I beg your pardon, my dearest friend, for having given you occasion to

remind me of the date of my last. I was willing to have before me as

much of the workings of your wise relations as possible; being verily

persuaded, that one side or the other would have yielded by this time:

and then I should have had some degree of certainty to found my

observations upon. And indeed what can I write that I have not

already written?--You know, that I can do nothing but rave at your

stupid persecutors: and that you don't like. I have advised you to

resume your own estate: that you won't do. You cannot bear the

thoughts of having their Solmes: and Lovelace is resolved you shall be

his, let who will say to the contrary. I think you must be either the

one man's or the other's. Let us see what their next step will be.

As to Lovelace, while he tells his own story (having also behaved so

handsomely on his intrusion in the wood-house, and intended so well at

church) who can say, that the man is in the least blameworthy?--Wicked

people! to combine against so innocent a man!--But, as I said, let us

see what their next step will be, and what course you will take upon

it; and then we may be the more enlightened.

As to your change of style to your uncles, and brother and sister,

since they were so fond of attributing to you a regard for Lovelace,

and would not be persuaded to the contrary; and since you only

strengthened their arguments against yourself by denying it; you did

but just as I would have done, in giving way to their suspicions, and

trying what that would do--But if--but if--Pray, my dear, indulge me a

little--you yourself think it was necessary to apologize to me for

that change of style to them--and till you will speak out like a

friend to her unquestionable friend, I must tease you a little--let it

run therefore; for it will run--

If, then, there be not a reason for this change of style, which you

have not thought fit to give me, be so good as to watch, as I once

before advised you, how the cause for it will come on--Why should it

be permitted to steal upon you, and you know nothing of the matter?

When we get a great cold, we are apt to puzzle ourselves to find out

when it began, or how we got it; and when that is accounted for, down

we sit contented, and let it have its course; or, if it be very

troublesome, take a sweat, or use other means to get rid of it. So my

dear, before the malady you wot of, yet wot not of, grows so

importunate, as that you must be obliged to sweat it out, let me

advise you to mind how it comes on. For I am persuaded, as surely as

that I am now writing to you, that the indiscreet violence of your

friends on the one hand, and the insinuating address of Lovelace on

the other, (if the man be not a greater fool than any body thinks

him,) will effectually bring it to this, and do all his work for him.

But let it--if it must be Lovelace or Solmes, the choice cannot admit

of debate. Yet if all be true that is reported, I should prefer

almost any of your other lovers to either; unworthy as they also are.

But who can be worthy of a Clarissa?

I wish you are not indeed angry with me for harping so much on one

string. I must own, that I should think myself inexcusable so to do,

(the rather, as I am bold enough imagine it a point out of all doubt

from fifty places in your letters, were I to labour the proof,) if you

would ingenuously own--

Own what? you'll say. Why, my Anna Howe, I hope you don't think that

I am already in love!--

No, to be sure! How can your Anna Howe have such a thought?--What

then shall we call it? You might have helped me to a phrase--A

conditional kind of liking!--that's it.--O my friend! did I not know

how much you despise prudery; and that you are too young, and too

lovely, to be a prude--

But, avoiding such hard names, let me tell you one thing, my dear

(which nevertheless I have told you before); and that is this: that I

shall think I have reason to be highly displeased with you, if, when

you write to me, you endeavour to keep from me any secret of your


Let me add, that if you would clearly and explicitly tell me, how far

Lovelace has, or has not, a hold in your affections, I could better

advise you what to do, than at present I can. You, who are so famed

for prescience, as I may call it; and than whom no young lady ever had

stronger pretensions to a share of it; have had, no doubt, reasonings

in your heart about him, supposing you were to be one day his: [no

doubt but you have had the same in Solmes's case: whence the ground for

the hatred of the one; and for the conditional liking of the other.]

Will you tell me, my dear, what you have thought of Lovelace's best

and of his worst?--How far eligible for the first; how far rejectable

for the last?--Then weighing both parts in opposite scales, we shall

see which is likely to preponderate; or rather which does

preponderate. Nothing less than the knowledge of the inmost recesses

of your heart, can satisfy my love and my friendship. Surely, you are

not afraid to trust yourself with a secret of this nature: if you are,

then you may the more allowably doubt me. But, I dare say, you will

not own either--nor is there, I hope, cause for either.

Be pleased to observe one thing, my dear, that whenever I have given

myself any of those airs of raillery, which have seemed to make you

look about you, (when, likewise, your case may call for a more serious

turn from a sympathizing friend,) it has not been upon those passages

which are written, though, perhaps not intended, with such

explicitness [don't be alarmed, my dear!] as leaves little cause of

doubt: but only when you affect reserve; when you give new words for

common things; when you come with your curiosities, with your

conditional likings, and with your PRUDE-encies [mind how I spell the

word] in a case that with every other person defies all prudence-- over-acts of treason all these, against the sovereign friendship we

have avowed to each other.

Remember, that you found me out in a moment. You challenged me. I

owned directly, that there was only my pride between the man and me;

for I could not endure, I told you, to think of any fellow living to

give me a moment's uneasiness. And then my man, as I have elsewhere

said, was not such a one as yours: so I had reason to impute full as

much as to my own inconsideration, as to his power over me: nay, more:

but still more to yours. For you reasoned me out of the curiosity

first; and when the liking was brought to be conditional--why then,

you know, I throbbed no more about him.

O! pray now, as you say, now I have mentioned that my fellow was not

such a charming fellow as yours, let Miss Biddulph, Miss Lloyd, Miss

Campion, and me, have your opinion, how far figure ought to engage us:

with a view to your own case, however--mind that--as Mr. Tony says-- and whether at all, if the man be vain of it; since, as you observe in

a former, that vanity is a stop-short pride in such a one, that would

make one justly doubt the worthiness of his interior. You, our

pattern, so lovely in feature, so graceful in person, have none of it;

and have therefore with the best grace always held, that it is not

excusable even in a woman.

You must know, that this subject was warmly debated among us in our

last conversation: and Miss Lloyd wished me to write to you upon it

for your opinion; to which, in every debated case, we always paid the

greatest deference. I hope you will not be so much engrossed by your

weighty cares, as not to have freedom of spirits enough to enter upon

the task. You know how much we all admire your opinion on such

topics; which ever produces something new and instructive, as you

handle the subjects. And pray tell us, to what you think it owing,

that your man seems so careful to adorn that self-adorned person of

his! yet so manages, that one cannot for one's heart think him a

coxcomb?--Let this question, and the above tasks, divert, and not

displease you, my dear. One subject, though ever so important, could

never yet engross your capacious mind. If they should displease you,

you must recollect the many instances of my impertinence which you

have forgiven, and then say, 'This is a mad girl: but yet I love her! --And she is my own'