* See Letter XX. of this volume.
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
I will now give thee the substance of the dialogue that passed between the two women and the lady. Wonder not, that a perverse wife makes a listening husband. The event, however, as thou wilt find, justified the old observation, That listners seldom hear good of themselves. Conscious of their own demerits, if I may guess by myself, [There’s ingenuousness, Jack!] and fearful of censure, they seldom find themselves disappointed. There is something of sense, after all in these proverbs, in these phrases, in this wisdom of nations.
Mrs. Moore was to be the messenger, but Miss Rawlins began the dialogue.
Your spouse, Madam,—[Devil!—only to fish for a negative or affirmative declaration.]
Cl. My spouse, Madam—
Miss R. Mr. Lovelace, Madam, avers that you are married to him; and begs admittance, or your company in the dining-room, to talk upon the subject of the letters he left with you.
Cl. He is a poor wicked wretch. Let me beg of you, Madam, to favour me with your company as often as possible while he is hereabouts, and I remain here.
Miss R. I shall with pleasure attend you, Madam: but, methinks, I could wish you would see the gentleman, and hear what he has to say on the subject of the letters.
Cl. My case is a hard, a very hard one—I am quite bewildered!-I know not what to do!—I have not a friend in the world that can or will help me! Yet had none but friends till I knew that man!
Miss R. The gentleman neither looks nor talks like a bad man.—Not a very bad man, as men go.
As men go! Poor Miss Rawlins, thought I; and dost thou know how men go?
Cl. O Madam, you know him not! He can put on the appearance of an angel of light; but has a black, a very black heart!
Miss R. I could not have thought it, truly! But men are very deceitful, now-a-days.
Now-a-days!—A fool!—Have not her history-books told her that they were always so?
Mrs. Moore, sighing. I have found it so, I am sure, to my cost!—
Who knows but in her time poor goody Moore may have met with a Lovelace, or a Belford, or some such vile fellow? My little harum-scarum beauty knows not what strange histories every woman living, who has had the least independence of will, could tell her, were such to be as communicative as she is. But here’s the thing—I have given her cause enough of offence; but not enough to make her hold her tongue.
Cl. As to the letters he has left with me, I know not what to say to them: but am resolved never to have any thing to say to him.
Miss R. If, Madam, I may be allowed to say so, I think you carry matters very far.