Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 8

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Letter VIII

To Miss LYDIA MELFORD.

Miss Willis has pronounced my doom — you are going away, dear Miss Melford! — you are going to be removed, I know not whither! what shall I do? which way shall I turn for consolation? I know not what I say — all night long have I been tossed in a sea of doubts and fears, uncertainty and distraction, without being able to connect my thoughts, much less to form any consistent plan of conduct — I was even tempted to wish that I had never seen you; or that you had been less amiable, or less compassionate to your poor Wilson; and yet it would be detestable ingratitude in me to form such a wish, considering how much I am indebted to your goodness, and the ineffable pleasure I have derived from your indulgence and approbation — Good God! I never heard your name mentioned without emotion! the most distant prospect of being admitted to your company, filled my whole soul with a kind of pleasing alarm! as the time approached, my heart beat with redoubled force, and every nerve thrilled with a transport of expectation; but, when I found myself actually in your presence; — when I heard you speak; — when I saw you smile; when I beheld your charming eyes turned favourably upon me; my breast was filled with such tumults of delight, as wholly deprived me of the power of utterance, and wrapt me in a delirium of joy! — encouraged by your sweetness of temper and affability, I ventured to describe the feelings of my heart — even then you did not check my presumption — you pitied my sufferings and gave me leave to hope you put a favourable — perhaps too favourable a construction, on my appearance — certain it is, I am no player in love — I speak the language of my own heart; and have no prompter but nature. Yet there is something in this heart, which I have not yet disclosed. — I flattered myself — But, I will not — I must not proceed. Dear Miss Liddy! for Heaven's sake, contrive, if possible, some means of letting me speak to you before you leave Gloucester; otherwise, I know not what will — But I begin to rave again. — I will endeavour to bear this trial with fortitude — while I am capable of reflecting upon your tenderness and truth, I surely have no cause to despair — a cloud hangs over me, and there is a dreadful weight upon my spirits! While you stay in this place, I shall continually hover about your lodgings, as the parted soul is said to linger about the grave where its mortal comfort lies. — I know, if it is in your power, you will task your humanity — your compassion — shall I add, your affection? — in order to assuage the almost intolerable disquiet that torments the heart of your afflicted,

WILSON
GLOUCESTER, March 31.