Having so good a copy to imitate, I wrote (L240.)

The lady gave Will’s sweetheart a letter last night to be carried to the post-house, as this morning, directed for Miss Howe, under cover to Hickman. I dare say neither cover nor letter will be seen to have been opened. The contents but eight lines—To own—’The receipt of her double-dated letter in safety; and referring to a longer letter, which she intends to write, when she shall have a quieter heart, and less trembling fingers. But mentions something to have happened [My detecting her she means] which has given her very great flutters, confusions, and apprehensions: but which she will wait the issue of [Some hopes for me hence, Jack!] before she gives her fresh perturbation or concern on her account.—She tells her how impatient she shall be for her next,’ &c.
Now, Belford, I thought it would be but kind in me to save Miss Howe’s concern on these alarming hints; since the curiosity of such a spirit must have been prodigiously excited by them. Having therefore so good a copy to imitate, I wrote; and, taking out that of my beloved, put under the same cover the following short billet; inscriptive and conclusive parts of it in her own words.

[LETTER 240.1 ‘Clarissa Harlowe’ to Anna Howe]

A few lines only, till calmer spirits and quieter fingers be granted me, and till I can get over the shock which your intelligence has given me— to acquaint you—that your kind long letter of Wednesday, and, as I may say, of Thursday morning, is come safe to my hands. On receipt of your’s by my messenger to you, I sent for it from Wilson’s. There, thank heaven! it lay. May that Heaven reward you for all your past, and for all your intended goodness to […]
I took great pains in writing this. It cannot, I hope, be suspected. Her hand is so very delicate. Yet her’s is written less beautifully than she usually writes: and I hope Miss Howe will allow somewhat for hurry of spirits, and >unsteady fingers.
My consideration for Miss Howe’s ease of mind extended still farther than to the instance I have mentioned.
That this billet might be with her as soon as possible, (and before it could have reached Hickman by the post,) I dispatched it away by a servant of Mowbray’s. Miss Howe, had there been any failure or delay, might, as thou wilt think, have communicated her anxieties to her fugitive friend; and she to me perhaps in a way I should not have been pleased with.
Once more wilt thou wonderingly question—All this pains for a single girl?
Yes, Jack—But is not this girl a CLARISSA?—And who knows, but kind fortune, as a reward for my perseverance, may toss me in her charming friend? Less likely things have come to pass, Belford. And to be sure I shall have her, if I resolve upon it.

8 thoughts on “Having so good a copy to imitate, I wrote (L240.)

  1. Kendra

    This letter was interesting because Lovelace speaks for Belford and asks the question that all modern readers may find themselves asking at this point "All this pains for a single girl?" While we've been aware that he thinks of Clarissa as a non-human being (an angel) he points out that Clarissa is not just any girl, she is a "CLARISSA." Why do you think that in addition to his pursuit of Clarissa as a sort of prey he is now entertaining the thought of having Anna as well? Is he attracted to Anna's spirit or has Anna become a bonus prize?

  2. anthony o'keeffe

    I think he's certainly attracted by Anna's spiritedness, but equally by what he would find as a double "triumph" (as, after all, the rakiest of rakes–a phrase I'll never forget from this class). We get a good look in this letter at his own sense of the two things that delight him most: the creation of schemes made possible by his talents (here writing in Clarissa's own hand–a good forger–in order to deceive Anna), and the enjoyment of power itself when scheming fails ("to be sure I shall have her [Anna] if I resolve upon it").

  3. Meghan Hancock

    I agree that Lovelace is attracted to the prospect of a "double triumph" if he were to succeed with Anna. I think it also has to do with the fact that Lovelace knows how much Anna distrusts and dislikes him because he's read her letters to Clarissa. It makes sense that this might egg him on. The idea of triumphing over Anna (someone he not only refers to as "charming" but who would resist him more adamantly even than Clarissa) is a very tempting prospect for him. Anna would be more of a challenge.

  4. Keri Mathis

    I, too, am drawn to this idea of the “double triumph,” and I think that we can also consider this phrase when analyzing Lovelace's first interception of Anna's letter in Letter 229.

    What also interests me in this letter, and it is something you touch on briefly, Tony, is Lovelace's forgery of the letter. Again, in Letter 229, we saw Lovelace drawing out an alphabet of Anna's letterforms, and here we have Lovelace forging Clarissa's handwriting. Lovelace writes, “I took great pains in writing this. It cannot, I hope, be suspected. Her hand is so very delicate. Yet her's is written less beautifully than she usually writes: and I hope Miss Howe will allow somewhat for hurry of spirits, and unsteady fingers.” In imitating Clarissa's hand, Lovelace assumes a type of power and control over Clarissa that we have yet to see. He can write like her, thus he can become her.

    It will come as no surprise that I am so attracted to these moments where the act of handwriting is mentioned, and I noted this in a previous comment, but I keep thinking about the intimacy of letterwriting and how Lovelace's intrusion in this act of letterwriting between these women seems so invasive and highlights how threatening he really has become. Because letterwriting is such an intimate practice, I feel that this level of Lovelace's performance, though not really physically dangerous, does further intensify how dangerous Lovelace truly is.

  5. Rachel Gramer

    Keri–just channeling some of your comments when I'm looking at these letters now, has me thinking about the materiality of the hand-writing, too!

    Even just the all caps CLARISSA.

    And now that he's mimicking her hand, and Anna's, he's taken so much power from them both. He is literally writing them into existence in ways that will be perceived and acted upon by the other, writing himself into their confidence, shaping and creating their correspondence.

    It is disturbing and violent in a way that I cannot fully articulate for myself, much less for the class blog.

    And it only becomes worse when he adds his own reflections to Belford, in which he writes Clarissa out of being a real person or an angel, and just makes her an ALL CAPS vessel to hold his vengeance and his violence, filling the narrative with so much horrific anticipation of what we assume is to come.

  6. Kendra

    So we all seem to agree that this letter signifies how Lovelace is even more dangerous than we thought because he now writing Clarissa into being. As Rachel said “He is literally writing them into existence in ways that will be perceived and acted upon by the other, writing himself into their confidence, shaping and creating their correspondence.” Also of note is Tony's idea of the “double triumph” — Lovelace's being attracted to Anna as well due to her spirit. After all Anna would probably be more of a challenge than Clarissa but for now his focus is on Clarissa.

  7. Steve

    I like the idea of the “double triumph,” not less because I just read through all the comments on the previous letter about Lovelace's desire to conquer Clarissa precisely because she is the most challenging target in his field of vision. There's something here in the way both Clarissa and Anna are challenging, but in different ways. Where the challenge Clarissa presents is innocence and virtue, the challenge Anna presents is a worldliness that understands Lovelace in ways he'd rather obscure and a consequent outright hatred of him.

  8. Megan

    Thinking through the possibilities that come about when Lovelace starts imitating Anna and Clarissa's handwriting is frustrating and scary enough, but the strife it causes for their friendship, even if only for a bit, is even worse! The only thing that causes Anna to stumble in her devotedness to Clarissa is when she thinks that Clarissa has stopped writing and stopped caring about the contents of her letters. Because Lovelace is not only intercepting letters (this could have been a big hint to the women that something was wrong) but imitating their handwriting and continuing to write, Clarissa and Anna do not see what exactly is going on. They are duped by Lovelace into thinking their exchange of letters is going normally when that exchange is, in fact, being violated.

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