Part 6 out of 6
Neither he nor his wife having set out with any notion of frugality could
think of retrenching. Nor did their daughter desire that they should
retrench. They thought glare or ostentation reputable. They called it
living genteely. And as they lifted their heads above their neighbours,
they supposed their credit concerned to go forward rather than backward
in outward appearances. They flattered themselves, and they flattered
their girl, and she was entirely of their opinion, that she had charms
and wit enough to attract some man of rank; of fortune at least: and yet
this daughter of a mercer-father and grocer-mother could not bear the
thoughts of a creeping cit; encouraging herself with the few instances
(comcommon ones, of girls much inferior to herself in station, talents,
education, and even fortune, who had succeeded--as she doubted not to
succeed. Handsome settlements, and a chariot, that tempting gewgaw to
the vanity of the middling class of females, were the least that she
proposed to herself. But all this while, neither her parents nor herself
considered that she had appetites indulged to struggle with, and a turn
of education given her, as well as a warm constitution, unguarded by
sound principles, and unbenefitted by example, which made her much better
qualified for a mistress than a wife.
Her twentieth year, to her own equal wonder and regret, passed over her
head, and she had not one offer that her pride would permit her to accept
of. A girl from fifteen to eighteen, her beauty then beginning to
blossom, will, as a new thing, attract the eyes of men: but if she make
her face cheap at public places, she will find, that new faces will draw
more attention than fine faces constantly seen. Policy, therefore, if
nothing else were considered, would induce a young beauty, if she could
tame her vanity, just to show herself, and to be talked of, and then
withdrawing, as if from discretion, (and discreet it will be to do so,)
expect to be sought after, rather than to be thought to seek for; only
reviving now-and-then the memory of herself, at the public places in
turn, if she find herself likely to be forgotten; and then she will be
new again. But this observation ought young ladies always to have in
their heads, that they can hardly ever expect to gratify their vanity,
and at the same time gain the admiration of men worthy of making partners
for life. They may, in short, have many admirers at public places, but
not one lover.
Sally Martin knew nothing of this doctrine. Her beauty was in its bloom,
and yet she found herself neglected. 'Sally Martin, the mercer's
daughter: she never fails being here;' was the answer, and the
accompanying observation, made to every questioner, Who is that lady?
At last, her destiny approached. It was at a masquerade that she first
saw the gay, the handsome Lovelace, who was just returned from his
travels. She was immediately struck with his figure, and with the
brilliant things that she heard fall from his lips as he happened to sit
near her. He, who was not then looking out for a wife, was taken with
Sally's smartness, and with an air that at the same time showed her to be
equally genteel and self-significant; and signs of approbation mutually
passing, he found no difficulty in acquainting himself where to visit her
next day. And yet it was some mortification to a person of her
self-consequence, and gay appearance, to submit to be known by so fine a
young gentleman as no more than a mercer's daughter. So natural is it
for a girl brought up as Sally was, to be occasionally ashamed of those
whose folly had set her above herself.
But whatever it might be to Sally, it was no disappointment to Mr.
Lovelace, to find his mistress of no higher degree; because he hoped to
reduce her soon to the lowest condition that an unhappy woman can fall
But when Miss Martin had informed herself that her lover was the nephew
and presumptive heir of Lord M. she thought him the very man for whom she
had been so long and so impatiently looking out; and for whom it was
worth her while to spread her toils. And here it may not be amiss to
observe, that it is very probable that Mr. Lovelace had Sally Martin in
his thoughts, and perhaps two or three more whose hopes of marriage from
him had led them to their ruin, when he drew the following whimsical
picture, in a letter to his friend Belford, not inserted in the preceding
'Methinks,' says he, 'I see a young couple in courtship, having each a
design upon the other: the girl plays off: she is very happy as she is:
she cannot be happier: she will not change her single state: the man, I
will suppose, is one who does not confess, that he desires not that she
should: she holds ready a net under her apron; he another under his coat;
each intending to throw it over the other's neck; she over his, when her
pride is gratified, and she thinks she can be sure of him; he over her's,
when the watched-for yielding moment has carried consent too far. And
suppose he happens to be the more dexterous of the two, and whips his net
over her, before she can cast her's over him; how, I would fain know, can
she cast her's over him; how, I would fain know, can she be justly
entitled to cry out upon cruelty, barbarity, deception, sacrifices, and
all the rest of the exclamatory nonsense, with which the pretty fools, in
such a case, are wont to din the ears of their conquerors? Is it not
just, thinkest thou, when she makes her appeal to gods and men, that both
gods and men should laugh at her, and hitting her in the teeth with her
own felonious intentions, bid her sit down patiently under her deserved
In short, Sally's parents, as well as herself, encouraged Mr. Lovelace's
visits. They thought they might trust to a discretion in he which she
herself was too wise to doubt. Pride they knew she had; and that, in
these cases, is often called discretion.--Lord help the sex, says
Lovelace, if they had not pride!--Nor did they suspect danger from that
specious air of sincerity, and gentleness of manners, which he could
assume or lay aside whenever he pleased.
The second masquerade, which was no more than their third meeting abroad,
completed her ruin, from so practised, though so young a deceiver; and
that before she well knew she was in danger; for, having prevailed on her
to go off with him about twelve o'clock to his aunt Forbes's, a lady of
honour and fortune, to whom he had given reason to expect her future
niece, [the only hint of marriage he ever gave her,] he carried her off
to the house of the wicked woman, who bears the name of Sinclair in these
papers; and there, by promises, which she understood in the favourable
sense, (for where a woman loves she seldom doubts enough for her safety,)
obtained an easy conquest over a virtue that was little more than
He found it not difficult to induce her to proceed in the guilty
commerce, till the effects of it became to apparent to be hid. Her
parents then (in the first fury of their disappointment, and vexation for
being deprived of all hopes of such a son-in-law) turned her out of
Her disgrace thus published, she became hardened; and, protected by her
seducer, whose favourite mistress she then was, she was so incensed
against her parents for an indignity so little suiting with her pride,
and the head they had always given her, that she refused to return to
them, when, repenting of their passionate treatment of her, they would
have been reconciled to her: and, becoming the favourite daughter of her
mother Sinclair, at the persuasions of that abandoned woman she practised
to bring on an abortion, which she effected, though she was so far gone
that it had like to have cost her her life.
Thus, unchastity her first crime, murder her next, her conscience became
seared; and, young as she was, and fond of her deceiver, soon grew
indelicate enough, having so thorough-paced a school-mistress, to do all
she could to promote the pleasures of the man who had ruined her;
scrupling not, with a spirit truly diabolical, to endeavour to draw in
others to follow her example. And it is hardly to be believed what
mischiefs of this sort she was the means of effecting; woman confiding in
and daring woman; and she a creature of specious appearance, and great
A still viler wickedness, if possible, remains to be said of Sally
Her father dying, her mother, in hopes to reclaim her, as she called it,
proposed her to quit the house of the infamous Sinclair, and to retire
with her into the country, where her disgrace, and her then wicked way of
life, would not be known; and there so to live as to save appearances;
the only virtue she had ever taught her; besides that of endeavouring
rather to delude than be deluded.
To this Sally consented; but with no other intention, as she often owned,
(and gloried in it,) than to cheat her mother of the greatest part of her
substance, in revenge for consenting to her being turned out of doors
long before, and by way of reprisal for having persuaded her father, as
she would have it, to cut her off, in his last will, from any share in
This unnatural wickedness, in half a year's time, she brought about; and
then the serpent retired to her obscene den with her spoils, laughing at
what she had done; even after it had broken her mother's heart, as it did
in a few months' time: a severe, but just punishment for the unprincipled
education she had given her.
It ought to be added, that this was an iniquity of which neither Mr.
Lovelace, nor any of his friends, could bear to hear her boast; and
always checked her for it whenever she did; condemning it with one voice.
And it is certain that this, and other instances of her complicated
wickedness, turned early Lovelace's heart against her; and, had she not
been subservient to him in his other pursuits, he would not have endured
her: for, speaking of her, he would say, Let not any one reproach us,
Jack: there is no wickedness like the wickedness of a woman.*
* Eccles. xxv. 19.
A bad education was the preparative, it must be confessed; and for this
Sally Martin had reason to thank her parents; as they had reason to thank
themselves for what followed: but, had she not met with a Lovelace, she
had avoided a Sinclair; and might have gone on at the common rate of
wives so educated, and been the mother of children turned out to take
their chance in the world, as she was; so many lumps of soft wax, fit to
take any impression that the first accidents gave them; neither happy,
nor making happy; every thing but useful, and well off, if not extremely
POLLY HORTON was the daughter of a gentlewoman, well descended; whose
husband, a man of family and of honour, was a Captain in the Guards.
He died when Polly was about nine years of age, leaving her to the care
of her mother, a lively young lady of about twenty-six; with a genteel
provision for both.
Her mother was extremely fond of her Polly; but had it not in herself to
manifest the true, the genuine fondness of a parent, by a strict and
guarded education; dressing out, and visiting, and being visited by the
gay of her own sex, and casting her eye abroad, as one very ready to try
her fortune again in the married state.
This induced those airs, and a love to those diversions, which make a
young widow, of so lively a turn, the unfittest tutoress in the world,
even to her own daughter.
Mrs. Horton herself having had an early turn to music, and that sort of
reading which is but an earlier debauchery for young minds, preparative
to the grosser at riper years; to wit, romances and novels, songs and
plays, and those without distinction, moral or immoral, she indulged her
daughter in the same taste; and at those hours, when they could not take
part in the more active and lively amusements and kill-times, as some
call them, used to employ Miss to read to her, happy enough, in her own
imagination, that while she was diverting her own ears, and sometimes, as
the piece was, corrupting her own heart, and her child's too, she was
teaching Miss to read, and improve her mind; for it was the boast of
every tea-table half-hour, That Miss Horton, in propriety, accent, and
emphasis, surpassed all the young ladies her age; and, at other times,
complimenting the pleased mother--Bless me, Madam, with what a surprising
grace Miss Horton reads!--she enters into the very spirit of her subject
--this she could have from nobody but you! An intended praise; but, as
the subjects were, would have been a severe satire in the mouth of an
enemy!--While the fond, the inconsiderate mother, with a delighted air,
would cry, Why, I cannot but say, Miss Horton does credit to her
tutoress! And then a Come hither, my best Love! and, with a kiss of
approbation, What a pleasure to your dear papa, had he lived to see your
improvements, my Charmer! Concluding with a sigh of satisfaction, her
eyes turning round upon the circle, to take in all the silent applauses
of theirs! But little though the fond, the foolish mother, what the
plant would be, which was springing up from these seeds! Little imagined
she, that her own ruin, as well as her child's, was to be the consequence
of this fine education; and that, in the same ill-fated hour, the honour
of both mother and daughter was to become a sacrifice to the intriguing
This, the laughing girl, when abandoned to her evil destiny, and in
company with her sister Sally, and others, each recounting their
settings-out, their progress, and their fall, frequently related to be
her education and manner of training-up.
This, and to see a succession of humble servants buzzing about a mother,
who took too much pride in addresses of that kind, what a beginning, what
an example, to a constitution of tinder, so prepared to receive the spark
struck, from the steely forehead and flinty heart of such a libertine as
at last it was their fortune to be encountered by!
In short, as Miss grew up under the influences of such a directress, and
of books so light and frothy, with the inflaming additions of music,
concerts, operas, plays, assemblies, balls, and the rest of the rabble of
amusements of modern life, it is no wonder that, like early fruit, she
was soon ripened to the hand of the insidious gatherer.
At fifteen, she owned she was ready to fancy herself the heroine of every
novel and of every comedy she read, so well did she enter into the spirit
of her subject; she glowed to become the object of some hero's flame; and
perfectly longed to begin an intrigue, and even to be run away with by
some enterprising lover: yet had neither confinement nor check to
apprehend from her indiscreet mother, which she thought absolutely
necessary to constitute a Parthenissa!
Nevertheless, with all these fine modern qualities, did she complete her
nineteenth year, before she met with any address of consequence; one half
of her admirers being afraid, because of her gay turn, and but middling
fortune, to make serious applications for her favour; while others were
kept at a distance, by the superior airs she assumed; and a third sort,
not sufficiently penetrating the foibles either of mother or daughter,
were kept off by the supposed watchful care of the former.
But when the man of intrepidity and intrigue was found, never was heroine
so soon subdued, never goddess so easily stript of her celestials! For,
at the opera, a diversion at which neither she nor her mother ever missed
to be present, she beheld the specious Lovelace--beheld him invested with
all the airs of heroic insult, resenting a slight affront offered to his
Sally Martin by two gentlemen who had known her in her more hopeful
state, one of whom Mr. Lovelace obliged to sneak away with a broken head,
given with the pummel of his sword, the other with a bloody nose; neither
of them well supporting that readiness of offence, which, it seems, was a
part of their known character to be guilty of.
The gallantry of this action drawing every by-stander on the side of the
hero, O the brave man! cried Polly Horton, aloud, to her mother, in a
kind of rapture, How needful the protection of the brave to the fair!
with a softness in her voice, which she had taught herself, to suit her
fancied high condition of life.
A speech so much in his favour, could not but take the notice of a man
who was but too sensible of the advantages which his fine person, and
noble air, gave him over the gentler hearts, who was always watching
every female eye, and who had his ear continually turned to every
affected voice; for that was one of his indications of a proper subject
to be attempted--Affectation of every sort, he used to say, is a certain
sign of a wrong turned head; of a faulty judgment; and upon such a basis
I seldom build in vain.
He instantly resolved to be acquainted with a young creature, who seemed
so strongly prejudiced in his favour. Never man had a readier invention
for all sorts of mischief. He gave his Sally her cue. He called her
sister in their hearing; and Sally, whisperingly, gave the young lady and
her mother, in her own way, the particulars of the affront she had
received; making herself an angel of light, to cast the brighter ray upon
the character of her heroic brother. She particularly praised his known
and approved courage; and mingled with her praises of him such
circumstances relating to his birth, his fortune, and endowments, as left
him nothing to do but to fall in love with the enamoured Polly.
Mr. Lovelace presently saw what turn to give his professions. So brave a
man, yet of manners so gentle! hit the young lady's taste: nor could she
suspect the heart that such an aspect covered. This was the man! the
very man! she whispered to her mother. And, when the opera was over, his
servant procuring a coach, he undertook, with his specious sister, to set
them down at their own lodgings, though situated a quite different way
from his: and there were they prevailed upon to alight, and partake of a
Sally pressed them to return the favour to her at her aunt Forbes's, and
hoped it would be before her brother went to his own seat.
They promised her, and named their evening.
A splendid entertainment was provided. The guests came, having in the
interim found all that was said of his name, and family, and fortune to
be true. Persons of so little strictness in their own morals, took it
not into their heads to be very inquisitive after his.
Music and dancing had their share in the entertainment. These opened
their hearts, already half opened by love: The aunt Forbes, and the
lover's sister, kept them open by their own example. The hero sung,
vowed, promised. Their gratitude was moved, their delights were
augmented, their hopes increased, their confidence was engaged, all their
appetites up in arms; the rich wines co-operating, beat quite off their
guard, and not thought enough remaining for so much as suspicion--Miss,
detached from her mother by Sally, soon fell a sacrifice to the
The widow herself, half intoxicated, and raised as she was with artful
mixtures, and inflamed by love, unexpectedly tendered by one of the
libertines, his constant companions, (to whom an opportunity was
contrived to be given to be alone with her, and that closely followed by
importunity, fell into her daughter's error. The consequences of which,
in length of time, becoming apparent, grief, shame, remorse, seized her
heart, (her own indiscretion not allowing her to arraign her daughter's,)
and she survived not her delivery, leaving Polly with child likewise;
who, when delivered, being too fond of the gay deluder to renounce his
company, even when she found herself deluded, fell into a course of
extravagance and dissoluteness; ran through her fortune in a very little
time, and, as an high preferment, at last, with Sally, was admitted a
quarter partner with the detestable Sinclair.
All that is necessary to add to the history of these unhappy women, will
be comprised in a very little compass.
After the death of the profligate Sinclair, they kept on the infamous
trade with too much success; till an accident happened in the house--a
gentleman of family killed in it in a fray, contending with another for
a new-vamped face. Sally was accused of holding the gentleman's arm,
while his more-favoured adversary ran him through the heart, and then
made off. And she being tried for her life narrowly escaped.
This accident obliged them to break up house-keeping; and not having been
frugal enough of their ill-gotten gains, (lavishing upon one what they
got by another,) they were compelled, for subsistence sake, to enter
themselves as under-managers at such another house as their own had been.
In which service, soon after, Sally died of a fever and surfeit got by a
debauch; and the other, about a month after, by a violent cold,
occasioned through carelessness in a salivation.
Happier scenes open for the remaining characters; for it might be
descending too low to mention the untimely ends of Dorcas, and of
William, Mr. Lovelace's wicked servant; and the pining and consumptive
one's of Betty Barnes and Joseph Leman, unmarried both, and in less than
a year after the happy death of their excellent young lady.
The good Mrs. NORTON passed the small remainder of her life, as happily
as she wished, in her beloved foster-daughter's dairy-house, as it used
to be called: as she wished, we repeat; for she had too strong
aspirations after another life, to be greatly attached to this.
She laid out the greatest part of her time in doing good by her advice,
and by the prudent management of the fund committed to her direction.
Having lived an exemplary life from her youth upwards; and seen her son
happily settled in the world; she departed with ease and calmness,
without pang or agony, like a tired traveller, falling into a sweet
slumber: her last words expressing her hope of being restored to the
child of her bosom; and to her own excellent father and mother, to whose
care and pains she owed that good education to which she was indebted for
all her other blessings.
The poor's fund, which was committed to her care, she resigned a week
before her death, into the hands of Mrs. Hickman, according the direction
of the will, and all the accounts and disbursements with it; which she
had kept with such an exactness, that the lady declares, that she will
follow her method, and only wishes to discharge the trust as well.
Miss HOWE was not to be persuaded to quit her mourning for her dear
friend, until six months were fully expired: and then she made Mr.
HICKMAN one of the happiest men in the world. A woman of her fine sense
and understanding, married to a man of virtue and good-nature, (who had
no past capital errors to reflect upon, and to abate his joys, and whose
behaviour to Mrs. Hickman is as affectionate as it was respectful to Miss
Howe,) could not do otherwise. They are already blessed with two fine
children; a daughter, to whom, by joint consent, they have given the name
of her beloved friend; an a son, who bears that of his father.
She has allotted to Mr. Hickman, who takes delight in doing good, (and
that as much for its own sake, as to oblige her,) his part of the
management of the poor's fund; to be accountable for it, as she
pleasantly says, to her. She has appropriated every Thursday morning for
her part of that management; and takes so much delight in the task, that
she declares it to be one of the most agreeable of her amusements. And
the more agreeable, as she teaches every one whom she benefits, to bless
the memory of her departed friend; to whom she attributes the merit of
all her own charities, as well as the honour of those which she dispenses
in pursuance of her will.
She has declared, That this fund shall never fail while she lives. She
has even engaged her mother to contribute annually to it. And Mr.
Hickman has appropriated twenty pounds a year to the same. In
consideration of which she allows him to recommend four objects yearly to
partake of it.--Allows, is her style; for she assumes the whole
prerogative of dispensing this charity; the only prerogative she does or
has occasion to assume. In every other case, there is but one will
between them; and that is generally his or her's, as either speaks first,
upon any subject, be it what it will. MRS. HICKMAN, she sometimes as
pleasantly as generously tells him, must not quite forget that she was
once MISS HOWE, because if he had not loved her as such, and with all her
foibles, she had never been MRS. HICKMAN. Nevertheless she seriously, on
all occasions, and that to others as well as to himself, confesses that
she owes him unreturnable obligations for his patience with her in HER
day, and for his generous behaviour to her in HIS.
And still more the highly does she esteem and love him, as she reflects
upon his past kindness to her beloved friend; and on that dear friend's
good opinion of him. Nor is it less grateful to her, that the worthy
man joins most sincerely with her in all those respectful and
affectionate recollections, which make the memory of the departed
precious to survivors.
Mr. BELFORD was not so destitute of humanity and affection, as to be
unconcerned at the unhappy fate of his most intimate friend. But when
he reflects upon the untimely ends of several of his companions, but just
mentioned in the preceding history*--On the shocking despondency and
death of his poor friend Belton--On the signal justice which overtook the
wicked Tomlinson--On the dreadful exit of the infamous Sinclair--On the
deep remorses of his more valued friend--And, on the other hand, on the
example set him by the most excellent of her sex--and on her blessed
preparation, and happy departure--And when he considers, as he often does
with awe and terror, that his wicked habits were so rooted in his
depraved heart, that all these warnings, and this lovely example, seemed
to be but necessary to enable him to subdue them, and to reform; and that
such awakening-calls are hardly ever afforded to men of his cast, or (if
they are) but seldom attended the full vigour of constitution:--When he
reflects upon all these things, he adores the Mercy, which through these
calls has snatched him as a brand out of the fire: and thinks himself
obliged to make it his endeavours to find out, and to reform, any of
those who may have been endangered by his means; as well as to repair, to
the utmost of his power, any damage or mischiefs which he may have
occasioned to others.
* See Letters XLI. and LVII. of this volume.
With regard to the trust with which he was honoured by the inimitable
lady, he had the pleasure of acquitting himself of it in a very few
months, to every body's satisfaction; even to that of the unhappy family;
who sent him their thanks on the occasion. Nor was he, at delivering up
his accounts, contented without resigning the legacy bequeathed to him,
to the uses of the will. So that the poor's fund, as it is called, is
become a very considerable sum: and will be a lasting bank for relief of
objects who best deserve relief.
There was but one earthly blessing which remained for Mr. Belford to wish
for, in order, morally speaking, to secure to him all his other
blessings; and that was, the greatest of all worldly ones, a virtuous and
prudent wife. So free a liver as he had been, he did not think that he
could be worthy of such a one, till, upon an impartial examination of
himself, he found the pleasure he had in his new resolutions so great,
and his abhorrence of his former courses so sincere, that he was the less
apprehensive of a deviation.
Upon this presumption, having also kept in his mind some encouraging
hints from Mr. Lovelace; and having been so happy as to have it in his
power to oblige Lord M. and that whole noble family, by some services
grateful to them (the request for which from his unhappy friend was
brought over, among other papers, with the dead body, by De la Tour); he
besought that nobleman's leave to make his addresses to Miss CHARLOTTE
MONTAGUE, the eldest of his Lordship's two nieces: and making at the same
time such proposals of settlements as were not objected to, his Lordship
was pleased to use his powerful interest in his favour. And his worthy
niece having no engagement, she had the goodness to honour Mr. Belford
with her hand; and thereby made him as completely happy as a man can be,
who has enormities to reflect upon, which are out of his power to atone
for, by reason of the death of some of the injured parties, and the
irreclaimableness of others.
'Happy is the man who, in the time of health and strength, sees and
reforms the error of his ways!--But how much more happy is he, who has no
capital and wilful errors to repent of!--How unmixed and sincere must the
joys of such a one come to him!'
Lord M. added bountifully in his life-time, as did also the two ladies
his sisters, to the fortune of their worthy niece. And as Mr. Belford
had been blessed with a son by her, his Lordship at his death [which
happened just three years after the untimely one of his unhappy nephew]
was pleased to devise to that son, and to his descendents for ever (and
in case of his death unmarried, to any other children of his niece) his
Hertfordshire estate, (designed for Mr. Lovelace,) which he made up to
the value of a moiety of his real estates; bequeathing also a moiety
of his personal to the same lady.
Miss PATTY MONTAGUE, a fine young lady [to whom her noble uncle, at his
death, devised the other moiety of his real and personal estates,
including his seat in Berkshire] lives at present with her excellent
sister, Mrs. Belford; to whom she removed upon Lord M.'s death: but, in
all probability, will soon be the lady of a worthy baronet, of ancient
family, fine qualities, and ample fortunes, just returned from his
travels, with a character superior to the very good one he set out with:
a case that very seldom happens, although the end of travel is
Colonel MORDEN, who, with so many virtues and accomplishments, cannot be
unhappy, in several letters tot eh executor, with whom he corresponds
from Florence, [having, since his unhappy affair with Mr. Lovelace
changed his purpose of coming so soon to reside in England as he had
intended,] declares, That although he thought himself obliged either to
accept of what he took to be a challenge, as such; or tamely to
acknowledge, that he gave up all resentment of his cousin's wrongs; and
in a manner to beg pardon for having spoken freely of Mr. Lovelace behind
his back; and although at the time he owns he was not sorry to be called
upon, as he was, to take either the one course or the other; yet now,
coolly reflecting upon his beloved cousin's reasonings against duelling;
and upon the price it had too probably cost the unhappy man; he wishes he
had more fully considered those words in his cousin's posthumous letter--
'If God will allow him time for repentance, why should you deny it him?'*
* Several worthy persons have wished, that the heinous practice of
duelling had been more forcibly discouraged, by way of note, at the
conclusion of a work designed to recommend the highest and most important
doctrines of christianity. It is humbly presumed, that these persons
have not sufficiently attended to what is already done on that subject in
Vol. II. Letter XII. and in this volume, Letter XVI. XLIII. XLIV. and
To conclude--The worthy widow Lovick continues to live with Mr. Belford;
and, by her prudent behaviour, piety, and usefulness, has endeared
herself to her lady, and to the whole family.
REFERRED TO IN THE PREFACE
In which several objections that have been made, as well to the
catastrophe, as to different parts of the preceding history,
are briefly considered.
The foregoing work having been published at three different periods of
time, the author, in the course of its publication, was favoured with
many anonymous letters, in which the writers differently expressed their
wishes with regard to the apprehended catastrophe.
Most of those directed to him by the gentler sex, turned in favour of
what they called a fortunate ending. Some of the fair writers,
enamoured, as they declared, with the character of the heroine, were
warmly solicitous to have her made happy; and others, likewise of their
mind, insisted that poetical justice required that it should be so. And
when, says one ingenious lady, whose undoubted motive was good-nature and
humanity, it must be concluded that it is in an author's power to make
his piece end as he pleases, why should he not give pleasure rather than
pain to the reader whom he has interested in favour of his principal
Others, and some gentlemen, declared against tragedies in general, and in
favour of comedies, almost in the words of Lovelace, who was supported in
his taste by all the women at Mrs. Sinclair's and by Sinclair herself.
'I have too much feeling, said he.* There is enough in the world to make
our hearts sad, without carrying grief into our diversions, and making
the distresses of others our own.'
* See Vol. IV. Letter XL.
And how was this happy ending to be brought about? Why, by this very
easy and trite expedient; to wit, by reforming Lovelace, and marrying him
to Clarissa--not, however, abating her one of her trials, nor any of her
sufferings, [for the sake of the sport her distresses would give to the
tender-hearted reader, as she went along,] the last outrage excepted:
that, indeed, partly in compliment to Lovelace himself, and partly for
her delicacy-sake, they were willing to spare her.
But whatever were the fate of his work, the author was resolved to take a
different method. He always thought that sudden conversions, such,
especially, as were left to the candour of the reader to suppose and make
out, has neither art, nor nature, nor even probability, in them; and that
they were moreover of a very bad example. To have a Lovelace, for a
series of years, glory in his wickedness, and think that he had nothing
to do, but as an act of grace and favour to hold out his hand to receive
that of the best of women, whenever he pleased, and to have it thought
that marriage would be a sufficient amends for all his enormities to
others as well as to her--he could not bear that. Nor is reformation, as
he has shown in another piece, to be secured by a fine face; by a passion
that has sense for its object; nor by the goodness of a wife's heart, nor
even example, if the heart of the husband be not graciously touched by
the Divine finger.
It will be seen, by this time, that the author had a great end in view.
He had lived to see the scepticism and infidelity openly avowed, and even
endeavoured to be propagated from the press; the greatest doctrines of
the Gospel brought into question; those of self-denial and mortification
blotted out of the catalogue of christian virtues; and a taste even to
wantonness for out-door pleasure and luxury, to the general exclusion of
domestic as well as public virtue, industriously promoted among all ranks
and degrees of people.
In this general depravity, when even the pulpit has lost great part of
its weight, and the clergy are considered as a body of interested men,
the author thought he should be able to answer it to his own heart, be
the success what it would, if he threw in his mite towards introducing a
reformation so much wanted: and he imagined, that if in an age given up
to diversion and entertainment, if he could steal in, as may be said, and
investigate the great doctrines of Christianity under the fashionable
guise of an amusement; he should be most likely to serve his purpose,
remembering that of the Poet:--
A verse may find him who a sermon flies,
And turn delight into a sacrifice.
He was resolved, therefore, to attempt something that never yet had been
done. He considered that the tragic poets have as seldom made their
heroes true objects of pity, as the comics theirs laudable ones of
imitation: and still more rarely have made them in their deaths look
forward to a future hope. And thus, when they die, they seem totally to
perish. Death, in such instances, must appear terrible. It must be
considered as the greatest evil. But why is death set in such shocking
lights, when it is the universal lot?
He has, indeed, thought fit to paint the death of the wicked, as terrible
as he could paint it. But he has endeavoured to draw that of the good in
such an amiable manner, that the very Balaams of the world should not
forbear to wish that their latter end might be like that of the heroine.
And after all, what is the poetical justice so much contended for by
some, as the generality of writers have managed it, but another sort of
dispensation than that with which God, by revelation, teaches us, He has
thought fit to exercise mankind; whom placing here only in a state of
probation, he hath so intermingled good and evil, as to necessitate us to
look forward for a more equal dispensation of both?
The Author of the History (or rather Dramatic Narrative) of Clarissa, is
therefore well justified by the christian system, in deferring to
extricate suffering virtue to the time in which it will meet with the
completion of its reward.
But not absolutely to shelter the conduct observed in it under the
sanction of Religion, [an authority, perhaps, not of the greatest weight
with some of our modern critics,] it must be observed, that the Author is
justified in its catastrophe by the greatest master of reason, and best
judge of composition, that ever lived. The learned reader knows we must
mean ARISTOTLE; whose sentiments in this matter we shall beg leave to
deliver in the words of a very amiable writer of our own country:
'The English writers of Tragedy,' says Mr. Addison,* 'are possessed with
a notion, that when they represent a virtuous or innocent person in
distress, they ought not to leave him till they have delivered him out of
his troubles, or made him triumph over his enemies.
* Spectator, Vol. I. No. XL.
'This error they have been led into by a ridiculous doctrine in modern
criticism, that they are obliged to an equal distribution of rewards and
punishments, and an impartial execution of poetical justice.
'Who were the first that established this rule, I know not; but I am sure
it has no foundation in NATURE, in REASON, or in the PRACTICE OF THE
'We find that good and evil happen alike unto ALL MEN on this side the
grave: and as the principal design of tragedy is to raise commiseration
and terror in the minds of the audience, we shall defeat this great end,
if we always make virtue and innocence happy and successful.
'Whatever crosses and disappoints a good man suffers in the body of the
tragedy, they will make but small impression on our minds, when we know,
that, in the last act, he is to arrive at the end of his wishes and
'When we see him engaged in the depth of his afflictions, we are apt to
comfort ourselves, because we are sure he will find his way out of them,
and that his grief, however great soever it may be at present, will soon
terminate in gladness.
'For this reason, the antient writers of tragedy treated men in their
plays, as they are dealt with in the world, by making virtue sometimes
happy and sometimes miserable, as they found it in the fable which they
made choice of, or as it might affect their audience in the most
'Aristotle considers the tragedies that were written in either of those
kinds; and observes, that those which ended unhappily had always pleased
the people, and carried away the prize, in the public disputes of the
state, from those that ended happily.
'Terror and commiseration leave a pleasing anguish in the mind, and fix
the audience in such a serious composure of thought, as is much more
lasting and delightful, than any little transient starts of joy and
'Accordingly, we find, that more of our English tragedies have succeeded,
in which the favourites of the audience sink under their calamities, than
those in which they recover themselves out of them.
'The best plays of this kind are The Orphan, Venice Preserved, Alexander
the Great, Theodosius, All for Love, Oedipus, Oroonoko, Othello, &c.
'King Lear is an admirable tragedy of the same kind, as Shakespeare wrote
it: but as it is reformed according to the chimerical notion of POETICAL
JUSTICE, in my humble opinion it has lost half its beauty.
'At the same time I must allow, that there are very noble tragedies which
have been framed upon the other plan, and have ended happily; as indeed
most of the good tragedies which have been written since the starting of
the above-mentioned criticism, have taken this turn: The Mourning Bride,
Tamerlane,* Ulysses, Phaedra and Hippolitus, with most of Mr. Dryden's. I
must also allow, that many of Shakespeare's, and several of the
celebrated tragedies of antiquity, are cast in the same form. I do not,
therefore, dispute against this way of writing tragedies; but against the
criticism that would establish this as the only method; and by that means
would very much cramp the English tragedy, and perhaps give a wrong bent
to the genius of our writers.'
* Yet, in Tamerlane, two of the most amiable characters, Moneses and
Arpasia, suffer death.
This subject is further considered in a letter to the Spectator.*
* See Spect. Vol. VII. No. 548.
'I find your opinion,' says the author of it, 'concerning the
late-invented term called poetical justice, is controverted by some
eminent critics. I have drawn up some additional arguments to strengthen
the opinion which you have there delivered; having endeavoured to go to
the bottom of that matter. . . .
'The most perfect man has vices enough to draw down punishments upon his
head, and to justify Providence in regard to any miseries that may befall
him. For this reason I cannot but think that the instruction and moral
are much finer, where a man who is virtuous in the main of his character
falls into distress, and sinks under the blows of fortune, at the end of
a tragedy, than when he is represented as happy and triumphant. Such an
example corrects the insolence of human nature, softens the mind of the
beholder with sentiments of pity and compassion, comforts him under his
own private affliction, and teaches him not to judge of men's virtues by
their successes.* I cannot think of one real hero in all antiquity so
far raised above human infirmities, that he might not be very naturally
represented in a tragedy as plunged in misfortunes and calamities. The
poet may still find out some prevailing passion or indiscretion in his
character, and show it in such a manner as will sufficiently acquit
Providence of any injustice in his sufferings: for, as Horace observes,
the best man is faulty, though not in so great a degree as those whom
we generally call vicious men.**
* A caution that our Blessed Saviour himself gives in the case of the
eighteen person killed by the fall of the tower of Siloam, Luke xiii. 4.
** Vitiis nemo sine nascitur: optimus ille,
Qui minimis urgentur.----
'If such a strict poetical justice (proceeds the letter-writer,) as some
gentlemen insist upon, were to be observed in this art, there is no
manner of reason why it should not be so little observed in Homer, that
his Achilles is placed in the greatest point of glory and success, though
his character is morally vicious, and only poetically good, if I may use
the phrase of our modern critics. The AEnead is filled with innocent
unhappy persons. Nisus and Euryalus, Lausus and Pallas, come all to
unfortunate ends. The poet takes notice in particular, that in the
sacking of Troy, Ripheus fell, who was the most just character among the
'----Cadit & Ripheus, justissimus unus
Qui fuit in Teucris, & servantissimus aequi.
Diis aliter visum est.--
'The gods thought fit.--So blameless Ripheus fell,
Who lov'd fair Justice, and observ'd it well.'
'And that Pantheus could neither be preserved by his transcendent piety,
nor by the holy fillets of Apollo, whose priest he was:
'--Nec te tua plurima, Pantheu,
Labentum pietas, nec Apollinis infula texit. AEn. II.
'Nor could thy piety thee, Pantheus, save,
Nor ev'n thy priesthood, from an early grave.'
'I might here mention the practice of antient tragic poets, both Greek
and Latin; but as this particular is touched upon in the paper
above-mentioned, I shall pass it over in silence. I could produce
passages out of Aristotle in favour of my opinion; and if in one place he
says, that an absolutely virtuous man should not be represented as
unhappy, this does not justify any one who should think fit to bring in
an absolutely virtuous man upon the stage. Those who are acquainted with
that author's way of writing, know very well, that to take the whole
extent of his subject into his divisions of it, he often makes use of
such cases as are imaginary, and not reducible to practice. . . .
'I shall conclude,' says this gentleman, 'with observing, that though the
Spectator above-mentioned is so far against the rule of poetical justice,
as to affirm, that good men may meet with an unhappy catastrophe in
tragedy, it does not say, that ill men may go off unpunished. The reason
for this distinction is very plain; namely, because the best of men [as
is said above,] have faults enough to justify Providence for any
misfortunes and afflictions which may befall them; but there are many men
so criminal, that they can have no claim or pretence to happiness. The
best of men may deserve punishment; but the worst of men cannot deserve
Mr. Addison, as we have seen above, tells us, that Aristotle, in
considering the tragedies that were written in either of the kinds,
observes, that those which ended unhappily had always pleased the people,
and carried away the prize, in the public disputes of the stage, from
those that ended happily. And we shall take leave to add, that this
preference was given at a time when the entertainments of the stage were
committed to the care of the magistrates; when the prizes contended for
were given by the state; when, of consequence, the emulation among
writers was ardent; and when learning was at the highest pitch of glory
in that renowned commonwealth.
It cannot be supposed, that the Athenians, in this their highest age of
taste and politeness, were less humane, less tender-hearted, than we of
the present. But they were not afraid of being moved, nor ashamed of
showing themselves to be so, at the distresses they saw well painted and
represented. In short, they were of the opinion, with the wisest of men,
that it was better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of
mirth; and had fortitude enough to trust themselves with their own
generous grief, because they found their hearts mended by it.
Thus also Horace, and the politest Romans in the Augustan age, wished to
Ac ne forte putes me, quae facere ipse recusem,
Cum recte tractant alii, laudere maligne;
Ille per extentum funem mihi posse videtur
Ire poeta, meum qui pectus inaniter angit,
Irritat, mulcet; falsis terroribus implet,
Ut magus; & modo me Thebis, modo point Athenis.
Thus Englished by Mr. Pope:
Yet, lest thou think I rally more than teach,
Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach;
Let me, for once, presume t'instruct the times
To know the poet from the man of rhymes.
'Tis he who gives my breast a thousand pains:
Can make me feel each passion that he feigns;
Enrage--compose--with more than magic art,
With pity and with terror tear my heart;
And snatch me o'er the earth, or through the air,
To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where.
Our fair readers are also desired to attend to what a celebrated critic*
of a neighbouring nation says on the nature and design of tragedy, from
the rules laid down by the same great antient.
* Rapin, on Aristotle's Poetics.
'Tragedy,' says he, makes man modest, by representing the great masters
of the earth humbled; and it makes him tender and merciful, by showing
him the strange accidents of life, and the unforeseen disgraces, to which
the most important persons are subject.
'But because man is naturally timorous and compassionate, he may fall
into other extremes. Too much fear may shake his constancy of mind, and
too much of tragedy to regulate these two weaknesses. It prepares and
arms him against disgraces, by showing them so frequent in the most
considerable persons; and he will cease to fear extraordinary accidents,
when he sees them happen to the highest part of mankind. And still more
efficacious, we may add, the example will be, when he sees them happen
to the best.
'But as the end of tragedy is to teach men not to fear too weakly common
misfortunes, it proposes also to teach them to spare their compassion for
objects that deserve it. For there is an injustice in being moved at the
afflictions of those who deserve to be miserable. We may see, without
pity, Clytemnestra slain by her son Orestes in AEschylus, because she had
murdered Agamemnon her husband; yet we cannot see Hippolytus die by the
plot of his step-mother Phaedra, in Euripides, without compassion, because
he died not, but for being chaste and virtuous.
These are the great authorities so favourable to the stories that end
unhappily. And we beg leave to reinforce this inference from them, that
if the temporary sufferings of the virtuous and the good can be accounted
for and justified on Pagan principles, many more and infinitely stronger
reasons will occur to a Christian reader in behalf of what are called
unhappy catastrophes, from the consideration of the doctrine of future
rewards; which is every where strongly enforced in the History of
Of this, (to give but one instance,) an ingenious modern, distinguished
by his rank, but much more for his excellent defence of some of the most
important doctrines of Christianity, appears convinced in the conclusion
of a pathetic Monody, lately published; in which, after he had deplored,
as a man without hope, (expressing ourselves in the Scripture phrase,)
the loss of an excellent wife; he thus consoles himself:
Yet, O my soul! thy rising murmurs stay,
Nor dare th' All-wise Disposer to arraign,
Or against his supreme decree
With impious grief complain.
That all thy full-blown joys at once should fade,
Was his most righteous will: and be that will obey'd.
Would thy fond love his grace to her controul,
And in these low abodes of sin and pain
Her pure, exalted soul,
Unjustly, for thy partial good detain?
No--rather strive thy grov'ling mind to raise
Up to that unclouded blaze,
That heav'nly radiance of eternal light,
In which enthron'd she now with pity sees,
How frail, how insecure, how slight,
Is every mortal bliss.
But of infinitely greater weight than all that has been above produced
on this subject, are the words of the Psalmist:
'As for me, says he,* my feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh
slipt: for I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the
wicked. For their strength is firm: they are not in trouble as other
men; neither are they plagued like other men--their eyes stand out with
fatness: they have more than their heart could wish--verily I have
cleansed mine heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence; for all
the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. When I
thought to know this, it was too painful for me. Until I went into the
sanctuary of God; then understood I their end--thou shalt guide me with
thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.'
* Psalm lxxiii.
This is the Psalmist's comfort and dependence. And shall man, presuming
to alter the common course of nature, and, so far as he is able, to elude
the tenure by which frail mortality indispensably holds, imagine that he
can make a better dispensation; and by calling it poetical justice,
indirectly reflect on the Divine?
The more pains have been taken to obviate the objections arising from the
notion of poetical justice, as the doctrine built upon it had obtained
general credit among us; and as it must be confessed to have the
appearance of humanity and good nature for its supports. And yet the
writer of the History of Clarissa is humbly of opinion, that he might
have been excused referring to them for the vindication of his
catastrophe, even by those who are advocates for the contrary opinion;
since the notion of poetical justice, founded on the modern rules, has
hardly ever been more strictly observed in works of this nature than in
the present performance.
For, is not Mr. Lovelace, who could persevere in his villanous views,
against the strongest and most frequent convictions and remorses that
ever were sent to awaken and reclaim a wicked man--is not this great,
this wilful transgressor condignly punished; and his punishment brought
on through the intelligence of the very Joseph Leman whom he had
corrupted;* and by means of the very woman whom he had debauched**--is
not Mr. Belton, who had an uncle's hastened death to answer for***--are
not the infamous Sinclair and her wretched partners--and even the wicked
servants, who, with their eyes open, contributed their parts to the
carrying on of the vile schemes of their respective principals--are they
not all likewise exemplarily punished?
* See Letter LVIII. of this volume.
** Ibid. Letter LXI.
*** See Vol. VIII. Letter XVI.
On the other hand, is not Miss HOWE, for her noble friendship to the
exalted lady in her calamities--is not Mr. HICKMAN, for his
unexceptionable morals, and integrity of life--is not the repentant and
not ungenerous BELFORD--is not the worthy NORTON--made signally happy?
And who that are in earnest in their professions of Christianity, but
will rather envy than regret the triumphant death of CLARISSA; whose
piety, from her early childhood; whose diffusive charity; whose steady
virtue; whose Christian humility, whose forgiving spirit; whose meekness,
and resignation, HEAVEN only could reward?*
* And here it may not be amiss to remind the reader, that so early in the
work as Vol. II. Letter XXXVIII. the dispensations of Providence are
justified by herself. And thus she ends her reflections--'I shall not
live always--may my closing scene be happy!'--She had her wish. It was
We shall now, according to the expectation given in the Preface to this
edition, proceed to take brief notice of such other objections as have
come to our knowledge: for, as is there said, 'This work being addressed
to the public as a history of life and manners, those parts of it which
are proposed to carry with them the force of example, ought to be as
unobjectionable as is consistent with the design of the whole, and with
Several persons have censured the heroine as too cold in her love, too
haughty, and even sometimes provoking. But we may presume to say, that
this objection has arisen from want of attention to the story, to the
character of Clarissa, and to her particular situation.
It was not intended that she should be in love, but in liking only, if
that expression may be admitted. It is meant to be every where
inculcated in the story for example sake, that she never would have
married Mr. Lovelace, because of his immoralities, had she been left to
herself; and that of her ruin was principally owing to the persecutions
of her friends.
What is too generally called love, ought (perhaps as generally) to be
called by another name. Cupidity, or a Paphian stimulus, as some women,
even of condition, have acted, are not words too harsh to be substituted
on the occasion, however grating they may be to delicate ears. But take
the word love in the gentlest and most honourable sense, it would have
been thought by some highly improbable, that Clarissa should have been
able to show such a command of her passions, as makes so distinguishing
a part of her character, had she been as violently in love, as certain
warm and fierce spirits would have had her to be. A few observations are
thrown in by way of note in the present edition, at proper places to
obviate this objection, or rather to bespeak the attention of hasty
readers to what lies obviously before them. For thus the heroine
anticipates this very objection, expostulating with Miss Howe on her
contemptuous treatment of Mr. Hickman; which (far from being guilty of
the same fault herself) she did, on all occasions, and declares she would
do so, whenever Miss Howe forgot herself, although she had not a day to
'O my dear,' says she, 'that it had been my lot (as I was not permitted
to live single) to have met with a man, by whom I could have acted
generously and unreservedly!
'Mr. Lovelace, it is now plain, in order to have a pretence against me,
taxed my behaviour to him with stiffness and distance. You, at one time,
thought me guilty of some degree of prudery. Difficult situations should
be allowed for: which often make seeming occasions for censure
unavoidable. I deserved not blame from him, who made mine difficult.
And you, my dear, had I any other man to deal with than Mr. Lovelace, or
had he but half the merit which Mr. Hickman has, would have found, that
my doctrine on this subject, should have governed my whole practice.'
See this whole Letter, No. XXXII. Vol. VIII. See also Mr. Lovelace's
Letter, Vol. VIII. No. LIX. and Vol. IX. No. XLII. where, just before his
death, he entirely acquits her conduct on this head.
It has been thought, by some worthy and ingenious persons, that if
Lovelace had been drawn an infidel or scoffer, his character, according
to the taste of the present worse than sceptical age, would have been
more natural. It is, however, too well known, that there are very many
persons, of his cast, whose actions discredit their belief. And are not
the very devils, in Scripture, said to believe and tremble?
But the reader must have observed, that, great, and, it is hoped, good
use, has been made throughout the work, by drawing Lovelace an infidel,
only in practice; and this as well in the arguments of his friend
Belford, as in his own frequent remorses, when touched with temporary
compunction, and in his last scenes; which could not have been made, had
either of them been painted as sentimental unbelievers. Not to say that
Clarissa, whose great objection to Mr. Wyerley was, that he was a
scoffer, must have been inexcusable had she known Lovelace to be so, and
had given the least attention to his addresses. On the contrary, thus
she comforts herself, when she thinks she must be his--'This one
consolation, however, remains; he is not an infidel, an unbeliever. Had
he been an infidel, there would have been no room at all for hope of him;
but (priding himself as he does in his fertile invention) he would have
been utterly abandoned, irreclaimable, and a savage.'* And it must be
observed, that scoffers are too witty, in their own opinion, (in other
words, value themselves too much upon their profligacy,) to aim at
* See Vol. IV. Letter XXXIX. and Vol. V. Letter VIII.
Besides, had Lovelace added ribbald jests upon religion, to his other
liberties, the freedoms which would then have passed between him and his
friend, must have been of a nature truly infernal.
And this father hint was meant to be given, by way of inference, that the
man who allowed himself in those liberties either of speech or action,
which Lovelace thought shameful, was so far a worse man than Lovelace.
For this reason he is every where made to treat jests on sacred things
and subjects, even down to the mythology of the Pagans, among Pagans, as
undoubted marks of the ill-breeding of the jester; obscene images and
talk, as liberties too shameful for even rakes to allow themselves in;
and injustice to creditors, and in matters of Meum and Tuum, as what it
was beneath him to be guilty of.
Some have objected to the meekness, to the tameness, as they will have it
to be, of Mr. Hickman's character. And yet Lovelace owns, that he rose
upon him with great spirit in the interview between them; once, when he
thought a reflection was but implied on Miss Howe;* and another time,
when he imagined himself treated contemptuously.** Miss Howe, it must be
owned, (though not to the credit of her own character,) treats him
ludicrously on several occasions. But so she does her mother. And
perhaps a lady of her lively turn would have treated as whimsically any
man but a Lovelace. Mr. Belford speaks of him with honour and
respect.*** So does Colonel Morden.**** And so does Clarissa on every
occasion. And all that Miss Howe herself says of him, tends more to his
reputation than discredit,***** as Clarissa indeed tells her.******
* See Vol. VII. Letter XXVIII.
*** Ibid. Letter XLVIII.
**** See Letter XLVI. of this volume.
***** See Vol. II. Letter II. and Vol. III. Letter XL.
****** See Vol. II. Letter XI.
And as to Lovelace's treatment of him, the reader must have observed,
that it was his way to treat every man with contempt, partly by way of
self-exaltation, and partly to gratify the natural gaiety of his
disposition. He says himself to Belford,* 'Thou knowest I love him not,
Jack; and whom we love not, we cannot allow a merit to; perhaps not the
merit they should be granted.' 'Modest and diffident men,' writes
Belford, to Lovelace, in praise of Mr. Hickman, 'wear not soon off those
little precisenesses, which the confident, if ever they had them,
presently get over.'**
* See Vol. VII. Letter XXVIII.
** Ibid. Letter XLVIII.
But, as Miss Howe treats her mother as freely as she does her lover; so
does Mr. Lovelace take still greater liberties with Mr. Belford than he
does with Mr. Hickman, with respect to his person, air, and address, as
Mr. Belford himself hints to Mr. Hickman.* And yet is he not so readily
believed to the discredit of Mr. Belford, by the ladies in general, as he
is when he disparages Mr. Hickman. Whence can this particularity arise?
* See Letter XXXVI. of this volume.
Mr. Belford had been a rake: but was in a way of reformation.
Mr. Hickman had always been a good man.
And Lovelace confidently says, That the women love a man whose regard for
them is founded in the knowledge of them.*
* See Vol. V. Letter XVIII.
Nevertheless, it must be owned, that it was not purposed to draw Mr.
Hickman, as the man of whom the ladies in general were likely to be very
fond. Had it been so, goodness of heart, and gentleness of manners,
great assiduity, and inviolable and modest love, would not of themselves
have been supposed sufficient recommendations. He would not have been
allowed the least share of preciseness or formality, although those
defects might have been imputed to his reverence for the object of his
passion; but in his character it was designed to show, that the same man
could not be every thing; and to intimate to ladies, that in choosing
companions for life, they should rather prefer the honest heart of a
Hickman, which would be all their own, than to risk the chance of
sharing, perhaps with scores, (and some of those probably the most
profligate of the sex,) the volatile mischievous one of a Lovelace: in
short, that they should choose, if they wished for durable happiness, for
rectitude of mind, and not for speciousness of person or address; nor
make a jest of a good man in favour of a bad one, who would make a jest
of them and of their whole sex.
Two letters, however, by way of accommodation, are inserted in this
edition, which perhaps will give Mr. Hickman's character some heightening
with such ladies as love spirit in a man; and had rather suffer by it,
than not meet with it.--
Women, born to be controul'd,
Stoop to the forward and the bold,
Says Waller--and Lovelace too!
Some have wished that the story had been told in the usual narrative way
of telling stories designed to amuse and divert, and not in letters
written by the respective persons whose history is given in them. The
author thinks he ought not to prescribe to the taste of others; but
imagined himself at liberty to follow his own. He perhaps mistrusted his
talents for the narrative kind of writing. He had the good fortune to
succeed in the epistolary way once before. A story in which so many
persons were concerned either principally or collaterally, and of
characters and dispositions so various, carried on with tolerable
connection and perspicuity, in a series of letters from different
persons, without the aid of digressions and episodes foreign to the
principal end and design, he thought had novelty to be pleaded for it;
and that, in the present age, he supposed would not be a slight
Besides what has been said above, and in the Preface, on this head, the
following opinion of an ingenious and candid foreigner, on this manner of
writing, may not be improperly inserted here.
'The method which the author had pursued in the History of Clarissa, is
the same as in the Life of Pamela: both are related in familiar letters
by the parties themselves, at the very time in which the events happened:
and this method has given the author great advantages, which he could not
have drawn from any other species of narration. The minute particulars
of events, the sentiments and conversation of the parties, are, upon this
plan, exhibited with all the warmth and spirit that the passion supposed
to be predominant at the very time could produce, and with all the
distinguishing characteristics which memory can supply in a history of
'Romances in general, and Marivaux's amongst others, are wholly
improbable; because they suppose the History to be written after the
series of events is closed by the catastrophe: a circumstance which
implies a strength of memory beyond all example and probability in the
persons concerned, enabling them, at the distance of several years, to
relate all the particulars of a transient conversation: or rather, it
implies a yet more improbable confidence and familiarity between all
these persons and the author.
'There is, however, one difficulty attending the epistolary method; for
it is necessary that all the characters should have an uncommon taste for
this kind of conversation, and that they should suffer no event, not even
a remarkable conversation to pass, without immediately committing it to
writing. But for the preservation of the letters once written, the
author has provided with great judgment, so as to render this
circumstance highly probable.'*
* This quotation is translated from a CRITIQUE on the HISTORY OF
CLARISSA, written in French, and published at Amsterdam. The whole
Critique, rendered into English, was inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine
of June and August, 1749. The author has done great honour in it to the
History of Clarissa; and as there are Remarks published with it, which
answer several objections made to different passages in the story by that
candid foreigner, the reader is referred to the aforesaid Magazine for
It is presumed that what this gentleman says of the difficulties
attending a story thus given in the epistolary manner of writing, will
not be found to reach the History before us. It is very well accounted
for in it, how the two principal female characters came to take so great
a delight in writing. Their subjects are not merely subjects of
amusement; but greatly interesting to both: yet many ladies there are who
now laudably correspond, when at distance from each other, on occasions
that far less affect their mutual welfare and friendships, than those
treated of by these ladies. The two principal gentlemen had motives of
gaiety and vain-glory for their inducements. It will generally be found,
that persons who have talents for familiar writing, as these
correspondents are presumed to have, will not forbear amusing themselves
with their pens on less arduous occasions than what offer to these.
These FOUR, (whose stories have a connection with each other,) out of the
great number of characters who are introduced in this History, are only
eminent in the epistolary way: the rest appear but as occasional writers,
and as drawn in rather by necessity than choice, from the different
relations in which they stand with the four principal persons.
The length of the piece has been objected to by some, who perhaps looked
upon it as a mere novel or romance; and yet of these there are not
wanting works of equal length.
They were of opinion, that the story moved too slowly, particularly in
the first and second volumes, which are chiefly taken up with the
altercations between Clarissa and the several persons of her family.
But is it not true, that those altercations are the foundation of the
whole, and therefore a necessary part of the work? The letters and
conversations, where the story makes the slowest progress, are presumed
to be characteristic. They give occasion, likewise, to suggest many
interesting personalities, in which a good deal of the instruction
essential to a work of this nature is conveyed. And it will, moreover,
be remembered, that the author, at his first setting out, apprized the
reader, that the story (interesting as it is generally allowed to be) was
to be principally looked upon as the vehicle to the instruction.
To all which we may add, that there was frequently a necessity to be very
circumstantial and minute, in order to preserve and maintain that air of
probability, which is necessary to be maintained in a story designed to
represent real life; and which is rendered extremely busy and active by
the plots and contrivances formed and carried on by one of the principal
Some there are, and ladies too! who have supposed that the excellencies
of the heroine are carried to an improbable, and even to an
impracticable, height in this history. But the education of Clarissa,
from early childhood, ought to be considered as one of her very great
advantages; as, indeed, the foundation of all her excellencies: and, it
is to be hoped, for the sake of the doctrine designed to be inculcated by
it, that it will.
She had a pious, a well-read, a not meanly-descended woman for her nurse,
who with her milk, as Mrs. Harlowe says,* gave her that nurture which no
other nurse could give her. She was very early happy in the
conversation-visits of her learned and worthy Dr. Lewen, and in her
correspondencies, not with him only, but with other divines mentioned in
her last will. Her mother was, upon the whole, a good woman, who did
credit to her birth and fortune; and both delighted in her for those
improvements and attainments which gave her, and them in her, a
distinction that caused it to be said, that when she was out of the
family it was considered but as a common family.** She was, moreover, a
country lady; and, as we have seen in Miss Howe's character of her,***
took great delight in rural and household employments; though qualified
to adorn the brightest circle.
* See Vol. IV. Letter XXVIII.
** See her mother's praises of her to Mrs. Norton, Vol. I. Letter XXXIX.
*** See Letter LV. of this volume.
It must be confessed that we are not to look for Clarissa's name among
the constant frequenters of Ranelagh and Vauxhall, nor among those who
may be called Daughters of the card-table. If we do, the character of
our heroine may then, indeed, only be justly thought not improbable, but
unattainable. But we have neither room in this place, nor inclination,
to pursue a subject so invidious. We quit it, therefore, after we have
repeated that we know there are some, and we hope there are many, in the
British dominions, (or they are hardly any where in the European world,)
who, as far as occasion has called upon them to exert the like humble and
modest, yet steady and useful, virtues, have reached the perfections of a
Having thus briefly taken notice of the most material objections that
have been made to different parts of this history, it is hoped we may be
allowed to add, that had we thought ourselves at liberty to give copies
of some of the many letters that have been written on the other side of
the question, that is to say, in approbation of the catastrophe, and of
the general conduct and execution of the work, by some of the most
eminent judges of composition in every branch of literature; most of what
has been written in this Postscript might have been spared.
But as the principal objection with many has lain against the length of
the piece, we shall add to what we have said above on that subject, in
the words of one of those eminent writers: 'That if, in the history
before us, it shall be found that the spirit is duly diffused throughout;
that the characters are various and natural; well distinguished and
uniformly supported and maintained; if there be a variety of incidents
sufficient to excite attention, and those so conducted as to keep the
reader always awake! the length then must add proportionably to the
pleasure that every person of taste receives from a well-drawn picture
of nature. But where the contrary of all these qualities shock the
understanding, the extravagant performance will be judged tedious, though
no longer than a fairy-tale.'