MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE SATURDAY, MARCH 11.
I have had such taunting messages, and such repeated avowals of ill
offices, brought me from my brother and sister, if I do no comply with
their wills, (delivered, too, with provoking sauciness by Betty
Barnes,) that I have thought it proper, before I entered upon my
intended address to my uncles, in pursuance of the hint given me in my
mother's letter, to expostulate a little with them. But I have done
it in such a manner, as will give you (if you please to take it as you
have done some parts of my former letters) great advantage over me.
In short, you will have more cause than ever, to declare me far gone
in love, if my reasons for the change of my style in these letters,
with regard to Mr. Lovelace, do not engage your more favourable
opinion.--For I have thought proper to give them their own way: and,
since they will have it, that I have a preferable regard for Mr.
Lovelace, I give them cause rather to confirm their opinion than doubt
These are my reasons in brief, for the alteration of my style.
In the first place, they have grounded their principal argument for my
compliance with their will, upon my acknowledgement that my heart is
free; and so, supposing I give up no preferable person, my opposition
has the look of downright obstinacy in their eyes; and they argue,
that at worst, my aversion to Solmes is an aversion that may be easily
surmounted, and ought to be surmounted in duty to my father, and for
the promotion of family views.
Next, although they build upon this argument in order to silence me,
they seem not to believe me, but treat me as disgracefully, as if I
were in love with one of my father's footmen: so that my conditional
willingness to give up Mr. Lovelace has procured me no favour.
In the next place, I cannot but think, that my brother's antipathy to
Mr. Lovelace is far from being well grounded: the man's inordinate
passion for the sex is the crime that is always rung in my ears: and a
very great one it is: But, does my brother recriminate upon him thus
in love to me?--No--his whole behaviour shews me, that that is not his
principal motive, and that he thinks me rather in his way than
It is then the call of justice, as I may say, to speak a little in
favour of a man, who, although provoked by my brother, did not do him
all the mischief he could have done him, and which my brother had
endeavoured to do him. It might not be amiss therefore, I thought, to
alarm them a little with apprehension, that the methods they are
taking with me are the very reverse of those they should take to
answer the end they design by them. And after all, what is the
compliment I make Mr. Lovelace, if I allow it to be thought that I do
really prefer him to such a man as him they terrify me with? Then, my
Miss Howe [concluded I] accuses me of a tameness which subject me to
insults from my brother: I will keep that dear friend in my eye; and
for all these considerations, try what a little of her spirit will do --sit it ever so awkwardly upon me.
In this way of thinking, I wrote to my brother and sister. This is my
letter to him.
TREATED as I am, and, in a great measure, if not wholly, by your
instigations, Brother, you must permit me to expostulate with you upon
the occasion. It is not my intention to displease you in what I am
going to write: and yet I must deal freely with you: the occasion
calls for it.
And permit me, in the first place, to remind you, that I am your
sister; and not your servant; and that, therefore, the bitter
revilings and passionate language brought me from you, upon an
occasion in which you have no reason to prescribe to me, are neither
worthy of my character to bear, nor of yours to offer.
Put the case, that I were to marry the man you dislike: and that he
were not to make a polite or tender husband, Is that a reason for you
to be an unpolite and disobliging brother?--Why must you, Sir,
anticipate my misfortunes, were such a case to happen?--Let me tell
you plainly, that the man who could treat me as a wife, worse than you
of late have treated me as a sister, must be a barbarous man indeed.
Ask yourself, I pray you, Sir, if you would thus have treated your
sister Bella, had she thought fit to receive the addresses of the man
so much hated by you?--If not, let me caution you, my Brother, not to
take your measures by what you think will be borne, but rather by what
ought to be offered.
How would you take it, if you had a brother, who, in a like case, were
to act by you, as you do by me?--You cannot but remember what a
laconic answer you gave even to my father, who recommended to you Miss
Nelly D'Oily--You did not like her, were your words: and that was
You must needs think, that I cannot but know to whom to attribute my
disgraces, when I recollect my father's indulgence to me, permitting
me to decline several offers; and to whom, that a common cause is
endeavoured to be made, in favour of a man whose person and manners
are more exceptional than those of any of the gentlemen I have been
permitted to refuse.
I offer not to compare the two men together: nor is there indeed the
least comparison to be made between them. All the difference to the
one's disadvantage, if I did, is but one point--of the greatest
importance, indeed--But to whom of most importance?--To myself,
surely, were I to encourage his application: of the least to you.
Nevertheless, if you do not, by your strange politics, unite that man
and me as joint sufferers in one cause, you shall find me as much
resolved to renounce him, as I am to refuse the other. I have made an
overture to this purpose: I hope you will not give me reason to
confirm my apprehensions, that it will be owing to you if it be not
It is a sad thing to have it to say, without being conscious of ever
having given you cause of offence, that I have in you a brother, but
not a friend.
Perhaps you will not condescend to enter into the reasons of your late
and present conduct with a foolish sister. But if politeness, if
civility, be not due to that character, and to my sex, justice is.
Let me take the liberty further to observe, that the principal end of
a young man's education at the university, is, to learn him to reason
justly, and to subdue the violence of his passions. I hope, Brother,
that you will not give room for any body who knows us both, to
conclude, that the toilette has taught the one more of the latter
doctrine, than the university has taught the other. I am truly sorry
to have cause to say, that I have heard it often remarked, that your
uncontrouled passions are not a credit to your liberal education.
I hope, Sir, that you will excuse the freedom I have taken with you:
you have given me too much reason for it, and you have taken much
greater with me, without reason:--so, if you are offended, ought to
look at the cause, and not at the effect:--then examining yourself,
that cause will cease, and there will not be any where a more
accomplished gentleman than my brother.
Sisterly affection, I do assure you, Sir, (unkindly as you have used
me,) and not the pertness which of late you have been so apt to impute
to me, is my motive in this hint. Let me invoke your returning
kindness, my only brother! And give me cause, I beseech you, to call
you my compassionating friend. For I am, and ever will be,
Your affectionate sister, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
This is my brother's answer.
TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
I KNOW there will be no end of your impertinent scribble, if I don't
write to you. I write therefore: but, without entering into argument
with such a conceited and pert preacher and questioner, it is, to
forbid you to plague me with your quaint nonsense. I know not what
wit in a woman is good for, but to make her overvalue herself, and
despise every other person. Yours, Miss Pert, has set you above your
duty, and above being taught or prescribed to, either by parents, or
any body else. But go on, Miss: your mortification will be the
greater; that's all, child. It shall, I assure you, if I can make it
so, so long as you prefer that villainous Lovelace, (who is justly
hated by all your family) to every body. We see by your letter now
(what we too justly suspected before), most evidently we see, the hold
he has got of your forward heart. But the stronger the hold, the
greater must be the force (and you shall have enough of that) to tear
such a miscreant from it. In me, notwithstanding your saucy
lecturing, and your saucy reflections before, you are sure of a
friend, as well as of a brother, if it be not your own fault. But if
you will still think of such a wretch as that Lovelace, never expect
either friend or brother in
I will now give you a copy of my letter to my sister; with her answer.
IN what, my dear Sister, have I offended you, that instead of
endeavouring to soften my father's anger against me, (as I am sure I
should have done for you, had my unhappy case been yours,) you should,
in so hard-hearted a manner, join to aggravate not only his
displeasure, but my mother's against me. Make but my case your own,
my dear Bella; and suppose you were commanded to marry Mr. Lovelace,
(to whom you are believed to have such an antipathy,) would you not
think it a very grievous injunction?--Yet cannot your dislike to Mr.
Lovelace be greater than mine is to Mr. Solmes. Nor are love and
hatred voluntary passions.
My brother may perhaps think it a proof of a manly spirit, to shew
himself an utter stranger to the gentle passions. We have both heard
him boast, that he never loved with distinction: and, having
predominating passions, and checked in his first attempt, perhaps he
never will. It is the less wonder, then, raw from the college, so
lately himself the tutored, that he should set up for a tutor, a
prescriber to our gentler sex, whose tastes and manners are
differently formed: for what, according to his account, are colleges,
but classes of tyrants, from the upper students over the lower, and
from them to the tutor?--That he, with such masculine passions should
endeavour to controul and bear down an unhappy sister, in a case where
his antipathy, and, give me leave to say, his ambition [once you would
have allowed the latter to be his fault] can be gratified by so doing,
may not be quite so much to be wondered at--but that a sister should
give up the cause of a sister, and join with him to set her father and
mother against her, in a case that might have been her own--indeed, my
Bella, this is not pretty in you.
There was a time that Mr. Lovelace was thought reclaimable, and when
it was far from being deemed a censurable view to hope to bring back
to the paths of virtue and honour, a man of his sense and
understanding. I am far from wishing to make the experiment: but
nevertheless will say, that if I have not a regard for him, the
disgraceful methods taken to compel me to receive the addresses of
such a man as Mr. Solmes are enough to induce it.
Do you, my Sister, for one moment, lay aside all prejudice, and
compare the two men in their births, their educations, their persons,
their understandings, their manners, their air, and their whole
deportments; and in their fortunes too, taking in reversions; and then
judge of both; yet, as I have frequently offered, I will live single
with all my heart, if that will do.
I cannot thus live in displeasure and disgrace. I would, if I could,
oblige all my friends. But will it be just, will it be honest, to
marry a man I cannot endure? If I have not been used to oppose the
will of my father, but have always delighted to oblige and obey, judge
of the strength of my antipathy, by the painful opposition I am
obliged to make, and cannot help it.
Pity then, my dearest Bella, my sister, my friend, my companion, my
adviser, as you used to be when I was happy, and plead for
Your ever-affectionate, CL. HARLOWE.
TO MISS CLARY HARLOWE
Let it be pretty or not pretty, in your wise opinion, I shall speak my
mind, I will assure you, both of you and your conduct in relation to
this detested Lovelace. You are a fond foolish girl with all your
wisdom. Your letter shews that enough in twenty places. And as to
your cant of living single, nobody will believe you. This is one of
your fetches to avoid complying with your duty, and the will of the
most indulgent parents in the world, as yours have been to you, I am
sure--though now they see themselves finely requited for it.
We all, indeed, once thought your temper soft and amiable: but why was
it? You never were contradicted before: you had always your own way.
But no sooner do you meet with opposition in your wishes to throw
yourself away upon a vile rake, but you shew what you are. You cannot
love Mr. Solmes! that's the pretence; but Sister, Sister, let me tell
you, that is because Lovelace has got into your fond heart:--a wretch
hated, justly hated, by us all; and who has dipped his hands in the
blood of your brother: yet him you would make our relation, would you?
I have no patience with you, but for putting the case of my liking
such a vile wretch as him. As to the encouragement you pretend he
received formerly from all our family, it was before we knew him to be
so vile: and the proofs that had such force upon us, ought to have had
some upon you:--and would, had you not been a foolish forward girl; as
on this occasion every body sees you are.
O how you run out in favour of the wretch!--His birth, his education,
his person, his understanding, his manners, his air, his fortune-- reversions too taken in to augment the surfeiting catalogue! What a
fond string of lovesick praises is here! And yet you would live
single--Yes, I warrant!--when so many imaginary perfections dance
before your dazzled eye!--But no more--I only desire, that you will
not, while you seem to have such an opinion of your wit, think every
one else a fool; and that you can at pleasure, by your whining
flourishes, make us all dance after your lead.
Write as often as you will, this shall be the last answer or notice
you shall have upon this subject from
I had in readiness a letter for each of my uncles; and meeting in the
garden a servant of my uncle Harlowe, I gave him to deliver according
to their respective directions. If I am to form a judgment by the
answers I have received from my brother and sister, as above, I must
not, I doubt, expect any good from those letters. But when I have
tried every expedient, I shall have the less to blame myself for, if
any thing unhappy should fall out. I will send you copies of both,
when I shall see what notice they will be thought worthy of, if of