LETTER 296: MRS. HOWE TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE

 

Friday, June 30. 

Miss Clarissa Harlowe,
You will wonder to receive a letter from me. I am sorry for the great distress you seem to be in. Such a hopeful young lady as you were! —But see what comes of disobedience to parents! For my part; altho’ I pity you; yet I much more pity your poor father and mother. Such education as they gave you! such improvements as you made! and such delight as they took in you! —And all come to this!—

 

But pray, Miss, don’t make my Nancy guilty of your fault; which is that of disobedience. I have charged her over and over not to correspond with one, who has made such a giddy step. It is not to her reputation, I am sure. You knew that I so charged her; yet you go on corresponding together, to my very great vexation; for she has been very perverse upon it, more than once. Evil communication, Miss— You know the rest.

 

Here, people cannot be unhappy by themselves, but they must involve their friends and acquaintance, whose discretion has kept them clear of their errors, into near as much unhappiness, as if they had run into the like of their own heads. Thus my poor daughter is always in tears and grief. And she has postponed her own felicity truly, because you are unhappy!

 

If people, who seek their own ruin, could be the only sufferers by their headstrong doings, it were something: But, O Miss, Miss, what have you to answer for, who have made as many grieved hearts, as have known you? The whole sex is indeed wounded by you: For, who but Miss Clarissa Harlowe was proposed by every father and mother for a pattern for their daughters?

 

I write a long letter, where I proposed to say but a few words; and those to forbid you writing to my Nancy: And this as well because of the false step you have made, as because it will grieve her poor heart, and do you no good. If you love her, therefore, write not to her. Your sad letter came into my hands, Nancy being abroad, and I shall not shew it her: For there would be no comfort for her, if she saw it, nor for me, whose delight she is—As you once was to your parents—

 

But you seem to be sensible enough of your errors now! So are all giddy girls, when it is too late— And what a crest-fallen figure then does their self-willed obstinacy and headstrongness compel them to make!

 

I may say too much: only as I think it proper to bear that testimony against your rashness, which it behoves every careful parent to bear. And none more than

Your compassionating well wisher,
Annabella Howe .

        I send this by a special messenger, who has business only so far as Barnet, because you shall have no need to write again; knowing how you love writing: And knowing likewise,

that misfortune makes people plaintive

     .

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