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MISS HOWE, TO THE TWO MISSES MONTAGUE,
Sat. July 29.
I HAVE not been wanting to use all my interest with my beloved friend, to induce her to forgive and be reconciled to your kinsman, (though he has so ill deserved it;) and have even repeated my earnest advice to her on this head. This repetition, and the waiting for her answer, having taken up time, have been the cause that I could not sooner do myself the honour of writing to you on this subject.
You will see, by the enclosed, her immovable resolu tion, grounded on noble and high-souled motives, which I cannot but regret and applaud at the same time: applaud, for the justice of her determination, which will confirm all your worthy house in the opinion you had. conceived of her unequalled merit; and regret, because I have but too much reason to apprehend, as well by that, as by the report of a gentleman just conie from her, that she is in such a declining way, as to her health, that her thoughts are very differently employed than on a continuance here.
The enclosed letter she thought fit to send to me unsealed, that, after I had perused it, I might forward it to you and this is the reason it is superscribed by myself, and sealed with my seal. It is very full and peremptory; but as she had been pleased, in a letter to me, dated the 23d instant, (as soon as she could hold a pen,) to give me more ample reasons why she could not comply with your pressing requests, as well as mine, I will transcribe some
of the passages in that letter, which will give one of the wickedest men in the world, (if he sees them,) reason to think himself one of the most unhappy, in the loss of so incomparable a wife as he might have gloried in, had he not been so superlatively wicked. These are the passages.
[See, for these passages, Miss Harlowe's letter, No. XCI. of Vol. VI. dated July 23, marked with a turned comma, thus ']
And now, Ladies, you have before you my beloved friend's reasons for her refusal of a man unworthy of the relation he bears to so many excellent persons: and I will add, [for I cannot help it,] that the merit and rank of the person considered, and the vile manner of his proceedings, there never was a greater villany committed: and since she thinks her first and only fault cannot be expiated but by death, I pray to God daily, and will hourly from the moment I shall hear of that sad catastrophe, that He will be pleased to make him the subject of His vengeance, in some such way, as that all who know of his perfidious crime, may see the hand of Heaven in the punishment of it!
You will forgive me, Ladies: I love not mine own soul better than I do Miss Clarissa Harlowe. And the distresses she has gone through; the persecution she suffers from all her friends; the curse she lies under, for his sake, from her implacable father; her reduced health and circumstances, from high health and affluence; and that execrable arrest and confinement, which have deepened all her other calamities, [and which must be laid at his door, as it was the act of his vile agents, that, whether
from his immediate orders or not, naturally flowed from his preceding baseness;] the sex dishonoured in the eye of the world, in the person of one of the greatest orna ments of it; the unmanly methods, whatever they were, [for I know not all as yet,] by which he compassed her ruin; all these considerations join to justify my warmth, and my execrations of a man whom I think excluded by his crimes from the benefit even of christian forgivenessand were you to see all she writes, and to know the admirable talents she is mistress of, you yourselves would join with me to admire her, and execrate him.
Believe me to be, with a high sense of your merits,
Your most obedient humble servant,
MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
Friday, July 28.
my son is once
He desires his
And so am I.
MY DEAREST YOUNG LADY,
HAVE the consolation to tell you that again in a hopeful way, as to his health. duty to you. He is very low and weak. But this is the first time that I have been able, for several days past, to sit up to write, or I would not have been so long silent.
Your letter to your sister is received and answered. You have the answer by this time, I suppose. I wish it may be to your satisfaction: but am afraid it will not: for, by Betty Barnes, I find they were in a great ferment
on receiving your's, and much divided whether it should
be answered or not. They will not yet believe that you are so ill, as [to my infinite concern] I find you are, What passed between Miss Harlowe and Miss Howe has been, as I feared it would be, an aggravation.
I showed Betty two or three passages in your letter to me; and she seemed moved, and said, She would report them favourably, and would procure me a visit from Miss Harlowe, if I would promise to show the same to her. But I have heard no more of that.
Methinks, I am sorry you refuse the wicked man: but doubt not, nevertheless, that your motives for doing so are more commendable than my wishes that you would not. But as you would be resolved, as I may say, on life, if you gave way to such a thought; and as I have so much interest in your recovery; I cannot forbear showing this regard to myself; and to ask you, If you cannot get over your just resentments?—But I dare say no more on this subject.
What a dreadful thing indeed was it for my dearest tender young lady to be arrested in the streets of London! -How does my heart go over again for you, what your's must have suffered at that time!-Yet this, to such a mindas your's, must be light, compared to what you had suffered before.
O my dearest Miss Clary, how shall we know what to pray for, when we pray, but that God's will may be done, and that we may be resigned to it !-When at nine years old, and afterwards at eleven, you had a dangerous fever, how incessantly did we grieve, and pray, and put up our vows to the Throne of Grace, for your recovery !-For all our lives were bound up in your life-yet now, my dear, as
it has proved, [especially if we are soon to lose you,] what a much more desirable event, both for you and for us, would it have been, had we then lost you!
A sad thing to say! But as it is in pure love to you that I say it, and in full conviction that we are not always fit to be our own choosers, I hope it may be excusable; and the rather, as the same reflection will naturally lead both you and me to acquiesce under the present dispensation; since we are assured that nothing happens by chance; and that the greatest good may, for ought we know, be produced from the heaviest evils.
I am glad you are with such honest people; and that you have all your effects restored. How dreadfully have you been used, that one should be glad of such a poor piece of justice as that!
Your talent at moving the passions is always hinted at; and this Betty of your sister's never comes near me that she is not full of it. But, as you say, whom has it moved, that you wished to move? Yet, were it not for this unhappy notion, I am sure your mother would relent. Forgive me, my dear Miss Clary; for I must try one way to be convinced if my opinion be not just. But I will not tell you what that is, unless it succeeds. pure duty and love to them, as to you.
I will try, in
May Heaven be your support in all your trials, is the constant prayer, my dearest young lady, of
Your ever affectionate friend and servant,