MISS ANNA HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE JAN 10.
I am extremely concerned, my dearest friend, for the disturbance that
have happened in your family. I know how it must hurt you to become
the subject of the public talk: and yet, upon an occasion so generally
known, it is impossible but that whatever relates to a young lady,
whose distinguished merits have made her the public care, should
engage every body's attention. I long to have the particulars from
yourself; and of the usage I am told you receive upon an accident you
could not help; and in which, as far as I can learn, the sufferer was
Mr. Diggs, the surgeon, whom I sent for at the first hearing of the
rencounter, to inquire, for your sake, how your brother was, told me,
that there was no danger from the wound, if there were none from the
fever; which it seems has been increased by the perturbation of his
Mr. Wyerley drank tea with us yesterday; and though he is far from
being partial to Mr. Lovelace, as it may well be supposed, yet both he
and Mr. Symmes blame your family for the treatment they gave him when
he went in person to inquire after your brother's health, and to
express his concern for what had happened.
They say, that Mr. Lovelace could not avoid drawing his sword: and
that either your brother's unskilfulness or passion left him from the
very first pass entirely in his power.
This, I am told, was what Mr. Lovelace said upon it; retreating as he
spoke: 'Have a care, Mr. Harlowe--your violence puts you out of your
defence. You give me too much advantage. For your sister's sake, I
will pass by every thing:--if--'
But this the more provoked his rashness, to lay himself open to the
advantage of his adversary--who, after a slight wound given him in the
arm, took away his sword.
There are people who love not your brother, because of his natural
imperiousness and fierce and uncontroulable temper: these say, that
the young gentleman's passion was abated on seeing his blood gush
plentifully down his arm; and that he received the generous offices of
his adversary (who helped him off with his coat and waistcoat, and
bound up his arm, till the surgeon could come,) with such patience, as
was far from making a visit afterwards from that adversary, to inquire
after his health, appear either insulting or improper.
Be this as it may, every body pities you. So steady, so uniform in
your conduct: so desirous, as you always said, of sliding through life
to the end of it unnoted; and, as I may add, not wishing to be
observed even for your silent benevolence; sufficiently happy in the
noble consciousness which attends it: Rather useful than glaring, your
deserved motto; though now, to your regret, pushed into blaze, as I
may say: and yet blamed at home for the faults of others--how must
such a virtue suffer on every hand!--yet it must be allowed, that your
present trial is but proportioned to your prudence.
As all your friends without doors are apprehensive that some other
unhappy event may result from so violent a contention, in which it
seems the families on both sides are now engaged, I must desire you to
enable me, on the authority of your own information, to do you
My mother, and all of us, like the rest of the world, talk of nobody
but you on this occasion, and of the consequences which may follow
from the resentments of a man of Mr. Lovelace's spirit; who, as he
gives out, has been treated with high indignity by your uncles. My
mother will have it, that you cannot now, with any decency, either see
him, or correspond with him. She is a good deal prepossessed by your
uncle Antony; who occasionally calls upon us, as you know; and, on
this rencounter, has represented to her the crime which it would be in
a sister to encourage a man who is to wade into her favour (this was
his expression) through the blood of her brother.
Write to me therefore, my dear, the whole of your story from the time
that Mr. Lovelace was first introduced into your family; and
particularly an account of all that passed between him and your
sister; about which there are different reports; some people scrupling
not to insinuate that the younger sister has stolen a lover from the
elder: and pray write in so full a manner as may satisfy those who
know not so much of your affairs as I do. If anything unhappy should
fall out from the violence of such spirits as you have to deal with,
your account of all things previous to it will be your best
You see what you draw upon yourself by excelling all your sex. Every
individual of it who knows you, or has heard of you, seems to think
you answerable to her for your conduct in points so very delicate and
Every eye, in short, is upon you with the expectation of an example.
I wish to heaven you were at liberty to pursue your own methods: all
would then, I dare say, be easy, and honourably ended. But I dread
your directors and directresses; for your mother, admirably well
qualified as she is to lead, must submit to be led. Your sister and
brother will certainly put you out of your course.
But this is a point you will not permit me to expatiate upon: pardon
me therefore, and I have done.--Yet, why should I say, pardon me? when
your concerns are my concerns? when your honour is my honour? when I
love you, as never woman loved another? and when you have allowed of
that concern and of that love; and have for years, which in persons so
young may be called many, ranked in the first class of your friends,
Your ever grateful and affectionate, ANNA HOWE?
Will you oblige me with a copy of the preamble to the clauses in your
grandfather's will in your favour; and allow me to send it to my aunt
Harman?--She is very desirous to see it. Yet your character has so
charmed her, that, though a stranger to you personally, she assents to
the preference given you in that will, before she knows the testator's
reasons for giving you that preference.