This series of letters opens with Evelina’s account of her humiliating trip to the opera with the pushy Branghton family. To escape the public humiliation she allows Sir Clement to bring her home but instantly regrets her decision when Lord Orville sees them together. On the carriage ride back Sir Clement makes advances on Evelina causing her to almost jump out of the carriage. She is further embarrassed when she arrives safely to the Mirvins to find Lord Orville had arrived earlier out of concern for her.
In the meantime Evelina is very displeased when Sir Clement comes to visit, invited by Captain Mirvin in order to jointly make Madame Duval’s stay miserable. The two proceed with a complicated prank of faking a robbery and a kidnapping of her companion, M. DuBois.
Is it any surprise to you that Madame Duval and the Braghtons are related? Their behavior leading up to and at the opera was just insane. Had Mr. Braghton but read the Gossip Guide he would know not to leave during the first act. I honestly couldn’t blame Evelina for running away with Sir Clement, even I subsided my hate for him and silently encouraged her to get away from that awful company. But boy were we both deceived! We all know about riding in cars with boys and must remember those rules apply to carriages as well. As Susan Howard notes in my edition of Evelina, Willoughby had ordered the driver to drive east rather than to the West End where Queen-ann-street is. I was genuinely concerned for our Evelina…we all know what happened to Clarissa!
Our weekly salon draws to a close with the news that Sir Belmont will not see Evelina which is more of a relief to her than anything. But what I am left wondering is just how much more Madame Duval can Evelina take? Why oh why does she still put up with her, and why doesn't the Reverend do more when he finds out about the new level of abuse Evelina has dealt with? Last week (when Evelina's stories were not nearly as horrifying) many were surprised that the Reverand didn't quickly bring Evelina home. Honestly, Mrs Mirvin is a saint for having Duval as a guest. Also, were you excited that Lord Orville came to see Evelina off and just as quickly disappointed by the utter lack of courtesy he had to endure?
My lingering question is, why does Sir Clement persist in attempting to seduce Evelina. He has already made it clear that his interest in her isn't honorable; so why bother. It seems like a hopeless cause in my mind. Could he possibly and actually be in love with her?
...and Congratulations to Erin Blakemore whose name I drew for a copy of the book! Email me with your address and I'll mail it off to you!