or, The History of a Young Lady

by Samuel Richardson


Letter 475

Mr. Belford
[In continuation]

Soho, Six o’clock, Sept. 7
The lady is still alive. The Colonel having just sent his servant to let me know that she inquired after me about an hour ago, I am dressing to attend her. Joel begs of me to dispatch him back, though but with one line to gratify your present impatience. He expects, he says, to find you at Knightsbridge, let him make what haste he can back; and, if he has not a line or two to pacify you, he is afraid you will pistol him; for he apprehends that you are hardly yourself. I therefore dispatch this, and will have another ready, as soon as I can, with particulars.⁠—But you must have a little patience; for how can I withdraw myself every half hour to write, if I am admitted to the lady’s presence, or if I am with the Colonel?

* * * * *

Smith’s, Eight in the Morning.
The lady is in a slumber. Mrs. Lovick, who sat up with her, says she had a better night than was expected; for although she slept little, she seemed easy; and the easier for the pious frame she was in; all her waking moments being taken up in devotion, or in an ejaculatory silence; her hands and eyes often lifted up, and her lips moving with a fervour worthy of these her last hours.

* * * * *

Ten o’clock.
The Colonel being earnest to see his cousin as soon as she awoke, we were both admitted. We observed in her, as soon as we entered, strong symptoms of her approaching dissolution, notwithstanding what the women had flattered us with from her last night’s tranquillity.⁠—The Colonel and I, each loth to say what we thought, looked upon one another with melancholy countenances.

The Colonel told her he should send a servant to her uncle Antony’s for some papers he had left there; and asked if she had any commands that way.

She thought not, she said, speaking more inwardly than she did the day before. She had indeed a letter ready to be sent to her good Norton; and there was a request intimated in it. But it was time enough, if the request were signified to those whom it concerned when all was over.⁠—However, it might be sent them by the servant who was going that way. And she caused it to be given to the Colonel for that purpose.

Her breath being very short, she desired another pillow. Having two before, this made her in a manner sit up in her bed; and she spoke then with more distinctness; and, seeing us greatly concerned, forgot her own sufferings to comfort us; and a charming lecture she gave us, though a brief one, upon the happiness of a timely preparation, and upon the hazards of a late repentance, when the mind, as she observed, was so much weakened, as well as the body, as to render a poor soul hardly able to contend with its natural infirmities.

I beseech ye, my good friends, proceeded she, mourn not for one who mourns not, nor has cause to mourn, for herself. On the contrary, rejoice with me, that all my worldly troubles are so near to their end. Believe me, Sirs, that I would not, if I might, choose to live, although the pleasantest part of my life were to come over again: and yet eighteen years of it, out of nineteen, have been very pleasant. To be so much exposed to temptation, and to be so liable to fail in the trial, who would not rejoice that all her dangers are over?⁠—All I wished was pardon and blessing from my dear parents. Easy as my departure seems promised to be, it would have been still easier, had I that pleasure. But God Almighty would not let me depend for comfort upon any but Himself.

She then repeated her request, in the most earnest manner, to her cousin, that he would not heighten her fault, by seeking to avenge her death; to me, that I would endeavour to make up all breaches, and use the power I had with my friend, to prevent all future mischiefs from him, as well as that which this trust might give me to prevent any to him.

She made some excuses to her cousin, for not having been able to alter her will, to join him in the executorship with me; and to me, for the trouble she had given, and yet should give me.

She had fatigued herself so much, (growing sensibly weaker) that she sunk her head upon her pillows, ready to faint; and we withdrew to the window, looking upon one another; but could not tell what to say; and yet both seemed inclinable to speak: but the motion passed over in silence. Our eyes only spoke; and that in a manner neither’s were used to⁠—mine, at least, not till I knew this admirable creature.

The Colonel withdrew to dismiss his messenger, and send away the letter to Mrs. Norton. I took the opportunity to retire likewise; and to write thus far. And Joel returning to take it, I now close here.

Eleven o’clock.

Letter 476

Mr. Belford
[In continuation]

The Colonel tells me that he had written to Mr. John Harlowe, by his servant, “That they might spare themselves the trouble of debating about a reconciliation; for that his dear cousin would probably be no more before they could resolve.”

He asked me after his cousin’s means of subsisting; and whether she had accepted of any favour from me; he was sure, he said, she would not from you.

I acquainted him with the truth of her parting with some of her apparel.

This wrung his heart; and bitterly did he exclaim as well against you as against her implacable relations.

He wished he had not come to England at all, or had come sooner; and hoped I would apprise him of the whole mournful story, at a proper season. He added, that he had thoughts, when he came over, of fixing here for the remainder of his days; but now, as it was impossible his cousin could recover, he would go abroad again, and resettle himself at Florence or Leghorn.

The lady has been giving orders, with great presence of mind, about her body! directing her nurse and the maid of the house to put her in the coffin as soon as she is cold. Mr. Belford, she said, would know the rest by her will.

* * * * *

She has just now given from her bosom, where she always wore it, a miniature picture, set in gold, of Miss Howe. She gave it to Mrs. Lovick, desiring her to fold it up in white paper, and direct it, To Charles Hickman, Esq. and to give it to me, when she was departed, for that gentleman.

She looked upon the picture, before she gave it her⁠—Sweet and ever-amiable friend!⁠—Companion!⁠—Sister!⁠—Lover! said she⁠—and kissed it four several times, once at each tender appellation.

* * * * *

Your other servant is come.⁠—Well may you be impatient!⁠—Well may you!⁠—But do you think I can leave off, in the middle of a conversation, to run and set down what offers, and send it away piecemeal as I write?⁠—If I could, must I not lose one half, while I put down the other?

This event is nearly as interesting to me as it is to you. If you are more grieved than I, there can be but one reason for it; and that’s at your heart!⁠—I had rather lose all the friends I have in the world, (yourself in the number), than this divine lady; and shall be unhappy whenever I think of her sufferings, and of her merit; though I have nothing to reproach myself by reason of the former.

I say not this, just now, so much to reflect upon you as to express my own grief; though your conscience I suppose, will make you think otherwise.

Your poor fellow, who says that he begs for his life, in desiring to be dispatched back with a letter, tears this from me⁠—else, perhaps, (for I am just sent for down), a quarter of an hour would make you⁠—not easy indeed⁠—but certain⁠—and that, in a state like yours, to a mind like yours, is a relief.

Thursday Afternoon, four o’clock.

Letter 477

Mr. Belford, to Richard Mowbray, Esq.
Thursday Afternoon
Dear Mowbray,
I am glad to hear you are in town. Throw yourself the moment this comes to your hand, (if possible with Tourville), in the way of the man who least of all men deserves the love of the worthy heart; but most that of thine and Tourville; else the news I shall most probably send him within an hour or two, will make annihilation the greatest blessing he has to wish for.

You will find him between Piccadilly and Kensington, most probably on horseback, riding backwards and forwards in a crazy way; or put up, perhaps, at some inn or tavern in the way⁠—a waiter possibly, if so, watching for his servant’s return to him from me.

* * * * *

His man Will is just come to me. He will carry this to you in his way back, and be your director. Hie away in a coach, or anyhow. Your being with him may save either his or a servant’s life. See the blessed effects of triumphant libertinism! Sooner or later it comes home to us, and all concludes in gall and bitterness!

J. Belford.

Letter 478

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Curse upon the Colonel, and curse upon the writer of the last letter I received, and upon all the world! Thou to pretend to be as much interested in my Clarissa’s fate as myself!⁠—’Tis well for one of us that this was not said to me, instead of written.⁠—Living or dying, she is mine⁠—and only mine. Have I not earned her dearly?⁠—Is not d⁠⸺⁠n⁠—n likely to be the purchase to me, though a happy eternity will be hers?

An eternal separation!⁠—O God! O God!⁠—How can I bear that thought!⁠—But yet there is life!⁠—Yet, therefore, hope⁠—enlarge my hope, and thou shalt be my good genius, and I will forgive thee everything.

For this last time⁠—but it must not, shall not be the last⁠—Let me hear, the moment thou receivest this⁠—what I am to be⁠—for, at present, I am

The most miserable of Men.

* * * * *

Rose, at Knightsbridge, Five o’clock.
My fellow tells me that thou art sending Mowbray and Tourville to me:⁠—I want them not⁠—my soul’s sick of them, and of all the world⁠—but most of myself. Yet, as they send me word they will come to me immediately, I will wait for them, and for thy next. O Belford, let it not be⁠—But hasten it, be what it may!

Letter 479

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Seven o’clock, Thursday Evening, Sept. 7
I have only to say at present⁠—Thou wilt do well to take a tour to Paris; or wherever else thy destiny shall lead thee!⁠—

John Belford.

Letter 480

Mr. Mowbray, to John Belford, Esq.
Uxbridge, Sept. 7, Between Eleven and Twelve at Night
Dear Jack,
I send by poor Lovelace’s desire, for particulars of the fatal breviate thou sentest him this night. He cannot bear to set pen to paper; yet wants to know every minute passage of Miss Harlowe’s departure. Yet why he should, I cannot see: for if she is gone, she is gone; and who can help it?

I never heard of such a woman in my life. What great matters has she suffered, that grief should kill her thus?

I wish the poor fellow had never known her. From first to last, what trouble she has cost him! The charming fellow had been half lost to us ever since he pursued her. And what is there in one woman more than another, for matter of that?

It was well we were with him when your note came. Your showed your true friendship in your foresight. Why, Jack, the poor fellow was quite beside himself⁠—mad as any man ever was in Bedlam.

Will brought him the letter just after we had joined him at the Bohemia Head; where he had left word at the Rose at Knightsbridge he should be; for he had been sauntering up and down, backwards and forwards, expecting us, and his fellow. Will, as soon as he delivered it, got out of his way; and, when he opened it, never was such a piece of scenery. He trembled like a devil at receiving it: fumbled at the seal, his fingers in a palsy, like Tom Doleman’s; his hand shake, shake, shake, that he tore the letter in two, before he could come at the contents: and, when he had read them, off went his hat to one corner of the room, his wig to the other⁠—D⁠⸺⁠n⁠—n seize the world! and a whole volley of suchlike excratious wishes; running up and down the room, and throwing up the sash, and pulling it down, and smiting his forehead with his double fist, with such force as would have felled as ox, and stamping and tearing, that the landlord ran in, and faster out again. And this was the distraction scene for some time.

In vain was all Jemmy or I could say to him. I offered once to take hold of his hands, because he was going to do himself a mischief, as I believed, looking about for his pistols, which he had laid upon the table, but which Will, unseen, had taken out with him, (a faithful, honest dog, that Will! I shall forever love the fellow for it), and he hit me a d⁠⸺⁠d dowse of the chops, as made my nose bleed. ’Twas well ’twas he, for I hardly knew how to take it.

Jemmy raved at him, and told him, how wicked it was in him, to be so brutish to abuse a friend, and run mad for a woman. And then he said he was sorry for it; and then Will ventured in with water and a towel; and the dog rejoiced, as I could see by his look, that I had it rather than he.

And so, by degrees, we brought him a little to his reason, and he promised to behave more like a man. And so I forgave him: and we rode on in the dark to here at Doleman’s. And we all tried to shame him out of his mad, ungovernable foolishness: for we told him, as how she was but a woman, and an obstinate perverse woman too; and how could he help it?

And you know, Jack, (as we told him, moreover), that it was a shame to manhood, for a man, who had served twenty and twenty women as bad or worse, let him have served Miss Harlowe never so bad, should give himself such obstropulous airs, because she would die: and we advised him never to attempt a woman proud of her character and virtue, as they call it, any more: for why? The conquest did not pay trouble; and what was there in one woman more than another? Hay, you know, Jack!⁠—And thus we comforted him, and advised him.

But yet his d⁠⸺⁠d addled pate runs upon this lady as much now she’s dead as it did when she was living. For, I suppose, Jack, it is no joke: she is certainly and bona fide dead: I’n’t she? If not, thou deservest to be doubly d⁠⸺⁠d for thy fooling, I tell thee that. So he will have me write for particulars of her departure.

He won’t bear the word dead on any account. A squeamish puppy! How love unmans and softens! And such a noble fellow as this too! Rot him for an idiot, and an oaf! I have no patience with the foolish duncical dog⁠—upon my soul, I have not!

So send the account, and let him howl over it, as I suppose he will.

But he must and shall go abroad: and in a month or two Jemmy, and you, and I, will join him, and he’ll soon get the better of this chickenhearted folly, never fear; and will then be ashamed of himself: and then we’ll not spare him; though now, poor fellow, it were pity to lay him on so thick as he deserves. And do thou, till then, spare all reflections upon him; for, it seems, thou hast worked him unmercifully.

I was willing to give thee some account of the hand we have had with the tearing fellow, who had certainly been a lost man, had we not been with him; or he would have killed somebody or other. I have no doubt of it. And now he is but very middling; sits grinning like a man in straw; curses and swears, and is confounded gloomy; and creeps into holes and corners, like an old hedgehog hunted for his grease.

And so, adieu, Jack. Tourville, and all of us, wish for thee; for no one has the influence upon him that thou hast.

R. Mowbray.

As I promised him that I would write for the particulars abovesaid, I write this after all are gone to bed; and the fellow is set out with it by daybreak.

Letter 481

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Thursday Night
I may as well try to write; since, were I to go to bed, I shall not sleep. I never had such a weight of grief upon my mind in my life, as upon the demise of this admirable woman; whose soul is now rejoicing in the regions of light.

You may be glad to know the particulars of her happy exit. I will try to proceed; for all is hush and still; the family retired; but not one of them, and least of all her poor cousin, I dare say, to rest.

At four o’clock, as I mentioned in my last, I was sent for down; and, as thou usedst to like my descriptions, I will give thee the woeful scene that presented itself to me, as I approached the bed.

The Colonel was the first that took my attention, kneeling on the side of the bed, the lady’s right hand in both his, which his face covered, bathing it with his tears; although she had been comforting him, as the women since told me, in elevated strains, but broken accents.

On the other side of the bed sat the good widow; her face overwhelmed with tears, leaning her head against the bed’s head in a most disconsolate manner; and turning her face to me, as soon as she saw me, O Mr. Belford, cried she, with folded hands⁠—the dear lady⁠—A heavy sob permitted her not to say more.

Mrs. Smith, with clasped fingers, and uplifted eyes, as if imploring help from the only Power which could give it, was kneeling down at the bed’s feet, tears in large drops trickling down her cheeks.

Her nurse was kneeling between the widow and Mrs. Smith, her arms extended. In one hand she held an ineffectual cordial, which she had just been offering to her dying mistress; her face was swollen with weeping (though used to such scenes as this); and she turned her eyes towards me, as if she called upon me by them to join in the helpless sorrow; a fresh stream bursting from them as I approached the bed.

The maid of the house with her face upon her folded arms, as she stood leaning against the wainscot, more audibly exprest her grief than any of the others.

The lady had been silent a few minutes, and speechless, as they thought, moving her lips without uttering a word; one hand, as I said, in her cousin’s. But when Mrs. Lovick, on my approach, pronounced my name, O Mr. Belford, said she, with a faint inward voice, but very distinct nevertheless⁠—Now!⁠—Now! (in broken periods she spoke)⁠—I bless God for his mercies to his poor creature⁠—all will soon be over⁠—a few⁠—a very few moments⁠—will end this strife⁠—and I shall be happy!

Comfort here, Sir⁠—turning her head to the Colonel⁠—comfort my cousin⁠—see! the blame⁠—able kindness⁠—he would not wish me to be happy⁠—so soon!

Here she stopped for two or three minutes, earnestly looking upon him. Then resuming, My dearest Cousin, said she, be comforted⁠—what is dying but the common lot?⁠—The mortal frame may seem to labour⁠—but that is all!⁠—It is not so hard to die as I believed it to be!⁠—The preparation is the difficulty⁠—I bless God, I have had time for that⁠—the rest is worse to beholders, than to me!⁠—I am all blessed hope⁠—hope itself. She looked what she said, a sweet smile beaming over her countenance.

After a short silence, Once more, my dear Cousin, said she, but still in broken accents, commend me most dutifully to my father and mother⁠—There she stopped. And then proceeding⁠—To my sister, to my brother, to my uncles⁠—and tell them, I bless them with my parting breath⁠—for all their goodness to me⁠—even for their displeasure, I bless them⁠—most happy has been to me my punishment here! Happy indeed!

She was silent for a few moments, lifting up her eyes, and the hand her cousin held not between his. Then, O Death! said she, where is thy sting! (the words I remember to have heard in the burial-service read over my uncle and poor Belton). And after a pause⁠—It is good for me that I was afflicted! Words of scripture, I suppose.

Then turning towards us, who were lost in speechless sorrow⁠—O dear, dear gentlemen, said she, you know not what foretastes⁠—what assurances⁠—And there she again stopped, and looked up, as if in a thankful rapture, sweetly smiling.

Then turning her head towards me⁠—Do you, Sir, tell your friend that I forgive him!⁠—And I pray to God to forgive him!⁠—Again pausing, and lifting up her eyes as if praying that He would. Let him know how happily I die:⁠—And that such as my own, I wish to be his last hour.

She was again silent for a few moments: and then resuming⁠—My sight fails me!⁠—Your voices only⁠—(for we both applauded her Christian, her divine frame, though in accents as broken as her own); and the voice of grief is alike in all. Is not this Mr. Morden’s hand? pressing one of his with that he had just let go. Which is Mr. Belford’s? holding out the other. I gave her mine. God Almighty bless you both, said she, and make you both⁠—in your last hour⁠—for you must come to this⁠—happy as I am.

She paused again, her breath growing shorter; and, after a few minutes⁠—And now, my dearest Cousin, give me your hand⁠—nearer⁠—still nearer⁠—drawing it towards her; and she pressed it with her dying lips⁠—God protect you, dear, dear Sir⁠—and once more, receive my best and most grateful thanks⁠—and tell my dear Miss Howe⁠—and vouchsafe to see, and to tell my worthy Norton⁠—she will be one day, I fear not, though now lowly in her fortunes, a saint in Heaven⁠—tell them both, that I remember them with thankful blessings in my last moments!⁠—And pray God to give them happiness here for many, many years, for the sake of their friends and lovers; and an heavenly crown hereafter; and such assurances of it, as I have, through the all-satisfying merits of my blessed Redeemer.

Her sweet voice and broken periods methinks still fill my ears, and never will be out of my memory.

After a short silence, in a more broken and faint accent⁠—And you, Mr. Belford, pressing my hand, may God preserve you, and make you sensible of all your errors⁠—you see, in me, how all ends⁠—may you be⁠—And down sunk her head upon her pillow, she fainting away, and drawing from us her hands.

We thought she was then gone; and each gave way to a violent burst of grief.

But soon showing signs of returning life, our attention was again engaged; and I besought her, when a little recovered, to complete in my favour her half-pronounced blessing. She waved her hand to us both, and bowed her head six several times, as we have since recollected, as if distinguishing every person present; not forgetting the nurse and the maidservant; the latter having approached the bed, weeping, as if crowding in for the divine lady’s blessing; and she spoke faltering and inwardly⁠—Bless⁠—bless⁠—bless⁠—you all⁠—and⁠—now⁠—and now⁠—(holding up her almost lifeless hands for the last time) come⁠—O come⁠—blessed Lord⁠—Jesus!

And with these words, the last but half-pronounced, expired:⁠—such a smile, such a charming serenity overspreading her sweet face at the instant, as seemed to manifest her eternal happiness already begun.

O Lovelace!⁠—But I can write no more!

* * * * *

I resume my pen to add a few lines.

While warm, though pulseless, we pressed each her hand with our lips; and then retired into the next room.

We looked at each other, with intent to speak: but, as if one motion governed, as one cause affected both, we turned away silent.

The Colonel sighed as if his heart would burst: at last, his face and hands uplifted, his back towards me, Good Heaven! said he to himself, support me!⁠—And is it thus, O flower of nature!⁠—Then pausing⁠—And must we no more⁠—never more!⁠—My blessed, blessed Cousin! uttering some other words, which his sighs made inarticulate.⁠—And then, as if recollecting himself⁠—Forgive me, Sir!⁠—Excuse me, Mr. Belford! And sliding by me, Anon I hope to see you, Sir⁠—And downstairs he went, and out of the house, leaving me a statue.

When I recovered, I was ready to repine at what I then called an unequal dispensation; forgetting her happy preparation, and still happier departure; and that she had but drawn a common lot; triumphing in it, and leaving behind her everyone less assured of happiness, though equally certain that the lot would one day be their own.

She departed exactly at forty minutes after six o’clock, as by her watch on the table.

And thus died Miss Clarissa Harlowe, in the blossom of her youth and beauty: and who, her tender years considered, had not left behind her her superior in extensive knowledge and watchful prudence; nor hardly her equal for unblemished virtue, exemplary piety, sweetness of manners, discreet generosity, and true Christian charity: and these all set off by the most graceful modesty and humility; yet on all proper occasions, manifesting a noble presence of mind, and true magnanimity: so that she may be said to have been not only an ornament to her sex, but to human nature.

A better pen than mine may do her fuller justice. Thine, I mean, O Lovelace! For well dost thou know how much she excelled in the graces of both mind and person, natural and acquired, all that is woman. And thou also can best account for the causes of her immature death, through those calamities which in so short a space of time, from the highest pitch of felicity, (everyone in a manner adoring her), brought her to an exit so happy for herself, but, that it was so early, so much to be deplored by all who had the honour of her acquaintance.

This task, then, I leave to thee: but now I can write no more, only that I am a sympathizer in every part of thy distress, except (and yet it is cruel to say it) in that which arises from thy guilt.

One o’clock, Friday Morning.

Letter 482

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Nine, Friday Morn
I have no opportunity to write at length, having necessary orders to give on the melancholy occasion. Joel, who got to me by six in the morning, and whom I dispatched instantly back with the letter I had ready from last night, gives me but an indifferent account of the state of your mind. I wonder not at it; but time (and nothing else can) will make it easier to you: if (that is to say) you have compounded with your conscience; else it may be heavier every day than other.

* * * * *

Tourville tells us what a way you are in. I hope you will not think of coming hither. The lady in her will desires you may not see her. Four copies are making of it. It is a long one; for she gives her reasons for all she wills. I will write to you more particularly as soon as possibly I can.

* * * * *

Three letters are just brought by a servant in livery, directed To Miss Clarissa Harlowe. I will send copies of them to you. The contents are enough to make one mad. How would this poor lady have rejoiced to receive them!⁠—And yet, if she had, she would not have been enabled to say, as she nobly did,[382] That God would not let her depend for comfort upon any but Himself.⁠—And indeed for some days past she had seemed to have got above all worldly considerations.⁠—Her fervent love, even for her Miss Howe, as she acknowledged, having given way to supremer fervours.[383]

Letter 483

Mrs. Norton, to Miss Clarissa Harlowe
Wednesday, Sept. 6
At length, my best beloved Miss Clary, everything is in the wished train: for all your relations are unanimous in your favour. Even your brother and your sister are with the foremost to be reconciled to you.

I knew it must end thus! By patience, and persevering sweetness, what a triumph have you gained!

This happy change is owing to letters received from your physician, from your cousin Morden, and from Mr. Brand.

Colonel Morden will be with you, no doubt, before this can reach you, with his pocketbook filled with money-bills, that nothing may be wanting to make you easy.

And now, all our hopes, all our prayers, are, that this good news may restore you to spirits and health; and that (so long withheld) it may not come too late.

I know how much your dutiful heart will be raised with the joyful tidings I write you, and still shall more particularly tell you of, when I have the happiness to see you: which will be by next Sunday, at farthest; perhaps on Friday afternoon, by the time you can receive this.

For this day, being sent for by the general voice, I was received by everyone with great goodness and condescension, and entreated (for that was the word they were pleased to use, when I needed no entreaty, I am sure), to hasten up to you, and to assure you of all their affectionate regards to you: and your father bid me say all the kind things that were in my heart to say, in order to comfort and raise you up, and they would hold themselves bound to make them good.

How agreeable is this commission to your Norton! My heart will overflow with kind speeches, never fear! I am already meditating what I shall say, to cheer and raise you up, in the names of everyone dear and near to you. And sorry I am that I cannot this moment set out, as I might, instead of writing, would they favour my eager impatience with their chariot; but as it was not offered, it would be a presumption to have asked for it: and tomorrow a hired chaise and pair will be ready; but at what hour I know not.

How I long once more to fold my dear, precious young lady to my fond, my more than fond, my maternal bosom!

Your sister will write to you, and send her letter, with this, by a particular hand.

I must not let them see what I write, because of my wish about the chariot.

Your uncle Harlowe will also write, and (I doubt not) in the kindest terms: for they are all extremely alarmed and troubled at the dangerous way your doctor represents you to be in; as well as delighted with the character he gives you. Would to Heaven the good gentleman had written sooner! And yet he writes, that you know not he has now written. But it is all our confidence, and our consolation, that he would not have written at all, had he thought it too late.

They will prescribe no conditions to you, my dear young lady; but will leave all to your own duty and discretion. Only your brother and sister declare they will never yield to call Mr. Lovelace brother; nor will your father, I believe, be easily brought to think of him for a son.

I am to bring you down with me as soon as your health and inclination will permit. You will be received with open arms. Everyone longs to see you. All the servants please themselves that they shall be permitted to kiss your hands. The pert Betty’s note is already changed; and she now runs over in your just praises. What friends does prosperity make! What enemies adversity! It always was, and always will be so, in every state of life, from the throne to the cottage.⁠—But let all be forgotten now on this jubilee change: and may you, my dearest Miss, be capable of rejoicing in this good news; as I know you will rejoice, if capable of anything.

God preserve you to our happy meeting! And I will, if I may say so, weary Heaven with my incessant prayers to preserve and restore you afterwards!

I need not say how much I am, my dear young lady,

Your ever-affectionate and devoted,
Judith Norton.

An unhappy delay, as to the chaise, will make it Saturday morning before I can fold you to my fond heart.

Letter 484

Miss Arab. Harlowe, to Miss Cl. Harlowe
Wedn. Morn. Sept. 6
Dear Sister,
We have just heard that you are exceedingly ill. We all loved you as never young creature was loved: you are sensible of that, sister Clary. And you have been very naughty⁠—but we could not be angry always.

We are indeed more afflicted with the news of your being so very ill than I can express; for I see not but, after this separation, (as we understand that your misfortune has been greater than your fault, and that, however unhappy, you have demeaned yourself like the good young creature you used to be), we shall love you better, if possible, than ever.

Take comfort, therefore, sister Clary, and don’t be too much cast down⁠—whatever your mortifications may be from such noble prospects overclouded, and from the reflections you will have from within, on your faulty step, and from the sullying of such a charming character by it, you will receive none from any of us; and, as an earnest of your papa’s and mamma’s favour and reconciliation, they assure you by me of their blessing and hourly prayers.

If it will be any comfort to you, and my mother finds this letter is received as we expect, (which we shall know by the good effect it will have upon your health), she will herself go to town to you. Meantime, the good woman you so dearly love will be hastened up to you; and she writes by this opportunity, to acquaint you of it, and of all our returning love.

I hope you will rejoice at this good news. Pray let us hear that you do. Your next grateful letter on this occasion, especially if it gives us the pleasure of hearing you are better upon this news, will be received with the same (if not greater) delight, than we used to have in all your prettily-penn’d epistles. Adieu, my dear Clary! I am,

Your loving sister, and true friend,
Arabella Harlowe.

Letter 485

To His Dear Niece, Miss Clarissa Harlowe
Wednesday, Sept. 6
We were greatly grieved, my beloved Miss Clary, at your fault; but we are still more, if possible, to hear you are so very ill; and we are sorry things have been carried so far. We know your talents, my dear, and how movingly you could write, whenever you pleased; so that nobody could ever deny you anything; and, believing you depended on your pen, and little thinking you were so ill, and that you lived so regular a life, and are so truly penitent, are must troubled every one of us, your brother and all, for being so severe. Forgive my part in it, my dearest Clary. I am your second papa, you know. And you used to love me.

I hope you’ll soon be able to come down, and, after a while, when your indulgent parents can spare you, that you will come to me for a whole month, and rejoice my heart, as you used to do. But if, through illness, you cannot so soon come down as we wish, I will go up to you; for I long to see you. I never more longed to see you in my life; and you was always the darling of my heart, you know.

My brother Antony desires his hearty commendations to you, and joins with me in the tenderest assurance, that all shall be well, and, if possible, better than ever; for we now have been so long without you, that we know the miss of you, and even hunger and thirst, as I may say, to see you, and to take you once more to our hearts; whence indeed you was never banished so far as our concern for the unhappy step made us think and you believe you were. Your sister and brother both talk of seeing you in town; so does my dear sister, your indulgent mother.

God restore your health, if it be his will; else, I know not what will become of

Your truly loving uncle, and second papa,
John Harlowe.

Letter 486

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Friday Night, Sept. 8, Past Ten
I will now take up the account of our proceedings from my letter of last night, which contained the dying words of this incomparable lady.

As soon as we had seen the last scene closed (so blessedly for herself!) we left the body to the care of the good women, who, according to the orders she had given them that very night, removed her into that last house which she had displayed so much fortitude in providing.

In the morning, between seven and eight o’clock, according to appointment, the Colonel came to me here. He was very much indisposed. We went together, accompanied by Mrs. Lovick and Mrs. Smith, into the deceased’s chamber. We could not help taking a view of the lovely corpse, and admiring the charming serenity of her noble aspect. The women declared they never saw death so lovely before; and that she looked as if in an easy slumber, the colour having not quite left her cheeks and lips.

I unlocked the drawer, in which (as I mentioned in a former[384]) she had deposited her papers. I told you in mine of Monday last, that she had the night before sealed up, with three black seals, a parcel inscribed, As soon as I am certainly dead, this to be broke open by Mr. Belford. I accused myself for not having done it overnight. But really I was then incapable of anything.

I broke it open accordingly, and found in it no less than eleven letters, each sealed with her own seal, and black wax, one of which was directed to me.

I will enclose a copy of it.

To John Belford, Esq.

Sunday Evening, Sept. 3.
I take this last and solemn occasion to repeat to you my thanks for all your kindness to me at a time when I most needed countenance and protection.

A few considerations I beg leave, as now at your perusal of this, from the dead, to press upon you, with all the warmth of a sincere friendship.

By the time you will see this, you will have had an instance, I humbly trust, of the comfortable importance of a pacified conscience, in the last hours of one, who, to the last hour, will wish your eternal welfare.

The great Duke of Luxemburgh, as I have heard, on his deathbed, declared, that he would then much rather have had it to reflect upon, that he had administered a cup of cold water to a worthy poor creature in distress, than that he had won so many battles as he had triumphed for. And, as one well observes, All the sentiments of worldly grandeur vanish at that unavoidable moment which decides the destiny of men.

If then, Sir, at the tremendous hour it be thus with the conquerors of armies, and the subduers of nations, let me in a very few words (many are not needed), ask, What, at that period, must be the reflection of those, (if capable of reflection), who have lived a life of sense and offence; whose study and whose pride most ingloriously have been to seduce the innocent, and to ruin the weak, the unguarded, and the friendless; made still more friendless by their base seductions?⁠—O Mr. Belford, weigh, ponder, and reflect upon it, now that, in health, and in vigour of mind and body, the reflections will most avail you⁠—what an ungrateful, what an unmanly, what a meaner than reptile pride is this!

In the next place, Sir, let me beg of you, for my sake, who am, or, as now you will best read it, have been, driven to the necessity of applying to you to be the executor of my will, that you will bear, according to that generosity which I think to be in you, with all my friends, and particularly with my brother, (who is really a worthy young man, but perhaps a little too headstrong in his first resentments and conceptions of things), if anything, by reason of this trust, should fall out disagreeably; and that you will study to make peace, and to reconcile all parties; and more especially, that you, who seem to have a great influence upon your still-more headstrong friend, will interpose, if occasion be, to prevent farther mischief⁠—for surely, Sir, that violent spirit may sit down satisfied with the evils he has already wrought; and, particularly, with the wrongs, the heinous and ignoble wrongs, he has in me done to my family, wounded in the tenderest part of its honour.

For your compliance with this request I have already your repeated promise. I claim the observance of it, therefore, as a debt from you: and though I hope I need not doubt it, yet was I willing, on this solemn, this last occasion, thus earnestly to reinforce it.

I have another request to make to you; it is only, that you will be pleased, by a particular messenger, to forward the enclosed letters as directed.

And now, Sir, having the presumption to think that an useful member is lost to society by means of the unhappy step which has brought my life so soon to its period, let me hope that I may be an humble instrument, in the hands of Providence, to reform a man of your abilities; and then I shall think that loss will be more abundantly repaired to the world, while it will be, by God’s goodness, my gain; and I shall have this farther hope, that once more I shall have an opportunity in a blessed eternity to thank you, as I now repeatedly do, for the good you have done to, and the trouble you will have taken for, Sir,

Your obliged servant,
Clarissa Harlowe.

* * * * *

The other letters are directed to her father, to her mother, one to her two uncles, to her brother, to her sister, to her aunt Hervey, to her cousin Morden, to Miss Howe, to Mrs. Norton, and lastly one to you, in performance of her promise, that a letter should be sent you when she arrived at her father’s house!⁠—I will withhold this last till I can be assured that you will be fitter to receive it than Tourville tells me you are at present.

Copies of all these are sealed up, and entitled, Copies of my ten posthumous letters, for J. Belford, Esq.; and put in among the bundle of papers left to my direction, which I have not yet had leisure to open.

No wonder, while able, that she was always writing, since thus only of late could she employ that time, which heretofore, from the long days she made, caused so many beautiful works to spring from her fingers. It is my opinion, that there never was a woman so young, who wrote so much, and with such celerity. Her thoughts keeping pace, as I have seen, with her pen, she hardly ever stopped or hesitated; and very seldom blotted out, or altered. It was a natural talent she was mistress of, among many other extraordinary ones. I gave the Colonel his letter, and ordered Harry instantly to get ready to carry the others. Meantime (retiring into the next apartment) we opened the will. We were both so much affected in perusing it, that at one time the Colonel, breaking off, gave it to me to read on; at another I gave it back to him to proceed with; neither of us being able to read it through without such tokens of sensibility as affected the voice of each.

Mrs. Lovick, Mrs. Smith, and her nurse, were still more touched, when we read those articles in which they are respectively remembered: but I will avoid mentioning the particulars, (except in what relates to the thread of my narration), as in proper time I shall send you a copy of it.

The Colonel told me, he was ready to account with me for the money and bills brought up from Harlowe-place; which would enable me, as he said, directly to execute the legacy parts of the will; and he would needs at the instant force into my hands a paper relating to that subject. I put it into my pocketbook, without looking into it; telling him, that as I hoped he would do all in his power to promote a literal performance of the will, I must beg his advice and assistance in the execution of it.

Her request to be buried with her ancestors, made a letter of the following import necessary, which I prevailed upon the Colonel to write; being unwilling myself (so early at least), to appear officious in the eye of a family which probably wishes not any communication with me.

To James Harlowe, Jun. Esq.

The letter which the bearer of this brings with him, will, I presume, make it unnecessary to acquaint you and my cousins with the death of the most excellent of women. But I am requested by her executor, who will soon send you a copy of her last will, to acquaint her father (which I choose to do by your means), that in it she earnestly desires to be laid in the family-vault, at the feet of her grandfather.

If her father will not admit of it, she has directed her body to be buried in the churchyard of the parish where she died.

I need not tell you, that a speedy answer to this is necessary.

Her beatification commenced yesterday afternoon, exactly at forty minutes after six.

I can write no more, than that I am

Yours, etc.
Wm. Morden.

Friday Morn. Sept. 8.
By the time this was written, and by the Colonel’s leave transcribed, Harry was booted and spurred, his horse at the door; and I delivered him the letters to the family, with those to Mrs. Norton and Miss Howe, (eight in all), together with the above of the Colonel to Mr. James Harlowe; and gave him orders to use the utmost dispatch with them.

The Colonel and I have bespoke mourning for our selves and servants.

Letter 487

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Sat. Ten o’clock
Poor Mrs. Norton is come. She was set down at the door; and would have gone upstairs directly. But Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Lovick being together and in tears, and the former hinting too suddenly to the truly-venerable woman the fatal news, she sunk down at her feet in fits; so that they were forced to breath a vein to bring her to herself, and to a capacity of exclamation; and then she ran on to Mrs. Lovick and me, who entered just as she recovered, in praise of the lady, in lamentations for her, and invectives against you; but yet so circumscribed were her invectives, that I could observe in them the woman well educated, and in her lamentations the passion Christianized, as I may say.

She was impatient to see the corpse. The women went up with her. But they owned that they were too much affected themselves on this occasion to describe her extremely-affecting behaviour.

With trembling impatience she pushed aside the coffin-lid. She bathed the face with her tears, and kissed her cheeks and forehead, as if she were living. It was she indeed! she said; her sweet young lady! her very self! Nor had death, which changed all things, a power to alter her lovely features! She admired the serenity of her aspect. She no doubt was happy, she said, as she had written to her she should be; but how many miserable creatures had she left behind her!⁠—The good woman lamenting that she herself had lived to be one of them.

It was with difficulty they prevailed upon her to quit the corpse; and when they went into the next apartment, I joined them, and acquainted her with the kind legacy her beloved young lady had left her; but this rather augmented than diminished her concern. She ought, she said, to have attended her in person. What was the world to her, wringing her hands, now the child of her bosom, and of her heart, was no more? Her principal consolation, however, was, that she should not long survive her. She hoped, she said, that she did not sin, in wishing she might not.

It was easy to observe, by the similitude of sentiments shown in this and other particulars, that the divine lady owed to this excellent woman many of her good notions.

I thought it would divert the poor gentlewoman, and not altogether unsuitably, if I were to put her upon furnishing mourning for herself; as it would rouse her, by a seasonable and necessary employment, from that dismal lethargy of grief, which generally succeeds to the violent anguish with which a gentle nature is accustomed to be torn upon the first communication of the unexpected loss of a dear friend. I gave her therefore the thirty guineas bequeathed to her and to her son for mourning; the only mourning which the testatrix has mentioned; and desired her to lose no time in preparing her own, as I doubted not, that she would accompany the corpse, if it were permitted to be carried down.

The Colonel proposes to attend the hearse, if his kindred give him not fresh cause of displeasure; and will take with him a copy of the will. And being intent to give the family some favourable impressions of me, he desired me to permit him to take with him the copy of the posthumous letter to me; which I readily granted. He is so kind as to promise me a minute account of all that should pass on the melancholy occasion. And we have begun a friendship and settled a correspondence, which but one incident can possibly happen to interrupt to the end of our lives. And that I hope will not happen.

But what must be the grief, the remorse, that will seize upon the hearts of this hitherto-inexorable family, on the receiving of the posthumous letters, and that of the Colonel apprizing them of what has happened? I have given requisite orders to an undertaker, on the supposition that the body will be permitted to be carried down; and the women intend to fill the coffin with aromatic herbs.

The Colonel has obliged me to take the bills and draughts which he brought up with him, for the considerable sums which accrued since the grandfather’s death from the lady’s estate.

I could have shown to Mrs. Norton the copies of the two letters which she missed by coming up. But her grief wants not the heightenings which the reading of them would have given her.

* * * * *

I have been dipping into the copies of the posthumous letters to the family, which Harry has carried down. Well may I call this lady divine. They are all calculated to give comfort rather than reproach, though their cruelty to her merited nothing but reproach. But were I in any of their places, how much rather had I, that she had quitted scores with me by the most severe recrimination, than that she should thus nobly triumph over me by a generosity that has no example? I will enclose some of them, which I desire you to return as soon as you can.

Letter 488

To the Ever-Honoured Jas. Harlowe, Sen. Esq.
Most Dear Sir,
With exulting confidence now does your emboldened daughter come into your awful presence by these lines, who dared not, but upon this occasion, to look up to you with hopes of favour and forgiveness; since, when this comes to your hands, it will be out of her power ever to offend you more.

And now let me bless you, my honoured Papa, and bless you, as I write, upon my knees, for all the benefits I have received from your indulgence: for your fond love to me in the days of my prattling innocence: for the virtuous education you gave me: and for, the crown of all, the happy end, which, through divine grace, by means of that virtuous education, I hope, by the time you will receive this, I shall have made. And let me beg of you, dear, venerable Sir, to blot out from your remembrance, if possible, the last unhappy eight months; and then I shall hope to be remembered with advantage for the pleasure you had the goodness to take in your Clarissa.

Still on her knees, let your poor penitent implore your forgiveness of all her faults and follies; more especially of that fatal error which threw her out of your protection.

When you know, Sir, that I have never been faulty in my will; that ever since my calamity became irretrievable, I have been in a state of preparation; that I have the strongest assurance that the Almighty has accepted my unfeigned repentance; and that by this time you will (as I humbly presume to hope), have been the means of adding one to the number of the blessed; you will have reason for joy rather than sorrow. Since, had I escaped the snares by which I was entangled, I might have wanted those exercises which I look upon now as so many mercies dispensed to wean me betimes from a world that presented itself to me with prospects too alluring; and in that case (too easily satisfied with the worldly felicity) I might not have attained to that blessedness, in which now, on your reading of this, I humbly presume, (through the divine goodness), I am rejoicing.

That the Almighty, in his own good time, will bring you, Sir, and my ever-honoured mother, after a series of earthly felicities, of which my unhappy fault be the only interruption, (and very grievous I know that must have been), to rejoice in the same blessed state, is the repeated prayer of, Sir,

Your now happy daughter,
Clarissa Harlowe.

Letter 489

To the Ever-Honoured Mrs. Harlowe
Honoured Madam,
The last time I had the boldness to write to you, it was with all the consciousness of a self-convicted criminal, supplicating her offended judge for mercy and pardon. I now, by these lines, approach you with more assurance; but nevertheless with the highest degree of reverence, gratitude, and duty. The reason of my assurance, my letter to my papa will give; and as I humbly on my knees implored his pardon, so now, in the same dutiful manner, do I supplicate yours, for the grief and trouble I have given you.

Every vein of my heart has bled for an unhappy rashness; which, (although involuntary as to the act), from the moment it was committed, carried with it its own punishment; and was accompanied with a true and sincere penitence.

God, who has been a witness of my distresses, knows that, great as they have been, the greatest of all was the distress that I knew I must have given to you, Madam, and to my father, by a step that had so very ugly an appearance in your eyes and his; and indeed in the eyes of all my family; a step so unworthy of your daughter, and of the education you had given her.

But He, I presume to hope, has forgiven me; and, at the instant this will reach your hands, I humbly trust, I shall be rejoicing in the blessed fruits of his forgiveness. And be this your comfort, my ever-honoured Mamma, that the principal end of your pious care for me is attained, though not in the way so much hoped for.

May the grief which my fatal error has given to you both, be the only grief that shall ever annoy you in this world!⁠—May you, Madam, long live to sweeten the cares, and heighten the comforts, of my papa!⁠—May my sister’s continued, and, if possible, augmented duty, happily make up to you the loss you have sustained in me! And whenever my brother and she change their single state, may it be with such satisfaction to you both as may make you forget my offence; and remember me only in those days in which you took pleasure in me! And, at last, may a happy meeting with your forgiven penitent, in the eternal mansions, augment the bliss of her, who, purified by sufferings already, when this salutes your hands, presumes she shall be

The happy and forever happy
Clarissa Harlowe.

Letter 490

To James Harlowe, Jun. Esq.
There was but one time, but one occasion, after the rash step I was precipitated upon, that I would hope to be excused looking up to you in the character of a brother and friend. And now is that time, and this the occasion. now, at reading this, will you pity your late unhappy sister! now will you forgive her faults, both supposed and real! And now will you afford to her memory that kind concern which you refused to her before!

I write, my Brother, in the first place, to beg your pardon for the offence my unhappy step gave to you, and to the rest of a family so dear to me.

Virgin purity should not so behave as to be suspected, yet, when you come to know all my story, you will find farther room for pity, if not more than pity, for your late unhappy sister!

O that passion had not been deaf! That misconception would have given way to inquiry! That your rigorous heart, if it could not itself be softened (moderating the power you had obtained over everyone) had permitted other hearts more indulgently to expand!

But I write not to give pain. I had rather you should think me faulty still, than take to yourself the consequence that will follow from acquitting me.

Abandoning therefore a subject which I had not intended to touch upon, (for I hope, at the writing of this, I am above the spirit of recrimination), let me tell you, Sir, that my next motive for writing to you in this last and most solemn manner is, to beg of you to forego any active resentments (which may endanger a life so precious to all your friends) against the man to whose elaborate baseness I owe my worldly ruin.

For, ought an innocent man to run an equal risk with a guilty one?⁠—A more than equal risk, as the guilty one has been long inured to acts of violence, and is skilled in the arts of offence?

You would not arrogate to yourself God’s province, who has said, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay it. If you would, I tremble for the consequence: For will it not be suitable to the divine justice to punish the presumptuous innocent (as you would be in this case) in the very error, and that by the hand of the self-defending guilty⁠—reserving him for a future day of vengeance for his accumulated crimes?

Leave then the poor wretch to the divine justice. Let your sister’s fault die with her. At least, let it not be revived in blood. Life is a short stage where longest. A little time hence, the now-green head will be grey, if it lives this little time: and if Heaven will afford him time for repentance, why should not you?

Then think, my Brother, what will be the consequence to your dear parents, if the guilty wretch, who has occasioned to them the loss of a daughter, should likewise deprive them of their best hope, and only son, more worth in the family account than several daughters?

Would you add, my Brother, to those distresses which you hold your sister so inexcusable for having (although from involuntary and undersigned causes) given?

Seek not then, I beseech you, to extend the evil consequences of your sister’s error. His conscience, when it shall please God to touch it, will be sharper than your sword.

I have still another motive for writing to you in this solemn manner: it is, to entreat you to watch over your passions. The principal fault I knew you to be guilty of is, the violence of your temper when you think yourself in the right; which you would oftener be, but for that very violence.

You have several times brought your life into danger by it.

Is not the man guilty of a high degree of injustice, who is more apt to give contradiction, than able to bear it? How often, with you, has impetuosity brought on abasement? A consequence too natural.

Let me then caution you, dear Sir, against a warmth of temper, an impetuosity when moved, and you so ready to be moved, that may hurry you into unforeseen difficulties; and which it is in some measure a sin not to endeavour to restrain. God enable you to do it for the sake of your own peace and safety, as well present as future! and for the sake of your family and friends, who all see your fault, but are tender of speaking to you of it!

As for me, my Brother, my punishment has been seasonable. God gave me grace to make a right use of my sufferings. I early repented. I never loved the man half so much as I hated his actions, when I saw what he was capable of. I gave up my whole heart to a better hope. God blessed my penitence and my reliance upon him. And now I presume to say, I am happy.

May Heaven preserve you in safety, health, and honour, and long continue your life for a comfort and stay to your honoured parents! And may you, in that change of your single state, meet with a wife as agreeable to everyone else as to yourself, and be happy in a hopeful race, and not have one Clarissa among them, to embitter your comforts when she should give you most comfort! But may my example be of use to warn the dear creatures whom once I hoped to live to see and to cherish, of the evils with which the deceitful world abounds! are the prayers of

Your affectionate sister,
Cl. Harlowe.

Letter 491

To Miss Harlowe
Now may you, my dear Arabella, unrestrained by the severity of your virtue, let fall a pitying tear on the past faults and sufferings of your late unhappy sister; since, now, she can never offend you more. The Divine mercy, which first inspired her with repentance (an early repentance it was; since it preceded her sufferings) for an error which she offers not to extenuate, although perhaps it were capable of some extenuation, has now, as the instant that you are reading this, as I humbly hope, blessed her with the fruits of it.

Thus already, even while she writes, in imagination purified and exalted, she the more fearlessly writes to her sister; and now is assured of pardon for all those little occasions of displeasure which her forwarder youth might give you; and for the disgrace which her fall has fastened upon you, and upon her family.

May you, my Sister, continue to bless those dear and honoured relations, whose indulgence so well deserves your utmost gratitude, with those cheerful instances of duty and obedience which have hitherto been so acceptable to them, and praiseworthy in you! And may you, when a suitable proposal shall offer, fill up more worthily that chasm, which the loss they have sustained in me has made in the family!

Thus, my Arabella! my only sister! and for many happy years, my friend! most fervently prays that sister, whose affection for you, no acts, no unkindness, no misconstruction of her conduct, could cancel! And who now, made perfect (as she hopes) through sufferings, styles herself,

The happy
Clarissa Harlowe.

Letter 492

To John and Antony Harlowe, Esqrs
Honoured Sirs,
When these lines reach your hands, your late unhappy niece will have known the end of all her troubles; and, as she humbly hopes, will be rejoicing in the mercies of a gracious God, who has declared, that he will forgive the truly penitent of heart.

I write, therefore, my dear uncles, and to you both in one letter (since your fraternal love has made you both but as one person) to give you comfort, and not distress; for, however sharp my afflictions have been, they have been but of short duration; and I am betimes (happily as I hope) arrived at the end of a painful journey.

At the same time I write to thank you both for all your kind indulgence to me, and to beg your forgiveness of my last, my only great fault to you and to my family.

The ways of Providence are unsearchable. Various are the means made use of by it, to bring poor sinners to a sense of their duty. Some are drawn by love, others are driven by terrors, to their divine refuge. I had for eighteen years out of nineteen, rejoiced in the favour and affection of everyone. No trouble came near to my heart, I seemed to be one of those designed to be drawn by the silken cords of love.⁠—But, perhaps, I was too apt to value myself upon the love and favour of everyone: the merit of the good I delighted to do, and of the inclinations which were given me, and which I could not help having, I was, perhaps, too ready to attribute to myself; and now, being led to account for the cause of my temporary calamities, find I had a secret pride to be punished for, which I had not fathomed: and it was necessary, perhaps, that some sore and terrible misfortunes should befall me, in order to mortify that my pride, and that my vanity.

Temptations were accordingly sent. I shrunk in the day of trial. My discretion, which had been so cried up, was found wanting when it came to be weighed in an equal balance. I was betrayed, fell, and became the byword of my companions, and a disgrace to my family, which had prided itself in me perhaps too much. But as my fault was not that of a culpable will, when my pride was sufficiently mortified, I was not suffered (although surrounded by dangers, and entangled in snares) to be totally lost: but, purified by sufferings, I was fitted for the change I have now, at the time you will receive this, so newly, and, as I humbly hope, so happily experienced.

Rejoice with me, then, dear Sirs, that I have weathered so great a storm. Nor let it be matter of concern, that I am cut off in the bloom of youth. “There is no inquisition in the grave,” says the wise man, “whether we lived ten or a hundred years; and the day of death is better than the day of our birth.”

Once more, dear Sirs, accept my grateful thanks for all your goodness to me, from my early childhood to the day, the unhappy day, of my error! Forgive that error!⁠—And God give us a happy meeting in a blessed eternity; prays

Your most dutiful and obliged kinswoman,
Clarissa Harlowe.

* * * * *

[Mr. Belford gives the Lady’s posthumous letters to Mrs. Hervey, Miss Howe, and Mrs. Norton, at length likewise: but, although every letter varies in style as well as matter from the others; yet, as they are written on the same subject, and are pretty long, it is thought proper to abstract them.]

That to her aunt Hervey is written in the same pious and generous strain with those preceding, seeking to give comfort rather than distress. “The Almighty, I hope,” says she, “has received and blessed my penitence, and I am happy. Could I have been more than so at the end of what is called a happy life of twenty, or thirty, or forty years to come? And what are twenty, or thirty, or forty years to look back upon? In half of any of these periods, what friends might not I have mourned for? what temptations from worldly prosperity might I not have encountered with? And in such a case, immersed in earthly pleasures, how little likelihood, that, in my last stage, I should have been blessed with such a preparation and resignation as I have now been blessed with?”

She proceeds as follows: “Thus much, Madam, of comfort to you and to myself from this dispensation. As to my dear parents, I hope they will console themselves that they have still many blessings left, which ought to balance the troubles my error has given them: that, unhappy as I have been to be the interrupter of their felicities, they never, till this my fault, know any heavy evil: that afflictions patiently borne may be turned into blessings: that uninterrupted happiness is not to be expected in this life: that, after all, they have not, as I humbly presume to hope, the probability of the everlasting perdition of their child to deplore: and that, in short, when my story comes to be fully known, they will have the comfort to find that my sufferings redound more to my honour than to my disgrace.

“These considerations will, I hope, make their temporary loss of but one child out of three (unhappily circumstances too as she was) matter of greater consolation than affliction. And the rather, as we may hope for a happy meeting once more, never to be separated either by time or offences.”

She concludes this letter with an address to her cousin Dolly Hervey, whom she calls her amiable cousin; and thankfully remembers for the part she took in her afflictions.⁠—“O my dear Cousin, let your worthy heart be guarded against those delusions which have been fatal to my worldly happiness!⁠—That pity, which you bestowed upon me, demonstrates a gentleness of nature, which may possibly subject you to misfortunes, if your eye be permitted to mislead your judgment.⁠—But a strict observance of your filial duty, my dearest Cousin, and the precepts of so prudent a mother as you have the happiness to have (enforced by so sad an example in your own family as I have set) will, I make no doubt, with the Divine assistance, be your guard and security.”

* * * * *

The posthumous letter to Miss Howe is extremely tender and affectionate. She pathetically calls upon her “to rejoice that all her Clarissa’s troubles are now at an end; that the state of temptation and trial, of doubt and uncertainty, is now over with her; and that she has happily escaped the snares that were laid for her soul; the rather to rejoice, as that her misfortunes were of such a nature, that it was impossible she could be tolerably happy in this life.”

She “thankfully acknowledges the favours she had received from Mrs. Howe and Mr. Hickman; and expresses her concern for the trouble she has occasioned to the former, as well as to her; and prays that all the earthly blessings they used to wish to each other, may singly devolve upon her.”

She beseeches her, “that she will not suspend the day which shall supply to herself the friend she will have lost in her, and give to herself a still nearer and dearer relation.”

She tells her, “That her choice (a choice made with the approbation of all her friends) has fallen upon a sincere, an honest, a virtuous, and, what is more than all, a pious man; a man who, although he admires her person, is still more in love with the graces of her mind. And as those graces are improvable with every added year of life, which will impair the transitory ones of person, what a firm basis, infers she, has Mr. Hickman chosen to build his love upon!”

She prays, “That God will bless them together; and that the remembrance of her, and of what she has suffered, may not interrupt their mutual happiness; she desires them to think of nothing but what she now is; and that a time will come when they shall meet again, never to be divided.

“To the Divine protection, meantime, she commits her; and charges her, by the love that has always subsisted between them, that she will not mourn too heavily for her; and again calls upon her, after a gentle tear, which she will allow her to let fall in memory of their uninterrupted friendship, to rejoice that she is so early released; and that she is purified by her sufferings, and is made, as she assuredly trusts, by God’s goodness, eternally happy.”

* * * * *

[The posthumous letters to Mr. Lovelace and Mr. Morden will be inserted hereafter: as will also the substance of that written to Mrs. Norton.]

Letter 493

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Sat. Afternoon, Sept. 9
I understand, that thou breathest nothing but revenge against me, for treating thee with so much freedom; and against the cursed woman and her infernal crew. I am not at all concerned for thy menaces against myself. It is my design to make thee feel. It gives me pleasure to find my intention answered. And I congratulate thee, that thou hast not lost that sense.

As to the cursed crew, well do they deserve the fire here, that thou threatenest them with, and the fire hereafter, that seems to await them. But I have this moment received news which will, in all likelihood, save thee the guilt of punishing the old wretch for her share of wickedness as thy agent. But if that happens to her which is likely to happen, wilt thou not tremble for what may befall the principal?

Not to keep thee longer in suspense; last night, it seems, the infamous woman got so heartily intoxicated with her beloved liquor, arrack punch, at the expense of Colonel Salter, that, mistaking her way, she fell down a pair of stairs, and broke her leg: and now, after a dreadful night, she lies foaming, raving, roaring, in a burning fever, that wants not any other fire to scorch her into a feeling more exquisite and durable than any thy vengeance could give her.

The wretch has requested me to come to her; and lest I should refuse a common messenger, sent her vile associate, Sally Martin; who not finding me at Soho, came hither; another part of her business being to procure the divine lady’s pardon for the old creature’s wickedness to her.

This devil incarnate, Sally, declares that she never was so shocked in her life, as when I told her the lady was dead.

She took out her salts to keep from fainting; and when a little recovered she accused herself for her part of the injuries the lady had sustained; as she said Polly Horton would do for hers; and shedding tears, declared, that the world never produced such another woman. She called her the ornament and glory of her sex; acknowledged, that her ruin was owing more to their instigations, than even (savage as thou art) to thy own vileness; since thou wert inclined to have done her justice more than once, had they not kept up thy profligate spirit to its height.

This wretch would fain have been admitted to a sight of the corpse; but I refused the request with execrations.

She could forgive herself, she said, for everything but her insults upon the admirable lady at Rowland’s, since all the rest was but in pursuit of a livelihood, to which she had been reduced, as she boasted, from better expectations, and which hundred follow as well as she. I did not ask her, by whom reduced?

At going away, she told me, that the old monster’s bruises are of more dangerous consequence than the fracture; that a mortification is apprehended, and that the vile wretch has so much compunction of heart, on recollecting her treatment of Miss Harlowe, and is so much set upon procuring her forgiveness, that she is sure the news she is to carry her will hasten her end.

All these things I leave upon thy reflection.

Letter 494

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Sat. Night
Your servant gives me a dreadful account of your raving unmanageableness. I wonder not at it. But as nothing violent is lasting, I dare say that your habitual gaiety of heart will quickly get the better of your frenzy; and the rather do I judge so, as your fits are of the raving kind, (suitable to your natural impetuosity), and not of that melancholy species which seizes slower souls.

For this reason I will proceed in writing to you, that my narrative may not be broken by your discomposure; and that the contents of it may find you, and help you to reflection, when you shall be restored.

Harry is returned from carrying the posthumous letters to the family, and to Miss Howe; and that of the Colonel, which acquaints James Harlowe with his sister’s death, and with her desire to be interred near her grandfather.

Harry was not admitted into the presence of any of the family. They were all assembled together, it seems, at Harlowe-place, on occasion of the Colonel’s letter, which informed them of the lady’s dangerous way;[385] and were comforting themselves, as Harry was told, with hopes that Mr. Morden had made the worst of her state, in order to quicken their resolutions.

It is easy to judge what must be their grief and surprise on receiving the fatal news which the letters Harry sent in to them communicated.

He stayed there long enough to find the whole house in confusion; the servants running different ways; lamenting and wringing their hands as they ran; the female servants particularly; as if somebody (poor Mrs. Harlowe, no doubt; and perhaps Mrs. Hervey too) were in fits.

Everyone was in such disorder, that he could get no commands, nor obtain any notice of himself. The servants seemed more inclined to execrate than welcome him⁠—O master!⁠—O young man! cried three or four together, what dismal tidings have you brought?⁠—They helped him, at the very first word, to his horse; which, with great civility, they had put up on his arrival; and he went to an inn, and pursued on foot his way to Mrs. Norton’s; and finding her come to town, left the letter he carried down for her with her son, (a fine youth), who, when he heard the fatal news, burst out into a flood of tears⁠—first lamenting the lady’s death, and then crying out, What⁠—what would become of his poor mother!⁠—How would she support herself, when she should find, on her arrival in town, that the dear lady, who was so deservedly the darling of her heart, was no more!

He proceeded to Miss Howe’s with the letter for her. That lady, he was told, had just given orders for a young man, a tenant’s son, to post to London, and bring her news of her dear friend’s condition, and whether she should herself be encouraged, by an account of her being still alive, to make her a visit; everything being ordered to be in readiness for her going up on his return with the news she wished and prayed for with the utmost impatience. And Harry was just in time to prevent the man’s setting out.

He had the precaution to desire to speak with Miss Howe’s woman or maid, and communicated to her the fatal tidings, that she might break them to her young lady. The maid herself was so affected, that her old lady (who, Harry said, seemed to be everywhere at once) came to see what ailed her! and was herself so struck with the communication, that she was forced to sit down in a chair.⁠—O the sweet creature! said she, and is it come to this?⁠—O my poor Nancy!⁠—How shall I be able to break the matter to my Nancy?

Mr. Hickman was in the house. He hastened in to comfort the old lady⁠—but he could not restrain his own tears. He feared, he said, when he was last in town, that this sad event would soon happen; but little thought it would be so very soon!⁠—But she is happy, I am sure, said the good gentleman.

Mrs. Howe, when a little recovered, went up, in order to break the news to her daughter. She took the letter, and her salts in her hand. And they had occasion for the latter. For the housekeeper soon came hurrying down into the kitchen, her face overspread with tears⁠—her young mistress had fainted away, she said⁠—nor did she wonder at it⁠—never did there live a lady more deserving of general admiration and lamentation, than Miss Clarissa Harlowe! and never was there a stronger friendship dissolved by death than between her young lady and her.

She hurried, with a lighted wax candle, and with feathers, to burn under the nose of her young mistress; which showed that she continued in fits.

Mr. Hickman, afterwards, with his usual humanity, directed that Harry should be taken care of all night; it being then the close of day. He asked him after my health. He expressed himself excessively afflicted, as well for the death of the most excellent of women, as for the just grief of the lady whom he so passionately loves. But he called the departed lady an Angel of Light. We dreaded, said he, (tell your master), to read the letter sent⁠—but we needed not⁠—’tis a blessed letter! written by a blessed hand!⁠—But the consolation she aims to give, will for the present heighten the sense we all shall have of the loss of so excellent a creature! Tell Mr. Belford, that I thank God I am not the man who had the unmerited honour to call himself her brother.

I know how terribly this great catastrophe (as I may call it, since so many persons are interested in it) affects thee. I should have been glad to have had particulars of the distress which the first communication of it must have given to the Harlowes. Yet who but must pity the unhappy mother?

The answer which James Harlowe returned to Colonel Morden’s letter of notification of his sister’s death, and to her request as to her interment, will give a faint idea of what their concern must be. Here follows a copy of it:

To William Morden, Esq.

Saturday, Sept. 9.
Dear Cousin,
I cannot find words to express what we all suffer on the most mournful news that ever was communicated to us.

My sister Arabella (but, alas! I have now no other sister) was preparing to follow Mrs. Norton up, and I had resolved to escort her, and to have looked in upon the dear creature.

God be merciful to us all! To what purpose did the doctor write, if she was so near her end?⁠—Why, as everybody says, did he not send sooner?⁠—Or, Why at all?

The most admirable young creature that ever swerved! Not one friend to be with her!⁠—Alas! Sir, I fear my mother will never get over this shock.⁠—She has been in hourly fits ever since she received the fatal news. My poor father has the gout thrown into his stomach; and Heaven knows⁠—O Cousin!⁠—O Sir!⁠—I meant nothing but the honour of the family; yet have I all the weight thrown upon me⁠—[O this cursed Lovelace!⁠—may I perish if he escape the deserved vengeance!][386]

We had begun to please ourselves that we should soon see her here⁠—Good Heaven! that her next entrance into this house, after she abandoned us so precipitately, should be in a coffin.

We can have nothing to do with her executor, (another strange step of the dear creature’s!)⁠—He cannot expect we will⁠—nor, if he be a gentleman, will he think of acting. Do you, therefore, be pleased, Sir, to order an undertaker to convey the body down to us. My mother says she shall be forever unhappy, if she may not in death see the dear creature whom she could not see in life. Be so kind, therefore, as to direct the lid to be only half-screwed down⁠—that (if my poor mother cannot be prevailed upon to dispense with so shocking a spectacle) she may be obliged⁠—she was the darling of her heart!

If we know her will in relation to the funeral, it shall be punctually complied with; as shall everything in it that is fit or reasonable to be performed; and this without the intervention of strangers.

Will you not, dear Sir, favour us with your presence at this melancholy time? Pray do⁠—and pity and excuse, with the generosity which is natural to the brave and the wise, what passed at our last meeting. Everyone’s respects attend you. And I am, Sir,

Your inexpressibly afflicted cousin and servant,
Ja. Harlowe, Jun.

Everything that’s fit or reasonable to be performed! (repeated I to the Colonel from the above letter on his reading it to me); that is everything which she has directed, that can be performed. I hope, Colonel, that I shall have no contention with them. I wish no more for their acquaintance than they do for mine. But you, Sir, must be the mediator between them and me; for I shall insist upon a literal performance in every article.

The Colonel was so kind as to declare that he would support me in my resolution.

Letter 495

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Sunday Morn. Eight o’clock, Sept. 10
I stayed at Smith’s till I saw the last of all that is mortal of the divine lady.

As she has directed rings by her will to several persons, with her hair to be set in crystal, the afflicted Mrs. Norton cut off, before the coffin was closed four charming ringlets; one of which the Colonel took for a locket, which, he says, he will cause to be made, and wear next his heart in memory of his beloved cousin.

Between four and five in the morning, the corpse was put into the hearse; the coffin before being filled, as intended, with flowers and aromatic herbs, and proper care taken to prevent the corpse suffering (to the eye) from the jolting of the hearse.

Poor Mrs. Norton is extremely ill. I gave particular directions to Mrs. Smith’s maid (whom I have ordered to attend the good woman in a mourning chariot) to take care of her. The Colonel, who rides with his servants within view of the hearse, says that he will see my orders in relation to her enforced.

When the hearse moved off, and was out of sight, I locked up the lady’s chamber, into which all that had belonged to her was removed.

I expect to hear from the Colonel as soon as he is got down, by a servant of his own.

Letter 496

Mr. Mowbray, to John Belford, Esq.
Uxbridge, Sunday Morn. Nine o’clock
Dear Jack,
I send you enclosed a letter from Mr. Lovelace; which, though written in the cursed Algebra, I know to be such a one as will show what a queer way he is in; for he read it to us with the air of a tragedian. You will see by it what the mad fellow had intended to do, if we had not all of us interposed. He was actually setting out with a surgeon of this place, to have the lady opened and embalmed.⁠—Rot me if it be not my full persuasion that, if he had, her heart would have been found to be either iron or marble.

We have got Lord M. to him. His Lordship is also much afflicted at the lady’s death. His sisters and nieces, he says, will be ready to break their hearts. What a rout’s here about a woman! For after all she was no more.

We have taken a pailful of black bull’s blood from him; and this has lowered him a little. But he threatens Col. Morden, he threatens you for your cursed reflections, (cursed reflections indeed, Jack!) and curses all the world and himself still.

Last night his mourning (which is full as deep as for a wife) was brought home, and his fellows’ mourning too. And, though eight o’clock, he would put it on, and make them attend him in theirs.

Everybody blames him on this lady’s account. But I see not for why. She was a vixen in her virtue. What a pretty fellow she has ruined⁠—Hey, Jack!⁠—and her relations are ten times more to blame than he. I will prove this to the teeth of them all. If they could use her ill, why should they expect him to use her well?⁠—You, or I, or Tourville, in his shoes, would have done as he has done. Are not all the girls forewarned?⁠—“Has he done by her as that caitiff Miles did to the farmer’s daughter, whom he tricked up to town, (a pretty girl also, just such another as Bob’s Rosebud), under a notion of waiting on a lady?⁠—Drilled her on, pretending the lady was abroad. Drank her lighthearted⁠—then carried her to a play⁠—then it was too late, you know, to see the pretended lady⁠—then to a bagnio⁠—ruined her, as they call it, and all this the same day. Kept her on (an ugly dog, too!) a fortnight or three weeks, then left her to the mercy of the people of the bagnio, (never paying for anything), who stripped her of all her clothes, and because she would not take on, threw her into prison; where she died in want and despair!”⁠—A true story, thou knowest, Jack.⁠—This fellow deserved to be d⁠⸺⁠d. But has our Bob been such a villain as this?⁠—And would he not have married this flinty-hearted lady?⁠—So he is justified very evidently.

Why, then, should such cursed qualms take him?⁠—Who would have thought he had been such poor blood? Now (rot the puppy!) to see him sit silent in a corner, when he has tired himself with his mock majesty, and with his argumentation, (Who so fond of arguing as he?) and teaching his shadow to make mouths against the wainscot⁠—The devil fetch me if I have patience with him!

But he has had no rest for these ten days⁠—that’s the thing!⁠—You must write to him; and pr’ythee coax him, Jack, and send him what he writes for, and give him all his way⁠—there will be no bearing him else. And get the lady buried as fast as you can; and don’t let him know where.

This letter should have gone yesterday. We told him it did. But were in hopes he would have inquired after it again. But he raves as he has not any answer.

What he vouchsafed to read of other of your letters has given my Lord such a curiosity as makes him desire you to continue your accounts. Pray do; but not in your hellish Arabic; and we will let the poor fellow only into what we think fitting for his present way.

I live a cursed dull poking life here. What with I so lately saw of poor Belton, and what I now see of this charming fellow, I shall be as crazy as he soon, or as dull as thou, Jack; so must seek for better company in town than either of you. I have been forced to read sometimes to divert me; and you know I hate reading. It presently sets me into a fit of drowsiness; and then I yawn and stretch like a devil.

Yet in Dryden’s Palemon and Arcite have I just now met with a passage, that has in it much of our Bob’s case. These are some of the lines.

[Mr. Mowbray then recites some lines from that poem, describing a distracted man, and runs the parallel; and then, priding himself in his performance, says:]

Let me tell you, that had I begun to write as early as you and Lovelace, I might have cut as good a figure as either of you. Why not? But boy or man I ever hated a book. ’Tis folly to lie. I loved action, my boy. I hated droning; and have led in former days more boys from their book, than ever my master made to profit by it. Kicking and cuffing, and orchard-robbing, were my early glory.

But I am tired of writing. I never wrote such a long letter in my life. My wrist and my fingers and thumb ache d⁠⸺⁠n⁠—y. The pen is an hundred weight at least. And my eyes are ready to drop out of my head upon the paper.⁠—The cramp but this minute in my fingers. Rot the goose and the goose-quill! I will write no more long letters for a twelvemonth to come. Yet one word; we think the mad fellow coming to. Adieu.

Letter 497

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Uxbridge, Sat. Sept. 9
I think it absolutely right that my ever-dear and beloved lady should be opened and embalmed. It must be done out of hand this very afternoon. Your acquaintance, Tomkins, and old Anderson of this place, I will bring with me, shall be the surgeons. I have talked to the latter about it.

I will see everything done with that decorum which the case, and the sacred person of my beloved require.

Everything that can be done to preserve the charmer from decay shall also be done. And when she will descend to her original dust, or cannot be kept longer, I will then have her laid in my family-vault, between my own father and mother. Myself, as I am in my soul, so in person, chief mourner. But her heart, to which I have such unquestionable pretensions, in which once I had so large a share, and which I will prize above my own, I will have. I will keep it in spirits. It shall never be out of my sight. And all the charges of sepulture too shall be mine.

Surely nobody will dispute my right to her. Whose was she living?⁠—Whose is she dead but mine?⁠—Her cursed parents, whose barbarity to her, no doubt, was the true cause of her death, have long since renounced her. She left them for me. She chose me therefore; and I was her husband. What though I treated her like a villain? Do I not pay for it now? Would she not have been mine had I not? Nobody will dispute but she would. And has she not forgiven me?⁠—I am then in statu quo prius with her, am I not? as if I had never offended?⁠—Whose then can she be but mine?

I will free you from your executorship, and all your cares.

Take notice, Belford, that I do hereby actually discharge you, and everybody, from all cares and troubles relating to her. And as to her last testament, I will execute it myself.

There were no articles between us, no settlements; and she is mine, as you see I have proved to a demonstration; nor could she dispose of herself but as I pleased.⁠—D⁠⸺⁠n⁠—n seize me then if I make not good my right against all opposers!

Her bowels, if her friends are very solicitous about them, and very humble and sorrowful, (and none have they of their own), shall be sent down to them⁠—to be laid with her ancestors⁠—unless she has ordered otherwise. For, except that, she shall not be committed to the unworthy earth so long as she can be kept out of it, her will shall be performed in everything.

I send in the meantime for a lock of her hair.

I charge you stir not in any part of her will but by my express direction. I will order everything myself. For am I not her husband? and, being forgiven by her, am I not the chosen of her heart? What else signifies her forgiveness?

The two insufferable wretches you have sent me plague me to death, and would treat me like a babe in strings.⁠—D⁠⸺⁠n the fellows, what end can they mean by it? Yet that crippled monkey Doleman joins with them. And, as I hear them whisper, they have sent for Lord M.⁠—to control me, I suppose.

What can they mean by this usage? Sure all the world is run mad but myself. They treat me as they ought every one of themselves to be treated. The whole world is but one great bedlam!⁠—God confound it, and everything in it, since now my beloved Clarissa Lovelace⁠—no more Harlowe⁠—Curse upon that name, and everyone called by it!

What I write to you for is,

1. To forbid you intermeddling with anything relating to her. To forbid Morden intermeddling also. If I remember right, he has threatened me, and cursed me, and used me ill⁠—and let him be gone from her, if he would avoid my resentment.
2. To send me a lock of her hair instantly by the bearer.
3. To engage Tomkins to have everything ready for the opening and embalming. I shall bring Anderson with me.
4. To get her will and everything ready for my perusal and consideration.

I will have possession of her dear heart this very night; and let Tomkins provide a proper receptacle and spirits, till I can get a golden one made for it.

I will take her papers. And, as no one can do her memory justice equal to myself, and I will not spare myself, who can better show the world what she was, and what a villain he that could use her ill? And the world shall also see what implacable and unworthy parents she had.

All shall be set forth in words at length. No mincing of the matter. Names undisguised as well as facts. For, as I shall make the worst figure in it myself, and have a right to treat myself as nobody else shall, who shall control me? who dare call me to account?

Let me know, if the d⁠⸺⁠d mother be yet the subject of the devil’s own vengeance⁠—if the old wretch be dead or alive? Some exemplary mischief I must yet do. My revenge shall sweep away that devil, and all my opposers of the cruel Harlowe family, from the face of the earth. Whole hecatombs ought to be offered up to the manes of my Clarissa Lovelace.

Although her will may in some respects cross mine, yet I expect to be observed. I will be the interpreter of hers.

Next to mine, hers shall be observed: for she is my wife, and shall be to all eternity.⁠—I will never have another.

Adieu, Jack, I am preparing to be with you. I charge you, as you value my life or your own, do not oppose me in anything relating to my Clarissa Lovelace.

My temper is entirely altered. I know not what it is to laugh, or smile, or be pleasant. I am grown choleric and impatient, and will not be controlled.

I write this in characters as I used to do, that nobody but you should know what I write. For never was any man plagued with impertinents as I am.

R. Lovelace.

* * * * *

[In a separate paper enclosed in the above]

Let me tell thee, in characters still, that I am in a dreadful way just now. My brain is all boiling like a cauldron over a fiery furnace. What a devil is the matter with me, I wonder! I never was so strange in my life.

In truth, Jack, I have been a most execrable villain. And when I consider all my actions to the angel of a woman, and in her the piety, the charity, the wit, the beauty, I have helped to destroy, and the good to the world I have thereby been a mean of frustrating, I can pronounce d⁠⸺⁠n⁠—n upon myself. How then can I expect mercy anywhere else?

I believe I shall have no patience with you when I see you. Your d⁠⸺⁠d stings and reflections have almost turned my brain.

But here Lord M. they tell me, is come!⁠—D⁠⸺⁠n him, and those who sent for him!

I know not what I have written. But her dear heart and a lock of her hair I will have, let who will be the gainsayers! For is she not mine? Whose else can she be? She has no father nor mother, no sister, no brother, no relations but me. And my beloved is mine, and I am hers⁠—and that’s enough.⁠—But Oh!⁠—

She’s out. The damp of death has quench’d her quite!
Those spicy doors, her lips, are shut, close lock’d,
Which never gale of life shall open more!

And is it so?⁠—Is it indeed so?⁠—Good God!⁠—Good God!⁠—But they will not let me write on. I must go down to this officious Peer⁠—Who the devil sent for him?

Letter 498

Mr. Belford, to Richard Mowbray, Esq.
Sunday, Sept. 10. Four in the Afternoon
I have yours, with our unhappy friend’s enclosed. I am glad my Lord is with him. As I presume that his frenzy will be but of short continuance, I most earnestly wish, that on his recovery he could be prevailed upon to go abroad. Mr. Morden, who is inconsolable, has seen by the will, (as indeed he suspected before he read it), that the case was more than a common seduction; and has dropped hints already, that he looks on himself, on that account, as freed from his promises made to the dying lady, which were, that he would not seek to avenge her death.

You must make the recovery of his health the motive for urging him on this head; for, if you hint at his own safety, he will not stir, but rather seek the Colonel.

As to the lock of hair, you may easily pacify him, (as you once saw the angel), with hair near the colour, if he be intent upon it.

At my Lord’s desire I will write on, and in my common hand; that you may judge what is, and what is not, fit to be read to Mr. Lovelace at present. But as I shall not forbear reflections as I go along, in hopes to reach his heart on his recovery, I think it best to direct myself to him still, and that as if he were not disordered.

As I shall not have leisure to take copies, and yet am willing to have the whole subject before me, for my own future contemplation, I must insist upon a return of my letters some time hence. Mr. Lovelace knows that this is one of my conditions; and has hitherto complied with it.

Thy letter, Mowbray, is an inimitable performance. Thou art a strange impenetrable creature. But let me most earnestly conjure thee, and the idle flutterer, Tourville, from what you have seen of poor Belton’s exit; from our friend Lovelace’s frenzy, and the occasion of it; and from the terrible condition in which the wretched Sinclair lies; to set about an immediate change of life and manners. For my own part, I am determined, be your resolutions what they may, to take the advice I give.

As witness
J. Belford.

Letter 499

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
O Lovelace! I have a scene to paint in relation to the wretched Sinclair, that, if I do it justice, will make thee seriously ponder and reflect, or nothing can. I will lead thee to it in order; and that in my usual hand, that thy compeers may be able to read it as well as thyself.

When I had written the preceding letter, not knowing what to do with myself, recollecting, and in vain wishing for that delightful and improving conversation, which I had now forever lost; I thought I had as good begin the task, which I had for some time past resolved to begin; that is to say, to go to church; and see if I could not reap some benefit from what I should hear there. Accordingly I determined to go to hear the celebrated preacher at St. James’s church. But, as if the devil (for so I was then ready to conclude) thought himself concerned to prevent my intention, a visit was made me, just as I was dressed, which took me off from my purpose.

From whom should this visit be, but from Sally Martin, accompanied by Mrs. Carter, the sister of the infamous Sinclair! the same, I suppose I need not tell you, who keeps the bagnio near Bloomsbury.

These told me that the surgeon, apothecary, and physician, had all given the wretched woman over; but that she said, she should not die, nor be at rest, till she saw me; and they besought me to accompany them in the coach they came in, if I had one spark of charity, of Christian charity, as they called it, left.

I was very loth to be diverted from my purpose by a request so unwelcome, and from people so abhorred; but at last went, and we got thither by ten; where a scene so shocking presented itself to me, that the death of poor desponding Belton is not, I think, to be compared with it.

The old wretch had once put her leg out by her rage and violence, and had been crying, scolding, cursing, ever since the preceding evening, that the surgeon had told her it was impossible to save her; and that a mortification had begun to show itself; insomuch that, purely in compassion to their own ears, they had been forced to send for another surgeon, purposely to tell her, though against his judgment, and (being a friend of the other) to seem to convince him, that he mistook the case; and that if she would be patient, she might recover. But, nevertheless, her apprehensions of death, and her antipathy to the thoughts of dying, were so strong, that their imposture had not the intended effect, and she was raving, crying, cursing, and even howling, more like a wolf than a human creature, when I came; so that as I went upstairs, I said, Surely this noise, this howling, cannot be from the unhappy woman! Sally said it was; and assured me, that it was nothing to the noise she had made all night; and stepping into her room before me, dear Madam Sinclair, said she, forbear this noise! It is more like that of a bull than a woman!⁠—Here comes Mr. Belford; and you’ll fright him away if you bellow at this rate.

There were no less than eight of her cursed daughters surrounding her bed when I entered; one of her partners, Polly Horton, at their head; and now Sally, her other partner, and Madam Carter, as they called her, (for they are all Madams with one another), made the number ten; all in shocking deshabille, and without stays, except Sally, Carter, and Polly; who, not daring to leave her, had not been in bed all night.

The other seven seemed to have been but just up, risen perhaps from their customers in the fore-house, and their nocturnal orgies, with faces, three or four of them, that had run, the paint lying in streaky seams not half blowzed off, discovering coarse wrinkled skins: the hair of some of them of divers colours, obliged to the black-lead comb where black was affected; the artificial jet, however, yielding apace to the natural brindle: that of others plastered with oil and powder; the oil predominating: but everyone’s hanging about her ears and neck in broken curls, or ragged ends; and each at my entrance taken with one motion, stroking their matted locks with both hands under their coifs, mobs, or pinners, every one of which was awry. They were all slip-shoed; stockingless some; only under-petticoated all; their gowns, made to cover straddling hoops, hanging trollopy, and tangling about their heels; but hastily wrapt round them, as soon as I came upstairs. And half of them (unpadded, shoulder-bent, pallid-lips, limber-jointed wretches) appearing, from a blooming nineteen or twenty perhaps overnight, haggard well-worn strumpets of thirty-eight or forty.

I am the more particular in describing to thee the appearance these creatures made in my eyes when I came into the room, because I believe thou never sawest any of them, much less a group of them, thus unprepared for being seen.[387] I, for my part, never did before; nor had I now, but upon this occasion, being thus favoured. If thou hadst, I believe thou wouldst hate a profligate woman, as one of Swift’s yahoos, or Virgil’s obscene harpies, squirting their ordure upon the Trojan trenches; since the persons of such in their retirements are as filthy as their minds.⁠—Hate them as much as I do; and as much as I admire, and next to adore, a truly virtuous and elegant woman: for to me it is evident, that as a neat and clean woman must be an angel of a creature, so a sluttish one is the impurest animal in nature. But these were the veterans, the chosen band; for now-and-then flitted in to the number of half a dozen or more, by turns, subordinate sinners, undergraduates, younger than some of the chosen phalanx, but not less obscene in their appearance, though indeed not so much beholden to the plastering focus; yet unpropt by stays, squalid, loose in attire, sluggish-haired, under-petticoated only as the former, eyes half-opened, winking and pinking, mispatched, yawning, stretching, as if from the unworn-off effects of the midnight revel; all armed in succession with supplies of cordials (of which everyone present was either taster or partaker) under the direction of the busier Dorcas, who frequently popped in, to see her slops duly given and taken.

But when I approached the old wretch, what a spectacle presented itself to my eyes!

Her misfortune has not at all sunk, but rather, as I thought, increased her flesh; rage and violence perhaps swelling her muscular features. Behold her, then, spreading the whole troubled bed with her huge quaggy carcase: her mill-post arms held up; her broad hands clenched with violence; her big eyes, goggling and flaming ready as we may suppose those of a salamander; her matted grisly hair, made irreverend by her wickedness (her clouted headdress being half off, spread about her fat ears and brawny neck); her livid lips parched, and working violently; her broad chin in convulsive motion; her wide mouth, by reason of the contraction of her forehead (which seemed to be half-lost in its own frightful furrows) splitting her face, as it were, into two parts; and her huge tongue hideously rolling in it; heaving, puffing as if for breath; her bellows-shaped and various-coloured breasts ascending by turns to her chin, and descending out of sight, with the violence of her gaspings.

This was the spectacle, as recollection has enabled me to describe it, that this wretch made to my eye, by her suffragans and daughters, who surveyed her with scowling frighted attention, which one might easily see had more in it of horror and self-concern (and self-condemnation too) than of love or pity; as who should say, See! what we ourselves must one day be!

As soon as she saw me, her naturally-big voice, more hoarsened by her ravings, broke upon me: O Mr. Belford! O Sir! see what I am come to!⁠—See what I am brought to!⁠—To have such a cursed crew about me, and not one of them to take care of me! But to let me tumble downstairs so distant from the room I went from! so distant from the room I meant to go to!⁠—Cursed, cursed be every careless devil!⁠—May this or worse be their fate every one of them!

And then she cursed and swore most vehemently, and the more, as two or three of them were excusing themselves on the score of their being at that time as unable to help themselves as she. As soon as she had cleared the passage of her throat by the oaths and curses which her wild impatience made her utter, she began in a more hollow and whining strain to bemoan herself. And here, said she⁠—Heaven grant me patience! (clenching and unclenching her hands) am I to die thus miserably!⁠—of a broken leg in my old age!⁠—snatched away by means of my own intemperance! Self-do! Self-undone!⁠—No time for my affairs! No time to repent!⁠—And in a few hours (Oh!⁠—Oh!⁠—with another long howling O⁠—h!⁠—U⁠—gh⁠—o! a kind of screaming key terminating it) who knows, who can tell where I shall be?⁠—Oh! that indeed I never, never, had had a being!

What could one say to such a wretch as this, whose whole life had been spent in the most diffusive wickedness, and who no doubt has numbers of souls to answer for? Yet I told her, she must be patient: that her violence made her worse: and that, if she would compose herself, she might get into a frame more proper for her present circumstances.

Who, I? interrupted she: I get into a better frame! I, who can neither cry, nor pray! Yet already feel the torments of the d⁠⸺⁠d! What mercy can I expect? What hope is left for me?⁠—Then, that sweet creature! that incomparable Miss Harlowe! she, it seems, is dead and gone! O that cursed man! Had it not been for him! I had never had this, the most crying of all my sins, to answer for!

And then she set up another howl.

And is she dead?⁠—Indeed dead? proceeded she, when her howl was over⁠—O what an angel have I been the means of destroying! For though it was that it was mine, and yours, and yours, and yours, devils as we all were (turning to Sally, to Polly, and to one or two more) that he did not do her justice! And that, that is my curse, and will one day be yours! And then again she howled.

I still advised patience. I said, that if her time were to be so short as she apprehended, the more ought she to endeavour to compose herself: and then she would at least die with more ease to herself⁠—and satisfaction to her friends, I was going to say⁠—But the word die put her into a violent raving, and thus she broke in upon me. Die, did you say, Sir?⁠—Die!⁠—I will not, I cannot die!⁠—I know not how to die!⁠—Die, Sir!⁠—And must I then die?⁠—Leave this world?⁠—I cannot bear it!⁠—And who brought you hither, Sir?⁠—(her eyes striking fire at me) Who brought you hither to tell me I must die, Sir?⁠—I cannot, I will not leave this world. Let others die, who wish for another! who expect a better!⁠—I have had my plagues in this; but would compound for all future hopes, so as I may be nothing after this!

And then she howled and bellowed by turns.

By my faith, Lovelace, I trembled in every joint; and looking upon her who spoke this, and roared thus, and upon the company round me, I more than once thought myself to be in one of the infernal mansions.

Yet will I proceed, and try, for thy good, if I can shock thee but half as much with my descriptions, as I was shocked with what I saw and heard.

Sally!⁠—Polly!⁠—Sister Carter! said she, did you not tell me I might recover? Did not the surgeon tell me I might?

And so you may, cried Sally; Monsieur Garon says you may, if you’ll be patient. But, as I have often told you this blessed morning, you are reader to take despair from your own fears, than comfort from all the hope we can give you.

Yet, cried the wretch, interrupting, does not Mr. Belford (and to him you have told the truth, though you won’t to me; does not he) tell me that I shall die?⁠—I cannot bear it! I cannot bear the thoughts of dying!

And then, but that half a dozen at once endeavoured to keep down her violent hands, would she have beaten herself; as it seems she had often attempted to do from the time the surgeon popped out the word mortification to her.

Well, but to what purpose, said I (turning aside to her sister, and to Sally and Polly), are these hopes given her, if the gentlemen of the faculty give her over? You should let her know the worst, and then she must submit; for there is no running away from death. If she had any matters to settle, put her upon settling them; and do not, by telling her she will live, when there is no room to expect it, take from her the opportunity of doing needful things. Do the surgeons actually give her over?

They do, whispered they. Her gross habit, they say, gives no hopes. We have sent for both surgeons, whom we expect every minute.

Both the surgeons (who are French; for Mrs. Sinclair has heard Tourville launch out in the praise of French surgeons) came in while we were thus talking. I retired to the farther end of the room, and threw up a window for a little air, being half-poisoned by the effluvia arising from so many contaminated carcases; which gave me no imperfect idea of the stench of gaols, which, corrupting the ambient air, gives what is called the prison distemper.

I came back to the bedside when the surgeons had inspected the fracture; and asked them, If there were any expectation of her life?

One of them whispered me, there was none: that she had a strong fever upon her, which alone, in such a habit, would probably do the business; and that the mortification had visibly gained upon her since they were there six hours ago.

Will amputation save her? Her affairs and her mind want settling. A few days added to her life may be of service to her in both respects.

They told me the fracture was high in her leg; that the knee was greatly bruised; that the mortification, in all probability, had spread halfway of the femur: and then, getting me between them, (three or four of the women joining us, and listening with their mouths open, and all the signs of ignorant wonder in their faces, as there appeared of self-sufficiency in those of the artists), did they by turns fill my ears with an anatomical description of the leg and thigh; running over with terms of art, of the tarsus, the metatarsus, the tibia, the fibula, the patella, the os tali, the os tibae, the tibialis posticus and tibialis anticus, up to the os femoris, to the acetabulum of the os ischion, the great trochanter, glutaeus, triceps, lividus, and little rotators; in short, of all the muscles, cartilages, and bones, that constitute the leg and thigh from the great toe to the hip; as if they would show me, that all their science had penetrated their heads no farther than their mouths; while Sally lifted up her hands with a Laud bless me! Are all surgeons so learned!⁠—But at last both the gentlemen declared, that if she and her friends would consent to amputation, they would whip off her leg in a moment.

Mrs. Carter asked, To what purpose, if the operation would not save her?

Very true, they said; but it might be a satisfaction to the patient’s friends, that all was done that could be done.

And so the poor wretch was to be lanced and quartered, as I may say, for an experiment only! And, without any hope of benefit from the operation, was to pay the surgeons for tormenting her!

I cannot but say I have a mean opinion of both these gentlemen, who, though they make a figure, it seems, in their way of living, and boast not only French extraction, but a Paris education, never will make any in their practice.

How unlike my honest English friend Tomkins, a plain serious, intelligent man, whose art lies deeper than in words; who always avoids parade and jargon; and endeavours to make everyone as much a judge of what he is about as himself!

All the time that the surgeons ran on with their anatomical process, the wretched woman most frightfully roared and bellowed; which the gentlemen (who showed themselves to be of the class of those who are not affected with the evils they do not feel), took no other notice of, than by raising their voices to be heard, as she raised hers⁠—being evidently more solicitous to increase their acquaintance, and to propagate the notion of their skill, than to attend to the clamours of the poor wretch whom they were called in to relieve; though by this very means, like the dog and the shadow in the fable, they lost both aims with me; for I never was deceived in one rule, which I made early; to wit, that the stillest water is the deepest, while the bubbling stream only betrays shallowness; and that stones and pebbles lie there so near the surface, to point out the best place to ford a river dry shod.

As nobody cared to tell the unhappy wretch what everyone apprehended must follow, and what the surgeons convinced me soon would, I undertook to be the denouncer of her doom. Accordingly, the operators being withdrawn, I sat down by the bedside, and said, Come, Mrs. Sinclair, let me advise you to forbear these ravings at the carelessness of those, who, I find, at the time, could take no care of themselves; and since the accident has happened, and cannot be remedied, to resolve to make the best of the matter: for all this violence but enrages the malady, and you will probably fall into a delirium, if you give way to it, which will deprive you of that reason which you ought to make the best of for the time it may be lent you.

She turned her head towards me, and hearing me speak with a determined voice, and seeing me assume as determined an air, became more calm and attentive.

I went on, telling her, that I was glad, from the hints she had given, to find her concerned for her past misspent life, and particularly for the part she had had in the ruin of the most excellent woman on earth: that if she would compose herself, and patiently submit to the consequences of an evil she had brought upon herself, it might possibly be happy for her yet. Meantime, continued I, tell me, with temper and calmness, why was you so desirous to see me?

She seemed to be in great confusion of thought, and turned her head this way and that; and at last, after much hesitation, said, Alas for me! I hardly know what I wanted with you. When I awoke from my intemperate trance, and found what a cursed way I was in, my conscience smote me, and I was for catching like a drowning wretch, at every straw. I wanted to see everybody and anybody but those I did see; everybody who I thought could give me comfort. Yet could I expect none from you neither; for you had declared yourself my enemy, although I had never done you harm; for what, Jackey, in her old tone, whining through her nose, was Miss Harlowe to you?⁠—But she is happy!⁠—But oh! what will become of me?⁠—Yet tell me, (for the surgeons have told you the truth, no doubt), tell me, shall I do well again? May I recover? If I may, I will begin a new course of life: as I hope to be saved, I will. I’ll renounce you all⁠—every one of you, (looking round her), and scrape all I can together, and live a life of penitence; and when I die, leave it all to charitable uses⁠—I will, by my soul⁠—every doit of it to charity⁠—but this once, lifting up her rolling eyes, and folded hands, (with a wry-mouthed earnestness, in which every muscle and feature of her face bore its part), this one time⁠—good God of Heaven and earth, but this once! this once! repeating those words five or six times, spare thy poor creature, and every hour of my life shall be passed in penitence and atonement: upon my soul it shall!

Less vehement! a little less vehement! said I⁠—it is not for me, who have led so free a life, as you but too well know, to talk to you in a reproaching strain, and to set before you the iniquity you have lived in, and the many souls you have helped to destroy. But as you are in so penitent a way, if I might advise, you should send for a good clergyman, the purity of whose life and manners may make all these things come from him with a better grace than they can from me.

How, Sir! What, Sir! interrupting me: send for a parson!⁠—Then you indeed think I shall die! Then you think there is no room for hope!⁠—A parson, Sir!⁠—Who sends for a parson, while there is any hope left?⁠—The sight of a parson would be death immediate to me!⁠—I cannot, cannot die!⁠—Never tell me of it!⁠—What! die!⁠—What! cut off in the midst of my sins!

And then she began again to rave.

I cannot bear, said I, rising from my seat with a stern air, to see a reasonable creature behave so outrageously!⁠—Will this vehemence, think you, mend the matter? Will it avail you anything? Will it not rather shorten the life you are so desirous to have lengthened, and deprive you of the only opportunity you can ever have to settle your affairs for both worlds?⁠—Death is but the common lot: and if it be yours soon, looking at her, it will be also yours, and yours, and yours, speaking with a raised voice, and turning to every trembling devil round her, (for they all shook at my forcible application), and mine also. And you have reason to be thankful, turning again to her, that you did not perish in that act of intemperance which brought you to this: for it might have been your neck, as well as your leg; and then you had not had the opportunity you now have for repentance⁠—and, the Lord have mercy upon you! into what a state might you have awoke!

Then did the poor wretch set up an inarticulate frightful howl, such a one as I never before heard of her; and seeing everyone half-frighted, and me motioning to withdraw, O pity me, pity me, Mr. Belford, cried she, her words interrupted by groans⁠—I find you think I shall die!⁠—And what may I be, and where, in a very few hours⁠—who can tell?

I told her it was vain to flatter her: it was my opinion she would not recover.

I was going to re-advise her to calm her spirits, and endeavour to resign herself, and to make the beset of the opportunity yet left her; but this declaration set her into a most outrageous raving. She would have torn her hair, and beaten her breast, had not some of the wretches held her hands by force, while others kept her as steady as they could, lest she should again put out her new-set leg; so that, seeing her thus incapable of advice, and in a perfect frenzy, I told Sally Martin, that there was no bearing the room; and that their best way was to send for a minister to pray by her, and to reason with her, as soon as she should be capable of it. And so I left them; and never was so sensible of the benefit of fresh air, as I was the moment I entered the street.

Nor is it to be wondered at, when it is considered that, to the various ill smells that will always be found in a close sick bedroom, (for generally, when the physician comes, the air is shut out), this of Mrs. Sinclair was the more particularly offensive, as, to the scent of plasters, salves, and ointments, were added the stenches of spirituous liquors, burnt and unburnt, of all denominations; for one or other of the creatures, under pretence of colics, gripes, or qualms, were continually calling for supplies of these, all the time I was there. And yet this is thought to be a genteel house of the sort; and all the prostitutes in it are prostitutes of price, and their visitors people of note.

O, Lovelace! what lives do most of us rakes and libertines lead! what company do we keep! And, for such company, what society renounce, or endeavour to make like these!

What woman, nice in her person, and of purity in her mind and manners, did she know what miry wallowers the generality of men of our class are in themselves, and constantly trough and sty with, but would detest the thoughts of associating with such filthy sensualists, whose favourite taste carries them to mingle with the dregs of stews, brothels, and common sewers?

Yet, to such a choice are many worthy women betrayed, by that false and inconsiderate notion, raised and propagated, no doubt, by the author of all delusion, that a reformed rake makes the best husband. We rakes, indeed, are bold enough to suppose, that women in general are as much rakes in their hearts, as the libertines some of them suffer themselves to be take with are in their practice. A supposition, therefore, which it behoves persons of true honour of that sex to discountenance, by rejecting the address of every man, whose character will not stand the test of that virtue which is the glory of a woman: and indeed, I may say, of a man too: why should it not?

How, indeed, can it be, if this point be duly weighed, that a man who thinks alike of all the sex, and knows it to be in the power of a wife to do him the greatest dishonour man can receive, and doubts not her will to do it, if opportunity offer, and importunity be not wanting: that such a one, from principle, should be a good husband to any woman? And, indeed, little do innocents think, what a total revolution of manners, what a change of fixed habits, nay, what a conquest of a bad nature, and what a portion of Divine Grace, is required, to make a man a good husband, a worthy father, and true friend, from principle; especially when it is considered, that it is not in a man’s own power to reform when he will. This, (to say nothing of my own experience), thou, Lovelace, hast found in the progress of thy attempts upon the divine Miss Harlowe. For whose remorses could be deeper, or more frequent, yet more transient than thine!

Now, Lovelace, let me know if the word grace can be read from my pen without a sneer from thee and thy associates? I own that once it sounded oddly in my ears. But I shall never forget what a grave man once said on this very word⁠—that with him it was a rake’s shibboleth.[388] He had always hopes of one who could bear the mention of it without ridiculing it; and ever gave him up for an abandoned man, who made a jest of it, or of him who used it.

Don’t be disgusted, that I mingle such grave reflections as these with my narratives. It becomes me, in my present way of thinking, to do so, when I see, in Miss Harlowe, how all human excellence, and in poor Belton, how all inhuman libertinism, and am near seeing in this abandoned woman, how all diabolical profligacy, end. And glad should I be for your own sake, for your splendid family’s sake, and for the sake of all your intimates and acquaintance, that you were labouring under the same impressions, that so we who have been companions in (and promoters of one another’s) wickedness, might join in a general atonement to the utmost of our power.

I came home reflecting upon all these things, more edifying to me than any sermon I could have heard preached: and I shall conclude this long letter with observing, that although I left the wretched howler in a high frenzy-fit, which was excessively shocking to the bystanders; yet her frenzy must be the happiest part of her dreadful condition: for when she is herself, as it is called, what must be her reflections upon her past profligate life, throughout which it has been her constant delight and business, devil-like, to make others as wicked as herself! What must her terrors be (a hell already begun in her mind!) on looking forward to the dreadful state she is now upon the verge of!⁠—But I drop my trembling pen.

[To have done with so shocking a subject at once, we shall take notice, that Mr. Belford, in a future letter, writes, that the miserable woman, to the surprise of the operators themselves, (through hourly increasing tortures of body and mind), held out so long as till Thursday, Sept. 21; and then died in such agonies as terrified into a transitory penitence all the wretches about her.]

Letter 500

Colonel Morden, to John Belford, Esq.
Sunday Night, Sept. 10
Dear Sir,
According to my promise, I send you an account of matters here. Poor Mrs. Norton was so very ill upon the road, that, slowly as the hearse moved, and the chariot followed, I was afraid we should not have got her to St. Albans. We put up there as I had intended. I was in hopes that she would have been better for the stop: but I was forced to leave her behind me. I ordered the maidservant you were so considerately kind as to send down with her, to be very careful of her; and left the chariot to attend her. She deserves all the regard that can be paid her; not only upon my cousin’s account, but on her own⁠—she is an excellent woman.

When we were within five miles of Harlowe-place, I put on a hand-gallop. I ordered the hearse to proceed more slowly still, the crossroad we were in being rough; and having more time before us than I wanted; for I wished not the hearse to be in till near dusk. I got to Harlowe-place about four o’clock. You may believe I found a mournful house. You desire me to be very minute.

At my entrance into the court, they were all in motion. Every servant whom I saw had swelled eyes, and looked with so much concern, that at first I apprehended some new disaster had happened in the family. Mr. John and Mr. Antony Harlowe and Mrs. Hervey were there. They all helped on one another’s grief, as they had before done each other’s hardness of heart.

My cousin James met me at the entrance of the hall. His countenance expressed a fixed concern; and he desired me to excuse his behaviour the last time I was there.

My cousin Arabella came to me full of tears and grief.

O Cousin! said she, hanging upon my arm, I dare not ask you any questions!⁠—About the approach of the hearse, I suppose she meant.

I myself was full of grief; and, without going farther or speaking, sat down in the hall in the first chair.

The brother sat on one hand of me, the sister on the other. Both were silent. The latter in tears.

Mr. Antony Harlowe came to me soon after. His face was overspread with all the appearance of woe. He requested me to walk into the parlour; where, as he said, were all his fellow-mourners.

I attended him in. My cousins James and Arabella followed me.

A perfect concert of grief, as I may say, broke out the moment I entered the parlour.

My cousin Harlowe, the dear creature’s father, as soon as he saw me, said, O Cousin, Cousin, of all our family, you are the only one who have nothing to reproach yourself with!⁠—You are a happy man!

The poor mother, bowing her head to me in speechless grief, sat with her handkerchief held to her eyes with one hand. The other hand was held by her sister Hervey, between both hers; Mrs. Hervey weeping upon it.

Near the window sat Mr. John Harlowe, his face and his body turned from the sorrowing company; his eyes red and swelled.

My cousin Antony, at his re-entering the parlour, went towards Mrs. Harlowe⁠—Don’t⁠—dear Sister, said he!⁠—Then towards my cousin Harlowe⁠—Don’t⁠—dear Brother!⁠—Don’t thus give way⁠—And, without being able to say another word, went to a corner of the parlour, and, wanting himself the comfort he would fain have given, sunk into a chair, and audibly sobbed.

Miss Arabella followed her uncle Antony, as he walked in before me, and seemed as if she would have spoken to the pierced mother some words of comfort. But she was unable to utter them, and got behind her mother’s chair; and, inclining her face over it, on the unhappy lady’s shoulder, seemed to claim the consolation that indulgent parent used, but then was unable, to afford her.

Young Mr. Harlowe, with all his vehemence of spirit, was now subdued. His self-reproaching conscience, no doubt, was the cause of it.

And what, Sir, must their thoughts be, which, at that moment, in a manner, deprived them of all motion, and turned their speech into sighs and groans!⁠—How to be pitied, how greatly to be pitied! all of them! But how much to be cursed that abhorred Lovelace, who, as it seems, by arts uncommon, and a villany without example, has been the sole author of a woe so complicated and extensive!⁠—God judge me, as⁠—But I stop⁠—the man (the man can I say?) is your friend!⁠—He already suffers, you tell me, in his intellect.⁠—Restore him, Heaven, to that⁠—If I find the matter come out, as I apprehend it will⁠—indeed her own hint of his usage of her, as in her will, is enough⁠—nor think, my beloved cousin, thou darling of my heart! that thy gentle spirit, breathing charity and forgiveness to the vilest of men, shall avail him!⁠—But once more I stop⁠—forgive me, Sir!⁠—Who could behold such a scene, who could recollect it in order to describe it, (as minutely as you wished me to relate how this unhappy family were affected on this sad occasion), every one of the mourners nearly related to himself, and not to be exasperated against the author of all?

As I was the only person (grieved as I was myself) from whom any of them, at that instant, could derive comfort; Let us not, said I, my dear Cousin, approaching the inconsolable mother, give way to a grief, which, however just, can now avail us nothing. We hurt ourselves, and cannot recall the dear creature for whom we mourn. Nor would you wish it, if you know with what assurance of eternal happiness she left the world⁠—She is happy, Madam!⁠—depend upon it, she is happy! And comfort yourselves with that assurance!

O Cousin, Cousin! cried the unhappy mother, withdrawing her hand from that of her sister Hervey, and pressing mine with it, you know not what a child I have lost!⁠—Then in a low voice, and how lost!⁠—That it is that makes the loss insupportable.

They all joined in a kind of melancholy chorus, and each accused him and herself, and some of them one another. But the eyes of all, in turn, were cast upon my cousin James, as the person who had kept up the general resentment against so sweet a creature. While he was hardly able to bear his own remorse: nor Miss Harlowe hers; she breaking out into words, How tauntingly did I write to her! How barbarously did I insult her! Yet how patiently did she take it!⁠—Who would have thought that she had been so near her end!⁠—O Brother, Brother! but for you!⁠—But for you!⁠—Double not upon me, said he, my own woes! I have everything before me that has passed! I thought only to reclaim a dear creature that had erred! I intended not to break her tender heart! But it was the villanous Lovelace who did that⁠—not any of us!⁠—Yet, Cousin, did she not attribute all to me?⁠—I fear she did!⁠—Tell me only, did she name me, did she speak of me, in her last hours? I hope she, who could forgive the greatest villain on earth, and plead that he may be safe from our vengeance, I hope she could forgive me.

She died blessing you all; and justified rather than condemned your severity to her.

Then they set up another general lamentation. We see, said her father, enough we see, in her heart-piercing letters to us, what a happy frame she was in a few days before her death⁠—But did it hold to the last? Had she no repinings? Had the dear child no heart burnings?

None at all!⁠—I never saw, and never shall see, so blessed a departure: and no wonder; for I never heard of such a preparation. Every hour, for weeks together, were taken up in it. Let this be our comfort: we need only to wish for so happy an end for ourselves, and for those who are nearest to our hearts. We may any of us be grieved for acts of unkindness to her: but had all happened that once she wished for, she could not have made a happier, perhaps not so happy an end.

Dear soul! and Dear sweet soul! the father, uncles, sister, my cousin Hervey, cried out all at once, in accents of anguish inexpressibly affecting.

We must forever be disturbed for those acts of unkindness to so sweet a child, cried the unhappy mother!⁠—Indeed! indeed! (softly to her sister Hervey), I have been too passive, much too passive in this case!⁠—The temporary quiet I have been so studious all my life to preserve, has cost me everlasting disquiet!⁠—There she stopped.

Dear Sister! was all Mrs. Hervey could say.

I have done but half my duty to the dearest and most meritorious of children, resumed the sorrowing mother!⁠—Nay, not half!⁠—How have we hardened our hearts against her!⁠—Again her tears denied passage to her words.

My dearest, dearest Sister!⁠—again was all Mrs. Hervey could say.

Would to Heaven, proceeded, exclaiming, the poor mother, I had but once seen her! Then, turning to my cousin James, and his sister⁠—O my son! O my Arabella! if we were to receive as little mercy⁠—And there again she stopped, her tears interrupting her farther speech; everyone, all the time, remaining silent; their countenances showing a grief in their hearts too big for expression.

Now you see, Mr. Belford, that my dearest cousin could be allowed all her merit!⁠—What a dreadful thing is after-reflection upon a conduct so perverse and unnatural?

O this cursed friend of yours, Mr. Belford! This detested Lovelace!⁠—To him, to him is owing⁠—

Pardon me, Sir. I will lay down my pen till I have recovered my temper.

* * * * *

One in the Morning.
In vain, Sir, have I endeavoured to compose myself to rest. You wished me to be very particular, and I cannot help it. This melancholy subject fills my whole mind. I will proceed, though it be midnight.

About six o’clock the hearse came to the outward gate⁠—the parish church is at some distance; but the wind setting fair, the afflicted family were struck, just before it came, into a fresh fit of grief, on hearing the funeral bell tolled in a very solemn manner. A respect, as it proved, and as they all guessed, paid to the memory of the dear deceased, out of officious love, as the hearse passed near the church.

Judge, when their grief was so great in expectation of it, what it must be when it arrived.

A servant came in to acquaint us with what its lumbering heavy noise up the paved inner courtyard apprised us of before. He spoke not. He could not speak. He looked, bowed, and withdrew.

I stepped out. No one else could then stir. Her brother, however, soon followed me. When I came to the door, I beheld a sight very affecting.

You have heard, Sir, how universally my dear cousin was beloved. By the poor and middling sort especially, no young lady was ever so much beloved. And with reason: she was the common patroness of all the honest poor in her neighbourhood.

It is natural for us, in every deep and sincere grief, to interest all we know in what is so concerning to ourselves. The servants of the family, it seems, had told their friends, and those their’s, that though, living, their dear young lady could not be received nor looked upon, her body was permitted to be brought home. The space of time was so confined, that those who knew when she died, must easily guess near the time the hearse was to come. A hearse, passing through country villages, and from London, however slenderly attended, (for the chariot, as I have said, waited upon poor Mrs. Norton), takes everyone’s attention. Nor was it hard to guess whose this must be, though not adorned by escutcheons, when the crossroads to Harlowe-place were taken, as soon as it came within six miles of it; so that the hearse, and the solemn tolling of the bell, had drawn together at least fifty, or the neighbouring men, women, and children, and some of good appearance. Not a soul of them, it seems, with a dry eye, and each lamenting the death of this admired lady, who, as I am told, never stirred out, but somebody was the better for her.

These, when the coffin was taken out of the hearse, crowding about it, hindered, for a few moments, its being carried in; the young people struggling who should bear it; and yet, with respectful whisperings, rather than clamorous contention. A mark of veneration I had never before seen paid, upon any occasion in all my travels, from the underbred many, from whom noise is generally inseparable in all their emulations.

At last six maidens were permitted to carry it in by the six handles.

The corpse was thus borne, with the most solemn respect, into the hall, and placed for the present upon two stools there. The plates, and emblems, and inscription, set everyone gazing upon it, and admiring it. The more, when they were told, that all was of her own ordering. They wished to be permitted a sight of the corpse; but rather mentioned this as their wish than as their hope. When they had all satisfied their curiosity, and remarked upon the emblems, they dispersed with blessings upon her memory, and with tears and lamentations; pronouncing her to be happy; and inferring, were she not so, what would become of them? While others ran over with repetitions of the good she delighted to do. Nor were there wanting those among them, who heaped curses upon the man who was the author of her fall.

The servants of the family then got about the coffin. They could not before: and that afforded a new scene of sorrow: but a silent one; for they spoke only by their eyes, and by sighs, looking upon the lid, and upon one another, by turns, with hands lifted up. The presence of their young master possibly might awe them, and cause their grief to be expressed only in dumb show.

As for Mr. James Harlowe, (who accompanied me, but withdrew when he saw the crowd), he stood looking upon the lid, when the people had left it, with a fixed attention: yet, I dare say, knew not a symbol or letter upon it at that moment, had the question been asked him. In a profound reverie he stood, his arms folded, his head on one side, and marks of stupefaction imprinted upon every feature.

But when the corpse was carried into the lesser parlour, adjoining to the hall, which she used to call her parlour, and put upon a table in the midst of the room, and the father and mother, the two uncles, her aunt Hervey, and her sister, came in, joining her brother and me, with trembling feet, and eager woe, the scene was still more affecting. Their sorrow was heightened, no doubt, by the remembrance of their unforgiving severity: and now seeing before them the receptacle that contained the glory of their family, who so lately was driven thence by their indiscreet violence; never, never more to be restored to the! no wonder that their grief was more than common grief.

They would have withheld the mother, it seems, from coming in. But when they could not, though undetermined before, they all bore her company, led on by an impulse they could not resist. The poor lady but just cast her eye upon the coffin, and then snatched it away, retiring with passionate grief towards the window; yet, addressing herself, with clasped hands, as if to her beloved daughter: O my Child, my Child! cried she; thou pride of my hope! Why was I not permitted to speak pardon and peace to thee!⁠—O forgive thy cruel mother!

Her son (his heart then softened, as his eyes showed), besought her to withdraw: and her woman looking in at that moment, he called her to assist him in conducting her lady into the middle parlour: and then returning, met his father going out of the door, who also had but just cast his eye on the coffin, and yielded to my entreaties to withdraw. His grief was too deep for utterance, till he saw his son coming in; and then, fetching a heavy groan, Never, said he, was sorrow like my sorrow!⁠—O Son! Son!⁠—in a reproaching accent, his face turned from him.

I attended him through the middle parlour, endeavouring to console him. His lady was there in agonies. She took his eye. He made a motion towards her: O my dear, said he⁠—But turning short, his eyes as full as his heart, he hastened through to the great parlour: and when there, he desired me to leave him to himself.

The uncles and sister looked and turned away, very often, upon the emblems, in silent sorrow. Mrs. Hervey would have read to them the inscription⁠—These words she did read, Here the wicked cease from troubling⁠—But could read no farther. Her tears fell in large drops upon the plate she was contemplating; and yet she was desirous of gratifying a curiosity that mingled impatience with her grief because she could not gratify it, although she often wiped her eyes as they flowed.

Judge you, Mr. Belford, (for you have great humanity), how I must be affected. Yet was I forced to try to comfort them all.

But here I will close this letter, in order to send it to you in the morning early. Nevertheless, I will begin another, upon supposition that my doleful prolixity will be disagreeable to you. Indeed I am altogether indisposed for rest, as I have mentioned before. So can do nothing but write. I have also more melancholy scenes to paint. My pen, if I may say so, is untired. These scenes are fresh upon my memory: and I myself, perhaps, may owe to you the favour of a review of them, with such other papers as you shall think proper to oblige me with, when heavy grief has given way to milder melancholy.

My servant, in his way to you with this letter, shall call at St. Alban’s upon the good woman, that he may inform you how she does. Miss Arabella asked me after her, when I withdrew to my chamber; to which she complaisantly accompanied me. She was much concerned at the bad way we left her in; and said her mother would be more so.

No wonder that the dear departed, who foresaw the remorse that would fall to the lot of this unhappy family when they came to have the news of her death confirmed to them, was so grieved for their apprehended grief, and endeavoured to comfort them by her posthumous letters. But it was still a greater generosity in her to try to excuse them to me, as she did when we were alone together, a few hours before she died; and to aggravate more than (as far as I can find) she ought to have done, the only error she was ever guilty of. The more freely, however, perhaps, (exalted creature!) that I might think the better of her friends, although at her own expense. I am, dear Sir,

Your faithful and obedient servant,
Wm. Morden.

Letter 501

Colonel Morden
[In continuation]

When the unhappy mourners were all retired, I directed the lid of the coffin to be unscrewed, and caused some fresh aromatics and flowers to be put into it.

The corpse was very little altered, notwithstanding the journey. The sweet smile remained.

The maids who brought the flowers were ambitious of strewing them about it: they poured forth fresh lamentations over her; each wishing she had been so happy as to have been allowed to attend her in London. One of them particularly, who is, it seems, my cousin Arabella’s personal servant, was more clamorous in her grief than any of the rest; and the moment she turned her back, all the others allowed she had reason for it. I inquired afterwards about her, and found, that this creature was set over my dear cousin, when she was confined to her chamber by indiscreet severity.

Good Heaven! that they should treat, and suffer thus to be treated, a young lady, who was qualified to give laws to all her family!

When my cousins were told that the lid was unscrewed, they pressed in again, all but the mournful father and mother, as if by consent. Mrs. Hervey kissed her pale lips. Flower of the world! was all she could say; and gave place to Miss Arabella; who kissing the forehead of her whom she had so cruelly treated, could only say, to my cousin James, (looking upon the corpse, and upon him), O Brother!⁠—While he, taking the fair, lifeless hand, kissed it, and retreated with precipitation.

Her two uncles were speechless. They seemed to wait each other’s example, whether to look upon the corpse, or not. I ordered the lid to be replaced; and then they pressed forward, as the others again did, to take a last farewell of the casket which so lately contained so rich a jewel.

Then it was that the grief of each found fluent expression; and the fair corpse was addressed to, with all the tenderness that the sincerest love and warmest admiration could inspire; each according to their different degrees of relationship, as if none of them had before looked upon her. She was their very niece, both uncles said! The injured saint, her uncle Harlowe! The same smiling sister, Arabella!⁠—The dear creature, all of them!⁠—The same benignity of countenance! The same sweet composure! The same natural dignity!⁠—She was questionless happy! That sweet smile betokened her being so! themselves most unhappy!⁠—And then, once more, the brother took the lifeless hand, and vowed revenge upon it, on the cursed author of all this distress.

The unhappy parents proposed to take one last view and farewell of their once darling daughter. The father was got to the parlour-door, after the inconsolable mother: but neither of them were able to enter it. The mother said she must once more see the child of her heart, or she should never enjoy herself. But they both agreed to refer their melancholy curiosity till the next day; and had in hand retired inconsolable, speechless both, their faces overspread with woe, and turned from each other, as unable each to behold the distress of the other.

When all were withdrawn, I retired, and sent for my cousin James, and acquainted him with his sister’s request in relation to the discourse to be pronounced at her interment; telling him how necessary it was that the minister, whoever he were, should have the earliest notice given him that the case would admit. He lamented the death of the reverend Dr. Lewen, who, as he said, was a great admirer of his sister, as she was of him, and would have been the fittest of all men for that office. He spoke with great asperity of Mr. Brand, upon whose light inquiry after his sister’s character in town he was willing to lay some of the blame due to himself. Mr. Melvill, Dr. Lewen’s assistant, must, he said, be the man; and he praised him for his abilities; his elocution, and unexceptionable manners; and promised to engage him early in the morning.

He called out his sister, and she was of his opinion. So I let this upon them.

They both, with no little warmth, hinted their disapprobation of you, Sir, for their sister’s executor, on the score of your intimate friendship with the author of her ruin.

You must not resent anything I shall communicate to you of what they say on this occasion: depending that you will not, I shall write with the greater freedom.

I told them how much my dear cousin was obliged to your friendship and humanity: the injunctions she had laid you under, and your own inclination to observe them. I said, That you were a man of honour: that you were desirous of consulting me, because you would not willingly give offence to any of them: and that I was very fond of cultivating your favour and correspondence.

They said there was no need of an executor out of their family; and they hoped that you would relinquish so unnecessary a trust, as they called it. My cousin James declared that he would write to you, as soon as the funeral was over, to desire that you would do so, upon proper assurances that all the will prescribed should be performed.

I said you were a man of resolution: that I thought he would hardly succeed; for that you made a point of honour of it.

I then showed them their sister’s posthumous letter to you; in which she confesses her obligations to you, and regard for you, and for your future welfare.[389] You may believe, Sir, they were extremely affected with the perusal of it.

They were surprised that I had given up to you the produce of her grandfather’s estate since his death. I told them plainly that they must thank themselves if anything disagreeable to them occurred from their sister’s devise; deserted, and thrown into the hands of strangers, as she had been.

They said they would report all I had said to their father and mother; adding, that great as their trouble was, they found they had still more to come. But if Mr. Belford were to be the executor of her will, contrary to their hopes, they besought me to take the trouble of transacting everything with you; that a friend of the man to whom they owed all their calamity might not appear to them.

They were extremely moved at the text their sister had chosen for the subject of their funeral discourse.[390] I had extracted from the will that article, supposing it probable that I might not so soon have an opportunity to show them the will itself, as would otherwise have been necessary, on account of the interment, which cannot be delayed.

* * * * *

Monday Morning, Between Eight and Nine.
The unhappy family are preparing for a mournful meeting at breakfast. Mr. James Harlowe, who has had as little rest as I, has written to Mr. Melvill, who has promised to draw up a brief eulogium on the deceased. Miss Howe is expected here by-and-by, to see, for the last time, her beloved friend.

Miss Howe, by her messenger, desires she may not be taken any notice of. She shall not tarry six minutes, was the word. Her desire will be easily granted her.

Her servant, who brought the request, if it were denied, was to return, and meet her; for she was ready to set out in her chariot, when he got on horseback.

If he met her not with the refusal, he was to say here till she came. I am, Sir,

Your faithful, humble servant,
William Morden.

Letter 502

Colonel Morden
[In continuation]

Monday Afternoon, Sept. 11
We are such bad company here to one another, that it is some relief to retire and write.

I was summoned to breakfast about half an hour after nine. Slowly did the mournful congress meet. Each, lifelessly and spiritless, took our places, with swollen eyes, inquiring, without expecting any tolerable account, how each had rested.

The sorrowing mother gave for answer, that she should never more know what rest was.

By the time we were well seated, the bell ringing, the outward gate opening, a chariot rattling over the pavement of the courtyard, put them into emotion.

I left them; and was just time enough to give Miss Howe my hand as she alighted: her maid in tears remaining in the chariot.

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 frenzy!⁠—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!

Again pausing, One tear, my beloved friend, didst thou allow me!⁠—But this dumb sorrow!⁠—O for a tear to ease my full-swollen heart that is just bursting!⁠—

But why, Sir, why, Mr. Morden, was she sent hither? Why not to me?⁠—She has no father, no mother, no relation; no, not one!⁠—They had all renounced her. I was her sympathizing friend⁠—And had not I the best right to my dear creature’s remains?⁠—And must names, without nature, be preferred to such a love as mine?

Again she kissed her lips, each cheek, her forehead;⁠—and sighed as if her heart would break⁠—

But why, why, said she, was I withheld from seeing my dearest, dear friend, and too easily persuaded to delay, the friendly visit that my heart panted after; what pain will this reflection give me!⁠—O my blessed Friend! Who knows, who knows, had I come in time, what my cordial comfortings might have done for thee!⁠—But⁠—looking round her, as if she apprehended seeing some of the family⁠—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 hardhearted 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 hardheartedness!

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 forever 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?

But looking round her, on a servant’s stepping by the door, as if again she had apprehended it was some of the family⁠—Once more, said she, a solemn, an everlasting adieu!⁠—Alas for me! a solemn, an everlasting adieu!

Then again embracing her face with both her hands, and kissing it, and afterwards the hands of the dear deceased, first one, then the other, she gave me her hand, and quitting the room with precipitation, rushed into her chariot; and, when there, with profound sight, and a fresh burst of tears, unable to speak, she bowed her head to me, and was driven away.

The inconsolable company saw how much I had been moved on my return to them. Mr. James Harlowe had been telling them what had passed between him and me. And, finding myself unfit for company, and observing, that they broke off talk at my coming in, I thought it proper to leave them to their consultations.

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, as I was, just after it, to converse with my cousins. I am, Sir, with great truth,

Your most obedient humble servant,
William Morden.

Letter 503

Colonel Morden
[In continuation]

Tuesday Morning, Sept. 12
The good Mrs. Norton is arrived, a little amended in her spirits; owing to the very posthumous letters, as I may call them, which you, Mr. Belford, as well as I, apprehended would have had fatal effects upon her.

I cannot but attribute this to the right turn of her mind. It seems she has been inured to afflictions; and has lived in a constant hope of a better life; and, having no acts of unkindness to the dear deceased to reproach herself with, is most considerately resolved to exert her utmost fortitude in order to comfort the sorrowing mother.

O Mr. Belford, how does the character of my dear departed cousin rise upon me from every mouth!⁠—Had she been my own child, or my sister!⁠—But do you think that the man who occasioned this great, this extended ruin⁠—But I forbear.

The will is not to be looked into, till the funeral rites are performed. Preparations are making for the solemnity; and the servants, as well as principals of all the branches of the family, are put into close mourning.

I have seen Mr. Melvill. He is a serious and sensible man. I have given him particulars to go upon in the discourse he is to pronounce at the funeral; but had the less need to do this, as I find he is extremely well acquainted with the whole unhappy story; and was a personal admirer of my dear cousin, and a sincere lamenter of her misfortunes and death. The reverend Dr. Lewen, who is but very lately dead, was his particular friend, and had once intended to recommend him to her favour and notice.

* * * * *

I am just returned from attending the afflicted parents, in an effort they made to see the corpse of their beloved child. They had requested my company, and that of the good Mrs. Norton. A last leave, the mother said, she must take.

An effort, however, it was, and no more. The moment they came in sight of the coffin, before the lid could be put aside, O my dear, said the father, retreating, I cannot, I find I cannot bear it!⁠—Had I⁠—had I⁠—had I never been hardhearted!⁠—Then, turning round to his lady, he had but just time to catch her in his arms, and prevent her sinking on the floor.⁠—O, my dearest Life, said he, this is too much!⁠—too much, indeed!⁠—Let us⁠—let us retire. Mrs. Norton, who (attracted by the awful receptacle) had but just left the good lady, hastened to her⁠—Dear, dear woman, cried the unhappy parent, flinging her arms about her neck, bear me, bear me hence!⁠—O my child! my child! my own Clarissa Harlowe! thou pride of my life so lately!⁠—never, never more must I behold thee!

I supported the unhappy father, Mrs. Norton the sinking mother, into the next parlour. She threw herself on a settee there; he into an elbow-chair by her⁠—the good woman at her feet, her arms clasped round her waist. The two mothers, I as may call them, of my beloved cousin, thus tenderly engaged! What a variety of distress in these woeful scenes!

The unhappy father, in endeavouring to comfort his lady, loaded himself. Would to God, my dear, said he, would to God I had no more to charge myself with than you have!⁠—You relented!⁠—you would have prevailed upon me to relent!

The greater my fault, said she, when I knew that displeasure was carried too high, to acquiesce as I did!⁠—What a barbarous parent was I, to let two angry children make me forget that I was mother to a third⁠—to such a third!

Mrs. Norton used arguments and prayers to comfort her⁠—O, my dear Norton, answered the unhappy lady, you was the dear creature’s more natural mother!⁠—Would to Heaven I had no more to answer for than you have!

Thus the unhappy pair unavailingly recriminated, till my cousin Hervey entered, and, with Mrs. Norton, conducted up to her own chamber the inconsolable mother. The two uncles, and Mr. Hervey, came in at the same time, and prevailed upon the afflicted father to retire with them to his⁠—both giving up all thoughts of ever seeing more the child whose death was so deservedly regretted by them.

Time only, Mr. Belford, can combat with advantage such a heavy deprivation as this. Advice will not do, while the loss is recent. Nature will have way given to it, (and so it ought), till sorrow has in a manner exhausted itself; and then reason and religion will come in seasonably with their powerful aids, to raise the drooping heart.

I see here no face that is the same I saw at my first arrival. Proud and haughty every countenance then, unyielding to entreaty; now, how greatly are they humbled!⁠—The utmost distress is apparent in every protracted feature, and in every bursting muscle, of each disconsolate mourner. Their eyes, which so lately flashed anger and resentment, now are turned to everyone that approaches them, as if imploring pity!⁠—Could ever wilful hardheartedness be more severely punished?

The following lines of Juvenal are, upon the whole applicable to this house and family; and I have revolved them many times since Sunday evening:

Humani generis mores tibi nôsse volenti
Sufficit una domus: paucos consumere dies, &
Dicere te miserum, postquam illinc veneris, aude.

Let me add, that Mrs. Norton has communicated to the family the posthumous letter sent her. This letter affords a foundation for future consolation to them; but at present it has new pointed their grief, by making them reflect on their cruelty to so excellent a daughter, niece, and sister.[391] I am, dear Sir,

Your faithful, humble servant,
Wm. Morden.

Letter 504

Colonel Morden
[In continuation]

Thursday Night, Sept. 14
We are just returned from the solemnization of the last mournful rite. My cousin James and his sister, Mr. and Mrs. Hervey, and their daughter, a young lady whose affection for my departed cousin shall ever bind me to her, my cousins John and Antony Harlowe, myself, and some other more distant relations of the names of Fuller and Allinson, (who, to testify their respect to the memory of the dear deceased, had put themselves in mourning), self-invited, attended it.

The father and mother would have joined in these last honours, had they been able; but they were both very much indisposed; and continue to be so.

The inconsolable mother told Mrs. Norton, that the two mothers of the sweetest child in the world ought not, on this occasion, to be separated. She therefore desired her to stay with her.

The whole solemnity was performed with great decency and order. The distance from Harlowe-place to the church is about half a mile. All the way the corpse was attended by great numbers of people of all conditions.

It was nine when it entered the church; every corner of which was crowded. Such a profound, such a silent respect did I never see paid at the funeral of princes. An attentive sadness overspread the face of all.

The eulogy pronounced by Mr. Melvill was a very pathetic one. He wiped his own eyes often, and made everybody present still oftener wipe theirs.

The auditors were most particularly affected, when he told them, that the solemn text was her own choice.

He enumerated her fine qualities, naming with honour their late worthy pastor for his authority.

Every enumerated excellence was witnessed to in different parts of the church in respectful whispers by different persons, as of their own knowledge, as I have been since informed.

When he pointed to the pew where (doing credit to religion by her example) she used to sit or kneel, the whole auditory, as one person, turned to the pew with the most respectful solemnity, as if she had been herself there.

When the gentleman attributed condescension and mingled dignity to her, a buzzing approbation was given to the attribute throughout the church; and a poor, neat woman under my pew added, “That she was indeed all graciousness, and would speak to anybody.”

Many eyes ran over when he mentioned her charities, her well-judged charities. And her reward was decreed from every mouth with sighs and sobs from some, and these words from others, “The poor will dearly miss her.”

The cheerful giver whom God is said to love, was allowed to be her: and a young lady, I am told, said, It was Miss Clarissa Harlowe’s care to find out the unhappy, upon a sudden distress, before the sighing heart was overwhelmed by it.

She had a set of poor people, chosen for their remarkable honesty and ineffectual industry. These voluntarily paid their last attendance on their benefactress; and mingling in the church as they could crowd near the aisle where the corpse was on stands, it was the less wonder that her praises from the preacher met with such general and such grateful whispers of approbation.

Some, it seems there were, who, knowing her unhappy story, remarked upon the dejected looks of the brother, and the drowned eyes of the sister! “O what would they now give, they’d warrant, had they not been so hardhearted!”⁠—Others pursued, as I may say, the severe father and unhappy mother into their chambers at home⁠—“They answered for their relenting, now that it was too late!⁠—What must be their grief!⁠—No wonder they could not be present!”

Several expressed their astonishment, as people do every hour, “that a man could live whom such perfections could not engage to be just to her;”⁠—to be humane I may say. And who, her rank and fortune considered, could be so disregardful of his own interest, had he had no other motive to be just!⁠—

The good divine, led by his text, just touched upon the unhappy step that was the cause of her untimely fate. He attributed it to the state of things below, in which there could not be absolute perfection. He very politely touched upon the noble disdain she showed (though earnestly solicited by a whole splendid family) to join interests with a man whom she found unworthy of her esteem and confidence: and who courted her with the utmost earnestness to accept of him.

What he most insisted upon was, the happy end she made; and thence drew consolation to her relations, and instruction to the auditory.

In a word, his performance was such as heightened the reputation which he had before in a very eminent degree obtained.

When the corpse was to be carried down into the vault, (a very spacious one, within the church), there was great crowding to see the coffin-lid, and the devices upon it. Particularly two gentlemen, muffled up in cloaks, pressed forward. These, it seems, were Mr. Mullins and Mr. Wyerley; both of them professed admirers of my dear cousin.

When they came near the coffin, and cast their eyes upon the lid, “In that little space,” said Mr. Mullins, “is included all human excellence!”⁠—And then Mr. Wyerley, unable to contain himself, was forced to quit the church, and we hear is very ill.

It is said that Mr. Solmes was in a remote part of the church, wrapped round in a horseman’s coat; and that he shed tears several times. But I saw him not.

Another gentleman was there incognito, in a pew near the entrance of the vault, who had not been taken notice of, but for his great emotion when he looked over his pew, at the time the coffin was carried down to its last place. This was Miss Howe’s worthy Mr. Hickman.

My cousins John and Antony and their nephew James chose not to descend into the vault among their departed ancestors.

Miss Harlowe was extremely affected. Her conscience, as well as her love, was concerned on the occasion. She would go down with the corpse of her dear, her only sister, she said; but her brother would not permit it. And her overwhelmed eye pursued the coffin till she could see no more of it; and then she threw herself on the seat, and was near fainting away.

I accompanied it down, that I might not only satisfy myself, but you, Sir, her executor, that it was deposited, as she had directed, at the feet of her grandfather.

Mr. Melvill came down, contemplated the lid, and shed a few tears over it. I was so well satisfied with his discourse and behaviour, that I presented him on the solemn spot with a ring of some value; and thanked him for his performance.

And here I left the remains of my beloved cousin; having bespoken my own place by the side of her coffin.

On my return to Harlowe-place, I contented myself with sending my compliments to the sorrowing parents, and retired to my chamber. Nor am I ashamed to own, that I could not help giving way to a repeated fit of humanity, as soon as I entered it. I am, Sir,

Your most faithful and obedient servant,
Wm. Morden.

P.S.: You will have a letter from my cousin James, who hopes to prevail upon you to relinquish the executorship. It has not my encouragement.

Letter 505

Mr. Belford, to William Morden, Esq.
Saturday, Sept. 16
Dear Sir,
I once had thoughts to go down privately, in order, disguised, to see the last solemnity performed. But there was no need to give myself this melancholy trouble, since your last letter so naturally describes all that passed, that I have every scene before my eyes.

You crowd me, Sir, methinks, into the silent slow procession⁠—now with the sacred bier, do I enter the awful porch; now measure I, with solemn paces, the venerable aisle; now, ambitious of a relationship to her, placed in a pew near to the eye-attracting coffin, do I listen to the moving eulogy; now, through the buzz of gaping, eye-swollen crowds, do I descend into the clammy vault, as a true executor, to see that part of her will performed with my own eyes. There, with a soul filled with musing, do I number the surrounding monuments of mortality, and contemplate the present stillness of so many once busy vanities, crowded all into one poor vaulted nook, as if the living grudged room for the corpse of those for which, when animated, the earth, the air, and the waters, could hardly find room. Then seeing her placed at the feet of him whose earthly delight she was; and who, as I find, ascribes to the pleasure she gave him the prolongation of his own life;[392] sighing, and with averted face, I quit the solemn mansion, the symbolic coffin, and, forever, the glory of her sex; and ascend with those, who, in a few years, after a very short blaze of life, will fill up other spaces of the same vault, which now (while they mourn only for her, whom they jointly persecuted) they press with their feet.

Nor do your affecting descriptions permit me here to stop; but, ascended, I mingle my tears and my praises with those of the numerous spectators. I accompany the afflicted mourners back to their uncomfortable mansion; and make one in the general concert of unavailing woe; till retiring as I imagine, as they retire, like them, in reality, I give up to new scenes of solitary and sleepless grief; reflecting upon the perfections I have seen the end of; and having no relief but from an indignation, which makes me approve of the resentments of others against the unhappy man, and those equally unhappy relations of hers, to whom the irreparable loss is owing.

Forgive me, Sir, these reflections, and permit me, with this, to send you what you declined receiving till the funeral was over.

[He gives him then an account of the money and effects, which he sends him down by this opportunity, for the legatees at Harlowe-place, and in its neighbourhood; which he desires him to dispose of according to the will. He also sends him an account of other steps he has taken in pursuance of the will; and desires to know if Mr. Harlowe expects the discharge of the funeral-expenses from the effects in his hands; and the reimbursement of the sums advanced to the testatrix since her grandfather’s death.]

These expeditious proceedings, says he, will convince Mr. James Harlowe that I am resolved to see the will completely executed; and yet, by my manner of doing it, that I desire not to give unnecessary mortification to the family, since everything that relates to them shall pass through your hands.

Letter 506

Mr. James Harlowe, to John Belford, Esq. Harlowe-Place,
Friday Night, Sept. 15
I hope, from the character my worthy cousin Morden gives you, that you will excuse the application I make to you, to oblige a whole family in an affair that much concerns their peace, and cannot equally concern anybody else. You will immediately judge, Sir, that this is the executorship of which my sister has given you the trouble by her last will.

We shall all think ourselves extremely obliged to you, if you please to relinquish this trust to our own family; the reasons which follow pleading for our own expectation of this favour from you:

First, because she never would have had the thought of troubling you, Sir, if she had believed any of her near relations would have taken it upon themselves.

Secondly, I understand that she recommends to you in the will to trust to the honour of any of our family, for the performance of such of the articles as are of a domestic nature. We are, any of us, and all of us, if you request it, willing to stake our honours upon this occasion; and all you can desire, as a man of honour, is, that the trust be executed.

We are the more concerned, Sir, to wish you to decline this office, because of your short and accidental knowledge of the dear testatrix, and long and intimate acquaintance with the man to whom she owed her ruin, and we the greatest loss and disappointment (her manifold excellencies considered) that ever befell a family.

You will allow due weight, I dare say, to this plea, if you make our case your own; and so much the readier, when I assure you, that your interfering in this matter, so much against our inclinations, (excuse, Sir, my plain dealing), will very probably occasion an opposition in some points, where otherwise there might be none.

What, therefore, I propose is, not that my father should assume this trust; he is too much afflicted to undertake it⁠—nor yet myself⁠—I might be thought too much concerned in interest; but that it might be allowed to devolve upon my two uncles; whose known honour, and whose affection to the dear deceased, nobody every doubted; and they will treat with you, Sir, through my cousin Morden, as to the points they will undertake to perform.

The trouble you have already had will well entitle you to the legacy she bequeaths you, together with the reimbursement of all the charges you have been at, and allowance of the legacies you have discharged, although you should not have qualified yourself to act as an executor, as I presume you have not yet done, nor will now do.

Your compliance, Sir, will oblige a family, (who have already distress enough upon them), in the circumstance that occasions this application to you, and more particularly, Sir,

Your most humble servant,
James Harlowe, Jun.

I send this by one of my servants, who will attend your dispatch.

Letter 507

Mr. Belford, to Mr. James Harlowe, Jun. Esq.
Saturday, Sept. 16
You will excuse my plain-dealing in turn: for I must observe, that if I had not the just opinion I have of the sacred nature of this office I have undertaken, some passages in the letter you have favoured me with would convince me that I ought not to excuse myself from acting in it.

I need only name one of them. You are pleased to say, that your uncles, if the trust be relinquished to them, will treat with me, through Colonel Morden, as to the points they will undertake to perform.

Permit me, Sir, to say, that it is the duty of an executor to see every point performed, that can be performed.⁠—Nor will I leave the performance of mine to any other persons, especially where a qualifying is so directly intimated, and where all the branches of your family have shown themselves, with respect to the incomparable lady, to have but one mind.

You are pleased to urge, that she recommends to me the leaving to the honour of any of your family such of the articles as are of a domestic nature. But, admitting this to be so, does it not imply that the other articles are still to obtain my care?⁠—But even these, you will find by the will, she gives not up; and to that I refer you.

I am sorry for the hints you give of an opposition, where, as you say, there might be none, if I did not interfere. I see not, Sir, why your animosity against a man who cannot be defended, should be carried to such a height against one who never gave you offence; and this only, because he is acquainted with that man. I will not say all I might say on this occasion.

As to the legacy to myself, I assure you, Sir, that neither my circumstances nor my temper will put me upon being a gainer by the executorship. I shall take pleasure to tread in the steps of the admirable testatrix in all I may; and rather will increase than diminish her poor’s fund.

With regard to the trouble that may attend the execution of the trust, I shall not, in honour to her memory, value ten times more than this can give me. I have, indeed two other executorships on my hands; but they sit light upon me. And survivors cannot better or more charitably bestow their time.

I conceive that every article, but that relating to the poor’s fund, (such is the excellence of the disposition of the most excellent of women), may be performed in two months’ time, at farthest.

Occasions of litigation or offence shall not proceed from me. You need only apply to Colonel Morden who shall command me in everything that the will allows me to oblige your family in. I do assure you, that I am as unwilling to obtrude myself upon it, as any of it can wish.

I own that I have not yet proved the will; nor shall I do it till next week at soonest, that you may have time for amicable objections, if such you think fit to make through the Colonel’s mediation. But let me observe to you, Sir, “That an executor’s power, in such instances as I have exercised it, is the same before the probate as after it. He can even, without taking that out, commence an action, although he cannot declare upon it: and these acts of administration make him liable to actions himself.” I am therefore very proper in the steps I shall have taken in part of the execution of this sacred trust; and want not allowance on the occasion.

Permit me to add, that when you have perused the will, and coolly considered everything, it is my hope, that you will yourself be of opinion that there can be no room for dispute or opposition; and that if your family will join to expedite the execution, it will be the most natural and easy way of shutting up the whole affair, and to have done with a man so causelessly, as to his own particular, the object of your dislike, as is, Sir,

Your very humble servant, (notwithstanding),
John Belford.

* * * * *

The Will
To which the following preamble, written on a separate paper, was stitched in black silk.

To My Executor

“I hope I may be excused for expatiating, in divers parts of this solemn last act, upon subjects of importance. For I have heard of so many instances of confusion and disagreement in families, and so much doubt and difficulty, for want of absolute clearness in the testaments of departed persons, that I have often concluded, (were there to be no other reasons but those which respect the peace of surviving friends), that this last act, as to its designation and operation, ought not to be the last in its composition or making; but should be the result of cool deliberation, and (as is more frequently than justly said) of a sound mind and memory; which too seldom are to be met with but in sound health. All pretences of insanity of mind are likewise prevented, when a testator gives reasons for what he wills; all cavils about words are obviated; the obliged are assured; and they enjoy the benefit for whom the benefit was intended. Hence have I, for some time past, employed myself in penning down heads of such a disposition; which, as reasons offered, I have altered and added to, so that I was never absolutely destitute of a will, had I been taken off ever so suddenly. These minutes and imperfect sketches enabled me, as God has graciously given me time and sedateness, to digest them into the form in which they appear.”

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,[393]) in the year of our Lord⁠—,[394] 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 always earnestly requested, that my body might be deposited in the family vault with those of my ancestors. If it might be granted, I could now wish, that it might be placed at the feet of my dear and honoured grandfather. But as I have, by one very unhappy step, been thought to disgrace my whole lineage, and therefore this last honour may be refused to my corpse; in this case my desire is, that it may be interred in the churchyard belonging to the parish in which I shall die; and that in the most private manner, between the hours of eleven and twelve at night; attended only by Mrs. Lovick, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and their maidservant.

But it is my desire, that the same fees and dues may be paid which are usually paid for those who are laid in the best ground, as it is called, or even in the chancel.⁠—And I bequeath five pounds to be given, at the discretion of the churchwardens, to twenty poor people, the Sunday after my interment; and this whether I shall be buried here or elsewhere.

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.

If my father can pardon the errors of his unworthy child, so far as to suffer her corpse to be deposited at the feet of her grandfather, as above requested, I could wish (my misfortunes being so notorious) that a short discourse be pronounced over my remains, before they be interred. The subject of the discourse I shall determine before I conclude this writing.

So much written about what deserves not the least consideration, and about what will be nothing when this writing comes to be opened and read, will be excused, when my present unhappy circumstances and absence from all my natural friends are considered.

And now, with regard to the worldly matters which I shall die possessed of, as well as to those which of right appertain to me, either by the will of my said grandfather, or otherwise; thus do I dispose of them.

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.

The house, late my grandfather’s, called The Grove, and by him, in honour of me, and of some of my voluntary employments, my Dairy-house, and the furniture thereof as it now stands (the pictures and large iron chest of old plate excepted), I also bequeath to my said father; only begging it as a favour that he will be pleased to permit my dear Mrs. Norton to pass the remainder of her days in that house; and to have and enjoy the apartments in it known by the name of The Housekeeper’s Apartments, with the furniture in them; and which, (plain and neat) was bought for me by my grandfather, who delighted to call me his housekeeper; and which, therefore, in his lifetime, I used as such: the office to go with the apartments. And as I am the more earnest in this recommendation, as I had once thought to have been very happy there with the good woman; and because I think her prudent management will be as beneficial to my father, as his favour can be convenient to her.

But with regard to what has accrued from that estate, since my grandfather’s death, and to the sum of nine hundred and seventy pounds, which proved to be the moiety of the money that my said grandfather had by him at his death, and which moiety he bequeathed to me for my sole and separate use, (as he did the other moiety in like manner to my sister;[395]) and which sum (that I might convince my brother and sister that I wished not for an independence upon my father’s pleasure) I gave into my father’s hands, together with the management and produce of the whole estate devised to me⁠—these sums, however considerable when put together, I hope I may be allowed to dispose of absolutely, as my love and gratitude (not confined only to my own family, which is very wealthy in all its branches) may warrant: and which therefore I shall dispose of in the manner hereafter mentioned. But it is my will and express direction, that my father’s account of the above-mentioned produce may be taken and established absolutely (and without contravention or question), as he shall be pleased to give it to my cousin Morden, or to whom else he shall choose to give it; so as that the said account be not subject to litigation, or to the control of my executor, or of any other person.

My father, of his love and bounty, was pleased to allow me the same quarterly sums that he allowed my sister for apparel and other requisites; and (pleased with me then) used to say, that those sums should not be deducted from the estate and effects bequeathed to me by my grandfather: but having mortally offended him (as I fear it may be said) by one unhappy step, it may be expected that he will reimburse himself those sums⁠—it is therefore my will and direction, that he shall be allowed to pay and satisfy himself for all such quarterly or other sums, which he was so good as to advance me from the time of my grandfather’s death; and that his account of such sums shall likewise be taken without questioning the money, however, which I left behind me in my escritoire, being to be taken in part of those disbursements.

My grandfather, who, in his goodness and favour to me, knew no bounds, was pleased to bequeath to me all the family pictures at his late house, some of which are very masterly performances; with command, that if I died unmarried, or if married and had no descendants, they should then go to that son of his (if more than one should be then living) whom I should think would set most value by them. Now, as I know that my honoured uncle, Mr. John Harlowe, Esq. was pleased to express some concern that they were not left to him, as eldest son; and as he has a gallery where they may be placed to advantage; and as I have reason to believe that he will bequeath them to my father, if he survive him, who, no doubt, will leave them to my brother, I therefore bequeath all the said family pictures to my said uncle, John Harlowe. In these pictures, however, I include not one of my own, drawn when I was about fourteen years of age; which I shall hereafter in another article bequeath.

My said honoured grandfather having a great fondness for the old family plate, which he would never permit to be changed, having lived, as he used to day, to see a great deal of it come into request again in the revolution of fashions; and having left the same to me, with a command to keep it entire; and with power at my death to bequeath it to whomsoever I pleased that I thought would forward his desire; which was, as he expresses it, that it should be kept to the end of time; this family plate, which is deposited in a large iron chest, in the strong room at his late dwelling-house, I bequeath entire to my honoured uncle Antony Harlowe, Esq. with the same injunctions which were laid on me; not doubting but he will confirm and strengthen them by his own last will.

I bequeath to my ever-valued friend, Mrs. Judith Norton, to whose piety and care, seconding the piety and care of my ever-honoured and excellent mother, I owe, morally speaking, the qualifications which, for eighteen years of my life, made me beloved and respected, the full sum of six hundred pounds, to be paid her within three months after my death.

I bequeath also to the same good woman thirty guineas, for mourning for her and for her son, my foster-brother.

To Mrs. Dorothy Hervey, the only sister of my honoured mother, I bequeath the sum of fifty guineas for a ring; and I beg of her to accept of my thankful acknowledgements for all her goodness to me from my infancy; and particularly for her patience with me, in the several altercations that happened between my brother and sister and me, before my unhappy departure from Harlowe-place.

To my kind and much valued cousin, Miss Dolly Hervey, daughter of my aunt Hervey, I bequeath my watch and equipage, and my best Mechlin and Brussels headdresses and ruffles; also my gown and petticoat of flowered silver of my own work; which having been made up but a few days before I was confined to my chamber, I never wore.

To the same young lady I bequeath likewise my harpsichord, my chamber-organ, and all my music-books.

As my sister has a very pretty library; and as my beloved Miss Howe has also her late father’s as well as her own; I bequeath all my books in general, with the cases they are in, to my said cousin Dolly Hervey. As they are not ill-chosen for a woman’s library, I know that she will take the greater pleasure in them, (when her friendly grief is mellowed by time into a remembrance more sweet than painful), because they were mine; and because there are observations in many of them of my own writing; and some very judicious ones, written by the truly reverend Dr. Lewen.

I also bequeath to the same young lady twenty-five guineas for a ring, to be worn in remembrance of her true friend.

If I live not to see my worthy cousin, William Morden, Esq. I desire my humble and grateful thanks may be given to him for his favours and goodness to me; and particularly for his endeavours to reconcile my other friends to me, at a time when I was doubtful whether he would forgive me himself. As he is in great circumstances, I will only beg of him to accept of two or three trifles, in remembrance of a kinswoman who always honoured him as much as he loved her. Particularly, of that piece of flowers which my uncle Robert, his father, was very earnest to obtain, in order to carry it abroad with him.

I desire him likewise to accept of the little miniature picture set in gold, which his worthy father made me sit for to the famous Italian master whom he brought over with him; and which he presented to me, that I might bestow it, as he was pleased to say, upon the man whom I should be one day most inclined to favour.

To the same gentleman I also bequeath my rose diamond ring, which was a present from his good father to me; and will be the more valuable to him on that account.

I humbly request Mrs. Annabella Howe, the mother of my dear Miss Howe, to accept of my respectful thanks for all her favours and goodness to me, when I was so frequently a visitor to her beloved daughter; and of a ring of twenty-five guineas price.

My picture at full length, which is in my late grandfather’s closet, (excepted in an article above from the family pictures), drawn when I was near fourteen years of age; about which time my dear Miss Howe and I began to know, to distinguish, and to love one another so dearly⁠—I cannot express how dearly⁠—I bequeath to that sister of my heart: of whose friendship, as well in adversity as prosperity, when I was deprived of all other comfort and comforters, I have had such instances, as that our love can only be exceeded in that state of perfection, in which I hope to rejoice with her hereafter, to all eternity.

I bequeath also to the same dear friend my best diamond ring, which, with other jewels, is in the private drawer of my escritoire: as also all my finished and framed pieces of needlework; the flower-piece excepted, which I have already bequeathed to my cousin Morden.

These pieces have all been taken down, as I have heard;[396] and my relations will have no heart to put them up again: but if my good mother chooses to keep back any one piece, (the above capital piece, as it is called, excepted), not knowing but some time hence she may bear the sight of it; I except that also from this general bequest; and direct it to be presented to her.

My whole-length picture in the Vandyke taste,[397] that used to hang in my own parlour, as I was permitted to call it, I bequeath to my aunt Hervey, except my mother should think fit to keep it herself.

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.[398] 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.”

Permit me, my dear friends, this solemn apostrophe, in this last solemn act, to a young lady so deservedly dear to me!

I make it my earnest request to my dear Miss Howe, that she will not put herself into mourning for me. But I desire her acceptance of a ring with my hair; and that Mr. Hickman will also accept of the like; each of the value of twenty-five guineas.

I bequeath to Lady Betty Lawrance, and to her sister, Lady Sarah Sadleir, and to the right honourable Lord M. and to their worthy nieces, Miss Charlotte and Miss Martha Montague, each an enamelled ring, with a cipher Cl. H. with my hair in crystal, and round the inside of each, the day, month, and year of my death: each ring, with brilliants, to cost twenty guineas. And this as a small token of the grateful sense I have of the honour of their good opinions and kind wishes in my favour; and of their truly noble offer t me of a very considerable annual provision, when they apprehended me to be entirely destitute of any.

To the reverend and learned Dr. Arthur Lewen, by whose instructions I have been equally delighted and benefited, I bequeath twenty guineas for a ring. If it should please God to call him to Himself before he can receive this small bequest, it is my will that his worthy daughter may have the benefit of it.

In token of the grateful sense I have of the civilities paid me by Mrs. and Miss Howe’s domestics, from time to time, in my visits there, I bequeath thirty guineas, to be divided among them, as their dear young mistress shall think proper.

To each of my worthy companions and friends, Miss Biddy Lloyd, Miss Fanny Alston, Miss Rachel Biddulph, and Miss Cartright Campbell, I bequeath five guineas for a ring.

To my late maidservant, Hannah Burton, an honest, faithful creature, who loved me, reverenced my mother, and respected my sister, and never sought to do anything unbecoming of her character, I bequeath the sum of fifty pounds, to be paid within one month after my decease, she labouring under ill health: and if that ill-health continue, I commend her for farther assistance to my good Mrs. Norton, to be put upon my poor’s fund, hereafter to be mentioned.

To the coachman, groom, and two footmen, and five maids, at Harlowe-place, I bequeath ten pounds each; to the helper five pounds.

To my sister’s maid, Betty Barnes, I bequeath ten pounds, to show that I resent no former disobligations; which I believe were owing more to the insolence of office, and to natural pertness, than to personal ill will.

All my wearing-apparel, of whatever sort, that I have not been obliged to part with, or which is not already bequeathed, (my linen excepted), I desire Mrs. Norton to accept of.

The trunks and boxes in which my clothes are sealed up, I desire may not be opened, but in presence of Mrs. Norton (or of someone deputed by her) and of Mrs. Lovick.

To the worthy Mrs. Lovick, above-mentioned, from whom I have received great civilities, and even maternal kindnesses; and to Mrs. Smith (with whom I lodge) from whom also I have received great kindnesses; I bequeath all my linen, and all my unsold laces; to be divided equally between them, as they shall agree; or, in case of disagreement, the same to be sold, and the money arising to be equally shared by them.

And I bequeath to the same good gentlewomen, as a further token of my thankful acknowledgements of their kind love and compassionate concern for me, the sum of twenty guineas each.

To Mr. Smith, the husband of Mrs. Smith above-named, I bequeath the sum of ten guineas, in acknowledgement of his civilities to me.

To Katharine, the honest maidservant of Mrs. Smith, to whom (having no servant of my own) I have been troublesome, I bequeath five guineas; and ten guineas more, in lieu of a suit of my wearing-apparel, which once, with some linen, I thought of leaving to her. With this she may purchase what may be more suitable to her liking and degree.

To the honest and careful widow, Anne Shelburne, my nurse, over and above her wages, and the customary perquisites that may belong to her, I bequeath the sum of ten guineas. Here is a careful, and (to persons of such humanity and tenderness) a melancholy employment, attended in the latter part of life with great watching and fatigue, which is hardly ever enough considered.

The few books I have at my present lodgings, I desire Mrs. Lovick to accept of; and that she be permitted, if she please, to take a copy of my book of meditations, as I used to call it; being extracts from the best of books; which she seemed to approve of, although suited particularly to my own case. As for the book itself, perhaps my good Mrs. Norton will be glad to have it, as it is written with my own hand.

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.

I do hereby make, constitute, and ordain John Belford, of Edgware, in the county of Middlesex, Esq. the sole executor of this my last will and testament; having previously obtained his leave so to do. I have given the reasons which induced me to ask this gentleman to take upon him this trouble to Miss Howe. I therefore refer to her on this subject.

But I do most earnestly beg of him the said Mr. Belford, that, in the execution of his trust, he will (as he has repeatedly promised) studiously endeavour to promote peace with, and suppress resentments in, everyone; so that all farther mischiefs may be prevented, as well from, as to, his friend. And, in order to this, I beseech him to cultivate the friendship of my worthy cousin Morden; who, as I presume to hope, (when he understands it to be my dying request), will give him his advice and assistance in every article where it may be necessary: and who will perhaps be so good as to interpose with my relations, if any difficulty should arise about carrying out some of the articles of this my last will into execution, and to soften them into the wished-for condescension:⁠—for it is my earnest request to Mr. Belford, that he will not seek by law, or by any sort of violence, either by word or deed, to extort the performance from them. If there be any articles of a merely domestic nature, that my relations shall think unfit to be carried into execution; such articles I leave entirely to my said cousin Morden and Mr. Belford to vary, or totally dispense with, as they shall agree upon the matter; or, if they two differ in opinion, they will be pleased to be determined by a third person, to be chosen by them both.

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.

I bequeath to my said executor the sum of one hundred guineas, as a grateful, though insufficient acknowledgment of the trouble he will be at in the execution of the trust he has so kindly undertaken. I desire him likewise to accept of twenty guineas for a ring: and that he will reimburse himself for all the charges and expenses which he shall be at in the execution of this trust.

In the worthy Dr. H. I have found a physician, a father, and a friend. I beg of him, as a testimony of my gratitude, to accept of twenty guineas for a ring.

I have the same obligations to the kind and skilful Mr. Goddard, who attended me as my apothecary. His very moderate bill I have discharged down to yesterday. I have always thought it incumbent upon testators to shorten all they can the trouble of their executors. I know I underrate the value of Mr. Goddard’s attendances, when over and above what may accrue from yesterday, to the hour that will finish all, I desire fifteen guineas for a ring may be presented to him.

To the Reverend Mr. ⸻, who frequently attended me, and prayed by me in my last stages, I also bequeath fifteen guineas for a ring.

There are a set of honest, indigent people, whom I used to call My Poor, and to whom Mrs. Norton conveys relief each month, (or at shorter periods), in proportion to their necessities, from a sum I deposited in her hands, and from time to time recruited, as means accrued to me; but now nearly, if not wholly, expended: now, that my fault may be as little aggravated as possible, by the sufferings of the worthy people whom Heaven gave me a heart to relieve; and as the produce of my grandfather’s estate, (including the moiety of the sums he had by him, and was pleased to give me, at his death, as above mentioned), together with what I shall further appropriate to the same use in the subsequent articles, will, as I hope, more than answer all my legacies and bequests; it is my will and desire, that the remainder, be it little or much, shall become a fund to be appropriated, and I hereby direct that it be appropriated, to the like purposes with the sums which I put into Mrs. Norton’s hands, as aforesaid⁠—and this under the direction and management of the said Mrs. Norton, who knows my whole mind in this particular. And in case of her death, or of her desire to be acquitted of the management thereof, it is my earnest request to my dear Miss Howe, that she will take it upon herself, and that at her own death she will transfer what shall remain undisposed of at the time, to such persons, and with such limitations, restrictions, and provisoes, as she shall think will best answer my intention. For, as to the management and distribution of all or any part of it, while in Mrs. Norton’s hands, or her own, I will that it be entirely discretional, and without account, either to my executor or any other person.

Although Mrs. Norton, as I have hinted, knows my whole mind in this respect; yet it may be proper to mention, in this solemn last act, that my intention is, that this fund be entirely set apart and appropriated to relieve temporarily, from the interest thereof, (as I dare say it will be put out to the best advantage), or even from the principal, if need be, the honest, industrious, labouring poor only; when sickness, lameness, unforeseen losses, or other accidents, disable them from following their lawful callings; or to assist such honest people of large families as shall have a child of good inclinations to put out to service, trade, or husbandry.

It has always been a rule with me, in my little donations, to endeavour to aid and set forward the sober and industrious poor. Small helps, if seasonably afforded, will do for such; and so the fund may be of more extensive benefit; an ocean of wealth will not be sufficient for the idle and dissolute: whom, therefore, since they will always be in want, it will be no charity to relieve, if worthier creatures would, by relieving the others, be deprived of such assistance as may set the wheels of their industry going, and put them in a sphere of useful action.

But it is my express will and direction, that let this fund come out to be ever so considerable, it shall be applied only in support of the temporary exigencies of the persons I have described; and that no one family or person receive from it, at one time, or in one year, more than the sum of twenty pounds.

It is my will and desire, that the set of jewels which was my grandmother’s, and presented to me, soon after her death, be valued; and the worth of them paid to my executor, if any of my family choose to have them; or otherwise, that they should be sold, and go to the augmentation of my poor’s fund.⁠—But if they may be deemed an equivalent for the sums my father was pleased to advance to me since the death of my grandfather, I desire that they may be given to him.

I presume, that the diamond necklace, solitaire, and buckles, which were properly my own, presented by my mother’s uncle, Sir Josias Brookland, will not be purchased by anyone of my family, for a too obvious reason: in this case I desire that they may be sent to the best advantage, and apply the money to the uses of my will.

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.”[399]

But if I am to be interred in town, let only the usual burial-service be read over my corpse.

If my body be permitted to be carried down, I bequeath ten pounds to be given to the poor of the parish, at the discretion of the churchwardens, within a fortnight after my interment.

If any necessary matter be omitted in this my will, or if anything appear doubtful or contradictory, as possibly may be the case; since besides my inexperience in these matters, I am now, at this time, very weak and ill, having put off the finishing hand a little too long, in hopes of obtaining the last forgiveness of my honoured friend; in which case I should have acknowledged the favour with a suitable warmth of duty, and filled up some blanks which I left to the very last,[400] in a more agreeable manner to myself than now I have been enabled to do⁠—in case of such omissions and imperfections, I desire that my cousin Morden will be so good as to join with Mr. Belford in considering them, and in comparing them with what I have more explicitly written; and if, after that, any doubt remain, that they will be pleased to apply to Miss Howe, who knows my whole heart: and I desire that the construction of these three may be established: and I hereby establish it, provided it be unanimous, and direct it to be put in force, as if I had so written and determined myself.

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!

Clarissa Harlowe.

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.

Letter 508

Colonel Morden, to John Belford, Esq.
Sat. Sept. 16
I have been employed in a most melancholy task: in reading the will of the dear deceased.

The unhappy mother and Mrs. Norton chose to be absent on the affecting occasion. But Mrs. Harlowe made it her earnest request that every article of it should be fulfilled.

They were all extremely touched with the preamble.

The first words of the will⁠—“I, Clarissa Harlowe, now by strange melancholy accidents, lodging,” etc. drew tears from some, sighs from all.

The directions for her funeral, in case she were or were not permitted to be carried down; the mention of her orders having been given for the manner of her being laid out, and the presence of mind so visible throughout the whole, obtained their admiration, expressed by hands and eyes lifted up, and by falling tears.

When I read the direction, “That her body was not to be viewed, except any of her relations should vouchsafe, for the last time, to look upon her;” they turned away, and turned to me, three or four times alternately. Mrs. Hervey and Miss Arabella sobbed; the uncles wiped their eyes; the brother looked down; the father wrung his hands.

I was obliged to stop at the words, “That she was nobody’s.”

But when I came to the address to be made to the accursed man, “if he were not to be diverted from seeing her dead, whom once before he had seen in a manner dead”⁠—execration, and either vows or wishes of revenge, filled every mouth.

These were still more fervently renewed, when they came to hear read her forgiveness of even this man.

You remember, Sir, on our first reading of the will in town, the observations I made on the foul play which it is evident the excellent creature met with from this abandoned man, and what I said upon the occasion. I am not used to repeat things of that nature.

The dear creature’s noble contempt of the nothing, as she nobly calls it, about which she had been giving such particular directions, to wit, her body; and her apologizing for the particularity of those directions from the circumstances she was in⁠—had the same, and as strong an effect upon me, as when I first read the animated paragraph; and, pointed by my eye, (by turns cast upon them all), affected them all.

When the article was read which bequeathed to the father the grandfather’s estate, and the reason assigned for it, (so generous and so dutiful), the father could sit no longer; but withdrew, wiping his eyes, and lifting up his spread hands at Mr. James Harlowe; who rose to attend him to the door, as Arabella likewise did⁠—All he could say⁠—O Son! Son!⁠—O Girl! Girl!⁠—as if he reproached them for the parts they had acted, and put him upon acting.

But yet, on some occasions, this brother and sister showed themselves to be true will disputants.

Let tongue and eyes express what they will, Mr. Belford, the first reading of a will, where a person dies worth anything considerable, generally affords a true test of the relations’ love to the deceased.

The clothes, the thirty guineas for mourning to Mrs. Norton, with the recommendation of the good woman for housekeeper at The Grove, were thought sufficient, had the article of £600 which was called monstrous, been omitted. Some other passages in the will were called flights, and such whimsies as distinguish people of imagination from those of judgment.

My cousin Dolly Hervey was grudged the library. Miss Harlowe said, That as she and her sister never bought the same books, she would take that to herself, and would make it up to her cousin Dolly one way or other.

I intend, Mr. Belford, to save you the trouble of interposing⁠—the library shall be my cousin Dolly’s.

Mrs. Hervey could hardly keep her seat. On this occasion, however, she only said, That her late dear and ever dear niece, was too good to her and hers. But, at another time, she declared, with tears, that she could not forgive herself for a letter she wrote,[401] looking at Miss Arabella, whom, it seems, unknown to anybody, she had consulted before she wrote it and which, she said, must have wounded a spirit, that now she saw had been too deeply wounded before.

O my Aunt, said Arabella, no more of that!⁠—Who would have thought that the dear creature had been such a penitent?

Mr. John and Mr. Antony Harlowe were so much affected with the articles in their favour, (bequeathed to them without a word or hint of reproach or recrimination), that they broke out into self-accusations; and lamented that their sweet niece, as they called her, was not got above all grateful acknowledgement and returns. Indeed, the mutual upbraidings and grief of all present, upon those articles in which everyone was remembered for good, so often interrupted me, that the reading took up above six hours. But curses upon the accursed man were a refuge to which they often resorted to exonerate themselves.

How wounding a thing, Mr. Belford, is a generous and well-distinguished forgiveness! What revenge can be more effectual, and more noble, were revenge intended, and were it wished to strike remorse into a guilty or ungrateful heart! But my dear cousin’s motives were all duty and love. She seems indeed to have been, as much as a mortal could be, love itself. Love sublimed by a purity, by a true delicacy, that hardly any woman before her could boast of. O Mr. Belford, what an example would she have given in every station of life, (as wife, mother, mistress, friend), had her lot fallen upon a man blessed with a mind like her own!

The £600 bequeathed to Mrs. Norton, the library to Miss Hervey, and the remembrances to Miss Howe, were not the only articles grudged. Yet to what purpose did they regret the pecuniary bequests, when the poor’s fund, and not themselves, would have had the benefit, had not those legacies been bequeathed?

But enough passed to convince me that my cousin was absolutely right in her choice of an executor out of the family. Had she chosen one in it, I dare say that her will would have been no more regarded than if it had been the will of a dead king; than that of Louis XIV in particular; so flagrantly broken through by his nephew the Duke of Orleans before he was cold. The only will of that monarch, perhaps, which was ever disputed.

But little does Mr. James Harlowe think that, while he is grasping at hundreds, he will, most probably, lose thousands, if he be my survivor. A man of a spirit so selfish and narrow shall not be my heir.

You will better conceive, Mr. Belford, than I can express, how much they were touched at the hint that the dear creature had been obliged to part with some of her clothes.

Silent reproach seized every one of them when I came to the passage where she mentions that she deferred filling up some blanks, in hopes of receiving their last blessing and forgiveness.

I will only add, that they could not bear to hear read the concluding part, so solemnly addressed to her Redeemer. They all arose from their seats, and crowded out of the apartment we were in; and then, as I afterwards found, separated, in order to seek that consolation in solitary retirement, which, though they could not hope for from their own reflections, yet, at the time, they had less reason to expect in each other’s company. I am, Sir,

Your faithful and obedient servant,
William Morden.

Letter 509

Mr. Belford, to the Right Hon. Lord M.
London, Sept. 14
My Lord,
I am very apprehensive that the affair between Mr. Lovelace and the late excellent Miss Clarissa Harlowe will be attended with farther bad consequences, notwithstanding her dying injunctions to the contrary. I would, therefore, humbly propose that your Lordship, and his other relations, will forward the purpose your kinsman lately had to go abroad; where I hope he will stay till all is blown over. But as he will not stir, if he knew the true motives of your wishes, the avowed inducement, as I hinted once to Mr. Mowbray, may be such as respects his own health both of person and mind. To Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville all countries are alike; and they perhaps will accompany him.

I am glad to hear that he is in a way of recovery; but this the rather induces me to press the matter. I think no time should be lost.

Your Lordship had heard that I have the honour to be the executor of this admirable lady’s last will. I transcribe from it the following paragraph.

[He then transcribes the article which so gratefully mentions this nobleman, and the ladies of his family, in relation to the rings she bequeaths them, about which he desires their commands.]

Letter 510

Miss Montague, to John Belford, Esq. M. Hall,
Friday, Sept. 15
My Lord having the gout in his right hand, his Lordship, and Lady Sarah, and Lady Betty, have commanded me to inform you, that, before your letter came, Mr. Lovelace was preparing for a foreign tour. We shall endeavour to hasten him away on the motives you suggest.

We are all extremely affected with the dear lady’s death. Lady Betty and Lady Sarah have been indisposed ever since they heard of it. They had pleased themselves, as had my sister and self, with the hopes of cultivating her acquaintance and friendship after he was gone abroad, upon her own terms. Her kind remembrance of each of us has renewed, though it could not heighten, our regrets for so irreparable a loss. We shall order Mr. Finch, our goldsmith, to wait on you. He has our directions about the rings. They will be long, long worn in memory of the dear testatrix.

Everybody is assured that you will do all in your power to prevent farther ill consequences from this melancholy affair. My Lord desires his compliments to you. I am, Sir,

Your humble servant,
Ch. Montague.

* * * * *

This collection having run into a much greater length than was wished, it is proper to omit several letters that passed between Colonel Morden, Miss Howe, Mr. Belford, and Mr. Hickman, in relation to the execution of the lady’s will, etc.

It is, however, necessary to observe, on this subject, that the unhappy mother, being supported by the two uncles, influenced the afflicted father to overrule all his son’s objections, and to direct a literal observation of the will; and at the same time to give up all the sums which he was empowered by it to reimburse himself; as also to take upon himself to defray the funeral expenses.

Mr. Belford so much obliges Miss Howe by his steadiness, equity, and dispatch, and by his readiness to contribute to the directed collection, that she voluntarily entered into a correspondence with him, as the representative of her beloved friend. In the course of which, he communicated to her (in confidence) the letters which passed between him and Mr. Lovelace, and, by Colonel Morden’s consent, those which passed between that gentleman and himself.

He sent, with the first parcel of letters which he had transcribed out of shorthand for Miss Howe, a letter to Mr. Hickman, dated the 16th of September, in which he expresses himself as follows:

“But I ought, Sir, in this parcel to have kept out one letter. It is that which relates to the interview between yourself and Mr. Lovelace, at Mr. Dormer’s,[402] in which Mr. Lovelace treats you with an air of levity, which neither your person, your character, nor your commission, deserved; but which was his usual way of treating everyone whose business he was not pleased with. I hope, Sir, you have too much greatness of mind to be disturbed at the contents of this letter, should Miss Howe communicate them to you; and the rather, as it is impossible that you should suffer with her on that account.”

Mr. Belford then excuses Mr. Lovelace as a good-natured man with all his faults; and gives instances of his still greater freedoms with himself.

To this Mr. Hickman answers, in his letter of the 18th:

“As to Mr. Lovelace’s treatment of me in the letter you are pleased to mention, I shall not be concerned at it, whatever it be. I went to him prepared to expect odd behaviour from him; and was not disappointed. I argue to myself, in all such cases as this, as Miss Howe, from her ever-dear friend, argues, That if the reflections thrown upon me are just, I ought not only to forgive them, but endeavour to profit by them; if unjust, that I ought to despise them, and the reflector too, since it would be inexcusable to strengthen by anger an enemy whose malice might be disarmed by contempt. And, moreover, I should be almost sorry to find myself spoken well of by a man who could treat, as he treated, a lady who was an ornament to her sex and to human nature.

“I thank you, however, Sir, for your consideration for me in this particular, and for your whole letter, which gives me so desirable an instance of the friendship which you assured me of when I was last in town; and which I as cordially embrace as wish to cultivate.”

Miss Howe, in hers of the 20th, acknowledging the receipt of the letters, and papers, and legacies, sent with Mr. Belford’s letter to Mr. Hickman, assures him, “That no use shall be made of his communications, but what he shall approve of.”

He had mentioned, with compassion, the distresses of the Harlowe family⁠—

“Persons of a pitiful nature, says she, may pity them. I am not one of those. You, I think, pity the infernal man likewise; while I, from my heart, grudge him his frenzy, because it deprives him of that remorse, which, I hope, in his recovery, will never leave him. At times, Sir, let me tell you, that I hate your whole sex for his sake; even men of unblamable characters, whom, at those times, I cannot but look upon as persons I have not yet found out.

“If my dear creature’s personal jewels be sent up to you for sale, I desire that I may be the purchaser of them, at the highest price⁠—of the necklace and solitaire particularly.

“Oh! what tears did the perusal of my beloved’s will cost me!⁠—But I must not touch upon the heart-piercing subject. I can neither take it up, nor quit it, but with execration of the man whom all the world must execrate.”

Mr. Belford, in his answer, promises that she shall be the purchaser of the jewels, if they come into his hands.

He acquaints her that the family had given Colonel Morden the keys of all that belonged to the dear departed; that the unhappy mother had (as the will allows) ordered a piece of needlework to be set aside for her, and had desired Mrs. Norton to get the little book of meditations transcribed, and to let her have the original, as it was all of her dear daughter’s handwriting; and as it might, when she could bear to look into it, administer consolation to herself. And that she had likewise reserved for herself her picture in the Vandyke taste.

Mr. Belford sends with this letter to Miss Howe the lady’s memorandum book, and promises to send her copies of the several posthumous letters. He tells her that Mr. Lovelace being upon the recovery, he had enclosed the posthumous letter directed for him to Lord M. that his Lordship might give it to him, or not, as he should find he could bear it. The following is a copy of that letter:

To Mr. Lovelace

Thursday, Aug. 24.
I told you, in the letter I wrote to you on Tuesday last,[403] that you should have another sent you when I had got into my father’s house.

I presume to say, that I am now, at your receiving of this, arrived there; and I invite you to follow me, as soon as you are prepared for so great a journey.

Not to allegorize farther⁠—my fate is now, at your perusal of this, accomplished. My doom is unalterably fixed; and I am either a miserable or happy being to all eternity. If happy, I owe it solely to the Divine mercy; if miserable, to your undeserved cruelty.⁠—And consider not, for your own sake, gay, cruel, fluttering, unhappy man! consider, whether the barbarous and perfidious treatment I have met with from you was worthy the hazard of your immortal soul; since your wicked views were not to be effected but by the wilful breach of the most solemn vows that ever were made by man; and those aided by a violence and baseness unworthy of a human creature.

In time then, once more, I wish you to consider your ways. Your golden dream cannot long last. Your present course can yield you pleasure no longer than you can keep off thought or reflection. A hardened insensibility is the only foundation on which your inward tranquillity is built. When once a dangerous sickness seizes you; when once effectual remorse breaks in upon you; how dreadful will be your condition! How poor a triumph will you then find it, to have been able, by a series of black perjuries, and studied baseness, under the name of gallantry or intrigue, to betray poor unexperienced young creatures, who perhaps knew nothing but their duty till they knew you!⁠—Not one good action in the hour of languishing to recollect, not one worthy intention to revolve, it will be all reproach and horror; and you will wish to have it in your power to compound for annihilation.

Reflect, Sir, that I can have no other motive, in what I write, than your good, and the safety of other innocent creatures, who may be drawn in by your wicked arts and perjuries. You have not, in my wishes for future welfare, the wishes of a suppliant wife, endeavouring for her own sake, as well as for yours, to induce you to reform those ways. They are wholly as disinterested as undeserved. But I should mistrust my own penitence, were I capable of wishing to recompense evil for evil⁠—if, black as your offences have been against me, I could not forgive, as I wish to be forgiven.

I repeat, therefore, that I do forgive you. And may the Almighty forgive you too! Nor have I, at the writing of this, any other essential regrets than what are occasioned by the grief I have given to parents, who, till I knew you, were the most indulgent of parents; by the scandal given to the other branches of my family; by the disreputation brought upon my sex; and by the offence given to virtue in my fall.

As to myself, you have only robbed me of what once were my favourite expectations in the transient life I shall have quitted when you receive this. You have only been the cause that I have been cut off in the bloom of youth, and of curtailing a life that might have been agreeable to myself, or otherwise, as had reason to be thankful for being taken away from the evil of supporting my part of a yoke with a man so unhappy; I will only say, that, in all probability, every hour I had lived with him might have brought with it some new trouble. And I am (indeed through sharp afflictions and distresses) indebted to you, secondarily, as I humbly presume to hope, for so many years of glory, as might have proved years of danger, temptation, and anguish, had they been added to my mortal life.

So, Sir, though no thanks to your intention, you have done me real service; and, in return, I wish you happy. But such has been your life hitherto, that you can have no time to lose in setting about your repentance. Repentance to such as have lived only carelessly, and in the omission of their regular duties, and who never aimed to draw any poor creatures into evil, is not so easy a task, nor so much in our own power, as some imagine. How difficult a grace then to be obtained, where the guilt is premeditated, wilful, and complicated!

To say I once respected you with a preference, is what I ought to blush to own, since, at the very time, I was far from thinking you even a mortal man; though I little thought that you, or indeed any man breathing, could be⁠—what you have proved yourself to be. But, indeed, Sir, I have long been greatly above you; for from my heart I have despised you, and all your ways, ever since I saw what manner of man you were.

Nor is it to be wondered that I should be able so to do, when that preference was not grounded on ignoble motives. For I was weak enough, and presumptuous enough, to hope to be a mean, in the hand of Providence, to reclaim a man whom I thought worthy of the attempt.

Nor have I yet, as you will see by the pains I take, on this solemn occasion, to awaken you out of your sensual dream, given over all hopes of this nature.

Hear me, therefore, O Lovelace! as one speaking from the dead.⁠—Lose no time⁠—set about your repentance instantly⁠—be no longer the instrument of Satan, to draw poor souls into those subtle snares, which at last shall entangle your own feet. Seek not to multiply your offences till they become beyond the power, as I may say, of the Divine mercy to forgive; since justice, no less than mercy, is an attribute of the Almighty.

Tremble and reform, when you read what is the portion of the wicked man from God. Thus it is written:

“The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. He is cast into a net by his own feet⁠—he walketh upon a snare. Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet. His strength shall be hunger-bitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side. The first born of death shall devour his strength. His remembrance shall perish from the earth; and he shall have no name in the streets. He shall be chased out of the world. He shall have neither son nor nephew among his people. They that have seen him shall say, Where is he? He shall fly away as a dream: He shall be chased away as a vision of the night. His meat is the gall of asps within him. He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. A fire not blown shall consume him. The heaven shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him. The worm shall feed sweetly on him. He shall be no more remembered.⁠—This is the fate of him that knoweth not God.”

Whenever you shall be inclined to consult the sacred oracles from whence the above threatenings are extracted, you will find doctrines and texts which a truly penitent and contrite heart may lay hold of for its consolation.

May yours, Mr. Lovelace, become such! and may you be enabled to escape the fate denounced against the abandoned man, and be entitled to the mercies of a long suffering and gracious God, is the sincere prayer of

Clarissa Harlowe

Letter 511

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
M. Hall, Thursday, Sept. 14
Ever since the fatal seventh of this month, I have been lost to myself, and to all the joys of life. I might have gone farther back than that fatal seventh; which, for the future, I will never see anniversarily revolve but in sables; only till that cursed day I had some gleams of hope now-and-then darting in upon me.

They tell me of an odd letter I wrote to you.[404] I remember I did write. But very little of the contents of what I wrote do I remember.

I have been in a cursed way. Methinks something has been working strangely retributive. I never was such a fool as to disbelieve a Providence; yet am I not for resolving into judgments everything that seems to wear an avenging face. Yet if we must be punished either here or hereafter for our misdeeds, better here, say I, than hereafter. Have I not then an interest to think my punishment already not only begun but completed since what I have suffered, and do suffer, passes all description?

To give but one instance of the retributive⁠—here I, who was the barbarous cause of the loss of senses for a week together to the most inimitable of women, have been punished with the loss of my own⁠—preparative to⁠—who knows what?⁠—When, Oh! when, shall I know a joyful hour?

I am kept excessively low; and excessively low I am. This sweet creature’s posthumous letter sticks close to me. All her excellencies rise up hourly to my remembrance.

Yet dare I not indulge in these melancholy reflections. I find my head strangely working again⁠—Pen, begone!

* * * * *

Friday, Sept. 15.
I resume, in a sprightly vein, I hope⁠—Mowbray and Tourville have just now⁠—

But what of Mowbray and Tourville?⁠—What’s the world?⁠—What’s anybody in it?⁠—

Yet they are highly exasperated against thee, for the last letter thou wrotest to them[405]⁠—such an unfriendly, such a merciless⁠—

But it won’t do!⁠—I must again lay down my pen.⁠—O Belford! Belford! I am still, I am still most miserably absent from myself!⁠—Shall never, never more be what I was!

* * * * *

Saturday⁠—Sunday⁠—Nothing done. Incapable of anything.

* * * * *

Monday, Sept. 18.
Heavy, d⁠⸺⁠n⁠—y heavy and sick at soul, by Jupiter! I must come into their expedient. I must see what change of climate will do.

You tell these fellows, and you tell me, of repenting and reforming; but I can do neither. He who can, must not have the extinction of a Clarissa Harlowe to answer for.⁠—Harlowe!⁠—Curse upon the name!⁠—and curse upon myself for not changing it, as I might have done!⁠—Yet I have no need of urging a curse upon myself⁠—I have it effectually.

“To say I once respected you with a preference!”[406]⁠—In what stiff language does maidenly modesty on these nice occasion express itself!⁠—To say I once loved you, is the English; and there is truth and ease in the expression.⁠—“To say I once loved you,” then let it be, “is what I ought to blush to own.”

And dost thou own it, excellent creature?⁠—and dost thou then own it?⁠—What music in these words from such an angel!⁠—What would I give that my Clarissa were in being, and could and would own that she loved me?

“But, indeed, Sir, I have been long greatly above you.” Long, my blessed charmer!⁠—Long, indeed, for you have been ever greatly above me, and above your sex, and above all the world.

“That preference was not grounded on ignoble motives.”

What a wretch was I, to be so distinguished by her, and yet to be so unworthy of her hope to reclaim me!

Then, how generous her motives! Not for her own sake merely, not altogether for mine, did she hope to reclaim me; but equally for the sake of innocents who might otherwise be ruined by me.

And now, why did she write this letter, and why direct it to be given me when an event the most deplorable had taken place, but for my good, and with a view to the safety of innocents she knew not?⁠—And when was this letter written? Was it not at the time, at the very time, that I had been pursuing her, as I may say, from place to place; when her soul was bowed down by calamity and persecution; and herself was denied all forgiveness from relations the most implacable?

Exalted creature!⁠—And couldst thou, at such a time, and so early, and in such circumstances, have so far subdued thy own just resentments, as to wish happiness to the principal author of all thy distresses?⁠—Wish happiness to him who had robbed thee “of all thy favourite expectations in this life?” To him who had been the cause that thou wert cut off in the bloom of youth?

Heavenly aspirer!⁠—What a frame must thou be in, to be able to use the word only, in mentioning these important deprivations!⁠—And as this was before thou puttest off immortality, may I not presume that thou now,

⸺⁠with pitying eye,
Not derogating from thy perfect bliss,
Survey’st all Heav’n around, and wishest for me?

“Consider my ways.”⁠—Dear life of my life! Of what avail is consideration now, when I have lost the dear creature, for whose sake alone it was worth while to have consideration?⁠—Lost her beyond retrieving⁠—swallowed up by the greedy grave⁠—forever lost her⁠—that, that’s the thing⁠—matchless woman, how does this reflection wound me!

“Your golden dream cannot long last.”⁠—Divine prophetess! my golden dream is already over. “Thought and reflection are no longer to be kept off.”⁠—No longer continues that “hardened insensibility” thou chargest upon me. “Remorse has broken in upon me. Dreadful is my condition;⁠—it is all reproach and horror with me!”⁠—A thousand vultures in turn are preying upon my heart!

But no more of these fruitless reflections⁠—since I am incapable of writing anything else; since my pen will slide into this gloomy subject, whether I will or not; I will once more quit it; nor will I again resume it, till I can be more its master, and my own.

All I took pen to write for is however unwritten. It was, in few words, to wish you to proceed with your communications, as usual. And why should you not;⁠—since, in her ever-to-be-lamented death, I know everything shocking and grievous⁠—acquaint me, then, with all thou knowest, which I do not know; how her relations, her cruel relations, take it; and whether now the barbed dart of after-reflection sticks not in their hearts, as in mine, up to the very feathers.

* * * * *

I will soon quit this kingdom. For now my Clarissa is no more, what is there in it (in the world indeed) worth living for?⁠—But shall I not first, by some masterly mischief, avenge her and myself upon her cursed family?

The accursed woman, they tell me, has broken her leg. Why was it not her neck?⁠—All, all, but what is owing to her relations, is the fault of that woman, and of her hell-born nymphs. The greater the virtue, the nobler the triumph, was a sentence forever in their mouths.⁠—I have had it several times in my head to set fire to the execrable house; and to watch at the doors and windows, that not a devil in it escape the consuming flames. Had the house stood by itself, I had certainly done it.

But, it seems, the old wretch is in the way to be rewarded, without my help. A shocking letter is received of somebody’s in relation to her⁠—yours, I suppose⁠—too shocking for me, they say, to see at present.[407]

They govern me as a child in strings; yet did I suffer so much in my fever, that I am willing to bear with them, till I can get tolerably well.

At present I can neither eat, drink, nor sleep. Yet are my disorders nothing to what they were; for, Jack, my brain was on fire day and night; and had it not been of the asbestos kind, it had all been consumed.

I had no distinct ideas, but of dark and confused misery; it was all remorse and horror indeed!⁠—Thoughts of hanging, drowning, shooting⁠—then rage, violence, mischief, and despair, took their turns with me. My lucid intervals still worse, giving me to reflect upon what I was the hour before, and what I was likely to be the next, and perhaps for life⁠—the sport of enemies!⁠—the laughter of fools!⁠—and the hanging-sleeved, go-carted property of hired slaves; who were, perhaps, to find their account in manacling, and (abhorred thought!) in personally abusing me by blows and stripes!

Who can bear such reflections as these? To be made to fear only, to such a one as me, and to fear such wretches too?⁠—What a thing was this, but remotely to apprehend! And yet for a man to be in such a state as to render it necessary for his dearest friends to suffer this to be done for his own sake, and in order to prevent further mischief!⁠—There is no thinking of these things!

I will not think of them, therefore; but will either get a train of cheerful ideas, or hang myself by tomorrow morning.

⸺⁠To be a dog, and dead,
Were paradise, to such a life as mine.

Letter 512

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Wednesday, Sept. 20
I write to demand back again my last letter. I own it was my mind at the different times I wrote it; and, whatever ailed me, I could not help writing it. Such a gloomy impulse came upon me, and increased as I wrote, that, for my soul, I could not forbear running into the miserable.

’Tis strange, very strange, that a man’s conscience should be able to force his fingers to write whether he will or not; and to run him into a subject he more than once, at the very time, resolved not to think of.

Nor is it less strange, that (no new reason occurring) he should, in a day or two more, so totally change his mind; have his mind, I should rather say, so wholly illuminated by gay hopes and rising prospects, as to be ashamed of what he had written.

For, on reperusal of a copy of my letter, which fell into my hands by accident, in the handwriting of my cousin Charlotte, who, unknown to me, had transcribed it, I find it to be such a letter as an enemy would rejoice to see.

This I know, that were I to have continued but one week more in the way I was in when I wrote the latter part of it, I should have been confined, and in straw, the next; for I now recollect, that all my distemper was returning upon me with irresistible violence⁠—and that in spite of water-gruel and soup-meagre.

I own I am still excessively grieved at the disappointment this admirable woman made it so much her whimsical choice to give me.

But, since it has thus fallen out; since she was determined to leave the world; and since she actually ceases to be; ought I, who have such a share of life and health in hand, to indulge gloomy reflections upon an event that is passed; and being passed, cannot be recalled?⁠—Have I not had a specimen of what will be my case, if I do.

For, Belford, (’tis a folly to deny it), I have been, to use an old word, quite bestraught.

Why, why did my mother bring me up to bear no control? Why was I so enabled, as that to my very tutors it was a request that I should not know what contradiction or disappointment was?⁠—Ought she not to have known what cruelty there was in her kindness?

What a punishment, to have my first very great disappointment touch my intellect!⁠—And intellects, once touched⁠—but that I cannot bear to think of⁠—only thus far; the very repentance and amendment, wished me so heartily by my kind and cross dear, have been invalidated and postponed, and who knows for how long?⁠—the amendment at least; can a madman be capable of either?

Once touched, therefore, I must endeavour to banish those gloomy reflections, which might otherwise have brought on the right turn of mind: and this, to express myself in Lord M.’s style, that my wits may not be sent a woolgathering.

For, let me moreover own to thee, that Dr. Hale, who was my good Astolfo, (you read Ariosto, Jack), and has brought me back my wit-jar, had much ado, by starving, diet, by profuse phlebotomy, by flaying-blisters, eyelet-hole-cupping, a dark room, a midnight solitude in a midday sun, to effect my recovery. And now, for my comfort, he tells me, that I may still have returns upon full moons⁠—horrible! most horrible!⁠—and must be as careful of myself at both equinoctials, as Caesar was warned to be of the Ides of March.

How my heart sickens at looking back upon what I was! Denied the sun, and all comfort: all my visitors lowborn, tiptoe attendants: even those tiptoe slaves never approaching me but periodically, armed with gallipots, boluses, and cephalic draughts; delivering their orders to me in hated whispers; and answering other curtain-holding impertinents, inquiring how I was, and how I took their execrable potions, whisperingly too! What a cursed still life was this!⁠—Nothing active in me, or about me, but the worm that never dies.

Again I hasten from the recollection of scenes, which will, at times, obtrude themselves upon me.

Adieu, Belford!

But return me my last letter⁠—and build nothing upon its contents. I must, I will, I have already, overcome these fruitless gloominess. Every hour my constitution rises stronger and stronger to befriend me; and, except a tributary sigh now-and-then to the memory of my heart’s beloved, it gives me hope that I shall quickly be what I was⁠—life, spirit, gaiety, and once more the plague of a sex that has been my plague, and will be every man’s plague at one time or other of his life. I repeat my desire, however, that you will write to me as usual. I hope you have good store of particulars by you to communicate, when I can better bear to hear of the dispositions that were made for all that was mortal of my beloved Clarissa.

But it will be the joy of my heart to be told that her implacable friends are plagued with remorse. Such things as those you may now send me: for company in misery is some relief; especially when a man can think those he hates as miserable as himself.

One more adieu, Jack!

Letter 513

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
I am preparing to leave this kingdom. Mowbray and Tourville promise to give me their company in a month or two.

I’ll give thee my route.

I shall first to Paris; and, for some amusement and diversion sake, try to renew some of my old friendships: thence to some of the German courts: thence, perhaps, to Vienna: thence descend through Bavaria and the Tyrol to Venice, where I shall keep the carnival: thence to Florence and Turin: thence again over Mount Cenis to France: and, when I return again to Paris, shall expect to see my friend Belford, who, by that time, I doubt not, will be all crusted and bearded over with penitence, self-denial, and mortification; a very anchoret, only an itinerant one, journeying over in hope to cover a multitude of his own sins, by proselyting his old companions.

But let me tell thee, Jack, if stock rises on, as it has done since I wrote my last letter, I am afraid thou wilt find a difficult task in succeeding, should such be thy purpose.

Nor, I verily think, can thy own penitence and reformation hold. Strong habits are not so easily rooted out. Old Satan has had too much benefit from thy faithful services, for a series of years, to let thee so easily get out of his clutches. He knows what will do with thee. A fine strapping Bona Roba, in the Charters-taste, but well-limbed, clear-complexioned, and Turkish-eyed; thou the first man with her, or made to believe so, which is the same thing; how will thy frosty face be illuminated by it! A composition will be made between thee and the grand tempter: thou wilt promise to do him suit and service till old age and inability come. And then will he, in all probability, be sure of thee forever. For, wert thou to outlive thy present reigning appetites, he will trump up some other darling sin, or make a now secondary one darling, in order to keep thee firmly attached to his infernal interests. Thou wilt continue resolving to amend, but never amending, till, grown old before thou art aware, (a dozen years after thou art old with everybody else), thy for-time-built tenement having lasted its allotted period, he claps down upon thy grizzled head the universal trap-door: and then all will be over with thee in his own way.

Thou wilt think these hints uncharacteristic from me. But yet I cannot help warning thee of the danger thou art actually in; which is the greater, as thou seemst not to know it. A few words more, therefore, on this subject.

Thou hast made good resolutions. If thou keepest them not, thou wilt never be able to keep any. But, nevertheless, the devil and thy time of life are against thee: and six to one thou failest. Were it only that thou hast resolved, six to one thou failest. And if thou dost, thou wilt become the scoff of men, and the triumph of devils.⁠—Then how will I laugh at thee! For this warning is not from principle. Perhaps I wish it were: but I never lied to man, and hardly ever said truth to woman. The first is what all free-livers cannot say: the second what everyone can.

I am mad again, by Jupiter!⁠—But, thank my stars, not gloomily so!⁠—Farewell, farewell, farewell, for the third or fourth time, concludes


I believe Charlotte and you are in private league together. Letters, I find, have passed between her and you, and Lord M. I have been kept strangely in the dark of late; but will soon break upon you all, as the sun upon a midnight thief.

Remember that you never sent me the copy of my beloved’s will.

Letter 514

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
Friday, Sept. 22
Just as I was sitting down to answer yours of the 14th to the 18th, in order to give you all the consolation in my power, came your revoking letter of Wednesday.

I am really concerned and disappointed that your first was so soon followed by one so contrary to it.

The shocking letter you mention, which your friends withhold from you, is indeed from me. They may now, I see, show you anything. Ask them, then, for that letter, if you think it worth while to read aught about the true mother of your mind.

* * * * *

I will suppose that thou hast just read the letter thou callest shocking, and which I intended to be so. And let me ask what thou thinkest of it? Dost thou not tremble at the horrors the vilest of women labours with, on the apprehensions of death, and future judgment?⁠—How sit the reflections that must have been raised by the perusal of this letter upon thy yet unclosed eyelet-holes? Will not some serious thoughts mingle with thy melilot, and tear off the callus of thy mind, as that may flay the leather from thy back, and as thy epispastics may strip the parchment from thy plotting head? If not, then indeed is thy conscience seared, and no hopes will lie for thee.

[Mr. Belford then gives an account of the wretched Sinclair’s terrible exit, which he had just then received.]

If this move thee not, I have news to acquaint thee with, of another dismal catastrophe that is but within this hour come to my ear, of another of thy blessed agents. Thy Tomlinson!⁠—Dying, and, in all probability, before this can reach thee, dead, in Maidstone gaol. As thou sayest in thy first letter, something strangely retributive seems to be working.

This is his case. He was at the head of a gang of smugglers, endeavouring to carry off run goods, landed last Tuesday, when a party of dragoons came up with them in the evening. Some of his comrades fled. McDonald, being surrounded, attempted to fight his way through, and wounded his man; but having received a shot in his neck, and being cut deeply in the head by a broadsword, he fell from his horse, was taken, and carried to Maidstone gaol: and there my informant left him, just dying, and assured of hanging if he recover.

Absolutely destitute, he got a kinsman of his to apply to me, and, if in town, to the rest of the confraternity, for something, not to support him was the word, (for he expected not to live till the fellow returned), but to bury him.

I never employed him but once, and then he ruined my project. I now thank Heaven that he did. But I sent him five guineas, and promised him more, as from you, and Mowbray, and Tourville, if he live a few days, or to take his trial. And I put it upon you to make further inquiry of him, and to give him what you think fit.

His messenger tells me that he is very penitent; that he weeps continually. He cries out, that he has been the vilest of men: yet palliates, that his necessities made him worse than he should otherwise have been; (an excuse which none of us can plead): but that which touches him most of all, is a vile imposture he was put upon, to serve a certain gentleman of fortune to the ruin of the most excellent woman that ever lived; and who, he had heard, was dead of grief.

Let me consider, Lovelace⁠—Whose turn can be next?

I wish it may not be thine. But since thou givest me one piece of advice, (which I should indeed have thought out of character, hadst thou not taken pains to convince me that it proceeds not from principle), I will give thee another: and that is, prosecute, as fast as thou canst, thy intended tour. Change of scene, and of climate, may establish thy health: while this gross air and the approach of winter, may thicken thy blood; and with the help of a conscience that is upon the struggle with thee, and like a cunning wrestler watches its opportunity to give thee another fall, may make thee miserable for thy life.

I return your revoked letter. Don’t destroy it, however. The same dialect may one day come in fashion with you again.

As to the family at Harlowe-place, I have most affecting letters from Colonel Morden relating to their grief and compunction. But are you, to whom the occasion is owing, entitled to rejoice in their distress?

I should be sorry, if I could not say, that what you have warned me of in sport, makes me tremble in earnest. I hope, for this is a serious subject with me, (though nothing can be so with you), that I never shall deserve, by my apostasy, to be the scoff of men, and the triumph of devils.

All that you say, of the difficulty of conquering rooted habits, is but too true. Those, and time of life, are indeed too much against me: but, when I reflect upon the ends (some untimely) of those of our companions whom we have formerly lost; upon Belton’s miserable exit; upon the howls and screams of Sinclair, which are still in my ears; and now upon your miserable Tomlinson, and compare their ends with the happy and desirable end of the inimitable Miss Harlowe, I hope I have reason to think my footing morally secure. Your caution, nevertheless, will be of use, however you might design it: and since I know my weak side, I will endeavour to fortify myself in that quarter by marriage, as soon as I can make myself worthy of the confidence and esteem of some virtuous woman; and, by this means, become the subject of your envy, rather than of your scoffs.

I have already begun my retributory purposes, as I may call them. I have settled an annual sum for life upon poor John Loftus, whom I disabled while he was endeavouring to protect his young mistress from my lawless attempts. I rejoice that I succeeded not in that; as I do in recollecting many others of the like sort, in which I miscarried.

Poor Farley, who had become a bankrupt, I have set up again; but have declared, that the annual allowance I make her shall cease, if I hear she returns to her former courses: and I have made her accountable for her conduct to the good widow Lovick; whom I have taken, at a handsome salary, for my housekeeper at Edgware, (for I have let the house at Watford); and she is to dispense the quarterly allotment to her, as she merits.

This good woman shall have other matters of the like nature under her care, as we grow better acquainted; and I make no doubt that she will answer my expectations, and that I shall be both confirmed and improved by her conversation: for she shall generally sit at my own table.

The undeserved sufferings of Miss Clarissa Harlowe, her exalted merit, her exemplary preparation, and her happy end, will be standing subjects with us.

She shall read to me, when I have no company; write for me, out of books, passages she shall recommend. Her years (turned of fifty), and her good character, will secure me from scandal; and I have great pleasure in reflecting that I shall be better myself for making her happy.

Then, whenever I am in danger, I will read some of the admirable lady’s papers: whenever I would abhor my former ways, I will read some of thine, and copies of my own.

The consequence of all this will be, that I shall be the delight of my own relations of both sexes, who were wont to look upon me as a lost man. I shall have good order in my own family, because I shall give a good example myself. I shall be visited and respected, not perhaps by Lovelace, by Mowbray, and by Tourville, because they cannot see me upon the old terms, and will not, perhaps, see me upon the new, but by the best and worthiest gentlemen, clergy as well as laity, all around me. I shall look upon my past follies with contempt: upon my old companions with pity. Oaths and curses shall be forever banished my mouth: in their place shall succeed conversation becoming a rational being, and a gentleman. And instead of acts of offence, subjecting me perpetually to acts of defence, will I endeavour to atone for my past evils, by doing all the good in my power, and by becoming an universal benefactor to the extent of that power.

Now tell me, Lovelace, upon this faint sketch of what I hope to do, and to be, if this be not a scheme infinitely preferable to the wild, the pernicious, the dangerous ones, both to body and soul, which we have pursued?

I wish I could make my sketch as amiable to you as it appears to me. I wish it with all my soul: for I always loved you. It has been my misfortune that I did: for this led me into infinite riots and follies, of which, otherwise, I verily think I should not have been guilty.

You have a great deal more to answer for than I have, were it only in the temporal ruin of this admirable woman. Let me now, while you yet have youth, and health, and intellect, prevail upon you: for I am afraid, very much afraid, that such is the enormity of this single wickedness, in depriving the world of such a shining light, that if you do not quickly reform, it will be out of your power to reform at all; and that Providence, which has already given you the fates of your agents Sinclair and Tomlinson to take warning by, will not let the principal offender escape, if he slight the warning.

You will, perhaps, laugh at me for these serious reflections. Do, if you will. I had rather you should laugh at me, for continuing in this way of thinking and acting, than triumph over me, as you threaten, on my swerving from purposes I have determined upon with such good reason, and induced and warned by such examples.

And so much for this subject at present.

I should be glad to know when you intend to set out. I have too much concern for your welfare, not to wish you in a thinner air and more certain climate.

What have Tourville and Mowbray to do, that they cannot set out with you? They will not covet my company, I dare say; and I shall not be able to endure theirs, when you are gone: take them, therefore, with you.

I will not, however, forswear making you a visit at Paris, at your return from Germany and Italy: but hardly with the hope of reclaiming you, if due reflection upon what I have set before you, and upon what you have written in your two last, will not by that time have done it.

I suppose I shall see you before you go. Once more I wish you were gone. This heavy island-air cannot do for you what that of the Continent will.

I do not think I ought to communicate with you, as I used to do, on this side the Channel: let me, then, hear from you on the opposite shore, and you shall command the pen, as you please; and, honestly, the power of

J. Belford.

Letter 515

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Tuesday, Sept. 26
Fate, I believe, in my conscience, spins threads for tragedies, on purpose for thee to weave with.⁠—Thy Watford uncle, poor Belton, the fair inimitable, (exalted creature! and is she to be found in such a list!) the accursed woman, and Tomlinson, seemed to have been all doomed to give thee a theme for the dismal and the horrible;⁠—and, by my soul, thou dost work it going, as Lord M. would phrase it.

That’s the horrid thing, a man cannot begin to think, but causes for thought crowd in upon him; the gloomy takes place, and mirth and gaiety abandon his heard forever!

Poor McDonald!⁠—I am really sorry for the fellow.⁠—He was an useful, faithful, solemn varlet, who could act incomparably any part given him, and knew not what a blush was.⁠—He really took honest pains for me in the last affair; which has cost him and me so dearly in reflection. Often gravelled, as we both were, yet was he never daunted.⁠—Poor McDonald! I must once more say:⁠—for carrying on a solemn piece of roguery, he had no equal.

I was so solicitous to know if he were really as bad as thou hast a knack of painting everybody whom thou singlest out to exercise thy murdering pen upon, that I dispatched a man and horse to Maidstone, as soon as I had thine; and had word brought me, that he died in two hours after he had received thy five guineas. And all thou wrotest of his concern, in relation to the ever-dear Miss Harlowe, it seems was true.

I can’t help it, Belford!⁠—I have only to add, that it is happy that the poor fellow lived not to be hanged; as it seems he would have been; for who knows, as he had got into such a penitential strain, what might have been in his dying speech?

When a man has not great good to comfort himself with, it is right to make the best of the little that may offer. There never was any discomfort happened to mortal man, but some little ray of consolation would dart in, if the wretch was not so much a wretch, as to draw, instead of undraw, the curtain, to keep it out.

And so much, at this time, and forever, for poor Capt. Tomlinson, as I called him.

Your solicitude to get me out of this heavy changeable climate exactly tallies with everybody’s here. They all believe that travelling will establish me. Yet I think I am quite well. Only these plaguey news and fulls, and the equinoctals, fright me a little when I think of them; and that is always: for the whole family are continually ringing these changes in my ears, and are more sedulously intent, than I can well account for, to get me out of the kingdom.

But wilt thou write often, when I am gone? Wilt thou then piece the thread where thou brokest it off? Wilt thou give me the particulars of their distress, who were my auxiliaries in bringing on the event that affects me?⁠—Nay, principals rather: Since, say what thou wilt, what did I do worth a woman’s breaking her heart for?

Faith and troth, Jack, I have had very hard usage, as I have often said:⁠—to have such a plaguey ill name given me, screamed out upon, run away from, as a mad dog would be; all my own friends ready to renounce me!⁠—Yet I think I deserve it all; for have I not been as ready to give up myself, as others are to condemn me?

What madness, what folly, this!⁠—Who will take the part of a man that condemns himself?⁠—Who can? He that pleads guilty to an indictment, leaves no room for aught but the sentence. Out upon me, for an impolitical wretch! I have not the art of the least artful of any of our Christian princes; who every day are guilty of ten times worse breaches of faith; and yet, issuing out a manifesto, they wipe their mouths, and go on from infraction to infraction, from robbery to robbery; commit devastation upon devastation; and destroy⁠—for their glory! And are rewarded with the names of conquerors, and are dubbed Le Grand; praised, and even deified, by orators and poets, for their butcheries and depredations.

While I, a poor, single, harmless prowler; at least comparatively harmless; in order to satisfy my hunger, steal but one poor lamb; and every mouth is opened, every hand is lifted up, against me.

Nay, as I have just now heard, I am to be manifestoed against, though no prince: for Miss Howe threatens to have the case published to the whole world.

I have a good mind not to oppose it; and to write an answer to it, as soon as it comes forth, and exculpate myself, by throwing all the fault upon the old ones. And this I have to plead, supposing all that my worst enemies can allege against me were true⁠—That I am not answerable for all the extravagant consequences that this affair has been attended with; and which could not possibly be foreseen.

And this I will prove demonstrably by a case, which, but a few hours ago, I put to Lord M. and the two Misses Montague. This it is:

Suppose A, a miser, had hid a parcel of gold in a secret place, in order to keep it there, till he could lend it out at extravagant interest.

Suppose B, in such a great want of this treasure, as to be unable to live without it.

And suppose A, the miser, has such an opinion of B, the wanter, that he would rather lend it to him, than to any mortal living; but yet, though he has no other use in the world for it, insists upon very unconscionable terms.

B would gladly pay common interest for it; but would be undone, (in his own opinion at least, and that is everything to him), if he complied with the miser’s terms; since he would be sure to be soon thrown into gaol for the debt, and made a prisoner for life. Wherefore guessing (being an arch, penetrating fellow) where the sweet hoard lies, he searches for it, when the miser is in a profound sleep, finds it, and runs away with it.

(B, in this case, can only be a thief, that’s plain, Jack).

Here Miss Montague put in very smartly.⁠—A thief, Sir, said she, that steals what is and ought to be dearer to me than my life, deserves less to be forgiven than he who murders me.

But what is this, cousin Charlotte, said I, that is dearer to you than your life? Your honour, you’ll say⁠—I will not talk to a lady (I never did) in a way she cannot answer me⁠—But in the instance for which I put my case, (allowing all you attribute to the phantom) what honour is lost, where the will is not violated, and the person cannot help it? But, with respect to the case put, how knew we, till the theft was committed, that the miser did actually set so romantic a value upon the treasure?

Both my cousins were silent; and my Lord, because he could not answer me, cursed me; and I proceeded.

Well then, the result is, that B can only be a thief; that’s plain.⁠—To pursue, therefore, my case⁠—

Suppose this same miserly A, on awaking and searching for, and finding his treasure gone, takes it so much to heart that he starves himself;

Who but himself is to blame for that?⁠—Would either equity, law, or conscience, hang B for a murder?

And now to apply, said I⁠—

None of your applications, cried my cousins, both in a breath.

None of your applications, and be d⁠⸺⁠d to you, the passionate Peer.

Well then, returned I, I am to conclude it to be a case so plain that it needs none; looking at the two girls, who tried for a blush apiece. And I hold myself, of consequence, acquitted of the death.

Not so, cried my Lord, (Peers are judges, thou knowest, Jack, in the last resort): for if, by committing an unlawful act, a capital crime is the consequence, you are answerable for both.

Say you so, my good Lord?⁠—But will you take upon you to say, supposing (as in the present case) a rape (saving your presence, cousin Charlotte, saving your presence, cousin Patty)⁠—Is death the natural consequence of a rape?⁠—Did you ever hear, my Lord, or did you, Ladies, that it was?⁠—And if not the natural consequence, and a lady will destroy herself, whether by a lingering death, as of grief; or by the dagger, as Lucretia did; is there more than one fault the man’s?⁠—Is not the other hers?⁠—Were it not so, let me tell you, my dears, chucking each of my blushing cousins under the chin, we either would have had no men so wicked as young Tarquin was, or no women so virtuous as Lucretia, in the space of⁠—How many thousand years, my Lord?⁠—And so Lucretia is recorded as a single wonder!

You may believe I was cried out upon. People who cannot answer, will rave: and this they all did. But I insisted upon it to them, and so I do to you, Jack, that I ought to be acquitted of everything but a common theft, a private larceny, as the lawyers call it, in this point. And were my life to be a forfeit of the law, it would not be for murder.

Besides, as I told them, there was a circumstance strongly in my favour in this case: for I would have been glad, with all my soul, to have purchased my forgiveness by a compliance with the terms I first boggled at. And this, you all know, I offered; and my Lord, and Lady Betty, and Lady Sarah, and my two cousins, and all my cousins’ cousins, to the fourteenth generation, would have been bound for me⁠—But it would not do: the sweet miser would break her heart, and die: And how could I help it?

Upon the whole, Jack, had not the lady died, would there have been half so much said of it, as there is? Was I the cause of her death? or could I help it? And have there not been, in a million of cases like this, nine hundred and ninty-nine thousand that have not ended as this has ended?⁠—How hard, then, is my fate!⁠—Upon my soul, I won’t bear it as I have done; but, instead of taking guilt to myself, claim pity. And this (since yesterday cannot be recalled) is the only course I can pursue to make myself easy. Proceed anon.

Letter 516

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
But what a pretty scheme of life hast thou drawn out for thyself and thy old widow! By my soul, Jack, I was mightily taken with it. There is but one thing wanting in it; and that will come of course: only to be in the commission, and one of the quorum. Thou art already provided with a clerk, as good as thou’lt want, in the widow Lovick; for thou understandest law, and she conscience: a good Lord Chancellor between ye!⁠—I should take prodigious pleasure to hear thee decide in a bastard case, upon thy new notions and old remembrances.

But raillery apart. (All gloom at heart, by Jupiter! although the pen and the countenance assume airs of levity!) If, after all, thou canst so easily repent and reform, as thou thinkest thou canst: if thou canst thus shake off thy old sins, and thy old habits: and if thy old master will so readily dismiss so tried and so faithful a servant, and permit thee thus calmly to enjoy thy new system; no room for scandal; all temptation ceasing: and if at last (thy reformation warranted and approved by time) thou marriest, and livest honest:⁠—why, Belford, I cannot but say, that if all these if’s come to pass, thou standest a good chance to be a happy man!

All I think, as I told thee in my last, is, that the devil knows his own interest too well, to let thee off so easily. Thou thyself tellest me, that we cannot repent when we will. And indeed I found it so: for, in my lucid intervals, I made good resolutions: but as health turned its blithe side to me, and opened my prospects of recovery, all my old inclinations and appetites returned; and this letter, perhaps, will be a thorough conviction to thee, that I am as wild a fellow as ever, or in the way to be so.

Thou askest me, very seriously, if, upon the faint sketch thou hast drawn, thy new scheme be not infinitely preferable to any of those which we have so long pursued?⁠—Why, Jack⁠—Let me reflect⁠—Why, Belford⁠—I can’t say⁠—I can’t say⁠—but it is. To speak out⁠—It is really, as Biddy in the play says, a good comfortable scheme.

But when thou tellest me, that it was thy misfortune to love me, because thy value for me made thee a wickeder man than otherwise thou wouldst have been; I desire thee to revolve this assertion: and I am persuaded that thou wilt not find thyself in so right a train as thou imaginest.

No false colourings, no glosses, does a true penitent aim at. Debasement, diffidence, mortification, contrition, are all near of a kin, Jack, and inseparable from a repentant spirit. If thou knowest not this, thou art not got three steps (out of threescore) towards repentance and amendment. And let me remind thee, before the grand accuser come to do it, that thou wert ever above being a passive follower in iniquity. Though thou hadst not so good an invention as he to whom thou writest, thou hadst as active an heart for mischief, as ever I met with in man.

Then for improving an hint, thou wert always a true Englishman. I never started a roguery, that did not come out of thy forge in a manner ready anvilled and hammered for execution, when I have sometimes been at a loss to make anything of it myself.

What indeed made me appear to be more wicked than thou was, that I being a handsome fellow, and thou an ugly one, when we had started a game, and hunted it down, the poor frighted puss generally threw herself into my paws, rather than into thine: and then, disappointed, hast thou wiped thy blubber-lips, and marched off to start a new game, calling me a wicked fellow all the while.

In short, Belford, thou wert an excellent starter and setter. The old women were not afraid for their daughters, when they saw such a face as thine. But, when I came, whip was the key turned upon the girls. And yet all signified nothing; for love, upon occasion, will draw an elephant through a keyhole. But for thy heart, Belford, who ever doubted the wickedness of that?

Nor even in this affair, that sticks most upon me, which my conscience makes such a handle of against me, art thou so innocent as thou fanciest thyself. Thou wilt stare at this: but it is true; and I will convince thee of it in an instant.

Thou sayest, thou wouldst have saved the lady from the ruin she met with. Thou art a pretty fellow for this: For how wouldst thou have saved her? What methods didst thou take to save her?

Thou knewest my designs all along. Hadst thou a mind to make thyself a good title to the merit to which thou now pretendest to lay claim, thou shouldest, like a true knight-errant, have sought to set the lady free from the enchanted castle. Thou shouldst have apprised her of her danger; have stolen in, when the giant was out of the way; or, hadst thou had the true spirit of chivalry upon thee, and nothing else would have done, have killed the giant; and then something wouldst thou have had to brag of.

“Oh! but the giant was my friend: he reposed a confidence in me: and I should have betrayed my friend, and his confidence!” This thou wouldst have pleaded, no doubt. But try this plea upon thy present principles, and thou wilt see what a caitiff thou wert to let it have weight with thee, upon an occasion where a breach of confidence is more excusable than to keep the secret. Did not the lady herself once putt his very point home upon me? And didst thou not, on that occasion, heavily blame thyself?[408]

Thou canst not pretend, and I know thou wilt not, that thou wert afraid of thy life by taking such a measure: for a braver fellow lives not, nor a more fearless, than Jack Belford. I remember several instances, and thou canst not forget them, where thou hast ventured thy bones, thy neck, thy life, against numbers, in a cause of roguery; and hadst thou had a spark of that virtue, which now thou art willing to flatter thyself thou hast, thou wouldst surely have run a risk to save an innocence, and a virtue, that it became every man to protect and espouse. This is the truth of the case, greatly as it makes against myself. But I hate a hypocrite from my soul.

I believe I should have killed thee at the time, if I could, hadst thou betrayed me thus. But I am sure now, that I would have thanked thee for it, with all my heart; and thought thee more a father, and a friend, than my real father, and my best friend⁠—and it was natural for thee to think, with so exalted a merit as this lady had, that this would have been the case, when consideration took place of passion; or, rather, when the d⁠⸺⁠d fondness for intrigue ceased, which never was my pride so much, as it is now, upon reflection, my curse.

Set about defending myself, and I will probe thee still deeper, and convince thee still more effectually, that thou hast more guilt than merit even in this affair. And as to all the others, in which we were accustomed to hunt in couples, thou wert always the forwardest whelp, and more ready, by far, to run away with me, than I with thee. Yet canst thou now compose thy horse-muscles, and cry out, How much more hadst thou, Lovelace, to answer for than I have!⁠—Saying nothing, neither, when thou sayest this, were it true: for thou wilt not be tried, when the time comes, by comparison. In short, thou mayest, at this rate, so miserably deceive thyself, that, notwithstanding all thy self-denial and mortification, when thou closest thy eyes, thou mayst perhaps open them in a place where thou thoughtest least to be.

However, consult thy old woman on this subject. I shall be thought to be out of character, if I go on in this strain. But really, as to a title to merit in this affair, I do assure thee, Jack, that thou less deservest praise than a horsepond; and I wish I had the sousing of thee.

* * * * *

I am actually now employed in taking leave of my friends in the country. I had once thought of taking Tomlinson, as I called him, with me: but his destiny has frustrated that intention.

Next Monday I think to see you in town; and then you, and I, and Mowbray, and Tourville, will laugh off that evening together. They will both accompany me (as I expect you will) to Dover, if not cross the water. I must leave you and them good friends. They take extremely amiss the treatment you have given them in your last letters. They say, you strike at their understandings. I laugh at them; and tell them, that those people who have least, are the most apt to be angry when it is called into question.

Make up all the papers and narratives you can spare me against the time. The will, particularly, I expect to take with me. Who knows but that those things, which will help to secure you in the way you are got into, may convert me?

Thou talkest of a wife, Jack: What thinkest you of our Charlotte? Her family and fortune, I doubt, according to thy scheme, are a little too high. Will those be an objection? Charlotte is a smart girl. For piety (thy present turn) I cannot say much: yet she is as serious as most of her sex at her time of life⁠—Would flaunt it a little, I believe, too, like the rest of them, were her reputation under covert.

But it won’t do neither, now I think of it:⁠—Thou art so homely, and so awkward a creature! Hast such a boatswain-like air!⁠—People would think she had picked thee up in Wapping, or Rotherhithe; or in going to see some new ship launched, or to view the docks at Chatham, or Portsmouth. So gaudy and so clumsy! Thy tawdriness won’t do with Charlotte!⁠—So sit thee down contented, Belford: although I think, in a whimsical way, as now, I mentioned Charlotte to thee once before.[409] Yet would I fain secure thy morals too, if matrimony will do it.⁠—Let me see!⁠—Now I have it.⁠—Has not the widow Lovick a daughter, or a niece? It is not every girl of fortune and family that will go to prayers with thee once or twice a day. But since thou art for taking a wife to mortify with, what if thou marriest the widow herself?⁠—She will then have a double concern in thy conversation. You and she may, tête-à-tête, pass many a comfortable winter’s evening together, comparing experiences, as the good folks call them.

I am serious, Jack, faith I am. And I would have thee take it into thy wise consideration.

R. L.

[Mr. Belford returns a very serious answer to the preceding letter; which appears not. In it, he most heartily wishes that he had withstood Mr. Lovelace, whatever had been the consequence, in designs so elaborately base and ungrateful, and so long and steadily pursued, against a lady whose merit and innocence entitled her to the protection of every man who had the least pretences to the title of a gentleman; and who deserved to be even the public care. He most severely censures himself for his false notions of honour to his friend, on this head; and recollects what the divine lady, as he calls her, said to him on this very subject, as related by himself in his letter to Lovelace No. 339, to which Lovelace also (both instigator and accuser) refers, and to his own regret and shame on the occasion. He distinguishes, however, between an irreparable injury intended to a Clarissa, and one designed to such of the sex, as contribute by their weakness and indiscretion to their own fall, and thereby entitle themselves to a large share of the guilt which accompanies the crime. He offers not, he says, to palliate or extenuate the crimes he himself has been guilty of: but laments, for Mr. Lovelace’s own sake, that he gives him, with so ludicrous and unconcerned an air, such solemn and useful lessons and warnings. Nevertheless, he resolves to make it his whole endeavour, he tells him, to render them efficacious to himself: and should think himself but too happy, if he shall be enabled to set him such an example as may be a mean to bring about the reformation of a man so dear to him as he has always been, from the first of their acquaintance; and who is capable of thinking so rightly and deeply; though at present to such little purpose, as make his very knowledge add to his condemnation.]

Letter 517

Mr. Belford, to Colonel Morden
Thursday, Sept. 21
Give me leave, dear Sir, to address myself to you in a very serious and solemn manner, on a subject that I must not, cannot, dispense with; as I promised the divine lady that I would do everything in my power to prevent that further mischief of which she was so very apprehensive.

I will not content myself with distant hints. It is with very great concern that I have just now heard of a declaration which you are said to have made to your relations at Harlowe-place, that you will not rest till you have avenged your cousin’s wrongs upon Mr. Lovelace.

Far be it from me to offer to defend the unhappy man, or even unduly to extenuate his crime! But yet I must say, that the family, by their persecutions of the dear lady at first, and by their implacableness afterwards, ought, at least, to share the blame with him. There is even great reason to believe, that a lady of such a religious turn, her virtue neither to be surprised nor corrupted, her will inviolate, would have got over a mere personal injury; especially as he would have done all that was in his power to repair it; and as, from the application of all his family in his favour, and other circumstances attending his sincere and voluntary offer, the lady might have condescended, with greater glory to herself, than if he had never offended.

When I have the pleasure of seeing you next, I will acquaint you, Sir, with all the circumstances of this melancholy story; from which you will see that Mr. Lovelace was extremely ill treated at first, by the whole family, this admirable lady excepted. This exception, I know, heightens his crime: but as his principal intention was but to try her virtue; and that he became so earnest a suppliant to her for marriage; and as he has suffered so deplorably in the loss of his reason, for not having it in his power to repair her wrongs; I presume to hope that much is to be pleaded against such a resolution as you are said to have made. I will read to you, at the same time, some passages from letters of his; two of which (one but this moment received) will convince you that the unhappy man, who is but now recovering his intellects, needs no greater punishment than what he has from his own reflections.

I have just now read over the copies of the dear lady’s posthumous letters. I send them all to you, except that directed for Mr. Lovelace; which I reserve till I have the pleasure of seeing you. Let me entreat you to read once more that written to yourself; and that to her brother;[410] which latter I now send you; as they are in point to the present subject.

I think, Sir, they are unanswerable. Such, at least, is the effect they have upon me, that I hope I shall never be provoked to draw my sword again in a private quarrel.

To the weight these must needs have upon you, let me add, that the unhappy man has given no new occasion of offence, since your visit to him at Lord M.’s, when you were so well satisfied of his intention to atone for his crimes, that you yourself urged to your dear cousin her forgiveness of him.

Let me also (though I presume to hope there is no need, when you coolly consider everything) remind you of your own promise to your departing cousin; relying upon which, her last moments were the easier.

Reflect, my dear Colonel Morden, that the highest injury was to her: her family all have a share in the cause: she forgives it: Why should we not endeavour to imitate what we admire?

You asked me, Sir, when in town, if a brave man could be a premeditatedly base one?⁠—Generally speaking, I believe bravery and baseness are incompatible. But Mr. Lovelace’s character, in the instance before us, affords a proof of the truth of the common observation, that there is no general rule but has its exceptions: for England, I believe, as gallant a nation as it is deemed to be, has not in it a braver spirit than his; nor a man who has a greater skill at his weapons; nor more calmness with his skill.

I mention not this with a thought that it can affect Col. Morden; who, if he be not withheld by superior motives, as well as influenced by those I have reminded him of, will tell me, that this skill, and this bravery, will make him the more worthy of being called upon by him.

To these superior motives then I refer myself: and with the greater confidence; as a pursuit ending in blood would not, at this time, have the plea lie for it with anybody, which sudden passion might have with some: but would be construed by all to be a cool and deliberate act of revenge for an evil absolutely irretrievable: an act of which a brave and noble spirit (such as is the gentleman’s to whom I now write) is not capable.

Excuse me, Sir, for the sake of my executorial duty and promise, keeping in eye the dear lady’s personal injunctions, as well as written will, enforced by letters posthumous. Every article of which (solicitous as we both are to see it duly performed) she would have dispensed with, rather than farther mischief should happen on her account. I am, dear Sir,

Your affectionate and faithful friend,
J. Belford.

Letter 518

To Col. Morden

[This Is the Posthumous Letter to Col. Morden, Referred to in the Above]

To My Beloved Cousin William Morden, Esq.
To Be Delivered After My Death.

My Dearest Cousin,
As it is uncertain, from my present weak state, whether, if living, I may be in a condition to receive as I ought the favour you intend me of a visit, when you come to London, I take this opportunity to return you, while able, the humble acknowledgments of a grateful heart, for all your goodness to me from childhood till now: and more particularly for your present kind interposition in my favour⁠—God Almighty forever bless you, dear Sir, for the kindness you endeavoured to procure for me!

One principal end of my writing to you, in this solemn manner, is, to beg of you, which I do with the utmost earnestness, that when you come to hear the particulars of my story, you will not suffer active resentment to take place in your generous breast on my account.

Remember, my dear Cousin, that vengeance is God’s province, and he has undertaken to repay it; nor will you, I hope, invade that province:⁠—especially as there is no necessity for you to attempt to vindicate my fame; since the offender himself (before he is called upon) has stood forth, and offered to do me all the justice that you could have extorted from him, had I lived: and when your own person may be endangered by running an equal risk with a guilty man.

Duelling, Sir, I need not tell you, who have adorned a public character, is not only an usurpation of the Divine prerogative; but it is an insult upon magistracy and good government. ’Tis an impious act. ’Tis an attempt to take away a life that ought not to depend upon a private sword; an act, the consequence of which is to hurry a soul (all its sins upon its head) into perdition; endangering that of the poor triumpher⁠—since neither intend to give to the other that chance, as I may call it, for the Divine mercy, in an opportunity for repentance, which each presumes to hope for himself.

Seek not then, I beseech you, Sir, to aggravate my fault, by a pursuit of blood, which must necessarily be deemed a consequence of that fault. Give not the unhappy man the merit (were you assuredly to be the victor) of falling by your hand. At present he is the perfidious, the ungrateful deceiver; but will not the forfeiture of his life, and the probable loss of his soul, be a dreadful expiation for having made me miserable for a few months only, and through that misery, by the Divine favour, happy to all eternity?

In such a case, my Cousin, where shall the evil stop?⁠—And who shall avenge on you?⁠—And who on your avenger?

Let the poor man’s conscience, then, dear Sir, avenge me. He will one day find punishment more than enough from that. Leave him to the chance of repentance. If the Almighty will give him time for it, who should you deny it him?⁠—Let him still be the guilty aggressor; and let no one say, Clarissa Harlowe is now amply revenged in his fall; or, in the case of yours, (which Heaven avert!) that her fault, instead of being buried in her grave, is perpetuated, and aggravated, by a loss far greater than that of herself.

Often, Sir, has the more guilty been the vanquisher of the less. An Earl of Shrewsbury, in the reign of Charles II as I have read, endeavouring to revenge the greatest injury that man can do to man, met with his death at Barn-Elms, from the hand of the ignoble Duke who had vilely dishonoured him. Nor can it be thought an unequal dispensation, were it generally to happen that the usurper of the Divine prerogative should be punished for his presumption by the man whom he sought to destroy, and who, however previously criminal, is put, in this case, upon a necessary act of self-defence.

May Heaven protect you, Sir, in all your ways; and, once more, I pray, reward you for all your kindness to me! A kindness so worthy of your heart, and so exceedingly grateful to mine: that of seeking to make peace, and to reconcile parents to a once-beloved child; uncles to a niece late their favourite; and a brother and sister to a sister whom once they thought not unworthy of that tender relation. A kindness so greatly preferable to the vengeance of a murdering sword.

Be a comforter, dear Sir, to my honoured parents, as you have been to me; and may we, through the Divine goodness to us both, meet in that blessed eternity, into which, as I humbly trust, I shall have entered when you will read this.

So prays, and to her latest hour will pray, my dear Cousin Morden, my friend, my guardian, but not my avenger⁠—(dear Sir! remember that!⁠—)

Your ever-affectionate and obliged
Clarissa Harlowe.

Letter 519

Colonel Morden, to John Belford, Esq.
Saturday, Sept. 23
Dear Sir,
I am very sorry that anything you have heard I have said should give you uneasiness.

I am obliged to you for the letters you have communicated to me; and still further for your promise to favour me with others occasionally.

All that relates to my dear cousin I shall be glad to see, be it from whom it will.

I leave to your own discretion, what may or may not be proper for Miss Howe to see from a pen so free as mine.

I admire her spirit. Were she a man, do you think, Sir, she, at this time, would have your advice to take upon such a subject as that upon which you write?

Fear not, however, that your communications shall put me upon any measures that otherwise I should not have taken. The wickedness, Sir, is of such a nature, as admits not of aggravation.

Yet I do assure you, that I have not made any resolutions that will be a tie upon me.

I have indeed expressed myself with vehemence upon the occasion. Who could forbear to do so? But it is not my way to resolve in matters of moment, till opportunity brings the execution of my purposes within my reach. We shall see by what manner of spirit this young man will be actuated on his recovery. If he continue to brave and defy a family, which he has so irreparably injured⁠—if⁠—but resolutions depending upon future contingencies are best left to future determination, as I just now hinted.

Meantime, I will own that I think my cousin’s arguments unanswerable. No good man but must be influenced by them.⁠—But, alas! Sir, who is good?

As to your arguments; I hope you will believe me, when I assure you, as I now do, that your opinion and your reasonings have, and will always have, great and deserved weight with me; and that I respect you still more than I did, if possible, for your expostulations in support of my cousin’s pious injunctions to me. They come from you, Sir, with the greatest propriety, as her executor and representative; and likewise as you are a man of humanity, and a well-wisher to both parties.

I am not exempt from violent passions, Sir, any more than your friend; but then I hope they are only capable of being raised by other people’s insolence, and not by my own arrogance. If ever I am stimulated by my imperfections and my resentments to act against my judgment and my cousin’s injunctions, some such reflections as these that follow will run away with my reason. Indeed they are always present with me.

In the first place; my own disappointment: who came over with the hope of passing the remainder of my days in the conversation of a kinswoman so beloved; and to whom I have a double relation as her cousin and trustee.

Then I reflect, too, too often perhaps for my engagements to her in her last hours, that the dear creature could only forgive for herself. She, no doubt, is happy: but who shall forgive for a whole family, in all its branches made miserable for their lives?

That the more faulty her friends were as to her, the more enormous his ingratitude, and the more inexcusable⁠—What! Sir, was it not enough that she suffered what she did for him, but the barbarian must make her suffer for her sufferings for his sake?⁠—Passion makes me express this weakly; passion refuses the aid of expression sometimes, where the propriety of a resentment prima facie declares expression to be needless. I leave it to you, Sir, to give this reflection its due force.

That the author of this diffusive mischief perpetuated it premeditatedly, wantonly, in the gaiety of his heart. To try my cousin, say you, Sir! To try the virtue of a Clarissa, Sir!⁠—Has she then given him any cause to doubt her virtue?⁠—It could not be.⁠—If he avers that she did, I am indeed called upon⁠—but I will have patience.

That he carried her, as now appears, to a vile brothel, purposely to put her out of all human resource; himself out of the reach of all human remorse: and that, finding her proof against all the common arts of delusion, base and unmanly arts were there used to effect his wicked purposes. Once dead, the injured saint, in her will, says, he has seen her.

That I could not know this, when I saw him at M. Hall: that, the object of his attempts considered, I could not suppose there was such a monster breathing as he: that it was natural for me to impute her refusal of him rather to transitory resentment, to consciousness of human frailty, and mingled doubts of the sincerity of his offers, than to villanies, which had given the irreversible blow, and had at that instant brought her down to the gates of death, which in a very few days enclosed her.

That he is a man of defiance: a man who thinks to awe everyone by his insolent darings, and by his pretensions to superior courage and skill.

That, disgrace as he is to his name, and to the character of a gentleman, the man would not want merit, who, in vindication of the dishonoured distinction, should expunge and blot him out of the worthy list.

That the injured family has a son, who, however unworthy of such a sister, is of a temper vehement, unbridled, fierce; unequal, therefore, (as he has once indeed been found), to a contention with this man: the loss of which son, by a violent death on such an occasion, and by a hand so justly hated, would complete the misery of the whole family; and who, nevertheless, resolves to call him to account, if I do not; his very misbehaviour, perhaps, to such a sister, stimulating his perverse heart to do her memory the more signal justice; though the attempt might be fatal to himself.

Then, Sir, to be a witness, as I am every hour, to the calamity and distress of a family to which I am related; every one of whom, however averse to an alliance with him while it had not taken place, would no doubt have been soon reconciled to the admirable creature, had the man (to whom, for his family and fortunes, it was not a disgrace to be allied) done her but common justice!

To see them hang their pensive heads; mope about, shunning one another; though formerly never used to meet but to rejoice in each other; afflicting themselves with reflections, that the last time they respectively saw the dear creature, it was here or there, at such a place, in such an attitude; and could they have thought that it would have been the last?⁠—Every one of them reviving instances of her excellencies that will for a long time make their very blessings a curse to them!

Her closet, her chamber, her cabinet, given up to me to disfurnish, in order to answer (now too late obliging!) the legacies bequeathed; unable themselves to enter them; and even making use of less convenient back stairs, that they may avoid passing by the doors of her apartment!

Her parlour locked up; the walks, the retirements, the summerhouse in which she delighted, and in which she used to pursue her charming works; that in particular, from which she went to the fatal interview, shunned, or hurried by, or over!

Her perfections, nevertheless, called up to remembrance, and enumerated; incidents and graces, unheeded before, or passed over in the group of her numberless perfections, now brought back into notice, and dwelt upon!

The very servants allowed to expatiate upon these praiseful topics to their principals! Even eloquent in their praises! The distressed principals listening and weeping! Then to see them break in upon the zealous applauders, by their impatience and remorse, and throw abroad their helpless hands, and exclaim; then again to see them listen to hear more of her praises, and weep again⁠—they even encouraging the servants to repeat how they used to be stopped by strangers to ask after her, and by those who knew her, to be told of some new instances to her honour⁠—how aggravating all this!

In dreams they see her, and desire to see her; always an angel, and accompanied by angels; always clad in robes of light; always endeavouring to comfort them, who declare, that they shall never more know comfort!

What an example she set! How she indited! How she drew! How she wrought! How she talked! How she sung! How she played! Her voice music! Her accent harmony!

Her conversation how instructive! how sought after! The delight of persons of all ages, of both sexes, of all ranks! Yet how humble, how condescending! Never were dignity and humility so illustriously mingled!

At other times, how generous, how noble, how charitable, how judicious in her charities! In every action laudable! In every attitude attractive! In every appearance, whether full-dressed, or in the housewife’s more humble garb, equally elegant, and equally lovely! Like, or resembling, Miss Clarissa Harlowe, they now remember to be a praise denoting the highest degree of excellence, with everyone, whatever person, action, or rank, spoken of.⁠—The desirable daughter; the obliging kinswoman; the affectionate sister, (all envy now subsided!) the faithful, the warm friend; the affable, the kind, the benevolent mistress!⁠—Not one fault remembered! All their severities called cruelties: mutually accusing each other; each him and herself; and all to raise her character, and torment themselves.

Such, Sir, was the angel, of whom the vilest of men has deprived the world! You, Sir, who know more of the barbarous machinations and practices of this strange man, can help me to still more inflaming reasons, were they needed, why a man, not perfect, may stand excused to the generality of the world, if he should pursue his vengeance; and the rather, as through an absence of six years, (high as just report, and the promises of her early youth from childhood, had raised her in his esteem), he could not till now know one half of her excellencies⁠—till now! that we have lost, forever lost, the admirable creature!⁠—

But I will force myself from the subject, after I have repeated that I have not yet made any resolutions that can bind me. Whenever I do, I shall be glad they may be such as may merit the honour of your approbation.

I send you back the copies of the posthumous letters. I see the humanity of your purpose, in the transmission of them to me; and I thank you most heartily for it. I presume, that it is owing to the same laudable consideration, that you kept back the copy of that to the wicked man himself.

I intend to wait upon Miss Howe in person with the diamond ring, and such other of the effects bequeathed to her as are here. I am, Sir,

Your most faithful and obliged servant,
Wm. Morden.

[Mr. Belford, in his answer to this letter, farther enforces the lady’s dying injunctions; and rejoices that the Colonel has made no vindictive resolutions; and hopes everything from his prudence and consideration, and from his promise given to the dying lady. He refers to the seeing him in town on account of the dreadful ends of two of the greatest criminals in his cousin’s affair. “This, says he, together with Mr. Lovelace’s disorder of mind, looks as if Providence had already taken the punishment of these unhappy wretches into its own hands.” He desires the Colonel will give him a day’s notice of his coming to town, lest otherwise he may be absent at the time⁠—this he does, though he tells him not the reason, with a view to prevent a meeting between him and Mr. Lovelace; who might be in town (as he apprehends), about the same time, in his way to go abroad.]

Letter 520

Colonel Morden, to John Belford, Esq.
Tuesday, Sept. 26
Dear Sir,
I cannot help congratulating myself as well as you that we have already got through with the family every article of the will where they have any concern.

You left me a discretional power in many instances; and, in pursuance of it, I have had my dear cousin’s personal jewels, and will account to you for them, at the highest price, when I come to town, as well as for other matters that you were pleased to entrust to my management.

These jewels I have presented to my cousin Dolly Hervey, in acknowledgement of her love to the dear departed. I have told Miss Howe of this; and she is as well pleased with what I have done as if she had been the purchaser of them herself. As that young lady has jewels of her own, she could only have wished to purchase these because they were her beloved friend’s.⁠—The grandmother’s jewels are also valued; and the money will be paid me for you, to be carried to the uses of the will.

Mrs. Norton is preparing, by general consent, to enter upon her office as housekeeper at The Grove. But it is my opinion that she will not be long on this side Heaven.

I waited upon Miss Howe myself, as I told you I would, with what was bequeathed to her and her mother. You will not be displeased, perhaps, if I make a few observations with regard to that young lady, so dear to my beloved cousin, as you have not a personal acquaintance with her.

There never was a firmer or nobler friendship in women, than between my dear cousin and Miss Howe, to which this wretched man had given a period.

Friendship, generally speaking, Mr. Belford, is too fervent a flame for female minds to manage: a light that but in few of their hands burns steady, and often hurries the sex into flight and absurdity. Like other extremes, it is hardly ever durable. Marriage, which is the highest state of friendship, generally absorbs the most vehement friendships of female to female; and that whether the wedlock be happy, or not.

What female mind is capable of two fervent female friendships at the same time?⁠—This I mention as a general observation; but the friendship that subsisted between these two ladies affords a remarkable exception to it: which I account for from those qualities and attainments in both, which, were they more common, would furnish more exceptions still in favour of the sex.

Both had an enlarged, and even a liberal education: both had minds thirsting after virtuous knowledge; great readers both; great writers⁠—(and early familiar writing I take to be one of the greatest openers and improvers of the mind that man or woman can be employed in). Both generous. High in fortune, therefore above that dependence each on the other that frequently destroys that familiarity which is the cement of friendship. Both excelling in different ways, in which neither sought to envy the other. Both blessed with clear and distinguishing faculties; with solid sense; and, from their first intimacy, (I have many of my lights, Sir, from Mrs. Norton), each seeing something in the other to fear, as well as to love; yet making it an indispensable condition of their friendship, each to tell the other of her failings; and to be thankful for the freedom taken. One by nature gentle; the other made so by her love and admiration of her exalted friend⁠—impossible that there could be a friendship better calculated for duration.

I must, however, take the liberty to blame Miss Howe for her behaviour to Mr. Hickman. And I infer from it, that even women of sense are not to be trusted with power.

By the way, I am sure I need not desire you not to communicate to this fervent young lady the liberties I have taken with her character.

I dare say my cousin could not approve of Miss Howe’s behaviour to this gentleman; a behaviour which is talked of by as many as know Mr. Hickman and her. Can a wise young lady be easy under such censure? She must know it.

Mr. Hickman is really a very worthy man. Everybody speaks well of him. But he is gentle-dispositioned, and he adores Miss Howe; and love admits not of an air of even due dignity to the object of it. Yet will Mr. Hickman hardly ever get back the reins he has yielded up; unless she, by carrying too far the power of which she seems at present too sensible, should, when she has no favours to confer which he has not a right to demand, provoke him to throw off the too-heavy yoke. And should he do so, and then treat her with negligence, Miss Howe, of all the women I know, will be the least able to support herself under it. She will then be more unhappy than she ever made him; for a man who is uneasy at home, can divert himself abroad; which a woman cannot so easily do, without scandal.⁠—Permit me to take farther notice, as to Miss Howe, that it is very obvious to me, that she has, by her haughty behaviour to this worthy man, involved herself in one difficulty, from which she knows not how to extricate herself with that grace which accompanies all her actions. She intends to have Mr. Hickman. I believe she does not dislike him. And it will cost her no small pains to descend from the elevation she has climbed to.

Another inconvenience she will suffer from her having taught everybody (for she is above disguise) to think, by her treatment of Mr. Hickman, much more meanly of him than he deserves to be thought of. And must she not suffer dishonour in his dishonour?

Mrs. Howe is much disturbed at her daughter’s behaviour to the gentleman. He is very deservedly a favourite of hers. But (another failing in Miss Howe) her mother has not all the authority with her that a mother ought to have. Miss Howe is indeed a woman of fine sense; but it requires a high degree of good understanding, as well as a sweet and gentle disposition of mind, and great discretion, in a child, when grown up, to let it be seen, that she mingles reverence with her love, to a parent, who has talents visibly inferior to her own.

Miss Howe is open, generous, noble. The mother has not any of her fine qualities. Parents, in order to preserve their children’s veneration for them, should take great care not to let them see anything in their conduct, or behaviour, or principles, which they themselves would not approve of in others.

Mr. Hickman has, however, this consideration to comfort himself with, that the same vivacity by which he suffers, makes Miss Howe’s own mother, at times, equally sensible. And as he sees enough of this beforehand, he will have more reason to blame himself than the lady, should she prove as lively a wife as she was a mistress, for having continued his addresses, and married her, against such threatening appearances.

There is also another circumstance which good-natured men, who engage with even lively women, may look forward to with pleasure; a circumstance which generally lowers the spirits of the ladies, and domesticates them, as I may call it; and which, as it will bring those of Mr. Hickman and Miss Howe nearer to a par, that worthy gentleman will have double reason, when it happens, to congratulate himself upon it.

But after all, I see that there is something so charmingly brilliant and frank in Miss Howe’s disposition, although at present visibly overclouded by grief, that it is impossible not to love her, even for her failings. She may, and I hope she will, make Mr. Hickman an obliging wife. And if she does, she will have additional merit with me; since she cannot be apprehensive of check or control; and may therefore, by her generosity and prudence, lay an obligation upon her husband, by the performance of what is no more than her duty.

Her mother both loves and fears her. Yet is Mrs. Howe also a woman of vivacity, and ready enough, I dare say, to cry out when she is pained. But, alas! she has, as I hinted above, weakened her authority by the narrowness of her mind.

Yet once she praised her daughter to me with so much warmth for the generosity of her spirit, that had I not known the old lady’s character, I should have thought her generous herself. And yet I have always observed, that people of narrow tempers are ready to praise generous ones:⁠—and thus have I accounted for it⁠—that such persons generally find it to their purpose, that all the world should be open-minded but themselves.

The old lady applied herself to me, to urge to the young one the contents of the will, in order to hasten her to fix a day for her marriage; but desired that I would not let Miss Howe know that she did.

I took the liberty upon it to tell Miss Howe that I hoped that her part of a will, so soon, and so punctually, in almost all its other articles, fulfilled, would not be the only one that would be slighted.

Her answer was, she would consider of it: and made me a courtesy with such an air, as showed me that she thought me more out of my sphere, than I could allow her to think me, had I been permitted to argue the point with her.

I found Miss Howe and her own servant-maid in deep mourning. This, it seems, had occasioned a great debate at first between her mother and her. Her mother had the words of the will on her side; and Mr. Hickman’s interest in her view; her daughter having said that she would wear it for six months at least. But the young lady carried her point⁠—“Strange,” said she, “if I, who shall mourn the heavy, the irreparable loss to the last hour of my life, should not show my concern to the world for a few months!”

Mr. Hickman, for his part, was so far from uttering an opposing word on this occasion, that, on the very day that Miss Howe put on hers, he waited on her in a new suit of mourning, as for a near relation. His servants and equipage made the same respectful appearance.

Whether the mother was consulted by him in it, I cannot say; but the daughter knew nothing of it, till she saw him in it; she looked at him with surprise, and asked him for whom he mourned?

The dear, and ever-dear Miss Harlowe, he said.

She was at a loss, it seems. At last⁠—All the world ought to mourn for my Clarissa, said she; But whom, man, (that was her whimsical address to him), thinkest thou to oblige by this appearance?

It is more than appearance, Madam. I love not my own sister, worthy as she is, better than I loved Miss Clarissa Harlowe. I oblige myself by it. And if I disoblige not you, that is all I wish.

She surveyed him, I am told, from head to foot. She knew not, at first, whether to be angry or pleased.⁠—At length, “I thought at first,” said she, “that you might have a bolder and freer motive⁠—but (as my Mamma says) you may be a well-meaning man, though generally a little wrongheaded⁠—however, as the world is censorious, and may think us nearer of kin than I would have it supposed, I must take care that I am not seen abroad in your company.”

But let me add, Mr. Belford, that if this compliment of Mr. Hickman (or this more than compliment, as I may call it, since the worthy man speaks not of my dear cousin without emotion) does not produce a short day, I shall think Miss Howe has less generosity in her temper than I am willing to allow her.

You will excuse me, Mr. Belford, for the particularities which you invited and encouraged. Having now seen everything that relates to the will of my dear cousin brought to a desirable issue, I will set about making my own. I shall follow the dear creature’s example, and give my reasons for every article, that there may be no room for after-contention.

What but a fear of death, a fear unworthy of a creature who knows that he must one day as surely die as he was born, can hinder anyone from making such a disposition?

I hope soon to pay my respects to you in town. Meantime, I am, with great respect, dear Sir,

Your faithful and affectionate humble servant,
Wm. Morden.

Letter 521

Mr. Belford, to Miss Howe
Thursday, Sept. 28
I do myself the honour to send you by this, according to my promise,[411] copies of the posthumous letters written by your exalted friend.

These will be accompanied with other letters, particularly a copy of one from Mr. Lovelace, begun to be written on the 14th, and continued down to the 18th.[412] You will see by it, Madam, the dreadful anguish that his spirits labour with, and his deep remorse.

Mr. Lovelace sent for this letter back. I complied; but I first took a copy of it. As I have not told him that I have done so, you will be pleased to forbear communicating of it to anybody but Mr. Hickman. That gentleman’s perusal of it will be the same as if nobody but yourself saw it.

One of the letters of Colonel Morden, which I enclose, you will observe, Madam, is only a copy.[413] The true reason for which, as I will ingenuously acknowledge, is, some free, but respectful animadversions which the Colonel has made upon your declining to carry into execution your part of your dear friend’s last requests. I have therefore, in respect to that worthy gentleman, (having a caution from him on that head), omitted those parts.

Will you allow me, Madam, however, to tell you, that I myself could not have believed that my inimitable testatrix’s own Miss Howe would have been the most backward in performing such a part of her dear friend’s last will, as is entirely in her own power to perform⁠—especially, when that performance would make one of the most deserving men in England happy; and whom, I presume, she proposes to honour with her hand.

Excuse me, Madam, I have a most sincere veneration for you; and would not disoblige you for the world.

I will not presume to make remarks on the letters I send you; nor upon the informations I have to give you of the dreadful end of two unhappy wretches who were the greatest criminals in the affair of your adorable friend. These are the infamous Sinclair, and a person whom you have read of, no doubt, in the letters of the charming innocent, by the name of Captain Tomlinson.

The wretched woman died in the extremest tortures and despondency: the man from wounds got in defending himself in carrying on a contraband trade; both accusing themselves, in their last hours, for the parts they had acted against the most excellent of women, as of the crime that gave them the deepest remorse.

Give me leave to say, Madam, that if your compassion be not excited for the poor man who suffers so greatly from his own anguish of mind, as you will observe by his letter he does; and for the unhappy family, whose remorse, you will see by Colonel Morden’s, is so deep; your terror must. And yet I should not wonder, if the just sense of the irreparable loss you have sustained hardens a heart against pity, which, on a less extraordinary occasion, would want its principal grace, if it were not compassionate.

I am, Madam, with the greatest respect and gratitude,

Your most obliged and faithful humble servant,
J. Belford.

Letter 522

Miss Howe, to John Belford, Esq.
Saturday, Sept. 30
I little thought I ever could have owed so much obligation to any man as you have laid me under. And yet what you have sent me has almost broken my heart, and ruined my eyes.

I am surprised, though agreeably, that you have so soon, and so well, got over that part of the trust you have engaged in, which relates to the family.

It may be presumed, from the exits you mention of two of the infernal man’s accomplices, that the thunderbolt will not stop short of the principal. Indeed I have some pleasure to think it seems rolling along towards the devoted head that has plotted all the mischief. But let me, however, say, that although I think Mr. Morden not altogether in the wrong in his reasons for resentment, as he is the dear creature’s kinsman and trustee, yet I think you very much in the right in endeavouring to dissuade him from it, as you are her executor, and act in pursuance of her earnest request.

But what a letter is that of the infernal man’s! I cannot observe upon it. Neither can I, for very different reasons, upon my dear creature’s posthumous letters; particularly on that to him. O Mr. Belford! what numberless perfections died, when my Clarissa drew her last breath!

If decency be observed in his letters, for I have not yet had patience to read above two or three of them, (besides this horrid one, which I return to you enclosed), I may some time hence be curious to look, by their means, into the hearts of wretches, which, though they must be the abhorrence of virtuous minds, will, when they are laid open, (as I presume they are in them), afford a proper warning to those who read them, and teach them to detest men of such profligate characters.

If your reformation be sincere, you will not be offended that I do not except you on this occasion.⁠—And thus have I helped you to a criterion to try yourself by.

By this letter of the wicked man it is apparent that there are still wickeder women. But see what a guilty commerce with the devils of your sex will bring those to whose morals ye have ruined!⁠—For these women were once innocent: it was man that made them otherwise. The first bad man, perhaps, threw them upon worse men; those upon still worse; till they commenced devils incarnate⁠—the height of wickedness or of shame is not arrived at all at once, as I have somewhere heard observed.

But this man, this monster rather, for him to curse these women, and to curse the dear creature’s family (implacable as the latter were), in order to lighten a burden he voluntarily took up, and groans under, is meanness added to wickedness: and in vain will he one day find his low plea of sharing with her friends, and with those common wretches, a guilt which will be adjudged him as all his own; though they too may meet their punishment; as it is evidently begun; in the first, in their ineffectual reproaches of one another; in the second⁠—as you have told me.

This letter of the abandoned wretch I have not shown to anybody; not even to Mr. Hickman: for, Sir, I must tell you, I do not as yet think it the same thing as only seeing it myself.

Mr. Hickman, like the rest of his sex, would grow upon indulgence. One distinction from me would make him pay two to himself. Insolent creepers, or encroachers all of you! To show any of you a favour today, you would expect it as a right tomorrow.

I am, as you see, very open and sincere with you; and design in another letter to be still more so, in answer to your call, and Colonel Morden’s call, upon me, in a point that concerns me to explain myself upon to my beloved creature’s executor, and to the Colonel, as her only tender and only worthy relation.

I cannot but highly applaud Colonel Morden for his generosity to Miss Dolly Hervey.

O that he had arrived time enough to save my inimitable friend from the machinations of the vilest of men, and from the envy and malice of the most selfish and implacable of brothers and sisters!

Anna Howe.

Letter 523

Miss Howe, to John Belford, Esq.
Monday, Oct. 2
When you question me, Sir, as you do, and on a subject so affecting to me, in the character of the representative of my best beloved friend, and have in every particular hitherto acted up to that character, you are entitled to my regard: especially as you are joined in your questioning of me by a gentleman whom I look upon as the dearest and nearest (because worthiest) relation of my dear friend: and who, it seems, has been so severe a censurer of my conduct, that your politeness will not permit you to send me his letter, with others of his; but a copy only, in which the passages reflecting upon me are omitted.

I presume, however, that what is meant by this alarming freedom of the Colonel is no more than what you both have already hinted to me. As if you thought I were not inclined to pay so much regard to my beloved creature’s last will, in my own case, as I would have others pay to it. A charge that I ought not to be quite silent under.

You have observed, no doubt, that I have seemed to value myself upon the freedom I take in declaring my sentiments without reserve upon every subject that I pretend to touch upon: and I can hardly question that I have, or shall, in your opinion, by my unceremonious treatment of you upon so short an acquaintance, run into the error of those, who, wanting to be thought above hypocrisy and flattery, fall into rusticity, if not ill-manners; a common fault with such, who, not caring to correct constitutional failings, seek to gloss them over by some nominal virtue; when all the time, perhaps, these failings are entirely owing to native arrogance; or, at least, to a contracted rust, that they will not, because it would give them pain, submit to have filed off.

You see, Sir, that I can, however, be as free with myself as with you: and by what I am going to write, you will find me still more free; and yet I am aware that such of my sex as will not assume some little dignity, and exact respect from yours, will render themselves cheap; and, perhaps, for their modesty and diffidence, be repaid with scorn and insult.

But the scorn I will endeavour not to deserve; and the insult I will not bear.

In some of the dear creature’s papers which you have had in your possession, and must again have, in order to get transcribed, you will find several friendly, but severe reprehensions of me, on account of a natural, or, at least, an habitual, warmth of temper, which she was pleased to impute to me.

I was thinking to give you her charge against me in her own words, from one of her letters delivered to me with her own hands, on taking leave of me on the last visit she honoured me with. But I will supply that charge by confession of more than it imports; to wit, “That I am haughty, uncontrollable, and violent in my temper;” this, I say; “Impatient of contradiction,” was my beloved’s charge; (from anybody but her dear self, she should have said); “and aim not at that affability, that gentleness, next to meekness, which, in the letter I was going to communicate, she tells me are the peculiar and indispensable characteristics of a real fine lady; who, she is pleased to say, should appear to be gall-less as a dove; and never should know what warmth or high spirit is, but in the cause of religion or virtue; or in cases where her own honour, the honour of a friend, or that of an innocent person, is concerned.”

Now, Sir, as I needs must plead guilty to this indictment, do you think I ought not to resolve upon a single life?⁠—I, who have such an opinion of your sex, that I think there is not one man in an hundred whom a woman of sense and spirit can either honour or obey, though you make us promise both, in that solemn form of words which unites or rather binds us to you in marriage?

When I look round upon all the married people of my acquaintance, and see how they live, and what they bear who live best, I am confirmed in my dislike to the state.

Well do your sex contrive to bring us up fools and idiots, in order to make us bear the yoke you lay upon our shoulders; and that we may not despise you from our hearts, (as we certainly should, if we were brought up as you are), for your ignorance, as much as you often make us do (as it is) for your insolence.

These, Sir, are some of my notions. And, with these notions, let me repeat my question, Do you think I ought to marry at all?

If I marry either a sordid or an imperious wretch, can I, do you think, live with him? And ought a man of a contrary character, for the sake of either of our reputations, to be plagued with me?

Long did I stand out against all the offers made me, and against all the persuasions of my mother; and, to tell you the truth, the longer, and with the more obstinacy, as the person my choice would have first fallen upon was neither approved by my mother, nor by my dear friend. This riveted me to my pride, and to my opposition; for although I was convinced, after a while, that my choice would neither have been prudent nor happy; and that the specious wretch was not what he had made me believe he was; yet could I not easily think of any other man; and indeed, from the detection of him, took a settled aversion to the whole sex.

At last Mr. Hickman offered himself; a man worthy of a better choice. He had the good fortune (he thinks it so) to be agreeable (and to make his proposals agreeable) to my mother.

As to myself; I own, that were I to have chosen a brother, Mr. Hickman should have been the man; virtuous, sober, sincere, friendly, as he is. But I wish not to marry; nor knew I the man in the world whom I could think deserving of my beloved friend. But neither of our parents would let us live single.

The accursed Lovelace was proposed warmly to her at one time; and, while she was yet but indifferent to him, they, by ungenerous usage of him, (for then, Sir, he was not known to be Beelzebub himself), and by endeavouring to force her inclinations in favour first of one worthless man, then of another, in antipathy to him, through her foolish brother’s caprice, turned that indifference (from the natural generosity of her soul) into a regard which she never otherwise would have had for a man of his character.

Mr. Hickman was proposed to me. I refused him again and again. He persisted; my mother his advocate. I told him my dislike of all men⁠—of him⁠—of matrimony⁠—still he persisted. I used him with tyranny⁠—led, indeed, partly by my temper, partly by design; hoping thereby to get rid of him; till the poor man (his character unexceptionably uniform) still persisting, made himself a merit with me by his patience. This brought down my pride, (I never, Sir, was accounted very ungenerous, nor quite ungrateful), and gave me, at one time, an inferiority in my own opinion to him; which lasted just long enough for my friends to prevail upon me to promise him encouragement, and to receive his addresses.

Having done so, when the weatherglass of my pride got up again, I found I had gone too far to recede. My mother and my friends both held me to it. Yet I tried him, I vexed him, an hundred ways; and not so much neither with design to vex him, as to make him hate me, and decline his suit.

He bore this, however; and got nothing but my pity; yet still my mother, and my friend, having obtained my promise, (made, however, not to him, but to them), and being well assured that I valued no man more than Mr. Hickman, (who never once disobliged me in word, or deed, or look, except by his foolish perseverance), insisted upon the performance.

While my dear friend was in her unhappy uncertainty, I could not think of marriage; and now, what encouragement have I?⁠—She, my monitress, my guide, my counsel, gone, forever gone! by whose advice and instructions I hoped to acquit myself tolerably in the state to which I could not avoid entering. For, Sir, my mother is so partially Mr. Hickman’s friend, that I am sure, should any difference arise, she would always censure me, and acquit him; even were he ungenerous enough to remember me in his day.

This, Sir, being my situation, consider how difficult it is for me to think of marriage. Whenever we approve, we can find an hundred good reasons to justify our approbation. Whenever we dislike, we can find a thousand to justify our dislike. Everything in the latter case is an impediment; every shadow a bugbear.⁠—Thus can I enumerate and swell, perhaps, only imaginary grievances; “I must go whither he would have me to go; visit whom he would have me to visit: well as I love to write, (though now, alas! my grand inducement to write is over!) it must be to whom he pleases:” and Mrs. Hickman (who, as Miss Howe, cannot do wrong) would hardly ever be able to do right. Thus, the tables turned upon me, I am reminded of my vowed obedience; Madam’d up perhaps to matrimonial perfection, and all the wedded warfare practised comfortably over between us, (for I shall not be passive under insolent treatment), till we become curses to each other, a byword to our neighbours, and the jest of our own servants.

But there must be bear and forbear, methinks some wise body will tell me: But why must I be teased into a state where that must be necessarily the case; when now I can do as I please, and wish only to be let alone to do as best pleases me? And what, in effect, does my mother say? “Anna Howe, you now do everything that pleases you; you now have nobody to control you; you go and you come; you dress and you undress; you rise and you go to rest, just as you think best; but you must be happier still, child!”⁠—

As how, Madam?

“Why, you must marry, my dear, and have none of these options; but, in everything, do as your husband commands you.”

This is very hard, you will own, Sir, for such a one as me to think of. And yet, engaged to enter into that state, as I am, how can I help myself? My mother presses me; my friend, my beloved friend, writing as from the dead, presses me; and you and Mr. Morden, as executors of her will, remind me; the man is not afraid of me, (I am sure, were I the man, I should not have half his courage); and I think I ought to conclude to punish him (the only effectual way I have to do it) for his perverse adherence and persecution, with the grant of his own wishes; a punishment which many others who enjoy theirs very commonly experience.

Let me then assure you, Sir, that when I can find, in the words of my charming friend in her will, writing of her cousin Hervey, that my grief for her is mellowed by time into a remembrance more sweet than painful, that I may not be utterly unworthy of the passion a man of some merit has for me, I will answer the request of my dear friend, so often repeated, and so earnestly pressed; and Mr. Hickman shall find, if he continue to deserve my gratitude, that my endeavours shall not be wanting to make him amends for the patience he has had, and must still a little while longer have with me: and then will it be his own fault (I hope not mine) if our marriage answer not those happy prognostics, which filled her generous presaging mind, upon this view, as she once, for my encouragement, and to induce me to encourage him, told me.

Thus, Sir, have I, in a very free manner, accounted to you, as to the executor of my beloved friend, for all that relates to you, as such, to know; and even for more than I needed to do, against myself; only that you will find as much against me in some of her letters; and so, losing nothing, I gain the character of ingenuousness with you.

And thus much for the double reprimand, on my delaying my part of the performance of my dear friend’s will.

And now, while you are admonishing me on this subject, let me remind you of one great article relating to yourself: it is furnished me by my dear creature’s posthumous letter to you⁠—I hope you will not forget, that the most benevolent of her sex expresses herself as earnestly concerned for your thorough reformation, as she does for my marrying. You’ll see to it, then, that her wishes are as completely answered in that particular, as you are desirous they should be in all others.

I have, I own, disobeyed her in one article; and that is, where she desires I would not put myself into mourning. I could not help it.

I send this and mine of Saturday last together; and will not add another word, after I have told you that I think myself

Your obliged servant,
A. Howe.

Letter 524

Mr. Belford, to Miss Howe
Thursday Night, Oct. 5
I return you, Madam, my most respectful thanks for your condescending hint, in relation to the pious wishes of your exalted friend for my thorough reformation.

I will only say, that it will be my earnest and unwearied endeavour to make those generous wishes effectual: and I hope for the Divine blessing upon such my endeavours, or else I know they will be in vain.

I cannot, Madam, express how much I think myself obliged to you for your farther condescension, in writing to me so frankly the state of your past and present mind, in relation to the single and matrimonial life. If the lady by whom, as the executor of her inimitable friend, I am thus honoured, has failings, never were failings so lovely in woman!⁠—How much more lovely, indeed, than the virtues of many of her sex!

I might have ventured into the hands of such a lady the Colonel’s original letter entire. The worthy gentleman exceedingly admires you; and this caution was the effect of his politeness only, and of his regard for you.

I send you, Madam, a letter from Lord M. to myself; and the copies of three others written in consequence of that. These will acquaint you with Mr. Lovelace’s departure from England, and with other particulars, which you will be curious to know.

Be pleased to keep to yourself such of the contents as your own prudence will suggest to you ought not to be seen by anybody else.

I am, Madam, with the profoundest and most grateful respect,

Your faithful and obliged humble servant,
John Belford.

Letter 525

Lord M. to John Belford, Esq. M. Hall,
Friday, Sept. 29
Dear Sir,
My kinsman Lovelace is now setting out for London; proposing to see you, and then to go to Dover, and so embark. God send him well out of the kingdom!

On Monday he will be with you, I believe. Pray let me be favoured with an account of all your conversations; for Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville are to be there too; and whether you think he is grown quite his own man again.

What I mostly write for is, to wish you to keep Colonel Morden and him asunder; and so I give you notice of his going to town. I should be very loth there should be any mischief between them, as you gave me notice that the Colonel threatened my nephew. But my kinsman would not bear that; so nobody let him know that he did. But I hope there is no fear; for the Colonel does not, as I hear, threaten now. For his own sake, I am glad of that; for there is not such a man in the world as my kinsman is said to be, at all the weapons⁠—as well he was not; he would not be so daring.

We shall all here miss the wild fellow. To be sure, there is no man better company when he pleases.

Pray, do you never travel thirty or forty miles? I should be glad to see you here at M. Hall. It will be charity when my kinsman is gone; for we suppose you will be his chief correspondent; although he has promised to write to my nieces often. But he is very apt to forget his promises; to us his relations particularly. God preserve us all; Amen! prays

Your very humble servant,

Letter 526

Mr. Belford, to Lord M.
London, Tuesday Night, Oct. 3
My Lord,
I obey your Lordship’s commands with great pleasure.

Yesterday in the afternoon Mr. Lovelace made me a visit at my lodgings. As I was in expectation of one from Colonel Morden about the same time, I thought proper to carry him to a tavern which neither of us frequented, (on pretence of a half-appointment); ordering notice to be sent me thither, if the Colonel came; and Mr. Lovelace sent to Mowbray, and Tourville, and Mr. Doleman of Uxbridge, (who came to town to take leave of him), to let them know where to find us.

Mr. Lovelace is too well recovered, I was going to say. I never saw him more gay, lively, and handsome. We had a good deal of bluster about some parts of the trust I had engaged in; and upon freedoms I had treated him with; in which, he would have it, that I had exceeded our agreed-upon limits; but on the arrival of our three old companions, and a nephew of Mr. Doleman’s, (who had a good while been desirous to pass an hour with Mr. Lovelace), it blew off for the present.

Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville had also taken some exceptions at the freedoms of my pen; and Mr. Lovelace, after his way, took upon him to reconcile us; and did it at the expense of all three; and with such an infinite run of humour and raillery, that we had nothing to do but to laugh at what he said, and at one another. I can deal tolerably with him at my pen; but in conversation he has no equal. In short, it was his day. He was glad, he said, to find himself alive; and his two friends, clapping and rubbing their hands twenty times in an hour, declared, that now, once more, he was all himself⁠—the charming’st fellow in the world; and they would follow him to the farthest part of the globe.

I threw a burr upon his coat now-and-then; but none would stick.

Your Lordship knows, that there are many things which occasion a roar of applause in conversation, when the heart is open, and men are resolved to be merry, which will neither bear repeating, nor thinking of afterwards. Common things, in the mouth of a man we admire, and whose wit has passed upon us for sterling, become, in a gay hour, uncommon. We watch every turn of such a one’s countenance, and are resolved to laugh when he smiles, even before he utters what we are expecting to flow from his lips.

Mr. Doleman and his nephew took leave of us by twelve, Mowbray and Tourville grew very noisy by one, and were carried off by two. Wine never moves Mr. Lovelace, notwithstanding a vivacity which generally helps on over-gay spirits. As to myself, the little part I had taken in the gaiety kept me unconcerned.

The clock struck three before I could get him into any serious or attentive way⁠—so natural to him is gaiety of heart; and such strong hold had the liveliness of the evening taken of him. His conversation, you know, my Lord, when his heart is free, runs off to the bottom without any dregs.

But after that hour, and when we thought of parting, he became a little more serious: and then he told me his designs, and gave me a plan of his intended tour; wishing heartily that I could have accompanied him.

We parted about four; he not a little dissatisfied with me; for we had some talk about subjects, which, he said, he loved not to think of; to whit, Miss Harlowe’s will; my executorship; papers I had in confidence communicated to that admirable lady (with no unfriendly design, I assure your Lordship); and he insisting upon, and I refusing, the return of the letters he had written to me, from the time that he had made his first addresses to her.

He would see me once again, he said; and it would be upon very ill terms if I complied not with his request. Which I bid him not expect. But, that I might not deny him everything, I told him, that I would give him a copy of the will; though I was sure, I said, when he read it, he would wish he had never seen it.

I had a message from him about eleven this morning, desiring me to name a place at which to dine with him, and Mowbray, and Tourville, for the last time: and soon after another from Colonel Morden, inviting me to pass the evening with him at the Bedford-head in Covent-Garden. And, that I might keep them at distance from one another, I appointed Mr. Lovelace at the Eagle in Suffolk-street.

There I met him, and the two others. We began where we left off at our last parting; and were very high with each other. But, at last, all was made up, and he offered to forget and forgive everything, on condition that I would correspond with him while abroad, and continue the series which had been broken through by his illness; and particularly give him, as I had offered, a copy of the lady’s last will.

I promised him: and he then fell to rallying me on my gravity, and on my reformation-schemes, as he called them. As we walked about the room, expecting dinner to be brought in, he laid his hand upon my shoulder; then pushed me from him with a curse; walking round me, and surveying me from head to foot; then calling for the observations of the others, he turned round upon his heel, and with one of his peculiar wild airs, “Ha, ha, ha, ha,” burst he out, “that these sour-faced proselytes should take it into their heads that they cannot be pious, without forfeiting both their good-nature and good-manners!⁠—Why, Jack,” turning me about, “pr’ythee look up, man!⁠—Dost thou not know, that religion, if it has taken proper hold of the heart, is the most cheerful countenance-maker in the world?⁠—I have heard my beloved Miss Harlowe say so: and she knew, or nobody did. And was not her aspect a benign proof of the observation? But thy these wamblings in thy cursed gizzard, and thy awkward grimaces, I see thou’rt but a novice in it yet!⁠—Ah, Belford, Belford, thou hast a confounded parcel of briers and thorns to trample over barefoot, before religion will illuminate these gloomy features!”

I give your Lordship this account, in answer to your desire to know, if I think him the man he was.

In our conversation at dinner, he was balancing whether he should set out the next morning, or the morning after. But finding he had nothing to do, and Col. Morden being in town, (which, however, I told him not of), I turned the scale; and he agreed upon setting out tomorrow morning; they to see him embark; and I promised to accompany them for a morning’s ride (as they proposed their horses); but said, that I must return in the afternoon.

With much reluctance they let me go to my evening’s appointment: they little thought with whom: for Mr. Lovelace had put it as a case of honour to all of us, whether, as he had been told that Mr. Morden and Mr. James Harlowe had thrown out menaces against him, he ought to leave the kingdom till he had thrown himself in their way.

Mowbray gave his opinion, that he ought to leave it like a man of honour as he was; and if he did not take those gentlemen to task for their opprobrious speeches, that at least he should be seen by them in public before he went away; else they might give themselves airs, as if he had left the kingdom in fear of them.

To this he himself so much inclined, that it was with difficulty I persuaded him, that, as they had neither of them proceeded to a direct and formal challenge; as they knew he had not made himself difficult of access; and as he had already done the family injury enough; and it was Miss Harlowe’s earnest desire, that he would be content with that; he had no reason, from any point of honour, to delay his journey; especially as he had so just a motive for his going, as the establishing of his health; and as he might return the sooner, if he saw occasion for it.

I found the Colonel in a very solemn way. We had a good deal of discourse upon the subject of certain letters which had passed between us in relation to Miss Harlowe’s will, and to her family. He has some accounts to settle with his banker; which, he says, will be adjusted tomorrow; and on Thursday he proposes to go down again, to take leave of his friends; and then intends to set out directly for Italy.

I wish Mr. Lovelace could have been prevailed upon to take any other tour, than that of France and Italy. I did propose Madrid to him; but he laughed at me, and told me, that the proposal was in character from a mule; and from one who was become as grave as a Spaniard of the old cut, at ninety.

I expressed to the Colonel my apprehensions, that his cousin’s dying injunctions would not have the force upon him that were to be wished.

“They have great force upon me, Mr. Belford,” said he; “or one world would not have held Mr. Lovelace and me thus long. But my intention is to go to Florence; and not to lay my bones there, as upon my cousin’s death I told you I thought to do; but to settle all my affairs in those parts, and then to come over, and reside upon a little paternal estate in Kent, which is strangely gone to ruin in my absence. Indeed, were I to meet Mr. Lovelace, either here or abroad, I might not be answerable for the consequence.”

He would have engaged me for tomorrow. But having promised to attend Mr. Lovelace on his journey, as I have mentioned, I said, I was obliged to go out of town, and was uncertain as to the time of my return in the evening. And so I am to see him on Thursday morning at my own lodgings.

I will do myself the honour to write again to your Lordship tomorrow night. Meantime, I am, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s, etc.

Letter 527

Mr. Belford, to Lord M.
Wedn. Night, Oct. 4
My Lord,
I am just returned from attending Mr. Lovelace as far as Gad’s-Hill, near Rochester. He was exceeding gay all the way. Mowbray and Tourville are gone on with him. They will see him embark, and under sail; and promise to follow him in a month or two; for they say, there is no living without him, now he is once more himself.

He and I parted with great and even solemn tokens of affection; but yet not without gay intermixtures, as I will acquaint your Lordship.

Taking me aside, and clasping his arms about me, “Adieu, dear Belford!” said he: “may you proceed in the course you have entered upon!⁠—Whatever airs I give myself, this charming creature has fast hold of me here⁠—(clapping his hand upon his heart): and I must either appear what you see me, or be what I so lately was⁠—O the divine creature!” lifting up his eyes⁠—

“But if I live to come to England, and you remain fixed in your present way, and can give me encouragement, I hope rather to follow your example, than to ridicule you for it. This will (for I had given him a copy of it) I will make the companion of my solitary hours. You have told me a part of its melancholy contents; and that, and her posthumous letter, shall be my study; and they will prepare me for being your disciple, if you hold on.

You, Jack, may marry,” continued he; “and I have a wife in my eye for you.⁠—Only thou’rt such an awkward mortal:” (he saw me affected, and thought to make me smile): “but we don’t make ourselves, except it be worse by our dress. Thou art in mourning now, as well as I: but if ever thy ridiculous turn lead thee again to be beau-brocade, I will bedizen thee, as the girls say, on my return, to my own fancy, and according to thy own natural appearance⁠—Thou shalt doctor my soul, and I will doctor thy body: thou shalt see what a clever fellow I will make of thee.

“As for me, I never will, I never can, marry⁠—that I will not take a few liberties, and that I will not try to start some of my former game, I won’t promise⁠—habits are not so easily shaken off⁠—but they shall be by way of wearing. So return and reform shall go together.

“And now, thou sorrowful monkey, what aileth thee?” I do love him, my Lord.

“Adieu!⁠—And once more adieu!”⁠—embracing me. “And when thou thinkest thou hast made thyself an interest out yonder (looking up) then put in a word for thy Lovelace.”

Joining company, he recommended to me to write often; and promised to let me hear quickly from him; and that he would write to your Lordship, and to all his family round; for he said, that you had all been more kind to him than he had deserved.

And so we parted.

I hope, my Lord, for all your noble family’s sake, that we shall see him soon return, and reform, as he promises.

I return your Lordship my humble thanks for the honour of your invitation to M. Hall. The first letter I receive from Mr. Lovelace shall give me the opportunity of embracing it. I am, my Lord,

Your most faithful and obedient servant,
J. Belford.

Letter 528

Mr. Belford, to Lord M.
Thursday Morning, Oct. 5
It may be some satisfaction to your Lordship, to have a brief account of what has just now passed between Colonel Morden and me.

We had a good deal of discourse about the Harlowe family, and those parts of the lady’s will which still remain unexecuted; after which the Colonel addressed himself to me in a manner which gave me some surprise.

He flattered himself, he said, from my present happy turn, and from my good constitution, that I should live a great many years. It was therefore his request, that I would consent to be his executor; since it was impossible for him to make a better choice, or pursue a better example, than his cousin had set.

His heart, he said was in it: there were some things in his cousin’s will and his analogous: and he had named one person to me, with whom he was sure I would not refuse to be joined: and to whom he intended to apply for his consent, when he had obtained mine.[414] [Intimating, as far as I could gather, that it was Mr. Hickman, son of Sir Charles Hickman; to whom I know your Lordship is not a stranger: for he said, Everyone who was dear to his beloved cousin, must be so to him: and he knew that the gentleman who he had thoughts of, would have, besides my advice and assistance, the advice of one of the most sensible ladies in England.]

He took my hand, seeing me under some surprise: you must not hesitate, much less deny me, Mr. Belford. Indeed you must not. Two things I will assure you of: that I have, as I hope, made everything so clear that you cannot have any litigation: and that I have done so justly, and I hope it will be thought so generously, by all my relations, that a mind like yours will rather have pleasure than pain in the execution of this trust. And this is what I think every honest man, who hopes to find an honest man for his executor, should do.

I told him, that I was greatly obliged to him for his good opinion of me: that it was so much every man’s duty to be an honest man, that it could not be interpreted as vanity to say, that I had no doubt to be found so. But if I accepted of this trust, it must be on condition⁠—

I could name no condition, he said, interrupting me, which he would refuse to comply with.

This condition, I told him, was, that as there was as great a probability of his being my survivor, as I his, he would permit me to name him for mine; and, in that case, a week should not pass before I made my will.

With all his heart, he said; and the readier, as he had no apprehensions of suddenly dying; for what he had done and requested was really the effect of the satisfaction he had taken in the part I had already acted as his cousin’s executor; and in my ability, he was pleased to add: as well as in pursuance of his cousin’s advice in the preamble of her will; to wit; “That this was a work which should be set about in full health, both of body and mind.”

I told him, that I was pleased to hear him say that he was not in any apprehension of suddenly dying; as this gave me assurance that he had laid aside all thoughts of acting contrary to the dying request of his beloved cousin.

Does it argue, said he, smiling, that if I were to pursue a vengeance so justifiable in my own opinion, I must be in apprehension of falling by Mr. Lovelace’s hand?⁠—I will assure you, that I have no fears of that sort⁠—but I know this is an ungrateful subject to you. Mr. Lovelace is your friend; and I will allow, that a good man may have a friendship for a bad one, so far as to wish him well, without countenancing him in his evil.

I will assure you, added he, that I have not yet made any resolutions either way. I have told you what force my cousin’s repeated requests have with me. Hitherto they have withheld me⁠—But let us quit this subject.

This, Sir (giving me a sealed-up parcel) is my will. It is witnessed. I made no doubt of prevailing upon you to do me the requested favour. I have a duplicate to leave with the other gentleman; and an attested copy, which I shall deposit at my banker’s. At my return, which will be in six or eight months at farthest, I will allow you to make an exchange of yours, if you will have it so. I have only now to take leave of my relations in the country. And so God protect you, Mr. Belford! You will soon hear of me again.

He then very solemnly embraced me, as I did him: and we parted.

I heartily congratulate your Lordship on the narrow escape each gentleman has had from the other: for I apprehend that they could not have met without fatal consequences.

Time, I hope, which subdues all things, will subdue their resentments. I am, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most faithful and obedient servant,
J. Belford.

[Several other letters passed between Miss Howe and Mr. Belford, relating to the disposition of the papers and letters; to the poor’s fund; and to other articles of the Lady’s will: wherein the method of proceeding in each case was adjusted. After which the papers were returned to Mr. Belford, that he might order the two directed copies of them to be taken. In one of these letters Mr. Belford requests Miss Howe to give the character of the friend she so dearly loved: “A task, he imagines, that will be as agreeable to herself, as worthy of her pen.” “I am more especially curious to know,” says he, “what was that particular disposition of her time, which I find mentioned in a letter which I have just dipt into, where her sister is enviously reproaching her on that score.[415] This information may enable me,” says he, “to account for what has often surprised me: how, at so tender an age, this admirable lady became mistress of such extraordinary and such various qualifications.”]

Letter 529

Miss Howe, to John Belford, Esq.
Thursday, Oct. 12
I am incapable of doing justice to the character of my beloved friend; and that not only from want of talents, but from grief; which, I think, rather increases than diminishes by time; and which will not let me sit down to a task that requires so much thought, and a greater degree of accuracy than I ever believed myself mistress of. And yet I so well approve of your motion, that I will throw into your hands a few materials, that may serve by way of supplement, as I may say, to those you will be able to collect from the papers themselves; from Col. Morden’s letters to you, particularly that of Sept. 23;[416] and from the letters of the detestable wretch himself, who, I find, has done her justice, although to his own condemnation: all these together will enable you, who seem to be so great an admirer of her virtues, to perform the task; and, I think, better than any person I know. But I make it my request, that if you do anything in this way, you will let me see it. If I find it not to my mind, I will add or diminish, as justice shall require. She was a wonderful creature from her infancy: but I suppose you intend to give a character of her at those years when she was qualified to be an example to other young ladies, rather than a history of her life.

Perhaps, nevertheless, you will choose to give a description of her person: and as you knew not the dear creature when her heart was easy, I will tell you what yet, in part, you can confirm:

That her shape was so fine, her proportion so exact, her features so regular, her complexion so lovely, and her whole person and manner so distinguishedly charming, that she could not move without being admired and followed by the eyes of everyone, though strangers, who never saw her before. Col. Morden’s letter, above referred to, will confirm this.

In her dress she was elegant beyond imitation; and generally led the fashion to all the ladies round her, without seeming to intend it, and without being proud of doing so.[417]

She was rather tall than of a middling stature; and had a dignity in her aspect and air, that bespoke the mind that animated every feature.

This native dignity, as I may call it, induced some superficial persons, who knew not how to account for the reverence which involuntarily filled their hearts on her appearance, to impute pride to her. But these were such as knew that they should have been proud of any one of her perfections: judging therefore by their own narrowness, they thought it impossible that the lady who possessed so many, should not think herself superior to them all. Indeed, I have heard her noble aspect found fault with, as indicating pride and superiority. But people awed and controlled, though but by their own consciousness of inferiority, will find fault, right or wrong, with those, whose rectitude of mind and manners their own culpable hearts give them to be afraid. But, in the bad sense of the word, Miss Clarissa Harlowe knew not what pride was.

You may, if you touch upon this subject, throw in these sentences of hers, spoken at different times, and on different occasions:

“Persons of accidental or shadowy merit may be proud: but inborn worth must be always as much above conceit as arrogance.”

“Who can be better, or more worthy, than they should be? And, who shall be proud of talents they give not to themselves?”

“The darkest and most contemptible ignorance is that of not knowing one’s self; and that all we have, and all we excel in, is the gift of God.”

“All human excellence is but comparative⁠—there are persons who excel us, as much as we fancy we excel the meanest.”

“In the general scale of beings, the lowest is as useful, and as much a link of the great chain, as the highest.”

“The grace that makes every other grace amiable, is humility.”

“There is but one pride pardonable; that of being above doing a base or dishonourable action.”

Such were the sentiments by which this admirable young lady endeavoured to conduct herself, and to regulate her conduct to others.

And, in truth, never were affability and complacency (graciousness, some have called it) more eminent in any person, man or woman, than in her, to those who put it in her power to oblige them: insomuch that the benefitted has sometimes not known which to prefer⁠—the grace bestowed, or the manner in which it was conferred.

It has been observed, that what was said of Henry IV of France, might be said of her manner of refusing a request: That she generally sent from her presence the person refused nearly as well satisfied as if she had granted it.

Then she had such a sacred regard to truth.⁠—You cannot, Sir, expatiate too much upon this topic. I dare say, that in all her letters, in all the letters of the wretch, her veracity will not once be found impeachable, although her calamities were so heavy, the horrid man’s wiles so subtle, and her struggles to free herself from them so active.

Her charity was so great, that she always chose to defend or acquit where the fault was not so flagrant that it became a piece of justice to condemn it; and was always an advocate for an absent person, whose discretion was called in question, without having given manifest proofs of indiscretion.

Once I remember, in a large circle of ladies, every one of which (I among the rest) having censured a generally-reported indiscretion in a young lady⁠—Come, my Miss Howe, said she, (for we had agreed to take each other to task when either thought the other gave occasion for it; and when by blaming each other we intended a general reprehension, which, as she used to say, it would appear arrogant or assuming to level more properly), let me be Miss Fanny Darlington. Then removing out of the circle, and standing up, Here I stand, unworthy of a seat with the rest of the company, till I have cleared myself. And now, suppose me to be her, let me hear your charge, and do you hear what the poor culprit can say to it in her own defence. And then answering the conjectural and unproved circumstances, by circumstances as fairly to be supposed favourable, she brought off triumphantly the censured lady; and so much to everyone’s satisfaction, that she was led to her chair, and voted a double rank in the circle, as the reinstated Miss Fanny Darlington, and as Miss Clarissa Harlowe.

Very few persons, she used to say, would be condemned, or even accused, in the circles of ladies, were they present; it is generous, therefore, nay, it is but just, said she, to take the part of the absent, if not flagrantly culpable.

But though wisdom was her birthright, as I may say, yet she had not lived years enough to pretend to so much experience as to exempt her from the necessity of sometimes altering her opinion both of persons and things; but, when she found herself obliged to do this, she took care that the particular instance of mistaken worthiness in the person should not narrow or contract her almost universal charity into general doubt or jealousy. An instance of what I mean occurs to my memory.

Being upbraided, by a severe censure, with a person’s proving base, whom she had frequently defended, and by whose baseness my beloved friend was a sufferer; “You, Madam,” said she, “had more penetration than such a young creature as I can pretend to have. But although human depravity may, I doubt, oftener justify those who judge harshly, than human rectitude can those who judge favourably, yet will I not part with my charity. Nevertheless, for the future, I will endeavour, in cases where the judgment of my elders is against me, to make mine consistent with caution and prudence.”

Indeed, when she was convinced of any error or mistake, (however seemingly derogatory to her judgment and sagacity), no one was ever so acknowledging, so ingenuous, as she. “It was a merit,” she used to say, “next in degree to that of having avoided error, frankly to own an error. And that the offering at an excuse in a blameable manner, was the undoubted mark of a disingenuous, if not of a perverse mind.”

But I ought to add, on this head, (of her great charity where character was concerned, and where there was room for charity), that she was always deservedly severe in her reprehensions of a wilful and studied vileness. How could she then forgive the wretch by whose premeditated villany she was entangled?

You must everywhere insist upon it, that had it not been for the stupid persecutions of her relations, she never would have been in the power of that horrid Lovelace. And yet, on several occasions, she acknowledged frankly, that were person, and address, and alliance, to be allowedly the principal attractives in the choice of a lover, it would not have been difficult for her eye to mislead her heart.

When she was last with me, (three happy weeks together!) in every visit the wretch made her, he left her more dissatisfied with him than in the former. And yet his behaviour before her was too specious to have been very exceptionable to a woman who had a less share of that charming delicacy, and of that penetration, which so much distinguished her.

In obedience to the commands of her gloomy father, on his allowing her to be my guest, for that last time, (as it most unhappily proved!) she never would see him out of my company; and would often say, when he was gone, “O my Nancy! this is not the man!”⁠—At other times, “Gay, giddy creature! he has always something to be forgiven for!”⁠—At others, “This man will much sooner excite one’s fears than attract one’s love.” And then would she repeat, “This is not the man. All that the world says of him cannot be untrue. But what title have I to call him to account, who intend not to have him?”

In short had she been left to a judgment and discretion, which nobody ever questioned who had either, she would soon have discovered enough of him to cause her to discard him forever.

She was an admirable mistress of all the graces of elocution. The hand she wrote, for the neat and free cut of her letters, (like her mind, solid, and above all flourish), for its fairness, evenness, and swiftness, distinguished her as much as the correctness of her orthography, and even punctuation, from the generality of her own sex; and left her none, among the most accurate of the other, who excelled her.

And here you may, if you please, take occasion to throw in one hint for the benefit of such of our sex as are too careless in their orthography, (a consciousness of a defect which generally keeps them from writing).⁠—She was used to say, “It was a proof that a woman understood the derivation as well as sense of the words she used, and that she stopped not at sound, when she spelt accurately.”

On this head you may take notice, that it was always matter of surprise to her, that the sex are generally so averse as they are to writing; since the pen, next to the needle, of all employments, is the most proper, and best adapted to their geniuses; and this, as well for improvement as amusement: “Who sees not,” would she say, “that those women who take delight in writing excel the men in all the graces of the familiar style? The gentleness of their minds, the delicacy of their sentiments, (improved by the manner of their education, and the liveliness of their imaginations, qualify them to a high degree of preference for this employment); while men of learning, as they are called, (that is to say, of mere learning), aiming to get above that natural ease and freedom which distinguish this, (and indeed every other kind of writing), when they think they have best succeeded, are got above, or rather beneath, all natural beauty.”

Then, stiffened and starched (let me add) into dry and indelectable affectation, one sort of these scholars assume a style as rough as frequently are their manners; they spangle over their productions with metaphors; they tumble into bombast: the sublime, with them, lying in words, and not in sentiment, they fancy themselves most exalted when least understood; and down they sit, fully satisfied with their own performances, and call them masculine. While a second sort, aiming at wit, that wicked misleader, forfeit all title to judgment. And a third, sinking into the classical pits, there poke and scramble about, never seeking to show genius of their own; all their lives spent in commonplace quotation; fit only to write notes and comments upon other people’s texts; all their pride, that they know those beauties of two thousand years old in another tongue, which they can only admire, but not imitate, in their own.

And these, truly, must be learned men, and despisers of our insipid sex!

But I need not mention the exceptions which my beloved friend always made (and to which I subscribe) in favour of men of sound learning, true taste, and extensive abilities; nor, in particular, her respect even to reverence for gentlemen of the cloth; which, I dare say, will appear in every paragraph of her letters wherever any of the clergy are mentioned. Indeed the pious Dr. Lewen, the worthy Dr. Blome, the ingenious Mr. Arnold, and Mr. Tompkins, gentlemen whom she names, in one article of her will, as learned divines with whom she held an early correspondence, well deserved her respect; since to their conversation and correspondence she owed many of her valuable acquirements.

Nor were the little slights she would now-and-then (following, as I must own, my lead) put upon such mere scholars (and her stupid and pedantic brother was one of those who deserved those slights) as despised not only our sex, but all such as had not had their opportunities of being acquainted with the parts of speech, (I cannot speak low enough of such), and with the dead languages, owing to that contempt which some affect for what they have not been able to master; for she had an admirable facility for learning languages, and read with great ease both in Italian and French. She had begun to apply herself to Latin; and having such a critical knowledge of her own tongue, and such a foundation from the two others, would soon have made herself an adept in it.

But, notwithstanding all her acquirements, she was an excellent economist and housewife. And those qualifications, you must take notice, she was particularly fond of inculcating upon all her reading and writing companions of the sex: for it was a maxim with her, “That a woman who neglects the useful and the elegant, which distinguish her own sex, for the sake of obtaining the learning which is supposed more peculiar to the other, incurs more contempt by what she foregoes, than she gains credit by what she acquires.”

“All that a woman can learn,” she used to say, (expatiating on this maxim), “above the useful knowledge proper to her sex, let her learn. This will show that she is a good housewife of her time, and that she has not a narrow or confined genius. But then let her not give up for these those more necessary, and, therefore, not meaner, employments, which will qualify her to be a good mistress of a family, a good wife, and a good mother; for what can be more disgraceful to a woman than either, through negligence of dress, to be found a learned slattern; or, through ignorance of household-management, to be known to be a stranger to domestic economy?”

Then would she instance to me two particular ladies; one of which, while she was fond of giving her opinion, in the company of her husband and of his learned friends, upon difficult passages in Virgil or Horace, knew not how to put on her clothes with that necessary grace and propriety which should preserve to her the love of her husband and the respect of every other person; while the other, affecting to be thought as learned as men, could find no better way to assert her pretensions than by despising her own sex, and by dismissing that characteristic delicacy, the loss of which no attainment can supply.

She would have it indeed, sometimes, from the frequent ill use learned women make of that respectable acquirement, that it was no great matter whether the sex aimed at anything but excelling in the knowledge of the beauties and graces of their mother-tongue; and once she said, that this was field enough for a woman; and an ampler was but endangering her family usefulness. But I, who think our sex inferior in nothing to the other, but in want of opportunities, of which the narrow-minded mortals industriously seek to deprive us, lest we should surpass them as much in what they chiefly value themselves upon, as we do in all the graces of a fine imagination, could never agree with her in that. And yet I was entirely of her opinion, that those women, who were solicitous to obtain that knowledge of learning which they supposed would add to their significance in sensible company, and in their attainment of it imagined themselves above all domestic usefulness, deservedly incurred the contempt which they hardly ever failed to meet with.

Perhaps you will not think it amiss further to observe on this head, as it will now show that precept and example always went hand and hand with her, that her dairy at her grandfather’s was the delight of everyone who saw it; and she of all who saw her in it.

Her grandfather, in honour of her dexterity and of her skill in all the parts of the dairy management, as well as of the elegance of the offices allotted for that use, would have his seat, before known by the name of The Grove, to be called The Dairy-house.[418] She had an easy, convenient, and graceful habit made on purpose, which she put on when she employed herself in these works; and it was noted of her, that in the same hour that she appeared to be a most elegant dairymaid, she was, when called to a change of dress, the finest lady that ever graced a circle.

Her grandfather, father, mother, uncles, aunt, and even her brother and sister, made her frequent visits there, and were delighted with her silent ease and unaffected behaviour in her works; for she always, out of modesty, chose rather the operative than the directive part, that she might not discourage the servant whose proper business it was.

Each was fond of a regale from her hands in her Dairy-house. Her mother and aunt Hervey generally admired her in silence, that they might not give uneasiness to her sister; a spiteful, perverse, unimitating thing, who usually looked upon her all the time with speechless envy. Now-and-then, however, the pouting creature would suffer extorted and sparing praise to burst open her lips; though looking at the same time like Saul meditating the pointed javelin at the heart of David, the glory of his kingdom. And now, methinks, I see my angel-friend, (too superior to take notice of her gloom), courting her acceptance of the milk-white curd, from hands more pure than that.

Her skill and dexterity in every branch of family management seem to be the only excellence of her innumerable ones which she owed to her family; whose narrowness, immensely rich, and immensely carking, put them upon indulging her in the turn she took to this part of knowledge; while her elder sister affected dress without being graceful in it; and the fine lady, which she could never be; and which her sister was without studying for it, or seeming to know she was so.

It was usual with the one sister, when company was expected, to be half the morning dressing; while the other would give directions for the whole business and entertainment of the day; and then go up to her dressing-room, and, before she could well be missed, (having all her things in admirable order), come down fit to receive company, and with all that graceful ease and tranquillity as if she had nothing else to think of.

Long after her, (hours, perhaps, of previous preparation having passed), down would come rustling and bustling the tawdry and awkward Bella, disordering more her native disorderliness at the sight of her serene sister, by her sullen envy, to see herself so much surpassed with such little pains, and in a sixth part of the time.

Yet was this admirable creature mistress of all these domestic qualifications, without the least intermixture of narrowness. She knew how to distinguish between frugality, a necessary virtue, and niggardliness, an odious vice; and used to say, “That to define generosity, it must be called the happy medium betwixt parsimony and profusion.”

She was the most graceful reader I ever knew. She added, by her melodious voice, graces to those she found in the parts of books she read out to her friends; and gave grace and significance to others where they were not. She had no tone, no whine. Her accent was always admirably placed. The emphasis she always forcibly laid as the subject required. No buskin elevation, no tragedy pomp, could mislead her; and yet poetry was poetry indeed, when she read it.

But if her voice was melodious when she read, it was all harmony when she sung. And the delight she gave by that, and by her skill and great compass, was heightened by the ease and gracefulness of her air and manner, and by the alacrity with which she obliged.

Nevertheless she generally chose rather to hear others sing or play, than either to play or sing herself.

She delighted to give praise where deserved; yet she always bestowed it in such a manner as gave not the least suspicion that she laid out for a return of it to herself, though so universally allowed to be her due.

She had a talent of saying uncommon things in such an easy manner that everybody thought they could have said the same; and which yet required both genius and observation to say them.

Even severe things appeared gentle, though they lost not their force, from the sweetness of her air and utterance, and the apparent benevolence of her purpose.

We form the truest judgment of persons by their behaviour on the most familiar occasions. I will give an instance or two of the correction she favoured me with on such a one.

When very young, I was guilty of the fault of those who want to be courted to sing. She cured me of it, at the first of our happy intimacy, by her own example; and by the following correctives, occasionally, yet privately enforced:

“Well, my dear, shall we take you at your word? Shall we suppose, that you sing but indifferently? Is not, however, the act of obliging, (the company so worthy!) preferable to the talent of singing? And shall not young ladies endeavour to make up for their defects in one part of education, by their excellence in another?”

Again, “You must convince us, by attempting to sing, that you cannot sing; and then we will rid you, not only of present, but of future importunity.”⁠—An indulgence, however, let me add, that but tolerable singers do not always wish to meet with.

Again, “I know you will favour us by and by; and what do you by your excuses but raise our expectations, and enhance your own difficulties?”

At another time, “Has not this accomplishment been a part of your education, my Nancy? How, then, for your own honour, can we allow of your excuses?”

And I once pleading a cold, the usual pretence of those who love to be entreated⁠—“Sing, however, my dear, as well as you can. The greater the difficulty to you, the higher the compliment to the company. Do you think you are among those who know not how to make allowances? you should sing, my love, lest there should be anybody present who may think your excuses owing to affectation.”

At another time, when I had truly observed that a young lady present sung better than I; and that, therefore, I chose not to sing before that lady⁠—“Fie, said she, (drawing me on one side), is not this pride, my Nancy? Does it not look as if your principal motive to oblige was to obtain applause? A generous mind will not scruple to give advantage to a person of merit, though not always to her own advantage. And yet she will have a high merit in doing that. Supposing this excellent person absent, who, my dear, if your example spread, shall sing after you? You know everyone else must be but as a foil to you. Indeed I must have you as much superior to other ladies in these smaller points, as you are in greater.” So she was pleased to say to shame me. She was so much above reserve as disguise. So communicative that no young lady could be in her company half an hour, and not carry away instruction with her, whatever was the topic. Yet all sweetly insinuated; nothing given with the air of prescription; so that while she seemed to ask a question for information-sake, she dropped in the needful instruction, and left the instructed unable to decide whether the thought (which being started, she, the instructed, could improve) came primarily from herself, or from the sweet instructress.

She had a pretty hand at drawing, which she obtained with very little instruction. Her time was too much taken up to allow, though to so fine an art, the attention which was necessary to make her greatly excel in it: and she used to say, “That she was afraid of aiming at too many things, for fear she should not be tolerable at anything.”

For her years, and her opportunities, she was an extraordinary judge of painting. In this, as in everything else, nature was her art, her art was nature. She even prettily performed in it. Her grandfather, for this reason, bequeathed to her all the family pictures. Charming was her fancy: alike sweet and easy was every touch of her pencil and her pen. Yet her judgment exceeded her performance. She did not practise enough to excel in the executive part. She could not in everything excel. But, upon the whole, she knew what every subject required according to the nature of it; in other words, was an absolute mistress of the should-be.

To give a familiar instance for the sake of young ladies; she (untaught) observed when but a child, that the sun, moon, and stars, never appeared at once; and were therefore never to be in one piece; that bears, tigers, lions, were not natives of an English climate, and should not therefore have place in an English landscape; that these ravagers of the forest consorted not with lambs, kids, or fawns; nor kites, hawks, and vultures, with doves, partridges, or pheasants.

And, alas! she knew, before she was nineteen years of age, by fatal experience she knew! that all these beasts and birds of prey were outdone, in treacherous cruelty, by man! Vile, barbarous, plotting, destructive man! who, infinitely less excusable than those, destroys, through wantonness and sport, what those only destroy through hunger and necessity!

The mere pretenders to those branches of science which she aimed at acquiring she knew how to detect; and from all nature. Propriety, another word for nature, was (as I have hinted) her law, as it is the foundation of all true judgment. But, nevertheless, she was always uneasy, if what she said exposed those pretenders to knowledge, even in their absence, to the ridicule of lively spirits.

Let the modern ladies, who have not any one of her excellent qualities; whose whole time, in the short days they generally make, and in the inverted night and day, where they make them longer, is wholly spent in dress, visits, cards, plays, operas, and musical entertainments, wonder at what I have written, and shall further write; and let them look upon it as an incredible thing, that when, at a mature age, they cannot boast one of her perfections, there should have been a lady so young, who had so many.

These must be such as know not how she employed her time; and cannot form the least idea of what may be done in those hours in which they lie enveloped with the shades of death, as she used to call sleep.

But before I come to mention the distribution she usually made of her time, let me say a few words upon another subject, in which she excelled all the young ladies I ever knew.

This was her skill in almost all sorts of fine needleworks; of which, however, I shall say the less, since possibly you will find it mentioned in some of the letters.

That piece which she bequeaths to her cousin Morden is indeed a capital piece; a performance so admirable, that that gentleman’s father, who resided chiefly abroad, (was, as is mentioned in her will), very desirous to obtain it, in order to carry it to Italy with him, to show the curious of other countries, (as he used to say), for the honour of his own, that the cloistered confinement was not necessary to make English women excel in any of those fine arts upon which nuns and recluses value themselves.

Her quickness at these sort of works was astonishing; and a great encouragement to herself to prosecute them.

Mr. Morden’s father would have been continually making her presents, would she have permitted him to do so; and he used to call them, and so did her grandfather, tributes due to a merit so sovereign, and not presents.

As to her diversions, the accomplishments and acquirements she was mistress of will show what they must have been. She was far from being fond of cards, the fashionable foible of modern ladies; nor, as will be easily perceived from what I have said, and more from what I shall further say, had she much time for play. She never therefore promoted their being called for; and often insensibly diverted the company from them, by starting some entertaining subject, when she could do it without incurring the imputation of particularity.

Indeed very few of her intimates would propose cards, if they could engage her to read, to talk, to touch the keys, or to sing, when any new book, or new piece of music, came down. But when company was so numerous, that conversation could not take that agreeable turn which it oftenest does among four or five friends of like years and inclinations, and it became in a manner necessary to detach off some of it, to make the rest better company, she would not refuse to play, if, upon casting in, it fell to her lot. And then she showed that her disrelish to cards was the effect of choice only; and that she was an easy mistress of every genteel game played with them. But then she always declared against playing high. “Except for trifles,” she used to say, “she would not submit to chance what she was already sure of.”

At other times, “she should make her friends a very ill compliment,” she said, “if she supposed they would wish to be possessed of what of right belonged to her; and she should be very unworthy, if she desired to make herself a title to what was theirs.”

“High gaming, in short,” she used to say, “was a sordid vice; an immorality; the child of avarice; and a direct breach of that commandment, which forbids us to covet what is our neighbour’s.”

She was exceedingly charitable; the only one of her family that knew the meaning of the word; and this with regard both to the souls and the bodies of those who were the well-chosen objects of her benevolence. She kept a list of these, whom she used to call her Poor, entering one upon it as another was provided for, by death, or any other way; but always made a reserve, nevertheless, for unforeseen cases, and for accidental distresses. And it must be owned, that in the prudent distribution of them, she had neither example nor equal.

The aged, the blind, the lame, the widow, the orphan, the unsuccessful industrious, were particularly the objects of it; and the contributing to the schooling of some, to the putting out to trades and husbandry the children of others of the labouring or needy poor, and setting them forward at the expiration of their servitude, were her great delights; as was the giving good books to others; and, when she had opportunity, the instructing the poorer sort of her honest neighbours, and father’s tenants, in the use of them. “That charity,” she used to say, “which provides for the morals, as well as for the bodily wants of the poor, gives a double benefit to the public, as it adds to the number of the hopeful what it takes from that of the profligate. And can there be, in the eyes of that God, she was wont to say, who requires nothing so much from us as acts of beneficence to one another, a charity more worthy?”

Her uncle Antony, when he came to settle in England with his vast fortune obtained in the Indies, used to say, “This girl by her charities will bring down a blessing upon us all.” And it must be owned they trusted pretty much to this presumption.

But I need not say more on this head: nor perhaps was it necessary to say so much; since the charitable bequests in her will sufficiently set forth her excellence in this branch of duty.

She was extremely moderate in her diet. “Quantity in food,” she used to say, “was more to be regarded than quality; that a full meal was the great enemy both to study and industry: that a well-built house required but little repairs.”

But this moderation in her diet, she enjoyed, with a delicate frame of body, a fine state of health; was always serene, lively; cheerful, of course. And I never knew but of one illness she had; and that was by a violent cold caught in an open chaise, by a sudden storm of hail and rain, in a place where was no shelter; and which threw her into a fever, attended with dangerous symptoms, that no doubt were lightened by her temperance; but which gave her friends, who then knew her value, infinite apprehensions for her.[419]

In all her readings, and her conversations upon them, she was fonder of finding beauties than blemishes, and chose to applaud but authors and books, where she could find the least room for it. Yet she used to lament that certain writers of the first class, who were capable of exalting virtue, and of putting vice out of countenance, too generally employed themselves in works of imagination only, upon subjects merely speculative, disinteresting and unedifying, from which no useful moral or example could be drawn.

But she was a severe censurer of pieces of a light or indecent turn, which had a tendency to corrupt the morals of youth, to convey polluted images, or to wound religion, whether in itself, or through the sides of its professors, and this, whoever were the authors, and how admirable soever the execution. She often pitied the celebrated Dr. Swift for so employing his admirable pen, that a pure eye was afraid of looking into his works, and a pure ear of hearing anything quoted from them. “Such authors,” she used to say, “were not honest to their own talents, nor grateful to the God who gave them.” Nor would she, on these occasions, admit their beauties as a palliation; on the contrary, she held it as an aggravation of their crime, that they who are so capable of mending the heart, should in any places show a corrupt one in themselves; which must weaken the influences of their good works; and pull down with one hand what they build up with the other.

All she said and all she did was accompanied with a natural ease and dignity, which set her above affectation, or the suspicion of it; insomuch that that degrading fault, so generally imputed to a learned woman, was never laid to her charge. For, with all her excellencies, she was forwarder to hear than speak; and hence, no doubt, derived no small part of her improvement.

Although she was well read in the English, French, and Italian poets, and had read the best translations of the Latin classics; yet seldom did she quote or repeat from them, either in her letters or conversation, though exceedingly happy in a tenacious memory; principally through modesty, and to avoid the imputation of that affectation which I have just mentioned.

Mr. Wyerley once said of her, she had such a fund of knowledge of her own, and made naturally such fine observations upon persons and things, being capable, by the egg, (that was his familiar expression), of judging of the bird, that she had seldom either room or necessity for foreign assistances.

But it was plain, from her whole conduct and behaviour, that she had not so good an opinion of herself, however deserved; since, whenever she was urged to give her sentiments on any subject, although all she thought fit to say was clear an intelligible, yet she seemed in haste to have done speaking. Her reason for it, I know, was twofold; that she might not lose the benefit of other people’s sentiments, by engrossing the conversation; and lest, as were her words, she should be praised into loquaciousness, and so forfeit the good opinion which a person always maintains with her friends, who knows when she has said enough.⁠—It was, finally, a rule with her, “to leave her hearers wishing her to say more, rather than to give them cause to show, by their inattention, an uneasiness that she had said so much.”⁠—

You are curious to know the particular distribution of her time; which you suppose will help you to account for what you own yourself surprised at; to wit, how so young a lady could make herself mistress of so many accomplishments.

I will premise, that she was from infancy inured to rise early in a morning, by an excellent, and, as I may say, a learned woman, Mrs. Norton, to whose care, wisdom, and example, she was beholden for the groundwork of her taste and acquirements, which meeting with such assistances from the divines I have named, and with such a genius, made it the less wonder that she surpassed most of her age and sex.

Her sex, did I say? What honour to the other does this imply! When one might challenge the proudest pedant of them all, to say he has been disciplined into greater improvement, than she had made from the mere force of genius and application. But it is demonstrable to all who know how to make observations on their acquaintance of both sexes, arrogant as some are of their superficialities, that a lady at eighteen, take the world through, is more prudent and conversable than a man at twenty-five. I can prove this by nineteen instances out of twenty in my own knowledge. Yet how do these poor boasters value themselves upon the advantages their education gives them! Who has not seen some one of them, just come from the university, disdainfully smile at a mistaken or ill-pronounced word from a lady, when her sense has been clear, and her sentiments just; and when he could not himself utter a single sentence fit to be repeated, but what he had borrowed from the authors he had been obliged to study, as a painful exercise to slow and creeping parts? But how I digress:

This excellent young lady used to say, “it was incredible to think what might be done by early rising, and by long days well filled up.”

It may be added, that she had calculated according to the practice of too many, she had actually lived more years at sixteen, than they had at twenty-six.

She was of opinion, “that no one could spend their time properly, who did not live by some rule: who did not appropriate the hours, as nearly as might be, to particular purposes and employments.”

In conformity to this self-set lesson, the usual distribution of the twenty-four hours, when left to her own choice, were as follows:

For rest she allotted six hours only.

She thought herself not so well, and so clear in her intellects, (so much alive, she used to say), if she exceeded this proportion. If she slept not, she chose to rise sooner. And in winter had her fire laid, and a taper ready burning to light it; not loving to give trouble to the servants, “whose harder work, and later hours of going to bed,” she used to say, “required consideration.”

I have blamed her for her greater regard to them than to herself. But this was her answer; “I have my choice, who can wish for more? Why should I oppress others, to gratify myself? You see what free-will enables one to do; while imposition would make a light burden heavy.”

Her first three morning hours

were generally passed in her study, and in her closet duties: and were occasionally augmented by those she saved from rest: and in these passed her epistolary amusements.

Two hours she generally allotted to domestic management.

These, at different times of the day, as occasions required; all the housekeeper’s bills, in ease of her mother, passing through her hands. For she was a perfect mistress of the four principal rules of arithmetic.

Five hours to her needle, drawings, music, etc.

In these she included the assistance and inspection she gave to her own servants, and to her sister’s servants, in the needle-works required for the family: for her sister, as I have above hinted, is a modern. In these she also included Dr. Lewen’s conversation-visits; with whom likewise she held a correspondence by letters. That reverend gentleman delighted himself and her twice or thrice a week, if his health permitted, with these visits: and she always preferred his company to any other engagement.

Two hours she allotted to her two first meals.

But if conversation, or the desire of friends, or the falling in of company or guests, required it to be otherwise, she never scrupled to oblige; and would on such occasions borrow, as she called it, from other distributions. And as she found it very hard not to exceed in this appropriation, she put down

One hour more to dinnertime conversation,

to be added or subtracted, as occasions offered, or the desire of her friends required: and yet found it difficult, as she often said, to keep this account even; especially if Dr. Lewen obliged them with his company at their table; which, however he seldom did; for, being a valetudinarian, and in a regimen, he generally made his visits in the afternoon.

One hour to visits to the neighbouring poor;

to a select number of whom, and to their children, she used to give brief instructions, and good books; and as this happened not every day, and seldom above twice a-week, she had two or three hours at a time to bestow in this benevolent employment.

The remaining four hours

were occasionally allotted to supper, to conversation, or to reading after supper to the family. This allotment she called her fund, upon which she used to draw, to satisfy her other debits; and in this she included visits received and returned, shows, spectacles, etc. which, in a country life, not occurring every day, she used to think a great allowance, no less than two days in six, for amusements only; and she was wont to say, that it was hard if she could not steal time out of this fund, for an excursion of even two or three days in a month.

If it be said, that her relations, or the young neighbouring ladies, had but little of her time, it will be considered, that besides these four hours in the twenty-four, great part of the time she was employed in her needle-works she used to converse as she worked; and it was a custom she had introduced among her acquaintance, that the young ladies in their visits used frequently, in a neighbourly way, (in the winter evenings especially), to bring their work with them; and one of half a dozen of her select acquaintance used by turns to read to the rest as they were at work.

This was her usual method, when at her own command, for six days in the week.

The Seventh Day

she kept as it ought to be kept; and as some part of it was frequently employed in works of mercy, the hour she allotted to visiting the neighbouring poor was occasionally supplied from this day, and added to her fund.

But I must observe, that when in her grandfather’s lifetime she was three or four weeks at a time his housekeeper or guest, as also at either of her uncles, her usual distribution of time was varied; but still she had an eye to it as nearly as circumstances would admit.

When I had the happiness of having her for my guest, for a fortnight or so, she likewise dispensed with her rules in mere indulgence to my foibles, and idler habits; for I also, (though I had the benefit of an example I so much admired) am too much of a modern. Yet, as to morning risings, I had corrected myself by such a precedent, in the summertime; and can witness to the benefit I found by it in my health: as also to the many useful things I was enabled, by that means, with ease and pleasure, to perform. And in her account-book I have found this memorandum, since her ever-to-be-lamented death:⁠—“From such a day, to such a day, all holidays, at my dear Miss Howe’s.”⁠—At her return⁠—“Account resumed, such a day,” naming it; and then she proceeded regularly, as before.

Once-a-week she used to reckon with herself; when, if within the 144 hours, contained in the six days, she had made her account even, she noted it accordingly; if otherwise, she carried the debit to the next week’s account; as thus:⁠—Debtor to the article of the benevolent visits, so many hours. And so of the rest.

But it was always an especial part of her care that, whether visiting or visited, she showed in all companies an entire ease, satisfaction, and cheerfulness, as if she had kept no such particular account, and as if she did not make herself answerable to herself for her occasional exceedings.

This method, which to others will appear perplexing and unnecessary, her early hours, and custom, had made easy and pleasant to her.

And indeed, as I used to tell her, greatly as I admired her in all methods, I could not bring myself to this, might I have had the world for my reward.

I had indeed too much impatience in my temper, to observe such a regularity in accounting between me and myself. I satisfied myself in a lump-account, as I may call it, if I had nothing greatly wrong to reproach myself, when I looked back on a past week, as she had taught me to do.

For she used indulgently to say, “I do not think all I do necessary for another to do; nor even for myself; but when it is more pleasant for me to keep such an account, than to let it alone, why may I not proceed in my supererogatories?⁠—There can be no harm in it. It keeps up my attention to accounts; which one day may be of use to me in more material instances. Those who will not keep a strict account, seldom long keep any. I neglect not more useful employments for it. And it teaches me to be covetous of time; the only thing of which we can be allowably covetous; since we live but once in this world; and, when gone, are gone from it forever.”

She always reconciled the necessity under which these interventions, as she called them, laid her, of now-and-then breaking into some of her appropriations; saying, “That was good sense, and good manners too, in the common lesson, When at Rome, do as they do at Rome. And that to be easy of persuasion, in matters where one could oblige without endangering virtue, or worthy habits, was an apostolical excellency; since, if a person conformed with a view of making herself an interest in her friend’s affections, in order to be heeded in greater points, it was imitating His example, who became all things to all men, that He might gain some.” Nor is it to be doubted, had life been spared her, that the sweetness of her temper, and her cheerful piety, would have made virtue and religion appear so lovely, that her example would have had no small influence upon the minds and manners of those who would have had the honour of conversing with her.

O Mr. Belford! I can write no further on this subject. For, looking into the account-book for other particulars, I met with a most affecting memorandum; which being written on the extreme edge of the paper, with a fine pen, and in the dear creature’s smallest hand, I saw not before.⁠—This it is; written, I suppose, at some calamitous period after the day named in it⁠—help me to curse, to blast the monster who gave occasion for it!⁠—

April 10. The account concluded! And with it all my worldly hopes and prospects!

* * * * *

I take up my pen; but not to apologize for my execration.⁠—Once more I pray to God to avenge me of him!⁠—Me, I say⁠—for mine is the loss⁠—hers the gain.

O Sir! you did not⁠—you could not know her, as I knew her! Never was such an excellence!⁠—So warm, yet so cool a friend!⁠—So much what I wish to be, but never shall be!⁠—For, alas! my stay, my adviser, my monitress, my directress, is gone!⁠—forever gone!⁠—She honoured me with the title of The Sister of her Heart; but I was only so in the love I bore her, (a love beyond a sister’s⁠—infinitely beyond her sister’s!) in the hatred I have to every mean and sordid action; and in my love of virtue; for, otherwise, I am of a high and haughty temper, as I have acknowledged heretofore, and very violent in my passions.

In short, she was the nearest perfection of any creature I ever knew. She never preached to me lessons which she practised not herself. She lived the life she taught. All humility, meekness, self-accusing, others acquitting, though the shadow of the fault was hardly hers, the substance their’s, whose only honour was their relation to her.

To lose such a friend⁠—such a guide.⁠—If ever my violence was justifiable, it is upon this recollection! For she lived only to make me sensible of my failings, but not long enough to enable me to conquer them; as I was resolved to endeavour to do.

Once more then let me execrate⁠—but now violence and passion again predominate!⁠—And how can it be otherwise?

But I force myself from the subject, having lost the purpose for which I resumed my pen.

A. Howe.

Letter 530

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Paris, Oct. 14

⸺⁠Timor & minae
Scandunt eodum quo dominus; neque
Decedit aerata triremi; &
Post equitem sedet atra cura.

In a language so expressive as the English, I hate the pedantry of tagging or prefacing what I write with Latin scraps; and ever was a censurer of the motto-mongers among our weekly and daily scribblers. But these verses of Horace are so applicable to my case, that, whether on shipboard, whether in my post-chaise, or in my inn at night, I am not able to put them out of my head. Dryden once I thought said very well in these bouncing lines:

Man makes his fate according to his mind.
The weak, low spirit, Fortune makes her slave:
But she’s a drudge, when hector’d by the brave.
If Fate weave common thread, I’ll change the doom,
And with new purple weave a nobler loom.

And in these:

Let Fortune empty her whole quiver on me,
I have a soul, that, like an ample shield,
Can take in all, and verge enough for more.
Fate was not mine: nor am I Fate’s⁠—
Souls know no conquerors.⁠—

But in the first quoted lines, considering them closely, there is nothing but blustering absurdity; in the other, the poet says not truth; for conscience is the conqueror of souls; at least it is the conqueror of mine; and who ever thought it a narrow one?⁠—But this is occasioned partly by poring over the affecting will, and posthumous letter. What an army of texts has she drawn up in array against me in the letter!⁠—But yet, Jack, do they not show me, that, two or three thousand years ago, there were as wicked fellows as myself?⁠—They do⁠—and that’s some consolation.

But the generosity of her mind displayed in both, is what stings me most. And the more still, as it is now out of my power any way in the world to be even with her.

I ought to have written to you sooner; but I loitered two days at Calais, for an answer to a letter I wrote to engage my former travelling valet, De la Tour; an ingenious, ready fellow, as you have heard me say. I have engaged him, and he is now with me.

I shall make no stay here; but intend for some of the Electoral Courts. That of Bavaria, I think, will engage me longest. Perhaps I may step out of my way (if I can be out of my way anywhere) to those of Dresden and Berlin; and it is not impossible that you may have one letter from me at Vienna. And then, perhaps, I may fall down into Italy by the Tyrol; and so, taking Turin in my way, return to Paris; where I hope to see Mowbray and Tourville; nor do I despair of you.

This a good deal differs from the plan I gave you. But you may expect to hear from me as I move; and whether I shall pursue this route or the other.

I have my former lodgings in the Rue St. Antoine, which I shall hold, notwithstanding my tour; so they will be ready to accommodate any two of you, if you come hither before my return; and for this I have conditioned.

I write to Charlotte; and that is writing to all my relations at once.

Do thou, Jack, inform me duly of everything that passes.⁠—Particularly, how thou proceededst in thy reformation-scheme; how Mowbray and Tourville go on in my absence; whether thou hast any chance for a wife; (I am the more solicitous on this head, because thou seemest to think that thy mortification will not be complete, nor thy reformation secure, till thou art shackled); how the Harlowes proceed in their penitentials; if Miss Howe be married, or near being so; how honest Doleman goes on with his empiric, now he has dismissed his regulars, or they him; and if any likelihood of his perfect recovery. Be sure be very minute; for every trifling occurrence relating to those we value, becomes interesting, when we are at a distance from them. Finally, prepare thou to piece thy broken thread, if thou wouldst oblige


Letter 531

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
London, Oct. 25
I write to show you that I am incapable of slighting even the minutest requests of an absent and distant friend. Yet you may believe that there cannot be any great alterations in the little time that you have been out of England, with respect to the subjects of your inquiry. Nevertheless I will answer to each, for the reason above given; and for the reason you mention, that even trifles, and chitchat, are agreeable from friend to friend, and of friends, and even of those to whom we give the importance of deeming them our foes, when we are abroad.

First, then, as to my reformation-scheme, as you call it, I hope I go on very well. I wish you had entered upon the like, and could say so too. You would then find infinitely more peace of mind, than you are likely ever otherwise to be acquainted with. When I look back upon the sweep that has been made among us in the two or three past years, and forward upon what may still happen, I hardly think myself secure; though of late I have been guided by other lights than those of sense and appetite, which have hurried so many of our confraternity into worldly ruin, if not into eternal perdition.

I am very earnest in my wishes to be admitted into the nuptial state. But I think I ought to pass some time as a probationary, till, by steadiness in my good resolutions, I can convince some woman, whom I could love and honour, and whose worthy example might confirm my morals, that there is one libertine who had the grace to reform, before age or disease put it out of his power to sin on.

The Harlowes continue inconsolable; and I dare say will to the end of their lives.

Miss Howe is not yet married; but I have reason to think will soon. I have the honour of corresponding with her; and the more I know of her, the more I admire the nobleness of her mind. She must be conscious, that she is superior to half our sex, and to most of her own; which may make her give way to a temper naturally hasty and impatient; but, if she meet with condescension in her man, (and who would not veil to a superiority so visible, if it be not exacted with arrogance?) I dare say she will make an excellent wife.

As to Doleman, the poor man goes on trying and hoping with his empiric. I cannot but say that as the latter is a sensible and judicious man, and not rash, opinionative, or over-sanguine, I have great hopes (little as I think of quacks and nostrum-mongers in general) that he will do him good, if his case will admit of it. My reasons are⁠—That the man pays a regular and constant attendance upon him; watches, with his own eye, every change and new symptom of his patient’s malady; varies his applications as the indications vary; fetters not himself to rules laid down by the fathers of the art, who lived many hundred years ago, when diseases, and the causes of them, were different, as the modes of living were different from what they are now, as well as climates and accidents; that he is to have his reward, not in daily fees; but (after the first five guineas for medicines) in proportion as the patient himself shall find amendment.

As to Mowbray and Tourville; what novelties can be expected, in so short a time, from men, who have not sense enough to strike out or pursue new lights, either good or bad; now, especially, that you are gone, who were the soul of all enterprise, and in particular their soul. Besides, I see them but seldom. I suppose they’ll be at Paris before you can return from Germany; for they cannot live without you; and you gave them such a specimen of your recovered volatility, in the last evening’s conversation, as delighted them, and concerned me.

I wish, with all my heart, that thou wouldst bend thy course toward the Pyraneans. I should then (if thou writest to thy cousin Montague an account of what is most observable in thy tour) put in for a copy of thy letters. I wonder thou wilt not; since then thy subjects would be as new to thyself, as to


Letter 532

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Paris, Oct. 16 / 27[420]
I follow my last of the 14/25th, on occasion of a letter just now come to hand from Joseph Leman. The fellow is conscience ridden, Jack; and tells me, “That he cannot rest either day or night for the mischiefs which he fears he has been, or may still further be the means of doing.” He wishes, “if it please God, and if it please me, that he had never seen my Honour’s face.”

And what is the cause of his present concern, as to his own particular? What, but “the slights and contempts which he receives from every one of the Harlowes; from those particularly, he says, whom he has endeavoured to serve as faithfully as his engagements to me would let him serve them? And I always made him believe, he tells me, (poor weak soul as he was from his cradle!) that serving me, was serving both, in the long run.⁠—But this, and the death of his dear young lady, is a grief, he declares, that he shall never claw off, were he to live to the age of Matthew Salem; althoff, and howsomever, he is sure, that he shall not live a month to an end: being strangely pined, and his stomach nothing like what it was; and Mrs. Betty being also (now she has got his love) very cross and slighting. But, thank his God for punishing her!⁠—She is in a poor way hersell.

“But the chief occasion of troubling my Honour now, is not his own griefs only, althoff they are very great; but to prevent further mischiefs to me; for he can assure me, that Colonel Morden has set out from them all, with a full resolution to have his will of me; and he is well assured, that he said, and swore to it, as how he was resolved that he would either have my Honour’s heart’s-blood, or I should have his; or some suchlike sad threatenings: and that all the family rejoice in it, and hope I shall come short home.”

This is the substance of Joseph’s letter; and I have one from Mowbray, which has a hint to the same effect. And I recollect now that you were very importunate with me to go to Madrid, rather than to France and Italy, the last evening we passed together.

What I desire of you, is, by the first dispatch, to let me faithfully know all that you know on this head.

I can’t bear to be threatened, Jack. Nor shall any man, unquestioned, give himself airs in my absence, if I know it, that shall make me look mean in anybody’s eyes; that shall give friends pain for me; that shall put them upon wishing me to change my intentions, or my plan, to avoid him. Upon such despicable terms as these, think you that I could bear to live?

But why, if such were his purpose, did he not let me know it before I left England? Was he unable to work himself up to a resolution, till he knew me to be out of the kingdom?

As soon as I can inform myself where to direct to him, I will write to know his purpose; for I cannot bear suspense in such a case as this; that solemn act, were it even to be marriage or hanging, which must be done tomorrow, I had rather should be done today. My mind tires and sickens with impatience on ruminating upon scenes that can afford neither variety nor certainty. To dwell twenty days in expectation of an event that may be decided in a quarter of an hour is grievous.

If he come to Paris, although I should be on my tour, he will very easily find out my lodgings. For I every day see someone or other of my countrymen, and divers of them have I entertained here. I go frequently to the opera and to the play, and appear at court, and at all public places. And, on my quitting this city, will leave a direction whither my letters from England, or elsewhere, shall from time to time be forwarded. Were I sure that his intention is what Joseph Leman tells me it is, I would stay here, or shorten his course to me, let him be where he would.

I cannot get off my regrets on account of this dear lady for the blood of me. If the Colonel and I are to meet, as he has done me no injury, and loves the memory of his cousin, we shall engage with the same sentiments, as to the object of our dispute; and that, you know, is no very common case.

In short, I am as much convinced that I have done wrong, as he can be; and regret it as much. But I will not bear to be threatened by any man in the world, however conscious I may be of having deserved blame.

Adieu, Belford! Be sincere with me. No palliation, as thou valuest


Letter 533

Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.
London, Oct. 26
I cannot think, my dear Lovelace, that Colonel Morden has either threatened you in those gross terms mentioned by the vile Joseph Leman, or intends to follow you. They are the words of people of that fellow’s class, and not of a gentleman⁠—not of Colonel Morden, I am sure. You’ll observe that Joseph pretends not to say that he heard him speak them.

I have been very solicitous to sound the Colonel, for your sake, and for his own, and for the sake of the injunctions of the excellent lady to me, as well as to him, on that subject. He is (and you will not wonder that he should be) extremely affected; and owns that he has expressed himself in terms of resentment on the occasion. Once he said to me, that had his beloved cousin’s case been that of a common seduction, her own credulity or weakness contributing to her fall, he could have forgiven you. But, in so many words, he assured me, that he had not taken any resolutions; nor had he declared himself to the family in such a way as should bind him to resent: on the contrary, he has owned, that his cousin’s injunctions have hitherto had the force upon him which I could wish they should have.

He went abroad in a week after you. When he took his leave of me, he told me, that his design was to go to Florence; and that he would settle his affairs there; and then return to England, and here pass the remainder of his days.

I was indeed apprehensive that, if you and he were to meet, something unhappy might fall out; and as I knew that you proposed to take Italy, and very likely Florence, in your return to France, I was very solicitous to prevail upon you to take the court of Spain into your plan. I am still so. And if you are not to be prevailed upon to do that, let me entreat you to avoid Florence or Leghorn in your return, since you have visited both heretofore. At least, let not the proposal of a meeting come from you.

It would be matter of serious reflection to me, if the very fellow, this Joseph Leman, who gave you such an opportunity to turn all the artillery of his masters against themselves, and to play them upon one another to favour your plotting purposes, should be the instrument, in the devil’s hand, (unwittingly too), to avenge them all upon you; for should you even get the better of the Colonel, would the mischief end there?⁠—It would but add remorse to your present remorse; since the interview must end in death; for he would not, I am confident, take his life at your hand. The Harlowes would, moreover, prosecute you in a legal way. You hate them; and they would be gainers by his death; rejoicers in yours⁠—And have you not done mischief enough already?

Let me, therefore, (and through me all your friends), have the satisfaction to hear that you are resolved to avoid this gentleman. Time will subdue all things. Nobody doubts your bravery; nor will it be known that your plan is changed through persuasion.

Young Harlowe talks of calling you to account. This is a plain evidence, that Mr. Morden has not taken the quarrel upon himself for their family.

I am in no apprehension of anybody but Colonel Morden. I know it will not be a mean to prevail upon you to oblige me, if I say that I am well assured that this gentleman is a skillful swordsman; and that he is as cool and sedate as skillful. But yet I will add, that, if I had a value for my life, he should be the last man, except yourself, with whom I would choose to have a contention.

I have, as you required, been very candid and sincere with you. I have not aimed at palliation. If you seek not Colonel Morden, it is my opinion he will not seek you: for he is a man of principle. But if you seek him, I believe he will not shun you.

Let me re-urge, (it is the effect of my love for you!) that you know your own guilt in this affair, and should not be again an aggressor. It would be pity that so brave a man as the Colonel should drop, were you and he to meet: and, on the other hand, it would be dreadful that you should be sent to your account unprepared for it, and pursuing a fresh violence. Moreover, seest thou not, in the deaths of two of thy principal agents, the handwriting upon the wall against thee.

My zeal on this occasion may make me guilty of repetition. Indeed I know not how to quit the subject. But if what I have written, added to your own remorse and consciousness, cannot prevail, all that I might further urge would be ineffectual.

Adieu, therefore! Mayst thou repent of the past! and may no new violences add to thy heavy reflections, and overwhelm thy future hopes! are the wishes of

Thy true friend,
John Belford.

Letter 534

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Munich, Nov. 11 / 22
I received yours this moment, just as I was setting out for Vienna.

As to going to Madrid, or one single step out of the way to avoid Colonel Morden, let me perish if I do!⁠—You cannot think me so mean a wretch.

And so you own that he has threatened me; but not in gross and ungentlemanly terms, you say. If he has threatened me like a gentleman, I will resent his threats like a gentleman. But he has not done as a man of honour, if he has threatened at all behind my back. I would scorn to threaten any man to whom I knew how to address myself either personally or by pen and ink.

As to what you mention of my guilt; of the handwriting on the wall; of a legal prosecution, if he meet his fate from my hand; of his skill, coolness, courage, and suchlike poltroon stuff; what can you mean by it? Surely you cannot believe that such insinuations as those will weaken either my hands or my heart.⁠—No more of this sort of nonsense, I beseech you, in any of your future letters.

He had not taken any resolutions, you say, when you saw him. He must and will take resolutions, one way or other, very quickly; for I wrote to him yesterday, without waiting for this or your answer to my last. I could not avoid it. I could not (as I told you in that) live in suspense. I have directed my letter to Florence. Nor could I suffer my friends to live in suspense as to my safety. But I have couched it in such moderate terms, that he has fairly his option. He will be the challenger, if he take it in the sense in which he may so handsomely avoid taking it. And if he does, it will demonstrate that malice and revenge were the predominant passions with him; and that he was determined but to settle his affairs, and then take his resolutions, as you phrase it.⁠—Yet, if we are to meet (for I know what my option would be, in his case, on such a letter, complaisant as it is) I wish he had a worse, I a better cause. It would be a sweet revenge to him, were I to fall by his hand. But what should I be the better for killing him?

I will enclose a copy of the letter I sent him.

* * * * *

On re-perusing yours in a cooler moment, I cannot but thank you for your friendly love, and good intentions. My value for you, from the first hour of our acquaintance till now, I have never found misplaced; regarding at least your intention: thou must, however, own a good deal of blunder of the overdo and under-do kind, with respect to the part thou actest between me and the beloved of my heart. But thou art really an honest fellow, and a sincere and warm friend. I could almost wish I had not written to Florence till I had received thy letter now before me. But it is gone. Let it go. If he wish peace, and to avoid violence, he will have a fair opportunity to embrace the one, and shun the other.⁠—If not⁠—he must take his fate.

But be this as it may, you may contrive to let young Harlowe know (he is a menacer, too!) that I shall be in England in March next, at farthest.

This of Bavaria is a gallant and polite court. Nevertheless, being uncertain whether my letter may meet with the Colonel at Florence, I shall quit it, and set out, as I intended, for Vienna; taking care to have any letter or message from him conveyed to me there: which will soon bring me back hither, or to any other place to which I shall be invited.

As I write to Charlotte I have nothing more to add, after compliments to all friends, than that I am

Wholly yours,

* * * * *

Mr. Lovelace, to William Morden, Esq.

[Enclosed in the Above]

Munich, Nov. 10 / 21.
I have heard, with a great deal of surprise, that you have thought fit to throw out some menacing expressions against me.

I should have been very glad that you had thought I had punishment enough in my own mind for the wrongs I have done to the most excellent of women; and that it had been possible for two persons, so ardently joining in one love, (especially as I was desirous to the utmost of my power, to repair those wrongs), to have lived, if not on amicable terms, in such a way as not to put either to the pain of hearing of threatenings thrown out in absence, which either ought to be despised for, if he had not spirit to take notice of them.

Now, Sir, if what I have heard be owing only to warmth of temper, or to sudden passion, while the loss of all other losses the most deplorable to me was recent, I not only excuse, but commend you for it. But if you are really determined to meet me on any other account, (which, I own to you, is not however what I wish), it would be very blamable, and very unworthy of the character I desire to maintain, as well with you as with every other gentleman, to give you a difficulty in doing it.

Being uncertain when this letter may meet you, I shall set out tomorrow for Vienna; where any letter directed to the post-house in the city, or to Baron Windisgrat’s (at the Favorita) to whom I have commendations, will come to hand.

Meantime, believing you to be a man too generous to make a wrong construction of what I am going to declare, and knowing the value which the dearest of all creatures had for you, and your relation to her, I will not scruple to assure you, that the most acceptable return will be, that Colonel Morden chooses to be upon an amicable, rather than upon any other footing, with

His sincere admirer, and humble servant,
R. Lovelace.

Letter 535

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Lintz, Nov. 28 / Dec. 9
I am now on my way to Trent, in order to meet Colonel Morden, in pursuance of his answer to my letter enclosed in my last. I had been at Presburgh, and had intended to visit some other cities of Hungary: but having obliged myself to return first to Vienna, I there met with his letter, which follows:

Munich, Nov. 21 / Dec. 2.
Your letter was at Florence four days before I arrived there.

That I might not appear unworthy of your favour, I set out for this city the very next morning. I knew not but that the politeness of this court might have engaged, beyond his intention, a gentleman who has only his pleasure to pursue.

But being disappointed in my hope of finding you here, it becomes me to acquaint you, that I have such a desire to stand well in the opinion of a man of your spirit, that I cannot hesitate a moment upon the option, which I am sure Mr. Lovelace in my situation (thus called upon) would make.

I own, Sir, that I have on all occasions, spoken of your treatment of my ever-dear cousin as it deserved. It would have been very surprising if I had not. And it behoves me (now you have given me so noble an opportunity of explaining myself) to convince you, that no words fell from my lips, of you, merely because you were absent. I acquaint you, therefore, that I will attend your appointment; and would, were it to the farthest part of the globe.

I shall stay some days at this court; and if you please to direct for me at M. Klienfurt’s in this city, whether I remain here or not, your commands will come safely and speedily to the hands of, Sir,

Your most humble servant,
Wm. Morden.

* * * * *

So you see, Belford, that the Colonel by his ready, his even eagerly-expressed acceptance of the offered interview, was determined. And is it not much better to bring such a point as this to an issue, than to give pain to friends for my safety, or continue in suspense myself; as I must do, if I imagined that another had aught against me?

This was my reply:

Vienna, Nov. 25 / Dec. 6.
I have this moment the favour of yours. I will suspend a tour I was going to take into Hungary, and instantly set out for Munich; and, if I can find you not there, will proceed on to Trent. This city, being on the confines of Italy, will be most convenient, as I presume, to you, in your return to Tuscany; and I shall hope to meet you in it on the 3/14th of December.

I shall bring with me only a French valet and an English footman. Other particulars may be adjusted when I have the honour to see you. Till when, I am, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,
R. Lovelace.

* * * * *

Now, Jack, I have no manner of apprehension of the event of this meeting. And I think I must say he seeks me out; not I him. And so let him take the consequence.

What is infinitely nearer to my heart, is, my ingratitude to the most excellent of women⁠—My premeditated ingratitude!⁠—Yet all the while enabled to distinguish and to adore her excellencies, in spite of the mean opinion of the sex which I had imbibed from early manhood.

But this lady has asserted the worthiness of her sex, and most gloriously has she exalted it with me now. Yet, surely, as I have said and written an hundred times, there cannot be such another woman.

But as my loss in her departure is the greatest of any man’s, and as she was dearer to me than to any other person in the world, and once she herself wished to be so, what an insolence in any man breathing to pretend to avenge her on me!⁠—Happy! happy! thrice happy! had I known how to value, as I ought to have valued, the glory of such a preference!

I will not aggravate to myself this aggravation of the Colonel’s pretending to call me to account for my treatment of a lady so much my own, lest, in the approaching interview, my heart should relent for one so nearly related to her, and who means honour and justice to her memory; and I should thereby give him advantages which otherwise he cannot have. For I know that I shall be inclined to trust to my skill, to save a man who was so much and so justly valued by her; and shall be loath to give way to my resentment, as a threatened man. And in this respect only I am sorry for his skill, and his courage, lest I should be obliged, in my own defence, to add a chalk to a score that is already too long.

* * * * *

Indeed, indeed, Belford, I am, and shall be, to my latest hour, the most miserable of beings. Such exalted generosity!⁠—Why didst thou put into my craving hands the copy of her will? Why sentest thou to me the posthumous letter?⁠—What thou I was earnest to see the will? thou knewest what they both were (I did not); and that it would be cruel to oblige me.

The meeting of twenty Colonel Mordens, were there twenty to meet in turn, would be nothing to me, would not give me a moment’s concern, as to my own safety: but my reflections upon my vile ingratitude to so superior an excellence will ever be my curse.

Had she been a Miss Howe to me, and treated me as if I were a Hickman, I had had a call for revenge; and policy (when I had intended to be an husband) might have justified my attempts to humble her. But a meek and gentle temper was hers, though a true heroine, whenever honour or virtue called for an exertion of spirit.

Nothing but my cursed devices stood in the way of my happiness. Remembrest thou not how repeatedly, from the first, I poured cold water upon her rising flame, by meanly and ungratefully turning upon her the injunctions, which virgin delicacy, and filial duty, induced her to lay me under before I got her into my power?[421]

Did she not tell me, and did I not know it, if she had not told me, that she could not be guilty of affectation or tyranny to the man whom she intended to marry?[422] I knew, as she once upbraided me, that from the time I had got her from her father’s house, I had a plain path before me.[423] True did she say, and I triumphed in the discovery, that from that time I held her soul in suspense an hundred times.[424] My ipecacuanha trial alone was enough to convince an infidel that she had a mind in which love and tenderness would have presided, had I permitted the charming buds to put forth and blow.[425]

She would have had no reserve, as once she told me, had I given her cause of doubt.[426] And did she not own to thee, that once she could have loved me; and, could she have made me good, would have made me happy?[427] O, Belford! here was love; a love of the noblest kind! A love, as she hints in her posthumous letter,[428] that extended to the soul; and which she not only avowed in her dying hours, but contrived to let me know it after death, in that letter filled with warnings and exhortations, which had for their sole end my eternal welfare!

The cursed women, indeed, endeavoured to excite my vengeance, and my pride, by preaching to me eternally her doubts, her want of love, and her contempt of me. And my pride was, at times, too much excited by their vile insinuations. But had it even been as they said; well might she, who had been used to be courted and admired by every desiring eye, and worshipped by every respectful heart⁠—well might such a woman be allowed to draw back, when she found herself kept in suspense, as to the great question of all, by a designing and intriguing spirit; pretending awe and distance, as reasons for reining-in a fervour, which, if real, cannot be reined-in⁠—Divine creature! Her very doubts, her reserves, (so justly doubting), would have been my assurance, and my glory!⁠—And what other trial needed her virtue! What other needed a purity so angelic, (blessed with such a command in her passions in the bloom of youth), had I not been a villain⁠—and a wanton, a conceited, a proud fool, as well as a villain?

These reflections sharpened, rather than their edge by time abated, accompany me in whatever I do, and wherever I go; and mingle with all my diversions and amusements. And yet I go into gay and splendid company. I have made new acquaintance in the different courts I have visited. I am both esteemed and sought after, by persons of rank and merit. I visit the colleges, the churches, the palaces. I frequent the theatre: am present at every public exhibition; and see all that is worth seeing, that I had not see before, in the cabinets of the curious: am sometimes admitted to the toilette of an eminent toast, and make one with distinction at the assemblies of others⁠—yet can think of nothing, nor of anybody, with delight, but of my Clarissa. Nor have I seen one woman with advantage to herself, but as she resembles, in stature, air, complexion, voice, or in some feature, that charmer, that only charmer of my soul.

What greater punishment, than to have these astonishing perfections, which she was mistress of, strike my remembrance with such force, when I have nothing left me but the remorse of having deprived myself and the world of such a blessing? Now and then, indeed, am I capable of a gleam of comfort, arising (not ungenerously) from the moral certainty which I have of her everlasting happiness, in spite of all the machinations and devices which I set on foot to ensnare her virtue, and to bring down so pure a mind to my own level.

For can I be, at worst, (avert that worst,
O Thou Supreme, who only canst avert it!)
So much a wretch, so very far abandon’d,
But that I must, even in the horrid’s gloom,
Reap intervenient joy, at least some respite,
From pain and anguish, in her bliss.⁠—

* * * * *

If I find myself thus miserable abroad, I will soon return to England, and follow your example, I think⁠—turn hermit, or some plaguey thing or other, and see what a constant course of penitence and mortification will do for me. There is no living at this rate⁠—d⁠⸺⁠n me if there be!

If any mishap should befall me, you’ll have the particulars of it from De la Tour. He indeed knows but little English; but every modern tongue is yours. He is a trusty and ingenious fellow; and, if anything happen, will have some other papers, which I have already sealed up, for you to transmit to Lord M. And since thou art so expert and so ready at executorships, pr’ythee, Belford, accept of the office for me, as well as for my Clarissa⁠—Clarissa Lovelace let me call her.

By all that’s good, I am bewitched to her memory. Her very name, with mine joined to it, ravishes my soul, and is more delightful to me than the sweetest music.

Had I carried her (I must still recriminate) to any other place than that accursed woman’s⁠—for the potion was her invention and mixture; and all the persisted-in violence was at her instigation, and at that of her wretched daughters, who have now amply revenged upon me their own ruin, which they lay at my door⁠—

But this looks so like the confession of a thief at the gallows, that possibly thou wilt be apt to think I am intimidated in prospect of the approaching interview. But far otherwise. On the contrary, most cheerfully do I go to meet the Colonel; and I would tear my heart out of my breast with my own hands, were it capable of fear or concern on that account.

Thus much only I know, that if I should kill him, (which I will not do, if I can help it), I shall be far from being easy in my mind; that shall I never more be. But as the meeting is evidently of his own seeking, against an option fairly given to the contrary, and I cannot avoid it, I’ll think of that hereafter. It is but repenting and mortifying for all at once; for I am sure of victory, as I am that I now live, let him be ever so skillful a swordsman; since, besides that I am no unfleshed novice, this is a sport that, when provoked to it, I love as well as my food. And, moreover, I shall be as calm and undisturbed as the bishop at his prayers; while he, as is evident by his letter, must be actuated by revenge and passion.

Doubt not, therefore, Jack, that I shall give a good account of this affair. Meantime, I remain,

Yours most affectionately, etc.

Letter 536

Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Trent, Dec. 3 / 14
Tomorrow is to be the day, that will, in all probability, send either one or two ghosts to attend the manes of my Clarissa.

I arrived here yesterday; and inquiring for an English gentleman of the name of Morden, soon found out the Colonel’s lodgings. He had been in town two days; and left his name at every probable place.

He was gone to ride out; and I left my name, and where to be found; and in the evening he made me a visit.

He was plaguey gloomy. That was not I. But yet he told me that I had acted like a man of true spirit in my first letter; and with honour, in giving him so readily this meeting. He wished I had in other respects; and then we might have seen each other upon better terms than now we did.

I said there was no recalling what was passed; and that I wished some things had not been done, as well as he.

To recriminate now, he said, would be as exasperating as unavailable. And as I had so cheerfully given him this opportunity, words should give place to business.⁠—Your choice, Mr. Lovelace, of time, of place, of weapon, shall be my choice.

The two latter be yours, Mr. Morden. The time tomorrow, or next day, as you please.

Next day, then, Mr. Lovelace; and we’ll ride out tomorrow, to fix the place.

Agreed, Sir.

Well: now, Mr. Lovelace, do you choose the weapon.

I said I believed we might be upon an equal footing with the single rapier; but, if he thought otherwise, I had no objection to a pistol.

I will only say, replied he, that the chances may be more equal by the sword, because we can neither of us be to seek in that; and you would stand, says he, a worse chance, as I apprehend, with a pistol; and yet I have brought two, that you may take your choice of either; for, added he, I have never missed a mark at pistol-distance, since I knew how to hold a pistol.

I told him, that he spoke like himself; that I was expert enough that way, to embrace it, if he chose it; though not so sure of my mark as he pretended to be. Yet the devil’s in it, Colonel, if I, who have slit a bullet in two upon a knife’s edge, hit not my man. So I have no objection to a pistol, if it be your choice. No man, I’ll venture to say, has a steadier hand or eye than I have.

They may both be of use to you, Sir, at the sword, as well as at the pistol: the sword, therefore, be the thing, if you please.

With all my heart.

We parted with a solemn sort of ceremonious civility: and this day I called upon him; and we rode out together to fix upon the place: and both being of one mind, and hating to put off for the morrow what could be done today, would have decided it then: but De la Tour, and the Colonel’s valet, who attended us, being unavoidably let into the secret, joined to beg we would have with us a surgeon from Brixen, whom La Tour had fallen in with there, and who had told him he was to ride next morning to bleed a person in a fever, at a lone cottage, which, by the surgeon’s description, was not far from the place where we then were, if it were not that very cottage within sight of us.

They overtook so to manage it, that the surgeon should know nothing of the matter till his assistance was called in. And La Tour, being, as I assured the Colonel, a ready contriving fellow, (whom I ordered to obey him as myself, were the chance to be in his favour), we both agreed to defer the decision till tomorrow, and to leave the whole about the surgeon to the management of our two valets; enjoining them absolute secrecy: and so rode back again by different ways.

We fixed upon a little lone valley for the spot⁠—ten tomorrow morning the time⁠—and single rapier the word. Yet I repeatedly told him, that I valued myself so much upon my skill in that weapon, that I would wish him to choose any other.

He said it was a gentleman’s weapon; and he who understood it not, wanted a qualification that he ought to suffer for not having: but that, as to him, one weapon was as good as another, throughout all the instruments of offence.

So, Jack, you see I take no advantage of him: but my devil must deceive me, if he take not his life or his death at my hands before eleven tomorrow morning.

His valet and mine are to be present; but both strictly enjoined to be impartial and inactive: and, in return for my civility of the like nature, he commanded his to be assisting me, if he fell.

We are to ride thither, and to dismount when at the place; and his footman and mine are to wait at an appointed distance, with a chaise to carry off to the borders of the Venetian territories the survivor, if one drop; or to assist either or both, as occasion may demand.

And thus, Belford, is the matter settled.

A shower of rain has left me nothing else to do; and therefore I write this letter; though I might as well have deferred it till tomorrow twelve o’clock, when I doubt not to be able to write again, to assure you much I am

Yours, etc.

Letter 537

Translation of a Letter from F. J. de la Tour
To John Belford, Esq.

Near Soho-square, London. Trent,
Dec. 18, N.S.
I have melancholy news to inform you of, by order of the Chevalier Lovelace. He showed me his letter to you before he sealed it; signifying, that he was to meet the Chevalier Morden on the 15th. Wherefore, as the occasion of the meeting is so well known to you, I shall say nothing of it here.

I had taken care to have ready, within a little distance, a surgeon and his assistant, to whom, under an oath of secrecy, I had revealed the matter, (though I did not own it to the two gentlemen); so that they were prepared with bandages, and all things proper. For well was I acquainted with the bravery and skill of my chevalier; and had heard the character of the other; and knew the animosity of both. A post-chaise was ready, with each of their footmen, at a little distance.

The two chevaliers came exactly at their time: they were attended by Monsieur Margate, (the Colonel’s gentleman), and myself. They had given orders overnight, and now repeated them in each other’s presence, that we should observe a strict impartiality between them: and that, if one fell, each of us should look upon himself, as to any needful help or retreat, as the servant of the survivor, and take his commands accordingly.

After a few compliments, both the gentlemen, with the greatest presence of mind that I ever beheld in men, stripped to their shirts, and drew.

They parried with equal judgment several passes. My chevalier drew the first blood, making a desperate push, which, by a sudden turn of his antagonist, missed going clear through him, and wounded him on the fleshy part of the ribs of his right side; which part the sword tore out, being on the extremity of the body; but, before my chevalier could recover himself, the Colonel, in return, pushed him into the inside of the left arm, near the shoulder; and the sword (raking his breast as it passed), being followed by a great effusion of blood, the Colonel said, Sir, I believe you have enough.

My chevalier swore by G⁠⸺⁠d he was not hurt; ’twas a pin’s point; and so made another pass at his antagonist; which he, with a surprising dexterity, received under his arm, and run my dear chevalier into the body; who immediately fell; saying, The luck is yours, Sir⁠—O my beloved Clarissa!⁠—Now art thou⁠—inwardly he spoke three or four words more. His sword dropped from his hand. Mr. Morden threw his down, and ran to him, saying in French⁠—Ah, Monsieur! you are a dead man!⁠—Call to God for mercy!

We gave the signal agreed upon to the footmen; and they to the surgeons; who instantly came up.

Colonel Morden, I found, was too well used to the bloody work; for he was as cool as if nothing extraordinary had happened, assisting the surgeons, though his own wound bled much. But my dear chevalier fainted away two or three times running, and vomited blood besides.

However, they stopped the bleeding for the present; and we helped him into the voiture; and then the Colonel suffered his own wound to be dressed; and appeared concerned that my chevalier was between whiles (when he could speak, and struggle), extremely outrageous.⁠—Poor gentleman! he had made quite sure of victory!

The Colonel, against the surgeons’ advice, would mount on horseback to pass into the Venetian territories; and generously gave me a purse of gold to pay the surgeons; desiring me to make a present to the footman; and to accept of the remainder, as a mark of his satisfaction in my conduct, and in my care and tenderness of my master.

The surgeons told him that my chevalier could not live over the day.

When the Colonel took leave of him, Mr. Lovelace said, You have well revenged the dear creature.

I have, Sir, said Mr. Morden; and perhaps shall be sorry that you called upon me to this work, while I was balancing whether to obey, or disobey, the dear angel.

There is a fate in it! replied my chevalier⁠—a cursed fate!⁠—or this could not have been!⁠—But be ye all witnesses, that I have provoked my destiny, and acknowledge that I fall by a man of honour.

Sir, said the Colonel, with the piety of a confessor, (wringing Mr. Lovelace’s hand), snatch these few fleeting moments, and commend yourself to God.

And so he rode off.

The voiture proceeded slowly with my chevalier; yet the motion set both his wounds bleeding afresh; and it was with difficulty they again stopped the blood.

We brought him alive to the nearest cottage; and he gave orders to me to dispatch to you the packet I herewith send sealed up; and bid me write to you the particulars of this most unhappy affair: and give you thanks, in his name, for all your favours and friendship to him.

Contrary to all expectation, he lived over the night: but suffered much, as well from his impatience and disappointment, as from his wounds; for he seemed very unwilling to die.

He was delirious, at times, in the two last hours: and then several times cried out, as if he had seen some frightful spectre, Take her away! Take her away! but named nobody. And sometimes praised some lady, (that Clarissa, I suppose, whom he had invoked when he received his death’s wound), calling her Sweet Excellence! Divine Creature! Fair Sufferer!⁠—And once he said, Look down, Blessed Spirit, look down!⁠—And there stopped;⁠—his lips, however, moving.

At nine in the morning he was seized with convulsions, and fainted away; and it was a quarter of an hour before he came out of them.

His few last words I must not omit, as they show an ultimate composure; which may administer some consolation to his honourable friends.

Blessed⁠—said he, addressing himself no doubt to Heaven; for his dying eyes were lifted up⁠—a strong convulsion prevented him for a few moments saying more⁠—but recovering, he again, with great fervour, (lifting up his eyes, and his spread hands), pronounced the word blessed: Then, in a seeming ejaculation, he spoke inwardly, so as not to be understood: at last, he distinctly pronounced these three words,

Let this expiate!

And then, his head sinking on his pillow, he expired, at about half an hour after ten.

He little thought, poor gentleman! his end so near: so had given no direction about his body. I have caused it to be embowelled, and deposited in a vault, till I have orders from England.

This is a favour that was procured with difficulty; and would have been refused, had he not been an Englishman of rank: a nation with reason respected in every Austrian government⁠—for he had refused ghostly attendance, and the sacraments in the Catholic way.⁠—May his soul be happy, I pray God!

I have had some trouble also, on account of the manner of his death, from the magistracy here: who have taken the requisite informations in the affair. And it has cost some money. Of which, and of the dear chevalier’s effects, I will give you a faithful account in my next. And so, waiting at this place your commands, I am, Sir,

Your most faithful and obedient servant,
F. J. De La Tour.


Supposed to Be Written by Mr. Belford
What remains to be mentioned for the satisfaction of such of the readers as may be presumed to have interested themselves in the fortunes of those other principals in the story, who survived Mr. Lovelace, will be found summarily related as follows:

The news of Mr. Lovelace’s unhappy end was received with as much grief by his own relations, as it was with exultation by the Harlowe family, and by Miss Howe. His own family were most to be pitied, because, being sincere admirers of the inimitable lady, they were greatly grieved for the injustice done her; and now had the additional mortification of losing the only male of it, by a violent death.

That his fate was deserved, was still a heightening of their calamity, as they had, for that very reason, and his unpreparedness for it, but too much ground for apprehension with regard to his future happiness. While the other family, from their unforgiving spirit, and even the noble young lady above mentioned, from her lively resentments, found his death some little, some temporary, alleviation of the heavy loss they had sustained, principally through his means.

Temporary alleviation, we repeat, as to the Harlowe family; for they were far from being happy or easy in their reflections upon their own conduct.⁠—And still the less, as the inconsolable mother rested not till she had procured, by means of Colonel Morden, large extracts from some of the letters that compose this history, which convinced them all that the very correspondence which Clarissa, while with them, renewed with Mr. Lovelace, was renewed for their sakes, more than for her own: that she had given him no encouragement contrary to her duty and to that prudence for which she was so early noted: that had they trusted to a discretion which they owned she had never brought into question, she would have extricated them and herself (as she once proposed[429] to her mother) from all difficulties as to Lovelace: that she, if any woman ever could, would have given a glorious instance of a passion conquered, or at least kept under by reason and by piety; the man being too immoral to be implicitly beloved.

The unhappy parents and uncles, from the perusal of these extracts, too evidently for their peace, saw that it was entirely owing to the avarice, the ambition, the envy, of her implacable brother and sister, and to the senseless confederacy entered into by the whole family, to compel her to give her hand to a man she must despise, or she had not been a Clarissa, and to their consequent persecution of her, that she ever thought of quitting her father’s house: and that even when she first entertained such a thought, it was with intent, if possible, to procure for herself a private asylum with Mrs. Howe, or at some other place of safety, (but not with Mr. Lovelace, nor with any of the ladies of his family, though invited by the latter), from whence she might propose terms which ought to have been complied with, and which were entirely consistent with her duty⁠—that though she found herself disappointed of the hoped-for refuge and protection, she intended not, by meeting Mr. Lovelace, to put herself into his power; all that she aimed at by taking that step being to endeavour to pacify so fierce a spirit, lest he should (as he indeed was determined to do) pay a visit to her friends, which might have been attended with fatal consequences; but was spirited away by him in such a manner, as made her an object of pity rather than of blame.

These extracts further convinced them all that it was to her unaffected regret that she found that marriage was not in her power afterwards for a long time; and at last, but on one occasion, when their unnatural cruelty to her (on a new application she had made to her aunt Hervey, to procure mercy and pardon) rendered her incapable of receiving his proffered hand; and so obliged her to suspend the day: intending only to suspend it till recovered.

They saw with equal abhorrence of Lovelace, and of their own cruelty, and with the highest admiration of her, that the majesty of her virtue had awed the most daring spirit in the world, so that he durst not attempt to carry his base designs into execution, till, by wicked potions, he had made her senses the previous sacrifice.

But how did they in a manner adore her memory! How did they recriminate upon each other! when they found, that she had not only preserved herself from repeated outrage, by the most glorious and intrepid behaviour, in defiance, and to the utter confusion of all his libertine notions, but had the fortitude, constantly, and with a noble disdain, to reject him.⁠—Whom?⁠—Why, the man she once could have loved, kneeling for pardon, and begging to be permitted to make her the best reparation then in his power to make her; that is to say, by marriage. His fortunes high and unbroken. She his prisoner at the time in a vile house: rejected by all her friends; upon repeated application to them, for mercy and forgiveness, rejected⁠—mercy and forgiveness, and a last blessing, afterwards imploring; and that as much to lighten their future remorses, as for the comfort of her own pious heart⁠—yet, though savagely refused, on a supposition that she was not so near her end as she was represented departed, forgiving and blessing them all!

Then they recollected that her posthumous letters, instead of reproaches, were filled with comfortings: that she had in her last will, in their own way, laid obligations upon them all; obligations which they neither deserved nor expected; as if she thought to repair the injustice which self-partiality made some of them conclude done to them by her grandfather in his will.

These intelligences and recollections were perpetual subjects of recrimination to them: heightened their anguish for the loss of a child who was the glory of their family; and not seldom made them shun each other, (at the times they were accustomed to meet together), that they might avoid the mutual reproaches of eyes that spoke, when tongues were silent⁠—their stings also sharpened by time! What an unhappy family was this! Well might Colonel Morden, in the words of Juvenal, challenge all other miserable families to produce such a growing distress as that of the Harlowes (a few months before so happy!) was able to produce.

Humani generis mores tibi nôsse volenti
Sufficit una domus: paucos consume dies, &
Dicere te miserum, postquam illinc veneris, aude.

Mrs. Harlowe lived about two years and an half after the lamented death of her Clarissa.

Mr. Harlowe had the additional affliction to survive his lady about half a year; her death, by new pointing his former anguish and remorse, hastening his own.

Both, in their last hours, however, comforted themselves, that they should be restored to their blessed daughter, as they always (from the time they were acquainted with the above particulars of her story, and with her happy exit) called her.

They both lived, however, to see their son James, and their daughter Arabella, married: but not to take joy in either of their nuptials.

Mr. James Harlowe married a woman of family, an orphan; and is obliged, at a very great expense, to support his claim to estates, which were his principal inducement to make his addresses to her; but which, to this day, he has not recovered; nor is likely to recover; having powerful adversaries to contend with, and a title to assert, which admits of litigation; and he not blessed with so much patience as is necessary to persons embarrassed in law.

What is further observable, with regard to him, is, that the match was entirely of his own head, against the advice of his father, mother, and uncles, who warned him of marrying in this lady a lawsuit for life. His ungenerous behaviour to his wife, for what she cannot help, and for what is as much her misfortune as his, has occasioned such estrangements between them (she being a woman of spirit) as, were the lawsuits determined, even more favourably than probably they will be, must make him unhappy to the end of his life. He attributes all his misfortunes, when he opens himself to the few friends he has, to his vile and cruel treatment of his angelic sister. He confesses these misfortunes to be just, without having temper to acquiesce in the acknowledged justice. One month in every year he puts on mourning, and that month commences with him on the 7th of September, during which he shuts himself up from all company. Finally, he is looked upon, and often calls himself,

The most miserable of beings.

Arabella’s fortune became a temptation to a man of quality to make his addresses to her: his title an inducement with her to approve of him. Brothers and sisters, when they are not friends, are generally the sharpest enemies to each other. He thought too much was done for her in the settlements. She thought not enough. And for some years past, they have so heartily hated each other, that if either know a joy, it is in being told of some new misfortune or displeasure that happens to the other. Indeed, before they came to an open rupture, they were continually loading each other, by way of exonerating themselves (to the additional disquiet of the whole family) with the principal guilt of their implacable behaviour and sordid cruelty to their admirable sister.⁠—May the reports that are spread of this lady’s farther unhappiness from her lord’s free life; a fault she justly thought so odious in Mr. Lovelace (though that would not have been an insuperable objection with her to his addresses); and of his public slights and contempt of her, and even sometimes of his personal abuses, which are said to be owing to her impatient spirit, and violent passions; be utterly groundless⁠—For, what a heart must that be, which would wish she might be as great a torment to herself, as she had aimed to be to her sister? Especially as she regrets to this hour, and declares that she shall to the last of her life, her cruel treatment of that sister; and (as well as her brother) is but too ready to attribute to that her own unhappiness.

Mr. Antony and Mr. John Harlowe are still (at the writing of this) living: but often declare, that, with their beloved niece, they lost all the joy of their lives: and lament, without reserve, in all companies, the unnatural part they were induced to take against her.

Mr. Solmes is also still living, if a man of his cast may be said to live; for his general behaviour and sordid manners are such as justify the aversion the excellent lady had to him. He has moreover found his addresses rejected by several women of far inferior fortunes (great as his own are) to those of the lady to whom he was encouraged to aspire.

Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville having lost the man in whose conversation they so much delighted; shocked and awakened by the several unhappy catastrophes before their eyes; and having always rather ductile and dictating hearts; took their friend Belford’s advice: converted the remainder of their fortunes into annuities for life; and retired, the one into Yorkshire, the other into Nottinghamshire, of which counties they are natives: their friend Belford managing their concerns for them, and corresponding with them, and having more and more hopes, every time he sees them, (which is once or twice a year, when they come to town), that they will become more and more worthy of their names and families.

As those sisters in iniquity, Sally Martin and Polly Horton, had abilities and education superior to what creatures of their cast generally can boast of; and as their histories are nowhere given in the preceding papers, in which they are frequently mentioned; it cannot fail of gratifying the reader’s curiosity, as well as answering the good ends designed by the publication of this work, to give a brief account of their parentage, and manner of training-up, preparative to the vile courses they fell into, and of what became of them, after the dreadful exit of the infamous Sinclair.

Sally Martin was the daughter of a substantial mercer at the court-end of the town; to whom her mother, a grocer’s daughter in the city, brought a handsome fortune; and both having a gay turn, and being fond of the fashions which it was their business to promote; and which the wives and daughters of the uppermost tradesmen (especially in that quarter of the town) generally affect to follow; it was no wonder that they brought up their daughter accordingly: nor that she, who was a very sprightly and ready-witted girl, and reckoned very pretty and very genteel, should every year improve upon such examples.

She early found herself mistress of herself. All she did was right: all she said was admired. Early, very early, did she dismiss blushes from her cheek. She could not blush, because she could not doubt: and silence, whatever was the subject, was as much a stranger to her as diffidence.

She never was left out of any party of pleasure after she had passed her ninth year; and, in honour of her prattling vein, was considered as a principal person in the frequent treats and entertainments which her parents, fond of luxurious living, gave with a view to increase their acquaintance for the sake of their business; not duly reflecting, that the part they suffered her to take in what made for their interest, would probably be a mean to quicken their appetites, and ruin the morals of their daughter, for whose sake, as an only child, they were solicitous to obtain wealth.

The child so much a woman, what must the woman be?

At fifteen or sixteen, she affected, both in dress and manners, to ape such of the quality as were most apish. The richest silks in her father’s shop were not too rich for her. At all public diversions, she was the leader, instead of the led, of all her female kindred and acquaintances, though they were a third older than herself. She would bustle herself into a place, and make room for her more bashful companions, through the frowns of the first possessors, at a crowded theatre, leaving everyone near her amazed at her self-consequence, wondering she had no servant to keep place for her; whisperingly inquiring who she was; and then sitting down admiring her fortitude.

She officiously made herself of consequence to the most noted players; who, as one of their patronesses, applied to her for her interest on their benefit-nights. She knew the Christian, as well as surname of every pretty fellow who frequented public places; and affected to speak of them by the former.

Those who had not obeyed the call her eyes always made upon all of them for notice at her entrance, or before she took her seat, were spoken of with haughtiness, as, Jacks, or Toms; wile her favourites, with an affectedly-endearing familiarity, and a prettiness of accent, were Jackeys and Tommys; and if they stood very high in her graces, dear devils, and agreeable toads.

She sat in judgment, and an inexorable judge she was upon the actions and conduct of every man and woman of quality and fashion, as they became the subjects of conversation. She was deeply learned in the scandalous chronicle: she made every character, every praise, and every censure, serve to exalt herself. She should scorn to do so or so!⁠—or, That was ever her way; and Just what she did, or liked to do; and judging herself by the vileness of the most vile of her sex, she wiped her mouth, and sat down satisfied with her own virtue.

She had her chair to attend her wherever she went, and found people among her betters, as her pride stooped to call some of the most insignificant people in the world, to encourage her visits.

She was practised in all the arts of the card-table: a true Spartan girl; and had even courage, occasionally, to wrangle off a detection. Late hours (turning night into day, and day into night) were the almost unavoidable consequences of her frequent play. Her parents pleased themselves that their Sally had a charming constitution: and, as long as she suffered not in her health, they were regardless of her morals.

The needle she hated: and made the constant subjects of her ridicule the fine works that used to employ, and keep out of idleness, luxury, and extravagance, and at home (were they to have been of no other service) the women of the last age, when there were no Vauxhalls, Ranelaghs, Marybones, and suchlike places of diversion, to dress out for, and gad after.

And as to family-management, her parents had not required any knowledge of that sort from her; and she considered it as a qualification only necessary for hirelings, and the lowborn, and as utterly unworthy of the attention of a modern fine lady.

Although her father had great business, yet, living in so high and expensive a way, he pretended not to give her a fortune answerable to it. Neither he nor his wife having set out with any notion of frugality could think of retrenching. Nor did their daughter desire that they should retrench. They thought glare or ostentation reputable. They called it living genteely. And as they lifted their heads above their neighbours, they supposed their credit concerned to go forward rather than backward in outward appearances. They flattered themselves, and they flattered their girl, and she was entirely of their opinion, that she had charms and wit enough to attract some man of rank; of fortune at least: and yet this daughter of a mercer-father and grocer-mother could not bear the thoughts of a creeping cit; encouraging herself with the few instances (comparatively few) which she had always in her head as common ones, of girls much inferior to herself in station, talents, education, and even fortune, who had succeeded⁠—as she doubted not to succeed). Handsome settlements, and a chariot, that tempting gewgaw to the vanity of the middling class of females, were the least that she proposed to herself. But all this while, neither her parents nor herself considered that she had appetites indulged to struggle with, and a turn of education given her, as well as a warm constitution, unguarded by sound principles, and unbenefitted by example, which made her much better qualified for a mistress than a wife.

Her twentieth year, to her own equal wonder and regret, passed over her head, and she had not one offer that her pride would permit her to accept of. A girl from fifteen to eighteen, her beauty then beginning to blossom, will, as a new thing, attract the eyes of men: but if she make her face cheap at public places, she will find, that new faces will draw more attention than fine faces constantly seen. Policy, therefore, if nothing else were considered, would induce a young beauty, if she could tame her vanity, just to show herself, and to be talked of, and then withdrawing, as if from discretion, (and discreet it will be to do so), expect to be sought after, rather than to be thought to seek for; only reviving now-and-then the memory of herself, at the public places in turn, if she find herself likely to be forgotten; and then she will be new again. But this observation ought young ladies always to have in their heads, that they can hardly ever expect to gratify their vanity, and at the same time gain the admiration of men worthy of making partners for life. They may, in short, have many admirers at public places, but not one lover.

Sally Martin knew nothing of this doctrine. Her beauty was in its bloom, and yet she found herself neglected. “Sally Martin, the mercer’s daughter: she never fails being here;” was the answer, and the accompanying observation, made to every questioner, Who is that lady?

At last, her destiny approached. It was at a masquerade that she first saw the gay, the handsome Lovelace, who was just returned from his travels. She was immediately struck with his figure, and with the brilliant things that she heard fall from his lips as he happened to sit near her. He, who was not then looking out for a wife, was taken with Sally’s smartness, and with an air that at the same time showed her to be equally genteel and self-significant; and signs of approbation mutually passing, he found no difficulty in acquainting himself where to visit her next day. And yet it was some mortification to a person of her self-consequence, and gay appearance, to submit to be known by so fine a young gentleman as no more than a mercer’s daughter. So natural is it for a girl brought up as Sally was, to be occasionally ashamed of those whose folly had set her above herself.

But whatever it might be to Sally, it was no disappointment to Mr. Lovelace, to find his mistress of no higher degree; because he hoped to reduce her soon to the lowest condition that an unhappy woman can fall into.

But when Miss Martin had informed herself that her lover was the nephew and presumptive heir of Lord M. she thought him the very man for whom she had been so long and so impatiently looking out; and for whom it was worth her while to spread her toils. And here it may not be amiss to observe, that it is very probable that Mr. Lovelace had Sally Martin in his thoughts, and perhaps two or three more whose hopes of marriage from him had led them to their ruin, when he drew the following whimsical picture, in a letter to his friend Belford, not inserted in the preceding collection:

“Methinks,” says he, “I see a young couple in courtship, having each a design upon the other: the girl plays off: she is very happy as she is: she cannot be happier: she will not change her single state: the man, I will suppose, is one who does not confess, that he desires not that she should: she holds ready a net under her apron; he another under his coat; each intending to throw it over the other’s neck; she over his, when her pride is gratified, and she thinks she can be sure of him; he over hers, when the watched-for yielding moment has carried consent too far. And suppose he happens to be the more dexterous of the two, and whips his net over her, before she can cast hers over him; how, I would fain know, can she cast hers over him; how, I would fain know, can she be justly entitled to cry out upon cruelty, barbarity, deception, sacrifices, and all the rest of the exclamatory nonsense, with which the pretty fools, in such a case, are wont to din the ears of their conquerors? Is it not just, thinkest thou, when she makes her appeal to gods and men, that both gods and men should laugh at her, and hitting her in the teeth with her own felonious intentions, bid her sit down patiently under her deserved disappointment?”

In short, Sally’s parents, as well as herself, encouraged Mr. Lovelace’s visits. They thought they might trust to a discretion in he which she herself was too wise to doubt. Pride they knew she had; and that, in these cases, is often called discretion.⁠—Lord help the sex, says Lovelace, if they had not pride!⁠—Nor did they suspect danger from that specious air of sincerity, and gentleness of manners, which he could assume or lay aside whenever he pleased.

The second masquerade, which was no more than their third meeting abroad, completed her ruin, from so practised, though so young a deceiver; and that before she well knew she was in danger; for, having prevailed on her to go off with him about twelve o’clock to his aunt Forbes’s, a lady of honour and fortune, to whom he had given reason to expect her future niece, (the only hint of marriage he ever gave her), he carried her off to the house of the wicked woman, who bears the name of Sinclair in these papers; and there, by promises, which she understood in the favourable sense, (for where a woman loves she seldom doubts enough for her safety), obtained an easy conquest over a virtue that was little more than nominal.

He found it not difficult to induce her to proceed in the guilty commerce, till the effects of it became to apparent to be hid. Her parents then (in the first fury of their disappointment, and vexation for being deprived of all hopes of such a son-in-law) turned her out of doors.

Her disgrace thus published, she became hardened; and, protected by her seducer, whose favourite mistress she then was, she was so incensed against her parents for an indignity so little suiting with her pride, and the head they had always given her, that she refused to return to them, when, repenting of their passionate treatment of her, they would have been reconciled to her: and, becoming the favourite daughter of her mother Sinclair, at the persuasions of that abandoned woman she practised to bring on an abortion, which she effected, though she was so far gone that it had like to have cost her her life.

Thus, unchastity her first crime, murder her next, her conscience became seared; and, young as she was, and fond of her deceiver, soon grew indelicate enough, having so thorough-paced a schoolmistress, to do all she could to promote the pleasures of the man who had ruined her; scrupling not, with a spirit truly diabolical, to endeavour to draw in others to follow her example. And it is hardly to be believed what mischiefs of this sort she was the means of effecting; woman confiding in and daring woman; and she a creature of specious appearance, and great art.

A still viler wickedness, if possible, remains to be said of Sally Martin.

Her father dying, her mother, in hopes to reclaim her, as she called it, proposed her to quit the house of the infamous Sinclair, and to retire with her into the country, where her disgrace, and her then wicked way of life, would not be known; and there so to live as to save appearances; the only virtue she had ever taught her; besides that of endeavouring rather to delude than be deluded.

To this Sally consented; but with no other intention, as she often owned, (and gloried in it), than to cheat her mother of the greatest part of her substance, in revenge for consenting to her being turned out of doors long before, and by way of reprisal for having persuaded her father, as she would have it, to cut her off, in his last will, from any share in his fortune.

This unnatural wickedness, in half a year’s time, she brought about; and then the serpent retired to her obscene den with her spoils, laughing at what she had done; even after it had broken her mother’s heart, as it did in a few months’ time: a severe, but just punishment for the unprincipled education she had given her.

It ought to be added, that this was an iniquity of which neither Mr. Lovelace, nor any of his friends, could bear to hear her boast; and always checked her for it whenever she did; condemning it with one voice. And it is certain that this, and other instances of her complicated wickedness, turned early Lovelace’s heart against her; and, had she not been subservient to him in his other pursuits, he would not have endured her: for, speaking of her, he would say, Let not anyone reproach us, Jack: there is no wickedness like the wickedness of a woman.[430]

A bad education was the preparative, it must be confessed; and for this Sally Martin had reason to thank her parents; as they had reason to thank themselves for what followed: but, had she not met with a Lovelace, she had avoided a Sinclair; and might have gone on at the common rate of wives so educated, and been the mother of children turned out to take their chance in the world, as she was; so many lumps of soft wax, fit to take any impression that the first accidents gave them; neither happy, nor making happy; everything but useful, and well off, if not extremely miserable.

Polly Horton was the daughter of a gentlewoman, well descended; whose husband, a man of family and of honour, was a Captain in the Guards.

He died when Polly was about nine years of age, leaving her to the care of her mother, a lively young lady of about twenty-six; with a genteel provision for both.

Her mother was extremely fond of her Polly; but had it not in herself to manifest the true, the genuine fondness of a parent, by a strict and guarded education; dressing out, and visiting, and being visited by the gay of her own sex, and casting her eye abroad, as one very ready to try her fortune again in the married state.

This induced those airs, and a love to those diversions, which make a young widow, of so lively a turn, the unfittest tutoress in the world, even to her own daughter.

Mrs. Horton herself having had an early turn to music, and that sort of reading which is but an earlier debauchery for young minds, preparative to the grosser at riper years; to wit, romances and novels, songs and plays, and those without distinction, moral or immoral, she indulged her daughter in the same taste; and at those hours, when they could not take part in the more active and lively amusements and kill-times, as some call them, used to employ Miss to read to her, happy enough, in her own imagination, that while she was diverting her own ears, and sometimes, as the piece was, corrupting her own heart, and her child’s too, she was teaching Miss to read, and improve her mind; for it was the boast of every tea-table half-hour, That Miss Horton, in propriety, accent, and emphasis, surpassed all the young ladies her age; and, at other times, complimenting the pleased mother⁠—Bless me, Madam, with what a surprising grace Miss Horton reads!⁠—she enters into the very spirit of her subject⁠—this she could have from nobody but you! An intended praise; but, as the subjects were, would have been a severe satire in the mouth of an enemy!⁠—While the fond, the inconsiderate mother, with a delighted air, would cry, Why, I cannot but say, Miss Horton does credit to her tutoress! And then a Come hither, my best Love! and, with a kiss of approbation, What a pleasure to your dear papa, had he lived to see your improvements, my Charmer! Concluding with a sigh of satisfaction, her eyes turning round upon the circle, to take in all the silent applauses of theirs! But little thought the fond, the foolish mother, what the plant would be, which was springing up from these seeds! Little imagined she, that her own ruin, as well as her child’s, was to be the consequence of this fine education; and that, in the same ill-fated hour, the honour of both mother and daughter was to become a sacrifice to the intriguing invader.

This, the laughing girl, when abandoned to her evil destiny, and in company with her sister Sally, and others, each recounting their settings-out, their progress, and their fall, frequently related to be her education and manner of training-up.

This, and to see a succession of humble servants buzzing about a mother, who took too much pride in addresses of that kind, what a beginning, what an example, to a constitution of tinder, so prepared to receive the spark struck, from the steely forehead and flinty heart of such a libertine as at last it was their fortune to be encountered by!

In short, as Miss grew up under the influences of such a directress, and of books so light and frothy, with the inflaming additions of music, concerts, operas, plays, assemblies, balls, and the rest of the rabble of amusements of modern life, it is no wonder that, like early fruit, she was soon ripened to the hand of the insidious gatherer.

At fifteen, she owned she was ready to fancy herself the heroine of every novel and of every comedy she read, so well did she enter into the spirit of her subject; she glowed to become the object of some hero’s flame; and perfectly longed to begin an intrigue, and even to be run away with by some enterprising lover: yet had neither confinement nor check to apprehend from her indiscreet mother, which she thought absolutely necessary to constitute a Parthenissa!

Nevertheless, with all these fine modern qualities, did she complete her nineteenth year, before she met with any address of consequence; one half of her admirers being afraid, because of her gay turn, and but middling fortune, to make serious applications for her favour; while others were kept at a distance, by the superior airs she assumed; and a third sort, not sufficiently penetrating the foibles either of mother or daughter, were kept off by the supposed watchful care of the former.

But when the man of intrepidity and intrigue was found, never was heroine so soon subdued, never goddess so easily stripped of her celestials! For, at the opera, a diversion at which neither she nor her mother ever missed to be present, she beheld the specious Lovelace⁠—beheld him invested with all the airs of heroic insult, resenting a slight affront offered to his Sally Martin by two gentlemen who had known her in her more hopeful state, one of whom Mr. Lovelace obliged to sneak away with a broken head, given with the pummel of his sword, the other with a bloody nose; neither of them well supporting that readiness of offence, which, it seems, was a part of their known character to be guilty of.

The gallantry of this action drawing every bystander on the side of the hero, O the brave man! cried Polly Horton, aloud, to her mother, in a kind of rapture, How needful the protection of the brave to the fair! with a softness in her voice, which she had taught herself, to suit her fancied high condition of life.

A speech so much in his favour, could not but take the notice of a man who was but too sensible of the advantages which his fine person, and noble air, gave him over the gentler hearts, who was always watching every female eye, and who had his ear continually turned to every affected voice; for that was one of his indications of a proper subject to be attempted⁠—Affectation of every sort, he used to say, is a certain sign of a wrong turned head; of a faulty judgment; and upon such a basis I seldom build in vain.

He instantly resolved to be acquainted with a young creature, who seemed so strongly prejudiced in his favour. Never man had a readier invention for all sorts of mischief. He gave his Sally her cue. He called her sister in their hearing; and Sally, whisperingly, gave the young lady and her mother, in her own way, the particulars of the affront she had received; making herself an angel of light, to cast the brighter ray upon the character of her heroic brother. She particularly praised his known and approved courage; and mingled with her praises of him such circumstances relating to his birth, his fortune, and endowments, as left him nothing to do but to fall in love with the enamoured Polly.

Mr. Lovelace presently saw what turn to give his professions. So brave a man, yet of manners so gentle! hit the young lady’s taste: nor could she suspect the heart that such an aspect covered. This was the man! the very man! she whispered to her mother. And, when the opera was over, his servant procuring a coach, he undertook, with his specious sister, to set them down at their own lodgings, though situated a quite different way from his: and there were they prevailed upon to alight, and partake of a slight repast.

Sally pressed them to return the favour to her at her aunt Forbes’s, and hoped it would be before her brother went to his own seat.

They promised her, and named their evening.

A splendid entertainment was provided. The guests came, having in the interim found all that was said of his name, and family, and fortune to be true. Persons of so little strictness in their own morals, took it not into their heads to be very inquisitive after his.

Music and dancing had their share in the entertainment. These opened their hearts, already half opened by love: The aunt Forbes, and the lover’s sister, kept them open by their own example. The hero sung, vowed, promised. Their gratitude was moved, their delights were augmented, their hopes increased, their confidence was engaged, all their appetites up in arms; the rich wines cooperating, beat quite off their guard, and not thought enough remaining for so much as suspicion⁠—Miss, detached from her mother by Sally, soon fell a sacrifice to the successful intriguer.

The widow herself, half intoxicated, and raised as she was with artful mixtures, and inflamed by love, unexpectedly tendered by one of the libertines, his constant companions, (to whom an opportunity was contrived to be given to be alone with her, and that closely followed by importunity), fell into her daughter’s error. The consequences of which, in length of time, becoming apparent, grief, shame, remorse, seized her heart, (her own indiscretion not allowing her to arraign her daughter’s), and she survived not her delivery, leaving Polly with child likewise; who, when delivered, being too fond of the gay deluder to renounce his company, even when she found herself deluded, fell into a course of extravagance and dissoluteness; ran through her fortune in a very little time, and, as an high preferment, at last, with Sally, was admitted a quarter partner with the detestable Sinclair.

All that is necessary to add to the history of these unhappy women, will be comprised in a very little compass.

After the death of the profligate Sinclair, they kept on the infamous trade with too much success; till an accident happened in the house⁠—a gentleman of family killed in it in a fray, contending with another for a new-vamped face. Sally was accused of holding the gentleman’s arm, while his more-favoured adversary ran him through the heart, and then made off. And she being tried for her life narrowly escaped.

This accident obliged them to break up housekeeping; and not having been frugal enough of their ill-gotten gains, (lavishing upon one what they got by another), they were compelled, for subsistence sake, to enter themselves as under-managers at such another house as their own had been. In which service, soon after, Sally died of a fever and surfeit got by a debauch; and the other, about a month after, by a violent cold, occasioned through carelessness in a salivation.

* * * * *

Happier scenes open for the remaining characters; for it might be descending too low to mention the untimely ends of Dorcas, and of William, Mr. Lovelace’s wicked servant; and the pining and consumptive one’s of Betty Barnes and Joseph Leman, unmarried both, and in less than a year after the happy death of their excellent young lady.

The good Mrs. Norton passed the small remainder of her life, as happily as she wished, in her beloved foster-daughter’s dairy-house, as it used to be called: as she wished, we repeat; for she had too strong aspirations after another life, to be greatly attached to this.

She laid out the greatest part of her time in doing good by her advice, and by the prudent management of the fund committed to her direction. Having lived an exemplary life from her youth upwards; and seen her son happily settled in the world; she departed with ease and calmness, without pang or agony, like a tired traveller, falling into a sweet slumber: her last words expressing her hope of being restored to the child of her bosom; and to her own excellent father and mother, to whose care and pains she owed that good education to which she was indebted for all her other blessings.

The poor’s fund, which was committed to her care, she resigned a week before her death, into the hands of Mrs. Hickman, according the direction of the will, and all the accounts and disbursements with it; which she had kept with such an exactness, that the lady declares, that she will follow her method, and only wishes to discharge the trust as well.

Miss Howe was not to be persuaded to quit her mourning for her dear friend, until six months were fully expired: and then she made Mr. Hickman one of the happiest men in the world. A woman of her fine sense and understanding, married to a man of virtue and good-nature, (who had no past capital errors to reflect upon, and to abate his joys, and whose behaviour to Mrs. Hickman is as affectionate as it was respectful to Miss Howe), could not do otherwise. They are already blessed with two fine children; a daughter, to whom, by joint consent, they have given the name of her beloved friend; an a son, who bears that of his father.

She has allotted to Mr. Hickman, who takes delight in doing good, (and that as much for its own sake, as to oblige her), his part of the management of the poor’s fund; to be accountable for it, as she pleasantly says, to her. She has appropriated every Thursday morning for her part of that management; and takes so much delight in the task, that she declares it to be one of the most agreeable of her amusements. And the more agreeable, as she teaches everyone whom she benefits, to bless the memory of her departed friend; to whom she attributes the merit of all her own charities, as well as the honour of those which she dispenses in pursuance of her will.

She has declared, That this fund shall never fail while she lives. She has even engaged her mother to contribute annually to it. And Mr. Hickman has appropriated twenty pounds a year to the same. In consideration of which she allows him to recommend four objects yearly to partake of it.⁠—Allows, is her style; for she assumes the whole prerogative of dispensing this charity; the only prerogative she does or has occasion to assume. In every other case, there is but one will between them; and that is generally his or hers, as either speaks first, upon any subject, be it what it will. Mrs. Hickman, she sometimes as pleasantly as generously tells him, must not quite forget that she was once Miss Howe, because if he had not loved her as such, and with all her foibles, she had never been Mrs. Hickman. Nevertheless she seriously, on all occasions, and that to others as well as to himself, confesses that she owes him unreturnable obligations for his patience with her in her day, and for his generous behaviour to her in his.

And still more the highly does she esteem and love him, as she reflects upon his past kindness to her beloved friend; and on that dear friend’s good opinion of him. Nor is it less grateful to her, that the worthy man joins most sincerely with her in all those respectful and affectionate recollections, which make the memory of the departed precious to survivors.

Mr. Belford was not so destitute of humanity and affection, as to be unconcerned at the unhappy fate of his most intimate friend. But when he reflects upon the untimely ends of several of his companions, but just mentioned in the preceding history[431]⁠—On the shocking despondency and death of his poor friend Belton⁠—On the signal justice which overtook the wicked Tomlinson⁠—On the dreadful exit of the infamous Sinclair⁠—On the deep remorses of his more valued friend⁠—And, on the other hand, on the example set him by the most excellent of her sex⁠—and on her blessed preparation, and happy departure⁠—And when he considers, as he often does with awe and terror, that his wicked habits were so rooted in his depraved heart, that all these warnings, and this lovely example, seemed to be but necessary to enable him to subdue them, and to reform; and that such awakening-calls are hardly ever afforded to men of his cast, or (if they are) but seldom attended the full vigour of constitution:⁠—When he reflects upon all these things, he adores the Mercy, which through these calls has snatched him as a brand out of the fire: and thinks himself obliged to make it his endeavours to find out, and to reform, any of those who may have been endangered by his means; as well as to repair, to the utmost of his power, any damage or mischiefs which he may have occasioned to others.

With regard to the trust with which he was honoured by the inimitable lady, he had the pleasure of acquitting himself of it in a very few months, to everybody’s satisfaction; even to that of the unhappy family; who sent him their thanks on the occasion. Nor was he, at delivering up his accounts, contented without resigning the legacy bequeathed to him, to the uses of the will. So that the poor’s fund, as it is called, is become a very considerable sum: and will be a lasting bank for relief of objects who best deserve relief.

There was but one earthly blessing which remained for Mr. Belford to wish for, in order, morally speaking, to secure to him all his other blessings; and that was, the greatest of all worldly ones, a virtuous and prudent wife. So free a liver as he had been, he did not think that he could be worthy of such a one, till, upon an impartial examination of himself, he found the pleasure he had in his new resolutions so great, and his abhorrence of his former courses so sincere, that he was the less apprehensive of a deviation.

Upon this presumption, having also kept in his mind some encouraging hints from Mr. Lovelace; and having been so happy as to have it in his power to oblige Lord M. and that whole noble family, by some services grateful to them (the request for which from his unhappy friend was brought over, among other papers, with the dead body, by De la Tour); he besought that nobleman’s leave to make his addresses to Miss Charlotte Montague, the eldest of his Lordship’s two nieces: and making at the same time such proposals of settlements as were not objected to, his Lordship was pleased to use his powerful interest in his favour. And his worthy niece having no engagement, she had the goodness to honour Mr. Belford with her hand; and thereby made him as completely happy as a man can be, who has enormities to reflect upon, which are out of his power to atone for, by reason of the death of some of the injured parties, and the irreclaimableness of others.

“Happy is the man who, in the time of health and strength, sees and reforms the error of his ways!⁠—But how much more happy is he, who has no capital and wilful errors to repent of!⁠—How unmixed and sincere must the joys of such a one come to him!”

Lord M. added bountifully in his lifetime, as did also the two ladies his sisters, to the fortune of their worthy niece. And as Mr. Belford had been blessed with a son by her, his Lordship at his death (which happened just three years after the untimely one of his unhappy nephew) was pleased to devise to that son, and to his descendents forever (and in case of his death unmarried, to any other children of his niece) his Hertfordshire estate, (designed for Mr. Lovelace), which he made up to the value of a moiety of his real estates; bequeathing also a moiety of his personal to the same lady.

Miss Patty Montague, a fine young lady (to whom her noble uncle, at his death, devised the other moiety of his real and personal estates, including his seat in Berkshire) lives at present with her excellent sister, Mrs. Belford; to whom she removed upon Lord M.’s death: but, in all probability, will soon be the lady of a worthy baronet, of ancient family, fine qualities, and ample fortunes, just returned from his travels, with a character superior to the very good one he set out with: a case that very seldom happens, although the end of travel is improvement.

Colonel Morden, who, with so many virtues and accomplishments, cannot be unhappy, in several letters to the executor, with whom he corresponds from Florence, (having, since his unhappy affair with Mr. Lovelace changed his purpose of coming so soon to reside in England as he had intended), declares, That although he thought himself obliged either to accept of what he took to be a challenge, as such; or tamely to acknowledge, that he gave up all resentment of his cousin’s wrongs; and in a manner to beg pardon for having spoken freely of Mr. Lovelace behind his back; and although at the time he owns he was not sorry to be called upon, as he was, to take either the one course or the other; yet now, coolly reflecting upon his beloved cousin’s reasonings against duelling; and upon the price it had too probably cost the unhappy man; he wishes he had more fully considered those words in his cousin’s posthumous letter⁠—“If God will allow him time for repentance, why should you deny it him?”[432]

To conclude⁠—The worthy widow Lovick continues to live with Mr. Belford; and, by her prudent behaviour, piety, and usefulness, has endeared herself to her lady, and to the whole family.

Postscript Referred to in the Preface

In which several objections that have been made, as well to the catastrophe, as to different parts of the preceding history, are briefly considered.

The foregoing work having been published at three different periods of time, the author, in the course of its publication, was favoured with many anonymous letters, in which the writers differently expressed their wishes with regard to the apprehended catastrophe.

Most of those directed to him by the gentler sex, turned in favour of what they called a fortunate ending. Some of the fair writers, enamoured, as they declared, with the character of the heroine, were warmly solicitous to have her made happy; and others, likewise of their mind, insisted that poetical justice required that it should be so. And when, says one ingenious lady, whose undoubted motive was good-nature and humanity, it must be concluded that it is in an author’s power to make his piece end as he pleases, why should he not give pleasure rather than pain to the reader whom he has interested in favour of his principal characters?

Others, and some gentlemen, declared against tragedies in general, and in favour of comedies, almost in the words of Lovelace, who was supported in his taste by all the women at Mrs. Sinclair’s and by Sinclair herself. “I have too much feeling, said he.[433] There is enough in the world to make our hearts sad, without carrying grief into our diversions, and making the distresses of others our own.”

And how was this happy ending to be brought about? Why, by this very easy and trite expedient; to wit, by reforming Lovelace, and marrying him to Clarissa⁠—not, however, abating her one of her trials, nor any of her sufferings, (for the sake of the sport her distresses would give to the tenderhearted reader, as she went along), the last outrage excepted: that, indeed, partly in compliment to Lovelace himself, and partly for her delicacy-sake, they were willing to spare her.

But whatever were the fate of his work, the author was resolved to take a different method. He always thought that sudden conversions, such, especially, as were left to the candour of the reader to suppose and make out, has neither art, nor nature, nor even probability, in them; and that they were moreover of a very bad example. To have a Lovelace, for a series of years, glory in his wickedness, and think that he had nothing to do, but as an act of grace and favour to hold out his hand to receive that of the best of women, whenever he pleased, and to have it thought that marriage would be a sufficient amends for all his enormities to others as well as to her⁠—he could not bear that. Nor is reformation, as he has shown in another piece, to be secured by a fine face; by a passion that has sense for its object; nor by the goodness of a wife’s heart, nor even example, if the heart of the husband be not graciously touched by the Divine finger.

It will be seen, by this time, that the author had a great end in view. He had lived to see the scepticism and infidelity openly avowed, and even endeavoured to be propagated from the press; the greatest doctrines of the Gospel brought into question; those of self-denial and mortification blotted out of the catalogue of Christian virtues; and a taste even to wantonness for outdoor pleasure and luxury, to the general exclusion of domestic as well as public virtue, industriously promoted among all ranks and degrees of people.

In this general depravity, when even the pulpit has lost great part of its weight, and the clergy are considered as a body of interested men, the author thought he should be able to answer it to his own heart, be the success what it would, if he threw in his mite towards introducing a reformation so much wanted: and he imagined, that if in an age given up to diversion and entertainment, he could steal in, as may be said, and investigate the great doctrines of Christianity under the fashionable guise of an amusement; he should be most likely to serve his purpose, remembering that of the Poet:⁠—

A verse may find him who a sermon flies,
And turn delight into a sacrifice.

He was resolved, therefore, to attempt something that never yet had been done. He considered that the tragic poets have as seldom made their heroes true objects of pity, as the comics theirs laudable ones of imitation: and still more rarely have made them in their deaths look forward to a future hope. And thus, when they die, they seem totally to perish. Death, in such instances, must appear terrible. It must be considered as the greatest evil. But why is death set in such shocking lights, when it is the universal lot?

He has, indeed, thought fit to paint the death of the wicked, as terrible as he could paint it. But he has endeavoured to draw that of the good in such an amiable manner, that the very Balaams of the world should not forbear to wish that their latter end might be like that of the heroine.

And after all, what is the poetical justice so much contended for by some, as the generality of writers have managed it, but another sort of dispensation than that with which God, by revelation, teaches us, He has thought fit to exercise mankind; whom placing here only in a state of probation, he hath so intermingled good and evil, as to necessitate us to look forward for a more equal dispensation of both?

The Author of the History (or rather Dramatic Narrative) of Clarissa, is therefore well justified by the Christian system, in deferring to extricate suffering virtue to the time in which it will meet with the completion of its reward.

But not absolutely to shelter the conduct observed in it under the sanction of Religion, (an authority, perhaps, not of the greatest weight with some of our modern critics), it must be observed, that the Author is justified in its catastrophe by the greatest master of reason, and best judge of composition, that ever lived. The learned reader knows we must mean Aristotle; whose sentiments in this matter we shall beg leave to deliver in the words of a very amiable writer of our own country:

“The English writers of Tragedy,” says Mr. Addison,[434] “are possessed with a notion, that when they represent a virtuous or innocent person in distress, they ought not to leave him till they have delivered him out of his troubles, or made him triumph over his enemies.

“This error they have been led into by a ridiculous doctrine in modern criticism, that they are obliged to an equal distribution of rewards and punishments, and an impartial execution of poetical justice.

“Who were the first that established this rule, I know not; but I am sure it has no foundation in nature, in reason, or in the practice of the ancients.

“We find that good and evil happen alike unto all men on this side the grave: and as the principal design of tragedy is to raise commiseration and terror in the minds of the audience, we shall defeat this great end, if we always make virtue and innocence happy and successful.

“Whatever crosses and disappoints a good man suffers in the body of the tragedy, they will make but small impression on our minds, when we know, that, in the last act, he is to arrive at the end of his wishes and desires.

“When we see him engaged in the depth of his afflictions, we are apt to comfort ourselves, because we are sure he will find his way out of them, and that his grief, however great soever it may be at present, will soon terminate in gladness.

“For this reason, the ancient writers of tragedy treated men in their plays, as they are dealt with in the world, by making virtue sometimes happy and sometimes miserable, as they found it in the fable which they made choice of, or as it might affect their audience in the most agreeable manner.

“Aristotle considers the tragedies that were written in either of those kinds; and observes, that those which ended unhappily had always pleased the people, and carried away the prize, in the public disputes of the state, from those that ended happily.

“Terror and commiseration leave a pleasing anguish in the mind, and fix the audience in such a serious composure of thought, as is much more lasting and delightful, than any little transient starts of joy and satisfaction.

“Accordingly, we find, that more of our English tragedies have succeeded, in which the favourites of the audience sink under their calamities, than those in which they recover themselves out of them.

“The best plays of this kind are The Orphan, Venice Preserved, Alexander the Great, Theodosius, All for Love, Oedipus, Oroonoko, Othello, etc.

King Lear is an admirable tragedy of the same kind, as Shakespeare wrote it: but as it is reformed according to the chimerical notion of poetical justice, in my humble opinion it has lost half its beauty.

“At the same time I must allow, that there are very noble tragedies which have been framed upon the other plan, and have ended happily; as indeed most of the good tragedies which have been written since the starting of the above-mentioned criticism, have taken this turn: The Mourning Bride, Tamerlane,[435] Ulysses, Phaedra and Hippolitus, with most of Mr. Dryden’s. I must also allow, that many of Shakespeare’s, and several of the celebrated tragedies of antiquity, are cast in the same form. I do not, therefore, dispute against this way of writing tragedies; but against the criticism that would establish this as the only method; and by that means would very much cramp the English tragedy, and perhaps give a wrong bent to the genius of our writers.”

This subject is further considered in a letter to the Spectator.[436]

“I find your opinion,” says the author of it, “concerning the late-invented term called poetical justice, is controverted by some eminent critics. I have drawn up some additional arguments to strengthen the opinion which you have there delivered; having endeavoured to go to the bottom of that matter.⁠ ⁠…

“The most perfect man has vices enough to draw down punishments upon his head, and to justify Providence in regard to any miseries that may befall him. For this reason I cannot but think that the instruction and moral are much finer, where a man who is virtuous in the main of his character falls into distress, and sinks under the blows of fortune, at the end of a tragedy, than when he is represented as happy and triumphant. Such an example corrects the insolence of human nature, softens the mind of the beholder with sentiments of pity and compassion, comforts him under his own private affliction, and teaches him not to judge of men’s virtues by their successes.[437] I cannot think of one real hero in all antiquity so far raised above human infirmities, that he might not be very naturally represented in a tragedy as plunged in misfortunes and calamities. The poet may still find out some prevailing passion or indiscretion in his character, and show it in such a manner as will sufficiently acquit Providence of any injustice in his sufferings: for, as Horace observes, the best man is faulty, though not in so great a degree as those whom we generally call vicious men.[438]

“If such a strict poetical justice (proceeds the letter-writer), as some gentlemen insist upon, were to be observed in this art, there is no manner of reason why it should not be so little observed in Homer, that his Achilles is placed in the greatest point of glory and success, though his character is morally vicious, and only poetically good, if I may use the phrase of our modern critics. The Aeneid is filled with innocent unhappy persons. Nisus and Euryalus, Lausus and Pallas, come all to unfortunate ends. The poet takes notice in particular, that in the sacking of Troy, Ripheus fell, who was the most just character among the Trojans:

“⁠⸺⁠Cadit & Ripheus, justissimus unus
Qui fuit in Teucris, & servantissimus aequi.
Diis aliter visum est.⁠—

“The gods thought fit.⁠—So blameless Ripheus fell,
Who lov’d fair Justice, and observ’d it well.”

“And that Pantheus could neither be preserved by his transcendent piety, nor by the holy fillets of Apollo, whose priest he was:

“⁠—Nec te tua plurima, Pantheu,
Labentum pietas, nec Apollinis infula texit.
Aeneid II.

“Nor could thy piety thee, Pantheus, save,
Nor ev’n thy priesthood, from an early grave.”

“I might here mention the practice of ancient tragic poets, both Greek and Latin; but as this particular is touched upon in the paper above-mentioned, I shall pass it over in silence. I could produce passages out of Aristotle in favour of my opinion; and if in one place he says, that an absolutely virtuous man should not be represented as unhappy, this does not justify any one who should think fit to bring in an absolutely virtuous man upon the stage. Those who are acquainted with that author’s way of writing, know very well, that to take the whole extent of his subject into his divisions of it, he often makes use of such cases as are imaginary, and not reducible to practice.⁠ ⁠…

“I shall conclude,” says this gentleman, “with observing, that though the Spectator above-mentioned is so far against the rule of poetical justice, as to affirm, that good men may meet with an unhappy catastrophe in tragedy, it does not say, that ill men may go off unpunished. The reason for this distinction is very plain; namely, because the best of men (as is said above), have faults enough to justify Providence for any misfortunes and afflictions which may befall them; but there are many men so criminal, that they can have no claim or pretence to happiness. The best of men may deserve punishment; but the worst of men cannot deserve happiness.”

Mr. Addison, as we have seen above, tells us, that Aristotle, in considering the tragedies that were written in either of the kinds, observes, that those which ended unhappily had always pleased the people, and carried away the prize, in the public disputes of the stage, from those that ended happily. And we shall take leave to add, that this preference was given at a time when the entertainments of the stage were committed to the care of the magistrates; when the prizes contended for were given by the state; when, of consequence, the emulation among writers was ardent; and when learning was at the highest pitch of glory in that renowned commonwealth.

It cannot be supposed, that the Athenians, in this their highest age of taste and politeness, were less humane, less tenderhearted, than we of the present. But they were not afraid of being moved, nor ashamed of showing themselves to be so, at the distresses they saw well painted and represented. In short, they were of the opinion, with the wisest of men, that it was better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of mirth; and had fortitude enough to trust themselves with their own generous grief, because they found their hearts mended by it.

Thus also Horace, and the politest Romans in the Augustan age, wished to be affected:

Ac ne forte putes me, quae facere ipse recusem,
Cum recte tractant alii, laudere maligne;
Ille per extentum funem mihi posse videtur
Ire poeta, meum qui pectus inaniter angit,
Irritat, mulcet; falsis terroribus implet,
Ut magus; & modo me Thebis, modo point Athenis.
Thus Englished by Mr. Pope:

Yet, lest thou think I rally more than teach,
Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach;
Let me, for once, presume t’instruct the times
To know the poet from the man of rhymes.
’Tis he who gives my breast a thousand pains:
Can make me feel each passion that he feigns;
Enrage⁠—compose⁠—with more than magic art,
With pity and with terror tear my heart;
And snatch me o’er the earth, or through the air,
To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where.

Our fair readers are also desired to attend to what a celebrated critic[439] of a neighbouring nation says on the nature and design of tragedy, from the rules laid down by the same great ancient.

“Tragedy,” says he, makes man modest, by representing the great masters of the earth humbled; and it makes him tender and merciful, by showing him the strange accidents of life, and the unforeseen disgraces, to which the most important persons are subject.

“But because man is naturally timorous and compassionate, he may fall into other extremes. Too much fear may shake his constancy of mind, and too much of tragedy to regulate these two weaknesses. It prepares and arms him against disgraces, by showing them so frequent in the most considerable persons; and he will cease to fear extraordinary accidents, when he sees them happen to the highest part of mankind. And still more efficacious, we may add, the example will be, when he sees them happen to the best.

“But as the end of tragedy is to teach men not to fear too weakly common misfortunes, it proposes also to teach them to spare their compassion for objects that deserve it. For there is an injustice in being moved at the afflictions of those who deserve to be miserable. We may see, without pity, Clytemnestra slain by her son Orestes in Aeschylus, because she had murdered Agamemnon her husband; yet we cannot see Hippolytus die by the plot of his stepmother Phaedra, in Euripides, without compassion, because he died not, but for being chaste and virtuous.

These are the great authorities so favourable to the stories that end unhappily. And we beg leave to reinforce this inference from them, that if the temporary sufferings of the virtuous and the good can be accounted for and justified on Pagan principles, many more and infinitely stronger reasons will occur to a Christian reader in behalf of what are called unhappy catastrophes, from the consideration of the doctrine of future rewards; which is everywhere strongly enforced in the History of Clarissa.

Of this, (to give but one instance), an ingenious modern, distinguished by his rank, but much more for his excellent defence of some of the most important doctrines of Christianity, appears convinced in the conclusion of a pathetic Monody, lately published; in which, after he had deplored, as a man without hope, (expressing ourselves in the Scripture phrase), the loss of an excellent wife; he thus consoles himself:

Yet, O my soul! thy rising murmurs stay,
Nor dare th’ All-wise Disposer to arraign,
Or against his supreme decree
With impious grief complain.
That all thy full-blown joys at once should fade,
Was his most righteous will: and be that will obey’d.
Would thy fond love his grace to her control,
And in these low abodes of sin and pain
Her pure, exalted soul,
Unjustly, for thy partial good detain?
No⁠—rather strive thy grov’ling mind to raise
Up to that unclouded blaze,
That heav’nly radiance of eternal light,
In which enthron’d she now with pity sees,
How frail, how insecure, how slight,
Is every mortal bliss.

But of infinitely greater weight than all that has been above produced on this subject, are the words of the Psalmist:

“As for me, says he,[440] my feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped: for I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For their strength is firm: they are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men⁠—their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than their heart could wish⁠—verily I have cleansed mine heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence; for all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me. Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end⁠—thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.”

This is the Psalmist’s comfort and dependence. And shall man, presuming to alter the common course of nature, and, so far as he is able, to elude the tenure by which frail mortality indispensably holds, imagine that he can make a better dispensation; and by calling it poetical justice, indirectly reflect on the Divine?

The more pains have been taken to obviate the objections arising from the notion of poetical justice, as the doctrine built upon it had obtained general credit among us; and as it must be confessed to have the appearance of humanity and good nature for its supports. And yet the writer of the History of Clarissa is humbly of opinion, that he might have been excused referring to them for the vindication of his catastrophe, even by those who are advocates for the contrary opinion; since the notion of poetical justice, founded on the modern rules, has hardly ever been more strictly observed in works of this nature than in the present performance.

For, is not Mr. Lovelace, who could persevere in his villanous views, against the strongest and most frequent convictions and remorses that ever were sent to awaken and reclaim a wicked man⁠—is not this great, this wilful transgressor condignly punished; and his punishment brought on through the intelligence of the very Joseph Leman whom he had corrupted;[441] and by means of the very woman whom he had debauched[442]⁠—is not Mr. Belton, who had an uncle’s hastened death to answer for[443]⁠—are not the whole Harlowe family⁠—is not the vile Tomlinson⁠—are not the infamous Sinclair and her wretched partners⁠—and even the wicked servants, who, with their eyes open, contributed their parts to the carrying on of the vile schemes of their respective principals⁠—are they not all likewise exemplarily punished?

On the other hand, is not Miss Howe, for her noble friendship to the exalted lady in her calamities⁠—is not Mr. Hickman, for his unexceptionable morals, and integrity of life⁠—is not the repentant and not ungenerous Belford⁠—is not the worthy Norton⁠—made signally happy?

And who that are in earnest in their professions of Christianity, but will rather envy than regret the triumphant death of Clarissa; whose piety, from her early childhood; whose diffusive charity; whose steady virtue; whose Christian humility, whose forgiving spirit; whose meekness, and resignation, Heaven only could reward?[444]

We shall now, according to the expectation given in the Preface to this edition, proceed to take brief notice of such other objections as have come to our knowledge: for, as is there said, “This work being addressed to the public as a history of life and manners, those parts of it which are proposed to carry with them the force of example, ought to be as unobjectionable as is consistent with the design of the whole, and with human nature.”

Several persons have censured the heroine as too cold in her love, too haughty, and even sometimes provoking. But we may presume to say, that this objection has arisen from want of attention to the story, to the character of Clarissa, and to her particular situation.

It was not intended that she should be in love, but in liking only, if that expression may be admitted. It is meant to be everywhere inculcated in the story for example sake, that she never would have married Mr. Lovelace, because of his immoralities, had she been left to herself; and that of her ruin was principally owing to the persecutions of her friends.

What is too generally called love, ought (perhaps as generally) to be called by another name. Cupidity, or a Paphian stimulus, as some women, even of condition, have acted, are not words too harsh to be substituted on the occasion, however grating they may be to delicate ears. But take the word love in the gentlest and most honourable sense, it would have been thought by some highly improbable, that Clarissa should have been able to show such a command of her passions, as makes so distinguishing a part of her character, had she been as violently in love, as certain warm and fierce spirits would have had her to be. A few observations are thrown in by way of note in the present edition, at proper places to obviate this objection, or rather to bespeak the attention of hasty readers to what lies obviously before them. For thus the heroine anticipates this very objection, expostulating with Miss Howe on her contemptuous treatment of Mr. Hickman; which (far from being guilty of the same fault herself) she did, on all occasions, and declares she would do so, whenever Miss Howe forgot herself, although she had not a day to live:

“O my dear,” says she, “that it had been my lot (as I was not permitted to live single) to have met with a man, by whom I could have acted generously and unreservedly!

“Mr. Lovelace, it is now plain, in order to have a pretence against me, taxed my behaviour to him with stiffness and distance. You, at one time, thought me guilty of some degree of prudery. Difficult situations should be allowed for: which often make seeming occasions for censure unavoidable. I deserved not blame from him, who made mine difficult. And you, my dear, had I any other man to deal with than Mr. Lovelace, or had he but half the merit which Mr. Hickman has, would have found, that my doctrine on this subject, should have governed my whole practice.” See this whole Letter, No. 435. See also Mr. Lovelace’s Letter, 462 and 517 where, just before his death, he entirely acquits her conduct on this head.

It has been thought, by some worthy and ingenious persons, that if Lovelace had been drawn an infidel or scoffer, his character, according to the taste of the present worse than sceptical age, would have been more natural. It is, however, too well known, that there are very many persons, of his cast, whose actions discredit their belief. And are not the very devils, in Scripture, said to believe and tremble?

But the reader must have observed, that, great, and, it is hoped, good use, has been made throughout the work, by drawing Lovelace an infidel, only in practice; and this as well in the arguments of his friend Belford, as in his own frequent remorses, when touched with temporary compunction, and in his last scenes; which could not have been made, had either of them been painted as sentimental unbelievers. Not to say that Clarissa, whose great objection to Mr. Wyerley was, that he was a scoffer, must have been inexcusable had she known Lovelace to be so, and had given the least attention to his addresses. On the contrary, thus she comforts herself, when she thinks she must be his⁠—“This one consolation, however, remains; he is not an infidel, an unbeliever. Had he been an infidel, there would have been no room at all for hope of him; but (priding himself as he does in his fertile invention) he would have been utterly abandoned, irreclaimable, and a savage.”[445] And it must be observed, that scoffers are too witty, in their own opinion, (in other words, value themselves too much upon their profligacy), to aim at concealing it.

Besides, had Lovelace added ribbald jests upon religion, to his other liberties, the freedoms which would then have passed between him and his friend, must have been of a nature truly infernal.

And this farther hint was meant to be given, by way of inference, that the man who allowed himself in those liberties either of speech or action, which Lovelace thought shameful, was so far a worse man than Lovelace. For this reason he is everywhere made to treat jests on sacred things and subjects, even down to the mythology of the Pagans, among Pagans, as undoubted marks of the ill-breeding of the jester; obscene images and talk, as liberties too shameful for even rakes to allow themselves in; and injustice to creditors, and in matters of Meum and Tuum, as what it was beneath him to be guilty of.

Some have objected to the meekness, to the tameness, as they will have it to be, of Mr. Hickman’s character. And yet Lovelace owns, that he rose upon him with great spirit in the interview between them; once, when he thought a reflection was but implied on Miss Howe;[446] and another time, when he imagined himself treated contemptuously.[447] Miss Howe, it must be owned, (though not to the credit of her own character), treats him ludicrously on several occasions. But so she does her mother. And perhaps a lady of her lively turn would have treated as whimsically any man but a Lovelace. Mr. Belford speaks of him with honour and respect.[448] So does Colonel Morden.[449] And so does Clarissa on every occasion. And all that Miss Howe herself says of him, tends more to his reputation than discredit,[450] as Clarissa indeed tells her.[451]

And as to Lovelace’s treatment of him, the reader must have observed, that it was his way to treat every man with contempt, partly by way of self-exaltation, and partly to gratify the natural gaiety of his disposition. He says himself to Belford,[452] “Thou knowest I love him not, Jack; and whom we love not, we cannot allow a merit to; perhaps not the merit they should be granted.” “Modest and diffident men,” writes Belford, to Lovelace, in praise of Mr. Hickman, “wear not soon off those little precisenesses, which the confident, if ever they had them, presently get over.”[453]

But, as Miss Howe treats her mother as freely as she does her lover; so does Mr. Lovelace take still greater liberties with Mr. Belford than he does with Mr. Hickman, with respect to his person, air, and address, as Mr. Belford himself hints to Mr. Hickman.[454] And yet is he not so readily believed to the discredit of Mr. Belford, by the ladies in general, as he is when he disparages Mr. Hickman. Whence can this particularity arise?

Mr. Belford had been a rake: but was in a way of reformation.

Mr. Hickman had always been a good man.

And Lovelace confidently says, That the women love a man whose regard for them is founded in the knowledge of them.[455]

Nevertheless, it must be owned, that it was not purposed to draw Mr. Hickman, as the man of whom the ladies in general were likely to be very fond. Had it been so, goodness of heart, and gentleness of manners, great assiduity, and inviolable and modest love, would not of themselves have been supposed sufficient recommendations. He would not have been allowed the least share of preciseness or formality, although those defects might have been imputed to his reverence for the object of his passion; but in his character it was designed to show, that the same man could not be everything; and to intimate to ladies, that in choosing companions for life, they should rather prefer the honest heart of a Hickman, which would be all their own, than to risk the chance of sharing, perhaps with scores, (and some of those probably the most profligate of the sex), the volatile mischievous one of a Lovelace: in short, that they should choose, if they wished for durable happiness, for rectitude of mind, and not for speciousness of person or address; nor make a jest of a good man in favour of a bad one, who would make a jest of them and of their whole sex.

Two letters, however, by way of accommodation, are inserted in this edition, which perhaps will give Mr. Hickman’s character some heightening with such ladies as love spirit in a man; and had rather suffer by it, than not meet with it.⁠—

Women, born to be control’d,
Stoop to the forward and the bold,

Says Waller⁠—and Lovelace too!

Some have wished that the story had been told in the usual narrative way of telling stories designed to amuse and divert, and not in letters written by the respective persons whose history is given in them. The author thinks he ought not to prescribe to the taste of others; but imagined himself at liberty to follow his own. He perhaps mistrusted his talents for the narrative kind of writing. He had the good fortune to succeed in the epistolary way once before. A story in which so many persons were concerned either principally or collaterally, and of characters and dispositions so various, carried on with tolerable connection and perspicuity, in a series of letters from different persons, without the aid of digressions and episodes foreign to the principal end and design, he thought had novelty to be pleaded for it; and that, in the present age, he supposed would not be a slight recommendation.

Besides what has been said above, and in the Preface, on this head, the following opinion of an ingenious and candid foreigner, on this manner of writing, may not be improperly inserted here.

“The method which the author had pursued in the History of Clarissa, is the same as in the Life of Pamela: both are related in familiar letters by the parties themselves, at the very time in which the events happened: and this method has given the author great advantages, which he could not have drawn from any other species of narration. The minute particulars of events, the sentiments and conversation of the parties, are, upon this plan, exhibited with all the warmth and spirit that the passion supposed to be predominant at the very time could produce, and with all the distinguishing characteristics which memory can supply in a history of recent transactions.

“Romances in general, and Marivaux’s amongst others, are wholly improbable; because they suppose the History to be written after the series of events is closed by the catastrophe: a circumstance which implies a strength of memory beyond all example and probability in the persons concerned, enabling them, at the distance of several years, to relate all the particulars of a transient conversation: or rather, it implies a yet more improbable confidence and familiarity between all these persons and the author.

“There is, however, one difficulty attending the epistolary method; for it is necessary that all the characters should have an uncommon taste for this kind of conversation, and that they should suffer no event, not even a remarkable conversation to pass, without immediately committing it to writing. But for the preservation of the letters once written, the author has provided with great judgment, so as to render this circumstance highly probable.”[456]

It is presumed that what this gentleman says of the difficulties attending a story thus given in the epistolary manner of writing, will not be found to reach the History before us. It is very well accounted for in it, how the two principal female characters came to take so great a delight in writing. Their subjects are not merely subjects of amusement; but greatly interesting to both: yet many ladies there are who now laudably correspond, when at distance from each other, on occasions that far less affect their mutual welfare and friendships, than those treated of by these ladies. The two principal gentlemen had motives of gaiety and vainglory for their inducements. It will generally be found, that persons who have talents for familiar writing, as these correspondents are presumed to have, will not forbear amusing themselves with their pens on less arduous occasions than what offer to these. These four, (whose stories have a connection with each other), out of the great number of characters who are introduced in this History, are only eminent in the epistolary way: the rest appear but as occasional writers, and as drawn in rather by necessity than choice, from the different relations in which they stand with the four principal persons.

The length of the piece has been objected to by some, who perhaps looked upon it as a mere novel or romance; and yet of these there are not wanting works of equal length.

They were of opinion, that the story moved too slowly, particularly in the first and second volumes, which are chiefly taken up with the altercations between Clarissa and the several persons of her family.

But is it not true, that those altercations are the foundation of the whole, and therefore a necessary part of the work? The letters and conversations, where the story makes the slowest progress, are presumed to be characteristic. They give occasion, likewise, to suggest many interesting personalities, in which a good deal of the instruction essential to a work of this nature is conveyed. And it will, moreover, be remembered, that the author, at his first setting out, apprized the reader, that the story (interesting as it is generally allowed to be) was to be principally looked upon as the vehicle to the instruction.

To all which we may add, that there was frequently a necessity to be very circumstantial and minute, in order to preserve and maintain that air of probability, which is necessary to be maintained in a story designed to represent real life; and which is rendered extremely busy and active by the plots and contrivances formed and carried on by one of the principal characters.

Some there are, and ladies too! who have supposed that the excellencies of the heroine are carried to an improbable, and even to an impracticable, height in this history. But the education of Clarissa, from early childhood, ought to be considered as one of her very great advantages; as, indeed, the foundation of all her excellencies: and, it is to be hoped, for the sake of the doctrine designed to be inculcated by it, that it will.

She had a pious, a well-read, a not meanly-descended woman for her nurse, who with her milk, as Mrs. Harlowe says,[457] gave her that nurture which no other nurse could give her. She was very early happy in the conversation-visits of her learned and worthy Dr. Lewen, and in her correspondencies, not with him only, but with other divines mentioned in her last will. Her mother was, upon the whole, a good woman, who did credit to her birth and fortune; and both delighted in her for those improvements and attainments which gave her, and them in her, a distinction that caused it to be said, that when she was out of the family it was considered but as a common family.[458] She was, moreover, a country lady; and, as we have seen in Miss Howe’s character of her,[459] took great delight in rural and household employments; though qualified to adorn the brightest circle.

It must be confessed that we are not to look for Clarissa’s name among the constant frequenters of Ranelagh and Vauxhall, nor among those who may be called Daughters of the card-table. If we do, the character of our heroine may then, indeed, only be justly thought not improbable, but unattainable. But we have neither room in this place, nor inclination, to pursue a subject so invidious. We quit it, therefore, after we have repeated that we know there are some, and we hope there are many, in the British dominions, (or they are hardly anywhere in the European world), who, as far as occasion has called upon them to exert the like humble and modest, yet steady and useful, virtues, have reached the perfections of a Clarissa.

Having thus briefly taken notice of the most material objections that have been made to different parts of this history, it is hoped we may be allowed to add, that had we thought ourselves at liberty to give copies of some of the many letters that have been written on the other side of the question, that is to say, in approbation of the catastrophe, and of the general conduct and execution of the work, by some of the most eminent judges of composition in every branch of literature; most of what has been written in this Postscript might have been spared.

But as the principal objection with many has lain against the length of the piece, we shall add to what we have said above on that subject, in the words of one of those eminent writers: “That if, in the history before us, it shall be found that the spirit is duly diffused throughout; that the characters are various and natural; well distinguished and uniformly supported and maintained; if there be a variety of incidents sufficient to excite attention, and those so conducted as to keep the reader always awake! the length then must add proportionably to the pleasure that every person of taste receives from a well-drawn picture of nature. But where the contrary of all these qualities shock the understanding, the extravagant performance will be judged tedious, though no longer than a fairytale.”