« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
For my part, I can have none, if I am to judge from the conversation that passed between us yesterday, in pre. sence of Lord M.
You will be pleased to direct for me at your uncle Antony's.
Permit me, my dearest Cousin, till I can procure a happy reconciliation between you and your father, and brother, and uncles, to supply the place to you of all those near relations, as well as that of
Your affectionate kinsman, and humble servant,
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO WM. MORDEN, ESQ.
Thursday, Aug. 31.
I MOST heartily congratulate you, dear Sir, on your return to your native country.
I heard with much pleasure that you were come; but I
was both afraid and ashamed, till you encouraged me by
a first notice, to address myself to you.
How consoling is it to my wounded heart to find that you have not been carried away by that tide of resentment and displeasure with which I have been so unhappily overwhelmed-but that, while my still nearer relations have not thought fit to examine into the truth of vile reports raised against me, you have informed yourself of my innocence, and generously credited the information!
I have not the least reason to doubt Mr. Lovelace's sincerity in his offers of marriage; nor that all his rela
tions are heartily desirous of ranking me among them. I have had noble instances of their esteem for me, on their apprehending that my father's displeasure must have subjected me to difficulties; and this, after I had absolutely refused their pressing solicitations in their kinsman's fa. vour as well as his own.
Nor think me, my dear Cousin, blamable for refusing him. I had given Mr. Lovelace no reason to think me a weak creature. If I had, a man of his character might have thought himself warranted to endeavour to take ungenerous advantage of the weakness he had been able to inspire. The consciousness of my own weakness (in that case) might have brought me to a composition with his wickedness.
. I can indeed forgive him. But that is, because I think his crimes have set me above him. Can I be above the man, Sir, to whom I shall give my hand and my vows, and with them a sanction to the most premeditated baseness? No, Sir, let me say, that your cousin Clarissa, were she likely to live many years, and that (if she married not this man) in penury or want, despised and forsaken by all her friends, puts not so high a value upon the conveniencies of life, nor upon life itself, as to seek to re-obtain the one, or to preserve the other, by giving such a sanction: a sanction, which (were she to perform her duty,) would reward the violator.
Nor is it so much from pride as from principle that I say this. What, Sir! when virtue, when chastity, is the crown of a woman, and particularly of a wife, shall your cousin stoop to marry the man who could not form an attempt upon her's but upon a presumption that she was capable of receiving his offered hand when he had found himself mistaken in the vile opinion he had conceived of
her? Hitherto he has not had reason to think me weak. Nor will I give an instance so flagrant, that weak I am in a point in which it would be criminal to be found weak.
One day, Sir, you will perhaps know all my story. But, whenever it is known, I beg that the author of my calamities may not be vindictively sought after. He could not have been the author of them, but for a strange concurrence of unhappy causes. As the law will not be able to reach him when I am gone, the apprehension of any other sort of vengeance terrifies me; since, in such a case, should my friends be safe, what honour would his death bring to my memory?-If any of them should. come to misfortune, how would my fault be aggravated!
God long-preserve you, my dearest Cousin, and bless you but in proportion to the consolation you have given me, in letting me know that you still love me; and that I have one near and dear relation who can pity and forgive me; (and then you will be greatly blessed ;) is the prayer of
Your ever grateful and affectionate
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
[In answer to his Letters LXV. LXXIX. of this vol.] Thursday, Aug. 31.
CANNOT but own that I am cut to the heart by this Miss Harlowe's interpretation of her letter. She ought
never to be forgiven. She, a meek person, and a penitent, and innocent, and pious, and I know not what, who can deceive with a foot in the grave!—
'Tis evident, that she sat down to write this letter with a design to mislead and deceive. And if she be capable of that, at such a crisis, she has as much need of Heaven's forgiveness, as I have of her's: and, with all her cant of charity and charity, if she be not more sure of it than I am of her real pardon, and if she take the thing in the light she ought to take it in, she will have a few darker moments yet to come than she seems to expect.
Lord M. himself, who is not one of those (to speak in his own phrase) who can penetrate a millstone, sees the deceit, and thinks it unworthy of her; though my cousins Montague vindicate her. And no wonder; this cursed partial sex [I hate 'em all-by my soul, I hate 'em all! will never allow any thing against an individual of it, where our's is concerned. And why? Because, if they censure deceit in another, they must condemn their own hearts.
She is to send me a letter after she is in Heaven, is she? The devil take such allegories, and the devil take thee for calling this absurdity an innocent artifice!
I insist upon it, that if a woman of her character, at such a critical time, is to be justified in such a deception, a man in full health and vigour of body and mind, as I am, may be excused for all his stratagems and attempts against her. And, thank my stars, I can now sit me down with a quiet conscience on that score. By my soul, I can, Jack. Nor has any body, who can acquit her, a right to blame me. But with some, indeed, every thing she does must be good, every thing I do must be bad-And why? Because she has always taken care to coax the
stupid misjudging world, like a woman: while I have constantly defied and despised its censures, like a man.
But, notwithstanding all, you may let her know from me that I will not molest her, since my visits would be so shocking to her and I hope she will take this into her consideration as a piece of generosity which she could hardly expect after the deception she has [put upon me. And let her farther know, that if there be any thing in my power, that will contribute either to her ease or honour, I will obey her, at the very first intimation, however dis graceful or detrimental to myself. All this, to make her unapprehensive, and that she may have nothing to pull her back.
If her cursed relations could be brought as cheerfully to perform their parts, I'd answer life for life for her re
But who, that has so many ludicrous images raised in his mind by thy awkward penitence, can forbear laughing at thee? Spare, I beseech thee, dear Belford, for the future, all thine own aspirations, if thou wouldst not dishonour those of an angel indeed.
When I came to that passage, where thou sayst that thou considerest her* as one sent from Heaven to draw thee after her-for the heart of me I could not for an hour put thee out of my head, in the attitude of dame Elizabeth Carteret, on her monument in Westminster Abbey. If thou never observedst it, go thither on purpose and there wilt thou see this dame in effigy, with uplifted head and hand, the latter taken hold of by a cupid every inch of stone, one clumsy foot lifted up also, aiming, as the sculptor designed it, to ascend; but so executed,
* See Letter LXXIX. of this volume.