« VorigeDoorgaan »
forbid him their house, his rank and fortune entitled him to civility.
You see, my dear, I made not the pleas I might have made.
My brother seemed ready to give a loose to his passion ; my father put on the countenance which always portends a gathering storm : my uncles mutteringly whispered : and my sister aggravatingly held up her hands. While I begged to be heard out;-and my mother said, let the child, that was her kind word, be heard.
I hoped, I said, there was no harm done : that it became not me to prescribe to Mrs. or Miss Howe who should be their visitors : that Mrs. Howe was always diverted with the raillery that passed between Miss and him : that I had no reason to challenge her guest for my visitor, as I should seem to have done had I refused to go into their company when he was with them: that I had never seen him out of the presence of one or both of those ladies; and had signified to him once, on his urging for a few moments' private conversation with me, that unless a reconciliation were effected between my family and his, he must not expect that I would countenance his visits, much less give him an opportunity of that sort.
I told them further, that Miss Howe so well understood my mind, that she never left me a moment while Mr. Lovelace was there: that when he came, if I was not below in the parlour, I would not suffer myself to be called to him : although I thought it would be an affectation which would give him advantage rather than the contrary if I had left company when he came in ; or refused to enter into it when I found he would stay any time.
My brother heard me out with such a kind of impatience as showed he was resolved to be dissatisfied with me, say what I would. The rest, as the event has proved, behaved as if they would have been satisfied, had they not further points to carry by intimidating me. All this made
it evident, as I mentioned above, that they themselves expected not my voluntary compliance; and was a tacit confession of the disagreeableness of the person they had to propose.
I was no sooner silent than my brother swore, although in my father's presence (swore, unchecked either by eye or countenance) that for his part, he would never be reconciled to that libertine: and that he would renounce me for a sister, if I encouraged the addresses of a man so obnoxious to them all.
A man who had like to have been my brother's murderer, my sister said, with a face even bursting with restraint of passion...
The poor Bella, has, you know, a plump high-fed face, if I may be allowed the expression.
My father, with vehemence both of action and voice (my father has, you know, a terrible voice when he is angry!) told me, that I had met with too much indulgence in being allowed to refuse this gentleman, and the other gentleman; and it was now his turn to be obeyed.
Very true, my mother said :—and hoped his will would not now be disputed by a child so favoured.
To show they were all of a sentiment, my uncle Harlowe said, he hoped his beloved niece only wanted to know her father's will, to obey it.
And my uncle Antony, in his rougher manner, added, that surely I would not give them reason to apprehend, that I thought my grandfather's favour to me had made me independent of them all.—If I did, he would tell me, the will could be set aside, and should.
I was astonished, you must needs think.—Whose addresses now, thought I, is this treatment preparative to ?
- Mr. Wyerley's again ?-or whose ? But that it could be for Solmes, how should it enter into my head ?
I did not know, I said, that I had given occasion for this harshness. I hoped I should always have a just sense
of every one's favour to me, superadded to the duty I owed as a daughter and a niece: but that I was so much surprised at a reception so unusual and unexpected, that I hoped my papa and mamma would give me leave to retire, in order to recollect myself.
I went up to my chamber, and there with my faithful Hannah deplored the determined face which the new proposal it was plain they had to make me wore.
I had not recovered myself when I was sent for down to tea. I begged by my maid to be excused attending ; but on the repeated command, went down with as much cheerfulness as I could assume; and had a new fault to clear myself of: for my brother charged my desire of being excused coming down, to sullens, because a certain person had been spoken against, upon whom, as he supposed, my fancy ran.
I could easily answer you, sir, said I, as such a reflection deserves : but I forbear.
Pretty meekness ! Bella whisperingly said ; looking at my brother, and lifting up her lip in contempt.
He, with an imperious air, bid me deserve his love, and I should be sure to have it.
As we sat, my mother expatiated upon brotherly and sisterly love; indulgently blamed my brother and sister for having taken up displeasure too lightly against me; and politically, if I may so say, answered for my obedience to my father's will.—Then it would be all well, my father was pleased to say: Then they should dote upon me, was my brother's expression : Love me as well as ever, was my sister's : and my uncles, That I then should be the pride of their hearts.-But, alas ! what a forfeiture of all these must I make!
Mr. Solmes came in before we had done tea. My uncle Antony presented him to me, as a gentleman he had a particular friendship for. My uncle Harlowe in terms equally favourable for him. My father said, Mr. Solmes is my friend, Clarissa Harlowe. My mother looked at him, and looked at me, now and then, as he sat near me, I thought with concern.-I at her, with eyes appealing for pity. At him, when I could glance at him, with disgust little short of affrightment. While my brother and sister Mr. Solmes'd him, and sir'd him up, at every word. So caressed, in short, by all;—yet such a wretch !
February 24. They drive on here at a furious rate. The man lives, here, I think. He courts them, and is more and more a favourite.
Hitherto, I seem to be delivered over to my brother.
My father and mother industriously avoid giving me opportunity of speaking to them alone. They ask not for my approbation, intending, as it should seem, to suppose me into their will. And with them I shall hope to prevail, or with nobody.
I have already stood the shock of three of this man's particular visits, besides my share in his more general ones; and find it is impossible I should ever endure him. He has but a very ordinary share of understanding ; is very illiterate; knows nothing but the value of estates, and how to improve them, and what belongs to landjobbing and husbandry. Yet am I as one stupid, I think. They have begun so cruelly with me, that I have not spirit enough to assert my own negative.
They had endeavoured it seems to influence my good Mrs. Norton before I came home--so intent are they to carry their point! And her opinion not being to their liking, she has been told that she would do well to decline visiting here for the present: yet she is the person of all the world, next to my mother, the most likely to prevail upon me, were the measures they are engaged in reasonable measures, or such as she could think so. .
My aunt likewise having said that she did not think
her niece could ever be brought to like Mr. Solmes, has been obliged to learn another lesson.
I am to have a visit from her to-morrow. And since I have refused so much as to hear from my brother and sister what the noble settlements are to be, she is to acquaint me with the particulars; and to receive from me my determination : for my father, I am told, will not have patience but to suppose that I shall stand in opposition to his will.
Meantime it has been signified to me, that it will be acceptable if I do not think of going to church next Sunday.
The same signification was made me for last Sunday; and I obeyed. They are apprehensive that Mr. Lovelace will be there with design to come home with me.
The man, this Solmes, you may suppose, has no reason to boast of his progress with me. He has not the sense to say anything to the purpose. His courtship indeed is to them; and all I say against him is affectedly attributed to coyness : and he, not being sensible of his own imperfections, believes that my avoiding him when I can, and the reserves I express, are owing to nothing else :—for, as I said, all his courtship is to them; and I have no opportunity of saying no, to one who asks me not the question. And so, with an air of mannish superiority, he seems rather to pity the bashful girl, than to apprehend that he shall not succeed.
February 25. I have had the expected conference with my aunt..
I have been obliged to hear the man's proposals from her; and upon my absolute refusal of him upon any terms, have I had a signification made me that wounds me to the heart. How can I tell it you? Yet I must. It is, my dear, that I must not for a month to come, or till licence obtained, correspond with anybody out of the house.