Way to set the whole scandal in motion, buddy. If James had just been able to bury his irritation at Lovelace, maybe the Harlowe family would have been cool with the dude courting Clarissa. Instead, James just has to go all duel-happy and lose in an embarrassingly public scene.
See, James takes after his daddy. He can't help but stick his nose in everyone's business and get mad when things aren't going exactly as he wants. And he can't seem to wrap his head around the fact that he's not the main man. "Undutiful and perverse Clarissa…Prepare however to obey," he writes to his little sis (41.23).
Uh, maybe that's not the best way to get someone on your side.
The dude also seems weirdly obsessed with who Clarissa marries. It's not enough for her to leave Lovelace in the dust. Nope, she has to cozy up to gross old Solmes in order for James to take her seriously. Why is he like this? (Besides PATRIARCHY?) Because he, just like his daddy, wants to control Clarissa. He thinks of her as a piece of family property that he gets to dispose of in a way that will help the family by bringing in land a money, and her choice has nothing to do with it. "Nor shall you hear from me any more until you have changed your name to my liking," he spitefully tells Clarissa.
Is that a promise, James?