Letter V


I have been hindered from prosecuting my intention. Neither nights

nor mornings have been my own. My mother has been very ill; and would

have no other nurse but me. I have not stirred from her bedside (for

she kept her bed); and two nights I had the honour of sharing it with


Her disorder was a very violet colic. The contentions of these

fierce, these masculine spirits, and the apprehension of mischiefs

that may arise from the increasing animosity which all here have

against Mr. Lovelace, and his too well known resenting and intrepid

character, she cannot bear. Then the foundations laid, as she dreads,

for jealousy and heart-burnings in her own family, late so happy and

so united, afflict exceedingly a gentle and sensible mind, which has

from the beginning, on all occasions, sacrificed its own inward

satisfaction to outward peace. My brother and sister, who used very

often to jar, are now so entirely one, and are so much together,

(caballing was the word that dropt from my mother's lips, as if at

unawares,) that she is very fearful of the consequences that may

follow;--to my prejudice, perhaps, is her kind concern; since she sees

that they behave to me every hour with more and more shyness and

reserve: yet, would she but exert that authority which the superiority

of her fine talents gives her, all these family feuds might perhaps be

extinguished in their but yet beginnings; especially as she may be

assured that all fitting concessions shall be made by me, not only as

my brother and sister are my elders, but for the sake of so excellent

and so indulgent a mother.

For, if I may say to you, my dear, what I would not to any other

person living, it is my opinion, that had she been of a temper that

would have borne less, she would have had ten times less to bear, than

she has had. No commendation, you'll say, of the generosity of those

spirits which can turn to its own disquiet so much condescending


Upon my word I am sometimes tempted to think that we may make the

world allow for and respect us as we please, if we can but be sturdy

in our wills, and set out accordingly. It is but being the less

beloved for it, that's all: and if we have power to oblige those we

have to do with, it will not appear to us that we are. Our flatterers

will tell us any thing sooner than our faults, or what they know we do

not like to hear.

Were there not truth in this observation, is it possible that my

brother and sister could make their very failings, their vehemences,

of such importance to all the family? 'How will my son, how will my

nephew, take this or that measure? What will he say to it? Let us

consult him about it;' are references always previous to every

resolution taken by his superiors, whose will ought to be his. Well

may he expect to be treated with this deference by every other person,

when my father himself, generally so absolute, constantly pays it to

him; and the more since his godmother's bounty has given independence

to a spirit that was before under too little restraint.--But whither

may these reflections lead me!--I know you do not love any of us but

my mother and me; and, being above all disguises, make me sensible

that you do not oftener than I wish.--Ought I then to add force to

your dislikes of those whom I wish you to like?--of my father

especially; for he, alas! has some excuse for his impatience of

contradiction. He is not naturally an ill-tempered man; and in his

person and air, and in his conversation too, when not under the

torture of a gouty paroxysm, every body distinguishes the gentleman

born and educated.

Our sex perhaps must expect to bear a little--uncourtliness shall I

call it?--from the husband whom as the lover they let know the

preference their hearts gave him to all other men.--Say what they will

of generosity being a manly virtue; but upon my word, my dear, I have

ever yet observed, that it is not to be met with in that sex one time

in ten that it is to be found in ours.--But my father was soured by

the cruel distemper I have named; which seized him all at once in the

very prime of life, in so violent a manner as to take from the most

active of minds, as his was, all power of activity, and that in all

appearance for life.--It imprisoned, as I may say, his lively spirits

in himself, and turned the edge of them against his own peace; his

extraordinary prosperity adding to his impatiency. Those, I believe,

who want the fewest earthly blessings, most regret that they want any.

But my brother! What excuse can be made for his haughty and morose

temper? He is really, my dear, I am sorry to have occasion to say it,

an ill-temper'd young man; and treats my mother sometimes--Indeed he

is not dutiful.--But, possessing every thing, he has the vice of age,

mingled with the ambition of youth, and enjoys nothing--but his own

haughtiness and ill-temper, I was going to say.--Yet again am I adding

force to your dislikes of some of us.--Once, my dear, it was perhaps

in your power to have moulded him as you pleased.--Could you have been

my sister!--Then had I friend in a sister.--But no wonder that he does

not love you now; who could nip in the bud, and that with a disdain,

let me say, too much of kin to his haughtiness, a passion that would

not have wanted a fervour worthy of the object; and which possibly

would have made him worthy.

But no more of this. I will prosecute my former intention in my next;

which I will sit down to as soon as breakfast is over; dispatching

this by the messenger whom you have so kindly sent to inquire after us

on my silence. Mean time, I am,

Your most affectionate and obliged friend and servant, CL. HARLOWE.