She then puts her friend upon urging for settlements, license, and so forth.—’No room for delicacy now,’ she says; and tells her what she shall say, ‘to bring all forward from me.’ Is it not as clear to thee, Jack, as it is to me, that I should have carried my point long ago, but for this vixen?—She reproaches her for having modesty’d away, as she calls it, more than one opportunity, that she ought not to have slipt.— Thus thou seest, that the noblest of the sex mean nothing in the world by their shyness and distance, but to pound the poor fellow they dislike not, when he comes into their purlieus.
Though ‘tricked into this man’s power,’ she tells her, she is ’not meanly subjugated to it.’ There are hopes of my reformation, it seems, ’from my reverence for her; since before her I never had any reverence for what was good!’ I am ‘a great, a specious deceiver.’ I thank her for this, however. A good moral use, she says, may be made of my ’having prevailed upon her to swerve.’ I am glad that any good may flow from my actions.
Annexed to this letter is a paper the most saucy that ever was written of a mother by a daughter. There are in it such free reflections upon widows and bachelors, that I cannot but wonder how Miss Howe came by her learning. Sir George Colmar, I can tell thee, was a greater fool than thy friend, if she had it all for nothing.
The contents of this paper acquaint Miss Harlowe, that her uncle Antony has been making proposals of marriage to her mother.
The old fellow’s heart ought to be a tough one, if he succeed; or she who broke that of a much worthier man, the late Mr. Howe, will soon get rid of him.
But be this as it may, the stupid family is made more irreconcilable than ever to their goddess-daughter for old Antony’s thoughts of marrying: so I am more secure of her than ever. And yet I believe at last, that my tender heart will be moved in her favour. For I did not wish that she should have nothing but persecution and distress.—But why loves she the brutes, as Miss Howe justly calls them, so much; me so little?
I have still more unpardonable transcripts from other letters.
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
The next letter is of such a nature, that, I dare say, these proud rouges would not have had it fall into my hands for the world.*
* See Letter XXXIV. of this volume.
I see by it to what her displeasure with me, in relation to my proposals, was owing. They were not summed up, it seems, with the warmth, with the ardour, which she had expected.
This whole letter was transcribed by Dorcas, to whose lot it fell. Thou shalt have copies of them all at full length shortly.
‘Men of our cast,’ this little devil says, ’she fancies, cannot have the ardours that honest men have.’ Miss Howe has vey pretty fancies, Jack. Charming girl! Would to Heaven I knew whether my fair-one answers her as freely as she writes! ’Twould vex a man’s heart, that this virago should have come honestly by her fancies.