You, my dear, have accused me of having modesty’d away, as you phrase it, several opportunities of being—Being what, my dear?—Why, the wife of a libertine: and what a libertine and his wife are my cousin Morden’s letter tells us.—Let me here, once for all, endeavour to account for the motives of behavior to this man, and for the principles I have proceeded upon, as they appear to me upon a close self-examination.
Be pleased to allow me to think that my motives on this occasion rise not altogether from maidenly niceness; nor yet from the apprehension of what my present tormenter, and future husband, may think of a precipitate compliance, on such a disagreeable behaviour as his: but they arise principally from what offers to my own heart; respecting, as I may say, its own rectitude, its own judgment of the fit and the unfit; as I would, without study, answer for myself to myself, in the first place; to him, and to the world, in the second only. Principles that are in my mind; that I found there; implanted, no doubt, by the first gracious Planter: which therefore impel me, as I may say, to act up to them, that thereby I may, to the best of my judgment, be enabled to comport myself worthily in both states, (the single and the married), let others act as they will by me.
I hope, my dear, I do not deceive myself, and, instead of setting about rectifying what is amiss in my heart, endeavour to find excuses for habits and peculiarities, which I am unwilling to cast off or overcome. The heart is very deceitful: do you, my dear friend, lay mine open, [but surely it is always open before you!] and spare me not, if you think it culpable.
This observation, once for all, as I said, I thought proper to make, to convince you that, to the best of my judgment, my errors, in matters as well of lesser moment as of greater, shall rather be the fault of my judgment than of my will.
I am, my dearest friend,
Your ever obliged,
Miss Clarissa Harlowe, to miss
Tuesday night, may 16.
Mr. Lovelace has sent me, by Dorcas, his proposals, as follow:
’To spare a delicacy so extreme, and to obey you, I write: and the rather that you may communicate this paper to Miss Howe, who may consult any of her friends you shall think proper to have intrusted on this occasion. I say intrusted; because, as you know, I have given it out to several persons, that we are actually married.
’In the first place, Madam, I offer to settle upon you, by way of jointure, your whole estate: and moreover to vest in trustees such a part of mine in Lancashire, as shall produce a clear four hundred pounds a year, to be paid to your sole and separate use quarterly.
’My own estate is a clear not nominnal 2000l. per annum. Lord M. proposes to give me possession either of that which he has in Lancashire, [to which, by the way, I think I have a better title than he has himself,] or that we call The Lawn, in Hertfordshire, upon my nuptials with a lady whom he so greatly admires; and to make that I shall choose a clear 1000l. per annum.