MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. FRIDAY, MARCH 17.
I receive, with great pleasure, the early and cheerful assurances of
your loyalty and love. And let our principal and most trusty friends
named in my last know that I do.
I would have thee, Jack, come down, as soon as thou canst. I believe
I shall not want the others so soon. Yet they may come down to Lord
M.'s. I will be there, if not to receive them, to satisfy my lord,
that there is no new mischief in hand, which will require his second
For thyself, thou must be constantly with me: not for my security: the
family dare do nothing but bully: they bark only at a distance: but
for my entertainment: that thou mayest, from the Latin and the English
classics, keep my lovesick soul from drooping.
Thou hadst best come to me here, in thy old corporal's coat: thy
servant out of livery; and to be upon a familiar footing with me, as a
distant relation, to be provided for by thy interest above--I mean not
in Heaven, thou mayest be sure. Thou wilt find me at a little
alehouse, they call it an inn; the White Hart, most terribly wounded,
(but by the weather only,) the sign: in a sorry village, within five
miles from Harlowe-place. Every body knows Harlowe-place, for, like
Versailles, it is sprung up from a dunghill, within every elderly
person's remembrance. Every poor body, particularly, knows it: but
that only for a few years past, since a certain angel has appeared
there among the sons and daughters of men.
The people here at the Hart are poor, but honest; and have gotten it
into their heads, that I am a man of quality in disguise; and there is
no reining-in their officious respect. Here is a pretty little
smirking daughter, seventeen six days ago. I call her my Rose-bud.
Her grandmother (for there is no mother), a good neat old woman, as
ever filled a wicker chair in a chimney-corner, has besought me to be
merciful to her.
This is the right way with me. Many and many a pretty rogue had I
spared, whom I did not spare, had my power been acknowledged, and my
mercy in time implored. But the debellare superbos should be my
motto, were I to have a new one.
This simple chit (for there is a simplicity in her thou wouldst be
highly pleased with: all humble; all officious; all innocent--I love
her for her humility, her officiousness, and even for her innocence)
will be pretty amusement to thee; while I combat with the weather, and
dodge and creep about the walls and purlieus of Harlowe-place. Thou
wilt see in her mind, all that her superiors have been taught to
conceal, in order to render themselves less natural, and of
consequence less pleasing.
But I charge thee, that thou do not (what I would not permit myself to
do for the world--I charge thee, that thou do not) crop my Rose-bud.
She is the only flower of fragrance, that has blown in this vicinage
for ten years past, or will for ten years to come: for I have looked
backward to the have-been's, and forward to the will-be's; having but
too much leisure upon my hands in my present waiting.
I never was so honest for so long together since my matriculation. It
behoves me so to be--some way or other, my recess at this little inn
may be found out; and it will then be thought that my Rose-bud has
attracted me. A report in my favour, from simplicities so amiable,
may establish me; for the grandmother's relation to my Rose-bud may be
sworn to: and the father is an honest, poor man; has no joy, but in
his Rose-bud.--O Jack! spare thou, therefore, (for I shall leave thee
often alone with her, spare thou) my Rose-bud!--Let the rule I never
departed from, but it cost me a long regret, be observed to my Rose- bud!--never to ruin a poor girl, whose simplicity and innocence were
all she had to trust to; and whose fortunes were too low to save her
from the rude contempts of worse minds than her own, and from an
indigence extreme: such a one will only pine in secret; and at last,
perhaps, in order to refuge herself from slanderous tongues and
virulence, be induced to tempt some guilty stream, or seek her end in
the knee-encircling garter, that peradventure, was the first attempt
of abandoned love.--No defiances will my Rose-bud breathe; no self- dependent, thee-doubting watchfulness (indirectly challenging thy
inventive machinations to do their worst) will she assume.
Unsuspicious of her danger, the lamb's throat will hardly shun thy
knife!--O be not thou the butcher of my lambkin!
The less thou be so, for the reason I am going to give thee--The
gentle heart is touched by love: her soft bosom heaves with a passion
she has not yet found a name for. I once caught her eye following a
young carpenter, a widow neighbour's son, living [to speak in her
dialect] at the little white house over the way. A gentle youth he
also seems to be, about three years older than herself: playmates from
infancy, till his eighteenth and her fifteenth year furnished a reason
for a greater distance in shew, while their hearts gave a better for
their being nearer than ever--for I soon perceived the love
reciprocal. A scrape and a bow at first seeing his pretty mistress;
turning often to salute her following eye; and, when a winding lane
was to deprive him of her sight, his whole body turned round, his hat
more reverently doffed than before. This answered (for, unseen, I was
behind her) by a low courtesy, and a sigh, that Johnny was too far off
to hear!--Happy whelp! said I to myself.--I withdrew; and in tript my
Rose-bud, as if satisfied with the dumb shew, and wishing nothing
I have examined the little heart. She has made me her confidant. She
owns, she could love Johnny Barton very well: and Johnny Barton has
told her, he could love her better than any maiden he ever saw--but,
alas! it must not be thought of. Why not be thought of!--She don't
know!--And then she sighed: But Johnny has an aunt, who will give him
an hundred pounds, when his time is out; and her father cannot give
her but a few things, or so, to set her out with: and though Johnny's
mother says, she knows not where Johnny would have a prettier, or
notabler wife, yet--And then she sighed again--What signifies
talking?--I would not have Johnny be unhappy and poor for me!--For
what good would that do me, you know, Sir!
What would I give [by my soul, my angel will indeed reform me, if her
friends' implacable folly ruin us not both!--What would I give] to
have so innocent and so good a heart, as either my Rose-bud's, or
I have a confounded mischievous one--by nature too, I think!--A good
motion now-and-then rises from it: but it dies away presently--a love
of intrigue--an invention for mischief--a triumph in subduing--fortune
encouraging and supporting--and a constitution--What signifies
palliating? But I believe I had been a rogue, had I been a
But the devil's in this sex! Eternal misguiders. Who, that has once
trespassed with them, ever recovered his virtue? And yet where there
is not virtue, which nevertheless we freelivers are continually
plotting to destroy, what is there even in the ultimate of our wishes
with them?--Preparation and expectation are in a manner every thing:
reflection indeed may be something, if the mind be hardened above
feeling the guilt of a past trespass: but the fruition, what is there in that? And yet that being the end, nature will not be satisfied
See what grave reflections an innocent subject will produce! It gives
me some pleasure to think, that it is not out of my power to reform:
but then, Jack, I am afraid I must keep better company than I do at
present--for we certainly harden one another. But be not cast down,
my boy; there will be time enough to give the whole fraternity warning
to choose another leader: and I fancy thou wilt be the man.
Mean time, as I make it my rule, whenever I have committed a very
capital enormity, to do some good by way of atonement; and as I
believe I am a pretty deal indebted on that score, I intend, before I
leave these parts (successfully shall I leave them I hope, or I shall
be tempted to double the mischief by way of revenge, though not to my
Rose-bud any) to join an hundred pounds to Johnny's aunt's hundred
pounds, to make one innocent couple happy.--I repeat therefore, and
for half a dozen more therefores, spare thou my Rose-bud.
An interruption--another letter anon; and both shall go together.