Letter XXV


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,

equally vehement.

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

the contents.


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



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.