I own, for all this, that I love her dearly; and she me, I dare say: so would not wish to provoke her to do otherwise. Besides, the girl is so much regarded every where, that having lived so much of my prime a widow, I would not lay myself open to her censures, or even to her indifference, you know.
Your generous proposal requires all this explicitness. I thank you for your good opinion of me. When I know you acquiesce with this my civil refusal [and indeed, Sir, I am as much in earnest in it, as if I had spoken broader] I don’t know but Nancy and I may, with your permission, come to see your fine things; for I am a great admirer of rarities that come from abroad.
So, Sir, let us only converse occasionally as we meet, as we used to do, without any other view to each other than good wishes: which I hope may not be lessened for this declining. And then I shall always think myself
Your obliged servant,
P.S. I sent word by Mrs. Lorimer, that I would
write an answer: but
would take time for consideration. So hope, Sir, you won’t think it a
slight, I did not write sooner.
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford,
Sunday, may 21.
I am too much disturbed in my mind to think of any thing but revenge; or I did intend to give thee an account of Miss Harlowe’s observations on the play. Miss Harlowe’s I say. Thou knowest that I hate the name of Harlowe; and I am exceedingly out of humour with her, and with her saucy friend.
What’s the matter now? thou’lt ask.
Matter enough; for while we were at the play, Dorcas, who had her orders, and a key to her lady’s chamber, as well as a master-key to her drawers and mahogany chest, closet-key and all, found means to come at some of Miss Howe’s last-written letters. The vigilant wench was directed to them by seeing her lady take a letter out of her stays, and put it to the others, before she went out with me—afraid, as the women upbraidingly tell me, that I should find it there.
Dorcas no sooner found them, than she assembled three ready writers of the non-apparents; and Sally, and she, and they employed themselves with the utmost diligence, in making extracts, according to former directions, from these cursed letters, for my use. Cursed, may I well call them— Such abuses!—Such virulence!—O this little fury Miss Howe!—Well might her saucy friend (who has been equally free with me, or the occasion could not have been given) be so violent as she lately was, at my endeavouring to come at one of these letters.
I was sure, that this fair-one, at so early an age, with a constitution so firm, health so blooming, eyes so sparkling, expectations therefore so lively, and hope so predominating, could not be absolutely, and from her own vigilance, so guarded, and so apprehensive, as I have found her to be.