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or Virtue Rewarded

by Samuel Richardson
The original, squashed down to read in about 30 minutes


Samuel Richardson (19 August 1689 - 4 July 1761) was a printer and publisher from Derbyshire in England. He lost his first wife and their five sons, but eventually remarried.

His novel Pamela, which deals with a romantic relationship between a Catholic and a Protestant, was listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the list of books that Catholics were not allowed to read.

Abridged: JH

For more works by Samuel Richardsont, see The Index


I. - Pamela to her Parents

MY 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 mention'd to you, and left us all griev'd for the loss of her; for she was a dear good lady, and kind to all us her servants. Much I fear'd, that as I was taken by her ladyship to wait upon her person, I should be quite destitute again, and forc'd 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 qualify'd 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 experienc'd, put it into my good lady's heart, on her death-bed, just an hour before she expir'd, 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 those were some of her last words! O, how my eyes overflow! Don't wonder to see the paper so blotted!

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 burden to 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 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 would do for me as I deserv'd, ordered the housekeeper to give me mourning with the rest, and gave me with his own hand four guineas and some silver, which were in my 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. 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, wrapp'd close in paper, that they may not chink, and be sure don't open it before him.
    Pray for your Pamela; who will ever be -
    Your dutiful Daughter.

I have been scared out of my senses, for just now, as I was folding up this letter in my lady's dressing-room, in comes my young master! Good sirs, how I was 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." "Well, then, let me see what a hand you write." He took it without saying more, and read it quite through, and then gave it me again. He was not angry, for he took me by the hand and said, "You are a good girl to be kind to your aged father and mother; tho' you ought to be wary what tales you send out of a family." And then he said, "Why, Pamela, you write a pretty hand, and spell very well, too. You may look into any of my mother's books to improve yourself, so you take care of them."

But I am making another long letter, so will only add to it, that I shall ever be your dutiful daughter.

II. - Twelve Months Later

MY DEAR MOTHER, - You and my good father may wonder you have not had a letter from me in so many weeks; but a sad, sad scene has been the occasion of it. But yet, don't be frightened, I am honest, and I hope God, in his goodness, will keep me so.

O this angel of a master! this fine gentleman! this gracious benefactor to your poor Pamela! who was to take care of me at the prayer of his good, dying mother! This very gentleman (yes, I must call him gentleman, though he has fallen from the merit of that title) has degraded himself to offer freedoms to his poor servant; he has now showed himself in his true colours, and, to me, nothing appears so black and so frightful.

I have not been idle; but had writ from time to time, how he, by sly, mean degrees, exposed his wicked views, but somebody stole my letter, and I know not what is become of it. I am watched very narrowly; and he says to Mrs. Jervis, the housekeeper, "This girl is always scribbling; I think she may be better employed." And yet I work very hard with my needle upon his linen and the fine linen of the family; and am, besides, about flowering him a waistcoat. But, oh, my heart's almost broken; for what am I likely to have for any reward but shame and disgrace, or else ill words and hard treatment!

As I can't find my letter, I'll try to recollect it all. All went well enough in the main, for some time. But one day he came to me as I was in the summer-house in the little garden at work with my needle, and Mrs. Jervis was just gone from me, and I would have gone out, but he said, "Don't go, Pamela, I have something to say to you, and you always fly me when I come near you, as if you were afraid of me."

I was much out of countenance you may well think, and began to tremble, and the more when he took me by the hand, for no soul was near us.

"You are a little fool," he said hastily, "and know not what's good for yourself. I tell you I will make a gentlewoman of you if you are obliging, and don't stand in your own light." And so saying, he put his arm about me and kiss'd me.

Now, you will say, all his wickedness appear'd plainly. I burst from him, and was getting out of the summer-house, but he held me back, and shut the door.

I would have given my life for a farthing. And he said, "I'll do you no harm, Pamela; don't be afraid of me."

I sobb'd and cry'd most sadly. "What a foolish hussy you are!" said he. "Have I done you any harm?" "Yes, sir," said I, "the greatest harm in the world; you have taught me to forget myself, and have lessen'd the distance that fortune has made between us, by demeaning yourself to be so free to a poor servant. I am honest, though poor; and if you were a prince I would not be otherwise than honest."

He was angry, and said, "Who, little fool, would have you otherwise? Cease your blubbering. I own I have undervalued myself; but it was only to try you. If you can keep this matter secret, you'll give me the better opinion of your prudence. And here's something," added he, putting some gold in my hand, "to make you amends for the fright I put you in. Go, take a walk in the garden, and don't go in till your blubbering is over."

"I won't take the money, indeed, sir," said I, and so I put it upon the bench. And as he seemed vexed and confounded at what he had done, I took the opportunity to hurry out of the summer-house.

He called to me, and said, "Be secret, I charge you, Pamela; and don't go in yet."

O how poor and mean must those actions be, and how little they must make the best of gentlemen look, when they put it into the power of their inferiors to be greater than they!

Pray for me, my dear father and mother; and don't be angry that I have not yet run away from this house, so late my comfort and delight, but now my terror and anguish. I am forc'd to break off hastily.

    Your dutiful and honest DAUGHTER.

III. - Pamela in Distress

O my dearest Father and Mother, - Let me write and bewail my miserable fate, though I have no hope that what I write can be convey'd to your hands! I have now nothing to do but write and weep and fear and pray! But I will tell you what has befallen me, and some way, perhaps, may be opened to send the melancholy scribble to you. Alas, the unhappy Pamela may be undone before you can know her hard lot!

Last Thursday morning came, when I was to set out and return home to you, my dearest parents. I had taken my leave of my fellow-servants overnight, and a mournful leave it was to us all, for men, as well as women servants, wept to part with me; and for my part, I was overwhelmed with tears on the affecting instances of their love.

My master was above stairs, and never ask'd to see me. False heart, he knew that I was not to be out of his reach! Preserve me, heaven, from his power, and from his wickedness!

I look'd up when I got to the chariot, and I saw my master at the window, and I courtsy'd three times to him very low, and pray'd for him with my hands lifted up; for I could not speak. And he bow'd his head to me, which made me then very glad he would take such notice of me.

Robin drove so fast that I said to myself, at this rate of driving I shall soon be with my father and mother. But, alas! by nightfall he had driven me to a farmhouse far from home; and the farmer and his wife, he being a tenant of Mr. B., my master, while they treated me kindly, would do nothing to aid me in flight. And next day he drove me still further, and when we stopped at an inn in a town strange to me, the mistress of the inn was expecting me, and immediately called out for her sister, Jewkes. Jewkes! thought I. That is the name of the housekeeper at my master's house in Lincolnshire.

Then the wicked creature appear'd, and I was frighted out of my wits. The wretch would not trust me out of her sight, and soon I was forced to set out with her in the chariot. Now I gave over all thoughts of redemption.

Here are strange pains, thought I, taken to ruin a poor, innocent, helpless young female. This plot is laid too deep to be baffled, I fear.

About eight at night we enter'd the courtyard of this handsome, large, old, lonely mansion, that looked to me then as if built for solitude and mischief. And here, said I to myself, I fear, is to be the scene of my ruin, unless God protect me, Who is all-sufficient.

I was very ill at entering it, partly from fatigue, and partly from dejection of spirits. Mrs. Jewkes seem'd mighty officious to welcome me, and call'd me madam at every word.

"Pray, Mrs. Jewkes," said I, "don't madam me so! I am but a silly, poor girl, set up by the gambol of fortune for a May-game. Let us, therefore, talk upon afoot together, and that will be a favour done me. I am now no more than a poor desolate creature, and no better than a prisoner."

"Ay, ay," says she, "I understand something of the matter. You have so great power over my master that you will soon be mistress of us all; and so I will oblige you, if I can. And I must and will call you madam, for such are the instructions of my master, and you may depend upon it I shall observe my orders."

"You will not, I hope," replied I, "do an unlawful or wicked thing for any master in the world."

"Look ye!" said she. "He is my master, and if he bids me do a thing that I can do, I think I ought to do it; and let him, who has power to command me, look to the lawfulness of it."

"Suppose," said I, "he should resolve to ensnare a poor young creature and ruin her, would you assist him in such wickedness? And do you not think that to rob a person of her virtue is worse than cutting her throat?"

"Why, now," said she, "how strangely you talk! Are not the two sexes made for each other? And is it not natural for a man to love a pretty woman?" And then the wretch fell a-laughing, and talk'd most impertinently, and show'd me that I had nothing to expect either from her virtue or compassion.

I am now come to the twenty-seventh day of my imprisonment. One stratagem I have just thought of, though attended with this discouraging circumstance that I have neither friends, nor money, nor know one step of the way were I actually out of the house. But let bulls and bears and lions and tigers and, what is worse, false, treacherous, deceitful man stand in my way, I cannot be in more danger than I now think myself in.

Mrs. Jewkes has received a letter. She tells me, as a secret, that she has reason to think my master has found a way to satisfy my scruples. It is by marrying me to his dreadful Swiss servant, Colbrand, and buying me of him on the wedding-day for a sum of money! Was ever the like heard? She says it will be my duty to obey my husband, and that when my master has paid for me, and I am surrender'd up, the Swiss is to go home again, with the money, to his former wife and children; for, she says, it is the custom of these people to have a wife in every nation.

But this, to be sure, is horrid romancing!

Friday, the thirty-sixth day of imprisonment. Mercy on me! What will become of me? Here is my master come in his fine chariot! What shall I do? Where shall I hide myself?

He has entered and come up!

He put on a stern and a haughty air. "Well, perverse Pamela, ungrateful creature, you do well, don't you, to give me all this trouble and vexation?"

I could not speak, but sobb'd and sigh'd, as if my heart would break. "Sir," I said, "permit me to return to my parents. That is all I have to ask."

He flew into a violent passion. "Is it thus," said he, "I am to be answered? Begone from my sight!"

The next day he sent me up by Mrs. Jewkes his proposals. They were seven in number, and included the promise of an estate of £250 a year in Kent, to be settled on my father; and a number of suits of rich clothing and diamond rings were to be mine if I would consent to be his mistress.

My answer was that my parents and their daughter would much rather choose to starve in a ditch or rot in a noisome dungeon, than accept of the fortune of a monarch upon such wicked terms.

Mrs. Jewkes now tells me he is exceedingly wroth, and that I must quit the house, and may go home to my father and mother.

Sunday night. Well, my dear parents, here I am at an inn in a little village. And Robin, the coachman, assures me he has orders to carry me to you. O, that he may say truth and not deceive me again!

"I have proofs," said my master to Mrs. Jewkes, when I left the house, "that her virtue is all her pride. Shall I rob her of that? No, let her go, perverse and foolish as she is; but she deserves to go away virtuous, and she shall."

I think I was loth to leave the house. Can you believe it? I felt something so strange and my heart was so heavy.

IV. - Virtue Triumphant - Pamela's Journal

Monday Morning, eleven o'clock. We are just come in here, to the inn kept by Mr. Jewkes's relations. Just as I sat down, before setting out to pursue my journey, comes my master's groom, all in a foam, man and horse, with a letter for me, as follows:

"I find it in vain, my Pamela, to struggle against my affection for you, and as I flatter myself you may be brought to love me, I begin to regret parting with you; but, God is my witness, from no dishonourable motives, but the very contrary.

"You cannot imagine the obligation your return will lay me under to your goodness, and if you are the generous Pamela I imagine you to be let me see by your compliance the further excellency of your disposition. Spare me, my dearest girl, the confusion of following you to your father's, which I must do if you go on - for I find I cannot live without you, and I must be -

"Yours, and only yours."

What, my dear parents, will you say to this letter? I am resolved to return to my master, and am sending this to you by Thomas the coachman.

It was one o'clock when we reach'd my master's gate. Everybody was gone to rest. But one of the helpers got the keys from Mrs. Jewkes, and open'd the gates. I was so tired when I went to get out of the chariot that I fell down, and two of the maids coming soon after helped me to get up stairs.

It seems my master was very ill, and had been upon the bed most of the day; but being in a fine sleep, he heard not the chariot come in.

Tuesday Morning. Mrs. Jewkes, as soon as she got up, went to know how my master did, and he had had a good night. She told him he must not be surprised - that Pamela was come back. He raised himself up.

"Can it be?" said he. "What, already? Ask her if she will be so good as to make me a visit. If she will not, I will rise and attend her."

Mrs. Jewkes came to tell me, and I went with her. As soon as he saw me, he said:

"Oh, my Pamela, you have made me quite well!"

How kind a dispensation is sickness sometimes! He was quite easy and pleased with me.

The next day my master was so much better that he would take a turn after breakfast in the chariot, handing me in before all the servants, as if I had been a lady. At first setting out, he kissed me a little too often, that he did; but he was exceedingly kind to me in his words as well.

At last, he said:

"My sister, Lady Davers, threatens to renounce me, and I shall incur the censures of the world if I act up to my present intentions. For it will be said by everyone that Mr. B. has been drawn in by the eye, to marry his mother's waiting maid. Not knowing, perhaps, that to her mind, to her virtue, as well as to the beauties of her person, she owes her well-deserved conquest; and that there is not a lady in the kingdom who will better support the condition to which she will be raised if I should marry her." And added he, putting his arm round me: "I pity my dear girl, too, for her part in this censure, for here she will have to combat the pride and slights of the neighbouring gentry all around us. Lady Davers and the other ladies will not visit you; and you will, with a merit superior to them all, be treated as if unworthy their notice. Should I now marry my Pamela, how will my girl relish all this? Will not these be cutting things to my fair one?"

"Oh, sir," said I, "your poor servant has a much greater difficulty than this to overcome."

"What is that?" said he a little impatiently. "I will not forgive your doubts now."

"No, sir," said I, "I cannot doubt; but it is, how I shall support, how I shall deserve, your goodness to me!"

"Dear girl!" said he, and press'd me to his bosom. "I was afraid you would again have given me reason to think you had doubts of my honour, and this at a time when I was pouring out my whole soul to you, I could not so easily have forgiven."

"But, good sir," said I, "my greatest concern will be for the rude jests you will have yourself to encounter for thus stooping beneath yourself. For as to me I shall have the pride to place more than half the ill will of the ladies to their envying my happiness."

"You are very good, my dearest girl," said he. "But how will you bestow your time, when you will have no visits to receive or pay? No parties of pleasure to join in? No card-tables to employ your winter evenings?"

"In the first place, sir, if you will give me leave, I will myself look into all such parts of the family management as may befit the mistress of it to inspect. Then I will assist your housekeeper, as I used to do, in the making of jellies, sweetmeats, marmalades, cordials; and to pot and candy and preserve, for the use of the family; and to make myself all the fine linen of it. Then, sir, if you will indulge me with your company, I will take an airing in your chariot now and then; and I have no doubt of so behaving as to engage you frequently to fill up some part of my time in your instructive conversation."

"Proceed, my dear girl," said he. "I love to hear you talk !"

"Music, which my good lady also had me instructed in, will also fill up some intervals if I should have any. Then, sir, you know, I love reading and scribbling, and tho' most of the latter will be employed in the family accounts, yet reading, in proper books, will be a pleasure to me, which I shall be unwilling to give up for the best company in the world when I cannot have yours."

"What delight do you give me, my beloved Pamela, in this sweet foretaste of my happiness! I will now defy the saucy, busy censures of the world."

Ten days later. Your happy, thrice happy Pamela, is at last married, my dearest parents.

This morning we entered the private chapel at this house, and my master took my hand and led me up to the altar. Mr. Peters, the good rector, gave me away, and the curate read the service. I trembled so, I could hardly stand.

And thus the dear, once haughty, assailer of Pamela's innocence, by a blessed turn of Providence, is become the kind, the generous protector and rewarder of it.

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