* See Letter XXXIV. of this volume.
I think it will not be amiss, notwithstanding the present favourable appearances, that you should perfect the scheme (whatever it be) which you tell me* you have thought of, in order to procure for me an asylum, in case of necessity. Mr. Lovelace is certainly a deep and dangerous man; and it is therefore but prudence to be watchful, and to be provided against the worst. Lord bless me, my dear, how I am reduced!—Could I ever have thought to be in such a situation, as to be obliged to stay with a man, of whose honour by me I could have but the shadow of a doubt! —But I will look forward, and hope the best.
I am certain that your letters are safe. Be perfectly easy, therefore, on that head.
Mr. Lovelace will never be out of my company by his good will, otherwise I have no doubt that I am mistress of my goings-out and comings-in; and did I think it needful, and were I not afraid of my brother and Captain Singleton, I would oftener put it to trial.
Miss Howe, to miss Clarissa
Saturday, may 20.
I did not know, my dear, that you deferred giving an answer to Mr. Lovelace’s proposals till you had my opinion of them. A particular hand, occasionally going to town, will leave this at Wilson’s, that no delay may be made on that account.
I never had any doubt of the man’s justice and generosity in matters of settlement; and all his relations are as noble in their spirits as in their descent; but now, it may not be amiss for you to wait, to see what returns my Lord makes to his letter of invitation.
The scheme I think of is this:
There is a person, whom I believe you have seen with me, her name Townsend, who is a great dealer in Indian silks, Brussels and French laces, cambricks, linen, and other valuable goods; which she has a way of coming at duty-free; and has a great vend for them (and for other curiosities which she imports) in the private families of the gentry round us.
She has her days of being in town, and then is at a chamber she rents at an inn in Southwark, where she keeps patters of all her silks, and much of her portable goods, for the conveniency of her London customers. But her place of residence, and where she has her principal warehouse, is at Depford, for the opportunity of getting her goods on shore.
She was first brought to me by my mother, to whom she was recommended on the supposal of my speedy marriage, ’that I might have an opportunity to be as fine as a princess,’ was my mother’s expression, ’at a moderate expense.’
Now, my dear, I must own, that I do not love to encourage these contraband traders. What is it, but bidding defiance to the laws of our country, when we do, and hurting fair traders; and at the same time robbing our prince of his legal due, to the diminution of those duties which possibly must be made good by new levities upon the public?