I cannot thus live in displeasure and disgrace. I would, if I could, oblige all my friends. But will it be just, will it be honest, to marry a man I cannot endure? If I have not been used to oppose the will of my father, but have always delighted to oblige and obey, judge of the strength of my antipathy, by the painful opposition I am obliged to make, and cannot help it.
Pity then, my dearest Bella, my sister, my friend, my companion, my adviser, as you used to be when I was happy, and plead for
Your ever-affectionate, CL. HARLOWE.
TO MISS CLARY HARLOWE
Let it be pretty or not pretty, in your wise opinion, I shall speak my mind, I will assure you, both of you and your conduct in relation to this detested Lovelace. You are a fond foolish girl with all your wisdom. Your letter shews that enough in twenty places. And as to your cant of living single, nobody will believe you. This is one of your fetches to avoid complying with your duty, and the will of the most indulgent parents in the world, as yours have been to you, I am sure—though now they see themselves finely requited for it.
We all, indeed, once thought your temper soft and amiable: but why was it? You never were contradicted before: you had always your own way. But no sooner do you meet with opposition in your wishes to throw yourself away upon a vile rake, but you shew what you are. You cannot love Mr. Solmes! that's the pretence; but Sister, Sister, let me tell you, that is because Lovelace has got into your fond heart:—a wretch hated, justly hated, by us all; and who has dipped his hands in the blood of your brother: yet him you would make our relation, would you?
I have no patience with you, but for putting the case of my liking such a vile wretch as him. As to the encouragement you pretend he received formerly from all our family, it was before we knew him to be so vile: and the proofs that had such force upon us, ought to have had some upon you:—and would, had you not been a foolish forward girl; as on this occasion every body sees you are.
O how you run out in favour of the wretch!—His birth, his education, his person, his understanding, his manners, his air, his fortune—reversions too taken in to augment the surfeiting catalogue! What a fond string of lovesick praises is here! And yet you would live single—Yes, I warrant!—when so many imaginary perfections dance before your dazzled eye!—But no more—I only desire, that you will not, while you seem to have such an opinion of your wit, think every one else a fool; and that you can at pleasure, by your whining flourishes, make us all dance after your lead.
Write as often as you will, this shall be the last answer or notice you shall have upon this subject from
I had in readiness a letter for each of my uncles; and meeting in the garden a servant of my uncle Harlowe, I gave him to deliver according to their respective directions. If I am to form a judgment by the answers I have received from my brother and sister, as above, I must not, I doubt, expect any good from those letters. But when I have tried every expedient, I shall have the less to blame myself for, if any thing unhappy should fall out. I will send you copies of both, when I shall see what notice they will be thought worthy of, if of any.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE SUNDAY NIGHT, MARCH 12.
This man, this Lovelace, gives me great uneasiness. He is extremely bold and rash. He was this afternoon at our church—in hopes to see me, I suppose: and yet, if he had such hopes, his usual intelligence must have failed him.
Shorey was at church; and a principal part of her observation was upon his haughty and proud behaviour when he turned round in the pew where he sat to our family-pew. My father and both my uncles were there; so were my mother and sister. My brother happily was not.—They all came home in disorder. Nor did the congregation mind any body but him; it being his first appearance there since the unhappy rencounter.
What did the man come for, if he intended to look challenge and defiance, as Shorey says he did, and as others, it seems, thought he did, as well as she? Did he come for my sake; and, by behaving in such a manner to those present of my family, imagine he was doing me either service or pleasure?—He knows how they hate him: nor will he take pains, would pains do, to obviate their hatred.
You and I, my dear, have often taken notice of his pride; and you have rallied him upon it; and instead of exculpating himself, he has owned it: and by owning it he has thought he has done enough.
For my own part, I thought pride in his case an improper subject for raillery.—People of birth and fortune to be proud, is so needless, so mean a vice!—If they deserve respect, they will have it, without requiring it. In other words, for persons to endeavour to gain respect by a haughty behaviour, is to give a proof that they mistrust their own merit: To make confession that they know that their actions will not attract it.—Distinction or quality may be prided in by those to whom distinction or quality is a new thing. And then the reflection and contempt which such bring upon themselves by it, is a counter-balance.
Such added advantages, too, as this man has in his person and mien: learned also, as they say he is: Such a man to be haughty, to be imperious!—The lines of his own face at the same time condemning him—how wholly inexcusable!—Proud of what? Not of doing well: the only justifiable pride.—Proud of exterior advantages!—Must not one be led by such a stop-short pride, as I may call it, in him or her who has it, to mistrust the interior? Some people may indeed be afraid, that if they did not assume, they would be trampled upon. A very narrow fear, however, since they trample upon themselves, who can fear this. But this man must be secure that humility would be an ornament to him.
He has talents indeed: but those talents and his personal advantages have been snares to him. It is plain they have. And this shews, that, weighed in an equal balance, he would be found greatly wanting.
Had my friends confided as they did at first, in that discretion which they do not accuse me of being defective in, I dare say I should have found him out: and then should have been as resolute to dismiss him, as I was to dismiss others, and as I am never to have Mr. Solmes. O that they did but know my heart!—It shall sooner burst, than voluntarily, uncompelled, undriven, dictate a measure that shall cast a slur either upon them, or upon my sex.
Excuse me, my dear friend, for these grave soliloquies, as I may call them. How have I run from reflection to reflection!—But the occasion is recent—They are all in commotion below upon it.
Shorey says, that Mr. Lovelace watched my mother's eye, and bowed to her: and she returned the compliment. He always admired my mother. She would not, I believe, have hated him, had she not been bid to hate him: and had it not been for the rencounter between him and her only son.
Dr. Lewen was at church; and observing, as every one else did, the disorder into which Mr. Lovelace's appearance* had put all our family, was so good as to engage him in conversation, when the service was over, till they were all gone to their coaches.
* See Letter XXXI, for Mr. Lovelace's account of his behaviour and intentions in his appearance at church.
My uncles had my letters in the morning. They, as well as my father, are more and more incensed against me, it seems. Their answers, if they vouchsafe to answer me, will demonstrate, I doubt not, the unseasonableness of this rash man's presence at our church.
They are angry also, as I understand, with my mother, for returning his compliment. What an enemy is hatred, even to the common forms of civility! which, however, more distinguish the payer of a compliment, than the receiver. But they all see, they say, that there is but one way to put an end to his insults. So I shall suffer: And in what will the rash man have benefited himself, or mended his prospects?
I am extremely apprehensive that this worse than ghost-like appearance of his, bodes some still bolder step. If he come hither (and very desirous he is of my leave to come) I am afraid there will be murder. To avoid that, if there were no other way, I would most willingly be buried alive.
They are all in consultation—upon my letters, I suppose—so they were in the morning; which occasioned my uncles to be at our church. I will send you the copies of those letters, as I promised in my last, when I see whether I can give you their answers with them. This letter is all—I cannot tell what—the effect of apprehension and displeasure at the man who has occasioned my apprehensions. Six lines would have contained all that is in it to the purpose of my story.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. MONDAY, MARCH 13.
In vain dost thou* and thy compeers press me to go to town, while I am in such an uncertainty as I am in at present with this proud beauty. All the ground I have hitherto gained with her is entirely owing to her concern for the safety of people whom I have reason to hate.
*These gentlemen affected what they called the Roman style (to wit, the thee and the thou) in their letters: and it was an agreed rule with them, to take in good part whatever freedoms they treated each other with, if the passages were written in that style.
Write then, thou biddest me, if I will not come. That, indeed, I can do; and as well without a subject, as with one. And what follows shall be a proof of it.
The lady's malevolent brother has now, as I told thee at M. Hall, introduced another man; the most unpromising in his person and qualities, the most formidable in his offers, that has yet appeared.
This man has by his proposals captivated every soul of the Harlowes—Soul! did I say—There is not a soul among them but my charmer's: and she, withstanding them all, is actually confined, and otherwise maltreated by a father the most gloomy and positive; at the instigation of a brother the most arrogant and selfish. But thou knowest their characters; and I will not therefore sully my paper with them.
But is it not a confounded thing to be in love with one, who is the daughter, the sister, the niece, of a family, I must eternally despise? And, the devil of it, that love increasing with her—what shall I call it?—'Tis not scorn:—'Tis not pride:—'Tis not the insolence of an adored beauty:—But 'tis to virtue, it seems, that my difficulties are owin; and I pay for not being a sly sinner, an hypocrite; for being regardless of my reputation; for permittin slander to open its mouth against me. But is it necessary for such a one as I, who have been used to carry all before me, upon my own terms—I, who never inspired a fear, that had not a discernibly-predominant mixture of love in it, to be a hypocrite?—Well says the poet:
He who seems virtuous does but act a part; And shews not his own nature, but his art.
Well, but it seems I must practise for this art, if it would succeed with this truly-admirable creature; but why practise for it?—Cannot I indeed reform?—I have but one vice;—Have I, Jack?—Thou knowest my heart, if any man living does. As far as I know it myself, thou knowest it. But 'tis a cursed deceiver; for it has many a time imposed upon its master—Master, did I say? That I am not now; nor have I been from the moment I beheld this angel of a woman. Prepared indeed as I was by her character before I saw her: For what a mind must that be, which, though not virtuous itself, admires not virtue in another?—My visit to Arabella, owing to a mistake of the sister, into which, as thou hast heard me say, I was led by the blundering uncle; who was to introduce me (but lately come from abroad) to the divinity, as I thought; but, instead of her, carried me to a mere mortal. And much difficulty had I, so fond and forward my lady! to get off without forfeiting all with a family I intended should give me a goddess.
I have boasted that I was once in love before:—and indeed I thought I was. It was in my early manhood—with that quality jilt, whose infidelity I have vowed to revenge upon as many of the sex as shall come into my power. I believe, in different climes, I have already sacrificed an hecatomb to my Nemesis, in pursuance of this vow. But upon recollecting what I was then, and comparing it with what I find myself now, I cannot say that I was ever in love before.
What was it then, dost thou ask me, since the disappointment had such effects upon me, when I found myself jilted, that I was hardly kept in my senses?—Why, I'll grant thee what, as near as I can remember; for it was a great while ago:—It was—Egad, Jack, I can hardly tell what it was—but a vehement aspiration after a novelty, I think. Those confounded poets, with their terrenely-celestial descriptions, did as much with me as the lady: they fired my imagination, and set me upon a desire to become a goddess-maker. I must needs try my new-fledged pinions in sonnet, elogy, and madrigal. I must have a Cynthia, a Stella, a Sacharissa, as well as the best of them: darts and flames, and the devil knows what, must I give to my cupid. I must create beauty, and place it where nobody else could find it: and many a time have I been at a loss for a subject, when my new-created goddess has been kinder than it was proper for my plaintive sonnet that she should be.
Then I found I had a vanity of another sort in my passion: I found myself well received among the women in general; and I thought it a pretty lady-like tyranny [I was then very young, and very vain!] to single out some one of the sex, to make half a score jealous. And I can tell thee, it had its effect: for many an eye have I made to sparkle with rival indignation: many a cheek glow; and even many a fan have I caused to be snapped at a sister-beauty; accompanied with a reflection perhaps at being seen alone with a wild young fellow who could not be in private with both at once.
In short, Jack, it was more pride than love, as I now find it, that put me upon making such a confounded rout about losing that noble varletess. I thought she loved me at least as well as I believed I loved her: nay, I had the vanity to suppose she could not help it. My friends were pleased with my choice. They wanted me to be shackled: for early did they doubt my morals, as to the sex. They saw, that the dancing, the singing, the musical ladies were all fond of my company: For who [I am in a humour to be vain, I think!]—for who danced, who sung, who touched the string, whatever the instrument, with a better grace than thy friend?
I have no notion of playing the hypocrite so egregiously, as to pretend to be blind to qualifications which every one sees and acknowledges. Such praise-begetting hypocrisy! Such affectedly disclaimed attributes! Such contemptible praise-traps!—But yet, shall my vanity extend only to personals, such as the gracefulness of dress, my debonnaire, and my assurance?—Self-taught, self-acquired, these!—For my parts, I value not myself upon them. Thou wilt say, I have no cause.—Perhaps not. But if I had any thing valuable as to intellectuals, those are not my own; and to be proud of what a man is answerable for the abuse of, and has no merit in the right use of, is to strut, like the jay, in borrowed plumage.
But to return to my fair jilt. I could not bear, that a woman, who was the first that had bound me in silken fetters [they were not iron ones, like those I now wear] should prefer a coronet to me: and when the bird was flown, I set more value upon it, that when I had it safe in my cage, and could visit in when I pleased.
But now am I indeed in love. I can think of nothing, of nobody, but the divine Clarissa Harlowe—Harlowe!—How that hated word sticks in my throat—But I shall give her for it the name of Love.*
CLARISSA! O there's music in the name, That, soft'ning me to infant tenderness, Makes my heart spring like the first leaps of life!
But couldst thou have believed that I, who think it possible for me to favour as much as I can be favoured; that I, who for this charming creature think of foregoing the life of honour for the life of shackles; could adopt these over-tender lines of Otway?
I checked myself, and leaving the first three lines of the following of Dryden to the family of whiners, find the workings of the passion in my stormy soul better expressed by the three last:
Love various minds does variously inspire: He stirs in gentle natures gentle fires; Like that of incense on the alter laid.
But raging flames tempestuous souls invade: A fire which ev'ry windy passion blows; With pride it mounts, and with revenge it glows.
And with REVENGE it shall glow!—For, dost thou think, that if it were not from the hope, that this stupid family are all combined to do my work for me, I would bear their insults?—Is it possible to imagine, that I would be braved as I am braved, threatened as I am threatened, by those who are afraid to see me; and by this brutal brother, too, to whom I gave a life; [a life, indeed, not worth my taking!] had I not a greater pride in knowing that by means of his very spy upon me, I am playing him off as I please; cooling or inflaming his violent passions as may best suit my purposes; permitting so much to be revealed of my life and actions, and intentions, as may give him such a confidence in his double-faced agent, as shall enable me to dance his employer upon my own wires?
This it is that makes my pride mount above my resentment. By this engine, whose springs I am continually oiling, I play them all off. The busy old tarpaulin uncle I make but my ambassador to Queen Anabella Howe, to engage her (for example-sake to her princessly daughter) to join in their cause, and to assert an authority they are resolved, right or wrong, (or I could do nothing,) to maintain.
And what my motive, dost thou ask? No less than this, That my beloved shall find no protection out of my family; for, if I know hers, fly she must, or have the man she hates. This, therefore, if I take my measures right, and my familiar fail me not, will secure her mine, in spite of them all; in spite of her own inflexible heart: mine, without condition; without reformation-promises; without the necessity of a siege of years, perhaps; and to be even then, after wearing the guise of merit-doubting hypocrisy, at an uncertainty, upon a probation unapproved of. Then shall I have all the rascals and rascalesses of the family come creeping to me: I prescribing to them; and bringing that sordidly imperious brother to kneel at the footstool of my throne.
All my fear arises from the little hold I have in the heart of this charming frost-piece: such a constant glow upon her lovely features: eyes so sparkling: limbs so divinely turned: health so florid: youth so blooming: air so animated—to have an heart so impenetrable: and I, the hitherto successful Lovelace, the addresser—How can it be? Yet there are people, and I have talked with some of them, who remember that she was born. Her nurse Norton boasts of her maternal offices in her earliest infancy; and in her education gradatim. So there is full proof, that she came not from above all at once an angel! How then can she be so impenetrable?
But here's her mistake; nor will she be cured of it—She takes the man she calls her father [her mother had been faultless, had she not been her father's wife]; she takes the men she calls her uncles; the fellow she calls her brother; and the poor contemptible she calls her sister; to be her father, to be her uncles, her brother, her sister; and that, as such, she owes to some of them reverence, to others respect, let them treat her ever so cruelly!—Sordid ties!—Mere cradle prejudices!—For had they not been imposed upon her by Nature, when she was in a perverse humour, or could she have chosen her relations, would any of these have been among them?
How my heart rises at her preference of them to me, when she is convinced of their injustice to me! Convinced, that the alliance would do honour to them all—herself excepted; to whom every one owes honour; and from whom the most princely family might receive it. But how much more will my heart rise with indignation against her, if I find she hesitates but one moment (however persecuted) about preferring me to the man she avowedly hates! But she cannot surely be so mean as to purchase her peace with them at so dear a rate. She cannot give a sanction to projects formed in malice, and founded in a selfishness (and that at her own expense) which she has spirit enough to despise in others; and ought to disavow, that we may not think her a Harlowe.
By this incoherent ramble thou wilt gather, that I am not likely to come up in haste; since I must endeavour first to obtain some assurance from the beloved of my soul, that I shall not be sacrificed to such a wretch as Solmes! Woe be to the fair one, if ever she be driven into my power (for I despair of a voluntary impulse in my favour) and I find a difficulty in obtaining this security.
That her indifference to me is not owing to the superior liking she has for any other, is what rivets my chains. But take care, fair one; take care, O thou most exalted of female minds, and loveliest of persons, how thou debasest thyself by encouraging such a competition as thy sordid relations have set on foot in mere malice to me!—Thou wilt say I rave. And so I do:
Perdition catch my soul, but I do love her.
Else, could I hear the perpetual revilings of her implacable family?—Else, could I basely creep about—not her proud father's house—but his paddock and garden walls?—Yet (a quarter of a mile distance between us) not hoping to behold the least glimpse of her shadow?—Else, should I think myself repaid, amply repaid, if the fourth, fifth, or sixth midnight stroll, through unfrequented paths, and over briery enclosures, affords me a few cold lines; the even expected purport only to let me know, that she values the most worthless person of her very worthless family, more than she values me; and that she would not write at all, but to induce me to bear insults, which unman me to bear?—My lodging in the intermediate way at a wretched alehouse; disguised like an inmate of it: accommodations equally vile, as those I met with in my Westphalian journey. 'Tis well, that the necessity for all this arise not from scorn and tyranny! but is first imposed upon herself!
But was ever hero in romance (fighting with giants and dragons excepted) called upon to harder trials?—Fortune and family, and reversionary grandeur on my side! Such a wretched fellow my competitor!—Must I not be deplorably in love, that can go through these difficulties, encounter these contempts?—By my soul, I am half ashamed of myself: I, who am perjured too, by priority of obligation, if I am faithful to any woman in the world?
And yet, why say I, I am half ashamed?—Is it not a glory to love her whom every one who sees her either loves, or reveres, or both? Dryden says,
The cause of love can never be assign'd: 'Tis in no face;—but in the lover's mind. —And Cowley thus addresses beauty as a mere imaginary:
Beauty! thou wild fantastic ape, Who dost in ev'ry country change thy shape: Here black; there brown; here tawny; and there white! Thou flatt'rer, who comply'st with ev'ry sight! Who hast no certain what, nor where.
But both these, had they been her contemporaries, and known her, would have confessed themselves mistaken: and, taking together person, mind, and behaviour, would have acknowledged the justice of the universal voice in her favour.
—Full many a lady I've ey'd with best regard; and many a time Th' harmony of their tongues hath into bondage Brought my too-diligent ear. For sev'ral virtues Have I liked several women. Never any With so full a soul, but some defect in her Did quarrel with the noblest grace she ow'd, And put it to the foil. But SHE!—O SHE! So perfect and so peerless is created, Of ev'ry creature's best.
Thou art curious to know, if I have not started a new game? If it be possible for so universal a lover to be confined so long to one object?—Thou knowest nothing of this charming creature, that thou canst put such questions to me; or thinkest thou knowest me better than thou dost. All that's excellent in her sex is this lady!—Until by MATRIMONIAL or EQUAL intimacies, I have found her less than angel, it is impossible to think of any other. Then there are so many stimulatives to such a spirit as mine in this affair, besides love: such a field of stratagem and contrivance, which thou knowest to be the delight of my heart. Then the rewarding end of all!—To carry off such a girl as this, in spite of all her watchful and implacable friends; and in spite of a prudence and reserve that I never met with in any of the sex;—what a triumph!—What a triumph over the whole sex!—And then such a revenge to gratify; which is only at present politically reined in, eventually to break forth with greater fury—Is it possible, thinkest thou, that there can be room for a thought that is not of her, and devoted to her?
By the devices I have this moment received, I have reason to think, that I shall have occasion for thee here. Hold thyself in readiness to come down upon the first summons.
Let Belton, and Mowbray, and Tourville, likewise prepare themselves. I have a great mind to contrive a method to send James Harlowe to travel for improvement. Never was there a booby 'squire that more wanted it. Contrive it, did I say? I have already contrived it; could I but put it in execution without being suspected to have a hand in it. This I am resolved upon; if I have not his sister, I will have him.
But be this as it may, there is a present likelihood of room for glorious mischief. A confederacy had been for some time formed against me; but the uncles and the nephew are now to be double-servanted [single-servanted they were before]; and those servants are to be double armed when they attend their masters abroad. This indicates their resolute enmity to me, and as resolute favour to Solmes.
The reinforced orders for this hostile apparatus are owing it seems to a visit I made yesterday to their church.—A good place I thought to begin a reconciliation in; supposing the heads of the family to be christians, and that they meant something by their prayers. My hopes were to have an invitation (or, at least, to gain a pretence) to accompany home the gloomy sire; and so get an opportunity to see my goddess: for I believed they durst not but be civil to me, at least. But they were filled with terror it seems at my entrance; a terror they could not get over. I saw it indeed in their countenances; and that they all expected something extraordinary to follow.—And so it should have done, had I been more sure than I am of their daughter's favour. Yet not a hair of any of their stupid heads do I intend to hurt.
You shall all have your directions in writing, if there be occasion. But after all, I dare say there will be no need but to shew your faces in my company.
Such faces never could four men shew—Mowbray's so fierce and so fighting: Belton's so pert and so pimply: Tourville's so fair and so foppish: thine so rough and so resolute: and I your leader!—What hearts, although meditating hostility, must those be which we shall not appall?—Each man occasionally attended by a servant or two, long ago chosen for qualities resembling those of his master.
Thus, Jack, as thou desirest, have I written.—Written upon something; upon nothing; upon REVENGE, which I love; upon LOVE, which I hate, heartily hate, because 'tis my master: and upon the devil knows what besides: for looking back, I am amazed at the length of it. Thou mayest read it: I would not for a king's ransom. But so as I do but write, thou sayest thou wilt be pleased.
Be pleased then. I command thee to be pleased: if not for the writer's or written sake, for thy word's sake. And so in the royal style (for am I not likely to be thy king and thy emperor in the great affair before us?) I bid thee very heartily
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE TUESDAY, MARCH 14.
I now send you copies of my letters to my uncles: with their answers. Be pleased to return the latter by the first deposit. I leave them for you to make remarks upon. I shall make none.
TO JOHN HARLOWE, ESQ. SAT. MARCH 11.
Allow me, my honoured second Papa, as in my happy days you taught me to call you, to implore your interest with my Papa, to engage him to dispense with a command, which, if insisted upon, will deprive me of my free-will, and make me miserable for my whole life.
For my whole life! let me repeat: Is that a small point, my dear Uncle, to give up? Am not I to live with the man? Is any body else? Shall I not therefore be allowed to judge for myself, whether I can, or cannot, live happily with him?
Should it be ever so unhappily, will it be prudence to complain or appeal? If it were, to whom could I appeal with effect against a husband? And would not the invincible and avowed dislike I have for him at setting out, seem to justify any ill usage from him, in that state, were I to be ever so observant of him? And if I were to be at all observant of him, it must be from fear, not love.
Once more, let me repeat, That this is not a small point to give up: and that it is for life. Why, I pray you, good Sir, should I be made miserable for life? Why should I be deprived of all comfort, but that which the hope that it would be a very short one, would afford me?
Marriage is a very solemn engagement, enough to make a young creature's heart ache, with the best prospects, when she thinks seriously of it!—To be given up to a strange man; to be engrafted into a strange family; to give up her very name, as a mark of her becoming his absolute and dependent property; to be obliged to prefer this strange man to father, mother—to every body:—and his humours to all her own—or to contend, perhaps, in breach of avowed duty, for every innocent instance of free-will. To go no where; to make acquaintance; to give up acquaintance; to renounce even the strictest friendships, perhaps; all at his pleasure, whether she thinks it reasonable to do so or not. Surely, Sir, a young creature ought not to be obliged to make all these sacrifices but for such a man as she can love. If she be, how sad must be the case! How miserable the life, if it can be called life!
I wish I could obey you all. What a pleasure would it be to me, if I could!—Marry first, and love will come after, was said by one of my dearest friends! But this is a shocking assertion. A thousand thing may happen to make that state but barely tolerable, where it is entered into with mutual affections: What must it then be, where the husband can have no confidence in the love of his wife: but has reason rather to question it, from the preference he himself believes she would have given to somebody else, had she had her own option? What doubts, what jealousies, what want of tenderness, what unfavourable prepossessions, will there be, in a matrimony thus circumstanced! How will every look, every action, even the most innocent, be liable to misconstruction!—While, on the other hand, an indifference, a carelessness to oblige, may take place; and fear only can constrain even an appearance of what ought to be the effect of undisguised love!
Think seriously of these things, dear, good Sir, and represent them to my father in that strong light which the subject will bear; but in which my sex, and my tender years and inexperience, will not permit me to paint it; and use your powerful interest, that your poor niece may not be consigned to a misery so durable.
I offered to engage not to marry at all, if that condition may be accepted. What a disgrace is it to me to be thus sequestered from company, thus banished my papa's and mamma's presence; thus slighted and deserted by you, Sir, and my other kind uncle! And to be hindered from attending at that public worship, which, were I out of the way of my duty, would be most likely to reduce me into the right path again!—Is this the way, Sir; can this be thought to be the way to be taken with a free and open spirit? May not this strange method rather harden than convince? I cannot bear to live in disgrace thus. The very servants so lately permitted to be under my own direction, hardly daring to speak to me; my own servant discarded with high marks of undeserved suspicion and displeasure, and my sister's maid set over me.
The matter may be too far pushed.—Indeed it may.—And then, perhaps, every one will be sorry for their parts in it.
May I be permitted to mention an expedient?—'If I am to be watched, banished, and confined; suppose, Sir, it were to be at your house?'—Then the neighbouring gentry will the less wonder, that the person of whom they used to think so favourably, appear not at church here; and that she received not their visits.
I hope there can be no objection to this. You used to love to have me with you, Sir, when all went happily with me: And will you not now permit me, in my troubles, the favour of your house, till all this displeasure is overblown?—Upon my word, Sir, I will not stir out of doors, if you require the contrary of me: nor will I see any body, but whom you will allow me to see; provided Mr. Solmes be not brought to persecute me there.
Procure, then, this favour for me; if you cannot procure the still greater, that of a happy reconciliation (which nevertheless I presume to hope for, if you will be so good as to plead for me); and you will then add to those favours and to that indulgence, which have bound me, and will for ever bind me to be
Your dutiful and obliged niece, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
MY DEAR NIECE,
It grieves me to be forced to deny you any thing you ask. Yet it must be so; for unless you can bring your mind to oblige us in this one point, in which our promises and honour were engaged before we believed there could be so sturdy an opposition, you must never expect to be what you have been to us all.
In short, Niece, we are in an embattled phalanx. Your reading makes you a stranger to nothing but what you should be most acquainted with. So you will see by that expression, that we are not to be pierced by your persuasions, and invincible persistence. We have agreed all to be moved, or none; and not to comply without one another. So you know your destiny; and have nothing to do but to yield to it.
Let me tell you, the virtue of obedience lies not in obliging when you can be obliged again. But give up an inclination, and there is some merit in that.
As to your expedient; you shall not come to my house, Miss Clary; though this is a prayer I little thought I ever should have denied you: for were you to keep your word as to seeing nobody but whom we please, yet can you write to somebody else, and receive letters from him. This we too well know you can, and have done—more is the shame and the pity!
You offer to live single, Miss—we wished you married: but because you may not have the man your heart is set upon, why, truly, you will have nobody we shall recommend: and as we know, that somehow or other you correspond with him, or at least did as long as you could; and as he defies us all, and would not dare to do so, if he were not sure of you in spite of us all, (which is not a little vexatious to us, you must think,) we are resolved to frustrate him, and triumph over him, rather than that he should triumph over us: that's one word for all. So expect not any advocateship from me: I will not plead for you; and that's enough. From
Your displeased uncle, JOHN HARLOWE.
P.S. For the rest I refer to my brother Antony.
TO ANTONY HARLOWE, ESQ. SATURDAY, MARCH 11.
As you have thought fit to favour Mr. Solmes with your particular recommendation, and was very earnest in his behalf, ranking him (as you told me, upon introducing him to me) among your select friends; and expecting my regards to him accordingly; I beg your patience, while I offer a few things, out of many that I could offer, to your serious consideration, on occasion of his address to me, if I am to use that word.
I am charged with prepossession in another person's favour. You will be pleased, Sir, to remember, that till my brother returned from Scotland, that other person was not absolutely discouraged, nor was I forbid to receive his visits. I believe it will not be pretended, that in birth, education, or personal endowments, a comparison can be made between the two. And only let me ask you, Sir, if the one would have been thought of for me, had he not made such offers, as, upon my word, I think, I ought not in justice to accept of, nor he to propose: offers, which if he had not made, I dare say, my papa would not have required them of him.
But the one, it seems, has many faults:—Is the other faultless?—The principal thing objected to Mr. Lovelace (and a very inexcusable one) is that he is immoral in his loves—Is not the other in his hatreds?—Nay, as I may say, in his loves too (the object only differing) if the love of money be the root of all evil.
But, Sir, if I am prepossessed, what has Mr. Solmes to hope for?—Why should he persevere? What must I think of the man who would wish me to be his wife against my inclination?—And is it not a very harsh thing for my friends to desire to see me married to one I cannot love, when they will not be persuaded but that there is one whom I do love?
Treated as I am, now is the time for me to speak out or never.—Let me review what it is Mr. Solmes depends upon on this occasion. Does he believe, that the disgrace which I supper on his account, will give him a merit with me? Does he think to win my esteem, through my uncles' sternness to me; by my brother's contemptuous usage; by my sister's unkindness; by being denied to visit, or be visited; and to correspond with my chosen friend, although a person of unexceptionable honour and prudence, and of my own sex; my servant to be torn from me, and another servant set over me; to be confined, like a prisoner, to narrow and disgraceful limits, in order avowedly to mortify me, and to break my spirit; to be turned out of that family-management which I loved, and had the greater pleasure in it, because it was an ease, as I thought, to my mamma, and what my sister chose not; and yet, though time hangs heavy upon my hands, to be so put out of my course, that I have as little inclination as liberty to pursue any of my choice delights?—Are these steps necessary to reduce me to a level so low, as to make me a fit wife for this man?—Yet these are all he can have to trust to. And if his reliance is on these measures, I would have him to know, that he mistakes meekness and gentleness of disposition for servility and baseness of heart.
I beseech you, Sir, to let the natural turn and bent of his mind and my mind be considered: What are his qualities, by which he would hope to win my esteem?—Dear, dear Sir, if I am to be compelled, let it be in favour of a man that can read and write—that can teach me something: For what a husband must that man make, who can do nothing but command; and needs himself the instruction he should be qualified to give?
I may be conceited, Sir; I may be vain of my little reading; of my writing; as of late I have more than once been told I am. But, Sir, the more unequal the proposed match, if so: the better opinion I have of myself, the worse I must have of him; and the more unfit are we for each other.
Indeed, Sir, I must say, I thought my friends had put a higher value upon me. My brother pretended once, that it was owing to such value, that Mr. Lovelace's address was prohibited.—Can this be; and such a man as Mr. Solmes be intended for me?
As to his proposed settlements, I hope I shall not incur your great displeasure, if I say, what all who know me have reason to think (and some have upbraided me for), that I despise those motives. Dear, dear Sir, what are settlements to one who has as much of her own as she wishes for?—Who has more in her own power, as a single person, than it is probable she would be permitted to have at her disposal, as a wife?—Whose expenses and ambition are moderate; and who, if she had superfluities, would rather dispense them to the necessitous, than lay them by her useless? If then such narrow motives have so little weight with me for my own benefit, shall the remote and uncertain view of family-aggrandizements, and that in the person of my brother and his descendents, be thought sufficient to influence me?
Has the behaviour of that brother to me of late, or his consideration for the family (which had so little weight with him, that he could choose to hazard a life so justly precious as an only son's, rather than not ratify passions which he is above attempting to subdue, and, give me leave to say, has been too much indulged in, either with regard to his own good, or the peace of any body related to him;) Has his behaviour, I say, deserved of me in particular, that I should make a sacrifice of my temporal (and, who knows? of my eternal) happiness, to promote a plan formed upon chimerical, at least upon unlikely, contingencies; as I will undertake to demonstrate, if I may be permitted to examine it?
I am afraid you will condemn my warmth: But does not the occasion require it? To the want of a greater degree of earnestness in my opposition, it seems, it is owing, that such advances have been made, as have been made. Then, dear Sir, allow something, I beseech you, for a spirit raised and embittered by disgraces, which (knowing my own heart) I am confident to say, are unmerited.
But why have I said so much, in answer to the supposed charge of prepossession, when I have declared to my mamma, as now, Sir, I do to you, that if it be not insisted upon that I shall marry any other person, particularly this Mr. Solmes, I will enter into any engagements never to have the other, nor any man else, without their consents; that is to say, without the consents of my father and my mother, and of you my uncle, and my elder uncle, and my cousin Morden, as he is one of the trustees for my grandfather's bounty to me?—As to my brother indeed, I cannot say, that his treatment of me has been of late so brotherly, as to entitle him to more than civility from me: and for this, give me leave to add, he would be very much my debtor.
If I have not been explicit enough in declaring my dislike to Mr. Solmes (that the prepossession which is charged upon me may not be supposed to influence me against him) I do absolutely declare, That were there no such man as Mr. Lovelace in the world, I would not have Mr. Solmes. It is necessary, in some one of my letters to my dear friends, that I should write so clearly as to put this matter out of all doubt: and to whom can I better address myself with an explicitness that can admit of no mistake, than to that uncle who professes the highest regard for plain-dealing and sincerity?
Let me, for these reasons, be still more particular in some of my exceptions to him.
Mr. Solmes appears to me (to all the world, indeed) to have a very narrow mind, and no great capacity: he is coarse and indelicate; as rough in his manners as in his person: he is not only narrow, but covetous: being possessed of great wealth, he enjoys it not; nor has the spirit to communicate to a distress of any kind. Does not his own sister live unhappily, for want of a little of his superfluities? And suffers not he his aged uncle, the brother of his own mother, to owe to the generosity of strangers the poor subsistence he picks up from half-a-dozen families?—You know, Sir, my open, free, communicative temper: how unhappy must I be, circumscribed in his narrow, selfish circle! out of which being with-held by this diabolical parsimony, he dare no more stir, than a conjurer out of his; nor would let me.
Such a man, as this, love!—Yes, perhaps he may, my grandfather's estate; which he has told several persons (and could not resist hinting the same thing tome, with that sort of pleasure which a low mind takes, when it intimates its own interest as a sufficient motive for it to expect another's favour) lies so extremely convenient for him, that it would double the value of a considerable part of his own. That estate, and an alliance which would do credit to his obscurity and narrowness, they make him think he can love, and induce him to believe he does: but at most, he is but a second-place love. Riches were, are, and always will be, his predominant passion. His were left him by a miser, on this very account: and I must be obliged to forego all the choice delights of my life, and be as mean as he, or else be quite unhappy. Pardon, Sir, this severity of expression—one is apt to say more than one would of a person one dislikes, when more is said in his favour than he can possibly deserve; and when he is urged to my acceptance with so much vehemence, that there is no choice left me.
Whether these things be perfectly so, or not, while I think they are, it is impossible I should ever look upon Mr. Solmes in the light he is offered to me. Nay, were he to be proved ten times better than I have represented him, and sincerely think him; yet would he be still ten times more disagreeable to me than any other man I know in the world. Let me therefore beseech you, Sir, to become an advocate for your niece, that she may not be made a victim to a man so highly disgustful to her.
You and my other uncle can do a great deal for me, if you please, with my papa. Be persuaded, Sir, that I am not governed by obstinacy in this case; but by aversion; an aversion I cannot overcome: for, if I have but endeavoured to reason with myself, (out of regard to the duty I owe to my father's will,) my heart has recoiled, and I have been averse to myself, for offering but to argue with myself, in behalf of a man who, in the light he appears to me, has no one merit; and who, knowing this aversion, could not persevere as he does, if he had the spirit of a man.
If, Sir, you can think of the contents of this letter reasonable, I beseech you to support them with your interest. If not—I shall be most unhappy!—Nevertheless, it is but just in me so to write, as that Mr. Solmes may know what he has to trust to.
Forgive, dear Sir, this tedious letter; and suffer it to have weight with you; and you will for ever oblige
Your dutiful and affectionate niece,
MR. ANTONY HARLOWE, TO MISS CL. HARLOWE
You had better not write to us, or to any of us. To me, particularly, you had better never to have set pen to paper, on the subject whereon you have written. He that is first in his own cause, saith the wise man, seemeth just: but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. And so, in this respect, I will be your neighbour: for I will search your heart to the bottom; that is to say, if your letter be written from your heart. Yet do I know what a task I have undertaken, because of the knack you are noted for at writing. But in defence of a father's authority, in behalf of the good, and honour, and prosperity of the family one comes of, what a hard thing it would be, if one could not beat down all the arguments a rebel child (how loth I am to write down that word of Miss Clary Harlowe!) can bring, in behalf of her obstinacy!
In the first place, don't you declare (and that contrary to your declarations to your mother, remember that, girl!) that you prefer the man we all hate, and who hates us as bad!—Then what a character have you given of a worthy man! I wonder you dare write so freely of one we all respect—but possibly it may be for that very reason.
How you begin your letter!—Because I value Mr. Solmes as my friend, you treat him the worse—That's the plain dunstable of the matter, Miss!—I am not such a fool but I can see that.—And so a noted whoremonger is to be chosen before a man who is a money-lover!—Let me tell you, Niece, this little becomes so nice a one as you have been always reckoned. Who, think you, does more injustice, a prodigal man or a saving man?—The one saves his own money; the other spends other people's. But your favourite is a sinner in grain, and upon record.
The devil's in your sex! God forgive me for saying so—the nicest of them will prefer a vile rake and wh—— I suppose I must not repeat the word:—the word will offend, when the vicious denominated by that word will be chosen!—I had not been a bachelor to this time, if I had not seen such a mass of contradictions in you all.—Such gnat-strainers and camel-swallowers, as venerable Holy Writ has it.
What names will perverseness call things by!—A prudent man, who intends to be just to every body, is a covetous man!—While a vile, profligate rake is christened with the appellation of a gallant man; and a polite man, I'll warrant you!
It is my firm opinion, Lovelace would not have so much regard for you as he professes, but for two reasons. And what are these?—Why, out of spite to all of us—one of them. The other, because of your independent fortune. I wish your good grandfather had not left what he did so much in your own power, as I may say. But little did he imagine his beloved grand-daughter would have turned upon all her friends as she has done!
What has Mr. Solmes to hope for, if you are prepossessed! Hey-day! Is this you, cousin Clary!—Has he then nothing to hope for from your father's, and mother's, and our recommendations?—No, nothing at all, it seems!—O brave!—I should think that this, with a dutiful child, as we took you to be, was enough. Depending on this your duty, we proceeded: and now there is no help for it: for we will not be balked: neither shall our friend Mr. Solmes, I can tell you that.
If your estate is convenient for him, what then? Does that (pert cousin) make it out that he does not love you? He had need to expect some good with you, that has so little good to hope for from you; mind that. But pray, is not this estate our estate, as we may say? Have we not all an interest in it, and a prior right, if right were to have taken place? And was it not more than a good old man's dotage, God rest his soul! that gave it you before us all?—Well then, ought we not to have a choice who shall have it in marriage with you? and would you have the conscience to wish us to let a vile fellow, who hates us all, run away with it?—You bid me weigh what you write: do you weigh this, Girl: and it will appear we have more to say for ourselves than you was aware of.
As to your hard treatment, as you call it, thank yourself for that. It may be over when you will: so I reckon nothing upon that. You was not banished and confined till all entreaty and fair speeches were tried with you: mind that. And Mr. Solmes can't help your obstinacy: let that be observed too.
As to being visited, and visiting; you never was fond of either: so that's a grievance put into the scale to make weight.—As to disgrace, that's as bad to us as to you: so fine a young creature! So much as we used to brag of you too!—And besides, this is all in your power, as the rest.
But your heart recoils, when you would persuade yourself to obey your parent—Finely described, is it not!—Too truly described, I own, as you go on. I know that you may love him if you will. I had a good mind to bid you hate him; then, perhaps, you would like him the better: for I have always found a most horrid romantic perverseness in your sex.—To do and to love what you should not, is meat, drink, and vesture, to you all.
I am absolutely of your brother's mind, That reading and writing, though not too much for the wits of you young girls, are too much for your judgments.—You say, you may be conceited, Cousin; you may be vain!—And so you are, to despise this gentleman as you do. He can read and write as well as most gentlemen, I can tell you that. Who told you Mr. Solmes cannot read and write? But you must have a husband who can learn you something!—I wish you knew but your duty as well as you do your talents—that, Niece, you have of late days to learn; and Mr. Solmes will therefore find something to instruct you in. I will not shew him this letter of yours, though you seem to desire it, lest it should provoke him to be too severe a schoolmaster, when you are his'n.
But now I think of it, suppose you are the reader at your pen than he—You will make the more useful wife to him; won't you? For who so good an economist as you?—And you may keep all of his accounts, and save yourselves a steward.—And, let me tell you, this is a fine advantage in a family: for those stewards are often sad dogs, and creep into a man's estate before he knows where he is; and not seldom is he forced to pay them interest for his own money.
I know not why a good wife should be above these things. It is better than lying a-bed half the day, and junketing and card-playing all the night, and making yourselves wholly useless to every good purpose in your own families, as is now the fashion among ye. The duce take you all that do so, say I!—Only that, thank my stars, I am a bachelor.
Then this is a province you are admirably versed in: you grieve that it is taken from you here, you know. So here, Miss, with Mr. Solmes you will have something to keep account of, for the sake of you and your children: with the other, perhaps you will have an account to keep, too—but an account of what will go over the left shoulder; only of what he squanders, what he borrows, and what he owes, and never will pay. Come, come, Cousin, you know nothing of the world; a man's a man; and you may have many partners in a handsome man, and costly ones too, who may lavish away all you save. Mr. Solmes therefore for my money, and I hope for yours.
But Mr. Solmes is a coarse man. He is not delicate enough for your niceness; because I suppose he dresses not like a fop and a coxcomb, and because he lays not himself out in complimental nonsense, the poison of female minds. He is a man of sense, that I can tell you. No man talks more to the purpose to us: but you fly him so, that he has no opportunity given him, to express it to you: and a man who loves, if he have ever so much sense, looks a fool; especially when he is despised, and treated as you treated him the last time he was in your company.
As to his sister; she threw herself away (as you want to do) against his full warning: for he told her what she had to trust to, if she married where she did marry. And he was as good as his word; and so an honest man ought: offences against warning ought to be smarted for. Take care this be not your case: mind that.
His uncle deserves no favour from him; for he would have circumvented Mr. Solmes, and got Sir Oliver to leave to himself the estate he had always designed for him his nephew, and brought him up in the hope of it. Too ready forgiveness does but encourage offences: that's your good father's maxim: and there would not be so many headstrong daughters as there are, if this maxim were kept in mind.—Punishments are of service to offenders; rewards should be only to the meriting: and I think the former are to be dealt out rigourously, in willful cases.
As to his love; he shews it but too much for your deservings, as they have been of late; let me tell you that: and this is his misfortune; and may in time perhaps be yours.
As to his parsimony, which you wickedly call diabolical, [a very free word in your mouth, let me tell ye], little reason have you of all people for this, on whom he proposes, of his own accord, to settle all he has in the world: a proof, let him love riches as he will, that he loves you better. But that you may be without excuse on this score, we will tie him up to your own terms, and oblige him by the marriage-articles to allow you a very handsome quarterly sum to do what you please with. And this has been told you before; and I have said it to Mrs. Howe (that good and worthy lady) before her proud daughter, that you might hear of it again.
To contradict the charge of prepossession to Lovelace, you offer never to have him without our consents: and what is this saying, but that you will hope on for our consents, and to wheedle and tire us out? Then he will always be in expectation while you are single: and we are to live on at this rate (are we?) vexed by you, and continually watchful about you; and as continually exposed to his insolence and threats. Remember last Sunday, Girl!—What might have happened, had your brother and he met?—Moreover, you cannot do with such a spirit as his, as you can with worthy Mr. Solmes: the one you make tremble; the other will make you quake: mind that—and you will not be able to help yourself. And remember, that if there should be any misunderstanding between one of them and you, we should all interpose; and with effect, no doubt: but with the other, it would be self-do, self-have; and who would either care or dare to put in a word for you? Nor let the supposition of matrimonial differences frighten you: honey-moon lasts not now-a-days above a fortnight; and Dunmow flitch, as I have been informed, was never claimed; though some say once it was. Marriage is a queer state, Child, whether paired by the parties or by their friends. Out of three brothers of us, you know, there was but one had courage to marry. And why was it, do you think? We were wise by other people's experience.
Don't despise money so much: you may come to know the value of it: that is a piece of instruction that you are to learn; and which, according to your own notions, Mr. Solmes will be able to teach you.
I do indeed condemn your warmth. I will not allow for disgraces you bring upon yourself. If I thought them unmerited, I would be your advocate. But it was always my notion, that children should not dispute their parents' authority. When your grandfather left his estate to you, though his three sons, and a grandson, and your elder sister, were in being, we all acquiesced: and why? Because it was our father's doing. Do you imitate that example: if you will not, those who set it you have the more reason to hold you inexcusable: mind that, Cousin.
You mention your brother too scornfully: and, in your letter to him, are very disrespectful; and so indeed you are to your sister, in the letter you wrote to her. Your brother, Madam, is your brother; and third older than yourself, and a man: and pray be so good as not to forget what is due to a brother, who (next to us three brothers) is the head of the family, and on whom the name depends—as upon your dutiful compliance laid down for the honour of the family you are come of. And pray now let me ask you, If the honour of that will not be an honour to you?—If you don't think so, the more unworthy you. You shall see the plan, if you promise not to be prejudiced against it right or wrong. If you are not besotted to that man, I am sure you will like it. If you are, were Mr. Solmes an angel, it would signify nothing: for the devil is love, and love is the devil, when it gets into any of your heads. Many examples have I seen of that.
If there were no such man as Lovelace in the world, you would not have Mr. Solmes.—You would not, Miss!—Very pretty, truly!—We see how your spirit is embittered indeed.—Wonder not, since it is come to your will not's, that those who have authority over you, say, You shall have the other. And I am one: mind that. And if it behoves YOU to speak out, Miss, it behoves US not to speak in. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander: take that in your thought too.
I humbly apprehend, that Mr. Solmes has the spirit of a man, and a gentleman. I would admonish you therefore not to provoke it. He pities you as much as he loves you. He says, he will convince you of his love by deeds, since he is not permitted by you to express it by words. And all his dependence is upon your generosity hereafter. We hope he may depend upon that: we encourage him to think he may. And this heartens him up. So that you may lay his constancy at your parents' and your uncles' doors; and this will be another mark of your duty, you know.
You must be sensible, that you reflect upon your parents, and all of us, when you tell me you cannot in justice accept of the settlements proposed to you. This reflection we should have wondered at from you once; but now we don't.
There are many other very censurable passages in this free letter of yours; but we must place them to the account of your embittered spirit. I am glad you mentioned that word, because we should have been at a loss what to have called it.—I should much rather nevertheless have had reason to give it a better name.
I love you dearly still, Miss. I think you, though my niece, one of the finest young gentlewomen I ever saw. But, upon my conscience, I think you ought to obey your parents, and oblige me and my brother John: for you know very well, that we have nothing but your good at heart: consistently indeed with the good and honour of all of us. What must we think of any one of it, who would not promote the good of the whole? and who would set one part of it against another?—Which God forbid, say I!—You see I am for the good of all. What shall I get by it, let things go as they will? Do I want any thing of any body for my own sake?—Does my brother John?—Well, then, Cousin Clary, what would you be at, as I may say?
O but you can't love Mr. Solmes!—But, I say, you know not what you can do. You encourage yourself in your dislike. You permit your heart (little did I think it was such a froward one) to recoil. Take it to task, Niece; drive it on as fast as it recoils, [we do so in all our sea-fights, and land-fights too, by our sailors and soldiers, or we should not conquer]; and we are all sure you will overcome it. And why? Because you ought. So we think, whatever you think: and whose thoughts are to be preferred? You may be wittier than we; but, if you were wiser, we have lived some of us, let me tell you, to very little purpose, thirty or forty years longer than you.
I have written as long a letter as yours. I may not write in so lively, or so polite a style as my Niece: but I think I have all the argument on my side: and you will vastly oblige me, if you will shew me, by your compliance with all our desires, that you think so too. If you do not, you must not expect an advocate, or even a friend, in me, dearly as I love you. For then I shall be sorry to be called
Your uncle, ANT. HARLOWE.
TUESDAY, TWO IN THE MORNING. POSTSCRIPT.
You must send me no more letters: but a compliable one you may send. But I need not have forbid you; for I am sure this, by fair argument, is unanswerable—I know it is. I have written day and night, I may say, ever since Sunday morning, only church-time, or the like of that: but this is the last, I can tell you, from
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE THURSDAY, MARCH 16.
Having met with such bad success in my application to my relations, I have taken a step that will surprise you. It is no other than writing a letter to Mr. Solmes himself. I sent it, and have his answer. He had certainly help in it. For I have seen a letter of his, and indifferently worded, as poorly spelt. Yet the superscription is of his dictating, I dare say, for he is a formal wretch. With these, I shall enclose one from my brother to me, on occasion of mine to Mr. Solmes. I did think that it was possible to discourage the man from proceeding; and if I could have done that, it would have answered all my wishes. It was worth the trial. But you'll see nothing will do. My brother has taken his measures too securely.
TO ROGER SOLMES, ESQ. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15.
You will wonder to receive a letter from me; and more still at the uncommon subject of it. But the necessity of the case will justify me, at least in my own apprehension; and I shall therefore make no other apology for it.
When you first came acquainted with our family, you found the writer of this one of the happiest creatures in the world; beloved by the best and most indulgent of parents; and rejoicing in the kind favour of two affectionate uncles, and in the esteem of every one.
But how is this scene now changed!—You was pleased to cast a favourable eye upon me. You addressed yourself to my friends: your proposals were approved of by them—approved of without consulting me; as if my choice and happiness were of the least signification. Those who had a right to all reasonable obedience from me, insisted upon it without reserve. I had not the felicity to think as they did; almost the first time my sentiments differed from theirs. I besought them to indulge me in a point so important to my future happiness: but, alas, in vain! And then (for I thought it was but honest) I told you my mind; and even that my affections were engaged. But, to my mortification and surprise, you persisted, and still persist.
The consequence of all is too grievous for me to repeat: you, who have such free access to the rest of the family, know it too well—too well you know it, either for the credit of your own generosity, or for my reputation. I am used, on your account, as I never before was used, and never before was thought to deserve to be used; and this was the hard, the impossible, condition of their returning favour, that I must prefer a man to all others, that of all others I cannot prefer.
Thus distressed, and made unhappy, and all to your sake, and through your cruel perseverance, I write, Sir, to demand of you the peace of mind you have robbed me of: to demand of you the love of so many dear friends, of which you have deprived me; and, if you have the generosity that should distinguish a man, and a gentleman, to adjure you not to continue an address that has been attended with such cruel effects to the creature you profess to esteem.
If you really value me, as my friends would make me believe, and as you have declared you do, must it not be a mean and selfish value? A value that can have no merit with the unhappy object of it, because it is attended with effects so grievous to her? It must be for your own sake only, not for mine. And even in this point you must be mistaken: For, would a prudent man wish to marry one who has not a heart to give? Who cannot esteem him? Who therefore must prove a bad wife!—And how cruel would it be to make a poor creature a bad wife, whose pride it would be to make a good one!
If I am capable of judging, our tempers and inclinations are vastly different. Any other of my sex will make you happier than I can. The treatment I meet with, and the obstinacy, as it is called, with which I support myself under it, ought to convince you of this; were I not able to give so good a reason for this my supposed perverseness, as that I cannot consent to marry a man whom I cannot value.
But if, Sir, you have not so much generosity in your value for me, as to desist for my own sake, let me conjure you, by the regard due to yourself, and to your own future happiness, to discontinue your suit, and place your affections on a worthier object: for why should you make me miserable, and yourself not happy? By this means you will do all that is now in your power to restore to me the affection of my friends; and, if that can be, it will leave me in as happy a state as you found me in. You need only to say, that you see there are no HOPES, as you will perhaps complaisantly call it, of succeeding with me [and indeed, Sir, there cannot be a greater truth]; and that you will therefore no more think of me, but turn your thoughts another way.
Your compliance with this request will lay me under the highest obligation to your generosity, and make me ever
Your well-wisher, and humble servant, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE These most humbly present.
Your letter has had a very contrary effect upon me, to what you seem to have expected from it. It has doubly convinced me of the excellency of your mind, and of the honour of your disposition. Call it selfish, or what you please, I must persist in my suit; and happy shall I be, if by patience and perseverance, and a steady and unalterable devoir, I may at last overcome the difficulty laid in my way.
As your good parents, your uncles, and other friends, are absolutely determined you shall never have Mr. Lovelace, if they can help it; and as I presume no other person is in the way, I will contentedly wait the issue of this matter. And forgive me, dearest Miss, but a person should sooner persuade me to give up to him my estate, as an instance of my generosity, because he could not be happy without it, than I would a much more valuable treasure, to promote the felicity of another, and make his way easier to circumvent myself.
Pardon me, dear Miss; but I must persevere, though I am sorry you suffer on my account, as you are pleased to think; for I never before saw the woman I could love: and while there is any hope, and that you remain undisposed of to some happier man, I must and will be
Your faithful and obsequious admirer, ROGER SOLMES.
MR. JAMES HARLOWE, TO MISS CL. HARLOWE MARCH 16.
What a fine whim you took into your head, to write a letter to Mr. Solmes, to persuade him to give up his pretensions to you!—Of all the pretty romantic flights you have delighted in, this was certainly one of the most extraordinary. But to say nothing of what fires us all with indignation against you (your owning your prepossession in a villain's favour, and your impertinence to me, and your sister, and your uncles; one of which has given it you home, child), how can you lay at Mr. Solmes's door the usage you so bitterly complain of?—You know, little fool as you are, that it is your fondness for Lovelace that has brought upon you all these things; and which would have happened, whether Mr. Solmes had honoured you with his addresses or not.
As you must needs know this to be true, consider, pretty witty Miss, if your fond, love-sick heart can let you consider, what a fine figure all your expostulations with us, and charges upon Mr. Solmes, make!—With what propriety do you demand of him to restore to you your former happiness (as you call it, and merely call it; for if you thought our favour so, you would restore it to yourself), since it is yet in your own power to do so? Therefore, Miss Pert, none of your pathetics, except in the right place. Depend upon it, whether you have Mr. Solmes, or not, you shall never have your heart's delight, the vile rake Lovelace, if our parents, if our uncles, if I, can hinder it. No! you fallen angel, you shall not give your father and mother such a son, nor me such a brother, in giving yourself that profligate wretch for a husband. And so set your heart at rest, and lay aside all thoughts of him, if ever you expect forgiveness, reconciliation, or a kind opinion, from any of your family; but especially from him, who, at present, styles himself
Your brother, JAMES HARLOWE.
P.S. I know your knack at letter-writing. If you send me an answer for this, I will return it unopened; for I will not argue with your perverseness in so plain a case—Only once for all, I was willing to put you right as to Mr. Solmes; whom I think to blame to trouble his head about you.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. FRIDAY, MARCH 17.
I receive, with great pleasure, the early and cheerful assurances of your loyalty and love. And let our principal and most trusty friends named in my last know that I do.
I would have thee, Jack, come down, as soon as thou canst. I believe I shall not want the others so soon. Yet they may come down to Lord M.'s. I will be there, if not to receive them, to satisfy my lord, that there is no new mischief in hand, which will require his second intervention.
For thyself, thou must be constantly with me: not for my security: the family dare do nothing but bully: they bark only at a distance: but for my entertainment: that thou mayest, from the Latin and the English classics, keep my lovesick soul from drooping.
Thou hadst best come to me here, in thy old corporal's coat: thy servant out of livery; and to be upon a familiar footing with me, as a distant relation, to be provided for by thy interest above—I mean not in Heaven, thou mayest be sure. Thou wilt find me at a little alehouse, they call it an inn; the White Hart, most terribly wounded, (but by the weather only,) the sign: in a sorry village, within five miles from Harlowe-place. Every body knows Harlowe-place, for, like Versailles, it is sprung up from a dunghill, within every elderly person's remembrance. Every poor body, particularly, knows it: but that only for a few years past, since a certain angel has appeared there among the sons and daughters of men.
The people here at the Hart are poor, but honest; and have gotten it into their heads, that I am a man of quality in disguise; and there is no reining-in their officious respect. Here is a pretty little smirking daughter, seventeen six days ago. I call her my Rose-bud. Her grandmother (for there is no mother), a good neat old woman, as ever filled a wicker chair in a chimney-corner, has besought me to be merciful to her.
This is the right way with me. Many and many a pretty rogue had I spared, whom I did not spare, had my power been acknowledged, and my mercy in time implored. But the debellare superbos should be my motto, were I to have a new one.
This simple chit (for there is a simplicity in her thou wouldst be highly pleased with: all humble; all officious; all innocent—I love her for her humility, her officiousness, and even for her innocence) will be pretty amusement to thee; while I combat with the weather, and dodge and creep about the walls and purlieus of Harlowe-place. Thou wilt see in her mind, all that her superiors have been taught to conceal, in order to render themselves less natural, and of consequence less pleasing.
But I charge thee, that thou do not (what I would not permit myself to do for the world—I charge thee, that thou do not) crop my Rose-bud. She is the only flower of fragrance, that has blown in this vicinage for ten years past, or will for ten years to come: for I have looked backward to the have-been's, and forward to the will-be's; having but too much leisure upon my hands in my present waiting.
I never was so honest for so long together since my matriculation. It behoves me so to be—some way or other, my recess at this little inn may be found out; and it will then be thought that my Rose-bud has attracted me. A report in my favour, from simplicities so amiable, may establish me; for the grandmother's relation to my Rose-bud may be sworn to: and the father is an honest, poor man; has no joy, but in his Rose-bud.—O Jack! spare thou, therefore, (for I shall leave thee often alone with her, spare thou) my Rose-bud!—Let the rule I never departed from, but it cost me a long regret, be observed to my Rose-bud!—never to ruin a poor girl, whose simplicity and innocence were all she had to trust to; and whose fortunes were too low to save her from the rude contempts of worse minds than her own, and from an indigence extreme: such a one will only pine in secret; and at last, perhaps, in order to refuge herself from slanderous tongues and virulence, be induced to tempt some guilty stream, or seek her end in the knee-encircling garter, that peradventure, was the first attempt of abandoned love.—No defiances will my Rose-bud breathe; no self-dependent, thee-doubting watchfulness (indirectly challenging thy inventive machinations to do their worst) will she assume. Unsuspicious of her danger, the lamb's throat will hardly shun thy knife!—O be not thou the butcher of my lambkin!
The less thou be so, for the reason I am going to give thee—The gentle heart is touched by love: her soft bosom heaves with a passion she has not yet found a name for. I once caught her eye following a young carpenter, a widow neighbour's son, living [to speak in her dialect] at the little white house over the way. A gentle youth he also seems to be, about three years older than herself: playmates from infancy, till his eighteenth and her fifteenth year furnished a reason for a greater distance in shew, while their hearts gave a better for their being nearer than ever—for I soon perceived the love reciprocal. A scrape and a bow at first seeing his pretty mistress; turning often to salute her following eye; and, when a winding lane was to deprive him of her sight, his whole body turned round, his hat more reverently doffed than before. This answered (for, unseen, I was behind her) by a low courtesy, and a sigh, that Johnny was too far off to hear!—Happy whelp! said I to myself.—I withdrew; and in tript my Rose-bud, as if satisfied with the dumb shew, and wishing nothing beyond it.
I have examined the little heart. She has made me her confidant. She owns, she could love Johnny Barton very well: and Johnny Barton has told her, he could love her better than any maiden he ever saw—but, alas! it must not be thought of. Why not be thought of!—She don't know!—And then she sighed: But Johnny has an aunt, who will give him an hundred pounds, when his time is out; and her father cannot give her but a few things, or so, to set her out with: and though Johnny's mother says, she knows not where Johnny would have a prettier, or notabler wife, yet—And then she sighed again—What signifies talking?—I would not have Johnny be unhappy and poor for me!—For what good would that do me, you know, Sir!
What would I give [by my soul, my angel will indeed reform me, if her friends' implacable folly ruin us not both!—What would I give] to have so innocent and so good a heart, as either my Rose-bud's, or Johnny's!
I have a confounded mischievous one—by nature too, I think!—A good motion now-and-then rises from it: but it dies away presently—a love of intrigue—an invention for mischief—a triumph in subduing—fortune encouraging and supporting—and a constitution—What signifies palliating? But I believe I had been a rogue, had I been a plough-boy.
But the devil's in this sex! Eternal misguiders. Who, that has once trespassed with them, ever recovered his virtue? And yet where there is not virtue, which nevertheless we freelivers are continually plotting to destroy, what is there even in the ultimate of our wishes with them?—Preparation and expectation are in a manner every thing: reflection indeed may be something, if the mind be hardened above feeling the guilt of a past trespass: but the fruition, what is there in that? And yet that being the end, nature will not be satisfied without it.
See what grave reflections an innocent subject will produce! It gives me some pleasure to think, that it is not out of my power to reform: but then, Jack, I am afraid I must keep better company than I do at present—for we certainly harden one another. But be not cast down, my boy; there will be time enough to give the whole fraternity warning to choose another leader: and I fancy thou wilt be the man.
Mean time, as I make it my rule, whenever I have committed a very capital enormity, to do some good by way of atonement; and as I believe I am a pretty deal indebted on that score, I intend, before I leave these parts (successfully shall I leave them I hope, or I shall be tempted to double the mischief by way of revenge, though not to my Rose-bud any) to join an hundred pounds to Johnny's aunt's hundred pounds, to make one innocent couple happy.—I repeat therefore, and for half a dozen more therefores, spare thou my Rose-bud.
An interruption—another letter anon; and both shall go together.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
I have found out by my watchful spy almost as many of my charmer's motions, as those of the rest of her relations. It delights me to think how the rascal is caressed by the uncles and nephew; and let into their secrets; yet it proceeds all the time by my line of direction. I have charged him, however, on forfeiture of his present weekly stipend, and my future favour, to take care, that neither my beloved, nor any of the family suspect him: I have told him that he may indeed watch her egresses and regresses; but that only keep off other servants from her paths; yet not to be seen by her himself.
The dear creature has tempted him, he told them, with a bribe [which she never offered] to convey a letter [which she never wrote] to Miss Howe; he believes, with one enclosed (perhaps to me): but he declined it: and he begged they would take notice of it to her. This brought him a stingy shilling; great applause; and an injunction followed it to all the servants, for the strictest look-out, lest she should contrive some way to send it—and, above an hour after, an order was given him to throw himself in her way; and (expressing his concern for denying her request) to tender his service to her, and to bring them her letter: which it will be proper for him to report that she has refused to give him.
Now seest thou not, how many good ends this contrivance answers?
In the first place, the lady is secured by it, against her own knowledge, in the liberty allowed her of taking her private walks in the garden: for this attempt has confirmed them in their belief, that now they have turned off her maid, she has no way to send a letter out of the house: if she had, she would not have run the risque of tempting a fellow who had not been in her secret—so that she can prosecute unsuspectedly her correspondence with me and Miss Howe.
In the next place, it will perhaps afford me an opportunity of a private interview with her, which I am meditating, let her take it as she will; having found out by my spy (who can keep off every body else) that she goes every morning and evening to a wood-house remote from the dwelling-house, under pretence of visiting and feeding a set of bantam-poultry, which were produced from a breed that was her grandfather's, and of which for that reason she is very fond; as also of some other curious fowls brought from the same place. I have an account of all her motions here. And as she has owned to me in one of her letters that she corresponds privately with Miss Howe, I presume it is by this way.
The interview I am meditating, will produce her consent, I hope, to other favours of the like kind: for, should she not choose the place in which I am expecting to see her, I can attend her any where in the rambling Dutch-taste garden, whenever she will permit me that honour: for my implement, high Joseph Leman, has procured me the opportunity of getting two keys made to the garden-door (one of which I have given him for reasons good); which door opens to the haunted coppice, as tradition has made the servants think it; a man having been found hanging in it about twenty years ago: and Joseph, upon proper notice, will leave it unbolted.