I was however too much vexed, disconcerted, mortified, to hinder her from retiring. And yet she had not gone, if Dorcas had not coughed.
The wench came in, as soon as her lady had retired, and gave me the copy she had taken. And what should it be but of the answer the truly admirable creature had intended to give to my written proposals in relation to settlements?
I have but just dipt my pen into this affecting paper. Were I to read it attentively, not a wink should I sleep this night. To-morrow it shall obtain my serious consideration.
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford,
Tuesday morning, may 23.
The dear creature desires to be excused seeing me till evening. She is not very well, as Dorcas tells me.
Read here, if thou wilt, the paper transcribed by Dorcas. It is impossible that I should proceed with my projects against this admirable woman, were it not that I am resolved, after a few trials more, if as nobly sustained as those she has passed through, to make her (if she really hate me not) legally mine.
’When a woman is married, that supreme earthly obligation requires, that in all instances, where her husband’s real honour is concerned, she should yield her own will to his. But, beforehand, I could be glad, conformably to what I have always signified, to have the most explicit assurances, that every possible way should be tried to avoid litigation with my father. Time and patience will subdue all things. My prospects of happiness are extremely contracted. A husband’s right will be always the same. In my lifetime I could wish nothing to be done of this sort. Your circumstances, Sir, will not oblige you to extort violently from him what is in his hands. All that depends upon me, either with regard to my person, to my diversions, or to the economy that no married woman, of whatever rank or quality, should be above inspecting, shall be done, to prevent a necessity for such measures being taken. And if there will be no necessity for them, it is to be hoped that motives less excusable will not have force—motives which must be founded in a littleness of mind, which a woman, who has not that littleness of mind, will be under such temptations, as her duty will hardly be able at all times to check, to despise her husband for having; especially in cases where her own family, so much a part of herself, and which will have obligations upon her (though then but secondary ones) from which she can never be freed, is intimately concerned.
’This article, then, I urge to your most serious consideration, as what lies next my heart. I enter not here minutely into the fatal misunderstanding between them and you: the fault may be in both. But, Sir, your’s was the foundation-fault: at least, you gave a too-plausible pretence for my brother’s antipathy to work upon. Condescension was no part of your study. You chose to bear the imputations laid to your charge, rather than to make it your endeavour to obviate them.