And lastly, to all who will know your story, you will be an excellent example of watchfulness, and of that caution and reserve by which a prudent person, who has been supposed to be a little misled, endeavours to mend her error; and, never once losing sight of her duty, does all in her power to recover the path she has been rather driven out of than chosen to swerve from.
Come, come, my dearest friend, consider but these things; and steadily, without desponding, pursue your earnest purposes to amend what you think has been amiss; and it may not be a misfortune in the end that you have erred; especially as so little of your will was in your error.
And indeed I must say that I use the words misled, and error, and such- like, only in compliment to your own too-ready self-accusations, and to the opinion of one to whom I owe duty: for I think in my conscience, that every part of your conduct is defensible: and that those only are blamable who have no other way to clear themselves but by condemning you.
I expect, however, that such melancholy reflections as drop from your pen but too often will mingle with all your future pleasures, were you to marry Lovelace, and were he to make the best of husbands.
You was immensely happy, above the happiness of a mortal creature, before you knew him: every body almost worshipped you: envy itself, which has of late reared up its venomous head against you, was awed, by your superior worthiness, into silence and admiration. You was the soul of every company where you visited. Your elders have I seen declining to offer their opinions upon a subject till you had delivered yours; often, to save themselves the mortification of retracting theirs, when they heard yours. Yet, in all this, your sweetness of manners, your humility and affability, caused the subscription every one made to your sentiments, and to your superiority, to be equally unfeigned, and unhesitating; for they saw that their applause, and the preference they gave you to themselves, subjected not themselves to insults, nor exalted you into any visible triumph over them; for you had always something to say on every point you carried that raised the yielding heart, and left every one pleased and satisfied with themselves, though they carried not off the palm.
Your works were showed or referred to wherever fine works were talked of. Nobody had any but an inferior and second-hand praise for diligence, for economy, for reading, for writing, for memory, for facility in learning every thing laudable, and even for the more envied graces of person and dress, and an all-surpassing elegance in both, where you were known, and those subjects talked of.
The poor blessed you every step you trod: the rich thought you their honour, and took a pride that they were not obliged to descend from their own class for an example that did credit to it.
Though all men wished for you, and sought you, young as you were; yet, had not those who were brought to address you been encouraged out of sordid and spiteful views, not one of them would have dared to lift up his eyes to you.
Thus happy in all about you, thus making happy all within your circle, could you think that nothing would happen to you, to convince you that you were not to be exempted from the common lot?—To convince you, that you were not absolutely perfect; and that you must not expect to pass through life without trial, temptation, and misfortune?
Upon the whole, there seems, as I have often said, to have been a kind of fate in your error, if it were an error; and this perhaps admitted for the sake of a better example to be collected from your SUFFERINGS, than could have been given, had you never erred: for my dear, the time of ADVERSITY is your SHINING-TIME. I see it evidently, that adversity must call forth graces and beauties which could not have been brought to light in a run of that prosperous fortune which attended you from your cradle till now; admirably as you became, and, as we all thought, greatly as you deserved that prosperity.
All the matter is, the trial must be grievous to you. It is to me: it is to all who love you, and looked upon you as one set aloft to be admired and imitated, and not as a mark, as you have lately found, for envy to shoot its shafts at.
Let what I have written above have its due weight with you, my dear; and then, as warm imaginations are not without a mixture of enthusiasm, your Anna Howe, who, on reperusal of it, imagines it to be in a style superior to her usual style, will be ready to flatter herself that she has been in a manner inspired with the hints that have comforted and raised the dejected heart of her suffering friend; who, from such hard trials, in a bloom so tender, may find at times her spirits sunk too low to enable her to pervade the surrounding darkness, which conceals from her the hopeful dawning of the better day which awaits her.
I will add no more at present, than that I am Your ever faithful and affectionate ANNA HOWE.