Pamela or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson - HTML preview
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I was so transported with this unexpected goodness, that I opened the door before I knew what I did; and said, falling on my knees at the door, with my hands folded, and lifted up, O thank you, thank your honour, a million of times!--May God bless you for this instance of your goodness to me! I will pray for you as long as I live, and so shall my dear father and mother. And, Mrs. Jewkes, said I, I will pray for you too, poor wicked wretch that you are!
He turned from me, and went into his closet, and shut the door. He need not have done so; for I would not have gone nearer to him!
Surely I did not say so much, to incur all this displeasure.
I think I was loath to leave the house. Can you believe it?--What could be the matter with me, I wonder?--I felt something so strange, and my heart was so lumpish!--I wonder what ailed me!--But this was so unexpected!--I believe that was all!--Yet I am very strange still. Surely, surely, I cannot be like the old murmuring Israelites, to long after the onions and garlick of Egypt, when they had suffered there such heavy bondage?--I'll take thee, O lumpish, contradictory, ungovernable heart! to severe task, for this thy strange impulse, when I get to my dear father's and mother's; and if I find any thing in thee that should not be, depend upon it thou shalt be humbled, if strict abstinence, prayer, and mortification, will do it!
But yet, after all, this last goodness of his has touched me too sensibly. I wish I had not heard it, almost; and yet, methinks, I am glad I did; for I should rejoice to think the best of him, for his own sake.
Well, and so I went out to the chariot, the same that brought me down. So, Mr. Robert, said I, here I am again! a poor sporting-piece for the great! a mere tennis- ball of fortune! You have your orders, I hope. Yes, madam, said he. Pray, now, said I, don't madam me, nor stand with your hat off to such a one as I. Had not my master, said he, ordered me not to be wanting in respect to you, I would have shewn you all I could. Well, said I, with my heart full, that's very kind, Mr. Robert.
Mr. Colbrand, mounted on horseback, with pistols before him, came up to me, as soon as I got in, with his hat off too. What, monsieur! said I, are you to go with me?-- Part of the way, he said, to see you safe. I hope that's kind too, in you, Mr. Colbrand, said I.
I had nobody to wave my handkerchief to now, nor to take leave of; and so I resigned myself to my contemplations, with this strange wayward heart of mine, that I never found so ungovernable and awkward before.
So away drove the chariot!--And when I had got out of the elm-walk, and into the great road, I could hardly think but I was in a dream all the time. A few hours before, in my master's arms almost, with twenty kind things said to me, and a generous concern for the misfortunes he had brought upon me; and only by one rash half- word exasperated against me, and turned out of doors, at an hour's warning; and all his kindness changed to hate! And I now, from three o'clock to five, several miles off! But if I am going to you, all will be well again, I hope.
Lack-a-day, what strange creatures are men! gentlemen, I should say, rather! For, my dear deserving good mother, though poverty be both your lots, has had better hap, and you are, and have always been, blest in one another!--Yet this pleases me too; he was so good, he would not let Mrs. Jewkes speak ill of me, and scorned to take her odious unwomanly advice. O, what a black heart has this poor wretch! So I need not rail against men so much; for my master, bad as I have thought him, is not half so bad as this woman.--To be sure she must be an atheist!--Do you think she is not?
We could not reach further than this little poor place and sad alehouse, rather than inn; for it began to be dark, and Robin did not make so much haste as he might have done; and he was forced to make hard shift for his horses.
Mr. Colbrand, and Robert too, are very civil. I see he has got my portmanteau lashed behind the coach. I did not desire it; but I shall not come quite empty.
A thorough riddance of me, I see!--Bag and baggage! as Mrs. Jewkes says. Well, my story surely would furnish out a surprising kind of novel, if it was to be well told. Mr. Robert came up to me, just now, and begged me to eat something: I thanked him; but said, I could not eat. I bid him ask Mr. Colbrand to walk up; and he came; but neither of them would sit; nor put their hats on. What mockado is this, to such a poor soul as I! I asked them, if they were at liberty to tell me the truth of what they were to do with me? If not, I would not desire it.--They both said, Robin was ordered to carry me to my father's; and Mr. Colbrand was to leave me within ten miles, and then strike off for the other house, and wait till my master arrived there. They both spoke so solemnly, that I could not but believe them.
But when Robin went down, the other said, he had a letter to give me next day at noon, when we baited, as we were to do, at Mrs. Jewkes's relation's.--May I not, said I, beg the favour to see it to-night? He seemed so loath to deny me, that I have hopes I shall prevail on him by and by.
Well, my dear father and mother, I have got the letter, on great promises of secrecy, and making no use of it. I will try if I can open it without breaking the seal, and will take a copy of it by and by; for Robin is in and out: there being hardly any room in this little house for one to be long alone. Well, this is the letter:
'When these lines are delivered to you, you will be far on your way to your father and mother, where you have so long desired to be: and, I hope, I shall forbear thinking of you with the least shadow of that fondness my foolish heart had entertained for you: I bear you, however, no ill will; but the end of my detaining you being over, I would not that you should tarry with me an hour more than needed, after the ungenerous preference you gave, at a time that I was inclined to pass over all other considerations, for an honourable address to you; for well I found the tables entirely turned upon me, and that I was in far more danger from you, than you were from me; for I was just upon resolving to defy all the censures of the world, and to make you my wife.
'I will acknowledge another truth: That, had I not parted with you as I did, but permitted you to stay till I had read your journal, reflecting, as I doubt not I shall find it, and till I had heard your bewitching pleas in your own behalf, I feared I could not trust myself with my own resolution. And this is the reason, I frankly own, that I have determined not to see you, nor hear you speak; for well I know my weakness in your favour.
'But I will get the better of this fond folly: Nay, I hope I have already done it, since it was likely to cost me so dear. And I write this to tell you, that I wish you well with all my heart, though you have spread such mischief through my family.--And yet I cannot but say that I could wish you would not think of marrying in haste; and, particularly, that you would not have this cursed Williams.--But what is all this to me now?--Only, my weakness makes me say, That as I had already looked upon you as mine, and you have so soon got rid of your first husband; so you will not refuse, to my memory, the decency that every common person observes, to pay a twelvemonth's compliment, though but a mere compliment, to my ashes.
'Your papers shall be faithfully returned you; and I have paid so dear for my curiosity in the affection they have rivetted upon me for you, that you would look upon yourself amply revenged if you knew what they have cost me.
'I thought of writing only a few lines; but I have run into length. I will now try to recollect my scattered thoughts, and resume my reason; and shall find trouble enough to replace my affairs, and my own family, and to supply the chasms you have made in it: For, let me tell you, though I can forgive you, I never can my sister, nor my domestics; for my vengeance must be wreaked somewhere.
'I doubt not your prudence in forbearing to expose me any more than is necessary for your own justification; and for that I will suffer myself to be accused by you, and will also accuse myself, if it be needful. For I am, and will ever be,
'Your affectionate well-wisher.'
This letter, when I expected some new plot, has affected me more than any thing of that sort could have done. For here is plainly his great value for me confessed, and his rigorous behaviour accounted for in such a manner, as tortures me much. And all this wicked gipsy story is, as it seems, a forgery upon us both, and has quite ruined me: For, O my dear parents, forgive me! but I found, to my grief, before, that my heart was too partial in his favour; but now with so much openness, so much affection; nay, so much honour too, (which was all I had before doubted, and kept me on the reserve,) I am quite overcome. This was a happiness, however, I had no reason to expect. But, to be sure, I must own to you, that I shall never be able to think of any body in the world but him.-- Presumption! you will say; and so it is: But love is not a voluntary thing: Love, did I say?--But come, I hope not:--At least it is not, I hope, gone so far as to make me very uneasy: For I know not how it came, nor when it began; but crept, crept it has, like a thief, upon me; and before I knew what was the matter, it looked like love.
I wish, since it is too late, and my lot determined, that I had not had this letter, nor heard him take my part to that vile woman; for then I should have blessed myself in having escaped so happily his designing arts upon my virtue: but now my poor mind is all topsy-turvied, and I have made an escape to be more a prisoner.
But I hope, since thus it is, that all will be for the best; and I shall, with your prudent advice, and pious prayers, be able to overcome this weakness.--But, to be sure, my dear sir, I will keep a longer time than a twelvemonth, as a true widow, for a compliment, and more than a compliment, to your ashes! O the dear word!--How kind, how moving, how affectionate is the word! O why was I not a duchess, to shew my gratitude for it! But must labour under the weight of an obligation, even had this happiness befallen me, that would have pressed me to death, and which I never could return by a whole life of faithful love, and cheerful obedience.
O forgive your poor daughter!--I am sorry to find this trial so sore upon me; and that all the weakness of my weak sex, and tender years, who never before knew what it was to be so touched, is come upon me, and too mighty to be withstood by me.--But time, prayer, and resignation to God's will, and the benefits of your good lessons, and examples, I hope, will enable me to get over this so heavy a trial.
O my treacherous, treacherous heart! to serve me thus! and give no notice to me of the mischiefs thou wast about to bring upon me!--But thus foolishly to give thyself up to the proud invader, without ever consulting thy poor mistress in the least! But thy punishment will be the first and the greatest; and well deservest thou to smart, O perfidious traitor! for giving up so weakly thy whole self, before a summons came; and to one, too, who had used me so hardly; and when, likewise, thou hadst so well maintained thy post against the most violent and avowed, and, therefore, as I thought, more dangerous attacks!
After all, I must either not shew you this my weakness, or tear it out of my writing. Memorandum: to consider of this, when I get home.
Monday morning, eleven o'clock.
We are just come in here, to the inn kept by Mrs. Jewkes's relation. The first compliment I had, was in a very impudent manner, How I liked the 'squire?--I could not help saying, Bold, forward woman! Is it for you, who keep an inn, to treat passengers at this rate? She was but in jest, she said, and asked pardon: And she came, and begged excuse again, very submissively, after Robin and Mr. Colbrand had talked to her a little.
The latter here, in great form, gave me, before Robin, the letter which I had given him back for that purpose. And I retired, as if to read it; and so I did; for I think I can't read it too often; though, for my peace of mind's sake, I might better try to forget it. I am sorry, methinks, I cannot bring you back a sound heart; but, indeed, it is an honest one, as to any body but me; for it has deceived nobody else: Wicked thing that it is!
More and more surprising things still----
Just as I had sat down, to try to eat a bit of victuals, to get ready to pursue my journey, came in Mr. Colbrand in a mighty hurry. O madam! madam! said he, here be de groom from de 'Squire B----, all over in a lather, man and horse! O how my heart went pit-a-pat! What now, thought I, is to come next! He went out, and presently returned with a letter for me, and another, enclosed, for Mr. Colbrand. This seemed odd, and put me all in a trembling. So I shut the door; and never, sure, was the like known! found the following agreeable contents:--
'In vain, my Pamela, do I find it to struggle against my affection for you. I must needs, after you were gone, venture to entertain myself with your Journal, when I found Mrs. Jewkes's bad usage of you, after your dreadful temptations and hurts; and particularly your generous concern for me, on hearing how narrowly I escaped drowning; (though my death would have been your freedom, and I had made it your interest to wish it); and your most agreeable confession in another place, that, notwithstanding all my hard usage of you, you could not hate me; and that expressed in so sweet, so soft, and so innocent a manner, that I flatter myself you may be brought to love me: (together with the other parts of your admirable Journal:) I began to repent my parting with you; but, God is my witness! for no unlawful end, as you would call it; but the very contrary: and the rather, as all this was improved in your favour, by your behaviour at leaving my house: For, oh! that melodious voice praying for me at your departure, and thanking me for my rebuke to Mrs. Jewkes, still hangs upon my ears, and delights my memory. And though I went to bed, I could not rest; but about two got up, and made Thomas get one of the best horses ready, in order to set out to overtake you, while I sat down to write this to you.
'Now, my dear Pamela, let me beg of you, on the receipt of this, to order Robin to drive you back again to my house. I would have set out myself, for the pleasure of bearing you company back in the chariot; but am really indisposed; I believe, with vexation that I should part thus with my soul's delight, as I now find you are, and must be, in spite of the pride of my own heart.
'You cannot imagine the obligation your return will lay me under to your goodness; and yet, if you will not so far favour me, you shall be under no restraint, as you will see by my letter enclosed to Colbrand; which I have not sealed, that you may read it. But spare me, my dearest girl! the confusion of following you to your father's; which I must do, if you persist to go on; for I find I cannot live a day without you.
'If you are the generous Pamela I imagine you to be, (for hitherto you have been all goodness, where it has not been merited,) let me see, by this new instance, the further excellence of your disposition; let me see you can forgive the man who loves you more than himself; let me see, by it, that you are not prepossessed in any other person's favour: And one instance more I would beg, and then I am all gratitude; and that is, that you would despatch Monsieur Colbrand with a letter to your father, assuring him that all will end happily; and to desire, that he will send to you, at my house, the letters you found means, by Williams's conveyance, to send him. And when I have all my proud, and, perhaps, punctilious doubts answered, I shall have nothing to do, but to make you happy, and be so myself. For I must be
'Yours, and only yours.'
'Monday morn, near three o'clock.'
O my exulting heart! how it throbs in my bosom, as if it would reproach me for so lately upbraiding it for giving way to the love of so dear a gentleman!--But take care thou art not too credulous neither, O fond believer! Things that we wish, are apt to gain a too ready credence with us. This sham-marriage is not yet cleared up: Mrs. Jewkes, the vile Mrs. Jewkes! may yet instigate the mind of this master: His pride of heart, and pride of condition, may again take place: And a man that could in so little a space, first love me, then hate, then banish me his house, and send me away disgracefully; and now send for me again, in such affectionate terms, may still waver, may still deceive thee. Therefore will I not acquit thee yet, O credulous, fluttering, throbbing mischief! that art so ready to believe what thou wishest! And I charge thee to keep better guard than thou hast lately done, and lead me not to follow too implicitly thy flattering and desirable impulses. Thus foolishly dialogued I with my heart; and yet, all the time, this heart is Pamela.
I opened the letter to Monsieur Colbrand; which was in these words:--
'I am sure you'll excuse the trouble I give you. I have, for good reasons, changed my mind; and I have besought it, as a favour, that Mrs. Andrews will return to me the moment Tom reaches you. I hope, for the reasons I have given her, she will have the goodness to oblige me. But, if not, you are to order Robin to pursue his directions, and set her down at her father's door. If she will oblige me in her return, perhaps she'll give you a letter to her father, for some papers to be delivered to you for her; which you'll be so good, in that case, to bring to her here: But if she will not give you such a letter, you'll return with her to me, if she please to favour me so far; and that with all expedition, that her health and safety will permit; for I am pretty much indisposed; but hope it will be but slight, and soon go off. I am 'Yours, etc.'
'On second thoughts, let Tom go forward with Mrs. Andrews's letter, if she pleases to give one; and you return with her, for her safety.'
Now this is a dear generous manner of treating me. O how I love to be generously used!--Now, my dear parents, I wish I could consult you for your opinions, how I should act. Should I go back, or should I not?--I doubt he has got too great hold in my heart, for me to be easy presently, if I should refuse: And yet this gipsy information makes me fearful.
Well, I will, I think, trust in his generosity! Yet is it not too great a trust?--especially considering how I have been used!--But then that was while he avowed his bad designs; and now he gives great hope of his good ones. And I may be the means of making many happy, as well as myself, by placing a generous confidence in him.
And then, I think, he might have sent to Colbrand, or to Robin, to carry me back, whether I would or not. And how different is his behaviour to that! And would it not look as if I was prepossessed, as he calls it, if I don't oblige him; and as if it was a silly female piece of pride, to make him follow me to my father's; and as if I would use him hardly in my turn, for his having used me ill in his? Upon the whole, I resolved to obey him; and if he uses me ill afterwards, double will be his ungenerous guilt!--Though hard will be my lot, to have my credulity so justly blamable, as it will then seem. For, to be sure, the world, the wise world, that never is wrong itself, judges always by events. And if he should use me ill, then I shall be blamed for trusting him: If well, O then I did right, to be sure!--But how would my censurers act in my case, before the event justifies or condemns the action, is the question?
Then I have no notion of obliging by halves; but of doing things with a grace, as one may say, where they are to be done; and so I wrote the desired letter to you, assuring you, that I had before me happier prospects than ever I had; and hoped all would end well: And that I begged you would send me, by the bearer, Mr. Thomas, my master's groom, those papers, which I had sent you by Mr. Williams's conveyance: For that they imported me much, for clearing up a point in my conduct, that my master was desirous to know, before he resolved to favour me, as he had intended.--But you will have that letter, before you can have this; for I would not send you this without the preceding; which now is in my master's hands.
And so, having given the letter to Mr. Thomas for him to carry to you, when he had baited and rested after his great fatigue, I sent for Monsieur Colbrand, and Robin, and gave to the former his letter; and when he had read it, I said, You see how things stand. I am resolved to return to our master; and as he is not so well as were to be wished, the more haste you make the better: and don't mind my fatigue, but consider only yourselves, and the horses. Robin, who guessed the matter, by his conversation with Thomas, (as I suppose,) said, God bless you, madam, and reward you, as your obligingness to my good master deserves; and may we all live to see you triumph over Mrs. Jewkes!
I wondered to hear him say so; for I was always careful of exposing my master, or even that naughty woman, before the common servants. But yet I question whether Robin would have said this, if he had not guessed, by Thomas's message, and my resolving to return, that I might stand well with his master. So selfish are the hearts of poor mortals, that they are ready to change as favour goes!
So they were not long getting ready; and I am just setting out, back again: and I hope I shall have no reason to repent it.
Robin put on very vehemently; and when we came to the little town, where we lay on Sunday night, he gave his horses a bait, and said, he would push for his master's that night, as it would be moon-light, if I should not be too much fatigued because there was no place between that and the town adjacent to his master's, fit to put up at, for the night. But Monsieur Colbrand's horse beginning to give way, made a doubt between them: wherefore I said, (hating to be on the road,) if it could be done, I should bear it well enough, I hoped; and that Monsieur Colbrand might leave his horse, when it failed, at some house, and come into the chariot. This pleased them both; and, about twelve miles short, he left the horse, and took off his spurs and holsters, etc. and, with abundance of ceremonial excuses, came into the chariot; and I sat the easier for it; for my bones ached sadly with the jolting, and so many miles travelling in so few hours, as I have done, from Sunday night, five o'clock. But, for all this, it was eleven o'clock at night, when we came to the village adjacent to my master's; and the horses began to be very much tired, and Robin too: but I said, It would be pity to put up only three miles short of the house.
So about one we reached the gate; but every body was a-bed. But one of the helpers got the keys from Mrs. Jewkes, and opened the gates; and the horses could hardly crawl into the stable. And I, when I went to get out of the chariot, fell down, and thought I had lost the use of my limbs.
Mrs. Jewkes came down with her clothes huddled on, and lifted up her hands and eyes, at my return; but shewed more care of the horses than of me. By that time the two maids came; and I made shift to creep in, as well as I could.
It seems my poor master was very ill indeed, and had been upon the bed most part of the day; and Abraham (who succeeded John) sat up with him. And he was got into a fine sleep, and heard not the coach come in, nor the noise we made; for his chamber lies towards the garden,--on the other side of the house. Mrs. Jewkes said, He had a feverish complaint, and had been blooded; and, very prudently, ordered Abraham, when he awaked, not to tell him I was come, for fear of surprising him, and augmenting his fever; nor, indeed, to say any thing of me, till she herself broke it to him in the morning, as she should see how he was.
So I went to bed with Mrs. Jewkes, after she had caused me to drink almost half a pint of burnt wine, made very rich and cordial, with spices; which I found very refreshing, and set me into a sleep I little hoped for.
Getting up pretty early, I have written thus far, while Mrs. Jewkes lies snoring in bed, fetching up her last night's disturbance. I long for her rising, to know how my poor master does. 'Tis well for her she can sleep so purely. No love, but for herself, will ever break her rest, I am sure. I am deadly sore all over, as if I had been soundly beaten. I did not think I could have lived under such fatigue.
Mrs. Jewkes, as soon as she got up, went to know how my master did, and he had had a good night; and, having drank plentifully of sack whey, had sweated much; so that his fever had abated considerably. She said to him, that he must not be surprised, and she would tell him news. He asked, What? And she said, I was come. He raised himself up in his bed; Can it be? said he--What, already!--She told him I came last night. Monsieur Colbrand coming to inquire of his health, he ordered him to draw near him, and was highly pleased with the account he gave him of the journey, my readiness to come back, and my willingness to reach home that night. And he said, Why, these tender fair ones, I think, bear fatigue better than us men. But she is very good, to give me such an instance of her readiness to oblige me. Pray, Mrs. Jewkes, said he, take great care of her health! and let her be a-bed all day. She told him I had been up these two hours. Ask her, said he, if she will be so good as to make me a visit: If she won't, I'll rise, and go to her. Indeed, sir, said she, you must be still; and I'll go to her. But don't urge her too much, said he, if she be unwilling.
She came to me, and told me all the above; and I said, I would most willingly wait upon him; for, indeed, I longed to see him, and was much grieved he was so ill.--So I went down with her. Will she come? said he, as I entered the room. Yes, sir, said we; and she said, at the first word, Most willingly.--Sweet excellence! said he.
As soon as he saw me, he said, O my beloved Pamela! you have made me quite well. I'm concerned to return my acknowledgments to you in so unfit a place and manner; but will you give me your hand? I did, and he kissed it with great eagerness. Sir, said I, you do me too much honour! --I am sorry you are so ill.--I can't be ill, said he, while you are with me. I am very well already.
Well, said he, and kissed my hand again, you shall not repent this goodness. My heart is too full of it to express myself as I ought. But I am sorry you have had such a fatiguing time of it.--Life is no life without you! If you had refused me, and yet I had hardly hopes you would oblige me, I should have had a severe fit of it, I believe; for I was taken very oddly, and knew not what to make of myself: but now I shall be well instantly. You need not, Mrs. Jewkes, added he, send for the doctor from Stamford, as we talked yesterday; for this lovely creature is my doctor, as her absence was my disease.
He begged me to sit down by his bed-side, and asked me, if I had obliged him with sending for my former packet? I said I had, and hoped it would be brought. He said it was doubly kind.
I would not stay long because of disturbing him. And he got up in the afternoon, and desired my company; and seemed quite pleased, easy, and much better. He said, Mrs. Jewkes, after this instance of my good Pamela's obligingness in her return, I am sure we ought to leave her entirely at her own liberty; and pray, if she pleases to take a turn in our chariot, or in the garden, or to the town, or wherever she will, let her be left at liberty, and asked no questions; and do you do all in your power to oblige her. She said she would, to be sure.
He took my hand, and said, One thing I will tell you, Pamela, because I know you will be glad to hear it, and yet not care to ask me: I had, before you went, taken Williams's bond for the money; for how the poor man had behaved I can't tell, but he could get no bail; and if I have no fresh reason given me, perhaps I shall not exact the payment; and he has been some time at liberty, and now follows his school; but, methinks, I could wish you would not see him at present.
Sir, said I, I will not do any thing to disoblige you wilfully; and I am glad he is at liberty, because I was the occasion of his misfortunes. I durst say no more, though I wanted to plead for the poor gentleman; which, in gratitude, I thought I ought, when I could do him service. I said, I am sorry, sir, Lady Davers, who loves you so well, should have incurred your displeasure, and that there should be any variance between your honour and her; I hope it was not on my account. He took out of his waistcoat pocket, as he sat in his gown, his letter-case, and said, Here, Pamela, read that when you go up stairs, and let me have your thoughts upon it; and that will let you into the affair.
He said he was very heavy of a sudden, and would lie down, and indulge for that day; and if he was better in the morning, would take an airing in the chariot. And so I took my leave for the present, and went up to my closet, and read the letter he was pleased to put into my hands; which is as follows:--
'I am very uneasy at what I hear of you; and must write, whether it please you or not, my full mind. I have had some people with me, desiring me to interpose with you; and they have a greater regard for your honour, than, I am sorry to say it, you have yourself. Could I think, that a brother of mine would so meanly run away with my late dear mother's waiting-maid, and keep her a prisoner from all her friends, and to the disgrace of your own? But I thought, when you would not let the wench come to me on my mother's death, that you meant no good.--I blush for you, I'll assure you. The girl was an innocent, good girl; but I suppose that's over with her now, or soon will. What can you mean by this, let me ask you? Either you will have her for a kept mistress, or for a wife. If the former, there are enough to be had without ruining a poor wench that my mother loved, and who really was a very good girl: and of this you may be ashamed. As to the other, I dare say you don't think of it; but if you should, you would be utterly inexcusable. Consider, brother, that ours is no upstart family; but is as ancient as the best in the kingdom! and, for several hundreds of years, it has never been known, that the heirs of it have disgraced themselves by unequal matches: And you know you have been sought to by some of the best families in the nation, for your alliance. It might be well enough, if you were descended of a family of yesterday, or but a remove or two from the dirt you seem so fond of. But, let me tell you, that I, and all mine, will renounce you for ever, if you can descend so meanly; and I shall be ashamed to be called your sister. A handsome man, as you are, in your person; so happy in the gifts of your mind, that every body courts your company; and possessed of such a noble and clear estate; and very rich in money besides, left you by the best of fathers and mothers, with such ancient blood in your veins, untainted! for you to throw away yourself thus, is intolerable; and it would be very wicked in you to ruin the wench too. So that I beg you will restore her to her parents, and give her 100l. or so, to make her happy in some honest fellow of her own degree; and that will be doing something, and will also oblige and pacify
'Your much grieved sister.'
'If I have written too sharply, consider it is my love to you, and the shame you are bringing upon yourself; and I wish this may have the effect upon you, intended by your very loving sister.'
This is a sad letter, my dear father and mother; and one may see how poor people are despised by the proud and the rich! and yet we were all on a foot originally: And many of these gentry, that brag of their ancient blood, would be glad to have it as wholesome, and as really untainted, as ours!--Surely these proud people never think what a short stage life is; and that, with all their vanity; a time is coming, when they shall be obliged to submit to be on a level with us: And true said the philosopher, when he looked upon the skull of a king, and that of a poor man, that he saw no difference between them. Besides, do they not know, that the richest of princes, and the poorest of beggars, are to have one great and tremendous judge, at the last day; who will not distinguish between them, according to their circumstances in life?--But, on the contrary, may make their condemnations the greater, as their neglected opportunities were the greater? Poor souls! how do I pity their pride!-- O keep me, Heaven! from their high condition, if my mind shall ever be tainted with their vice! or polluted with so cruel and inconsiderate a contempt of the humble estate which they behold with so much scorn!
But, besides, how do these gentry know, that, supposing they could trace back their ancestry for one, two, three, or even five hundred years, that then the original stems of these poor families, though they have not kept such elaborate records of their good-for nothingness, as it often proves, were not still deeper rooted?--And how can they be assured, that one hundred years hence, or two, some of those now despised upstart families may not revel in their estates, while their descendants may be reduced to the others' dunghills!--And, perhaps, such is the vanity, as well as changeableness, of human estates, in their turns set up for pride of family, and despise the others!
These reflections occurred to my thoughts, made serious by my master's indisposition, and this proud letter of the lowly Lady Davers, against the high-minded Pamela. Lowly, I say, because she could stoop to such vain pride; and high-minded I, because I hope I am too proud ever to do the like!--But, after all, poor wretches that we be! we scarce know what we are, much less what we shall be!--But, once more pray I to be kept from the sinful pride of a high estate.
On this occasion I recall the following lines, which I have read; where the poet argues in a much better manner:--
Does various parts for various minds dispense:
The meanest slaves, or those who hedge and ditch,
Are useful, by their sweat, to feed the rich.
The rich, in due return, impart their store;
Which comfortably feeds the lab'ring poor.
Nor let the rich the lowest slave disdain:
He's equally a link of Nature's chain:
Labours to the same end, joins in one view;
And both alike the will divine pursue;
And, at the last, are levell'd, king and slave,
Without distinction, in the silent grave."