Berry Hill, May 21.
LET not my Evelina be depressed by a stroke of fortune for which she is not responsible. No breach of duty on your part has incurred the unkindness which has been shown you; nor have you, by any act of imprudence, provoked either censure or reproach. Let me intreat you, therefore, my dearest child, to support yourself with that courage which your innocency ought to inspire: and let all the affliction you allow yourself be for him only who, not having that support, must one day be but too severely sensible how much he wants it.
The hint thrown out concerning myself is wholly unintelligible to me: my heart, I dare own, fully acquits me of vice; but without blemish, I have never ventured to pronounce myself. However, it seems his intention to be hereafter more explicit; and then — should anything appear, that has on my part contributed to those misfortunes we lament, let me at least say, that the most partial of my friends cannot be so much astonished as I shall myself be at such a discovery.
The mention, also, of any future applications I may make, is equally beyond my comprehension. But I will not dwell upon a subject, which almost compels from me reflections that cannot but be wounding to a heart so formed for filial tenderness as my Evelina’s. There is an air of mystery throughout the letter, the explanation of which I will await in silence.
The scheme of Madame Duval is such as might be reasonably expected from a woman so little inured to disappointment, and so totally incapable of considering the delicacy of your situation. Your averseness to her plan gives me pleasure, for it exactly corresponds with my own. Why will she not make the journey she projects by herself? She would not have even the wish of an opposition to encounter. And then, once more, might my child and myself be left to the quiet enjoyment of that peaceful happiness, which she alone has interrupted. As to her coming hither, I could, indeed, dispense with such a visit; but, if she will not be satisfied with my refusal by letter, I must submit to the task of giving it her in person.
My impatience for your return is increased by your account of Sir Clement Willoughby’s visit to Howard Grove. I am but little surprised at the perseverance of his assiduities to interest you in his favour; but I am very much hurt that you should be exposed to addresses, which, by their privacy, have an air that shocks me. You cannot, my love, be too circumspect; the slightest carelessness on your part will be taken advantage of by a man of his disposition. It is not sufficient for you to be reserved: his conduct even calls for your resentment; and should he again, as will doubtless be his endeavour, contrive to solicit your favour in private, let your disdain and displeasure be so marked, as to constrain a change in his behaviour. Though, indeed, should his visit be repeated while you remain at the Grove, Lady Howard must pardon me if I shorten yours.
Adieu, my child. You will always make my respects to the hospitable family to which we are so much obliged.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48