend, however, this negative till I hear from you again.
This earnest courtship of you into their splendid family is so very honourable to you-they so justly admire you
-you must have had such a noble triumph over the base man-he is so much in earnest-the world knows so much of the unhappy affair-you may do still so much goodyour will is so inviolate—your relations are so implacable -think, my dear, and re-think.
And let me leave you to do so, while I give you the occasion of the flutter I mentioned at the beginning of this letter; in the conclusion of which you will find the obligation I have consented to lay myself under, to refer this important point once more to your discussion, before I give, in your name, the negative that caunot, when given, be with honour to yourself repented of or recalled.
Know then, my dear, that I accompanied my mother to Colonel Ambrose's on the occasion I mentioned to you in my former. Many ladies and gentlemen were there whom you know; particularly Miss Kitty D'Oily, Miss Lloyd, Miss Biddy D'Ollyffe, Miss Biddulph, and their respective admirers, with the Colonel's two nieces; fine women both; besides many whom you know not; for they were strangers to me but by name. A splendid company, and all pleased with one another, till Colonel Am-, brose introduced one, who, the moment he was brought into the great hall, set the whole assembly into a kind of agitation.
It was your villain.
I thought I should have sunk as soon as I set my eyes upon him. My mother was also affected; and, coming to me, Nancy, whispered she, can you bear the sight of that wretch without too much emotion?—If not, withdraw into the next apartment.
I could not remove. Every body's eyes were glanced from him to me. I sat down and fanned myself, and was forced to order a glass of water. Oh! that I had the eye
the basilisk is reported to have, thought I, and that his life were within the power of it!-directly would I kill him.
He entered with an air so hateful to me, but so agreeable to every other eye, that I could have looked him dead for that too.
After the general salutations he singled out Mr. Hickman, and told him he had recollected some parts of his behaviour to him, when he saw him last, which had made him think himself under obligation to his patience and politeness.
And so, indeed, he was.
Miss D'Oily, upon his complimenting her, among a knot of ladies, asked him, in their hearing, how Miss Clarissa Harlowe did?
He heard, he said, you were not so well as he wished you to be, and as you deserved to be.
O Mr. Lovelace, said she, what have you to answer for on that young lady's account, if all be true that I have heard.
I have a great deal to answer for, said the unblushing villain but that dear lady has so many excellencies, and so much delicacy, that little sins are great ones in her eye.
Little sins! replied Miss D'Oily: Mr. Lovelace's character is so well known, that nobody believes he can commit little sins.
You are very good to me, Miss D'Oily.
Indeed I am not.
Then I am the only person
good and so I am the less obliged to you.
He turned, with an unconcerned air, to Miss Playford, and made her some genteel compliments. I believe you
whom you are not very
know her not. She visits his cousins Montague. Indeed he had something in his specious manner to say to every body and this too soon quieted the disgust each person had at his entrance.
I still kept my seat, and he either saw me not, or would not yet see me; and addressing himself to my mother, taking her unwilling hand, with an air of high assurance, I am glad to see you here, Madam, I hope Miss Howe is well. I have reason to complain greatly of her: but hope to owe to her the highest obligation that can be laid on
My daughter, Sir, is accustomed to be too warm and too zealous in her friendships for either my tranquillity or her own.
There had indeed been some late occasion given for mutual displeasure between my mother and me: but I think she might have spared this to him; though nobody heard it, I believe, but the person to whom it was spoken, and the lady who told it me; for my mother spoke it low.
We are not wholly, Madam, to live for ourselves, said the vile hypocrite: it is not every one who has a soul ca. pable of friendship: and what a heart must that be, which can be insensible to the interests of a suffering friend?
This sentiment from Mr. Lovelace's mouth! said my mother-forgive me, Sir; but you can have no end, surely, in endeavouring to make me think as well of you as some innocent creatures have thought of you to their cost.
She would have flung from him. But, detaining her hand-Less severe, dear Madam, said he, be less severe in this place, I beseech you. You will allow, that a very faulty person may see his errors; and when he does, and owns them, and repents, should he not be treated merci. fully?