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thus far in favour of your way of thinking, as to the conduct of some parents in these nice cases, that indiscreet opposition does frequently as much mischief as giddy love.
As to the invitation you are so kind as to give me, to remove privately into your neighbourhood, I have told Mr. Hickman that I will consider of it; but believe, if you will be so good as to excuse me, that I shall not accept of it, even should I be able to remove. I will give you my reasons for declining it; and so I ought, when both my love and my gratitude would make a visit now-and-then from my dear Miss Howe the most consolate thing in the world to me.
You must know then, that this great town, wicked as it is, wants not opportunities of being better; having daily prayers at several churches in it; and I am desirous, as my strength will permit, to embrace those opportunities. The method I have proposed to myself (and was beginning to practise when that cruel arrest deprived me both of freedom and strength) is this: when I was disposed to gentle exercise, I took a chair to St. Dunstan's church in Fleetstreet, where are prayers at seven in the morning; I proposed, if the weather favoured, to walk (if not, to take chair) to Lincoln's-inn chapel, where, at eleven in the morning, and at five in the afternoon, are the same desirable opportunities; and at other times to go no farther than Covent-garden church, where are early morning prayers likewise.
This method pursued, I doubt not, will greatly help, as it has already done, to calm my disturbed thoughts, and to bring me to that perfect resignation after which I aspire: for I must own, my dear, that sometimes still my griefs and my reflections are too heavy for me; and all the aid I ca draw from religious duties is hardly sufficient to support
my staggering reason. I am a very young creature you know, my dear, to be left to my own conduct in such cir cumstances as I am in.
Another reason why I choose not to go down into your neighbourhood, is the displeasure that might arise, on my account, between your mother and you.
If indeed you were actually married, and the worthy man (who would then have a title to all your regard) were earnestly desirous of near neighbourhood, I know not what I might do: for although I might not perhaps intend to give up my other important reasons at the time I should make you a congratulatory visit, yet I might not know how to deny myself the pleasure of continuing near you when there.
I send you enclosed the copy of my letter to my sister. I hope it will be thought to be written with a true penitent spirit; for indeed it is. I desire that you will not think I stoop too low in it; since there can be no such a thing as that in a child to parents whom she has unhappily offended.
But if still (perhaps more disgusted than before at your freedom with them) they should pass it by with the contempt of silence, (for I have not yet been favoured with an answer,) I must learn to think it right in them to do so; especially as it is my first direct application: for I have often censured the boldness of those, who, applying for a favour, which it is in a person's option to grant or to refuse, take the liberty of being offended, if they are not gratified; as if the petitioned had not as good a right to reject, as the petitioner to ask.
But if my letter should be answered, and that in such terms as will make me loth to communicate it to so warm a friend—you must not, my dear, take upon you to cen.
ure my relations; but allow for them as they know not what I have suffered; as being filled with just resentments against me, (just to them if they think them just;) and as not being able to judge of the reality of my penitence.
And after all, what can they do for me?-They can only pity me and what will that but augment their own grief; to which at present their resentment is an alleviation? for can they by their pity restore to me my lost reputation? Can they by it purchase a sponge that will wipe out from the year the past fatal four months of my life*?
Your account of the gay, unconcerned behaviour of Mr. Lovelace, at the Colonel's, does not surprise me at all, after I am told that he had the intrepidity to go there, knowing who were invited and expected.-Only this, my dear, I really wonder at, that Miss Howe could imagine that I could have a thought of such a man for a husband.
Poor wretch! I pity him, to see him fluttering about; abusing talents that were given him for excellent purposes; taking in consideration for courage; and dancing, fearless of danger, on the edge of a precipice!
But indeed his threatening to see me most sensibly alarms and shocks me. I cannot but hope that I never, never more shall see him in this world.
Siuce you are so loth, my dear, to send the desired negative to the ladies of his family, I will only trouble you to transmit the letter I shall enclose for that purpose; directed indeed to yourself, because it was to you that those ladies applied themselves on this occasion; but to be sent by you to any one of the ladies, at your own choice.
*She takes in the time that she appointed to meet Mr. Lovelace.
I commend myself, my dearest Miss Howe, to your prayers; and conclude with repeated thanks for sending Mr. Hickman to me; and with wishes for your health and happiness, and for the speedy celebration of your nuptials; Your ever affectionate and obliged
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE.
[Enclosed in the preceding.]
MY DEAREST MISS HOWE,
Thursday, July 27.
SINCE you seem loth to acquiesce in my determined resolution, signified to you as soon as I was able to hold a pen, I beg the favour of you, by this, or by any other way you think most proper, to acquaint the worthy ladies, who have applied to you in behalf of their relation, that although I am infinitely obliged to their generous opinion of me, yet I cannot consent to sanctify, as I may say, Mr. Lovelace's repeated breaches of all moral sanctions, and hazard my future happiness by an union with a man, through whose premeditated injuries, in a long train of the basest contrivances, I have forfeited my temporal hopes.
He himself, when he reflects upon his own actions, must surely bear testimony to the justice as well as fitness of my determination. The ladies, I dare say, would, were they to know the whole of my unhappy story.
Be pleased to acquaint them that I deceive myself, if my resolution on this head (however ungratefully and even in
humanly he has treated me) be not owing more to principle than passion. Nor can I give a stronger proof of the truth of this assurance, than by declaring that I can and will forgive him, on this one easy condition, that he will never molest me more.
In whatever way you choose to make this declaration, be pleased to let my most respectful compliments to the ladies of that noble family, and to my Lord M., accompany it. And do you, my dear, believe that I shall be, to the last moment of my life,
Your ever obliged and affectionate
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Friday, July 28. I HAVE three letters of thine to take notice of*; but am divided in my mind, whether to quarrel with thee on thy unmerciful reflections, or to thank thee for thy acceptable particularity and diligence. But several of my sweet dears have I, indeed, in my time, made to cry and laugh in a breath; nay, one side of their pretty faces laugh before the cry could go off the other: Why may I not, therefore, curse and applaud thee in the same moment? So take both in one: and what follows, as it shall rise from my pen.
How often have I ingenuously confessed my sins against
* Letters III. IV. and V. of this volume.