After my last, so full of other hopes, the contents of this will surprise you. Oh my dearest friend, the man has at last proved himself to be a villain! It was with the utmost difficulty last night, that I preserved myself from the vilest dishonour. He extorted from me a promise of forgiveness, and that I would see him next day, as if nothing had happened: but if it were possible to escape from a wretch, who, as I have too much reason to believe, formed a plot to fire the house, to frighten me, almost naked, into his arms, how could I see him next day? Continue reading
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. Continue reading
I thought it was now high time to turn my whole mind to my beloved; who had had full leisure to weigh the contents of the letters I had left with her.
I therefore requested Mrs. Moore to step in, and desire to know whether she would be pleased to admit me to attend her in her apartment, on occasion of the letters I had left with her; or whether she would favour me with her company in the dining-room?
Mrs. Moore desired Miss Rawlins to accompany her in to the lady. They tapped at the door, and were both admitted.
I cannot but stop here for one minute to remark, though against myself, upon that security which innocence gives, that nevertheless had better have in it a greater mixture of the serpent with the dove. For here, heedless of all I could say behind her back, because she was satisfied with her own worthiness, she permitted me to go on with my own story, without interruption, to persons as great strangers to her as me; and who, as strangers to both, might be supposed to lean to the side most injured; and that, as I managed it, was to mine. A dear, silly soul, thought I, at the time, to depend upon the goodness of her own heart, when the heart cannot be seen into but by its actions; and she, to appearance, a runaway, an eloper, from a tender, a most indulgent husband!—To neglect to cultivate the opinion of individuals, when the whole world is governed by appearance!
Yet what can be expected of an angel under twenty?—She has a world of knowledge:—knowledge speculative, as I may say, but no experience.—How should she?—Knowledge by theory only is a vague, uncertain light: a Will o’ the Wisp, which as often misleads the doubting mind, as puts it right. Continue reading
Io Triumphe!—Io Clarissa, sing!—Once more, what a happy man thy friend!—A silly dear novice, to be heard to tell the coachman where to carry her!—And to go to Hampstead, of all the villages about London!— The place where we had been together more than once! Continue reading
A letter is put into my hands by Wilson himself.—Such a letter!
A letter from Miss Howe to her cruel friend!—
I made no scruple to open it.
It is a miracle that I fell not into fits at the reading of it; and at the thought of what might have been the consequence, had it come into the hands of this Clarissa Harlowe. Let my justly-excited rage excuse my irreverence. […]
Oh this devilish Miss Howe;—something must be resolved upon and done with that little fury! […]
Thou wilt see the margin of this cursed letter crowded with indices [>>>]. I put them to mark the places which call for vengeance upon the vixen writer, or which require animadversion. Return thou it to me the moment thou hast perused it.
Read it here; and avoid trembling for me, if thou canst. Continue reading
O for a curse to kill with!—Ruined! Undone! Outwitted, tricked!—Zounds, man, the lady has gone off!—Absolutely gone off! Escaped!—
Thou knowest not, nor canst conceive, the pangs that wring my heart!— What can I do!—Oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord!
And thou, too, who hast endeavoured to weaken my hands, wilt but clap thy dragon’s wings at the tidings!
Yet I must write, or I shall go distracted! […] Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Faith, Jack, thou hadst half undone me with thy nonsense, though I would not own it on my yesterday’s letter: my conscience of thy party before.— But I think I am my own man again.
So near to execution my plot; so near springing my mine; all agreed upon between the women and me; or I believe thou hadst overthrown me.I have time for a few lines preparative to what is to happen in an hour or two; and I love to write to the moment. We have been extremely happy. How many agreeable days have we known together!—What may the next two hours produce.When I parted with my charmer, (which I did, with infinite reluctance, half an hour ago,) it was upon her promise that she would not sit up to write or read. For so engaging was the conversation to me, (and indeed my behaviour throughout the whole of it was confessedly agreeable to her,) that I insisted, if she did not directly retire to rest, that she should add another happy hour to the former.
To have sat up writing or reading half the night, as she sometimes does, would have frustrated my view, as thou wilt observe, when my little plot unravels. […]
What—What—What now!—Bounding villain! wouldst thou choke me?—
I was speaking to my heart, Jack!—It was then at my throat.—And what is all this for?—These shy women, how, when a man thinks himself near the mark, do they tempest him! […] Continue reading
Unsuccessful as hitherto my application to you has been, I cannot for the heart of me forbear writing once more in behalf of this admirable woman: and yet am unable to account for the zeal which impels me to take her part with an earnestness so sincere.
But all her merit thou acknowledgest; all thy own vileness thou confessest, and even gloriest in it: What hope then of moving so hardened a man?—Yet, as it is not too late, and thou art nevertheless upon the crisis, I am resolved to try what another letter will do. It is but my writing in vain, if it do no good; and if thou wilt let me prevail, I know thou wilt hereafter think me richly entitled to thy thanks.
To argue with thee would be folly. The case cannot require it. I will only entreat thee, therefore, that thou wilt not let such an excellence lose the reward of her vigilant virtue.
I believe there never were libertines so vile, but purposed, at some future period of their lives, to set about reforming: and let me beg of thee, that thou wilt, in this great article, make thy future repentance as easy, as some time hence thou wilt wish thou hadst made it. If thou proceedest, I have no doubt that this affair will end tragically, one way or another. It must. Such a woman must interest both gods and men in her cause. But what I most apprehend is, that with her own hand, in resentment of the perpetrated outrage, she (like another Lucretia) will assert the purity of her heart: or, if her piety preserve her from this violence, that wasting grief will soon put a period to her days. And, in either case, will not the remembrance of thy ever-duringguilt, and transitory triumph, be a torment of torments to thee?
‘Tis a seriously sad thing, after all, that so fine a creature should have fallen into such vile and remorseless hands: for, from thy cradle, as I have heard thee own, thou ever delightedst to sport with and torment the animal, whether bird or beast, that thou lovedst, and hadst a power over.
How different is the case of this fine woman from that of any other whom thou hast seduced!—I need not mention to thee, nor insist upon the striking difference: justice, gratitude, thy interest, thy vows, all engaging thee; and thou certainly loving her, as far as thou art capable of love, above all her sex. She not to be drawn aside by art, or to be made to suffer from credulity, nor for want of wit and discernment, (that will be another cutting reflection to so fine a mind as her’s): the contention between you only unequal, as it is between naked innocence and armed guilt. In every thing else, as thou ownest, her talents greatly superior to thine!—What a fate will her’s be, if thou art not at last overcome by thy reiterated remorses! […]
One instance only of this shall I remind thee of. Continue reading
I have a letter from Lord M. Such a one as I would wish for, if I intended matrimony. But as matters are circumstanced, I cannot think of showing it to my beloved.
My Lord regrets, ‘that he is not to be the Lady’s nuptial father. He seems apprehensive that I have still, specious as my reasons are, some mischief in my head.’
He graciously consents, ‘that I may marry when I please; and offers one or both of my cousins to assist my bride, and to support her spirits on the occasion; since, as he understands, she is so much afraid to venture with me.
‘Pritchard, he tells me, has his final orders to draw up deeds for assigning over to me, in perpetuity, £1000 per annum: which he will execute the same hour that the lady in person owns her marriage.’
He consents, ‘that the jointure be made from my own estate.’
He wishes, ‘that the Lady would have accepted of his draught; and commends me for tendering it to her. But reproaches me for my pride in not keeping it myself. What the right side gives up, the left, he says, may be the better for.‘
The girls, he means.
With all my heart. If I can have Miss Clarissa Harlowe, the devil take every thing else. Continue reading