Once again, why and for what all these convulsions? This project is not to end in matrimony, surely!
But the consequences must be greater than I had thought of till this moment—my beloved’s destiny or my own may depend upon the issue of the two next hours!
I will recede, I think!—
Soft, O virgin saint, and safe as soft, be thy slumbers!
I will now once more turn to my friend Belford’s letter. Thou shalt have fair play, my charmer. I will reperuse what thy advocate has to say for thee. Weak arguments will do, in the frame I am in!—
But, what, what’s the matte!—What a double—But the uproar abates!—What a double coward am I!—Or is it that I am taken in a cowardly minute? for heroes have their fits of fear; cowards their brave moments; and virtuous women, all but my Clarissa, their moment critical—
But thus coolly enjoying the reflection in a hurricane!—Again the confusion is renewed—
What! Where!—How came it!
Is my beloved safe—
O wake not too roughly, my beloved!
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford,
Thursday morning, five o’clock, (June 8.)
Now is my reformation secure; for I never shall love any other woman! Oh! she is all variety! She must ever be new to me! Imagination cannot form; much less can the pencil paint; nor can the soul of painting, poetry, describe an angel so exquisitely, so elegantly lovely!—But I will not by anticipation pacify thy impatience. Although the subject is too hallowed for profane contemplation, yet shalt thou have the whole before thee as it passed: and this not from a spirit wantoning in description upon so rich a subject; but with a design to put a bound to thy roving thoughts. It will be iniquity, greater than a Lovelace was ever guilty of, to carry them farther than I shall acknowledge.
Thus then, connecting my last with the present, I lead to it.
Didst thou not, by the conclusion of my former, perceive the consternation I was in, just as I was about to reperuse thy letter, in order to prevail upon myself to recede from my purpose of awaking in terrors my slumbering charmer? And what dost think was the matter?
I’ll tell thee—
At a little after two, when the whole house was still, or seemed to be so, and, as it proved, my Clarissa in bed, and fast asleep; I also in a manner undressed (as indeed I was for an hour before) and in my gown and slippers, though, to oblige thee, writing on!—I was alarmed by a trampling noise over head, and a confused buz of mixed voices, some louder than others, like scolding, and little short of screaming. While I was wondering what could be the matter, down stairs ran Dorcas, and at my door, in an accent rather frightedly and hoarsely inward than shrilly clamorous, she cried out Fire! Fire! And this the more alarmed me, as she seemed to endeavour to cry out louder, but could not.