Adieu! adieu! God give us both comfort; and to the once dear—the ever-dear creature (for can a mother forget her child?) repentance, deep repentance! and as little suffering as may befit his blessed will, and her grievous fault, prays
Your real friend,
Miss Howe, to miss Clarissa
Sunday, may 14.
How it is now, my dear, between you and Mr. Lovelace,
I cannot tell.
But, wicked as the man is, I am afraid he must be your lord and master.
I called him by several very hard names in my last. I had but just heard of some of his vilenesses, when I sat down to write; so my indignation was raised. But on inquiry, and recollection, I find that the facts laid to his charge were all of them committed some time ago—not since he has had strong hopes of your favour.
This is saying something for him. His generous behaviour to the innkeeper’s daughter is a more recent instance to his credit; to say nothing of the universal good character he has as a kind landlord. And then I approve much of the motion he made to put you in possession of Mrs. Fretchville’s house, while he continues at the other widow’s, till you agree that one house shall hold you. I wish this were done. Be sure you embrace this offer, (if you do not soon meet at the altar,) and get one of his cousins with you.
Were you once married, I should think you cannot be very unhappy, though you may not be so happy with him as you deserve to be. The stake he has in his country, and his reversions; the care he takes of his affairs; his freedom from obligation; nay, his pride, with your merit, must be a tolerable security for you, I should think. Though particulars of his wickedness, as they come to my knowledge, hurt and incense me; yet, after all, when I give myself time to reflect, all that I have heard of him to his disadvantage was comprehended in the general character given of him long ago, by Lord M.’s and his own dismissed bailiff,* and which was confirmed to me by Mrs. Fortescue, as I heretofore told you,** and to you by Mrs. Greme.***
* See Vol. I. Letter IV. ** Ibid. Letter XII. *** See Vol. III. Letter VI.
You can have nothing, therefore, I think, to be deeply concerned about, but his future good, and the bad example he may hereafter set to his own family. These indeed are very just concerns: but were you to leave him now, either with or without his consent, his fortunes and alliances so considerable, his person and address so engaging, (every one excusing you now on those accounts, and because of your relations’ follies,) it would have a very ill appearance for your reputation. I cannot, therefore, on the most deliberate consideration, advise you to think of that, while you have no reason to doubt his honour. May eternal vengeance pursue the villain, if he give room for an apprehension of this nature!