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by their indulgent goodness !-But I will think the rest ! -Adieu, my dearest Mrs. Norton!
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS ARABELLA
Friday, July 21. Ir, my dearest Sister, I did not think the state of my health very precarious, and that it was my duty to take this step, I should hardly have dared to approach you, al. though but with my pen, after having found your censures so dreadfully justified as they have been.
I have not the courage to write to my father himself, nor yet to my mother. And it is with trembling that I address myself to you, to beg of you to intercede for me, that
my father will have the goodness to revoke that hea. viest part of the very heavy curse he laid upon me, which relates to HEREAFTER; for, as to the HERE, I have in. deed met with my punishment from the very wretch in whom I was supposed to place my confidence.
As I hope not for restoration to favour, I may be allowed to be very earnest on this head : yet will I not use any arguments in support of my request, because I am sure my father, were it in his power, would not have his poor child miserable for ever.
I have the most grateful sense of my mother's goodness in sending me up my clothes. I would have acknowledged the favour the moment I received them, with the most thankful duty, but that I feared any line from me would be unacceptable.
I would not give fresh offence : so will decline all other commendations of duty and love: appealing to my heart for both, where both are faming with an ardour that nothing but death can extinguish: therefore only subscribe myself, without so much as a name,
My dear and happy Sister,
Your afflicted servant.
A letter directed for me, at Mr. Smith's, a glover, in
King.street, Covent-garden, will come to hand.
MR. BELFORT, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
[In answer to Letters LXXIX. LXXXII. Vol. VI.]
Edgware, Monday, July 24. WHAT
HAT pains thou takest to persuade thyself, that the lady's ill health is owing to the vile arrest, and to the im. placableness of her friends. Both primarily (if they were) to be laid at thy door. What poor excuses will good heads make for the evils they are put upon by bad hearts ! -But 'tis no wonder that he who can sit down premedi. tately to do a bad action, will content himself with a bad excuse ; and yet what fools must he suppose the rest of the world to be, if he imagines them as easy to be imposed upon as he can impose upon himself?
In vain dost thou impute to pride or wilfulness the ne
sessity to which thou hast reduced this lady of parting with her clothes; For can she do otherwise, and be the noble. minded creature she is ?
Her implacable friends have refused her the current cash she left behind her; and wished, as her sister wrote to her, to see her reduced to want: probably therefore they will not be sorry that she is reduced to such straights; and will take it for a justification from Heaven of their wicked hard heartedness. Thou canst not suppose she would take supplies from thee: to take them from me would, in her opinion, be taking them from thee. Miss Howe's mother is an avaricious woman; and, perhaps, the daughter can do nothing of that sort unknown to her; and, if she could, is too noble a girl to deny it, if charged. And then Miss Harlowe is firmly of opinion, that she shall never want nor wear the thing she disposes of.
Having heard nothing from town that obliges me to go thither, I shall gratify poor Belton with my company till to-morrow, or perhaps till Wednesday. For the unhappy man is more and more loth to part with me.
I shall soon set out for Epsom, to endeavour to serve him there, and re-instate him in his own house. Poor fellow ! he is most horribly low spirited; mopes about; and nothing diverts him. I pity him at my heart; but can do him no good.What consolation can I give him, either from his past life, or from his future prospects ?
Our friendships and intimacies, Lovelace, are only cal. culated for strong life and health. When sickness comes, we look round us, and upon one another, like frighted birds, at the sight of a kite ready to souse upon them. Then, with all our bravery, what miserable wretches are we!
Thou tellest me that thou seest reformation is coming swiftly upon me. I hope it is, I see so much difference in the behaviour of this admirable woman in her illness, and that of poor Belton in his, that it is plain to me the sinner is the real coward, and the saint the true hero ; and, sooner or later, we shall all find it to be so, if we are not cut off suddenly.
The lady shut herself up at six o'clock yesterday afternoon; and intends not to see company till seven or eight this ; not even her nurse-imposing upon herself a severe fast. And why? It is her BIRTH-DAY!-Blooming-yet declining in her very blossom !-- Every birth-day till this, no doubt, happy!- What must be her reflections !~ What ought to be thine!
What sport dost thou make with my aspirations, and my prostrations, as thou callest them; and with my dropping of the bank note behind her chair! I had too much awe of her at the time, and too much apprehended her dis. pleasure at the offer, to make it with the grace that would better have become my intention. But the action, if awk. ward, was modest. Indeed, the fitter subject for ridicule with thee ; who canst no more taste the beauty and deli. cacy of modest obligingness than of modest love. For the same may be said of inviolable respect, that the poet says of unfeigned affection,
I speak! I know not what!
The like may be pleaded in behalf of that modest respect which made the humble offerer afraid to invade the awful eye, or the revered hård; but awkwardly to drop its in. cense beside the altar it should have been laid upon. But
how should that soul, which could treat delicacy itself bru. tally, know any thing of this!
But I am still more amazed at thy courage, to think of throwing thyself in the way of Miss Howe, and Miss Ara. bella Harlowe!—Thou wilt not dare, surely, to carry this thought into execution !
As to my dress, and thy dress, I have only to say, that the sum total of thy observation is this: that my outside is the worst of me; and thine the best of thee : and what gettest thou by the comparison ? Do thou reform the one, and I'll try to mend the other. I challenge thee to begin. Mrs. Lovick gave me, at my request, the copy
of ditation she showed me, which was extracted by the lady from the scriptures, while under arrest at Rowland's, as appears by the date. The lady is not to know that I have
taken a copy
You and I always admired the noble simplicity, and na. tural ease and dignity of style, which are the distinguishing characteristics of these books, whenever any passages from them, by way of quotation in the works of other authors, popt upon us. And once I remember you, even you, observed, that those passages always appeared to you like a rich vein of golden ore, which runs through baser metals ; embellishing the work they were brought to au. thenticate.
Try, Lovelace, if thou canst relish a Divine beauty. I think it must strike transient (if not permanent) remorse into thy heart. Thou boastest of thy ingenuousness : let this be the test of it; and whether thou canst be serious on a subject so deep, the occasion of it resulting from thyself.