But I was obliged previously to give him my honour, that no mischief should happen to any of my adversaries, from this liberty: for the fellow tells me, that he loves all his masters: and, only that he knows I am a man of honour; and that my alliance will do credit to the family; and after prejudices are overcome, every body will think so; or he would not for the world act the part he does.
There never was a rogue, who had not a salvo to himself for being so.—What a praise to honesty, that every man pretends to it, even at the instant that he knows he is pursuing the methods that will perhaps prove him a knave to the whole world, as well as to his own conscience!
But what this stupid family can mean, to make all this necessary, I cannot imagine. My REVENGE and my LOVE are uppermost by turns. If the latter succeed not, the gratifying of the former will be my only consolation: and, by all that's good, they shall feel it; although for it I become an exile from my native country for ever.
I will throw myself into my charmer's presence. I have twice already attempted it in vain. I shall then see what I may depend upon from her favour. If I thought I had no prospect of that, I should be tempted to carry her off. That would be a rape worthy of Jupiter!
But all gentle shall be my movements: all respectful, even to reverence, my address to her—her hand shall be the only witness to the pressure of my lip—my trembling lip: I know it will tremble, if I do not bid it tremble. As soft my sighs, as the sighs of my gentle Rose-bud. By my humility will I invite her confidence: the loneliness of the place shall give me no advantage: to dissipate her fears, and engage her reliance upon my honour for the future, shall be my whole endeavour: but little will I complain of, not at all will I threaten, those who are continually threatening me: but yet with a view to act the part of Dryden's lion; to secure my love, or to let loose my vengeance upon my hunters.
What tho' his mighty soul his grief contains? He meditates revenge who least complains: And like a lion slumb'ring in his way, Or sleep dissembling, while he waits his prey, His fearless foes within his distance draws, Constrains his roaring, and contracts his paws: Till at the last, his time for fury found, He shoots with sudden vengeance from the ground: The prostrate vulgar passes o'er, and spares, But, with a lordly rage, his hunter tears.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE SATURDAY, MARCH 18.
I have been frighted out of my wits—still am in a manner out of breath—thus occasioned—I went down, under the usual pretence, in hopes to find something from you. Concerned at my disappointment, I was returning from the wood-house, when I heard a rustling as of somebody behind a stack of wood. I was extremely surprised: but still more, to behold a man coming from behind the furthermost stack. Oh! thought I, at that moment, the sin of a prohibited correspondence!
In the same point of time that I saw him, he besought me not to be frighted: and, still nearer approaching me, threw open a horseman's coat: And who should it be but Mr. Lovelace!—I could not scream out (yet attempted to scream, the moment I saw a man; and again, when I saw who it was); for I had no voice: and had I not caught hold of a prop which supported the old roof, I should have sunk.
I had hitherto, as you know, kept him at a distance: And now, as I recovered myself, judge of my first emotions, when I recollected his character from every mouth of my family; his enterprising temper; and found myself alone with him, in a place so near a bye-lane, and so remote from the house.
But his respectful behaviour soon dissipated these fears, and gave me others; lest we should be seen together, and information of it given to my brother: the consequences of which, I could readily think, would be, if not further mischief, an imputed assignation, a stricter confinement, a forfeited correspondence with you, my beloved friend, and a pretence for the most violent compulsion: and neither the one set of reflections, nor the other, acquitted him to me for his bold intrusion.
As soon therefore as I could speak, I expressed with the greatest warmth my displeasure; and told him, that he cared not how much he exposed me to the resentment of all my friends, provided he could gratify his own impetuous humour. I then commanded him to leave the place that moment; and was hurrying from him, when he threw himself in the way at my feet, beseeching my stay for one moment; declaring, that he suffered himself to be guilty of this rashness, as I thought it, to avoid one much greater:—for, in short, he could not bear the hourly insults he received from my family, with the thoughts of having so little interest in my favour, that he could not promise himself that his patience and forbearance would be attended with any other issue than to lose me for ever, and be triumphed over and insulted upon it.
This man, you know, has very ready knees. You have said, that he ought, in small points, frequently to offend, on purpose to shew what an address he is master of.
He ran on, expressing his apprehensions that a temper so gentle and obliging, as he said mine was, to every body but him, (and a dutifulness so exemplary inclined me to do my part to others, whether they did theirs or not by me,) would be wrought upon in favour of a man set up in part to be revenged upon myself, for my grandfather's envied distinction of me; and in part to be revenged upon him, for having given life to one, who would have taken his; and now sought to deprive him of hopes dearer to him than life.
I told him, he might be assured, that the severity and ill-usage I met with would be far from effecting the proposed end: that although I could, with great sincerity, declare for a single life (which had always been my choice); and particularly, that if ever I married, if they would not insist upon the man I had an aversion to, it should not be with the man they disliked—
He interrupted me here: He hoped I would forgive him for it; but he could not help expressing his great concern, that, after so many instances of his passionate and obsequious devotion—
And pray, Sir, said I, let me interrupt you in my turn;—Why don't you assert, in still plainer words, the obligation you have laid me under by this your boasted devotion? Why don't you let me know, in terms as high as your implication, that a perseverance I have not wished for, which has set all my relations at variance with me, is a merit that throws upon me the guilt of ingratitude for not having answered it as you seem to expect?
I must forgive him, he said, if he, who pretended only to a comparative merit, (and otherwise thought no man living could deserve me,) had presumed to hope for a greater share in my favour, than he had hitherto met with, when such men as Mr. Symmes, Mr. Wyerley, and now, lastly, so vile a reptile as this Solmes, however discouraged by myself, were made his competitors. As to the perseverance I mentioned, it was impossible for him not to persevere: but I must needs know, that were he not in being, the terms Solmes had proposed were such, as would have involved me in the same difficulties with my relations that I now laboured under. He therefore took the liberty to say, that my favour to him, far from increasing those difficulties, would be the readiest way to extricate me from them. They had made it impossible [he told me, with too much truth] to oblige them any way, but by sacrificing myself to Solmes. They were well apprized besides of the difference between the two; one, whom they hoped to manage as they pleased; the other, who could and would protect me from every insult; and who had natural prospects much superior to my brother's foolish views of a title.
How comes this man to know so well all our foibles? But I more wonder, how he came to have a notion of meeting me in this place?
I was very uneasy to be gone; and the more as the night came on apace. But there was no getting from him, till I had heard a great deal more of what he had to say.
As he hoped, that I would one day make him the happiest man in the world, he assured me, that he had so much regard for my fame, that he would be as far from advising any step that was likely to cast a shade upon my reputation, (although that step was to be ever so much in his own favour,) as I would be to follow such advice. But since I was not to be permitted to live single, he would submit it to my consideration, whether I had any way but one to avoid the intended violence to my inclinations—my father so jealous of his authority: both my uncles in my father's way of thinking: my cousin Morden at a distance: my uncle and aunt Hervey awed into insignificance, was his word: my brother and sister inflaming every one: Solmes's offers captivating: Miss Howe's mother rather of a party with them, for motives respecting example to her own daughter.
And then he asked me, if I would receive a letter from Lady Betty Lawrance, on this occasion: for Lady Sarah Sadleir, he said, having lately lost her only child, hardly looked into the world, or thought of it farther than to wish him married, and, preferably to all the women in the world, with me.
To be sure, my dear, there is a great deal in what the man said—I may be allowed to say this, without an imputed glow or throb. But I told him nevertheless, that although I had great honour for the ladies he was related to, yet I should not choose to receive a letter on a subject that had a tendency to promote an end I was far from intending to promote: that it became me, ill as I was treated at present, to hope every thing, to bear every thing, and to try ever thing: when my father saw my steadfastness, and that I would die rather than have Mr. Solmes, he would perhaps recede—
Interrupting me, he represented the unlikelihood there was of that, from the courses they had entered upon; which he thus enumerated:—Their engaging Mrs. Howe against me, in the first place, as a person I might have thought to fly to, if pushed to desperation—my brother continually buzzing in my father's ears, that my cousin Morden would soon arrive, and then would insist upon giving me possession of my grandfather's estate, in pursuance of the will; which would render me independent of my father—their disgraceful confinement of me—their dismissing so suddenly my servant, and setting my sister's over me—their engaging my mother, contrary to her own judgment, against me: these, he said, were all so many flagrant proofs that they would stick at nothing to carry their point; and were what made him inexpressibly uneasy.
He appealed to me, whether ever I knew my father recede from any resolution he had once fixed; especially, if he thought either his prerogative, or his authority concerned in the question. His acquaintance with our family, he said, enabled him to give several instances (but they would be too grating to me) of an arbitrariness that had few examples even in the families of princes: an arbitrariness, which the most excellent of women, my mother, too severely experienced. He was proceeding, as I thought, with reflections of this sort; and I angrily told him, I would not permit my father to be reflected upon; adding, that his severity to me, however unmerited, was not a warrant for me to dispense with my duty to him.
He had no pleasure, he said, in urging any thing that could be so construed; for, however well warranted he was to make such reflections from the provocations they were continually giving him, he knew how offensive to me any liberties of this sort would be. And yet he must own, that it was painful to him, who had youth and passions to be allowed for, as well as others, and who had always valued himself under speaking his mind, to curb himself, under such treatment. Nevertheless, his consideration for me would make him confine himself, in his observations, to facts that were too flagrant, and too openly avowed, to be disputed. It could not therefore justly displease, he would venture to say, if he made this natural inference from the premises, That if such were my father's behaviour to a wife, who disputed not the imaginary prerogatives he was so unprecedently fond of asserting, what room had a daughter to hope, that he would depart from an authority he was so earnest, and so much more concerned, to maintain?—Family-interests at the same time engaging; an aversion, however causelessly conceived, stimulating my brother's and sister's resentments and selfish views cooperating; and my banishment from their presence depriving me of all personal plea or entreaty in my own favour.
How unhappy, my dear, that there is but too much reason for these observations, and for this inference; made, likewise, with more coolness and respect to my family than one would have apprehended from a man so much provoked, and of passions so high, and generally thought uncontroulable!
Will you not question me about throbs and glows, if from such instances of a command over his fiery temper, for my sake, I am ready to infer, that were my friends capable of a reconciliation with him, he might be affected by arguments apparently calculated for his present and future good! Nor is it a very bad indication, that he has such moderate notions of that very high prerogative in husbands, of which we in our family have been accustomed to hear so much.
He represented to me, that my present disgraceful confinement was known to all the world: that neither my sister nor my brother scrupled to represent me as an obliged and favoured child in a state of actual rebellion. That, nevertheless, every body who knew me was ready to justify me for an aversion to a man whom every body thought utterly unworthy of me, and more fit for my sister: that unhappy as he was, in not having been able to make any greater impression upon me in his favour, all the world gave me to him. Nor was there but one objection made to him by his very enemies (his birth, his prospects all very unexceptionable, and the latter splendid); and that objection, he thanked God, and my example, was in a fair way of being removed for ever: since he had seen his error, and was heartily sick of the courses he had followed; which, however, were far less enormous than malice and envy had represented them to be. But of this he should say the less, as it were much better to justify himself by his actions, than by the most solemn asseverations and promises. And then, complimenting my person, he assured me (for that he always loved virtue, although he had not followed its rules as he ought) that he was still more captivated with the graces of my mind: and would frankly own, that till he had the honour to know me, he had never met with an inducement sufficient to enable him to overcome an unhappy kind of prejudice to matrimony; which had made him before impenetrable to the wishes and recommendations of all his relations.
You see, my dear, he scruples not to speak of himself, as his enemies speak of him. I can't say, but his openness in these particulars gives a credit to his other professions. I should easily, I think, detect an hypocrite: and this man particularly, who is said to have allowed himself in great liberties, were he to pretend to instantaneous lights and convictions—at this time of life too. Habits, I am sensible, are not so easily changed. You have always joined with me in remarking, that he will speak his mind with freedom, even to a degree of unpoliteness sometimes; and that his very treatment of my family is a proof that he cannot make a mean court to any body for interest sake—What pity, where there are such laudable traces, that they should have been so mired, and choaked up, as I may say!—We have heard, that the man's head is better than his heart: But do you really think Mr. Lovelace can have a very bad heart? Why should not there be something in blood in the human creature, as well as in the ignobler animals? None of his family are exceptionable—but himself, indeed. The characters of the ladies are admirable. But I shall incur the imputation I wish to avoid. Yet what a look of censoriousness does it carry in an unsparing friend, to take one to task for doing that justice, and making those which one ought without scruple to do, and to make, in the behalf of any other man living?
He then again pressed me to receive a letter of offered protection from Lady Betty. He said, that people of birth stood a little too much upon punctilio; as people of value also did (but indeed birth, worthily lived up to, was virtue: virtue, birth; the inducements to a decent punctilio the same; the origin of both one): [how came this notion from him!] else, Lady Betty would write to me: but she would be willing to be first apprized that her offer will be well received—as it would have the appearance of being made against the liking of one part of my family; and which nothing would induce her to make, but the degree of unworthy persecution which I actually laboured under, and had reason further to apprehend.
I told him, that, however greatly I thought myself obliged to Lady Betty Lawrance, if this offer came from herself; yet it was easy to see to what it led. It might look like vanity in me perhaps to say, that this urgency in him, on this occasion, wore the face of art, in order to engage me into measures from which I might not easily extricate myself. I said, that I should not be affected by the splendour of even a royal title. Goodness, I thought, was greatness. That the excellent characters of the ladies of his family weighed more with me, than the consideration that they were half-sisters to Lord M. and daughters of an earl: that he would not have found encouragement from me, had my friends been consenting to his address, if he had only a mere relative merit to those ladies: since, in that case, the very reasons that made me admire them, would have been so many objections to their kinsman.
I then assured him, that it was with infinite concern, that I had found myself drawn into an epistolary correspondence with him; especially since that correspondence had been prohibited: and the only agreeable use I could think of making of this unexpected and undesired interview, was, to let him know, that I should from henceforth think myself obliged to discontinue it. And I hoped, that he would not have the thought of engaging me to carry it on by menacing my relations.
There was light enough to distinguish, that he looked very grave upon this. He so much valued my free choice, he said, and my unbiassed favour, (scorning to set himself upon a footing with Solmes in the compulsory methods used in that man's behalf,) that he should hate himself, were he capable of a view of intimidating me by so very poor a method. But, nevertheless, there were two things to be considered: First, that the continual outrages he was treated with; the spies set over him, one of which he had detected; the indignities all his family were likewise treated with;—as also, myself; avowedly in malice to him, or he should not presume to take upon himself to resent for me, without my leave [the artful wretch saw he would have lain open here, had he not thus guarded]—all these considerations called upon him to shew a proper resentment: and he would leave it to me to judge, whether it would be reasonable for him, as a man of spirit, to bear such insults, if it were not for my sake. I would be pleased to consider, in the next place, whether the situation I was in, (a prisoner in my father's house, and my whole family determined to compel me to marry a man unworthy of me, and that speedily, and whether I consented or not,) admitted of delay in the preventive measures he was desirous to put me upon, in the last resort only. Nor was there a necessity, he said, if I were actually in Lady Betty's protection, that I should be his, if, afterwards, I should see any thing objectionable in his conduct.
But what would the world conclude would be the end, I demanded, were I, in the last resort, as he proposed, to throw myself into the protection of his friends, but that it was with such a view?
And what less did the world think of me now, he asked, than that I was confined that I might not? You are to consider, Madam, you have not now an option; and to whom is it owing that you have not; and that you are in the power of those (parents, why should I call them?) who are determined, that you shall not have an option. All I propose is, that you will embrace such a protection—but not till you have tried every way, to avoid the necessity for it.
And give me leave to say, proceeded he, that if a correspondence, on which I have founded all my hopes, is, at this critical conjuncture, to be broken off; and if you are resolved not to be provided against the worst; it must be plain to me, that you will at last yield to that worst—worst to me only—it cannot be to you—and then! [and he put his hand clenched to his forehead] How shall I bear this supposition?—Then will you be that Solmes's!—But, by all that's sacred, neither he, nor your brother, nor your uncles, shall enjoy their triumph—Perdition seize my soul, if they shall!
The man's vehemence frightened me: yet, in resentment, I would have left him; but, throwing himself at my feet again, Leave me not thus—I beseech you, dearest Madam, leave me not thus, in despair! I kneel not, repenting of what I have vowed in such a case as that I have supposed. I re-vow it, at your feet!—and so he did. But think not it is by way of menace, or to intimidate you to favour me. If your heart inclines you [and then he arose] to obey your father (your brother rather) and to have Solmes; although I shall avenge myself on those who have insulted me, for their insults to myself and family, yet will I tear out my heart from this bosom (if possible with my own hands) were it to scruple to give up its ardours to a woman capable of such a preference.
I told him, that he talked to me in very high language; but he might assure himself that I never would have Mr. Solmes, (yet that this I said not in favour to him,) and I had declared as much to my relations, were there not such a man as himself in the world.
Would I declare, that I would still honour him with my correspondence?—He could not bear, that, hoping to obtain greater instances of my favour, he should forfeit the only one he had to boast of.
I bid him forbear rashness or resentment to any of my family, and I would, for some time at least, till I saw what issue my present trials were likely to have, proceed with a correspondence, which, nevertheless, my heart condemned—
And his spirit him, the impatient creature said, interrupting me, for bearing what he did; when he considered, that the necessity of it was imposed upon him, not by my will, (for then he would bear it cheerfully, and a thousand times more,) but by creatures—And there he stopt.
I told him plainly that he might thank himself (whose indifferent character, as to morals, had given such a handle against him) for all. It was but just, that a man should be spoken evil of, who set no value upon his reputation.
He offered to vindicate himself. But I told him, I would judge him by his own rule—by his actions, not by his professions.
Were not his enemies, he said, so powerful, and so determined; and had they not already shewn their intentions in such high acts of even cruel compulsion; but would leave me to my choice, or to my desire of living single; he would have been content to undergo a twelvemonth's probation, or more: but he was confident, that one month would either complete all their purposes, or render them abortive: and I best knew what hopes I had of my father's receding—he did not know him, if I had any.
I said, I would try every method, that either my duty or my influence upon any of them should suggest, before I would put myself into any other protection: and, if nothing else would do, would resign the envied estate; and that I dared to say would.
He was contented, he said, to abide that issue. He should be far from wishing me to embrace any other protection, but, as he had frequently said, in the last necessity. But dearest creature, said he, catching my hand with ardour, and pressing it to his lips, if the yielding up of that estate will do—resign it—and be mine—and I will corroborate, with all my soul, your resignation!
This was not ungenerously said: But what will not these men say to obtain belief, and a power over one?
I made many efforts to go; and now it was so dark, that I began to have great apprehensions. I cannot say from his behaviour: indeed, he has a good deal raised himself in my opinion by the personal respect, even to reverence, which he paid me during the whole conference: for, although he flamed out once, upon a supposition that Solmes might succeed, it was upon a supposition that would excuse passion, if any thing could, you know, in a man pretending to love with fervour; although it was so levelled, that I could not avoid resenting it.
He recommended himself to my favour at parting, with great earnestness, yet with as great submission; not offering to condition any thing with me; although he hinted his wishes for another meeting: which I forbad him ever attempting again in the same place. And I will own to you, from whom I should be really blamable to conceal any thing, that his arguments (drawn from the disgraceful treatment I meet with) of what I am to expect, make me begin to apprehend that I shall be under an obligation to be either the one man's or the other's—and, if so, I fancy I shall not incur your blame, were I to say which of the two it must be: you have said, which it must not be. But, O my dear, the single life is by far the most eligible to me: indeed it is. And I hope yet to be permitted to make that option.
I got back without observation; but the apprehension that I should not, gave me great uneasiness; and made me begin a letter in a greater flutter than he gave me cause to be in, except at the first seeing him; for then indeed my spirits failed me; and it was a particular felicity, that, in such a place, in such a fright, and alone with him, I fainted not away.
I should add, that having reproached him with his behaviour the last Sunday at church, he solemnly assured me, that it was not what had been represented to me: that he did not expect to see me there: but hoped to have an opportunity to address himself to my father, and to be permitted to attend him home. But that the good Dr. Lewen had persuaded him not to attempt speaking to any of the family, at that time; observing to him the emotions into which his presence had put every body. He intended no pride, or haughtiness of behaviour, he assured me; and that the attributing such to him was the effect of that ill-will which he had the mortification to find insuperable: adding, that when he bowed to my mother, it was a compliment he intended generally to every one in the pew, as well as to her, whom he sincerely venerated.
If he may be believed, (and I should think he would not have come purposely to defy my family, yet expect favour from me,) one may see, my dear, the force of hatred, which misrepresents all things. Yet why should Shorey (except officiously to please her principals) make a report in his disfavour? He told me, that he would appeal to Dr. Lewen for his justification on this head; adding, that the whole conversation between the Doctor and him turned upon his desire to attempt to reconcile himself to us all, in the face of the church; and upon the Doctor's endeavouring to dissuade him from making such a public overture, till he knew how it would be accepted. But to what purpose his appeal, when I am debarred from seeing that good man, or any one who would advise me what to do in my present difficult situation!
I fancy, my dear, however, that there would hardly be a guilty person in the world, were each suspected or accused person to tell his or her own story, and be allowed any degree of credit.
I have written a very long letter.
To be so particular as you require in subjects of conversation, it is impossible to be short.
I will add to it only the assurance, That I am, and ever will be,
Your affectionate and faithful friend and servant, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
You'll be so good, my dear, as to remember, that the date of your last letter to me was the 9th.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE. SUNDAY, MARCH 19.
I beg your pardon, my dearest friend, for having given you occasion to remind me of the date of my last. I was willing to have before me as much of the workings of your wise relations as possible; being verily persuaded, that one side or the other would have yielded by this time: and then I should have had some degree of certainty to found my observations upon. And indeed what can I write that I have not already written?—You know, that I can do nothing but rave at your stupid persecutors: and that you don't like. I have advised you to resume your own estate: that you won't do. You cannot bear the thoughts of having their Solmes: and Lovelace is resolved you shall be his, let who will say to the contrary. I think you must be either the one man's or the other's. Let us see what their next step will be.
As to Lovelace, while he tells his own story (having also behaved so handsomely on his intrusion in the wood-house, and intended so well at church) who can say, that the man is in the least blameworthy?—Wicked people! to combine against so innocent a man!—But, as I said, let us see what their next step will be, and what course you will take upon it; and then we may be the more enlightened.
As to your change of style to your uncles, and brother and sister, since they were so fond of attributing to you a regard for Lovelace, and would not be persuaded to the contrary; and since you only strengthened their arguments against yourself by denying it; you did but just as I would have done, in giving way to their suspicions, and trying what that would do—But if—but if—Pray, my dear, indulge me a little—you yourself think it was necessary to apologize to me for that change of style to them—and till you will speak out like a friend to her unquestionable friend, I must tease you a little—let it run therefore; for it will run—
If, then, there be not a reason for this change of style, which you have not thought fit to give me, be so good as to watch, as I once before advised you, how the cause for it will come on—Why should it be permitted to steal upon you, and you know nothing of the matter?
When we get a great cold, we are apt to puzzle ourselves to find out when it began, or how we got it; and when that is accounted for, down we sit contented, and let it have its course; or, if it be very troublesome, take a sweat, or use other means to get rid of it. So my dear, before the malady you wot of, yet wot not of, grows so importunate, as that you must be obliged to sweat it out, let me advise you to mind how it comes on. For I am persuaded, as surely as that I am now writing to you, that the indiscreet violence of your friends on the one hand, and the insinuating address of Lovelace on the other, (if the man be not a greater fool than any body thinks him,) will effectually bring it to this, and do all his work for him.
But let it—if it must be Lovelace or Solmes, the choice cannot admit of debate. Yet if all be true that is reported, I should prefer almost any of your other lovers to either; unworthy as they also are. But who can be worthy of a Clarissa?
I wish you are not indeed angry with me for harping so much on one string. I must own, that I should think myself inexcusable so to do, (the rather, as I am bold enough imagine it a point out of all doubt from fifty places in your letters, were I to labour the proof,) if you would ingenuously own—
Own what? you'll say. Why, my Anna Howe, I hope you don't think that I am already in love—!
No, to be sure! How can your Anna Howe have such a thought?—What then shall we call it? You might have helped me to a phrase—A conditional kind of liking!—that's it.—O my friend! did I not know how much you despise prudery; and that you are too young, and too lovely, to be a prude—
But, avoiding such hard names, let me tell you one thing, my dear (which nevertheless I have told you before); and that is this: that I shall think I have reason to be highly displeased with you, if, when you write to me, you endeavour to keep from me any secret of your heart.
Let me add, that if you would clearly and explicitly tell me, how far Lovelace has, or has not, a hold in your affections, I could better advise you what to do, than at present I can. You, who are so famed for prescience, as I may call it; and than whom no young lady ever had stronger pretensions to a share of it; have had, no doubt, reasonings in your heart about him, supposing you were to be one day his: [no doubt but you have had the same in Solmes's case: whence the ground for the hatred of the one; and for the conditional liking of the other.] Will you tell me, my dear, what you have thought of Lovelace's best and of his worst?—How far eligible for the first; how far rejectable for the last?—Then weighing both parts in opposite scales, we shall see which is likely to preponderate; or rather which does preponderate. Nothing less than the knowledge of the inmost recesses of your heart, can satisfy my love and my friendship. Surely, you are not afraid to trust yourself with a secret of this nature: if you are, then you may the more allowably doubt me. But, I dare say, you will not own either—nor is there, I hope, cause for either.
Be pleased to observe one thing, my dear, that whenever I have given myself any of those airs of raillery, which have seemed to make you look about you, (when, likewise, your case may call for a more serious turn from a sympathizing friend,) it has not been upon those passages which are written, though, perhaps not intended, with such explicitness [don't be alarmed, my dear!] as leaves little cause of doubt: but only when you affect reserve; when you give new words for common things; when you come with your curiosities, with your conditional likings, and with your PRUDE-encies [mind how I spell the word] in a case that with every other person defies all prudence—over-acts of treason all these, against the sovereign friendship we have avowed to each other.
Remember, that you found me out in a moment. You challenged me. I owned directly, that there was only my pride between the man and me; for I could not endure, I told you, to think of any fellow living to give me a moment's uneasiness. And then my man, as I have elsewhere said, was not such a one as yours: so I had reason to impute full as much as to my own inconsideration, as to his power over me: nay, more: but still more to yours. For you reasoned me out of the curiosity first; and when the liking was brought to be conditional—why then, you know, I throbbed no more about him.
O! pray now, as you say, now I have mentioned that my fellow was not such a charming fellow as yours, let Miss Biddulph, Miss Lloyd, Miss Campion, and me, have your opinion, how far figure ought to engage us: with a view to your own case, however—mind that—as Mr. Tony says—and whether at all, if the man be vain of it; since, as you observe in a former, that vanity is a stop-short pride in such a one, that would make one justly doubt the worthiness of his interior. You, our pattern, so lovely in feature, so graceful in person, have none of it; and have therefore with the best grace always held, that it is not excusable even in a woman.
You must know, that this subject was warmly debated among us in our last conversation: and Miss Lloyd wished me to write to you upon it for your opinion; to which, in every debated case, we always paid the greatest deference. I hope you will not be so much engrossed by your weighty cares, as not to have freedom of spirits enough to enter upon the task. You know how much we all admire your opinion on such topics; which ever produces something new and instructive, as you handle the subjects. And pray tell us, to what you think it owing, that your man seems so careful to adorn that self-adorned person of his! yet so manages, that one cannot for one's heart think him a coxcomb?—Let this question, and the above tasks, divert, and not displease you, my dear. One subject, though ever so important, could never yet engross your capacious mind. If they should displease you, you must recollect the many instances of my impertinence which you have forgiven, and then say, 'This is a mad girl: but yet I love her!—And she is my own'
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE MONDAY, MARCH 20.
Your last so sensibly affects me, that I must postpone every other consideration, however weighty, to reply to it: and this I will do very distinctly, and with all the openness of heart which our mutual friendship demands.
But let me observe, in the first place, gratefully observe, that if I have in fifty passages of my letters given you such undoubted proofs of my value for Mr. Lovelace, that you have spared me for the sake of my explicitness, it is acting by me with a generosity worthy of yourself.
But lives the man, think you, who is so very bad, that he does not give even a doubting mind reason at one time to be better pleased with him than at another? And when that reason offers, is it not just to express one's self accordingly? I would do the man who addresses me as much justice, as if he did not address me: it has such a look of tyranny, it appears so ungenerous, methinks, in our sex, to use a man worse for his respect to us, (no other cause for disrespect occurring,) that I would not by any means be that person who should do so.
But, although I may intend no more than justice, it will perhaps be difficult to hinder those who know the man's views, from construing it as a partial favour: and especially if the eager-eyed observer has been formerly touched herself, and would triumph that her friend had been no more able to escape than she. Noble minds, emulative of perfection, (and yet the passion properly directed, I do not take to be an imperfection neither,) may be allowed a little generous envy, I think.
If I meant by this a reflection, by way of revenge, it is but a revenge, my dear, in the soft sense of the word. I love, as I have told you, your pleasantry. Although at the time your reproof may pain me a little; yet, on recollection, when I find it more of the cautioning friend than of the satirizing observer, I shall be all gratitude upon it. All the business will be this; I shall be sensible of the pain in the present letter perhaps; but I shall thank you in the next, and ever after.
In this way, I hope, my dear, you will account for a little of that sensibility which you find above, and perhaps still more, as I proceed.—You frequently remind me, by an excellent example, your own to me, that I must not spare you!
I am not conscious, that I have written any thing of this man, that has not been more in his dispraise than in his favour. Such is the man, that I think I must have been faulty, and ought to take myself to account, if I had not. But you think otherwise, I will not put you upon labouring the proof, as you call it. My conduct must then have a faulty appearance at least, and I will endeavour to rectify it. But of this I assure you, that whatever interpretation my words were capable of, I intended not any reserve to you. I wrote my heart at the time: if I had had thought of disguising it, or been conscious that there was reason for doing so, perhaps I had not given you the opportunity of remarking upon my curiosity after his relations' esteem for me; nor upon my conditional liking, and such-like. All I intended by the first, I believe, I honestly told you at the time. To that letter I therefore refer, whether it make for me, or against me: and by the other, that I might bear in mind, what it became a person of my sex and character to be and to do, in such an unhappy situation, where the imputed love is thought an undutiful, and therefore a criminal passion; and where the supported object of it is a man of faulty morals too. And I am sure you will excuse my desire of appearing at those times the person I ought to be; had I no other view in it but to merit the continuance of your good opinion.
But that I may acquit myself of having reserves—O, my dear, I must here break off—!
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE MONDAY, MARCH 12.
This letter will account to you, my dear, for my abrupt breaking off in the answer I was writing to yours of yesterday; and which, possibly, I shall not be able to finish and send you till to-morrow or next day; having a great deal to say to the subjects you put to me in it. What I am now to give you are the particulars of another effort made by my friends, through the good Mrs. Norton.
It seems they had sent to her yesterday, to be here this day, to take their instructions, and to try what she could do with me. It would, at least, I suppose they thought, have this effect; to render me inexcusable with her; or to let her see, that there was no room for the expostulations she had often wanted to make in my favour to my mother.
The declaration, that my heart was free, afforded them an argument to prove obstinacy and perverseness upon me; since it could be nothing else that governed me in my opposition to their wills, if I had no particular esteem for another man. And now, that I have given them reason (in order to obviate this argument) to suppose that I have a preference to another, they are resolved to carry their schemes into execution as soon as possible. And in order to this, they sent for this good woman, for whom they know I have even a filial regard.
She found assembled my father and mother, my brother and sister, my two uncles, and my aunt Hervey.
My brother acquainted her with all that had passed since she was last permitted to see me; with the contents of my letters avowing my regard for Mr. Lovelace (as they all interpreted them); with the substance of their answers to them; and with their resolutions.
My mother spoke next; and delivered herself to this effect, as the good woman told me.
After reciting how many times I had been indulged in my refusals of different men, and the pains she had taken with me, to induce me to oblige my whole family in one instance out of five or six, and my obstinacy upon it; 'O my good Mrs. Norton, said the dear lady, could you have thought, that my Clarissa and your Clarissa was capable of so determined an opposition to the will of parents so indulgent to her? But see what you can do with her. The matter is gone too far to be receded from on our parts. Her father had concluded every thing with Mr. Solmes, not doubting her compliance. Such noble settlements, Mrs. Norton, and such advantages to the whole family!—In short, she has it in her power to lay an obligation upon us all. Mr. Solmes, knowing she has good principles, and hoping by his patience now, and good treatment hereafter, to engage her gratitude, and by degrees her love, is willing to overlook all!—'
[Overlook all, my dear! Mr. Solmes to overlook all! There's a word!]
'So, Mrs. Norton, if you are convinced, that it is a child's duty to submit to her parents' authority, in the most important point as well as in the least, I beg you will try your influence over her: I have none: her father has none: her uncles neither: although it is her apparent interest to oblige us all; for, on that condition, her grandfather's estate is not half of what, living and dying, is purposed to be done for her. If any body can prevail with her, it is you; and I hope you will heartily enter upon this task.'
The good woman asked, Whether she was permitted to expostulate with them upon the occasion, before she came up to me?
My arrogant brother told her, she was sent for to expostulate with his sister, and not with them. And this, Goody Norton [she is always Goody with him!] you may tell her, that the treaty with Mr. Solmes is concluded: that nothing but her compliance with her duty is wanting; of consequence, that there is no room for your expostulation, or hers either.
Be assured of this, Mrs. Norton, said my father, in an angry tone, that we will not be baffled by her. We will not appear like fools in this matter, and as if we have no authority over our own daughter. We will not, in short, be bullied out of our child by a cursed rake, who had like to have killed our only son!—And so she had better make a merit of her obedience; for comply she shall, if I live; independent as she thinks my father's indiscreet bounty has made her of me, her father. Indeed, since that, she has never been like she was before. An unjust bequest!—And it is likely to prosper accordingly!—But if she marry that vile rake Lovelace, I will litigate every shilling with her: tell her so; and that the will may be set aside, and shall.
My uncles joined, with equal heat.
My brother was violent in his declarations.
My sister put in with vehemence, on the same side.
My aunt Hervey was pleased to say, there was no article so proper for parents to govern in, as this of marriage: and it was very fit mine should be obliged.
Thus instructed, the good woman came up to me. She told me all that had passed, and was very earnest with me to comply; and so much justice did she to the task imposed upon her, that I more than once thought, that her own opinion went with theirs. But when she saw what an immovable aversion I had to the man, she lamented with me their determined resolution: and then examined into the sincerity of my declaration, that I would gladly compound with them by living single. Of this being satisfied, she was so convinced that this offer, which, carried into execution, would exclude Lovelace effectually, ought to be accepted, that she would go down (although I told her, it was what I had tendered over-and-over to no purpose) and undertake to be guaranty for me on that score.
She went accordingly; but soon returned in tears; being used harshly for urging this alternative:—They had a right to my obedience upon their own terms, they said: my proposal was an artifice, only to gain time: nothing but marrying Mr. Solmes should do: they had told me so before: they should not be at rest till it was done; for they knew what an interest Lovelace had in my heart: I had as good as owned it in my letters to my uncles, and brother and sister, although I had most disingenuously declared otherwise to my mother. I depended, they said, upon their indulgence, and my own power over them: they would not have banished me from their presence, if they had not known that their consideration for me was greater than mine for them. And they would be obeyed, or I never should be restored to their favour, let the consequence be what it would.
My brother thought fit to tell the good woman, that her whining nonsense did but harden me. There was a perverseness, he said, in female minds, a tragedy-pride, that would make a romantic young creature, such a one as me, risque any thing to obtain pity. I was of an age, and a turn [the insolent said] to be fond of a lover-like distress: and my grief (which she pleaded) would never break my heart: I should sooner break that of the best and most indulgent of mothers. He added, that she might once more go up to me: but that, if she prevailed not, he should suspect, that the man they all hated had found a way to attach her to his interest.
Every body blamed him for this unworthy reflection; which greatly affected the good woman. But nevertheless he said, and nobody contradicted him, that if she could not prevail upon her sweet child, [as it seems she had fondly called me,] she had best draw to her own home, and there tarry till she was sent for; and so leave her sweet child to her father's management.
Sure nobody had ever so insolent, so hard-hearted a brother, as I have! So much resignation to be expected from me! So much arrogance, and to so good a woman, and of so fine an understanding, to be allowed in him.
She nevertheless told him, that however she might be ridiculed for speaking of the sweetness of my disposition, she must take upon herself to say, that there never was a sweeter in the sex: and that she had ever found, that my mild methods, and gentleness, I might at any time be prevailed upon, even in points against my own judgment and opinion.
My aunt Hervey hereupon said, It was worth while to consider what Mrs. Norton said: and that she had sometimes allowed herself to doubt, whether I had been begun with by such methods as generous tempers are only to be influenced by, in cases where their hearts are supposed to be opposite to the will of their friends.
She had both my brother and sister upon her for this: who referred to my mother, whether she had not treated me with an indulgence that had hardly any example?
My mother said, she must own, that no indulgence had been wanting from her: but she must needs say, and had often said it, that the reception I met with on my return from Miss Howe, and the manner in which the proposal of Mr. Solmes was made to me, (which was such as left nothing to my choice,) and before I had an opportunity to converse with him, were not what she had by any means approved of.
She was silenced, you will guess by whom,—with, My dear!—my dear!—You have ever something to say, something to palliate, for this rebel of a girl!—Remember her treatment of you, of me!—Remember, that the wretch, whom we so justly hate, would not dare persist in his purposes, but for her encouragement of him, and obstinacy to us.—Mrs. Norton, [angrily to her,] go up to her once more—and if you think gentleness will do, you have a commission to be gentle—if it will not, never make use of that plea again.
Ay, my good woman, said my mother, try your force with her. My sister Hervey and I will go up to her, and bring her down in our hands, to receive her father's blessing, and assurances of every body's love, if she will be prevailed upon: and, in that case, we will all love you the better for your good offices.
She came up to me, and repeated all these passages with tears. But I told her, that after what had passed between us, she could not hope to prevail upon me to comply with measures so wholly my brother's, and so much to my aversion. And then folding me to her maternal bosom, I leave you, my dearest Miss, said she—I leave you, because I must!—But let me beseech you to do nothing rashly; nothing unbecoming your character. If all be true that is said, Mr. Lovelace cannot deserve you. If you can comply, remember it is your duty to comply. They take not, I own, the right method with so generous a spirit. But remember, that there would not be any merit in your compliance, if it were not to be against your own liking. Remember also, what is expected from a character so extraordinary as yours: remember, it is in your power to unite or disunite your whole family for ever. Although it should at present be disagreeable to you to be thus compelled, your prudence, I dare say, when you consider the matter seriously, will enable you to get over all prejudices against the one, and all prepossessions in favour of the other: and then the obligation you will lay all your family under, will be not only meritorious in you, with regard to them, but in a few months, very probably, highly satisfactory, as well as reputable, to yourself.
Consider, my dear Mrs. Norton, said I, only consider, that it is not a small thing that is insisted upon; not for a short duration; it is for my life: consider too, that all this is owing to an overbearing brother, who governs every body. Consider how desirous I am to oblige them, if a single life, and breaking all correspondence with the man they hate, because my brother hates him, will do it.
I consider every thing, my dearest Miss: and, added to what I have said, do you only consider, that if, by pursuing your own will, and rejecting theirs, you should be unhappy, you will be deprived of all that consolation which those have, who have been directed by their parents, although the event prove not answerable to their wishes.
I must go, repeated she: your brother will say [and she wept] that I harden you by my whining nonsense. 'Tis indeed hard, that so much regard should be paid to the humours of one child, and so little to the inclination of another. But let me repeat, that it is your duty to acquiesce, if you can acquiesce: your father has given your brother's schemes his sanction, and they are now his. Mr. Lovelace, I doubt, is not a man that will justify your choice so much as he will their dislike. It is easy to see that your brother has a view in discrediting you with all your friends, with your uncles in particular: but for that very reason, you should comply, if possible, in order to disconcert his ungenerous measures. I will pray for you; and that is all I can do for you. I must now go down, and make a report, that you are resolved never to have Mr. Solmes—Must I?—Consider, my dear Miss Clary—Must I?
Indeed you must!—But of this I do assure you, that I will do nothing to disgrace the part you have had in my education. I will bear every thing that shall be short of forcing my hand into his who never can have any share in my heart. I will try by patient duty, by humility, to overcome them. But death will I choose, in any shape, rather than that man.
I dread to go down, said she, with so determined an answer: they will have no patience with me.—But let me leave you with one observation, which I beg of you always to bear in mind:—
'That persons of prudence, and distinguished talents, like yours, seem to be sprinkled through the world, to give credit, by their example, to religion and virtue. When such persons wilfully err, how great must be the fault! How ungrateful to that God, who blessed them with such talents! What a loss likewise to the world! What a wound to virtue!—But this, I hope, will never be to be said of Miss Clarissa Harlowe!'
I could give her no answer, but by my tears. And I thought, when she went away, the better half of my heart went with her.
I listened to hear what reception she would meet with below; and found it was just such a one as she had apprehended.
Will she, or will she not, be Mrs. Solmes? None of your whining circumlocutions, Mrs. Norton!—[You may guess who said this] Will she, or will she not, comply with her parents' will?
This cut short all she was going to say.
If I must speak so briefly, Miss will sooner die, than have—
Any body but Lovelace! interrupted my brother.—This, Madam, this, Sir, is your meek daughter! This is Mrs. Norton's sweet child!—Well, Goody, you may return to your own habitation. I am empowered to forbid you to have any correspondence with this perverse girl for a month to come, as you value the favour of our whole family, or of any individual of it.
And saying this, uncontradicted by any body, he himself shewed her to the door,—no doubt, with all that air of cruel insult, which the haughty rich can put on to the unhappy low, who have not pleased them.
So here, my dear Miss Howe, am I deprived of the advice of one of the most prudent and conscientious women in the world, were I to have ever so much occasion for it.
I might indeed write (as I presume, under your cover) and receive her answers to what I should write. But should such a correspondence be charged upon her, I know she would not be guilty of a falsehood for the world, nor even of an equivocation: and should she own it after this prohibition, she would forfeit my mother's favour for ever. And in my dangerous fever, some time ago, I engaged my mother to promise me, that, if I died before I could do any thing for the good woman, she would set her above want for the rest of her life, should her eyes fail her, or sickness befall her, and she could not provide for herself, as she now so prettily does by her fine needle-works.
What measures will they fall upon next?—Will they not recede when they find that it must be a rooted antipathy, and nothing else, that could make a temper, not naturally inflexible, so sturdy?
Adieu, my dear. Be you happy!—To know that it is in your power to be so, is all that seems wanting to make you so.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE [In continuation of the subject in Letter XXXVIII.]
I will now, though midnight (for I have no sleep in my eyes) resume the subject I was forced so abruptly to quit, and will obey yours, Miss Lloyd's, Miss Campion's, and Miss Biddulph's call, with as much temper as my divided thought will admit. The dead stillness of this solemn hour will, I hope, contribute to calm my disturbed mind.
In order to acquit myself of so heavy a charge as that of having reserves to so dear a friend, I will acknowledge (and I thought I had over-and-over) that it is owing to my particular situation, if Mr. Lovelace appears to me in a tolerable light: and I take upon me to say, that had they opposed to him a man of sense, of virtue, of generosity; one who enjoyed his fortune with credit, who had a tenderness in his nature for the calamities of others, which would have given a moral assurance, that he would have been still less wanting in grateful returns to an obliging spirit:—had they opposed such a man as this to Mr. Lovelace, and been as earnest to have me married, as now they are, I do not know myself, if they would have had reason to tax me with that invincible obstinacy which they lay to my charge: and this whatever had been the figure of the man; since the heart is what we women should judge by in the choice we make, as the best security for the party's good behaviour in every relation of life.
But, situated as I am, thus persecuted and driven, I own to you, that I have now-and-then had a little more difficulty than I wished for, in passing by Mr. Lovelace's tolerable qualities, to keep up my dislike to him for his others.
You say, I must have argued with myself in his favour, and in his disfavour, on a supposition, that I might possibly be one day his. I own that I have: and thus called upon by my dearest friend, I will set before you both parts of the argument.
And first, what occurred to me in his favour.
At his introduction into our family, his negative virtues were insisted upon:—He was no gamester; no horse-racer; no fox-hunter; no drinker: my poor aunt Hervey had, in confidence, given us to apprehend much disagreeable evil (especially to a wife of the least delicacy) from a wine-lover: and common sense instructed us, that sobriety in a man is no small point to be secured, when so many mischiefs happen daily from excess. I remember, that my sister made the most of this favourable circumstance in his character while she had any hopes of him.
He was never thought to be a niggard; not even ungenerous: nor when his conduct came to be inquired into, an extravagant, a squanderer: his pride [so far was it a laudable pride] secured him from that. Then he was ever ready to own his errors. He was no jester upon sacred things: poor Mr. Wyerley's fault; who seemed to think there was wit in saying bold things, which would shock a serious mind. His conversation with us was always unexceptionable, even chastely so; which, be his actions what they would, shewed him capable of being influenced by decent company; and that he might probably therefore be a led man, rather than a leader, in other company. And one late instance, so late as last Saturday evening, has raised him not a little in my opinion, with regard to this point of good (and at the same time, of manly) behaviour.
As to the advantage of birth, that is of his side, above any man who has been found out for me. If we may judge by that expression of his, which you were pleased with at the time; 'That upon true quality, and hereditary distinction, if good sense were not wanting, humour sat as easy as his glove;' that, with as familiar an air, was his familiar expression; 'while none but the prosperous upstart, MUSHROOMED into rank, (another of his peculiars,) was arrogantly proud of it.'—If, I say, we may judge of him by this, we shall conclude in his favour, that he knows what sort of behaviour is to be expected from persons of birth, whether he act up to it or not. Conviction is half way to amendment.
His fortunes in possession are handsome; in expectation, splendid: so nothing need be said on that subject.
But it is impossible, say some, that he should make a tender or kind husband. Those who are for imposing upon me such a man as Mr. Solmes, and by methods so violent, are not entitled to make this objection. But now, on this subject, let me tell you how I have argued with myself—for still you must remember, that I am upon the extenuating part of his character.
A great deal of the treatment a wife may expect from him, will possibly depend upon herself. Perhaps she must practise as well as promise obedience, to a man so little used to controul; and must be careful to oblige. And what husband expects not this?—The more perhaps if he had not reason to assure himself of the preferable love of his wife before she became such. And how much easier and pleasanter to obey the man of her choice, if he should be even more unreasonable sometimes, than one she would not have had, could she have avoided it? Then, I think, as the men were the framers of the matrimonial office, and made obedience a part of the woman's vow, she ought not, even in policy, to shew him, that she can break through her part of the contract, (however lightly she may think of the instance,) lest he should take it into his head (himself is judge) to think as lightly of other points, which she may hold more important—but, indeed, no point so solemnly vowed can be slight.
Thus principled, and acting accordingly, what a wretch must that husband be, who could treat such a wife brutally!—Will Lovelace's wife be the only person to whom he will not pay the grateful debt of civility and good manners? He is allowed to be brave: Who ever knew a brave man, if a brave man of sense, an universally base man? And how much the gentleness of our sex, and the manner of our training up and education, make us need the protection of the brave, and the countenance of the generous, let the general approbation, which we are all so naturally inclined to give to men of that character, testify.
At worst, will he confine me prisoner to my chamber? Will he deny me the visits of my dearest friend, and forbid me to correspond with her? Will he take from me the mistressly management, which I had not faultily discharged? Will he set a servant over me, with license to insult me? Will he, as he has not a sister, permit his cousins Montague, or would either of those ladies accept of a permission, to insult and tyrannize over me?—It cannot be.—Why then, think I often, do you tempt me, O my cruel friends, to try the difference?
And then has the secret pleasure intruded itself, to be able to reclaim such a man to the paths of virtue and honour: to be a secondary means, if I were to be his, of saving him, and preventing the mischiefs so enterprising a creature might otherwise be guilty of, if he be such a one.
When I have thought of him in these lights, (and that as a man of sense he will sooner see his errors, than another,) I own to you, that I have had some difficulty to avoid taking the path they so violently endeavour to make me shun: and all that command of my passions which has been attributed to me as my greatest praise, and, in so young a creature, as my distinction, has hardly been sufficient for me.
And let me add, that the favour of his relations (all but himself unexceptionable) has made a good deal of additional weight, thrown in the same scale.
But now, in his disfavour. When I have reflected upon the prohibition of my parents; the giddy appearance, disgraceful to our sex, that such a preference would have: that there is no manner of likelihood, enflamed by the rencounter, and upheld by art and ambition on my brother's side, that ever the animosity will be got over: that I must therefore be at perpetual variance with all my own family: that I must go to him, and to his, as an obliged and half-fortuned person: that his aversion to them all is as strong as theirs to him: that his whole family are hated for his sake; they hating ours in return: that he has a very immoral character as to women: that knowing this, it is a high degree of impurity to think of joining in wedlock with such a man: that he is young, unbroken, his passions unsubdued: that he is violent in his temper, yet artful; I am afraid vindictive too: that such a husband might unsettle me in all my own principles, and hazard my future hopes: that his own relations, two excellent aunts, and an uncle, from whom he has such large expectations, have no influence upon him: that what tolerable qualities he has, are founded more in pride than in virtue: that allowing, as he does, the excellency of moral precepts, and believing the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, he can live as if he despised the one, and defied the other: the probability that the taint arising from such free principles, may go down into the manners of posterity: that I knowing these things, and the importance of them, should be more inexcusable than one who knows them not; since an error against judgment is worse, infinitely worse, than an error in judgment. Reflecting upon these things, I cannot help conjuring you, my dear, to pray with me, and to pray for me, that I may not be pushed upon such indiscreet measures, as will render me inexcusable to myself: for that is the test, after all. The world's opinion ought to be but a secondary consideration.
I have said in his praise, that he is extremely ready to own his errors: but I have sometimes made a great drawback upon this article, in his disfavour; having been ready to apprehend, that this ingenuousness may possibly be attributable to two causes, neither of them, by any means, creditable to him. The one, that his vices are so much his masters, that he attempts not to conquer them; the other, that he may think it policy, to give up one half of his character to save the other, when the whole may be blamable: by this means, silencing by acknowledgment the objections he cannot answer; which may give him the praise of ingenuousness, when he can obtain no other, and when the challenged proof might bring out, upon discussion, other evils. These, you will allow, are severe constructions; but every thing his enemies say of him cannot be false.
I will proceed by-and-by.
Sometimes we have both thought him one of the most undesigning merely witty men we ever knew; at other times one of the deepest creatures we ever conversed with. So that when in one visit we have imagined we fathomed him, in the next he has made us ready to give him up as impenetrable. This impenetrableness, my dear, is to be put among the shades in his character. Yet, upon the whole, you have been so far of his party, that you have contested that his principal fault is over-frankness, and too much regardlessness of appearances, and that he is too giddy to be very artful: you would have it, that at the time he says any thing good, he means what he speaks; that his variableness and levity are constitutional, owing to sound health, and to a soul and body [that was your observation] fitted for and pleased with each other. And hence you concluded, that could this consentaneousness [as you call it] of corporal and animal faculties be pointed by discretion; that is to say, could his vivacity be confined within the pale of but moral obligations, he would be far from being rejectable as a companion for life.
But I used then to say, and I still am of opinion, that he wants a heart: and if he does, he wants every thing. A wrong head may be convinced, may have a right turn given it: but who is able to give a heart, if a heart be wanting? Divine Grace, working a miracle, or next to a miracle, can only change a bad heart. Should not one fly the man who is but suspected of such a one? What, O what, do parents do, when they endeavour to force a child's inclination, but make her think better than otherwise she would think of a man obnoxious to themselves, and perhaps whose character will not stand examination?
I have said, that I think Mr. Lovelace a vindictive man: upon my word, I have sometimes doubted, whether his perseverance in his addresses to me has not been the more obstinate, since he has found himself so disagreeable to my friends. From that time I verily think he has been the more fervent in them; yet courts them not, but sets them at defiance. For this indeed he pleads disinterestedness [I am sure he cannot politeness]; and the more plausibly, as he is apprized of the ability they have to make it worth his while to court them. 'Tis true he has declared, and with too much reason, (or there would be no bearing him,) that the lowest submissions on his part would not be accepted; and to oblige me, has offered to seek a reconciliation with them, if I would give him hope of success.
As to his behaviour at church, the Sunday before last, I lay no stress upon that, because I doubt there was too much outward pride in his intentional humility, or Shorey, who is not his enemy, could not have mistaken it.
I do not think him so deeply learned in human nature, or in ethics, as some have thought him. Don't you remember how he stared at the following trite observations, which every moralist could have furnished him with? Complaining as he did, in a half-menacing strain, of the obloquies raised against him—'That if he were innocent, he should despise the obloquy: if not, revenge would not wipe off his guilt.' 'That nobody ever thought of turning a sword into a sponge!' 'That it was in his own power by reformation of an error laid to his charge by an enemy, to make that enemy one of his best friends; and (which was the noblest revenge in the world) against his will; since an enemy would not wish him to be without the faults he taxed him with.'
But the intention, he said, was the wound.
How so, I asked him, when that cannot wound without the application? 'That the adversary only held the sword: he himself pointed it to his breast:—And why should he mortally resent that malice, which he might be the better for as long as he lived?'—What could be the reading he has been said to be master of, to wonder, as he did, at these observations?
But, indeed, he must take pleasure in revenge; and yet holds others to be inexcusable for the same fault. He is not, however, the only one who can see how truly blamable those errors are in another, which they hardly think such in themselves.
From these considerations, from these over-balances, it was, that I said, in a former, that I would not be in love with this man for the world: and it was going further than prudence would warrant, when I was for compounding with you, by the words conditional liking, which you so humourously rally.
Well but, methinks you say, what is all this to the purpose? This is still but reasoning: but, if you are in love, you are: and love, like the vapours, is the deeper rooted for having no sufficient cause assignable for its hold. And so you call upon me again to have no reserves, and so-forth.
Why then, my dear, if you will have it, I think, that, with all his preponderating faults, I like him better than I ever thought I should like him; and, those faults considered, better perhaps than I ought to like him. And I believe, it is possible for the persecution I labour under to induce me to like him still more—especially while I can recollect to his advantage our last interview, and as every day produces stronger instances of tyranny, I will call it, on the other side.—In a word, I will frankly own (since you cannot think any thing I say too explicit) that were he now but a moral man, I would prefer him to all the men I ever saw.
So that this is but conditional liking still, you'll say: nor, I hope, is it more. I never was in love as it is called; and whether this be it, or not, I must submit to you. But will venture to think it, if it be, no such mighty monarch, no such unconquerable power, as I have heard it represented; and it must have met with greater encouragement than I think I have given it, to be absolutely unconquerable—since I am persuaded, that I could yet, without a throb, most willingly give up the one man to get rid of the other.
But now to be a little more serious with you: if, my dear, my particularly-unhappy situation had driven (or led me, if you please) into a liking of the man; and if that liking had, in your opinion, inclined me to love him, should you, whose mind is susceptible of the most friendly impressions, who have such high notions of the delicacy which ought to be observed by our sex in these matters, and who actually do enter so deeply into the distresses of one you love—should you have pushed so far that unhappy friend on so very nice a subject?—Especially, when I aimed not (as you could prove by fifty instances, it seems) to guard against being found out. Had you rallied me by word of mouth in the manner you do, it might have been more in character; especially, if your friend's distresses had been surmounted, and if she had affected prudish airs in revolving the subject: but to sit down to write it, as methinks I see you, with a gladdened eye, and with all the archness of exultation—indeed, my dear, (and I take notice of it, rather for the sake of your own generosity, than for my sake, for, as I have said, I love your raillery,) it is not so very pretty; the delicacy of the subject, and the delicacy of your own mind, considered.
I lay down my pen here, that you may consider of it a little, if you please.
I resume, to give you my opinion of the force which figure or person ought to have upon our sex: and this I shall do both generally as to the other sex, and particularly as to this man; whence you will be able to collect how far my friends are in the right, or in the wrong, when they attribute a good deal of prejudice in favour of one man, and in disfavour of the other, on the score of figure. But, first, let me observe, that they see abundant reason, on comparing Mr. Lovelace and Mr. Solmes together, to believe that this may be a consideration with me; and therefore they believe it is.
There is certainly something very plausible and attractive, as well as creditable to a woman's choice, in figure. It gives a favourable impression at first sight, in which we wish to be confirmed: and if, upon further acquaintance, we find reason to be so, we are pleased with our judgment, and like the person the better, for having given us cause to compliment our own sagacity, in our first-sighted impressions. But, nevertheless, it has been generally a rule with me, to suspect a fine figure, both in man and woman; and I have had a good deal of reason to approve my rule;—with regard to men especially, who ought to value themselves rather upon their intellectual than personal qualities. For, as to our sex, if a fine woman should be led by the opinion of the world, to be vain and conceited upon her form and features; and that to such a degree, as to have neglected the more material and more durable recommendations, the world will be ready to excuse her; since a pretty fool, in all she says, and in all she does, will please, we know not why.
But who would grudge this pretty fool her short day! Since, with her summer's sun, when her butterfly flutters are over, and the winter of age and furrows arrives, she will feel the just effects of having neglected to cultivate her better faculties: for then, lie another Helen, she will be unable to bear the reflection even of her own glass, and being sunk into the insignificance of a mere old woman, she will be entitled to the contempts which follow that character. While the discreet matron, who carries up [we will not, in such a one's case, say down] into advanced life, the ever-amiable character of virtuous prudence and useful experience, finds solid veneration take place of airy admiration, and more than supply the want of it.
But for a man to be vain of his person, how effeminate! If such a one happens to have genius, it seldom strikes deep into intellectual subjects. His outside usually runs away with him. To adorn, and perhaps, intending to adorn, to render ridiculous that person, takes up all his attention. All he does is personal; that is to say, for himself: all he admires, is himself: and in spite of the correction of the stage, which so often and so justly exposes a coxcomb, he usually dwindles down, and sinks into that character; and, of consequence, becomes the scorn of one sex, and the jest of the other.
This is generally the case of your fine figures of men, and of those who value themselves on dress and outward appearance: whence it is, that I repeat, that mere person in a man is a despicable consideration. But if a man, besides figure, has learning, and such talents as would have distinguished him, whatever were his form, then indeed person is an addition: and if he has not run too egregiously into self-admiration, and if he has preserved his morals, he is truly a valuable being.
Mr. Lovelace has certainly taste; and, as far as I am able to determine, he has judgment in most of the politer arts. But although he has a humourous way of carrying it off, yet one may see that he values himself not a little, both on his person and his parts, and even upon his dress; and yet he has so happy an ease in the latter, that it seems to be the least part of his study. And as to the former, I should hold myself inexcusable, if I were to add to his vanity by shewing the least regard for what is too evidently so much his.
And now, my dear, let me ask you, Have I come up to your expectation? If I have not, when my mind is more at ease, I will endeavour to please you better. For, methinks, my sentences drag, my style creeps, my imagination is sunk, my spirits serve me not, only to tell you, that whether I have more or less, I am wholly devoted to the commands of my dear Miss Howe.
P.S. The insolent Betty Barnes has just now fired me anew, by reporting to me the following expressions of the hideous creature, Solmes—'That he is sure of the coy girl; and that with little labour to himself. That be I ever so averse to him beforehand, he can depend upon my principles; and it will be a pleasure to him to see by what pretty degrees I shall come to.' [Horrid wretch!] 'That it was Sir Oliver's observation, who knew the world perfectly well, that fear was a better security than love, for a woman's good behaviour to her husband; although, for his part, to such a fine creature [truly] he would try what love would do, for a few weeks at least; being unwilling to believe what the old knight used to aver, that fondness spoils more wives than it makes good.'
What think you, my dear, of such a wretch as this! tutored, too, by that old surly misogynist, as he was deemed, Sir Oliver?—
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE TUESDAY, MARCH 21.
How willingly would my dear mother shew kindness to me, were she permitted! None of this persecution should I labour under, I am sure, if that regard were paid to her prudence and fine understanding, which they so well deserve. Whether owing to her, or to my aunt, or to both, that a new trial was to be made upon me, I cannot tell, but this morning her Shorey delivered into my hand the following condescending letter.
MY DEAR GIRL,
For so I must still call you; since dear you may be to me, in every sense of the word—we have taken into particular consideration some hints that fell yesterday from your good Norton, as if we had not, at Mr. Solmes's first application, treated you with that condescension, wherewith we have in all other instances treated you. If it even had been so, my dear, you were not excusable to be wanting in your part, and to set yourself to oppose your father's will in a point which he had entered too far, to recede with honour. But all yet may be well. On your single will, my child, depends all our happiness.
Your father permits me to tell you, that if you now at last comply with his expectations, all past disobligations shall be buried in oblivion, as if they had never been: but withal, that this is the last time that that grace will be offered you.
I hinted to you, you must remember,* that patterns of the richest silks were sent for. They are come. And as they are come, your father, to shew how much he is determined, will have me send them up to you. I could have wished they might not have accompanied this letter, but there is not great matter in that. I must tell you, that your delicacy is not quite so much regarded as I had once thought it deserved to be.
* See Letter XX.
These are the newest, as well as richest, that we could procure; answerable to our situation in the world; answerable to the fortune, additional to your grandfather's estate, designed you; and to the noble settlements agreed upon.
Your father intends you six suits (three of them dressed suits) at his own expense. You have an entire new suit; and one besides, which I think you never wore but twice. As the new suit is rich, if you choose to make that one of the six, your father will present you with an hundred guineas in lieu.
Mr. Solmes intends to present you with a set of jewels. As you have your grandmother's and your own, if you choose to have the former new set, and to make them serve, his present will be made in money; a very round sum—which will be given in full property to yourself; besides a fine annual allowance for pin-money, as it is called. So that your objection against the spirit of a man you think worse of than it deserves, will have no weight; but you will be more independent than a wife of less discretion than we attribute to you, perhaps ought to be. You know full well, that I, who first and last brought a still larger fortune into the family than you will carry to Mr. Solmes, had not a provision made me of near this that we have made for you.—Where people marry to their liking, terms are the least things stood upon—yet should I be sorry if you cannot (to oblige us all) overcome a dislike.
Wonder not, Clary, that I write to you thus plainly and freely upon this subject. Your behaviour hitherto has been such, that we have had no opportunity of entering minutely into the subject with you. Yet, after all that has passed between you and me in conversation, and between you and your uncles by letter, you have no room to doubt what is to be the consequence.—Either, child, we must give up our authority, or you your humour. You cannot expect the one. We have all the reason in the world to expect the other. You know I have told you more than once, that you must resolve to have Mr. Solmes, or never to be looked upon as our child.
The draught of the settlement you may see whenever you will. We think there can be no room for objection to any of the articles. There is still more in them in our family's favour, than was stipulated at first, when your aunt talked of them to you. More so, indeed, than we could have asked. If, upon perusal of them, you think any alteration necessary, it shall be made.—Do, my dear girl, send to me within this day or two, or rather ask me, for the perusal of them.
As a certain person's appearance at church so lately, and what he gives out every where, makes us extremely uneasy, and as that uneasiness will continue while you are single, you must not wonder that a short day is intended. This day fortnight we design it to be, if you have no objection to make that I shall approve of. But if you determine as we would have you, and signify it to us, we shall not stand with you for a week or so.
Your sightlines of person may perhaps make some think this alliance disparaging. But I hope you will not put such a personal value upon yourself: if you do, it will indeed be the less wonder that person should weigh with you (however weak the consideration!) in another man.
Thus we parents, in justice, ought to judge: that our two daughters are equally dear and valuable to us: if so, why should Clarissa think that a disparagement, which Arabella would not (nor we for her) have thought any, had the address been made to her?—You will know what I mean by this, without my explaining myself farther.
Signify to us, now, therefore, your compliance with our wishes. And then there is an end of your confinement. An act of oblivion, as I may call it, shall pass upon all your former refractoriness: and you will once more make us happy in you, and in one another. You may, in this case, directly come down to your father and me, in his study; where we will give you our opinions of the patterns, with our hearty forgiveness and blessings.
Come, be a good child, as you used to be, my Clarissa. I have (notwithstanding your past behaviour, and the hopelessness which some have expressed in your compliance) undertaken this one time more for you. Discredit not my hopes, my dear girl. I have promised never more to interfere between your father and you, if this my most earnest application succeed not. I expect you down, love. Your father expects you down. But be sure don't let him see any thing uncheerful in your compliance. If you come, I will clasp you to my fond heart, with as much pleasure as ever I pressed you to it in my whole life. You don't know what I have suffered within these few weeks past; nor ever will be able to guess, till you come to be in my situation; which is that of a fond and indulgent mother, praying night and day, and struggling to preserve, against the attempts of more ungovernable spirits, the peace and union of her family.
But you know the terms. Come not near us, if you have resolve to be undutiful: but this, after what I have written, I hope you cannot be.
If you come directly, and, as I have said, cheerfully, as if your heart were in your duty, (and you told me it was free, you know,) I shall then, as I said, give you the most tender proofs how much I am
Your truly affectionate Mother.
Think for me, my dearest friend, how I must be affected by this letter; the contents of it is so surprisingly terrifying, yet so sweetly urged!—O why, cried I to myself, am I obliged to undergo this severe conflict between a command that I cannot obey, and language so condescendingly moving!—Could I have been sure of being struck dead at the alter before the ceremony had given the man I hate a title to my vows, I think I could have submitted to having been led to it. But to think of living with and living for a man one abhors, what a sad thing is that!
And then, how could the glare of habit and ornament be supposed any inducement to one, who has always held, that the principal view of a good wife in the adorning of her person, ought to be, to preserve the affection of her husband, and to do credit to his choice; and that she should be even fearful of attracting the eyes of others?—In this view, must not the very richness of the patterns add to my disgusts?—Great encouragement, indeed, to think of adorning one's self to be the wife of Mr. Solmes!
Upon the whole, it was not possible for me to go down upon the prescribed condition. Do you think it was?—And to write, if my letter would have been read, what could I write that would be admitted, and after what I had written and said to so little effect?
I walked backward and forward. I threw down with disdain the patterns. Now to my closet retired I; then quitting it, threw myself upon the settee; then upon this chair, then upon that; then into one window, then into another—I knew not what to do!—And while I was in this suspense, having again taken up the letter to re-peruse it, Betty came in, reminding me, by order, that my papa and mamma waited for me in my father's study.
Tell my mamma, said I, that I beg the favour of seeing her here for one moment, or to permit me to attend her any where by herself.
I listened at the stairs-head—You see, my dear, how it is, cried my father, very angrily: all your condescension (as your indulgence heretofore) is thrown away. You blame your son's violence, as you call it [I had some pleasure in hearing this]; but nothing else will do with her. You shall not see her alone. Is my presence an exception to the bold creature?
Tell her, said my mother to Betty, she knows upon what terms she may come down to us. Nor will I see her upon any other.
The maid brought me this answer. I had recourse to my pen and ink; but I trembled so, that I could not write, nor knew what to say, had I steadier fingers. At last Betty brought me these lines from my father.
UNDUTIFUL AND PERVERSE CLARISSA,
No condescension, I see, will move you. Your mother shall not see you; nor will I. Prepare however to obey. You know our pleasure. Your uncle Antony, your brother, and your sister, and your favourite Mrs. Norton, shall see the ceremony performed privately at your uncle's chapel. And when Mr. Solmes can introduce you to us, in the temper we wish to behold you in, we may perhaps forgive his wife, although we never can, in any other character, our perverse daughter. As it will be so privately performed, clothes and equipage may be provided for afterwards. So prepare to go to your uncle's for an early day in next week. We will not see you till all is over: and we will have it over the sooner, in order to shorten the time of your deserved confinement, and our own trouble in contending with such a rebel, as you have been of late. I will hear no pleas, I will receive no letter, nor expostulation. Nor shall you hear from me any more till you have changed your name to my liking. This from
Your incensed Father.
If this resolution be adhered to, then will my father never see me more!—For I will never be the wife of that Solmes—I will die first—!
He, this Solmes, came hither soon after I had received my father's letter. He sent up to beg leave to wait upon me—I wonder at his assurance—!
I said to Betty, who brought me this message, let him restore an unhappy creature to her father and mother, and then I may hear what he has to say. But, if my friends will not see me on his account, I will not see him upon his own.
I hope, Miss, said Betty, you will not send me down with this answer. He is with you papa and mamma.
I am driven to despair, said I. I cannot be used worse. I will not see him.
Down she went with my answer. She pretended, it seems, to be loth to repeat it: so was commanded out of her affected reserves, and gave it in its full force.
O how I heard my father storm!
They were altogether, it seems, in his study. My brother was for having me turned out of the house that moment, to Lovelace, and my evil destiny. My mother was pleased to put in a gentle word for me: I know not what it was: but thus she was answered—My dear, this is the most provoking thing in the world in a woman of your good sense!—To love a rebel, as well as if she were dutiful. What encouragement for duty is this?—Have I not loved her as well as ever you did? And why am I changed! Would to the Lord, your sex knew how to distinguish! It is plain, that she relies upon her power over you. The fond mother ever made a hardened child!
She was pleased, however, to blame Betty, as the wench owned, for giving my answer its full force. But my father praised her for it.
The wench says, that he would have come up in his wrath, at my refusing to see Mr. Solmes, had not my brother and sister prevailed upon him to the contrary.
I wish he had!—And, were it not for his own sake, that he had killed me!
Mr. Solmes condescended [I am mightily obliged to him truly!] to plead for me.
They are all in tumults! How it will end, I know not—I am quite weary of life—So happy, till within these few weeks!—So miserable now!
Well, indeed, might my mother say, that I should have severe trials.*
* See Letter XXV.
P.S. The idiot [such a one am I treated like!] is begged, as I may say, by my brother and sister. They have desired, that I may be consigned over entirely to their management. If it be granted, [it is granted, on my father's part, I understand, but not yet on my mother's,] what cruelty may I not expect from their envy, jealousy, and ill-will!—I shall soon see, by its effects, if I am to be so consigned. This is a written intimation privately dropt in my wood-house walk, by my cousin Dolly Hervey. The dear girl longs to see me, she tells me: but is forbidden till she see me as Mrs. Solmes, or as consenting to be his. I will take example by their perseverance!—Indeed I will—!
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
An angry dialogue, a scolding-bout rather, has passed between my sister and me. Did you think I could scold, my dear?
She was sent up to me, upon my refusal to see Mr. Solmes—let loose upon me, I think!—No intention on their parts to conciliate! It seems evident that I am given up to my brother and her, by general consent.
I will do justice to every thing she said against me, which carried any force with it. As I ask for your approbation or disapprobation of my conduct, upon the facts I lay before you, I should think it the sign of a very bad cause, if I endeavoured to mislead my judge.
She began with representing to me the danger I had been in, had my father come up, as he would have done had he not been hindered—by Mr. Solmes, among the rest. She reflected upon my Norton, as if she encouraged me in my perverseness. She ridiculed me for my supposed esteem for Mr. Lovelace—was surprised that the witty, the prudent, nay, the dutiful and pi—ous [so she sneeringly pronounced the word] Clarissa Harlowe, should be so strangely fond of a profligate man, that her parents were forced to lock her up, in order to hinder her from running into his arms. 'Let me ask you, my dear, said she, how you now keep your account of the disposition of your time? How many hours in the twenty-four do you devote to your needle? How many to your prayers? How many to letter-writing? And how many to love?—I doubt, I doubt, my little dear, was her arch expression, the latter article is like Aaron's rod, and swallows up the rest!—Tell me; is it not so?'
To these I answered, That it was a double mortification to me to owe my safety from the effects of my father's indignation to a man I could never thank for any thing. I vindicated the good Mrs. Norton with a warmth that was due to her merit. With equal warmth I resented her reflections upon me on Mr. Lovelace's account. As to the disposition of my time in the twenty-four hours, I told her it would better have become her to pity a sister in distress, than to exult over her—especially, when I could too justly attribute to the disposition of some of her wakeful hours no small part of that distress.
She raved extremely at this last hint: but reminded me of the gentle treatment of all my friends, my mother's in particular, before it came to this. She said, that I had discovered a spirit they never had expected: that, if they had thought me such a championess, they would hardly have ventured to engage with me: but that now, the short and the long of it was, that the matter had gone too far to be given up: that it was become a contention between duty and willfulness; whether a parent's authority were to yield to a daughter's obstinacy, or the contrary: that I must therefore bend or break, that was all, child.
I told her, that I wished the subject were of such a nature, that I could return her pleasantry with equal lightness of heart: but that, if Mr. Solmes had such merit in every body's eyes, in hers, particularly, why might he not be a brother to me, rather than a husband?
O child, says she, methinks you are as pleasant to the full as I am: I begin to have some hopes of you now. But do you think I will rob my sister of her humble servant? Had he first addressed himself to me, proceeded she, something might have been said: but to take my younger sister's refusal! No, no, child; it is not come to that neither! Besides, that would be to leave the door open in your heart for you know who, child; and we would fain bar him out, if possible. In short [and then she changed both her tone and her looks] had I been as forward as somebody, to throw myself into the arms of one of the greatest profligates in England, who had endeavoured to support his claim to me through the blood of my brother, then might all my family join together to save me from such a wretch, and to marry me as fast as they could, to some worthy man, who might opportunely offer himself. And now, Clary, all's out, and make the most of it.
Did not this deserve a severe return? Do, say it did, to justify my reply.—Alas! for my poor sister! said I—The man was not always so great a profligate. How true is the observation, That unrequited love turns to deepest hate!
I thought she would beat me. But I proceeded—I have heard often of my brother's danger, and my brother's murderer. When so little ceremony is made with me, why should I not speak out?—Did he not seek to kill the other, if he could have done it? Would my brother have given Lovelace his life, had it been in his power?—The aggressor should not complain.—And, as to opportune offers, would to Heaven some one had offered opportunely to somebody! It is not my fault, Bella, the opportune gentleman don't come!
Could you, my dear, have shewn more spirit? I expected to feel the weight of her hand. She did come up to me, with it held up: then, speechless with passion, ran half way down the stairs, and came up again.
When she could speak—God give me patience with you!
Amen, said I: but you see, Bella, how ill you bear the retort you provoke. Will you forgive me; and let me find a sister in you, as I am sorry, if you had reason to think me unsisterly in what I have said?