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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 307 pages of information about Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady Volume 5.

LETTER XI

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq
Monday, June 5.

I am now almost in despair of succeeding with this charming frost-piece by love or gentleness.—­A copy of the draughts, as I told thee, has been sent to Captain Tomlinson; and that by a special messenger.  Engrossments are proceeding with.  I have been again at the Commons.—­Should in all probability have procured a license by Mallory’s means, had not Mallory’s friend, the proctor, been suddenly sent for to Chestnut, to make an old lady’s will.  Pritchard has told me by word of mouth, though my charmer saw him not, all that was necessary for her to know in the letter my Lord wrote, which I could not show her:  and taken my directions about the estates to be made over to me on my nuptials.—­Yet, with all these favourable appearances, no conceding moment to be found, no improvable tenderness to be raised.

But never, I believe, was there so true, so delicate a modesty in the human mind as in that of this lady.  And this has been my security all along; and, in spite of Miss Howe’s advice to her, will be so still; since, if her delicacy be a fault, she can no more overcome it than I can my aversion to matrimony.  Habit, habit, Jack, seest thou not? may subject us both to weaknesses.  And should she not have charity for me, as I have for her?

Twice indeed with rapture, which once she called rude, did I salute her; and each time resenting the freedom, did she retire; though, to do her justice, she favoured me again with her presence at my first entreaty, and took no notice of the cause of her withdrawing.

Is it policy to show so open a resentment for innocent liberties, which, in her situation, she must so soon forgive?

Yet the woman who resents not initiatory freedoms must be lost.  For love is an encroacher.  Love never goes backward.  Love is always aspiring.  Always must aspire.  Nothing but the highest act of love can satisfy an indulged love.  And what advantages has a lover, who values not breaking the peace, over his mistress who is solicitous to keep it!

I have now at this instant wrought myself up, for the dozenth time, to a half-resolution.  A thousand agreeable things I have to say to her.  She is in the dining-room.  Just gone up.  She always expects me when there.

***

High displeasure!—­followed by an abrupt departure.

I sat down by her.  I took both her hands in mine.  I would have it so.  All gentle my voice.  Her father mentioned with respect.  Her mother with reverence.  Even her brother amicably spoken of.  I never thought I could have wished so ardently, as I told her I did wish, for a reconciliation with her family.

A sweet and grateful flush then overspread her fair face; a gentle sigh now-and-then heaved her handkerchief.

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