* See Vol. I. Letter X.
Had this villain Lovelace consulted his worldly interest only, what a fortune would he have had in you, even although your marrying him had deprived you of a paternal share!
I am obliged to leave off here. But having a good deal still more to write, and my mother better, I will pursue the subject in another letter, although I send both together. I need not say how much I am, and will ever be,
Your affectionate, &c.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE THURSDAY, AUGUST 31.
The Colonel thought fit once, in praise of Lovelace’s generosity, to say, that (as a man of honour ought) he took to himself all the blame, and acquitted you of the consequences of the precipitate step you had taken; since he said, as you loved him, and was in his power, he must have had advantages which he would not have had, if you had continued at your father’s, or at any friend’s.
Mighty generous, I said, (were it as he supposed,) in such insolent reflectors, the best of them; who pretend to clear reputations which never had been sullied but by falling into their dirty acquaintance! but in this case, I averred, that there was no need of any thing but the strictest truth, to demonstrate Lovelace to be the blackest of villains, you the brightest of innocents.
This he catched at; and swore, that if any thing uncommon or barbarous in the seduction were to come out, as indeed one of the letters you had written to your friends, and which had been shown him, very strongly implied; that is to say, my dear, if any thing worse than perjury, breach of faith, and abuse of a generous confidence, were to appear! [sorry fellows!] he would avenge his cousin to the utmost.
I urged your apprehensions on this head from your last letter to me: but he seemed capable of taking what I know to be real greatness of soul, in an unworthy sense: for he mentioned directly upon it the expectations your friends had, that you should (previous to any reconciliation with them) appear in a court of justice against the villain—if you could do it with the advantage to yourself that I hinted might be done.
And truly, if I would have heard him, he had indelicacy enough to have gone into the nature of the proof of the crime upon which they wanted to have Lovelace arraigned. Yet this is a man improved by travel and learning!—Upon my word, my dear, I, who have been accustomed to the most delicate conversation ever since I had the honour to know you, despise this sex from the gentleman down to the peasant.
Upon the whole, I find that Mr. Morden has a very slender notion of women’s virtue in particular cases: for which reason I put him down, though your favourite, as one who is not entitled to cast the first stone.
I never knew a man who deserved to be well thought of himself for his morals, who had a slight opinion of the virtue of our sex in general. For if, from the difference of temperament and education, modesty, chastity, and piety too, are not to be found in our sex preferably to the other, I should think it a sign of much worse nature in ours.