This is part of a letter from Miss Howe to Miss Clarissa Harlowe, from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa .
You and I have often retrospected the faces and minds of grown people; that is to say, have formed images for their present appearances, outside and in, (as far as the manners of the persons would justify us in the latter) what sort of figures they made when boys and girls. And I’ll tell you the lights in which HICKMAN, SOLMES, and LOVELACE, our three heroes, have appeared to me, supposing them boys at school.
Solmes I have imagined to be a little sordid, pilfering rogue, who would purloin from every body, and beg every body’s bread and butter from him; while, as I have heard a reptile brag, he would in a winter-morning spit upon his thumbs, and spread his own with it, that he might keep it all to himself.
Hickman, a great overgrown, lank-haired, chubby boy, who would be hunched and punched by every body; and go home with his finger in his eye, and tell his mother.
While Lovelace I have supposed a curl-pated villain, full of fire, fancy, and mischief; an orchard-robber, a wall-climber, a horse-rider without saddle or bridle, neck or nothing: a sturdy rogue, in short, who would kick and cuff, and do no right, and take no wrong of any body; would get his head broke, then a plaster for it, or let it heal of itself; while he went on to do more mischief, and if not to get, to deserve, broken bones. And the same dispositions have grown up with them, and distinguish them as me, with no very material alteration.
Only that all men are monkeys more or less, or else that you and I should have such baboons as these to choose out of, is a mortifying thing, my dear.
I am enjoying this splendid book for the first time, and yes it is OK to read an abridged edition.