PAMELA - OR VIRTUE REWARDED
PAMELA - OR VIRTUE REWARDED
This novel (published 1740) created an epoch in the history of English
fiction and with its successors exerted a wide influence upon
Continental literature. It is appropriately included in a series which
is designed to form a group of studies of English life by the masters of
English fiction. For it marked the transition from the novel of
adventure to the novel of character--from the narration of entertaining
events to the study of men and of manners of motives and of sentiments.
In it the romantic interest of the story (which is of the slightest) is
subordinated to the moral interest in the conduct of its characters in
the various situations in which they are placed. Upon this aspect of the
"drama of human life" Richardson cast a most observant if not always a
penetrating glance. His works are an almost microscopically detailed
picture of English domestic life in the early part of the eighteenth
DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER
I have great trouble and some comfort to acquaint you with. The
trouble is that my good lady died of the illness I mentioned to you and
left us all much grieved for the loss of her; for she was a dear good
lady and kind to all us her servants. Much I feared that as I was
taken by her ladyship to wait upon her person I should be quite
destitute again and forced to return to you and my poor mother who have
enough to do to maintain yourselves; and as my lady's goodness had put
me to write and cast accounts and made me a little expert at my needle
and otherwise qualified above my degree it was not every family that
could have found a place that your poor Pamela was fit for: but God
whose graciousness to us we have so often experienced at a pinch put it
into my good lady's heart on her death-bed just an hour before she
expired to recommend to my young master all her servants one by one;
and when it came to my turn to be recommended (for I was sobbing and
crying at her pillow) she could only say My dear son!--and so broke off
a little; and then recovering--Remember my poor Pamela--And these were
some of her last words! O how my eyes run--Don't wonder to see the paper
Well but God's will must be done!--And so comes the comfort that I
shall not be obliged to return back to be a clog upon my dear parents!
For my master said I will take care of you all my good maidens; and for
you Pamela (and took me by the hand; yes he took my hand before them
all) for my dear mother's sake I will be a friend to you and you shall
take care of my linen. God bless him! and pray with me my dear father
and mother for a blessing upon him for he has given mourning and a
year's wages to all my lady's servants; and I having no wages as yet my
lady having said she should do for me as I deserved ordered the
housekeeper to give me mourning with the rest; and gave me with his own
hand four golden guineas and some silver which were in my old lady's
pocket when she died; and said if I was a good girl and faithful and
diligent he would be a friend to me for his mother's sake. And so I
send you these four guineas for your comfort; for Providence will not let
me want: And so you may pay some old debt with part and keep the other
part to comfort you both. If I get more I am sure it is my duty and it
shall be my care to love and cherish you both; for you have loved and
cherished me when I could do nothing for myself. I send them by John
our footman who goes your way: but he does not know what he carries;
because I seal them up in one of the little pill-boxes which my lady
had wrapt close in paper that they mayn't chink; and be sure don't open
it before him.
I know dear father and mother I must give you both grief and pleasure;
and so I will only say Pray for your Pamela; who will ever be
Your most dutiful DAUGHTER.
I have been scared out of my senses; for just now as I was folding up
this letter in my late lady's dressing-room in comes my young master!
Good sirs! how was I frightened! I went to hide the letter in my bosom;
and he seeing me tremble said smiling To whom have you been writing
Pamela?--I said in my confusion Pray your honour forgive me!--Only to
my father and mother. He said Well then let me see how you are come on
in your writing! O how ashamed I was!--He took it without saying more
and read it quite through and then gave it me again;--and I said Pray
your honour forgive me!--Yet I know not for what: for he was always
dutiful to his parents; and why should he be angry that I was so to mine?
And indeed he was not angry; for he took me by the hand and said You
are a good girl Pamela to be kind to your aged father and mother. I am
not angry with you for writing such innocent matters as these: though you
ought to be wary what tales you send out of a family.--Be faithful and
diligent; and do as you should do and I like you the better for this.
And then he said Why Pamela you write a very pretty hand and spell
tolerably too. I see my good mother's care in your learning has not been
thrown away upon you. She used to say you loved reading; you may look
into any of her books to improve yourself so you take care of them. To
be sure I did nothing but courtesy and cry and was all in confusion at
his goodness. Indeed he is the best of gentlemen I think! But I am
making another long letter: So will only add to it that I shall ever be
Your dutiful daughter PAMELA ANDREWS.
[In answer to the preceding.]
Your letter was indeed a great trouble and some comfort to me and your
poor mother. We are troubled to be sure for your good lady's death
who took such care of you and gave you learning and for three or four
years past has always been giving you clothes and linen and every thing
that a gentlewoman need not be ashamed to appear in. But our chief
trouble is and indeed a very great one for fear you should be brought
to anything dishonest or wicked by being set so above yourself. Every
body talks how you have come on and what a genteel girl you are; and
some say you are very pretty; and indeed six months since when I saw
you last I should have thought so myself if you was not our child. But
what avails all this if you are to be ruined and undone!--Indeed my
dear Pamela we begin to be in great fear for you; for what signify all
the riches in the world with a bad conscience and to be dishonest! We
are 'tis true very poor and find it hard enough to live; though once
as you know it was better with us. But we would sooner live upon the
water and if possible the clay of the ditches I contentedly dig than
live better at the price of our child's ruin.
I hope the good 'squire has no design: but when he has given you so much
money and speaks so kindly to you and praises your coming on; and oh
that fatal word! that he would be kind to you if you would do as you
should do almost kills us with fears.
I have spoken to good old widow Mumford about it who you know has
formerly lived in good families; and she puts us in some comfort; for she
says it is not unusual when a lady dies to give what she has about her
person to her waiting-maid and to such as sit up with her in her
illness. But then why should he smile so kindly upon you? Why should
he take such a poor girl as you by the hand as your letter says he has
done twice? Why should he stoop to read your letter to us; and commend
your writing and spelling? And why should he give you leave to read his
mother's books?--Indeed indeed my dearest child our hearts ache for
you; and then you seem so full of joy at his goodness so taken with his
kind expressions (which truly are very great favours if he means
well) that we fear--yes my dear child we fear--you should be too
grateful--and reward him with that jewel your virtue which no riches
nor favour nor any thing in this life can make up to you.
I too have written a long letter but will say one thing more; and that
is that in the midst of our poverty and misfortunes we have trusted in
God's goodness and been honest and doubt not to be happy hereafter if
we continue to be good though our lot is hard here; but the loss of our
dear child's virtue would be a grief that we could not bear and would
bring our grey hairs to the grave at once.
If then you love us if you wish for God's blessing and your own
future happiness we both charge you to stand upon your guard: and if
you find the least attempt made upon your virtue be sure you leave every
thing behind you and come away to us; for we had rather see you all
covered with rags and even follow you to the churchyard than have it
said a child of ours preferred any worldly conveniences to her virtue.
We accept kindly your dutiful present; but till we are out of pain
cannot make use of it for fear we should partake of the price of our
poor daughter's shame: so have laid it up in a rag among the thatch over
the window for a while lest we should be robbed. With our blessings
and our hearty prayers for you we remain
Your careful but loving Father and Mother
JOHN AND ELIZABETH ANDREWS.
I must needs say your letter has filled me with trouble for it has made
my heart which was overflowing with gratitude for my master's goodness
suspicious and fearful: and yet I hope I shall never find him to act
unworthy of his character; for what could he get by ruining such a poor
young creature as me? But that which gives me most trouble is that you
seem to mistrust the honesty of your child. No my dear father and
mother be assured that by God's grace I never will do any thing that
shall bring your grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. I will die a
thousand deaths rather than be dishonest any way. Of that be assured
and set your hearts at rest; for although I have lived above myself for
some time past yet I can be content with rags and poverty and bread and
water and will embrace them rather than forfeit my good name let who
will be the tempter. And of this pray rest satisfied and think better
of Your dutiful DAUGHTER till death.
My master continues to be very affable to me. As yet I see no cause to
fear any thing. Mrs. Jervis the housekeeper too is very civil to me
and I have the love of every body. Sure they can't all have designs
against me because they are civil! I hope I shall always behave so as
to be respected by every one; and that nobody would do me more hurt than
I am sure I would do them. Our John so often goes your way that I will
always get him to call that you may hear from me either by writing
(for it brings my hand in) or by word of mouth.
For the last was to my father in answer to his letter; and so I will now
write to you; though I have nothing to say but what will make me look
more like a vain hussy than any thing else: However I hope I shan't be
so proud as to forget myself. Yet there is a secret pleasure one has to
hear one's self praised. You must know then that my Lady Davers who
I need not tell you is my master's sister has been a month at our
house and has taken great notice of me and given me good advice to keep
myself to myself. She told me I was a pretty wench and that every body
gave me a very good character and loved me; and bid me take care to keep
the fellows at a distance; and said that I might do and be more valued
for it even by themselves.
But what pleased me much was what I am going to tell you; for at table
as Mrs. Jervis says my master and her ladyship talking of me she told
him she thought me the prettiest wench she ever saw in her life; and that
I was too pretty to live in a bachelor's house; since no lady he might
marry would care to continue me with her. He said I was vastly
improved and had a good share of prudence and sense above my years; and
that it would be pity that what was my merit should be my misfortune.--
No says my good lady Pamela shall come and live with me I think. He
said with all his heart; he should be glad to have me so well provided
for. Well said she I'll consult my lord about it. She asked how old I
was; and Mrs. Jervis said I was fifteen last February. O! says she if
the wench (for so she calls all us maiden servants) takes care of
herself she'll improve yet more and more as well in her person as mind.
Now my dear father and mother though this may look too vain to be
repeated by me; yet are you not rejoiced as well as I to see my master
so willing to part with me?--This shews that he has nothing bad in his
heart. But John is just going away; and so I have only to say that I
am and will always be
Your honest as well as dutiful DAUGHTER.
Pray make use of the money. You may now do it safely.
MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER
John being to go your way I am willing to write because he is so
willing to carry any thing for me. He says it does him good at his heart
to see you both and to hear you talk. He says you are both so sensible
and so honest that he always learns something from you to the purpose.
It is a thousand pities he says that such worthy hearts should not have
better luck in the world! and wonders that you my father who are so
well able to teach and write so good a hand succeeded no better in the
school you attempted to set up; but was forced to go to such hard labour.
But this is more pride to me that I am come of such honest parents than
if I had been born a lady.
I hear nothing yet of going to Lady Davers; and I am very easy at present
here: for Mrs. Jervis uses me as if I were her own daughter and is a
very good woman and makes my master's interest her own. She is always
giving me good counsel and I love her next to you two I think best of
any body. She keeps so good rule and order she is mightily respected by
us all; and takes delight to hear me read to her; and all she loves to
hear read is good books which we read whenever we are alone; so that I
think I am at home with you. She heard one of our men Harry who is no
better than he should be speak freely to me; I think he called me his
pretty Pamela and took hold of me as if he would have kissed me; for
which you may be sure I was very angry: and she took him to task and
was as angry at him as could be; and told me she was very well pleased to
see my prudence and modesty and that I kept all the fellows at a
distance. And indeed I am sure I am not proud and carry it civilly to
every body; but yet methinks I cannot bear to be looked upon by these
men-servants for they seem as if they would look one through; and as I
generally breakfast dine and sup with Mrs. Jervis (so good she is to
me) I am very easy that I have so little to say to them. Not but they
are civil to me in the main for Mrs. Jervis's sake who they see loves
me; and they stand in awe of her knowing her to be a gentlewoman born
though she has had misfortunes. I am going on again with a long letter;
for I love writing and shall tire you. But when I began I only
intended to say that I am quite fearless of any danger now: and indeed
cannot but wonder at myself (though your caution to me was your watchful
love) that I should be so foolish as to be so uneasy as I have been: for
I am sure my master would not demean himself so as to think upon such a
poor girl as I for my harm. For such a thing would ruin his credit as
well as mine you know: who to be sure may expect one of the best
ladies in the land. So no more at present but that I am
Your ever dutiful DAUGHTER.
DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER
My master has been very kind since my last; for he has given me a suit of
my late lady's clothes and half a dozen of her shifts and six fine
handkerchiefs and three of her cambric aprons and four holland ones.
The clothes are fine silk and too rich and too good for me to be sure.
I wish it was no affront to him to make money of them and send it to
you: it would do me more good.
You will be full of fears I warrant now of some design upon me till I
tell you that he was with Mrs. Jervis when he gave them me; and he gave
her a mort of good things at the same time and bid her wear them in
remembrance of her good friend my lady his mother. And when he gave me
these fine things he said These Pamela are for you; have them made
fit for you when your mourning is laid by and wear them for your good
mistress's sake. Mrs. Jervis gives you a very good word; and I would
have you continue to behave as prudently as you have done hitherto and
every body will be your friend.
I was so surprised at his goodness that I could not tell what to say. I
courtesied to him and to Mrs. Jervis for her good word; and said I
wished I might be deserving of his favour and her kindness: and nothing
should be wanting in me to the best of my knowledge.
O how amiable a thing is doing good!--It is all I envy great folks for.
I always thought my young master a fine gentleman as every body says he
is: but he gave these good things to us both with such a graciousness as
I thought he looked like an angel.
Mrs. Jervis says he asked her If I kept the men at a distance? for he
said I was very pretty; and to be drawn in to have any of them might be
my ruin and make me poor and miserable betimes. She never is wanting to
give me a good word and took occasion to lanch out in my praise she
says. But I hope she has said no more than I shall try to deserve
though I mayn't at present. I am sure I will always love her next to
you and my dear mother. So I rest
Your ever dutiful DAUGHTER.
Since my last my master gave me more fine things. He called me up to my
late lady's closet and pulling out her drawers he gave me two suits of
fine Flanders laced headclothes three pair of fine silk shoes two
hardly the worse and just fit for me (for my lady had a very little
foot) and the other with wrought silver buckles in them; and several
ribands and top-knots of all colours; four pair of white fine cotton
stockings and three pair of fine silk ones; and two pair of rich stays.
I was quite astonished and unable to speak for a while; but yet I was
inwardly ashamed to take the stockings; for Mrs. Jervis was not there: If
she had it would have been nothing. I believe I received them very
awkwardly; for he smiled at my awkwardness and said Don't blush
Pamela: Dost think I don't know pretty maids should wear shoes and
I was so confounded at these words you might have beat me down with a
feather. For you must think there was no answer to be made to this: So
like a fool I was ready to cry; and went away courtesying and blushing
I am sure up to the ears; for though there was no harm in what he said
yet I did not know how to take it. But I went and told all to Mrs.
Jervis who said God put it into his heart to be good to me; and I must
double my diligence. It looked to her she said as if he would fit me
in dress for a waiting-maid's place on Lady Davers's own person.
But still your kind fatherly cautions came into my head and made all
these gifts nothing near to me what they would have been. But yet I
hope there is no reason; for what good could it do to him to harm such a
simple maiden as me? Besides to be sure no lady would look upon him if
he should so disgrace himself. So I will make myself easy; and indeed
I should never have been otherwise if you had not put it into my head;
for my good I know very well. But may be without these uneasinesses
to mingle with these benefits I might be too much puffed up: So I will
conclude all that happens is for our good; and God bless you my dear
father and mother; and I know you constantly pray for a blessing upon me;
who am and shall always be
Your dutiful DAUGHTER.
I cannot but renew my cautions on your master's kindness and his free
expression to you about the stockings. Yet there may not be and I hope
there is not any thing in it. But when I reflect that there possibly
may and that if there should no less depends upon it than my child's
everlasting happiness in this world and the next; it is enough to make
one fearful for you. Arm yourself my dear child for the worst; and
resolve to lose your life sooner than your virtue. What though the
doubts I filled you with lessen the pleasure you would have had in your
master's kindness; yet what signify the delights that arise from a few
paltry fine clothes in comparison with a good conscience?
These are indeed very great favours that he heaps upon you but so much
the more to be suspected; and when you say he looked so amiably and like
an angel how afraid I am that they should make too great an impression
upon you! For though you are blessed with sense and prudence above your
years yet I tremble to think what a sad hazard a poor maiden of little
more than fifteen years of age stands against the temptations of this
world and a designing young gentleman if he should prove so who has so
much power to oblige and has a kind of authority to command as your
I charge you my dear child on both our blessings poor as we are to be
on your guard; there can be no harm in that. And since Mrs. Jervis is so
good a gentlewoman and so kind to you I am the easier a great deal and
so is your mother; and we hope you will hide nothing from her and take
her counsel in every thing. So with our blessings and assured prayers
for you more than for ourselves we remain
Your loving FATHER AND MOTHER.
Be sure don't let people's telling you you are pretty puff you up; for
you did not make yourself and so can have no praise due to you for it.
It is virtue and goodness only that make the true beauty. Remember