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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

David Garrick (1717–1779)

The Dictated Letter

From “The Guardian”

HARRIET and HEARTLY, her Guardian.

Har.I hope you are not angry, sir, that I left you so abruptly, without making any apology.

Heart.I am angry that you think an apology necessary. The matter we are upon is of such a delicate nature that I am more pleased with your confusion than I should have been with your excuses. You’ll pardon me, my dear?

Har.I have reflected that the person for whom I have conceived a most tender regard may, from the wisest motives, doubt my passion; and therefore I would endeavour to answer all his objections, and convince him how deserving he is of my highest esteem.

Heart.I have not yet apprehended what kind of dispute could arise between you and Mr. Clackit; but I would advise you both to come to a reconciliation as soon as possible.

Har.(aside).He still continues in his error, and I cannot undeceive him.

Heart.Shall I take the liberty of telling you, my dear?(Takes her hand.)You tremble, Harriet. What is the matter with you?

Har.Nothing, sir. Pray go on.

Heart.I guess whence proceeds all this uneasiness. You fear that the world will not be so readily convinced of this young gentleman’s merits as you are; and, indeed, I could wish him more deserving of you; but your regard for him gives him a merit he otherwise would have wanted, and almost makes me blind to his failings.

Har.And would you advise me, sir, to make choice of this gentleman?

Heart.I would advise you, as I always have done, to consult your own heart on such an occasion.

Har.If that is your advice, I will most religiously follow it; and, for the last time, I am resolved to discover my real sentiments. But as a confession of this kind will not become me, I have been thinking of some innocent stratagem to spare my blushes, and, in part, to relieve me from the shame of a declaration. Might I be permitted to write to him?

Heart.I think you may, my dear, without the least offence to your delicacy; and, indeed, you ought to explain yourself; your late misunderstanding makes it absolutely necessary.

Har.Will you be kind enough to assist me? Will you write it for me, sir?

Heart.Oh, most willingly; and as I am made a party, it will remove all objections.

Har.I will dictate to you in the best manner I am able.(Sighs.),

Heart.Here is pen, ink, and paper; and now, my dear, I am ready. He is certainly of a good family; and though he has some little faults, time and your virtues will correct them. Come, what shall I write?(Prepares to write.)

Har.Pray, give me a moment’s thought. ’Tis a terrible task, Mr. Heartly.

Heart.I know it is. Don’t hurry yourself; I shall wait with patience.

Har.(dictating).“It is in vain for me to conceal from one of your understanding the secrets of my heart——”

Heart.(writing).“The secrets of my heart.”

Har.“Though your humility and modesty will not suffer you to perceive it——”

Heart.Do you think that he is much troubled with those qualities?

Har.Pray, indulge me, sir.

Heart.I beg your pardon.(Writing)“Your humility and modesty will not suffer you to perceive it.” So!

Har.“Everything tells me that it is you that I love——”

Heart.Very well.

Har.Yes—“you that I love.” Do you understand me?

Heart.Oh, yes, yes; I understand you—“that it is you that I love.” This is very plain, my dear.

Har.I would have it so. “And though I am already bound in gratitude to you——”

Heart.In gratitude to Mr. Clackit?

Har.Pray, write, sir.

Heart.Well—“in gratitude to you.”(Aside)I must write what she would have me.

Har.“Yet my passion is a most disinterested one——”

Heart.“Most disinterested one.”

Har.“And to convince you that you owe much more to my affections——”

Heart.And then?

Har.“I could wish that I had not experienced——”

Heart.Stay! stay!—“had not experienced.”

Har.“Your tender care of me in my infancy——”

Heart.What did you say?(Aside)Did I hear aright, or am I in a dream?

Har.(aside).Why have I declared myself? He’ll hate me for my folly.



Heart.To whom do you write this letter?

Har.To—to—Mr. Clackit—is it not?

Heart.You must not mention, then, the care of your infancy; it would be ridiculous.

Har.It would, indeed! I own it; it is improper.

Heart.Then I’ll finish your letter with the usual compliment, and send it away.

Har.Yes—send it away—if you think I ought to send it.

Heart.(troubled).Ought to send it! Who’s there?(Enter a Servant.)Carry this letter—(An action escapes from HARRIET, as if to hinder the sending of the letter)Is it not for Mr. Clackit?

Har.(peevishly).Who can it be for?

Heart.(to Servant).Here, take this letter to Mr. Clackit.