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.
In the first place, I give and bequeath all the real estates in or to which I have any claim or title by the said will, to my ever-honoured father, James Harlowe, Esq. and that rather than to my brother and sister, to whom I had once thoughts of devising them, because, if they survive my father, those estates will assuredly vest in them, or one of them, by virtue of his favour and indulgence, as the circumstances of things with regard to marriage-settlements, or otherwise, may require; or, as they may respectively merit by the continuance of their duty.
I bequeath to the worthy Charles Hickman, Esq. the locket, with the miniature picture of the lady he best loves, which I have constantly worn, and shall continue to wear next my heart till the approach of my last hour.* It must be the most acceptable present that can be made him, next to the hand of the dear original. ‘And, O my dear Miss Howe, let it not be long before you permit his claim to the latter—for indeed you know not the value of a virtuous mind in that sex; and how preferable such a mind is to one distinguished by the more dazzling flights of unruly wit; although the latter were to be joined by that specious outward appearance which too—too often attracts the hasty eye, and susceptible heart.’
In the middle drawer of my escritoire, at Harlowe-place, are many letters, and copies of letters, put up according to their dates, which I have written or received in a course of years (ever since I learned to write) from and to my grandfather, my father and mother, my uncles, my brother and sister, on occasional little absences; my late uncle Morden, my cousin Morden; Mrs. Norton, and Miss Howe, and other of my companions and friends, before my confinement at my father’s: as also from the three reverent gentlemen, Dr. Blome, Mr. Arnold, and Mr. Tomkins, now with God, and the very reverend Dr. Lewen, on serious subjects. As these letters exhibit a correspondence that no person of my sex need to be ashamed of, allowing for the time of life when mine were written; and as many excellent things are contained in those written to me; and as Miss Howe, to whom most of them have been communicated, wished formerly to have them, if she survived me: for these reasons, I bequeath them to my said dear friend, Miss Anna Howe; and the rather, as she had for some years past a very considerable share in the correspondence.
Having been pressed by Miss Howe and her mother to collect the particulars of my sad story, and given expectation that I would, in order to do my character justice with all my friends and companions; but not having time before me for the painful task; it has been a pleasure for me to find, by extracts kindly communicated to me by my said executor, that I may safely trust my fame to the justice done me by Mr. Lovelace, in his letters to him my said executor. And as Mr. Belford has engaged to contribute what is in his power towards a compliment to be made of all that relates to my story, and knows my whole mind in this respect; it is my desire, that he will cause two copies to be made of this collection; one to remain with Miss Howe, the other with himself; and that he will show or lend his copy, if required, to my aunt Hervey, for the satisfaction of any of my family; but under such restrictions as the said Mr. Belford shall think fit to impose; that neither any other person’s safety may be endangered, nor his own honour suffer, by the communication.
In the beginning of this tedious writing, I referred to the latter part of it, the naming of the subject of the discourse which I wished might be delivered at my funeral, if permitted to be interred with my ancestors. I think the following will be suitable to my case. I hope the alteration of the words her and she, for him and he, may be allowable.
‘Let not her that is deceived trust in vanity; for vanity
shall be her recompense. She shall be accomplished before
her time; and her branch shall not be green. She shall
shake off her unripe grape as the vine, and shall cut off her
flower as the olive.’*
And now, O my blessed REDEEMER, do I, with a lively faith, humbly lay
hold of thy meritorious death and sufferings; hoping to be washed
clean in thy precious blood from all my sins: in the bare hope of
the happy consequences of which, how light do those sufferings seem
(grievous as they were at the time) which, I confidently trust,
will be a mean, by the grace, to work out for me a more exceeding
and eternal weight of glory!
Signed, sealed, published, and declared, the day and year above-written,
by the said Clarissa Harlowe, as her last will and testament;
contained in seven sheets of paper, all written with her own hand,
and every sheet signed and sealed by herself, in the presence of us,
John Williams, Arthur Bedall, Elizabeth Swanton.
* Job xv. 31, 32, 33.