But it is amazing to me, I own, that with so much of the gentleman, such a general knowledge of books and men, such a skill in the learned as well as modern languages, he can take so much delight as he does in the company of such persons as I have described, and in subjects of frothy impertinence, unworthy of his talents, and his natural and acquired advantages. I can think but of one reason for it, and that must argue a very low mind,—his vanity; which makes him desirous of being considered as the head of the people he consorts with.—A man to love praise, yet to be content to draw it from such contaminated springs!
One compliment passed from Mr. Belford to Mr. Lovelace, which hastened my quitting the shocking company—’You are a happy man, Mr. Lovelace,’ said he, upon some fine speeches made him by Mrs. Sinclair, and assented to by Miss Partington:—’You have so much courage, and so much wit, that neither man nor woman can stand before you.’
Mr. Belford looked at me when he spoke: yes, my dear, he smilingly looked at me; and he looked upon his complimented friend; and all their assenting, and therefore affronting eyes, both men’s and women’s, were turned upon your Clarissa; at least, my self-reproaching heart made me think so; for that would hardly permit my eye to look up.
Oh! my dear, were but a woman, who gives reason to the world to think her to be in love with a man, [And this must be believed to be my case; or to what can my supposed voluntary going off with Mr. Lovelace be imputed?] to reflect one moment on the exaltation she gives him, and the disgrace she brings upon herself,—the low pity, the silent contempt, the insolent sneers and whispers, to which she makes herself obnoxious from a censuring world of both sexes,—how would she despise herself! and how much more eligible would she think death itself than such a discovered debasement!
What I have thus in general touched upon, will account to you why I could not more particularly relate what passed in this evening’s conversation: which, as may be gathered from what I have written, abounded with approbatory accusations, and supposed witty retorts.
Miss Clarissa Harlowe, to miss
I am very much vexed and disturbed at an odd incident. Mrs. Sinclair has just now left me; I believe in displeasure, on my declining to comply with a request she made me: which was, to admit Miss Partington to a share in my bed, her house being crowded by her nieces’s guests and by their attendants, as well as by those of Miss Partington.