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Read Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady Volume I Part 25

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to take such a wretch’s price as that; and to the cutting off of all reversions from his own family:–How must a mind but commonly just resist such a measure!

Mr. Hickman shall sound Lord M. upon the subject you recommend. But beforehand, I can tell you what he and what his sisters will say, when they are sounded. Who would not be proud of such a relation as Miss Clarissa Harlowe?–Mrs. Fortescue told me, that they are all your very great admirers.

If I have not been clear enough in my advice about what you shall do, let me say, that I can give it in one word: it is only by re-urging you to RESUME. If you do, all the rest will follow.

We are told here, that Mrs. Norton, as well as your aunt Hervey, has given her opinion on the implicit side of the question. If she can think, that the part she has had in your education, and your own admirable talents and acquirements, are to be thrown away upon such a worthless creature as Solmes, I could heartily quarrel with her. You may think I say this to lessen your regard for the good woman. And perhaps not wholly without cause, if you do. For, to own the truth, methinks, I don’t love her so well as I should do, did you love her so apparently less, that I could be out of doubt, that you love me better.

Your mother tells you, ‘That you will have great trials: that you are under your father’s discipline.’–The word is enough for me to despise them who give occasion for its use.–‘That it is out of her power to help you!’ And again: ‘That if you have any favour to hope for, it must be by the mediation of your uncles.’ I suppose you will write to the oddities, since you are forbid to see them. But can it be, that such a lady, such a sister, such a wife, such a mother, has no influence in her own family? Who, indeed, as you say, if this be so, would marry, that can live single? My choler is again beginning to rise. RESUME, my dear: and that is all I will give myself time to say further, lest I offend you when I cannot serve you–only this, that I am

Your truly affectionate friend and servant, ANNA HOWE.

LETTER XXVIII

MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE FRIDAY, MARCH 10.

You will permit me, my dear, to touch upon a few pa.s.sages in your last letter, that affect me sensibly.

In the first place, you must allow me to say, low as I am in spirits, that I am very angry with you, for your reflections on my relations, particularly on my father and mother, and on the memory of my grandfather. Nor, my dear, does your own mother always escape the keen edge of your vivacity. One cannot one’s self forbear to write or speak freely of those we love and honour, when grief from imagined hard treatment wrings the heart: but it goes against one to hear any body else take the same liberties. Then you have so very strong a manner of expression where you take a distaste, that when pa.s.sion has subdued, and I come (upon reflection) to see by your severity what I have given occasion for, I cannot help condemning myself.

But least of all can I bear that you should reflect upon my mother.

What, my dear, if her meekness should not be rewarded? Is the want of reward, or the want even of a grateful acknowledgement, a reason for us to dispense with what we think our duty? They were my father’s lively spirits that first made him an interest in her gentle bosom. They were the same spirits turned inward, as I have heretofore observed,* that made him so impatient when the cruel malady seized him. He always loved my mother: And would not LOVE and PITY excusably, nay laudably, make a good wife (who was an hourly witness of his pangs, when labouring under a paroxysm, and his paroxysms becoming more and more frequent, as well as more and more severe) give up her own will, her own likings, to oblige a husband, thus afflicted, whose love for her was unquestionable?–And if so, was it not too natural [human nature is not perfect, my dear] that the husband thus humoured by the wife, should be unable to bear controul from any body else, much less contradiction from his children?

* See Letter V.

If then you would avoid my highest displeasure, you must spare my mother: and, surely, you will allow me, with her, to pity, as well as to love and honour my father.

I have no friend but you to whom I can appeal, to whom I dare complain.

Unhappily circ.u.mstanced as I am, it is but too probable that I shall complain, because it is but too probably that I shall have more and more cause given me for complaint. But be it your part, if I do, to sooth my angry pa.s.sions, and to soften my resentments; and this the rather, as you know what an influence your advice has upon me; and as you must also know, that the freedoms you take with my friends, can have no other tendency, but to weaken the sense of my duty to them, without answering any good end to myself.

I cannot help owning, however, that I am pleased to have you join with me in opinion of the contempt which Mr. Solmes deserves from me. But yet, permit me to say, that he is not quite so horrible a creature as you make him: as to his person, I mean; for with regard to his mind, by all I have heard, you have done him but justice: but you have such a talent at an ugly likeness, and such a vivacity, that they sometimes carry you out of verisimilitude. In short, my dear, I have known you, in more instances than one, sit down resolved to write all that wit, rather than strict justice, could suggest upon the given occasion. Perhaps it may be thought, that I should say the less on this particular subject, because your dislike of him arises from love to me: But should it not be our aim to judge of ourselves, and of every thing that affects us, as we may reasonably imagine other people would judge of us and of our actions?

As to the advice you give, to resume my estate, I am determined not to litigate with my father, let what will be the consequence to myself.

I may give you, at another time, a more particular answer to your reasonings on this subject: but, at present, will only observe, that it is in my opinion, that Lovelace himself would hardly think me worth addressing, were he to know this would be my resolution. These men, my dear, with all their flatteries, look forward to the PERMANENT. Indeed, it is fit they should. For love must be a very foolish thing to look back upon, when it has brought persons born to affluence into indigence, and laid a generous mind under obligation and dependence.

You very ingeniously account for the love we bear to one another, from the difference in our tempers. I own, I should not have thought of that.

There may possibly be something in it: but whether there be or not, whenever I am cool, and give myself time to reflect, I will love you the better for the correction you give, be as severe as you will upon me.

Spare me not, therefore, my dear friend, whenever you think me in the least faulty. I love your agreeable raillery: you know I always did: nor, however over-serious you think me, did I ever think you flippant, as you harshly call it. One of the first conditions of our mutual friendship was, each should say or write to the other whatever was upon her mind, without any offence to be taken: a condition, that is indeed indispensable in friendship.

I knew your mother would be for implicit obedience in a child. I am sorry my case is so circ.u.mstanced, that I cannot comply. It would be my duty to do so, if I could. You are indeed very happy, that you have nothing but your own agreeable, yet whimsical, humours to contend with, in the choice she invites you to make of Mr. Hickman. How happy I should be, to be treated with so much lenity!–I should blush to have my mother say, that she begged and prayed me, and all in vain, to encourage a man so unexceptionable as Mr. Hickman.

Indeed, my beloved Miss Howe, I am ashamed to have your mother say, with ME in her view, ‘What strange effects have prepossession and love upon young creatures of our s.e.x!’ This touches me the more sensibly, because you yourself, my dear, are so ready to persuade me into it.

I should be very blamable to endeavour to hide any the least bias upon my mind, from you: and I cannot but say–that this man–this Lovelace–is a man that might be liked well enough, if he bore such a character as Mr. Hickman bears; and even if there were hopes of reclaiming him. And further still I will acknowledge, that I believe it possible that one might be driven, by violent measures, step by step, as it were, into something that might be called–I don’t know what to call it–a conditional kind of liking, or so. But as to the word LOVE–justifiable and charming as it is in some cases, (that is to say, in all the relative, in all the social, and, what is still beyond both, in all our superior duties, in which it may be properly called divine;) it has, methinks, in the narrow, circ.u.mscribed, selfish, peculiar sense, in which you apply it to me, (the man too so little to be approved of for his morals, if all that report says of him be true,) no pretty sound with it. Treat me as freely as you will in all other respects, I will love you, as I have said, the better for your friendly freedom. But, methinks, I could be glad that you would not let this imputation pa.s.s so glibly from your pen, or your lips, as attributable to one of your own s.e.x, whether I be the person or not: since the other must have a double triumph, when a person of your delicacy (armed with such contempts of them all, as you would have one think) can give up a friend, with an exultation over her weakness, as a silly, love-sick creature.

I could make some other observations upon the contents of your last two letters; but my mind is not free enough at present. The occasion for the above stuck with me; and I could not help taking the earliest notice of them.

Having written to the end of my second sheet, I will close this letter, and in my next, acquaint you with all that has happened here since my last.

LETTER XXIX

MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE SAt.u.r.dAY, MARCH 11.

I have had such taunting messages, and such repeated avowals of ill offices, brought me from my brother and sister, if I do no comply with their wills, (delivered, too, with provoking sauciness by Betty Barnes,) that I have thought it proper, before I entered upon my intended address to my uncles, in pursuance of the hint given me in my mother’s letter, to expostulate a little with them. But I have done it in such a manner, as will give you (if you please to take it as you have done some parts of my former letters) great advantage over me. In short, you will have more cause than ever, to declare me far gone in love, if my reasons for the change of my style in these letters, with regard to Mr. Lovelace, do not engage your more favourable opinion.–For I have thought proper to give them their own way: and, since they will have it, that I have a preferable regard for Mr. Lovelace, I give them cause rather to confirm their opinion than doubt it.

These are my reasons in brief, for the alteration of my style.

In the first place, they have grounded their princ.i.p.al argument for my compliance with their will, upon my acknowledgement that my heart is free; and so, supposing I give up no preferable person, my opposition has the look of downright obstinacy in their eyes; and they argue, that at worst, my aversion to Solmes is an aversion that may be easily surmounted, and ought to be surmounted in duty to my father, and for the promotion of family views.

Next, although they build upon this argument in order to silence me, they seem not to believe me, but treat me as disgracefully, as if I were in love with one of my father’s footmen: so that my conditional willingness to give up Mr. Lovelace has procured me no favour.

In the next place, I cannot but think, that my brother’s antipathy to Mr. Lovelace is far from being well grounded: the man’s inordinate pa.s.sion for the s.e.x is the crime that is always rung in my ears: and a very great one it is: But, does my brother recriminate upon him thus in love to me?–No–his whole behaviour shews me, that that is not his princ.i.p.al motive, and that he thinks me rather in his way than otherwise.

It is then the call of justice, as I may say, to speak a little in favour of a man, who, although provoked by my brother, did not do him all the mischief he could have done him, and which my brother had endeavoured to do him. It might not be amiss therefore, I thought, to alarm them a little with apprehension, that the methods they are taking with me are the very reverse of those they should take to answer the end they design by them. And after all, what is the compliment I make Mr.

Lovelace, if I allow it to be thought that I do really prefer him to such a man as him they terrify me with? Then, my Miss Howe [concluded I]

accuses me of a tameness which subject me to insults from my brother: I will keep that dear friend in my eye; and for all these considerations, try what a little of her spirit will do–sit it ever so awkwardly upon me.

In this way of thinking, I wrote to my brother and sister. This is my letter to him.

TREATED as I am, and, in a great measure, if not wholly, by your instigations, Brother, you must permit me to expostulate with you upon the occasion. It is not my intention to displease you in what I am going to write: and yet I must deal freely with you: the occasion calls for it.

And permit me, in the first place, to remind you, that I am your sister; and not your servant; and that, therefore, the bitter revilings and pa.s.sionate language brought me from you, upon an occasion in which you have no reason to prescribe to me, are neither worthy of my character to bear, nor of yours to offer.

Put the case, that I were to marry the man you dislike: and that he were not to make a polite or tender husband, Is that a reason for you to be an unpolite and disobliging brother?–Why must you, Sir, antic.i.p.ate my misfortunes, were such a case to happen?–Let me tell you plainly, that the man who could treat me as a wife, worse than you of late have treated me as a sister, must be a barbarous man indeed.

Ask yourself, I pray you, Sir, if you would thus have treated your sister Bella, had she thought fit to receive the addresses of the man so much hated by you?–If not, let me caution you, my Brother, not to take your measures by what you think will be borne, but rather by what ought to be offered.

How would you take it, if you had a brother, who, in a like case, were to act by you, as you do by me?–You cannot but remember what a laconic answer you gave even to my father, who recommended to you Miss Nelly D’Oily–You did not like her, were your words: and that was thought sufficient.

You must needs think, that I cannot but know to whom to attribute my disgraces, when I recollect my father’s indulgence to me, permitting me to decline several offers; and to whom, that a common cause is endeavoured to be made, in favour of a man whose person and manners are more exceptional than those of any of the gentlemen I have been permitted to refuse.

I offer not to compare the two men together: nor is there indeed the least comparison to be made between them. All the difference to the one’s disadvantage, if I did, is but one point–of the greatest importance, indeed–But to whom of most importance?–To myself, surely, were I to encourage his application: of the least to you. Nevertheless, if you do not, by your strange politics, unite that man and me as joint sufferers in one cause, you shall find me as much resolved to renounce him, as I am to refuse the other. I have made an overture to this purpose: I hope you will not give me reason to confirm my apprehensions, that it will be owing to you if it be not accepted.

It is a sad thing to have it to say, without being conscious of ever having given you cause of offence, that I have in you a brother, but not a friend.

Perhaps you will not condescend to enter into the reasons of your late and present conduct with a foolish sister. But if politeness, if civility, be not due to that character, and to my s.e.x, justice is.

Let me take the liberty further to observe, that the princ.i.p.al end of a young man’s education at the university, is, to learn him to reason justly, and to subdue the violence of his pa.s.sions. I hope, Brother, that you will not give room for any body who knows us both, to conclude, that the toilette has taught the one more of the latter doctrine, than the university has taught the other. I am truly sorry to have cause to say, that I have heard it often remarked, that your uncontrouled pa.s.sions are not a credit to your liberal education.

———-

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