Clarissa, Volume 6 (of 9)
Part 6 out of 7
to-morrow, to see if I should have any thing to return. I would
not lose so good an opportunity.
MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
MONDAY NIGHT, JULY 3.
O the barbarous villany of this detestable man! And is there a man in
the world who could offer violence to so sweet a creature!
And are you sure you are now out of his reach?
You command me to keep secret the particulars of the vile treatment you
have met with; or else, upon an unexpected visit which Miss Harlowe
favoured me with, soon after I had received your melancholy letter, I
should have been tempted to own I had heard from you, and to have
communicated to her such parts of your two letters as would have
demonstrated your penitence, and your earnestness to obtain the
revocation of your father's malediction, as well as his protection from
outrages that may still be offered to you. But then your sister would
probably have expected a sight of the letters, and even to have been
permitted to take them with her to the family.
Yet they must one day be acquainted with the sad story:--and it is
impossible but they must pity you, and forgive you, when they know your
early penitence, and your unprecedented sufferings; and that you have
fallen by the brutal force of a barbarous ravisher, and not by the vile
arts of a seducing lover.
The wicked man gives it out at Lord M.'s, as Miss Harlowe tells me, that
he is actually married to you--yet she believes it not: nor had I the
heart to let her know the truth.
She put it close to me, Whether I had not corresponded with you from the
time of your going away? I could safely tell her, (as I did,) that I had
not: but I said, that I was well informed, that you took extremely to
heart your father's imprecation; and that, if she would excuse me, I
would say it would be a kind and sisterly part, if she would use her
interest to get you discharged from it.
Among other severe things, she told me, that my partial fondness for you
made me very little consider the honour of the rest of the family: but,
if I had not heard this from you, she supposed I was set on by Miss Howe.
She expressed herself with a good deal of bitterness against that young
lady: who, it seems, every where, and to every body, (for you must think
that your story is the subject of all conversations,) rails against your
family; treating them, as your sister says, with contempt, and even with
I am sorry such angry freedoms are taken, for two reasons; first, because
such liberties never do any good. I have heard you own, that Miss Howe
has a satirical vein; but I should hope that a young lady of her sense,
and right cast of mind, must know that the end of satire is not to
exasperate, but amend; and should never be personal. If it be, as my
good father used to say, it may make an impartial person suspect that the
satirist has a natural spleen to gratify; which may be as great a fault
in him, as any of those which he pretends to censure and expose in
Perhaps a hint of this from you will not be thrown away.
My second reason is, That these freedoms, from so warm a friend to you as
Miss Howe is known to be, are most likely to be charged to your account.
My resentments are so strong against this vilest of men, that I dare not
touch upon the shocking particulars which you mention of his baseness.
What defence, indeed, could there be against so determined a wretch,
after you was in his power? I will only repeat my earnest supplication
to you, that, black as appearances are, you will not despair. Your
calamities are exceeding great; but then you have talents proportioned to
your trials. This every body allows.
Suppose the worst, and that your family will not be moved in your favour,
your cousin Morden will soon arrive, as Miss Harlowe told me. If he
should even be got over to their side, he will however see justice done
you; and then may you live an exemplary life, making hundreds happy, and
teaching young ladies to shun the snares in which you have been so
As to the man you have lost, is an union with such a perjured heart as
his, with such an admirable one as your's, to be wished for? A base,
low-hearted wretch, as you justly call him, with all his pride of
ancestry; and more an enemy to himself with regard to his present and
future happiness than to you, in the barbarous and ungrateful wrongs he
has done you: I need not, I am sure, exhort you to despise such a man as
this, since not to be able to do so, would be a reflection upon a sex to
which you have always been an honour.
Your moral character is untainted: the very nature of your sufferings, as
you will observe, demonstrates that. Cheer up, therefore, your dear
heart, and do not despair; for is it not GOD who governs the world, and
permits some things, and directs others, as He pleases? and will He not
reward temporary sufferings, innocently incurred, and piously supported,
with eternal felicity?--And what, my dear, is this poor needle's point of
NOW to a boundless eternity?
My heart, however, labours under a double affliction: For my poor boy is
very, very bad--a violent fever--nor can it be brought to intermit.--Pray
for him, my dearest Miss--for his recovery, if God see fit.--I hope God
will see fit--if not (how can I bear to suppose that!) Pray for me, that
he will give me that patience and resignation which I have been wishing
to you. I am, my dearest young lady,
Your ever affectionate
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MRS. JUDITH NORTON
THURSDAY, JULY 6.
I ought not, especially at this time, to add to your afflictions--but yet
I cannot help communicating to you (who now are my only soothing friend)
a new trouble that has befallen me.
I had but one friend in the world, beside you; and she is utterly
displeased with me.* It is grievous, but for one moment, to lie under a
beloved person's censure; and this through imputations that affect one's
honour and prudence. There are points so delicate, you know, my dear
Mrs. Norton, that it is a degree of dishonour to have a vindication of
one's self from them appear to be necessary. In the present case, my
misfortune is, that I know not how to account, but by guess (so subtle
have been the workings of the dark spirit I have been unhappily entangled
by) for some of the facts that I am called upon to explain.
Miss Howe, in short, supposes she has found a flaw in my character. I
have just now received her severe letter--but I shall answer it, perhaps,
in better temper, if I first consider your's: for indeed my patience is
almost at an end. And yet I ought to consider, that faithful are the
wounds of a friend. But so many things at once! O my dear Mrs. Norton,
how shall so young a scholar in the school of affliction be able to bear
such heavy and such various evils!
But to leave this subject for a while, and turn to your letter.
I am very sorry Miss Howe is so lively in her resentments on my account.
I have always blamed her very freely for her liberties of this sort with
my friends. I once had a good deal of influence over her kind heart, and
she made all I said a law to her. But people in calamity have little
weight in any thing, or with any body. Prosperity and independence are
charming things on this account, that they give force to the counsels of
a friendly heart; while it is thought insolence in the miserable to
advise, or so much as to remonstrate.
Yet is Miss Howe an invaluable person: And is it to be expected that she
should preserve the same regard for my judgment that she had before I
forfeited all title to discretion? With what face can I take upon me to
reproach a want of prudence in her? But if I can be so happy as to
re-establish myself in her ever-valued opinion, I shall endeavour to
enforce upon her your just observation on this head.
You need not, you say, exhort me to despise such a man as him, by whom I
have suffered--indeed you need not: for I would choose the cruellest
death rather than to be his. And yet, my dear Mrs. Norton, I will own to
you, that once I could have loved him.--Ungrateful man!--had he permitted
me to love him, I once could have loved him. Yet he never deserved
love. And was not this a fault?--But now, if I can but keep out of his
hands, and obtain a last forgiveness, and that as well for the sake of my
dear friends' future reflections, as for my own present comfort, it is
all I wish for.
Reconciliation with my friends I do not expect; nor pardon from them; at
least, till in extremity, and as a viaticum.
O my beloved Mrs. Norton, you cannot imagine what I have suffered!--But
indeed my heart is broken!--I am sure I shall not live to take possession
of that independence, which you think would enable me to atone, in some
measure, for my past conduct.
While this is my opinion, you may believe I shall not be easy till I can
obtain a last forgiveness.
I wish to be left to take my own course in endeavouring to procure this
grace. Yet know I not, at present, what that course shall be.
I will write. But to whom is my doubt. Calamity has not yet given me
the assurance to address myself to my FATHER. My UNCLES (well as they
once loved me) are hard hearted. They never had their masculine passions
humanized by the tender name of FATHER. Of my BROTHER I have no hope. I
have then but my MOTHER, and my SISTER, to whom I can apply.--'And may I
not, my dearest Mamma, be permitted to lift up my trembling eye to your
all-cheering, and your once more than indulgent, your fond eye, in hopes
of seasonable mercy to the poor sick heart that yet beats with life drawn
from your own dearer heart?--Especially when pardon only, and not
restoration, is implored?'
Yet were I able to engage my mother's pity, would it not be a mean to
make her still more unhappy than I have already made her, by the
opposition she would meet with, were she to try to give force to that
To my SISTER, then, I think, I will apply--Yet how hard-hearted has my
sister been!--But I will not ask for protection; and yet I am in hourly
dread that I shall want protection.--All I will ask for at present
(preparative to the last forgiveness I will implore) shall be only to be
freed from the heavy curse that seems to have operated as far is it can
operate as to this life--and, surely, it was passion, and not intention,
that carried it so far as to the other!
But why do I thus add to your distresses?--It is not, my dear Mrs.
Norton, that I have so much feeling for my own calamity that I have none
for your's: since your's is indeed an addition to my own. But you have
one consolation (a very great one) which I have not:--That your
afflictions, whether respecting your more or your less deserving child,
rise not from any fault of your own.
But what can I do for you more than pray?--Assure yourself, that in every
supplication I put up for myself, I will with equal fervour remember both
you and your son. For I am and ever will be
Your truly sympathising and dutiful
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
[SUPERSCRIBED FOR MRS. RACHEL CLARK, &c.]
WEDNESDAY, JULY 5.
MY DEAR CLARISSA,
I have at last heard from you from a quarter I little expected.
From my mother!
She had for some time seen me uneasy and grieving; and justly supposed it
was about you: and this morning dropt a hint, which made me conjecture
that she must have heard something of you more than I knew. And when she
found that this added to my uneasiness, she owned she had a letter in her
hands of your's, dated the 29th of June, directed for me.
You may guess, that this occasioned a little warmth, that could not be
wished for by either.
[It is surprising, my dear, mighty surprising! that knowing the
prohibition I lay under of corresponding with you, you could send a
letter for me to our own house: since it must be fifty to one that it
would fall into my mother's hands, as you find it did.]
In short, she resented that I should disobey her: I was as much concerned
that she should open and withhold from me my letters: and at last she was
pleased to compromise the matter with me by giving up the letter, and
permitting me to write to you once or twice: she to see the contents of
what I wrote. For, besides the value she has for you, she could not but
have greater curiosity to know the occasion of so sad a situation as your
melancholy letter shows you to be in.
[But I shall get her to be satisfied with hearing me read what I write;
putting in between hooks, thus , what I intend not to read to her.]
Need I to remind you, Miss Clarissa Harlowe, of three letters I wrote to
you, to none of which I had any answer; except to the first, and that of
a few lines only, promising a letter at large, though you were well
enough, the day after you received my second, to go joyfully back again
with him to the vile house? But more of these by-and-by. I must hasten
to take notice of your letter of Wednesday last week; which you could
contrive should fall into my mother's hands.
Let me tell you, that that letter has almost broken my heart. Good God!
--What have you brought yourself to, Miss Clarissa Harlowe?--Could I have
believed, that after you had escaped from the miscreant, (with such
mighty pains and earnestness escaped,) and after such an attempt as he
had made, you would have been prevailed upon not only to forgive him, but
(without being married too) to return with him to that horrid house!--A
house I had given you such an account of!--Surprising!----What an
intoxicating thing is this love?--I always feared, that you, even you,
were not proof against its inconsistent effects.
You your best self have not escaped!--Indeed I see not how you could
expect to escape.
What a tale have you to unfold!--You need not unfold it, my dear: I would
have engaged to prognosticate all that has happened, had you but told me
that you would once more have put yourself in his power, after you had
taken such pains to get out of it.
Your peace is destroyed!--I wonder not at it: since now you must reproach
yourself for a credulity so ill-placed.
Your intellect is touched!--I am sure my heart bleeds for you! But,
excuse me, my dear, I doubt your intellect was touched before you left
Hampstead: or you would never have let him find you out there; or, when
he did, suffer him to prevail upon you to return to the horrid brothel.
I tell you, I sent you three letters: The first of which, dated the 7th
and 8th of June* (for it was written at twice) came safely to your hands,
as you sent me word by a few lines dated the 9th: had it not, I should
have doubted my own safety; since in it I give you such an account of the
abominable house, and threw such cautions in your way, in relation to
that Tomlinson, as the more surprised me that you could think of going
back to it again, after you had escaped from it, and from Lovelace.--O
my dear--but nothing now will I ever wonder at!
* See Vol. V. Letter XX.
The second, dated June 10,* was given into your own hand at Hampstead, on
Sunday the 11th, as you was lying upon a couch, in a strange way,
according to my messenger's account of you, bloated, and flush-coloured;
I don't know how.
* See Letter VII. of this volume.
The third was dated the 20th of June.* Having not heard one word from
you since the promising billet of the 9th, I own I did not spare you in
it. I ventured it by the usual conveyance, by that Wilson's, having no
other: so cannot be sure you received it. Indeed I rather think you
might not; because in your's, which fell into my mother's hands, you make
no mention of it: and if you had had it, I believe it would have touched
you too much to have been passed by unnoticed.
* See Letter XXX. of this volume.
You have heard, that I have been ill, you say. I had a cold, indeed; but
it was so slight a one that it confined me not an hour. But I doubt not
that strange things you have heard, and been told, to induce you to take
the step you took. And, till you did take that step (the going back with
this villain, I mean,) I knew not a more pitiable case than your's: since
every body must have excused you before, who knew how you were used at
home, and was acquainted with your prudence and vigilance. But, alas! my
dear, we see that the wisest people are not to be depended upon, when
love, like an ignis fatuus, holds up its misleading lights before their
My mother tells me, she sent you an answer, desiring you not to write to
me, because it would grieve me. To be sure I am grieved; exceedingly
grieved; and, disappointed too, you must permit me to say. For I had
always thought that there never was such a woman, at your years, in the
But I remember once an argument you held, on occasion of a censure passed
in company upon an excellent preacher, who was not a very excellent
liver: preaching and practising, you said, required very different
talents:* which, when united in the same person, made the man a saint; as
wit and judgment, going together, constituted a genius.
* See Vol. II. Letter IV.
You made it out, I remember, very prettily: but you never made it out,
excuse me, my dear, more convincingly, than by that part of your late
conduct, which I complain of.
My love for you, and my concern for your honour, may possibly have made
me a little of the severest. If you think so, place it to its proper
account; to that love, and to that concern: which will but do justice
Your afflicted and faithful
P.S. My mother would not be satisfied without reading my letter herself;
and that before I had fixed all the proposed hooks. She knows, by
this means, and has excused, our former correspondence.
She indeed suspected it before: and so she very well might; knowing my
love of you.
She has so much real concern for your misfortunes, that, thinking it will
be a consolation to you, and that it will oblige me, she consents
that you shall write to me the particulars at large of your say
story. But it is on condition that I show her all that has passed
between us, relating to yourself and the vilest of men. I have the
more cheerfully complied, as the communication cannot be to your
You may therefore write freely, and direct to our own house.
My mother promises to show me the copy of her letter to you, and your
reply to it; which latter she has but just told me of. She already
apologizes for the severity of her's: and thinks the sight of your
reply will affect me too much. But, having her promise, I will not
dispense with it.
I doubt her's is severe enough. So I fear you will think mine: but you
have taught me never to spare the fault for the friend's sake; and
that a great error ought rather to be the more inexcusable in the
person we value, than in one we are indifferent to; because it is a
reflection upon our choice of that person, and tends to a breach of
the love of mind, and to expose us to the world for our partiality.
To the love of mind, I repeat; since it is impossible but the
errors of the dearest friend must weaken our inward opinion of that
friend; and thereby lay a foundation for future distance, and
God grant that you may be able to clear your conduct after you had
escaped from Hampstead; as all before that time was noble,
generous, and prudent; the man a devil and you a saint!----Yet I
hope you can; and therefore expect it from you.
I send by a particular hand. He will call for your answer at your own
I am afraid this horrid wretch will trace out by the post-offices where
you are, if not careful.
To have money, and will, and head, to be a villain, is too much for the
rest of the world, when they meet in one man.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
THURSDAY, JULY 6.
Few young persons have been able to give more convincing proofs than
myself how little true happiness lies in the enjoyment of our own wishes.
To produce one instance only of the truth of this observation; what would
I have given for weeks past, for the favour of a letter from my dear Miss
Howe, in whose friendship I placed all my remaining comfort! Little did
I think, that the next letter she would honour me with, should be in such
a style, as should make me look more than once at the subscription, that
I might be sure (the name not being written at length) that it was not
signed by another A.H. For surely, thought I, this is my sister
Arabella's style: surely Miss Howe (blame me as she pleases in other
points) could never repeat so sharply upon her friend, words written in
the bitterness of spirit, and in the disorder of head; nor remind her,
with asperity, and with mingled strokes of wit, of an argument held in
the gaiety of a heart elated with prosperous fortunes, (as mine then
was,) and very little apprehensive of the severe turn that argument would
one day take against herself.
But what have I, sink in my fortunes; my character forfeited; my honour
lost, [while I know it, I care not who knows it;] destitute of friends,
and even of hope; what have I to do to show a spirit of repining and
expostulation to a dear friend, because she is not more kind than a
You have till now, my dear, treated me with great indulgence. If it was
with greater than I had deserved, I may be to blame to have built upon
it, on the consciousness that I deserve it now as much as ever. But I
find, by the rising bitterness which will mingle with the gall in my ink,
that I am not yet subdued enough to my condition.--I lay down my pen for
Pardon me, my Miss Howe. I have recollected myself: and will endeavour
to give a particular answer to your letter; although it will take me up
too much time to think of sending it by your messenger to-morrow: he can
put off his journey, he says, till Saturday. I will endeavour to have
the whole narrative ready for you by Saturday.
But how to defend myself in every thing that has happened, I cannot tell:
since in some part of the time, in which my conduct appears to have been
censurable, I was not myself; and to this hour know not all the methods
taken to deceive and ruin me.
You tell me, that in your first letter you gave me such an account of the
vile house I was in, and such cautions about that Tomlinson, as made you
wonder how I could think of going back.
Alas, my dear! I was tricked, most vilely tricked back, as you shall
hear in its place.
Without knowing the house was so very vile a house from your intended
information, I disliked the people too much, ever voluntarily to have
returned to it. But had you really written such cautions about
Tomlinson, and the house, as you seem to have purposed to do, they must,
had they come in time, have been of infinite service to me. But not one
word of either, whatever was your intention, did you mention to me, in
that first of the three letters you so warmly TELL me you did send me. I
will enclose it to convince you.*
* The letter she encloses was Mr. Lovelace's forged one. See Vol. V.
But your account of your messenger's delivering to me your second
letter, and the description he gives of me, as lying upon a couch, in a
strange way, bloated, and flush-coloured; you don't know how, absolutely
puzzles and confounds me.
Lord have mercy upon the poor Clarissa Harlowe! What can this mean!--Who
was the messenger you sent? Was he one of Lovelace's creatures too!--
Could nobody come near me but that man's confederates, either setting out
so, or made so? I know not what to make of any one syllable of this!
Indeed I don't.
Let me see. You say, this was before I went from Hampstead! My
intellects had not then been touched!--nor had I ever been surprised by
wine, [strange if I had!]: How then could I be found in such a strange
way, bloated and flush-coloured; you don't know how!--Yet what a vile,
what a hateful figure has your messenger represented me to have made!
But indeed I know nothing of any messenger from you.
Believing myself secure at Hampstead, I staid longer there than I would
have done, in hopes of the letter promised me in your short one of the
9th, brought me by my own messenger, in which you undertake to send for
and engage Mrs. Townsend in my favour.*
* See Vol. V. Letter XXIX.
I wondered I had not heard from you: and was told you were sick; and, at
another time, that your mother and you had had words on my account, and
that you had refused to admit Mr. Hickman's visits upon it: so that I
supposed, at one time, that you were not able to write; at another, that
your mother's prohibition had its due force with you. But now I have no
doubt that the wicked man must have intercepted your letter; and I wish
he found not means to corrupt your messenger to tell you so strange a
It was on Sunday, June 11, you say, that the man gave it me. I was at
church twice that day with Mrs. Moore. Mr. Lovelace was at her house the
while, where he boarded, and wanted to have lodged; but I would not
permit that, though I could not help the other. In one of these spaces
it must be that he had time to work upon the man. You'll easily, my
dear, find that out, by inquiring the time of his arrival at Mrs. Moore's
and other circumstances of the strange way he pretended to see me in, on
a couch, and the rest.
Had any body seen me afterwards, when I was betrayed back to the vile
house, struggling under the operation of wicked potions, and robbed
indeed of my intellects (for this, as you shall hear, was my dreadful
case,) I might then, perhaps, have appeared bloated and flush-coloured,
and I know not how myself. But were you to see your poor Clarissa, now
(or even to have seen her at Hampstead before she suffered the vilest of
all outrages,) you would not think her bloated or flush-coloured: indeed
you would not.
In a word, it could not be me your messenger saw; nor (if any body) who
it was can I divine.
I will now, as briefly as the subject will permit, enter into the darker
part of my sad story: and yet I must be somewhat circumstantial, that you
may not think me capable of reserve or palliation. The latter I am not
conscious that I need. I should be utterly inexcusable were I guilty of
the former to you. And yet, if you know how my heart sinks under the
thoughts of a recollection so painful, you would pity me.
As I shall not be able, perhaps, to conclude what I have to write in even
two or three letters, I will begin a new one with my story; and send the
whole of it together, although written at different periods, as I am
Allow me a little pause, my dear, at this place; and to subscribe myself
Your ever affectionate and obliged,
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
[REFERRED TO IN LETTER XII.]
He had found me out at Hampstead: strangely found me out; for I am still
at a loss to know by what means.
I was loth, in my billet of the 6th,* to tell you so, for fear of giving
you apprehensions for me; and besides, I hoped then to have a shorter and
happier issue to account to you for, through your assistance, than I met
* See Vol. V. Letter XXXI.
[She then gives a narrative of all that passed at Hampstead between
herself, Mr. Lovelace, Capt. Tomlinson, and the women there, to the
same effect with that so amply given by Mr. Lovelace.]
Mr. Lovelace, finding all he could say, and all Captain Tomlinson could
urge, ineffectual, to prevail upon me to forgive an outrage so flagrantly
premeditated; rested all his hopes on a visit which was to be paid me by
Lady Betty Lawrance and Miss Montague.
In my uncertain situation, my prospects all so dark, I knew not to whom I
might be obliged to have recourse in the last resort: and as those ladies
had the best of characters, insomuch that I had reason to regret that I
had not from the first thrown myself upon their protection, (when I had
forfeited that of my own friends,) I thought I would not shun an
interview with them, though I was too indifferent to their kinsman to
seek it, as I doubted not that one end of their visit would be to
reconcile me to him.
On Monday, the 12th of June, these pretended ladies came to Hampstead;
and I was presented to them, and they to me by their kinsman.
They were richly dressed, and stuck out with jewels; the pretended Lady
Betty's were particularly very fine.
They came in a coach-and-four, hired, as was confessed, while their own
was repairing in town: a pretence made, I now perceive, that I should not
guess at the imposture by the want of the real lady's arms upon it. Lady
Betty was attended by her woman, who she called Morrison; a modest
I had heard, that Lady Betty was a fine woman, and that Miss Montague was
a beautiful young lady, genteel, and graceful, and full of vivacity.--
Such were these impostors: and having never seen either of them, I had
not the least suspicion, that they were not the ladies they personated;
and being put a little out of countenance by the richness of their
dresses, I could not help, (fool that I was!) to apologize for my own.
The pretended Lady Betty then told me, that her nephew had acquainted
them with the situation of affairs between us. And although she could
not but say, that she was very glad that she had not put such a slight
upon his Lordship and them, as report had given them cause to apprehend,
(the reasons for which report, however, she must have approved of;) yet
it had been matter of great concern to her, and to her niece Montague,
and would to the whole family, to find so great a misunderstanding
subsisting between us, as, if not made up, might distance all their
She could easily tell who was in fault, she said. And gave him a look
both of anger and disdain; asking him, How it was possible for him to
give an offence of such a nature to so charming a lady, [so she called
me,] as should occasion a resentment so strong?
He pretended to be awed into shame and silence.
My dearest niece, said she, and took my hand, (I must call you niece, as
well from love, as to humour your uncle's laudable expedient,) permit me
to be, not an advocate, but a mediatrix for him; and not for his sake, so
much as for my own, my Charlotte's, and all our family's. The indignity
he has offered to you, may be of too tender a nature to be inquired into.
But as he declares, that it was not a premeditated offence; whether, my
dear, [for I was going to rise upon it in my temper,] it were or not; and
as he declares his sorrows for it, (and never did creature express a
deeper sorrow for any offence than he); and as it is a repairable one; let
us, for this one time, forgive him; and thereby lay an obligation upon
this man of errors--Let US, I say, my dear: for, Sir, [turning to him,]
an offence against such a peerless lady as this, must be an offence
against me, against your cousin here, and against all the virtuous of our
See, my dear, what a creature he had picked out! Could you have thought
there was a woman in the world who could thus express herself, and yet be
vile? But she had her principal instructions from him, and those written
down too, as I have reason to think: for I have recollected since, that I
once saw this Lady Betty, (who often rose from her seat, and took a turn
to the other end of the room with such an emotion, as if the joy of her
heart would not let her sit still) take out a paper from her stays, and
look into it, and put it there again. She might oftener, and I not
observe it; for I little thought that there could be such impostors in
I could not forbear paying great attention to what she said. I found my
tears ready to start; I drew out my handkerchief, and was silent. I had
not been so indulgently treated a great while by a person of character
and distinction, [such I thought her;] and durst not trust to the accent
of my voice.
The pretended Miss Montague joined in on this occasion: and drawing her
chair close to me, took my other hand, and besought me to forgive her
cousin; and consent to rank myself as one of the principals of a family
that had long, very long, coveted the honour of my alliance.
I am ashamed to repeat to you, my dear, now I know what wretches they
are, the tender, the obliging, and the respectful things I said to them.
The wretch himself then came forward. He threw himself at my feet. How
was I beset!--The women grasping, one my right hand, the other my left:
the pretended Miss Montague pressing to her lips more than once the hand
she held: the wicked man on his knees, imploring my forgiveness; and
setting before me my happy and my unhappy prospects, as I should forgive
and not forgive him. All that he thought would affect me in former
pleas, and those of Capt. Tomlinson, he repeated. He vowed, he promised,
he bespoke the pretended ladies to answer for him; and they engaged their
honours in his behalf.
Indeed, my dear, I was distressed, perfectly distressed. I was sorry
that I had given way to this visit. For I knew not how, in tenderness to
relations, (as I thought them,) so worthy, to treat so freely as he
deserved, a man nearly allied to them: so that my arguments and my
resolutions were deprived of their greatest force.
I pleaded, however, my application to you. I expected every hour, I told
them, an answer from you to a letter I had written, which would decide my
They offered to apply to you themselves in person, in their own behalf,
as they politely termed it. They besought me to write to you to hasten
I said, I was sure that you would write the moment that the event of an
application to be made to a third person enabled you to write. But as to
the success of their request in behalf of their kinsman, that depended
not upon the expected answer; for that, I begged their pardon, was out of
the question. I wished him well. I wished him happy. But I was
convinced, that I neither could make him so, nor he me.
Then! how the wretch promised!--How he vowed!--How he entreated!--And how
the women pleaded!--And they engaged themselves, and the honour of their
whole family, for his just, his kind, his tender behaviour to me.
In short, my dear, I was so hard set, that I was obliged to come to a
more favourable compromise with them than I had intended. I would wait
for your answer to my letter, I said: and if that made doubtful or
difficult the change of measures I had resolved upon, and the scheme of
life I had formed, I would then consider of the matter; and, if they
would permit me, lay all before them, and take their advice upon it, in
conjunction with your's, as if the one were my own aunt, and the other
were my own cousin.
They shed tears upon this--of joy they called them:--But since, I
believe, to their credit, bad as they are, that they were tears of
temporary remorse; for, the pretended Miss Montague turned about, and, as
I remember, said, There was no standing it.
But Mr. Lovelace was not so easily satisfied. He was fixed upon his
villanous measures perhaps; and so might not be sorry to have a pretence
against me. He bit his lip--he had been but too much used, he said, to
such indifference, such coldness, in the very midst of his happiest
prospects. I had on twenty occasions shown him, to his infinite regret,
that any favour I was to confer upon him was to be the result of--there
he stopt--and not of my choice.
This had like to have set all back again. I was exceedingly offended.
But the pretended ladies interposed. The elder severely took him to
task. He ought, she told him, to be satisfied with what I had said. She
desired no other condition. And what, Sir, said she, with an air of
authority, would you commit errors, and expect to be rewarded for them?
They then engaged me in a more agreeable conversation--the pretended lady
declared, that she, Lord M. and Lady Sarah, would directly and personally
interest themselves to bring about a general reconciliation between the
two families, and this either in open or private concert with my uncle
Harlowe, as should be thought fit. Animosities on one side had been
carried a great way, she said; and too little care had been shown on the
other to mollify or heal. My father should see that they could treat him
as a brother and a friend; and my brother and sister should be convinced
that there was no room either for the jealously [sic] or envy they had
conceived from motives too unworthy to be avowed.
Could I help, my dear, being pleased with them?--
Permit me here to break off. The task grows too heavy, at present, for
the heart of
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
I was very ill, and obliged to lay down my pen. I thought I should have
fainted. But am better now--so will proceed.
The pretended ladies, the more we talked, the fonder they seemed to be of
me. And the Lady Betty had Mrs. Moore called up; and asked her, If she
had accommodations for her niece and self, her woman, and two men
servants, for three or four days?
Mr. Lovelace answered for her that she had.
She would not ask her dear niece Lovelace, [Permit me, my dear, whispered
she, this charming style before strangers! I will keep your uncle's
secret,] whether she should be welcome or not to be so near her. But for
the time she should stay in these parts, she would come up every night--
What say you, niece Charlotte?
The pretended Charlotte answered, she should like to do so, of all
The Lady Betty called her an obliging girl. She liked the place, she
said. Her cousin Leeson would excuse her. The air, and my company,
would do her good. She never chose to lie in the smoky town, if she
could help it. In short, my dear, said she to me, I will stay with you
till you hear from Miss Howe; and till I have your consent to go with me
to Glenham-hall. Not one moment will I be out of your company, when I
can have it. Stedman, my solicitor, as the distance from town is so
small, may attend me here for instructions. Niece Charlotte, one word
with you, child.
They retired to the further end of the room, and talked about their
The Miss Charlotte said, Morrison might be dispatched for them.
True, said the other--but I have some letters in my private box, which
I must have up. And you know, Charlotte, that I trust nobody with the
keys of that.
Could not Morrison bring up the box?
No. She thought it safest where it was. She had heard of a robbery
committed but two days ago at the food of Hampstead-hill; and she should
be ruined in she lost her box.
Well, then, it was but going to town to undress, and she would leave her
jewels behind her, and return; and should be easier a great deal on all
For my part, I wondered they came up with them. But that was to be taken
as a respect paid to me. And then they hinted at another visit of
ceremony which they had thought to make, had they not found me so
They talked loud enough for me to hear them; on purpose, no doubt, though
in affected whispers; and concluded with high praises of me.
I was not fool enough to believe, or to be puffed up with their
encomiums; yet not suspecting them, I was not displeased at so favourable
a beginning of acquaintance with Ladies (whether I were to be related to
them or not) of whom I had always heard honourable mention. And yet at
the time, I thought, highly as they exalted me, that in some respects
(though I hardly know in what) they fell short of what I expected them to
The grand deluder was at the farther end of the room, another way;
probably to give me an opportunity to hear these preconcerted praises--
looking into a book, which had there not been a preconcert, would not
have taken his attention for one moment. It was Taylor's Holy Living and
When the pretended ladies joined me, he approached me with it in his hand
--a smart book, this, my dear!--this old divine affects, I see, a mighty
flowery style of an ordinary country funeral, where, the young women, in
honour of a defunct companion, especially if she were a virgin, or passed
for such, make a flower-bed of her coffin.
And then, laying down the book, turning upon his heel, with one of his
usual airs of gaiety, And are you determined, Ladies, to take up your
lodgings with my charming creature?
Indeed they were.
Never were there more cunning, more artful impostors, than these women.
Practised creatures, to be sure: yet genteel; and they must have been
well-educated--once, perhaps, as much the delight of their parents, as I
was of mine: and who knows by what arts ruined, body and mind--O my dear!
how pregnant is this reflection!
But the man!--Never was there a man so deep. Never so consummate a
deceiver; except that detested Tomlinson; whose years and seriousness,
joined with a solidity of sense and judgment that seemed uncommon, gave
him, one would have thought, advantages in villany, the other had not
time for. Hard, very hard, that I should fall into the knowledge of two
such wretches; when two more such I hope are not to be met with in the
world!--both so determined to carry on the most barbarous and perfidious
projects against a poor young creature, who never did or wished harm to
Take the following slight account of these women's and of this man's
behaviour to each other before me.
Mr. Lovelace carried himself to his pretended aunt with high respect,
and paid a great deference to all she said. He permitted her to have all
the advantage over him in the repartees and retorts that passed between
them. I could, indeed, easily see, that it was permitted; and that he
forbore that vivacity, that quickness, which he never spared showing to
his pretended Miss Montague; and which a man of wit seldom knows how to
spare showing, when an opportunity offers to display his wit.
The pretended Miss Montague was still more respectful in her behaviour to
her pretended aunt. While the aunt kept up the dignity of the character
she had assumed, rallying both of them with the air of a person who
depends upon the superiority which years and fortune give over younger
persons, who might have a view to be obliged to her, either in her life,
or at her death.
The severity of her raillery, however, was turned upon Mr. Lovelace, on
occasion of the character of the people who kept the lodgings, which, she
said, I had thought myself so well warranted to leave privately.
This startled me. For having then no suspicion of the vile Tomlinson, I
concluded (and your letter of the 7th* favoured my conclusion) that if
the house were notorious, either he, or Mr. Mennell, would have given me
or him some hints of it--nor, although I liked not the people, did I
observe any thing in them very culpable, till the Wednesday night before,
that they offered not to come to my assistance, although within hearing
of my distress, (as I am sure they were,) and having as much reason as I
to be frighted at the fire, had it been real.
* His forged letter. See Vol. V. Letter XXX.
I looked with indignation upon Mr. Lovelace, at this hint.
He seemed abashed. I have not patience, but to recollect the specious
looks of this vile deceiver. But how was it possible, that even that
florid countenance of his should enable him to command a blush at his
pleasure? for blush he did, more than once: and the blush, on this
occasion, was a deep-dyed crimson, unstrained for, and natural, as I
thought--but he is so much of the actor, that he seems able to enter into
any character; and his muscles and features appear entirely under
obedience to his wicked will.*
* It is proper to observe, that there was a more natural reason than this
that the Lady gives for Mr. Lovelace's blushing. It was a blush of
indignation, as he owned afterwards to his friend Belford, in
conversation; for the pretended Lady Betty had mistaken her cue, in
condemning the house; and he had much ado to recover the blunder; being
obliged to follow her lead, and vary from his first design; which was to
have the people of the house spoken well of, in order to induce her to
return to it, were it but on pretence to direct her clothes to be carried
The pretended lady went on, saying, she had taken upon herself to inquire
after the people, on hearing that I had left the house in disgust; and
though she heard not any thing much amiss, yet she heard enough to make
her wonder that he could carry his spouse, a person of so much delicacy,
to a house, that, if it had not a bad fame, had not a good one.
You must think, my dear, that I liked the pretended Lady Betty the better
for this. I suppose it was designed that I should.
He was surprised, he said, that her Ladyship should hear a bad character
of the people. It was what he had never before heard that they deserved.
It was easy, indeed, to see, that they had not very great delicacy,
though they were not indelicate. The nature of their livelihood, letting
lodgings, and taking people to board, (and yet he had understood that
they were nice in these particulars,) led them to aim at being free and
obliging: and it was difficult, he said, for persons of cheerful
dispositions, so to behave as to avoid censure: openness of heart and
countenance in the sex (more was the pity) too often subjected good
people, whose fortunes did not set them above the world, to uncharitable
He wished, however, that her Ladyship would tell what she had heard:
although now it signified but little, because he would never ask me to
set foot within their doors again: and he begged she would not mince the
Nay, no great matter, she said. But she had been informed, that there
were more women-lodgers in the house than men: yet that their visiters
were more men than women. And this had been hinted to her (perhaps by
ill-wishers, she could not answer for that) in such a way, as if somewhat
further were meant by it than was spoken.
This, he said, was the true innuendo-way of characterizing, used by
detractors. Every body and every thing had a black and a white side, of
which well wishers and ill wishers may make their advantage. He had
observed that the front house was well let, and he believed more to the
one sex than to the other; for he had seen, occasionally passing to or
fro, several genteel modest looking women; and who, it was very probable,
were not so ill-beloved, but they might have visiters and relations of
both sexes: but they were none of them any thing to us, or we to them: we
were not once in any of their companies: but in the genteelest and most
retired house of the two, which we had in a manner to ourselves, with the
use of a parlour to the street, to serve us for a servants' hall, or to
receive common visiters, or our traders only, whom we admitted not up
He always loved to speak as he found. No man in the world had suffered
more from calumny than he himself had done.
Women, he owned, ought to be more scrupulous than men needed to be where
they lodged. Nevertheless he wished that fact, rather than surmise, were
to be the foundation of their judgments, especially when they spoke of
He meant no reflection upon her Ladyship's informants, or rather
surmisants, (as he might call them,) be they who they would: nor did he
think himself obliged to defend characters impeached, or not thought well
of, by women of virtue and honour. Neither were these people of
importance enough to have so much said about them.
The pretended Lady Betty said, all who knew her, would clear her of
censoriousness: that it gave her some opinion, she must needs say, of the
people, that he had continued there so long with me; that I had rather
negative than positive reasons of dislike to them; and that so shrewd a
man as she heard Captain Tomlinson was had not objected to them.
I think, niece Charlotte, proceeded she, as my nephew had not parted with
these lodgings, you and I, (for, as my dear Miss Harlowe dislikes the
people, I would not ask her for her company) will take a dish of tea with
my nephew there, before we go out of town; and then we shall see what
sort of people they are. I have heard that Mrs. Sinclair is a mighty
With all my heart, Madam. In your Ladyship's company I shall make no
scruple of going any where.
It was Ladyship at every word; and as she seemed proud of her title, and
of her dress too, I might have guessed that she was not used to either.
What say you, cousin Lovelace? Lady Sarah, though a melancholy woman, is
very inquisitive about all your affairs. I must acquaint her with every
particular circumstance when I go down.
With all his heart. He would attend her whenever she pleased. She would
see very handsome apartments, and very civil people.
The deuce is in them, said the Miss Montague, if they appear other to us.
She then fell into family talk; family happiness on my hoped-for
accession into it. They mentioned Lord M.'s and Lady Sarah's great
desire to see me: how many friends and admirers, with uplift hands, I
should have! [Oh! my dear, what a triumph must these creatures, and he,
have over the poor devoted all the time!]--What a happy man he would be!
--They would not, the Lady Betty said, give themselves the mortification
but to suppose that I should not be one of them!
Presents were hinted at. She resolved that I should go with her to
Glenham-hall. She would not be refused, although she were to stay a week
beyond her time for me.
She longed for the expected letter from you. I must write to hasten it,
and to let Miss Howe know how every thing stood since I wrote last. That
might dispose me absolutely in her favour and in her nephew's; and then
she hoped there would be no occasion for me to think of entering upon any
Indeed, my dear, I did at the time intend, if I heard not from you by
morning, to dispatch a man and horse to you, with the particulars of all,
that you might (if you thought proper) at least put off Mrs. Townsend's
coming up to another day.--But I was miserably prevented.
She made me promise that I would write to you upon this subject, whether
I heard from you or not. One of her servants should ride post with my
letter, and wait for Miss Howe's answer.
She then launched out in deserved praises of you, my dear. How fond she
should be of the honour of your acquaintance.
The pretended Miss Montague joined in with her, as well for herself as
for her sister.
Abominably well instructed were they both!
O my dear! what risks may poor giddy girls run, when they throw
themselves out of the protection of their natural friends, and into the
The then talked again of reconciliation and intimacy with every one of my
friends; with my mother particularly; and gave the dear good lady the
praises that every one gives her, who has the happiness to know her.
Ah, my dear Miss Howe! I had almost forgot my resentments against the
pretended nephew!--So many agreeable things said, made me think, that, if
you should advise it, and if I could bring my mind to forgive the wretch
for an outrage so premeditatedly vile, and could forbear despising him
for that and his other ungrateful and wicked ways, I might not be unhappy
in an alliance with such a family. Yet, thought I at the time, with what
intermixture does every thing come to me that had the appearance of good!
----However, as my lucid hopes made me see fewer faults in the behaviour
of these pretended ladies, than recollection and abhorrence have helped
me since to see, I began to reproach myself, that I had not at first
thrown myself into their protection.
But amidst all these delightful prospects, I must not, said the Lady
Betty, forget that I am to go to town.
She then ordered her coach to be got to the door.--We will all go to town
together, said she, and return together. Morrison shall stay here, and
see every thing as I am used to have it, in relation to my apartment, and
my bed; for I am very particular in some respects. My cousin Leeson's
servants can do all I want to be done with regard to my night-dresses,
and the like. And it will be a little airing for you, my dear, and a
want of your apparel to be sent from your former lodgings to Mrs.
Leeson's; and we can bring it up with us from thence.
I had no intention to comply. But as I did not imagine that she would
insist upon my going to town with them, I made no answer to that part of
I must here lay down my tired pen!
Recollection! heart-affecting recollection! how it pains me!
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
In the midst of this agreeableness, the coach came to the door. The
pretended Lady Betty besought me to give them my company to their cousin
Leeson's. I desired to be excused: yet suspected nothing. She would not
be denied. How happy would a visit so condescending make her cousin
Leeson!----Her cousin Leeson was not unworthy of my acquaintance: and
would take it for the greatest favour in the world.
I objected my dress. But the objection was not admitted. She bespoke a
supper of Mrs. Moore to be ready at nine.
Mr. Lovelace, vile hypocrite, and wicked deceiver! seeing, as he said, my
dislike to go, desired his Ladyship not to insist upon it.
Fondness for my company was pleaded. She begged me to oblige her: made a
motion to help me to my fan herself: and, in short, was so very urgent,
that my feet complied against my speech and my mind: and being, in a
manner, led to the coach by her, and made to step in first, she followed
me: and her pretended niece, and the wretch, followed her: and away it
Nothing but the height of affectionate complaisance passed all the way:
over and over, what a joy would this unexpected visit give her cousin
Leeson! What a pleasure must it be to such a mind as mine, to be able
to give so much joy to every body I came near!
The cruel, the savage seducer (as I have since recollected) was in a
rapture all the way; but yet such a sort of rapture, as he took visible
pains to check.
Hateful villain! how I abhor him!--What mischief must be then in his
plotting heart!--What a devoted victim must I be in all their eyes!
Though not pleased, I was nevertheless just then thoughtless of danger;
they endeavouring thus to lift me up above all apprehensions of that, and
above myself too.
But think, my dear, what a dreadful turn all had upon me, when, through
several streets and ways I knew nothing of, the coach slackening its
pace, came within sight of the dreadful house of the dreadfullest woman
in the world; as she proved to me.
Lord be good unto me! cried the poor fool, looking out of the coach--Mr.
Lovelace!--Madam! turning to the pretended Lady Betty!--Madam! turning to
the niece, my hands and eyes lifted up--Lord be good unto me!
What! What! What! my dear.
He pulled the string--What need to have come this way? said he--But since
we are, I will but ask a question--My dearest life, why this
The coachman stopped: his servant, who, with one of her's was behind,
alighted--Ask, said he, if I have any letters? Who knows, my dearest
creature, turning to me, but we may already have one from the Captain?--
We will not go out of the coach!--Fear nothing--Why so apprehensive?--Oh!
these fine spirits!--cried the execrable insulter.
Dreadfully did my heart then misgive me: I was ready to faint. Why this
terror, my life? you shall not stir out of the coach but one question,
now the fellow has drove us this way.
Your lady will faint, cried the execrable Lady Betty, turning to him--My
dearest Niece! (niece I will call you, taking my hand)--we must alight,
if you are so ill.--Let us alight--only for a glass of water and
hartshorn--indeed we must alight.
No, no, no--I am well--quite well--Won't the man drive on?--I am well--
quite well--indeed I am.--Man, drive on, putting my head out of the coach
--Man, drive on!--though my voice was too low to be heard.
The coach stopt at the door. How I trembled!
Dorcas came to the door, on its stopping.
My dearest creature, said the vile man, gasping, as it were for breath,
you shall not alight--Any letters for me, Dorcas?
There are two, Sir. And here is a gentleman, Mr. Belton, Sir, waits for
your honour; and has done so above an hour.
I'll just speak to him. Open the door--You sha'n't step out, my dear--A
letter perhaps from Captain already!--You sha'n't step out, my dear.
I sighed as if my heart would burst.
But we must step out, Nephew: your lady will faint. Maid, a glass of
hartshorn and water!--My dear you must step out--You will faint, child--
We must cut your laces.--[I believe my complexion was all manner of
colours by turns]--Indeed, you must step out, my dear.
He knew, said I, I should be well, the moment the coach drove from the
door. I should not alight. By his soul, I should not.
Lord, Lord, Nephew, Lord, Lord, Cousin, both women in a breath, what ado
you make about nothing! You persuade your lady to be afraid of
alighting.--See you not that she is just fainting?
Indeed, Madam, said the vile seducer, my dearest love must not be moved
in this point against her will. I beg it may not be insisted upon.
Fiddle-faddle, foolish man--What a pother is here! I guess how it is:
you are ashamed to let us see what sort of people you carried your lady
among--but do you go out, and speak to your friend, and take your
He stept out; but shut the coach-door after him, to oblige me.
The coach may go on, Madam, said I.
The coach shall go on, my dear life, said he.--But he gave not, nor
intended to give, orders that it should.
Let the coach go on! said I--Mr. Lovelace may come after us.
Indeed, my dear, you are ill!--Indeed you must alight--alight but for one
quarter of an hour.--Alight but to give orders yourself about your
things. Whom can you be afraid of in my company, and my niece's; these
people must have behaved shockingly to you! Please the Lord, I'll
inquire into it!--I'll see what sort of people they are!
Immediately came the old creature to the door. A thousand pardons, dear
Madam, stepping to the coach-side, if we have any way offended you--Be
pleased, Ladies, [to the other two] to alight.
Well, my dear, whispered the Lady Betty, I now find that an hideous
description of a person we never saw is an advantage to them. I thought
the woman was a monster--but, really, she seems tolerable.
I was afraid I should have fallen into fits: but still refused to go out
--Man!--Man!--Man!--cried I, gaspingly, my head out of the coach and in,
by turns, half a dozen times running, drive on!--Let us go!
My heart misgave me beyond the power of my own accounting for it; for
still I did not suspect these women. But the antipathy I had taken to
the vile house, and to find myself so near it, when I expected no such
matter, with the sight of the old creature, all together made me behave
like a distracted person.
The hartshorn and water was brought. The pretended Lady Betty made me
drink it. Heaven knows if there was any thing else in it!
Besides, said she, whisperingly, I must see what sort of creatures the
nieces are. Want of delicacy cannot be hid from me. You could not
surely, my dear, have this aversion to re-enter a house, for a few
minutes, in our company, in which you lodged and boarded several weeks,
unless these women could be so presumptuously vile, as my nephew ought
not to know.
Out stept the pretended lady; the servant, at her command, having opened
Dearest Madam, said the other to me, let me follow you, [for I was next
the door.] Fear nothing: I will not stir from your presence.
Come, my dear, said the pretended lady, give me your hand; holding out
her's. Oblige me this once.
I will bless your footsteps, said the old creature, if once more you
honour my house with your presence.
A crowd by this time was gathered about us; but I was too much affected
to mind that.
Again the pretended Miss Montague urged me; standing up as ready to go
out if I would give her room.--Lord, my dear, said she, who can bear this
crowd?--What will people think?
The pretended Lady again pressed me, with both her hands held out--Only,
my dear, to give orders about your things.
And thus pressed, and gazed at, (for then I looked about me,) the women
so richly dressed, people whispering; in an evil moment, out stepped I,
trembling, forced to lean with both my hands (frighted too much for
ceremony) on the pretended Lady Betty's arm--Oh! that I had dropped down
dead upon the guilty threshold!
We shall stay but a few minutes, my dear!--but a few minutes! said the
same specious jilt--out of breath with her joy, as I have since thought,
that they had thus triumphed over the unhappy victim!
Come, Mrs. Sinclair, I think your name is, show us the way----following
her, and leading me. I am very thirsty. You have frighted me, my dear,
with your strange fears. I must have tea made, if it can be done in a
moment. We have farther to go, Mrs. Sinclair, and must return to
Hampstead this night.
It shall be ready in a moment, cried the wretch. We have water boiling.
Hasten, then--Come, my dear, to me, as she led me through the passage to
the fatal inner house--lean upon me--how you tremble!--how you falter in
your steps!--Dearest niece Lovelace, [the old wretch being in hearing,]
why these hurries upon your spirits?--We'll be gone in a minute.
And thus she led the poor sacrifice into the old wretch's too-well-known
Never was any body so gentle, so meek, so low voiced, as the odious
woman; drawling out, in a puling accent, all the obliging things she
could say: awed, I then thought, by the conscious dignity of a woman of
quality; glittering with jewels.
The called-for tea was ready presently.
There was no Mr. Belton, I believe: for the wretch went not to any body,
unless it were while we were parlying in the coach. No such person
however, appeared at the tea-table.
I was made to drink two dishes, with milk, complaisantly urged by the
pretended ladies helping me each to one. I was stupid to their hands;
and, when I took the tea, almost choked with vapours; and could hardly
I thought, transiently thought, that the tea, the last dish particularly,
had an odd taste. They, on my palating it, observed, that the milk was
London-milk; far short in goodness of what they were accustomed to from
their own dairies.
I have no doubt that my two dishes, and perhaps my hartshorn, were
prepared for me; in which case it was more proper for their purpose, that
they should help me, than that I should help myself. Ill before, I found
myself still more and more disordered in my head; a heavy torpid pain
increasing fast upon me. But I imputed it to my terror.
Nevertheless, at the pretended Lady's motion, I went up stairs, attended
by Dorcas; who affected to weep for joy, that she once more saw my
blessed face; that was the vile creature's word: and immediately I set
about taking out some of my clothes, ordering what should be put up, and
what sent after me.
While I was thus employed, up came the pretended Lady Betty, in a
hurrying way----My dear, you won't be long before you are ready. My
nephew is very busy in writing answers to his letters: so, I'll just whip
away, and change my dress, and call upon you in an instant.
O Madam!--I am ready! I am now ready!--You must not leave me here. And
down I sunk, affrighted, into a chair.
This instant, this instant, I will return--before you can be ready--
before you can have packed up your things--we would not be late--the
robbers we have heard of may be out--don't let us be late.
And away she hurried before I could say another word. Her pretended
niece went with her, without taking notice to me of her going.
I had no suspicion yet that these women were not indeed the ladies
they personated; and I blamed myself for my weak fears.--It cannot be,
thought I, that such ladies will abet treachery against a poor creature
they are so fond of. They must undoubtedly be the persons they appear to
be--what folly to doubt it! The air, the dress, the dignity of women of
quality. How unworthy of them, and of my charity, concluded I, is this
ungenerous shadow of suspicion!
So, recovering my stupefied spirits, as well as they could be recovered,
(for I was heavier and heavier! and wondered to Dorcas what ailed me,
rubbing my eyes, and taking some of her snuff, pinch after pinch, to very
little purpose,) I pursued my employment: but when that was over, all
packed up that I designed to be packed up; and I had nothing to do but to
think; and found them tarry so long; I thought I should have gone
distracted. I shut myself into the chamber that had been mine; I
kneeled, I prayed; yet knew not what I prayed for: then ran out again: it
was almost dark night, I said: where, where, where was Mr. Lovelace?
He came to me, taking no notice at first of my consternation and
wildness, [what they had given me made me incoherent and wild:] All goes
well, said he, my dear!--A line from Capt. Tomlinson!
All indeed did go well for the villanous project of the most cruel and
most villanous of men!
I demanded his aunt!--I demanded his cousin!--The evening, I said, was
closing!--My head was very, very bad, I remember I said--and it grew
worse and worse.--
Terror, however, as yet kept up my spirits; and I insisted upon his going
himself to hasten them.
He called his servant. He raved at the sex for their delay: 'twas well
that business of consequence seldom depended upon such parading,
His servant came.
He ordered him to fly to his cousin Leeson's, and to let Lady Betty and
his cousin know how uneasy we both were at their delay: adding, of his
own accord, desire them, if they don't come instantly, to send their
coach, and we will go without them. Tell them I wonder they'll serve me
I thought this was considerately and fairly put. But now, indifferent as
my head was, I had a little time to consider the man and his behaviour.
He terrified me with his looks, and with his violent emotions, as he
gazed upon me. Evident joy-suppressed emotions, as I have since
recollected. His sentences short, and pronounced as if his breath were
touched. Never saw I his abominable eyes look as then they looked--
Triumph in them!--fierce and wild; and more disagreeable than the women's
at the vile house appeared to me when I first saw them: and at times,
such a leering, mischief-boding cast!--I would have given the world to
have been an hundred miles from him. Yet his behaviour was decent--a
decency, however, that I might have seen to be struggled for--for he
snatched my hand two or three times, with a vehemence in his grasp that
hurt me; speaking words of tenderness through his shut teeth, as it
seemed; and let it go with a beggar-voiced humbled accent, like the vile
woman's just before; half-inward; yet his words and manner carrying the
appearance of strong and almost convulsed passion!--O my dear! what
mischief was he not then meditating!
I complained once or twice of thirst. My mouth seemed parched. At the
time, I supposed that it was my terror (gasping often as I did for
breath) that parched up the roof of my mouth. I called for water: some
table-beer was brought me: beer, I suppose, was a better vehicle for
their potions. I told the maid, that she knew I seldom tasted malt
liquor: yet, suspecting nothing of this nature, being extremely thirsty,
I drank it, as what came next: and instantly, as it were, found myself
much worse than before: as if inebriated, I should fancy: I know not how.
His servant was gone twice as long as he needed: and, just before his
return, came one of the pretended Lady Betty's with a letter for Mr.
He sent it up to me. I read it: and then it was that I thought myself a
lost creature; it being to put off her going to Hampstead that night, on
account of violent fits which Miss Montague was pretended to be seized
with; for then immediately came into my head his vile attempt upon me in
this house; the revenge that my flight might too probably inspire him
with on that occasion, and because of the difficulty I made to forgive
him, and to be reconciled to him; his very looks wild and dreadful to me;
and the women of the house such as I had more reason than ever, even from
the pretended Lady Betty's hint, to be afraid of: all these crowding
together in my apprehensive mind, I fell into a kind of phrensy.
I have no remembrance how I was for this time it lasted: but I know that,
in my first agitations, I pulled off my head-dress, and tore my ruffles
in twenty tatters, and ran to find him out.
When a little recovered, I insisted upon the hint he had given me of
their coach. But the messenger, he said, had told him, that it was sent
to fetch a physician, lest his chariot should be put up, or not ready.
I then insisted upon going directly to Lady Betty's lodgings.
Mrs. Leeson's was now a crowded house, he said: and as my earnestness
could be owing to nothing but groundless apprehensions, [and Oh! what
vows, what protestations of his honour, did he then make!] he hoped I
would not add to their present concern. Charlotte, indeed, was used to
fits, he said, upon any great surprises, whether of joy or grief; and
they would hold her for one week together, if not got off in a few hours.
You are an observer of eyes, my dear, said the villain; perhaps in secret
insult: Saw you not in Miss Montague's, now-and-then at Hampstead,
something wildish? I was afraid for her then. Silence and quiet only do
her good: your concern for her, and her love for you, will but augment
the poor girl's disorder, if you should go.
All impatient with grief and apprehension, I still declared myself
resolved not to stay in that house till morning. All I had in the world,
my rings, my watch, my little money, for a coach; or, if one were not to
be got, I would go on foot to Hampstead that night, though I walked it by
A coach was hereupon sent for, or pretended to be sent for. Any price,
he said, he would give to oblige me, late as it was; and he would attend
me with all his soul. But no coach was to be got.
Let me cut short the rest. I grew worse and worse in my head! now
stupid, now raving, now senseless. The vilest of vile women was brought
to frighten me. Never was there so horrible a creature as she
appreared to me at this time.
I remember I pleaded for mercy. I remember that I said I would be his--
indeed I would be his--to obtain his mercy. But no mercy found I! My
strength, my intellects failed me--And then such scenes followed--O my
dear, such dreadful scenes!--fits upon fits, (faintly indeed and
imperfectly remembered,) procuring me no compassion--But death was
withheld from me. That would have been too great a mercy!
Thus was I tricked and deluded back by blacker hearts of my own sex than
I thought there were in the world; who appeared to me to be persons of
honour; and, when in his power, thus barbarously was I treated by this
I was so senseless, that I dare not aver, that the horrid creatures of
the house were personally aiding and abetting: but some visionary
remembrances I have of female figures, flitting, as I may say, before my
sight; the wretched woman's particularly. But as these confused ideas
might be owing to the terror I had conceived of the worse than masculine
violence she had been permitted to assume to me, for expressing my
abhorrence of her house; and as what I suffered from his barbarity wants
not that aggravation; I will say no more on a subject so shocking as this
must ever be to my remembrance.
I never saw the personating wretches afterwards. He persisted to the
last, (dreadfully invoking Heaven as a witness to the truth of his
assertion) that they were really and truly the ladies they pretended to
be; declaring, that they could not take leave of me, when they left town,
because of the state of senselessness and phrensy I was in. For their
intoxicating, or rather stupefying, potions had almost deleterious
effects upon my intellects, as I have hinted; insomuch that, for several
days together, I was under a strange delirium; now moping, now dozing,
now weeping, now raving, now scribbling, tearing what I scribbled as fast
as I wrote it: most miserable when now-and-then a ray of reason brought
confusedly to my remembrance what I had suffered.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
[The lady next gives an account,
Of her recovery from her delirium and sleepy disorder:
Of her attempt to get away in his absence:
Of the conversations that followed, at his return, between them:
Of the guilty figure he made:
Of her resolution not to have him:
Of her several efforts to escape:
Of her treaty with Dorcas to assist her in it:
Of Dorcas's dropping the promissory note, undoubtedly, as she says, on
purpose to betray her:
Of her triumph over all the creatures of the house, assembled to terrify
her; and perhaps to commit fresh outrages upon her:
Of his setting out for M. Hall:
Of his repeated letters to induce her to meet him at the altar, on her
Of her determined silence to them all:
Of her second escape, effected, as she says, contrary to her own
expectation: the attempt being at first but the intended prelude to
a more promising one, which she had formed in her mind:
And of other particulars; which being to be found in Mr. Lovelace's
letters preceding, and the letter of his friend Belford, are
omitted. She then proceeds:]
The very hour that I found myself in a place of safety, I took pen to
write to you. When I began, I designed only to write six or eight lines,
to inquire after your health: for, having heard nothing from you, I
feared indeed, that you had been, and still were, too ill to write. But
no sooner did my pen begin to blot the paper, but my sad heart hurried it
into length. The apprehensions I had lain under, that I should not be
able to get away; the fatigue I had in effecting my escape: the
difficulty of procuring a lodging for myself; having disliked the people
of two houses, and those of a third disliking me; for you must think I
made a frighted appearance--these, together with the recollection of what
I had suffered from him, and my farther apprehensions of my insecurity,
and my desolate circumstances, had so disordered me, that I remember I
rambled strangely in that letter.
In short, I thought it, on re-perusal, a half-distracted one: but I then
despaired, (were I to begin again,) of writing better: so I let it go:
and can have no excuse for directing it as I did, if the cause of the
incoherence in it will not furnish me with a very pitiable one.
The letter I received from your mother was a dreadful blow to me. But
nevertheless it had the good effect upon me (labouring, as I did just
then, under a violent fit of vapourish despondency, and almost yielding
to it) which profuse bleeding and blisterings have in paralytic or
apoplectical strokes; reviving my attention, and restoring me to spirits
to combat the evils I was surrounded by--sluicing off, and diverting into
a new channel, (if I may be allowed another metaphor,) the overcharging
woes which threatened once more to overwhelm my intellects.
But yet I most sincerely lamented, (and still lament,) in your mother's
words, That I cannot be unhappy by myself: and was grieved, not only for
the trouble I had given you before; but for the new one I had brought
upon you by my inattention.
[She then gives the substance of the letters she wrote to Mrs. Norton, to
Lady Betty Lawrance, and to Mrs. Hodges; as also of their answers;
whereby she detected all Mr. Lovelace's impostures. She proceeds
I cannot, however, forbear to wonder how the vile Tomlinson could come at
the knowledge of several of the things he told me of, and which
contributed to give me confidence in him.*
* The attentive reader need not be referred back for what the Lady
nevertheless could not account for, as she knew not that Mr. Lovelace had
come at Miss Howe's letters; particularly that in Vol. IV. Letter XXIX.
which he comments upon in Letter XLIV. of the same volume.
I doubt not that the stories of Mrs. Fretchville and her house would be
found as vile as any of the rest, were I to inquire; and had I not
enough, and too much, already against the perjured man.
How have I been led on!--What will be the end of such a false and
perjured creature! Heaven not less profaned and defied by him than
myself deceived and abused! This, however, against myself I must say,
That if what I have suffered be the natural consequence of my first
error, I never can forgive myself, although you are so partial in my
favour, as to say, that I was not censurable for what passed before my
And now, honoured Madam, and my dearest Miss Howe, who are to sit in
judgment upon my case, permit me to lay down my pen with one request,
which, with the greatest earnestness, I make to you both: and that is,
That you will neither of you open your lips in relation to the potions
and the violences I have hinted at.--Not that I am solicitous, that my
disgrace should be hidden from the world, or that it should not be
generally known, that the man has proved a villain to me: for this, it
seems, every body but myself expected from his character. But suppose,
as his actions by me are really of a capital nature, it were insisted
upon that I should appear to prosecute him and his accomplices in a court
of justice, how do you think I could bear that?
But since my character, before the capital enormity, was lost in the eye
of the world; and that from the very hour I left my father's house; and
since all my own hopes of worldly happiness are entirely over; let me
slide quietly into my grave; and let it be not remembered, except by one
friendly tear, and no more, dropt from your gentle eye, mine own dear
Anna Howe, on the happy day that shall shut up all my sorrows, that there
was such a creature as
SATURDAY, JULY 8.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
SUNDAY, JULY 9.
May Heaven signalize its vengeance, in the face of all the world, upon
the most abandoned and profligate of men!--And in its own time, I doubt
not but it will.--And we must look to a WORLD BEYOND THIS for the reward
of your sufferings!
Another shocking detection, my dear!--How have you been deluded!--Very
watchful I have thought you; very sagacious:--but, alas! not watchful,
not sagacious enough, for the horrid villain you have had to deal with!
The letter you sent me enclosed as mine, of the 7th of June, is a
* See Vol. V. Letter XXX.
The hand, indeed, is astonishingly like mine; and the cover, I see, is
actually my cover: but yet the letter is not so exactly imitated, but
that, (had you had any suspicions about his vileness at the time,) you,
who so well know my hand, might have detected it.
In short, this vile, forged letter, though a long one, contains but a
few extracts from mine. Mine was a very long one. He has omitted every
thing, I see, in it that could have shown you what a detestable house the
house is; and given you suspicions of the vile Tomlinson.--You will see
this, and how he has turned Miss Lardner's information, and my advices to
you, [execrable villain!] to his own horrid ends, by the rough draught of
the genuine letter, which I shall enclose.*
* See Vol. V. Letter XX.
Apprehensive for both our safeties from the villany of such a daring and
profligate contriver, I must call upon you, my dear, to resolve upon
taking legal vengeance of the infernal wretch. And this not only for our
own sakes, but for the sakes of innocents who otherwise may yet be
deluded and outraged by him.
[She then gives the particulars of the report made by the young fellow
whom she sent to Hampstead with her letter; and who supposed he had
delivered it into her own hand;* and then proceeds:]
* See Vol. VI. Letter VI.
I am astonished, that the vile wretch, who could know nothing of the time
my messenger, (whose honesty I can vouch for) would come, could have a
creature ready to personate you! Strange, that the man should happen to
arrive just as you were gone to church, (as I find was the fact, on
comparing what he says with your hint that you were at church twice that
day,) when he might have got to Mrs. Moore's two hours before!--But had
you told me, my dear, that the villain had found you out, and was about
you!--You should have done that--yet I blame you upon a judgment founded
on the event only!
I never had any faith in the stories that go current among country girls,
of specters, familiars, and demons; yet I see not any other way to
account for this wretch's successful villany, and for his means of
working up his specious delusions, but by supposing, (if he be not the
devil himself,) that he has a familiar constantly at his elbow.
Sometimes it seems to me that this familiar assumes the shape of that
solemn villain Tomlinson: sometimes that of the execrable Sinclair, as he
calls her: sometimes it is permitted to take that of Lady Betty Lawrance
--but, when it would assume the angelic shape and mien of my beloved
friend, see what a bloated figure it made!
'Tis my opinion, my dear, that you will be no longer safe where you are,
than while the V. is in the country. Words are poor!--or how could I
execrate him! I have hardly any doubt that he has sold himself for a
time. Oh! may the time be short!--or may his infernal prompter no more
keep covenant with him than he does with others!
I enclose not only the rough draught of my long letter mentioned above,
but the heads of that which the young fellow thought he delivered into
your own hands at Hampstead. And when you have perused them, I will
leave to you to judge how much reason I had to be surprised that you
wrote me not an answer to either of those letters; one of which you owned
you had received, (though it proved to be his forged one,) the other
delivered into your own hands, as I was assured; and both of them of so
much concern to your honour; and still now much more surprised I must be,
when I received a letter from Mrs. Townsend, dated June 15, from
Hampstead, importing, 'That Mr. Lovelace, who had been with you several
days, had, on the Monday before, brought Lady Betty and his cousin,
richly dressed, and in a coach-and-four, to visit you: who, with your own
consent, had carried you to town with them--to your former lodgings;
where you still were: that the Hampstead women believed you to be
married; and reflected upon me as a fomenter of differences between man
and wife: that he himself was at Hampstead the day before; viz. Wednesday
the 14th; and boasted of his happiness with you; inviting Mrs. Moore,
Mrs. Bevis, and Miss Rawlins, to go to town, to visit his spouse; which
they promised to do: that he declared that you were entirely reconciled
to your former lodgings:--and that, finally, the women at Hampstead told
Mrs. Townsend, that he had very handsomely discharged theirs.'
I own to you, my dear, that I was so much surprised and disgusted at
these appearances against a conduct till then unexceptionable, that I was
resolved to make myself as easy as I could, and wait till you should
think fit to write to me. But I could rein-in my impatience but for a
few days; and on the 20th of June I wrote a sharp letter to you; which I
find you did not receive.
What a fatality, my dear, has appeared in your case, from the very
beginning till this hour! Had my mother permitted----
But can I blame her; when you have a father and mother living, who have
so much to answer for?--So much!--as no father and mother, considering
the child they have driven, persecuted, exposed, renounced, ever had to
But again I must execrate the abandoned villain--yet, as I said before,
all words are poor, and beneath the occasion.
But see we not, in the horrid perjuries and treachery of this man, what
rakes and libertines will do, when they get a young creature into their
power! It is probable that he might have the intolerable presumption to
hope an easier conquest: but, when your unexampled vigilance and exalted
virtue made potions, and rapes, and the utmost violences, necessary to
the attainment of his detestable end, we see that he never boggled at
them. I have no doubt that the same or equal wickedness would be oftener
committed by men of his villanous cast, if the folly and credulity of the
poor inconsiderates who throw themselves into their hands, did not give
them an easier triumph.
With what comfort must those parents reflect upon these things who have
happily disposed of their daughters in marriage to a virtuous man! And
how happy the young women who find themselves safe in a worthy
protection!--If such a person as Miss Clarissa Harlowe could not escape,
who can be secure?--Since, though every rake is not a LOVELACE, neither
is every woman a CLARISSA: and his attempts were but proportioned to your
resistance and vigilance.
My mother has commanded me to let you know her thoughts upon the whole of
your sad story. I will do it in another letter; and send it to you with
this, by a special messenger.
But, for the future, if you approve of it, I will send my letters by the
usual hand, (Collins's,) to be left at the Saracen's Head, on Snow-hill:
whither you may send your's, (as we both used to do, to Wilson's,) except
such as we shall think fit to transmit by the post: which I am afraid,
after my next, must be directed to Mr. Hickman, as before: since my
mother is fixing a condition to our correspondence, which, I doubt, you
will not comply with, though I wish you would. This condition I shall
acquaint you with by-and-by.
Mean time, begging excuse for all the harsh things in my last, of which
your sweet meekness and superior greatness of soul have now made me most
heartily ashamed, I beseech you, my dearest creature, to believe me to be
Your truly sympathising,
and unalterable friend,
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE
MONDAY, JULY 10.
I now, my dearest friend, resume my pen, to obey my mother, in giving you
her opinion upon your unhappy story.
She still harps upon the old string, and will have it that all your
calamities are owing to your first fatal step; for she believes, (what I
cannot,) that your relations had intended after one general trial more,
to comply with your aversion, if they had found it to be as riveted a
one, as, let me say, it was a folly to suppose it would not be found to
be, after so many ridiculously-repeated experiments.
As to your latter sufferings from that vilest of miscreants, she is
unalterably of opinion that if all be as you have related (which she
doubts not) with regard to the potions, and to the violences you have
sustained, you ought by all means to set on foot a prosecution against
him, and against his devilish accomplices.
She asks, What murderers, what ravishers, would be brought to justice, if
modesty were to be a general plea, and allowable, against appearing in a
court to prosecute?
She says, that the good of society requires, that such a beast of prey
should be hunted out of it: and, if you do not prosecute him, she thinks
you will be answerable for all the mischiefs he may do in the course of
his future villanous life.
Will it be thought, Nancy, said she, that Miss Clarissa Harlowe can be in
earnest, when she says, she is not solicitous to have her disgraces
concealed from the world, if she be afraid or ashamed to appear in court,
to do justice to herself and her sex against him? Will it not be rather
surmised, that she may be apprehensive that some weakness, or lurking
love, will appear upon the trial of the strange cause? If, inferred she,
such complicated villany as this (where perjury, potions, forgery,
subornation, are all combined to effect the ruin of an innocent creature,
and to dishonour a family of eminence, and where the very crimes, as may
be supposed, are proofs of her innocence) is to go off with impunity,
what case will deserve to be brought into judgment? or what malefactor
ought to be hanged?
Then she thinks, and so do I, that the vile creatures, his accomplices,
ought, by all means, to be brought to condign punishment, as they must
and will be upon bringing him to trial: and this may be a mean to blow up
and root out a whole nest of vipers, and save many innocent creatures.
She added, that if Miss Clarissa Harlowe could be so indifferent about
having this public justice done upon such a wretch for her own sake, she
ought to overcome her scruples out of regard to her family, her
acquaintance, and her sex, which are all highly injured and scandalized
by his villany to her.
For her own part, she declares, that were she your mother, she would
forgive you upon no other terms: and, upon your compliance with these,
she herself will undertake to reconcile all your family to you.
These, my dear, are my mother's sentiments upon your sad story.
I cannot say but there are reason and justice in them: and it is my
opinion, that it would be very right for the law to oblige an injured
woman to prosecute, and to make seduction on the man's part capital,
where his studied baseness, and no fault in her will, appeared.
To this purpose the custom in the Isle of Man is a very good one----
'If a single woman there prosecutes a single man for a rape, the
ecclesiastical judges impannel a jury; and, if this jury find him guilty,
he is returned guilty to the temporal courts: where if he be convicted,
the deemster, or judge, delivers to the woman a rope, a sword, and a
ring; and she has it in her choice to have him hanged, beheaded, or to
One of the two former, I think, should always be her option.
I long for the particulars of your story. You must have too much time
upon your hands for a mind so active as your's, if tolerable health and
spirits be afforded you.
The villany of the worst of men, and the virtue of the most excellent of
women, I expect will be exemplified in it, were it to be written in the
same connected and particular manner in which you used to write to me.
Try for it, my dearest friend; and since you cannot give the example
without the warning, give both, for the sakes of all those who shall hear
of your unhappy fate; beginning from your's of June 5, your prospects
then not disagreeable. I pity you for the task; though I cannot
willingly exempt you from it.
My mother will have me add, that she must insist upon your prosecuting
the villain. She repeats, that she makes that a condition on which she
permits our future correspondence. Let me therefore know your thoughts
upon it. I asked her, if she would be willing that I should appear to
support you in court, if you complied?--By all means, she said, if that
would induce you to begin with him, and with the horrid women. I think I
could probably attend you, I am sure I could, were there but a
probability of bringing the monster to his deserved end.
Once more your thoughts of it, supposing it were to meet with the
approbation of your relations.
But whatever be your determination on this head, it shall be my constant
prayer, that God will give you patience to bear your heavy afflictions,
as a person ought to do who has not brought them upon herself by a faulty
will: that He will speak peace and comfort to your wounded mind; and give
you many happy years. I am, and ever will be,
Your affectionate and faithful
[The two preceding letters were sent by a special messenger: in the cover
were written the following lines:]
MONDAY, JULY 10.
I cannot, my dearest friend, suffer the enclosed to go unaccompanied by a
few lines, to signify to you that they are both less tender in some
places than I would have written, had they not been to pass my mother's
inspection. The principal reason, however, of my writing thus separately
is, to beg of you to permit me to send you money and necessaries, which
you must needs want; and that you will let me know, if either I, or any
body I can influence, can be of service to you. I am excessively
apprehensive that you are not enough out of the villain's reach where you
are. Yet London, I am persuaded, is the place, of all others, to be
I could tear my hair for vexation, that I have it not in my power to
afford you personal protection!--I am
Your ever devoted
Once more forgive me, my dearest creature, for my barbarous taunting in
mine of the 5th! Yet I can hardly forgive myself. I to be so cruel, yet
to know you so well!--Whence, whence, had I this vile impatiency of
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE
TUESDAY, JULY 11.
Forgive you, my dear!--Most cordially do I forgive you--Will you forgive
me for some sharp things I wrote in return to your's of the 5th? You
could not have loved me as you do, nor had the concern you have always
shown for my honour, if you had not been utterly displeased with me, on
the appearance which my conduct wore to you when you wrote that letter.
I most heartily thank you, my best and only love, for the opportunity you
gave me of clearing it up; and for being generously ready to acquit me of
intentional blame, the moment you had read my melancholy narrative.
As you are so earnest to have all the particulars of my sad story before
you, I will, if life and spirits be lent me, give you an ample account of
all that has befallen me, from the time you mention. But this, it is
very probable, you will not see, till after the close of my last scene:
and as I shall write with a view to that, I hope no other voucher will be
wanted for the veracity of the writer, be who will the reader.
I am far from thinking myself out of the reach of this man's further
violence. But what can I do? Whither can I fly?--Perhaps my bad state
of health (which must grow worse, as recollection of the past evils, and
reflections upon them, grow heavier and heavier upon me) may be my
protection. Once, indeed, I thought of going abroad; and, had I the
prospect of many years before me, I would go.--But, my dear, the blow is
given.--Nor have you reason now, circumstanced as I am, to be concerned
that it is. What a heart must I have, if it be not broken--and indeed,
my dear friend, I do so earnestly wish for the last closing scene, and
with so much comfort find myself in a declining way, that I even
sometimes ungratefully regret that naturally-healthy constitution, which
used to double upon me all my enjoyments.
As to the earnestly-recommended prosecution, I may possibly touch upon it
more largely hereafter, if ever I shall have better spirits; for they are
at present extremely sunk and low. But just now, I will only say, that I
would sooner suffer every evil (the repetition of the capital one
excepted) than appear publicly in a court to do myself justice.* And I
am heartily grieved that your mother prescribes such a measure as the
condition of our future correspondence: for the continuance of your
friendship, my dear, and the desire I had to correspond with you to my
life's end, were all my remaining hopes and consolation. Nevertheless,
as that friendship is in the power of the heart, not of the hand only, I
hope I shall not forfeit that.
Back to Full Books