I come down, Madam, said I, to beg of you to forgive me for any thing you may have taken amiss in what passed above respecting your honoured self; and that you will be pleased to use your endeavours to soften my papa's displeasure against me, on his return.
Such aggravating looks; such lifting up of hands and eyes; such a furrowed forehead, in my sister!
My mother was angry enough without all that; and asked me to what purpose I came down, if I were still so intractable.
She had hardly spoken the words, when Shorey came in to tell her, that Mr. Solmes was in the hall, and desired admittance.
Ugly creature! What, at the close of day, quite dark, brought him hither?—But, on second thoughts, I believe it was contrived, that he should be here at supper, to know the result of the conference between my mother and me, and that my father, on his return, might find us together.
I was hurrying away, but my mother commanded me (since I had come down only, as she said, to mock her) not to stir; and at the same time see if I could behave so to Mr. Solmes, as might encourage her to make the favourable report to my father which I had besought her to make.
My sister triumphed. I was vexed to be so caught, and to have such an angry and cutting rebuke given me, with an aspect much more like the taunting sister than the indulgent mother, if I may presume to say so: for she herself seemed to enjoy the surprise upon me.
The man stalked in. His usual walk is by pauses, as if (from the same vacuity of thought which made Dryden's clown whistle) he was telling his steps: and first paid his clumsy respects to my mother; then to my sister; next to me, as if I was already his wife, and therefore to be last in his notice; and sitting down by me, told us in general what weather it was. Very cold he made it; but I was warm enough. Then addressing himself to me: And how do you find it, Miss? was his question; and would have taken my hand.
I withdrew it, I believe with disdain enough. My mother frowned. My sister bit her lip.
I could not contain myself: I was never so bold in my life; for I went on with my plea, as if Mr. Solmes had not been there.
My mother coloured, and looked at him, at my sister, and at me. My sister's eyes were opener and bigger than ever I saw them before.
The man understood me. He hemmed, and removed from one chair to another.
I went on, supplicating for my mother's favourable report: Nothing but invincible dislike, said I—
What would the girl be at, interrupted my mother? Why, Clary! Is this a subject!—Is this!—Is this!—Is this a time—And again she looked upon Mr. Solmes.
I am sorry, on reflection, that I put my mamma into so much confusion—To be sure it was very saucy in me.
I beg pardon, Madam, said I. But my papa will soon return. And since I am not permitted to withdraw, it is not necessary, I humbly presume, that Mr. Solmes's presence should deprive me of this opportunity to implore your favourable report; and at the same time, if he still visit on my account [looking at him] to convince him, that it cannot possibly be to any purpose—
Is the girl mad? said my mother, interrupting me.
My sister, with the affectation of a whisper to my mother—This is—This is spite, Madam, [very spitefully she spoke the word,] because you commanded her to stay.
I only looked at her, and turning to my mother, Permit me, Madam, said I, to repeat my request. I have no brother, no sister!—If I ever lose my mamma's favour, I am lost for ever!
Mr. Solmes removed to his first seat, and fell to gnawing the head of his hazel; a carved head, almost as ugly as his own—I did not think the man was so sensible.
My sister rose, with a face all over scarlet; and stepping to the table, where lay a fan, she took it up, and, although Mr. Solmes had observed that the weather was cold, fanned herself very violently.
My mother came to me, and angrily taking my hand, led me out of that parlour into my own; which, you know, is next to it—Is not this behaviour very bold, very provoking, think you, Clary?
I beg your pardon, Madam, if it has that appearance to you. But indeed, my dear Mamma, there seem to be snares laying in wait for me. Too well I know my brother's drift. With a good word he shall have my consent for all he wishes to worm me out of—neither he, nor my sister, shall need to take half this pains—
My mother was about to leave me in high displeasure.
I besought her to stay: One favour, but one favour, dearest Madam, said I, give me leave to beg of you—
What would the girl?
I see how every thing is working about.—I never, never can think of Mr. Solmes. My papa will be in tumults when he is told that I cannot. They will judge of the tenderness of your heart to a poor child who seems devoted by every one else, from the willingness you have already shewn to hearken to my prayers. There will be endeavours used to confine me, and keep me out of your presence, and out of the presence of every one who used to love me [this, my dear Miss Howe, is threatened]. If this be effected; if it be put out of my power to plead my own cause, and to appeal to you, and to my uncle Harlowe, of whom only I have hope; then will every ear be opened against me, and every tale encouraged—It is, therefore, my humble request, that, added to the disgraceful prohibitions I now suffer under, you will not, if you can help it, give way to my being denied your ear.
Your listening Hannah has given you this intelligence, as she does many others.
My Hannah, Madam, listens not—My Hannah—
No more in Hannah's behalf—Hannah is known to make mischief—Hannah is known—But no more of that bold intermeddler—'Tis true your father threatened to confine you to your chamber, if you complied not, in order the more assuredly to deprive you of the opportunity of corresponding with those who harden your heart against his will. He bid me tell you so, when he went out, if I found you refractory. But I was loth to deliver so harsh a declaration; being still in hope that you would come down to us in a compliant temper. Hannah has overheard this, I suppose; and has told you of it; as also, that he declared he would break your heart, rather than you should break his. And I now assure you, that you will be confined, and prohibited making teasing appeals to any of us: and we shall see who is to submit, you to us, or every body to you.
Again I offered to clear Hannah, and to lay the latter part of the intelligence to my sister's echo, Betty Barnes, who had boasted of it to another servant: but I was again bid to be silent on that head. I should soon find, my mother was pleased to say, that others could be as determined as I was obstinate: and once for all would add, that since she saw that I built upon her indulgence, and was indifferent about involving her in contentions with my father, she would now assure me, that she was as much determined against Mr. Lovelace, and for Mr. Solmes and the family schemes, as any body; and would not refuse her consent to any measures that should be thought necessary to reduce a stubborn child to her duty.
I was ready to sink. She was so good as to lend me her arm to support me.
And this, said I, is all I have to hope for from my Mamma?
It is. But, Clary, this one further opportunity I give you—Go in again to Mr. Solmes, and behave discreetly to him; and let your father find you together, upon civil terms at least.
My feet moved [of themselves, I think] farther from the parlour where he was, and towards the stairs; and there I stopped and paused.
If, proceeded she, you are determined to stand in defiance of us all—then indeed you may go up to your chamber (as you are ready to do)—And God help you!
God help me, indeed! for I cannot give hope of what I cannot intend—But let me have your prayers, my dear Mamma!—Those shall have mine, who have brought me into all this distress.
I was moving to go up—
And will you go up, Clary?
I turned my face to her: my officious tears would needs plead for me: I could not just then speak, and stood still.
Good girl, distress me not thus!—Dear, good girl, do not thus distress me! holding out her hand; but standing still likewise.
What can I do, Madam?—What can I do?
Go in again, my child—Go in again, my dear child!—repeated she; and let your father find you together.
What, Madam, to give him hope?—To give hope to Mr. Solmes?
Obstinate, perverse, undutiful Clarissa! with a rejecting hand, and angry aspect; then take your own way, and go up!—But stir not down again, I charge you, without leave, or till your father's pleasure be known concerning you.
She flung away from me with high indignation: and I went up with a very heavy heart; and feet as slow as my heart was heavy.
My father is come home, and my brother with him. Late as it is, they are all shut up together. Not a door opens; not a soul stirs. Hannah, as she moves up and down, is shunned as a person infected.
The angry assembly is broken up. My two uncles and my aunt Hervey are sent for, it seems, to be here in the morning to breakfast. I shall then, I suppose, know my doom. 'Tis past eleven, and I am ordered not to go to bed.
This moment the keys of every thing are taken from me. It was proposed to send for me down: but my father said, he could not bear to look upon me.—Strange alteration in a few weeks!—Shorey was the messenger. The tears stood in her eyes when she delivered her message.
You, my dear, are happy—May you always be so—and then I can never be wholly miserable. Adieu, my beloved friend!
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE SUNDAY MORNING, MARCH 5.
Hannah has just brought me from the private place in the garden-wall, a letter from Mr. Lovelace, deposited last night, signed also by Lord M.
He tells me in it, 'That Mr. Solmes makes it his boast, that he is to be married in a few days to one of the shyest women in England: that my brother explains his meaning: This shy creature, he says, is me; and he assures every one, that his younger sister is very soon to be Mr. Solmes's wife. He tells me of the patterns bespoken which my mother mentioned to me.'
Not one thing escapes him that is done or said in this house.
'My sister, he says, reports the same things; and that with such particular aggravations of insult upon him, that he cannot but be extremely piqued, as well at the manner, as from the occasion; and expresses himself with great violence upon it.
'He knows not, he says, what my relations' inducements can be to prefer such a man as Solmes to him. If advantageous settlements be the motive, Solmes shall not offer what he will refuse to comply with.
'As to his estate and family; the first cannot be excepted against: and for the second, he will not disgrace himself by a comparison so odious. He appeals to Lord M. for the regularity of his life and manners ever since he has made his addresses to me, or had hope of my favour.'
I suppose he would have his Lordship's signing to this letter to be taken as a voucher for him.
'He desires my leave (in company with my Lord), in a pacific manner, to attend my father and uncles, in order to make proposals that must be accepted, if they will see him, and hear what they are: and tells me, that he will submit to any measures that I shall prescribe, in order to bring about a reconciliation.'
He presumes to be very earnest with me, 'to give him a private meeting some night, in my father's garden, attended by whom I please.'
Really, my dear, were you to see his letter, you would think I had given him great encouragement, and that I am in direct treaty with him; or that he is sure that my friends will drive me into a foreign protection; for he has the boldness to offer, in my Lord's name, an asylum to me, should I be tyrannically treated in Solmes's behalf.
I suppose it is the way of this sex to endeavour to entangle the thoughtless of ours by bold supposals and offers, in hopes that we shall be too complaisant or bashful to quarrel with them; and, if not checked, to reckon upon our silence, as assents voluntarily given, or concessions made in their favour.
There are other particulars in this letter which I ought to mention to you: but I will take an opportunity to send you the letter itself, or a copy of it.
For my own part, I am very uneasy to think how I have been drawn on one hand, and driven on the other, into a clandestine, in short, into a mere loverlike correspondence, which my heart condemns.
It is easy to see, if I do not break it off, that Mr. Lovelace's advantages, by reason of my unhappy situation, will every day increase, and I shall be more and more entangled. Yet if I do put an end to it, without making it a condition of being freed from Mr. Solmes's address—May I, my dear, is it best to continue it a little longer, in order to extricate myself out of the other difficulty, by giving up all thoughts of Mr. Lovelace?—Whose advice can I now ask but yours.
All my relations are met. They are at breakfast together. Mr. Solmes is expected. I am excessively uneasy. I must lay down my pen.
They are all going to church together. Grievously disordered they appear to be, as Hannah tells me. She believes something is resolved upon.
What a cruel thing is suspense!—I will ask leave to go to church this afternoon. I expect to be denied. But, if I do not ask, they may allege, that my not going is owing to myself.
I desired to speak with Shorey. Shorey came. I directed her to carry to my mother my request for permission to go to church this afternoon. What think you was the return? Tell her, that she must direct herself to her brother for any favour she has to ask.—So, my dear, I am to be delivered up to my brother!
I was resolved, however, to ask of him this favour. Accordingly, when they sent me up my solitary dinner, I gave the messenger a billet, in which I made it my humble request through him to my father, to be permitted to go to church this afternoon.
This was the contemptuous answer: 'Tell her, that her request will be taken into consideration to-morrow.'
Patience will be the fittest return I can make to such an insult. But this method will not do with me; indeed it will not! And yet it is but the beginning, I suppose, of what I am to expect from my brother, now I am delivered up to him.
On recollection, I thought it best to renew my request. I did. The following is a copy of what I wrote, and what follows that, of the answer sent me.
I know not what to make of the answer brought to my request of being permitted to go to church this afternoon. If you designed to shew your pleasantry by it, I hope that will continue; and then my request will be granted.
You know, that I never absented myself, when well, and at home, till the two last Sundays; when I was advised not to go. My present situation is such, that I never more wanted the benefit of the public prayers.
I will solemnly engage only to go thither, and back again.
I hope it cannot be thought that I would do otherwise.
My dejection of spirits will give a too just excuse on the score of indisposition for avoiding visits. Nor will I, but by distant civilities, return the compliments of any of my acquaintances. My disgraces, if they are to have an end, need not be proclaimed to the whole world. I ask this favour, therefore, for my reputation's sake, that I may be able to hold up my head in the neighbourhood, if I live to see an end of the unmerited severities which seem to be designed for
Your unhappy sister, CL. HARLOWE.
TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
For a girl to lay so much stress upon going to church, and yet resolve to defy her parents, in an article of the greatest consequence to them, and to the whole family, is an absurdity. You are recommended, Miss, to the practice of your private devotions. May they be efficacious upon the mind of one of the most pervicacious young creatures that ever was heard of! The intention is, I tell you plainly, to mortify you into a sense of your duty. The neighbours you are so solicitous to appear well with, already know, that you defy that. So, Miss, if you have a real value for your reputation, shew it as you ought. It is yet in your own power to establish or impair it.
Thus, my dear Miss Howe, has my brother got me into his snares; and I, like a poor silly bird, the more I struggle, am the more entangled.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE MONDAY MORNING, MARCH 6.
They are resolved to break my heart. My poor Hannah is discharged—disgracefully discharged!—Thus it was.
Within half an hour after I had sent the poor girl down for my breakfast, that bold creature Betty Barnes, my sister's confidant and servant, (if a favourite maid and confidant can be deemed a servant,) came up.
What, Miss, will you please to have for breakfast?
I was surprised. What will I have for breakfast, Betty!—How!—What!—How comes it!—Then I named Hannah. I could not tell what to say.
Don't be surprised, Miss:—but you'll see Hannah no more in this house.
God forbid!—Is any harm come to Hannah?—What! What is the matter with Hannah?
Why, Miss, the short and the long is this: Your papa and mamma think Hannah has staid long enough in the house to do mischief; and so she is ordered to troop [that was the confident creature's word]; and I am directed to wait upon you in her stead.
I burst into tears. I have no service for you, Betty Barnes; none at all. But where is Hannah? Cannot I speak with the poor girl? I owe her half a year's wages. May I not see the honest creature, and pay her her wages? I may never see her again perhaps; for they are resolved to break my heart.
And they think you are resolved to break theirs: so tit for tat, Miss.
Impertinent I called her; and asked her, if it were upon such confident terms that her service was to begin.
I was so very earnest to see the poor maid, that (to oblige me, as she said) she went down with my request.
The worthy creature was as earnest to see me; and the favour was granted in presence of Shorey and Betty.
I thanked her, when she came up, for her past service to me.
Her heart was ready to break. And she began to vindicate her fidelity and love; and disclaimed any mischief she had ever made.
I told her, that those who occasioned her being turned out of my service, made no question of her integrity: that her dismission was intended for an indignity to me: that I was very sorry to be obliged to part with her, and hoped she would meet with as good a service.
Never, never, wringing her hands, should she meet with a mistress she loved so well. And the poor creature ran on in my praises, and in professions of love to me.
We are all apt, you know, my dear, to praise our benefactors, because they are our benefactors; as if every body did right or wrong, as they obliged or disobliged us. But this good creature deserved to be kindly treated; so I could have no merit in favouring one whom it would have been ungrateful not to distinguish.
I gave her a little linen, some laces, and other odd things; and instead of four pounds which were due to her, ten guineas: and said, if ever I were again allowed to be my own mistress, I would think of her in the first place.
Betty enviously whispered Shorey upon it.
Hannah told me, before their faces, having no other opportunity, that she had been examined about letters to me, and from me: and that she had given her pockets to Miss Harlowe, who looked into them, and put her fingers in her stays, to satisfy herself that she had not any.
She gave me an account of the number of my pheasants and bantams; and I said, they should be my own care twice or thrice a day.
We wept over each other at parting. The girl prayed for all the family.
To have so good a servant so disgracefully dismissed, is very cruel: and I could not help saying that these methods might break my heart, but not any other way answer the end of the authors of my disgraces.
Betty, with a very saucy fleer, said to Shorey, There would be a trial of skill about that she fancied. But I took no notice of it. If this wench thinks that I have robbed her young mistress of a lover, as you say she has given out, she may believe that it is some degree of merit in herself to be impertinent to me.
Thus have I been forced to part with my faithful Hannah. If you can command the good creature to a place worthy of her, pray do for my sake.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE MONDAY, NEAR 12 O'CLOCK.
The enclosed letter was just now delivered to me. My brother has carried all his points.
I send you also the copy of my answer. No more at this time can I write—!
MONDAY, MAR. 6.
By command of your father and mother I write expressly to forbid you to come into their presence, or into the garden when they are there: nor when they are not there, but with Betty Banes to attend you; except by particular license or command.
On their blessings, you are forbidden likewise to correspond with the vile Lovelace; as it is well known you did by means of your sly Hannah. Whence her sudden discharge. As was fit.
Neither are you to correspond with Miss Howe; who has given herself high airs of late; and might possibly help on your correspondence with that detested libertine. Nor, in short, with any body without leave.
You are not to enter into the presence of either of your uncles, without their leave first obtained. It is a mercy to you, after such a behaviour to your mother, that your father refuses to see you.
You are not to be seen in any apartment of the house you so lately governed as you pleased, unless you are commanded down.
In short, you are strictly to confine yourself to your chamber, except now and then, in Betty Barnes's sight (as aforesaid) you take a morning or evening turn in the garden: and then you are to go directly, and without stopping at any apartment in the way, up or down the back stairs, that the sight of so perverse a young creature may not add to the pain you have given every body.
The hourly threatenings of your fine fellow, as well as your own unheard-of obstinacy, will account to you for all this. What a hand has the best and most indulgent of mothers had with you, who so long pleaded for you, and undertook for you; even when others, from the manner of your setting out, despaired of moving you!—What must your perverseness have been, that such a mother can give you up! She thinks it right so to do: nor will take you to favour, unless you make the first steps, by a compliance with your duty.
As for myself, whom perhaps you think hardly of [in very good company, if you do, that is my sole consolation]; I have advised, that you may be permitted to pursue your own inclinations, (some people need no greater punishment than such a permission,) and not to have the house encumbered by one who must give them the more pain for the necessity she has laid them under of avoiding the sight of her, although in it.
If any thing I have written appear severe or harsh, it is still in your power (but perhaps will not always be so) to remedy it; and that by a single word.
Betty Barnes has orders to obey you in all points consistent with her duty to those whom you owe it, as well as she.
TO JAMES HARLOWE, JUNIOR, ESQ.
I will only say, That you may congratulate yourself on having so far succeeded in all your views, that you may report what you please of me, and I can no more defend myself, than if I were dead. Yet one favour, nevertheless, I will beg of you. It is this—That you will not occasion more severities, more disgraces, that are necessary for carrying into execution your further designs, whatever they be, against
Your unhappy sister, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE TUESDAY, MARCH 7.
By my last deposit, you will see how I am driven, and what a poor prisoner I am.—No regard had to my reputation. The whole matter is now before you. Can such measures be supposed to soften?—But surely they can only mean to try and frighten me into my brother's views!—All my hope is, to be able to weather this point till my cousin Morden comes from Florence; and he is soon expected: yet, if they are determined upon a short day, I doubt he will not be here in time enough to save me.
It is plain by my brother's letter, that my mother has not spared me, in the report she was pleased to make of the conference between herself and me: yet she was pleased to hint to me, that my brother had views which she would have had me try to disappoint. But indeed she had engaged to give a faithful account of what was to pass between herself and me: and it was, doubtless, much more eligible to give up a daughter, than to disoblige a husband, and every other person of the family.
They think they have done every thing by turning away my poor Hannah: but as long as the liberty of the garden, and my poultry-visits, are allowed me, they will be mistaken.
I asked Mrs. Betty, if she had any orders to watch or attend me; or whether I was to ask her leave whenever I should be disposed to walk in the garden, or to go feed my bantams?—Lord bless her! what could I mean by such a question! Yet she owned, that she had heard, that I was not to go into the garden, when my father, mother, or uncles were there.
However, as it behoved me to be assured on this head, I went down directly, and staid an hour, without question or impediment; and yet a good part of the time, I walked under and in sight, as I may say, of my brother's study window, where both he and my sister happened to be. And I am sure they saw me, by the loud mirth they affected, by way of insult, as I suppose.
So this part of my restraint was doubtless a stretch of the authority given him. The enforcing of that may perhaps come next. But I hope not.
Since I wrote the above, I ventured to send a letter by Shorey to my mother. I desired her to give it into her own hand, when nobody was by.
I shall enclose a copy of it. You will see that I would have it thought, that now Hannah is gone, I have no way to correspond out of the house. I am far from thinking all I do right. I am afraid this is a little piece of art, that is not so. But this is an afterthought. The letter went first.
Having acknowledged to you, that I had received letters from Mr. Lovelace full of resentment, and that I answered them purely to prevent further mischief, and having shewn you copies of my answers, which you did not disapprove of, although you thought fit, after you had read them, to forbid me any further correspondence with him, I think it my duty to acquaint you, that another letter from him has since come to my hand, in which he is very earnest with me to permit him to wait on my papa, or you, or my two uncles, in a pacific way, accompanied by Lord M.: on which I beg your commands.
I own to you, Madam, that had not the prohibition been renewed, and had not Hannah been so suddenly dismissed my service, I should have made the less scruple to have written an answer, and to have commanded her to convey it to him, with all speed, in order to dissuade him from these visits, lest any thing should happen on the occasion that my heart aches but to think of.
And here I cannot but express my grief, that I should have all the punishment and all the blame, who, as I have reason to think, have prevented great mischief, and have not been the occasion of any. For, Madam, could I be supposed to govern the passions of either of the gentlemen?—Over the one indeed I have had some little influence, without giving him hitherto any reason to think he has fastened an obligation upon me for it.—Over the other, Who, Madam, has any?—I am grieved at heart, to be obliged to lay so great a blame at my brother's door, although my reputation and my liberty are both to be sacrificed to his resentment and ambition. May not, however, so deep a sufferer be permitted to speak out?
This communication being as voluntarily made, as dutifully intended, I humbly presume to hope, that I shall not be required to produce the letter itself. I cannot either in honour or prudence do that, because of the vehemence of his style; for having heard [not, I assure you, by my means, or through Hannah's] of some part of the harsh treatment I have met with; he thinks himself entitled to place it to his own account, by reason of speeches thrown out by some of my relations, equally vehement.
If I do not answer him, he will be made desperate, and think himself justified (thought I shall not think him so) in resenting the treatment he complains of: if I do, and if, in compliment to me, he forbears to resent what he thinks himself entitled to resent; be pleased, Madam, to consider the obligation he will suppose he lays me under.
If I were as strongly prepossessed in his favour as is supposed, I should not have wished this to be considered by you. And permit me, as a still further proof that I am not prepossessed, to beg of you to consider, Whether, upon the whole, the proposal I made, of declaring for the single life (which I will religiously adhere to) is not the best way to get rid of his pretensions with honour. To renounce him, and not be allowed to aver, that I will never be the other man's, will make him conclude (driven as I am driven) that I am determined in that other man's favour.
If this has not its due weight, my brother's strange schemes must be tried, and I will resign myself to my destiny with all the acquiescence that shall be granted to my prayers. And so leaving the whole to your own wisdom, and whether you choose to consult my papa and uncles upon this humble application, or not; or whether I shall be allowed to write an answer to Mr. Lovelace, or not [and if allowed to do so, I beg your direction by whom to send it]; I remain,
Honoured Madam, Your unhappy, but ever dutiful daughter, CL. HARLOWE.
I have just received an answer to the enclosed letter. My mother, you will observe, has ordered me to burn it: but, as you will have it in your safekeeping, and nobody else will see it, her end will be equally answered, as if it were burnt. It has neither date nor superscription.
Say not all the blame and all the punishment is yours. I am as much blamed, and as much punished, as you are; yet am more innocent. When your obstinacy is equal to any other person's passion, blame not your brother. We judged right, that Hannah carried on your correspondencies. Now she is gone, and you cannot write [we think you cannot] to Miss Howe, nor she to you, without our knowledge, one cause of uneasiness and jealousy is over.
I had no dislike of Hannah. I did not tell her so; because somebody was within hearing when she desired to pay her duty to me at going. I gave her a caution, in a raised voice, To take care, wherever she went to live next, if there were any young ladies, how she made parties, and assisted in clandestine correspondencies. But I slid two guineas into her hand: nor was I angry to hear that you were still more bountiful to her. So much for Hannah.
I don't know what to write, about your answering that man of violence. What can you think of it, that such a family as ours, should have such a rod held over it?—For my part, I have not owned that I know you have corresponded. By your last boldness to me [an astonishing one it was, to pursue before Mr. Solmes the subject I was forced to break from above-stairs!] you may, as far as I know, plead, that you had my countenance for your correspondence with him; and so add to the uneasiness between your father and me. You were once my comfort, Clarissa; you made all my hardships tolerable:—But now!—However, nothing, it is plain, can move you; and I will say no more on that head: for you are under your father's discipline now; and he will neither be prescribed to, nor entreated.
I should have been glad to see the letter you tell me of, as I saw the rest. You say, both honour and prudence forbid you to shew it to me.—O Clarissa! what think you of receiving letters that honour and prudence forbid you to shew to a mother!—But it is not for me to see it, if you would choose to shew it me. I will not be in your secret. I will not know that you did correspond. And, as to an answer, take your own methods. But let him know it will be the last you will write. And, if you do write, I won't see it: so seal it up (if you do) and give it to Shorey; and she—Yet do not think I give you license to write.
We will be upon no conditions with him, nor will you be allowed to be upon any. Your father and uncles would have no patience were he to come. What have you to do to oblige him with your refusal of Mr. Solmes?—Will not that refusal be to give him hope? And while he has any, can we be easy or free from his insults? Were even your brother in fault, as that fault cannot be conquered, is a sister to carry on a correspondence that shall endanger her brother? But your father has given his sanction to your brother's dislikes, your uncles', and every body's!—No matter to whom owing.
As to the rest, you have by your obstinacy put it out of my power to do any thing for you. Your father takes it upon himself to be answerable for all consequences. You must not therefore apply to me for favour. I shall endeavour to be only an observer: Happy, if I could be an unconcerned one!—While I had power, you would not let me use it as I would have used it. Your aunt has been forced to engage not to interfere but by your father's direction. You'll have severe trials. If you have any favour to hope for, it must be from the mediation of your uncles. And yet, I believe, they are equally determined: for they make it a principle, [alas! they never had children!] that that child, who in marriage is not governed by her parents, is to be given up as a lost creature!
I charge you, let not this letter be found. Burn it. There is too much of the mother in it, to a daughter so unaccountably obstinate.
Write not another letter to me. I can do nothing for you. But you can do every thing for yourself.
Now, my dear, to proceed with my melancholy narrative.
After this letter, you will believe, that I could have very little hopes, that an application directly to my father would stand me in any stead: but I thought it became me to write, were it but to acquit myself to myself, that I have left nothing unattempted that has the least likelihood to restore me to his favour. Accordingly I wrote to the following effect:
I presume not, I say, to argue with my Papa; I only beg his mercy and indulgence in this one point, on which depends my present, and perhaps my future, happiness; and beseech him not to reprobate his child for an aversion which it is not in her power to conquer. I beg, that I may not be sacrificed to projects, and remote contingencies. I complain of the disgraces I suffer in this banishment from his presence, and in being confined to my chamber. In every thing but this one point, I promise implicit duty and resignation to his will. I repeat my offers of a single life; and appeal to him, whether I have ever given him cause to doubt my word. I beg to be admitted to his, and to my mamma's, presence, and that my conduct may be under their own eye: and this with the more earnestness, as I have too much reason to believe that snares are laid for me; and tauntings and revilings used on purpose to make a handle of my words against me, when I am not permitted to speak in my own defence. I conclude with hoping, that my brother's instigations may not rob an unhappy child of her father.
This is the answer, sent without superscription, and unsealed, although by Betty Barnes, who delivered it with an air, as if she knew the contents.
I write, perverse girl; but with all the indignation that your disobedience deserves. To desire to be forgiven a fault you own, and yet resolve to persevere in, is a boldness, no more to be equaled, than passed over. It is my authority you defy. Your reflections upon a brother, that is an honour to us all, deserve my utmost resentment. I see how light all relationship sits upon you. The cause I guess at, too. I cannot bear the reflections that naturally arise from this consideration. Your behaviour to your too-indulgent and too-fond mother——But, I have no patience—Continue banished from my presence, undutiful as you are, till you know how to conform to my will. Ingrateful creature! Your letter but upbraid me for my past indulgence. Write no more to me, till you can distinguish better; and till you are convinced of your duty to
A JUSTLY INCENSED FATHER.
This angry letter was accompanied by one from my mother, unsealed, and unsuperscribed also. Those who take so much pains to confederate every one against me, I make no doubt, obliged her to bear her testimony against the poor girl.
My mother's letter being a repetition of some of the severe things that passed between herself and me, of which I have already informed you, I shall not need to give you the contents—only thus far, that she also praises my brother, and blames me for my freedoms with him.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE THURSDAY MORN., MARCH 9.
I have another letter from Mr. Lovelace, although I had not answered his former.
This man, somehow or other, knows every thing that passes in our family. My confinement; Hanna's dismission; and more of the resentments and resolutions of my father, uncles, and brother, than I can possibly know, and almost as soon as the things happen, which he tells me of. He cannot come at these intelligencies fairly.
He is excessively uneasy upon what he hears; and his expressions, both of love to me, and resentment to them, are very fervent. He solicits me, 'To engage my honour to him never to have Mr. Solmes.'
I think I may fairly promise him that I will not.
He begs, 'That I will not think he is endeavouring to make to himself a merit at any man's expense, since he hopes to obtain my favour on the foot of his own; nor that he seeks to intimidate me into a consideration for him. But declares, that the treatment he meets with from my family is of such a nature, that he is perpetually reproached for not resenting it; and that as well by Lord M. and Lady Sarah, and Lady Betty, as by all his other friends: and if he must have no hope from me, he cannot answer for what his despair will make him do.'
Indeed, he says, 'his relations, the ladies particularly, advise him to have recourse to a legal remedy: But how, he asks, can a man of honour go to law for verbal abuses given by people entitled to wear swords?'
You see, my dear, that my mother seems as apprehensive of mischief as myself; and has indirectly offered to let Shorey carry my answer to the letter he sent me before.
He is full of the favours of the ladies of his family to me: to whom, nevertheless, I am personally a stranger; except, that I once saw Miss Patty Montague at Mrs. Knolly's.
It is natural, I believe, for a person to be the more desirous of making new friends, in proportion as she loses the favour of old ones. Yet had I rather appear amiable in the eyes of my own relations, and in your eyes, than in those of all the world besides—but these four ladies of his family have such excellent characters, that one cannot but wish to be thought well of by them. Cannot there be a way to find out, by Mrs. Fortescue's means, or by Mr. Hickman, who has some knowledge of Lord M. [covertly, however,] what their opinions are of the present situation of things in our family; and of the little likelihood there is, that ever the alliance once approved of by them, can take effect?
I cannot, for my own part, think so well of myself, as to imagine, that they can wish their kinsman to persevere in his views with regard to me, through such contempts and discouragements.—Not that it would concern me, should they advise him to the contrary. By my Lord's signing Mr. Lovelace's former letter; by Mr. Lovelace's assurances of the continued favour of all his relations; and by the report of others; I seem still to stand high in their favour. But, methinks, I should be glad to have this confirmed to me, as from themselves, by the lips of an indifferent person; and the rather, because of their fortunes and family; and take it amiss (as they have reason) to be included by ours in the contempt thrown upon their kinsman.
Curiosity at present is all my motive: nor will there ever, I hope, be a stronger, notwithstanding your questionable throbs—even were the merits of Mr. Lovelace much greater than they are.
I have answered his letters. If he takes me at my word, I shall need to be less solicitous for the opinions of his relations in my favour: and yet one would be glad to be well thought of by the worthy.
This is the substance of my letter:
'I express my surprise at his knowing (and so early) all that passes here.'
I assure him, 'That were there not such a man in the world as himself, I would not have Mr. Solmes.'
I tell him, 'That to return, as I understand he does, defiances for defiances, to my relations, is far from being a proof with me, either of his politeness, or of the consideration he pretends to have for me.
'That the moment I hear he visits any of my friends without their consent, I will make a resolution never to see him more, if I can help it.'
I apprize him, 'That I am connived at in sending this letter (although no one has seen the contents) provided it shall be the last I will ever write to him: that I had more than once told him, that the single life was my choice; and this before Mr. Solmes was introduced as a visitor in our family: that Mr. Wyerley, and other gentlemen, knew it to be my choice, before himself was acquainted with any of us: that I had never been induced to receive a line from him on the subject, but that I thought he had not acted ungenerously by my brother; and yet had not been so handsomely treated by my friends, as he might have expected: but that had he even my friends on his side, I should have very great objections to him, were I to get over my choice of a single life, so really preferable to me as it is; and that I should have declared as much to him, had I not regarded him as more than a common visiter. On all these accounts, I desire, that the one more letter, which I will allow him to deposit in the usual place, may be the very last; and that only, to acquaint me with his acquiescence that it shall be so; at least till happier times.'
This last I put in that he may not be quite desperate. But, if he take me at my word, I shall be rid of one of my tormentors.
I have promised to lay before you all his letters, and my answers: I repeat that promise: and am the less solicitous, for that reason, to amplify upon the contents of either. But I cannot too often express my vexation, to be driven to such streights and difficulties, here at home, as oblige me to answer letters, (from a man I had not absolutely intended to encourage, and to whom I had really great objections,) filled as his are with such warm protestations, and written to me with a spirit of expectation.
For, my dear, you never knew so bold a supposer. As commentators find beauties in an author, to which the author perhaps was a stranger; so he sometimes compliments me in high strains of gratitude for favours, and for a consideration, which I never designed him; insomuch that I am frequently under a necessity of explaining away the attributed goodness to him, which, if I shewed, I should have the less opinion of myself.
In short, my dear, like a restiff horse, (as I have heard described by sportsmen,) he pains one's hands, and half disjoints one's arms, to rein him in. And, when you see his letters, you must form no judgment upon them, till you have read my answers. If you do, you will indeed think you have cause to attribute self-deceit, and throbs, and glows, to your friend: and yet, at other times, the contradictory nature complains, that I shew him as little favour, and my friends as much inveteracy, as if, in the rencontre betwixt my brother and him, he had been the aggressor; and as if the catastrophe had been as fatal, as it might have been.
If he has a design by this conduct (sometimes complaining of my shyness, at others exalting in my imaginary favours) to induce me at one time to acquiesce with his compliments; at another to be more complaisant for his complaints; and if the contradiction be not the effect of his inattention and giddiness; I shall think him as deep and as artful (too probably, as practised) a creature, as ever lived; and were I to be sure of it, should hate him, if possible, worse than I do Solmes.
But enough for the present of a creature so very various.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE THURSDAY NIGHT, MARCH 9.
I have not patience with any of the people you are with. I know not what to advise you to do. How do you know that you are not punishable for being the cause, though to your own loss, that the will of your grandfather is not complied with?—Wills are sacred things, child. You see, that they, even they, think so, who imagine they suffer by a will, through the distinction paid you in it.
I allow of all your noble reasonings for what you did at the time: But, since such a charming, such a generous instance of filial duty is to go thus unrewarded, why should you not resume?
Your grandfather knew the family-failing. He knew what a noble spirit you had to do good. He himself, perhaps, [excuse me, my dear,] had done too little in his life-time; and therefore he put it in your power to make up for the defects of the whole family. Were it to me, I would resume it. Indeed I would.
You will say, you cannot do it, while you are with them. I don't know that. Do you think they can use you worse than they do? And is it not your right? And do they not make use of your own generosity to oppress you? Your uncle Harlowe is one trustee; your cousin Morden is the other: insist upon your right to your uncle; and write to your cousin Morden about it. This, I dare say, will make them alter their behaviour to you.
Your insolent brother—what has he to do to controul you?—Were it me [I wish it were for one month, and no more] I'd shew him the difference. I would be in my own mansion, pursuing my charming schemes, and making all around me happy. I would set up my own chariot. I would visit them when they deserved it. But when my brother and sister gave themselves airs, I would let them know, that I was their sister, and not their servant: and, if that did not do, I would shut my gates against them; and bid them go and be company for each other.
It must be confessed, however, that this brother and sister of yours, judging as such narrow spirits will ever judge, have some reason for treating you as they do. It must have long been a mortification to them (set disappointed love on her side, and avarice on his, out of the question) to be so much eclipsed by a younger sister. Such a sun in a family, where there are none but faint twinklers, how could they bear it! Why, my dear, they must look upon you as a prodigy among them: and prodigies, you know, though they obtain our admiration, never attract our love. The distance between you and them is immense. Their eyes ache to look up at you. What shades does your full day of merit cast upon them! Can you wonder, then, that they should embrace the first opportunity that offered, to endeavour to bring you down to their level?
Depend upon it, my dear, you will have more of it, and more still, as you bear it.
As to this odious Solmes, I wonder not at your aversion to him. It is needless to say any thing to you, who have so sincere any antipathy to him, to strengthen your dislike: Yet, who can resist her own talents? One of mine, as I have heretofore said, is to give an ugly likeness. Shall I indulge it?—I will. And the rather, as, in doing so, you will have my opinion in justification of your aversion to him, and in approbation of a steadiness that I ever admired, and must for ever approve of, in your temper.
'I was twice in this wretch's company. At one of the times your Lovelace was there. I need not mention to you, who have such a pretty curiosity, (though at present, only a curiosity, you know,) the unspeakable difference.
'Lovelace entertained the company in his lively gay way, and made every body laugh at one of his stories. It was before this creature was thought of for you. Solmes laughed too. It was, however, his laugh: for his first three years, at least, I imagine, must have been one continual fit of crying; and his muscles have never yet been able to recover a risible tone. His very smile [you never saw him smile, I believe; never at least gave him cause to smile] is so little natural to his features, that it appears to him as hideous as the grin of a man in malice.
'I took great notice of him, as I do of all the noble lords of the creation, in their peculiarities; and was disgusted, nay, shocked at him, even then. I was glad, I remember, on that particular occasion, to see his strange features recovering their natural gloominess; though they did this but slowly, as if the muscles which contributed to his distortions, had turned upon rusty springs.
'What a dreadful thing must even the love of such a husband be! For my part, were I his wife! (But what have I done to myself, to make such a supposition?) I should never have comfort but in his absence, or when I was quarreling with him. A splenetic woman, who must have somebody to find fault with, might indeed be brought to endure such a wretch: the sight of him would always furnish out the occasion, and all her servants, for that reason, and for that only, would have cause to blame their master. But how grievous and apprehensive a thing it must be for his wife, had she the least degree of delicacy, to catch herself in having done something to oblige him?
'So much for his person. As to the other half of him, he is said to be an insinuating, creeping mortal to any body he hopes to be a gainer by: an insolent, overbearing one, where he has no such views: And is not this the genuine spirit of meanness? He is reported to be spiteful and malicious, even to the whole family of any single person who has once disobliged him; and to his own relations most of all. I am told, that they are none of them such wretches as himself. This may be one reason why he is for disinheriting them.
'My Kitty, from one of his domestics, tells me, that his tenants hate him: and that he never had a servant who spoke well of him. Vilely suspicious of their wronging him (probably from the badness of his own heart) he is always changing.
'His pockets, they say, are continually crammed with keys: so that, when he would treat a guest, (a friend he has not out of your family), he is half as long puzzling which is which, as his niggardly treat might be concluded in. And if it be wine, he always fetches it himself. Nor has he much trouble in doing so; for he has very few visiters—only those, whom business or necessity brings: for a gentleman who can help it, would rather be benighted, than put up at his house.'
Yet this is the man they have found out (for considerations as sordid as those he is governed by) for a husband, that is to say, for a lord and master, for Miss Clarissa Harlowe!
But, perhaps, he may not be quite so miserable as he is represented. Characters extremely good, or extremely bad, are seldom justly given. Favour for a person will exalt the one, as disfavour will sink the other. But your uncle Antony has told my mother, who objected to his covetousness, that it was intended to tie him up, as he called it, to your own terms; which would be with a hempen, rather than a matrimonial, cord, I dare say. But, is not this a plain indication, that even his own recommenders think him a mean creature; and that he must be articled with—perhaps for necessaries? But enough, and too much, of such a wretch as this!—You must not have him, my dear,—that I am clear in—though not so clear, how you will be able to avoid it, except you assert the independence to which your estate gives you a title.
Here my mother broke in upon me. She wanted to see what I had written. I was silly enough to read Solmes's character to her.
She owned, that the man was not the most desirable of men; and that he had not the happiest appearance: But what, said she, is person in a man? And I was chidden for setting you against complying with your father's will. Then followed a lecture on the preference to be given in favour of a man who took care to discharge all his obligations to the world, and to keep all together, in opposition to a spendthrift or profligate. A fruitful subject you know, whether any particular person be meant by it, or not.
Why will these wise parents, by saying too much against the persons they dislike, put one upon defending them? Lovelace is not a spendthrift; owes not obligations to the world; though, I doubt not, profligate enough. Then, putting one upon doing such but common justice, we must needs be prepossessed, truly!—And so perhaps we are put upon curiosities first, that is to say, how such a one or his friends may think of one: and then, but too probably, comes in a distinguishing preference, or something that looks exceedingly like it.
My mother charged me at last, to write that side over again.—But excuse me, my good Mamma! I would not have the character lost upon any consideration; since my vein ran freely into it: and I never wrote to please myself, but I pleased you. A very good reason why—we have but one mind between us—only, that sometimes you are a little too grave, methinks; I, no doubt, a little too flippant in your opinion.
This difference in our tempers, however, is probably the reason that we love one another so well, that in the words of Norris, no third love can come in betwixt. Since each, in the other's eye, having something amiss, and each loving the other well enough to bear being told of it (and the rather perhaps as neither wishes to mend it); this takes off a good deal from that rivalry which might encourage a little (if not a great deal) of that latent spleen, which in time might rise into envy, and that into ill-will. So, my dear, if this be the case, let each keep her fault, and much good may do her with it: and what an hero or heroine must he or she be, who can conquer a constitutional fault? Let it be avarice, as in some I dare not name: let it be gravity, as in my best friend: or let it be flippancy, as in—I need not say whom.
It is proper to acquaint you, that I was obliged to comply with my mother's curiosity, [my mother has her share, her full share, of curiosity, my dear,] and to let her see here-and-there some passages in your letters—
I am broken in upon—but I will tell you by-and-by what passed between my mother and me on this occasion—and the rather, as she had her GIRL, her favourite HICKMAN, and your LOVELACE, all at once in her eye, in her part of the conversation.
Thus it was.
'I cannot but think, Nancy, said she, after all, that there is a little hardship in Miss Harlowe's case: and yet (as her mother says) it is a grating thing to have a child, who was always noted for her duty in smaller points, to stand in opposition to her parents' will in the greater; yea, in the greatest of all. And now, to middle the matter between both, it is pity, that the man they favour has not that sort of merit which a person of a mind so delicate as that of Miss Harlowe might reasonably expect in a husband.—But then, this man is surely preferable to a libertine: to a libertine too, who has had a duel with her own brother; fathers and mothers must think so, were it not for that circumstance—and it is strange if they do not know best.'
And so they must, thought I, from their experience, if no little dirty views give them also that prepossession in one man's favour, which they are so apt to censure their daughters for having in another's—and if, as I may add in your case, they have no creeping, old, musty uncle Antonys to strengthen their prepossessions, as he does my mother's. Poor, creeping, positive soul, what has such an old bachelor as he to do, to prate about the duties of children to parents; unless he had a notion that parents owe some to their children? But your mother, by her indolent meekness, let me call it, has spoiled all the three brothers.
'But you see, child, proceeded my mother, what a different behaviour MINE is to YOU. I recommend to you one of the soberest, yet politest, men in England—'
I think little of my mother's politest, my dear. She judges of honest Hickman for her daughter, as she would have done, I suppose, twenty years ago, for herself.
'Of a good family, continued my mother; a fine, clear, and improving estate [a prime consideration with my mother, as well as with some other folks, whom you know]: and I beg and I pray you to encourage him: at least not to use him the worse, for his being so obsequious to you.'
Yes, indeed! To use him kindly, that he may treat me familiarly—but distance to the men-wretches is best—I say.
'Yet all will hardly prevail upon you to do as I would have you. What would you say, were I to treat you as Miss Harlowe's father and mother treat her?
'What would I say, Madam!—That's easily answered. I would say nothing. Can you think such usage, and to such a young lady, is to be borne?
'Come, come, Nancy, be not so hasty: you have heard but one side; and that there is more to be said is plain, by your reading to me but parts of her letters. They are her parents. They must know best. Miss Harlowe, as fine a child as she is, must have done something, must have said something, (you know how they loved her,) to make them treat her thus.
'But if she should be blameless, Madam, how does your own supposition condemn them?'
Then came up Solmes's great estate; his good management of it—'A little too NEAR indeed,' was the word!—[O how money-lovers, thought I, will palliate! Yet my mother is a princess in spirit to this Solmes!] 'What strange effects, added she, have prepossession and love upon young ladies!'
I don't know how it is, my dear; but people take high delight in finding out folks in love. Curiosity begets curiosity. I believe that's the thing.
She proceeded to praise Mr. Lovelace's person, and his qualifications natural and acquired. But then she would judge as mothers will judge, and as daughters are very loth to judge: but could say nothing in answer to your offer of living single; and breaking with him—if—if—[three or four if's she made of one good one, if] that could be depended on.
But still obedience without reserve, reason what I will, is the burden of my mother's song: and this, for my sake, as well as for yours.
I must needs say, that I think duty to parents is a very meritorious excellence. But I bless God I have not your trials. We can all be good when we have no temptation nor provocation to the contrary: but few young persons (who can help themselves too as you can) would bear what you bear.
I will now mention all that is upon my mind, in relation to the behaviour of your father and uncles, and the rest of them, because I would not offend you: but I have now a higher opinion of my own sagacity, than ever I had, in that I could never cordially love any one of your family but yourself. I am not born to like them. But it is my duty to be sincere to my friend: and this will excuse her Anna Howe to Miss Clarissa Harlowe.
I ought indeed to have excepted your mother; a lady to be reverenced: and now to be pitied. What must have been her treatment, to be thus subjugated, as I may call it? Little did the good old viscount think, when he married his darling, his only daughter, to so well-appearing a gentleman, and to her own liking too, that she would have been so much kept down. Another would call your father a tyrant, if I must not: all the world that know him, do call him so; and if you love your mother, you should not be very angry at the world for taking that liberty.
Yet, after all, I cannot help thinking, that she is the less to be pitied, as she may be said (be the gout, or what will, the occasion of his moroseness) to have long behaved unworthy of her birth and fine qualities, in yielding so much as she yields to encroaching spirits [you may confine the reflection to your brother, if it will pain you to extend it]; and this for the sake of preserving a temporary peace to herself; which was the less worth endeavouring to preserve, as it always produced a strength in the will of others, which subjected her to an arbitrariness that of course grew, and became established, upon her patience.—And now to give up the most deserving of her children (against her judgment) a sacrifice to the ambition and selfishness of the least deserving!—But I fly from this subject—having I fear, said too much to be forgiven—and yet much less than is in my heart to say upon the over-meek subject.
Mr. Hickman is expected from London this evening. I have desired him to inquire after Lovelace's life and conversation in town. If he has not inquired, I shall be very angry with him. Don't expect a very good account of either. He is certainly an intriguing wretch, and full of inventions.
Upon my word, I most heartily despise that sex! I wish they would let our fathers and mothers alone; teasing them to tease us with their golden promises, and protestations and settlements, and the rest of their ostentatious nonsense. How charmingly might you and I live together, and despise them all!—But to be cajoled, wire-drawn, and ensnared, like silly birds, into a state of bondage, or vile subordination; to be courted as princesses for a few weeks, in order to be treated as slaves for the rest of our lives. Indeed, my dear, as you say of Solmes, I cannot endure them!—But for your relations [friends no more will I call them, unworthy as they are even of the other name!] to take such a wretch's price as that; and to the cutting off of all reversions from his own family:—How must a mind but commonly just resist such a measure!
Mr. Hickman shall sound Lord M. upon the subject you recommend. But beforehand, I can tell you what he and what his sisters will say, when they are sounded. Who would not be proud of such a relation as Miss Clarissa Harlowe?—Mrs. Fortescue told me, that they are all your very great admirers.
If I have not been clear enough in my advice about what you shall do, let me say, that I can give it in one word: it is only by re-urging you to RESUME. If you do, all the rest will follow.
We are told here, that Mrs. Norton, as well as your aunt Hervey, has given her opinion on the implicit side of the question. If she can think, that the part she has had in your education, and your own admirable talents and acquirements, are to be thrown away upon such a worthless creature as Solmes, I could heartily quarrel with her. You may think I say this to lessen your regard for the good woman. And perhaps not wholly without cause, if you do. For, to own the truth, methinks, I don't love her so well as I should do, did you love her so apparently less, that I could be out of doubt, that you love me better.
Your mother tells you, 'That you will have great trials: that you are under your father's discipline.'—The word is enough for me to despise them who give occasion for its use.—'That it is out of her power to help you!' And again: 'That if you have any favour to hope for, it must be by the mediation of your uncles.' I suppose you will write to the oddities, since you are forbid to see them. But can it be, that such a lady, such a sister, such a wife, such a mother, has no influence in her own family? Who, indeed, as you say, if this be so, would marry, that can live single? My choler is again beginning to rise. RESUME, my dear: and that is all I will give myself time to say further, lest I offend you when I cannot serve you—only this, that I am
Your truly affectionate friend and servant, ANNA HOWE.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE FRIDAY, MARCH 10.
You will permit me, my dear, to touch upon a few passages in your last letter, that affect me sensibly.
In the first place, you must allow me to say, low as I am in spirits, that I am very angry with you, for your reflections on my relations, particularly on my father and mother, and on the memory of my grandfather. Nor, my dear, does your own mother always escape the keen edge of your vivacity. One cannot one's self forbear to write or speak freely of those we love and honour, when grief from imagined hard treatment wrings the heart: but it goes against one to hear any body else take the same liberties. Then you have so very strong a manner of expression where you take a distaste, that when passion has subdued, and I come (upon reflection) to see by your severity what I have given occasion for, I cannot help condemning myself.
But least of all can I bear that you should reflect upon my mother. What, my dear, if her meekness should not be rewarded? Is the want of reward, or the want even of a grateful acknowledgement, a reason for us to dispense with what we think our duty? They were my father's lively spirits that first made him an interest in her gentle bosom. They were the same spirits turned inward, as I have heretofore observed,* that made him so impatient when the cruel malady seized him. He always loved my mother: And would not LOVE and PITY excusably, nay laudably, make a good wife (who was an hourly witness of his pangs, when labouring under a paroxysm, and his paroxysms becoming more and more frequent, as well as more and more severe) give up her own will, her own likings, to oblige a husband, thus afflicted, whose love for her was unquestionable?—And if so, was it not too natural [human nature is not perfect, my dear] that the husband thus humoured by the wife, should be unable to bear controul from any body else, much less contradiction from his children?
* See Letter V.
If then you would avoid my highest displeasure, you must spare my mother: and, surely, you will allow me, with her, to pity, as well as to love and honour my father.
I have no friend but you to whom I can appeal, to whom I dare complain. Unhappily circumstanced as I am, it is but too probable that I shall complain, because it is but too probably that I shall have more and more cause given me for complaint. But be it your part, if I do, to sooth my angry passions, and to soften my resentments; and this the rather, as you know what an influence your advice has upon me; and as you must also know, that the freedoms you take with my friends, can have no other tendency, but to weaken the sense of my duty to them, without answering any good end to myself.
I cannot help owning, however, that I am pleased to have you join with me in opinion of the contempt which Mr. Solmes deserves from me. But yet, permit me to say, that he is not quite so horrible a creature as you make him: as to his person, I mean; for with regard to his mind, by all I have heard, you have done him but justice: but you have such a talent at an ugly likeness, and such a vivacity, that they sometimes carry you out of verisimilitude. In short, my dear, I have known you, in more instances than one, sit down resolved to write all that wit, rather than strict justice, could suggest upon the given occasion. Perhaps it may be thought, that I should say the less on this particular subject, because your dislike of him arises from love to me: But should it not be our aim to judge of ourselves, and of every thing that affects us, as we may reasonably imagine other people would judge of us and of our actions?
As to the advice you give, to resume my estate, I am determined not to litigate with my father, let what will be the consequence to myself. I may give you, at another time, a more particular answer to your reasonings on this subject: but, at present, will only observe, that it is in my opinion, that Lovelace himself would hardly think me worth addressing, were he to know this would be my resolution. These men, my dear, with all their flatteries, look forward to the PERMANENT. Indeed, it is fit they should. For love must be a very foolish thing to look back upon, when it has brought persons born to affluence into indigence, and laid a generous mind under obligation and dependence.
You very ingeniously account for the love we bear to one another, from the difference in our tempers. I own, I should not have thought of that. There may possibly be something in it: but whether there be or not, whenever I am cool, and give myself time to reflect, I will love you the better for the correction you give, be as severe as you will upon me. Spare me not, therefore, my dear friend, whenever you think me in the least faulty. I love your agreeable raillery: you know I always did: nor, however over-serious you think me, did I ever think you flippant, as you harshly call it. One of the first conditions of our mutual friendship was, each should say or write to the other whatever was upon her mind, without any offence to be taken: a condition, that is indeed indispensable in friendship.
I knew your mother would be for implicit obedience in a child. I am sorry my case is so circumstanced, that I cannot comply. It would be my duty to do so, if I could. You are indeed very happy, that you have nothing but your own agreeable, yet whimsical, humours to contend with, in the choice she invites you to make of Mr. Hickman. How happy I should be, to be treated with so much lenity!—I should blush to have my mother say, that she begged and prayed me, and all in vain, to encourage a man so unexceptionable as Mr. Hickman.
Indeed, my beloved Miss Howe, I am ashamed to have your mother say, with ME in her view, 'What strange effects have prepossession and love upon young creatures of our sex!' This touches me the more sensibly, because you yourself, my dear, are so ready to persuade me into it.
I should be very blamable to endeavour to hide any the least bias upon my mind, from you: and I cannot but say—that this man—this Lovelace—is a man that might be liked well enough, if he bore such a character as Mr. Hickman bears; and even if there were hopes of reclaiming him. And further still I will acknowledge, that I believe it possible that one might be driven, by violent measures, step by step, as it were, into something that might be called—I don't know what to call it—a conditional kind of liking, or so. But as to the word LOVE—justifiable and charming as it is in some cases, (that is to say, in all the relative, in all the social, and, what is still beyond both, in all our superior duties, in which it may be properly called divine;) it has, methinks, in the narrow, circumscribed, selfish, peculiar sense, in which you apply it to me, (the man too so little to be approved of for his morals, if all that report says of him be true,) no pretty sound with it. Treat me as freely as you will in all other respects, I will love you, as I have said, the better for your friendly freedom. But, methinks, I could be glad that you would not let this imputation pass so glibly from your pen, or your lips, as attributable to one of your own sex, whether I be the person or not: since the other must have a double triumph, when a person of your delicacy (armed with such contempts of them all, as you would have one think) can give up a friend, with an exultation over her weakness, as a silly, love-sick creature.
I could make some other observations upon the contents of your last two letters; but my mind is not free enough at present. The occasion for the above stuck with me; and I could not help taking the earliest notice of them.
Having written to the end of my second sheet, I will close this letter, and in my next, acquaint you with all that has happened here since my last.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE SATURDAY, MARCH 11.
I have had such taunting messages, and such repeated avowals of ill offices, brought me from my brother and sister, if I do no comply with their wills, (delivered, too, with provoking sauciness by Betty Barnes,) that I have thought it proper, before I entered upon my intended address to my uncles, in pursuance of the hint given me in my mother's letter, to expostulate a little with them. But I have done it in such a manner, as will give you (if you please to take it as you have done some parts of my former letters) great advantage over me. In short, you will have more cause than ever, to declare me far gone in love, if my reasons for the change of my style in these letters, with regard to Mr. Lovelace, do not engage your more favourable opinion.—For I have thought proper to give them their own way: and, since they will have it, that I have a preferable regard for Mr. Lovelace, I give them cause rather to confirm their opinion than doubt it.
These are my reasons in brief, for the alteration of my style.
In the first place, they have grounded their principal argument for my compliance with their will, upon my acknowledgement that my heart is free; and so, supposing I give up no preferable person, my opposition has the look of downright obstinacy in their eyes; and they argue, that at worst, my aversion to Solmes is an aversion that may be easily surmounted, and ought to be surmounted in duty to my father, and for the promotion of family views.
Next, although they build upon this argument in order to silence me, they seem not to believe me, but treat me as disgracefully, as if I were in love with one of my father's footmen: so that my conditional willingness to give up Mr. Lovelace has procured me no favour.
In the next place, I cannot but think, that my brother's antipathy to Mr. Lovelace is far from being well grounded: the man's inordinate passion for the sex is the crime that is always rung in my ears: and a very great one it is: But, does my brother recriminate upon him thus in love to me?—No—his whole behaviour shews me, that that is not his principal motive, and that he thinks me rather in his way than otherwise.
It is then the call of justice, as I may say, to speak a little in favour of a man, who, although provoked by my brother, did not do him all the mischief he could have done him, and which my brother had endeavoured to do him. It might not be amiss therefore, I thought, to alarm them a little with apprehension, that the methods they are taking with me are the very reverse of those they should take to answer the end they design by them. And after all, what is the compliment I make Mr. Lovelace, if I allow it to be thought that I do really prefer him to such a man as him they terrify me with? Then, my Miss Howe [concluded I] accuses me of a tameness which subject me to insults from my brother: I will keep that dear friend in my eye; and for all these considerations, try what a little of her spirit will do—sit it ever so awkwardly upon me.
In this way of thinking, I wrote to my brother and sister. This is my letter to him.
TREATED as I am, and, in a great measure, if not wholly, by your instigations, Brother, you must permit me to expostulate with you upon the occasion. It is not my intention to displease you in what I am going to write: and yet I must deal freely with you: the occasion calls for it.
And permit me, in the first place, to remind you, that I am your sister; and not your servant; and that, therefore, the bitter revilings and passionate language brought me from you, upon an occasion in which you have no reason to prescribe to me, are neither worthy of my character to bear, nor of yours to offer.
Put the case, that I were to marry the man you dislike: and that he were not to make a polite or tender husband, Is that a reason for you to be an unpolite and disobliging brother?—Why must you, Sir, anticipate my misfortunes, were such a case to happen?—Let me tell you plainly, that the man who could treat me as a wife, worse than you of late have treated me as a sister, must be a barbarous man indeed.
Ask yourself, I pray you, Sir, if you would thus have treated your sister Bella, had she thought fit to receive the addresses of the man so much hated by you?—If not, let me caution you, my Brother, not to take your measures by what you think will be borne, but rather by what ought to be offered.
How would you take it, if you had a brother, who, in a like case, were to act by you, as you do by me?—You cannot but remember what a laconic answer you gave even to my father, who recommended to you Miss Nelly D'Oily—You did not like her, were your words: and that was thought sufficient.
You must needs think, that I cannot but know to whom to attribute my disgraces, when I recollect my father's indulgence to me, permitting me to decline several offers; and to whom, that a common cause is endeavoured to be made, in favour of a man whose person and manners are more exceptional than those of any of the gentlemen I have been permitted to refuse.
I offer not to compare the two men together: nor is there indeed the least comparison to be made between them. All the difference to the one's disadvantage, if I did, is but one point—of the greatest importance, indeed—But to whom of most importance?—To myself, surely, were I to encourage his application: of the least to you. Nevertheless, if you do not, by your strange politics, unite that man and me as joint sufferers in one cause, you shall find me as much resolved to renounce him, as I am to refuse the other. I have made an overture to this purpose: I hope you will not give me reason to confirm my apprehensions, that it will be owing to you if it be not accepted.
It is a sad thing to have it to say, without being conscious of ever having given you cause of offence, that I have in you a brother, but not a friend.
Perhaps you will not condescend to enter into the reasons of your late and present conduct with a foolish sister. But if politeness, if civility, be not due to that character, and to my sex, justice is.
Let me take the liberty further to observe, that the principal end of a young man's education at the university, is, to learn him to reason justly, and to subdue the violence of his passions. I hope, Brother, that you will not give room for any body who knows us both, to conclude, that the toilette has taught the one more of the latter doctrine, than the university has taught the other. I am truly sorry to have cause to say, that I have heard it often remarked, that your uncontrouled passions are not a credit to your liberal education.
I hope, Sir, that you will excuse the freedom I have taken with you: you have given me too much reason for it, and you have taken much greater with me, without reason:—so, if you are offended, ought to look at the cause, and not at the effect:—then examining yourself, that cause will cease, and there will not be any where a more accomplished gentleman than my brother.
Sisterly affection, I do assure you, Sir, (unkindly as you have used me,) and not the pertness which of late you have been so apt to impute to me, is my motive in this hint. Let me invoke your returning kindness, my only brother! And give me cause, I beseech you, to call you my compassionating friend. For I am, and ever will be,
Your affectionate sister, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
This is my brother's answer.
TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
I KNOW there will be no end of your impertinent scribble, if I don't write to you. I write therefore: but, without entering into argument with such a conceited and pert preacher and questioner, it is, to forbid you to plague me with your quaint nonsense. I know not what wit in a woman is good for, but to make her overvalue herself, and despise every other person. Yours, Miss Pert, has set you above your duty, and above being taught or prescribed to, either by parents, or any body else. But go on, Miss: your mortification will be the greater; that's all, child. It shall, I assure you, if I can make it so, so long as you prefer that villainous Lovelace, (who is justly hated by all your family) to every body. We see by your letter now (what we too justly suspected before), most evidently we see, the hold he has got of your forward heart. But the stronger the hold, the greater must be the force (and you shall have enough of that) to tear such a miscreant from it. In me, notwithstanding your saucy lecturing, and your saucy reflections before, you are sure of a friend, as well as of a brother, if it be not your own fault. But if you will still think of such a wretch as that Lovelace, never expect either friend or brother in
I will now give you a copy of my letter to my sister; with her answer.
IN what, my dear Sister, have I offended you, that instead of endeavouring to soften my father's anger against me, (as I am sure I should have done for you, had my unhappy case been yours,) you should, in so hard-hearted a manner, join to aggravate not only his displeasure, but my mother's against me. Make but my case your own, my dear Bella; and suppose you were commanded to marry Mr. Lovelace, (to whom you are believed to have such an antipathy,) would you not think it a very grievous injunction?—Yet cannot your dislike to Mr. Lovelace be greater than mine is to Mr. Solmes. Nor are love and hatred voluntary passions.
My brother may perhaps think it a proof of a manly spirit, to shew himself an utter stranger to the gentle passions. We have both heard him boast, that he never loved with distinction: and, having predominating passions, and checked in his first attempt, perhaps he never will. It is the less wonder, then, raw from the college, so lately himself the tutored, that he should set up for a tutor, a prescriber to our gentler sex, whose tastes and manners are differently formed: for what, according to his account, are colleges, but classes of tyrants, from the upper students over the lower, and from them to the tutor?—That he, with such masculine passions should endeavour to controul and bear down an unhappy sister, in a case where his antipathy, and, give me leave to say, his ambition [once you would have allowed the latter to be his fault] can be gratified by so doing, may not be quite so much to be wondered at—but that a sister should give up the cause of a sister, and join with him to set her father and mother against her, in a case that might have been her own—indeed, my Bella, this is not pretty in you.
There was a time that Mr. Lovelace was thought reclaimable, and when it was far from being deemed a censurable view to hope to bring back to the paths of virtue and honour, a man of his sense and understanding. I am far from wishing to make the experiment: but nevertheless will say, that if I have not a regard for him, the disgraceful methods taken to compel me to receive the addresses of such a man as Mr. Solmes are enough to induce it.
Do you, my Sister, for one moment, lay aside all prejudice, and compare the two men in their births, their educations, their persons, their understandings, their manners, their air, and their whole deportments; and in their fortunes too, taking in reversions; and then judge of both; yet, as I have frequently offered, I will live single with all my heart, if that will do.