Tag Archives: narrative

The Conclusion

What remains to be mentioned for the satisfaction of such of the readers as may be presumed to have interested themselves in the fortunes of those other principals in the story, who survived Mr. Lovelace, will be found summarily related as follows:
Temporary alleviation, we repeat, as to the Harlowe family; for THEY were far from being happy or easy in their reflections upon their own conduct.
Happier scenes open for the remaining characters…
Mr. BELFORD was not so destitute of humanity and affection, as to be unconcerned at the unhappy fate of his most intimate friend. But when he reflects upon the untimely ends of several of his companions, but just mentioned in the preceding history—On the shocking despondency and death of his poor friend Belton—On the signal justice which overtook the wicked Tomlinson—On the dreadful exit of the infamous Sinclair—On the deep remorses of his more valued friend—And, on the other hand, on the example set him by the most excellent of her sex—and on her blessed preparation, and happy departure—And when he considers, as he often does with awe and terror, that his wicked habits were so rooted in his depraved heart, that all these warnings, and this lovely example, seemed to be but necessary to enable him to subdue them, and to reform; and that such awakening-calls are hardly ever afforded to men of his cast, or (if they are) but seldom attended the full vigour of constitution:—When he reflects upon all these things, he adores the Mercy, which through these calls has snatched him as a brand out of the fire: and thinks himself obliged to make it his endeavours to find out, and to reform, any of those who may have been endangered by his means; as well as to repair, to the utmost of his power, any damage or mischiefs which he may have occasioned to others.

Lovelace’s last words (L537)

I have melancholy news to inform you of, by order of the Chevalier Lovelace…
They parried with equal judgment several passes. My chevalier drew the first blood, making a desperate push, which, by a sudden turn of his antagonist, missed going clear through him, and wounded him on the fleshy part of the ribs of his right side; which part the sword tore out, being on the extremity of the body; but, before my chevalier could recover himself, the Colonel, in return, pushed him into the inside of the left arm, near the shoulder; and the sword (raking his breast as it passed,) being followed by a great effusion of blood, the Colonel said, Sir, I believe you have enough.
My chevalier swore by G—d he was not hurt; ’twas a pin’s point; and so made another pass at his antagonist; which he, with a surprising dexterity, received under his arm, and run my dear chevalier into the body; who immediately fell; saying, The luck is yours, Sir—O my beloved Clarissa!—Now art thou—inwardly he spoke three or four words more. His sword dropt from his hand. Mr. Morden threw his down, and ran to him, saying in French—Ah, Monsieur! you are a dead man!——Call to God for mercy!
The surgeons told him that my chevalier could not live over the day.
When the Colonel took leave of him, Mr. Lovelace said, You have well revenged the dear creature.
I have, Sir, said Mr. Morden; and perhaps shall be sorry that you called upon me to this work, while I was balancing whether to obey, or disobey, the dear angel.
There is a fate in it! replied my chevalier—a cursed fate!—or this could not have been!—But be ye all witnesses, that I have provoked my destiny, and acknowledge that I fall by a man of honour.

I am, and shall be, to my latest hour, the most miserable of beings. (L535)

Indeed, indeed, Belford, I am, and shall be, to my latest hour, the most miserable of beings. Such exalted generosity!. . . . Nothing but my cursed devices stood in the way of my happiness. Remembrest thou not how repeatedly, from the first, I poured cold water upon her rising flame, by meanly and ungratefully turning upon her the injunctions, which virgin delicacy, and filial duty, induced her to lay me under before I got her into my power.Did she not tell me, and did I not know it, if she had not told me, that she could not be guilty of affectation or tyranny to the man whom she intended to marry?. I knew, as she once upbraided me, that from the time I had got her from her father’s house, I had a plain path before me..True did she say, and I triumphed in the discovery, that from that time I held her soul in suspense an hundred times. My ipecacuanha trial alone was enough to convince an infidel that she had a mind in which love and tenderness would have presided, had I permitted the charming buds to put forth and blow.She would have had no reserve, as once she told me, had I given her cause of doubt.. And did she not own to thee, that once she could have loved me; and, could she have made me good, would have made me happy? O, Belford! here was love; a love of the noblest kind! A love, as she hints in her posthumous letter,. that extended to the soul; and which she not only avowed in her dying hours, but contrived to let me know it after death, in that letter filled with warnings and exhortations, which had for their sole end my eternal welfare!

Anna’s letter as eulogy & beyond (L529)

I am incapable of doing justice to the character of my beloved friend; and that not only from want of talents, but from grief; which, I think, rather increases than diminishes by time; and which will not let me sit down to a task that requires so much thought, and a greater degree of accuracy than I ever believed myself mistress of. And yet I so well approve of your motion, that I will throw into your hands a few materials, that may serve by way of supplement, as I may say, to those you will be able to collect from the papers themselves… She was a wonderful creature from her infancy: but I suppose you intend to give a character of her at those years when she was qualified to be an example to other young ladies, rather than a history of her life.
You may, if you touch upon this subject, throw in these sentences of her, spoken at different times, and on different occasions:
‘Who can be better, or more worthy, than they should be? And, who shall be proud of talents they give not to themselves?’
‘The darkest and most contemptible ignorance is that of not knowing one’s self; and that all we have, and all we excel in, is the gift of God.’
‘There is but one pride pardonable; that of being above doing a base or dishonourable action.’ Continue reading

The last will and testament of Clarissa Harlowe (L507)

I, CLARISSA HARLOWE, now, by strange melancholy accidents, lodging in the parish of St. Paul, Covent-garden, being of sound and perfect mind and memory, as I hope these presents, drawn up by myself, and written with my own hand, will testify, do, [this second day of September,*] in the year of our Lord ——,** make and publish this my last will and testament, in manner and form following:
In the first place, I desire that my body may lie unburied three days after my decease, or till the pleasure of my father be known concerning it. But the occasion of my death not admitting of doubt, I will not, on any account that it be opened; and it is my desire, that it shall not be touched but by those of my own sex.
I have already given verbal directions, that, after I am dead, (and laid out in the manner I have ordered,) I may be put into my coffin as soon as possible: it is my desire, that I may not be unnecessarily exposed to the view of anybody; except any of my relations should vouchsafe, for the last time, to look upon me.
And I could wish, if it might be avoided without making ill will between Mr. Lovelace and my executor, that the former might not be permitted to see my corpse. But if, as he is a man very uncontrollable, and as I am nobody’s, he insist upon viewing her dead, whom he ONCE before saw in a manner dead, let his gay curiosity be gratified. Let him behold, and triumph over the wretched remains of one who has been made a victim to his barbarous perfidy: but let some good person, as by my desire, give him a paper, whist he is viewing the ghastly spectacle, containing these few words only,—’Gay, cruel heart! behold here the remains of the once ruined, yet now happy, Clarissa Harlowe!—See what thou thyself must quickly be;—and REPENT!—’
Yet, to show that I die in perfect charity with all the world, I do most sincerely forgive Mr. Lovelace the wrongs he has done me. Continue reading

Anna’s farewell to Clarissa’s body (L502)

I think you told me, Sir, you never saw Miss Howe. She is a fine, graceful young lady. A fixed melancholy on her whole aspect, overclouded a vivacity and fire, which, nevertheless, darted now-and-then through the awful gloom. I shall ever respect her for her love to my dear cousin.
Never did I think, said she, as she gave me her hand, to enter more these doors: but, living or dead, Clarissa brings me after her anywhere!
She entered with me the little parlour; and seeing the coffin, withdrew her hand from mine, and with impatience pushed aside the lid. As impatiently she removed the face-cloth. In a wild air, she clasped her uplifted hands together; and now looked upon the corpse, now up to Heaven, as if appealing to that. Her bosom heaved and fluttered discernible through her handkerchief, and at last she broke silence:—O Sir!—See you not here!—the glory of her sex?—Thus by the most villanous of yours—thus—laid low!
O my blessed Friend!—said she—My sweet Companion!—My lovely Monitress! —kissing her lips at every tender appellation. And is this all!—Is it all of my CLARISSA’S story!
Then, after a short pause, and a profound sigh, she turned to me, and then to her breathless friend. But is she, can she be, really dead!—O no!—She only sleeps.—Awake, my beloved Friend! My sweet clay-cold Friend, awake: let thy Anna Howe revive thee; by her warm breath revive thee, my dear creature! And, kissing her again, Let my warm lips animate thy cold ones!
Then, sighing again, as from the bottom of her heart, and with an air, as if disappointed that she answered not, And can such perfection end thus! —And art thou really and indeed flown from thine Anna Howe!—O my unkind CLARISSA!
She was silent a few moments, and then, seeming to recover herself, she turned to me—Forgive, forgive, Mr. Morden, this wild phrensy!—I am not myself!—I never shall be!—You knew not the excellence, no, not half the excellence, that is thus laid low!—Repeating, This cannot, surely, be all of my CLARISSA’S story! Continue reading

Clarissa’s warning about libertines (L458)

May my story be a warning to all, how they prefer a libertine to a man of true honour; and how they permit themselves to be misled (where they mean the best) by the specious yet foolish hope of subduing riveted habits, and as I may say of altering natures! — The more foolish, as experience might convince us, that there is hardly one in ten of even tolerably happy marriages, in which the wife keeps the hold in the husband‘s affections which she had in the lover‘s. What influence then can she hope to have over the morals of an avowed libertine, who marries perhaps for conveniency, who despises the tie, and whom, it is too probable, nothing but old age, or sickness, or disease (the consequence of ruinous riot) can reclaim?

Belford watches Clarissa sleep (L474)

Mrs Smith, stepping up before us, bid Mrs Lovick and the nurse not stir when we entered: and then we went up softly together.
We beheld the lady in a charming attitude. Dressed, as I told you before, in her virgin white, she was sitting in her elbow-chair, Mrs Lovick close by her in another chair, with her left arm round her neck, supporting it as it were; for it seems the lady had bid her do so, saying she had been a mother to her, and she would delight herself in thinking she was in her mamma’s arms; for she found herself drowsy; perhaps, she said, for the last time she should ever be so.
One faded cheek rested upon the good woman’s bosom, the kindly warmth of which had overspread it with a faint, but charming flush; the other paler, and hollow, as if already iced over by death. Her hands, white as the lily, with her meandering veins more transparently blue than ever I had seen even hers (veins so soon, alas! to be choked up by the congealment of that purpose stream, which already so languidly creeps rather than flows through them!), her hands hanging lifelessly, one before her, the other grasped by the right hand of the kind widow, whose tears bedewed the sweet face which her motherly bosom supported, though unfelt by the fair sleeper; and either insensibly to the good woman, or what she would not disturb her to wipe off, or to change her posture. Her aspect was sweetly calm and serene: and though she started now and then, yet her sleep seemed easy; her breath indeed short and quick; but tolerably free, and not like that of a dying person.

Belford learns about Clarissa’s “lie” (L440)

I believe I looked surprised to hear her confess that her letter was a stratagem only; for she said, You wonder, Mr Belford, I observe, that I could be guilty of such an artifice. I doubt it is not right. But how could I see a man who had so mortally injured me; yet, pretending sorrow for his crimes, and wanting to see me, could behave with so much shocking levity as he did to the honest people of the house? Yet, ’tis strange, too, that neither you nor he found out my meaning on perusal of my letter. You have seen what I wrote, no doubt?
I read it to myself — Indeed, madam, I can find nothing but that you are going down to Harlowe Place to be reconciled to your father and other friends: and Mr Lovelace presumed that a letter from your sister, which he saw brought when he was at Mr Smith’s, gave you the welcome news of it.
She then explained all to me, and that, as I may say, in six words — A religious meaning is couched under it, and that’s the reason that neither you nor I could find it out. Continue reading

Lovelace reinterprets his dream about the ceiling and the floor (L421)

I shall now be convinced that there is something in dreams. The ceiling opening is the reconciliation in view. The bright form, lifting her up through it to another ceiling stuck round with golden Cherubims and Seraphims, indicates the charming little boys and girls that will be the fruits of this happy reconciliation. The welcomes, thrice repeated, are those of her family, now no more to be deemed implacable. Yet are they a family too, that my soul cannot mingle with.
But then what is my tumbling over and over, through the floor, into a frightful hole (descending as she ascends)? Ho! only this; it alludes to my disrelish to matrimony: which is a bottomless pit, a gulf, and I know not what. And I suppose, had I not awoke (in such a plaguy fright) I had been soused into some river at the bottom of the hole, and then been carried (mundified or purified from my past iniquities) by the same bright form (waiting for me upon the mossy banks) to my beloved girl; and we should have gone on, cherubiming of it, and carolling, to the end of the chapter. Continue reading