Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXXI

MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE [IN REPLY TO HER’S OF FRIDAY, AUG. 11.*] YARMOUTH, ISLE OF WIGHT, AUG. 23.

* See Letter II. of this volume.

MY DEAREST FRIEND,

I have read the letters and copies of letters you favoured me with: and I return them by a particular hand. I am extremely concerned at your indifferent state of health: but I approve of all your proceedings and precautions in relation to the appointment of Mr. Belford for an office, in which, I hope, neither he nor any body else will be wanted to act, for many, very many years.

I admire, and so we do all, that greatness of mind which can make you so stedfastly [sic] despise (through such inducements as no other woman could resist, and in such desolate circumstances as you have been reduced to) the wretch that ought to be so heartily despised and detested.

What must the contents of those letters from your relations be, which you will not communicate to me!—Fie upon them! How my heart rises!—But I dare say no more—though you yourself now begin to think they use you with great severity.

Every body here is so taken with Mr. Hickman (and the more from the horror they conceive at the character of the detestable Lovelace,) that I have been teased to death almost to name a day. This has given him airs: and, did I not keep him to it, he would behave as carelessly and as insolently as if he were sure of me. I have been forced to mortify him no less than four times since we have been here.

I made him lately undergo a severe penance for some negligences that were not to be passed over. Not designed ones, he said: but that was a poor excuse, as I told him: for, had they been designed, he should never have come into my presence more: that they were not, showed his want of thought and attention; and those were inexcusable in a man only in his probatory state.

He hoped he had been more than in a probatory state, he said.

And therefore, Sir, might be more careless!—So you add ingratitude to negligence, and make what you plead as accident, that itself wants an excuse, design, which deserves none.

I would not see him for two days, and he was so penitent, and so humble, that I had like to have lost myself, to make him amends: for, as you have said, resentment carried too high, often ends in amends too humble.

I long to be nearer to you: but that must not yet be, it seems. Pray, my dear, let me hear from you as often as you can.

May Heaven increase your comforts, and restore your health, are the prayers of

Your ever faithful and affectionate ANNA HOWE.

P.S. Excuse me that I did not write before: it was owing to a little

coasting voyage I was obliged to give into.