Clarissa, Volume 4 (of 9)
Part 3 out of 6
It is impossible that one so young and so inexperienced as she is can
have all her caution from herself; the behaviour of the women so
unexceptionable; no revellings, no company ever admitted into this inner-
house; all genteel, quiet, and easy in it; the nymphs well-bred, and
well-read; her first disgusts to the old one got over.--It must be Miss
Howe, therefore, [who once was in danger of being taken in by one of our
class, by honest Sir George Colmar, as thou hast heard,] that makes my
Thou seest, Belford, by the above precautionaries, that I forget nothing.
As the song says, it is not to be imagined
On what slight strings
Depend these things
On which men build their glory!
So far, so good. I shall never rest till I have discovered in the first
place, where the dear creature puts her letters; and in the next till I
have got her to a play, to a concert, or to take an airing with me out of
town for a day or two.
I gave thee just now some of my contrivances. Dorcas, who is ever
attentive to all her lady's motions, has given me some instances of her
mistress's precautions. She wafers her letters, it seems, in two places;
pricks the wafers; and then seals upon them. No doubt but the same care
is taken with regard to those brought to her, for she always examines the
seals of the latter before she opens them.
I must, I must come at them. This difficulty augments my curiosity.
Strange, so much as she writes, and at all hours, that not one sleepy or
forgetful moment has offered in our favour!
A fair contention, thou seest: nor plead thou in her favour her youth,
her beauty, her family, her fortune, CREDULITY, she has none; and with
regard to her TENDER YEARS, Am I not a young fellow myself? As to
BEAUTY; pr'ythee, Jack, do thou, to spare my modesty, make a comparison
between my Clarissa for a woman, and thy Lovelace for a man. For her
FAMILY; that was not known to its country a century ago: and I hate them
all but her. Have I not cause?--For her FORTUNE; fortune, thou knowest,
was ever a stimulus with me; and this for reasons not ignoble. Do not
girls of fortune adorn themselves on purpose to engage our attention?
Seek they not to draw us into their snares? Depend they not, generally,
upon their fortunes, in the views they have upon us, more than on their
merits? Shall we deprive them of the benefit of their principal
dependence?--Can I, in particular, marry every girl who wishes to obtain
my notice? If, therefore, in support of the libertine principles for
which none of the sweet rogues hate us, a woman of fortune is brought to
yield homage to her emperor, and any consequences attend the subjugation,
is not such a one shielded by her fortune, as well from insult and
contempt, as from indigence--all, then, that admits of debate between my
beloved and me is only this--which of the two has more wit, more
circumspection--and that remains to be tried.
A sad life, however, this life of doubt and suspense, for the poor lady
to live, as well as for me; that is to say, if she be not naturally
jealous--if she be, her uneasiness is constitutional, and she cannot help
it; nor will it, in that case, hurt her. For a suspicious temper will
make occasion for doubt, if none were to offer to its hand. My fair one
therefore, if naturally suspicious, is obliged to me for saving her the
trouble of studying for these occasions--but, after all, the plainest
paths in our journeys through life are the safest and best I believe,
although it is not given me to choose them; I am not, however, singular
in the pursuit of the more intricate paths; since there are thousands,
and ten thousands, who had rather fish in troubled waters than in smooth.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY, MAY 9.
I am a very unhappy man. This lady is said to be one of the sweetest-
tempered creatures in the world: and so I thought her. But to me she is
one of the most perverse. I never was supposed to be an ill-natured
mortal neither. How can it be? I imagined, for a long while, that we
were born to make each other happy: but quite the contrary; we really
seem to be sent to plague each other.
I will write a comedy, I think: I have a title already; and that's half
the work. The Quarrelsome Lovers. 'Twill do. There's something new and
striking in it. Yet, more or less, all lovers quarrel. Old Terence has
taken notice of that; and observes upon it, That lovers falling out
occasions lovers falling in; and a better understanding of course. 'Tis
natural that it should be so. But with us, we fall out so often, without
falling in once; and a second quarrel so generally happens before a first
is made up; that it is hard to guess what event our loves will be
attended with. But perseverance is my glory, and patience my handmaid,
when I have in view an object worthy of my attempts. What is there in an
easy conquest? Hudibras questions well,
------What mad lover ever dy'd
To gain a soft and easy bride?
Or, for a lady tender-hearted,
In purling streams, or hemp, departed?
But I will lead to the occasion of this preamble.
I had been out. On my return, meeting Dorcas on the stairs--Your lady in
her chamber, Dorcas? In the dining-room, sir: and if ever you hope for
an opportunity to come at a letter, it must be now. For at her feet I
saw one lie, which, as may be seen by its open fold, she had been
reading, with a little parcel of others she is now busied with--all
pulled out of her pocket, as I believe: so, Sir, you'll know where to
find them another time.
I was ready to leap for joy, and instantly resolved to bring forward an
expedient which I had held in petto; and entering the dining-room with an
air of transport, I boldly clasped my arms about her, as she sat; she
huddling up her papers in her handkerchief all the time; the dropped
paper unseen. O my dearest life, a lucky expedient have Mr. Mennell and
I hit upon just now. In order to hasten Mrs. Fretchville to quit the
house, I have agreed, if you approve of it, to entertain her cook, her
housemaid, and two men-servants, (about whom she was very solicitous,)
till you are provided to your mind. And, that no accommodations may be
wanted, I have consented to take the household linen at an appraisement.
I am to pay down five hundred pounds, and the remainder as soon as the
bills can be looked up, and the amount of them adjusted. Thus will you
have a charming house entirely ready to receive you. Some of the ladies
of my family will soon be with you: they will not permit you long to
suspend my happy day. And that nothing may be wanting to gratify your
utmost punctilio, I will till then consent to stay here at Mrs.
Sinclair's while you reside at your new house; and leave the rest to your
own generosity. O my beloved creature, will not this be agreeable to
you? I am sure it will--it must--and clasping her closer to me, I gave
her a more fervent kiss than ever I had dared to give her before. I
permitted not my ardour to overcome my discretion, however; for I took
care to set my foot upon the letter, and scraped it farther from her, as
it were behind her chair.
She was in a passion at the liberty I took. Bowing low, I begged her
pardon; and stooping still lower, in the same motion took up the letter,
and whipt it into my bosom.
Pox on me for a puppy, a fool, a blockhead, a clumsy varlet, a mere Jack
Belford!--I thought myself a much cleverer fellow than I am!--Why could I
not have been followed in by Dorcas, who might have taken it up, while I
addressed her lady?
For here, the letter being unfolded, I could not put it in my bosom
without alarming her ears, as my sudden motion did her eyes--Up she flew
in a moment: Traitor! Judas! her eyes flashing lightning, and a
perturbation in her eager countenance, so charming!--What have you taken
up?--and then, what for both my ears I durst not have done to her, she
made no scruple to seize the stolen letter, though in my bosom.
What was to be done on so palpable a detection?--I clasped her hand,
which had hold of the ravished paper, between mine: O my beloved
creature! said I, can you think I have not some curiosity? Is it
possible you can be thus for ever employed; and I, loving narrative
letter-writing above every other species of writing, and admiring your
talent that way, should not (thus upon the dawn of my happiness, as I
presume to hope) burn with a desire to be admitted into so sweet a
Let go my hand!--stamping with her pretty foot; How dare you, Sir!--At
this rate, I see--too plainly I see--And more she could not say: but,
gasping, was ready to faint with passion and affright; the devil a bit
of her accustomed gentleness to be seen in her charming face, or to be
heard in her musical voice.
Having gone thus far, loth, very loth, was I to lose my prize--once more
I got hold of the rumpled-up letter!--Impudent man! were her words:
stamping again. For God's sake, then it was. I let go my prize, lest
she should faint away: but had the pleasure first to find my hand within
both hers, she trying to open my reluctant fingers. How near was my
heart at that moment to my hand, throbbing to my fingers' ends, to be
thus familiarly, although angrily, treated by the charmer of my soul!
When she had got it in her possession, she flew to the door. I threw
myself in her way, shut it, and, in the humblest manner, besought her to
forgive me. And yet do you think the Harlowe-hearted charmer
(notwithstanding the agreeable annunciation I came in with) would forgive
me?--No, truly; but pushing me rudely from the door, as if I had been
nothing, [yet do I love to try, so innocently to try, her strength too!]
she gained that force through passion, which I had lost through fear, out
she shot to her own apartment; [thank my stars she could fly no farther!]
and as soon as she entered it, in a passion still, she double-locked and
double-bolted herself in. This my comfort, on reflection, that, upon a
greater offence, it cannot be worse.
I retreated to my own apartment, with my heart full: and, my man Will not
being near me, gave myself a plaguy knock on the forehead with my double
And now is my charmer shut up from me: refusing to see me, refusing her
meals. She resolves not to see me; that's more:--never again, if she can
help it; and in the mind she is in--I hope she has said.
The dear creatures, whenever they quarrel with their humble servants,
should always remember this saving clause, that they may not be forsworn.
But thinkest thou that I will not make it the subject of one of my first
plots to inform myself of the reason why all this commotion was necessary
on so slight an occasion as this would have been, were not the letters that
pass between these ladies of a treasonable nature?
No admission to breakfast, any more than to supper. I wish this lady is
not a simpleton, after all.
I have sent up in Captain Mennell's name.
A message from Captain Mennell, Madam.
It won't do. She is of baby age. She cannot be--a Solomon, I was going
to say, in every thing. Solomon, Jack, was the wisest man. But didst
ever hear who was the wisest woman? I want a comparison for this lady.
Cunning women and witches we read of without number. But I fancy wisdom
never entered into the character of a woman. It is not a requisite of
the sex. Women, indeed, make better sovereigns than men: but why is
that?--because the women-sovereigns are governed by men; the men-
sovereigns by women.--Charming, by my soul! For hence we guess at the
rudder by which both are steered.
But to putting wisdom out of the question, and to take cunning in; that
is to say, to consider woman as a woman; what shall we do, if this lady
has something extraordinary in her head? Repeated charges has she given
to Wilson, by a particular messenger, to send any letter directed for her
the moment it comes.
I must keep a good look-out. She is not now afraid of her brother's
plot. I shan't be at all surprised, if Singleton calls upon Miss Howe,
as the only person who knows, or is likely to know, where Miss Harlowe
is; pretending to have affairs of importance, and of particular service
to her, if he can but be admitted to her speech--Of compromise, who
knows, from her brother?
Then will Miss Howe warn her to keep close. Then will my protection be
again necessary. This will do, I believe. Any thing from Miss Howe
Joseph Leman is a vile fellow with her, and my implement. Joseph, honest
Joseph, as I call him, may hang himself. I have played him off enough,
and have very little further use for him. No need to wear one plot to
the stumps, when I can find new ones every hour.
Nor blame me for the use I make of my talents. Who, that hath such, will
let 'em be idle?
Well, then, I will find a Singleton; that's all I have to do.
Instantly find one!--Will!
This moment call me hither thy cousin Paul Wheatly, just come from sea,
whom thou wert recommending to my service, if I were to marry, and keep
Presto--Will's gone--Paul will be here presently. Presently to Mrs.
Howe's. If Paul be Singleton's mate, coming from his captain, it will do
as well as if it were Singleton himself.
Sally, a little devil, often reproaches me with the slowness of my
proceedings. But in a play does not the principal entertainment lie in
the first four acts? Is not all in a manner over when you come to the
fifth? And what a vulture of a man must he be, who souses upon his prey,
and in the same moment trusses and devours?
But to own the truth. I have overplotted myself. To my make my work
secure, as I thought, I have frighted the dear creature with the sight of
my four Hottentots, and I shall be a long time, I doubt, before I can
recover my lost ground. And then this cursed family at Harlowe-place
have made her out of humour with me, with herself, and with all the
world, but Miss Howe, who, no doubt, is continually adding difficulties
to my other difficulties.
I am very unwilling to have recourse to measures which these demons below
are continually urging me to take; because I am sure, that, at last, I
shall be brought to make her legally mine.
One complete trial over, and I think I will do her noble justice.
Well, Paul's gone--gone already--has all his lessons. A notable fellow!
--Lord W.'s necessary-man was Paul before he went to sea. A more
sensible rogue Paul than Joseph! Not such a pretender to piety neither
as the other. At what a price have I bought that Joseph! I believe I
must punish the rascal at last: but must let him marry first: then
(though that may be punishment enough) I shall punish two at once in the
man and his wife. And how richly does Betty deserve punishment for her
behaviour to my goddess!
But now I hear the rusty hinges of my beloved's door give me creaking
invitation. My heart creaks and throbs with respondent trepidations:
Whimsical enough though! for what relation has a lover's heart to a rusty
pair of hinges? But they are the hinges that open and shut the door of
my beloved's bed-chamber. Relation enough in that.
I hear not the door shut again. I shall receive her commands I hope
anon. What signifies her keeping me thus at a distance? she must be
mine, let me do or offer what I will. Courage whenever I assume, all is
over: for, should she think of escaping from hence, whither can she fly
to avoid me? Her parents will not receive her. Her uncles will not
entertain her. Her beloved Norton is in their direction, and cannot.
Miss Howe dare not. She has not one friend in town but me--is entirely a
stranger to the town. And what then is the matter with me, that I should
be thus unaccountably over-awed and tyrannized over by a dear creature
who want sonly to know how impossible it is that she should escape me, in
order to be as humble to me as she is to her persecuting relations!
Should I ever make the grand attempt, and fail, and should she hate me
for it, her hatred can be but temporary. She has already incurred the
censure of the world. She must therefore choose to be mine, for the sake
of soldering up her reputation in the eye of that impudent world. For,
who that knows me, and knows that she has been in my power, though but
for twenty-four hours, will think her spotless as to fact, let her
inclination be what it will? And then human nature is such a well-known
rogue, that every man and woman judges by what each knows of him or
herself, that inclination is no more to be trusted, where an opportunity
is given, than I am; especially where a woman, young and blooming, loves
a man well enough to go off with him; for such will be the world's
construction in the present case.
She calls her maid Dorcas. No doubt, that I may hear her harmonious
voice, and to give me an opportunity to pour out my soul at her feet; to
renew all my vows; and to receive her pardon for the past offence: and
then, with what pleasure shall I begin upon a new score, and afterwards
wipe out that; and begin another, and another, till the last offence
passes; and there can be no other! And once, after that, to be forgiven,
will be to be forgiven for ever.
The door is again shut. Dorcas tells me, that her lady denies to admit me
to dine with her; a favour I had ordered the wench to beseech her to
grant me, the next time she saw her--not uncivilly, however, denies--
coming-to by degrees! Nothing but the last offence, the honest wench
tells me, in the language of her principals below, will do with her. The
last offence is meditating. Yet this vile recreant heart of mine plays
But here I conclude; though the tyranness leaves me nothing to do but to
read, write, and fret.
Subscription is formal between us. Besides, I am so much her's, that I
cannot say how much I am thine or any other person's.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
TUESDAY, MAY 9.
If, my dear, you approve of the application to my uncle Harlowe, I wish
it to be made as soon as possible. We are quite out again. I have shut
myself up from him. The offence indeed not so very great--and yet it is
too. He had like to have got a letter. One of your's. But never will
I write again, or re-peruse my papers, in an apartment where he thinks
himself entitled to come. He did not read a line of it. Indeed he did
not. So don't be uneasy. And depend upon future caution.
Thus it was. The sun being upon my closet, and Mr. Lovelace abroad--
She then gives Miss Howe an account of his coming by surprise upon her:
of his fluttering speech: of his bold address: of her struggle with
him for the letter, &c.
And now, my dear, proceeds she, I am more and more convinced, that I am
too much in his power to make it prudent to stay with him. And if my
friends will but give me hope, I will resolve to abandon him for ever.
O my dear! he is a fierce, a foolish, an insolent creature!--And, in
truth, I hardly expect that we can accommodate. How much unhappier am I
already with him than my mother ever was with my father after marriage!
since (and that without any reason, any pretence in the world for it) he
is for breaking my spirit before I am his, and while I am, or ought to be
[O my folly, that I am not!] in my own power.
Till I can know whether my friends will give me hope or not, I must do
what I never studied to do before in any case; that is, try to keep this
difference open: and yet it will make me look little in my own eyes;
because I shall mean by it more than I can own. But this is one of the
consequences of all engagements, where the minds are unpaired--dispaired,
in my case, I must say.
Let this evermore be my caution to individuals of my sex--Guard your eye:
'twill ever be in a combination against your judgment. If there are two
parts to be taken, it will be for ever, traitor as it is, take the wrong
If you ask me, my dear, how this caution befits me? let me tell you a
secret which I have but very lately found out upon self-examination,
although you seem to have made the discovery long ago: That had not my
foolish eye been too much attached, I had not taken the pains to attempt,
so officiously as I did, the prevention of mischief between him and some
of my family, which first induced the correspondence between us, and was
the occasion of bringing the apprehended mischief with double weight upon
himself. My vanity and conceit, as far as I know, might have part in the
inconsiderate measure: For does it not look as if I thought myself more
capable of obviating difficulties than anybody else of my family?
But you must not, my dear, suppose my heart to be still a confederate
with my eye. That deluded eye now clearly sees its fault, and the misled
heart despises it for it. Hence the application I am making to my uncle:
hence it is, that I can say (I think truly) that I would atone for my
fault at any rate, even by the sacrifice of a limb or two, if that would
Adieu, my dearest friend!--May your heart never know the hundredth part
of the pain mine at present feels! prays
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
WEDNESDAY, MAY 10.
I WILL write! No man shall write for me.* No woman shall hinder me from
writing. Surely I am of age to distinguish between reason and caprice.
I am not writing to a man, am I?--If I were carrying on a correspondence
with a fellow, of whom my mother disapproved, and whom it might be
improper for me to encourage, my own honour and my duty would engage my
obedience. But as the case is so widely different, not a word more on
this subject, I beseech you!
* Clarissa proposes Mr. Hickman to write for Miss Howe. See Letter XI.
of this volume, Paragr. 5, & ult.
I much approve of your resolution to leave this wretch, if you can make
it up with your uncle.
I hate the man--most heartily do I hate him, for his teasing ways. The
very reading of your account of them teases me almost as much as they can
you. May you have encouragement to fly the foolish wretch!
I have other reasons to wish you may: for I have just made an
acquaintance with one who knows a vast deal of his private history. The
man is really a villain, my dear! an execrable one! if all be true that I
have heard! And yet I am promised other particulars. I do assure you,
my dear friend, that, had he a dozen lives, he might have forfeited them
all, and been dead twenty crimes ago.
If ever you condescend to talk familiarly with him again, ask him after
Miss Betterton, and what became of her. And if he shuffle and
prevaricate as to her, question him about Miss Lockyer.--O my dear, the
man's a villain!
I will have your uncle sounded, as you desire, and that out of hand. But
yet I am afraid of the success; and this for several reasons. 'Tis hard
to say what the sacrifice of your estate would do with some people: and
yet I must not, when it comes to the test, permit you to make it.
As your Hannah continues ill, I would advise you to try to attach Dorcas
to your interest. Have you not been impoliticly shy of her?
I wish you could come at some of his letters. Surely a man of his
negligent character cannot be always guarded. If he be, and if you
cannot engage your servant, I shall suspect them both. Let him be called
upon at a short warning when he is writing, or when he has papers lying
about, and so surprise him into negligence.
Such inquiries, I know, are of the same nature with those we make at an
inn in traveling, when we look into every corner and closet, for fear of
a villain; yet should be frighted out of our wits, were we to find one.
But 'tis better to detect such a one when awake and up, than to be
attacked by him when in bed and asleep.
I am glad you have your clothes. But no money! No books but a Spira, a
Drexelius, and a Practice of Piety! Those who sent the latter ought to
have kept it for themselves--But I must hurry myself from this subject.
You have exceedingly alarmed me by what you hint of his attempt to get
one of my letters. I am assured by my new informant, that he is the head
of a gang of wretched (those he brought you among, no doubt, were some of
them) who join together to betray innocent creatures, and to support one
another afterwards by violence; and were he to come at the knowledge of
the freedoms I take with him, I should be afraid to stir out without a
I am sorry to tell you, that I have reason to think, that your brother
has not laid aside his foolish plot. A sunburnt, sailor-looking fellow
was with me just now, pretending great service to you from Captain
Singleton, could he be admitted to your speech. I pleaded ignorance as
to the place of your abode. The fellow was too well instructed for me to
get any thing out of him.
I wept for two hours incessantly on reading your's, which enclosed that
from your cousin Morden.* My dearest creature, do not desert yourself.
Let your Anna Howe obey the call of that friendship which has united us
as one soul, and endeavour to give you consolation.
* See Letter XIX. of this volume.
I wonder not at the melancholy reflections you so often cast upon
yourself in your letters, for the step you have been forced upon one
hand, and tricked into on the other. A strange fatality! As if it were
designed to show the vanity of all human prudence. I wish, my dear, as
you hint, that both you and I have not too much prided ourselves in a
perhaps too conscious superiority over others. But I will stop--how apt
are weak minds to look out for judgments in any extraordinary event!
'Tis so far right, that it is better, and safer, and juster, to arraign
ourselves, or our dearest friends, than Providence; which must always
have wise ends to answer its dispensations.
But do not talk, as if one of your former, of being a warning only*--you
will be as excellent an example as ever you hoped to be, as well as a
warning: and that will make your story, to all that shall come to know
it, of double efficacy: for were it that such a merit as yours could not
ensure to herself noble and generous usage from a libertine heart, who
will expect any tolerable behaviour from men of his character?
* See Vol. III. Letter XXVIII.
If you think yourself inexcusable for taking a step that put you into the
way of delusion, without any intention to go off with him, what must
those giddy creatures think of themselves, who, without half your
provocations and inducements, and without any regard to decorum, leap
walls, drop from windows, and steal away from their parents' house, to
the seducer's bed, in the same day?
Again, if you are so ready to accuse yourself for dispensing with the
prohibitions of the most unreasonable parents, which yet were but half-
prohibitions at first, what ought those to do, who wilfully shut their
ears to the advice of the most reasonable; and that perhaps, where
apparent ruin, or undoubted inconvenience, is the consequence of the
And lastly, to all who will know your story, you will be an excellent
example of watchfulness, and of that caution and reserve by which a
prudent person, who has been supposed to be a little misled, endeavours
to mend her error; and, never once losing sight of her duty, does all in
her power to recover the path she has been rather driven out of than
chosen to swerve from.
Come, come, my dearest friend, consider but these things; and steadily,
without desponding, pursue your earnest purposes to amend what you think
has been amiss; and it may not be a misfortune in the end that you have
erred; especially as so little of your will was in your error.
And indeed I must say that I use the words misled, and error, and such-
like, only in compliment to your own too-ready self-accusations, and to
the opinion of one to whom I owe duty: for I think in my conscience, that
every part of your conduct is defensible: and that those only are
blamable who have no other way to clear themselves but by condemning you.
I expect, however, that such melancholy reflections as drop from your pen
but too often will mingle with all your future pleasures, were you to
marry Lovelace, and were he to make the best of husbands.
You was immensely happy, above the happiness of a mortal creature, before
you knew him: every body almost worshipped you: envy itself, which has of
late reared up its venomous head against you, was awed, by your superior
worthiness, into silence and admiration. You was the soul of every
company where you visited. Your elders have I seen declining to offer
their opinions upon a subject till you had delivered yours; often, to
save themselves the mortification of retracting theirs, when they heard
yours. Yet, in all this, your sweetness of manners, your humility and
affability, caused the subscription every one made to your sentiments,
and to your superiority, to be equally unfeigned, and unhesitating; for
they saw that their applause, and the preference they gave you to
themselves, subjected not themselves to insults, nor exalted you into any
visible triumph over them; for you had always something to say on every
point you carried that raised the yielding heart, and left every one
pleased and satisfied with themselves, though they carried not off the
Your works were showed or referred to wherever fine works were talked of.
Nobody had any but an inferior and second-hand praise for diligence, for
economy, for reading, for writing, for memory, for facility in learning
every thing laudable, and even for the more envied graces of person and
dress, and an all-surpassing elegance in both, where you were known, and
those subjects talked of.
The poor blessed you every step you trod: the rich thought you their
honour, and took a pride that they were not obliged to descend from their
own class for an example that did credit to it.
Though all men wished for you, and sought you, young as you were; yet,
had not those who were brought to address you been encouraged out of
sordid and spiteful views, not one of them would have dared to lift up
his eyes to you.
Thus happy in all about you, thus making happy all within your circle,
could you think that nothing would happen to you, to convince you that
you were not to be exempted from the common lot?--To convinced you, that
you were not absolutely perfect; and that you must not expect to pass
through life without trial, temptation, and misfortune?
Indeed, it must be owned that no trial, no temptation, worthy of your
virtue, and of your prudence, could well have attacked you sooner,
because of your tender years, and more effectually, than those heavy ones
under which you struggle; since it must be allowed, that you equanimity
and foresight made you superior to common accidents; for are not most of
the troubles that fall to the lot of common mortals brought upon
themselves either by their too large desires, or too little deserts?--
Cases, both, from which you stood exempt.--It was therefore to be some
man, or some worse spirit in the shape of one, that, formed on purpose,
was to be sent to invade you; while as many other such spirits as there
are persons in your family were permitted to take possession, severally,
in one dark hour, of the heart of every one of it, there to sit perching,
perhaps, and directing every motion to the motions of the seducer
without, in order to irritate, to provoke, to push you forward to meet
Upon the whole, there seems, as I have often said, to have been a kind of
fate in your error, if it were an error; and this perhaps admitted for
the sake of a better example to be collected from your SUFFERINGS, than
could have been given, had you never erred: for my dear, the time of
ADVERSITY is your SHINING-TIME. I see it evidently, that adversity must
call forth graces and beauties which could not have been brought to light
in a run of that prosperous fortune which attended you from your cradle
till now; admirably as you became, and, as we all thought, greatly as you
deserved that prosperity.
All the matter is, the trial must be grievous to you. It is to me: it is
to all who love you, and looked upon you as one set aloft to be admired
and imitated, and not as a mark, as you have lately found, for envy to
shoot its shafts at.
Let what I have written above have its due weight with you, my dear; and
then, as warm imaginations are not without a mixture of enthusiasm, your
Anna Howe, who, on reperusal of it, imagines it to be in a style superior
to her usual style, will be ready to flatter herself that she has been in
a manner inspired with the hints that have comforted and raised the
dejected heart of her suffering friend; who, from such hard trials, in a
bloom so tender, may find at times her spirits sunk too low to enable her
to pervade the surrounding darkness, which conceals from her the hopeful
dawning of the better day which awaits her.
I will add no more at present, than that I am
Your ever faithful and affectionate
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
FRIDAY, MAY 12.
I must be silent, my exalted friend, under praises that oppress my heart
with a consciousness of not deserving them; at the same time that the
generous design of those praises raises and comforts it: for it is a
charming thing to stand high in the opinion of those we love; and to find
that there are souls that can carry their friendships beyond accidents,
beyond body and ties of blood. Whatever, my dearest creature, is my
shining-time, the time of a friend's adversity is yours. And it would be
almost a fault in me to regret those afflictions, which give you an
opportunity so gloriously to exert those qualities, which not only
ennoble our sex, but dignify human nature.
But let me proceed to subjects less agreeable.
I am sorry you have reason to think Singleton's projects are not at an
end. But who knows what the sailor had to propose?--Yet had any good
been intended me, this method would hardly have been fallen upon.
Depend upon it, my dear, your letters shall be safe.
I have made a handle of Mr. Lovelace's bold attempt and freedom, as I
told you I would, to keep him ever since at a distance, that I may have
an opportunity to see the success of the application to my uncle, and to
be at liberty to embrace any favourable overtures that may arise from it.
Yet he has been very importunate, and twice brought Mr. Mennell from Mrs.
Fretchvill to talk about the house.--If I should be obliged to make up
with him again, I shall think I am always doing myself a spite.
As to what you mention of his newly-detected crimes; and your advice to
attach Dorcas to my interest; and to come at some of his letters; these
things will require more or less of my attention, as I may hope favour or
not from my uncle Harlowe.
I am sorry that my poor Hannah continues ill. Pray, my dear, inform
yourself, and let me know, whether she wants any thing that befits her
I will not close this letter till to-morrow is over; for I am resolved to
go to church; and this as well for the sake of my duty, as to see if I am
at liberty to go out when I please without being attended or accompanied.
SUNDAY, MAY 14.
I have not been able to avoid a short debate with Mr. Lovelace. I had
ordered a coach to the door. When I had noticed that it was come, I went
out of my chamber to go to it; but met him dressed on the stairs head,
with a book in his hand, but without his hat and sword. He asked, with
an air very solemn yet respectful, if I were going abroad. I told him I
was. He desired leave to attend me, if I were going to church. I
refused him. And then he complained heavily of my treatment of him; and
declared that he would not live such another week as the past, for the
I owned to him very frankly, that I had made an application to my
friends; and that I was resolved to keep myself to myself till I knew the
issue of it.
He coloured, and seemed surprised. But checking himself in something he
was going to say, he pleaded my danger from Singleton, and again desired
to attend me.
And then he told me, that Mrs. Fretchville had desired to continue a
fortnight longer in the house. She found, said he, that I was unable to
determine about entering upon it; and now who knows when such a vapourish
creature will come to a resolution? This, Madam, has been an unhappy
week; for had I not stood upon such bad terms with you, you might have
been new mistress of that house; and probably had my cousin Montague, if
not Lady Betty, actually with you.
And so, Sir, taking all you say for granted, your cousin Montague cannot
come to Mrs. Sinclair's? What, pray, is her objection to Mrs.
Sinclair's? Is this house fit for me to live in a month or two, and not
fit for any of your relations for a few days?--And Mrs. Fretchville has
taken more time too!--Then, pushing by him, I hurried down stairs.
He called to Dorcas to bring him his sword and hat; and following me down
into the passage, placed himself between me and the door; and again
desired leave to attend me.
Mrs. Sinclair came out at that instant, and asked me, if I did not choose
a dish of chocolate?
I wish, Mrs. Sinclair, said I, you would take this man in with you to
your chocolate. I don't know whether I am at liberty to stir out without
his leave or not.
Then turning to him, I asked, if he kept me there his prisoner?
Dorcas just then bringing him his sword and hat, he opened the street-
door, and taking my reluctant hand, led me, in a very obsequious manner,
to the coach. People passing by, stopped, stared, and whispered--But he
is so graceful in his person and dress, that he generally takes every
I was uneasy to be so gazed at; and he stepped in after me, and the
coachman drove to St. Paul's.
He was very full of assiduities all the way; while I was as reserved as
possible: and when I returned, dined, as I had done the greatest part of
the week, by myself.
He told me, upon my resolving to do so, that although he would continue
his passive observance till I knew the issue of my application, yet I
must expect, that then I should not rest one moment till I had fixed his
happy day: for that his very soul was fretted with my slights,
resentments, and delays.
A wretch! when can I say, to my infinite regret, on a double account,
that all he complains of is owing to himself!
O that I may have good tidings from my uncle!
Adieu, my dearest friend--This shall lie ready for an exchange (as I hope
for one to-morrow from you) that will decide, as I may say, the destiny
MISS HOWE, TO MRS. JUDITH NORTON
THURSDAY, MAY 11.
GOOD MRS. NORTON,
Cannot you, without naming me as an adviser, who am hated by the family,
contrive a way to let Mrs. Harlowe know, that in an accidental
conversation with me, you had been assured that my beloved friend pines
after a reconciliation with her relations? That she has hitherto, in
hopes of it, refused to enter into any obligation that shall be in the
least a hinderance [sic] to it: that she would fain avoid giving Mr.
Lovelace a right to make her family uneasy in relation to her
grandfather's estate: that all she wishes for still is to be indulged in
her choice of a single life, and, on that condition, would make her
father's pleasure her's with regard to that estate: that Mr. Lovelace is
continually pressing her to marry him; and all his friends likewise: but
that I am sure she has so little liking to the man, because of his faulty
morals, and of the antipathy of her relations to him, that if she had any
hope given her of a reconciliation, she would forego all thoughts of him,
and put herself into her father's protection. But that their resolution
must be speedy; for otherwise she would find herself obliged to give way
to his pressing entreaties; and it might then be out of her power to
prevent disagreeable litigations.
I do assure you, Mrs. Norton, upon my honour, that our dearest friend
knows nothing of this procedure of mine: and therefore it is proper to
acquaint you, in confidence, with my grounds for it.--These are they:
She had desired me to let Mr. Hickman drop hints to the above effect to
her uncle Harlowe; but indirectly, as from himself, lest, if the
application should not be attended with success, and Mr. Lovelace (who
already takes it ill that he has so little of her favour) come to know
it, she may be deprived of every protection, and be perhaps subjected to
great inconveniencies from so haughty a spirit.
Having this authority from her, and being very solicitous about the
success of the application, I thought, that if the weight of so good a
wife, mother, and sister, as Mrs. Harlowe is known to be, were thrown
into the same scale with that of Mr. John Harlowe (supposing he could be
engaged) it could hardly fail of making a due impression.
Mr. Hickman will see Mr. John Harlowe to-morrow: by that time you may see
Mrs. Harlowe. If Mr. Hickman finds the old gentleman favourable, he will
tell him, that you will have seen Mrs. Harlowe upon the same account; and
will advise him to join in consultation with her how best to proceed to
melt the most obdurate heart in the world.
This is the fair state of the matter, and my true motive for writing to
you. I leave all, therefore, to your discretion; and most heartily wish
success to it; being of opinion that Mr. Lovelace cannot possibly deserve
our admirable friend: nor indeed know I the man who does.
Pray acquaint me by a line of the result of your interposition. If it
prove not such as may be reasonably hoped for, our dear friend shall know
nothing of this step from me; and pray let her not from you. For, in
that case, it would only give deeper grief to a heart already too much
afflicted. I am, dear and worthy Mrs. Norton,
Your true friend,
MRS. NORTON, TO MISS HOWE
SATURDAY, MAY 13.
My heart is almost broken, to be obliged to let you know, that such is
the situation of things in the family of my ever-dear Miss Harlowe, that
there can be at present no success expected from any application in her
favour. Her poor mother is to be pitied. I have a most affecting letter
from her; but must not communicate it to you; and she forbids me to let
it be known that she writes upon the subject; although she is compelled,
as it were, to do it, for the ease of her own heart. I mention it
therefore in confidence.
I hope in God that my beloved young lady has preserved her honour
inviolate. I hope there is not a man breathing who could attempt a
sacrilege so detestable. I have no apprehension of a failure in a virtue
so established. God for ever keep so pure a heart out of the reach of
surprises and violence! Ease, dear Madam, I beseech you, my over-anxious
heart, by one line, by the bearer, although but one line, to acquaint me
(as surely you can) that her honour is unsullied.--If it be not, adieu to
all the comforts this life can give: since none will it be able to afford
To the poor
MISS HOWE, TO MRS. JUDITH NORTON
SATURDAY EVENING, MAY 13.
DEAR, GOOD WOMAN,
Your beloved's honour is inviolate!--Must be inviolate! and will be so,
in spite of men and devils. Could I have had hope of a reconciliation,
all my view was, that she should not have had this man.--All that can be
said now, is, she must run the risk of a bad husband: she of whom no man
living is worthy!
You pity her mother--so do not I! I pity no mother that puts it out of
her power to show maternal love, and humanity, in order to patch up for
herself a precarious and sorry quiet, which every blast of wind shall
I hate tyrants in ever form and shape: but paternal and maternal tyrants
are the worst of all: for they can have no bowels.
I repeat, that I pity none of them. Our beloved friend only deserves
pity. She had never been in the hands of this man, but for them. She is
quite blameless. You don't know all her story. Were I to tell you that
she had no intention to go off with this man, it would avail her nothing.
It would only deserve to condemn, with those who drove her to
extremities, him who now must be her refuge. I am
Your sincere friend and servant,
MRS. HARLOWE, TO MRS. NORTON
[NOT COMMUNICATED TILL THE LETTERS CAME TO BE COLLECTED.]
SATURDAY, MAY 13.
I return an answer in writing, as I promised, to your communication. But
take no notice either to my Bella's Betty, (who I understand sometimes
visits you,) or to the poor wretch herself, nor to any body, that I do
write. I charge you don't. My heart is full: writing may give some vent
to my griefs, and perhaps I may write what lies most upon my heart,
without confining myself strictly to the present subject.
You know how dear this ungrateful creature ever was to us all. You know
how sincerely we joined with every one of those who ever had seen her, or
conversed with her, to praise and admire her; and exceeded in our praise
even the bounds of that modesty, which, because she was our own, should
have restrained us; being of opinion, that to have been silent in the
praise of so apparent a merit must rather have argued blindness or
affectation in us, than that we should incur the censure of vain
partiality to our own.
When therefore any body congratulated us on such a daughter, we received
their congratulations without any diminution. If it was said, you are
happy in this child! we owned, that no parents ever were happier in a
child. If, more particularly, they praised her dutiful behaviour to us,
we said, she knew not how to offend. If it were said, Miss Clarissa
Harlowe has a wit and penetration beyond her years; we, instead of
disallowing it, would add--and a judgment no less extraordinary than her
wit. If her prudence was praised, and a forethought, which every one saw
supplied what only years and experience gave to others--nobody need to
scruple taking lessons from Clarissa Harlowe, was our proud answer.
Forgive me, O forgive me, my dear Norton--But I know you will; for yours,
when good, was this child, and your glory as well as mine.
But have you not heard strangers, as she passed to and from church, stop
to praise the angel of a creature, as they called her; when it was enough
for those who knew who she was, to cry, Why, it is Miss Clarissa Harlowe!
--as if every body were obliged to know, or to have heard of Clarissa
Harlowe, and of her excellencies. While, accustomed to praise, it was
too familiar to her, to cause her to alter either her look or her pace.
For my own part, I could not stifle a pleasure that had perhaps a faulty
vanity for its foundation, whenever I was spoken of, or addressed to, as
the mother of so sweet a child: Mr. Harlowe and I, all the time, loving
each other the better for the share each had in such a daughter.
Still, still indulge the fond, the overflowing heart of a mother! I
could dwell for ever upon the remembrance of what she was, would but that
remembrance banish from my mind what she is!
In her bosom, young as she was, could I repose all my griefs--sure of
receiving from her prudence and advice as well as comfort; and both
insinuated in so dutiful a manner, that it was impossible to take those
exceptions which the distance of years and character between a mother and
a daughter would have made one apprehensive of from any other daughter.
She was our glory when abroad, our delight when at home. Every body was
even covetous of her company; and we grudged her to our brothers Harlowe,
and to our sister and brother Hervey. No other contention among us,
then, but who should be next favoured by her. No chiding ever knew she
from us, but the chiding of lovers, when she was for shutting herself up
too long together from us, in pursuit of those charming amusements and
useful employments, for which, however, the whole family was the better.
Our other children had reason (good children as they always were) to
think themselves neglected. But they likewise were so sensible of their
sister's superiority, and of the honour she reflected upon the whole
family, that they confessed themselves eclipsed, without envying the
eclipser. Indeed, there was not any body so equal with her, in their own
opinions, as to envy what all aspired but to emulate. The dear creature,
you know, my Norton, gave an eminence to us all!
Then her acquirements. Her skill in music, her fine needle-works, her
elegance in dress; for which she was so much admired, that the
neighbouring ladies used to say, that they need not fetch fashions from
London; since whatever Miss Clarissa Harlowe wore was the best fashion,
because her choice of natural beauties set those of art far behind them.
Her genteel ease, and fine turn of person; her deep reading, and these,
joined to her open manners, and her cheerful modesty--O my good Norton,
what a sweet child was once my Clary Harlowe!
This, and more, you knew her to be: for many of her excellencies were
owing to yourself; and with the milk you gave her, you gave her what no
other nurse in the world could give her.
And do you think, my worthy woman, do you think, that the wilful lapse of
such a child is to be forgiven? Can she herself think that she deserves
not the severest punishment for the abuse of such talents as were
intrusted to her?
Her fault was a fault of premeditation, of cunning, of contrivance. She
had deceived every body's expectations. Her whole sex, as well as the
family she sprung from, is disgraced by it.
Would any body ever have believed that such a young creature as this, who
had by her advice saved even her over-lively friend from marrying a fop,
and a libertine, would herself have gone off with one of the vilest and
most notorious of libertines? A man whose character she knew; and knew
it to be worse than the character of him from whom she saved her friend;
a man against whom she was warned: one who had her brother's life in her
hands; and who constantly set our whole family at defiance.
Think for me, my good Norton; think what my unhappiness must be both as a
wife and a mother. What restless days, what sleepless nights; yet my own
rankling anguish endeavoured to be smoothed over, to soften the anguish
of fiercer spirits, and to keep them from blazing out to further
mischief! O this naughty, naughty girl, who knew so well what she did;
and who could look so far into consequences, that we thought she would
have died rather than have done as she had done!
Her known character for prudence leaves her absolutely without excuse.
How then can I offer to plead for her, if, through motherly indulgence,
I would forgive her myself?--And have we not moreover suffered all the
disgrace that can befall us? Has not she?
If now she has so little liking to his morals, has she not reason before
to have as little? Or has she suffered by them in her own person?--O my
good woman, I doubt--I doubt--Will not the character of the man make one
doubt an angel, if once in his power? The world will think the worst. I
am told it does. So likewise her father fears; her brother hears; and
what can I do?
Our antipathy to him she knew before, as well as his character. These
therefore cannot be new motives without a new reason.--O my dear Mrs.
Norton, how shall I, how can you, support ourselves under the
apprehensions to which these thoughts lead!
He continually pressing her, you say, to marry him: his friends likewise.
She has reason, no doubt she has reason, for this application to us: and
her crime is glossed over, to bring her to us with new disgrace!
Whither, whither, does one guilty step lead the misguided heart!--And
now, truly, to save a stubborn spirit, we are only to be sounded, that
the application may be occasionally retracted or denied!
Upon the whole: were I inclined to plead for her, it is now the most
improper of all times. Now that my brother Harlowe has discouraged (as
he last night came hither on purpose to tell us) Mr. Hickman's insinuated
application; and been applauded for it. Now, that my brother Antony is
intending to carry his great fortune, through her fault, into another
family:--she expecting, no doubt, herself to be put into her
grandfather's estate, in consequence of a reconciliation, and as a reward
for her fault: and insisting still upon the same terms which she offered
before, and which were rejected--Not through my fault, I am sure,
From all these things you will return such an answer as the case
requires. It might cost me the peace of my whole life, at this time, to
move for her. God forgive her! If I do, nobody else will. And let it,
for your own sake, as well as mine, be a secret that you and I have
entered upon this subject. And I desire you not to touch upon it again
but by particular permission: for, O my dear, good woman, it sets my
heart a bleeding in as many streams as there are veins in it!
Yet think me not impenetrable by a proper contrition and remorse--But
what a torment is it to have a will without a power!
Adieu! adieu! God give us both comfort; and to the once dear--the ever-
dear creature (for can a mother forget her child?) repentance, deep
repentance! and as little suffering as may befit his blessed will, and
her grievous fault, prays
Your real friend,
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
SUNDAY, MAY 14.
How it is now, my dear, between you and Mr. Lovelace, I cannot tell.
But, wicked as the man is, I am afraid he must be your lord and master.
I called him by several very hard names in my last. I had but just heard
of some of his vilenesses, when I sat down to write; so my indignation
was raised. But on inquiry, and recollection, I find that the facts laid
to his charge were all of them committed some time ago--not since he has
had strong hopes of your favour.
This is saying something for him. His generous behaviour to the
innkeeper's daughter is a more recent instance to his credit; to say
nothing of the universal good character he has as a kind landlord. And
then I approve much of the motion he made to put you in possession of
Mrs. Fretchville's house, while he continues at the other widow's, till
you agree that one house shall hold you. I wish this were done. Be sure
you embrace this offer, (if you do not soon meet at the altar,) and get
one of his cousins with you.
Were you once married, I should think you cannot be very unhappy, though
you may not be so happy with him as you deserve to be. The stake he has
in his country, and his reversions; the care he takes of his affairs; his
freedom from obligation; nay, his pride, with your merit, must be a
tolerable security for you, I should think. Though particulars of his
wickedness, as they come to my knowledge, hurt and incense me; yet, after
all, when I give myself time to reflect, all that I have heard of him to
his disadvantage was comprehended in the general character given of him
long ago, by Lord M.'s and his own dismissed bailiff,* and which was
confirmed to me by Mrs. Fortescue, as I heretofore told you,** and to you
by Mrs. Greme.***
* See Vol. I. Letter IV.
** Ibid. Letter XII.
*** See Vol. III. Letter VI.
You can have nothing, therefore, I think, to be deeply concerned about,
but his future good, and the bad example he may hereafter set to his own
family. These indeed are very just concerns: but were you to leave him
now, either with or without his consent, his fortunes and alliances so
considerable, his person and address so engaging, (every one excusing you
now on those accounts, and because of your relations' follies,) it would
have a very ill appearance for your reputation. I cannot, therefore, on
the most deliberate consideration, advise you to think of that, while you
have no reason to doubt his honour. May eternal vengeance pursue the
villain, if he give room for an apprehension of this nature!
Yet his teasing ways are intolerable; his acquiescence with your slight
delays, and his resignedness to the distance you now keep him at, (for a
fault so much slighter, as he must think, than the punishment,) are
unaccountable: He doubts your love of him, that is very probable; but you
have reason to be surprised at his want of ardour; a blessing so great
within his reach, as I may say.
By the time you have read to this place, you will have no doubt of what
has been the issue of the conference between the two gentlemen. I am
equally shocked, and enraged against them all. Against them all, I say;
for I have tried your good Norton's weight with your mother, (though at
first I did not intend to tell you so,) to the same purpose as the
gentleman sounded your uncle. Never were there such determined brutes in
the world! Why should I mince the matter? Yet would I fain, methinks,
make an exception for your mother.
Your uncle will have it that you are ruined. 'He can believe every thing
bad of a creature, he says, who could run away with a man; with such a
one especially as Lovelace. They expected applications from you, when
some heavy distress had fallen upon you. But they are all resolved not
to stir an inch in your favour; no, not to save your life!'
My dearest soul, resolve to assert your right. Claim your own, and go
and live upon it, as you ought. Then, if you marry not, how will the
wretches creep to you for your reversionary dispositions!
You were accused (as in your aunt's letter) 'of premeditation and
contrivance in your escape.' Instead of pitying you, the mediating
person was called upon 'to pity them; who once, your uncle said, doated
upon you: who took no joy but in your presence: who devoured your words
as you spoke them: who trod over again your footsteps, as you walked
before them.'--And I know not what of this sort.
Upon the whole, it is now evident to me, and so it must be to you, when
you read this letter, that you must be his. And the sooner you are so
the better. Shall we suppose that marriage is not in your power?--I
cannot have patience to suppose that.
I am concerned, methinks, to know how you will do to condescend, (now you
see you must be his,) after you have kept him at such a distance; and for
the revenge his pride may put him upon taking for it. But let me tell
you, that if my going up, and sharing fortunes with you, will prevent
such a noble creature from stooping too low; much more, were it likely to
prevent your ruin, I would not hesitate a moment about it. What is the
whole world to me, weighed against such a friend as you are? Think you,
that any of the enjoyments of this life could be enjoyments to me, were
you involved in calamities, from which I could either alleviate or
relieve you, by giving up those enjoyments? And what in saying this, and
acting up to it, do I offer you, but the frits of a friendship your worth
Excuse my warmth of expression. The warmth of my heart wants none. I am
enraged at your relations; for, bad as what I have mentioned is, I have
not told you all; nor now, perhaps, ever will. I am angry at my own
mother's narrowness of mind, and at her indiscriminate adherence to old
notions. And I am exasperated against your foolish, your low-vanity'd
Lovelace. But let us stoop to take the wretch as he is, and make the
best of him, since you are destined to stoop, to keep grovellers and
worldlings in countenance. He had not been guilty of a direct indecency
to you. Nor dare he--not so much of a devil as that comes to neither.
Had he such villainous intentions, so much in his power as you are, they
would have shewn themselves before now to such a penetrating and vigilant
eye, and to such a pure heart as yours. Let us save the wretch then, if
we can, though we soil our fingers in lifting him up his dirt.
There is yet, to a person of your fortune and independence, a good deal
to do, if you enter upon those terms which ought to be entered upon. I
don't find that he has once talked of settlements; nor yet of the
license. A foolish wretch!--But as your evil destiny has thrown you out
of all other protection and mediation, you must be father, mother, uncle,
to yourself; and enter upon the requisite points for yourself. It is
hard upon you; but indeed you must. Your situation requires it. What
room for delicacy now?--Or would you have me write to him? yet that would
be the same thing as if you were to write yourself. Yet write you
should, I think, if you cannot speak. But speaking is certainly best:
for words leave no traces; they pass as breath; and mingle with air; and
may be explained with latitude. But the pen is a witness on record.
I know the gentleness of your spirit; I know the laudable pride of your
heart; and the just notion you have of the dignity of our sex in these
delicate points. But once more, all this in nothing now: your honour is
concerned that the dignity I speak of should not be stood upon.
'Mr. Lovelace,' would I say; yet hate the foolish fellow for his low, his
stupid pride, in wishing to triumph over the dignity of his own wife;--
'I am by your means deprived of every friend I have in the world. In
what light am I to look upon you? I have well considered every thing.
You have made some people, much against my liking, think me a wife:
others know I am not married; nor do I desire any body should believe I
am: Do you think your being here in the same house with me can be to my
reputation? You talked to me of Mrs. Fretchville's house.' This will
bring him to renew his last discourse on the subject, if he does not
revive it of himlsef. 'If Mrs. Fretchville knows not her own mind, what
is her house to me? You talked of bringing up your cousin Montague to
bear me company: if my brother's schemes be your pretence for not going
yourself to fetch her, you can write to her. I insist upon bringing
these two points to an issue: off or on ought to be indifferent to me, if
so to them.'
Such a declaration must bring all forward. There are twenty ways, my dear,
that you would find out for another in your circumstances. He will
disdain, from his native insolence, to have it thought he has any body to
consult. Well then, will he not be obliged to declare himself? And if
he does, no delays on your side, I beseech you. Give him the day. Let
it be a short one. It would be derogating from your own merit, not to be
so explicit as he ought to be, to seem but to doubt his meaning; and to
wait for that explanation for which I should ever despise him, if he
makes it necessary. Twice already have you, my dear, if not oftener
modesty'd away such opportunities as you ought not to have slipped. As
to settlements, if they come not in naturally, e'en leave them to his own
justice, and to the justice of his family, And there's an end of the
This is my advice: mend it as circumstances offer, and follow your own.
But indeed, my dear, this, or something like it, would I do. And let him
tell me afterwards, if he dared or would, that he humbled down to his
shoe-buckles the person it would have been his glory to exalt.
Support yourself, mean time, with reflections worthy of yourself. Though
tricked into this man's power, you are not meanly subjugated to it. All
his reverence you command, or rather, as I may say, inspire; since it was
never known, that he had any reverence for aught that was good, till you
was with him: and he professes now and then to be so awed and charmed by
your example, as that the force of it shall reclaim him.
I believe you will have a difficult task to keep him to it; but the more
will be your honour, if you effect his reformation: and it is my belief,
that if you can reclaim this great, this specious deceiver, who has,
morally speaking, such a number of years before him, you will save from
ruin a multitude of innocents; for those seem to me to have been the prey
for which he has spread his wicked snares. And who knows but, for this
very purpose, principally, a person may have been permitted to swerve,
whose heart or will never was in her error, and who has so much remorse
upon her for having, as she thinks, erred at all? Adieu, my dearest
ENCLOSED IN THE ABOVE.
I must trouble you with my concerns, though you own are so heavy upon
you. A piece of news I have to tell you. Your uncle Antony is disposed
to marry. With whom, think you? with my mother. True indeed. Your
family knows it. All is laid with redoubled malice at your door. And
there the old soul himself lays it.
Take no notice of this intelligence, not so much as in your letters to
me, for fear of accidents.
I think it can't do. But were I to provoke my mother, that might afford
a pretence. Else, I should have been with you before now, I fancy.
The first likelihood that appears to me of encouragement, I dismiss
Hickman, that's certain. If my mother disoblige me in so important an
article, I shan't think of obliging her in such another. It is
impossible, surely, that the desire of popping me off to that honest man
can be with such a view.
I repeat, that it cannot come to any thing. But these widows--Then such
a love in us all, both old and young, of being courted and admired!--and
so irresistible to their elderships to be flattered, that all power is
not over with them; but that they may still class and prank it with their
daughters.--It vexed me heartily to have her tell me of this proposal
with self-complaisant simperings; and yet she affected to speak of it as
if she had no intention to encourage it.
These antiquated bachelors (old before they believe themselves to be so)
imagine that when they have once persuaded themselves to think of the
state, they have nothing more to do than to make their minds known to the
Your uncle's overgrown fortune is indeed a bait; a tempting one. A saucy
daughter to be got rid of! The memory of the father of that daughter not
precious enough to weigh much!--But let him advance if he dare--let her
encourage--but I hope she won't.
Excuse me, my dear. I am nettled. They have fearfully rumpled my
gorget. You'll think me faulty. So, I won't put my name to this
separate paper. Other hands may resemble mine. You did not see me write
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
MONDAY AFTERNOON, MAY 15.
Now indeed it is evident, my best, my only friend, that I have but one
choice to make. And now I do find that I have carried my resentment
against this man too far; since now I am to appear as if under an
obligation to his patience with me for a conduct, which perhaps he will
think (if not humoursome and childish) plainly demonstrative of my little
esteem of him; of but a secondary esteem at least, where before, his
pride, rather than his merit, had made him expect a first. O my dear! to
be cast upon a man that is not a generous man; that is indeed a cruel
man! a man that is capable of creating a distress to a young creature,
who, by her evil destiny is thrown into his power; and then of enjoying
it, as I may say! [I verily think I may say so, of this savage!]--What
a fate is mine!
You give me, my dear, good advice, as to the peremptory manner in which I
ought to treat him: But do you consider to whom it is that you give it?--
And then should I take it, and should he be capable of delay, I
unprotected, desolate, nobody to fly to, in what a wretched light must I
stand in his eyes; and, what is still as bad, in my own! O my dear, see
you not, as I do, that the occasion for this my indelicate, my shocking
situation should never have been given by me, of all creatures; since I
am unequal, utterly unequal, to the circumstances to which my
inconsideration has reduced me?--What! I to challenge a man for a
husband!--I to exert myself to quicken the delayer in his resolutions!
and, having as you think lost an opportunity, to begin to try to recall
it, as from myself, and for myself! to threaten him, as I may say, into
the marriage state!--O my dear! if this be right to be done, how
difficult is it, where modesty and self (or where pride, if you please)
is concerned, to do that right? or, to express myself in your words, to
be father, mother, uncle, to myself!--especially where one thinks a
triumph over one is intended.
You say, you have tried Mrs. Norton's weight with my mother--bad as the
returns are which my application by Mr. Hickman has met with, you tell
me, 'that you have not acquainted me with all the bad, nor now, perhaps,
ever will.' But why so, my dear? What is the bad, what can be the bad,
which now you will never tell me of?--What worse, than renounce me! and
for ever! 'My uncle, you say, believes me ruined: he declares that he
can believe every thing bad of a creature who could run away with a man:
and they have all made a resolution not to stir an inch in my favour; no,
not to save my life!'--Have you worse than this, my dear, behind?--Surely
my father has not renewed his dreadful malediction!--Surely, if so, my
mother has not joined in it! Have my uncles given their sanction, and
made it a family act? And themselves thereby more really faulty, than
ever THEY suppose me to be, though I the cause of that greater fault in
them?--What, my dear, is the worst, that you will leave for ever
O Lovelace! why comest thou not just now, while these black prospects are
before me? For now, couldst thou look into my heart, wouldst thou see a
distress worthy of thy barbarous triumph!
I was forced to quit my pen. And you say you have tried Mrs. Norton's
weight with my mother?
What is done cannot be remedied: but I wish you had not taken a step of
this importance to me without first consulting me. Forgive me, my dear,
but I must tell you that that high-soul'd and noble friendship which you
have ever avowed with so obliging and so uncommon a warmth, although it
has been always the subject of my grateful admiration, has been often the
ground of my apprehension, because of its unbridled fervour.
Well, but now to look forward, you are of opinion that I must be his: and
that I cannot leave him with reputation to myself, whether with or
without his consent. I must, if so, make the best of the bad matter.
He went out in the morning; intending not to return to dinner, unless (as
he sent me word) I would admit him to dine with me.
I excused myself. The man, whose anger is now to be of such high
importance to me, was, it seems, displeased.
As he (as well as I) expected that I should receive a letter from you
this day by Collins, I suppose he will not be long before he returns; and
then, possibly, he is to be mighty stately, mighty mannish, mighty coy,
if you please! And then must I be very humble, very submissive, and try
to insinuate myself into his good graces: with downcast eye, if not by
speech, beg his forgiveness for the distance I have so perversely kept
him at?--Yes, I warrant!--But I shall see how this behaviour will sit
upon me!--You have always rallied me upon my meekness, I think: well
then, I will try if I can be still meeker, shall I!--O my dear!--
But let me sit with my hands before me, all patience, all resignation;
for I think I hear him coming up. Or shall I roundly accost him, in the
words, in the form, which you, my dear, prescribed?
He is come in. He has sent to me, all impatience, as Dorcas says, by his
aspect.--But I cannot, cannot see him!
The contents of your letter, and my own heavy reflections, rendered me
incapable of seeing this expecting man. The first word he asked Dorcas,
was, If I had received a letter since he had been out? She told me this;
and her answer, that I had; and was fasting, and had been in tears ever
He sent to desire an interview with me.
I answered by her, That I was not very well. In the morning, if better,
I would see him as soon as he pleased.
Very humble! was it not, my dear? Yet he was too royal to take it for
humility; for Dorcas told me, he rubbed one side of his face impatiently;
and said a rash word, and was out of humour; stalking about the room.
Half an hour later, he sent again; desiring very earnestly, that I should
admit him to supper with me. He would enter upon no subjects of
conversation but what I should lead to.
So I should have been at liberty, you see, to court him!
I again desired to be excused.
Indeed, my dear, my eyes were swelled: I was very low spirited; and could
not think of entering all at once, after the distance I had kept him at
for several days, into the freedom of conversation which the utter
rejection I have met with from my relations, as well as your advice, has
He sent up to tell me, that as he heard I was fasting, if I would promise
to eat some chicken which Mrs. Sinclair had ordered for supper, he would
acquiesce.--Very kind in his anger! Is he not?
I promised that I would. Can I be more preparatively condescending?--How
happy, I'll warrant, if I may meet him in a kind and forgiving humour!
I hate myself! But I won't be insulted. Indeed I won't, for all this.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
TUESDAY, MAY 16.
I think once more we seem to be in a kind of train; but through a storm.
I will give you the particulars.
I heard him in the dining-room at five in the morning. I had rested very
ill, and was up too. But opened not my door till six: when Dorcas
brought me his request for my company.
He approached me, and taking my hand, as I entered the dining-room, I
went not to bed, Madam, till two, said he; yet slept not a wink. For
God's sake, torment me not, as you have done for a week past.
He paused. I was silent.
At first, proceeded he, I thought your resentment of a curiosity, in
which I had been disappointed, could not be deep; and that it would go
off of itself: But, when I found it was to be kept up till you knew the
success of some new overtures which you had made, and which, complied
with, might have deprived me of you for ever, how, Madam, could I support
myself under the thoughts of having, with such an union of interests,
made so little impression upon your mind in my favour?
He paused again. I was still silent. He went on.
I acknowledge that I have a proud heart, Madam. I cannot but hope for
some instances of previous and preferable favour from the lady I am
ambitious to call mine; and that her choice of me should not appear, not
flagrantly appear, directed by the perverseness of her selfish
persecutors, who are my irreconcilable enemies.
More to the same purpose he said. You know, my dear, the room he had
given me to recriminate upon him in twenty instances. I did not spare
Every one of these instances, said I, (after I had enumerated them)
convinces me of your pride indeed, Sir, but not of your merit. I
confess, that I have as much pride as you can have, although I hope it is
of another kind than that you so readily avow. But if, Sir, you have the
least mixture in yours of that pride which may be expected, and thought
laudable, in a man of your birth, alliances, and fortune, you should
rather wish, I will presume to say, to promote what you call my pride,
than either to suppress it, or to regret that I have it. It is this my
acknowledged pride, proceeded I, that induces me to tell you, Sir, that I
think it beneath me to disown what have been my motives for declining,
for some days past, any conversation with you, or visit from Mr. Mennell,
that might lead to points out of my power to determine upon, until I
heard from my uncle Harlowe; whom, I confess, I have caused to be
sounded, whether I might be favoured with his interest to obtain for me
a reconciliation with my friends, upon terms which I had caused to be
I know not, said he, and suppose must not presume to ask, what those
terms were. But I can but too well guess at them; and that I was to have
been the preliminary sacrifice. But you must allow me, Madam, to say,
That as much as I admire the nobleness of your sentiments in general, and
in particular that laudable pride which you have spoken of, I wish that I
could compliment you with such an uniformity in it, as had set you as
much above all submission to minds implacable and unreasonable, (I hope I
may, without offence, say, that your brother's and sister's are such,) as
it has above all favour and condescension to me.
Duty and nature, Sir, call upon me to make the submissions you speak of:
there is a father, there is a mother, there are uncles in the one case,
to justify and demand those submissions. What, pray, Sir, can be pleaded
for the condescension, as you call it? Will you say, your merits, either
with regard to them, or to myself, may?
This, Madam, to be said, after the persecutions of those relations!
After what you have suffered! After what you have made me hope! Let me,
my dearest creature, ask you, (we have been talking of pride,) What sort
of pride must his be, which can dispense with inclination and preference
in the lady whom he adores?--What must that love--
Love, Sir! who talks of love?--Was not merit the thing we were talking
of?--Have I ever professed, have I ever required of you professions of a
passion of that nature?--But there is no end of these debatings; each so
faultless, each so full of self--
I do not think myself faultless, Madam:--but--
But what, Sir!--Would you ever more argue with me, as if you were a
child?--Seeking palliations, and making promises?--Promises of what, Sir?
Of being in future the man it is a shame a gentleman is not?--Of being
Good God! interrupted he, with eyes lifted up, if thou wert to be thus
Well, well, Sir! [impatiently] I need only to observe, that all this
vast difference in sentiment shows how unpaired our minds are--so let
Let us what, Madam?--My soul is rising into tumults! And he looked so
wildly, that I was a good deal terrified--Let us what, Madam?----
I was, however, resolved not to desert myself--Why, Sir! let us resolve
to quit every regard for each other.--Nay, flame not out--I am a poor
weak-minded creature in some things: but where what I should be, or not
deserve to live, if I am not is in the question, I have a great and
invincible spirit, or my own conceit betrays me--let us resolve to quit
every regard for each other that is more than civil. This you may depend
upon: I will never marry any other man. I have seen enough of your sex;
at least of you.--A single life shall ever be my choice: while I will
leave you at liberty to pursue your own.
Indifference, worse than indifference! said he, in a passion--
Interrupting him--Indifference let it be--you have not (in my opinion at
least) deserved that it should be other: if you have in your own, you
have cause (at least your pride has) to hate me for misjudging you.
Dearest, dearest creature! snatching my hand with fierceness, let me
beseech you to be uniformly noble! Civil regards, Madam!--Civil regards!
--Can you so expect to narrow and confine such a passion as mine?
Such a passion as yours, Mr. Lovelace, deserves to be narrowed and
confined. It is either the passion you do not think it, or I do not. I
question whether your mind is capable of being so narrowed and so
widened, as is necessary to make it be what I wish it to be. Lift up
your hands and your eyes, Sir, in silent wonder, if you please; but what
does that wonder express, what does it convince me of, but that we are
not born for one another.
By my soul, said he, and grasped my hand with an eagerness that hurt it,
we were born for one another: you must be mine--you shall be mine [and
put his other hand round me] although my damnation were to be the
I was still more terrified--let me leave you, Mr. Lovelace, said I; or do
you be gone from me. Is the passion you boast of to be thus shockingly
You must not go, Madam!--You must not leave me in anger--
I will return--I will return--when you can be less violent--less
And he let me go.
The man quite frighted me; insomuch, that when I got into my chamber, I
found a sudden flow of tears a great relief to me.
In half an hour, he sent a little billet, expressing his concern for the
vehemence of his behaviour, and prayed to see me.
I went. Because I could not help myself, I went.
He was full of excuses--O my dear, what would you, even you, do with such
a man as this; and in my situation?
It was very possible for him now, he said, to account for the workings of
a beginning phrensy. For his part, he was near distraction. All last
week to suffer as he had suffered; and now to talk of civil regards only,
when he had hoped, from the nobleness of my mind--
Hope what you will, interrupted I, I must insist upon it, that our minds
are by no means suited to each other. You have brought me into
difficulties. I am deserted by every friend but Miss Howe. My true
sentiments I will not conceal--it is against my will that I must submit
to owe protection from a brother's projects, which Miss Howe thinks are
not given over, to you, who have brought me into these straights: not
with my own concurrence brought me into them; remember that--
I do remember that, Madam!--So often reminded, how can I forget it?--
Yet I will owe to you this protection, if it be necessary, in the earnest
hope that you will shun, rather than seek mischief, if any further
inquiry after me be made. But what hinders you from leaving me?--Cannot
I send to you? The widow Fretchville, it is plain, knows not her own
mind: the people here are more civil to me every day than other: but I
had rather have lodgings more agreeable to my circumstances. I best know
what will suit them; and am resolved not to be obliged to any body. If
you leave me, I will privately retire to some one of the neighbouring
villages, and there wait my cousin Morden's arrival with patience.
I presume, Madam, replied he, from what you have said, that your
application to Harlowe-place has proved unsuccessful: I therefore hope
that you will now give me leave to mention the terms in the nature of
settlements, which I have long intended to propose to you; and which
having till now delayed to do, through accidents not proceeding from
myself, I had thoughts of urging to you the moment you entered upon your
new house; and upon your finding yourself as independent in appearance
as you are in fact. Permit me, Madam, to propose these matters to you--
not with an expectation of your immediate answer; but for your
Were not hesitation, a self-felt glow, a downcast eye, encouragement more
than enough? and yet you will observe (as I now do on recollection) that
he was in no great hurry to solicit for a day; since he had no thoughts
of proposing settlements till I had got into my new house; and now, in
his great complaisance to me, he desired leave to propose his terms, not
with an expectation of my immediate answer; but for my consideration only
--Yet, my dear, your advice was too much in my head at this time. I
He urged on upon my silence; he would call God to witness to the justice,
nay to the generosity of his intentions to me, if I would be so good as
to hear what he had to propose to me, as to settlements.
Could not the man have fallen into the subject without this parade? Many
a point, you know, is refused, and ought to be refused, if leave be asked
to introduce it; and when once refused, the refusal must in honour be
adhered to--whereas, had it been slid in upon one, as I may say, it might
have merited further consideration. If such a man as Mr. Lovelace knows
not this, who should?
But he seemed to think it enough that he had asked my leave to propose
his settlements. He took no advantage of my silence, as I presume men as
modest as Mr. Lovelace would have done in a like case: yet, gazing in my
face very confidently, and seeming to expect my answer, I thought myself
obliged to give the subject a more diffuse turn, in order to save myself
the mortification of appearing too ready in my compliance, after such a
distance as had been between us; and yet (in pursuance of your advice) I
was willing to avoid the necessity of giving him such a repulse as might
again throw us out of the course--a cruel alternative to be reduced to!
You talk of generosity, Mr. Lovelace, said I; and you talk of justice;
perhaps, without having considered the force of the words, in the sense
you use them on this occasion.--Let me tell you what generosity is, in my
sense of the word--TRUE GENEROSITY is not confined to pecuniary
instances: it is more than politeness: it is more than good faith: it is
more than honour; it is more than justice; since all of these are but
duties, and what a worthy mind cannot dispense with. But TRUE GENEROSITY
is greatness of soul. It incites us to do more by a fellow-creature than
can be strictly required of us. It obliges us to hasten to the relief of
an object that wants relief; anticipating even such a one's hope or
expectation. Generosity, Sir, will not surely permit a worthy mind to
doubt of its honourable and beneficent intentions: much less will it
allow itself to shock, to offend any one; and, least of all, a person
thrown by adversity, mishap, or accident, into its protection.
What an opportunity had he to clear his intentions had he been so
disposed, from the latter part of this home observation!--but he ran away
with the first, and kept to that.
Admirably defined! he said--But who, at this rate, Madam, can be said to
be generous to you?--Your generosity I implore, while justice, as it must
be my sole merit, shall be my aim. Never was there a woman of such nice
and delicate sentiments!
It is a reflection upon yourself, Sir, and upon the company you have
kept, if you think these notions either nice or delicate. Thousands of
my sex are more nice than I; for they would have avoided the devious path
I have been surprised into; the consequences of which surprise have laid
me under the sad necessity of telling a man, who has not delicacy enough
to enter into those parts of the female character which are its glory and
distinction, what true generosity is.
His divine monitress, he called me. He would endeavour to form his
manners (as he had often promised) by my example. But he hoped I would
now permit him to mention briefly the justice he proposed to do me, in
the terms of the settlements; a subject so proper, before now, to have
entered upon; and which would have been entered upon long ago, had not
my frequent displeasure [I am ever in fault, my dear!] taken from him the
opportunity he had often wished for: but now, having ventured to lay hold
of this, nothing should divert him from improving it.
I have no spirits, just now, Sir, to attend such weighty points. What
you have a mind to propose, write to me: and I shall know what answer to
return. Only one thing let me remind you of, that if you touch upon a
subject, in which my father has a concern, I shall judge by your
treatment of the father what value you have for the daughter.
He looked as if he would choose rather to speak than write: but had he
said so, I had a severe return to have made upon him; as possibly he
might see by my looks.
In this way are we now: a sort of calm, as I said, succeeding a storm.
What may happen next, whether a storm or a calm, with such a spirit as I
have to deal with, who can tell?
But, be that as it will, I think, my dear, I am not meanly off: and that
is a great point with me; and which I know you will be glad to hear: if
it were only, that I can see this man without losing any of that dignity
[What other word can I use, speaking of myself, that betokens decency,
and not arrogance?] which is so necessary to enable me to look up, or
rather with the mind's eye, I may say, to look down upon a man of this
Although circumstance have so offered, that I could not take your advice
as to the manner of dealing with him; yet you gave me so much courage by
it, as has enabled me to conduct things to this issue; as well as
determined me against leaving him: which, before, I was thinking to do,
at all adventures. Whether, when it came to the point, I should have
done so, or not, I cannot say, because it would have depended upon his
behaviour at the time.
But let his behaviour be what it will, I am afraid, (with you,) that
should any thing offer at last to oblige me to leave him, I shall not
mend my situation in the world's eye; but the contrary. And yet I will
not be treated by him with indignity while I have any power to help
You, my dear, have accused me of having modesty'd away, as you phrase it,
several opportunities of being--Being what, my dear?--Why, the wife of a
libertine: and what a libertine and his wife are my cousin Morden's
letter tells us.--Let me here, once for all, endeavour to account for the
motives of behavior to this man, and for the principles I have proceeded
upon, as they appear to me upon a close self-examination.
Be pleased to allow me to think that my motives on this occasion rise not
altogether from maidenly niceness; nor yet from the apprehension of what
my present tormenter, and future husband, may think of a precipitate
compliance, on such a disagreeable behaviour as his: but they arise
principally from what offers to my own heart; respecting, as I may say,
its own rectitude, its own judgment of the fit and the unfit; as I would,
without study, answer for myself to myself, in the first place; to him,
and to the world, in the second only. Principles that are in my mind;
that I found there; implanted, no doubt, by the first gracious Planter:
which therefore impel me, as I may say, to act up to them, that thereby
I may, to the best of my judgment, be enabled to comport myself worthily
in both states, (the single and the married), let others act as they will
I hope, my dear, I do not deceive myself, and, instead of setting about
rectifying what is amiss in my heart, endeavour to find excuses for habits
and peculiarities, which I am unwilling to cast off or overcome.
The heart is very deceitful: do you, my dear friend, lay mine open, [but
surely it is always open before you!] and spare me not, if you think it
This observation, once for all, as I said, I thought proper to make, to
convince you that, to the best of my judgment, my errors, in matters as
well of lesser moment as of greater, shall rather be the fault of my
judgment than of my will.
I am, my dearest friend,
Your ever obliged,
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
TUESDAY NIGHT, MAY 16.
Mr. Lovelace has sent me, by Dorcas, his proposals, as follow:
'To spare a delicacy so extreme, and to obey you, I write: and the rather
that you may communicate this paper to Miss Howe, who may consult any of
her friends you shall think proper to have intrusted on this occasion. I
say intrusted; because, as you know, I have given it out to several
persons, that we are actually married.
'In the first place, Madam, I offer to settle upon you, by way of
jointure, your whole estate: and moreover to vest in trustees such a part
of mine in Lancashire, as shall produce a clear four hundred pounds a
year, to be paid to your sole and separate use quarterly.
'My own estate is a clear not nominnal 2000l. per annum. Lord M.
proposes to give me possession either of that which he has in Lancashire,
[to which, by the way, I think I have a better title than he has
himself,] or that we call The Lawn, in Hertfordshire, upon my nuptials
with a lady whom he so greatly admires; and to make that I shall choose a
clear 1000l. per annum.
'My too great contempt of censure has subjected me to much slander. It
may not therefore be improper to assure you, on the word of a gentleman,
that no part of my estate was ever mortgaged: and that although I lived
very expensively abroad, and made large draughts, yet that Midsummer-day
next will discharge all that I owe in the world. My notions are not all
bad ones. I have been thought, in pecuniary cases, generous. It would
have deserved another name, had I not first been just.
'If, as your own estate is at present in your father's hands, you rather
choose that I should make a jointure out of mine, tantamount to yours, be
it what it will, it shall be done. I will engage Lord M. to write to
you, what he proposes to do on the happy occasion: not as your desire or
expectation, but to demonstrate, that no advantage is intended to be
taken of the situation you are in with your own family.
'To shew the beloved daughter the consideration I have for her, I will
consent that she shall prescribe the terms of agreement in relation to
the large sums, which must be in her father's hands, arising from her
grandfather's estate. I have no doubt, but he will be put upon making
large demands upon you. All those it shall be in your power to comply
with, for the sake of your own peace. And the remainder shall be paid
into your hands, and be entirely at your disposal, as a fund to support
those charitable donations, which I have heard you so famed for our of
your family, and for which you have been so greatly reflected upon in it.
'As to clothes, jewels, and the like, against the time you shall choose
to make your appearance, it will be my pride that you shall not be
beholden for such of these, as shall be answerable to the rank of both,
to those who have had the stupid folly to renounce a daughter they
deserved not. You must excuse me, Madam: you would mistrust my sincerity
in the rest, could I speak of these people without asperity, though so
nearly related to you.
'These, Madam, are my proposals. They are such as I always designed to
make, whenever you would permit me to enter into the delightful subject.
But you have been so determined to try every method for reconciling
yourself to your relations, even by giving me absolutely up for ever,
that you seemed to think it but justice to keep me at a distance, till
the event of that your predominant hope could be seen. It is now seen!
--and although I have been, and perhaps still am, ready to regret the
want of that preference I wished for from you as Miss Clarissa Harlowe,
yet I am sure, as the husband of Mrs. Lovelace, I shall be more ready
to adore than to blame you for the pangs you have given to a heart, the
generosity, or rather, the justice of which, my implacable enemies have
taught you to doubt: and this still the readier, as I am persuaded that
those pangs never would have been given by a mind so noble, had not the
doubt been entertained (perhaps with too great an appearance of reason);
and as I hope I shall have it to reflect, that the moment the doubt shall
be overcome, the indifference will cease.
'I will only add, that if I have omitted any thing, that would have given
you farther satisfaction; or if the above terms be short of what you
would wish; you will be pleased to supply them as you think fit. And
when I know your pleasure, I will instantly order articles to be drawn up
comformably, that nothing in my power may be wanting to make you happy.
'You will now, dearest Madam, judge, how far all the rest depends upon
You see, my dear, what he offers. You see it is all my fault, that he
has not made these offers before. I am a strange creature!--to be to
blame in every thing, and to every body; yet neither intend the ill at
the time, nor know it to be the ill too late, or so nearly too late, that
I must give up all the delicacy he talks of, to compound for my fault!
I shall now judge how far the rest depends upon myself! So coldly
concludes he such warm, and, in the main, unobjectionably proposals:
Would you not, as you read, have supposed, that the paper would conclude
with the most earnest demand of a day?--I own, I had that expectation so
strong, resulting naturally, as I may say, from the premises, that
without studying for dissatisfaction, I could not help being dissatisfied
when I came to the conclusion.
But you say there is no help. I must perhaps make further sacrifices.
All delicacy it seems is to be at an end with me!--but, if so, this man
knows not what every wise man knows, that prudence, and virtue, and
delicacy of mind in a wife, do the husband more real honour in the eye of
the world, than the same qualities (were she destitute of them) in
himself, do him: as the want of them in her does him more dishonour: For
are not the wife's errors the husband's reproach? how justly his
reproach, is another thing.
I will consider this paper; and write to it, if I am able: for it seems
now, all the rest depends upon myself.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
WEDNESDAY MORNING, MAY 17.
Mr. Lovelace would fain have engaged me last night. But as I was not
prepared to enter upon the subject of his proposals, (intending to
consider them maturely,) and was not highly pleased with his conclusion,
I desired to be excused seeing him till morning; and the rather, as there
is hardly any getting from him in tolerable time overnight.
Accordingly, about seven o'clock we met in the dining-room.
I find he was full of expectation that I should meet him with a very
favourable, who knows but with a thankful, aspect? and I immediately
found by his sullen countenance, that he was under no small
disappointment that I did not.
My dearest love, are you well? Why look you so solemn upon me? Will
your indifference never be over? If I have proposed terms in any respect
short of your expectation--
I told him, that he had very considerately mentioned my shewing his
proposals to Miss Howe; and as I should have a speedy opportunity to send
them to her by Collins, I desired to suspend any talk upon that subject
till I had her opinion upon them.
Good God!--If there was but the least loop-hole! the least room for
delay!--But he was writing a letter to Lord M. to give him an account of
his situation with me, and could not finish it so satisfactorily, either
to my Lord or to himself, as if I would condescend to say, whether the
terms he had proposed were acceptable, or not.
Thus far, I told him, I could say, that my principal point was peace and
reconciliation with my relations. As to other matters, the gentleness of
his own spirit would put him upon doing more for me than I should ask, or
expect. Wherefore, if all he had to write about was to know what Lord M.
would do on my account, he might spare himself the trouble, for that my
utmost wishes, as to myself, were much more easily gratified than he
He asked me then, if I would so far permit him to touch upon the happy
day, as to request the presence of Lord M. on the occasion, and to be my
Father had a sweet and venerable sound with it, I said. I should be glad
to have a father who would own me!
Was not this plain speaking, think you, my dear? Yet it rather, I must
own, appears so to me on reflection, than was designed freely at the
time. For I then, with a sigh from the bottom of my heart, thought of my
own father; bitterly regretting, that I am an outcast from him and from
Mr. Lovelace I thought seemed a little affected at the manner of my
speaking, and perhaps at the sad reflection.
I am but a very young creature, Mr. Lovelace, said I, [and wiped my eyes
as I turned away my face,] although you have kindly, and in love to me,
introduced so much sorry to me already: so you must not wonder, that the
word father strikes so sensibly upon the heart of a child ever dutiful
till she knew you, and whose tender years still require the paternal
He turned towards the window--[rejoice with me, my dear, since I seem to
be devoted to him, that the man is not absolutely impenetrable!] His
emotion was visible; yet he endeavoured to suppress it. Approaching me
again; again he was obliged to turn from me; angelic something, he said:
but then, obtaining a heart more suitable to his wish, he once more
approached me.--For his own part, he said, as Lord M. was so subject to
gout, he was afraid, that the compliment he had just proposed to make
him, might, if made, occasion a larger suspension than he could bear to
think of; and if it did, it would vex him to the heart that he had made
I could not say a single word to this, you know, my dear. But you will
guess at my thoughts of what he said--so much passionate love, lip-deep!
so prudent, and so dutifully patient at heart to a relation he had till
now so undutifully despised!--Why, why, am I thrown upon such a man,
He hesitated, as if contending with himself; and after taking a turn or
two about the room, He was at a great loss what to determine upon, he
said, because he had not the honour of knowing when he was to be made the
happiest of men--Would to God it might that very instant be resolved
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