* See Letter IV. of this volume.
I find by your letters to my uncles, that they, as well as I, are in great disgrace with you for writing our minds to you.
We can’t help it, sister Clary.
You don’t think it worth your while, I find, a second time to press for the blessing you pretend to be so earnest about. You think, no doubt, that you have done your duty in asking for it: so you’ll sit down satisfied with that, I suppose, and leave it to your wounded parents to repent hereafter that they have not done theirs, in giving it to you, at the first word; and in making such inquiries about you, as you think ought to have been made. Fine encouragement to inquire after a run-away daughter! living with her fellow as long as he would live with her! You repent also (with your full mind, as you modestly call it) that you wrote to me.
So we are not likely to be applied to any more, I find, in this way.
Well then, since this is the case, sister Clary, let me, with all humility, address myself with a proposal or two to you; to which you will be graciously pleased to give an answer.
Now you must know, that we have had hints given us, from several quarters, that you have been used in such a manner by the villain you ran away with, that his life would be answerable for his crime, if it were fairly to be proved. And, by your own hints, something like it appears to us.
If, Clary, there be any thing but jingle and affected period in what proceeds from your full mind, and your dutiful consciousness; and if there be truth in what Mrs. Norton and Mrs. Howe have acquainted us with; you may yet justify your character to us, and to the world, in every thing but your scandalous elopement; and the law may reach the villain: and, could we but bring him to the gallows, what a meritorious revenge would that be to our whole injured family, and to the innocents he has deluded, as well as the saving from ruin many others!
Let me, therefore, know (if you please) whether you are willing to appear to do yourself, and us, and your sex, this justice? If not, sister Clary, we shall know what to think of you; for neither you nor we can suffer more than we have done from the scandal of your fall: and, if you will, Mr. Ackland and counselor Derham will both attend you to make proper inquiries, and to take minutes of your story, to found a process upon, if it will bear one with as great a probability of success as we are told it may be prosecuted with.
But, by what Mrs. Howe intimates, this is not likely to be complied with; for it is what she hinted to you, it seems, by her lively daughter, but not without effect;* so prudently in some certain points, as to entitle yourself to public justice; which, if true, the Lord have mercy upon you!
* See Vol. VI. Letter LXXII.
One word only more as to the above proposal:—Your admirer, Dr. Lewen, is clear, in his opinion, that you should prosecute the villain.