MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE THURSDAY, MARCH 16.
Having met with such bad success in my application to my relations, I
have taken a step that will surprise you. It is no other than writing
a letter to Mr. Solmes himself. I sent it, and have his answer. He
had certainly help in it. For I have seen a letter of his, and
indifferently worded, as poorly spelt. Yet the superscription is of
his dictating, I dare say, for he is a formal wretch. With these, I
shall enclose one from my brother to me, on occasion of mine to Mr.
Solmes. I did think that it was possible to discourage the man from
proceeding; and if I could have done that, it would have answered all
my wishes. It was worth the trial. But you'll see nothing will do.
My brother has taken his measures too securely.
TO ROGER SOLMES, ESQ. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15.
You will wonder to receive a letter from me; and more still at the
uncommon subject of it. But the necessity of the case will justify
me, at least in my own apprehension; and I shall therefore make no
other apology for it.
When you first came acquainted with our family, you found the writer
of this one of the happiest creatures in the world; beloved by the
best and most indulgent of parents; and rejoicing in the kind favour
of two affectionate uncles, and in the esteem of every one.
But how is this scene now changed!--You was pleased to cast a
favourable eye upon me. You addressed yourself to my friends: your
proposals were approved of by them--approved of without consulting me;
as if my choice and happiness were of the least signification. Those
who had a right to all reasonable obedience from me, insisted upon it
without reserve. I had not the felicity to think as they did; almost
the first time my sentiments differed from theirs. I besought them to
indulge me in a point so important to my future happiness: but, alas,
in vain! And then (for I thought it was but honest) I told you my
mind; and even that my affections were engaged. But, to my
mortification and surprise, you persisted, and still persist.
The consequence of all is too grievous for me to repeat: you, who have
such free access to the rest of the family, know it too well--too well
you know it, either for the credit of your own generosity, or for my
reputation. I am used, on your account, as I never before was used,
and never before was thought to deserve to be used; and this was the
hard, the impossible, condition of their returning favour, that I must
prefer a man to all others, that of all others I cannot prefer.
Thus distressed, and made unhappy, and all to your sake, and through
your cruel perseverance, I write, Sir, to demand of you the peace of
mind you have robbed me of: to demand of you the love of so many dear
friends, of which you have deprived me; and, if you have the
generosity that should distinguish a man, and a gentleman, to adjure
you not to continue an address that has been attended with such cruel
effects to the creature you profess to esteem.
If you really value me, as my friends would make me believe, and as
you have declared you do, must it not be a mean and selfish value? A
value that can have no merit with the unhappy object of it, because it
is attended with effects so grievous to her? It must be for your own
sake only, not for mine. And even in this point you must be mistaken:
For, would a prudent man wish to marry one who has not a heart to
give? Who cannot esteem him? Who therefore must prove a bad wife!-- And how cruel would it be to make a poor creature a bad wife, whose
pride it would be to make a good one!
If I am capable of judging, our tempers and inclinations are vastly
different. Any other of my sex will make you happier than I can. The
treatment I meet with, and the obstinacy, as it is called, with which
I support myself under it, ought to convince you of this; were I not
able to give so good a reason for this my supposed perverseness, as
that I cannot consent to marry a man whom I cannot value.
But if, Sir, you have not so much generosity in your value for me, as
to desist for my own sake, let me conjure you, by the regard due to
yourself, and to your own future happiness, to discontinue your suit,
and place your affections on a worthier object: for why should you
make me miserable, and yourself not happy? By this means you will do
all that is now in your power to restore to me the affection of my
friends; and, if that can be, it will leave me in as happy a state as
you found me in. You need only to say, that you see there are no
HOPES, as you will perhaps complaisantly call it, of succeeding with
me [and indeed, Sir, there cannot be a greater truth]; and that you
will therefore no more think of me, but turn your thoughts another
Your compliance with this request will lay me under the highest
obligation to your generosity, and make me ever
Your well-wisher, and humble servant, CLARISSA HARLOWE.
TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE These most humbly present.
Your letter has had a very contrary effect upon me, to what you seem
to have expected from it. It has doubly convinced me of the
excellency of your mind, and of the honour of your disposition. Call
it selfish, or what you please, I must persist in my suit; and happy
shall I be, if by patience and perseverance, and a steady and
unalterable devoir, I may at last overcome the difficulty laid in my
As your good parents, your uncles, and other friends, are absolutely
determined you shall never have Mr. Lovelace, if they can help it; and
as I presume no other person is in the way, I will contentedly wait
the issue of this matter. And forgive me, dearest Miss, but a person
should sooner persuade me to give up to him my estate, as an instance
of my generosity, because he could not be happy without it, than I
would a much more valuable treasure, to promote the felicity of
another, and make his way easier to circumvent myself.
Pardon me, dear Miss; but I must persevere, though I am sorry you
suffer on my account, as you are pleased to think; for I never before
saw the woman I could love: and while there is any hope, and that you
remain undisposed of to some happier man, I must and will be
Your faithful and obsequious admirer,
MR. JAMES HARLOWE, TO MISS CL. HARLOWE MARCH 16.
What a fine whim you took into your head, to write a letter to Mr.
Solmes, to persuade him to give up his pretensions to you!--Of all the
pretty romantic flights you have delighted in, this was certainly one
of the most extraordinary. But to say nothing of what fires us all
with indignation against you (your owning your prepossession in a
villain's favour, and your impertinence to me, and your sister, and
your uncles; one of which has given it you home, child), how can you
lay at Mr. Solmes's door the usage you so bitterly complain of?--You
know, little fool as you are, that it is your fondness for Lovelace
that has brought upon you all these things; and which would have
happened, whether Mr. Solmes had honoured you with his addresses or
As you must needs know this to be true, consider, pretty witty Miss,
if your fond, love-sick heart can let you consider, what a fine figure
all your expostulations with us, and charges upon Mr. Solmes, make!-- With what propriety do you demand of him to restore to you your former
happiness (as you call it, and merely call it; for if you thought our
favour so, you would restore it to yourself), since it is yet in your
own power to do so? Therefore, Miss Pert, none of your pathetics,
except in the right place. Depend upon it, whether you have Mr.
Solmes, or not, you shall never have your heart's delight, the vile
rake Lovelace, if our parents, if our uncles, if I, can hinder it.
No! you fallen angel, you shall not give your father and mother such a
son, nor me such a brother, in giving yourself that profligate wretch
for a husband. And so set your heart at rest, and lay aside all
thoughts of him, if ever you expect forgiveness, reconciliation, or a
kind opinion, from any of your family; but especially from him, who,
at present, styles himself
Your brother, JAMES HARLOWE.
P.S. I know your knack at letter-writing. If you send me an answer
for this, I will return it unopened; for I will not argue with your
perverseness in so plain a case--Only once for all, I was willing to
put you right as to Mr. Solmes; whom I think to blame to trouble his
head about you.