LETTER 151: MISS HOWE TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE

From the same. Inclosed in the above. 

 

Thursday, April 27. 

 

I have been making inquiry, as I told you I would, whether your relations had really (before you left them) resolved upon that change of measures which your aunt mentions in her letter: —And by laying together several pieces of intelligence, some drawn from my mamma, by your uncle Antony’s communications; some from Miss Lloyd, by your sister’s; and some by a third way, that I shall not tell you of; I have reason to think the following a true state of the case.

 

That there was no intention of a change of measures,till within two or three days of your going away. On the contrary, your brother and sister, tho’ they had no hope of prevailing with you in Solmes’s favour, were resolved never to give over their persecutions, till they had push’d you upon taking some step, which, by help of their good offices, should be deemed inexcusable by the half-witted souls they had to play upon.

 

But that at last your mamma (tired with and perhaps ashamed of the passive part she had acted) thought fit to declare to Miss Bell, that she was determined to try to put an end to the family-feuds; and to get your uncle Harlowe to second her endeavours.

 

This alarmed your brother and sister; and then a change of measures was resolved upon. Solmes’s offers were however too advantageous to be given up; and your father’s condescension was now to be their sole dependence, and (as they give out) your last trial.

 

And, indeed, my dear, this must have succeeded, I verily think, with such a daughter as they had to deal with, could that father, who never, I dare say, kneeled in his life, but to God, have so far condescended, as your aunt writes he would.

 

But then, my dear, what would this have done? — Perhaps you would have given Lovelace the meeting, in hopes to pacify him, and prevent mischief; supposing that they had given you time, and not hurried you directly into the state. But if you had not met him, you see, that he was resolved to visit them, and well attended too: And what must have been the consequence?

 

So that, upon the whole, we know not but matters may be best as they are, however undesirable that best is.

 

I hope your considerate and thoughtful mind will make a good use of this hint. Who would not with patience sustain even a great evil, if she could persuade herself, that it was kindly dispensed, in order to prevent a still greater? —Especially, if she could sit down, as you can, and acquit her own heart?

 

Permit me one further observation—Do we not see, from the above state of the matter, what might have been done before, by the worthy person of your family, had she exerted the mother, in behalf of a child so meritorious, yet so much oppressed?

 

Adieu, my dear. I will be ever yours.

Anna Howe.

Miss Harlowe, in her answer ‘to the first of the two last letters, chides her friend for giving so little weight to her advice, in relation to her behaviour to her mother: —It may be proper to insert here the following extracts from that answer; tho’ a little before their time. 

 

‘I will not repeat, says she, what I have before written in Mr. Hickman’s behalf. I will only remind you of an observation I have made to you more than once, that you have outlived your first passion; and had the second man been an angel, he would not have been more than indifferent to you.

 

‘My motives for suspending, proceeds she, were not merely ceremonious ones. I was really very ill. I could not hold up my head. The contents of my sister’s letters had pierced my heart. And was I, my dear, to be as ready to accept his offer, as if I were afraid, he never would repeat it?’

 

To the second letter, among other things, she says: 

 

‘So, my dear, you seem to think, that there was a fate in my error. The cordial, the considering friend, is seen in the observation you make on this occasion. Yet since things have happen’d as they have, would to heaven I could hear, that all the world acquitted my father, or, at least, my mother; for her character, before these family-feuds broke out, was every-one’s admiration. Don’t let any-body say from you, so that it may come to her ear, that she might, by a timely exertion of her fine talents, have saved her unhappy child. You’ll observe, my dear, that in her own good time, when she saw that there was not likely to be an end to my brother’s persecutions, she was resolved to exert herself. But the pragmatical daughter, by the fatal meeting, precipitated all, and frustrated her indulgent designs. O my dear, I am now convinced, by dear experience, that while children are so happy as to have parents or guardians, whom they may consult, they should not presume (no, not with the best and purest intentions) to follow their own conceits, in material cases.

 

‘A ray of hope of future reconciliation, adds she, darts in upon my mind, from the intention you tell me my mother had to exert herself in my favour, had I not gone away. And my hope is the stronger, as this communication points out to me, that my uncle Harlowe’s interest is likely, in my mother’s opinion, to be of weight, if it could be engaged. It will behove me, perhaps, to apply to that dear uncle, if a proper occasion offer.’

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  1. Pingback: LETTER 174: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE | EN426: Digital Approaches to CLARISSA

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