LETTER 124: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE

I was going on to tell him more of my mind, since the subject was introduced and treated by him so lightly; but he interrupted me—Dear, dear Madam, spare me. I am sorry that I have lived to this hour for nothing at all. But surely you could not have quitted a subject so much more agreeable, and so much more suitable, I will say, to our present situation, if you had not too cruel a pleasure in mortifying a man, who before looked up to you with a diffidence in his own merits too great to permit him to speak half his mind to you. —Be pleased but to return to the subject we were upon; and at another time I will gladly embrace correction from the only mouth in the world so qualify’d to give it.

 

You talk of reformation, sometimes, Mr. Lovelace; and in so talking acknowlege errors. But I see you can very ill bear the reproof, which perhaps you are not solicitous to avoid giving occasion for. —Far be it from me to take delight in finding fault. I should be glad for both our sakes, since my situation is what it is, that I could do nothing but praise you. But failures which affect a mind, that need not be very delicate to be affected by them, are too grating to be passed over in silence by a person, who wishes to be thought in earnest in her own duties.

 

I admire your delicacy, Madam, again interrupted he. —Altho’ I suffer by it, yet would I not have it otherwise: Indeed I would not, when I consider of it. It is an angelic delicacy, which sets you above all our sex, and even above your own. It is natural to you, Madam; so you may not think it extraordinary —But there is nothing like it on earth, said the flatterer —[What company has he kept?]

 

But let us return to the former subject—You were so good as to ask me, what I would advise you to do —I want but to make you easy, I want but to see you fixed to your liking—Your faithful Hannah with you. —Your reconciliation with those with whom you wish to be reconciled, set on foot, and in a train.

 

And now let me mention to you different proposals; in hopes that some one of them may be acceptable to you.

I will go to Mrs. Howe, or to Miss Howe, or to whomsoever you would have me go, and endeavour to prevail upon them to receive you.

 

Do you incline to go to Florence to your cousin Morden? —I will furnish you with the opportunity of going thither, either by sea to Leghorn, or by land through France. —Perhaps I may be able to procure one of the ladies of my family to attend you. Either Charlotte or Patty would rejoice in such an opportunity of seeing France and Italy. As for myself, I will only be your escorte; in disguise, if you will have it so, even in your livery, that your punctilio may not receive offence by my attendance.

 

I told him, I would consider of all he had said. But that I hoped for a line or two from my aunt Hervey, if not from my sister, to both of whom I had written; which, if I were to be so favoured, might help to determine me. Mean time, if he would withdraw, I would particularly consider of this proposal of his, in relation to my cousin Morden. And if it held its weight with me, so far as to take your opinion upon it, he should know my mind in an hour’s time.

 

He withdrew with great respect: And in an hour’s time returned: —And then I told him it was unnecessary to trouble you for your opinion about it. My cousin Morden was soon expected. I could not admit of his accompanying me, in any shape, or upon any condition. It was highly improbable that I should obtain the favour of either of his cousins company: And if that could be done, it would be the same thing in the world’s eye, as if he went himself.

 

This led us into another convesation: Which shall be the subject of my next.

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