Anna Meets Lovelace at a Party (L367)

And let me leave you to do so, while I give you the occasion of the flutter I mentioned at the beginning of this letter; in the conclusion of which you will find the obligation I have consented to lay myself under, to refer this important point once more to your discussion, before I give, in your name, the negative that cannot, when given, be with honour to yourself repented of or recalled.
Know, then, my dear, that I accompanied my mother to Colonel Ambrose’s on the occasion I mentioned to you in my former. Many ladies and gentlemen were there whom you know; particularly Miss Kitty D’Oily, Miss Lloyd, Miss Biddy D’Ollyffe, Miss Biddulph, and their respective admirers, with the Colonel’s two nieces; fine women both; besides many whom you know not; for they were strangers to me but by name. A splendid company, and all pleased with one another, till Colonel Ambrose introduced one, who, the moment he was brought into the great hall, set the whole assembly into a kind of agitation.
It was your villain. . . .
O Mr. Lovelace, said she, what have you to answer for on that young lady’s account, if all be true that I have heard.
I have a great deal to answer for, said the unblushing villain: but that dear lady has so many excellencies, and so much delicacy, that little sins are great ones in her eye.
Little sins! replied Miss D’Oily: Mr. Lovelace’s character is so well known, that nobody believes he can commit little sins.
You are very good to me, Miss D’Oily.
Indeed I am not.
Then I am the only person to whom you are not very good: and so I am the less obliged to you.
He turned, with an unconcerned air, to Miss Playford, and made her some genteel compliments. I believe you know her not. She visits his cousins Montague. Indeed he had something in his specious manner to say to every body: and this too soon quieted the disgust each person had at his entrance. ,. . .
I retired to one corner of the hall, my mother following me, and he, taking Mr. Hickman under his arm, following her—Well, Sir, said I, what have you to say?—Tell me here.
I have been telling Mr. Hickman, said he, how much I am concerned for the injuries I have done to the most excellent woman in the world: and yet, that she obtained such a glorious triumph over me the last time I had the honour to see her, as, with my penitence, ought to have abated her former resentments: but that I will, with all my soul, enter into any measures to obtain her forgiveness of me. My cousins Montague have told you this. Lady Betty and Lady Sarah and my Lord M. are engaged for my honour. I know your power with the dear creature. My cousins told me you gave them hopes you would use it in my behalf. My Lord M. and his two sisters are impatiently expecting the fruits of it. You must have heard from her before now: I hope you have. And will you be so good as to tell me, if I may have any hopes?
If I must speak on this subject, let me tell you that you have broken her heart. You know not the value of the lady you have injured. You deserve her not. And she despises you, as she ought.
Dear Miss Howe, mingle not passion with denunciations so severe. I must know my fate. I will go abroad once more, if I find her absolutely irreconcileable. But I hope she will give me leave to attend upon her, to know my doom from her own mouth.
It would be death immediate for her to see you. And what must you be, to be able to look her in the face?
I then reproached him (with vehemence enough you may believe) on his baseness, and the evils he had made you suffer: the distress he had reduced you to; all your friends made your enemies: the vile house he had carried you to; hinted at his villanous arts; the dreadful arrest: and told him of your present deplorable illness, and resolution to die rather than to have him.
He vindicated not any part of his conduct, but that of the arrest; and so solemnly protested his sorrow for his usage of you, accusing himself in the freest manner, and by deserved appellations, that I promised to lay before you this part of our conversation. And now you have it.
My mother, as well as Mr. Hickman, believes, from what passed on this occasion, that he is touched in conscience for the wrongs he has done you: but, by his whole behaviour, I must own, it seems to me that nothing can touch him for half an hour together. Yet I have no doubt that he would willingly marry you; and it piques his pride, I could see, that he should be denied; as it did mine, that such a wretch had dared to think it in his power to have such a woman whenever he pleased; and that it must be accounted a condescension, and matter of obligation (by all his own family at least) that he would vouchsafe to think of marriage.

10 thoughts on “Anna Meets Lovelace at a Party (L367)

  1. Megan

    I'm guessing that you guys were also cheering Anna on throughout this letter. It was so great to see her stand up for Clarissa! Although, I had hoped she would make good on her repeated desire to maim Lovelace. Alas, it's not that kind of a novel.

    What did you guys think of the interaction between Lovelace, Anna, her mother, and Hickman?

    Do you believe, like Mrs. Howe and Hickman, that Lovelace is repentant and putting on a bit of a show for the other partygoers when he seems obtuse? OR, are you siding more with Anna who thinks that his words of grief and regret are the show?

    And what does he seem to really think of Clarissa?

  2. Kendra

    I was also sad that Anna did not throw down, but she was still pretty awesome in her interaction with him. Unlike her mother, who has been shown to be more concerned with money and appearances, Anna did not hold back in her verbal assault on Lovelace. I think this interaction provided an interesting juxtaposition of how two different generations (Anna and her mother) viewed and felt about the situation; Ms. Howe readily accepting his words of regret and Anna seeing through them. Lovelace's words of grief and regret were definitely the show, so I am definitely siding more with Anna. From what we know of Lovelace, we know he loves to perform and that's exactly what he's doing at the party. Anna notes that Lovelace “had something in his specious manner to say to every body” and as usual he charms his way throughout the party. As for what Lovelace thinks of Clarissa, well she is still an object that he is chasing and his ultimate goal is now to marry her. She points out that Clarissa's refusal of marriage to him “piques his pride […] that he should be denied.” It's a matter of personal pride for Lovelace at this point and I wonder if he can really love anyone other than himself? Or if he can love anything more than revenge?

  3. Debra

    This scene struck me because it shows so clearly what Lovelace would have been like as a husband. He is so predatory here–virtually stalking Anna at the party. And inducing gossip. This is what Clarissa would have to live with: constant innuendos, a husband who demands she does she he says, but who nevertheless chases other women.

    This is one of the worst Lovelace scenes in the book for me.

  4. Jessica

    I *was* cheering Anna in this letter. I wonder if she is supposed to be living what Richardson's readers could not… taking the opportunity to berate Lovelace in person, and at a semi-public social event. It must have been cathartic to some readers.

    Others seem to be trying to join in, too. Ms. D'Oily's interaction with Lovelace struck me as pretty funny:

    “Little sins! replied Miss D'Oily: Mr. Lovelace's character is so well known, that nobody believes he can commit little sins.
    You are very good to me, Miss D'Oily.
    Indeed I am not.”

    Even though we might enjoy these jabs at Lovelace – because after all, he hasn't had to account for himself much in public – he seems to ignore the criticisms, or at least make use of them to further his aims. He says he'll go abroad if he can't win Clarissa over (I don't believe he'd do that), and his only goal is to make sure he's done everything to reconcile with Clarissa. This was hard to read, not just because he's nothing if not repetitive. Every now and then in this novel, it strikes me brand new that Clarissa never wanted any of this. He feels he can reconcile with her because he pulled her into involvement with him early in the book. Even though Anna asserts the ways that he's hurt Clarissa, I don't see this influencing him.

    At times I'm where I was several hundred pages ago, noticing Lovelace's unswerving determination. But at this point, things are a little different. Clarissa isn't directly under his control. Belford has been criticizing him, and he's being confronted publicly about what he's done to her. Perhaps this scene should be read as his more or less hopeless attempts to control Clarissa the way he once did?

  5. Keri Mathis

    How can we not cheer for Anna here? Lovelace’s predatory nature in this scene, like many of you mentioned already, shows us his true nature. At this point in the novel, I have given up really trying to understand his feelings for Clarissa – what I think is perhaps more useful is looking at the ways in which Lovelace tries to regain control of Clarissa and his current situation, as Jessica references in her concluding question. Preying on Anna is really the only way he can possibly regain control over Clarissa. He knows the intimacy of their relationship and that Anna still corresponds with Clarissa regularly – securing a meeting with Anna where he can offer “ten words” in Clarissa’s favor is, in his mind, one of his last opportunities to reclaim his fallen angel.

    On a slightly different note, I think the end of this letter shows Anna beginning to become skeptical of what she has previously advised Clarissa to do – marry Lovelace. She writes, “My mother, as well as Mr. Hickman, believes, from what passed on this occasion, that he is touched in conscience for the wrongs he has done you: but, by his whole behaviour, I must own, it seems to me that nothing can touch him for half an hour together.” She specifically excludes herself from her mother and Mr. Hickman in believing that Lovelace is touched and regretful of his previous actions. Though she does not yet explicitly claim to be siding with Clarissa in her decision to refrain from marrying Lovelace, we definitely see Anna withdrawing from that decision here and reflecting upon her previous advice to her friend.

  6. anthony o'keeffe

    There's the problem with coming late to the post (hmm–that sounds kind of Churchill Downs): all the good stuff has been said already. I particularly like Debra's idea that this would be Lovelace as husband. Jessica beat me to the punch on citing Lovelace's phrase–“little sins.” I think he sincerely believes that phrase, even though the “sins” it encompasses are kidnapping, forced imprisonment, and rape. The ball is indeed a horrible scene–despite the fun of watching Anna unleash her considerable acerbity on Lovelace–partly because of Lovelace's behavior (even in attending without shame, as he mentions earlier), partly because we get a glimpse of the more general public regard for libertinism (when packaged with Lovelace's grace and money).

  7. Meghan Hancock

    I found the end of the letter the most interesting part too, Keri. The line that Megan bolded–“nothing can touch him for half an hour together”–is particularly telling in considering how Anna sees for herself how much of a performer Lovelace can be. How can he possibly be sincere in telling those at the party that his conscience suffers for his treatment of Clarissa if he can move so quickly between this topic and chatting with someone like Miss Playford, doing so with “an unconcerned air”? Anna's comments that Lovelace can't even convincingly feel bad about something he did for a half an hour, and this speaks to this fickleness in his concerns for Clarissa.

  8. Megan

    You're so right. That sounds like a truly awful marriage and EXACTLY what Clarissa was trying to avoid in her early discussions of staying single!

  9. Megan

    Lovelace's constant declarations of regret ARE getting very repetitive and frustrating. He clearly doesn't get it, and I wish he would just stop!

  10. Megan

    Group consensus that Anna is awesome – check.

    We've got discussions of Lovelace's pride, last ditch attempts to continue the control he once had, and a vision of what a marriage to Lovelace would look like, and they are all a little scary.

    Have we talked much about Lovelace's pride thus far? Obviously we talk about him a lot as an actor/manipulator/writer/rhetor, but we haven't really discussed the way Clarissa's rejections have hurt his pride. I don't know about Kendra's final question about whether Lovelace can love anything more than revenge, but it's an interesting thought. Perhaps we can discuss this more in class.

    I like Jessica and Keri's discussions about Lovelace's renewed attempts at controlling Clarissa from afar, mostly through Anna. However, she refuses to allow this to happen. Lovelace is trying hard to find another in with Clarissa, but Anna is even stepping back from her earlier pronouncements that Clarissa should marry him for the sake of her reputation. Lovelace ultimately gained little from this public outing.

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