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often, as you know, promised to myself,) you have.closed the eyes of
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MRS. NORTON.
Thursday, Aug. 27.
WHAT Mr. Brand, or any body, can have written or said to my prejudice, I cannot imagine; and yet some evil reports have gone out against me; as I find by some hints in a very severe letter written to me by my uncle Antony. Such a letter as I believe was never written to any poor creature, who, by ill health of body, as well as of mind, was before tottering on the brink of the grave. But my friends may possibly be better justified than the reporters -For who knows what they may have heard?
You give me a kind caution, which seems to imply more than you express, when you advise me against countenancing visiters that may discredit me. You should, in so tender a point, my dear Mrs. Norton, have spoken quite out. Surely, I have had afflictions enow to strengthen my mind, and to enable it to bear the worst that can now happen. But I will not puzzle myself by conjectural evils; as I migkt perhaps do, if I had not enow that were certain. I shall hear all, when it is thought proper that I should. Mean time, let nie say, for your satisfaction, that I know not that I have any thing criminal or disreputable
to answer for either in word or deed, since the fatal 10th of April last.
You desire an account of what passes between me and my friends; and also particulars or brief heads of my sad story, in order to serve me as occasions shall offer. My dear good Mrs. Norton, you shall have a whole packet of papers, which I have sent to my Miss Howe, when she returns them; and you shall have likewise another packet, (and that with this letter,) which I cannot at present think of sending to that dear friend for the sake of my own rela tions; whom, without seeing that packet, she is but too ready to censure heavily. From these you will be able to collect a great deal of my story. But for what is previous to these papers, and which more particularly relates to what I have suffered from Mr. Lovelace, you must have patience; for at present I have neither head nor heart for such subjects. The papers I send you with this will be those mentioned in the margin*. You must restore them to me as soon as perused; and upon your honour make no use of them, or of any intelligence you have from me, but by my previous consent.
These communications you must not, my good Mrs. Norton, look upon as appeals against my relations. On
* 1. A copy of mine to my sister, begging off my father's malediction
2. My sister's answer . . .
3. Copy of my second letter to my sister.
dated July 21.
dated July 27.
dated July 29.
dated Aug. 3.
dated Aug. 5.
dated Aug. 7.
dated the 10th.
4. My sister's answer. . .
5. Copy of my Letter to my mother
6. My uncle Harlowe's letter
7. Copy of my answer to it..
8. Letter from my uncle Antony
dated the 12th.
9. And lastly, the copy of my answer to it. dated the 13th.
the contrary, I am heartily sorry that they have incurred the displeasure of so excellent a divine as Dr. Lewen. But you desire to have every thing before you and I think you ought; for who knows, as you say, but you may be applied to at last to administer comfort from their conceding hearts, to one that wants it; and who sometimes, judging by what she knows of her own heart, thinks herself entitled to it?
I know that I have a most indulgent and sweet-tempered mother; but, having to deal with violent spirits, she has too often forfeited that peace of mind which she so much prefers, by her over concern to preserve it.
I am sure she would not have turned me over for an answer to a letter written with so contrite and fervent a spirit, as was mine to her, to a masculine spirit, had she been left to herself.
But, my dear Mrs. Norton, might not, think you, the revered lady have favoured me with one private line? If not, might not you have written by her order, or connivance, one softening, one motherly line, when she saw her poor girl, whom once she dearly loved, borne so hard upon?
O no, she might not ! -because her heart, to be sure, is in their measures!-an if she think them right, perhaps they must be right!-at least, knowing only what they know, they must!-and yet they might know all, if they would! and possibly, in their own good time, they think to make proper inquiry.-My application was made to them but lately.-Yet how deeply will it afflict them, if their time should be out of time!
When you have before you the letters I have sent to Miss Howe, you will see that Lord M. and the Ladies of his family, jealous as they are of the honour of their house, (to express myself in their language,) think better of me
than my own relations do. You will see an instance of their generosity to me, which at the time extremely affected me, and indeed still affects me. Unhappy man! gay, inconsiderate, and cruel! what has been his gain by making unhappy a creature who hoped to make him happy! and who was determined to deserve the love of all to whom he is related!-Poor man!-but you will mistake a compassionate and placable nature for love !—he took care, great care, that I should rein-in betimes any passion that I might have had for him, had he known how to be but commonly grateful or generous!-But the Almighty knows what is best for his poor creatures.
Some of the letters in the same packet will also let you into the knowledge of a strange step which I have taken, (strange you will think it); and, at the same time, give you my reasons for taking it*.
It must be expected, that situations uncommonly diffi cult will make necessary some extraordinary steps, which, but for those situations, would be hardly excusable. It will be very happy indeed, and somewhat wonderful, if all the measures I have been driven to take should be right. A pure intention, void of all undutiful resentment, is what must be my consolation, whatever others may think of those measures, when they come to know them: which, however, will hardly be till it is out of my power to justify them, or to answer for myself.
I am glad to hear of my cousin Morden's safe arrival. I should wish to see him methinks: but I am afraid that he will sail with the stream; as it must be expected, that he will hear what they have to say first.-But what I most fear is, that he will take upon himself to avenge me. Ra
* She means that of making Mr. Belford her executor.
ther than he should do so, I would have him look upon me as a creature utterly unworthy of his concern; at least of his vindictive concern.
How soothing to the wounded heart of your Clarissa, how balmy are the assurances of your continued love and favour;-love me, my dear mamma Norton, continue to love me, to the end!-I now think that I may, without presumption, promise to deserve your love to the end. And, when I am gone, cherish my memory in your worthy heart; for in so doing you will cherish the memory of one who loves and honours you more than she can express.
But when I am no more, get over, I charge you, as soon as you can, the smarting pangs of grief that will attend a recent loss; and let all be early turned into that sweetly melancholy regard to MEMORY, which, engaging us to forget all faults, and to remember nothing but what was thought amiable, gives more pleasure than pain to survi vors-especially if they can comfort themselves with the humble hope, that the Divine mercy has taken the dear departed to itself.
And what is the space of time to look backward upon, between an early departure and the longest survivance!and what the consolation attending the sweet hope of meeting again, never more to be separated, never more to be pained, grieved, or aspersed ;-but mutually blessing, and being blessed, to all eternity!
In the contemplation of this happy state, in which I hope, in God's good time, to rejoice with you, my beloved Mrs. Norton, and also with my dear relations, all reconciled to, and blessing the child against whom they are now so much incensed, I conclude myself
Your ever dutiful and affectionate