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Letter 24
Mr Villars To Evelina Berry Hill, April 22
HOW much do I rejoice that I can again address my letters to Howard Grove! My
Evelina would have grieved had she known the anxiety of my mind during her
residence in the great world. My apprehensions have been inexpressibly
alarming; and your journal, at once exciting and relieving my fears, has almost
wholly occupied me since the time of your dating it from London.
Sir Clement Willoughby must be an artful designing man: I am extremely irritated
at his conduct. The passion he pretends for you has neither sincerity nor honour;
the manner and the opportunities he has chosen to declare it, are bordering upon
His unworthy behaviour after the opera, convinces me, that, had not your
vehemence frightened him, Queen Ann Street would have been the last place
whither he would have ordered his chariot. O, my child, how thankful am I for
your escape! I need not now, I am sure, enlarge upon your indiscretion and want
of thought, in so hastily trusting yourself with a man so little known to you, and
whose gaiety and flightiness should have put you on your guard.
The nobleman you met at the Pantheon, bold and forward as you describe him
to be, gives me no apprehension; a man who appears so openly licentious, and
who makes his attack with so little regard to decorum, is one who, to a mind such
as my Evelina's, can never be seen but with the disgust which his manners ought
to excite.
But Sir Clement, though he seeks occasion to give real offence, contrives to
avoid all appearance of intentional evil. He is far more dangerous, because more
artful: but I am happy to observe, that he seems to have made no impression
upon your heart; and therefore a very little care and prudence may secure you
from those designs which I fear he has formed.
Lord Orville appears to be of a better order of beings. His spirited conduct to the
meanly impertinent Lovel, and his anxiety for you after the opera, prove him to be
a man of sense and feeling. Doubtless he thought there was much reason to
tremble for your safety while exposed to the power of Sir Clement; and he acted
with a regard to real honour, that will always incline me to think well of him, in so
immediately acquainting the Mirvan family with your situation. Many men of this
age, from a false and pretended delicacy to a friend, would have quietly pursued
their own affairs, and thought it more honourable to leave an unsuspecting young
creature to the mercy of a libertine, than to risk his displeasure by taking
measures for her security.
Your evident concern at leaving London is very natural, and yet it afflicts me. I
ever dreaded your being too much pleased with a life of dissipation, which youth
and vivacity render but too alluring; and I almost regret the consent for your
journey, which I had not the resolution to withhold.
Alas, my child, the artfulness of your nature, and the simplicity of your
education, alike unfit you for the thorny paths of the great and busy world. The
supposed obscurity of your birth and situation, makes you liable to a thousand