MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE FEB. 24.
They drive on here at a furious rate. The man lives here, I think.
He courts them, and is more and more a favourite. Such terms, such
settlements! That's the cry.
O my dear, that I had not reason to deplore the family fault,
immensely rich as they all are! But this I may the more unreservedly
say to you, as we have often joined in the same concern: I, for a
father and uncles; you, for a mother; in every other respect,
Hitherto, I seem to be delivered over to my brother, who pretends as
great a love to me as ever.
You may believe I have been very sincere with him. But he affects to
rally me, and not to believe it possible, that one so dutiful and
discreet as his sister Clary can resolve to disoblige all her friends.
Indeed, I tremble at the prospect before me; for it is evident that
they are strangely determined.
My father and mother industriously avoid giving me opportunity of
speaking to them alone. They ask not for my approbation, intended, as
it should seem, to suppose me into their will. And with them I shall
hope to prevail, or with nobody. They have not the interest in
compelling me, as my brother and sister have: I say less therefore to
them, reserving my whole force for an audience of my father, if he
will permit me a patient ear. How difficult is it, my dear, to give a
negative where both duty and inclination join to make one wish to
I have already stood the shock of three of this man's particular
visits, besides my share in his more general ones; and find it is
impossible I should ever endure him. He has but a very ordinary share
of understanding; is very illiterate; knows nothing but the value of
estates, and how to improve them, and what belongs to land-jobbing and
husbandry. Yet I am as one stupid, I think. They have begun so
cruelly with me, that I have not spirit enough to assert my own
They had endeavoured it seems to influence my good Mrs. Norton before
I came home--so intent are they to carry their point! And her opinion
not being to their liking, she has been told that she would do well to
decline visiting here for the present: yet she is the person of all
the world, next to my mother, the most likely to prevail upon me, were
the measures they are engaged in reasonable measures, or such as she
could think so.
My aunt likewise having said that she did not think her niece could
ever be brought to like Mr. Solmes, has been obliged to learn another
I am to have a visit from her to-morrow. And, since I have refused so
much as to hear from my brother and sister what the noble settlements
are to be, she is to acquaint me with the particulars; and to receive
from me my determination: for my father, I am told, will not have
patience but to suppose that I shall stand in opposition to his will.
Mean time it has been signified to me, that it will be acceptable if I
do not think of going to church next Sunday.
The same signification was made for me last Sunday; and I obeyed.
They are apprehensive that Mr. Lovelace will be there with design to
come home with me.
Help me, dear Miss Howe, to a little of your charming spirit: I never
more wanted it.
The man, this Solmes, you may suppose, has no reason to boast of his
progress with me. He has not the sense to say any thing to the
purpose. His courtship indeed is to them; and my brother pretends to
court me as his proxy, truly!--I utterly, to my brother, reject his
address; but thinking a person, so well received and recommended by
all my family, entitled to good manners, all I say against him is
affectedly attributed to coyness: and he, not being sensible of his
own imperfections, believes that my avoiding him when I can, and the
reserves I express, are owing to nothing else: for, as I said, all his
courtship is to them; and I have no opportunity of saying no, to one
who asks me not the question. And so, with an air of mannish
superiority, he seems rather to pity the bashful girl, than to
apprehend that he shall not succeed.
I have had the expected conference with my aunt.
I have been obliged to hear the man's proposals from her; and have
been told also what their motives are for espousing his interest with
so much warmth. I am even loth to mention how equally unjust it is
for him to make such offers, or for those I am bound to reverence to
accept of them. I hate him more than before. One great estate is
already obtained at the expense of the relations to it, though distant
relations; my brother's, I mean, by his godmother: and this has given
the hope, however chimerical that hope, of procuring others; and that
my own at least may revert to the family. And yet, in my opinion, the
world is but one great family. Originally it was so. What then is
this narrow selfishness that reigns in us, but relationship remembered
against relationship forgot?
But here, upon my absolute refusal of him upon any terms, have I had a
signification made me that wounds me to the heart. How can I tell it
you? Yet I must. It is, my dear, that I must not for a month to
come, or till license obtained, correspond with any body out of the
My brother, upon my aunt's report, (made, however, as I am informed,
in the gentlest manner, and even giving remote hopes, which she had no
commission from me to give,) brought me, in authoritative terms, the
Not to Miss Howe? said I.
No, not to Miss Howe, Madam, tauntingly: for have you not
acknowledged, that Lovelace is a favourite there?
See, my dear Miss Howe!--
And do you think, Brother, this is the way--
Do you look to that.--But your letters will be stopt, I can tell you.- -And away he flung.
My sister came to me soon after--Sister Clary, you are going on in a
fine way, I understand. But as there are people who are supposed to
harden you against your duty, I am to tell you, that it will be taken
well if you avoid visits or visitings for a week or two till further
Can this be from those who have authority--
Ask them; ask them, child, with a twirl of her finger.--I have
delivered my message. Your father will be obeyed. He is willing to
hope you to be all obedience, and would prevent all incitements to
I know my duty, said I; and hope I shall not find impossible condition
annexed to it.
A pert young creature, vain and conceited, she called me. I was the
only judge, in my own wise opinion, of what was right and fit. She,
for her part, had long seen into my specious ways: and now I should
shew every body what I was at bottom.
Dear Bella! said I, hands and eyes lifted up--why all this?--Dear,
dear Bella, why--
None of your dear, dear Bella's to me.--I tell you, I see through your
witchcrafts [that was her strange word]. And away she flung; adding,
as she went, and so will every body else very quickly, I dare say.
Bless me, said I to myself, what a sister have I!--How have I deserved
Then I again regretted my grandfather's too distinguishing goodness to
FEB. 25, IN THE EVENING.
What my brother and sister have said against me I cannot tell:--but I
am in heavy disgrace with my father.
I was sent for down to tea. I went with a very cheerful aspect: but
had occasion soon to change it.
Such a solemnity in every body's countenance!--My mother's eyes were
fixed upon the tea-cups; and when she looked up, it was heavily, as if
her eye-lids had weights upon them; and then not to me. My father sat
half-aside in his elbow-chair, that his head might be turned from me:
his hands clasped, and waving, as it were, up and down; his fingers,
poor dear gentleman! in motion, as if angry to the very ends of them.
My sister was swelling. My brother looked at me with scorn, having
measured me, as I may say, with his eyes as I entered, from head to
foot. My aunt was there, and looked upon me as if with kindness
restrained, bending coldly to my compliment to her as she sat; and
then cast an eye first on my brother, then on my sister, as if to give
the reason [so I am willing to construe it] of her unusual stiffness.- -Bless me, my dear! that they should choose to intimidate rather than
invite a mind, till now, not thought either unpersuadable or
I took my seat. Shall I make tea, Madam, to my mother?--I always
used, you know, my dear, to make tea.
No! a very short sentence, in one very short word, was the expressive
answer. And she was pleased to take the canister in her own hand.
My brother bid the footman, who attended, leave the room--I, he said,
will pour out the water.
My heart was up in my mouth. I did not know what to do with myself.
What is to follow? thought I.
Just after the second dish, out stept my mother--A word with you,
sister Hervey! taking her in her hand. Presently my sister dropt
away. Then my brother. So I was left alone with my father.
He looked so very sternly, that my heart failed me as twice or thrice
I would have addressed myself to him: nothing but solemn silence on
all hands having passed before.
At last, I asked, if it were his pleasure that I should pour him out
He answered me with the same angry monosyllable, which I had received
from my mother before; and then arose, and walked about the room. I
arose too, with intent to throw myself at his feet; but was too much
overawed by his sternness, even to make such an expression of my duty
to him as my heart overflowed with.
At last, as he supported himself, because of his gout, on the back of
a chair, I took a little more courage; and approaching him, besought
him to acquaint me in what I had offended him?
He turned from me, and in a strong voice, Clarissa Harlowe, said he,
know that I will be obeyed.
God forbid, Sir, that you should not!--I have never yet opposed your
Nor I your whimsies, Clarissa Harlowe, interrupted he.--Don't let me
run the fate of all who shew indulgence to your sex; to be the more
contradicted for mine to you.
My father, you know, my dear, has not (any more than my brother) a
kind opinion of our sex; although there is not a more condescending
wife in the world than my mother.
I was going to make protestations of duty--No protestations, girl! No
words! I will not be prated to! I will be obeyed! I have no child,
I will have no child, but an obedient one.
Sir, you never had reason, I hope--
Tell me not what I never had, but what I have, and what I shall have.
Good Sir, be pleased to hear me--My brother and sister, I fear--
Your brother and sister shall not be spoken against, girl!--They have
a just concern for the honour of my family.
And I hope, Sir--
Hope nothing.--Tell me not of hopes, but of facts. I ask nothing of
you but what is in your power to comply with, and what it is your duty
to comply with.
Then, Sir, I will comply with it--But yet I hope from your goodness--
No expostulations! No but's, girl! No qualifyings! I will be
obeyed, I tell you; and cheerfully too!--or you are no child of mine!
Let me beseech you, my dear and ever-honoured Papa, (and I dropt down
on my knees,) that I may have only yours and my mamma's will, and not
my brother's, to obey.
I was going on; but he was pleased to withdraw, leaving me on the
floor; saying, That he would not hear me thus by subtilty and cunning
aiming to distinguish away my duty: repeating, that he would be
My heart is too full;--so full, that it may endanger my duty, were I
to try to unburden it to you on this occasion: so I will lay down my
pen.--But can--Yet positively, I will lay down my pen!--