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me leave to add, that if this ever-amiable sufferer can think it in any manner consistent with her honour to re'ceive his vows at the altar, on his truly penitent turn of mind, I have not the least doubt but that he will make her the best and tenderest of husbands. What obligation 'will not the admirable lady hereby lay upon all his noble 'family, who so greatly admire her! and, I will presume 'to say, upon her own, when the unhappy family aversion 6 (which certainly has been carried to an unreasonable 'height against him) shall be got over, and a general reconciliation takes place! For who is it that would not ' give these two admirable persons to each other, were 6 not his morals an objection?
However this be, I would humbly refer to you, Madam, whether, as you will be mistress of very delicate particulars from me his friend, you should not in honour think yourself concerned to pass them by, as if you had never seen them; and not to take any advantage of the communication, not even in argument, as some perhaps might lie, with respect to the premeditated design he seems to have had, not against you, as you; but as against the sex; over whom (I am sorry I can bear witness myself) it is the villanous aim of all libertines to triumph and I would not, if any misunderstanding should arise between him and me, give him room to reproach me that his losing of you, and (through his usage of you) of his own friends, were owing to what perhaps he would call breach of trust, were he to judge rather by the event than by my intention.
I am, Madam, with the most profound veneration,
MISS CL. HARLOWE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Friday, Aug. 4. HOLD myself extremely obliged to you for your commu. nications. I will make no use of them, that you shall have reason to reproach either yourself or me with. I wanted no new lights to make the unhappy man's premeditated baseness to me unquestionable, as my answer to Miss Montague's letter might convince you*.
I must own, in his favour, that he has observed some de cency in his accounts to you of the most indecent and shocking actions. And if all his strangely-communicative narrations are equally decent, nothing will be rendered criminally odious by them, but the vile heart that could meditate such contrivances as were much stronger evidences of his inhumanity than of his wit: since men of very contemptible parts and understanding may succeed in the vilest attempts, if they can once bring themselves to trample on the sanctions which bind man to man; and sooner upon an innocent person than upon any other; because such a one is apt to judge of the integrity of others' hearts by its own.
I find I have had great reason to think myself obliged to your intention in the whole progress of my sufferings. It is, however, impossible, Sir, to miss the natural inference on this occasion that lies against his predetermined baseness. But I say the less, because you shall not think I
*See Letter XXV, of this volume.
borrow, from what you have communicated, aggravations that are not needed.
And now, Sir, that I may spare you the trouble of offering any future arguments in his favour, let me tell you that I have weighed every thing thoroughly-all that human vanity could suggest-all that a desirable reconciliation with my friends, and the kind respects of his own, could bid me hope for-the enjoyment of Miss Howe's friendship, the dearest consideration to me, now, of all worldly ones-all these I have weighed and the result is, and was before you favoured me with these communications, that I have more satisfaction in the hope that, in one month, there will be an end of all with me, than in the most agreeable things that could happen from an alliance with Mr. Lovelace, although I were to be assured he would make the best and tenderest of husbands. But as to the rest; if, satisfied with the evils he has brought upon me, he will forbear all further persecutions of me, I will, to my last hour, wish him good: although he hath overwhelmed the fatherless, and digged a pit for his friend: fatherless may she well be called, and motherless too, who has been denied all paternal protection, and motherly forgiveness.
AND now, Sir, acknowledging gratefully your favour in the extracts, I come to the second request I had to make you; which requires a great deal of courage to mention : and which courage nothing but a great deal of distress, and a very destitute condition, can give. But, if improper, I can but be denied; and dare to say I shall be at least excused. Thus, then, I preface it:
You see, Sir, that I am thrown absolutely into the hands of strangers, who, although as kind and compas,
❝sionate as strangers can be wished to be, are, never
theless, persons from whom I cannot expect any thing < more than pity and good wishes; nor can my memory ' receive from them any more protection than my person, if either should need it.
If then I request it, of the only person possessed of materials that will enable him to do my character justice; And who has courage, independence, and ability to to oblige me;
To be the protector of my memory, as I may say; And to be my executor; and to see some of my dying requests performed;
And if I leave it to him to do the whole in his own way, manner, and time; consulting, however, in requi 'site cases, my dear Miss Howe;
I presume to hope that this my second request may ❝ be granted.'
And if it may, these satisfactions will accrue to me from the favour done me, and the office undertaken :
'It will be an honour to my memory, with all those who shall know that I was so well satisfied of my inno 6 cence, that, having not time to write my own story, I could intrust it to the relation which the destroyer of ( my fame and fortunes has given of it.
I shall not be apprehensive of involving any one in troubles or hazards by this task, either with my own re6 lations, or with your friend; having dispositions to make which perhaps my own friends will not be so well pleased 'with as it were to be wished they would be;' as I intend not unreasonable ones: but you know, Sir, where self is judge, matters, even with good people, will not always be rightly judged of.
'I shall also be freed from the pain of recollecting
things that my soul is vexed at; and this at a time when ' its tumults should be allayed, in order to make way for "the most important preparation.
And who knows, but that Mr. Belford, who already, 'from a principle of humanity, is touched at my misfor'tunes, when he comes to revolve the whole story, placed 'before him in one strong light: and when he shall have
the catastrophe likewise before him; and shall become ' in a manner interested in it; who knows, but that, from 6 a still higher principle, he may so regulate his future 'actions as to find his own reward in the everlasting welfare which is wished him by his
MR. BELFORD, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
Friday, Aug. 4.
I AM SO sensible of the honour done me in your's of this day, that I would not delay for one moment the answering of it. I hope you will live to see many happy years; and to be your own executrix in those points which your heart is most set upon. But, in case of survivorship, I most cheerfully accept of the sacred office you are pleased to offer me; and you may absolutely rely upon my fidelity, and, if possible, upon the literal performance of every article you shall enjoin me.
The effect of the kind wish you conclude with, has been my concern ever since I have been admitted to the honour