MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE JAN. 13, 14.
And thus, as Mr. Lovelace thought fit to take it, had he his answer
from my sister. It was with very great regret, as he pretended, [I
doubt the man is an hypocrite, my dear] that he acquiesced in it. 'So
much determinedness; such a noble firmness in my sister, that there
was no hope of prevailing upon her to alter sentiments she had adopted
on full consideration.' He sighed, as Bella told us, when he took his
leave of her: 'Profoundly sighed; grasped her hand, and kissed it with
such an ardour--Withdrew with such an air of solemn respect--She could
almost find it in her heart, although he had vexed her, to pity him.'
A good intentional preparative to love, this pity; since, at the time,
she little thought that he would not renew his offer.
He waited on my mother after he had taken leave of Bella, and reported
his ill success in so respectful a manner, as well with regard to my
sister, as to the whole family, and with so much concern that he was
not accepted as a relation to it, that it left upon them all (my
brother being then, as I have said, in Scotland) impressions in his
favour, and a belief that this matter would certainly be brought on
again. But Mr. Lovelace going up directly to town, where he staid a
whole fortnight, and meeting there with my uncle Antony, to whom he
regretted his niece's cruel resolution not to change her state; it was
seen that there was a total end of the affair.
My sister was not wanting to herself on this occasion. She made a
virtue of necessity; and the man was quite another man with her. 'A
vain creature! Too well knowing his advantages: yet those not what
she had conceived them to be!--Cool and warm by fits and starts; an
ague-like lover. A steady man, a man of virtue, a man of morals, was
worth a thousand of such gay flutterers. Her sister Clary might think
it worth her while perhaps to try to engage such a man: she had
patience: she was mistress of persuasion: and indeed, to do the girl
justice, had something of a person: But as for her, she would not have
a man of whose heart she could not be sure for one moment; no, not for
the world: and most sincerely glad was she that she had rejected him.'
But when Mr. Lovelace returned into the country, he thought fit to
visit my father and mother; hoping, as he told them, that, however
unhappy he had been in the rejection of the wished-for alliance, he
might be allowed to keep up an acquaintance and friendship with a
family which he should always respect. And then unhappily, as I may
say, was I at home and present.
It was immediately observed, that his attention was fixed on me. My
sister, as soon as he was gone, in a spirit of bravery, seemed
desirous to promote his address, should it be tendered.
My aunt Hervey was there; and was pleased to say, we should make the
finest couple in England--if my sister had no objection.--No, indeed!
with a haughty toss, was my sister's reply--it would be strange if she
had, after the denial she had given him upon full deliberation.
My mother declared, that her only dislike of his alliance with either
daughter, was on account of his reputed faulty morals.
My uncle Harlowe, that his daughter Clary, as he delighted to call me
from childhood, would reform him if any woman in the world could.
My uncle Antony gave his approbation in high terms: but referred, as
my aunt had done, to my sister.
She repeated her contempt of him; and declared, that, were there not
another man in England, she would not have him. She was ready, on the
contrary, she could assure them, to resign her pretensions under hand
and seal, if Miss Clary were taken with his tinsel, and if every one
else approved of his address to the girl.
My father indeed, after a long silence, being urged by my uncle Antony
to speak his mind, said, that he had a letter from his son, on his
hearing of Mr. Lovelace's visits to his daughter Arabella; which he
had not shewn to any body but my mother; that treaty being at an end
when he received it: that in this letter he expressed great dislike to
an alliance with Mr. Lovelace on the score of his immoralities: that
he knew, indeed, there was an old grudge between them; but that, being
desirous to prevent all occasions of disunion and animosity in his
family, he would suspend the declaration of his own mind till his son
arrived, and till he had heard his further objections: that he was the
more inclined to make his son this compliment, as Mr. Lovelace's
general character gave but too much ground for his son's dislike of
him; adding, that he had hear (so, he supposed, had every one,) that
he was a very extravagant man; that he had contracted debts in his
travels: and indeed, he was pleased to say, he had the air of a
These particulars I had partly from my aunt Hervey, and partly from my
sister; for I was called out as soon as the subject was entered upon.
When I returned, my uncle Antony asked me, how I should like Mr.
Lovelace? Every body saw, he was pleased to say, that I had made a
I immediately answered, that I did not like him at all: he seemed to
have too good an opinion both on his person and parts, to have any
regard to his wife, let him marry whom he would.
My sister particularly was pleased with this answer, and confirmed it
to be just; with a compliment to my judgment.--For it was hers.
But the very next day Lord M. came to Harlowe-Place [I was then
absent]; and in his nephew's name made a proposal in form; declaring,
that it was the ambition of all his family to be related to ours: and
he hoped his kinsman would not have such an answer on the part of the
younger sister, as he had on that of the elder.
In short, Mr. Lovelace's visits were admitted as those of a man who
had not deserved disrespect from our family; but as to his address to
me, with a reservation, as above, on my father's part, that he would
determine nothing without his son. My discretion as to the rest was
confided in: for still I had the same objections as to the man: nor
would I, when we were better acquainted, hear any thing but general
talk from him; giving him no opportunity of conversing with me in
He bore this with a resignation little expected from his natural
temper, which is generally reported to be quick and hasty; unused it
seems from childhood to check or controul. A case too common in
considerable families where there is an only son: and his mother never
had any other child. But, as I have heretofore told you, I could
perceive, notwithstanding this resignation, that he had so good an
opinion of himself, as not to doubt, that his person and
accomplishments would insensibly engage me: And could that be once
done, he told my aunt Hervey, he should hope, from so steady a temper,
that his hold in my affections would be durable: While my sister
accounted for his patience in another manner, which would perhaps have
had more force if it had come from a person less prejudiced: 'That the
man was not fond of marrying at all: that he might perhaps have half a
score mistresses: and that delay might be as convenient for his
roving, as for my well-acted indifference.' That was her kind
Whatever was his motive for a patience so generally believed to be out
of his usual character, and where the object of his address was
supposed to be of fortune considerable enough to engage his warmest
attention, he certainly escaped many mortifications by it: for while my
father suspended his approbation till my brother's arrival, Mr.
Lovelace received from every one those civilities which were due to
his birth: and although we heard from time to time reports to his
disadvantage with regard to morals, yet could we not question him upon
them without giving him greater advantages in his own opinion than the
situation he was in with us would justify to prudence; since it was
much more likely that his address would not be allowed of, than that
And thus was he admitted to converse with our family almost upon his
own terms; for while my friends saw nothing in his behaviour but what
was extremely respectful, and observed in him no violent importunity,
they seemed to have taken a great liking to his conversation: While I
considered him only as a common guest when he came; and thought myself
no more concerned in his visits, not at his entrance and departure,
than any other of the family.
But this indifference on my side was the means of procuring him one
very great advantage; since upon it was grounded that correspondence
by letters which succeeded;--and which, had it been to be begun when
the family animosity broke out, would never have been entered into on
my part. The occasion was this:
My uncle Hervey has a young gentleman intrusted to his care, whom he
has thoughts of sending abroad a year or two hence, to make the Grand
Tour, as it is called; and finding Mr. Lovelace could give a good
account of every thing necessary for a young traveller to observe upon
such an occasion, he desired him to write down a description of the
courts and countries he had visited, and what was most worthy of
curiosity in them.
He consented, on condition that I would direct his subjects, as he
called it: and as every one had heard his manner of writing commended;
and thought his narratives might be agreeable amusements in winter
evenings; and that he could have no opportunity particularly to
address me directly in them, since they were to be read in full
assembly before they were given to the young gentleman, I made the
less scruple to write, and to make observations, and put questions for
our further information--Still the less perhaps as I love writing; and
those who do, are fond, you know, of occasions to use the pen: And
then, having ever one's consent, and my uncle Hervey's desire that I
would write, I thought that if I had been the only scrupulous person,
it would have shewn a particularity that a vain man might construe to
his advantage; and which my sister would not fail to animadvert upon.
You have seen some of these letters; and have been pleased with this
account of persons, places, and things; and we have both agreed, that
he was no common observer upon what he had seen.
My sister allowed that the man had a tolerable knack of writing and
describing: And my father, who had been abroad in his youth, said,
that his remarks were curious, and shewed him to be a person of
reading, judgment and taste.
Thus was a kind of correspondence begun between him and me, with
general approbation; while every one wondered at, and was pleased
with, his patient veneration of me; for so they called it. However,
it was not doubted but he would soon be more importunate, since his
visits were more frequent, and he acknowledged to my aunt Hervey a
passion for me, accompanied with an awe that he had never known
before; to which he attributed what he called his but seeming
acquiescence with my father's pleasure, and the distance I kept him
at. And yet, my dear, this may be his usual manner of behaviour to
our sex; for had not my sister at first all his reverence?
Mean time, my father, expecting his importunity, kept in readiness the
reports he had heard in his disfavour, to charge them upon him then,
as so many objections to address. And it was highly agreeable to me
that he did so: it would have been strange if it were not; since the
person who could reject Mr. Wyerley's address for the sake of his free
opinions, must have been inexcusable, had she not rejected another's
for his freer practices.
But I should own, that in the letters he sent me upon the general
subject, he more than once inclosed a particular one, declaring his
passionate regards for me, and complaining with fervour enough, of my
reserves. But of these I took not the least notice: for, as I had not
written to him at all, but upon a subject so general, I thought it was
but right to let what he wrote upon one so particular pass off as if I
had never seen it; and the rather, as I was not then at liberty (from
the approbation his letters met with) to break off the correspondence,
unless I had assigned the true reason for doing so. Besides, with all
his respectful assiduities, it was easy to observe, (if it had not
been his general character) that his temper is naturally haughty and
violent; and I had seen too much of that untractable spirit in my
brother to like it in one who hoped to be still more nearly related to
I had a little specimen of this temper of his upon the very occasion I
have mentioned: For after he had sent me a third particular letter
with the general one, he asked me the next time he came to Harlowe- Place, if I had not received such a one from him?--I told him I should
never answer one so sent; and that I had waited for such an occasion
as he had now given me, to tell him so: I desired him therefore not to
write again on the subject; assuring him, that if he did, I would
return both, and never write another line to him.
You can't imagine how saucily the man looked; as if, in short, he was
disappointed that he had not made a more sensible impression upon me:
nor, when he recollected himself (as he did immediately), what a
visible struggle it cost him to change his haughty airs for more
placid ones. But I took no notice of either; for I thought it best to
convince him, by the coolness and indifference with which I repulsed
his forward hopes (at the same time intending to avoid the affectation
of pride or vanity) that he was not considerable enough in my eyes to
make me take over-ready offence at what he said, or at his haughty
looks: in other words, that I had not value enough for him to treat
him with peculiarity either by smiles or frowns. Indeed he had
cunning enough to give me, undesignedly, a piece of instruction which
taught me this caution; for he had said in conversation once, 'That if
a man could not make a woman in courtship own herself pleased with
him, it was as much and oftentimes more to his purpose to make her
angry with him.'
I must break off here, but will continue the subject the very first
opportunity. Mean time, I am
Your most affectionate friend and servant, CL. HARLOWE.