Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XIV


On Hannah’s depositing my long letter, (begun yesterday, but by reason of several interruptions not finished till within this hour,) she found and brought me yours of this day. I thank you, my dear, for this kind expedition. These few lines will perhaps be time enough deposited, to be taken away by your servant with the other letter: yet they are only to thank you, and to tell you my increasing apprehensions.

I must take or seek the occasion to apply to my mother for her mediation; for I am in danger of having a day fixed, and antipathy taken for bashfulness.—Should not sisters be sisters to each other? Should not they make a common cause of it, as I may say, a cause of sex, on such occasions as the present? Yet mine, in support of my brother’s selfishness, and, no doubt, in concert with him, has been urging in full assembly it seems, (and that with an earnestness peculiar to herself when she sets upon any thing,) that an absolute day be given me; and if I comply not, to be told, that it shall be to the forfeiture of all my fortunes, and of all their love.

She need not be so officious: my brother’s interest, without hers, is strong enough; for he has found means to confederate all the family against me. Upon some fresh provocation, or new intelligence concerning Mr. Lovelace, (I know not what it is,) they have bound themselves, or are to bind themselves, by a signed paper, to one another [The Lord bless me, my dear, what shall I do!] to carry their point in favour of Mr. Solmes, in support of my father’s authority, as it is called, and against Mr. Lovelace, as a libertine, and an enemy to the family: and if so, I am sure, I may say against me.—How impolitic in them all, to join two people in one interest, whom they wish for ever to keep asunder!

What the discharged steward reported of him is surely bad enough: what Mrs. Fortescue said, not only confirms that bad, but gives room to think him still worse. And yet the something further which my friends have come at, is of so heinous a nature (as Betty Barnes tells Hannah) that it proves him almost to be the worst of men.—But, hang the man, I had almost said—What is he to me? What would he be—were not this Mr. Sol——O my dear, how I hate the man in the light he is proposed to me!

All of them, at the same time, are afraid of Mr. Lovelace; yet not afraid to provoke him!—How am I entangled!—to be obliged to go on corresponding with him for their sakes—Heaven forbid, that their persisted-in violence should so drive me, as to make it necessary for my own!

But surely they will yield—Indeed I cannot.

I believe the gentlest spirits when provoked (causelessly and cruelly provoked) are the most determined. The reason may be, that not taking up resolutions lightly—their very deliberation makes them the more immovable.—And then when a point is clear and self-evident, how can one with patience think of entering into an argument or contention upon it?—

An interruption obliges me to conclude myself, in some hurry, as well as fright, what I must ever be,

Yours more than my own, CLARISSA HARLOWE.