MR. VILLARS TO EVELINA Berry Hill, May 28
WITH a reluctance which occasions me inexpressible uneasiness, I have been
almost compelled to consent that my Evelina should quit the protection of the
hospitable and respectable Lady Howard, and accompany Madame Duval to a
city which I had hoped she would never again have entered. But alas, my dear
child, we are the slaves of custom, the dupes of prejudice, and dare not stem the
torrent of an opposing world, even though our judgements condemn our
compliance! However, since the die is cast, we must endeavor to make the best
You will have the occasion, in the course of the month you are to pass with
Madame Duval, for all the circumspection and prudence you can call to your aid.
She will not, I know, propose any thing to you which she thinks wrong herself; but
you must learn not only to judge but to act for yourself; if any schemes are
started, any engagements made, which your understanding represents to you as
improper, exert yourself resolutely in avoiding them; and do not, by a too passive
facility, risk the censure of the world, or your own future regret.
You cannot too assiduously attend to Madame Duval herself; but I would wish
you to mix as little as possible with her associates, who are not likely to be
among those whose acquaintance would reflect credit upon you. Remember, my
dear Evelina, nothing is so delicate as the reputation of a woman; it is at once the
most beautiful and most brittle of all human things.
Adieu, my beloved child; I shall be but ill at ease till this month is elapsed. A.V.