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Letter 31
Lady Howard To Sir John Belmont, Bart Howard Grove, May 5
YOU will, doubtless, be surprised at receiving a letter from one who had for so
short a period the honour of your acquaintance, and that at so great a distance of
time; but the motive which has induced me to take this liberty is of so delicate a
nature, that were I to commence making apologies for my officiousness, I fear my
letter would be too long for your patience.
You have, probably, already conjectured the subject upon which I mean to treat.
My regard for Mr. Evelyn, and his amiable daughter, was well known to you: nor
can I ever cease to be interested in whatever belongs to their memory or family.
I must own myself somewhat distressed in what manner to introduce the purport
of my writing; yet as I think that, in affairs of this kind, frankness is the first
requisite to a good understanding between the parties concerned, I will neither
torment you nor myself with punctilious ceremonies, but proceed instantly and
openly to the business which occasions my giving you this trouble.
I presume, Sir, it would be superfluous to tell you, that your child resides still in
Dorsetshire, and is still under the protection of the Reverend Mr. Villars, in whose
house she was born: for, though no enquiries concerning her have reached his
ears, or mine, I can never suppose it possible you have forborne to make them. It
only remains, therefore, to tell you, that your daughter is now grown up; that she
has been educated with the utmost care, and the utmost success; and that she is
now a most deserving, accomplished, and amiable young woman.
Whatever may be your view for her future destination in life, it seems time to
declare it. She is greatly admired, and, I doubt not, will be very much sought
after: it is proper, therefore, that her future expectations, and your pleasure
concerning her, should be made known.
Believe me, Sir, she merits your utmost attention and regard. You could not see
and know her, and remain unmoved by those sensations of affection which
belong to so near and tender a relationship. She is the lovely resemblance of her
lovely mother;-pardon, Sir, the liberty I take in mentioning that unfortunate lady;
but I think it behoves me, upon this occasion, to shew the esteem I felt for her:
allow me, therefore, to say, and be not offended at my freedom, that the memory
of that excellent lady has but too long remained under the aspersions of calumny;
surely it is time to vindicate her fame;-and how can that be done in a manner
more eligible, more grateful to her friends, or more honourable to yourself, than
by openly receiving as your child, the daughter of the late Lady Belmont?
The venerable man who has had the care of her education, deserves your
warmest acknowledgments, for the unremitting pains he has taken, and the
attention he has shewn in the discharge of his trust. Indeed she has been
peculiarly fortunate in meeting with such a friend and guardian; a more worthy
man, or one whose character seems nearer to perfection, does not exist.
Permit me to assure you, Sir, she will amply repay whatever regard and favour
you may hereafter shew her, by the comfort and happiness you cannot fail to find