And is not this going a plaguy length? What a figure should I make in rakish annals, if at last I should be caught in my own gin?
The sex may say what they will, but a poor innocent fellow had need to take great care of himself, when he dances upon the edge of the matrimonial precipice. Many a faint-hearted man, when he began to jest, or only designed to ape gallantry, has been forced into earnest, by being over-prompt, and taken at his word, not knowing how to own that he meant less than the lady supposed he meant. I am the better enabled to judge that this must have been the case of many a sneaking varlet; because I, who know the female world as well as any man in it of my standing, am so frequently in doubt of myself, and know not what to make of the matter.
Then these little sly rogues, how they lie couchant, ready to spring upon us harmless fellows the moment we are in their reach!—When the ice is once broken for them, how swiftly can they make to port!—Mean time, the subject they can least speak to, they most think of. Nor can you talk of the ceremony, before they have laid out in their minds how it is all to be. Little saucy-faced designers! how first they draw themselves in, then us!
But be all these things as they will, Lord M. never in his life received so handsome a letter as this from his nephew
[The Lady, after having given to Miss Howe on the
in Mr. Lovelace’s last letter, thus expresses herself:]
A principal consolation arising from these favourable appearances, is, that I, who have now but one only friend, shall most probably, and if it be not my own fault, have as many new ones as there are persons in Mr. Lovelace’s family; and this whether Mr. Lovelace treat me kindly or not. And who knows, but that, by degrees, those new friends, by their rank and merit, may have weight enough to get me restored to the favour of my relations? till which can be effected, I shall not be tolerably easy. Happy I never expect to be. Mr. Lovelace’s mind and mine are vastly different; different in essentials.
But as matters are at present circumstanced, I pray you, my dear friend, to keep to yourself every thing that might bring discredit to him, if revealed.—Better any body expose a man than a wife, if I am to be his; and what is said by you will be thought to come from me.
It shall be my constant prayer, that all the felicities which this world can afford may be your’s: and that the Almighty will never suffer you nor your’s, to the remotest posterity, to want such a friend as my Anna Howe has been to
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
And now, that my beloved seems secure in my net, for my project upon the vixen Miss Howe, and upon her mother: in which the officious prancer Hickman is to come in for a dash.