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which can proceed only from the light opinion he has of us, and the high one of himself.
But our sex are generally modest and bashful themselves, and are too apt to consider that which in the main is their principal grace, as a defect: and finely do they judge, when they think of supplying that defect by choosing a man that cannot be ashamed.
His discourse to Mr. Hickman turned upon you, and his acknowledged injuries of you though he could so lightly start from the subject, and return to it.
I have no patience with such a devil-man he cannot be called. To be sure he would behave in the same manner any where, or in any presence, even at the altar itself, if a woman were with him there.
It shall ever be a rule with me, that he who does not regard a woman with some degree of reverence, will look upon her and occasionally treat her with contempt.
He had the confidence to offer to take me out; but I absolutely refused him, and shunned him all I could, putting on the most contemptuous airs; but nothing could mortify him.
I wished twenty times I had not been there.
The gentlemen were as ready as I to wish he had broken his neck, rather than been present, I believe: for nobody was regarded but he. So little of the fop; yet so elegant and rich in his dress: his person so specious: his air so intrepid: so much meaning and penetration in his face: so much gaiety, yet so little of the monkey: though a travelled gentleman, yet no affectation; no mere toupet-man'; but all manly; and his courage and wit, the one so known, the other so dreaded, you must think the petits-maîtres (of which there were four or five present) were most deplorably off in his company; and one grave gentleman observed
to me, (pleased to see me shun him as I did,) that the poet's observation was too true, that the generality of ladies were rakes in their hearts, or they could not be so much taken with a man who had so notorious a character.
I told him the reflection both of the poet and applier was much too general, and made with more ill-nature than good manners.
When the wretch saw how industriously I avoided him, (shifting from one part of the hall to another,) he at last boldly stept up to me, as my mother and Mr. Hickman were talking to me; and thus before them accosted me:
I beg your pardon, Madam; but by your mother's leave, I must have a few moments' conversation with you, either here, or at your own house; and I beg you will give me the opportunity.
Nancy, said my mother, hear what he has to say to you. In my presence you may and better in the adjoining apartment, if it must be, than to come to you at our own house.
I retired to one corner of the hall, my mother following me, and he, taking Mr. Hickman under his arm, following her-Well, Sir, said I, what have you to say?—Tell me here.
I have been telling Mr. Hickman, said he, how much I am concerned for the injuries I have done to the most excellent woman in the world and yet, that she obtained such a glorious triumph over me the last time I had the honour to see her, as, with my penitence, ought to have abated her former resentments: but that I will, with all my soul, enter into any measures to obtain her forgiveness of me. My cousins Montague have told you this. Lady Betty and Lady Sarah and my Lord M. are engaged for my honour. I know your power with the dear creature.
My cousins told me you gave them hopes you would use it in my behalf. My Lord M. and his two sisters are impatiently expecting the fruits of it. You must have heard from her before now: I hope you have. And will you be so good as to tell me, if I may have any hopes?
If I must speak on this subject, let me tell you that you have broken her heart. You know not the value of the lady you have injured. You deserve her not. And she despises you, as she ought.
Dear Miss Howe, mingle not passion with denunciations So severe. I must know my fate. I will go abroad once more, if I find her absolutely irreconcileable. But I hope she will give me leave to attend upon her, to know my doom from her own mouth.
It would be death immediate for her to see you. what must you be, to be able to look her in the face ?
I then reproached him (with vehemence enough you may believe) on his baseness, and the evils he had made you suffer the distress he had reduced you to ; all your friends made your enemies: the vile house he had carried you to: hinted at his villanous arts; the dreadful arrest and told him of your present deplorable illness, and resolution to die rather than have him.
He vindicated not any part of his conduct, but that of the arrest; and so solemnly protested his sorrow for his usage of you, accusing himself in the freest manuer, and by deserved apellations, that I promised to lay before you this part of our conversation. And now you have it.
My mother, as well as Mr. Hickman, believes, from what passed on this occasion, that he is touched in conscience for the wrongs he has done you: but, by his whole behaviour, I must own, it seems to me that nothing can touch him for half an hour together. Yet I have no
doubt that he would willingly marry you; and it piques his pride, I could see, that he should be denied; as it did mine, that such a wretch had dared to think it in his power to have such a woman whenever he pleased; and that it must be accounted a condescension, and matter of obligation (by all his own family at least) that he would vouch, safe to think of marriage.
Now, my dear, you have before you the reason why I suspend the decisive negative to the ladies of his family. My mother, Miss Lloyd, and Miss Biddulph, who were inquisitive after the subject of our retired conversation, and whose curiosity I thought it was right, in some degree, to gratify, (especially as these young ladies are of our se lect acquaintance,) are all of opinion that you should be his.
You will let Mr. Hickman know your whole mind; and when he acquaints me with it, I will tell you all my
Mean time, may the news he will bring me of the state of your health be favourable! prays, with the utmost fervency,
Your ever faithful and affectionate
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE.
MY DEAREST MISS HOWE,
Thursday, July 27.
AFTER I have thankfully acknowledged your favour in
sending Mr. Hickman to visit me before you set out upon
your intended journey, I must chide you (in the sincerity of that faithful love, which could not be the love it is if it would not admit of that cementing freedom) for suspending the decisive negative, which, upon such full deliberation, I had entreated you to give to Mr. Lovelace's relations.
I am sorry that I am obliged to repeat to you, my dear, who know me so well, that, were I sure I should live many years, I would not have Mr. Lovelace; much less can I think of him, as it is probable I may not live one.
As to the world and its censures, you know, my dear, that, however desirous I always was of a fair fame, yet I never thought it right to give more than a second place to the world's opinion. The challenges made to Mr. Lovelace, by Miss D'Oyly, in public company, are a fresh proof that I have lost my reputation: and what advantage would it be to me, were it retrievable, and were I to live long, if I could not acquit myself to myself?
Having in my former said so much on the freedoms you have taken with my friends, I shall say the less now; but your hint, that something else has newly passed between some of them and you, gives me great concern, and that as well for my own sake as for theirs, since it must necessarily incense them against me. I wish, my dear, that I had been left to my own course on an occasion so very in. teresting to myself. But, since what is done cannot be helped, I must abide the consequences: yet I dread more than before, what may be my sister's answer, if an answer will be at all vouchsafed.
Will you give me leave, my dear, to close this subject with one remark-It is this: that my beloved friend, in points where her own laudable zeal is concerned, has ever seemed more ready to fly from the rebuke, than from the fault. If you will excuse this freedom, I will acknowledge