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LETTER XCV.

MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.

Thursday, August 31. The Colonel thought fit once, in praise of Lovelace's ge. nerosity, to say, that (as a man of honour ought) he took to himself all the blame, and acquitted you of the consequences of the precipitate step you had taken ; since he said, as you loved him, and was in his power, he must have had advantages which he would not have had, if

you had continued at your father's, or at any friend's.

Mighty generous, I said, (were it as he supposed,) in such insolent reflectors, the best of them; who pretend to clear reputations which never had been sullied but by falling into their dirty acqnaiutance! but in this case, I averred, that there was no need of any thing but the strictest truth, to demonstrate Lovelace to be the blackest of villains, you the brightest of innocents.

This he catched at; and swore, that if any thing un. common or barbarous in the seduction were to come out, as indeed one of the letters you had written to your friends, and which had been shown him, very strongly implied; that is to say, my dear, if any thing worse than perjury, breach of faith, and abuse of a generous confidence, were to appear! (sorry fellows!] he would avenge his cousin to the utmost.

I urged your apprehensions on this head from your last letter to me: but he seemed capable of taking what I know to be real greatness of soul, in an unworthy sense : for he mentioned directly upon it the expectations your friends had, that you should (previous to any reconciliation with them) appear in a court of justice against the villain-IF you could do it with the advantage to yourself that I hinted might be done.

And truly, if I would have heard him, he had indelicacy enough to hare gone into the nature of the proof of the crime upon which they wanted to have Lovelace arraigned. Yet this is a man improved by travel and learning!-Upon my word, my dear, I, who have been accustomed to the most delicate conversation ever since I had the honour to know you, despise this sex from the gentleman down to the peasant.

Upon the whole, I find that Mr. Morden has a very slender notion of women's virtue in particular cases : for which reason I put him down, though your favourite, as one who is not entitled to cast the first stone.

I never knew a man who deserved to be well thought of himself for his morals, who had a slight opinion of the virtue of our sex in general. For if, from the difference of temperament and education, modesty, chastity, and piety too, are not to be found in our sex preferably to the other, I should think it a sign of much worse nature in ours.

He even hinted (as from your relations indeed) that it is impossible but there must be some will where there is much love,

These sort of reflections are enough to make a woman, who has at heart her own honour and the honour of her sex, to look about her, and consider what she is doing when she enters into an intimacy with these wretches ; since it is plain, that whenever she throws herself into the power of a man,

and leaves for him her parents or guar. dians, every body will believe it to be owing more to her good luck than to her discretion if there be not an end of her virtue : and let the man be ever such a villain to her, she must take into her own bosom a share of his guilty base ness.

I am writing to general cases. You, my dear, are out of the question. Your story, as I have heretofore said, will afford a warning, as well as an example*: For who is it that will not infer, that if a person of your fortune, cha. racter, and merit, could not escape ruin, after she had put herself into the power of her hyæna, what can a thought. less, fond, giddy creature expect ?

Every man, they will say, is not a LOVELACE-True: but then, neither is every woman a CLARISSA. And allow for the one and for the other the example must be of general

use.

I prepared Mr. Morden to expect your appointment of Mr. Belford for an office that we both hope he will have no occasion to act in (nor any body else) for many, very many years to come. He was at first startled at it: but, upon hearing such of your reasons as had satisfied me,

he only said that such an appointment, were it to take place, would exceedingly affect his other cousins.

He told me, he had a copy of Lovelace's letter to you, imploring your pardon, and offering to undergo any pe. nance to procure itt; and also of your answer to it.

I find he is willing to hope that a marriage between you may still take place; which, he says, will heal up all breaches.

I would have written much more-on the following particulars especially; to wit, of the wretched man's hunting you out of your lodgings: of your relations strange implacableness, [I am in haste, and cannot think of a word you you would like better just now :] of your last letter to Lovelace, to divert him from pursuing you: of your aunt

* See Vol. IV, Letter XI. + See Letter XXXVI. of this volume. See Letter XL. ibid,

Hervey's penitential conversation with Mrs. Norton : 0 Mr. Wyerley's renewed address : of your lessons to me in Hickman's behalf, so approvable, were the man more so than he is; but indeed I am offended with him at this instant, and have been for these two days: of your sister's transportation-project: and of twenty and twenty other things : but am obliged to leave off, to attend my two cousins Spilsworth, and my cousin Herbert, who are come to visit us on account of my mother's illness-I will therefore dispatch these by Rogers; and if my mother gets well soon (as I hope she will) I am resolved to see you in town, and tell you every thing that now is upon my mind; and particularly, mingling my soul with your's, how much I am,

and will ever be, my dearest, dear friend,

Your affectionate

ANNA HOWE. Let Rogers bring one line, I pray you. I thought to have

sent him this afternoon; but he cannot set out till to.

morrow morning early. I cannot express how much your staggering lines and your

conclusion affect me!

LETTER XCVI.

MR. BELFORI), TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.

Sunday Evening, Sept. 3. I wonder not at the impatience your servant tells me you express to hear from me. I was designing to write you a long letter, and was just returned from Smith's for that purpose ; but, since you are urgent, you must be con. tented with a short one.

I attended the lady this morning, just before I set out for Edgware. She was so ill over.night, that she was obliged to leave unfinished her letter to Miss Howe. But early this morning she made an end of it, and had just sealed it up as I came. She was so fatigued with writing, that she told me she would lie down after I was gone, and endeavour to recruit her spirits.

They had sent for Mr. Goddard, when she was so ill last night, and not being able to see him out of her own chamber, he, for the first time, saw her house, as she calls it. He was extremely shocked and concerned at it; and chid Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Lovick for not persuading her to have such an object removed from her bed.chamber: and when they excused themselves on the little authority it was reasonable to suppose they must have with a lady so much their superior, he reflected warmly on those who had more authority, and who left her to proceed with such a shocking and solemn whimsy, as he called it.

It is placed near the window, like a harpsichord, though .covered over to the ground : and when she is so ill that she cannot well go to her closet, she writes and reads upon it, as others would upon a desk or table. But (only as she was so ill last night) she chooses not to see any body in that apartment.

I went to Edgware; and, returning in the evening, at. tended her again. She had a letter brought her from Mrs. Norton (a long one, as it seems by its bulk,) just before I came.

But she had not opened it; and said, that as she was pretty calm and composed, she was afraid to look into the contents, lest she should be ruffled ; expecting now to hear of nothing that could do her good or give her pleasure from that good woman's dear hard-hearted neighbours, as she called her own relations. . Seeing her so weak and ill, I withdrew; nor did she

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