Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXXIX



I am highly offended with my daughter’s letters to Miss Harlowe. I knew nothing at all of her having taken such a liberty. These young creatures have such romantic notions, some of life, some of friendship, that there is no governing them in either. Nothing but time, and dear experience, will convince them of their absurdities in both. I have chidden Miss Howe very severely. I had before so just a notion of what your whole family’s distress must be, that, as I told your brother, Mr. Antony Harlowe, I had often forbid her corresponding with the poor fallen angel —for surely never did young lady more resemble what we imagine of angels, both in person and mind. But, tired out with her headstrong ways, [I am sorry to say this of my own child,] I was forced to give way to it again. And, indeed, so sturdy was she in her will, that I was afraid it would end in a fit of sickness, as too often it did in fits of sullens.

None but parents know the trouble that children give. They are happiest, I have often thought, who have none. And these women-grown girls, bless my heart! how ungovernable!

I believe, however, you will have no more such letters from my Nancy. I have been forced to use compulsion with her upon Miss Clary’s illness, [and it seems she is very bad,] or she would have run away to London, to attend upon her: and this she calls doing the duty of a friend; forgetting that she sacrifices to her romantic friendship her duty to her fond indulgent mother.

There are a thousand excellencies in the poor sufferer, notwithstanding her fault: and, if the hints she has given to my daughter be true, she has been most grievously abused. But I think your forgiveness and her father’s forgiveness of her ought to be all at your own choice; and nobody should intermeddle in that, for the sake of due authority in parents: and besides, as Miss Harlowe writes, it was what every body expected, though Miss Clary would not believe it till she smarted for her credulity. And, for these reasons, I offer not to plead any thing in alleviation of her fault, which is aggravated by her admirable sense, and a judgment above her years.

I am, Madam, with compliments to good Mr. Harlowe, and all your afflicted family,

Your most humble servant, ANNABELLA HOWE.

I shall set out for the Isle of Wight in a few days, with my daughter. I

will hasten our setting out, on purpose to break her mind from her

friend’s distresses; which afflict us as much, nearly, as Miss

Clary’s rashness has done you.