EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS Howard Grove, May 18.
WELL, my dear Sir, all is now over! the letter so anxiously expected is at length arrived, and my doom is fixed. The various feelings which oppress me, I have not language to describe; nor need I-you know my heart, you have yourself formed it-and its sensations upon this occasion you may but too readily imagine.
Outcast as I am, and rejected for ever by him to whom I of right belong-shall I now implore your continued protection?-No, no;-I will not offend your generous heart, which, open to distress, has no wish but to relieve it, with an application that would seem to imply a doubt. I am more secure than ever of your kindness, since you now know upon that is my sole dependence.
I endeavour to bear this stroke with composure, and in such a manner as if I had already received your counsel and consolation. Yet, at times, my emotions are almost too much for me. O, Sir, what a letter for a parent to write! Must I not myself be deaf to the voice of nature, if I could endure to be thus absolutely abandoned without regret? I dare not even to you, nor would I, could I help it, to myself, acknowledge all that I might think; for, indeed, I have sometimes sentiments upon this rejection, which my strongest sense of duty can scarcely correct. Yet, suffer me to ask-might not this answer have been softened?-was it not enough to disclaim me for ever, without treating me with contempt, and wounding me with derision?
But while I am thus thinking of myself, I forget how much more he is the object of sorrow than I am! Alas! what amends can he make himself for the anguish he is hoarding up for time to come! My heart bleeds for him, whenever this reflection occurs to me.
What is said of you, my protector, my friend, my benefactor! I dare not trust myself to comment upon. Gracious Heaven! what a return for goodness so unparalleled!
I would fain endeavour to divert my thoughts from this subject; but even that is not in my power; for, afflicting as this letter is to me, I find that it will not be allowed to conclude the affair, though it does all my expectations; for Madame Duval has determined not to let it rest here. She heard the letter in great wrath, and protested she would not be so easily answered; she regretted her facility in having been prevailed upon to yield the direction of this affair to those who knew not how to manage it, and vowed she would herself undertake and conduct it in future.
It is in vain that I have pleaded against her resolution, and besought her to forbear an attack where she has nothing to expect but resentment: especially as there seems to be a hint, that Lady Howard will one day be more openly dealt with. She will not hear me: she is furiously bent upon a project which is terrible to think of;-for she means to go herself to Paris, take me with her, and there, face to face, demand justice!
How to appease or to persuade her, I know not; but for the universe would I not be dragged, in such a manner, to an interview so awful, with a parent I have never yet beheld!
Lady Howard and Mrs. Mirvan are both of them infinitely shocked at the present state of affairs, and they seem to be even more kind to me than ever; and my dear Maria, who is the friend of my heart, uses her utmost efforts to console me; and, when she fails in her design, with still greater kindness she sympathises in my sorrow.
I very much rejoice, however, that Sir Clement Willoughby had left us before this letter arrived. I am sure the general confusion of the house would otherwise have betrayed to him the whole of a tale which I now, more than ever, wish to have buried in oblivion.
Lady Howard thinks I ought not to disoblige Madame Duval, yet she acknowledges the impropriety of my accompanying her abroad on such an enterprise. Indeed, I would rather die than force myself into his presence. But so vehement is Madame Duval, that she would instantly have compelled me to attend her to town, in her way to Paris, had not Lady Howard so far exerted herself, as to declare she could by no means consent to my quitting her house, till she gave me up to you, by whose permission I had entered it.
She was extremely angry at this denial; and the Captain, by his sneers and raillery, so much increased her rage, that she has positively declared, should your next letter dispute her authority to guide me by her own pleasure, she will, without hesitation, make a journey to Berry Hill, and teach you to know who she is.
Should she put this threat in execution, nothing could give me greater uneasiness: for her violence and volubility would almost distract you.
Unable as I am to act for myself, or to judge what conduct I ought to pursue, how grateful do I feel myself, that I have such a guide and director to counsel and instruct me as yourself!
Adieu, my dearest Sir! Heaven, I trust, will never let me live to be repulsed, and derided by you, to whom I may now sign myself, wholly your