LETTER 429: MISS ARABELLA HARLOWE TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE

Monday, Aug. 21. 

Sister Clary,
I find by your Letters to my Uncles, that they, as well as I, are in great disgrace with you for writing our minds to you.

We can’t help it, Sister Clary.

You don’t think it worth your while, I find, a second time to press for the Blessing you pretend to be so earnest about. You think, no doubt, that you have done your duty in asking for it: So you’ll sit down satisfied with That, I suppose, and leave it to your wounded parents to repent hereafter that they have not done Theirs, in giving it to you, at the first word; and in making such enquiries about you, as you think ought to have been made. Fine encouragement to enquire after a run-away Daughter! living with her fellow, as long as he would live with her! You repent also (with your full mind, as you modestly call it) that you wrote to me.

So we are not likely to be applied to any more, I find, in this way.

Well then, since This is the case, Sister Clary, let me, with all humility, address myself with a proposal or two to you; to which you will be graciouslypleased to give an answer.

Now you must know, that we have had hints given us from several quarters, that you have been used in such a manner by the villain you ran away with, that his life would be answerable for his crime, if it were fairly to be proved. And, by your own hints, something like it appears to us.

If, Clary, there be any-thing but jingle and affected period in what proceeds from your full mind, and your dutiful consciousness ; and if there be truth in what Mrs. Norton and Mrs. Howe have acquainted us with; you may yet justify your character to us, and to the world, in every-thing but your scandalous Elopement; and the Law may reach the villain: And, could we but bring him to the gallows, what a meritorious revenge would that be to our whole injured family, and to the innocents he has deluded, as well as the saving from ruin many others!

Let me, therefore, know ( if you please ) whether you are willing to appear to do Yourself, and Us, and your Sex, this justice? If not, Sister Clary, we shall know what to think of you; for neither you nor we can suffer more than we have done from the scandal of your fall: And, if you will, Mr. Ackland and Counsellor Derham will both attend you to make proper Enquiries, and to take Minutes of your Story, to found a process upon, if it will bear one with as great a probability of success as we are told it may be prosecuted with.

But, by what Mrs. Howe intimates, this is not likely to be complied with; for it is what she hinted to you, it seems, by her lively Daughter, but without effect ( a ) 439 ; and then, again, possibly, you may not at present behave so prudently in some certain points, as to entitle yourself to public justice; which if true, the Lord have mercy upon you!

One word only more as to the above proposal: — Your admirer, Dr. Lewen, is clear in his opinion that you should prosecute the villain.

But if you will not agree to this, I have another proposal to make to you, and that in the name of every one in the family; which is, that you will think of going to Pensylvania to reside there for some few years till all is blown over: And, if it please God to spare you, and your unhappy parents, till they can be satisfied, that you behave like a true and uniform penitent; at least till you are One-and-twenty; you may then come back to your own Estate, or have the produce of it sent you thither, as you shall chuse. A period which my Father fixes, because it is the Custom ; and because he thinks your Grandfather should have fixed it; and because, let me add, you have fully proved by your fine conduct, that you were not at Years of discretion at Eighteen . Poor doting, tho’ good old man! —Your Grandfather, he thought—But I would not be too severe.

Mr. Hartley has a Widow-Sister at Pensylvania, with whom he will undertake you may board, and who is a sober, sensible, and well-re’d woman. And if you were once well there, it would rid your Father and Mother of a world of cares, and fears, and scandal; and I think is what you should wish for of all things.

Mr. Hartley will engage for all accommodations in your passage suitable to your rank and fortune; and he has a concern in a Ship, which will sail in a month; and you may take your secret-keeping Hannah with you, or whom you will of your newer acquaintance. ‘Tis presumed that your companions will be of your own Sex.

These are what I had to communicate to you; and if you’ll oblige me with an Answer (which the hand that conveys this will call for on Wednesday Morning) it will be very condescending.

Arabella Harlowe.

In answer to hers to her uncle Antony of Aug. 13, Letter 407 )

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