’No wonder that such a noble creature as this looked upon every studied artifice as a degree of baseness not to be forgiven: no wonder that she could so easily become averse to the man (though once she beheld him with an eye not wholly indifferent) whom she thought capable of premeditated guilt. Nor, give me leave, on the other hand, to say, is it to be wondered at, that the man who found it so difficult to be forgiven for the slighter offences, and who had not the grace to recede or repent, (made desperate,) should be hurried on to the commission of the greater.
’In short, Ladies, in a word, my Lord, Miss Clarissa Harlowe is an angel; if ever there was or could be one in human nature: and is, and ever was, as pure as an angel in her will: and this justice I must do her, although the question, I see by every glistening eye, is ready to be asked, What then, Lovelace, art thou?’—
Lord M. A devil!—a d——d devil! I must answer. And may the curse of God follow you in all you undertake, if you do not make her the best amends now in your power to make her!
Lovel. From you, my Lord, I could expect no other: but from the Ladies I hope for less violence from the ingenuousness of my confession.
The Ladies, elder and younger, had their handkerchiefs to their eyes, at the just testimony which I bore to the merits of this exalted creature; and which I would make no scruple to bear at the bar of a court of justice, were I to be called to it.
Lady Betty. Well, Sir, this is a noble character. If you think as you speak, surely you cannot refuse to do the lady all the justice now in your power to do her.
They all joined in this demand.
I pleaded, that I was sure she would not have me: that, when she had taken a resolution, she was not to be moved. Unpersuadableness was an Harlowe sin: that, and her name, I told them, were all she had of theirs.
All were of opinion, that she might, in her present desolate circumstances, be brought to forgive me. Lady Sarah said, that Lady Betty and she would endeavour to find out the noble sufferer, as they justly called her; and would take her into their protection, and be guarantees of the justice that I would do her; as well after marriage as before.
It was some pleasure to me, to observe the placability of these ladies of my own family, had they, any or either of them, met with a Lovelace. But ’twould be hard upon us honest fellows, Jack, if all women were CLARISSAS.
Here I am obliged to break off.
It is much better, Jack, to tell your own story, when it must be known, than to have an adversary tell it for you. Conscious of this, I gave them a particular account how urgent I had been with her to fix upon the Thursday after I left her (it being her uncle Harlowe’s anniversary birth-day, and named to oblige her) for the private celebration; having some days before actually procured a license, which still remained with her.