« VorigeDoorgaan »
MISS HOWE TO MRS. JUDITH NORTON.
Thursday, May 11.
OOD MES. NORTON—Cannot you, without naming me as an adviser, who am hated by the family, contrive a way to let Mrs. Harlowe know, that in an accidental conversation with me, you had been assured, that my beloved friend pines after a reconciliation with her relations? That she has hitherto, in hopes of it, refused to enter into any obligation that shall be in the least an hindrance to it: that she would fain avoid giving Mr. Lovelace a right to make her family uneasy in relation to her grandfather's estate: that all she wishes for still, is to be indulged in her choice of a single life, and, on that condition, would make her father's pleasure hers with regard to that estate: that Mr. Lovelace is continually pressing her to marry him; and all his friends likewise: but that I am sure, she has so little liking to the man, because of his faulty morals, and of the antipathy of her relations to him, that if she, had any hope given her of a reconciliation, she would forego all thoughts of him, and put herself into her father's protection. But that their resolution must be speedy; for otherwise she would find herself obliged to give way to his pressing entreaties; and it might then be out of her power to prevent disagreeable litigations.
I do assure you, Mrs. Norton, upon my honour, that our dearest friend knows nothing of this procedure of mine.
Pray acquaint me by a line of the result of your interposition. If it prove not such as may be reasonably hoped for, our dear friend shall know nothing of this step from me; and pray let her not from you. For, in that case, it would only give deeper grief to a heart already too much afflicted. I am, dear and worthy Mrs. Norton,
Your true friend,
dence, a good deal to do, if you enter upon those terms which ought to be entered upon. I don't find, that he has once talked of settlements; nor yet of the licence. A foolish wretch !—But as your evil destiny has thrown you out of all other protection and mediation, you must be father, mother, uncle to yourself; and enter upon the requisite points for yourself.
"Mr. Lovelace," would I say; yet hate the foolish fellow, for his low, his stupid pride, in wishing to triumph over the dignity of his own wife ;—" I am by your means deprived of every friend I have in the world. In what light am I to look upon you? I have well considered of everything. You have made some people, much against my liking, think me a wife: others know I am not married; nor do I desire anybody should believe I am. Do you think your being here in the same house with me can be to my reputation? You talked to me of Mrs. Fretchville's house." This will bring him to renew his last discourse on that subject, if he does not revive it of himself. "If Mrs. Fretchville knows not her own mind, what is her house to me? You talked of bringing up your cousin Montague to bear me company: If my brother's schemes be your pretence for not going yourself to fetch her, you can write to her. I insist upon bringing these two points to an issue. Off or on, ought to be indifferent to me, if so to them."
This is my advice: Mend it as circumstances offer, and follow your own. But indeed, my dear, this, or something like it, would I do. And let him tell me afterwards, if he dared or would, that he humbled down to his shoebuckles the person it would have been his glory to exalt.
Adieu, my dearest friend,
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
Monday, May 15. jlOW indeed it is evident, my best, my only friend, that I have but one choice to make. And now do I find, that I have carried my resentment against this man too far; since now I am to appear as if under an obligation to his patience with me for a conduct, which perhaps he will think (if not humoursome and childish) plainly demonstrative of my little esteem of him; of but a secondary esteem at least, where before, his pride rather than his merit, had made him expect a first. O my dear! to be cast upon a man, that is not a generous man; that is indeed a cruel man! A man that is capable of creating a distress to a young creature, who by her evil destiny is thrown into his power; and then of enjoying it, as I may say! What a fate is mine!
Bad as the returns are which my application by Mr. Hickman has met with, you tell me, "that you have not acquainted me with all the bad; nor now, perhaps, ever will." Have you worse than this, my dear, behind ?— Surely my father has not renewed his dreadful malediction !—Surely, if so, my mother has not joined in it! Have my uncles given it their sanction, and made it a family act? And themselves thereby more really faulty, than ever they suppose me to be, though I the cause of that greater fault in them ?—What, my dear, is the worst, that you will leave for ever unrevealed?
O Lovelace ! why comest thou not just now, while these black prospects are before me? For now, couldst thou look into my heart, wouldst thou see a distress worthy of thy barbarous triumph!
He went out in the morning; intending not to return to dinner, unless (as he sent me word) I would admit him to dine with me.
I excused myself. The man, whose anger is now to be of such high importance to me, was, it seems, displeased.
But let me sit with my hands before me, all patience, all resignation; for I think I hear him coming up. Or shall I roundly accost him, in the words, in the form, which you, my dear, have prescribed?
He is come in. He has sent to me, all impatience, as Dorcas says, by his aspect.—But I cannot, cannot see him!
The contents of your letter, and my own heavy reflections, rendered me incapable of seeing this expecting man. The first word he asked Dorcas, was, if I had received a letter since he had been out? She told me this ; and her answer, that I had; and was fasting, and had been in tears ever since.
He sent to desire an interview with me.
I answered by her, that I was not very well. In the morning, if better, I would see him as soon as he pleased.
Very humble! was it not, my dear? Yet he was too royal to take it for humility; for Dorcas told me, he rubbed one side of his face impatiently; and said a rash word, and was out of humour; stalking about the room.
Half an hour after, he sent again; desiring very earnestly, that I would admit him to supper with me. He would enter upon no subjects of conversation, but what I should lead to.
So I should have been at liberty, you see, to court him!
I again desired to be excused.
Indeed, my dear, my eyes were swelled: I was very low-spirited ; and could not think of entering all at once, after the distance I had kept him at for several days, into the freedom of conversation which the utter rejection I have met with from my relations, as well as your advice, has made necessary.
He sent up to tell me, that as he heard I was fasting, if I would promise to eat some chicken which Mrs. Sinclair had ordered for supper, he would acquiesce.—Very kind in his anger !—Is he not?
I promised that I would. Can I be more preparatively condescending ?—How happy, I'll warrant, if I may meet him in a kind and forgiving humour!
I hate myself!—But I won't be insulted—Indeed I won't, for all this.
Tuesday, May 16.
I think once more, we seem to be in a kind of train; but through a storm. I will give you the particulars.
I heard him in the dining-room at five in the morning. I had rested very ill, and was up too. But opened not my door till six: when Dorcas brought me his request for my company.
He approached me, and taking my hand as I entered the dining-room, I went not to bed, Madam, till two, said he; yet slept not a wink. For God's sake, torment me not, as you have done for a week past.
He paused. I was silent.
At first, proceeded he, I thought your resentment of a curiosity, in which I had been disappointed, could not be deep; and that it would go off of itself: but when I found it was to be kept up till you knew the success of some new overtures which you had made, and which, complied with, might have deprived me of you for ever; how, madam, could I support myself under the thoughts of having, with such an union of interests, made so little impression upon your mind in my favour?
This, madam, after the persecutions of those relations! After what you have suffered! After what you have made me hope! Let me, my dearest creature, ask you what sort of pride must his be, which can dispense with inclination and preference in the lady whom he adores ?—What must be that love—