Clarissa, Or The History Of A Young Lady, Volume 8
Part 5 out of 6
However, not being able to keep away from Smith's, I went thither about
seven. The lady was just gone out: she had slept better, I found, than
I, though her solemn repository was under her window, not far from her
I was prevailed upon by Mrs. Smith and her nurse Shelburne (Mrs. Lovick
being abroad with her) to go up and look at the devices. Mrs. Lovick has
since shown me a copy of the draught by which all was ordered; and I will
give thee a sketch of the symbols.
The principal device, neatly etched on a plate of white metal, is a
crowned serpent, with its tail in its mouth, forming a ring, the emblem
of eternity: and in the circle made by it is this inscription:
[Then the year.]
For ornaments: at top, an hour-glass, winged. At bottom, an urn.
Under the hour-glass, on another plate, this inscription:
HERE the wicked cease from troubling: and HERE the
weary be at rest. Job. iii. 17.
Over the urn, near the bottom:
Turn again unto thy rest, O my soul! for the Lord hath
rewarded thee: And why? Thou hast delivered my
soul from death; mine eyes from tears; and my feet
from falling. Ps. cxvi. 7, 8.
Over this is the head of a white lily snapt short off, and just falling
from the stalk; and this inscription over that, between the principal
plate and the lily:
The days of man are but as grass. For he flourisheth as a
flower of the field: for, as soon as the wind goeth over
it, it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no
more. Ps. ciii. 15, 16.
She excused herself to the women, on the score of her youth, and being
used to draw for her needleworks, for having shown more fancy than would
perhaps be thought suitable on so solemn an occasion.
The date, April 10, she accounted for, as not being able to tell what her
closing-day would be; and as that was the fatal day of her leaving her
She discharged the undertaker's bill after I went away, with as much
cheerfulness as she could ever have paid for the clothes she sold to
purchase this her palace: for such she called it; reflecting upon herself
for the expensiveness of it, saying, that they might observe in her, that
pride left not poor mortals to the last: but indeed she did not know but
her father would permit it, when furnished, to be carried down to be
deposited with her ancestors; and, in that case, she ought not to
discredit those ancestors in her appearance amongst them.
It is covered with fine black cloth, and lined with white satin; soon,
she said, to be tarnished with viler earth than any it could be covered
The burial-dress was brought home with it. The women had curiosity
enough, I suppose, to see her open that, if she did open it.--And,
perhaps, thou wouldst have been glad to have been present to have admired
Mrs. Lovick said, she took the liberty to blame her; and wished the
removal of such an object--from her bed-chamber, at least: and was so
affected with the noble answer she made upon it, that she entered it down
the moment she left her.
'To persons in health, said she, this sight may be shocking; and the
preparation, and my unconcernedness in it, may appear affected: but to
me, who have had so gradual a weaning-time from the world, and so much
reason not to love it, I must say, I dwell on, I indulge, (and, strictly
speaking, I enjoy,) the thoughts of death. For, believe me,' [looking
stedfastly at the awful receptacle,] 'believe what at this instant I feel
to be most true, That there is such a vast superiority of weight and
importance in the thought of death, and its hoped-for happy consequences,
that it in a manner annihilates all other considerations and concerns.
Believe me, my good friends, it does what nothing else can do: it teaches
me, by strengthening in me the force of the divinest example, to forgive
the injuries I have received; and shuts out the remembrance of past evils
from my soul.'
And now let me ask thee, Lovelace, Dost thou think that, when the time
shall come that thou shalt be obliged to launch into the boundless ocean
of eternity, thou wilt be able (any more than poor Belton) to act thy
part with such true heroism, as this sweet and tender blossom of a woman
has manifested, and continues to manifest!
Oh! no! it cannot be!--And why can't it be?--The reason is evident: she
has no wilful errors to look back upon with self-reproach--and her mind
is strengthened by the consolations which flow from that religious
rectitude which has been the guide of all her actions; and which has
taught her rather to choose to be a sufferer than an aggressor!
This was the support of the divine Socrates, as thou hast read. When led
to execution, his wife lamenting that he should suffer being innocent,
Thou fool, said he, wouldst thou wish me to be guilty!
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 1.
How astonishing, in the midst of such affecting scenes, is thy mirth on
what thou callest my own aspirations! Never, surely, was there such
another man in this world, thy talents and thy levity taken together!--
Surely, what I shall send thee with this will affect thee. If not,
nothing can, till thy own hour come: and heavy will then thy reflections
I am glad, however, that thou enablest me to assure the lady that thou
wilt no more molest her; that is to say, in other words, that, after
having ruined her fortunes, and all her worldly prospects, thou wilt be
so gracious, as to let her lie down and die in peace.
Thy giving up to poor Belton's sister the little legacy, and thy
undertaking to make Mowbray and Tourville follow thy example, are, I must
say to thy honour, of a piece with thy generosity to thy Rose-bud and her
Johnny; and to a number of other good actions in pecuniary matters:
although thy Rose-bud's is, I believe, the only instance, where a pretty
woman was concerned, of such a disinterested bounty.
Upon my faith, Lovelace, I love to praise thee; and often and often, as
thou knowest, have I studied for occasions to do it: insomuch that when,
for the life of me, I could not think of any thing done by thee that
deserved praise, I have taken pains to applaud the not ungraceful manner
in which thou hast performed actions that merited the gallows.
Now thou art so near, I will dispatch my servant to thee, if occasion
requires. But, I fear, I shall soon give thee the news thou art
apprehensive of. For I am just now sent for by Mrs. Smith; who has
ordered the messenger to tell me, that she knew not if the lady will be
alive when I come.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 1, TWO O'CLOCK, AT SMITH'S.
I could not close my letter in such an uncertainty as must have added to
your impatience. For you have, on several occasions, convinced me, that
the suspense you love to give would be the greatest torment to you that
you could receive. A common case with all aggressive and violent
spirits, I believe. I will just mention then (your servant waiting here
till I have written) that the lady has had two very severe fits: in the
last of which whilst she lay, they sent to the doctor and Mr. Goddard,
who both advised that a messenger should be dispatched for me, as her
executor; being doubtful whether, if she had a third, it would not carry
She was tolerably recovered by the time I cane; and the doctor made her
promise before me, that, while she was so weak, she would not attempt any
more to go abroad; for, by Mrs. Lovick's description, who attended her,
the shortness of her breath, her extreme weakness, and the fervour of her
devotions when at church, were contraries, which, pulling different ways
(the soul aspiring, the body sinking) tore her tender frame in pieces.
So much for the present. I shall detain Will. no longer than just to beg
that you will send me back this packet and the last. Your memory is so
good, that once reading is all you ever give, or need to give, to any
thing. And who but ourselves can make out our characters, were you
inclined to let any body see what passes between us? If I cannot be
obliged, I shall be tempted to withhold what I write, till I have time to
take a copy of it.*
* It may not be amiss to observe, that Mr. Belford's solicitude to get
back his letters was owing to his desire of fulfilling the lady's wishes
that he would furnish Miss Howe with materials to vindicate her memory.
A letter from Miss Howe is just now brought by a particular messenger,
who says he must carry back a few lines in return. But, as the lady is
just retired to lie down, the man is to call again by-and-by.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
UXBRIDGE, SEPT. 1, TWELVE O'CLOCK AT NIGHT.
I send you the papers with this. You must account to me honestly and
fairly, when I see you, for the earnestness with which you write for
them. And then also will we talk about the contents of your last
dispatch, and about some of your severe and unfriendly reflections.
Mean time, whatever thou dost, don't let the wonderful creature leave us!
Set before her the sin of her preparation, as if she thought she could
depart when she pleased. She'll persuade herself, at this rate, that she
has nothing to do, when all is ready, but to lie down, and go to sleep:
and such a lively fancy as her's will make a reality of a jest at any
A jest I call all that has passed between her and me; a mere jest to die
for--For has not her triumph over me, from first to last, been infinitely
greater than her sufferings from me?
Would the sacred regard I have for her purity, even for her personal as
well as intellectual purity, permit, I could prove this as clear as the
sun. Tell, therefore, the dear creature that she must not be wicked in
her piety. There is a too much, as well as too little, even in
righteousness. Perhaps she does not think of that.--Oh! that she would
have permitted my attendance, as obligingly as she does of thine!--The
dear soul used to love humour. I remember the time that she knew how to
smile at a piece of apropos humour. And, let me tell thee, a smile upon
the lips, or a sparkling in the eye, must have had its correspondent
cheerfulness in a heart so sincere as her's.
Tell the doctor I will make over all my possessions, and all my
reversions, to him, if he will but prolong her life for one twelvemonth
to come. But for one twelvemonth, Jack!--He will lose all his reputation
with me, and I shall treat him as Belton did his doctor, if he cannot do
this for me, on so young a subject. But nineteen, Belford!--nineteen
cannot so soon die of grief, if the doctor deserve that title; and so
blooming and so fine a constitution as she had but three or four months
But what need the doctor to ask her leave to write to her friends? Could
he not have done it without letting her know any thing of the matter?
That was one of the likeliest means that could be thought of to bring
some of them about her, since she is so desirous to see them. At least
it would have induced them to send up her favourite Norton. But these
plaguy solemn fellows are great traders in parade. They'll cram down
your throat their poisonous drugs by wholesale, without asking you a
question; and have the assurance to own it to be prescribing: but when
they are to do good, they are to require your consent.
How the dear creature's character rises in every line of thy letters!
But it is owing to the uncommon occasions she has met with that she
blazes out upon us with such a meridian lustre. How, but for those
occasions, could her noble sentiments, her prudent consideration, her
forgiving spirit, her exalted benevolence, and her equanimity in view of
the most shocking prospects (which set her in a light so superior to all
her sex, and even to the philosophers of antiquity) have been manifested?
I know thou wilt think I am going to claim some merit to myself, for
having given her such opportunities of signalizing her virtues. But I am
not; for, if I did, I must share that merit with her implacable
relations, who would justly be entitled to two-thirds of it, at least:
and my soul disdains a partnership in any thing with such a family.
But this I mention as an answer to thy reproaches, that I could be so
little edified by perfections, to which, thou supposest, I was for so
long together daily and hourly a personal witness--when, admirable as she
was in all she said, and in all she did, occasion had not at that time
ripened, and called forth, those amazing perfections which now astonish
and confound me.
Hence it is that I admire her more than ever; and that my love for her is
less personal, as I may say, more intellectual, than ever I thought it
could be to a woman.
Hence also it is that I am confident (would it please the Fates to spare
her, and make her mine) I could love her with a purity that would draw on
my own FUTURE, as well as ensure her TEMPORAL, happiness.--And hence, by
necessary consequence, shall I be the most miserable of all men, if I am
deprived of her.
Thou severely reflectest upon me for my levity: the Abbey instance in
thine eye, I suppose. And I will be ingenuous enough to own, that as
thou seest not my heart, there may be passages, in every one of my
letters, which (the melancholy occasion considered) deserve thy most
pointed rebukes. But faith, Jack, thou art such a tragi-comical mortal,
with thy leaden aspirations at one time, and thy flying hour-glasses and
dreaming terrors at another, that, as Prior says, What serious is, thou
turn'st to farce; and it is impossible to keep within the bounds of
decorum or gravity when one reads what thou writest.
But to restrain myself (for my constitutional gayety was ready to run
away with me again) I will repeat, I must ever repeat, that I am most
egregiously affected with the circumstances of the case: and, were this
paragon actually to quit the world, should never enjoy myself one hour
together, though I were to live to the age of Methusalem.
Indeed it is to this deep concern, that my levity is owing: for I
struggle and struggle, and try to buffet down my cruel reflections as
they rise; and when I cannot, I am forced, as I have often said, to try
to make myself laugh, that I may not cry; for one or other I must do: and
is it not philosophy carried to the highest pitch, for a man to conquer
such tumults of soul as I am sometimes agitated by, and, in the very
height of the storm, to be able to quaver out an horse-laugh?
Your Seneca's, your Epictetus's, and the rest of your stoical tribe, with
all their apathy nonsense, could not come up to this. They could forbear
wry faces: bodily pains they could well enough seem to support; and that
was all: but the pangs of their own smitten-down souls they could not
laugh over, though they could at the follies of others. They read grave
lectures; but they were grave. This high point of philosophy, to laugh
and be merry in the midst of the most soul-harrowing woes, when the
heart-strings are just bursting asunder, was reserved for thy Lovelace.
There is something owing to constitution, I own; and that this is the
laughing-time of my life. For what a woe must that be, which for an hour
together can mortify a man six or seven and twenty, in high blood and
spirits, of a naturally gay disposition, who can sing, dance, and
scribble, and take and give delight in them all?--But then my grief, as
my joy, is sharper-pointed than most other men's; and, like what Dolly
Welby once told me, describing the parturient throes, if there were not
lucid intervals, if they did not come and go, there would be no bearing
After all, as I am so little distant from the dear creature, and as she
is so very ill, I think I cannot excuse myself from making her one visit.
Nevertheless, if I thought her so near--[what word shall I use, that my
soul is not shocked at!] and that she would be too much discomposed by a
visit, I would not think of it.--Yet how can I bear the recollection,
that, when she last went from me (her innocence so triumphant over my
premeditated guilt, as was enough to reconcile her to life, and to set
her above the sense of injuries so nobly sustained, that) she should then
depart with an incurable fracture in her heart; and that that should be
the last time I should ever see her!--How, how, can I bear this
O Jack! how my conscience, that gives edge even to thy blunt reflections,
tears me!--Even this moment would I give the world to push the cruel
reproacher from me by one ray of my usual gayety!--Sick of myself!--sick
of the remembrance of my vile plots; and of my light, my momentary
ecstacy [villanous burglar, felon, thief, that I was!] which has brought
on me such durable and such heavy remorse! what would I give that I had
not been guilty of such barbarous and ungrateful perfidy to the most
excellent of God's creatures!
I would end, methinks, with one sprightlier line!--but it will not be.--
Let me tell thee then, and rejoice at it if thou wilt, that I am
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
SAT. MORNING, SEPT. 2.
I have some little pleasure given me by thine, just now brought me. I
see now that thou hast a little humanity left. Would to Heaven, for the
dear lady's sake, as well as for thy own, that thou hadst rummaged it up
from all the dark forgotten corners of thy soul a little sooner!
The lady is alive, and serene, and calm, and has all her noble intellects
clear and strong: but nineteen will not however save her. She says she
will now content herself with her closet duties, and the visits of the
parish-minister; and will not attempt to go out. Nor, indeed, will she,
I am afraid, ever walk up or down a pair of stairs again.
I am sorry at my soul to have this to say: but it would be a folly to
As to thy seeing her, I believe the least hint of that sort, now, would
cut off some hours of her life.
What has contributed to her serenity, it seems, is, that taking the alarm
her fits gave her, she has entirely finished, and signed and sealed, her
last will: which she had deferred till this time, in hopes, as she said,
of some good news from Harlowe-place; which would have induced her to
alter some passages in it.
Miss Howe's letter was not given her till four in the afternoon,
yesterday; at which time the messenger returned for an answer. She
admitted him into her presence in the dining-room, ill as she then was,
and she would have written a few lines, as desired by Miss Howe; but, not
being able to hold a pen, she bid the messenger tell her that she hoped
to be well enough to write a long letter by the next day's post; and
would not now detain him.
SATURDAY, SIX IN THE AFTERNOON.
I called just now, and found the lady writing to Miss Howe. She made me
a melancholy compliment, that she showed me not Miss Howe's letter,
because I should soon have that and all her papers before me. But she
told me that Miss Howe had very considerably obviated to Colonel Morden
several things which might have occasioned misapprehensions between him
and me; and had likewise put a lighter construction, for the sake of
peace, on some of your actions than they deserved.
She added, that her cousin Morden was warmly engaged in her favour with
her friends: and one good piece of news Miss Howe's letter contained,
that her father would give up some matters, which (appertaining to her of
right) would make my executorship the easier in some particulars that had
given her a little pain.
She owned she had been obliged to leave off (in the letter she was
writing) through weakness.
Will. says he shall reach you to-night. I shall send in the morning;
and, if I find her not worse, will ride to Edgware, and return in the
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
TUESDAY, AUG. 29.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
We are at length returned to our own home. I had intended to wait on you
in London: but my mother is very ill--Alas! my dear, she is very ill
indeed--and you are likewise very ill--I see that by your's of the 25th--
What shall I do, if I lose two such near, and dear, and tender friends?
She was taken ill yesterday at our last stage in our return home--and has
a violent surfeit and fever, and the doctors are doubtful about her.
If she should die, how will all my pertnesses to her fly in my face!--
Why, why, did I ever vex her? She says I have been all duty and
obedience!--She kindly forgets all my faults, and remembers every thing I
have been so happy as to oblige her in. And this cuts me to the heart.
I see, I see, my dear, that you are very bad--and I cannot bear it. Do,
my beloved Miss Harlowe, if you can be better, do, for my sake, be
better; and send me word of it. Let the bearer bring me a line. Be sure
you send me a line. If I lose you, my more than sister, and lose my
mother, I shall distrust my own conduct, and will not marry. And why
should I?--Creeping, cringing in courtship!--O my dear, these men are a
vile race of reptiles in our day, and mere bears in their own. See in
Lovelace all that is desirable in figure, in birth, and in fortune: but
in his heart a devil!--See in Hickman--Indeed, my dear, I cannot tell
what any body can see in Hickman, to be always preaching in his favour.
And is it to be expected that I, who could hardly bear control from a
mother, should take it from a husband?--from one too, who has neither
more wit, nor more understanding, than myself? yet he to be my
instructor!--So he will, I suppose; but more by the insolence of his will
than by the merit of his counsel. It is in vain to think of it. I
cannot be a wife to any man breathing whom I at present know. This I the
rather mention now, because, on my mother's danger, I know you will be
for pressing me the sooner to throw myself into another sort of
protection, should I be deprived of her. But no more of this subject, or
indeed of any other; for I am obliged to attend my mamma, who cannot bear
me out of her sight.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 30.
My mother, Heaven be praised! has had a fine night, and is much better.
Her fever has yielded to medicine! and now I can write once more with
freedom and ease to you, in hopes that you also are better. If this be
granted to my prayers, I shall again be happy, I writhe with still the
more alacrity as I have an opportunity given me to touch upon a subject
in which you are nearly concerned.
You must know then, my dear, that your cousin Morden has been here with
me. He told me of an interview he had on Monday at Lord M.'s with
Lovelace; and asked me abundance of questions about you, and about that
I could have raised a fine flame between them if I would: but, observing
that he is a man of very lively passions, and believing you would be
miserable if any thing should happen to him from a quarrel with a man who
is known to have so many advantages at his sword, I made not the worst of
the subjects we talked of. But, as I could not tell untruths in his
favour, you must think I said enough to make him curse the wretch.
I don't find, well as they all used to respect Colonel Morden, that he
has influence enough upon them to bring them to any terms of
What can they mean by it!--But your brother is come home, it seems: so,
the honour of the house, the reputation of the family, is all the cry!
The Colonel is exceedingly out of humour with them all. Yet has he not
hitherto, it seems, seen your brutal brother.--I told him how ill you
were, and communicated to him some of the contents of your letter. He
admired you, cursed Lovelace, and raved against all your family.--He
declared that they were all unworthy of you.
At his earnest request, I permitted him to take some brief notes of such
of the contents of your letter to me as I thought I could read to him;
and, particularly, of your melancholy conclusion.*
* See Letter XXXII. of this volume.
He says that none of your friends think you are so ill as you are; nor
will believe it. He is sure they all love you; and that dearly too.
If they do, their present hardness of heart will be the subject of
everlasting remorse to them should you be taken from us--but now it seems
[barbarous wretches!] you are to suffer within an inch of your life.
He asked me questions about Mr. Belford: and, when he had heard what I
had to say of that gentleman, and his disinterested services to you, he
raved at some villanous surmises thrown out against you by that officious
pedant, Brand: who, but for his gown, I find, would come off poorly enough
between your cousin and Lovelace.
He was so uneasy about you himself, that on Thursday, the 24th, he sent
up an honest serious man,* one Alston, a gentleman farmer, to inquire of
your condition, your visiters, and the like; who brought him word that
you was very ill, and was put to great straits to support yourself: but
as this was told him by the gentlewoman of the house where you lodge,
who, it seems, mingled it with some tart, though deserved, reflections
upon your relations' cruelty, it was not credited by them: and I myself
hope it cannot be true; for surely you could not be so unjust, I will
say, to my friendship, as to suffer any inconveniencies for want of
money. I think I could not forgive you, if it were so.
* See Letter XXIII. ibid.
The Colonel (as one of your trustees) is resolved to see you put into
possession of your estate: and, in the mean time, he has actually engaged
them to remit to him for you the produce of it accrued since your
grandfather's death, (a very considerable sum;) and proposes himself to
attend you with it. But, by a hint he dropt, I find you had disappointed
some people's littleness, by not writing to them for money and supplies;
since they were determined to distress you, and to put you at defiance.
Like all the rest!--I hope I may say that without offence.
Your cousin imagines that, before a reconciliation takes place, they will
insist that you make such a will, as to that estate, as they shall
approve of: but he declares that he will not go out of England till he
has seen justice done you by every body; and that you shall not be
imposed on either by friend or foe--
By relation or foe, should he not have said?--for a friend will not
impose upon a friend.
So, my dear, you are to buy your peace, if some people are to have their
Your cousin [not I, my dear, though it was always my opinion*] says, that
the whole family is too rich to be either humble, considerate, or
contented. And as for himself, he has an ample fortune, he says, and
thinks of leaving it wholly to you.
* See Vol. I. Letter X.
Had this villain Lovelace consulted his worldly interest only, what a
fortune would he have had in you, even although your marrying him had
deprived you of a paternal share!
I am obliged to leave off here. But having a good deal still more to
write, and my mother better, I will pursue the subject in another letter,
although I send both together. I need not say how much I am, and will
Your affectionate, &c.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
THURSDAY, AUGUST 31.
The Colonel thought fit once, in praise of Lovelace's generosity, to say,
that (as a man of honour ought) he took to himself all the blame, and
acquitted you of the consequences of the precipitate step you had taken;
since he said, as you loved him, and was in his power, he must have had
advantages which he would not have had, if you had continued at your
father's, or at any friend's.
Mighty generous, I said, (were it as he supposed,) in such insolent
reflectors, the best of them; who pretend to clear reputations which
never had been sullied but by falling into their dirty acquaintance! but
in this case, I averred, that there was no need of any thing but the
strictest truth, to demonstrate Lovelace to be the blackest of villains,
you the brightest of innocents.
This he catched at; and swore, that if any thing uncommon or barbarous in
the seduction were to come out, as indeed one of the letters you had
written to your friends, and which had been shown him, very strongly
implied; that is to say, my dear, if any thing worse than perjury, breach
of faith, and abuse of a generous confidence, were to appear! [sorry
fellows!] he would avenge his cousin to the utmost.
I urged your apprehensions on this head from your last letter to me: but
he seemed capable of taking what I know to be real greatness of soul, in
an unworthy sense: for he mentioned directly upon it the expectations
your friends had, that you should (previous to any reconciliation with
them) appear in a court of justice against the villain--IF you could do
it with the advantage to yourself that I hinted might be done.
And truly, if I would have heard him, he had indelicacy enough to have
gone into the nature of the proof of the crime upon which they wanted to
have Lovelace arraigned. Yet this is a man improved by travel and
learning!--Upon my word, my dear, I, who have been accustomed to the most
delicate conversation ever since I had the honour to know you, despise
this sex from the gentleman down to the peasant.
Upon the whole, I find that Mr. Morden has a very slender notion of
women's virtue in particular cases: for which reason I put him down,
though your favourite, as one who is not entitled to cast the first
I never knew a man who deserved to be well thought of himself for his
morals, who had a slight opinion of the virtue of our sex in general.
For if, from the difference of temperament and education, modesty,
chastity, and piety too, are not to be found in our sex preferably to
the other, I should think it a sign of much worse nature in ours.
He even hinted (as from your relations indeed) that it is impossible
but there most be some will where there is much love.
These sort of reflections are enough to make a woman, who has at heart
her own honour and the honour of her sex, to look about her, and consider
what she is doing when she enters into an intimacy with these wretches;
since it is plain, that whenever she throws herself into the power of a
man, and leaves for him her parents or guardians, every body will believe
it to be owing more to her good luck than to her discretion if there be
not an end of her virtue: and let the man be ever such a villain to her,
she must take into her own bosom a share of his guilty baseness.
I am writing to general cases. You, my dear, are out of the question.
Your story, as I have heretofore said, will afford a warning as well as
an example:* For who is it that will not infer, that if a person of your
fortune, character, and merit, could not escape ruin, after she had put
herself into the power of her hyaena, what can a thoughtless, fond, giddy
* See Vol. IV. Letter XXIII.
Every man, they will say, is not a LOVELACE--True: but then, neither is
every woman a CLARISSA. And allow for the one and for the other the
example must be of general use.
I prepared Mr. Morden to expect your appointment of Mr. Belford for an
office that we both hope he will have no occasion to act in (nor any body
else) for many, very many years to come. He was at first startled at it:
but, upon hearing such of your reasons as had satisfied me, he only said
that such an appointment, were it to take place, would exceedingly affect
his other cousins.
He told me, he had a copy of Lovelace's letter to you, imploring your
pardon, and offering to undergo any penance to procure it;* and also of
your answer to it.**
* See Vol. VII. Letter LXXIX.
** Ibid. Letter LXXXIII.
I find he is willing to hope that a marriage between you may still take
place; which, he says, will heal up all breaches.
I would have written much more--on the following particulars especially;
to wit, of the wretched man's hunting you out of your lodgings: of your
relations' strange implacableness, [I am in haste, and cannot think of a
word you would like better just now:] of your last letter to Lovelace, to
divert him from pursuing you: of your aunt Hervey's penitential
conversation with Mrs. Norton: of Mr. Wyerley's renewed address: of your
lessons to me in Hickman's behalf, so approvable, were the man more so
than he is; but indeed I am offended with him at this instant, and have
been for these two days: of your sister's transportation-project: and of
twenty and twenty other things: but am obliged to leave off, to attend my
two cousins Spilsworth, and my cousin Herbert, who are come to visit us
on account of my mother's illness--I will therefore dispatch these by
Rogers; and if my mother gets well soon (as I hope she will) I am
resolved to see you in town, and tell you every thing that now is upon my
mind; and particularly, mingling my soul with your's, how much I am, and
will ever be, my dearest, dear friend,
Let Rogers bring one line, I pray you. I thought to have sent him this
afternoon; but he cannot set out till to-morrow morning early.
I cannot express how much your staggering lines and your conclusion
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
SUNDAY EVENING, SEPT. 3.
I wonder not at the impatience your servant tells me you express to hear
from me. I was designing to write you a long letter, and was just
returned from Smith's for that purpose; but, since you are urgent, you
must be contented with a short one.
I attended the lady this morning, just before I set out for Edgware. She
was so ill over-night, that she was obliged to leave unfinished her
letter to Miss Howe. But early this morning she made an end of it, and
just sealed it up as I came. She was so fatigued with writing, that she
told me she would lie down after I was gone, and endeavour to recruit her
They had sent for Mr. Goddard, when she was so ill last night; and not
being able to see him out of her own chamber, he, for the first time, saw
her house, as she calls it. He was extremely shocked and concerned at
it; and chid Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Lovick for not persuading her to have
such an object removed form her bed-chamber: and when they excused
themselves on the little authority it was reasonable to suppose they must
have with a lady so much their superior, he reflected warmly on those who
had more authority, and who left her to proceed with such a shocking and
solemn whimsy, as he called it.
It is placed near the window, like a harpsichord, though covered over to
the ground: and when she is so ill that she cannot well go to her closet,
she writes and reads upon it, as others would upon a desk or table. But
(only as she was so ill last night) she chooses not to see any body in
I went to Edgware; and, returning in the evening, attended her again.
She had a letter brought her from Mrs. Norton (a long one, as it seems by
its bulk,) just before I came. But she had not opened it; and said, that
as she was pretty calm and composed, she was afraid to look into the
contents, lest she should be ruffled; expecting now to hear of nothing
that could do her good or give her pleasure from that good woman's dear
hard-hearted neighbours, as she called her own relations.
Seeing her so weak and ill, I withdrew; nor did she desire me to tarry,
as sometimes she does, when I make a motion to depart.
I had some hints, as I went away, from Mrs. Smith, that she had
appropriated that evening to some offices, that were to save trouble, as
she called it, after her departure; and had been giving orders to her
nurse, and to Mrs. Lovick, and Mrs. Smith, about what she would have done
when she was gone; and I believe they were of a very delicate and
affecting nature; but Mrs. Smith descended not to particulars.
The doctor had been with her, as well as Mr. Goddard; and they both
joined with great earnestness to persuade her to have her house removed
out of her sight; but she assured them that it gave her pleasure and
spirits; and, being a necessary preparation, she wondered they should be
surprised at it, when she had not any of her family about her, or any old
acquaintance, on whose care and exactness in these punctilios, as she
called them, she could rely.
The doctor told Mrs. Smith, that he believed she would hold out long
enough for any of her friends to have notice of her state, and to see
her; and hardly longer; and since he could not find that she had any
certainty of seeing her cousin Morden, (which made it plain that her
relations continued inflexible,) he would go home, and write a letter to
her father, take it as she would.
She had spent great part of the day in intense devotions; and to-morrow
morning she is to have with her the same clergyman who has often attended
her; from whose hands she will again receive the sacrament.
Thou seest, Lovelace, that all is preparing, that all will be ready; and
I am to attend her to-morrow afternoon, to take some instructions from
her in relation to my part in the office to be performed for her. And
thus, omitting the particulars of a fine conversation between her and
Mrs. Lovick, which the latter acquainted me with, as well as another
between her and the doctor and apothecary, which I had a design this
evening to give you, they being of a very affecting nature, I have
yielded to your impatience.
I shall dispatch Harry to-morrow morning early with her letter to Miss
Howe: an offer she took very kindly; as she is extremely
solicitous to lessen that young lady's apprehensions for her on
not hearing from her by Saturday's post: and yet, if she write
truth, as no doubt but she will, how can her apprehensions be
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
SATURDAY, SEPT. 2.
I write, my beloved Miss Howe, though very ill still: but I could not by
the return of your messenger; for I was then unable to hold a pen.
Your mother's illness (as mentioned in the first part of your letter,)
gave me great distress for you, till I read farther. You bewailed it as
became a daughter so sensible. May you be blessed in each other for
many, very many years to come! I doubt not, that even this sudden and
grievous indisposition, by the frame it has put you in, and the
apprehension it has given you of losing so dear a mother, will contribute
to the happiness I wish you: for, alas! my dear, we seldom know how to
value the blessings we enjoy, till we are in danger of losing them, or
have actually lost them: and then, what would we give to have them
restored to us!
What, I wonder, has again happened between you and Mr. Hickman? Although
I know not, I dare say it is owing to some petty petulance, to some
half-ungenerous advantage taken of his obligingness and assiduity. Will
you never, my dear, give the weight you and all our sex ought to give to
the qualities of sobriety and regularity of life and manners in that sex?
Must bold creatures, and forward spirits, for ever, and by the best and
wisest of us, as well as by the indiscreetest, be the most kindly
My dear friends know not that I have actually suffered within less than
an inch of my life.
Poor Mr. Brand! he meant well, I believe. I am afraid all will turn
heavily upon him, when he probably imagined that he was taking the best
method to oblige. But were he not to have been so light of belief, and
so weakly officious; and had given a more favourable, and, it would be
strange if I could not say, a juster report; things would have been,
nevertheless, exactly as they are.
I must lay down my pen. I am very ill. I believe I shall be better
by-and-by. The bad writing would betray me, although I had a mind to
keep from you what the event must soon--
Now I resume my trembling pen. Excuse the unsteady writing. It will
I have wanted no money: so don't be angry about such a trifle as money.
Yet I am glad of what you inclined me to hope, that my friends will give
up the produce of my grandfather's estate since it has been in their
hands: because, knowing it to be my right, and that they could not want
it, I had already disposed of a good part of it; and could only hope they
would be willing to give it up at my last request. And now how rich
shall I think myself in this my last stage!--And yet I did not want
before--indeed I did not--for who, that has many superfluities, can be
said to want!
Do not, my dear friend, be concerned that I call it my last stage; For
what is even the long life which in high health we wish for? What, but,
as we go along, a life of apprehension, sometimes for our friends,
oftener for ourselves? And at last, when arrived at the old age we
covet, one heavy loss or deprivation having succeeded another, we see
ourselves stript, as I may say, of every one we loved; and find ourselves
exposed, as uncompanionable poor creatures, to the slights, to the
contempts, of jostling youth, who want to push us off the stage, in hopes
to possess what we have:--and, superadded to all, our own infirmities
every day increasing: of themselves enough to make the life we wished for
the greatest disease of all! Don't you remember the lines of Howard,
which once you read to me in my ivy-bower?*
* These are the lines the lady refers to:
From death we rose to life: 'tis but the same,
Through life to pass again from whence we came.
With shame we see our PASSIONS can prevail,
Where reason, certainty, and virtue fail.
HONOUR, that empty name, can death despise; |
SCORN'D LOVE to death, as to a refuge, flies; |
And SORROW waits for death with longing eyes. |
HOPE triumphs o'er the thoughts of death; and FATE
Cheats fools, and flatters the unfortunate.
We fear to lose, what a small time must waste,
Till life itself grows the disease at last.
Begging for life, we beg for more decay,
And to be long a dying only pray.
In the disposition of what belongs to me, I have endeavoured to do every
thing in the justest and best manner I could think of; putting myself in
my relations' places, and, in the greater points, ordering my matters as
if no misunderstanding had happened.
I hope they will not think much of some bequests where wanted, and where
due from my gratitude: but if they should, what is done, is done; and I
cannot now help it. Yet I must repeat, that I hope, I hope, I have
pleased every one of them. For I would not, on any account, have it
thought that, in my last disposition, any thing undaughterly, unsisterly,
or unlike a kinswoman, should have had place in a mind that is a truly
free (as I will presume to say) from all resentment, that it now
overflows with gratitude and blessings for the good I have received,
although it be not all that my heart wished to receive. Were it even an
hardship that I was not favoured with more, what is it but an hardship
of half a year, against the most indulgent goodness of eighteen years and
an half, that ever was shown to a daughter?
My cousin, you tell me, thinks I was off my guard, and that I was taken
at some advantage. Indeed, my dear, I was not. Indeed I gave no room
for advantage to be taken of me. I hope, one day, that will be seen, if
I have the justice done me which Mr. Belford assures me of.
I should hope that my cousin has not taken the liberties which you (by an
observation not, in general, unjust) seem to charge him with. For it is
sad to think, that the generality of that sex should make so light of
crimes, which they justly hold so unpardonable in their own most intimate
relations of our's--yet cannot commit them without doing such injuries to
other families as they think themselves obliged to resent unto death,
when offered to their own.
But we women are to often to blame on this head; since the most virtuous
among us seldom make virtue the test of their approbation of the other
sex; insomuch that a man may glory in his wickedness of this sort without
being rejected on that account, even to the faces of women of
unquestionable virtue. Hence it is, that a libertine seldom thinks
himself concerned so much as to save appearances: And what is it not that
our sex suffers in their opinion on this very score? And what have I,
more than many others, to answer for on this account in the world's eye?
May my story be a warning to all, how they prefer a libertine to a man of
true honour; and how they permit themselves to be misled (where they mean
the best) by the specious, yet foolish hope of subduing riveted habits,
and, as I may say, of altering natures!--The more foolish, as constant
experience might convince us, that there is hardly one in ten, of even
tolerably happy marriages, in which the wife keeps the hold in the
husband's affections, which she had in the lover's. What influence then
can she hope to have over the morals of an avowed libertine, who marries
perhaps for conveniency, who despises the tie, and whom, it is too
probable, nothing but old age, or sickness, or disease, (the consequence
of ruinous riot,) can reclaim?
I am very glad you gave my cous--
SUNDAY MORNING, SEPT. 3, SIX O'CLOCK.
Hither I had written, and was forced to quit my pen. And so much weaker
and worse I grew, that had I resumed it, to have closed here, it must
have been with such trembling unsteadiness, that it would have given you
more concern for me, than the delay of sending it away by last night's
post can do. I deferred it, therefore, to see how it would please God to
deal with me. And I find myself, after a better night than I expected,
lively and clear; and hope to give a proof that I do, in the continuation
of my letter, which I will pursue as currently as if I had not left off.
I am glad that you so considerately gave my cousin Morden favourable
impressions of Mr. Belford; since, otherwise, some misunderstanding might
have happened between them: for although I hope this Mr. Belford is an
altered man, and in time will be a reformed one, yet is he one of those
high spirits that has been accustomed to resent imaginary indignities to
himself, when, I believe, he has not been studious to avoid giving real
offences to others; men of this cast acting as if they thought all the
world was made to bar with them, and they with nobody in it.
Mr. Lovelace, you tell me, thought fit to intrust my cousin with the copy
of his letter of penitence to me, and with my answer to it, rejecting him
and his suit: and Mr. Belford, moreover, acquaints me, how much concerned
Mr. Lovelace is for his baseness, and how freely he accused himself to my
cousin. This shows, that the true bravery of spirit is to be above doing
a vile action; and that nothing subjects the human mind to so much
meanness, as the consciousness of having done wilful wrong to our fellow
creatures. How low, how sordid, are the submissions which elaborate
baseness compels! that that wretch could treat me as he did, and then
could so poorly creep to me for forgiveness of crimes so wilful, so
black, and so premeditated! how my soul despised him for his meanness on
a certain occasion, of which you will one day be informed!* and him whose
actions one's heart despises, it is far from being difficult to reject,
had one ever so partially favoured him once.
* Meaning his meditated second violence (See Vol. VI. Letter XXXVI.) and
his succeeding letters to her, supplicating for her pardon.
Yet am I glad this violent spirit can thus creep; that, like a poisonous
serpent, he can thus coil himself, and hide his head in his own narrow
circlets; because this stooping, this abasement, gives me hope that no
farther mischief will ensue.
All my apprehension is, what may happen when I am gone; lest then my
cousin, or any other of my family, should endeavour to avenge me, and
risk their own more precious lives on that account.
If that part of Cain's curse were Mr. Lovelace's, to be a fugitive and
vagabond in the earth; that is to say, if it meant no more harm to him
than that he should be obliged to travel, as it seems he intends, (though
I wish him no ill in his travels;) and I could know it; then should I be
easy in the hoped-for safety of my friends from his skilful violence--Oh!
that I could hear he was a thousand miles off!
When I began this letter, I did not think I could have run to such a
length. But 'tis to YOU, my dearest friend, and you have a title to the
spirits you raise and support; for they are no longer mine, and will
subside the moment I cease writing to you.
But what do you bid me hope for, when you tell me that, if your mother's
health will permit, you will see me in town? I hope your mother's health
will be perfected as you wish; but I dare not promise myself so great a
favour; so great a blessing, I will call it--and indeed I know not if I
should be able to bear it now!
Yet one comfort it is in your power to give me; and that is, let me know,
and very speedily it must be, if you wish to oblige me, that all matters
are made up between you and Mr. Hickman; to whom, I see, you are
resolved, with all your bravery of spirit, to owe a multitude of
obligations for his patience with your flightiness. Think of this, my
dear proud friend! and think, likewise, of what I have often told you,
that PRIDE, in man or woman, is an extreme that hardly ever fails, sooner
or later, to bring forth its mortifying CONTRARY.
May you, my dear Miss Howe, have no discomforts but what you make to
yourself! as it will be in your own power to lessen such as these, they
ought to be your punishment if you do not. There is no such thing as
perfect happiness here, since the busy mind will make to itself evils,
were it to find none. You will, therefore, pardon this limited wish,
strange as it may appear, till you consider it: for to wish you no
infelicity, either within or without you, were to wish you what can never
happen in this world; and what perhaps ought not to be wished for, if by
a wish one could give one's friend such an exemption; since we are not to
live here always.
We must not, in short, expect that our roses will grow without thorns:
but then they are useful and instructive thorns: which, by pricking the
fingers of the too-hasty plucker, teach future caution. And who knows
not that difficulty gives poignancy to our enjoyments; which are apt to
lose their relish with us when they are over easily obtained?
I must conclude--
God for ever bless you, and all you love and honour, and reward you here
and hereafter for your kindness to
Your ever obliged and affectionate
MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
[IN ANSWER TO HER'S OF THURSDAY, AUGUST 24. SEE LETTER XXX. OF THIS
THURSDAY, AUG. 31.
I had written sooner, my dearest young lady, but that I have been
endeavouring, ever since the receipt of your last letter, to obtain a
private audience of your mother, in hopes of leave to communicate it to
her. But last night I was surprised by an invitation to breakfast at
Harlowe-place this morning; and the chariot came early to fetch me--an
honour I did not expect.
When I came, I found there was to be a meeting of all your family with
Col. Morden, at Harlowe-place; and it was proposed by your mother, and
consented to, that I should be present. Your cousin, I understand, had
with difficulty brought this meeting to bear; for your brother had before
industriously avoided all conversation with him on the affecting subject;
urging that it was not necessary to talk to Mr. Morden upon it, who,
being a remoter relation than themselves, had no business to make himself
a judge of their conduct to their daughter, their niece, and their
sister; especially as he had declared himself in her favour; adding, that
he should hardly have patience to be questioned by Mr. Morden on that
I was in hopes that your mother would have given me an opportunity of
talking with her alone before the company met; but she seemed studiously
to avoid it; I dare say, however, not with her inclination.
I was ordered in just before Mr. Morden came; and was bid to sit down--
which I did in the window.
The Colonel, when he came, began the discourse, by renewing, as he called
it, his solicitations in your favour. He set before them your penitence;
your ill health; your virtue, though once betrayed, and basely used; he
then read to them Mr. Lovelace's letter, a most contrite one indeed,* and
your high-souled answer;** for that was what he justly called it; and he
treated as it deserved Mr. Brand's officious information, (of which I had
before heard he had made them ashamed,) by representations founded upon
inquiries made by Mr. Alston,*** whom he had procured to go up on purpose
to acquaint himself with your manner of life, and what was meant by the
visits of that Mr. Belford.
* See Vol. VII. LXXIX.
** Ibid. Letter LXXXIII.
*** See Vol. VIII. Letter XXIII.
He then told them, that he had the day before waited upon Miss Howe, and
had been shown a letter from you to her,* and permitted to take some
memorandums from it, in which you appeared, both by handwriting, and the
contents, to be so very ill, that it seemed doubtful to him, if it were
possible for you to get over it. And when he read to them that passage,
where you ask Miss Howe, 'What can be done for you now, were your friends
to be ever so favourable? and wish for their sakes, more than for your
own, that they would still relent;' and then say, 'You are very ill--you
must drop your pen--and ask excuse for your crooked writing; and take, as
it were, a last farewell of Miss Howe;--adieu, my dear, adieu,' are your
* Ibid. Letter XXXIII.
O my child! my child! said you mamma, weeping, and clasping her hands.
Dear Madam, said your brother, be so good as to think you have more
children than this ungrateful one.
Yet your sister seemed affected.
Your uncle Harlowe, wiping his eyes, O cousin, said he, if one thought
the poor girl was really so ill--
She must, said your uncle Antony. This is written to her private friend.
God forbid she should be quite lost!
Your uncle Harlowe wished they did not carry their resentments too far.
I begged for God's sake, wringing my hands, and with a bended knee, that
they would permit me to go up to you; engaging to give them a faithful
account of the way you were in. But I was chidden by your brother; and
this occasioned some angry words between him and Mr. Morden.
I believe, Sir, I believe, Madam, said your sister to her father and
mother, we need not trouble my cousin to read any more. It does but
grieve and disturb you. My sister Clary seems to be ill: I think, if
Mrs. Norton were permitted to go up to her, it would be right; wickedly
as she has acted, if she be truly penitent--
Here she stopt; and every one being silent, I stood up once more, and
besought them to let me go; and then I offered to read a passage or two
in your letter to me of the 24th. But I was taken up again by your
brother, and this occasioned still higher words between the Colonel and
Your mother, hoping to gain upon your inflexible brother, and to divert
the anger of the two gentlemen from each other, proposed that the Colonel
should proceed in reading the minutes he had taken from your letter.
He accordingly read, 'of your resuming your pen; that you thought you had
taken your last farewell; and the rest of that very affecting passage, in
which you are obliged to break off more than once, and afterwards to take
an airing in a chair.' Your brother and sister were affected at this;
and he had recourse to his snuff-box. And where you comfort Miss Howe,
and say, 'You shall be happy;' It is more, said he, than she will let any
body else be.
Your sister called you sweet soul! but with a low voice: then grew
hard-hearted again; set said [sic], Nobody could help being affected by
your pathetic grief--but that it was your talent.
The Colonel then went on to the good effect your airing had upon you; to
your good wishes to Miss Howe and Mr. Hickman; and to your concluding
sentence, that when the happy life you wished to her comes to be wound
up, she may be as calm and as easy at quitting it, as you hope in God you
shall be. Your mother could not stand this; but retired to a corner of
the room, and sobbed, and wept. Your father for a few minutes could not
speak, though he seemed inclined to say something.
Your uncles were also both affected; but your brother went round to each,
and again reminded your mother that she had other children.--What was
there, he said, in what was read, but the result of the talent you had of
moving the passions? And he blamed them for choosing to hear read what
they knew their abused indulgence could not be a proof against.
This set Mr. Morden up again--Fie upon you, Cousin Harlowe, said he, I
see plainly to whom it is owing that all relationship and ties of blood,
with regard to this sweet sufferer, are laid aside. Such rigours as
these make it difficult for a sliding virtue ever to recover itself.
Your brother pretended the honour of the family; and declared, that no
child ought to be forgiven who abandoned the most indulgent of parents
against warning, against the light of knowledge, as you had done.
But, Sir, and Ladies, said I, rising from the seat in the window, and
humbly turning round to each, if I may be permitted to speak, my dear
Miss asks only for a blessing. She does not beg to be received to
favour; she is very ill, and asks only for a last blessing.
Come, come, good Norton, [I need not tell you who said this,] you are
up again with your lamentables!--A good woman, as you are, to forgive
so readily a crime, that has been as disgraceful to your part in her
education as to her family, is a weakness that would induce one to
suspect your virtue, if you were to be encountered by a temptation
By some such charitable logic, said Mr. Morden, as this, is my cousin
Arabella captivated, I doubt not. If virtue, you, Mr. James Harlowe,
are the most virtuous young man in the world.
I knew how it would be, replied your brother, in a passion, if I met Mr.
Morden upon this business. I would have declined it; but you, Sir, to
his father, would not permit me to do so.
But, Sir, turning to the Colonel, in no other presence----
Then, Cousin James, interrupted the other gentleman, that which is your
protection, it seems, is mine. I am not used to bear defiances thus--
you are my Cousin, Sir, and the son and nephew of persons as dear as near
to me--There he paused--
Are we, said your father, to be made still more unhappy among ourselves,
when the villain lives that ought to be the object of every one's
resentment who has either a value for the family, or for this ungrateful
That's the man, said your cousin, whom last Monday, as you know, I went
purposely to make the object of mine. But what could I say, when I found
him so willing to repair his crime?--And I give it as my opinion, and
have written accordingly to my poor cousin, that it is best for all round
that his offer should be accepted; and let me tell you--
Tell me nothing, said your father, quite enraged, or that very vile
fellow! I have a rivetted hatred to him. I would rather see the rebel
die an hundred deaths, were it possible, than that she should give such a
villain as him a relation to my family.
Well, but there is no room to think, said you mother, that she will give
us such a relation, my dear. The poor girl will lessen, I fear, the
number of our relations not increase it. If she be so ill as we are told
she is, let us send Mrs. Norton up to her.--That's the least we can do--
let us take her, however, out of the hands of that Belford.
Both your uncles supported this motion; the latter part of it especially.
Your brother observed, in his ill-natured way, what a fine piece of
consistency it was in you to refuse the vile injurer, and the amends he
offered; yet to throw yourself upon the protection of his fast friend.
Miss Harlowe was apprehensive, she said, that you would leave all you
could leave to that pert creature, Miss Howe, [so she called her,] if you
O do not, do not suppose that, my Bella, said your poor mother. I cannot
think of parting with my Clary--with all her faults, she is my child--her
reasons for her conduct are not heard--it would break my heart to lose
her.--I think, my dear, to your father, none so fit as I to go up, if you
will give me leave, and Mrs. Norton shall accompany me.
This was a sweet motion, and your father paused upon it. Mr. Morden
offered his service to escort her; your uncles seemed to approve of it;
but your brother dashed all. I hope, Sir, said he, to his father--I
hope, Madam, to his mother--that you will not endeavour to recover a
faulty daughter by losing an unculpable son. I do declare, that if ever
my sister Clary darkens these doors again, I never will. I will set out,
Madam, the same hour you go to London, (on such an errand,) to Edinburgh;
and there I will reside, and try to forget that I have relations in
England, so near and so dear as you are now all to me.
Good God, said the Colonel, what a declaration is this! And suppose,
Sir, and suppose, Madam, [turning to your father and mother,] this should
be the case, whether it is better, think you, that you should lose for
ever such a daughter as my cousin Clary, or that your son should go to
Edinburgh, and reside there upon an estate which will be the better for
his residence upon it?--
Your brother's passionate behaviour hereupon is hardly to be described.
He resented it as promising an alienation of the affection of the family
to him. And to such an height were resentments carried, every one siding
with him, that the Colonel, with hands and eyes lifted up, cried out,
What hearts of flint am I related to!--O, Cousin Harlowe, to your father,
are you resolved to have but one daughter?--Are you, Madam, to be taught,
by a son, who has no bowels, to forget you are a mother?
The Colonel turned from them to draw out his handkerchief, and could not
for a minute speak. The eyes of every one, but the hard-hearted brother,
caught tears from his.
But then turning to them, (with the more indignation, as it seemed, as he
had been obliged to show a humanity, which, however, no brave heart
should be ashamed of,) I leave ye all, said he, fit company for one
another. I will never open my lips to any of you more upon this subject.
I will instantly make my will, and in me shall the dear creature have the
father, uncle, brother, she has lost. I will prevail upon her to take
the tour of France and Italy with me; nor shall she return till ye know
the value of such a daughter.
And saying this, he hurried out of the room, went into the court-yard,
and ordered his horse.
Mr. Antony Harlowe went to him there, just as he was mounting, and said
he hoped he should find him cooler in the evening, (for he, till then,
had lodged at his house,) and that then they would converse calmly, and
every one, mean time, would weigh all matters well.--But the angry
gentleman said, Cousin Harlowe, I shall endeavour to discharge the
obligations I owe to your civility since I have been in England; but I
have been so treated by that hot-headed young man, (who, as far as I
know, has done more to ruin his sister than Lovelace himself, and this
with the approbation of you all,) that I will not again enter into your
doors, or theirs. My servants shall have orders whither to bring what
belongs to me from your house. I will see my dear cousin Clary as soon
as I can. And so God bless you altogether!--only this one word to your
nephew, if you please--That he wants to be taught the difference between
courage and bluster; and it is happy for him, perhaps, that I am his
kinsman; though I am sorry he is mine.
I wondered to hear your uncle, on his return to them all, repeat this;
because of the consequences it may be attended with, though I hope it
will not have bad ones; yet it was considered as a sort of challenge, and
so it confirmed every body in your brother's favour; and Miss Harlowe
forgot not to inveigh against that error which had brought on all these
I took the liberty again, but with fear and trembling, to desire leave to
Before any other person could answer, your brother said, I suppose you
look upon yourself, Mrs. Norton, to be your own mistress. Pray do you
want our consents and courtship to go up?--If I may speak my mind, you
and my sister Clary are the fittest to be together.--Yet I wish you would
not trouble your head about our family matters, till you are desired to
But don't you know, brother, said Miss Harlowe, that the error of any
branch of a family splits that family into two parties, and makes not
only every common friend and acquaintance, but even servants judges over
both?--This is one of the blessed effects of my sister Clary's fault!
There never was a creature so criminal, said your father, looking with
displeasure at me, who had not some weak heads to pity and side with her.
I wept. Your mother was so good as to take me by the hand; come, good
woman, said she, come along with me. You have too much reason to be
afflicted with what afflicts us, to want additions to your grief.
But, my dearest young lady, I was more touched for your sake than for my
own; for I have been low in the world for a great number of years; and,
of consequence, have been accustomed to snubs and rebuffs from the
affluent. But I hope that patience is written as legibly on my forehead,
as haughtiness on that of any of my obligers.
Your mother led me to her chamber; and there we sat and wept together for
several minutes, without being able to speak either of us one word to the
other. At last she broke silence, asking me, if you were really and
indeed so ill as it was said you were?
I answered in the affirmative; and would have shown her your last letter;
but she declined seeing it.
I would fain have procured from her the favour of a line to you, with her
blessing. I asked, what was intended by your brother and sister? Would
nothing satisfy them but your final reprobation?--I insinuated, how easy
it would be, did not your duty and humility govern you, to make yourself
independent as to circumstances; but that nothing but a blessing, a last
blessing, was requested by you. And many other thins I urged in your
behalf. The following brief repetition of what she was pleased to say in
answer to my pleas, will give you a notion of it all; and of the present
situation of things.
She said, 'She was very unhappy!--She had lost the little authority she
once had over her other children, through one child's failing! and all
influence over Mr. Harlowe and his brothers. Your father, she said, had
besought her to leave it to him to take his own methods with you; and,
(as she valued him,) to take no step in your favour unknown to him and
your uncles; yet she owned, that they were too much governed by your
brother. They would, however, give way in time, she knew, to a
reconciliation--they designed no other, for they all still loved you.
'Your brother and sister, she owned, were very jealous of your coming
into favour again;--yet could but Mr. Morden have kept his temper, and
stood her son's first sallies, who (having always had the family grandeur
in view) had carried his resentment so high, that he knew not how to
descend, the conferences, so abruptly broken off just now, would have
ended more happily; for that she had reason to think that a few
concessions on your part, with regard to your grandfather's estate, and
your cousin's engaging for your submission as from proper motives, would
have softened them all.
'Mr. Brand's account of your intimacy with the friend of the obnoxious
man, she said, had, for the time very unhappy effects; for before that
she had gained some ground: but afterwards dared not, nor indeed had
inclination, to open her lips in your behalf. Your continued intimacy
with that Mr. Belford was wholly unaccountable, and as wholly
'What made the wished-for reconciliation, she said, more difficult, was,
first, that you yourself acknowledged yourself dishonoured; (and it was
too well known, that it was your own fault that you ever were in the
power of so great a profligate;) of consequence, that their and your
disgrace could not be greater than it was; yet, that you refuse to
prosecute the wretch. Next, that the pardon and blessing hoped for must
probably be attended with your marriage to the man they hate, and who
hates them as much: very disagreeable circumstances, she said, I must
allow, to found a reconciliation upon.
'As to her own part, she must needs say, that if there were any hope that
Mr. Lovelace would become a reformed man, the letter her cousin Morden
had read to them from him to you, and the justice (as she hoped it was)
he did your character, though to his own condemnation, (his family and
fortunes being unexceptionable,) and all his relations earnest to be
related to you, were arguments that would weigh with her, could they have
any with your father and uncles.'
To my plea of your illness, 'she could not but flatter herself, she
answered, that it was from lowness of spirits, and temporary dejection.
A young creature, she said, so very considerate as you naturally were,
and fallen so low, must have enough of that. Should they lose you, which
God forbid! the scene would then indeed be sadly changed; for then those
who now most resented, would be most grieved; all your fine qualities
would rise to their remembrance, and your unhappy error would be quite
'She wished you would put yourself into your cousin's protection
entirely, and have nothing to more to say to Mr. Belford.
And I would recommend it to your most serious consideration, my dear Miss
Clary, whether now, as your cousin (who is your trustee for your
grandfather's estate,) is come, you should not give over all thoughts of
Mr. Lovelace's intimate friend for your executor; more especially, as
that gentleman's interfering in the concerns of your family, should the
sad event take place (which my heart aches but to think of) might be
attended with those consequences which you are so desirous, in other
cases, to obviate and prevent. And suppose, my dear young lady, you were
to write one letter more to each of your uncles, to let them know how ill
you are?--And to ask their advice, and offer to be governed by it, in
relation to the disposition of your estate and effects?--Methinks I wish
I find they will send you up a large part of what has been received from
that estate since it was your's; together with your current cash which
you left behind you: and this by your cousin Morden, for fear you should
have contracted debts which may make you uneasy.
They seem to expect, that you will wish to live at your grandfather's
house, in a private manner, if your cousin prevail not upon you to go
abroad for a year or two.
Betty was with me just now. She tells me, that your cousin Morden is so
much displeased with them all, that he has refused to lodge any more at
your uncle Antony's; and has even taken up with inconvenient lodgings,
till he is provided with others to his mind. This very much concerns
them; and they repent their violent treatment of him: and the more, as he
is resolved, he says, to make you his sole executrix, and heir to all his
What noble fortunes still, my dearest young lady, await you! I am
thoroughly convinced, if it please God to preserve your life and your
health, that every body will soon be reconciled to you, and that you will
see many happy days.
Your mother wished me not to attend you as yet, because she hopes that I
may give myself that pleasure soon with every body's good liking, and
even at their desire. Your cousin Morden's reconciliation with them,
which they are very desirous of, I am ready to hope will include theirs
But if that should happen which I so much dread, and I not with you, I
should never forgive myself. Let me, therefore, my dearest young lady,
desire you to command my attendance, if you find any danger, and if you
wish me peace of mind; and no consideration shall withhold me.
I hear that Miss Howe has obtained leave from her mother to see you; and
intends next week to go to town for that purpose; and (as it is believed)
to buy clothes for her approaching nuptials.
Mr. Hickman's mother-in-law is lately dead. Her jointure of 600L. a-year
is fallen to him; and she has, moreover, as an acknowledgement of his
good behaviour to her, left him all she was worth, which was very
considerable, a few legacies excepted to her own relations.
These good men are uniformly good: indeed could not else be good; and
never fare the worse for being so. All the world agrees he will make
that fine young lady an excellent husband: and I am sorry they are not as
much agreed in her making him an excellent wife. But I hope a woman of
her principles would not encourage his address, if, whether she at
present love him or not, she thought she could not love him; or if she
preferred any other man to him.
Mr. Pocock undertakes to deliver this; but fears it will be Saturday
night first, if not Sunday morning.
May the Almighty protect and bless you!--I long to see you--my dearest
young lady, I long to see you; and to fold you once more to my fond
heart. I dare to say happy days are coming. Be but cheerful. Give way
Whether for this world, or the other, you must be happy. Wish to live,
however, were it only because you are so well fitted in mind to make
every one happy who has the honour to know you. What signifies this
transitory eclipse? You are as near perfection, by all I have heard,
as any creature in this world can be: for here is your glory--you are
brightened and purified, as I may say, by your sufferings!--How I long to
hear your whole sad, yet instructive story, from your own lips!
For Miss Howe's sake, who, in her new engagements will so much want you;
for your cousin Morden's sake, for your mother's sake, if I must go on
farther in your family; and yet I can say, for all their sakes; and for
my sake, my dearest Miss Clary; let your resumed and accustomed
magnanimity bear you up. You have many things to do which I know not the
person who will do if you leave us.
Join your prayers then to mine, that God will spare you to a world that
wants you and your example; and, although your days may seem to have been
numbered, who knows but that, with the good King Hezekiah, you may have
them prolonged? Which God grant, if it be his blessed will, to the
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
MONDAY, SEPT. 4.
The lady would not read the letter she had from Mrs. Norton till she had
received the Communion, for fear it should contain any thing that might
disturb that happy calm, which she had been endeavouring to obtain for
it. And when that solemn office was over, she was so composed, she said,
that she thought she could receive any news, however affecting, with
Nevertheless, in reading it, she was forced to leave off several times
through weakness and a dimness in her sight, of which she complained; if
I may say complained; for so easy and soft were her complaints, that they
could hardly be called such.
She was very much affected at divers parts of this letter. She wept
several times, and sighed often. Mrs. Lovick told me, that these were
the gentle exclamations she broke out into, as she read:--Her unkind, her
cruel brother!--How unsisterly!--Poor dear woman! seeming to speak of
Mrs. Norton. Her kind cousin!--O these flaming spirits! And then
reflecting upon herself more than once--What a deep error is mine!--What
evils have I been the occasion of!--
When I was admitted to her presence, I have received, said she, a long
and not very pleasing letter from my dear Mrs. Norton. It will soon be
in your hands. I am advised against appointing you to the office you
have so kindly accepted of: but you must resent nothing of these things.
My choice will have an odd appearance to them: but it is now too late to
alter it, if I would.
I would fain write an answer to it, continued she: but I have no distinct
sight, Mr. Belford, no steadiness of fingers.--This mistiness, however,
will perhaps be gone by-and-by.--Then turning to Mrs. Lovick, I don't
think I am dying yet--not actually dying, Mrs. Lovick--for I have no
bodily pain--no numbnesses; no signs of immediate death, I think.--And my
breath, which used of late to be so short, is now tolerable--my head
clear, my intellects free--I think I cannot be dying yet--I shall have
agonies, I doubt--life will not give up so blessedly easy, I fear--yet
how merciful is the Almighty, to give his poor creature such a sweet
serenity!--'Tis what I have prayed for!--What encouragement, Mrs. Lovick,
so near one's dissolution, to have it to hope that one's prayers are
Mrs. Smith, as well as Mrs. Lovick, was with her. They were both in
tears; nor had I, any more than they, power to say a word in answer: yet
she spoke all this, as well as what follows, with a surprising composure
of mind and countenance.
But, Mr. Belford, said she, assuming a still sprightlier air and accent,
let me talk a little to you, while I am thus able to say what I have to
Mrs. Lovick, don't leave us, [for the women were rising to go,] pray sit
down; and do you, Mrs. Smith, sit down too.--Dame Shelbourne, take this
key, and open the upper drawer. I will move to it.
She did, with trembling knees. Here, Mr. Belford, is my will. It is
witnessed by three persons of Mr. Smith's acquaintance.
I dare to hope, that my cousin Morden will give you assistance, if you
request it of him. My cousin Morden continued his affection for me: but
as I have not seen him, I leave all the trouble upon you, Mr. Belford.
This deed may want forms; and it does, no doubt: but the less, as I have
my grandfather's will almost by heart, and have often enough heard that
canvassed. I will lay it by itself in this corner; putting it at the
further end of the drawer.
She then took up a parcel of letters, enclosed in one cover, sealed with
three seals of black wax: This, said she, I sealed up last night. The
cover, Sir, will let you know what is to be done with what it encloses.
This is the superscription [holding it close to her eyes, and rubbing
them]; As soon as I am certainly dead, this to be broke open by Mr.
Belford.--Here, Sir, I put it [placing it by the will].--These folded
papers are letters, and copies of letters, disposed according to their
dates. Miss Howe will do with those as you and she shall think fit.
If I receive any more, or more come when I cannot receive them, they may
be put into this drawer, [pulling out and pushing in the looking-glass
drawer,] to be given to Mr. Belford, be they from whom they will. You'll
be so kind as to observe that, Mrs. Lovick, and dame Shelbourne.
Here, Sir, proceeded she, I put the keys of my apparel [putting them into
the drawer with her papers]. All is in order, and the inventory upon
them, and an account of what I have disposed of: so that nobody need to
ask Mrs. Smith any questions.
There will be no immediate need to open or inspect the trunks which
contain my wearing apparel. Mrs. Norton will open them, or order
somebody to do it for her, in your presence, Mrs. Lovick; for so I have
directed in my will. They may be sealed up now: I shall never more have
occasion to open them.
She then, though I expostulated with her to the contrary, caused me to
seal them up with my seal.
After this, she locked up the drawer where were her papers; first taking
out her book of meditations, as she called it; saying, she should,
perhaps, have use for that; and then desired me to take the key of that
drawer; for she should have no further occasion for that neither.
All this in so composed and cheerful a manner, that we were equally
surprised and affected with it.
You can witness for me, Mrs. Smith, and so can you, Mrs. Lovick,
proceeded she, if any one ask after my life and conversation, since you
have known me, that I have been very orderly; have kept good hours; and
never have lain out of your house but when I was in prison; and then you
know I could not help it.
O, Lovelace! that thou hadst heard her or seen her, unknown to herself,
on this occasion!--Not one of us could speak a word.
I shall leave the world in perfect charity, proceeded she. And turning
towards the women, don't be so much concerned for me, my good friends.
This is all but needful preparation; and I shall be very happy.
Then again rubbing her eyes, which she said were misty, and looked more
intently round upon each, particularly on me--God bless you all! said
she; how kindly are you concerned for me!--Who says I am friendless? Who
says I am abandoned, and among strangers?--Good Mr. Belford, don't be so
generously humane!--Indeed [putting her handkerchief to her charming
eyes,] you will make me less happy, than I am sure you wish me to be.
While we were thus solemnly engaged, a servant came with a letter from
her cousin Morden:--Then, said she, he is not come himself!
She broke it open; but every line, she said, appeared two to her: so
that, being unable to read it herself, she desired I would read it to
her. I did so; and wished it were more consolatory to her: but she was
all patient attention: tears, however, often trickling down her cheeks.
By the date, it was written yesterday; and this is the substance of it.
He tells her, 'That the Thursday before he had procured a general meeting
of her principal relations, at her father's; though not without
difficulty, her haughty brother opposing it, and, when met, rendering all
his endeavours to reconcile them to her ineffectual. He censures him, as
the most ungovernable young man he ever knew: some great sickness, he
says, some heavy misfortune, is wanted to bring him to a knowledge of
himself, and of what is due from him to others; and he wishes that he
were not her brother, and his cousin. Nor doe he spare her father and
uncles for being so implicitly led by him.'
He tells her, 'That he parted with them all in high displeasure, and
thought never more to darken any of their doors: that he declared as much
to her two uncles, who came to him on Saturday, to try to accommodate
with him; and who found him preparing to go to London to attend her; and
that, notwithstanding their pressing entreaties, he determined so to do,
and not to go with them to Harlowe-place, or to either of their own
houses; and accordingly dismissed them with such an answer.
'But that her noble letter,' as he calls it, of Aug. 31,* 'being brought
him about an hour after their departure, he thought it might affect them
as much as it did him; and give them the exalted opinion of her virtue
which was so well deserved; he therefore turned his horse's head back
to her uncle Antony's, instead of forwards toward London.
* See Letter XLV. of this volume.
'That accordingly arriving there, and finding her two uncles together, he
read to them the affecting letter; which left none of the three a dry
eye: that the absent, as is usual in such cases, bearing all the load,
they accused her brother and sister; and besought him to put off his
journey to town, till he could carry with him the blessings which she had
formerly in vain solicited for; and (as they hoped) the happy tidings of
a general reconciliation.
'That not doubting but his visit would be the more welcome to her, if
these good ends could be obtained, he the more readily complied with
their desires. But not being willing to subject himself to the
possibility of receiving fresh insult from her brother, he had given her
uncles a copy of her letter, for the family to assemble upon; and desired
to know, as soon as possible, the result of their deliberations.
'He tells her, that he shall bring her up the accounts relating to the
produce of her grandfather's estate, and adjust them with her; having
actually in his hands the arrears due to her from it.
'He highly applauds the noble manner in which she resents your usage of
her. It is impossible, he owns, that you can either deserve her, or to
be forgiven. But as you do justice to her virtue, and offer to make her
all the reparation now in your power; and as she is so very earnest with
him not to resent that usage; and declares, that you could not have been
the author of her calamities but through a strange concurrence of unhappy
causes; and as he is not at a loss to know how to place to a proper
account that strange concurrence; he desires her not to be apprehensive
of any vindictive measures from him.'
Nevertheless (as may be expected) 'he inveighs against you; as he finds
that she gave you no advantage over her. But he forbears to enter
further into this subject, he says, till he has the honour to see her;
and the rather, as she seems so much determined against you. However, he
cannot but say, that he thinks you a gallant man, and a man of sense; and
that you have the reputation of being thought a generous man in every
instance but where the sex is concerned. In such, he owns, that you have
taken inexcusable liberties. And he is sorry to say, that there are very
few young men of fortune but who allow themselves in the same. Both
sexes, he observes, too much love to have each other in their power: yet
he hardly ever knew man or woman who was very fond of power make a right
use of it.
'If she be so absolutely determined against marrying you, as she declares
she is, he hopes, he says, to prevail upon her to take (as soon as her
health will permit) a little tour abroad with him, as what will probably
establish it; since traveling is certainly the best physic for all those
disorders which owe their rise to grief or disappointment. An absence of
two or three years will endear her to every one, on her return, and every
one to her.
'He expresses his impatience to see her. He will set out, he says, the
moment he knows the result of her family's determination; which, he
doubts not, will be favourable. Nor will he wait long for that.'
When I had read the letter through to the languishing lady, And so, my
friends, said she, have I heard of a patient who actually died, while
five or six principal physicians were in a consultation, and not agreed
upon what name to give his distemper. The patient was an emperor, the
emperor Joseph, I think.
I asked, if I should write to her cousin, as he knew not how ill she was,
to hasten up?
By no means, she said; since, if he were not already set out, she was
persuaded that she should be so low by the time he could receive my
letter, and come, that his presence would but discompose and hurry her,
and afflict him.
I hope, however, she is not so very near her end. And without saying any
more to her, when I retired, I wrote to Colonel Morden, that if he
expects to see his beloved cousin alive, he must lose no time in setting
out. I sent this letter by his own servant.
Dr. H. sent away his letter to her father by a particular hand this
Mrs. Walton the milliner has also just now acquainted Mrs. Smith, that
her husband had a letter brought by a special messenger from Parson
Brand, within this half hour, enclosing the copy of one he had written to
Mr. John Harlowe, recanting his officious one.
And as all these, and the copy of the lady's letter to Col. Morden, will
be with them pretty much at a time, the devil's in the family if they are
not struck with a remorse that shall burst open the double-barred doors
of their hearts.
Will. engages to reach you with this (late as it will be) before you go
to rest. He begs that I will testify for him the hour and the minute I
shall give it him. It is just half an hour after ten.
I pretend to be (now by use) the swiftest short-hand writer in England,
next to yourself. But were matter to arise every hour to write upon, and
I had nothing else to do, I cannot write so fast as you expect. And let
it be remembered, that your servants cannot bring letters or messages
before they are written or sent.
DR. H. TO JAMES HARLOWE, SENIOR, ESQ.
LONDON, SEPT. 4.
If I may judge of the hearts of other parents by my own, I cannot doubt
but you will take it well to be informed that you have yet an opportunity
to save yourself and family great future regret, by dispatching hither
some one of it with your last blessing, and your lady's, to the most
excellent of her sex.
I have some reason to believe, Sir, that she has been represented to you
in a very different light from the true one. And this it is that induces
me to acquaint you, that I think her, on the best grounds, absolutely
irreproachable in all her conduct which has passed under my eye, or come
to my ear; and that her very misfortunes are made glorious to her, and
honourable to all that are related to her, by the use she has made of
them; and by the patience and resignation with which she supports herself
in a painful, lingering, and dispiriting decay! and by the greatness of
mind with which she views her approaching dissolution. And all this from
proper motives; from motives in which a dying saint might glory.
She knows not that I write. I must indeed acknowledge, that I offered to
do so some days ago, and that very pressingly: nor did she refuse me from
obstinacy--she seemed not to know what that is--but desired me to forbear
for two days only, in hopes that her newly-arrived cousin, who, as she
heard, was soliciting for her, would be able to succeed in her favour.
I hope I shall not be thought an officious man on this occasion; but, if
I am, I cannot help it, being driven to write, by a kind of parental and
But, Sir, whatever you think fit to do, or permit to be done, must be
speedily done; for she cannot, I verily think, live a week: and how long
of that short space she may enjoy her admirable intellects to take
comfort in the favours you may think proper to confer upon her cannot be
said. I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant,
MR. BELFORD, TO WILLIAM MORDEN, ESQ.
LONDON, SEPT. 4.
The urgency of the case, and the opportunity by your servant, will
sufficiently apologize for this trouble from a stranger to your person,
who, however, is not a stranger to your merit.
I understand you are employing your good offices with the parents of
Miss Clarissa Harlowe, and other relations, to reconcile them to the most
meritorious daughter and kinswoman that ever family had to boast of.
Generously as this is intended by you, we here have too much reason to
think all your solicitudes on this head will be unnecessary: for it is
the opinion of every one who has the honour of being admitted to her
presence, that she cannot lie over three days: so that, if you wish to
see her alive, you must lose no time to come up.
She knows not that I write. I had done it sooner, if I had had the least
doubt that before now she would not have received from you some news of
the happy effects of your kind mediation in her behalf. I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant,
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
[IN ANSWER TO LETTER LVII.]
UXBRIDGE, TUESDAY MORN, BETWEEN 4 AND 5.
And can it be, that this admirable creature will so soon leave this
cursed world! For cursed I shall think it, and more cursed myself, when
she is gone. O, Jack! thou who canst sit so cool, and, like Addison's
Angel, direct, and even enjoy, the storm, that tears up my happiness by
the roots; blame me not for my impatience, however unreasonable! If thou
knowest, that already I feel the torments of the damned, in the remorse
that wrings my heart, on looking back upon my past actions by her, thou
wouldst not be the devil thou art, to halloo on a worrying conscience,
which, without my merciless aggravations, is altogether intolerable.
I know not what to write, nor what I would write. When the company that
used to delight me is as uneasy to me as my reflections are painful, and
I can neither help nor divert myself, must not every servant about me
partake in a perturbation so sincere!
Shall I give thee a faint picture of the horrible uneasiness with which
my mind struggles? And faint indeed it must be; for nothing but
outrageous madness can exceed it; and that only in the apprehension of
others; since, as to the sufferer, it is certain, that actual distraction
(take it out of its lucid intervals) must be an infinitely more happy
state than the state of suspense and anxiety, which often brings it on.
Forbidden to attend the dear creature, yet longing to see her, I would
give the world to be admitted once more to her beloved presence. I ride
towards London three or four times a day, resolving pro and con, twenty
times in two or three miles; and at last ride back; and, in view of
Uxbridge, loathing even the kind friend, and hospitable house, turn my
horse's head again towards the town, and resolve to gratify my humour,
let her take it as she will; but, at the very entrance of it, after
infinite canvassings, once more alter my mind, dreading to offend and
shock her, lest, by that means, I should curtail a life so precious.
Yesterday, in particular, to give you an idea of the strength of that
impatience, which I cannot avoid suffering to break out upon my servants,
I had no sooner dispatched Will., than I took horse to meet him on his
In order to give him time, I loitered about on the road, riding up this
lane to the one highway, down that to the other, just as my horse
pointed; all the way cursing my very being; and though so lately looking
down upon all the world, wishing to change conditions with the poorest
beggar that cried to me for charity as I rode by him--and throwing him
money, in hopes to obtain by his prayers the blessing my heart pants
After I had sauntered about an hour or two, (which seemed three or four
tedious ones,) fearing I had slipt the fellow, I inquired at every
turnpike, whether a servant in such a livery had not passed through in
his return from London, on a full gallop; for woe had been to the dog,
had I met him on a sluggish trot! And lest I should miss him at one end
of Kensingtohn, as he might take either the Acton or Hammersmith road; or
at the other, as he might come through the Park, or not; how many score
times did I ride backwards and forwards from the Palace to the Gore,
making myself the subject of observation to all passengers whether on
horseback or on foot; who, no doubt, wondered to see a well-dressed and
well-mounted man, sometimes ambling, sometimes prancing, (as the beast
had more fire than his master) backwards and forwards in so short a
Yet all this time, though longing to espy the fellow, did I dread to meet
him, lest he should be charged with fatal tidings.
When at distance I saw any man galloping towards me, my
resemblance-forming fancy immediately made it to be him; and then my
heart choked me. But when the person's nearer approach undeceived me,
how did I curse the varlet's delay, and thee, by turns! And how ready
was I to draw my pistol at the stranger, for having the impudence to
gallop; which none but my messenger, I thought, had either right or
reason to do! For all the business of the world, I am ready to imagine,
should stand still on an occasion so melancholy and so interesting to me.
Nay, for this week past, I could cut the throat of any man or woman I see
laugh, while I am in such dejection of mind.
I am now convinced that the wretches who fly from a heavy scene, labour
under ten times more distress in the intermediate suspense and
apprehension, than they could have, were they present at it, and to see
and know the worst: so capable is fancy or imagination, the more
immediate offspring of the soul, to outgo fact, let the subject be either
joyous or grievous.
And hence, as I conceive, it is, that all pleasures are greater in the
expectation, or in the reflection, than in fruition; as all pains, which
press heavy upon both parts of that unequal union by which frail
mortality holds its precarious tenure, are ever most acute in the time of
suffering: for how easy sit upon the reflection the heaviest misfortunes,
when surmounted!--But most easy, I confess, those in which body has more
concern than soul. This, however, is a point of philosophy I have
neither time nor head just now to weigh: so take it as it falls from a
Woe be to either of the wretches who shall bring me the fatal news that
she is no more! For it is but too likely that a shriek-owl so hated will
never hoot or scream again; unless the shock, that will probably disorder
my whole frame on so sad an occasion, (by unsteadying my hand,) shall
divert my aim from his head, heart, or bowels, if it turn not against my
But, surely, she will not, she cannot yet die! Such a matchless
Contains a world, and seems for all things fram'd,
could not be lent to be so soon demanded back again!
But may it not be, that thou, Belford, art in a plot with the dear
creature, (who will not let me attend her to convince myself,) in order
to work up my soul to the deepest remorse; and that, when she is
convinced of the sincerity of my penitence, and when my mind is made such
wax, as to be fit to take what impression she pleases to give it, she
will then raise me up with the joyful tidings of her returning health and
acceptance of me!
What would I give to have it so! And when the happiness of hundreds, as
well as the peace and reconciliation of several eminent families, depend
upon her restoration and happiness, why should it not be so?
But let me presume it will. Let me indulge my former hope, however
improbable--I will; and enjoy it too. And let me tell thee how ecstatic
my delight would be on the unravelling of such a plot as this!
Do, dear Belford, let it be so!--And, O, my dearest, and ever-dear
Clarissa, keep me no loner in this cruel suspense; in which I suffer a
thousand times more than ever I made thee suffer. Nor fear thou that I
will resent, or recede, on an ecclaircissement so desirable; for I will
adore thee for ever, and without reproaching thee for the pangs thou hast
tortured me with, confess thee as much my superior in virtue and honour!
But once more, should the worst happen--say not what that worst is--and I
am gone from this hated island--gone for ever--and may eternal--but I am
crazed already--and will therefore conclude myself,
Thine more than my own,
(and no great compliment neither)
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
TUES. SEPT. 9 IN THE MORN. AT MR. SMITH'S.
When I read yours of this morning, I could not help pitying you for the
account you give of the dreadful anxiety and suspense you labour under.
I wish from my heart all were to end as you are so willing to hope: but
it will not be; and your suspense, if the worst part of your torment, as
you say it is, will soon be over; but, alas! in a way you wish not.
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