LETTER 121: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE

 

Saturday evening

MR Lovelace has seen divers apartments at Windsor; but not one, he says, that he thought fit for me, or in any manner answering my description.

 

He had been very solicitous to keep to the letter of my instructions: which looks well: and the better I liked him, as, although he proposed that town, he came back dissuading me from it: for he said that, in his journey from thence, he had thought Windsor, although of his own proposal, a wrong choice; because I coveted privacy and that was a place generally visited and admired.

 

I told him that if Mrs Sorlings thought me not an emcumbrance, I would be willing to stay there a little longer; provided he would leave me, and go to Lord M.’s or to London, which ever he thought best.

 

He hoped, he said, that he might suppose me absolutely safe from the insults or attempts of my brother; and therefore, if it would make me easier, he would obey, for a few days at least.

 

He again proposed to send for Hannah—I told him I designed to do so, through you: and shall beg of you, my dear, to cause the honest creature to be sent to? Your faithful Robert, I think, knows where she is. Perhaps she will be permitted to quit her place directly, by allowing a month’s wages, which I will repay her.

 

He took notice of the serious humour he found me in, and of the redness of my eyes: I had just been answering your letter; and, had he not approached me on his coming off his journey, in a very respectful manner, had he not made an unexceptionable report of his inquiries, and been so ready to go from me, at the very first word; I was prepared (notwithstanding the good terms we parted upon when he set out for Windsor) to have given him a very unwelcome reception: for the contents of your last letter had so affected me, that the moment I saw him, I beheld with indignation the seducer who had been the cause of all the evils I suffer, and have suffered.

 

He hinted to me that he had received a letter from Lady Betty, and another, as I understood him, from one of the Miss Montagues. If they take notice of me in them, I wonder that he did not acquaint me with the contents. I am afraid, my dear, that his relations are among those who think I have taken a rash and inexcusable step. It is not to my credit to let even them know how I have been frighted out of myself: and who knows but they may hold me unworthy of their alliance, if they may think my flight a voluntary one?—Oh my dear, how uneasy to us are our reflections upon every doubtful occurrence, when we know we have been prevailed upon to do a wrong thing!

 

Sunday morning

WHAT an additional concern must I have in my reflections upon Mr Lovelace’s hatred of all my relations?—He calls some of them implacable; but I am afraid that he is as implacable himself as the most inveterate of them.

 

I could not forbear, with great earnestness, to express my wishes for a reconciliation with them; and, in order to begin a treaty for that purpose, to reurge his departure from me. He gave himself high airs upon the occasion, not doubting, he said, that he was to be the preliminary sacrifice; and then he reflected in a very free manner upon my brother; nor spared my father himself.

 

So little consideration for me, my dear!—Yet it had always, as I told him, been his polite way to treat my family with contempt; wicked creature that I was, to know it, and yet to hold correspondence with him!—

 

But let me tell you, sir, said I, that whatever your violent temper and contempt of me may drive you to say of my brother, I will not hear my father spoken ill of. It is enough, surely, that I have tormented his worthy heart by my disobedience; and that his once beloved child has been spirited away from him—To have his character reflected upon, by the man who has been the cause of all, is what I will not bear.

 

He said many things in his own defence; but not one, as I told him, that could justify a daughter to hear , or a man to say , who pretended what he pretended to that daughter.

 

And then, seeing me very sincerely angry, he begged my pardon, though not in a very humble manner. But to change the subject, he took notice of the two letters he had received, one from Lady Betty Lawrance, the other from Miss Montague; and read me passages out of both.

 

Why did not the man show them to me last night? Was he afraid of giving me too much pleasure?

 

Lady Betty in hers, expresses herself in the most obliging manner, in relation to me. ‘She wishes him so to behave, as to encourage me to make him soon happy. She desires her compliments to me; and expresses her impatience to see, as her niece, so celebrated a lady (those are her high words). She shall take it for an honour, she says, to be put into a way to oblige me. She hopes I will not too long delay the ceremony; because that performed, will be to her, and to Lord M. and Lady Sarah, a sure pledge of her nephew’s merits and good behaviour.’

 

She says, ‘She was always sorry to hear of the hardships I had met with on his account. That he will be the most ungrateful of men, if he make not all up to me: and that she thinks it incumbent upon all their family to supply to me the lost favour of my own: and, for her part, nothing of that kind, she bids him assure me, shall be wanting.’

 

Her ladyship observes, ‘That the treatment he had received from my family would have been more unaccountable than it was, with such natural and accidental advantages as he had, had it not been owing to his own careless manners. But she hopes that he will convince the Harlowe family that they had thought worse of him than he had deserved; since now it was in his power to establish his character for ever: which she prays God to enable him to do, as well for his own honour as for the honour of their house’ (was the magnificent word). She concludes, with ‘desiring to be informed of our nuptials the moment they are celebrated, that she may be with the earliest in felicitating me on the happy occasion.’

 

But her ladyship gives me no direct invitation to attend her before marriage. Which I might have expected from what he had told me.

 

He then showed me part of Miss Montague’s more spritely letter, ‘congratulating him upon the honour he had obtained, of the confidence of so admirable a lady.’ Those are her words. Confidence , my dear! Nobody, indeed, as you say, will believe otherwise, were they to be told the truth: and you see that Miss Montague (and all his family, I suppose) think the step I have taken, an extraordinary one. ‘She also wishes for his speedy nuptials; and to see her new cousin at M. Hall: as do Lord M. she tells him, and her sister; and in general all the well-wishers of their family.

 

‘Whenever his happy day shall be passed, she proposes, she says, to attend me and to make one in my train to M. Hall, if his lordship shall continue so ill of the gout, as at present. But that should he get better, he will himself attend me, she is sure, and conduct me thither: and afterwards quit either of his three seats to us, till we shall be settled to our mind.’

 

This young lady says nothing in excuse for not meeting me on the road, or at St Albans, as he had made me expect she would: yet mentions her having been indisposed. He had also told me that Lord M. was ill of the gout; which Miss Montague’s letter confirms.

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 *