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Letter 37
Mr. Villars To Evelina 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
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.