MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE WENESDAY MORNING, NINE O'CLOCK.
My aunt Hervey lay here last night, and is but just gone from me. She
came up to me with my sister. They would not trust my aunt without
this ill-natured witness. When she entered my chamber, I told her,
that this visit was a high favour to a poor prisoner, in her hard
confinement. I kissed her hand. She, kindly saluting me, said, Why
this distance to your aunt, my dear, who loves you so well?
She owned, that she came to expostulate with me, for the peace-sake of
the family: for that she could not believe it possible, if I did not
conceive myself unkindly treated, that I, who had ever shewn such a
sweetness of temper, as well as manners, should be thus resolute, in a
point so very near to my father, and all my friends. My mother and
she were both willing to impute my resolution to the manner I had been
begun with; and to my supposing that my brother had originally more of
a hand in the proposals made by Mr. Solmes, than my father or other
friends. In short, fain would my aunt have furnished me with an
excuse to come off my opposition; Bell all the while humming a tune,
and opening this book and that, without meaning; but saying nothing.
After having shewed me, that my opposition could not be of
signification, my father's honour being engaged, my aunt concluded
with enforcing upon me my duty, in stronger terms than I believe she
would have done, (the circumstances of the case considered), had not
my sister been present.
It would be repeating what I have so often mentioned, to give you the
arguments that passed on both sides.--So I will only recite what she
was pleased to say, that carried with it a new face.
When she found me inflexible, as she was pleased to call it, she said,
For her part, she could not but say, that if I were not to have either
Mr. Solmes or Mr. Lovelace, and yet, to make my friends easy, must
marry, she should not think amiss of Mr. Wyerley. What did I think of
Ay, Clary, put in my sister, what say you to Mr. Wyerley?
I saw through this immediately. It was said on purpose, I doubted
not, to have an argument against me of absolute prepossession in Mr.
Lovelace's favour: since Mr. Wyerley every where avows his value, even
to veneration, for me; and is far less exceptionable both in person
and mind, than Mr. Solmes: and I was willing to turn the tables, by
trying how far Mr. Solmes's terms might be dispensed with; since the
same terms could not be expected from Mr. Wyerley.
I therefore desired to know, whether my answer, if it should be in
favour of Mr. Wyerley, would release me from Mr. Solmes?--For I owned,
that I had not the aversion to him, that I had to the other.
Nay, she had no commission to propose such a thing. She only knew,
that my father and mother would not be easy till Mr. Lovelace's hopes
were entirely defeated.
Cunning creature! said my sister.
And this, and her joining in the question before, convinced me, that
it was a designed snare for me.
Don't you, dear Madam, said I, put questions that can answer no end,
but to support my brother's schemes against me.--But are there any
hopes of an end to my sufferings and disgrace, without having this
hated man imposed upon me? Will not what I have offered be accepted?
I am sure it ought--I will venture to say that.
Why, Niece, if there be not any such hopes, I presume you don't think
yourself absolved from the duty due from a child to her parents?
Yes, said my sister, I do not doubt but it is Miss Clary's aim, if she
does not fly to her Lovelace, to get her estate into her own hands,
and go to live at The Grove, in that independence upon which she
builds all her perverseness. And, dear heart! my little love, how
will you then blaze away! Your mamma Norton, your oracle, with your
poor at your gates, mingling so proudly and so meanly with the ragged
herd! Reflecting, by your ostentation, upon all the ladies in the
county, who do not as you do. This is known to be your scheme! and
the poor without-doors, and Lovelace within, with one hand building up
a name, pulling it down with the other!--O what a charming scheme is
this!--But let me tell you, my pretty little flighty one, that your
father's living will shall controul your grandfather's dead one; and
that estate will be disposed of as your fond grandfather would have
disposed of it, had he lived to see such a change in his favourite.
In a word, Miss, it will be kept out of your hands, till my father
sees you discreet enough to have the management of it, or till you can
dutifully, by law, tear it from him.
Fie, Miss Harlowe! said my aunt: this is not pretty to your sister.
O Madam, let her go on. This is nothing to what I have borne from
Miss Harlowe. She is either commissioned to treat me ill by her envy,
or by an higher authority, to which I must submit.--As to revoking the
estate, what hinders, if I pleased? I know my power; but have not the
least thought of exerting it. Be pleased to let my father know, that,
whatever be the consequence to myself, were he to turn me out of
doors, (which I should rather he would do, than to be confined and
insulted as I am), and were I to be reduced to indigence and want, I
would seek no relief that should be contrary to his will.
For that matter, child, said my aunt, were you to marry, you must do
as your husband will have you. If that husband be Mr. Lovelace, he
will be glad of any opportunity of further embroiling the families.
And, let me tell you, Niece, if he had the respect for you which he
pretends to have, he would not throw out defiances as he does. He is
known to be a very revengeful man; and were I you, Miss Clary, I
should be afraid he would wreak upon me that vengeance, though I had
not offended him, which he is continually threatening to pour upon the
Mr. Lovelace's threatened vengeance is in return for threatened
vengeance. It is not every body will bear insult, as, of late, I have
been forced to bear it.
O how my sister's face shone with passion!
But Mr. Lovelace, proceeded I, as I have said twenty and twenty times,
would be quite out of question with me, were I to be generously
My sister said something with great vehemence: but only raising my
voice, to be heard, without minding her, Pray, Madam, (provokingly
interrogated I), was he not known to have been as wild a man, when he
was at first introduced into our family, as he now is said to be? Yet
then, the common phrases of wild oats, and black oxen, and such-like,
were qualifiers; and marriage, and the wife's discretion, were to
perform wonders--but (turning to my sister) I find I have said too
O thou wicked reflecter!--And what made me abhor him, think you, but
the proof of those villainous freedoms that ought to have had the same
effect upon you, were you but half so good a creature as you pretend
Proof, did you say, Bella! I thought you had not proof?--But you know
Was not this very spiteful, my dear?
Now, Clary, said she, would I give a thousand pounds to know all that
is in thy little rancorous and reflecting heart at this moment.
I might let you know for a much less sum, and not be afraid of being
worse treated than I have been.
Well, young ladies, I am sorry to see passion run so high between you.
You know, Niece, (to me,) you had not been confined thus to your
apartment, could your mother by condescension, or your father by
authority, have been able to move you. But how can you expect, when
there must be a concession on one side, that it should be on theirs?
If my Dolly, who has not the hundredth part of your understanding,
were thus to set herself up in absolute contradiction to my will, in a
point so material, I should not take it well of her--indeed I should
I believe not, Madam: and if Miss Hervey had just such a brother, and
just such a sister [you may look, Bella!] and if both were to
aggravate her parents, as my brother and sister do mine--then,
perhaps, you might use her as I am used: and if she hated the man you
proposed to her, and with as much reason as I do Mr. Solmes--
And loved a rake and libertine, Miss, as you do Lovelace, said my
Then might she [continued I, not minding her,] beg to be excused from
obeying. Yet if she did, and would give you the most solemn
assurances, and security besides, that she would never have the man
you disliked, against your consent--I dare say, Miss Hervey's father
and mother would sit down satisfied, and not endeavour to force her
So!--[said my sister, with uplifted hands] father and mother now come
in for their share!
But if, child, replied my aunt, I knew she loved a rake, and suspected
that she sought only to gain time, in order to wire-draw me into a
I beg pardon, Madam, for interrupting you; but if Miss Hervey could
obtain your consent, what further would be said?
True, child; but she never should.
Then, Madam, it would never be.
That I doubt, Niece.
If you do, Madam, can you think confinement and ill usage is the way
to prevent the apprehended rashness?
My dear, this sort of intimation would make one but too apprehensive,
that there is no trusting to yourself, when one knows your
That apprehension, Madam, seems to have been conceived before this
intimation, or the least cause for it, was given. Why else the
disgraceful confinement I have been laid under?--Let me venture to
say, that my sufferings seem to be rather owing to a concerted design
to intimidate me [Bella held up her hands], (knowing there were too
good grounds for my opposition,) than to a doubt of my conduct; for,
when they were inflicted first, I had given no cause of doubt: nor
should there now be room for any, if my discretion might be trusted
My aunt, after a little hesitation, said, But, consider, my dear, what
confusion will be perpetuated in your family, if you marry this hated
And let it be considered, what misery to me, Madam, if I marry that
Many a young creature has thought she could not love a man, with whom
she has afterwards been very happy. Few women, child, marry their
That may be the reason there are so few happy marriages.
But there are few first impressions fit to be encouraged.
I am afraid so too, Madam. I have a very indifferent opinion of light
and first impressions. But, as I have often said, all I wish for is,
to have leave to live single.
Indeed you must not, Miss. Your father and mother will be unhappy
till they see you married, and out of Lovelace's reach. I am told
that you propose to condition with him (so far are matters gone
between you) never to have any man, if you have not him.
I know no better way to prevent mischief on all sides, I freely own
it--and there is not, if he be out of the question, another man in the
world I can think favourably of. Nevertheless, I would give all I
have in the world, that he were married to some other person--indeed I
would, Bella, for all you put on that smile of incredulity.
May be so, Clary: but I will smile for all that.
If he be out of the question! repeated my aunt--So, Miss Clary, I see
how it is--I will go down--[Miss Harlowe, shall I follow you?]--And I
will endeavour to persuade your father to let my sister herself come
up: and a happier event may then result.
Depend upon it, Madam, said my sister, this will be the case: my
mother and she will both be in tears; but with this different effect:
my mother will come down softened, and cut to the heart; but will
leave her favourite hardened, from the advantages she will think she
has over my mother's tenderness--why, Madam, it is for this very
reason the girl is not admitted into her presence.
Thus she ran on, as she went downstairs.