LETTER 342: MISS HOWE TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE

Thursday morn. July 20.

 

What, my dearest creature, have been your sufferings! — What must have been your anguish on so disgraceful an insult, committed in the open streets, and in the open day!

 

No end, I think, of the undeserved calamities of a dear soul, who has been so unhappily driven and betrayed into the hands of a vile libertine! —How was I shocked at the receiving of your letter written by another hand; and only dictated by you! —You must be very ill. Nor is it to be wondered at. But I hope it is rather from hurry, and surprize, and lowness, which may be overcome, than from a grief given way to, which may be attended with effects I cannot bear to think of.

 

But whatever you do, my dear, you must not despond! Indeed you must not despond! Hitherto you have been in no fault: But despair would be all your own; and the worst fault you can be guilty of.

 

I cannot bear to look upon another hand instead of yours. My dear creature, send me a few lines, tho’ ever so few, in your own hand, if possible. —For they will revive my heart; especially if they can acquaint me of your amended health.

 

I expect your answer to my letter of the 13th. We all expect it with impatience.

 

His relations are persons of so much honour—They are so very earnest to rank you among them—The wretch is so very penitent: Every one of hisfamily says he is— Your own are so implacable—Your last distress, tho’ the consequence of his former villainy, yet neither brought on by

 

his direction, nor with his knowlege; and so much resented by him—That my mamma is absolutely of opinion, that you should be his —Especially if, yielding to my wishes, as in my letter, and those of all his friends, you would have complied, had it not been for this horrid arrest.

 

I will inclose the copy of the letter I wrote to Miss Montague last Tuesday, on hearing that no-body knew what was become of you; and the answer to it, underwritten and signed by Lord M. and Lady Sarah Sadleir, and Lady Betty Lawrance, as well as by the young ladies —And also by the wretch himself.

 

I own, that I like not the turn of what he has written to me; and before I will further interest myself in his favour, I have determined to inform myself, by a friend, from his own mouth, of his sincerity, and whether his whole inclination be in his request to me, exclusive of the wishes of his relations . Yet my heart rises against him, on the supposition that there is the shadow of a reason for such a question, the lady Miss Clarissa Harlowe. —But, I think, with my mother, that marriage is now the only means left to make your future life tolerably easy— happy there is no saying. —In the eye of the world itself, his disgraces, in that case, will be more than yours. —And to those who know you, glorious will be your triumph.

 

I am obliged to accompany my mother soon to the Isle of Wight. My aunt Harman is in a declining way, and insists upon seeing us both; and Mr. Hickman too, I think.

 

His sister, of whom we had heard so much, with her Lord, were brought t’other day to visit us. She strangely likes me, or says she does.

 

I can’t say, but that I think she answers the excellent character we have heard of her.

 

It would be death to me to set out for the little island, and not see you first: And yet my mother (fond of exerting an authority, that she herself, by that exertion, often brings into question) insists, that my next visit to you must be a congratulatory one, as Mrs. Lovelace.

 

When I know what will be the result of the questions to be put in my name to that wretch, and what is your mind on my letter of the 13th, I shall tell you more of mine.

 

 The bearer promises to make so much dispatch, as to attend you this very afternoon. May he return with good tidings to

 

Your ever-affectionate
Anna Howe .

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