MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE THURSDAY MORN., MARCH 9.
I have another letter from Mr. Lovelace, although I had not answered
This man, somehow or other, knows every thing that passes in our
family. My confinement; Hanna's dismission; and more of the
resentments and resolutions of my father, uncles, and brother, than I
can possibly know, and almost as soon as the things happen, which he
tells me of. He cannot come at these intelligencies fairly.
He is excessively uneasy upon what he hears; and his expressions, both
of love to me, and resentment to them, are very fervent. He solicits
me, 'To engage my honour to him never to have Mr. Solmes.'
I think I may fairly promise him that I will not.
He begs, 'That I will not think he is endeavouring to make to himself
a merit at any man's expense, since he hopes to obtain my favour on
the foot of his own; nor that he seeks to intimidate me into a
consideration for him. But declares, that the treatment he meets with
from my family is of such a nature, that he is perpetually reproached
for not resenting it; and that as well by Lord M. and Lady Sarah, and
Lady Betty, as by all his other friends: and if he must have no hope
from me, he cannot answer for what his despair will make him do.'
Indeed, he says, 'his relations, the ladies particularly, advise him
to have recourse to a legal remedy: But how, he asks, can a man of
honour go to law for verbal abuses given by people entitled to wear
You see, my dear, that my mother seems as apprehensive of mischief as
myself; and has indirectly offered to let Shorey carry my answer to
the letter he sent me before.
He is full of the favours of the ladies of his family to me: to whom,
nevertheless, I am personally a stranger; except, that I once saw Miss
Patty Montague at Mrs. Knolly's.
It is natural, I believe, for a person to be the more desirous of
making new friends, in proportion as she loses the favour of old ones.
Yet had I rather appear amiable in the eyes of my own relations, and
in your eyes, than in those of all the world besides--but these four
ladies of his family have such excellent characters, that one cannot
but wish to be thought well of by them. Cannot there be a way to find
out, by Mrs. Fortescue's means, or by Mr. Hickman, who has some
knowledge of Lord M. [covertly, however,] what their opinions are of
the present situation of things in our family; and of the little
likelihood there is, that ever the alliance once approved of by them,
can take effect?
I cannot, for my own part, think so well of myself, as to imagine,
that they can wish their kinsman to persevere in his views with regard
to me, through such contempts and discouragements.--Not that it would
concern me, should they advise him to the contrary. By my Lord's
signing Mr. Lovelace's former letter; by Mr. Lovelace's assurances of
the continued favour of all his relations; and by the report of
others; I seem still to stand high in their favour. But, methinks, I
should be glad to have this confirmed to me, as from themselves, by the
lips of an indifferent person; and the rather, because of their
fortunes and family; and take it amiss (as they have reason) to be
included by ours in the contempt thrown upon their kinsman.
Curiosity at present is all my motive: nor will there ever, I hope, be
a stronger, notwithstanding your questionable throbs--even were the
merits of Mr. Lovelace much greater than they are.
I have answered his letters. If he takes me at my word, I shall need
to be less solicitous for the opinions of his relations in my favour:
and yet one would be glad to be well thought of by the worthy.
This is the substance of my letter:
'I express my surprise at his knowing (and so early) all that passes
I assure him, 'That were there not such a man in the world as himself,
I would not have Mr. Solmes.'
I tell him, 'That to return, as I understand he does, defiances for
defiances, to my relations, is far from being a proof with me, either
of his politeness, or of the consideration he pretends to have for me.
'That the moment I hear he visits any of my friends without their
consent, I will make a resolution never to see him more, if I can help
I apprize him, 'That I am connived at in sending this letter (although
no one has seen the contents) provided it shall be the last I will
ever write to him: that I had more than once told him, that the single
life was my choice; and this before Mr. Solmes was introduced as a
visitor in our family: that Mr. Wyerley, and other gentlemen, knew it
to be my choice, before himself was acquainted with any of us: that I
had never been induced to receive a line from him on the subject, but
that I thought he had not acted ungenerously by my brother; and yet
had not been so handsomely treated by my friends, as he might have
expected: but that had he even my friends on his side, I should have
very great objections to him, were I to get over my choice of a single
life, so really preferable to me as it is; and that I should have
declared as much to him, had I not regarded him as more than a common
visiter. On all these accounts, I desire, that the one more letter,
which I will allow him to deposit in the usual place, may be the very
last; and that only, to acquaint me with his acquiescence that it
shall be so; at least till happier times.'
This last I put in that he may not be quite desperate. But, if he
take me at my word, I shall be rid of one of my tormentors.
I have promised to lay before you all his letters, and my answers: I
repeat that promise: and am the less solicitous, for that reason, to
amplify upon the contents of either. But I cannot too often express
my vexation, to be driven to such streights and difficulties, here at
home, as oblige me to answer letters, (from a man I had not absolutely
intended to encourage, and to whom I had really great objections,)
filled as his are with such warm protestations, and written to me with
a spirit of expectation.
For, my dear, you never knew so bold a supposer. As commentators find
beauties in an author, to which the author perhaps was a stranger; so
he sometimes compliments me in high strains of gratitude for favours,
and for a consideration, which I never designed him; insomuch that I
am frequently under a necessity of explaining away the attributed
goodness to him, which, if I shewed, I should have the less opinion of
In short, my dear, like a restiff horse, (as I have heard described by
sportsmen,) he pains one's hands, and half disjoints one's arms, to
rein him in. And, when you see his letters, you must form no judgment
upon them, till you have read my answers. If you do, you will indeed
think you have cause to attribute self-deceit, and throbs, and glows,
to your friend: and yet, at other times, the contradictory nature
complains, that I shew him as little favour, and my friends as much
inveteracy, as if, in the rencontre betwixt my brother and him, he had
been the aggressor; and as if the catastrophe had been as fatal, as it
might have been.
If he has a design by this conduct (sometimes complaining of my
shyness, at others exalting in my imaginary favours) to induce me at
one time to acquiesce with his compliments; at another to be more
complaisant for his complaints; and if the contradiction be not the
effect of his inattention and giddiness; I shall think him as deep and
as artful (too probably, as practised) a creature, as ever lived; and
were I to be sure of it, should hate him, if possible, worse than I do
But enough for the present of a creature so very various.