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pains they could well enough seem to support; and that was all but the pangs of their own smitten.down souls they could not laugh over, though they could at the follies of others. They read grave lectures; but they were grave. This high point of philosophy, to laugh and be merry in the midst of the most soul-harrowing woes, when the heart-strings are just bursting asunder, was reserved for thy Lovelace.
There is something owing to constitution, I own; and that this is the laughing-time of my life. For what a woe must that be, which for an hour together can mortify a man of six or seven and twenty, in high blood and spirits, of a naturally gay disposition, who can sing, dance, and scrib. ble, and take and give delight in them all?—But then my grief, as my joy, is sharper-pointed than most other men's; and, like what Dolly Welby once told me, describing the parturient throes, if there were not lucid intervals, if they did not come and go, there would be no bearing them.
AFTER all, as I am so little distant from the dear creature, and as she is so very ill, I think I cannot excuse myself from making her one visit. Nevertheless, if I thought her so near-[what word shall I use, that my soul is not shocked at!] and that she would be too much discomposed by a visit, I would not think of it.-Yet how can I bear the recollection, that, when she last went from me (her innocence so triumphant over my premeditated guilt, as was enough to reconcile her to life, and to set her above the sense of injuries so nobly sustained, that) she should then depart with an incurable fracture in her heart; and that that should be the last time I should ever see her!-How, how, can I bear this reflection!
O Jack! how my conscience, that gives edge even to
thy blunt reflections, tears me!-Even this moment would I give the world to push the cruel reproacher from me by one ray of my usual gayety !-Sick of myself!-sick of the remembrance of my vile plots; and of my light, my momentary ecstasy [villanous burglar, felon, thief, that 'I was!] which has brought on me such durable and such heavy remorse! what would I give that I had not been guilty of such barbarous and ungrateful perfidy to the most excellent of God's creatures!
I would end, methinks, with one sprightlier line!-but it will not be. Let me tell thee then, and rejoice at it if thou wilt, that I am
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Sat. Morning, Sept. 2.
HAVE Some little pleasure given me by thine, just now brought me. I see now that thou hast a little humanity left. Would to Heaven, for the dear lady's sake, as well as for thy own, that thou hadst rummaged it up from all the dark forgotten corners of thy soul a little sooner!
The lady is alive, and serene, and calm, and has all her noble intellects clear and strong: but nineteen will not however save her. She says she will now content herself with her closet duties, and the visits of the parish. minister; and will not attempt to go out. Nor, indeed, will she, I am afraid, ever walk up or down a pair of stairs again.
I am sorry at my soul to have this to say: but it would be a folly to flatter thee.
As to thy seeing her, I believe the least hint of that sort, now, would cut off some hours of her life.
What has contributed to her serenity, it seems, is, that taking the alarm her fits gave her, she has entirely finished, and signed and sealed, her last will: which she had deferred till this time, in hopes, as she said, of some good news from Harlowe-place; which would have induced her to alter some passages in it.
Miss Howe's letter was not given her till four in the afternoon, yesterday; at which time the messenger returned for an answer. She admitted him into her presence in the dining-room, ill as she then was, and she would have written a few lines, as desired by Miss Howe; but, not being able to hold a pen, she bid the messenger tell her that she hoped to be well enough to write a long letter by the next day's post; and would not now detain him.
Saturday, Six in the Afternoon.
I CALLED just now, and found the lady writing to Miss Howe. She made me a melancholy compliment, that she showed me not Miss Howe's letter, because I should soon have that and all her papers before me. But she told me that Miss Howe had very considerably obviated to Colonel Morden several things which might have occasioned misapprehensions between him and me; and had likewise put a lighter construction, for the sake of peace, on some of your actions than they deserved.
She added, that her cousin Morden was warmly engaged in her favour with her friends: and one good piece of news Miss Howe's letter contained, that her father would
give up some matters, which (appertaining to her of right) would make my executorship the easier in some particulars that had given her a little pain.
She owned she had been obliged to leave off (in the letter she was writing) through weakness.
Will. says he shall reach you to-night. I shall send in the morning; and, if I find her not worse, will ride to Edgware, and return in the afternoon.
MISS HOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
Tuesday, Aug. 29.
We are at length returned to our own home. I had intended to wait on you in London: but my mother is very ill-Alas! my dear, she is very ill indeed—and you are likewise very ill-I see that by your's of the 25th-What shall I do, if I lose two such near, and dear, and tender friends? She was taken ill yesterday at our last stage in our return home—and has a violent surfeit and fever, and the doctors are doubtful about her.
If she should die, how will all my pertnesses to her fly in my face!-Why, why, did I ever vex her? She says I have been all duty and obedience !-She kindly forgets all my faults, and remembers every thing I have been so happy
as to oblige her in. And this cuts me to the heart.
I see, see, my dear, you are very bad-and I cannot bear it. Do, my beloved Miss Harlowe, if you can be better, do, for my sake, be better; and send me word of it. Let the bearer bring me a line. Be sure you send me
a line. If I lose you, my more than sister, and lose my mother, I shall distrust my own conduct, and will not marry. And why should I?-Creeping, cringing in court. ship!-O my dear, these men are a vile race of reptiles in our day, and mere bears in their own. See in Love. lace all that is desirable in figure, in birth, and in fortune : but in his heart a devil!-See in Hickman-Indeed, my dear, I cannot tell what any body can see in Hickman, to to be always preaching in his favour. And is it to be expected that I, who could hardly bear control from a mother, should take it from a husband?-from one too, who has neither more wit, nor more understanding, than myself? yet he to be my instructor!-So he will, I sup❤ pose; but more by the insolence of his will than by the merit of his counsel. It is in vain to think of it. I cannot be a wife to any man breathing whom I at present know. This I the rather mention now, because, on my mother's danger, I know you will be for pressing me the sooner to throw myself into another sort of protection, should I be deprived of her. But no more of this subject, or indeed of any other; for I am obliged to attend my mamma, who cannot bear me out of her sight.
Wednesday, Aug. 30.
My mother, Heaven be praised! has had a fine night, and is much better. Her fever has yielded to medicine! and now I can write once more with freedom and ease to you, in hopes that you also are better. If this be granted to my prayers, I shall again be happy, I write with still the more alacrity as I have an opportunity given me to touch upon a subject in which you are nearly concerned.
You must know then, my dear, that your cousin Morden has been here with me. He told me of an interview he