Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

I will only add that the misfortunes which have befallen you, had they been the lot of a child of my own, could not have affected me more than your's have done. My own child I love: but I both love and honour you: since to love you, is to love virtue, good sense, prudence, and every thing that is good and noble in woman.

Wounded as I think all these are by the injuries you have received, you will believe that the knowledge of your distresses must have afflicted, beyond what I am able to express,

Your sincere admirer, and humble servant,
ARTHUR LEWEN.

I just now understand that your sister will, by proper authority, propose this prosecution to you. I humbly persume that the reason why you resolved not upon this step from the first, was, that you did not know that it would have the countenance and support of your relations.

LETTER LXVII.

MISS CL. HARLOWE, TO THe rev. dr. LEWEN.

REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,

Sat. Aug. 19.

I

THOUGHT, till I received your affectionate and welcome letter, that I had neither father, uncle, brother left; nor

rdly a friend among my former favourers of your sex. Yet, knowing you so well, and having no reason to upbraid myself with a faulty will, I was to blame, (even

although I had doubted the continuance of your good opinion,) to decline the trial whether I had forfeited it or not; and if I had, whether I could not honourably reinstate myself in it.

Sir, it was owing to different causes that I did not; partly to shame, to think how high, in my happier days, I stood in your esteem, and how much I must be sunk in it, since those so much nearer in relation to me gave me up; partly to deep distress, which makes the humbled heart diffident; and made mine afraid to claim the kindred mind in your's, which would have supplied to me in some measure all the dear and lost relations I have named.

Then, so loth, as I sometimes was, to be thought to want to make a party against those whom both duty and inclination bid me reverence: so long trailed on between hope and doubt: so little my own mistress at one time; so fearful of making or causing mischief at another; and not being encouraged to hope, by your kind notice, that my application to you would be acceptable :-apprehending that my relations had engaged your silence at least*— THESE But why these unavailing retrospections now? -I was to be unhappy-in order to be happy; that is my hope!-Resigning therefore to that hope, I will, without any further preamble, write a few lines, (if writing to you, I can write but a few,) in answer to the subject of your kind letter.

Permit me, then, to say, That I believe your arguments

* The stiff visit this good divine was prevailed upon to make ber, as mentioned Vol. II. Letter XXX. (of which, however, she was too generous to remind him) might warrant the lady to think that he had rather inclined to their party, as to the parental side, than to her's.

would have been unanswerable in almost every other case of this nature, but in that of the unhappy Clarissa Harlowe.

It is certain that creatures who cannot stand the shock of public shame, should be doubly careful how they expose themselves to the danger of incurring private guilt, which may possibly bring them to it. But as to myself, suppose there were no objections from the declining way I am in as to my health; and supposing I could have prevailed upon myself to appear against this man; were there not room to apprehend that the end so much wished for by my friends, (to wit, his condign punishment,) would not have been obtained, when it came to be seen that I had consented to give him a clandestine meeting; and, in consequence of that, had been weakly tricked out of myself; and further still, had not been able to avoid living under one roof with him for several weeks; which I did, (not only without complaiut, but) without cause of complaint?

Little advantage in a court, (perhaps, bandied about, and jested profligately with,) would some of those pleas in my favour have been, which out of court, and to a private and serious audience, would have carried the greatest weight against him-Such, particularly, as the infamous methods to which he had recourse

It would, no doubt, have been a ready retort from every mouth, that I ought not to have thrown myself into the power of such a man, and that I ought to take for my pains what had befallen me.

But had the prosecution been carried on to effect, and had he even been sentenced to death, can it be supposed that his family would not have had interest enough to ⚫btain his pardon, for a crime thought too lightly of,

though one of the greatest that can be committed against a creature valuing her honour above her life?—While I had been censured as pursuing with sanguinary views a man who offered me early all the reparation in his power to make?

And had he been pardoned, would he not then have been at liberty to do as much mischief as ever?

I dare say, Sir, such is the assurance of the man upon whom my unhappy destiny threw me; and such his inveteracy to my family, (which would then have appeared to be justified by their known inveteracy to him, and by their earnest endeavours to take away his life;) that he would not have been sorry to have had an opportunity to confront me, and my father, uncles, and brother, at the bar of a court of justice, on such an occasion. In which case, would not (on his acquittal, or pardon) resentments have been reciprocally heightened? And then would my brother, or my cousin Morden, have been more secure than now?

How do these conditions aggravate my fault! My motives, at first, were not indeed blamable: but I had forgotten the excellent caution, which yet I was not ignorant of, That we ought not to do evil that good may come of it.

In full conviction of the purity of my heart, and of the firmness of my principles, [Why may I not, thus called upon, say what I am conscious of, and yet without the imputation of faulty pride; since all is but a duty, and I should be utterly inexcusable, could I not justly say what I do?--In this full conviction,] he has offered me marriage. He has avowed his penitence: a sincere penitence I have reason to think it, though perhaps not a christian one. And his noble relations, (kinder to the poor sufferer than

her own,) on the same conviction, and his own not ungenerous acknowledgments, have joined to intercede with me to forgive and accept of him. Although I cannot comply with the latter part of their intercession, have not you, Sir, from the best rules, and from the divinest example, taught me to forgive injuries?

The injury I have received from him is indeed of the hightest nature, and it was attended with circumstances of unmanly baseness and premeditation; yet, I bless God, it has not tainted my mind; it has not hurt my morals. No thanks indeed to the wicked man that it has not. No vile courses have followed it. My will is un violated. The evil, (respecting myself, and not my friends,) is merely personal. No credulity, no weak. ness, no want of vigilance, have I to reproach myself with. I have, through grace, triumphed over the deepest ma. chinations. I have escaped from him. I have renounced him. The man whom once I could have loved, I have been enabled to despise: And shall not charity complete my triumph? and shall I not enjoy it?-And where would be my triumph if he deserved my forgiveness?Poor man! he has had a loss in losing me! I have the pride to think so, because I think I know my own heart. I have had none in losing him.

But I have another plea to make, which alone would have been enough (as I presume) to answer the contents of your very kind and friendly letter.

I know, my dear and reverend friend, the spiritual guide and director of my happier days! I know, that you will allow of my endeavour to bring myself to this charitable disposition, when I tell you how near I think myself to that great and awful moment, in which, and even in the ardent preparation to which, every sense of indignity

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »