Letter I


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

the aggressor.

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

occasional justice.

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.