I must conclude—
God for ever bless you, and all you love and honour, and reward you here and hereafter for your kindness to
Your ever obliged and affectionate
Mrs. Norton, to miss Clarissa
[in answer to her’s of Thursday, August 24. See letter XXX. Of this
Thursday, Aug. 31.
I had written sooner, my dearest young lady, but that I have been endeavouring, ever since the receipt of your last letter, to obtain a private audience of your mother, in hopes of leave to communicate it to her. But last night I was surprised by an invitation to breakfast at Harlowe-place this morning; and the chariot came early to fetch me—an honour I did not expect.
When I came, I found there was to be a meeting of all your family with Col. Morden, at Harlowe-place; and it was proposed by your mother, and consented to, that I should be present. Your cousin, I understand, had with difficulty brought this meeting to bear; for your brother had before industriously avoided all conversation with him on the affecting subject; urging that it was not necessary to talk to Mr. Morden upon it, who, being a remoter relation than themselves, had no business to make himself a judge of their conduct to their daughter, their niece, and their sister; especially as he had declared himself in her favour; adding, that he should hardly have patience to be questioned by Mr. Morden on that head.
I was in hopes that your mother would have given me an opportunity of talking with her alone before the company met; but she seemed studiously to avoid it; I dare say, however, not with her inclination.
I was ordered in just before Mr. Morden came; and was bid to sit down— which I did in the window.
The Colonel, when he came, began the discourse, by renewing, as he called it, his solicitations in your favour. He set before them your penitence; your ill health; your virtue, though once betrayed, and basely used; he then read to them Mr. Lovelace’s letter, a most contrite one indeed,* and your high-souled answer;** for that was what he justly called it; and he treated as it deserved Mr. Brand’s officious information, (of which I had before heard he had made them ashamed,) by representations founded upon inquiries made by Mr. Alston,*** whom he had procured to go up on purpose to acquaint himself with your manner of life, and what was meant by the visits of that Mr. Belford.
* See Vol. VII. LXXIX. ** Ibid. Letter LXXXIII. *** See Vol. VIII. Letter XXIII.