MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
I have found out by my watchful spy almost as many of my charmer's
motions, as those of the rest of her relations. It delights me to
think how the rascal is caressed by the uncles and nephew; and let
into their secrets; yet it proceeds all the time by my line of
direction. I have charged him, however, on forfeiture of his present
weekly stipend, and my future favour, to take care, that neither my
beloved, nor any of the family suspect him: I have told him that he
may indeed watch her egresses and regresses; but that only keep off
other servants from her paths; yet not to be seen by her himself.
The dear creature has tempted him, he told them, with a bribe [which
she never offered] to convey a letter [which she never wrote] to Miss
Howe; he believes, with one enclosed (perhaps to me): but he declined
it: and he begged they would take notice of it to her. This brought
him a stingy shilling; great applause; and an injunction followed it
to all the servants, for the strictest look-out, lest she should
contrive some way to send it--and, above an hour after, an order was
given him to throw himself in her way; and (expressing his concern for
denying her request) to tender his service to her, and to bring them
her letter: which it will be proper for him to report that she has
refused to give him.
Now seest thou not, how many good ends this contrivance answers?
In the first place, the lady is secured by it, against her own
knowledge, in the liberty allowed her of taking her private walks in
the garden: for this attempt has confirmed them in their belief, that
now they have turned off her maid, she has no way to send a letter out
of the house: if she had, she would not have run the risque of
tempting a fellow who had not been in her secret--so that she can
prosecute unsuspectedly her correspondence with me and Miss Howe.
In the next place, it will perhaps afford me an opportunity of a
private interview with her, which I am meditating, let her take it as
she will; having found out by my spy (who can keep off every body
else) that she goes every morning and evening to a wood-house remote
from the dwelling-house, under pretence of visiting and feeding a set
of bantam-poultry, which were produced from a breed that was her
grandfather's, and of which for that reason she is very fond; as also
of some other curious fowls brought from the same place. I have an
account of all her motions here. And as she has owned to me in one of
her letters that she corresponds privately with Miss Howe, I presume
it is by this way.
The interview I am meditating, will produce her consent, I hope, to
other favours of the like kind: for, should she not choose the place
in which I am expecting to see her, I can attend her any where in the
rambling Dutch-taste garden, whenever she will permit me that honour:
for my implement, high Joseph Leman, has procured me the opportunity
of getting two keys made to the garden-door (one of which I have given
him for reasons good); which door opens to the haunted coppice, as
tradition has made the servants think it; a man having been found
hanging in it about twenty years ago: and Joseph, upon proper notice,
will leave it unbolted.
But I was obliged previously to give him my honour, that no mischief
should happen to any of my adversaries, from this liberty: for the
fellow tells me, that he loves all his masters: and, only that he
knows I am a man of honour; and that my alliance will do credit to the
family; and after prejudices are overcome, every body will think so;
or he would not for the world act the part he does.
There never was a rogue, who had not a salvo to himself for being so. --What a praise to honesty, that every man pretends to it, even at the
instant that he knows he is pursuing the methods that will perhaps
prove him a knave to the whole world, as well as to his own
But what this stupid family can mean, to make all this necessary, I
cannot imagine. My REVENGE and my LOVE are uppermost by turns. If
the latter succeed not, the gratifying of the former will be my only
consolation: and, by all that's good, they shall feel it; although for
it I become an exile from my native country for ever.
I will throw myself into my charmer's presence. I have twice already
attempted it in vain. I shall then see what I may depend upon from
her favour. If I thought I had no prospect of that, I should be
tempted to carry her off. That would be a rape worthy of Jupiter!
But all gentle shall be my movements: all respectful, even to
reverence, my address to her--her hand shall be the only witness to
the pressure of my lip--my trembling lip: I know it will tremble, if I
do not bid it tremble. As soft my sighs, as the sighs of my gentle
Rose-bud. By my humility will I invite her confidence: the loneliness
of the place shall give me no advantage: to dissipate her fears, and
engage her reliance upon my honour for the future, shall be my whole
endeavour: but little will I complain of, not at all will I threaten,
those who are continually threatening me: but yet with a view to act
the part of Dryden's lion; to secure my love, or to let loose my
vengeance upon my hunters.
What tho' his mighty soul his grief contains?
He meditates revenge who least complains:
And like a lion slumb'ring in his way,
Or sleep dissembling, while he waits his prey,
His fearless foes within his distance draws,
Constrains his roaring, and contracts his paws:
Till at the last, his time for fury found,
He shoots with sudden vengeance from the ground:
The prostrate vulgar passes o'er, and spares,
But, with a lordly rage, his hunter tears.