Cousin Harlowe, said my aunt Hervey, allow me to say, that my cousin Clary's prudence may be confided in.
I am convinced it may, joined my mother.
But, aunt, but, madam (put in my sister) there is no hurt, I presume, in letting my sister know the condition she goes to Miss Howe upon; since, if he gets a nack of visiting her there—
You may be sure, interrupted my uncle Harlowe, he will endeavour to see her there.
So would such an impudent man here, said my uncle Antony: and 'tis better done there than here.
Better no where, said my father.—I command you (turning to me) on pain of displeasure, that you see him not at all.
I will not, Sir, in any way of encouragement, I do assure you: not at all, if I can properly avoid it.
You know with what indifference, said my mother, she has hitherto seen him.—Her prudence may be trusted to, as my sister Hervey says.
With what appa—rent indifference, drawled my brother.
Son James! said my father sternly.
I have done, Sir, said he. But again, in a provoking manner, he reminded me of the prohibition.
Thus ended the conference.
Will you engage, my dear, that the hated man shall not come near your house?—But what an inconsistence is this, when they consent to my going, thinking his visits here no otherwise to be avoided!—But if he does come, I charge you never to leave us alone together.
As I have no reason to doubt a welcome from your good mother, I will put every thing in order here, and be with you in two or three days.
Mean time, I am Your most affectionate and obliged, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE [AFTER HER RETURN FROM HER.] HARLOWE-PLACE, FEB. 20.
I beg your excuse for not writing sooner. Alas! my dear, I have sad prospects before me! My brother and sister have succeeded in all their views. They have found out another lover for me; an hideous one!—Yet he is encouraged by every body. No wonder that I was ordered home so suddenly. At an hour's warning!—No other notice, you know, than what was brought with the chariot that was to carry me back.—It was for fear, as I have been informed [an unworthy fear!] that I should have entered into any concert with Mr. Lovelace had I known their motive for commanding me home; apprehending, 'tis evident, that I should dislike the man they had to propose to me.
And well might they apprehend so:—For who do you think he is?—No other than that Solmes—Could you have believed it?—And they are all determined too; my mother with the rest!—Dear, dear excellence! how could she be thus brought over, when I am assured, that on his first being proposed she was pleased to say, That had Mr. Solmes the Indies in possession, and would endow me with them, she should not think him deserving of her Clarissa!
The reception I met with at my return, so different from what I used to meet with on every little absence [and now I had been from them three weeks], convinced me that I was to suffer for the happiness I had had in your company and conversation for that most agreeable period. I will give you an account of it.
My brother met me at the door, and gave me his hand when I stepped out of the chariot. He bowed very low: pray, Miss, favour me.—I thought it in good humour; but found it afterwards mock respect: and so he led me in great form, I prattling all the way, inquiring of every body's health, (although I was so soon to see them, and there was hardly time for answers,) into the great parlour; where were my father, mother, my two uncles, and sister.
I was struck all of a heap as soon as I entered, to see a solemnity which I had been so little used to on the like occasions in the countenance of every dear relation. They all kept their seats. I ran to my father, and kneeled: then to my mother: and met from both a cold salute: From my father a blessing but half pronounced: My mother indeed called me child; but embraced me not with her usual indulgent ardour.
After I had paid my duty to my uncles, and my compliments to my sister, which she received with solemn and stiff form, I was bid to sit down. But my heart was full: and I said it became me to stand, if I could stand, upon a reception so awful and unusual. I was forced to turn my face from them, and pull out my handkerchief.
My unbrotherly accuser hereupon stood forth, and charged me with having received no less than five or six visits at Miss Howe's from the man they had all so much reason to hate [that was the expression]; notwithstanding the commands I had had to the contrary. And he bid me deny it if I could.
I had never been used, I said, to deny the truth, nor would I now. I owned I had in the three weeks passed seen the person I presumed he meant oftener than five or six times [Pray hear me, brother, said I; for he was going to flame out], but he always asked for Mrs. or Miss Howe, when he came.
I proceeded, that I had reason to believe, that both Mrs. Howe and Miss, as matters stood, would much rather have excused his visits; but they had more than once apologized, that having not the same reason my papa had to forbid him their house, his rank and fortune entitled him to civility.
You see, my dear, I made not the pleas I might have made.
My brother seemed ready to give a loose to his passion: My father put on the countenance which always portends a gathering storm: My uncles mutteringly whispered: And my sister aggravatingly held up her hands. While I begged to be heard out:—And my mother said, let the child, that was her kind word, be heard.
I hoped, I said, there was no harm done: that it became not me to prescribe to Mrs. or Miss Howe who should be their visitors: that Mrs. Howe was always diverted with the raillery that passed between Miss and him: that I had no reason to challenge her guest for my visitor, as I should seem to have done had I refused to go into their company when he was with them: that I had never seen him out of the presence of one or both of those ladies; and had signified to him once, on his urging a few moments' private conversation with me, that, unless a reconciliation were effected between my family and his, he must not expect that I would countenance his visits, much less give him an opportunity of that sort.
I told him further, that Miss Howe so well understood my mind, that she never left me a moment while Mr. Lovelace was there: that when he came, if I was not below in the parlour, I would not suffer myself to be called to him: although I thought it would be an affectation which would give him an advantage rather than the contrary, if I had left company when he came in; or refused to enter into it when I found he would stay any time.
My brother heard me out with such a kind of impatience as shewed he was resolved to be dissatisfied with me, say what I would. The rest, as the event has proved, behaved as if they would have been satisfied, had they not further points to carry by intimidating me. All this made it evident, as I mentioned above, that they themselves expected not my voluntary compliance; and was a tacit confession of the disagreeableness of the person they had to propose.
I was no sooner silent than my brother swore, although in my father's presence, (swore, unchecked either by eye or countenance,) That for his part, he would never be reconciled to that libertine: and that he would renounce me for a sister, if I encouraged the addresses of a man so obnoxious to them all.
A man who had like to have been my brother's murderer, my sister said, with a face even bursting with restraint of passion.
The poor Bella has, you know, a plump high-fed face, if I may be allowed the expression. You, I know, will forgive me for this liberty of speech sooner than I can forgive myself: Yet how can one be such a reptile as not to turn when trampled upon!
My father, with vehemence both of action and voice [my father has, you know, a terrible voice when he is angry] told me that I had met with too much indulgence in being allowed to refuse this gentleman, and the other gentleman,; and it was now his turn to be obeyed!
Very true, my mother said:—and hoped his will would not now be disputed by a child so favoured.
To shew they were all of a sentiment, my uncle Harlowe said, he hoped his beloved niece only wanted to know her father's will, to obey it.
And my uncle Antony, in his rougher manner, added, that surely I would not give them reason to apprehend, that I thought my grandfather's favour to me had made me independent of them all.—If I did, he would tell me, the will could be set aside, and should.
I was astonished, you must needs think.—Whose addresses now, thought I, is this treatment preparative to?—Mr. Wyerley's again?—or whose? And then, as high comparisons, where self is concerned, sooner than low, come into young people's heads; be it for whom it will, this is wooing as the English did for the heiress of Scotland in the time of Edward the Sixth. But that it could be for Solmes, how should it enter into my head?
I did not know, I said, that I had given occasion for this harshness. I hoped I should always have a just sense of every one's favour to me, superadded to the duty I owed as a daughter and a niece: but that I was so much surprised at a reception so unusual and unexpected, that I hoped my papa and mamma would give me leave to retire, in order to recollect myself.
No one gainsaying, I made my silent compliments, and withdrew;—leaving my brother and sister, as I thought, pleased; and as if they wanted to congratulate each other on having occasioned so severe a beginning to be made with me.
I went up to my chamber, and there with my faithful Hannah deplored the determined face which the new proposal it was plain they had to make me wore.
I had not recovered myself when I was sent for down to tea. I begged my maid to be excused attending; but on the repeated command, went down with as much cheerfulness as I could assume; and had a new fault to clear myself of: for my brother, so pregnant a thing is determined ill-will, by intimations equally rude and intelligible, charged my desire of being excused coming down, to sullens, because a certain person had been spoken against, upon whom, as he supposed, my fancy ran.
I could easily answer you, Sir, said I, as such a reflection deserves: but I forbear. If I do not find a brother in you, you shall have a sister in me.
Pretty meekness! Bella whisperingly said; looking at my brother, and lifting up her lip in contempt.
He, with an imperious air, bid me deserve his love, and I should be sure to have it.
As we sat, my mother, in her admirable manner, expatiated upon brotherly and sisterly love; indulgently blamed my brother and sister for having taken up displeasure too lightly against me; and politically, if I may say so, answered for my obedience to my father's will.—The it would be all well, my father was pleased to say: Then they should dote upon me, was my brother's expression: Love me as well as ever, was my sister's: And my uncles, That I then should be the pride of their hearts.—But, alas! what a forfeiture of all these must I make!
This was the reception I had on my return from you.
Mr. Solmes came in before we had done tea. My uncle Antony presented him to me, as a gentleman he had a particular friendship for. My uncle Harlowe in terms equally favourable for him. My father said, Mr. Solmes is my friend, Clarissa Harlowe. My mother looked at him, and looked at me, now-and-then, as he sat near me, I thought with concern.—I at her, with eyes appealing for pity. At him, when I could glance at him, with disgust little short of affrightment. While my brother and sister Mr. Solmes'd him, and Sirr'd—yet such a wretch!—But I will at present only add, My humble thanks and duty to your honoured mother (to whom I will particularly write, to express the grateful sense I have of her goodness to me); and that I am
Your ever obliged, CL. HARLOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE FEB. 24.
They drive on here at a furious rate. The man lives here, I think. He courts them, and is more and more a favourite. Such terms, such settlements! That's the cry.
O my dear, that I had not reason to deplore the family fault, immensely rich as they all are! But this I may the more unreservedly say to you, as we have often joined in the same concern: I, for a father and uncles; you, for a mother; in every other respect, faultless.
Hitherto, I seem to be delivered over to my brother, who pretends as great a love to me as ever.
You may believe I have been very sincere with him. But he affects to rally me, and not to believe it possible, that one so dutiful and discreet as his sister Clary can resolve to disoblige all her friends.
Indeed, I tremble at the prospect before me; for it is evident that they are strangely determined.
My father and mother industriously avoid giving me opportunity of speaking to them alone. They ask not for my approbation, intended, as it should seem, to suppose me into their will. And with them I shall hope to prevail, or with nobody. They have not the interest in compelling me, as my brother and sister have: I say less therefore to them, reserving my whole force for an audience of my father, if he will permit me a patient ear. How difficult is it, my dear, to give a negative where both duty and inclination join to make one wish to oblige!
I have already stood the shock of three of this man's particular visits, besides my share in his more general ones; and find it is impossible I should ever endure him. He has but a very ordinary share of understanding; is very illiterate; knows nothing but the value of estates, and how to improve them, and what belongs to land-jobbing and husbandry. Yet I am as one stupid, I think. They have begun so cruelly with me, that I have not spirit enough to assert my own negative.
They had endeavoured it seems to influence my good Mrs. Norton before I came home—so intent are they to carry their point! And her opinion not being to their liking, she has been told that she would do well to decline visiting here for the present: yet she is the person of all the world, next to my mother, the most likely to prevail upon me, were the measures they are engaged in reasonable measures, or such as she could think so.
My aunt likewise having said that she did not think her niece could ever be brought to like Mr. Solmes, has been obliged to learn another lesson.
I am to have a visit from her to-morrow. And, since I have refused so much as to hear from my brother and sister what the noble settlements are to be, she is to acquaint me with the particulars; and to receive from me my determination: for my father, I am told, will not have patience but to suppose that I shall stand in opposition to his will.
Mean time it has been signified to me, that it will be acceptable if I do not think of going to church next Sunday.
The same signification was made for me last Sunday; and I obeyed. They are apprehensive that Mr. Lovelace will be there with design to come home with me.
Help me, dear Miss Howe, to a little of your charming spirit: I never more wanted it.
The man, this Solmes, you may suppose, has no reason to boast of his progress with me. He has not the sense to say any thing to the purpose. His courtship indeed is to them; and my brother pretends to court me as his proxy, truly!—I utterly, to my brother, reject his address; but thinking a person, so well received and recommended by all my family, entitled to good manners, all I say against him is affectedly attributed to coyness: and he, not being sensible of his own imperfections, believes that my avoiding him when I can, and the reserves I express, are owing to nothing else: for, as I said, all his courtship is to them; and I have no opportunity of saying no, to one who asks me not the question. And so, with an air of mannish superiority, he seems rather to pity the bashful girl, than to apprehend that he shall not succeed.
I have had the expected conference with my aunt.
I have been obliged to hear the man's proposals from her; and have been told also what their motives are for espousing his interest with so much warmth. I am even loth to mention how equally unjust it is for him to make such offers, or for those I am bound to reverence to accept of them. I hate him more than before. One great estate is already obtained at the expense of the relations to it, though distant relations; my brother's, I mean, by his godmother: and this has given the hope, however chimerical that hope, of procuring others; and that my own at least may revert to the family. And yet, in my opinion, the world is but one great family. Originally it was so. What then is this narrow selfishness that reigns in us, but relationship remembered against relationship forgot?
But here, upon my absolute refusal of him upon any terms, have I had a signification made me that wounds me to the heart. How can I tell it you? Yet I must. It is, my dear, that I must not for a month to come, or till license obtained, correspond with any body out of the house.
My brother, upon my aunt's report, (made, however, as I am informed, in the gentlest manner, and even giving remote hopes, which she had no commission from me to give,) brought me, in authoritative terms, the prohibition.
Not to Miss Howe? said I.
No, not to Miss Howe, Madam, tauntingly: for have you not acknowledged, that Lovelace is a favourite there?
See, my dear Miss Howe—!
And do you think, Brother, this is the way—
Do you look to that.—But your letters will be stopt, I can tell you.—And away he flung.
My sister came to me soon after—Sister Clary, you are going on in a fine way, I understand. But as there are people who are supposed to harden you against your duty, I am to tell you, that it will be taken well if you avoid visits or visitings for a week or two till further order.
Can this be from those who have authority—
Ask them; ask them, child, with a twirl of her finger.—I have delivered my message. Your father will be obeyed. He is willing to hope you to be all obedience, and would prevent all incitements to refractoriness.
I know my duty, said I; and hope I shall not find impossible condition annexed to it.
A pert young creature, vain and conceited, she called me. I was the only judge, in my own wise opinion, of what was right and fit. She, for her part, had long seen into my specious ways: and now I should shew every body what I was at bottom.
Dear Bella! said I, hands and eyes lifted up—why all this?—Dear, dear Bella, why—
None of your dear, dear Bella's to me.—I tell you, I see through your witchcrafts [that was her strange word]. And away she flung; adding, as she went, and so will every body else very quickly, I dare say.
Bless me, said I to myself, what a sister have I!—How have I deserved this?
Then I again regretted my grandfather's too distinguishing goodness to me.
FEB. 25, IN THE EVENING.
What my brother and sister have said against me I cannot tell:—but I am in heavy disgrace with my father.
I was sent for down to tea. I went with a very cheerful aspect: but had occasion soon to change it.
Such a solemnity in every body's countenance!—My mother's eyes were fixed upon the tea-cups; and when she looked up, it was heavily, as if her eye-lids had weights upon them; and then not to me. My father sat half-aside in his elbow-chair, that his head might be turned from me: his hands clasped, and waving, as it were, up and down; his fingers, poor dear gentleman! in motion, as if angry to the very ends of them. My sister was swelling. My brother looked at me with scorn, having measured me, as I may say, with his eyes as I entered, from head to foot. My aunt was there, and looked upon me as if with kindness restrained, bending coldly to my compliment to her as she sat; and then cast an eye first on my brother, then on my sister, as if to give the reason [so I am willing to construe it] of her unusual stiffness.—Bless me, my dear! that they should choose to intimidate rather than invite a mind, till now, not thought either unpersuadable or ungenerous!
I took my seat. Shall I make tea, Madam, to my mother?—I always used, you know, my dear, to make tea.
No! a very short sentence, in one very short word, was the expressive answer. And she was pleased to take the canister in her own hand.
My brother bid the footman, who attended, leave the room—I, he said, will pour out the water.
My heart was up in my mouth. I did not know what to do with myself. What is to follow? thought I.
Just after the second dish, out stept my mother—A word with you, sister Hervey! taking her in her hand. Presently my sister dropt away. Then my brother. So I was left alone with my father.
He looked so very sternly, that my heart failed me as twice or thrice I would have addressed myself to him: nothing but solemn silence on all hands having passed before.
At last, I asked, if it were his pleasure that I should pour him out another dish?
He answered me with the same angry monosyllable, which I had received from my mother before; and then arose, and walked about the room. I arose too, with intent to throw myself at his feet; but was too much overawed by his sternness, even to make such an expression of my duty to him as my heart overflowed with.
At last, as he supported himself, because of his gout, on the back of a chair, I took a little more courage; and approaching him, besought him to acquaint me in what I had offended him?
He turned from me, and in a strong voice, Clarissa Harlowe, said he, know that I will be obeyed.
God forbid, Sir, that you should not!—I have never yet opposed your will—
Nor I your whimsies, Clarissa Harlowe, interrupted he.—Don't let me run the fate of all who shew indulgence to your sex; to be the more contradicted for mine to you.
My father, you know, my dear, has not (any more than my brother) a kind opinion of our sex; although there is not a more condescending wife in the world than my mother.
I was going to make protestations of duty—No protestations, girl! No words! I will not be prated to! I will be obeyed! I have no child, I will have no child, but an obedient one.
Sir, you never had reason, I hope—
Tell me not what I never had, but what I have, and what I shall have.
Good Sir, be pleased to hear me—My brother and sister, I fear—
Your brother and sister shall not be spoken against, girl!—They have a just concern for the honour of my family.
And I hope, Sir—
Hope nothing.—Tell me not of hopes, but of facts. I ask nothing of you but what is in your power to comply with, and what it is your duty to comply with.
Then, Sir, I will comply with it—But yet I hope from your goodness—
No expostulations! No but's, girl! No qualifyings! I will be obeyed, I tell you; and cheerfully too!—or you are no child of mine!
Let me beseech you, my dear and ever-honoured Papa, (and I dropt down on my knees,) that I may have only yours and my mamma's will, and not my brother's, to obey.
I was going on; but he was pleased to withdraw, leaving me on the floor; saying, That he would not hear me thus by subtilty and cunning aiming to distinguish away my duty: repeating, that he would be obeyed.
My heart is too full;—so full, that it may endanger my duty, were I to try to unburden it to you on this occasion: so I will lay down my pen.—But can—Yet positively, I will lay down my pen—!
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE FEB. 26, IN THE MORNING.
My aunt, who staid here last night, made me a visit this morning as soon as it was light. She tells me, that I was left alone with my father yesterday on purpose that he might talk with me on my expected obedience; but that he owned he was put beside his purpose by reflecting on something my brother had told him in my disfavour, and by his impatience but to suppose, that such a gentle spirit as mine had hitherto seemed to be, should presume to dispute his will in a point where the advantage of the whole family was to be so greatly promoted by my compliance.
I find, by a few words which dropt unawares from my aunt, that they have all an absolute dependence upon what they suppose to be meekness in my temper. But in this they may be mistaken; for I verily think, upon a strict examination of myself, that I have almost as much in me of my father's as of my mother's family.
My uncle Harlowe it seems is against driving me upon extremities: But my brother has engaged, that the regard I have for my reputation, and my principles, will bring me round to my duty; that's the expression. Perhaps I shall have reason to wish I had not known this.
My aunt advises me to submit for the present to the interdicts they have laid me under; and indeed to encourage Mr. Solmes's address. I have absolutely refused the latter, let what will (as I have told her) be the consequence. The visiting prohibition I will conform to. But as to that of not corresponding with you, nothing but the menace that our letters shall be intercepted, can engage my observation of it.
She believes that this order is from my father, and that my mother has not been consulted upon it. She says, that it is given, as she has reason think, purely in consideration to me, lest I should mortally offend him; and this from the incitements of other people (meaning you and Miss Lloyd, I make no doubt) rather than by my own will. For still, as she tells me, he speaks kind and praiseful things of me.
Here is clemency! Here is indulgence!—And so it is, to prevent a headstrong child, as a good prince would wish to deter disaffected subjects, from running into rebellion, and so forfeiting every thing! But this is allowing to the young-man's wisdom of my brother; a plotter without a head, and a brother without a heart!
How happy might I have been with any other brother in the world but James Harlowe; and with any other sister but his sister! Wonder not, my dear, that I, who used to chide you for these sort of liberties with my relations, now am more undutiful than you ever was unkind. I cannot bear the thought of being deprived of the principal pleasure of my life; for such is your conversation by person and by letter. And who, besides, can bear to be made the dupe of such low cunning, operating with such high and arrogant passions?
But can you, my dear Miss Howe, condescend to carry on a private correspondence with me?—If you can, there is one way I have thought of, by which it may be done.
You must remember the Green Lane, as we call it, that runs by the side of the wood-house and poultry-yard where I keep my bantams, pheasants, and pea-hens, which generally engage my notice twice a day; the more my favourites because they were my grandfather's, and recommended to my care by him; and therefore brought hither from my Dairy-house since his death.
The lane is lower than the floor of the wood-house; and, in the side of the wood-house, the boards are rotted away down to the floor for half an ell together in several places. Hannah can step into the lane, and make a mark with chalk where a letter or parcel may be pushed in, under some sticks; which may be so managed as to be an unsuspected cover for the written deposits from either.
I have been just now to look at the place, and find it will answer. So your faithful Robert may, without coming near the house, and as only passing through the Green Lame which leads to two or three farm-houses [out of livery if you please] very easily take from thence my letters and deposit yours.
This place is the more convenient, because it is seldom resorted to but by myself or Hannah, on the above-mentioned account; for it is the general store-house for firing; the wood for constant use being nearer the house.
One corner of this being separated off for the roosting-place of my little poultry, either she or I shall never want a pretence to go thither.
Try, my dear, the success of a letter this way; and give me your opinion and advice what to do in this disgraceful situation, as I cannot but call it; and what you think of my prospects; and what you would do in my case.
But before-hand I will tell you, that your advice must not run in favour of this Solmes: and yet it is very likely they will endeavour to engage your mother, in order to induce you, who have such an influence over me, to favour him.
Yet, on second thoughts, if you incline to that side of the question, I would have you write your whole mind. Determined as I think I am, and cannot help it, I would at least give a patient hearing to what may be said on the other side. For my regards are not so much engaged [upon my word they are not; I know not myself if they be] to another person as some of my friends suppose; and as you, giving way to your lively vein, upon his last visits, affected to suppose. What preferable favour I may have for him to any other person, is owing more to the usage he has received, and for my sake borne, than to any personal consideration.
I write a few lines of grateful acknowledgement to your good mother for her favours to me in the late happy period. I fear I shall never know such another. I hope she will forgive me, that I did not write sooner.
The bearer, if suspected and examined, is to produce that as the only one he carries.
How do needless watchfulness and undue restraint produce artifice and contrivance! I should abhor these clandestine correspondences, were they not forced upon me. They have so mean, so low an appearance to myself, that I think I ought not to expect that you should take part in them.
But why (as I have also expostulated with my aunt) must I be pushed into a state, which I have no wish to enter into, although I reverence it?—Why should not my brother, so many years older, and so earnest to see me engaged, be first engaged?—And why should not my sister be first provided for?
But here I conclude these unavailing expostulations, with the assurance, that I am, and ever will be,
Your affectionate, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE FEB. 27
What odd heads some people have!—Miss Clarissa Harlowe to be sacrificed in marriage to Mr. Roger Solmes!—Astonishing!
I must not, you say, give my advice in favour of this man!—You now convince me, my dear, that you are nearer of kin than I thought you, to the family that could think of so preposterous a match, or you would never have had the least notion of my advising in his favour.
Ask for his picture. You know I have a good hand at drawing an ugly likeness. But I'll see a little further first: for who knows what may happen, since matters are in such a train; and since you have not the courage to oppose so overwhelming a torrent?
You ask me to help you to a little of my spirit. Are you in earnest? But it will not now, I doubt, do you service.—It will not sit naturally upon you. You are your mother's girl, think what you will; and have violent spirits to contend with. Alas! my dear, you should have borrowed some of mine a little sooner;—that is to say, before you had given the management of your estate into the hands of those who think they have a prior claim to it. What though a father's!—Has not the father two elder children?—And do they not both bear more of his stamp and image than you do?—Pray, my dear, call me not to account for this free question; lest your application of my meaning, on examination, prove to be as severe as that.
Now I have launched out a little, indulge me one word more in the same strain—I will be decent, I promise you. I think you might have know, that Avarice and Envy are two passions that are not to be satisfied, the one by giving, the other by the envied person's continuing to deserve and excel.—Fuel, fuel both, all the world over, to flames insatiate and devouring.
But since you ask for my opinion, you must tell me all you know or surmise of their inducements. And if you will not forbid me to make extracts from your letters for the entertainment of my aunt and cousin in the little island, who long to hear more of your affairs, it will be very obliging.
But you are so tender of some people who have no tenderness for any body but themselves, that I must conjure you to speak out. Remember, that a friendship like ours admits of no reserves. You may trust my impartiality. It would be an affront to your own judgment, if you did not: For do you not ask my advice? And have you not taught me that friendship should never give a bias against justice?—Justify them, therefore, if you can. Let us see if there be any sense, whether sufficient reason or not in their choice. At present I cannot (and yet I know a good deal of your family) have any conception how all of them, your mother and your aunt Hervey in particular, can join with the rest against judgments given. As to some of the others, I cannot wonder at any thing they do, or attempt to do, where self is concerned.
You ask, Why may not your brother be first engaged in wedlock? I'll tell you why: His temper and his arrogance are too well known to induce women he would aspire to, to receive his addresses, notwithstanding his great independent acquisitions, and still greater prospects. Let me tell you, my dear, those acquisitions have given him more pride than reputation. To me he is the most intolerable creature that I ever conversed with. The treatment you blame, he merited from one whom he addressed with the air of a person who presumes that he is about to confer a favour, rather than to receive one. I ever loved to mortify proud and insolent spirits. What, think you, makes me bear Hickman near me, but that the man is humble, and knows and keeps his distance?
As to your question, Why your elder sister may not be first provided for? I answer, Because she must have no man, but one who has a great and clear estate; that's one thing. Another is, Because she has a younger sister. Pray, my dear, be so good as to tell me, What man of a great and clear estate would think of that eldest sister, while the younger were single?
You are all too rich to be happy, child. For must not each of you, by the constitutions of your family, marry to be still richer? People who know in what their main excellence consists, are not to be blamed (are they) for cultivating and improving what they think most valuable?—Is true happiness any part of your family view?—So far from it, that none of your family but yourself could be happy were they not rich. So let them fret on, grumble and grudge, and accumulate; and wondering what ails them that they have not happiness when they have riches, think the cause is want of more; and so go on heaping up, till Death, as greedy an accumulator as themselves, gathers them into his garner.
Well then once more I say, do you, my dear, tell me what you know of their avowed and general motives; and I will tell you more than you will tell me of their failings! Your aunt Hervey, you say,* has told you: Why must I ask you to let me know them, when you condescend to ask my advice on the occasion?
* See Letter VIII.
That they prohibit your corresponding with me, is a wisdom I neither wonder at, nor blame them for: since it is an evidence to me, that they know their own folly: And if they do, is it strange that they should be afraid to trust one another's judgment upon it?
I am glad you have found out a way to correspond with me. I approve it much. I shall more, if this first trial of it prove successful. But should it not, and should it fall into their hands, it would not concern me but for your sake.
We have heard before you wrote, that all was not right between your relations and you at your coming home: that Mr. Solmes visited you, and that with a prospect of success. But I concluded the mistake lay in the person; and that his address was to Miss Arabella. And indeed had she been as good-natured as your plump ones generally are, I should have thought her too good for him by half. This must certainly be the thing, thought I; and my beloved friend is sent for to advise and assist in her nuptial preparations. Who knows, said I to my mother, but that when the man has thrown aside his yellow full-buckled peruke, and his broad-brimmed beaver (both of which I suppose were Sir Oliver's best of long standing) he may cut a tolerable figure dangling to church with Miss Bell!—The woman, as she observes, should excel the man in features: and where can she match so well for a foil?
I indulged this surmise against rumour, because I could not believe that the absurdest people in England could be so very absurd as to think of this man for you.
We heard, moreover, that you received no visiters. I could assign no reason for this, except that the preparations for your sister were to be private, and the ceremony sudden, for fear this man should, as another man did, change his mind. Miss Lloyd and Miss Biddulph were with me to inquire what I knew of this; and of your not being in church, either morning or afternoon, the Sunday after your return from us; to the disappointment of a little hundred of your admirers, to use their words. It was easy for me to guess the reason to be what you confirm—their apprehensions that Lovelace would be there, and attempt to wait on you home.
My mother takes very kindly your compliments in your letter to her. Her words upon reading it were, 'Miss Clarissa Harlowe is an admirable young lady: wherever she goes, she confers a favour: whomever she leaves, she fills with regret.'—And then a little comparative reflection—'O my Nancy, that you had a little of her sweet obligingness!'
No matter. The praise was yours. You are me; and I enjoyed it. The more enjoyed it, because—Shall I tell you the truth?—Because I think myself as well as I am—were it but for this reason, that had I twenty brother James's, and twenty sister Bell's, not one of them, nor all of them joined together, would dare to treat me as yours presume to treat you. The person who will bear much shall have much to bear all the world through; it is your own sentiment,* grounded upon the strongest instance that can be given in your own family; though you have so little improved by it.
* Letter V.
The result is this, that I am fitter for this world than you; you for the next than me:—that is the difference.—But long, long, for my sake, and for hundreds of sakes, may it be before you quit us for company more congenial to you and more worthy of you!
I communicated to my mother the account you give of your strange reception; also what a horrid wretch they have found out for you; and the compulsory treatment they give you. It only set her on magnifying her lenity to me, on my tyrannical behaviour, as she will call it [mothers must have their way, you know, my dear] to the man whom she so warmly recommends, against whom it seems there can be no just exception; and expatiating upon the complaisance I owe her for her indulgence. So I believe I must communicate to her nothing farther—especially as I know she would condemn the correspondence between us, and that between you and Lovelace, as clandestine and undutiful proceedings, and divulge our secret besides; for duty implicit is her cry. And moreover she lends a pretty open ear to the preachments of that starch old bachelor your uncle Antony; and for an example to her daughter would be more careful how she takes your part, be the cause ever so just.
Yet is this not the right policy neither. For people who allow nothing will be granted nothing: in other words, those who aim at carrying too many points will not be able to carry any.
But can you divine, my dear, what the old preachment-making, plump-hearted soul, your uncle Antony, means by his frequent amblings hither?—There is such smirking and smiling between my mother and him! Such mutual praises of economy; and 'that is my way!'—and 'this I do!'—and 'I am glad it has your approbation, Sir!'—and 'you look into every thing, Madam!'—'Nothing would be done, if I did not!'—
Such exclamations against servants! Such exaltings of self! And dear heart, and good lack!—and 'las a-day!—And now-and-then their conversation sinking into a whispering accent, if I come across them!—I'll tell you, my dear, I don't above half like it.
Only that these old bachelors usually take as many years to resolve upon matrimony as they can reasonably expect to live, or I should be ready to fire upon his visits; and to recommend Mr. Hickman to my mother's acceptance, as a much more eligible man: for what he wants in years, he makes up in gravity; and if you will not chide me, I will say, that there is a primness in both (especially when the man has presumed too much with me upon my mother's favour for him, and is under discipline on that account) as make them seem near of kin: and then in contemplation of my sauciness, and what they both fear from it, they sigh away! and seem so mightily to compassionate each other, that if pity be but one remove from love, I am in no danger, while they are both in a great deal, and don't know it.
Now, my dear, I know you will be upon me with your grave airs: so in for the lamb, as the saying is, in for the sheep; and do you yourself look about you; for I'll have a pull with you by way of being aforehand. Hannibal, we read, always advised to attack the Romans upon their own territories.
You are pleased to say, and upon your word too! that your regards (a mighty quaint word for affections) are not so much engaged, as some of your friends suppose, to another person. What need you give one to imagine, my dear, that the last month or two has been a period extremely favourable to that other person, whom it has made an obliger of the niece for his patience with the uncles.
But, to pass that by—so much engaged!—How much, my dear?—Shall I infer? Some of your friends suppose a great deal. You seem to own a little.
Don't be angry. It is all fair: because you have not acknowledged to me that little. People I have heard you say, who affect secrets, always excite curiosity.
But you proceed with a kind of drawback upon your averment, as if recollection had given you a doubt—you know not yourself, if they be [so much engaged]. Was it necessary to say this to me?—and to say it upon your word too?—But you know best.—Yet you don't neither, I believe. For a beginning love is acted by a subtle spirit; and oftentimes discovers itself to a by-stander, when the person possessed (why should I not call it possessed?) knows not it has such a demon.
But further you say, what preferable favour you may have for him to any other person, is owing more to the usage he has received, and for your sake borne, than to any personal consideration.
This is generously said. It is in character. But, O my friend, depend upon it, you are in danger. Depend upon it, whether you know it or not, you are a little in for't. Your native generosity and greatness of mind endanger you: all your friends, by fighting against him with impolitic violence, fight for him. And Lovelace, my life for yours, notwithstanding all his veneration and assiduities, has seen further than that veneration and those assiduities (so well calculated to your meridian) will let him own he has seen—has seen, in short, that his work is doing for him more effectually than he could do it for himself. And have you not before now said, that nothing is so penetrating as the eye of a lover who has vanity? And who says Lovelace wants vanity?
In short, my dear, it is my opinion, and that from the easiness of his heart and behaviour, that he has seen more than I have seen; more than you think could be seen—more than I believe you yourself know, or else you would let me know it.
Already, in order to restrain him from resenting the indignities he has received, and which are daily offered him, he has prevailed upon you to correspond with him privately. I know he has nothing to boast of from what you have written: but is not his inducing you to receive his letters, and to answer them, a great point gained? By your insisting that he should keep the correspondence private, it appears there is one secret which you do not wish the world should know: and he is master of that secret. He is indeed himself, as I may say, that secret! What an intimacy does this beget for the lover! How is it distancing the parent!
Yet who, as things are situated, can blame you?—Your condescension has no doubt hitherto prevented great mischiefs. It must be continued, for the same reasons, while the cause remains. You are drawn in by a perverse fate against inclination: but custom, with such laudable purposes, will reconcile the inconveniency, and make an inclination.—And I would advise you (as you would wish to manage on an occasion so critical with that prudence which governs all your actions) not to be afraid of entering upon a close examination into the true springs and grounds of this your generosity to that happy man.
It is my humble opinion, I tell you frankly, that on inquiry it will come out to be LOVE—don't start, my dear!—Has not your man himself had natural philosophy enough to observe already to your aunt Hervey, that love takes the deepest root in the steadiest minds? The deuce take his sly penetration, I was going to say; for this was six or seven weeks ago.
I have been tinctured, you know. Nor on the coolest reflection, could I account how and when the jaundice began: but had been over head and ears, as the saying is, but for some of that advice from you, which I now return you. Yet my man was not half so—so what, my dear—to be sure Lovelace is a charming fellow. And were he only—but I will not make you glow, as you read—upon my word I will not.—Yet, my dear, don't you find at your heart somewhat unusual make it go throb, throb, throb, as you read just here?—If you do, don't be ashamed to own it—it is your generosity, my love, that's all.—But as the Roman augur said, Caesar, beware of the Ides of March!
Adieu, my dearest friend.—Forgive, and very speedily, by the new found expedient, tell me that you forgive,
Your ever-affectionate, ANNA HOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1.
You both nettled and alarmed me, my dearest Miss Howe, by the concluding part of your last. At first reading it, I did not think it necessary, said I to myself, to guard against a critic, when I was writing to so dear a friend. But then recollecting myself, is there not more in it, said I, than the result of a vein so naturally lively? Surely I must have been guilty of an inadvertence. Let me enter into the close examination of myself which my beloved friend advises.
I do so; and cannot own any of the glow, any of the throbs you mention.—Upon my word I will repeat, I cannot. And yet the passages in my letter, upon which you are so humourously severe, lay me fairly open to your agreeable raillery. I own they do. And I cannot tell what turn my mind had taken to dictate so oddly to my pen.
But, pray now—is it saying so much, when one, who has no very particular regard to any man, says, there are some who are preferable to others? And is it blamable to say, they are the preferable, who are not well used by one's relations; yet dispense with that usage out of regard to one's self which they would otherwise resent? Mr. Lovelace, for instance, I may be allowed to say, is a man to be preferred to Mr. Solmes; and that I do prefer him to that man: but, surely, this may be said without its being a necessary consequence that I must be in love with him.
Indeed I would not be in love with him, as it is called, for the world: First, because I have no opinion of his morals; and think it a fault in which our whole family (my brother excepted) has had a share, that he was permitted to visit us with a hope, which, however, being distant, did not, as I have observed heretofore,* entitle any of us to call him to account for such of his immoralities as came to our ears. Next, because I think him to be a vain man, capable of triumphing (secretly at least) over a person whose heart he thinks he has engaged. And, thirdly, because the assiduities and veneration which you impute to him, seem to carry an haughtiness in them, as if he thought his address had a merit in it, that would be more than an equivalent to a woman's love. In short, his very politeness, notwithstanding the advantages he must have had from his birth and education, appear to be constrained; and, with the most remarkable easy and genteel person, something, at times, seems to be behind in his manner that is too studiously kept in. Then, good-humoured as he is thought to be in the main to other people's servants, and this even to familiarity (although, as you have observed, a familiarity that has dignity in it not unbecoming to a man of quality) he is apt sometimes to break out into a passion with his own: An oath or a curse follows, and such looks from those servants as plainly shew terror, and that they should have fared worse had they not been in my hearing: with a confirmation in the master's looks of a surmise too well justified.
* Letter III.
Indeed, my dear, THIS man is not THE man. I have great objections to him. My heart throbs not after him. I glow not, but with indignation against myself for having given room for such an imputation. But you must not, my dearest friend, construe common gratitude into love. I cannot bear that you should. But if ever I should have the misfortune to think it love, I promise you upon my word, which is the same as upon my honour, that I will acquaint you with it.
You bid me to tell you very speedily, and by the new-found expedient, that I am not displeased with you for your agreeable raillery: I dispatch this therefore immediately, postponing to my next the account of the inducements which my friends have to promote with so much earnestness the address of Mr. Solmes.
Be satisfied, my dear, mean time, that I am not displeased with you: indeed I am not. On the contrary, I give you my hearty thanks for your friendly premonitions; and I charge you (as I have often done) that if you observe any thing in me so very faulty as would require from you to others in my behalf the palliation of friendly and partial love, you acquaint me with it: for methinks I would so conduct myself as not to give reason even for an adversary to censure me; and how shall so weak and so young a creature avoid the censure of such, if my friend will not hold a looking-glass before me to let me see my imperfections?
Judge me, then, my dear, as any indifferent person (knowing what you know of me) would do. I may be at first be a little pained; may glow a little perhaps to be found less worthy of your friendship than I wish to be; but assure yourself, that your kind correction will give me reflection that shall amend me. If it do not, you will have a fault to accuse me of, that will be utterly inexcusable: a fault, let me add, that should you not accuse me of it (if in your opinion I am guilty) you will not be so much, so warmly, my friend as I am yours; since I have never spared you on the like occasions.
Here I break off to begin another letter to you, with the assurance, mean time, that I am, and ever will be,
Your equally affectionate and grateful, CL. HARLOWE.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE THURSDAY MORNING, MARCH 2.
Indeed you would not be in love with him for the world!—Your servant, my dear. Nor would I have you. For, I think, with all the advantages of person, fortune, and family, he is not by any means worthy of you. And this opinion I give as well from the reasons you mention (which I cannot but confirm) as from what I have heard of him but a few hours ago from Mrs. Fortescue, a favourite of Lady Betty Lawrance, who knows him well—but let me congratulate you, however, on your being the first of our sex that ever I heard of, who has been able to turn that lion, Love, at her own pleasure, into a lap-dog.
Well but, if you have not the throbs and the glows, you have not: and are not in love; good reason why—because you would not be in love; and there's no more to be said.—Only, my dear, I shall keep a good look-out upon you; and so I hope you will be upon yourself; for it is no manner of argument that because you would not be in love, you therefore are not.—But before I part entirely with this subject, a word in your ear, my charming friend—'tis only by way of caution, and in pursuance of the general observation, that a stander-by is often a better judge of the game than those that play.—May it not be, that you have had, and have, such cross creatures and such odd heads to deal with, as have not allowed you to attend to the throbs?—Or, if you had them a little now and then, whether, having had two accounts to place them to, you have not by mistake put them to the wrong one?
But whether you have a value for Lovelace or not, I know you will be impatient to hear what Mrs. Fortescue has said of him. Nor will I keep you longer in suspense.
An hundred wild stories she tells of him from childhood to manhood: for, as she observed, having never been subject to contradiction, he was always as mischievous as a monkey. But I shall pass over these whole hundred of his puerile rogueries (although indicative ones, as I may say) to take notice as well of some things you are not quite ignorant of, as of others you know not, and to make a few observations upon him and his ways.
Mrs. Fortescue owns, what every body knows, 'that he is notoriously, nay, avowedly, a man of pleasure; yet says, that in any thing he sets his heart upon or undertakes, he is the most industrious and persevering mortal under the sun. He rests it seems not above six hours in the twenty-four—any more than you. He delights in writing. Whether at Lord M.'s, or at Lady Betty's, or Lady Sarah's, he has always a pen in his fingers when he retires. One of his companions (confirming his love of writing) has told her, that his thoughts flow rapidly to his pen:' And you and I, my dear, have observed, on more occasions than one, that though he writes even a fine hand, he is one of the readiest and quickest of writers. He must indeed have had early a very docile genius; since a person of his pleasurable turn and active spirit, could never have submitted to take long or great pains in attaining the qualifications he is master of; qualifications so seldom attained by youth of quality and fortune; by such especially of those of either, who, like him, have never known what it was to be controuled.
'He had once it seems the vanity, upon being complimented on these talents (and on his surprising diligence, for a man of pleasure) to compare himself to Julius Caesar; who performed great actions by day, and wrote them down at night; and valued himself, that he only wanted Caesar's out-setting, to make a figure among his contemporaries.
'He spoke of this indeed, she says, with an air of pleasantry: for she observed, and so have we, that he has the art of acknowledging his vanity with so much humour, that it sets him above the contempt which is due to vanity and self-opinion; and at the same time half persuades those who hear him, that he really deserves the exultation he gives himself.'
But supposing it to be true that all his vacant nightly hours are employed in writing, what can be his subjects? If, like Caesar, his own actions, he must undoubtedly be a very enterprising and very wicked man; since nobody suspects him to have a serious turn; and, decent as he is in his conversation with us, his writings are not probably such as would redound either to his own honour, or to the benefit of others, were they to be read. He must be conscious of this, since Mrs. Fortescue says, 'that in the great correspondence by letters which he holds, he is as secret and as careful as if it were of a treasonable nature;—yet troubles not his head with politics, though nobody knows the interests of princes and courts better than he is said to do.'
That you and I, my dear, should love to write, is no wonder. We have always, from the time each could hold a pen, delighted in epistolary correspondencies. Our employments are domestic and sedentary; and we can scribble upon twenty innocent subjects, and take delight in them because they are innocent; though were they to be seen, they might not much profit or please others. But that such a gay, lively young fellow as this, who rides, hunts, travels, frequents the public entertainments, and has means to pursue his pleasures, should be able to set himself down to write for hours together, as you and I have heard him say he frequently does, that is the strange thing.
Mrs. Fortescue says, 'that he is a complete master of short-hand writing.' By the way, what inducements could a swift writer as he have to learn short-hand!
She says (and we know it as well as she) 'that he has a surprising memory, and a very lively imagination.'
Whatever his other vices are, all the world, as well as Mrs. Fortescue, says, 'he is a sober man. And among all his bad qualities, gaming, that great waster of time as well as fortune, is not his vice:' So that he must have his head as cool, and his reason as clear, as the prime of youth and his natural gaiety will permit; and by his early morning hours, a great portion of time upon his hands to employ in writing, or worse.
Mrs. Fortescue says, 'he has one gentleman who is more his intimate and correspondent than any of the rest.' You remember what his dismissed bailiff said of him and of his associates.* I don't find but that Mrs. Fortescue confirms this part of it, 'that all his relations are afraid of him; and that his pride sets him above owing obligations to them. She believes he is clear of the world; and that he will continue so;' No doubt from the same motive that makes him avoid being obliged to his relations.
* Letter IV.
A person willing to think favourably of him would hope, that a brave, a learned, and a diligent, man, cannot be naturally a bad man.—But if he be better than his enemies say he is (and if worse he is bad indeed) he is guilty of an inexcusable fault in being so careless as he is of his reputation. I think a man can be so but from one of these two reasons: either that he is conscious he deserves the ill spoken of him; or, that he takes a pride in being thought worse than he is. Both very bad and threatening indications; since the first must shew him to be utterly abandoned; and it is but natural to conclude from the other, that what a man is not ashamed to have imputed to him, he will not scruple to be guilty of whenever he has an opportunity.
Upon the whole, and upon all I could gather from Mrs. Fortescue, Mr. Lovelace is a very faulty man. You and I have thought him too gay, too inconsiderate, too rash, too little an hypocrite, to be deep. You see he never would disguise his natural temper (haughty as it certainly is) with respect to your brother's behaviour to him. Where he thinks a contempt due, he pays it to the uttermost. Nor has he complaisance enough to spare your uncles.
But were he deep, and ever so deep, you would soon penetrate him, if they would leave you to yourself. His vanity would be your clue. Never man had more: Yet, as Mrs. Fortescue observed, 'never did man carry it off so happily.' There is a strange mixture in it of humourous vivacity:—Since but for one half of what he says of himself, when he is in the vein, any other man would be insufferable.
Talk of the devil, is an old saying. The lively wretch has made me a visit, and is but just gone away. He is all impatience and resentment at the treatment you meet with, and full of apprehensions too, that they will carry their point with you.
I told him my opinion, that you will never be brought to think of such a man as Solmes; but that it will probably end in a composition, never to have either.
No man, he said, whose fortunes and alliances are so considerable, ever had so little favour from a woman for whose sake he had borne so much.
I told him my mind as freely as I used to do. But whoever was in fault, self being judge? He complained of spies set upon his conduct, and to pry into his life and morals, and this by your brother and uncles.
I told him, that this was very hard upon him; and the more so, as neither his life nor morals perhaps would stand a fair inquiry.
He smiled, and called himself my servant.—The occasion was too fair, he said, for Miss Howe, who never spared him, to let it pass.—But, Lord help the shallow souls of the Harlowes! Would I believe it! they were for turning plotters upon him. They had best take care he did not pay them in their own coin. Their hearts were better turned for such works than their heads.
I asked him, If he valued himself upon having a head better turned than theirs for such works, as he called them?
He drew off: and then ran into the highest professions of reverence and affection for you.
The object so meritorious, who can doubt the reality of his professions?
Adieu, my dearest, my noble friend!—I love and admire you for the generous conclusion of your last more than I can express. Though I began this letter with impertinent raillery, knowing that you always loved to indulge my mad vein; yet never was there a heart that more glowed with friendly love, than that of
Your own ANNA HOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1.
I now take up my pen to lay before you the inducements and motive which my friends have to espouse so earnestly the address of this Mr. Solmes.
In order to set this matter in a clear light, it is necessary to go a little back, and even perhaps to mention some things which you already know: and so you may look upon what I am going to relate, as a kind of supplement to my letters of the 15th and 20th of January last.*
* Letters IV. and V.
In those letters, of which I have kept memorandums, I gave you an account of my brother's and sister's antipathy to Mr. Lovelace; and the methods they took (so far as they had then come to my knowledge) to ruin him in the opinion of my other friends. And I told you, that after a very cold, yet not a directly affrontive behaviour to him, they all of a sudden* became more violent, and proceeded to personal insults; which brought on at last the unhappy rencounter between my brother and him.
* See Letter IV.
Now you must know, that from the last conversation that passed between my aunt and me, it comes out, that this sudden vehemence on my brother's and sister's parts, was owing to stronger reasons than to the college-begun antipathy on his side, or to slighted love on hers; to wit, to an apprehension that my uncles intended to follow my grandfather's example in my favour; at least in a higher degree than they wish they should. An apprehension founded it seems on a conversation between my two uncles and my brother and sister: which my aunt communicated to me in confidence, as an argument to prevail upon me to accept of Mr. Solmes's noble settlements: urging, that such a seasonable compliance, would frustrate my brother's and sister's views, and establish me for ever in the love of my father and uncles.
I will give you the substance of this communicated conversation, after I have made a brief introductory observation or two, which however I hardly need to make to you who are so well acquainted with us all, did not the series or thread of the story require it.
I have more than once mentioned to you the darling view some of us have long had of raising a family, as it is called. A reflection, as I have often thought, upon our own, which is no considerable or upstart one, on either side, on my mother's especially.—A view too frequently it seems entertained by families which, having great substance, cannot be satisfied without rank and title.
My uncles had once extended this view to each of us three children; urging, that as they themselves intended not to marry, we each of us might be so portioned, and so advantageously matched, as that our posterity, if not ourselves, might make a first figure in our country.—While my brother, as the only son, thought the two girls might be very well provided for by ten or fifteen thousand pounds a-piece: and that all the real estates in the family, to wit, my grandfather's, father's, and two uncles', and the remainder of their respective personal estates, together with what he had an expectation of from his godmother, would make such a noble fortune, and give him such an interest, as might entitle him to hope for a peerage. Nothing less would satisfy his ambition.
With this view he gave himself airs very early; 'That his grandfather and uncles were his stewards: that no man ever had better: that daughters were but incumbrances and drawbacks upon a family:' and this low and familiar expression was often in his mouth, and uttered always with the self-complaisance which an imagined happy thought can be supposed to give the speaker; to wit, 'That a man who has sons brings up chickens for his own table,' [though once I made his comparison stagger with him, by asking him, If the sons, to make it hold, were to have their necks wrung off?] 'whereas daughters are chickens brought up for tables of other men.' This, accompanied with the equally polite reflection, 'That, to induce people to take them off their hands, the family-stock must be impaired into the bargain,' used to put my sister out of all patience: and, although she now seems to think a younger sister only can be an incumbrance, she was then often proposing to me to make a party in our own favour against my brother's rapacious views, as she used to call them: while I was for considering the liberties he took of this sort, as the effect of a temporary pleasantry, which, in a young man, not naturally good-humoured, I was glad to see; or as a foible that deserved raillery, but no other notice.
But when my grandfather's will (of the purport of which in my particular favour, until it was opened, I was as ignorant as they) had lopped off one branch of my brother's expectation, he was extremely dissatisfied with me. Nobody indeed was pleased: for although every one loved me, yet being the youngest child, father, uncles, brother, sister, all thought themselves postponed, as to matter of right and power [Who loves not power?]: And my father himself could not bear that I should be made sole, as I may call it, and independent; for such the will, as to that estate and the powers it gave, (unaccountably, as they all said,) made me.
To obviate, therefore, every one's jealousy, I gave up to my father's management, as you know, not only the estate, but the money bequeathed me (which was a moiety of what my grandfather had by him at his death; the other moiety being bequeathed to my sister); contenting myself to take as from his bounty what he was pleased to allow me, without desiring the least addition to my annual stipend. And then I hoped I had laid all envy asleep: but still my brother and sister (jealous, as now is evident, of my two uncles' favour of me, and of the pleasure I had given my father and them by this act of duty) were every now-and-then occasionally doing me covert ill offices: of which, however, I took the less notice, when I was told of them, as I thought I had removed the cause of their envy; and I imputed every thing of that sort to the petulance they are both pretty much noted for.
My brother's acquisition then took place. This made us all very happy; and he went down to take possession of it: and his absence (on so good an account too) made us still happier. Then followed Lord M.'s proposal for my sister: and this was an additional felicity for the time. I have told you how exceedingly good-humoured it made my sister.
You know how that went off: you know what came on in its place.
My brother then returned; and we were all wrong again: and Bella, as I observed in my letters abovementioned, had an opportunity to give herself the credit of having refused Mr. Lovelace, on the score of his reputed faulty morals. This united my brother and sister in one cause. They set themselves on all occasions to depreciate Mr. Lovelace, and his family too (a family which deserves nothing but respect): and this gave rise to the conversation I am leading to, between my uncles and them: of which I now come to give the particulars; after I have observed, that it happened before the rencounter, and soon after the inquiry made into Mr. Lovelace's affairs had come out better than my brother and sister hoped it would.*
* See Letter IV.
They were bitterly inveighing against him, in their usual way, strengthening their invectives with some new stories in his disfavour, when my uncle Antony, having given them a patient hearing, declared, 'That he thought the gentleman behaved like a gentleman; his niece Clary with prudence; and that a more honourable alliance for the family, as he had often told them, could not be wished for: since Mr. Lovelace had a very good paternal estate; and that, by the evidence of an enemy, all clear. Nor did it appear, that he was so bad a man as he had been represented to be: wild indeed; but it was a gay time of life: he was a man of sense: and he was sure that his niece would not have him, if she had not good reason to think him reformed, or that there was a likelihood that she could reform him by her example.'
My uncle then gave one instance, my aunt told me, as a proof of a generosity in Mr. Lovelace's spirit, which convinced him that he was not a bad man in nature; and that he was of a temper, he was pleased to say, like my own; which was, That when he (my uncle) had represented to him, that he might, if he pleased, make three or four hundred pounds a year of his paternal estate, more than he did; he answered, 'That his tenants paid their rents well: that it was a maxim with his family, from which he would by no means depart, Never to rack-rent old tenants, or their descendants; and that it was a pleasure to him, to see all his tenants look fat, sleek, and contented.'
I indeed had once occasionally heard him say something like this; and thought he never looked so well as at that time;—except once; and that was in an instance given by him on the following incident.
An unhappy tenant of my uncle Antony came petitioning to my uncle for forbearance, in Mr. Lovelace's presence. When he had fruitlessly withdrawn, Mr. Lovelace pleaded his cause so well, that the man was called in again, and had his suit granted. And Mr. Lovelace privately followed him out, and gave him two guineas, for present relief; the man having declared, that, at the time, he had not five shilling in the world.
On this occasion, he told my uncle (but without any airs of ostentation), that he had once observed an old tenant and his wife in a very mean habit at church; and questioning them about it the next day, as he knew they had no hard bargain in their farm, the man said, he had done some very foolish things with a good intention, which had put him behind-hand, and he could not have paid his rent, and appear better. He asked him how long it would take him to retrieve the foolish step he acknowledged he had made. He said, Perhaps two or three years. Well then, said he, I will abate you five pounds a year for seven years, provided you will lay it upon your wife and self, that you may make a Sunday-appearance like MY tenants. Mean time, take this (putting his hand in his pocket, and giving him five guineas), to put yourselves in present plight; and let me see you next Sunday at church, hand in hand, like an honest and loving couple; and I bespeak you to dine with me afterwards.
Although this pleased me when I heard it, as giving an instance of generosity and prudence at the same time, not lessening (as my uncle took notice) the yearly value of the farm, yet, my dear, I had no throbs, no glows upon it!—Upon my word, I had not. Nevertheless I own to you, that I could not help saying to myself on the occasion, 'Were it ever to be my lot to have this man, he would not hinder me from pursuing the methods I so much delight to take'—With 'A pity, that such a man were not uniformly good!'
Forgive me this digression.
My uncle went on (as my aunt told me), 'That, besides his paternal estate, he was the immediate heir to very splendid fortunes: that, when he was in treaty for his niece Arabella, Lord M. told him (my uncle) what great things he and his two half-sisters intended to do for him, in order to qualify him for the title, which would be extinct at his Lordship's death, and which they hoped to procure for him, or a still higher, that of those ladies' father, which had been for some time extinct on failure of heirs male: that it was with this view that his relations were all so earnest for his marrying: that as he saw not where Mr. Lovelace could better himself; so, truly, he thought there was wealth enough in their own family to build up three considerable ones: that, therefore, he must needs say, he was the more desirous of this alliance, as there was a great probability, not only from Mr. Lovelace's descent, but from his fortunes, that his niece Clarissa might one day be a peeress of Great Britain:—and, upon that prospect [here was the mortifying stroke], he should, for his own part, think it not wrong to make such dispositions as should contribute to the better support of the dignity.'
My uncle Harlowe, it seems, far from disapproving of what his brother had said, declared, 'That there was but one objection to an alliance with Mr. Lovelace; to wit, his faulty morals: especially as so much could be done for Miss Bella, and for my brother too, by my father; and as my brother was actually possessed of a considerable estate by virtue of the deed of gift and will of his godmother Lovell.'
Had I known this before, I should the less have wondered at many things I have been unable to account for in my brother's and sister's behaviour to me; and been more on my guard than I imagined there was a necessity to be.
You may easily guess how much this conversation affected my brother at the time. He could not, you know, but be very uneasy to hear two of his stewards talk at this rate to his face.
He had from early days, by his violent temper, made himself both feared and courted by the whole family. My father himself, as I have lately mentioned, very often (long before my brother's acquisition had made him still more assuming) gave way to him, as to an only son who was to build up the name, and augment the honour of it. Little inducement, therefore, had my brother to correct a temper which gave him so much consideration with every body.
'See, Sister Bella,' said he, in an indecent passion before my uncles, on this occasion I have mentioned—'See how it is!—You and I ought to look about us!—This little syren is in a fair way to out-uncle, as she has already out-grandfather'd, us both!'
From this time (as I now find it plain upon recollection) did my brother and sister behave to me, as to one who stood in their way; and to each other as having but one interest: and were resolved, therefore, to bend all their force to hinder an alliance from taking effect, which they believed was likely to oblige them to contract their views.
And how was this to be done, after such a declaration from both my uncles?
My brother found out the way. My sister (as I have said) went hand in hand with him. Between them, the family union was broke, and every one was made uneasy. Mr. Lovelace was received more and more coldly by all: but not being to be put out of his course by slights only, personal affronts succeeded; defiances next; then the rencounter: that, as you have heard, did the business. And now, if I do not oblige them, my grandfather's estate is to be litigated with me; and I, who never designed to take advantage of the independency bequeathed me, am to be as dependent upon my father's will, as a daughter ought to be who knows not what is good for herself. This is the language of the family now.
But if I will suffer myself to be prevailed upon, how happy (as they lay it out) shall we all be!—Such presents am I to have, such jewels, and I cannot tell what, from every one in the family! Then Mr. Solmes's fortunes are so great, and his proposals so very advantageous, (no relation whom he values,) that there will be abundant room to raise mine upon them, were the high-intended favours of my own relations to be quite out of the question. Moreover, it is now, with this view, found out, that I have qualifications which of themselves will be a full equivalent to Mr. Solmes for the settlements he is to make; and still leave him under an obligation to me for my compliance. He himself thinks so, I am told—so very poor a creature is he, even in his own eyes, as well as in theirs.
These desirable views answered, how rich, how splendid shall we all three be! And I—what obligations shall I lay upon them all!—And that only by doing an act of duty so suitable to my character, and manner of thinking; if, indeed, I am the generous as well as dutiful creature I have hitherto made them believe I am.
This is the bright side that is turned to my father and uncles, to captivate them: but I am afraid that my brother's and sister's design is to ruin me with them at any rate. Were it otherwise, would they not on my return from you have rather sought to court than frighten me into measures which their hearts are so much bent to carry? A method they have followed ever since.
Mean time, orders are given to all the servants to shew the highest respect to Mr. Solmes; the generous Mr. Solmes is now his character with some of our family! But are not these orders a tacit confession, that they think his own merit will not procure him respect? He is accordingly, in every visit he makes, not only highly caressed by the principals of our family, but obsequiously attended and cringed to by the menials.—And the noble settlements are echoed from every mouth.
Noble is the word used to enforce the offers of a man who is mean enough avowedly to hate, and wicked enough to propose to rob of their just expectations, his own family, (every one of which at the same time stands in too much need of his favour,) in order to settle all he is worth upon me; and if I die without children, and he has none by any other marriage, upon a family which already abounds. Such are his proposals.
But were there no other motive to induce me to despise the upstart man, is not this unjust one to his family enough?—The upstart man, I repeat; for he was not born to the immense riches he is possessed of: riches left by one niggard to another, in injury to the next heir, because that other is a niggard. And should I not be as culpable, do you think, in my acceptance of such unjust settlements, as he is in the offer of them, if I could persuade myself to be a sharer in them, or suffer a reversionary expectation of possessing them to influence my choice?
Indeed, it concerns me not a little, that my friends could be brought to encourage such offers on such motives as I think a person of conscience should not presume to begin the world with.
But this it seems is the only method that can be taken to disappoint Mr. Lovelace; and at the same time to answer all my relations have wish for each of us. And surely I will not stand against such an accession to the family as may happen from marrying Mr. Solmes: since now a possibility is discovered, (which such a grasping mind as my brother's can easily turn into a probability,) that my grandfather's estate will revert to it, with a much more considerable one of the man's own. Instances of estates falling in, in cases far more unlikely than this, are insisted upon; and my sister says, in the words of an old saw, It is good to be related to an estate.
While Solmes, smiling no doubt to himself at a hope so remote, by offers only, obtains all their interests; and doubts not to join to his own the estate I am envied for; which, for the conveniency of its situation between two of his, will it seems be of twice the value to him that it would be of to any other person; and is therefore, I doubt not, a stronger motive with him than the wife.
These, my dear, seem to me the principal inducements of my relations to espouse so vehemently as they do this man's suit. And here, once more, must I deplore the family fault, which gives those inducements such a force as it will be difficult to resist.
And thus far, let matters with regard to Mr. Solmes and me come out as they will, my brother has succeeded in his views; that is to say, he has, in the first place, got my FATHER to make the cause his own, and to insist upon my compliance as an act of duty.
My MOTHER has never thought fit to oppose my father's will, when once he has declared himself determined.
My UNCLES, stiff, unbroken, highly-prosperous bachelors, give me leave to say, (though very worthy persons in the main,) have as high notions of a child's duty, as of a wife's obedience; in the last of which, my mother's meekness has confirmed them, and given them greater reason to expect the first.
My aunt HERVEY (not extremely happy in her own nuptials, and perhaps under some little obligation) is got over, and chuses [sic] not to open her lips in my favour against the wills of a father and uncles so determined.
This passiveness in my mother and in my aunt, in a point so contrary to their own first judgments, is too strong a proof that my father is absolutely resolved.
Their treatment of my worthy MRS. NORTON is a sad confirmation of it: a woman deserving of all consideration for her wisdom, and every body thinking so; but who, not being wealthy enough to have due weight in a point against which she has given her opinion, and which they seem bent upon carrying, is restrained from visiting here, and even from corresponding with me, as I am this very day informed.
Hatred to Lovelace, family aggrandizement, and this great motive paternal authority!—What a force united must they be supposed to have, when singly each consideration is sufficient to carry all before it!
This is the formidable appearance which the address of this disagreeable man wears at present.
My BROTHER and my SISTER triumph.—They have got me down, as Hannah overheard them exult. And so they have (yet I never knew that I was insolently up); for now my brother will either lay me under an obligation to comply to my own unhappiness, and so make me an instrument of his revenge upon Lovelace; or, if I refuse, will throw me into disgrace with my whole family.
Who will wonder at the intrigues and plots carried on by undermining courtiers against one another, when a private family, but three of which can possibly have clashing interests, and one of them (as she presumes to think) above such low motives, cannot be free from them?
What at present most concerns me, is, the peace of my mother's mind! How can the husband of such a wife (a good man too!—But oh! this prerogative of manhood!) be so positive, so unpersuadable, to one who has brought into the family means, which they know so well the value of, that methinks they should value her the more for their sake?
They do indeed value her: but, I am sorry to say, she has purchased that value by her compliances; yet has merit for which she ought to be venerated; prudence which ought of itself to be conformed to in every thing.
But whither roves my pen? How dare a perverse girl take these liberties with relations so very respectable, and whom she highly respects? What an unhappy situation is that which obliges her, in her own defence as it were, to expose their failings?
But you, who know how much I love and reverence my mother, will judge what a difficulty I am under, to be obliged to oppose a scheme which she has engaged in. Yet I must oppose it (to comply is impossible); and must without delay declare my opposition, or my difficulties will increase; since, as I am just now informed, a lawyer has been this very day consulted [Would you have believed it?] in relation to settlements.
Were ours a Roman Catholic family, how much happier for me, that they thought a nunnery would answer all their views!—How happy, had not a certain person slighted somebody! All then would have been probably concluded between them before my brother had arrived to thwart the match: then had I a sister; which now I have not; and two brothers;—both aspiring; possibly both titled: while I should only have valued that in either which is above title, that which is truly noble in both!
But by what a long-reaching selfishness is my brother governed! By what remote, exceedingly remote views! Views, which it is in the power of the slightest accident, of a fever, for instance, (the seeds of which are always vegetating, as I may say, and ready to burst forth, in his own impetuous temper,) or of the provoked weapon of an adversary, to blow up and destroy!
I will break off here. Let me write ever so freely of my friends, I am sure of your kind construction: and I confide in your discretion, that you will avoid reading to or transcribing for others such passages as may have the appearance of treating too freely the parental, or even the fraternal character, or induce others to censure for a supposed failure in duty to the one, or decency to the other,
Your truly affectionate, CL. HARLOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE THURSDAY EVENING, MARCH 2.
On Hannah's depositing my long letter, (begun yesterday, but by reason of several interruptions not finished till within this hour,) she found and brought me yours of this day. I thank you, my dear, for this kind expedition. These few lines will perhaps be time enough deposited, to be taken away by your servant with the other letter: yet they are only to thank you, and to tell you my increasing apprehensions.
I must take or seek the occasion to apply to my mother for her mediation; for I am in danger of having a day fixed, and antipathy taken for bashfulness.—Should not sisters be sisters to each other? Should not they make a common cause of it, as I may say, a cause of sex, on such occasions as the present? Yet mine, in support of my brother's selfishness, and, no doubt, in concert with him, has been urging in full assembly it seems, (and that with an earnestness peculiar to herself when she sets upon any thing,) that an absolute day be given me; and if I comply not, to be told, that it shall be to the forfeiture of all my fortunes, and of all their love.
She need not be so officious: my brother's interest, without hers, is strong enough; for he has found means to confederate all the family against me. Upon some fresh provocation, or new intelligence concerning Mr. Lovelace, (I know not what it is,) they have bound themselves, or are to bind themselves, by a signed paper, to one another [The Lord bless me, my dear, what shall I do!] to carry their point in favour of Mr. Solmes, in support of my father's authority, as it is called, and against Mr. Lovelace, as a libertine, and an enemy to the family: and if so, I am sure, I may say against me.—How impolitic in them all, to join two people in one interest, whom they wish for ever to keep asunder!
What the discharged steward reported of him is surely bad enough: what Mrs. Fortescue said, not only confirms that bad, but gives room to think him still worse. And yet the something further which my friends have come at, is of so heinous a nature (as Betty Barnes tells Hannah) that it proves him almost to be the worst of men.—But, hang the man, I had almost said—What is he to me? What would he be—were not this Mr. Sol——O my dear, how I hate the man in the light he is proposed to me!
All of them, at the same time, are afraid of Mr. Lovelace; yet not afraid to provoke him!—How am I entangled!—to be obliged to go on corresponding with him for their sakes—Heaven forbid, that their persisted-in violence should so drive me, as to make it necessary for my own!
But surely they will yield—Indeed I cannot.
I believe the gentlest spirits when provoked (causelessly and cruelly provoked) are the most determined. The reason may be, that not taking up resolutions lightly—their very deliberation makes them the more immovable.—And then when a point is clear and self-evident, how can one with patience think of entering into an argument or contention upon it?—
An interruption obliges me to conclude myself, in some hurry, as well as fright, what I must ever be,
Yours more than my own, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE FRIDAY, MARCH 3.
I have both your letters at once. It is very unhappy, my dear, since your friends will have you marry, that a person of your merit should be addressed by a succession of worthless creatures, who have nothing but their presumption for their excuse.
That these presumers appear not in this very unworthy light to some of your friends, is, because their defects are not so striking to them as to others.—And why? Shall I venture to tell you?—Because they are nearer their own standard—Modesty, after all, perhaps has a concern in it; for how should they think that a niece or sister of theirs [I will not go higher, for fear of incurring your displeasure] should be an angel?
But where indeed is the man to be found (who has the least share of due diffidence) that dares to look up to Miss Clarissa Harlowe with hope, or with any thing but wishes? Thus the bold and forward, not being sensible of their defects, aspire; while the modesty of the really worthy fills them with too much reverence to permit them to explain themselves. Hence your Symmes's, your Byron's, your Mullins's, your Wyerley's (the best of the herd), and your Solmes's, in turn, invade you—Wretches that, looking upon the rest of your family, need not despair of succeeding in an alliance with it—But to you, what an inexcusable presumption!
Yet I am afraid all opposition will be in vain. You must, you will, I doubt, be sacrificed to this odious man. I know your family. There will be no resisting such baits as he has thrown out. O, my dear, my beloved friend! and are such charming qualities, is such exalted merit, to be sunk in such a marriage!—You must not, your uncle tells your mother, dispute their authority. AUTHORITY! what a full word is that in the mouth of a narrow-minded person, who happened to be born thirty years before one!—Of your uncles I speak; for as to the paternal authority, that ought to be sacred.—But should not parents have reason for what they do?
Wonder not, however, at your Bell's unsisterly behaviour in this affair: I have a particular to add to the inducements your insolent brother is governed by, which will account for all her driving. You have already owned, that her outward eye was from the first struck with the figure and address of the man whom she pretends to despise, and who, 'tis certain, thoroughly despises her: but you have not told me, that still she loves him of all men. Bell has a meanness in her very pride; that meanness rises with her pride, and goes hand in hand with it; and no one is so proud as Bell. She has owned her love, her uneasy days, and sleepless nights, and her revenge grafted upon her love, to her favourite Betty Barnes—To lay herself in the power of a servant's tongue! Poor creature!—But LIKE little souls will find one another out, and mingle, as well as LIKE great ones. This, however, she told the wench in strict confidence: and thus, by way of the female round-about, as Lovelace had the sauciness on such another occasion, in ridicule of our sex, to call it, Betty (pleased to be thought worthy of a secret, and to have an opportunity of inveighing against Lovelace's perfidy, as she would have it to be) told it to one of her confidants: that confidant, with like injunctions of secrecy, to Miss Lloyd's Harriot—Harriot to Miss Lloyd—Miss Lloyd to me—I to you—with leave to make what you please of it.
And now you will not wonder to find Miss Bell an implacable rival, rather than an affectionate sister; and will be able to account for the words witchcraft, syren, and such like, thrown out against you; and for her driving on for a fixed day for sacrificing you to Solmes: in short, for her rudeness and violence of every kind.
What a sweet revenge will she take, as well upon Lovelace as upon you, if she can procure her rival sister to be married to the man that sister hates; and so prevent her having the man whom she herself loves (whether she have hope of him or not), and whom she suspects her sister loves!
Poisons and poniard have often been set to work by minds inflamed by disappointed love, and actuated by revenge.—Will you wonder, then, that the ties of relationship in such a case have no force, and that a sister forgets to be a sister?
Now I know this to be her secret motive, (the more grating to her, as her pride is concerned to make her disavow it), and can consider it joined with her former envy, and as strengthened by a brother, who has such an ascendant over the whole family; and whose interest (slave to it as he always was) engaged him to ruin you with every one: both possessed of the ears of all your family, and having it as much in their power as in their will to misrepresent all you say, all you do; such subject also as to the rencounter, and Lovelace's want of morals, to expatiate upon: your whole family likewise avowedly attached to the odious man by means of the captivating proposals he has made them;—when I consider all these things, I am full of apprehensions for you.—O my dear, how will you be able to maintain your ground;—I am sure, (alas! I am too sure) that they will subdue such a fine spirit as yours, unused to opposition; and (tell it not in Gath) you must be Mrs. Solmes!
Mean time, it is now easy, as you will observe, to guess from what quarter the report I mentioned to you in one of my former, came, That the younger sister has robbed the elder of her lover:* for Betty whispered it, at the time she whispered the rest, that neither Lovelace nor you had done honourably by her young mistress.—How cruel, my dear, in you, to rob the poor Bella of the only lover she only had!—At the instant too that she was priding herself, that now at last she should have it in her power not only to gratify her own susceptibilities, but to give an example to the flirts of her sex** (my worship's self in her eye) how to govern their man with a silken rein, and without a curb-bridle!
* Letter I.
** Letter II.
Upon the whole, I have now no doubt of their persevering in favour of the despicable Solmes; and of their dependence upon the gentleness of your temper, and the regard you have for their favour, and for your own reputation. And now I am more than ever convinced of the propriety of the advice I formerly gave you, to keep in your own hands the estate bequeathed to you by your grandfather.—Had you done so, it would have procured you at least an outward respect from your brother and sister, which would have made them conceal the envy and ill-will that now are bursting upon you from hearts so narrow.
I must harp a little more upon this string—Do not you observe, how much your brother's influence has overtopped yours, since he has got into fortunes so considerable, and since you have given some of them an appetite to continue in themselves the possession of your estate, unless you comply with their terms?
I know your dutiful, your laudable motives; and one would have thought, that you might have trusted to a father who so dearly loved you. But had you been actually in possession of that estate, and living up to it, and upon it, (your youth protected from blighting tongues by the company of your prudent Norton, as you had proposed,) do you think that your brother, grudging it to you at the time as he did, and looking upon it as his right as an only son, would have been practising about it, and aiming at it? I told you some time ago, that I thought your trials but proportioned to your prudence:* but you will be more than woman, if you can extricate yourself with honour, having such violent spirits and sordid minds in some, and such tyrannical and despotic wills in others, to deal with. Indeed, all may be done, and the world be taught further to admire you for your blind duty and will-less resignation, if you can persuade yourself to be Mrs. Solmes.
* Letter I.
I am pleased with the instances you give me of Mr. Lovelace's benevolence to his own tenants, and with his little gift to your uncle's. Mrs. Fortescue allows him to be the best of landlords: I might have told you that, had I thought it necessary to put you into some little conceit of him. He has qualities, in short, that may make him a tolerable creature on the other side of fifty: but God help the poor woman to whose lot he shall fall till then! women, I should say, perhaps; since he may break half-a-dozen hearts before that time.—But to the point I was upon—Shall we not have reason to commend the tenant's grateful honesty, if we are told, that with joy the poor man called out your uncle, and on the spot paid him in part of his debt those two guineas?—But what shall we say of that landlord, who, though he knew the poor man to be quite destitute, could take it; and, saying nothing while Mr. Lovelace staid, as soon as he was gone, tell of it in praise of the poor fellow's honesty?—Were this so, and were not that landlord related to my dearest friend, how should I despise such a wretch?—But, perhaps, the story is aggravated. Covetous people have every one's ill word: and so indeed they ought; because they are only solicitous to keep that which they prefer to every one's good one.—Covetous indeed would they be, who deserved neither, yet expected both!
I long for your next letter. Continue to be as particular as possible. I can think of no other subject but what relates to you and to your affairs: for I am, and ever will be, most affectionately,
Your own, ANNA HOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE [HER PRECEDING NOT AT THAT TIME RECEIVED.] FRIDAY, MARCH 3.