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Letter 1
Lady Howard To The Rev. Mr. Villars Howard Grove, Kent.
CAN any thing, my good Sir, be more painful to a friendly mind, than a necessity
of communicating disagreeable intelligence? Indeed it is sometimes difficult to
determine, whether the relator or the receiver of evil tidings is most to be pitied.
I have just had a letter from Madame Duval; she is totally at a loss in what
manner to behave; she seems desirous to repair the wrongs she has done, yet
wishes the world to believe her blameless. She would fain cast upon another the
odium of those misfortunes for which she alone is answerable. Her letter is
violent, sometimes abusive, and that of you!-you, to whom she is under
obligations which are greater even than her faults, but to whose advice she
wickedly imputes all the sufferings of her much injured daughter, the late Lady
Belmont. The chief purport of her writing I will acquaint you with; the letter itself is
not worthy your notice.
She tells me that she has, for many years past, been in continual expectation of
making a journey to England, which prevented her writing for information
concerning this melancholy subject, by giving her hopes of making personal
inquiries; but family occurrences have still detained her in France, which country
she now sees no prospect of quitting. She has, therefore, lately used her utmost
endeavors to obtain a faithful account of whatever related to her ill-advised
daughter; the result of which giving her some reason to apprehend, that, upon
her death-bed, she bequeathed an infant orphan to the world, she most
graciously says, that if you, with whom she understands the child is placed, will
procure authentic proofs of its relationship to her, you may sent it to Paris, where
she will properly provide for it.
This woman is, undoubtedly, at length, self-convicted of her most unnatural
behaviour; it is evident, from her writing, that she is still as vulgar and illiterate as
when her first husband, Mr. Evelyn, had the weakness to marry her; nor does
she at all apologize for addressing herself to me, though I was only once in her
Her letter has excited in my daughter Mirvan, a strong desire to be informed of
the motives which induced Madame Duval to abandon the unfortunate Lady
Belmont, at a time when a mother's protection was peculiarly necessary for her
peace and her reputation. Notwithstanding I was personally acquainted with all
the parties concerned in that affair, the subject always appeared of too delicate a
nature to be spoken of with the principals; I cannot, therefore, satisfy Mrs. Mirvan
otherwise than by applying to you.
By saying that you may send the child, Madame Duval aims at conferring, where
she most owes obligation. I pretend not to give you advice; you, to whose
generous protection this helpless orphan is indebted for every thing, are the best
and only judge of what she ought to do; but I am much concerned at the trouble
and uneasiness which this unworthy woman may occasion you.
My daughter and my grandchild join with me in desiring to be most kindly
remembered to the amiable girl; and they bid me remind you, that the annual visit