MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE TUESDAY, MARCH 7.
By my last deposit, you will see how I am driven, and what a poor
prisoner I am.--No regard had to my reputation. The whole matter is
now before you. Can such measures be supposed to soften?--But surely
they can only mean to try and frighten me into my brother's views!-- All my hope is, to be able to weather this point till my cousin Morden
comes from Florence; and he is soon expected: yet, if they are
determined upon a short day, I doubt he will not be here in time
enough to save me.
It is plain by my brother's letter, that my mother has not spared me,
in the report she was pleased to make of the conference between
herself and me: yet she was pleased to hint to me, that my brother had
views which she would have had me try to disappoint. But indeed she
had engaged to give a faithful account of what was to pass between
herself and me: and it was, doubtless, much more eligible to give up a
daughter, than to disoblige a husband, and every other person of the
They think they have done every thing by turning away my poor Hannah:
but as long as the liberty of the garden, and my poultry-visits, are
allowed me, they will be mistaken.
I asked Mrs. Betty, if she had any orders to watch or attend me; or
whether I was to ask her leave whenever I should be disposed to walk
in the garden, or to go feed my bantams?--Lord bless her! what could I
mean by such a question! Yet she owned, that she had heard, that I
was not to go into the garden, when my father, mother, or uncles were
However, as it behoved me to be assured on this head, I went down
directly, and staid an hour, without question or impediment; and yet a
good part of the time, I walked under and in sight, as I may say, of
my brother's study window, where both he and my sister happened to be.
And I am sure they saw me, by the loud mirth they affected, by way of
insult, as I suppose.
So this part of my restraint was doubtless a stretch of the authority
given him. The enforcing of that may perhaps come next. But I hope
Since I wrote the above, I ventured to send a letter by Shorey to my
mother. I desired her to give it into her own hand, when nobody was
I shall enclose a copy of it. You will see that I would have it
thought, that now Hannah is gone, I have no way to correspond out of
the house. I am far from thinking all I do right. I am afraid this
is a little piece of art, that is not so. But this is an
afterthought. The letter went first.
Having acknowledged to you, that I had received letters from Mr.
Lovelace full of resentment, and that I answered them purely to
prevent further mischief, and having shewn you copies of my answers,
which you did not disapprove of, although you thought fit, after you
had read them, to forbid me any further correspondence with him, I
think it my duty to acquaint you, that another letter from him has
since come to my hand, in which he is very earnest with me to permit
him to wait on my papa, or you, or my two uncles, in a pacific way,
accompanied by Lord M.: on which I beg your commands.
I own to you, Madam, that had not the prohibition been renewed, and
had not Hannah been so suddenly dismissed my service, I should have
made the less scruple to have written an answer, and to have commanded
her to convey it to him, with all speed, in order to dissuade him from
these visits, lest any thing should happen on the occasion that my
heart aches but to think of.
And here I cannot but express my grief, that I should have all the
punishment and all the blame, who, as I have reason to think, have
prevented great mischief, and have not been the occasion of any. For,
Madam, could I be supposed to govern the passions of either of the
gentlemen?--Over the one indeed I have had some little influence,
without giving him hitherto any reason to think he has fastened an
obligation upon me for it.--Over the other, Who, Madam, has any?--I am
grieved at heart, to be obliged to lay so great a blame at my
brother's door, although my reputation and my liberty are both to be
sacrificed to his resentment and ambition. May not, however, so deep
a sufferer be permitted to speak out?
This communication being as voluntarily made, as dutifully intended, I
humbly presume to hope, that I shall not be required to produce the
letter itself. I cannot either in honour or prudence do that, because
of the vehemence of his style; for having heard [not, I assure you, by
my means, or through Hannah's] of some part of the harsh treatment I
have met with; he thinks himself entitled to place it to his own
account, by reason of speeches thrown out by some of my relations,
If I do not answer him, he will be made desperate, and think himself
justified (thought I shall not think him so) in resenting the
treatment he complains of: if I do, and if, in compliment to me, he
forbears to resent what he thinks himself entitled to resent; be
pleased, Madam, to consider the obligation he will suppose he lays me
If I were as strongly prepossessed in his favour as is supposed, I
should not have wished this to be considered by you. And permit me,
as a still further proof that I am not prepossessed, to beg of you to
consider, Whether, upon the whole, the proposal I made, of declaring
for the single life (which I will religiously adhere to) is not the
best way to get rid of his pretensions with honour. To renounce him,
and not be allowed to aver, that I will never be the other man's, will
make him conclude (driven as I am driven) that I am determined in that
other man's favour.
If this has not its due weight, my brother's strange schemes must be
tried, and I will resign myself to my destiny with all the
acquiescence that shall be granted to my prayers. And so leaving the
whole to your own wisdom, and whether you choose to consult my papa
and uncles upon this humble application, or not; or whether I shall be
allowed to write an answer to Mr. Lovelace, or not [and if allowed to
do so, I beg your direction by whom to send it]; I remain,
Honoured Madam, Your unhappy, but ever dutiful daughter, CL. HARLOWE.
I have just received an answer to the enclosed letter. My mother, you
will observe, has ordered me to burn it: but, as you will have it in
your safekeeping, and nobody else will see it, her end will be equally
answered, as if it were burnt. It has neither date nor
Say not all the blame and all the punishment is yours. I am as much
blamed, and as much punished, as you are; yet am more innocent. When
your obstinacy is equal to any other person's passion, blame not your
brother. We judged right, that Hannah carried on your
correspondencies. Now she is gone, and you cannot write [we think you
cannot] to Miss Howe, nor she to you, without our knowledge, one cause
of uneasiness and jealousy is over.
I had no dislike of Hannah. I did not tell her so; because somebody
was within hearing when she desired to pay her duty to me at going. I
gave her a caution, in a raised voice, To take care, wherever she went
to live next, if there were any young ladies, how she made parties,
and assisted in clandestine correspondencies. But I slid two guineas
into her hand: nor was I angry to hear that you were still more
bountiful to her. So much for Hannah.
I don't know what to write, about your answering that man of violence.
What can you think of it, that such a family as ours, should have such
a rod held over it?--For my part, I have not owned that I know you
have corresponded. By your last boldness to me [an astonishing one it
was, to pursue before Mr. Solmes the subject I was forced to break
from above-stairs!] you may, as far as I know, plead, that you had my
countenance for your correspondence with him; and so add to the
uneasiness between your father and me. You were once my comfort,
Clarissa; you made all my hardships tolerable:--But now!--However,
nothing, it is plain, can move you; and I will say no more on that
head: for you are under your father's discipline now; and he will
neither be prescribed to, nor entreated.
I should have been glad to see the letter you tell me of, as I saw the
rest. You say, both honour and prudence forbid you to shew it to me. --O Clarissa! what think you of receiving letters that honour and
prudence forbid you to shew to a mother!--But it is not for me to see
it, if you would choose to shew it me. I will not be in your secret.
I will not know that you did correspond. And, as to an answer, take
your own methods. But let him know it will be the last you will
write. And, if you do write, I won't see it: so seal it up (if you
do) and give it to Shorey; and she--Yet do not think I give you
license to write.
We will be upon no conditions with him, nor will you be allowed to be
upon any. Your father and uncles would have no patience were he to
come. What have you to do to oblige him with your refusal of Mr.
Solmes?--Will not that refusal be to give him hope? And while he has
any, can we be easy or free from his insults? Were even your brother
in fault, as that fault cannot be conquered, is a sister to carry on a
correspondence that shall endanger her brother? But your father has
given his sanction to your brother's dislikes, your uncles', and every
body's!--No matter to whom owing.
As to the rest, you have by your obstinacy put it out of my power to
do any thing for you. Your father takes it upon himself to be
answerable for all consequences. You must not therefore apply to me
for favour. I shall endeavour to be only an observer: Happy, if I
could be an unconcerned one!--While I had power, you would not let me
use it as I would have used it. Your aunt has been forced to engage
not to interfere but by your father's direction. You'll have severe
trials. If you have any favour to hope for, it must be from the
mediation of your uncles. And yet, I believe, they are equally
determined: for they make it a principle, [alas! they never had
children!] that that child, who in marriage is not governed by her
parents, is to be given up as a lost creature!
I charge you, let not this letter be found. Burn it. There is too
much of the mother in it, to a daughter so unaccountably obstinate.
Write not another letter to me. I can do nothing for you. But you
can do every thing for yourself.
Now, my dear, to proceed with my melancholy narrative.
After this letter, you will believe, that I could have very little
hopes, that an application directly to my father would stand me in any
stead: but I thought it became me to write, were it but to acquit
myself to myself, that I have left nothing unattempted that has the
least likelihood to restore me to his favour. Accordingly I wrote to
the following effect:
I presume not, I say, to argue with my Papa; I only beg his mercy and
indulgence in this one point, on which depends my present, and perhaps
my future, happiness; and beseech him not to reprobate his child for
an aversion which it is not in her power to conquer. I beg, that I
may not be sacrificed to projects, and remote contingencies. I
complain of the disgraces I suffer in this banishment from his
presence, and in being confined to my chamber. In every thing but
this one point, I promise implicit duty and resignation to his will.
I repeat my offers of a single life; and appeal to him, whether I have
ever given him cause to doubt my word. I beg to be admitted to his,
and to my mamma's, presence, and that my conduct may be under their
own eye: and this with the more earnestness, as I have too much reason
to believe that snares are laid for me; and tauntings and revilings
used on purpose to make a handle of my words against me, when I am not
permitted to speak in my own defence. I conclude with hoping, that my
brother's instigations may not rob an unhappy child of her father.
This is the answer, sent without superscription, and unsealed,
although by Betty Barnes, who delivered it with an air, as if she knew
I write, perverse girl; but with all the indignation that your
disobedience deserves. To desire to be forgiven a fault you own, and
yet resolve to persevere in, is a boldness, no more to be equaled,
than passed over. It is my authority you defy. Your reflections upon
a brother, that is an honour to us all, deserve my utmost resentment.
I see how light all relationship sits upon you. The cause I guess at,
too. I cannot bear the reflections that naturally arise from this
consideration. Your behaviour to your too-indulgent and too-fond
mother----But, I have no patience--Continue banished from my presence,
undutiful as you are, till you know how to conform to my will.
Ingrateful creature! Your letter but upbraid me for my past indulgence. Write no more to me, till you can distinguish better; and
till you are convinced of your duty to
A JUSTLY INCENSED FATHER.
This angry letter was accompanied by one from my mother, unsealed, and
unsuperscribed also. Those who take so much pains to confederate
every one against me, I make no doubt, obliged her to bear her
testimony against the poor girl.
My mother's letter being a repetition of some of the severe things
that passed between herself and me, of which I have already informed
you, I shall not need to give you the contents--only thus far, that
she also praises my brother, and blames me for my freedoms with him.