Tag Archives: IV

Clarissa’s Account of a Violent Quarrel (L185)

Dearest, dearest creature! snatching my hand with fierceness, let me beseech you to be uniformly noble! Civil regards, Madam!—Civil regards! —Can you so expect to narrow and confine such a passion as mine?
Such a passion as yours, Mr. Lovelace, deserves to be narrowed and confined. It is either the passion you do not think it, or I do not. I question whether your mind is capable of being so narrowed and so widened, as is necessary to make it be what I wish it to be. Lift up your hands and your eyes, Sir, in silent wonder, if you please; but what does that wonder express, what does it convince me of, but that we are not born for one another.
By my soul, said he, and grasped my hand with an eagerness that hurt it, we were born for one another: you must be mine—you shall be mine [and put his other hand round me] although my damnation were to be the purchase! 
I was still more terrified—let me leave you, Mr. Lovelace, said I; or do you be gone from me. Is the passion you boast of to be thus shockingly demonstrated?
You must not go, Madam!—You must not leave me in anger—
I will return—I will return—when you can be less violent—less shocking. 
And he let me go.
The man quite frighted me; insomuch, that when I got into my chamber, I found a sudden flow of tears a great relief to me.
In half an hour, he sent a little billet, expressing his concern for the vehemence of his behaviour, and prayed to see me.
I went. Because I could not help myself, I went.

“ADVERSITY is your SHINING time” (L177)

And lastly, to all who will know your story, you will be an excellent example of watchfulness, and of that caution and reserve by which a prudent person, who has been supposed to be a little misled, endeavours to mend her error; and, never once losing sight of her duty, does all in her power to recover the path she has been rather driven out of than chosen to swerve from.
Come, come, my dearest friend, consider but these things; and steadily, without desponding, pursue your earnest purposes to amend what you think has been amiss; and it may not be a misfortune in the end that you have erred; especially as so little of your will was in your error.
And indeed I must say that I use the words misled, and error, and such- like, only in compliment to your own too-ready self-accusations, and to the opinion of one to whom I owe duty: for I think in my conscience, that every part of your conduct is defensible: and that those only are blamable who have no other way to clear themselves but by condemning you.
I expect, however, that such melancholy reflections as drop from your pen but too often will mingle with all your future pleasures, were you to marry Lovelace, and were he to make the best of husbands. Continue reading

Clarissa Responds to Lovelace’s Letter Theft (L176)

And now, my dear, proceeds she, I am more and more convinced, that I am too much in his power to make it prudent to stay with him. And if my friends will but give me hope, I will resolve to abandon him for ever.
O my dear! he is a fierce, a foolish, an insolent creature!—And, in truth, I hardly expect that we can accommodate. How much unhappier am I already with him than my mother ever was with my father after marriage! since (and that without any reason, any pretence in the world for it) he is for breaking my spirit before I am his, and while I am, or ought to be [O my folly, that I am not!] in my own power.
Till I can know whether my friends will give me hope or not, I must do what I never studied to do before in any case; that is, try to keep this difference open: and yet it will make me look little in my own eyes; because I shall mean by it more than I can own. But this is one of the consequences of all engagements, where the minds are unpaired—dispaired, in my case, I must say.

“Traitor Judas!”: Lovelace attempts to steal Anna’s letter (L175)

For here, the letter being unfolded, I could not put it in my bosom without alarming her ears, as my sudden motion did her eyes—Up she flew in a moment: Traitor! Judas! her eyes flashing lightning, and a perturbation in her eager countenance, so charming!—What have you taken up?—and then, what for both my ears I durst not have done to her, she made no scruple to seize the stolen letter, though in my bosom.
What was to be done on so palpable a detection?—I clasped her hand, which had hold of the ravished paper, between mine: O my beloved creature! said I, can you think I have not some curiosity? Is it possible you can be thus for ever employed; and I, loving narrative letter-writing above every other species of writing, and admiring your talent that way, should not (thus upon the dawn of my happiness, as I presume to hope) burn with a desire to be admitted into so sweet a correspondence?
Let go my hand!—stamping with her pretty foot; How dare you, Sir!—At this rate, I see—too plainly I see—And more she could not say: but, gasping, was ready to faint with passion and affright; the devil a bit of her accustomed gentleness to be seen in her charming face, or to be heard in her musical voice. 
Having gone thus far, loth, very loth, was I to lose my prize—once more I got hold of the rumpled-up letter!—Impudent man! were her words: stamping again. For God’s sake, then it was. I let go my prize, lest she should faint away: but had the pleasure first to find my hand within both hers, she trying to open my reluctant fingers. How near was my heart at that moment to my hand, throbbing to my fingers’ ends, to be thus familiarly, although angrily, treated by the charmer of my soul!
When she had got it in her possession, she flew to the door. I threw myself in her way, shut it, and, in the humblest manner, besought her to forgive me. And yet do you think the Harlowe-hearted charmer (notwithstanding the agreeable annunciation I came in with) would forgive me?—No, truly; but pushing me rudely from the door, as if I had been nothing, [yet do I love to try, so innocently to try, her strength too!] she gained that force through passion, which I had lost through fear, out she shot to her own apartment; [thank my stars she could fly no farther!] and as soon as she entered it, in a passion still, she double-locked and double-bolted herself in. This my comfort, on reflection, that, upon a greater offence, it cannot be worse.

“These [tears] mingling with my ink, will blot my paper” (L174)

When you reflect upon my unhappy situation, which is attended with so many indelicate and even shocking circumstances, some of which my pride will not let me think of with patience; all aggravated by the contents of my cousin’s affecting letter; you will not wonder that the vapourishness which has laid hold of my heart should rise to my pen. And yet it would be more kind, more friendly in me, to conceal from you, who take such a generous interest in my concerns, that worst part of my griefs, which communication and complaint cannot relieve.
But to whom can I unbosom myself but to you: when the man who ought to be my protector, as he has brought upon me all my distresses, adds to my apprehensions; when I have not even a servant on whose fidelity I can rely, or to whom I can break my griefs as they arise; and when his bountiful temper and gay heart attach every one to him; and I am but a cipher, to give him significance, and myself pain!—These griefs, therefore, do what I can, will sometimes burst into tears; and these mingling with my ink, will blot my paper. And I know you will not grudge me the temporary relief. Continue reading

“I am in a wilderness of doubt and error” (L173)

I had begun a letter to my cousin; but laid it by, because of the uncertainty of my situation, and expecting every day for several days past to be at a greater certainty. You bid me write to him some time ago, you know. Then it was I began it: for I have great pleasure in obeying you in all I may. So I ought to have; for you are the only friend left me. And, moreover, you generally honour me with your own observance of the advice I take the liberty to offer you: for I pretend to say, I give better advice than I have taken. And so I had need. For, I know not how it comes about, but I am, in my own opinion, a poor lost creature: and yet cannot charge myself with one criminal or faulty inclination. Do you know, my dear, how this can be? 
Yet I can tell you how, I believe—one devious step at setting out!— that must be it:—which pursued, has led me so far out of my path, that I am in a wilderness of doubt and error; and never, never, shall find my way out of it: for, although but one pace awry at first, it has led me hundreds and hundreds of miles out of my path: and the poor estray has not one kind friend, nor has met with one direct passenger, to help her to recover it.
But I, presumptuous creature! must rely so much upon my own knowledge of the right path!—little apprehending that an ignus fatuus with its false fires (and ye I had heard enough of such) would arise to mislead me! And now, in the midst of fens and quagmires, it plays around me, and around me, throwing me back again, whenever I think myself in the right track. But there is one common point, in which all shall meet, err widely as they may. In that I shall be laid quietly down at last: and then will all my calamities be at an end.

Clarissa the “poor feather’d songster” (L170)

I will illustrate what I have said by the simile of a bird new caught. We begin, when boys, with birds; and when grown up, go on to women; and both perhaps, in turn, experience our sportive cruelty.
Hast thou not observed, the charming gradations by which the ensnared volatile has been brought to bear with its new condition? how, at first, refusing all sustenance, it beats and bruises itself against its wires, till it makes its gay plumage fly about, and over-spread its well-secured cage. Now it gets out its head; sticking only at its beautiful shoulders: then, with difficulty, drawing back its head, it gasps for breath, and erectly perched, with meditating eyes, first surveys, and then attempts, its wired canopy. As it gets its pretty head and sides, bites the wires, and pecks at the fingers of its delighted tamer. Till at last, finding its efforts ineffectual, quite tired and breathless, it lays itself down, and pants at the bottom of the cage, seeming to bemoan its cruel fate and forfeited liberty. And after a few days, its struggles to escape still diminishing as it finds it to no purpose to attempt it, its new habitation becomes familiar; and it hops about from perch to perch, resumes its wonted cheerfulness, and every day sings a song to amuse itself and reward its keeper.
Now let me tell thee, that I have known a bird actually starve itself, and die with grief, at its being caught and caged. But never did I meet with a woman who was so silly.—Yet have I heard the dear souls most vehemently threaten their own lives on such an occasion. But it is saying nothing in a woman’s favour, if we do not allow her to have more sense than a bird. And yet we must all own, that it is more difficult to catch a bird than a lady.

Clarissa Meets Lovelace’s Friends (L161)

But indeed, I have seen ladies, of whom I have had a better opinion than I can say I have of Mrs Sinclair, who have allowed gentlemen and themselves too, in greater liberties of this sort, than I have thought consistent with that purity of manners which out to be the distinguishing characteristic of our sex: for what are words but the body and dress of thought? And is not the mind indicted strongly by its outward dress? . . .
It must, indeed, be confessed, that there is, in his whole deportment, a natural dignity, which renders all insolent or imperative demeanour as unnecessary as inexcusable. Then that deceiving sweetness which appears in his smiles, in his accent, in his whole aspect, and address, when he thinks it worth his while to oblige, or endeavour to attract, how does this show that he was born innocent, as I may say; that he was not naturally the cruel, the boisterous, the impetuous creature, which the wicked company he may have fallen into have made him! For he has, besides, as open, and, I think, an honest countenance. Don’t you think so, my dear? On all these specious appearances, have I founded my hopes of seeing him a reformed man. Continue reading

Clarissa in her London lodgings (L155)

At length, my dearest Miss Howe, I am in London, and in my new lodgings. They are neatly furnished, and the situation, for the town, is pleasant.
But I think you must not ask me how I like the old gentlewoman. Yet she seems courteous and obliging.—Her kinswomen just appeared to welcome me at my alighting. They seemed to be genteel young women. But more of their aunt and them, as I shall see more.
Here I was broke in upon by Mr. Lovelace; introducing the widow leading in a kinswoman of her’s to attend me, if I approved of her, till my Hannah should come, or till I had provided myself with some other servant. The widow gave her many good qualities; but said, that she had one great defect; which was, that she could not write, nor read writing; that part of her education having been neglected when she was young; but for discretion, fidelity, obligingness, she was not to be out-done by any body. So commented her likewise for her skill at the needle.
As for her defect, I can easily forgive that. She is very likely and genteel—too genteel indeed, I think, for a servant. But what I like least of all in her, she has a strange sly eye. I never saw such an eye; half-confident, I think. But indeed Mrs. Sinclair herself, (for that is the widow’s name,) has an odd winking eye; and her respectfulness seems too much studied, methinks, for the London ease and freedom. But people can’t help their looks, you know; and after all she is extremely civil and obliging,—and as for the young woman, (Dorcas is her name,) she will not be long with me.