Letter XXXIV


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

beyond it.

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

without it.

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.