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!
One more kiss, my Angel, my Friend, my ever-to-be-regretted, lost Companion! And let me fly this hated house, which I never loved but for thy sake!—Adieu then, my dearest CLARISSA!—Thou art happy, I doubt not, as thou assuredst me in thy last letter!—O may we meet, and rejoice together, where no villanous Lovelaces, no hard-hearted relations, will ever shock our innocence, or ruffle our felicity!
Again she was silent, unable to go, though seeming to intend it: struggling, as it were, with her grief, and heaving with anguish. At last, happily, a flood of tears gushed from her eyes—Now!—Now!—said she, shall I—shall I—be easier. But for this kindly relief, my heart would have burst asunder—more, many more tears than these are due to my CLARISSA, whose counsel has done for me what mine could not do for her!— But why, looking earnestly upon her, her hands clasped and lifted up—But why do I thus lament the HAPPY? And that thou art so, is my comfort. It is, it is, my dear creature! kissing her again.
Excuse me, Sir, [turning to me, who was as much moved as herself,] I loved the dear creature, as never woman loved another. Excuse my frantic grief. How has the glory of her sex fallen a victim to villany and to hard-heartedness!
Madam, said I, they all have it!—Now indeed they have it—
And let them have it;—I should belie my love for the friend of my heart, were I to pity them!—But how unhappy am I [looking upon her] that I saw her not before these eyes were shut, before these lips were for ever closed!—O Sir, you know not the wisdom that continually flowed from these lips when she spoke!—Nor what a friend I have lost!
Then surveying the lid, she seemed to take in at once the meaning of the emblems; and this gave her so much fresh grief, that though she several times wipes her eyes, she was unable to read the inscription and texts; turning, therefore, to me, Favour me, Sir, I pray you, by a line, with the description of these emblems, and with these texts; and if I might be allowed a lock of the dear creature’s hair——
I told her that her executor would order both; and would also send her a copy of her last will; in which she would find the most grateful remembrances of her love for her, whom she calls the sister of her heart.
Justly, said she, does she call me so; for we had but one heart, but one soul, between us; and now my better half is torn from me—What shall I do?
And here I will put an end to this letter, for indeed, Sir, the very recollection of this affecting scene has left me nearly as unable to proceed…