LETTER 88: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE

[The preceding letter not received.]

 

Saturday Afternoon.

 

Already have I an ecstatic answer, as I may call it, to my letter.

 

‘He promises compliance in every article with my will: Approves of all I propose; particularly of the private lodging: And thinks it a happy expedient to obviate the censures of the busy and the unreflecting: And yet he hopes, that the putting myself into the protection of either of his aunts, treated as I am treated, would be far from being looked upon by any, in a disreputable light. But every thing I injoin, or resolve upon, must, he says, be right, not only with respect to my present, but future, honour; with regard to which, he hopes so to behave himself, as to be allow’d to be next to myself, more solicitious than any-body. He will only assure me, that his whole family are extremely desirous to take advantage of the persecutions I labour under, to make their court, and endear themselves, to me; by their best and most chearful services: Happy, if they can, in any measure, contribute to my present freedom, and future happiness.

 

‘He will this afternoon, he says, write to his uncle, and to both his aunts, that he is now within view of being the happiest man in the world, if it be not his own fault; since the only woman upon earth that can make him so, will be soon out of danger of being another man’s; and cannot possibly prescribe

 

any terms to him, that he shall not think it his duty to comply with.

 

‘He flatters himself now (my last letter confirming my resolution), that he can be in no apprehension of my changing my mind, unless my friends change their manner of acting by me; which he is too sure they will not. And now will all his relations, who take such a kind and generous share in his interests, glory and pride themselves in the prospects he has before him.’

 

Thus artfully does he hold me to it!—

 

‘As to fortune, he begs of me not to be solicitous on that score: That his own estate is sufficient for us both; not a nominal, but a real, two thousand pounds per annum, equivalent to some estates reputed a third more: That it never was incumbred: That he is clear of the world, both as to book and bond-debts; thanks, perhaps, to his pride, more than to his virtue. That his uncle moreover resolves to settle upon him a thousand pounds per annum on his nuptials. And this, (if he writes to his Lordship’s honour) more from motives of justice, than from those of generosity, as he ought to consider it but as an equivalent for an estate which he had got possession of, to which his [Mr. Lovelace’s] mother had better pretensions. That his Lordship also proposed to give him up either his seat in Hertfordshire, or that in Lancashire, at his own or at his wife’s option, especially if I am the person. All which it will be in my power to see done, and proper settlements drawn, before I enter into any farther engagements with him; if I will have it so.’

 

He says, ‘That I need not be under any solicitude as to apparel : All immediate occasions of That sort will be most chearfully supplied by his aunts, or his cousins Montague: As my others shall, with the greatest pride and pleasure (if I will allow him that honour), by himself.

 

‘That I shall govern him as I please, with regard to any-thing in his power towards effecting a reconciliation with my friends: A point he knows my heart is set upon.

 

‘He is afraid, that the time will hardly allow of his procuring Miss Charlotte Montague’s attendance upon me, at St. Albans, as he had proposed she should; because, he understands, she keeps her chamber, with a violent cold, and sore throat. But both she and her sister, the first moment she is able to go abroad, shall visit me at my private lodgings; and introduce me to their aunts, or their aunts to me, as I shall choose; and accompany me to town, if I please; and stay as long in it with me, as I shall think fit to stay there.

 

‘Lord M. will also, at my own time, and in my own manner, that is to say, either publicly or privately, make me a visit. And, for his own part, when he has seen me in safety, either in their protection, or in the privacy I prefer, he will leave me, and not attempt to visit me, but by my own permission.

 

‘He had thoughts once, he says, on hearing of his cousin Charlotte’s indisposition, to have engaged his cousin Patty’s attendance upon me, either at or about the neighbouring village, or at St. Albans: But, he says, she is a low-spirited, timorous girl, who would but the more perplex us.’

 

So, my dear, the enterprize requires courage and high spirits, you see! —And indeed it does! —What am I about to do!—

 

He himself, it is plain, thinks, it necessary, that I should be accompanied with one of my own Sex! — He might, at least, have proposed the woman of one of the Ladies of his family. —Lord bless me! —What am I about to do!—

 

After all, far as I have gone, I know not but I may still recede: And if I do, a mortal quarrel, I

 

suppose, will ensue. —And what if it does? —Could there be any way to escape this Solmes, a breach with Lovelace might make way for the Single Life [so much my preferable wish!] to take place: And then I would defy the Sex. For I see nothing but trouble and vexation that they bring upon ours: And when once enter’d, one is obliged to go on with them, treading, with tender feet, upon thorns, and sharper thorns, to the end of a painful journey.

 

What to do, I know not. The more I think, the more I am embarrass’d! —And the stronger will be my doubts, as the appointed time draws nearer.

 

But I will go down, and take a little turn in the garden; and deposite This, and his letters, all but the two last; which I will inclose in my next, if I have opportunity to write another.

 

Mean time, my dear friend—But what can I desire you to pray for? —Adieu then! —Let me only say,—Adieu!—

This entry was posted in from Clarissa Harlowe, to Anna Howe and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *