Letter XXII


Hannah has just brought me from the private place in the garden-wall,

a letter from Mr. Lovelace, deposited last night, signed also by Lord


He tells me in it, 'That Mr. Solmes makes it his boast, that he is to

be married in a few days to one of the shyest women in England: that

my brother explains his meaning: This shy creature, he says, is me;

and he assures every one, that his younger sister is very soon to be

Mr. Solmes's wife. He tells me of the patterns bespoken which my

mother mentioned to me.'

Not one thing escapes him that is done or said in this house.

'My sister, he says, reports the same things; and that with such

particular aggravations of insult upon him, that he cannot but be

extremely piqued, as well at the manner, as from the occasion; and

expresses himself with great violence upon it.

'He knows not, he says, what my relations' inducements can be to

prefer such a man as Solmes to him. If advantageous settlements be

the motive, Solmes shall not offer what he will refuse to comply with.

'As to his estate and family; the first cannot be excepted against:

and for the second, he will not disgrace himself by a comparison so

odious. He appeals to Lord M. for the regularity of his life and

manners ever since he has made his addresses to me, or had hope of my


I suppose he would have his Lordship's signing to this letter to be

taken as a voucher for him.

'He desires my leave (in company with my Lord), in a pacific manner,

to attend my father and uncles, in order to make proposals that must

be accepted, if they will see him, and hear what they are: and tells

me, that he will submit to any measures that I shall prescribe, in

order to bring about a reconciliation.'

He presumes to be very earnest with me, 'to give him a private meeting

some night, in my father's garden, attended by whom I please.'

Really, my dear, were you to see his letter, you would think I had

given him great encouragement, and that I am in direct treaty with

him; or that he is sure that my friends will drive me into a foreign

protection; for he has the boldness to offer, in my Lord's name, an

asylum to me, should I be tyrannically treated in Solmes's behalf.

I suppose it is the way of this sex to endeavour to entangle the

thoughtless of ours by bold supposals and offers, in hopes that we

shall be too complaisant or bashful to quarrel with them; and, if not

checked, to reckon upon our silence, as assents voluntarily given, or

concessions made in their favour.

There are other particulars in this letter which I ought to mention to

you: but I will take an opportunity to send you the letter itself, or

a copy of it.

For my own part, I am very uneasy to think how I have been drawn on

one hand, and driven on the other, into a clandestine, in short, into

a mere loverlike correspondence, which my heart condemns.

It is easy to see, if I do not break it off, that Mr. Lovelace's

advantages, by reason of my unhappy situation, will every day

increase, and I shall be more and more entangled. Yet if I do put an

end to it, without making it a condition of being freed from Mr.

Solmes's address--May I, my dear, is it best to continue it a little

longer, in order to extricate myself out of the other difficulty, by

giving up all thoughts of Mr. Lovelace?--Whose advice can I now ask

but yours.

All my relations are met. They are at breakfast together. Mr. Solmes

is expected. I am excessively uneasy. I must lay down my pen.


They are all going to church together. Grievously disordered they

appear to be, as Hannah tells me. She believes something is resolved



What a cruel thing is suspense!--I will ask leave to go to church this

afternoon. I expect to be denied. But, if I do not ask, they may

allege, that my not going is owing to myself.


I desired to speak with Shorey. Shorey came. I directed her to carry

to my mother my request for permission to go to church this afternoon.

What think you was the return? Tell her, that she must direct herself

to her brother for any favour she has to ask.--So, my dear, I am to be

delivered up to my brother!

I was resolved, however, to ask of him this favour. Accordingly, when

they sent me up my solitary dinner, I gave the messenger a billet, in

which I made it my humble request through him to my father, to be

permitted to go to church this afternoon.

This was the contemptuous answer: 'Tell her, that her request will be

taken into consideration to-morrow.'

Patience will be the fittest return I can make to such an insult. But

this method will not do with me; indeed it will not! And yet it is

but the beginning, I suppose, of what I am to expect from my brother,

now I am delivered up to him.

On recollection, I thought it best to renew my request. I did. The

following is a copy of what I wrote, and what follows that, of the

answer sent me.


I know not what to make of the answer brought to my request of being

permitted to go to church this afternoon. If you designed to shew

your pleasantry by it, I hope that will continue; and then my request

will be granted.

You know, that I never absented myself, when well, and at home, till

the two last Sundays; when I was advised not to go. My present

situation is such, that I never more wanted the benefit of the public


I will solemnly engage only to go thither, and back again.

I hope it cannot be thought that I would do otherwise.

My dejection of spirits will give a too just excuse on the score of

indisposition for avoiding visits. Nor will I, but by distant

civilities, return the compliments of any of my acquaintances. My

disgraces, if they are to have an end, need not be proclaimed to the

whole world. I ask this favour, therefore, for my reputation's sake,

that I may be able to hold up my head in the neighbourhood, if I live

to see an end of the unmerited severities which seem to be designed


Your unhappy sister, CL. HARLOWE.


For a girl to lay so much stress upon going to church, and yet resolve

to defy her parents, in an article of the greatest consequence to

them, and to the whole family, is an absurdity. You are recommended,

Miss, to the practice of your private devotions. May they be

efficacious upon the mind of one of the most pervicacious young

creatures that ever was heard of! The intention is, I tell you

plainly, to mortify you into a sense of your duty. The neighbours you

are so solicitous to appear well with, already know, that you defy

that. So, Miss, if you have a real value for your reputation, shew it

as you ought. It is yet in your own power to establish or impair it.


Thus, my dear Miss Howe, has my brother got me into his snares; and I,

like a poor silly bird, the more I struggle, am the more entangled.