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S T E E L E'S.
LETTER I. To Mrs.* SCURLOCK, MADAM,
[Saturday, Aug. 9,] 1707 t. OUR wit and beauty are suggestions
which may easily lead you into the intention of my writing to you. You may be sure that I cannot be cold to so many good qualities as all that see you must observe in you. You are a woman of a very good understanding, and
* Mrs. Mary Scurlock, afterwards Lady Steele, daughter and sole heiress of Jonathan Scurlock, esq. of the county of Caera marthen, was at this time a beautiful young lady about the age of eight or nine-and-twenty. Sir Richard has drawn a very amiable character of her in a dedication prefixed to the third volume of “ The Ladies Library.” She is styled here, according to the mode of the time when this letter was written, not Miss, but Mistress SCURLOCK, though her mother was still living. The appellation of Miss was then appropriated to the daughters of gentlemen under the age of ten, or given opprobriously to young gentlewomen reproachable for the giddiness, or irregularity of their conduct. See the new edition of “ The TATLER," vol. I. No 10, note; and No 13, and note.
+ The day of the month is cut out by Mrs. Scurlock from this and a few of the following letters; and in some others the figures have been clumsily altered, in order to disguise the cxact dates from a confidential friend to whom she appears to have hewed them. Many concurring circumstances, however, confirm the conjectural dates here inserted in hooks,
will not measure my thoughts by any ardour in my expressions, which is the ordinary language on these occasions.
I have reasons for hiding from my nearest relation any purpose I may have resolved upon of waiting on you if you permit it; and I hope you have confidence from mine, as well as your own character, that such a condescension should not be ill used by, Madam, your most obedient servant,
LET TER II * To Mrs. SCURLOCK.
[Aug. 11,] 1707. WRIT to you on Saturday by Mrs. War
ren, and give you this trouble to urge the same request I made then; which was, that I may be admitted to wait upon you. I should be very far from defiring this, if it were a trans
* The admirers of Steele will recognise this letter, which they have read so frequently in the TATLER, N° 35; where it is thus introduced as an article from White's Chocolate-house : “ I know no manner of news for this place, but that Cynthio, “ having been long in despair for the inexorable Clarissa, lately “ resolved to fall in love the good old way of bargain and sale, " and has pitched upon a very agreeable young woman. He « will undoubtedly fuccced; for he accofts her in a strain of fa. "miliarity, without breaking through the deference that is due “ to a woman whom a man would chuse for his life. I have “ hardly ever heard rough truth spoken with a better grace than on in this his letter.” Mrs. Warren, in the TATLER, is changed to Mrs. Lucy; and so it is in the original MS. whence the letter is now printed.
greffion of the most severe rules to allow it : I know you are very much above the little arts which are frequent in your sex of giving unnecessary torment to their admirers; therefore hope you will do fo much justice to the generous paffion I have for you, as to let me have an opportunity of acquainting you upon what motives I pretend to your good opinion. I shall not trouble you with my sentiments till I know how they will be received ; and as I know no reason why difference of fex should make our language to each other differ from the ordinary rules of right reafon, I shall affect plainness and fincerity in my discourse to you, as much as other lovers do perplexity and rapture. Instead of saying “ I shall die for you,” I profess I should be glad to lead my life with you. You are as beautiful, as witty, as prudent, and as good-humoured, as any woman breathing; but I must confess to you, I regard all these excellencies as you will please to direct them for my happiness or misery. With me, Madam, the only lasting motive to love, is the hope of its becoming mutual. I beg of you to let Mrs. Warren send me word when I may attend you. I promise you I will talk of nothing but indifferent things; though, at the same time, I know not how I shall approach you in the tender moment of first seeing you after this declaration which has been made by, Madam, your most obedient and most faithful humble servant, Rich. Steele.
LETTER III. To Mrs. SCURLOCK.
[Aug. 14,] 1707. CAME to your house this night to wait on you;
have commanded me to expect the happiness of seeing you at another time of more leisure. I am now under your own roof while I write; and that imaginary satisfaction of being so near you, though not in your presence, has in it something that touches me with fo tender ideas, that it is impoffible for me to describe their force. All great passion inakes us dumb; and the highest happiness, as well as highest grief, seizes us too violently to be expressed by our words.
You are so good as to let me know I shall have the honour of seeing you when I next come here. I will live upon that expectation, and meditate on your perfections till that happy hour. The vainest woman upon earth never saw in her glass half the attractions which I view
Your air, your fhape, your every glance, motion, and gesture, have such peculiar graces, that you poffess my whole soul, and I know no life but in the hopes of your approbation: I know not what to say, but that I love you with the sincerest passion that ever entered the heart of man. I will make it the business of my life to find out means of convincing you
that I prefer you to all that is pleasing upon earth. I am, Madam, your most obedient, most faithful humble servant, Rich. STEELE.
LET TER IV. To Mrs. SCURLOCK.
MADAM, Friday Morning [Aug. 15, 1707). OPING you are in good health, as I am
at this present writing, I take the liberty of bidding you good morrow, and thanking you for yesterday's admission. To know so much pleasure with so much innocence is, methinks, a satisfaction beyond the present condition of human life; but the union of minds in pure affection is renewing the first state of inan.
You cannot imagine the gratitude with which I meditate on your obliging behaviour to me, and how much improved in generous sentiments I return from your company : at the same time that you give me passion for yourself, you inspire me also with a love of virtue. Mrs. Warren informed me of
intention * on Sunday morning. I forbear indulging myself in a style which my eager wishes prompt me to, out of reverence to that occasion. I am, Ma. dam, your most obliged, most faithful servant,
* To receive the sacrament; see p. 7.