Part 4 out of 6
one thing wanting in it; and that will come of course: only to be in the
commission, and one of the quorum. Thou art already provided with a
clerk, as good as thou'lt want, in the widow Lovick; for thou
understandest law, and she conscience: a good Lord Chancellor between ye!
--I should take prodigious pleasure to hear thee decide in a bastard
case, upon thy new notions and old remembrances.
But raillery apart. [All gloom at heart, by Jupiter! although the pen
and the countenance assume airs of levity!] If, after all, thou canst so
easily repent and reform, as thou thinkest thou canst: if thou canst thus
shake off thy old sins, and thy old habits: and if thy old master will so
readily dismiss so tried and so faithful a servant, and permit thee thus
calmly to enjoy thy new system; no room for scandal; all temptation
ceasing: and if at last (thy reformation warranted and approved by time)
thou marriest, and livest honest:--why, Belford, I cannot but say, that
if all these IF's come to pass, thou standest a good chance to be a happy
All I think, as I told thee in my last, is, that the devil knows his own
interest too well, to let thee off so easily. Thou thyself tallest me,
that we cannot repent when we will. And indeed I found it so: for, in my
lucid intervals, I made good resolutions: but as health turned its blithe
side to me, and opened my prospects of recovery, all my old inclinations
and appetites returned; and this letter, perhaps, will be a thorough
conviction to thee, that I am as wild a fellow as ever, or in the way to
Thou askest me, very seriously, if, upon the faint sketch thou hast
drawn, thy new scheme be not infinitely preferable to any of those which
we have so long pursued?--Why, Jack--Let me reflect--Why, Belford--I
can't say--I can't say--but it is. To speak out--It is really, as Biddy
in the play says, a good comfortable scheme.
But when thou tallest me, that it was thy misfortune to love me, because
thy value for me made thee a wickeder man than otherwise thou wouldst
have been; I desire thee to revolve this assertion: and I am persuaded
that thou wilt not find thyself in so right a train as thou imaginest.
No false colourings, no glosses, does a true penitent aim at.
Debasement, diffidence, mortification, contrition, are all near of a kin,
Jack, and inseparable from a repentant spirit. If thou knowest not this,
thou art not got three steps (out of threescore) towards repentance and
amendment. And let me remind thee, before the grand accuser come to do
it, that thou wert ever above being a passive follower in iniquity.
Though thou hadst not so good an invention as he to whom thou writest,
thou hadst as active an heart for mischief, as ever I met with in man.
Then for improving an hint, thou wert always a true Englishman. I never
started a roguery, that did not come out of thy forge in a manner ready
anvilled and hammered for execution, when I have sometimes been at a loss
to make any thing of it myself.
What indeed made me appear to be more wicked than thou was, that I being
a handsome fellow, and thou an ugly one, when we had started a game, and
hunted it down, the poor frighted puss generally threw herself into my
paws, rather than into thine: and then, disappointed, hast thou wiped thy
blubber-lips, and marched off to start a new game, calling me a wicked
fellow all the while.
In short, Belford, thou wert an excellent starter and setter. The old
women were not afraid for their daughters, when they saw such a face as
thine. But, when I came, whip was the key turned upon the girls. And
yet all signified nothing; for love, upon occasion, will draw an elephant
through a key-hole. But for thy HEART, Belford, who ever doubted the
wickedness of that?
Nor even in this affair, that sticks most upon me, which my conscience
makes such a handle of against me, art thou so innocent as thou fanciest
thyself. Thou wilt stare at this: but it is true; and I will convince
thee of it in an instant.
Thou sayest, thou wouldst have saved the lady from the ruin she met with.
Thou art a pretty fellow for this: For how wouldst thou have saved her?
What methods didst thou take to save her?
Thou knewest my designs all along. Hadst thou a mind to make thyself a
good title to the merit to which thou now pretendest to lay claim, thou
shouldest, like a true knight-errant, have sought to set the lady free
from the enchanted castle. Thou shouldst have apprized her of her
danger; have stolen in, when the giant was out of the way; or, hadst thou
had the true spirit of chivalry upon thee, and nothing else would have
done, have killed the giant; and then something wouldst thou have had to
'Oh! but the giant was my friend: he reposed a confidence in me: and I
should have betrayed my friend, and his confidence!' This thou wouldst
have pleaded, no doubt. But try this plea upon thy present principles,
and thou wilt see what a caitiff thou wert to let it have weight with
thee, upon an occasion where a breach of confidence is more excusable
than to keep the secret. Did not the lady herself once putt his very
point home upon me? And didst thou not, on that occasion, heavily blame
* See Vol. VII. Letter XXI.
Thou canst not pretend, and I know thou wilt not, that thou wert afraid
of thy life by taking such a measure: for a braver fellow lives not, nor
a more fearless, than Jack Belford. I remember several instances, and
thou canst not forget them, where thou hast ventured thy bones, thy neck,
thy life, against numbers, in a cause of roguery; and hadst thou had a
spark of that virtue, which now thou art willing to flatter thyself thou
hast, thou wouldst surely have run a risk to save an innocence, and a
virtue, that it became every man to protect and espouse. This is the
truth of the case, greatly as it makes against myself. But I hate a
hypocrite from my soul.
I believe I should have killed thee at the time, if I could, hadst thou
betrayed me thus. But I am sure now, that I would have thanked thee for
it, with all my heart; and thought thee more a father, and a friend, than
my real father, and my best friend--and it was natural for thee to think,
with so exalted a merit as this lady had, that this would have been the
case, when consideration took place of passion; or, rather, when the
d----d fondness for intrigue ceased, which never was my pride so much, as
it is now, upon reflection, my curse.
Set about defending myself, and I will probe thee still deeper, and
convince thee still more effectually, that thou hast more guilt than
merit even in this affair. And as to all the others, in which we were
accustomed to hunt in couples, thou wert always the forwardest whelp, and
more ready, by far, to run away with me, than I with thee. Yet canst
thou now compose thy horse-muscles, and cry out, How much more hadst
thou, Lovelace, to answer for than I have!--Saying nothing, neither, when
thou sayest this, were it true: for thou wilt not be tried, when the time
comes, by comparison. In short, thou mayest, at this rate, so miserably
deceive thyself, that, notwithstanding all thy self-denial and
mortification, when thou closest thy eyes, thou mayst perhaps open them
in a place where thou thoughtest least to be.
However, consult thy old woman on this subject. I shall be thought to be
out of character, if I go on in this strain. But really, as to a title
to merit in this affair, I do assure thee, Jack, that thou less deservest
praise than a horsepond; and I wish I had the sousing of thee.
I am actually now employed in taking leave of my friends in the country.
I had once thought of taking Tomlinson, as I called him, with me: but his
destiny has frustrated that intention.
Next Monday I think to see you in town; and then you, and I, and Mowbray,
and Tourville, will laugh off that evening together. They will both
accompany me (as I expect you will) to Dover, if not cross the water. I
must leave you and them good friends. They take extremely amiss the
treatment you have given them in your last letters. They say, you strike
at their understandings. I laugh at them; and tell them, that those
people who have least, are the most apt to be angry when it is called
Make up all the papers and narratives you can spare me against the time.
The will, particularly, I expect to take with me. Who knows but that
those things, which will help to secure you in the way you are got into,
may convert me?
Thou talkest of a wife, Jack: What thinkest you of our Charlotte? Her
family and fortune, I doubt, according to thy scheme, are a little too
high. Will those be an objection? Charlotte is a smart girl. For piety
(thy present turn) I cannot say much: yet she is as serious as most of
her sex at her time of life--Would flaunt it a little, I believe, too,
like the rest of them, were her reputation under covert.
But it won't do neither, now I think of it:--Thou art so homely, and so
awkward a creature! Hast such a boatswain-like air!--People would think
she had picked thee up in Wapping, or Rotherhithe; or in going to see
some new ship launched, or to view the docks at Chatham, or Portsmouth.
So gaudy and so clumsy! Thy tawdriness won't do with Charlotte!--So sit
thee down contented, Belford: although I think, in a whimsical way, as
now, I mentioned Charlotte to thee once before.* Yet would I fain secure
thy morals too, if matrimony will do it.--Let me see!--Now I have it.----
Has not the widow Lovick a daughter, or a niece? It is not every girl of
fortune and family that will go to prayers with thee once or twice a day.
But since thou art for taking a wife to mortify with, what if thou
marriest the widow herself?--She will then have a double concern in thy
conversation. You and she may, tete a tete, pass many a comfortable
winter's evening together, comparing experiences, as the good folks call
* See the Postscript to Letter XL. of Vol. VIII.
I am serious, Jack, faith I am. And I would have thee take it into thy
Mr. Belford returns a very serious answer to the preceding letter; which
In it, he most heartily wishes that he had withstood Mr. Lovelace,
whatever had been the consequence, in designs so elaborately base
and ungrateful, and so long and steadily pursued, against a lady
whose merit and innocence entitled her to the protection of every
man who had the least pretences to the title of a gentleman; and
who deserved to be even the public care.
He most severely censures himself for his false notions of honour to his
friend, on this head; and recollects what the divine lady, as he
calls her, said to him on this very subject, as related by himself
in his letter to Lovelace No. XXI. Vol. VII., to which Lovelace
also (both instigator and accuser) refers, and to his own regret
and shame on the occasion. He distinguishes, however, between an
irreparable injury intended to a CLARISSA, and one designed to such
of the sex, as contribute by their weakness and indiscretion to
their own fall, and thereby entitle themselves to a large share of
the guilt which accompanies the crime.
He offers not, he says, to palliate or extenuate the crimes he himself
has been guilty of: but laments, for Mr. Lovelace's own sake, that
he gives him, with so ludicrous and unconcerned an air, such solemn
and useful lessons and warnings. Nevertheless, he resolves to make
it his whole endeavour, he tells him, to render them efficacious to
himself: and should think himself but too happy, if he shall be
enabled to set him such an example as may be a mean to bring about
the reformation of a man so dear to him as he has always been, from
the first of their acquaintance; and who is capable of thinking so
rightly and deeply; though at present to such little purpose, as
make his very knowledge add to his condemnation.
MR. BELFORD, TO COLONEL MORDEN
THURSDAY, SEPT. 21.
Give me leave, dear Sir, to address myself to you in a very serious and
solemn manner, on a subject that I must not, cannot, dispense with; as I
promised the divine lady that I would do every thing in my power to
prevent that further mischief of which she was so very apprehensive.
I will not content myself with distant hints. It is with very great
concern that I have just now heard of a declaration which you are said to
have made to your relations at Harlowe-place, that you will not rest till
you have avenged your cousin's wrongs upon Mr. Lovelace.
Far be it from me to offer to defend the unhappy man, or even unduly to
extenuate his crime! But yet I must say, that the family, by their
persecutions of the dear lady at first, and by their implacableness
afterwards, ought, at least, to share the blame with him. There is even
great reason to believe, that a lady of such a religious turn, her virtue
neither to be surprised nor corrupted, her will inviolate, would have got
over a mere personal injury; especially as he would have done all that
was in his power to repair it; and as, from the application of all his
family in his favour, and other circumstances attending his sincere and
voluntary offer, the lady might have condescended, with greater glory to
herself, than if he had never offended.
When I have the pleasure of seeing you next, I will acquaint you, Sir,
with all the circumstances of this melancholy story; from which you will
see that Mr. Lovelace was extremely ill treated at first, by the whole
family, this admirable lady excepted. This exception, I know, heightens
his crime: but as his principal intention was but to try her virtue; and
that he became so earnest a suppliant to her for marriage; and as he has
suffered so deplorably in the loss of his reason, for not having it in
his power to repair her wrongs; I presume to hope that much is to be
pleaded against such a resolution as you are said to have made. I will
read to you, at the same time, some passages from letters of his; two of
which (one but this moment received) will convince you that the unhappy
man, who is but now recovering his intellects, needs no greater
punishment than what he has from his own reflections.
I have just now read over the copies of the dear lady's posthumous
letters. I send them all to you, except that directed for Mr. Lovelace;
which I reserve till I have the pleasure of seeing you. Let me entreat
you to read once more that written to yourself; and that to her brother;*
which latter I now send you; as they are in point to the present subject.
* See Letter XVI. of this volume.
I think, Sir, they are unanswerable. Such, at least, is the effect they
have upon me, that I hope I shall never be provoked to draw my sword
again in a private quarrel.
To the weight these must needs have upon you, let me add, that the
unhappy man has given no new occasion of offence, since your visit to him
at Lord M.'s, when you were so well satisfied of his intention to atone
for his crimes, that you yourself urged to your dear cousin her
forgiveness of him.
Let me also (though I presume to hope there is no need, when you coolly
consider every thing) remind you of your own promise to your departing
cousin; relying upon which, her last moments were the easier.
Reflect, my dear Colonel Morden, that the highest injury was to her: her
family all have a share in the cause: she forgives it: Why should we not
endeavour to imitate what we admire?
You asked me, Sir, when in town, if a brave man could be a premeditatedly
base one?--Generally speaking, I believe bravery and baseness are
incompatible. But Mr. Lovelace's character, in the instance before us,
affords a proof of the truth of the common observation, that there is no
general rule but has its exceptions: for England, I believe, as gallant a
nation as it is deemed to be, has not in it a braver spirit than his; nor
a man who has a greater skill at his weapons; nor more calmness with his
I mention not this with a thought that it can affect Col. Morden; who, if
he be not withheld by SUPERIOR MOTIVES, as well as influenced by those I
have reminded him of, will tell me, that this skill, and this bravery,
will make him the more worthy of being called upon by him.
To these SUPERIOR MOTIVES then I refer myself: and with the greater
confidence; as a pursuit ending in blood would not, at this time, have
the plea lie for it with any body, which sudden passion might have with
some: but would be construed by all to be a cool and deliberate act of
revenge for an evil absolutely irretrievable: an act of which a brave and
noble spirit (such as is the gentleman's to whom I now write) is not
Excuse me, Sir, for the sake of my executorial duty and promise, keeping
in eye the dear lady's personal injunctions, as well as written will,
enforced by letters posthumous. Every article of which (solicitous as we
both are to see it duly performed) she would have dispensed with, rather
than farther mischief should happen on her account. I am, dear Sir,
Your affectionate and faithful friend,
[THIS IS THE POSTHUMOUS LETTER TO COL. MORDEN, REFERRED TO IN THE ABOVE.]
TO MY BELOVED COUSIN WILLIAM MORDEN, ESQ.
TO BE DELIVERED AFTER MY DEATH.
MY DEAREST COUSIN,
As it is uncertain, from my present weak state, whether, if living, I may
be in a condition to receive as I ought the favour you intend me of a
visit, when you come to London, I take this opportunity to return you,
while able, the humble acknowledgments of a grateful heart, for all your
goodness to me from childhood till now: and more particularly for your
present kind interposition in my favour--God Almighty for ever bless you,
dear Sir, for the kindness you endeavoured to procure for me!
One principal end of my writing to you, in this solemn manner, is, to beg
of you, which I do with the utmost earnestness, that when you come to
hear the particulars of my story, you will not suffer active resentment
to take place in your generous breast on my account.
Remember, my dear Cousin, that vengeance is God's province, and he has
undertaken to repay it; nor will you, I hope, invade that province:--
especially as there is no necessity for you to attempt to vindicate my
fame; since the offender himself (before he is called upon) has stood
forth, and offered to do me all the justice that you could have extorted
from him, had I lived: and when your own person may be endangered by
running an equal risque with a guilty man.
Duelling, Sir, I need not tell you, who have adorned a public character,
is not only an usurpation of the Divine prerogative; but it is an insult
upon magistracy and good government. 'Tis an impious act. 'Tis an
attempt to take away a life that ought not to depend upon a private
sword; an act, the consequence of which is to hurry a soul (all its sins
upon its had) into perdition; endangering that of the poor triumpher--
since neither intend to give to the other that chance, as I may call it,
for the Divine mercy, in an opportunity for repentance, which each
presumes to hope for himself.
Seek not then, I beseech you, Sir, to aggravate my fault, by a pursuit of
blood, which must necessarily be deemed a consequence of that fault.
Give not the unhappy man the merit (were you assuredly to be the victor)
of falling by your hand. At present he is the perfidious, the ungrateful
deceiver; but will not the forfeiture of his life, and the probable loss
of his soul, be a dreadful expiation for having made me miserable for a
few months only, and through that misery, by the Divine favour, happy to
In such a case, my Cousin, where shall the evil stop?--And who shall
avenge on you?--And who on your avenger?
Let the poor man's conscience, then, dear Sir, avenge me. He will one
day find punishment more than enough from that. Leave him to the chance
of repentance. If the Almighty will give him time for it, who should you
deny it him?--Let him still be the guilty aggressor; and let no one say,
Clarissa Harlowe is now amply revenged in his fall; or, in the case of
your's, (which Heaven avert!) that her fault, instead of being buried in
her grave, is perpetuated, and aggravated, by a loss far greater than
that of herself.
Often, Sir, has the more guilty been the vanquisher of the less. An Earl
of Shrewsbury, in the reign of Charles II. as I have read, endeavouring
to revenge the greatest injury that man can do to man, met with his death
at Barn-Elms, from the hand of the ignoble Duke who had vilely
dishonoured him. Nor can it be thought an unequal dispensation, were it
generally to happen that the usurper of the Divine prerogative should be
punished for his presumption by the man whom he sought to destroy, and
who, however previously criminal, is put, in this case, upon a necessary
act of self-defence.
May Heaven protect you, Sir, in all your ways; and, once more, I pray,
reward you for all your kindness to me! A kindness so worthy of your
heart, and so exceedingly grateful to mine: that of seeking to make
peace, and to reconcile parents to a once-beloved child; uncles to a
niece late their favourite; and a brother and sister to a sister whom
once they thought not unworthy of that tender relation. A kindness so
greatly preferable to the vengeance of a murdering sword.
Be a comforter, dear Sir, to my honoured parents, as you have been to me;
and may we, through the Divine goodness to us both, meet in that blessed
eternity, into which, as I humbly trust, I shall have entered when you
will read this.
So prays, and to her latest hour will pray, my dear Cousin Morden, my
friend, my guardian, but not my avenger--[dear Sir! remember that!--]
Your ever-affectionate and obliged
COLONEL MORDEN, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 23.
I am very sorry that any thing you have heard I have said should give you
I am obliged to you for the letters you have communicated to me; and
still further for your promise to favour me with others occasionally.
All that relates to my dear cousin I shall be glad to see, be it from
whom it will.
I leave to your own discretion, what may or may not be proper for Miss
Howe to see from a pen so free as mine.
I admire her spirit. Were she a man, do you think, Sir, she, at this
time, would have your advice to take upon such a subject as that upon
which you write?
Fear not, however, that your communications shall put me upon any
measures that otherwise I should not have taken. The wickedness, Sir, is
of such a nature, as admits not of aggravation.
Yet I do assure you, that I have not made any resolutions that will be a
tie upon me.
I have indeed expressed myself with vehemence upon the occasion. Who
could forbear to do so? But it is not my way to resolve in matters of
moment, till opportunity brings the execution of my purposes within my
reach. We shall see by what manner of spirit this young man will be
actuated on his recovery. If he continue to brave and defy a family,
which he has so irreparably injured--if--but resolutions depending upon
future contingencies are best left to future determination, as I just
Mean time, I will own that I think my cousin's arguments unanswerable.
No good man but must be influenced by them.--But, alas! Sir, who is good?
As to your arguments; I hope you will believe me, when I assure you, as I
now do, that your opinion and your reasonings have, and will always have,
great and deserved weight with me; and that I respect you still more than
I did, if possible, for your expostulations in support of my cousin's
pious injunctions to me. They come from you, Sir, with the greatest
propriety, as her executor and representative; and likewise as you are a
man of humanity, and a well-wisher to both parties.
I am not exempt from violent passions, Sir, any more than your friend;
but then I hope they are only capable of being raised by other people's
insolence, and not by my own arrogance. If ever I am stimulated by my
imperfections and my resentments to act against my judgment and my
cousin's injunctions, some such reflections as these that follow will
run away with my reason. Indeed they are always present with me.
In the first place; my own disappointment: who came over with the hope of
passing the remainder of my days in the conversation of a kinswoman
so beloved; and to whom I have a double relation as her cousin and
Then I reflect, too, too often perhaps for my engagements to her in her
last hours, that the dear creature could only forgive for herself.
She, no doubt, is happy: but who shall forgive for a whole family,
in all its branches made miserable for their lives?
That the more faulty her friends were as to her, the more enormous his
ingratitude, and the more inexcusable--What! Sir, was it not enough
that she suffered what she did for him, but the barbarian must make
her suffer for her sufferings for his sake?--Passion makes me
express this weakly; passion refuses the aid of expression
sometimes, where the propriety of a resentment prima facie declares
expression to be needless. I leave it to you, Sir, to give this
reflection its due force.
That the author of this diffusive mischief perpetuated it premeditatedly,
wantonly, in the gaiety of his heart. To try my cousin, say you,
Sir! To try the virtue of a Clarissa, Sir!--Has she then given him
any cause to doubt her virtue?--It could not be.--If he avers that
she did, I am indeed called upon--but I will have patience.
That he carried her, as now appears, to a vile brothel, purposely to put
her out of all human resource; himself out of the reach of all
human remorse: and that, finding her proof against all the common
arts of delusion, base and unmanly arts were there used to effect
his wicked purposes. Once dead, the injured saint, in her will,
says, he has seen her.
That I could not know this, when I saw him at M. Hall: that, the object
of his attempts considered, I could not suppose there was such a
monster breathing as he: that it was natural for me to impute her
refusal of him rather to transitory resentment, to consciousness of
human frailty, and mingled doubts of the sincerity of his offers,
than to villanies, which had given the irreversible blow, and had
at that instant brought her down to the gates of death, which in a
very few days enclosed her.
That he is a man of defiance: a man who thinks to awe every one by his
insolent darings, and by his pretensions to superior courage and
That, disgrace as he is to his name, and to the character of a gentleman,
the man would not want merit, who, in vindication of the
dishonoured distincion, should expunge and blot him out of the
That the injured family has a son, who, however unworthy of such a
sister, is of a temper vehement, unbridled, fierce; unequal,
therefore, (as he has once indeed been found,) to a contention
with this man: the loss of which son, by a violent death on such
an occasion, and by a hand so justly hated, would complete the
misery of the whole family; and who, nevertheless, resolves to
call him to account, if I do not; his very misbehaviour, perhaps,
to such a sister, stimulating his perverse heart to do her memory
the more signal justice; though the attempt might be fatal to
Then, Sir, to be a witness, as I am every hour, to the calamity and
distress of a family to which I am related; every one of whom,
however averse to an alliance with him while it had not place,
would no doubt have been soon reconciled to the admirable
creature, had the man (to whom, for his family and fortunes, it
was not a disgrace to be allied) done her but common justice!
To see them hang their pensive heads; mope about, shunning one another;
though formerly never used to meet but to rejoice in each other;
afflicting themselves with reflections, that the last time they
respectively saw the dear creature, it was here or there, at such
a place, in such an attitude; and could they have thought that it
would have been the last?--Every one of them reviving instances of
her excellencies that will for a long time make their very
blessings a curse to them!
Her closet, her chamber, her cabinet, given up to me to disfurnish, in
order to answer (now too late obliging!) the legacies bequeathed;
unable themselves to enter them; and even making use of less
convenient back stairs, that they may avoid passing by the doors
of her apartment!
Her parlour locked up; the walks, the retirements, the summer-house in
which she delighted, and in which she used to pursue her charming
works; that in particular, from which she went to the fatal
interview, shunned, or hurried by, or over!
Her perfections, nevertheless, called up to remembrance, and enumerated;
incidents and graces, unheeded before, or passed over in the group
of her numberless perfections, now brought back into notice, and
The very servants allowed to expatiate upon these praiseful topics to
their principals! Even eloquent in their praises! The distressed
principals listening and weeping! Then to see them break in upon
the zealous applauders, by their impatience and remorse, and throw
abroad their helpless hands, and exclaim; then again to see them
listen to hear more of her praises, and weep again--they even
encouraging the servants to repeat how they used to be stopt by
strangers to ask after her, and by those who knew her, to be told
of some new instances to her honour--how aggravating all this!
In dreams they see her, and desire to see her; always an angle, and
accompanied by angels; always clad in robes of light; always
endeavouring to comfort them, who declare, that they shall never
more know comfort!
What an example she set! How she indited! How she drew! How she
wrought! How she talked! How she sung! How she played! Her
voice music! Her accent harmony!
Her conversation how instructive! how sought after! The delight of
persons of all ages, of both sexes, of all ranks! Yet how humble,
how condescending! Never were dignity and humility so
At other times, how generous, how noble, how charitable, how judicious in
her charities! In every action laudable! In every attitude
attractive! In every appearance, whether full-dressed, or in the
housewife's more humble garb, equally elegant, and equally lovely!
Like, or resembling, Miss Clarissa Harlowe, they now remember to
be a praise denoting the highest degree of excellence, with every
one, whatever person, action, or rank, spoken of.--The desirable
daughter; the obliging kinswoman; the affectionate sister, (all
envy now subsided!) the faithful, the warm friend; the affable,
the kind, the benevolent mistress!--Not one fault remembered! All
their severities called cruelties: mutually accusing each other;
each him and herself; and all to raise her character, and torment
Such, Sir, was the angel, of whom the vilest of men has deprived the
world! You, Sir, who know more of the barbarous machinations and
practices of this strange man, can help me to still more inflaming
reasons, were they needed, why a man, not perfect, may stand excused to
the generality of the world, if he should pursue his vengeance; and the
rather, as through an absence of six years, (high as just report, and the
promises of her early youth from childhood, had raised her in his
esteem,) he could not till now know one half of her excellencies--till
now! that we have lost, for ever lost, the admirable creature!--
But I will force myself from the subject, after I have repeated that I
have not yet made any resolutions that can bind me. Whenever I do, I
shall be glad they may be such as may merit the honour of your
I send you back the copies of the posthumous letters. I see the humanity
of your purpose, in the transmission of them to me; and I thank you most
heartily for it. I presume, that it is owing to the same laudable
consideration, that you kept back the copy of that to the wicked man
I intend to wait upon Miss Howe in person with the diamond ring, and such
other of the effects bequeathed to her as are here. I am, Sir,
Your most faithful and obliged servant,
[Mr. Belford, in his answer to this letter, farther enforces the lady's
dying injunctions; and rejoices that the Colonel has made no
vindictive resolutions; and hopes every thing from his prudence
and consideration, and from his promise given to the dying lady.
He refers to the seeing him in town on account of the dreadful ends of
two of the greatest criminals in his cousin's affair. 'This, says
he, together with Mr. Lovelace's disorder of mind, looks as if
Providence had already taken the punishment of these unhappy
wretches into its own hands.'
He desires the Colonel will give him a day's notice of his coming to
town, lest otherwise he may be absent at the time--this he does,
though he tells him not the reason, with a view to prevent a
meeting between him and Mr. Lovelace; who might be in town (as he
apprehends,) about the same time, in his way to go abroad.]
COLONEL MORDEN, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 26.
I cannot help congratulating myself as well as you that we have already
got through with the family every article of the will where they have any
You left me a discretional power in many instances; and, in pursuance of
it, I have had my dear cousin's personal jewels, and will account to you
for them, at the highest price, when I come to town, as well as for other
matters that you were pleased to intrust to my management.
These jewels I have presented to my cousin Dolly Hervey, in
acknowledgement of her love to the dear departed. I have told Miss Howe
of this; and she is as well pleased with what I have done as if she had
been the purchaser of them herself. As that young lady has jewels of her
own, she could only have wished to purchase these because they were her
beloved friend's.--The grandmother's jewels are also valued; and the
money will be paid me for you, to be carried to the uses of the will.
Mrs. Norton is preparing, by general consent, to enter upon her office as
housekeeper at The Grove. But it is my opinion that she will not be long
on this side Heaven.
I waited upon Miss Howe myself, as I told you I would, with what was
bequeathed to her and her mother. You will not be displeased, perhaps,
if I make a few observations with regard to that young lady, so dear to
my beloved cousin, as you have not a personal acquaintance with her.
There never was a firmer or nobler friendship in women, than between my
dear cousin and Miss Howe, to which this wretched man had given a period.
Friendship, generally speaking, Mr. Belford, is too fervent a flame for
female minds to manage: a light that but in few of their hands burns
steady, and often hurries the sex into flight and absurdity. Like other
extremes, it is hardly ever durable. Marriage, which is the highest
state of friendship, generally absorbs the most vehement friendships of
female to female; and that whether the wedlock be happy, or not.
What female mind is capable of two fervent female friendships at the same
time?--This I mention as a general observation; but the friendship that
subsisted between these two ladies affords a remarkable exception to it:
which I account for from those qualities and attainments in both, which,
were they more common, would furnish more exceptions still in favour of
Both had an enlarged, and even a liberal education: both had minds
thirsting after virtuous knowledge; great readers both; great writers--
[and early familiar writing I take to be one of the greatest openers and
improvers of the mind that man or woman can be employed in.] Both
generous. High in fortune, therefore above that dependence each on the
other that frequently destroys that familiarity which is the cement of
friendship. Both excelling in different ways, in which neither sought
to envy the other. Both blessed with clear and distinguishing faculties;
with solid sense; and, from their first intimacy, [I have many of my
lights, Sir, from Mrs. Norton,] each seeing something in the other to
fear, as well as to love; yet making it an indispensable condition of
their friendship, each to tell the other of her failings; and to be
thankful for the freedom taken. One by nature gentle; the other made so
by her love and admiration of her exalted friend--impossible that there
could be a friendship better calculated for duration.
I must, however, take the liberty to blame Miss Howe for her behaviour
to Mr. Hickman. And I infer from it, that even women of sense are not
to be trusted with power.
By the way, I am sure I need not desire you not to communicate to this
fervent young lady the liberties I have taken with her character.
I dare say my cousin could not approve of Miss Howe's behaviour to this
gentleman; a behaviour which is talked of by as many as know Mr. Hickman
and her. Can a wise young lady be easy under such censure? She must
Mr. Hickman is really a very worthy man. Every body speaks well of him.
But he is gentle-dispositioned, and he adores Miss Howe; and love admits
not of an air of even due dignity to the object of it. Yet will Mr.
Hickman hardly ever get back the reins he has yielded up; unless she, by
carrying too far the power of which she seems at present too sensible,
should, when she has no favours to confer which he has not a right to
demand, provoke him to throw off the too-heavy yoke. And should he do
so, and then treat her with negligence, Miss Howe, of all the women I
know, will be the least able to support herself under it. She will then
be more unhappy than she ever made him; for a man who is uneasy at home,
can divert himself abroad; which a woman cannot so easily do, without
scandal.--Permit me to take farther notice, as to Miss Howe, that it is
very obvious to me, that she has, by her haughty behaviour to this worthy
man, involved herself in one difficulty, from which she knows not how to
extricate herself with that grace which accompanies all her actions. She
intends to have Mr. Hickman. I believe she does not dislike him. And it
will cost her no small pains to descend from the elevation she has
Another inconvenience she will suffer from her having taught every body
(for she is above disguise) to think, by her treatment of Mr. Hickman,
much more meanly of him than he deserves to be thought of. And must she
not suffer dishonour in his dishonour?
Mrs. Howe is much disturbed at her daughter's behaviour to the gentleman.
He is very deservedly a favourite of her's. But [another failing in Miss
Howe] her mother has not all the authority with her that a mother ought
to have. Miss Howe is indeed a woman of fine sense; but it requires a
high degree of good understanding, as well as a sweet and gentle
disposition of mind, and great discretion, in a child, when grown up, to
let it be seen, that she mingles reverence with her love, to a parent,
who has talents visibly inferior to her own.
Miss Howe is open, generous, noble. The mother has not any of her fine
qualities. Parents, in order to preserve their children's veneration for
them, should take great care not to let them see any thing in their
conduct, or behaviour, or principles, which they themselves would not
approve of in others.
Mr. Hickman has, however, this consideration to comfort himself with,
that the same vivacity by which he suffers, makes Miss Howe's own mother,
at times, equally sensible. And as he sees enough of this beforehand, he
will have more reason to blame himself than the lady, should she prove as
lively a wife as she was a mistress, for having continued his addresses,
and married her, against such threatening appearances.
There is also another circumstance which good-natured men, who engage
with even lively women, may look forward to with pleasure; a circumstance
which generally lowers the spirits of the ladies, and domesticates them,
as I may call it; and which, as it will bring those of Mr. Hickman and
Miss Howe nearer to a par, that worthy gentleman will have double reason,
when it happens, to congratulate himself upon it.
But after all, I see that there is something so charmingly brilliant and
frank in Miss Howe's disposition, although at present visibly overclouded
by grief, that it is impossible not to love her, even for her failings.
She may, and I hope she will, make Mr. Hickman an obliging wife. And if
she does, she will have additional merit with me; since she cannot be
apprehensive of check or controul; and may therefore, by her generosity
and prudence, lay an obligation upon her husband, by the performance of
what is no more than her duty.
Her mother both loves and fears her. Yet is Mrs. Howe also a woman of
vivacity, and ready enough, I dare say, to cry out when she is pained.
But, alas! she has, as I hinted above, weakened her authority by the
narrowness of her mind.
Yet once she praised her daughter to me with so much warmth for the
generosity of her spirit, that had I not known the old lady's character,
I should have thought her generous herself. And yet I have always
observed, that people of narrow tempers are ready to praise generous
ones:--and thus have I accounted for it--that such persons generally find
it to their purpose, that all the world should be open-minded but
The old lady applied herself to me, to urge to the young one the contents
of the will, in order to hasten her to fix a day for her marriage; but
desired that I would not let Miss Howe know that she did.
I took the liberty upon it to tell Miss Howe that I hoped that her part
of a will, so soon, and so punctually, in almost all its other articles,
fulfilled, would not be the only one that would be slighted.
Her answer was, she would consider of it: and made me a courtesy with
such an air, as showed me that she thought me more out of my sphere, than
I could allow her to think me, had I been permitted to argue the point
I found Miss Howe and her own servant-maid in deep mourning. This, it
seems, had occasioned a great debate at first between her mother and her.
Her mother had the words of the will on her side; and Mr. Hickman's
interest in her view; her daughter having said that she would wear it for
six months at least. But the young lady carried her point--'Strange,'
said she, 'if I, who shall mourn the heavy, the irreparable loss to the
last hour of my life, should not show my concern to the world for a few
Mr. Hickman, for his part, was so far from uttering an opposing word on
this occasion, that, on the very day that Miss Howe put on her's, he
waited on her in a new suit of mourning, as for a near relation. His
servants and equipage made the same respectful appearance.
Whether the mother was consulted by him in it, I cannot say; but the
daughter knew nothing of it, till she saw him in it; she looked at him
with surprise, and asked him for whom he mourned?
The dear, and ever-dear Miss Harlowe, he said.
She was at a loss, it seems. At last--All the world ought to mourn for
my Clarissa, said she; But whom, man, [that was her whimsical address to
him,] thinkest thou to oblige by this appearance?
It is more than appearance, Madam. I love not my own sister, worthy as
she is, better than I loved Miss Clarissa Harlowe. I oblige myself by
it. And if I disoblige not you, that is all I wish.
She surveyed him, I am told, from head to foot. She knew not, at first,
whether to be angry or pleased.--At length, 'I thought at first,' said
she, 'that you might have a bolder and freer motive--but (as my Mamma
says) you may be a well-meaning man, though generally a little
wrong-headed--however, as the world is censorious, and may think us
nearer of kin than I would have it supposed, I must take care that I am
not seen abroad in your company.'
But let me add, Mr. Belford, that if this compliment of Mr. Hickman (or
this more than compliment, as I may call it, since the worthy man speaks
not of my dear cousin without emotion) does not produce a short day, I
shall think Miss Howe has less generosity in her temper than I am willing
to allow her.
You will excuse me, Mr. Belford, for the particularities which you
invited and encouraged. Having now seen every thing that relates to the
will of my dear cousin brought to a desirable issue, I will set about
making my own. I shall follow the dear creature's example, and give my
reasons for every article, that there may be no room for
What but a fear of death, a fear unworthy of a creature who knows that he
must one day as surely die as he was born, can hinder any one from making
such a disposition?
I hope soon to pay my respects to you in town. Mean time, I am, with
great respect, dear Sir,
Your faithful and affectionate humble servant,
MR. BELFORD, TO MISS HOWE
THURSDAY, SEPT. 28.
I do myself the honour to send you by this, according to my promise,*
copies of the posthumous letters written by your exalted friend.
* See Letter XXXVI. of this volume.
These will be accompanied with other letters, particularly a copy of one
from Mr. Lovelace, begun to be written on the 14th, and continued down to
the 18th.* You will see by it, Madam, the dreadful anguish that his
spirits labour with, and his deep remorse.
* See Letter XXXVII. ibid.
Mr. Lovelace sent for this letter back. I complied; but I first took a
copy of it. As I have not told him that I have done so, you will be
pleased to forbear communicating of it to any body but Mr. Hickman. That
gentleman's perusal of it will be the same as if nobody but yourself saw
One of the letters of Colonel Morden, which I enclose, you will observe,
Madam, is only a copy.* The true reason for which, as I will ingenuously
acknowledge, is, some free, but respectful animadversions which the
Colonel has made upon your declining to carry into execution your part of
your dear friend's last requests. I have therefore, in respect to that
worthy gentleman, (having a caution from him on that head,) omitted those
* The preceding Letter.
Will you allow me, Madam, however, to tell you, that I myself could not
have believed that my inimitable testatrix's own Miss Howe would have
been the most backward in performing such a part of her dear friend's
last will, as is entirely in her own power to perform--especially, when
that performance would make one of the most deserving men in England
happy; and whom, I presume, she proposes to honour with her hand.
Excuse me, Madam, I have a most sincere veneration for you; and would not
disoblige you for the world.
I will not presume to make remarks on the letters I send you; nor upon
the informations I have to give you of the dreadful end of two unhappy
wretches who were the greatest criminals in the affair of your adorable
friend. These are the infamous Sinclair, and a person whom you have read
of, no doubt, in the letters of the charming innocent, by the name of
The wretched woman died in the extremest tortures and despondency: the
man from wounds got in defending himself in carrying on a contraband
trade; both accusing themselves, in their last hours, for the parts they
had acted against the most excellent of women, as of the crime that gave
them the deepest remorse.
Give me leave to say, Madam, that if your compassion be not excited for
the poor man who suffers so greatly from his own anguish of mind, as you
will observe by his letter he does; and for the unhappy family, whose
remorse, you will see by Colonel Morden's, is so deep; your terror must.
And yet I should not wonder, if the just sense of the irreparable loss
you have sustained hardens a heart against pity, which, on a less
extraordinary occasion, would want its principal grace, if it were not
I am, Madam, with the greatest respect and gratitude,
Your most obliged and faithful humble servant,
MISS HOWE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 30.
I little thought I ever could have owed so much obligation to any man as
you have laid me under. And yet what you have sent me has almost broken
my heart, and ruined my eyes.
I am surprised, though agreeably, that you have so soon, and so well, got
over that part of the trust you have engaged in, which relates to the
It may be presumed, from the exits you mention of two of the infernal
man's accomplices, that the thunderbolt will not stop short of the
principal. Indeed I have some pleasure to think it seems rolling along
towards the devoted head that has plotted all the mischief. But let me,
however, say, that although I think Mr. Morden not altogether in the
wrong in his reasons for resentment, as he is the dear creature's kinsman
and trustee, yet I think you very much in the right in endeavouring to
dissuade him from it, as you are her executor, and act in pursuance of
her earnest request.
But what a letter is that of the infernal man's! I cannot observe upon
it. Neither can I, for very different reasons, upon my dear creature's
posthumous letters; particularly on that to him. O Mr. Belford! what
numberless perfections died, when my Clarissa drew her last breath!
If decency be observed in his letters, for I have not yet had patience
to read above two or three of them, (besides this horrid one, which I
return to you enclosed,) I may some time hence be curious to look, by
their means, into the hearts of wretches, which, though they must be the
abhorrence of virtuous minds, will, when they are laid open, (as I
presume they are in them,) afford a proper warning to those who read
them, and teach them to detest men of such profligate characters.
If your reformation be sincere, you will not be offended that I do not
except you on this occasion.--And thus have I helped you to a criterion
to try yourself by.
By this letter of the wicked man it is apparent that there are still
wickeder women. But see what a guilty commerce with the devils of your
sex will bring those to whose morals ye have ruined!--For these women
were once innocent: it was man that made them otherwise. The first bad
man, perhaps, threw them upon worse men; those upon still worse; till
they commenced devils incarnate--the height of wickedness or of shame
is not arrived at all at once, as I have somewhere heard observed.
But this man, this monster rather, for him to curse these women, and to
curse the dear creature's family (implacable as the latter were,) in
order to lighten a burden he voluntarily took up, and groans under, is
meanness added to wickedness: and in vain will he one day find his low
plea of sharing with her friends, and with those common wretches, a guilt
which will be adjudged him as all his own; though they too may meet their
punishment; as it is evidently begun; in the first, in their ineffectual
reproaches of one another; in the second--as you have told me.
This letter of the abandoned wretch I have not shown to any body; not
even to Mr. Hickman: for, Sir, I must tell you, I do not as yet think it
the same thing as only seeing it myself.
Mr. Hickman, like the rest of his sex, would grow upon indulgence. One
distinction from me would make him pay two to himself. Insolent
creepers, or encroachers all of you! To show any of you a favour to-day,
you would expect it as a right to-morrow.
I am, as you see, very open and sincere with you; and design in another
letter to be still more so, in answer to your call, and Colonel Morden's
call, upon me, in a point that concerns me to explain myself upon to my
beloved creature's executor, and to the Colonel, as her only tender and
only worthy relation.
I cannot but highly applaud Colonel Morden for his generosity to Miss
O that he had arrived time enough to save my inimitable friend from the
machinations of the vilest of men, and from the envy and malice of the
most selfish and implacable of brothers and sisters!
MISS HOWE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
MONDAY, OCT. 2.
When you question me, Sir, as you do, and on a subject so affecting to
me, in the character of the representative of my best beloved friend,
and have in every particular hitherto acted up to that character, you are
entitled to my regard: especially as you are joined in your questioning
of me by a gentleman whom I look upon as the dearest and nearest (because
worthiest) relation of my dear friend: and who, it seems, has been so
severe a censurer of my conduct, that your politeness will not permit you
to send me his letter, with others of his; but a copy only, in which the
passages reflecting upon me are omitted.
I presume, however, that what is meant by this alarming freedom of the
Colonel is no more than what you both have already hinted to me. As if
you thought I were not inclined to pay so much regard to my beloved
creature's last will, in my own case, as I would have others pay to it.
A charge that I ought not to be quite silent under.
You have observed, no doubt, that I have seemed to value myself upon the
freedom I take in declaring my sentiments without reserve upon every
subject that I pretend to touch upon: and I can hardly question that I
have, or shall, in your opinion, by my unceremonious treatment of you
upon so short an acquaintance, run into the error of those, who, wanting
to be thought above hypocrisy and flattery, fall into rusticity, if not
ill-manners; a common fault with such, who, not caring to correct
constitutional failings, seek to gloss them over by some nominal virtue;
when all the time, perhaps, these failings are entirely owing to native
arrogance; or, at least, to a contracted rust, that they will not,
because it would give them pain, submit to have filed off.
You see, Sir, that I can, however, be as free with myself as with you:
and by what I am going to write, you will find me still more free; and
yet I am aware that such of my sex as will not assume some little
dignity, and exact respect from your's, will render themselves cheap;
and, perhaps, for their modesty and diffidence, be repaid with scorn and
But the scorn I will endeavour not to deserve; and the insult I will not
In some of the dear creature's papers which you have had in your
possession, and must again have, in order to get transcribed, you will
find several friendly, but severe reprehensions of me, on account of a
natural, or, at least, an habitual, warmth of temper, which she was
pleased to impute to me.
I was thinking to give you her charge against me in her own words, from
one of her letters delivered to me with her own hands, on taking leave
of me on the last visit she honoured me with. But I will supply that
charge by confession of more than it imports; to wit, 'That I am haughty,
uncontroulable, and violent in my temper;' this, I say; 'Impatient of
contradiction,' was my beloved's charge; [from any body but her dear
self, she should have said;] 'and aim not at that affability, that
gentleness, next to meekness, which, in the letter I was going to
communicate, she tells me are the peculiar and indispensable
characteristics of a real fine lady; who, she is pleased to say, should
appear to be gall-less as a dove; and never should know what warmth or
high spirit is, but in the cause of religion or virtue; or in cases where
her own honour, the honour of a friend, or that of an innocent person, is
Now, Sir, as I needs must plead guilty to this indictment, do you think I
ought not to resolve upon a single life?--I, who have such an opinion of
your sex, that I think there is not one man in an hundred whom a woman of
sense and spirit can either honour or obey, though you make us promise
both, in that solemn form of words which unites or rather binds us to you
When I look round upon all the married people of my acquaintance, and see
how they live, and what they bear who live best, I am confirmed in my
dislike to the state.
Well do your sex contrive to bring us up fools and idiots, in order to
make us bear the yoke you lay upon our shoulders; and that we may not
despise you from our hearts, (as we certainly should, if we were brought
up as you are,) for your ignorance, as much as you often make us do (as
it is) for your insolence.
These, Sir, are some of my notions. And, with these notions, let me
repeat my question, Do you think I ought to marry at all?
If I marry either a sordid or an imperious wretch, can I, do you think,
live with him? And ought a man of a contrary character, for the sake of
either of our reputations, to be plagued with me?
Long did I stand out against all the offers made me, and against all the
persuasions of my mother; and, to tell you the truth, the longer, and
with the more obstinacy, as the person my choice would have first fallen
upon was neither approved by my mother, nor by my dear friend. This
riveted me to my pride, and to my opposition; for although I was
convinced, after a while, that my choice would neither have been prudent
nor happy; and that the specious wretch was not what he had made me
believe he was; yet could I not easily think of any other man; and
indeed, from the detection of him, took a settled aversion to the whole
At last Mr. Hickman offered himself; a man worthy of a better choice. He
had the good fortune [he thinks it so] to be agreeable (and to make his
proposals agreeable) to my mother.
As to myself; I own, that were I to have chosen a brother, Mr. Hickman
should have been the man; virtuous, sober, sincere, friendly, as he is.
But I wish not to marry; nor knew I the man in the world whom I could
think deserving of my beloved friend. But neither of our parents would
let us live single.
The accursed Lovelace was proposed warmly to her at one time; and, while
she was yet but indifferent to him, they, by ungenerous usage of him,
(for then, Sir, he was not known to be Beelzebub himself,) and by
endeavouring to force her inclinations in favour first of one worthless
man, then of another, in antipathy to him, through her foolish brother's
caprice, turned that indifference (from the natural generosity of her
soul) into a regard which she never otherwise would have had for a man of
Mr. Hickman was proposed to me. I refused him again and again. He
persisted; my mother his advocate. I told him my dislike of all men--of
him--of matrimony--still he persisted. I used him with tyranny--led,
indeed, partly by my temper, partly by design; hoping thereby to get rid
of him; till the poor man (his character unexceptionably uniform) still
persisting, made himself a merit with me by his patience. This brought
down my pride, [I never, Sir, was accounted very ungenerous, nor quite
ungrateful,] and gave me, at one time, an inferiority in my own opinion
to him; which lasted just long enough for my friends to prevail upon me
to promise him encouragement, and to receive his addresses.
Having done so, when the weather-glass of my pride got up again, I found
I had gone too far to recede. My mother and my friends both held me to
it. Yet I tried him, I vexed him, an hundred ways; and not so much
neither with design to vex him, as to make him hate me, and decline his
He bore this, however; and got nothing but my pity; yet still my mother,
and my friend, having obtained my promise, [made, however, not to him,
but to them,] and being well assured that I valued no man more than Mr.
Hickman, (who never once disobliged me in word, or deed, or look, except
by his foolish perseverance,) insisted upon the performance.
While my dear friend was in her unhappy uncertainty, I could not think of
marriage; and now, what encouragement have I?--She, my monitress, my
guide, my counsel, gone, for ever gone! by whose advice and instructions
I hoped to acquit myself tolerably in the state to which I could not
avoid entering. For, Sir, my mother is so partially Mr. Hickman's
friend, that I am sure, should any difference arise, she would always
censure me, and acquit him; even were he ungenerous enough to remember me
in his day.
This, Sir, being my situation, consider how difficult it is for me to
think of marriage. Whenever we approve, we can find an hundred good
reasons to justify our approbation. Whenever we dislike, we can find a
thousand to justify our dislike. Every thing in the latter case is an
impediment; every shadow a bugbear.--Thus can I enumerate and swell,
perhaps, only imaginary grievances; 'I must go whither he would have me
to go; visit whom he would have me to visit: well as I love to write,
(though now, alas! my grand inducement to write is over!) it must be to
whom he pleases:' and Mrs. Hickman (who, as Miss Howe, cannot do wrong)
would hardly ever be able to do right. Thus, the tables turned upon me,
I am reminded of my vowed obedience; Madam'd up perhaps to matrimonial
perfection, and all the wedded warfare practised comfortably over between
us, (for I shall not be passive under insolent treatment,) till we become
curses to each other, a bye-word to our neighbours, and the jest of our
But there must be bear and forbear, methinks some wise body will tell me:
But why must I be teased into a state where that must be necessarily the
case; when now I can do as I please, and wish only to be let alone to do
as best pleases me? And what, in effect, does my mother say? 'Anna
Howe, you now do every thing that pleases you; you now have nobody to
controul you; you go and you come; you dress and you undress; you rise
and you go to rest, just as you think best; but you must be happier
As how, Madam?
'Why, you must marry, my dear, and have none of these options; but, in
every thing, do as your husband commands you.'
This is very hard, you will own, Sir, for such a one as me to think of.
And yet, engaged to enter into that state, as I am, how can I help
myself? My mother presses me; my friend, my beloved friend, writing as
from the dead, presses me; and you and Mr. Morden, as executors of her
will, remind me; the man is not afraid of me, [I am sure, were I the man,
I should not have half his courage;] and I think I ought to conclude to
punish him (the only effectual way I have to do it) for his perverse
adherence and persecution, with the grant of his own wishes; a punishment
which many others who enjoy their's very commonly experience.
Let me then assure you, Sir, that when I can find, in the words of my
charming friend in her will, writing of her cousin Hervey, that my grief
for her is mellowed by time into a remembrance more sweet than painful,
that I may not be utterly unworthy of the passion a man of some merit has
for me, I will answer the request of my dear friend, so often repeated,
and so earnestly pressed; and Mr. Hickman shall find, if he continue to
deserve my gratitude, that my endeavours shall not be wanting to make him
amends for the patience he has had, and must still a little while longer
have with me: and then will it be his own fault (I hope not mine) if our
marriage answer not those happy prognostics, which filled her generous
presaging mind, upon this view, as she once, for my encouragement, and to
induce me to encourage him, told me.
Thus, Sir, have I, in a very free manner, accounted to you, as to the
executor of my beloved friend, for all that relates to you, as such, to
know; and even for more than I needed to do, against myself; only that
you will find as much against me in some of her letters; and so, losing
nothing, I gain the character of ingenuousness with you.
And thus much for the double reprimand, on my delaying my part of the
performance of my dear friend's will.
And now, while you are admonishing me on this subject, let me remind you
of one great article relating to yourself: it is furnished me by my dear
creature's posthumous letter to you--I hope you will not forget, that the
most benevolent of her sex expresses herself as earnestly concerned for
your thorough reformation, as she does for my marrying. You'll see to
it, then, that her wishes are as completely answered in that particular,
as you are desirous they should be in all others.
I have, I own, disobeyed her in one article; and that is, where she
desires I would not put myself into mourning. I could not help it.
I send this and mine of Saturday last together; and will not add another
word, after I have told you that I think myself
Your obliged servant,
MR. BELFORD, TO MISS HOWE
THURSDAY NIGHT, OCT. 5.
I return you, Madam, my most respectful thanks for your condescending
hint, in relation to the pious wishes of your exalted friend for my
I will only say, that it will be my earnest and unwearied endeavour to
make those generous wishes effectual: and I hope for the Divine blessing
upon such my endeavours, or else I know they will be in vain.
I cannot, Madam, express how much I think myself obliged to you for your
farther condescension, in writing to me so frankly the state of your past
and present mind, in relation to the single and matrimonial life. If the
lady by whom, as the executor of her inimitable friend, I am thus
honoured, has failings, never were failings so lovely in woman!--How much
more lovely, indeed, than the virtues of many of her sex!
I might have ventured into the hands of such a lady the Colonel's
original letter entire. The worthy gentleman exceedingly admires you;
and this caution was the effect of his politeness only, and of his regard
I send you, Madam, a letter from Lord M. to myself; and the copies of
three others written in consequence of that. These will acquaint you
with Mr. Lovelace's departure from England, and with other particulars,
which you will be curious to know.
Be pleased to keep to yourself such of the contents as your own prudence
will suggest to you ought not to be seen by any body else.
I am, Madam, with the profoundest and most grateful respect,
Your faithful and obliged humble servant,
LORD M. TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
M. HALL, FRIDAY, SEPT. 29.
My kinsman Lovelace is now setting out for London; proposing to see you,
and then to go to Dover, and so embark. God send him well out of the
On Monday he will be with you, I believe. Pray let me be favoured with
an account of all your conversations; for Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville
are to be there too; and whether you think he is grown quite his own man
What I mostly write for is, to wish you to keep Colonel Morden and him
asunder; and so I give you notice of his going to town. I should be very
loth there should be any mischief between them, as you gave me notice
that the Colonel threatened my nephew. But my kinsman would not bear
that; so nobody let him know that he did. But I hope there is no fear;
for the Colonel does not, as I hear, threaten now. For his own sake, I
am glad of that; for there is not such a man in the world as my kinsman
is said to be, at all the weapons--as well he was not; he would not be so
We shall all here miss the wild fellow. To be sure, there is no man
better company when he pleases.
Pray, do you never travel thirty or forty miles? I should be glad to see
you here at M. Hall. It will be charity when my kinsman is gone; for we
suppose you will be his chief correspondent; although he has promised to
write to my nieces often. But he is very apt to forget his promises; to
us his relations particularly. God preserve us all; Amen! prays
Your very humble servant,
MR. BELFORD, TO LORD M.
LONDON, TUESDAY NIGHT, OCT. 3.
I obey your Lordship's commands with great pleasure.
Yesterday in the afternoon Mr. Lovelace made me a visit at my lodgings.
As I was in expectation of one from Colonel Morden about the same time,
I thought proper to carry him to a tavern which neither of us frequented,
(on pretence of a half-appointment;) ordering notice to be sent me
thither, if the Colonel came; and Mr. Lovelace sent to Mowbray, and
Tourville, and Mr. Doleman of Uxbridge, (who came to town to take leave
of him,) to let them know where to find us.
Mr. Lovelace is too well recovered, I was going to say. I never saw him
more gay, lively, and handsome. We had a good deal of bluster about some
parts of the trust I had engaged in; and upon freedoms I had treated him
with; in which, he would have it, that I had exceeded our agreed-upon
limits; but on the arrival of our three old companions, and a nephew of
Mr. Doleman's, (who had a good while been desirous to pass an hour with
Mr. Lovelace,) it blew off for the present.
Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville had also taken some exceptions at the
freedoms of my pen; and Mr. Lovelace, after his way, took upon him to
reconcile us; and did it at the expense of all three; and with such an
infinite run of humour and raillery, that we had nothing to do but to
laugh at what he said, and at one another. I can deal tolerably with
him at my pen; but in conversation he has no equal. In short, it was his
day. He was glad, he said, to find himself alive; and his two friends,
clapping and rubbing their hands twenty times in an hour, declared, that
now, once more, he was all himself--the charming'st fellow in the world;
and they would follow him to the farthest part of the globe.
I threw a bur upon his coat now-and-then; but none would stick.
Your Lordship knows, that there are many things which occasion a roar of
applause in conversation, when the heart is open, and men are resolved to
be merry, which will neither bear repeating, nor thinking of afterwards.
Common things, in the mouth of a man we admire, and whose wit has passed
upon us for sterling, become, in a gay hour, uncommon. We watch every
turn of such a one's countenance, and are resolved to laugh when he
smiles, even before he utters what we are expecting to flow from his
Mr. Doleman and his nephew took leave of us by twelve, Mowbray and
Tourville grew very noisy by one, and were carried off by two. Wine
never moves Mr. Lovelace, notwithstanding a vivacity which generally
helps on over-gay spirits. As to myself, the little part I had taken
in the gaiety kept me unconcerned.
The clock struck three before I could get him into any serious or
attentive way--so natural to him is gaiety of heart; and such strong
hold had the liveliness of the evening taken of him. His conversation,
you know, my Lord, when his heart is free, runs off to the bottom without
But after that hour, and when we thought of parting, he became a little
more serious: and then he told me his designs, and gave me a plan of his
intended tour; wishing heartily that I could have accompanied him.
We parted about four; he not a little dissatisfied with me; for we had
some talk about subjects, which, he said, he loved not to think of; to
whit, Miss Harlowe's will; my executorship; papers I had in confidence
communicated to that admirable lady (with no unfriendly design, I assure
your Lordship;) and he insisting upon, and I refusing, the return of the
letters he had written to me, from the time that he had made his first
addresses to her.
He would see me once again, he said; and it would be upon very ill terms
if I complied not with his request. Which I bid him not expect. But,
that I might not deny him every thing, I told him, that I would give him
a copy of the will; though I was sure, I said, when he read it, he would
wish he had never seen it.
I had a message from him about eleven this morning, desiring me to name
a place at which to dine with him, and Mowbray, and Tourville, for the
last time: and soon after another from Colonel Morden, inviting me to
pass the evening with him at the Bedford-head in Covent-Garden. And,
that I might keep them at distance from one another, I appointed Mr.
Lovelace at the Eagle in Suffolk-street.
There I met him, and the two others. We began where we left off at our
last parting; and were very high with each other. But, at last, all was
made up, and he offered to forget and forgive every thing, on condition
that I would correspond with him while abroad, and continue the series
which had been broken through by his illness; and particularly give him,
as I had offered, a copy of the lady's last will.
I promised him: and he then fell to rallying me on my gravity, and on my
reformation-schemes, as he called them. As we walked about the room,
expecting dinner to be brought in, he laid his hand upon my shoulder;
then pushed me from him with a curse; walking round me, and surveying me
from head to foot; then calling for the observations of the others, he
turned round upon his heel, and with one of his peculiar wild airs, 'Ha,
ha, ha, ha,' burst he out, 'that these sour-faced proselytes should take
it into their heads that they cannot be pious, without forfeiting both
their good-nature and good-manners!--Why, Jack,' turning me about,
'pr'ythee look up, man!--Dost thou not know, that religion, if it has
taken proper hold of the heart, is the most cheerful countenance-maker
in the world?--I have heard my beloved Miss Harlowe say so: and she knew,
or nobody did. And was not her aspect a benign proof of the observation?
But thy these wamblings in thy cursed gizzard, and thy awkward grimaces,
I see thou'rt but a novice in it yet!--Ah, Belford, Belford, thou hast
a confounded parcel of briers and thorns to trample over barefoot, before
religion will illuminate these gloomy features!'
I give your Lordship this account, in answer to your desire to know, if I
think him the man he was.
In our conversation at dinner, he was balancing whether he should set out
the next morning, or the morning after. But finding he had nothing to
do, and Col. Morden being in town, (which, however, I told him not of,) I
turned the scale; and he agreed upon setting out to-morrow morning; they
to see him embark; and I promised to accompany them for a morning's ride
(as they proposed their horses); but said, that I must return in the
With much reluctance they let me go to my evening's appointment: they
little thought with whom: for Mr. Lovelace had put it as a case of honour
to all of us, whether, as he had been told that Mr. Morden and Mr. James
Harlowe had thrown out menaces against him, he ought to leave the kingdom
till he had thrown himself in their way.
Mowbray gave his opinion, that he ought to leave it like a man of honour
as he was; and if he did not take those gentlemen to task for their
opprobrious speeches, that at least he should be seen by them in public
before he went away; else they might give themselves airs, as if he had
left the kingdom in fear of them.
To this he himself so much inclined, that it was with difficulty I
persuaded him, that, as they had neither of them proceeded to a direct
and formal challenge; as they knew he had not made himself difficult of
access; and as he had already done the family injury enough; and it was
Miss Harlowe's earnest desire, that he would be content with that; he had
no reason, from any point of honour, to delay his journey; especially as
he had so just a motive for his going, as the establishing of his health;
and as he might return the sooner, if he saw occasion for it.
I found the Colonel in a very solemn way. We had a good deal of
discourse upon the subject of certain letters which had passed between us
in relation to Miss Harlowe's will, and to her family. He has some
accounts to settle with his banker; which, he says, will be adjusted
to-morrow; and on Thursday he proposes to go down again, to take leave of
his friends; and then intends to set out directly for Italy.
I wish Mr. Lovelace could have been prevailed upon to take any other
tour, than that of France and Italy. I did propose Madrid to him; but he
laughed at me, and told me, that the proposal was in character from a
mule; and from one who was become as grave as a Spaniard of the old cut,
I expressed to the Colonel my apprehensions, that his cousin's dying
injunctions would not have the force upon him that were to be wished.
'They have great force upon me, Mr. Belford,' said he; 'or one world
would not have held Mr. Lovelace and me thus long. But my intention is
to go to Florence; and not to lay my bones there, as upon my cousin's
death I told you I thought to do; but to settle all my affairs in those
parts, and then to come over, and reside upon a little paternal estate in
Kent, which is strangely gone to ruin in my absence. Indeed, were I to
meet Mr. Lovelace, either here or abroad, I might not be answerable for
He would have engaged me for to-morrow. But having promised to attend
Mr. Lovelace on his journey, as I have mentioned, I said, I was obliged
to go out of town, and was uncertain as to the time of my return in the
evening. And so I am to see him on Thursday morning at my own lodgings.
I will do myself the honour to write again to your Lordship to-morrow
night. Mean time, I am, my Lord,
Your Lordship's, &c.
MR. BELFORD, TO LORD M.
WEDN. NIGHT, OCT. 4.
I am just returned from attending Mr. Lovelace as far as Gad's-Hill, near
Rochester. He was exceeding gay all the way. Mowbray and Tourville are
gone on with him. They will see him embark, and under sail; and promise
to follow him in a month or two; for they say, there is no living without
him, now he is once more himself.
He and I parted with great and even solemn tokens of affection; but yet
not without gay intermixtures, as I will acquaint your Lordship.
Taking me aside, and clasping his arms about me, 'Adieu, dear Belford!'
said he: 'may you proceed in the course you have entered upon!--Whatever
airs I give myself, this charming creature has fast hold of me here--
[clapping his hand upon his heart]: and I must either appear what you see
me, or be what I so lately was--O the divine creature!' lifting up his
'But if I live to come to England, and you remain fixed in your present
way, and can give me encouragement, I hope rather to follow your example,
than to ridicule you for it. This will [for I had given him a copy of
it] I will make the companion of my solitary hours. You have told me a
part of its melancholy contents; and that, and her posthumous letter,
shall be my study; and they will prepare me for being your disciple, if
you hold on.
'You, Jack, may marry,' continued he; 'and I have a wife in my eye for
you.--Only thou'rt such an awkward mortal:' [he saw me affected, and
thought to make me smile:] 'but we don't make ourselves, except it be
worse by our dress. Thou art in mourning now, as well as I: but if ever
thy ridiculous turn lead thee again to be beau-brocade, I will bedizen
thee, as the girls say, on my return, to my own fancy, and according to
thy own natural appearance----Thou shalt doctor my soul, and I will
doctor thy body: thou shalt see what a clever fellow I will make of thee.
'As for me, I never will, I never can, marry--that I will not take a few
liberties, and that I will not try to start some of my former game, I
won't promise--habits are not so easily shaken off--but they shall be by
way of wearing. So return and reform shall go together.
'And now, thou sorrowful monkey, what aileth thee?' I do love him, my
'Adieu!--And once more adieu!'--embracing me. 'And when thou thinkest
thou hast made thyself an interest out yonder (looking up) then put in
a word for thy Lovelace.'
Joining company, he recommended to me to write often; and promised to let
me hear quickly from him; and that he would write to your Lordship, and
to all his family round; for he said, that you had all been more kind to
him than he had deserved.
And so we parted.
I hope, my Lord, for all your noble family's sake, that we shall see him
soon return, and reform, as he promises.
I return your Lordship my humble thanks for the honour of your invitation
to M. Hall. The first letter I receive from Mr. Lovelace shall give me
the opportunity of embracing it. I am, my Lord,
Your most faithful and obedient servant,
MR. BELFORD, TO LORD M.
THURSDAY MORNING, OCT. 5.
It may be some satisfaction to your Lordship, to have a brief account of
what has just now passed between Colonel Morden and me.
We had a good deal of discourse about the Harlowe family, and those parts
of the lady's will which still remain unexecuted; after which the Colonel
addressed himself to me in a manner which gave me some surprise.
He flattered himself, he said, from my present happy turn, and from my
good constitution, that I should live a great many years. It was
therefore his request, that I would consent to be his executor; since it
was impossible for him to make a better choice, or pursue a better
example, than his cousin had set.
His heart, he said was in it: there were some things in his cousin's will
and his analogous: and he had named one person to me, with whom he was
sure I would not refuse to be joined: and to whom he intended to apply
for his consent, when he had obtained mine.* [Intimating, as far as I
could gather, that it was Mr. Hickman, son of Sir Charles Hickman; to
whom I know your Lordship is not a stranger: for he said, Every one who
was dear to his beloved cousin, must be so to him: and he knew that the
gentleman who he had thoughts of, would have, besides my advice and
assistance, the advice of one of the most sensible ladies in England.]
* What is between crotchets, thus [ ], Mr. Belford omitted in the
transcription of this Letter to Miss Howe.
He took my hand, seeing me under some surprise: you must not hesitate,
much less deny me, Mr. Belford. Indeed you must not. Two things I will
assure you of: that I have, as I hope, made every thing so clear that you
cannot have any litigation: and that I have done so justly, and I hope it
will be thought so generously, by all my relations, that a mind like
your's will rather have pleasure than pain in the execution of this
trust. And this is what I think every honest man, who hopes to find an
honest man for his executor, should do.
I told him, that I was greatly obliged to him for his good opinion of me:
that it was so much every man's duty to be an honest man, that it could
not be interpreted as vanity to say, that I had no doubt to be found so.
But if I accepted of this trust, it must be on condition--
I could name no condition, he said, interrupting me, which he would
refuse to comply with.
This condition, I told him, was, that as there was as great a probability
of his being my survivor, as I his, he would permit me to name him for
mine; and, in that case, a week should not pass before I made my will.
With all his heart, he said; and the readier, as he had no apprehensions
of suddenly dying; for what he had done and requested was really the
effect of the satisfaction he had taken in the part I had already acted
as his cousin's executor; and in my ability, he was pleased to add: as
well as in pursuance of his cousin's advice in the preamble of her will;
to wit; 'That this was a work which should be set about in full health,
both of body and mind.'
I told him, that I was pleased to hear him say that he was not in any
apprehension of suddenly dying; as this gave me assurance that he had
laid aside all thoughts of acting contrary to the dying request of his
Does it argue, said he, smiling, that if I were to pursue a vengeance so
justifiable in my own opinion, I must be in apprehension of falling by
Mr. Lovelace's hand?--I will assure you, that I have no fears of that
sort--but I know this is an ungrateful subject to you. Mr. Lovelace is
your friend; and I will allow, that a good man may have a friendship for
a bad one, so far as to wish him well, without countenancing him in his
I will assure you, added he, that I have not yet made any resolutions
either way. I have told you what force my cousin's repeated requests
have with me. Hitherto they have with-held me--But let us quit this
This, Sir [giving me a sealed-up parcel] is my will. It is witnessed.
I made no doubt of prevailing upon you to do me the requested favour. I
have a duplicate to leave with the other gentleman; and an attested copy,
which I shall deposit at my banker's. At my return, which will be in six
or eight months at farthest, I will allow you to make an exchange of
your's, if you will have it so. I have only now to take leave of my
relations in the country. And so God protect you, Mr. Belford! You will
soon hear of me again.
He then very solemnly embraced me, as I did him: and we parted.
I heartily congratulate your Lordship on the narrow escape each gentleman
has had from the other: for I apprehend that they could not have met
without fatal consequences.
Time, I hope, which subdues all things, will subdue their resentments. I
am, my Lord,
Your Lordship's most faithful and obedient servant,
Several other letters passed between Miss Howe and Mr. Belford, relating
to the disposition of the papers and letters; to the poor's fund;
and to other articles of the Lady's will: wherein the method of
proceeding in each case was adjusted. After which the papers were
returned to Mr. Belford, that he might order the two directed
copies of them to be taken.
In one of these letters Mr. Belford requests Miss Howe to give the
character of the friend she so dearly loved: 'A task, he imagines,
that will be as agreeable to herself, as worthy of her pen.'
'I am more especially curious to know,' says he, 'what was that
particular disposition of her time, which I find mentioned in a
letter which I have just dipt into, where her sister is enviously
reproaching her on that score.* This information may
enable me,' says he, 'to account for what has often surprised me:
how, at so tender an age, this admirable lady became mistress of
such extraordinary and such various qualifications.'
* See Vol. I. Letter XLII.
MISS HOWE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
THURSDAY, OCT. 12.
I am incapable of doing justice to the character of my beloved friend;
and that not only from want of talents, but from grief; which, I think,
rather increases than diminishes by time; and which will not let me sit
down to a task that requires so much thought, and a greater degree of
accuracy than I ever believed myself mistress of. And yet I so well
approve of your motion, that I will throw into your hands a few
materials, that may serve by way of supplement, as I may say, to those
you will be able to collect from the papers themselves; from Col.
Morden's letters to you, particularly that of Sept. 23;* and from the
letters of the detestable wretch himself, who, I find, has done her
justice, although to his own condemnation: all these together will enable
you, who seem to be so great an admirer of her virtues, to perform the
task; and, I think, better than any person I know. But I make it my
request, that if you do any thing in this way, you will let me see it.
If I find it not to my mind, I will add or diminish, as justice shall
require. She was a wonderful creature from her infancy: but I suppose
you intend to give a character of her at those years when she was
qualified to be an example to other young ladies, rather than a history
of her life.
*See Letter XLV. of this volume.
Perhaps, nevertheless, you will choose to give a description of her
person: and as you knew not the dear creature when her heart was easy,
I will tell you what yet, in part, you can confirm:
That her shape was so fine, her proportion so exact, her features so
regular, her complexion so lovely, and her whole person and manner so
distinguishedly charming, that she could not move without being admired
and followed by the eyes of every one, though strangers, who never saw
her before. Col. Morden's letter, above referred to, will confirm this.
In her dress she was elegant beyond imitation; and generally led the
fashion to all the ladies round her, without seeming to intend it, and
without being proud of doing so.*
* See Vol. VII. Letter LXXXI.
She was rather tall than of a middling stature; and had a dignity in her
aspect and air, that bespoke the mind that animated every feature.
This native dignity, as I may call it, induced some superficial persons,
who knew not how to account for the reverence which involuntarily filled
their hearts on her appearance, to impute pride to her. But these were
such as knew that they should have been proud of any one of her
perfections: judging therefore by their own narrowness, they thought it
impossible that the lady who possessed so many, should not think herself
superior to them all. Indeed, I have heard her noble aspect found fault
with, as indicating pride and superiority. But people awed and
controuled, though but by their own consciousness of inferiority, will
find fault, right or wrong, with those, whose rectitude of mind and
manners their own culpable hearts give them to be afraid. But, in the
bad sense of the word, Miss Clarissa Harlowe knew not what pride was.
You may, if you touch upon this subject, throw in these sentences of
her's, spoken at different times, and on different occasions:
'Persons of accidental or shadowy merit may be proud: but inborn worth
must be always as much above conceit as arrogance.'
'Who can be better, or more worthy, than they should be? And, who shall
be proud of talents they give not to themselves?'
'The darkest and most contemptible ignorance is that of not knowing one's
self; and that all we have, and all we excel in, is the gift of God.'
'All human excellence is but comparative--there are persons who excel us,
as much as we fancy we excel the meanest.'
'In the general scale of beings, the lowest is as useful, and as much a
link of the great chain, as the highest.'
'The grace that makes every other grace amiable, is HUMILITY.'
'There is but one pride pardonable; that of being above doing a base or
Such were the sentiments by which this admirable young lady endeavoured
to conduct herself, and to regulate her conduct to others.
And, in truth, never were affability and complacency (graciousness, some
have called it) more eminent in any person, man or woman, than in her, to
those who put it in her power to oblige them: insomuch that the
benefitted has sometimes not known which to prefer--the grace bestowed,
or the manner in which it was conferred.
It has been observed, that what was said of Henry IV. of France, might be
said of her manner of refusing a request: That she generally sent from
her presence the person refused nearly as well satisfied as if she had
Then she had such a sacred regard to truth.--You cannot, Sir, expatiate
too much upon this topic. I dare say, that in all her letters, in all
the letters of the wretch, her veracity will not once be found
impeachable, although her calamities were so heavy, the horrid man's
wiles so subtle, and her struggles to free herself from them so active.
Her charity was so great, that she always chose to defend or acquit where
the fault was not so flagrant that it became a piece of justice to
condemn it; and was always an advocate for an absent person, whose
discretion was called in question, without having given manifest proofs
Once I remember, in a large circle of ladies, every one of which [I among
the rest] having censured a generally-reported indiscretion in a young
lady--Come, my Miss Howe, said she, [for we had agreed to take each other
to task when either thought the other gave occasion for it; and when by
blaming each other we intended a general reprehension, which, as she used
to say, it would appear arrogant or assuming to level more properly,] let
me be Miss Fanny Darlington. Then removing out of the circle, and
standing up, Here I stand, unworthy of a seat with the rest of the
company, till I have cleared myself. And now, suppose me to be her, let
me hear you charge, and do you hear what the poor culprit can say to it
in her own defence. And then answering the conjectural and unproved
circumstances, by circumstances as fairly to be supposed favourable, she
brought off triumphantly the censured lady; and so much to every one's
satisfaction, that she was led to her chair, and voted a double rank in
the circle, as the reinstated Miss Fanny Darlington, and as Miss Clarissa
Very few persons, she used to say, would be condemned, or even accused,
in the circles of ladies, were they present; it is generous, therefore,
nay, it is but just, said she, to take the part of the absent, if not
But though wisdom was her birthright, as I may say, yet she had not lived
years enow to pretend to so much experience as to exempt her from the
necessity of sometimes altering her opinion both of persons and things;
but, when she found herself obliged to do this, she took care that the
particular instance of mistaken worthiness in the person should not
narrow or contract her almost universal charity into general doubt or
jealousy. An instance of what I mean occurs to my memory.
Being upbraided, by a severe censure, with a person's proving base, whom
she had frequently defended, and by whose baseness my beloved friend was
a sufferer; 'You, Madam,' said she, 'had more penetration than such a
young creature as I can pretend to have. But although human depravity
may, I doubt, oftener justify those who judge harshly, than human
rectitude can those who judge favourably, yet will I not part with my
charity. Nevertheless, for the future, I will endeavour, in cases where
the judgment of my elders is against me, to make mine consistent with
caution and prudence.'
Indeed, when she was convinced of any error or mistake, (however
seemingly derogatory to her judgment and sagacity,) no one was ever so
acknowledging, so ingenuous, as she. 'It was a merit,' she used to say,
'next in degree to that of having avoided error, frankly to own an error.
And that the offering at an excuse in a blameable manner, was the
undoubted mark of a disingenuous, if not of a perverse mind.'
But I ought to add, on this head, [of her great charity where character
was concerned, and where there was room for charity,] that she was always
deservedly severe in her reprehensions of a wilful and studied vileness.
How could she then forgive the wretch by whose premeditated villany she
You must every where insist upon it, that had it not been for the stupid
persecutions of her relations, she never would have been in the power of
that horrid Lovelace. And yet, on several occasions, she acknowledged
frankly, that were person, and address, and alliance, to be allowedly the
principal attractives in the choice of a lover, it would not have been
difficult for her eye to mislead her heart.
When she was last with me, (three happy weeks together!) in every visit
the wretch made her, he left her more dissatisfied with him than in the
former. And yet his behaviour before her was too specious to have been
very exceptionable to a woman who had a less share of that charming
delicacy, and of that penetration, which so much distinguished her.
In obedience to the commands of her gloomy father, on his allowing her to
be my guest, for that last time, [as it most unhappily proved!] she never
would see him out of my company; and would often say, when he was gone,
'O my Nancy! this is not THE man!'--At other times, 'Gay, giddy creature!
he has always something to be forgiven for!'--At others, 'This man will
much sooner excite one's fears than attract one's love.' And then would
she repeat, 'This is not THE man. All that the world says of him cannot
be untrue. But what title have I to call him to account, who intend not
to have him?'
In short had she been left to a judgment and discretion, which nobody
ever questioned who had either, she would soon have discovered enough of
him to cause her to discard him for ever.
She was an admirable mistress of all the graces of elocution. The hand
she wrote, for the neat and free cut of her letters, (like her mind,
solid, and above all flourish,) for its fairness, evenness, and
swiftness, distinguished her as much as the correctness of her
orthography, and even punctuation, from the generality of her own sex;
and left her none, among the most accurate of the other, who excelled
And here you may, if you please, take occasion to throw in one hint for
the benefit of such of our sex as are too careless in their orthography,
[a consciousness of a defect which generally keeps them from writing.]--
She was used to say, 'It was a proof that a woman understood the
derivation as well as sense of the words she used, and that she stopt not
at sound, when she spelt accurately.'
On this head you may take notice, that it was always matter of surprise
to her, that the sex are generally so averse as they are to writing;
since the pen, next to the needle, of all employments, is the most
proper, and best adapted to their geniuses; and this, as well for
improvement as amusement: 'Who sees not,' would she say, 'that those
women who take delight in writing excel the men in all the graces of the
familiar style? The gentleness of their minds, the delicacy of their
sentiments, (improved by the manner of their education, and the
liveliness of their imaginations, qualify them to a high degree of
preference for this employment;) while men of learning, as they are
called, (that is to say, of mere learning,) aiming to get above that
natural ease and freedom which distinguish this, (and indeed every other
kind of writing,) when they think they have best succeeded, are got
above, or rather beneath, all natural beauty.'
Then, stiffened and starched [let me add] into dry and indelectable
affectation, one sort of these scholars assume a style as rough as
frequently are their manners; they spangle over their productions with
metaphors; they tumble into bombast: the sublime, with them, lying in
words, and not in sentiment, they fancy themselves most exalted when
least understood; and down they sit, fully satisfied with their own
performances, and call them MASCULINE. While a second sort, aiming at
wit, that wicked misleader, forfeit all title to judgment. And a third,
sinking into the classical pits, there poke and scramble about, never
seeking to show genius of their own; all their lives spent in
common-place quotation; fit only to write notes and comments upon other
people's texts; all their pride, that they know those beauties of two
thousand years old in another tongue, which they can only admire, but not
imitate, in their own.
And these, truly, must be learned men, and despisers of our insipid sex!
But I need not mention the exceptions which my beloved friend always made
[and to which I subscribe] in favour of men of sound learning, true
taste, and extensive abilities; nor, in particular, her respect even to
reverence for gentlemen of the cloath; which, I dare say, will appear in
every paragraph of her letters wherever any of the clergy are mentioned.
Indeed the pious Dr. Lewen, the worthy Dr. Blome, the ingenious Mr.
Arnold, and Mr. Tompkins, gentlemen whom she names, in one article of her
will, as learned divines with whom she held an early correspondence, well
deserved her respect; since to their conversation and correspondence she
owed many of her valuable acquirements.