Letter IV


Such, my dear, was the situation Mr. Lovelace and I were in when my

brother arrived from Scotland.

The moment Mr. Lovelace's visits were mentioned to him, he, without

either hesitation or apology, expressed his disapprobation of them. He

found great flaws in his character; and took the liberty to say in so

many words, that he wondered how it came into the heads of his uncles

to encourage such a man for either of his sisters: At the same time

returning his thanks to my father for declining his consent till he

arrived, in such a manner, I thought, as a superior would do, when he

commended an inferior for having well performed his duty in his


He justified his avowed inveteracy by common fame, and by what he had

known of him at college; declaring, that he had ever hated him; ever

should hate him; and would never own him for a brother, or me for a

sister, if I married him.

That early antipathy I have heard accounted for in this manner:

Mr. Lovelace was always noted for his vivacity and courage; and no

less, it seems, for the swift and surprising progress he made in all

parts of literature: for diligence in his studies in the hours of

study, he had hardly his equal. This it seems was his general

character at the university; and it gained him many friends among the

more learned; while those who did not love him, feared him, by reason

of the offence his vivacity made him too ready to give, and of the

courage he shewed in supporting the offence when given; which procured

him as many followers as he pleased among the mischievous sort.--No

very amiable character, you'll say, upon the whole.

But my brother's temper was not more happy. His native haughtiness

could not bear a superiority so visible; and whom we fear more than

love, we are not far from hating: and having less command of his

passions than the other, he was evermore the subject of his perhaps

indecent ridicule: so that every body, either from love or fear,

siding with his antagonist, he had a most uneasy time of it while both

continued in the same college.--It was the less wonder therefore that

a young man who is not noted for the gentleness of his temper, should

resume an antipathy early begun, and so deeply rooted.

He found my sister, who waited but for the occasion, ready to join him

in his resentments against the man he hated. She utterly disclaimed

all manner of regard for him: 'Never liked him at all:--His estate was

certainly much incumbered: it was impossible it should be otherwise;

so entirely devoted as he was to his pleasures. He kept no house; had

no equipage: Nobody pretended that he wanted pride: the reason

therefore was easy to be guessed at.' And then did she boast of, and

my brother praised her for, refusing him: and both joined on all

occasions to depreciate him, and not seldom made the occasions; their

displeasure against him causing every subject to run into this, if it

began not with it.

I was not solicitous to vindicate him when I was not joined in their

reflection. I told them I did not value him enough to make a

difference in the family on his account: and as he was supposed to

have given much cause for their ill opinion of him, I thought he ought

to take the consequence of his own faults.

Now and then indeed, when I observed that their vehemence carried them

beyond all bounds of probability in their charges against him, I

thought it but justice to put in a word for him. But this only

subjected me to reproach, as having a prepossession in his favour

which I would not own.--So that, when I could not change the subject,

I used to retire either to my music, or to my closet.

Their behaviour to him, when they could not help seeing him, was very

cold and disobliging; but as yet not directly affrontive. For they

were in hopes of prevailing upon my father to forbid his visits. But

as there was nothing in his behaviour, that might warrant such a

treatment of a man of his birth and fortune, they succeeded not: And

then they were very earnest with me to forbid them. I asked, what

authority I had to take such a step in my father's house; and when my

behaviour to him was so distant, that he seemed to be as much the

guest of any other person of the family, themselves excepted, as

mine?--In revenge, they told me, that it was cunning management

between us; and that we both understood one another better than we

pretended to do. And at last they gave such a loose to their

passions, all of a sudden* as I may say, that instead of withdrawing,

as they used to do when he came, they threw themselves in his way

purposely to affront him.

* The reason of this their more openly shown animosity is given in

Letter XIII.

Mr. Lovelace, you may believe, very ill brooked this: but nevertheless

contented himself to complain of it to me: in high terms, however,

telling me, that but for my sake my brother's treatment of him was not

to be borne.

I was sorry for the merit this gave him in his own opinion with me:

and the more, as some of the affronts he received were too flagrant to

be excused: But I told him, that I was determined not to fall out with

my brother, if I could help it, whatever faults he had: and since they

could not see one another with temper, should be glad that he would

not throw himself in my brother's way; and I was sure my brother would

not seek him.

He was very much nettled at this answer: But said, he must bear his

affronts if I would have it so. He had been accused himself of

violence in his temper; but he hoped to shew on this occasion that he

had a command of his passions which few young men, so highly provoked,

would be able to shew; and doubted not but it would be attributed to a

proper motive by a person of my generosity and penetration.

My brother had just before, with the approbation of my uncles,

employed a person related to a discharged bailiff or steward of Lord

M. who had had the management of some part of Mr. Lovelace's affairs

(from which he was also dismissed by him) to inquire into his debts,

after his companions, into his amours, and the like.

My aunt Hervey, in confidence, gave me the following particulars of

what the man had said of him.

'That he was a generous landlord: that he spared nothing for solid and

lasting improvements upon his estate; and that he looked into his own

affairs, and understood them: that he had been very expensive when

abroad; and contracted a large debt (for he made no secret of his

affairs); yet chose to limit himself to an annual sum, and to decline

equipage, in order to avoid being obliged to his uncle and aunts; from

whom he might have what money he pleased; but that he was very jealous

of their controul; had often quarrels with them; and treated them so

freely, that they were all afraid of him. However, that his estate

was never mortgaged, as my brother had heard it was; his credit was

always high; and the man believed, he was by this time near upon, if

not quite, clear of the world.

'He was a sad gentleman, he said, as to women:--If his tenants had

pretty daughters, they chose to keep them out of his sight. He

believed he kept no particular mistress; for he had heard newelty,

that was the man's word, was every thing with him. But for his

uncle's and aunt's teazings, the man fancied he would not think of

marriage: he was never known to be disguised with liquor; but was a

great plotter, and a great writer: That he lived a wild life in town,

by what he had heard: had six or seven companions as bad as himself;

whom now and then he brought down with him; and the country was always

glad when they went up again. He would have it, that although

passionate, he was good-humoured; loved as well to take a jest as to

give one; and would rally himself upon occasion the freest of any man

he ever knew.'

This was his character from an enemy; for, as my aunt observed, every

thing the man said commendably of him came grudgingly, with a must

needs say--to do him justice, &c. while the contrary was delivered

with a free good-will. And this character, as a worse was expected,

though this was bad enough, not answering the end of inquiring after

it, my brother and sister were more apprehensive than before, that his

address would be encouraged, since the worst part of it was known, or

supposed, when he was first introduced to my sister.

But, with regard to myself, I must observe in his disfavour, that,

notwithstanding the merit he wanted to make with me for his patience

upon my brother's ill-treatment of him, I owed him no compliments for

trying to conciliate with him. Not that I believe it would have

signified any thing if he had made ever such court either to him or to

my sister: yet one might have expected from a man of his politeness,

and from his pretensions, you know, that he would have been willing to

try. Instead of which, he shewed such a contempt both of my brother

and my sister, especially my brother, as was construed into a defiance

of them. And for me to have hinted at an alteration in his behaviour

to my brother, was an advantage I knew he would have been proud of;

and which therefore I had no mind to give him. But I doubted not that

having so very little encouragement from any body, his pride would

soon take fire, and he would of himself discontinue his visits, or go

to town; where, till he came acquainted with our family, he used

chiefly to reside: And in this latter case he had no reason to expect,

that I would receive, much less answer, his Letters: the occasions

which had led me to receive any of his, being by this time over.

But my brother's antipathy would not permit him to wait for such an

event; and after several excesses, which Mr. Lovelace still returned

with contempt, and a haughtiness too much like that of the aggressor,

my brother took upon himself to fill up the door-way once when he

came, as if to oppose his entrance: And upon his asking for me,

demanded, what his business was with his sister?

The other, with a challenging air, as my brother says, told him, he

would answer a gentleman any question; but he wished that Mr. James

Harlowe, who had of late given himself high airs, would remember that

he was not now at college.

Just then the good Dr. Lewen, who frequently honours me with a visit

of conversation, as he is pleased to call it, and had parted with me

in my own parlour, came to the door: and hearing the words,

interposed; both having their hands upon their swords: and telling Mr.

Lovelace where I was, he burst by my brother, to come to me; leaving

him chafing, he said, like a hunted boar at bay.

This alarmed us all. My father was pleased to hint to Mr. Lovelace,

that he wished he would discontinue his visits for the peace-sake of

the family: And I, by his command, spoke a great deal plainer.

But Mr. Lovelace is a man not easily brought to give up his purpose,

especially in a point wherein he pretends his heart is so much

engaged: and no absolute prohibition having been given, things went on

for a little while as before: for I saw plainly, that to have denied

myself to his visits (which however I declined receiving as often as I

could) was to bring forward some desperate issue between the two;

since the offence so readily given on one side was brooked by the

other only out of consideration to me.

And thus did my brother's rashness lay me under an obligation where I

would least have owed it.

The intermediate proposals of Mr. Symmes and Mr. Mullins, both (in

turn) encouraged by my brother, induced him to be more patient for a

while, as nobody thought me over-forward in Mr. Lovelace's favour; for

he hoped that he should engage my father and uncles to approve of the

one or the other in opposition to the man he hated. But when he found

that I had interest enough to disengage myself from the addresses of

those gentlemen, as I had (before he went to Scotland, and before Mr.

Lovelace visited here) of Mr. Wyerley's, he then kept no measures: and

first set himself to upbraid me for supposed prepossession, which he

treated as if it were criminal; and then to insult Mr. Lovelace in

person, at Mr. Edward Symmes's, the brother of the other Symmes, two

miles off; and no good Dr. Lewen being there to interpose, the unhappy

rencounter followed. My brother was disarmed, as you have heard; and

on being brought home, and giving us ground to suppose he was much

worse hurt than he really was, and a fever ensuing, every one flamed

out; and all was laid at my door.

Mr. Lovelace for three days together sent twice each day to inquire

after my brother's health; and although he received rude and even

shocking returns, he thought fit on the fourth day to make in person

the same inquiries; and received still greater incivilities from my

two uncles, who happened to be both there. My father also was held by

force from going to him with his sword in his hand, although he had

the gout upon him.

I fainted away with terror, seeing every one so violent, and hearing

Mr. Lovelace swear that he would not depart till he had made my uncles

ask his pardon for the indignities he had received at their hands; a

door being held fast locked between him and them. My mother all the

time was praying and struggling to with-hold my father in the great

parlour. Meanwhile my sister, who had treated Mr. Lovelace with

virulence, came in to me, and insulted me as fast as I recovered. But

when Mr. Lovelace was told how ill I was, he departed; nevertheless

vowing revenge.

He was ever a favourite with our domestics. His bounty to them, and

having always something facetious to say to each, had made them all of

his party: and on this occasion they privately blamed every body else,

and reported his calm and gentlemanly behaviour (till the provocations

given him ran very high) in such favourable terms, that those reports,

and my apprehensions of the consequence of this treatment, induced me

to read a letter he sent me that night; and, it being written in the

most respectful terms (offering to submit the whole to my decision,

and to govern himself entirely by my will) to answer it some days


To this unhappy necessity was owing our renewed correspondence, as I

may call it; yet I did not write till I had informed myself from Mr.

Symmes's brother, that he was really insulted into the act of drawing

his sword by my brother's repeatedly threatening (upon his excusing

himself out of regard to me) to brand me ir he did not; and, by all

the inquiry I could make, that he was again the sufferer from my

uncles in a more violent manner than I have related.

The same circumstances were related to my father and other relations

by Mr. Symmes; but they had gone too far in making themselves parties

to the quarrel either to retract or forgive; and I was forbidden to

correspond with him, or to be seen a moment in his company.

One thing however I can say, but that in confidence, because my mother

commanded me not to mention it:--That, expressing her apprehension of

the consequences of the indignities offered to Mr. Lovelace, she told

me, she would leave it to my prudence to do all I could to prevent the

impending mischief on one side.

I am obliged to break off. But I believe I have written enough to

answer very fully all that you have required of me. It is not for a

child to seek to clear her own character, or to justify her actions,

at the expense of the most revered ones: yet, as I know that the

account of all those further proceedings by which I may be affected,

will be interesting to so dear a friend (who will communicate to

others no more than what is fitting) I will continue to write, as I

have opportunity, as minutely as we are used to write to each other.

Indeed I have no delight, as I have often told you, equal to that which

I take in conversing with you by letter, when I cannot in person.

Mean time, I cannot help saying, that I am exceedingly concerned to

find, that I am become so much the public talk as you tell me I am.

Your kind, your precautionary regard for my fame, and the opportunity

you have given me to tell my own story previous to any new accident

(which heaven avert!) is so like the warm friend I have ever found in

my dear Miss Howe, that, with redoubled obligation, you bind me to be

Your ever grateful and affectionate, CLARISSA HARLOWE.

Copy of the requested Preamble to the clauses in her Grandfather's

Will: inclosed in the preceding Letter.

As the particular estate I have mentioned and described above, is

principally of my own raising: as my three sons have been uncommonly

prosperous; and are very rich: the eldest by means of the unexpected

benefits he reaps from his new found mines; the second, by what has,

as unexpectedly, fallen in to him on the deaths of several relations

of his present wife, the worthy daughter by both sides of very

honourable families; over and above the very large portion which he

received with her in marriage: my son Antony by his East-India

traffic, and successful voyages: as furthermore my grandson James will

be sufficiently provided for by his grandmother Lovell's kindness to

him; who, having no near relations, hath assured me, that she hath, as

well by deed of gift as by will, left him both her Scottish and

English estates: for never was there a family more prosperous in all

its branches, blessed be God therefore: and as my said son James will

very probably make it up to my grand-daughter Arabella; to whom I

intend no disrespect; nor have reason; for she is a very hopeful and

dutiful child: and as my sons, John and Antony, seem not inclined to a

married life; so that my son James is the only one who has children,

or is likely to have any. For all these reasons; and because my

dearest and beloved grand-daughter Clarissa hath been from her infancy

a matchless young creature in her duty to me, and admired by all who

knew her, as a very extraordinary child; I must therefore take the

pleasure of considering her as my own peculiar child; and this without

intending offence; and I hope it will not be taken as any, since my

son James can bestow his favours accordingly, and in greater

proportion, upon his son James, and upon his daughter Arabella.--

These, I say, are the reasons which move me to dispose of the above- described estate in the precious child's favour; who is the delight of

my old age: and, I verily think, has contributed, by her amiable duty

and kind and tender regards, to prolong my life.

Wherefore it is my express will and commandment, and I enjoin my said

three sons, John, James, and Antony, and my grandson James, and my

grand-daughter Arabella, as they value my blessing, and will regard my

memory, and would wish their own last wills and desires to be fulfilled

by their survivors, that they will not impugn or contest the following

bequests and devises in favour of my said grand-daughter Clarissa,

although they should not be strictly conformable to law or to the forms

thereof; nor suffer them to be controverted or disputed on any pretence


And in this confidence, &c. &c. &c.