LETTER 355: MISS HOWE TO MISS ARABELLA HARLOWE

Sat. July 22

It may be the misfortune of some people to engage everybody’s notice: others may be the happier , though they may be the more envious , for nobody’s thinking them worthy of any. But one would be glad people had the sense to be thankful for that want of consequence, which subjected them not to hazards they would hardly have been able to manage under.

I own to you, that had it not been for the prudent advice of that admirable somebody (whose principal fault is the superiority of her talents, and whose misfortune to be brothered and sistered by a couple of creatures who are not able to comprehend her excellencies), I might at one time have been plunged into difficulties. But, pert as the superlatively pert may think me, I thought not myself wiser because I was older ; nor for thatpoor reason qualified to prescribe to, much less to maltreat, a genius so outsoaring.

I repeat it with gratitude, that the dear creature’s advice was of very great service to me—and this before my mother’s watchfulness became necessary. But how it would have fared with me, I cannot say, had I had a brother or sister, who had deemed it their interest , as well as a gratification of their sordid envy , to misrepresent me.

Your admirable sister, in effect, saved you , miss, as well as me —with this difference—you, against your will—me, with mine: and but for your own brother, and his own sister, would not have been lost herself.

Would to God both sisters had been obliged with their own wills!—The most admirable of her sex would never then have been out of her father’s house!— You , miss—I don’t know what had become of you —But, let what would have happened, you would have met with the humanity you have not shown, whether you had deserved it or not—nor, at worst, lost either a kind sister, or a pitying friend, in the most excellent of sisters.

But why run I into length to such a poor thing?—Why push I so weak an adversary? whose first letter is all low malice, and whose next is made up of falsehood and inconsistence, as well as spite and ill-manners. Yet I was willing to give you a part of my min—call for more of it; it shall be at your service: from one who, though she thanks God she is not your sister , is not your enemy : but that she is not the latter is withheld but by two considerations; one, that you bear, though unworthily, a relation to a sister so excellent; the other, that you are not of consequence enough to engage anything but the pity and contempt of

A.H.

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