Tag Archives: II

What are these but words (L 64)

What is now to become of me!—How shall I support this disappointment!—No new cause!—On one knee, kneeling with the other, I write!—My feet benumbed with midnight wanderings through the heaviest dews that ever fell: my wig and my linen dripping with the hoar frost dissolving on them!—Day but just breaking—Sun not risen to exhale—May it never rise again!—Unless it bring healing and comfort to a benighted soul! In proportion to the joy you had inspired (ever lovely promiser!) in such proportion is my anguish!
O my beloved creature!—But are not your very excuses confessions of excuses inexcusable? I know not what I write!—That servant in your way!* By the great God of Heaven, that servant was not, dared not, could not, be in your way!—Curse upon the cool caution that is pleased to deprive me of an expectation so transporting!
And are things drawing towards a crisis between your friends and you?—Is not this a reason for me to expect, the rather to expect, the promised interview?
CAN I write all that is in my mind, say you?—Impossible!—Not the hundredth part of what is in my mind, and in my apprehension, can I write!
Oh! the wavering, the changeable sex!—But can Miss Clarissa Harlowe—
Forgive me, Madam!—I know not what I write!
Yet, I must, I do, insist upon your promise—or that you will condescend to find better excuses for the failure—or convince me, that stronger reasons are imposed upon you, than those you offer.—A promise once given (upon deliberation given,) the promised only can dispense with; except in cases of a very apparent necessity imposed upon the promiser, which leaves no power to perform it.
The first promise you ever made me! Life and death perhaps depending upon it—my heart desponding from the barbarous methods resolved to be taken with you in malice to me!
You would sooner choose death than Solmes. (How my soul spurns the competition!) O my beloved creature, what are these but words?—Whose words?—Sweet and ever adorable—What?—Promise breaker—must I call you?—How shall I believe the asseveration, (your supposed duty in the question! Persecution so flaming!—Hatred to me so strongly avowed!) after this instance of you so lightly dispensing with your promise?
If, my dearest life! you would prevent my distraction, or, at least, distracted consequences, renew the promised hope!—My fate is indeed upon its crisis.

False clues and what is true about them (L90)

When I first read my cousin’s letter, I was half inclined to resume my former intention; especially as my countermanding letter was not taken away; and as my heart ached at the thoughts of the conflict I must expect to have with him on my refusal. For see him for a few moments I doubt I must, lest he should take some rash resolutions; especially as he has reason to expect I will see him. But here your words, that all punctilio is at an end the moment I am out of my father’s house, added to the still more cogent considerations of duty and reputation, determined me once more against the rash step. And it will be very hard (although no seasonable fainting, or wished-for fit, should stand my friend) if I cannot gain one month, or fortnight, or week. And I have still more hopes that I shall prevail for some delay, from my cousin’s intimation that the good Dr. Lewen refuses to give his assistance to their projects, if they have not my consent, and thinks me cruelly used: since, without taking notice that I am apprized of this, I can plead a scruple of conscience, and insist upon having that worthy divine’s opinion upon it: in which, enforced as I shall enforce it, my mother will surely second me: my aunt Hervey, and Mrs. Norton, will support her: the suspension must follow: and I can but get away afterwards.
But, if they will compel me: if they will give me no time: if nobody will be moved: if it be resolved that the ceremony should be read over my constrained hand—why then—Alas! What then!—I can but—But what? O my dear! this Solmes shall never have my vows I am resolved! and I will say nothing but no, as long as I shall be able to speak. And who will presume to look upon such an act of violence as a marriage?—It is impossible, surely, that a father and mother can see such a dreadful compulsion offered to their child—but if mine should withdraw, and leave the task to my brother and sister, they will have no mercy.
I am grieved to be driven to have recourse to the following artifices.
I have given them a clue, by the feather of a pen sticking out, where they will find such of my hidden stories, as I intend they shall find. Continue reading

The Purloined Letter (L84)

The man, my dear, has got the letter!—What a strange diligence! I wish he mean me well, that he takes so much pains!—Yet, to be ingenuous, I must own, that I should be displeased if he took less—I wish, however, he had been an hundred miles off!—What an advantage have I given him over me!
Now the letter is out of my power, I have more uneasiness and regret than I had before. For, till now, I had a doubt, whether it should or should not go: and now I think it ought not to have gone. And yet is there any other way than to do as I have done, if I would avoid Solmes? But what a giddy creature shall I be thought, if I pursue the course to which this letter must lead me?
My dearest friend, tell me, have I done wrong?—Yet do not say I have, if you think it; for should all the world besides condemn me, I shall have some comfort, if you do not. The first time I ever besought you to flatter me. That, of itself, is an indication that I have done wrong, and am afraid of hearing the truth—O tell me (but yet do not tell me) if I have done wrong!

The world accuses him (L78)

Well, Niece, said my aunt, we must wave this subject, I find. We will now proceed to another, which will require your utmost attention. It will give you the reason why Mr. Solmes’s presence is requisite—
Ay, said my uncle, and shew you what sort of a man somebody is. Mr. Solmes, pray favour us, in the first place, with the letter you received from your anonymous friend.
I will, Sir. And out he pulled a letter-case, and taking out a letter, it is written in answer to one, sent to the person. It is superscribed, To Roger Solmes, Esq. It begins thus: Honoured Sir—
I beg your pardon, Sir, said I: but what, pray, is the intent of reading this letter to me?
To let you know what a vile man you are thought to have set your heart upon, said my uncle, in an audible whisper.
If, Sir, it be suspected, that I have set my heart upon any other, why is Mr. Solmes to give himself any further trouble about me?
Only hear, Niece, said my aunt; only hear what Mr. Solmes has to read and to say to you on this head.
If, Madam, Mr. Solmes will be pleased to declare, that he has no view to serve, no end to promote, for himself, I will hear any thing he shall read. But if the contrary, you must allow me to say, that it will abate with me a great deal of the weight of whatever he shall produce.
Hear it but read, Niece, said my aunt—
Hear it read, said my uncle. You are so ready to take part with—
With any body, Sir, that is accused anonymously, and from interested motives. Continue reading

A poor low trick (L77)

The day is come!—I wish it were happily over. I have had a wretched night. Hardly a wink have I slept, ruminating upon the approaching interview. The very distance of time to which they consented, has added solemnity to the meeting, which otherwise it would not have had.
A thoughtful mind is not a blessing to be coveted, unless it had such a happy vivacity with it as yours: a vivacity, which enables a person to enjoy the present, without being over-anxious about the future.
I have had a visit from my aunt Hervey. Betty, in her alarming way, told me, I should have a lady to breakfast with me, whom I little expected; giving me to believe it was my mother. This fluttered me so much, on hearing a lady coming up-stairs, supposing it was she, (and not knowing how to account for her motives in such a visit, after I had been so long banished from her presence,) that my aunt, at her entrance, took notice of my disorder; and, after her first salutation,
Why, Miss, said she, you seem surprised.—Upon my word, you thoughtful young ladies have strange apprehensions about nothing at all. What, taking my hand, can be the matter with you?—Why, my dear, tremble, tremble, tremble, at this rate? You’ll not be fit to be seen by any body. Come, my love, kissing my cheek, pluck up a courage. By this needless flutter on the approaching interview, when it is over you will judge of your other antipathies, and laugh at yourself for giving way to so apprehensive an imagination.
I said, that whatever we strongly imagined, was in its effect at the time more than imaginary, although to others it might not appear so: that I had not rested one hour all night: that the impertinent set over me, by giving me room to think my mother was coming up, had so much disconcerted me, that I should be very little qualified to see any body I disliked to see.
See, my dear, the low cunning of that Sunday-management, which then so much surprised me! And see the reason why Dr. Lewen was admitted to visit me, yet forbore to enter upon a subject about which I thought he came to talk to me!—For it seems there was no occasion to dispute with me on the point I was to be supposed to have conceded to.—See, also, how unfairly my brother and sister must have represented their pretended kindness, when (though the had an end to answer by appearing kind) their antipathy to me seems to have been so strong, that they could not help insulting me by their arm-in-arm lover-like behaviour to each other; as my sister afterwards likewise did, when she came to borrow my Kempis.
I lifted up my hands and eyes! I cannot, said I, give this treatment a name! The end so unlikely to be answered by means so low! I know whose the whole is! He that could get my uncle Harlowe to contribute his part, and to procure the acquiescence of the rest of my friends to it, must have the power to do any thing with them against me.
Again my aunt told me, that talking and invective, now I had given the expectation, would signify nothing. She hoped I would not shew every one, that they had been too forward in their constructions of my desire to oblige them. She could assure me, that it would be worse for me, if now I receded, than if I had never advanced.
Advanced, Madam! How can you say advanced? Why, this is a trick upon me! A poor low trick! Pardon me, Madam, I don’t say you have a hand in it.—But, my dearest Aunt, tell me, Will not my mother be present at this dreaded interview? Will she not so far favour me? Were it but to qualify— Continue reading

The fruits of inquiry (L70)

The fruits of my inquiry after your abominable wretch’s behaviour and baseness at the paltry alehouse, which he calls an inn, prepare to hear.
Wrens and sparrows are not too ignoble a quarry for this villainous gos-hawk!—His assiduities; his watchings; his nightly risques; the inclement weather he journeys in; must not be all placed to your account. He has opportunities of making every thing light to him of that sort. A sweet pretty girl, I am told—innocent till he went thither—Now! (Ah! poor girl!) who knows what?
But just turned of seventeen!—His friend and brother-rake (a man of humour and intrigue) as I am told, to share the social bottle with. And sometimes another disguised rake or two. No sorrow comes near their hearts. Be not disturbed, my dear, at his hoarsenesses! his pretty, Betsey, his Rosebud, as the vile wretch calls her, can hear all he says. Continue reading

Proverbs (L63)

I have mentioned several times the pertness of Mrs. Betty to me; and now, having a little time upon my hands, I will give you a short dialogue that passed just now between us. It may, perhaps, be a little relief to you from the dull subjects with which I am perpetually teasing you.
As she attended me at dinner, she took notice, That Nature is satisfied with a very little nourishment: and thus she complimentally proved it—For, Miss, said she, you eat nothing; yet never looked more charmingly in your life.
As to the former part of your speech, Betty, said I, you observe well; and I have often thought, when I have seen how healthy the children of the labouring poor look, and are, with empty stomachs, and hardly a good meal in a week, that God Almighty is very kind to his creatures, in this respect, as well as in all others in making much not necessary to the support of life; when three parts in four of His creatures, if it were, would not know how to obtain it. It puts me in mind of two proverbial sentences which are full of admirable meaning.
What, pray, Miss, are they? I love to hear you talk, when you are so sedate as you seem now to be.
The one is to the purpose we are speaking of: Poverty is the mother of health. And let me tell you, Betty, if I had a better appetite, and were to encourage it, with so little rest, and so much distress and persecution, I don’t think I should be able to preserve my reason.
There’s no inconvenience but has its convenience, said Betty, giving me proverb for proverb. But what is the other, Madam?
That the pleasures of the mighty are not obtained by the tears of the poor. It is but reasonable, therefore, methinks, that the plenty of the one should be followed by distempers; and that the indigence of the other should be attended with that health, which makes all its other discomforts light on the comparison. And hence a third proverb, Betty, since you are an admirer of proverbs: Better a hare-foot than none at all; that is to say, than not to be able to walk. Continue reading

Honest Indignation? (62)

I have another letter from Mr. Lovelace. I opened it with the expectation of its being filled with bold and free complaints, on my not writing to prevent his two nights watching, in weather not extremely agreeable. But, instead of complaints, he is ‘full of tender concern lest I may have been prevented by indisposition, or by the closer confinement which he has frequently cautioned me that I may expect.’
He says, ‘He had been in different disguises loitering about our garden and park wall, all the day on Sunday last; and all Sunday night was wandering about the coppice, and near the back door. It rained; and he has got a great cold, attended with feverishness, and so hoarse, that he has almost lost his voice.’
Why did he not flame out in his letter?—Treated as I am treated by my friends, it is dangerous to be laid under the sense of an obligation to an addresser’s patience; especially when such a one suffers in health for my sake.
‘He had no shelter, he says, but under the great overgrown ivy, which spreads wildly round the heads of two or three oaklings; and that was soon wet through.’
You remember the spot. You and I, my dear, once thought ourselves obliged to the natural shade which those ivy-covered oaklings afforded us, in a sultry day.
I can’t help saying, I am sorry he has suffered for my sake; but ’tis his own seeking.
His letter is dated last night at eight: ‘And, indisposed as he is, he tells me that he will watch till ten, in hopes of my giving him the meeting he so earnestly request. And after that, he has a mile to walk to his horse and servant; and four miles then to ride to his inn.’
He owns, ‘That he has an intelligencer in our family; who has failed him for a day or two past: and not knowing how I do, or how I may be treated, his anxiety is increased.’ Continue reading

Our love makes us decline to see you (L59 and 60)

From Letter 59:

I think myself a most unhappy man, in that I have never yet been able to pay my respects to you with youre consent, for one halfe-hour. I have something to communicat to you that concernes you much, if you be pleased to admit me to youre speech. Youre honour is concerned in it, and the honour of all youre familly. It relates to the designes of one whom you are sed to valew more than he desarves; and to some of his reprobat actions; which I am reddie to give you convincing proofes of the truth of. I may appear to be interested in it: but, neverthelesse, I am reddie to make oathe, that every tittle is true: and you will see what a man you are sed to favour. But I hope not so, for your owne honour.
Pray, Madam, vouchsafe me a hearing, as you valew your honour and familly: which will oblidge, dearest Miss,
Your most humble and most faithful servant, ROGER SOLMES.
I wait below for the hope of admittance.

Whatever you have to communicate to me, which concerns my honour, may as well be done by writing as by word of mouth. If Mr. Lovelace is any of my concern, I know not that therefore he ought to be yours: for the usage I receive on your account [I must think it so!] is so harsh, that were there not such a man in the world as Mr. Lovelace, I would not wish to see Mr. Solmes, no, not for one half-hour, in the way he is pleased to be desirous to see me. I never can be in any danger from Mr. Lovelace, (and, of consequence, cannot be affected by any of your discoveries,) if the proposal I made be accepted. You have been acquainted with it no doubt. If not, be pleased to let my friends know, that if they will rid me of my apprehensions of one gentleman, I will rid them of their of another: And then, of what consequence to them, or to me, will it be, whether Mr. Lovelace be a good man, or a bad? And if not to them, nor to me, I see not how it can be of any to you. But if you do, I have nothing to say to that; and it will be a christian part if you will expostulate with him upon the errors you have discovered, and endeavour to make him as good a man, as, no doubt, you are yourself, or you would not be so ready to detect and expose him.
Excuse me, Sir: but, after my former letter to you, and your ungenerous perseverance; and after this attempt to avail yourself at the expense of another man’s character, rather than by your own proper merit; I see not that you can blame any asperity in her, whom you have so largely contributed to make unhappy.

Continue reading

The Lover’s Imaginary (L58)

I follow my last of this date by command. I mentioned in my former my mother’s opinion of the merit you would have, if you could oblige your friends against your own inclination. Our conference upon this subject was introduced by the conversation we had had with Sir Harry Downeton; and my mother thinks it of so much importance, that she enjoins me to give you the particulars of it. I the rather comply, as I was unable in my last to tell what to advise you to; and as you will in this recital have my mother’s opinion at least, and, perhaps, in hers what the world’s would be, were it only to know what she knows, and not so much as I know.
My mother argues upon this case in a most discouraging manner for all such of our sex as look forward for happiness in marriage with the man of their choice.
Only, that I know, she has a side-view of her daughter; who, at the same time that she now prefers no one to another, values not the man her mother most regards, of one farthing; or I should lay it more to heart.
What is there in it, says she, that all this bustle is about? Is it such a mighty matter for a young woman to give up her inclinations to oblige her friends?
Very well, my mamma, thought I! Now, may you ask this—at FORTY, you may. But what would you have said at EIGHTEEN, is the question?
Either, said she, the lady must be thought to have very violent inclinations [And what nice young creature would have that supposed?] which she could not give up; or a very stubborn will, which she would not; or, thirdly, have parents she was indifferent about obliging.
You know my mother now-and-then argues very notably; always very warmly at least. I happen often to differ from her; and we both think so well of our own arguments, that we very seldom are so happy as to convince one another. A pretty common case, I believe, in all vehement debatings. She says, I am too witty; Angelice, too pert: I, That she is too wise; that is to say, being likewise put into English, not so young as she has been: in short, is grown so much into mother, that she has forgotten she ever was a daughter. So, generally, we call another cause by consent—yet fall into the old one half a dozen times over, without consent—quitting and resuming, with half-angry faces, forced into a smile, that there might be some room to piece together again: but go a-bed, if bedtime, a little sullen nevertheless: or, if we speak, her silence is broken with an Ah! Nancy! You are so lively! so quick! I wish you were less like your papa, child!
I pay it off with thinking, that my mother has no reason to disclaim her share in her Nancy: and if the matter go off with greater severity on her side than I wish for, then her favourite Hickman fares the worse for it next day.
I know I am a saucy creature. I know, if I do not say so, you will think so. So no more of this just now. What I mention it for, is to tell you, that on this serious occasion I will omit, if I can, all that passed between us, that had an air of flippancy on my part, or quickness on my mother’s, to let you into the cool and cogent of the conversation.
‘Look through the families, said she, which we both know, where the man and the woman have been said to marry for love; which (at the time it is so called) is perhaps no more than a passion begun in folly or thoughtlessness, and carried on from a spirit of perverseness and opposition [here we had a parenthetical debate, which I omit]; and see, if they appear to be happier than those whose principal inducement to marry has been convenience, or to oblige their friends; or ever whether they are generally so happy: for convenience and duty, where observed, will afford a permanent and even an increasing satisfaction (as well at the time, as upon the reflection) which seldom fail to reward themselves: while love, if love be the motive, is an idle passion’ [idle in ONE SENSE my mother cannot say; for love is as busy as a monkey, and as mischievous as a school-boy]—’it is a fervour, that, like all other fervours, lasts but a little while after marriage; a bow overstrained, that soon returns to its natural bent.
‘As it is founded generally upon mere notional excellencies, which were unknown to the persons themselves till attributed to either by the other; one, two, or three months, usually sets all right on both sides; and then with opened eyes they think of each other—just as every body else thought of them before.
The lovers imaginaries [her own notable word!] are by that time gone off; nature and old habits (painfully dispensed with or concealed) return: disguises thrown aside, all the moles, freckles, and defects in the minds of each discover themselves; and ’tis well if each do not sink in the opinion of the other, as much below the common standard, as the blinded imagination of both had set them above it. And now, said she, the fond pair, who knew no felicity out of each other’s company, are so far from finding the never-ending variety each had proposed in an unrestrained conversation with the other (when they seldom were together; and always parted with something to say; or, on recollection, when parted, wishing they had said); that they are continually on the wing in pursuit of amusements out of themselves; and those, concluded my sage mamma, [Did you think her wisdom so very modern?] will perhaps be the livelier to each, in which the other has no share.’