I repeat, that my prospects are not bad. ’The house, I presume, will soon be taken. The people here are very respectful, notwithstanding my nicety about Miss Partington. Miss Martin, who is near marriage with an eminent tradesman in the Strand, just now, in a very respectful manner, asked my opinion of some patterns of rich silks for the occasion. The widow has a less forbidding appearance than at first. Mr. Lovelace, on my declared dislike of his four friends, has assured me that neither they nor any body else shall be introduced to me without my leave.’
These circumstances I mention (as you will suppose) that your kind heart may be at ease about me; that you may be induced by them to acquiesce with your mother’s commands, (cheerfully acquiesce,) and that for my sake, lest I should be thought an inflamer; who am, with very contrary intentions, my dearest and best beloved friend,
Your ever obliged and affectionate,
Miss Howe, to miss Clarissa
WEDN. May 3.
I am astonished that my mother should take such a step—purely to exercise an unreasonable act of authority; and to oblige the most remorseless hearts in the world. If I find that I can be of use to you, either by advice or information, do you think I will not give it!—Were it to any other person, much less dear to me than you are, do you think, in such a case, I would forbear giving it?
Mr. Hickman, who pretends to a little casuistry in such nice matters, is of opinion that I ought not to decline such a correspondence thus circumstanced. And it is well he is; for my mother having set me up, I must have somebody to quarrel with.
This I will come into if it will make you easy—I will forbear to write to you for a few days, if nothing extraordinary happen, and till the rigour of her prohibition is abated. But be assured that I will not dispense with your writing to me. My heart, my conscience, my honour, will not permit it.
But how will I help myself?—How!—easily enough. For I do assure you that I want but very little farther provocation to fly privately to London. And if I do, I will not leave you till I see you either honourably married, or absolutely quit of the wretch: and, in this last case, I will take you down with me, in defiance of the whole world: or, if you refuse to go with me, stay with you, and accompany you as your shadow whithersoever you go.
Don’t be frightened at this declaration. There is but one consideration, and but one hope, that withhold me, watched as I am in all my retirements; obliged to read to her without a voice; to work in her presence without fingers; and to lie with her every night against my will. The consideration is, lest you should apprehend that a step of this nature would look like a doubling of your fault, in the eyes of such as think your going away a fault. The hope is, that things will still end happily, and that some people will have reason to take shame to themselves for the sorry part they have acted. Nevertheless I am often balancing—but your resolving to give up the correspondence at this crisis will turn the scale. Write, therefore, or take the consequence.