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I am extremely concerned at your indifferent state of health but I approve of all your proceedings and precautions in relation to the appointment of Mr. Belford for an office, in which, I hope, neither he nor any body else will be wanted to act, for many, very many years.
I admire, and so we do all, that greatness of mind which can make you so stedfastly despise (through such inducements as no other woman could resist, and in such desolate , circumstances as you have been reduced to) the wretch that ought to be so heartily despised and detested.
What must the contents of those letters from your relations be, which you will not communicate to me !-Fie upon them! How my heart rises!-But I dare say no more-though you yourself now begin to think they use you with great severity.
Every body here is so taken with Mr. Hickman (and the more from the horror they conceive at the character of the detestable Lovelace, that I have been teased to death almost to name a day. This has given him airs: and, did I not keep him to it, he would behave as carelessly and as insolently as if he were sure of me. I have been forced to mortify him no less than four times since we have been here.
I made him lately undergo a severe penance for some negligences that were not to be passed over. Not designed ones, he said but that was a poor excuse, as I told him : for, had they been designed, he should never have come into my presence more: that they were not, showed his want of thought and attention; and those were inexcu. sable in a man only in his probatory state.
He hoped he had been more than in a probatory state, he said.
And therefore, Sir, might be more careless!-So you
add ingratitude to negligence, and make what you plead as accident, that itself wants an excuse, design, which deserves none.
I would not see him for two days, and he was so penitent, and so humble, that I had like to have lost myself, to make him amends: for, as you have said, a resentment carried too high, often ends in amends too humble.
I long to be nearer to you: but that must not yet be, it seems. Pray, my dear, let me hear from you as often as you can.
May Heaven increase your comforts, and restore your health, are the prayers of
Your ever faithful and affectionate
P. S. Excuse me that I did not write before it was owing to a little coasting voyage I was obliged to give into.
Friday, Aug. 25. You are very obliging, my dear Miss Howe, to account to me for your silence. I was easy in it, as I doubted not that, among such near and dear friends as you are with, you was diverted from writing by some such agree. able excursion as that you mention.
I was in hopes that you had given over, at this time of day, those very sprightly airs, which I have taken the li
berty to blame you for, as often as you have given me occasion to so do; and that has been very often.
I was always very grave with you upon this subject: and while your own and a worthy man's future happiness are in the question, I must enter into it, whenever you forget yourself, although I had not a day to live and indeed I am very ill.
I am sure it was not your intention to take your future husband with you to the little island to make him look weak and silly among those of your relations who never before had seen him. Yet do you think it possible for them (however prepared and resolved they may be to like him) to forbear smiling at him, when they see him suffering under your whimsical penances? A modest man should no more be made little in his own eyes, than in the eyes of others. If he be, he will have a diffidence, which will give an awkwardness to every thing he says or does; and this will be no more to the credit of your choice than to that of the approbation he meets with from your friends, or to his own credit.
I love an obliging, and even an humble, deportment in a man to the woman he addresses. It is a mark of his politeness, and tends to give her that opinion of herself, which it may be supposed bashful merit wants to be inspired with. But if the woman exacts it with an high hand, she shows not either her own politeness or grati tude; although I must confess she does her courage. I gave you expectations that I would be very serious with
O my dear, that it had been my lot (as I was not permitted to live single,) to have met with a man by whom I could have acted generously and unreservedly!
Mr. Lovelace, it is now plain, in order to have a pretence against me, taxed my behaviour to him with stiffness and distance. You, at one time, thought me guilty of some degree of prudery. Difficult situations should be allowed for: which often make seeming occasions for censure unavoidable. I deserved not blame from him who made mine difficult. And you, my dear, had I had any other man to deal with, or had he had but half the merit which Mr. Hickman has, would have found that my doctrine on this subject should have governed my prac. tice.
But to put myself out of the question-I'll tell you what I should think, were I an indifferent by-stander,' of those high airs of your's, in return for Mr. Hickman's humble demeanour. The lady thinks of having the gen. " tleman, I see plainly, would I say. But I see as plain. ly, that she has a very great indifference to him. And 'to what may this indifference be owing? To one or all ' of these considerations, no doubt: that she receives his 'addresses rather from motives of convenience than 'choice: that she thinks meanly of his endowments and 'intellects; at least more highly of her own: or, she has 'not the generosity to use that power with moderation, which his great affection for her puts into her hands.' How would you like, my dear, to have any of these things said?
Then to give but the shadow of a reason for free-livers and free speakers to say, or to imagine, that Miss Howe gives her hand to a man who has no reason to expect any share in her heart, I am sure you would not wish that such a thing should be so much as supposed. Then all the regard from you to come afterwards; none to be shown
before; must, I should think, be capable of being construed as a compliment to the husband, made at the expense of the wife's and even of the sex's delicacy!
There is no fear that attempts could be formed by the most audacious [two Lovelaces there cannot be !] upon a character so revered for virtue, and so charmingly spirited, as Miss Howe's: yet, to have any man encou raged to despise a husband by the example of one who is most concerned to do him honour; what, my dear, think you of that? It is but too natural for envious men (and who that knows Miss Howe, will not envy Mr. Hickman!) to scoff at, and to jest upon, those who are treated with or will bear indignity from a woman.
If a man so treated have a true and ardent love for the woman he addresses, he will be easily overawed by her displeasure and this will put him upon acts of submission, which will be called meanness. And what woman of true spirit would like to have it said, that she would impose any thing upon the man from whom she one day expects protection and defence, that should be capable of being construed as a meanness, or unmanly abjectness in his behaviour, even to herself?-Nay, I am not sure, and I ask it of you, my dear, to resolve me, whether, in your own opinion, it is not likely, that a woman of spirit will despise rather than value more, the man who will take patiently an insult at her hands; especially before company.
I have always observed, that prejudices in disfavour of a person at his first appearance, fix deeper, and are much more difficult to be removed when fixed, than prejudices in favour whether owing to envy, or to that malignant principle so eminently visible in little minds, which makes them wish to bring down the more worthy charac