Just returned from an interview with this Hickman: a precise fop of a fellow, as starched as his ruffles.
Thou knowest I love him not, Jack; and whom we love not we cannot allow a merit to! perhaps not the merit they should be granted. However, I am in earnest, when I say, that he seems to me to be so set, so prim, so affected, so mincing, yet so clouterly in his person, that I dare engage for thy opinion, if thou dost justice to him, and to thyself, that thou never beheldest such another, except in a pier-glass. . . .
Well, Mr. Hickman, I must interrupt you at this place. In what I wrote to Miss Howe, I distinguished the word KNOW. I had a reason for it. Miss Howe has been very free with my character. I have never done her any harm. I take it very ill of her. And I hope, Sir, you come in her name to make excuses for it.
Miss Howe, Sir, is a very polite young lady. She is not accustomed to treat any man’s character unbecomingly.
Then I have the more reason to take it amiss, Mr. Hickman.
Why, Sir, you know the friendship—
No friendship should warrant such freedoms as Miss Howe has taken with my character. . . .
Even as you make it, Mr. Lovelace, this matter is not a light one. But I fear it is a great deal heavier than as you put it.
What reasons have you to fear this, Sir? What has the lady said? Pray let me know. I have reason to be so earnest.
Why, Sir, Miss Howe herself knows not the whole. The lady promises to give her all the particulars at a proper time, if she lives; but has said enough to make it out to be a very bad affair.
I am glad Miss Harlowe has not yet given all the particulars. And, since she has not, you may tell Miss Howe from me, that neither she, nor any woman in the world can be more virtuous than Miss Harlowe is to this hour, as to her own mind. Tell her, that I hope she never will know the particulars; but that she has been unworthily used: tell her, that though I know not what she has said, yet I have such an opinion of her veracity, that I would blindly subscribe to the truth of every tittle of it, though it make me ever so black. Tell her, that I have but three things to blame her for; one, that she won’t give me an opportunity of repairing her wrongs: the second, that she is so ready to acquaint every body with what she has suffered, that it will put it out of my power to redress those wrongs, with any tolerable reputation to either of us. Will this, Mr. Hickman, answer any part of the intention of this visit?