Letter VIII


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



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

another dish?

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!

I wept.

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!--