Clarissa worries about the “sick” Lovelace (L212)

Mr. Lovelace, my dear, has been very ill. Suddenly taken. With a vomiting of blood in great quantities. Some vessel broken. He complained of a disorder in his stomach over night. I was the affected with it, as I am afraid it was occasioned by the violent contentions between us—But was I in fault?
How lately did I think I hated him!—But hatred and anger, I see, are but temporary passions with me. One cannot, my dear, hate people in danger of death, or who are in distress or affliction. My heart, I find, is not proof against kindness, and acknowledgements of errors committed.
He took great care to have his illness concealed from me as long as he could. So tender in the violence of his disorder!—So desirous to make the best of it!—I wish he had not been ill in my sight. I was too much affected—every body alarming me with his danger. The poor man, from such high health, so suddenly taken!—And so unprepared!—
He is gone out in a chair. I advised him to do so. I fear that my advice was wrong; since quiet in such a disorder must needs be best. We are apt to be so ready, in cases of emergency, to give our advice, without judgment, or waiting for it!—I proposed a physician indeed; but he would not hear of one. I have great honour for the faculty; and the greater, as I have always observed that those who treat the professors of the art of healing contemptuously, too generally treat higher institutions in the same manner.
I am really very uneasy. For I have, I doubt, exposed myself to him, and to the women below. They indeed will excuse me, as they think us married. But if he be not generous, I shall have cause to regret this surprise; which (as I had reason to think myself unaccountably treated by him) has taught me more than I knew of myself. 
Nevertheless, let me tell you (what I hope I may justly tell you,) that if again he give me cause to resume distance and reserve, I hope my reason will gather strength enough from his imperfections (for Mr Lovelace, my dear, is not a wise man in all his ways) to enable me to keep my passions under—What can we do more than govern ourselves by the temporary lights lent us?
You will not wonder that I am grave on this detection—Detection, must I call it? What can I call it?— I have not had heart’s ease enough to inspect that heart as I ought.
Dissatisfied with myself, I am afraid to look back upon what I have written. And yet know not how to have done writing. I never was in such an odd frame of mind.—I know not how to describe it.—Was you ever so?— Afraid of the censure of her I love—Yet not conscious that I deserve it.
Of this, however, I am convinced, that I should indeed deserve censure if I kept any secret of my heart from you.

6 thoughts on “Clarissa worries about the “sick” Lovelace (L212)

  1. Kendra

    We find in this letter that Clarissa is beginning to question and be wary of her own feelings regarding Lovelace. She is confused about what she is doing and knows that her affection for him has now been detected by the other women and Lovelace himself. For the first time we really see Clarissa actually questioning herself and she tells Anna that she "was never in such an odd frame of mind." Thinking about the articles we’ve read on writing the self, how does this letter inform readers of how Clarissa is writing herself into being?

  2. Debra

    I think here we do see Clarissa's complicated feelings about Lovelace. But she is also very concerned about her reputation with the women downstairs. Richardson knows we understand the ironies here.

  3. Keri Mathis

    I was also attracted to this last section included here where Clarissa comments on the fact that she does not want to look back upon her writing in the letter. Does the fact that she did not revisit the letter make it more genuine? More real? And if so, does that more accurately reveal her "real" or essential self? As you both noted here, Clarissa certainly recognizes her confusion about Lovelace, and I think that very confusion is what deters her from rereading the letter.

  4. Steve

    I think so too, Keri. And I think I might be grasping at straws, but there seems to me a thread in the last three letters here (200, 207, and 212), that gets at Clarissa's anxiety about not knowing her own mind — and to some extent here an admission that she doesn't necessarily want to.

  5. Meghan Hancock

    I'm glad you chose this section, Kendra–I marked it too. Clarissa seems more aware of what her writing is doing for her than I remember her being in the past. Usually, when Clarissa is worried about what she has written to Anna, it is only out of concern that Anna will somehow judge her or tell her what she has done was wrong. Here, though, Clarissa seems worried because, in the process of writing this letter, she is slowly realizing her feelings for Lovelace, as you stated. In other words, she is concerned not only out of fear of Anna's "censure," but also out of fear that her writing has caused her to discovered something about herself. Would she be realizing such things about herself if she didn't have the opportunity to write about them in her letters to Anna?

  6. Kendra

    For this letter, we all acknowledge that Clarissa is becoming aware of her rather complicated feelings for Lovelace and that there is irony in her worry about her reputation with the women downstairs. Keri also points out to us that this letter has Clarissa commenting "on the fact that she does not want to look back upon her writing in the letter." Steve agrees and also notes the occurring thread in Clarissa's last three letters in which she is experiencing anxiety at not knowing her own mind — nor does she necessarily want to.

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