(1019词) LETTER II MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE HARLOWE-PLACE, JAN. 13. How you oppress me, my dearest friend, with your politeness! I cannot doubt your sincerity; but you should take care, that you give me not reason from your kind partiality to call in question your judgment. You do not distinguish that I take many admirable hints from you, and have the art to pass them upon you for my own: for in all you do, in all you say, nay, in your very looks (so animated!) you give lessons to one who loves you and observes you as I love you and observe you, without knowing that you do—So pray, my dear, be more sparing of your praise for the future, lest after this confession we should suspect that you secretly intend to praise yourself, while you would be thought only to commend another. Our family has indeed been strangely discomposed.—Discomposed!—It has been in tumults, ever since the unhappy transaction; and I have borne all the blame; yet should have had too much concern from myself, had I been more justly spared by every one else. For, whether it be owing to a faulty impatience, having been too indulgently treated to be inured to blame, or to the regret I have to hear those censured on my account, whom it is my duty to vindicate; I have sometimes wished, that it had pleased God to have taken me in my last fever, when I had every body's love and good opinion; but oftener that I had never been distinguished by my grandfather as I was: since that distinction has estranged from me my brother's and sister's affections; at least, has raised a jealousy with regard to the apprehended favour of my two uncles, that now-and-then overshadows their love. My brother being happily recovered of his fever, and his wound in a hopeful way, although he has not yet ventured abroad, I will be as particular as you desire in the little history you demand of me. But heaven forbid that any thing should ever happen which may require it to be produced for the purpose you mention! I will begin, as you command, with Mr. Lovelace's address to my sister; and be as brief as possible. I will recite facts only; and leave you to judge of the truth of the report raised, that the younger sister has robbed the elder. It was in pursuance of a conference between Lord M. and my uncle Antony, that Mr. Lovelace [my father and mother not forbidding] paid his respect to my sister Arabella. My brother was then in Scotland, busying himself in viewing the condition of the considerable estate which was left him there by his generous godmother, together with one as considerable in Yorkshire. I was also absent at my Dairy-house, as it is called,* busied in the accounts relating to the estate which my grandfather had the goodness to devise to me; and which once a year was left to my inspection, although I have given the whole into my father's power. * Her grandfather, in order to invite her to him as often as her other friends would spare her, indulged her in erecting and fitting up a diary-house in her own taste. When finished, it was so much admired for its elegant simplicity and convenience, that the whole seat (before, of old time, from its situation, called The Grove) was generally known by the name of The Dairy-house. Her grandfather in particular was fond of having it so called. My sister made me a visit there the day after Mr. Lovelace had been introduced; and seemed highly pleased with the gentleman. His birth, his fortune in possession, a clear 2000L. a year, as Lord M. had assured my uncle; presumptive heir to that nobleman's large estate: his great expectations from Lady Sarah Sadleir and Lady Betty Lawrence; who with his uncle interested themselves very warmly (he being the last of his line) to see him married. 'So handsome a man!—O her beloved Clary!' (for then she was ready to love me dearly, from the overflowings of her good humour on his account!) 'He was but too handsome a man for her!—Were she but as amiable as somebody, there would be a probability of holding his affections!—For he was wild, she heard; very wild, very gay; loved intrigue—but he was young; a man of sense: would see his error, could she but have patience with his faults, if his faults were not cured by marriage!' Thus she ran on; and then wanted me 'to see the charming man,' as she called him.—Again concerned, 'that she was not handsome enough for him;' with, 'a sad thing, that the man should have the advantage of the woman in that particular!'—But then, stepping to the glass, she complimented herself, 'That she was very well: that there were many women deemed passable who were inferior to herself: that she was always thought comely; and comeliness, let her tell me, having not so much to lose as beauty had, would hold, when that would evaporate or fly off:—nay, for that matter,' [and again she turned to the glass] 'her features were not irregular; her eyes not at all amiss.' And I remember they were more than usually brilliant at that time.—'Nothing, in short, to be found fault with, though nothing very engaging she doubted—was there, Clary.' Excuse me, my dear, I never was thus particular before; no, not to you. Nor would I now have written thus freely of a sister, but that she makes a merit to my brother of disowning that she ever liked him; as I shall mention hereafter: and then you will always have me give you minute descriptions, nor suffer me to pass by the air and manner in which things are spoken that are to be taken notice of; rightly observing, that air and manner often express more than the accompanying words.