Pamela or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson - HTML preview

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Letter 29

 

MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,

I must write on, though I shall come so soon; for now I have hardly any thing else to do. I have finished all that lay upon me, and only wait the good time of setting out. Mrs. Jervis said, I must be low in pocket, for what I had laid out; and so would have presented me with two guineas of her five; but I could not take them of her, because, poor gentlewoman, she pays old debts for her children, that were extravagant, and wants them herself. This, though, was very good in her.

I am sorry I shall have but little to bring with me; but I know you won't, you are so good!--and I will work the harder, when I come home, if I can get a little plain-work, or any thing, to do. But all your neighbourhood is so poor, that I fear I shall want work, except, may be, dame Mumford can help me to something, from any good family she is acquainted with.

Here, what a sad thing it is! I have been brought up wrong, as matters stand. For, you know, my good lady, now in heaven, loved singing and dancing; and, as she would have it, I had a voice, she made me learn both; and often and often has she made me sing her an innocent song, and a good psalm too, and dance before her. And I must learn to flower and draw too, and to work fine work with my needle; why, all this too I have got pretty tolerably at my finger's end, as they say; and she used to praise me, and was a good judge of such matters.

Well now, what is all this to the purpose, as things have turned about?

Why, no more nor less, than that I am like the grasshopper in the fable, which I have read of in my lady's book, as follows:--[See the Aesop's Fables which have lately been selected and reformed from those of Sir R. L'Estrange, and the most eminent mythologists.]

'As the ants were airing their provisions one winter, a hungry grasshopper (as suppose it was poor I) begged a charity of them. They told him, That he should have wrought in summer, if he would not have wanted in winter. Well, says the grasshopper, but I was not idle neither; for I sung out the whole season. Nay, then, said they, you'll e'en do well to make a merry year of it, and dance in winter to the time you sung in summer.'

So I shall make a fine figure with my singing and my dancing, when I come home to you! Nay, I shall be unfit even for a May-day holiday-time; for these minuets, rigadoons, and French dances, that I have been practising, will make me but ill company for my milk-maid companions that are to be. To be sure I had better, as things stand, have learned to wash and scour, and brew and bake, and such like. Put I hope, if I can't get work, and can meet with a place, to learn these soon, if any body will have the goodness to bear with me till I am able: For, notwithstanding what my master says, I hope I have an humble and teachable mind; and, next to God's grace, that's all my comfort: for I shall think nothing too mean that is honest. It may be a little hard at first; but woe to my proud heart, if I find it so on trial; for I will make it bend to its condition, or break it.

I have read of a good bishop that was to be burnt for his religion; and he tried how he could bear it, by putting his fingers into the lighted candle: So I, t'other day, tried, when Rachel's back was turned, if I could not scour a pewter plate she had begun. I see I could do't by degrees: It only blistered my hand in two places.

All the matter is, if I could get plain-work enough, I need not spoil my fingers. But if I can't, I hope to make my hands as red as a blood- pudding, and as hard as a beechen trencher, to accommodate them to my condition.--But I must break off; here's somebody coming.

'Tis only our Hannah with a message from Mrs. Jervis.--But, hold, here's somebody else. Well, it is only Rachel.

I am as much frighted, as were the city mouse and the country mouse, in the same book of fables, at every thing that stirs. O! I have a power of these things to entertain you with in winter evenings, when I come home. If I can but get work, with a little time for reading, I hope we shall be very happy over our peat fires.

What made me hint to you, that I should bring but little with me, is this:

You must know, I did intend to do, as I have this afternoon: and that is, I took all my clothes, and all my linen, and I divided them into three parcels, as I had before told Mrs. Jervis I intended to do; and I said, It is now Monday, Mrs. Jervis, and I am to go away on Thursday morning betimes; so, though I know you don't doubt my honesty, I beg you will look over my poor matters, and let every one have what belongs to them; for, said I, you know I am resolved to take with me only what I can properly call my own.

Said she, (I did not know her drift then; to be sure she meant well; but I did not thank her for it, when I did know it,) Let your things be brought down in the green-room, and I will do any thing you will have me do.

With all my heart, said I, green-room or any where; but I think you might step up, and see 'em as they lie.

However, I fetched 'em down, and laid them in three parcels, as before; and, when I had done, I went down to call her up to look at them.

Now, it seems, she had prepared my master for this scene, unknown to me; and in this green-room was a closet, with a sash-door, and a curtain before it; for there she puts her sweet-meats and such things; and she did it, it seems, to turn his heart, as knowing what I intended, I suppose that he should make me take the things; for, if he had, I should have made money of them, to help us when we got together; for, to be sure, I could never have appeared in them.

Well, as I was saying, he had got, unknown to me, into this closet; I suppose while I went to call Mrs. Jervis: and she since owned to me, it was at his desire, when she told him something of what I intended, or else she would not have done it: though I have reason, I am sure, to remember the last closet-work.

So I said, when she came up, Here, Mrs. Jervis, is the first parcel; I will spread it all abroad. These are the things my good lady gave me.-- In the first place, said I--and so I went on describing the clothes and linen my lady had given me, mingling blessings, as I proceeded, for her goodness to me; and when I had turned over that parcel, I said, Well, so much for the first parcel, Mrs. Jervis; that was my lady's gifts. Now I come to the presents of my dear virtuous master: Hey, you know closet for that! Mrs. Jervis. She laughed, and said, I never saw such a comical girl in my life! But go on. I will, Mrs. Jervis, said I, as soon as I have opened the bundle; for I was as brisk and as pert as could be, little thinking who heard me.

Now here, Mrs. Jervis, said I, are my ever worthy master's presents; and then I particularised all those in the second bundle. After which, I turned to my own, and said,

Now, Mrs. Jervis, comes poor Pamela's bundle; and a little one it is to the others. First, here is a calico nightgown, that I used to wear o' mornings. 'Twill be rather too good for me when I get home; but I must have something. Then there is a quilted calamanco coat, and a pair of stockings I bought of the pedlar, and my straw-hat with blue strings; and a remnant of Scots cloth, which will make two shirts and two shifts, the same I have on, for my poor father and mother. And here are four other shifts, one the fellow to that I have on; another pretty good one, and the other two old fine ones, that will serve me to turn and wind with at home, for they are not worth leaving behind me; and here are two pair of shoes, I have taken the lace off, which I will burn, and may be will fetch me some little matter at a pinch, with an old silver buckle or two.

What do you laugh for, Mrs. Jervis? said I.--Why you are like an April day; you cry and laugh in a breath.

Well, let me see; ay, here is a cotton handkerchief I bought of the pedlar--there should be another somewhere. O, here it is! and here too are my new-bought knit mittens; and this is my new flannel coat, the fellow to that I have on and in this parcel, pinned together, are several pieces of printed calico, remnants of silks, and such like, that, if good luck should happen, and I should get work, would serve for robins and facings, and such like uses. And here too are a pair of pockets: they are too fine for me; but I have no worse. Bless me, said I, I did not think I had so many good things!

Well, Mrs. Jervis, said I, you have seen all my store, and I will now sit down, and tell you a piece of my mind.

Be brief then, said she, my good girl: for she was afraid, she said afterwards, that I should say too much.

Why then the case is this: I am to enter upon a point of equity and conscience, Mrs. Jervis; and I must beg, if you love me, you'd let me have my own way. Those things there of my lady's, I can have no claim to, so as to take them away; for she gave them me, supposing I was to wear them in her service, and to do credit to her bountiful heart. But, since I am to be turned away, you know, I cannot wear them at my poor father's; for I should bring all the little village upon my back; and so I resolve not to have them.

Then, Mrs. Jervis, said I, I have far less right to these of my worthy master's; for you see what was his intention in giving them to me. So they were to be the price of my shame, and if I could make use of them, I should think I should never prosper with them; and, besides, you know, Mrs. Jervis, if I would not do the good gentleman's work, why should I take his wages? So, in conscience, in honour, in every thing, I have nothing to say to thee, thou second wicked bundle!

But, said I, cone to my arms, my dear third parcel, the companion of my poverty, and the witness of my honesty; and may I never deserve the least rag that is contained in thee, when I forfeit a title to that innocence, that I hope will ever be the pride of my life! and then I am sure it will be my highest comfort at my death, when all the riches and pomps of the world will be worse than the vilest rags that can be worn by beggars! And so I hugged my third bundle.

But, said I, Mrs. Jervis, (and she wept to hear me,) one thing more I have to trouble you with, and that's all.

There are four guineas, you know, that came out of my good lady's pocket, when she died; that, with some silver, my master gave me: Now these same four guineas I sent to my poor father and mother, and they have broken them; but would make them up, if I would: and if you think it should be so, it shall. But pray tell me honestly your mind: As to the three years before my lady's death, do you think, as I had no wages, I may be supposed to be quits?--By quits, I cannot mean that my poor services should be equal to my lady's goodness; for that's impossible. But as all her learning and education of me, as matters have turned, will be of little service to me now; for it had been better for me to have been brought up to hard labour, to be sure; for that I must turn to at last, if I can't get a place: (and you know, in places too, one is subject to such temptations as are dreadful to think of:) so, I say, by quits I only mean, as I return all the good things she gave me, whether I may not set my little services against my keeping; because, as I said, my learning is not now in the question; and I am sure my dear good lady would have thought so, had she lived; but that too is now out of the question. Well then, if so, I would ask, Whether, in above this year that I have lived with my master, as I am resolved to leave all his gifts behind me, I may not have earned, besides my keeping, these four guineas, and these poor clothes here upon my back, and in my third bundle? Now tell me your mind freely, without favour or affection.

Alas! my dear girl, says she, you make me unable to speak to you at all: To be sure it will be the highest affront that can be offered, for you to leave any of these things behind you; and you must take all your bundles with you, or my master will never forgive you.

Well, well, Mrs. Jervis, said I, I don't care; I have been too much used to be snubbed and hardly treated by my master, of late. I have done him no harm; and I shall always pray for him and wish him happy. But I don't deserve these things; I know I don't. Then, I can't wear them, if I should take them; so they can be of no use to me: And I trust I shall not want the poor pittance, that is all I desire to keep life and soul together. Bread and water I can live upon, Mrs. Jervis, with content. Water I shall get any where; and if I can't get me bread, I will live like a bird in winter upon hips and haws, and at other times upon pig- nuts and potatoes, or turnips, or any thing. So what occasion have I for these things?--But all I ask is about these four guineas, and if you think I need not return them, that is all I want to know.--To be sure, my dear, you need not, said she; you have well earned them by that waistcoat only. No, I think not so, in that only; but in the linen, and other things, do you think I have? Yes, yes, said she, and more. And my keeping allowed for, I mean, said I, and these poor clothes on my back, besides? Remember that, Mrs. Jervis. Yes, my dear odd-one, no doubt you have. Well then, said I, I am as happy as a princess. I am quite as rich as I wish to be: and once more, my dear third bundle, I will hug thee to my bosom. And I beg you'll say nothing of all this till I am gone, that my master mayn't be so angry, but that I may go in peace; for my heart, without other matters, will he ready to break to part with you all.

Now, Mrs. Jervis, said I, as to one matter more: and that is my master's last usage of me, before Mr. Longman.--Said she, Pr'ythee, dear Pamela, step to my chamber, and fetch me a paper I left on my table. I have something to shew you in it. I will, said I, and stepped down; but that was only a fetch, to take the orders of my master, I found. It seems he said, he thought two or three times to have burst out upon me; but he could not stand it, and wished I might not know he was there. But I tripped up again so nimbly, (for there was no paper,) that I just saw his back, as if coming out of that green-room, and going into the next to it, the first door that was open--I whipped in, and shut the door, and bolted it. O Mrs. Jervis! said I, what have you done by me?--I see I can't confide in any body. I am beset on all hands. Wretched, wretched Pamela, where shalt thou expect a friend, if Mrs. Jervis joins to betray thee thus? She made so many protestations, (telling me all, and that he owned I had made him wipe his eyes two or three times, and said she hoped it would have a good effect, and remembered me, that I had said nothing but what would rather move compassion than resentment,) that I forgave her. But O! that I was safe from this house! for never poor creature sure was so flustered as I have been so many months together;--I am called down from this most tedious scribble. I wonder what will next befall

Your dutiful DAUGHTER.

Mrs. Jervis says, she is sure I shall have the chariot to carry me home to you. Though this will look too great for me, yet it will shew as if I was not turned away quite in disgrace. The travelling chariot is come from Lincolnshire, and I fancy I shall go in that; for the other is quite grand.