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a moth fretting a garment: every man, therefore, is vanity.
Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged. O bring thou me out of my distresses!
MRS. Smith gave me the following particulars of a conversation that passed between herself and a young clergyman, on Tuesday afternoon, who, as it appears, was em ployed to make inquiries about the lady by her friends.
He came into the shop in a riding-habit, and asked for some Spanish snuff; and finding only Mrs. Smith there, he desired to have a little talk with her in the backshop.
He beat about the bush in several distant questions, and at last began to talk more directly about Miss Harlowe.
He said he knew her before her fall, [that was his impudent word;] and gave the substance of the following account of her, as I collected it from Mrs. Smith:
She was then, he said, the admiration and delight of 6 every body: he lamented, with great solemnity, her 'backsliding; another of his phrases. Mrs. Smith said,
he was a fine scholar; for he spoke several things she • understood not; and either in Latin or Greek, she 'could not tell which; but was so good as to give her the < English of them without asking. A fine thing, she said, for a scholar to be so condescending!'
He said, 'Her going off with so vile a rake had given 6 great scandal and offence to all the neighbouring ladies, 6 as well as to her friends.'
He told Mrs. Smith how much she used to be followed VOL. VII.
' by every one's eye, whenever she went abroad, or to church; and praised and blessed by every tongue, as she passed; especially by the poor: that she gave the fashion to the fashionable, without seeming herself to intend it, or to know she did: that, however, it was 'pleasant to see ladies imitate her in dress and behaviour,
who being unable to come up to her in grace and ease, " exposed but their own affectation and awkwardness, at 'the time that they thought themselves secure of general ' approbation, because they wore the same things, and put ❝ them on in the same manner, that she did, who had every 6 body's admiration; little considering, that were her person like theirs, or if she had had their defects, she would have brought up a very different fashion; for 'that nature was her guide in every thing, and ease her
study; which, joined with a mingled dignity and con'descension in her air and manner, whether she received or paid a compliments distinguished her above all her
'He spoke not, he said, his own sentiments only on this 'occasion, but those of every body: for that the praises of Miss Clarissa Harlowe were such a favourite topic, that a person who could not speak well upon any other 'subject, was sure to speak well upon that; because he 'could say nothing but what he had heard repeated and ' applauded twenty times over.'
Hence it was, perhaps, that this novice accounted for the best things he said himself; though I must own that the personal knowledge of the lady, which I am favoured with, made it easy to me to lick into shape what the good woman reported to me, as the character given her by the young Levite: For who, even now, in her decline of health, sees not that all these attributes belong to her?
I suppose he has not been long come from college, and now thinks he has nothing to do but to blaze away for a scholar among the ignorant; as such young fellows are apt to think those who cannot cap verses with them, and tell us how an antient author expressed himself in Latin on a subject, upon which, however, they may know how, as well as that author, to express themselves in English.
Mrs. Smith was so taken with him, that she would fain have introduced him to the lady, not questioning but it would be very acceptable to her to see one who knew her and her friends so well. But this he declined for several reasons, as he call them; which he gave. One was, that persons of his cloth should be very cautious of the company they were in, especially where sex was concerned, and where a woman had slurred her reputation—[I wish I had been there when he gave himself these airs.] Another, that he was desired to inform himself of her present way of life, and who her visiters were; for, as to the praises Mrs. Smith gave the lady, he hinted, that she seemed to be a good-natured woman, and might (though for the lady's sake he hoped not) be too partial and shortsighted to be trusted to, absolutely, in a concern of so high a nature as he intimated the task was which he had undertaken; nodding out words of doubtful import, and assuming airs of great significance (as I could gather) throughout the whole conversation. And when Mrs. Smith told him that the lady was in a very bad state of health, he gave a careless shrug-She may be very ill, says he: her disappointments must have touched her to the quick but she is not bad enough, I dare say, yet, to atone for her very great lapse, and to expect to be forgiven by those whom she has so much disgraced.
A starched, conceited coxcomb! what would I give he had fallen in my way!
He departed, highly satisfied with himself, no doubt, and assured of Mrs. Smith's great opinion of his sagacity and learning but bid her not say any thing to the lady about him or his inquiries. And I, for very different reasons, enjoined the same thing.
I am glad, however, for her peace of mind's sake, that they begin to think it behoves them to inquire about her.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Friday, Aug. 11. [MR. Belford acquaints his friend with the generosity of Lord M. and the Ladies of his family; and with the Lady's grateful sentiments upon the occasion.
He says, that in hopes to avoid the pain of seeing him, (Mr. Lovelace,) she intends to answer his letter of the 7th, though much against her inclination.]
'She took great notice,' says Mr. Belford, of that passage in your's, which makes necessary to the Divine 6 pardon, the forgiveness of a person causelessly injured.
Her grandfather, I find, has enabled her at eighteen 6 years of age to make her will, and to devise great part of his estate to whom she pleases of the family, and the rest out of it (if she die single) at her own discretion; and this to create respect to her! as he apprehended that
she would be envied: and she now resolves to set about " making her will out of hand.'
[Mr. Belford insists upon the promise he had made him, not to molest the Lady: and gives him the contents of her answer to Lord M. and the Ladies of his Lordship's family, declining their generous offers. See Letter XXXVII. of this volume.
MISS CL. HARLOWE, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Friday, Aug. 11.
It is a cruel alternative to be either forced to see you, or to write to you. But a will of my own has been long denied me; and to avoid a greater evil, nay, now I may say, the greatest, I write.
Were I capable of disguising or concealing my real sentiments, I might safely, I dare say, give you the remote hope you request, and yet keep all my resolutions. But I must tell you, Sir, (it becomes my character to tell you,) that, were I to live more years than perhaps I may weeks, and there were not another man in the world, I could not, I would not, be your's.
There is no merit in performing a duty.
Religion enjoins me not only to forgive injuries, but to return good for evil. It is all my consolation, and I bless God for giving me that, that I am now in such a state of mind, with regard to you, that I can cheerfully obey its dictates. And accordingly I tell you, that, wherever you