« VorigeDoorgaan »
not sure I did. But I know I designed to mention that they were. They were brought me on Thursday; but neither my few guineas with them, nor any of my books, except a Drexelius on Eternity, the good old Practice of Piety, and a Francis Spira. My brother's wit, I suppose. He thinks he does well to point out death and despair to me. I wish for the one, and every now and then am on the brink of the other.
You will the less wonder at my being so very solemn, when, added to the above, and to my uncertain situation, I tell you, that they have sent me with these books a letter from my cousin Morden. It has set my heart against Mr. Lovelace. Against myself too. I send it enclosed. If you please, my dear, you may read it here.
COL. MORDEN TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
Florence, April 13.
I AM extremely concerned to hear of a difference betwixt the rest of a family so near and dear to me, and you, still dearer to me than any of the rest.
Your parents, the most indulgent in the world, to a child the most deserving, have given way it seems to your refusals of several gentlemen. They have contented themselves at last to name one with earnestness to you, because of the address of another whom they cannot approve.
I know very little of either of the gentlemen: but of Mr. Lovelace I know more than of Mr. Solmes. I wish I could say more to his advantage than I can. As to every qualification but one, your brother owns there is no comparison. But that one outweighs all the rest together. It cannot be thought, that Miss Clarissa" Harlowe will dispense with morals in a husband.
What, my dearest cousin, shall I first plead to you on this occasion? Your duty, your interest, your temporal, and your eternal welfare, do, and may all, depend upon
this single point, the morality of a husband. A woman who hath a wicked husband may find it difficult to be good, and out of her power to do good; and is therefore in a worse situation than the man can be in, who hath a bad wife. You preserve all your religious regards, I understand. I wonder not that you do. I should have wondered, had you not. But what can you promise yourself, as to perseverance in them, with an immoral husband?
Your brother acknowledges, that Mr. Solmes is not near so agreeable in person as Mr. Lovelace. But what is person, with such a lady as I have the honour to be now writing to? He owns likewise, that he has not the address of Mr. Lovelace : but what a mere personal advantage is a plausible address, without morals. A woman had better take a husband whose mariners she were to fashion, than to find them ready-fashioned to her hand, at the price of his morality; a price that is often paid for travelling accomplishments.
Mr. Lovelace, I know, deserves to have an exception made in his favour; for he is really a man of parts and learning: he was esteemed so both here and at Rome; and a fine person, and a generous turn of mind, gave him great advantages. But you need not be told, that a libertine man of sense does infinitely more mischief, than a libertine of weak parts is able to do. And this I will tell you farther, that it was Mr. Lovelace's own fault that he was not still more respected than he was, among the literati here. There were, in short, some liberties in which he indulged himself, that endangered his person and his liberty; and made the best and most worthy of those who honoured him with their notice, give him up; and his stay both at Florence and at Rome shorter than he designed.
This is all I choose to say of Mr. Lovelace. I had much rather have had reason to give him a quite contrary character. But as to rakes or libertines in general, I, who know them well, must be allowed, because of the mischiefs they have always in their hearts, and too often in their power, to do your sex, to add still a few more words upon this topic.
A libertine, my dear cousin, a plotting, an intriguing libertine, must be generally remorseless—unjust he must always be. The noble rule, of doing to others what he would have done to himself, is the first rule he breaks; and every day he breaks it; the oftener, the greater his triumph. He has great contempt for your sex. He believes no woman chaste, because he is a profligate. Every woman who favours him, confirms him in his wicked incredulity. He is always plotting to extend the mischiefs he delights in. If a woman loves such a man, how can she bear the thought of dividing her interest in his affections, with half the town, and that perhaps the dregs of it?
Weigh all these things, which I might insist upon to more advantage, did I think it needful to one of your prudence—weigh them well, my beloved cousin; and if it be not the will of your parents that you should continue single, resolve to oblige them; and let it not be said, that the powers of fancy shall (as in many others of your sex) be too hard for your duty and your prudence. The less agreeable the man, the more obliging the compliance. Remember, that he is a sober man—a man who has reputation to lose, and whose reputation therefore is a security for his good behaviour to you.
I have written a very long letter, and will add no more, than that I am, with the greatest respect, my dearest cousin,
Your most affectionate and faithful servant,
I will suppose my dear Miss Howe, that you have read my cousin's letter. It is now in vain to wish it had come sooner. But if it had, I might perhaps have been so rash as to give Mr. Lovelace the fatal meeting, as I little thought of going away with him.
This letter was enclosed (opened) in a blank cover. Scorn and detest me as they will, I wonder that one line was not sent with it—were it but to have more particularly pointed the design of it, in the same generous spirit, that sent me the Spira.
The sealing of the cover was with black wax. I hope there is no new occasion in the family to give reason for black wax. But, if there were, it would, to be sure, have been mentioned, and laid at my door—perhaps too justly!
I had begun a letter to my cousin Morden some time ago: but now I can never end it. You will believe I cannot : for how shall I tell him, that all his compliments are misbestowed? That all his advice is thrown away? All his warnings vain? And that even my highest expectation is to be the wife of that free liver, whom he so pathetically warns me to shun?
I must lay down my pen. I must brood over these reflections. Once more, before I enclose my cousin's letter, I will peruse it: and then I shall have it by heart.
CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
Sunday Night, May 7
She tells Miss Howe, that now her clothes are come, Mr. Lovelace is continually teazing her to go abroad with him in a coach, attended by whom she pleases of her own sex, either for the air, or to the public diversions.
She gives the particulars of a conversation that has passed between them on that subject, and his several proposals. But takes notice, that he says not the least word of the solemnity which he so much pressed for before they carne to town; and which, as she observes, was necessary to give propriety to his proposals.
OW, my dear, says she, I cannot bear the life I live. I would be glad at my heart to be out of his reach. If I were, he should soon find the difference. If I must be humbled, it had better be by those to whom I owe duty, than by him. My aunt writes in her letter, that she dare not propose anything in my favour. You tell me, that, upon enquiry, you find, that, had I not been unhappily seduced away, a change of measures was actually resolved upon; and that my mother particularly, was determined to exert herself for the restoration of the family peace; and, in order to succeed the better, had thoughts of trying to engage my uncle Harlowe in her party. . What I am thinking of, is this—" Suppose Mr. Hickman, whose good character has gained him every body's respect, should put himself in my uncle Harlowe's way? And (as if from your knowledge of the state of things between Mr. Lovelace and me) assure him not only of the above particulars, but that I am under no obligations that shall hinder me from taking his directions?"
I submit the whole to your discretion, whether to pursue it at all, or in what manner. - But if it be pursued, and if my uncle refuses to interest himself in my favour upon Mr. Hickman's application as from you (for so, for obvious reasons, it must be put) I can then have no hope; and my next step, in the mind I am in, shall be to throw myself into the protection of the ladies of his family.
The Lady dates again on Monday, to let Miss Howe know, that Mr. Lovelace, on observing her uneasiness, had introduced to her Mr. Mennell, Mrs. Fretchville's kinsman, who managed all her affairs. She calls him a young officer of sense and politeness, who gave her an account of the house and furniture, to the same effect that Mr. Lovelace had done before;