LETTER 184: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE

Monday, P. M. May 15.

Now indeed, is it evident, my best, my only friend, that I have but one choice to make. And now do I find, that I have carried my resentment against this man too far; since now I am to appear as if under an obligation to his patience with me for a conduct, that, perhaps, he will think, if not humoursome and childish, plainly demonstrative of my little esteem of him; of but a secondary esteem at least, where before, his pride, rather than  his merit, had made him expect a first . O my dear! —to be under obligation to, and to be cast upon a man, that is not a generous man! —That is, indeed, a cruel man! —That is capable of creating a distress to a young creature, who by her evil destiny, is thrown into his power; and then ofenjoying it, as I may say! [I verily think I may say so, of this savage!] —What a fate is mine!

 

 

You give me, my dear, good advice, as to the peremptory manner in which I ought to treat him: But do you consider to whom it is that you give that advice?

 

 

The occasion for it should never have been given by me, of all creatures; for I am unequal, utterly unequal to it! —What, I, to challenge a man for a husband! — I, to exert myself to quicken the delayer in his resolutions! And, having lost an opportunity, to begin to try to recal it, as from myself, and for myself ! —To threaten him, as I may say, into the marriage-state! —O my dear! if this be right to be done, how difficult is it, where Modesty and Self (or where Pride, if you please) is concerned to do that right? Or, to express myself in your words, to be father, mother, uncle, to myself! —Especially where one thinks a triumph over one is intended. —Do, my dear, advise me, persuade me, to renounce the man for ever: And then I will for ever renounce him!

 

 

You say, you have tried Mrs. Norton’s weight with my mamma. —Bad as the returns are which my application by Mr. Hickman has met with, you tell me, you have not acquainted me with all the bad; nor now, perhaps, ever will. But why so, my dear? What is the bad, what can be the bad, which now you will never tell me of? —What worse, than renounce me! and for ever! ‘My uncle, you say, believes me ruin’d: He declares, that he can believe every thing bad of a creature, who could run away with a man:
And they have all made a resolution, not to stir an inch in my favour; no, not to save my life.’

 

 

Have you worse than this, my dear, behind? — Surely my father has not renewed his dreadful malediction! —Surely, if so, my mamma has not joined in it! Have my uncles given it their sanction, and made it a family act! What, my dear, is the worst, that you will leave for ever unrevealed?

 

 

O Lovelace! why comest thou not just now; while these black prospects are before me? For now, couldst thou look into my heart, wouldst thou see a distress worthy of thy barbarous triumph!

 

 

I was forced to quit my pen.

 

 

And you say you have try’d Mrs. Norton’s weight with my mamma?

 

 

What is done, cannot be help’d: But I wish you had not taken any step, in a matter so very concerning to me, without first consulting me. —Forgive me, my dear;—but that high-soul’d and noble friendship, which you avow with so obliging, and so uncommon a warmth, at the same time, that it is the subject of my grateful admiration, is no less, because of its fervor, the ground of my apprehension!

 

 

Well, but now, to look forward, you are of opinion, that I must be his: And that I cannot leave him with reputation to myself, whether with or without his consent. I must, if so, make the best of the bad matter.

 

 

He went out in the morning; intending not to return to dinner, unless (as he sent me word) I would admit him to dine with me.

 

 

I excused myself. The man, whose anger is now to be of such high importance to me, was, it seems, displeased.

 

 

As he, as well as I, expected, that I should receive a letter from you this day, by Collins, I suppose he will not be long before he returns; and then, possibly,  he is to be mighty stately, mighty mannish, mighty coy, if you please! And then must I be very humble, very submissive, and try to whine myself into his good graces: With downcast eye, if not by speech, beg his forgivenness for the distance I have so perversely kept him at! —Yes, I warrant you! —But I’ll see how this behaviour will sit upon me! —You have always railly’d me upon my meekness, I think! Well then, I’ll try, if I can be still meeker, shall I! — O my dear!—

 

 

But let me sit with my hands before me, all patience, all resignation; for I think I hear him coming up. —Or shall I roundly accost him, in the words, in the form, you, my dear, have prescrib’d?

 

 

He is come in. —He has sent to me, all impatience in his aspect, Dorcas says. —But I cannot, cannot see him!

Monday Night.

The contents of your letter, and my own heavy reflections, render’d me incapable of seeing this expecting man! —The first word he asked Dorcas, was, If I had received a letter since he had been out? —She told me this; and her answer, That I had; and was fasting, and had been in tears ever since.

 

 

He sent to desire an interview with me.

 

 

I answer’d by her, That I was not very well. In the morning, if better, I would see him as soon as he pleased.

 

 

Very humble! was it not, my dear? —Yet he was too royal to take it for humility; for Dorcas told me, he rubb’d one side of his face impatiently; and said a rash word, and was out of humour; stalking about the room.

 

 

Half an hour after, he sent again; desiring very earnestly, that I would admit him to supper with me. He would enter upon no subjects of conversation, but what I should lead to.

 

So I should have been at liberty, you see, to court him !

 

 

I again desired to be excused.

 

 

Indeed, my dear, my eyes were swelled: I was very low-spirited; and could not think of entering all at once, after several days distance, into the freedom of conversation, which my friends utter rejection of me, as well as your opinion, have made necessary.

 

 

He sent up to tell me, that as he heard I was fasting, if I would promise to eat some chicken which Mrs. Sinclair had order’d for supper, he would acquiesce. —Very kind in his anger! —Is he not?

 

 

I promised him. Can I be more preparatively condescending? —How happy, I’ll warrant you, if I may meet him in a kind and forgiving humour!

 

 

I hate myself! —But I won’t be insulted. Indeed I won’t! for all this.

This entry was posted in ANNA HOWE: NOT IN USE, from Clarissa Harlowe and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *