LETTER 122 (MISSING): 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, and which at the same time answered my description.

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

I told him, that if Mrs. Sorlings thought me not an incumbrance, I would be willing to stay here 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 should 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, thro’ you—And shall I 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 enquiries, 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 inexcuseable step. It is not to my credit to let even them know, how I have been frighted out of myself : And yet perhaps they would hold me unworthy of their alliance, if they were to think my flight a voluntary one. O 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.

 

· Ah ! this man, my dear! We have had warmer dialogues than ever yet we have had. At fair argument, I find I need not fear him ( a )  But he is such a wild, such an ungovernable creature [ He reformed!] that I am half-afraid of him.

 

·He again, on my declaring myself uneasy at his stay with me here, proposed that I would put myself into Lady Betty’s protection; assuring me that he thought he could not leave me at Mrs. Sorling’s,

with safety to myself. And upon my declining to do that, for the reasons I gave you in my last ( a ), he urged me to make a demand of my Estate.

 

·He knew it, I told him, to be my resolution not to litigate with my Father.

 

·Nor would he put me upon it, he replied, but as the last thing. But if my spirit would not permit me to be obliged, as I called it, to any-body; and yet if my relations would refuse me my own; he knew not how I could keep up that spirit, without being put to inconveniences, which would give him infinite concern—Unless—unless—unless, he said, hesitating, as if afraid to speak out—Unless I would take the only method I could take, to obtain the possession of my own.

 

·What is that, Sir?

 

·Sure the man saw by my looks, when he came with his creeping Unless’s, that I guessed what he meant.

 

·Ah! Madam, can you be a loss to know what that method is? —They will not dispute with a man that right which they would contest withyou .

 

·Why said he, with a man, instead of with him ? Yet he looked as if he wanted to be encouraged to say more.

 

·So, Sir, you would have me employ a Lawyer, would you, notwithstanding what I have ever declared, as to litigating with my Father?

 

·No, I would not, my dearest Creature, snatching my hand, and pressing it with his lips—except you would make me the Lawyer.

 

·Had he said me at first, I should have been above the affectation of mentioning a Lawyer.

 

·I blushed. The man pursued not the subject so ardently, but that it was more easy as well as more natural to avoid it, than to fall into it.

 

·Would to Heaven he might, without offending!

—But I so over-awed him? —[ Over-awed him— Your ( a )notion, my dear!] And so the over-awed, bashful man went off from the subject, repeating his proposal, that I would demand my own Estate, or impower some man of the Law to demand it, if I would not [he put in] impower a happier man to demand it. But it could not be amiss, he thought, to acquaint my two Trustees, that I intended to assume it.

 

·I should know better what to do, I told him, when he was at a distance from me, and known to be so. I suppose, Sir, that if my Father propose my return, and engage never to mention Solmes to me, nor any other man, but by my consent, and I agree upon that condition to think no more of you, you will acquiesce.

 

·I was willing to try whether he had the regard to all my previous declarations, which he pretended to have to some of them.

 

·He was struck all of a heap.

 

·What say you, Mr. Lovelace? You know, all you mean is for my good. Surely I am my own mistress: Surely I need not ask your leave to make what terms I please for myself, so long as I break none with you ?

 

·He hemm’d twice or thrice. —Why, Madam, Why, Madam, I cannot say—Then pausing—and rising from his seat, with petulance; I see plainly enough, said he, the reason why none of my proposals can be accepted: At last I am to be a sacrifice to your Reconciliation with your implacable family.

 

·It has always been your respectful way, Mr. Lovelace, to treat my family in this free manner. But pray, Sir, when you call others implacable, see that you deserve not the same censure yourself .

 

·He must needs say, there was no love lost between some of my family and him; but he had not deserved of them what they had of him .

·Yourself being judge, I suppose, Sir?

 

·All the world, you yourself, Madam, being judge.

 

·Then, Sir, let me tell you, had you been less upon your defiances, they would not have been irritated so much against you. But nobody ever heard, that avowed despite to the Relations of a person was a proper courtship either to that person, or to her friends.

 

·Well, Madam, all that I know, is, that their malice against me is such, that, if you determine to sacrifice me, you may be reconciled when you please.

 

·And all that I know, Sir, is, that if I do give my Father the power of a negative, and he will be contented with that, it will be but my duty to give it him; and if I preserve one to myself, I shall break thro’ no obligation to you .

 

·Your duty to your capricious Brother, not to your Father, you mean, Madam.

 

·If the dispute lay between my Brother and me at first, surely, Sir, a Father may chuse which party he will take.

 

·He may, Madam—But that exempts him not from blame for all that, if he take the wrong—

 

·Different people will judge differently, Mr. Lovelace, of the right and the wrong. You judge as you please. Shall not others as they please? And who has a right to controul a Father’s judgment in his own family, and in relation to his own child?

 

·I know, Madam, there is no arguing with you. But nevertheless I had hoped to have made myself some little merit with you, so as that I might not have been the preliminary sacrifice to a Reconciliation.

 

·Your hopes, Sir, had been better grounded, if you had had my consent to my abandoning of my Father’s house—

 

·Always, Madam, and for ever, to be reminded of the choice you would have made of that damn’d Solmes—rather than—

 

·Not so hasty! Not so rash, Mr. Lovelace! I am convinced, that there was no intention to marry me to that Solmes on Wednesday.

 

·So I am told they now give out, in order to justify themselves at your expence. Every-body living, Madam, is obliged to you for your kind thoughts, but I.

 

·Excuse me, good Mr. Lovelace [waving my hand, and bowing] that I am willing to think the best of my Father.

 

·Charming Creature! said he, with what a bewitching air is that said! —And with a vehemence in his manner, would have snatched my hand. But I withdrew it, being much offended with him.

 

·I think, Madam, my sufferings for your sake might have entitled me to some favour.

 

· My sufferings, Sir, for your impetuous temper, set against your sufferings for my sake, I humbly conceive, leave me very little your debtor.

 

·Lord! Madam, [assuming a drolling air] What have you suffered! —Nothing but what you can easily forgive. You have been only made a prisoner in your Father’s house, by the way of doing credit to your judgment! —You have only had an innocent and faithful servant turned out of your service, because you loved her—You have only had your Sister’s confident servant set over you, with leave to teaze and affront you!—

 

·Very well, Sir!

 

·You have only had an insolent Brother take upon him to treat you like a slave, and as insolent a Sister to undermine you in every-body’s favour, on pretence to keep you out of hands, which, if as vile as they vilely report, are not, however, half so vile and cruel as their own!

 

·Go on, Sir, if you please!

 

·You have only been persecuted, in order to oblige you to have a sordid fellow, whom you have professed

to hate, and whom every-body despises! The Licence has been only got! The Parson has only been had in readiness! The day, a near, avery near day, has been only fixed! And you were only to be searched for your correspondencies, and still closer confined, till the day came, in order to deprive you of all means of escaping the snare laid for you! —But all This you can forgive! You can wish you had stood all This; inevitable as the compulsion must have been! —And the man who, at the hazard of his life, has delivered you from all these mortifications, is the only person you cannot forgive!

 

·Can’t you go on, Sir? You see I have patience to hear you. Can’t you go on, Sir?

 

·I can, Madam, with my sufferings: Which I confess ought not to be mentioned, were I at last to be rewarded in the manner I hoped.

 

· Your sufferings then, if you please, Sir?

 

·—Affrontingly forbidden your Father’s house, after encouragement given, without any reasons they knew not before, to justify the prohibition: Forced upon a rencounter I wished to avoid, the first I ever, so provoked, wished to avoid: And that, because the wretch was your Brother!

·Wretch, Sir! —And my Brother! —This could be from no man breathing, but from him before me!

·Pardon me, Madam! —But oh! how unworthy to be your Brother! —The quarrel grafted upon an old one, when at College; he universally known to be the aggressor; and revived for views equally sordid, and injurious both to yourself and me—Giving life to him, who would have taken away mine!

·Your generosity THIS, Sir; not your sufferings: A little more of your sufferings, if you please! —I hope you do not repent, that you did not murder my Brother!

·My private life hunted into! My morals decried! Some of the accusers not unfaulty!

 

·That’s an aspersion, Sir!

·Spies set upon my conduct! One hired to bribe my own servant’s fidelity; perhaps to have poisoned me at last, if the honest fellow had not—

· Facts, Mr. Lovelace! —Do you want facts in the display of your sufferings? —None of your Perhaps’s, I beseech you!

·Menaces every day, and defiances, put into every one’s mouth against me! Forced to creep about in disguises—and to watch all hours —

·And in all weathers, I suppose, Sir—That I remember was once your grievance! — In all weathers, Sir ( a ) 91 ! And all these hardships arising from yourself, not imposed by me.

·—Like a thief, or an eves-dropper, proceeded he: And yet neither by birth nor alliances unworthy of their relation, whatever I may be and am of their admirable Daughter: Of whom they, every one of them, are at least as unworthy! —These, Madam, I call sufferings: Justly call so; if at last I am to be sacrificed to an imperfect Reconciliation— Imperfect, I say: For can you expect to live so much as tolerably, under the same roof, after all that is passed, with that Brother and Sister?

·O Sir, Sir! What sufferings have yours been! And all for my sake, I warrant! —I can never reward you for them! —Never think of me more, I beseech you—How can you have patience with me? —Nothing has been owing to your own behaviour, I presume: Nothing to your defiances for defiances: Nothing to your resolution declared more than once, that you would be related to a family, which, nevertheless, you would not stoop to ask a Relation of: Nothing, in short, to courses which every-body blamed you for, you not thinking it worth your while to justify yourself. Had I not thought you used in an ungentlemanly manner, as I have heretofore told you, you had not

had my notice by pen and ink ( a ). That notice gave you a supposed security, and you generously defied my friends the more for it: And this brought upon me (perhaps not undeservedly) my Father’s displeasure; without which my Brother’s private pique, and selfish views, would have wanted a foundation to build upon: So that for all that followed of my treatment, and your redundant Only’s, I might thank you principally, as you may yourself for all your sufferings, your mighty sufferings! —And if, voluble Sir, you have founded any merit upon them, be so good as to revoke it: And look upon me, with my forfeited reputation, as the only sufferer—For what—Pray hear me out, Sir, [for he was going to speak] have you suffered in, but your pride? Your reputation could not suffer: That it was beneath you to be solicitous about. And had you not been an unmanageable man, I should not have been driven to the extremity I now every hour, as the hour passes, deplore —With this additional reflection upon myself, that I ought not to have begun, or, having begun, not continued a correspondence with one, who thought it not worth his while to clear his own character for my sake, or to submit to my Father for his own, in a point wherein every Father ought to have an option.—

 

·Darkness, light; Light, darkness; by my Soul! —Just as you please to have it. O Charmer of my heart! snatching my hand, and pressing it between both his, to his lips, in a strange wild way, Take me, take me to yourself: Mould me as you please: I am wax in your hands: Give me your own impression; and seal me for ever yours—We were born for each other! —You to make me happy, and save a soul—I am all error, all crime. I see what I ought to have done. But do you think, Madam, I can willingly consent to be sacrificed to a partial Reconciliation,

in which I shall be so great, so irreparable a sufferer! —Any-thing but that —Include me in your terms: Prescribe to me: Promise for me as you please—Put a halter about my neck, and lead me by it, upon condition of forgiveness on that disgraceful penance, and of a prostration as servile, to your Father’s presence (your Brother absent); and I will beg his consent at his feet, and bear any-thing but spurning from him, because he is your Father. But to give you up upon cold conditions, D—n me [said the shocking wretch] if I either will, or can!

 

·These were his words, as near as I can remember them; for his behaviour was so strangely wild and fervent, that I was perfectly frighted. I thought he would have devoured my hand. I wished myself a thousand miles distant from him.

 

·I told him, I by no means approved of his violent temper: He was too boisterous a man for my liking. I saw now, by the conversation that had passed, what was his boasted regard to my Injunctions ; and should take my measures accordingly, as he should soon find. And with a half-frighted earnestness I desired him to withdraw, and leave me to myself.

 

·He obeyed; and that with extreme complaisance in his manner, but with his complexion greatly heightened, and a countenance as greatly dissatisfied.

 

·But, on recollecting all that passed, I plainly see, that he means not, if he can help it, to leave me to the liberty of refusing him; which I had nevertheless preserved a right to do; but looks upon me as his, by a strange sort of obligation, for having run away with me against my will.

 

·Yet you see he but touches upon the edges of matrimony neither. And that at a time generally, when he has either excited one’s passions or apprehensions; so that one cannot at once descend. But

surely this cannot be his design. —And yet such seemed to be his behaviour to my Sister ( a )  , when he provoked her to refuse him, and so tamely submitted, as he did, to her refusal. —But he dare not—What can one say of so various a man? —I am now again out of conceit with him. I wish I were fairly out of his power.

 

·He has sent up three times to beg admittance; in the two last, with unusual earnestness. But I have sent him word I will first finish what I am about.

 

·What to do about going from this place, I cannot tell. I could stay here with all my heart, as I have said to him: The Gentlewoman and her Daughters are desirous that I will; altho’ not very convenient for them, I believe, neither: But I see he will not leave me, while I do—So Imust remove somewhere.

 

·I have long been sick of myself: And now I am more and more so. But let me not lose your good opinion. If I do, that loss will complete the misfortunes of

                                                                                                        Your
                                                                                       Cl. Harlowe
LETTER XXVI
Sunday Night (April 16.) · I may send to you, altho’ you are forbid to write to me; may I not? —For that is not a cor-respondence (Is it?) where Letters are not answered.

·I am strangely at a loss what to think of this man. He is a perfect Proteus. I can but write according to the shape he assumes at the time. Don’t think me the changeable person, I beseech you, if in one Letter I contradict what I wrote in another; nay,

if I seem to contradict what I said in the same Letter: For he is a perfect chameleon; or rather more variable than the chameleon; for that, it is said, cannot assume the red and the white ; but this man can . And tho’ black seems to be his natural colour, yet has he taken great pains to make me think him nothing but white .

 

·But you shall judge of him, as I proceed. Only, if I any-where appear to you to be credulous, I beg you to set me right: For you are a stander-by, as you say in a former ( a ) —Would to Heaven I were not to play! For I think, after all, I am held to a desperate game.

 

·Before I could finish my last to you, he sent up twice more to beg admittance. I returned for answer, that I would see him at my own time: I would neither be invaded, nor prescribed to.

 

·Considering how we parted, and my delaying his audience, as he sometimes calls it, I expected him to be in no very good humour, when I admitted of his visit; and by what I wrote, you will conclude that I was not. Yet mine soon changed, when I saw his extreme humility at his entrance, and heard what he had to say.

 

·I have a Letter, Madam, said he, from Lady Betty Lawrance, and another from my Cousin Charlotte. But of these more by-and-by. I came now to make my humble acknowlegements to you, upon the arguments that passed between us so lately.

 

·I was silent, wondering what he was driving at.

 

·I am a most unhappy creature, proceeded he: Unhappy from a strange impatiency of spirit, which I cannot conquer. —It always brings upon me deserved humiliation. But it is more laudable to acknowlege, than to persevere when under the power of conviction.

 

·I was still silent.

 

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