MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE TUESDAY, MARCH 21.
How willingly would my dear mother shew kindness to me, were she
permitted! None of this persecution should I labour under, I am sure,
if that regard were paid to her prudence and fine understanding, which
they so well deserve. Whether owing to her, or to my aunt, or to
both, that a new trial was to be made upon me, I cannot tell, but this
morning her Shorey delivered into my hand the following condescending
MY DEAR GIRL,
For so I must still call you; since dear you may be to me, in every
sense of the word--we have taken into particular consideration some
hints that fell yesterday from your good Norton, as if we had not, at
Mr. Solmes's first application, treated you with that condescension,
wherewith we have in all other instances treated you. If it even had
been so, my dear, you were not excusable to be wanting in your part,
and to set yourself to oppose your father's will in a point which he
had entered too far, to recede with honour. But all yet may be well.
On your single will, my child, depends all our happiness.
Your father permits me to tell you, that if you now at last comply
with his expectations, all past disobligations shall be buried in
oblivion, as if they had never been: but withal, that this is the last
time that that grace will be offered you.
I hinted to you, you must remember,* that patterns of the richest
silks were sent for. They are come. And as they are come, your
father, to shew how much he is determined, will have me send them up
to you. I could have wished they might not have accompanied this
letter, but there is not great matter in that. I must tell you, that
your delicacy is not quite so much regarded as I had once thought it
deserved to be.
* See Letter XX.
These are the newest, as well as richest, that we could procure;
answerable to our situation in the world; answerable to the fortune,
additional to your grandfather's estate, designed you; and to the
noble settlements agreed upon.
Your father intends you six suits (three of them dressed suits) at his
own expense. You have an entire new suit; and one besides, which I
think you never wore but twice. As the new suit is rich, if you
choose to make that one of the six, your father will present you with
an hundred guineas in lieu.
Mr. Solmes intends to present you with a set of jewels. As you have
your grandmother's and your own, if you choose to have the former new
set, and to make them serve, his present will be made in money; a very
round sum--which will be given in full property to yourself; besides a
fine annual allowance for pin-money, as it is called. So that your
objection against the spirit of a man you think worse of than it
deserves, will have no weight; but you will be more independent than a
wife of less discretion than we attribute to you, perhaps ought to be.
You know full well, that I, who first and last brought a still larger
fortune into the family than you will carry to Mr. Solmes, had not a
provision made me of near this that we have made for you.--Where
people marry to their liking, terms are the least things stood upon-- yet should I be sorry if you cannot (to oblige us all) overcome a
Wonder not, Clary, that I write to you thus plainly and freely upon
this subject. Your behaviour hitherto has been such, that we have had
no opportunity of entering minutely into the subject with you. Yet,
after all that has passed between you and me in conversation, and
between you and your uncles by letter, you have no room to doubt what
is to be the consequence.--Either, child, we must give up our
authority, or you your humour. You cannot expect the one. We have
all the reason in the world to expect the other. You know I have told
you more than once, that you must resolve to have Mr. Solmes, or never
to be looked upon as our child.
The draught of the settlement you may see whenever you will. We think
there can be no room for objection to any of the articles. There is
still more in them in our family's favour, than was stipulated at
first, when your aunt talked of them to you. More so, indeed, than we
could have asked. If, upon perusal of them, you think any alteration
necessary, it shall be made.--Do, my dear girl, send to me within this
day or two, or rather ask me, for the perusal of them.
As a certain person's appearance at church so lately, and what he
gives out every where, makes us extremely uneasy, and as that
uneasiness will continue while you are single, you must not wonder
that a short day is intended. This day fortnight we design it to be,
if you have no objection to make that I shall approve of. But if you
determine as we would have you, and signify it to us, we shall not
stand with you for a week or so.
Your sightlines of person may perhaps make some think this alliance
disparaging. But I hope you will not put such a personal value upon
yourself: if you do, it will indeed be the less wonder that person
should weigh with you (however weak the consideration!) in another
Thus we parents, in justice, ought to judge: that our two daughters
are equally dear and valuable to us: if so, why should Clarissa think
that a disparagement, which Arabella would not (nor we for her) have
thought any, had the address been made to her?--You will know what I
mean by this, without my explaining myself farther.
Signify to us, now, therefore, your compliance with our wishes. And
then there is an end of your confinement. An act of oblivion, as I
may call it, shall pass upon all your former refractoriness: and you
will once more make us happy in you, and in one another. You may, in
this case, directly come down to your father and me, in his study;
where we will give you our opinions of the patterns, with our hearty
forgiveness and blessings.
Come, be a good child, as you used to be, my Clarissa. I have
(notwithstanding your past behaviour, and the hopelessness which some
have expressed in your compliance) undertaken this one time more for
you. Discredit not my hopes, my dear girl. I have promised never
more to interfere between your father and you, if this my most earnest
application succeed not. I expect you down, love. Your father
expects you down. But be sure don't let him see any thing uncheerful
in your compliance. If you come, I will clasp you to my fond heart,
with as much pleasure as ever I pressed you to it in my whole life.
You don't know what I have suffered within these few weeks past; nor
ever will be able to guess, till you come to be in my situation; which
is that of a fond and indulgent mother, praying night and day, and
struggling to preserve, against the attempts of more ungovernable
spirits, the peace and union of her family.
But you know the terms. Come not near us, if you have resolve to be
undutiful: but this, after what I have written, I hope you cannot be.
If you come directly, and, as I have said, cheerfully, as if your
heart were in your duty, (and you told me it was free, you know,) I
shall then, as I said, give you the most tender proofs how much I am
Your truly affectionate Mother.
Think for me, my dearest friend, how I must be affected by this
letter; the contents of it is so surprisingly terrifying, yet so
sweetly urged!--O why, cried I to myself, am I obliged to undergo this
severe conflict between a command that I cannot obey, and language so
condescendingly moving!--Could I have been sure of being struck dead
at the alter before the ceremony had given the man I hate a title to
my vows, I think I could have submitted to having been led to it. But
to think of living with and living for a man one abhors, what a sad
thing is that!
And then, how could the glare of habit and ornament be supposed any
inducement to one, who has always held, that the principal view of a
good wife in the adorning of her person, ought to be, to preserve the
affection of her husband, and to do credit to his choice; and that she
should be even fearful of attracting the eyes of others?--In this
view, must not the very richness of the patterns add to my disgusts?-- Great encouragement, indeed, to think of adorning one's self to be the
wife of Mr. Solmes!
Upon the whole, it was not possible for me to go down upon the
prescribed condition. Do you think it was?--And to write, if my
letter would have been read, what could I write that would be
admitted, and after what I had written and said to so little effect?
I walked backward and forward. I threw down with disdain the
patterns. Now to my closet retired I; then quitting it, threw myself
upon the settee; then upon this chair, then upon that; then into one
window, then into another--I knew not what to do!--And while I was in
this suspense, having again taken up the letter to re-peruse it, Betty
came in, reminding me, by order, that my papa and mamma waited for me
in my father's study.
Tell my mamma, said I, that I beg the favour of seeing her here for
one moment, or to permit me to attend her any where by herself.
I listened at the stairs-head--You see, my dear, how it is, cried my
father, very angrily: all your condescension (as your indulgence
heretofore) is thrown away. You blame your son's violence, as you
call it [I had some pleasure in hearing this]; but nothing else will
do with her. You shall not see her alone. Is my presence an
exception to the bold creature?
Tell her, said my mother to Betty, she knows upon what terms she may
come down to us. Nor will I see her upon any other.
The maid brought me this answer. I had recourse to my pen and ink;
but I trembled so, that I could not write, nor knew what to say, had I
steadier fingers. At last Betty brought me these lines from my
UNDUTIFUL AND PERVERSE CLARISSA,
No condescension, I see, will move you. Your mother shall not see
you; nor will I. Prepare however to obey. You know our pleasure.
Your uncle Antony, your brother, and your sister, and your favourite
Mrs. Norton, shall see the ceremony performed privately at your
uncle's chapel. And when Mr. Solmes can introduce you to us, in the
temper we wish to behold you in, we may perhaps forgive his wife,
although we never can, in any other character, our perverse daughter.
As it will be so privately performed, clothes and equipage may be
provided for afterwards. So prepare to go to your uncle's for an
early day in next week. We will not see you till all is over: and we
will have it over the sooner, in order to shorten the time of your
deserved confinement, and our own trouble in contending with such a
rebel, as you have been of late. I will hear no pleas, I will receive
no letter, nor expostulation. Nor shall you hear from me any more
till you have changed your name to my liking. This from
Your incensed Father.
If this resolution be adhered to, then will my father never see me
more!--For I will never be the wife of that Solmes--I will die
He, this Solmes, came hither soon after I had received my father's
letter. He sent up to beg leave to wait upon me--I wonder at his
I said to Betty, who brought me this message, let him restore an
unhappy creature to her father and mother, and then I may hear what he
has to say. But, if my friends will not see me on his account, I will
not see him upon his own.
I hope, Miss, said Betty, you will not send me down with this answer.
He is with you papa and mamma.
I am driven to despair, said I. I cannot be used worse. I will not
Down she went with my answer. She pretended, it seems, to be loth to
repeat it: so was commanded out of her affected reserves, and gave it
in its full force.
O how I heard my father storm!
They were altogether, it seems, in his study. My brother was for
having me turned out of the house that moment, to Lovelace, and my
evil destiny. My mother was pleased to put in a gentle word for me: I
know not what it was: but thus she was answered--My dear, this is the
most provoking thing in the world in a woman of your good sense!--To
love a rebel, as well as if she were dutiful. What encouragement for
duty is this?--Have I not loved her as well as ever you did? And why
am I changed! Would to the Lord, your sex knew how to distinguish!
It is plain, that she relies upon her power over you. The fond mother
ever made a hardened child!
She was pleased, however, to blame Betty, as the wench owned, for
giving my answer its full force. But my father praised her for it.
The wench says, that he would have come up in his wrath, at my
refusing to see Mr. Solmes, had not my brother and sister prevailed
upon him to the contrary.
I wish he had!--And, were it not for his own sake, that he had killed
Mr. Solmes condescended [I am mightily obliged to him truly!] to plead
They are all in tumults! How it will end, I know not--I am quite
weary of life--So happy, till within these few weeks!--So miserable
Well, indeed, might my mother say, that I should have severe trials.*
* See Letter XXV.
P.S. The idiot [such a one am I treated like!] is begged, as I may
say, by my brother and sister. They have desired, that I may be
consigned over entirely to their management. If it be granted, [it is
granted, on my father's part, I understand, but not yet on my
mother's,] what cruelty may I not expect from their envy, jealousy,
and ill-will!--I shall soon see, by its effects, if I am to be so
consigned. This is a written intimation privately dropt in my wood- house walk, by my cousin Dolly Hervey. The dear girl longs to see me,
she tells me: but is forbidden till she see me as Mrs. Solmes, or as
consenting to be his. I will take example by their perseverance!-- Indeed I will!--