* See Letter XXVI. ibid.
It was finished to send you yesterday, I know; and I apprize you of it, that you should fortify your heart against the contents of it.
The motives which incline them all to this severity, if well grounded, would authorize any severity they could express, and which, while they believe them to be so, both they and you are to be equally pitied.
They are owning to the information of that officious Mr. Brand, who has acquainted them (from some enemy of your’s in the neighbourhood about you) that visits are made you, highly censurable, by a man of a free character, and an intimate of Mr. Lovelace; who is often in private with you; sometimes twice or thrice a day.
Betty gives herself great liberties of speech upon this occasion, and all your friends are too ready to believe that things are not as they should be; which makes me wish that, let the gentleman’s views be ever so honourable, you could entirely drop acquaintance with him.
Something of this nature was hinted at by Betty to me before, but so darkly that I could not tell what to make of it; and this made me mention to you so generally as I did in my last.
Your cousin Morden has been among them. He is exceedingly concerned for your misfortunes; and as they will not believe Mr. Lovelace would marry you, he is determined to go to Lord M.’s, in order to inform himself from Mr. Lovelace’s own mouth, whether he intends to do you that justice or not.
He was extremely caressed by every one at his first arrival; but I am told there is some little coldness between them and him at present.
I was in hopes of getting a sight of this letter of Mr. Brand: (a rash officious man!) but it seems Mr. Morden had it given him yesterday to read, and he took it away with him.
God be your comfort, my dear Miss! But indeed I am exceedingly disturbed at the thoughts of what may still be the issue of all these things. I am, my beloved young lady,
Your most affectionate and faithful
Mrs. Norton, to miss Clarissa
Tuesday, Aug. 22.
After I had sealed up the enclosed, I had the honour of a private visit from your aunt Hervey; who has been in a very low-spirited way, and kept her chamber for several weeks past; and is but just got abroad.
She longed, she said, to see me, and to weep with me, on the hard fate that had befallen her beloved niece.
I will give you a faithful account of what passed between us; as I expect that it will, upon the whole, administer hope and comfort to you.
’She pitied very much your good mother, who, she assured me, is obliged to act a part entirely contrary to her inclinations; as she herself, she owns, had been in a great measure.