LETTER 114: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE

Miss Clarissa Harlowe, To Miss Howe . 

My plaindealing with him, on seeing him again, and the free dislike I expressed to his ways, his manners, and his contrivances, as well as to his speeches, have obliged him to recollect himself a little. He will have it, that the menaces which he threw out just now against my brother and Mr. Solmes, are only the effect of an unmeaning pleasantry. He has too great a stake in his country, he says, to be guilty of such enterprizes, as should lay him under a necessity of quitting it for ever. Twenty things, particularly, he says, he has suffer’d Joseph Leman to tell of him, that were not and could not be true, in order to make himself formidable in some peoples eyes, and this purely with a view to prevent mischief. He is unhappy, as far as he knows, in a quick invention, in hitting readily upon expedients; and many things are reported of him which he never said, and many which he never did, and others which he has only talked of (as just now) and which he has forgot as soon as the words have passed his lips.

 

This may be so, in part, my dear. No one man so young could be so wicked as he has been reported to be. But such a man at the head of such wretches as he is said to have at his beck, all men of fortune and fearlesness, and capable of such enterprizes as I have unhappily sound him capable of, what is not to be apprehended from him!

 

His carelessness about his character is one of his excuses: A very bad one. What hope can a woman have of a man, who values not his reputation? — These gay wretches may, in mix’d conversation, divert for an hour, or so: —But the man of probity, the man of virtue, is the man that is to be the partner for life. What woman, who could help it, would submit it to the courtesy of a wretch, who avows a disregard to all moral sanctions, whether he will perform his part of the matrimonial obligation, and treat her with tolerable politeness?

 

With these notions, and with these reflections, to be thrown upon such a man myself—Would to Heaven —But what avail wishes now? —To whom can I fly, if I would fly from him?

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