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Clarissa, Volume 7 by Samuel Richardson

Part 7 out of 7

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manner involuntary, if a fault at all; and does not so much as hope to be
received; thou, to be forgiven premeditated wrongs, (which, nevertheless,
she forgives, on condition to be no more molested by thee;) and hopest to
be received into favour, and to make the finest jewel in the world thy
absolute property in consequence of that forgiveness.

I will now briefly proceed to relate what has passed since my last, as to
the excellent lady. By the account I shall give thee, thou wilt see that
she has troubles enough upon her, all springing originally from thyself,
without needing to add more to them by new vexations. And as long as
thou canst exert thyself so very cavalierly at M. Hall, where every one
is thy prisoner, I see not but the bravery of thy spirit may be as well
gratified in domineering there over half a dozen persons of rank and
distinction, as it could be over an helpless orphan, as I may call this
lady, since she has not a single friend to stand by her, if I do not; and
who will think herself happy, if she can refuge herself from thee, and
from all the world, in the arms of death.

My last was dated on Saturday.

On Sunday, in compliance with her doctor's advice, she took a little
airing. Mrs. Lovick, and Mr. Smith and his wife, were with her. After
being at Highgate chapel at divine service, she treated them with a
little repast; and in the afternoon was at Islington church, in her way
home; returning tolerably cheerful.

She had received several letters in my absence, as Mrs. Lovick acquainted
me, besides your's. Your's, it seems, much distressed her; but she
ordered the messenger, who pressed for an answer, to be told that it did
not require an immediate one.

On Wednesday she received a letter from her uncle Harlowe,* in answer to
one she had written to her mother on Saturday on her knees. It must be a
very cruel one, Mrs. Lovick says, by the effects it had upon her: for,
when she received it, she was intending to take an afternoon airing in a
coach: but was thrown into so violent a fit of hysterics upon it, that
she was forced to lie down; and (being not recovered by it) to go to bed
about eight o'clock.

* See Letter LXXXIV. of this volume.

On Thursday morning she was up very early; and had recourse to the
Scriptures to calm her mind, as she told Mrs. Lovick: and, weak as she
was, would go in a chair to Lincoln's-inn chapel, about eleven. She was
brought home a little better; and then sat down to write to her uncle.
But was obliged to leave off several times--to struggle, as she told Mrs.
Lovick, for an humble temper. 'My heart, said she to the good woman, is
a proud heart, and not yet, I find, enough mortified to my condition;
but, do what I can, will be for prescribing resenting things to my pen.'

I arrived in town from Belton's this Thursday evening; and went directly
to Smith's. She was too ill to receive my visit. But, on sending up my
compliments, she sent me down word that she should be glad to see me in
the morning.

Mrs. Lovick obliged me with the copy of a meditation collected by the
lady from the Scriptures. She has entitled it Poor mortals the cause of
their own misery; so entitled, I presume, with intention to take off the
edge of her repinings at hardships so disproportioned to her fault, were
her fault even as great as she is inclined to think it. We may see, by
this, the method she takes to fortify her mind, and to which she owes, in
a great measure, the magnanimity with which she bears her undeserved



Say not thou, it is through the Lord that I fell away; for thou oughtest
not to do the thing that he hateth.

Say not thou, he hath caused me to err; for he hath no need of the sinful

He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his
own counsel;

If thou wilt, to keep the commandments, and to perform acceptable

He hath set fire and water before thee: stretch forth thine hand to
whither thou wilt.

He hath commanded no man to do wickedly: neither hath he given any man
license to sin.

And now, Lord, what is my hope? Truly my hope is only in thee.

Deliver me from all my offences: and make me not a rebuke unto the

When thou with rebuke dost chasten man for sin, thou makest his beauty
to consume away, like as it were a moth fretting a garment: every man,
therefore, is vanity.

Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and

The troubles of my heart are enlarged. O bring thou me out of my


Mrs. Smith gave me the following particulars of a conversation that
passed between herself and a young clergyman, on Tuesday afternoon, who,
as it appears, was employed to make inquiries about the lady by her

He came into the shop in a riding-habit, and asked for some Spanish
snuff; and finding only Mrs. Smith there, he desired to have a little
talk with her in the back-shop.

He beat about the bush in several distant questions, and at last began to
talk more directly about Miss Harlowe.

He said he knew her before her fall, [that was his impudent word;] and
gave the substance of the following account of her, as I collected it
from Mrs. Smith:

'She was then, he said, the admiration and delight of every body: he
lamented, with great solemnity, her backsliding; another of his phrases.
Mrs. Smith said, he was a fine scholar; for he spoke several things she
understood not; and either in Latin or Greek, she could not tell which;
but was so good as to give her the English of them without asking. A
fine thing, she said, for a scholar to be so condescending!'

He said, 'Her going off with so vile a rake had given great scandal and
offence to all the neighbouring ladies, as well as to her friends.'

He told Mrs. Smith 'how much she used to be followed by every one's eye,
whenever she went abroad, or to church; and praised and blessed by every
tongue, as she passed; especially by the poor: that she gave the fashion
to the fashionable, without seeming herself to intend it, or to know she
did: that, however, it was pleasant to see ladies imitate her in dress
and behaviour, who being unable to come up to her in grace and ease,
exposed but their own affectation and awkwardness, at the time that they
thought themselves secure of general approbation, because they wore the
same things, and put them on in the same manner, that she did, who had
every body's admiration; little considering, that were her person like
their's, or if she had their defects, she would have brought up a very
different fashion; for that nature was her guide in every thing, and ease
her study; which, joined with a mingled dignity and condescension in her
air and manner, whether she received or paid a compliment, distinguished
her above all her sex.

'He spoke not, he said, his own sentiments only on this occasion, but
those of every body: for that the praises of Miss Clarissa Harlowe were
such a favourite topic, that a person who could not speak well upon any
other subject, was sure to speak well upon that; because he could say
nothing but what he had heard repeated and applauded twenty times over.'

Hence it was, perhaps, that this novice accounted for the best things he
said himself; though I must own that the personal knowledge of the lady,
which I am favoured with, made it easy to me to lick into shape what the
good woman reported to me, as the character given her by the young
Levite: For who, even now, in her decline of health, sees not that all
these attributes belong to her?

I suppose he has not been long come from college, and now thinks he has
nothing to do but to blaze away for a scholar among the ignorant; as such
young fellows are apt to think those who cannot cap verses with them, and
tell us how an antient author expressed himself in Latin on a subject,
upon which, however, they may know how, as well as that author, to express
themselves in English.

Mrs. Smith was so taken with him, that she would fain have introduced him
to the lady, not questioning but it would be very acceptable to her to
see one who knew her and her friends so well. But this he declined for
several reasons, as he call them; which he gave. One was, that persons
of his cloth should be very cautious of the company they were in,
especially where sex was concerned, and where a woman had slurred her
reputation--[I wish I had been there when he gave himself these airs.]
Another, that he was desired to inform himself of her present way of
life, and who her visiters were; for, as to the praises Mrs. Smith gave
the lady, he hinted, that she seemed to be a good-natured woman, and
might (though for the lady's sake he hoped not) be too partial and
short-sighted to be trusted to, absolutely, in a concern of so high a
nature as he intimated the task was which he had undertaken; nodding out
words of doubtful import, and assuming airs of great significance (as I
could gather) throughout the whole conversation. And when Mrs. Smith
told him that the lady was in a very bad state of health, he gave a
careless shrug--She may be very ill, says he: her disappointments must
have touched her to the quick: but she is not bad enough, I dare say,
yet, to atone for her very great lapse, and to expect to be forgiven by
those whom she has so much disgraced.

A starched, conceited coxcomb! what would I give he had fallen in my way!

He departed, highly satisfied with himself, no doubt, and assured of Mrs.
Smith's great opinion of his sagacity and learning: but bid her not say
any thing to the lady about him or his inquiries. And I, for very
different reasons, enjoined the same thing.

I am glad, however, for her peace of mind's sake, that they begin to
think it behoves them to inquire about her.



[Mr. Belford acquaints his friend with the generosity of Lord M. and the
Ladies of his family; and with the Lady's grateful sentiments upon
the occasion.

He says, that in hopes to avoid the pain of seeing him, (Mr. Lovelace,)
she intends to answer his letter of the 7th, though much against
her inclination.]

'She took great notice,' says Mr. Belford, 'of that passage in your's,
which makes necessary to the Divine pardon, the forgiveness of a person
causelessly injured.

'Her grandfather, I find, has enabled her at eighteen years of age to
make her will, and to devise great part of his estate to whom she pleases
of the family, and the rest out of it (if she die single) at her own
discretion; and this to create respect to her! as he apprehended that she
would be envied: and she now resolves to set about making her will out of

[Mr. Belford insists upon the promise he had made him, not to molest the
Lady: and gives him the contents of her answer to Lord M. and the
Ladies of his Lordship's family, declining their generous offers.
See Letter LXXX. of this volume.



It is a cruel alternative to be either forced to see you, or to write to
you. But a will of my own has been long denied me; and to avoid a
greater evil, nay, now I may say, the greatest, I write.

Were I capable of disguising or concealing my real sentiments, I might
safely, I dare say, give you the remote hope you request, and yet keep
all my resolutions. But I must tell you, Sir, (it becomes my character
to tell you, that, were I to live more years than perhaps I may weeks,
and there were not another man in the world, I could not, I would not, be

There is no merit in performing a duty.

Religion enjoins me not only to forgive injuries, but to return good for
evil. It is all my consolation, and I bless God for giving me that, that
I am now in such a state of mind, with regard to you, that I can
cheerfully obey its dictates. And accordingly I tell you, that, wherever
you go, I wish you happy. And in this I mean to include every good wish.

And now having, with great reluctance I own, complied with one of your
compulsatory alternatives, I expect the fruits of it.





Your mother neither caring, nor being permitted, to write, I am desired
to set pen to paper, though I had resolved against it.

And so I am to tell you, that your letters, joined to the occasion of
them, almost break the hearts of us all.

Were we sure you had seen your folly, and were truly penitent, and, at
the same time, that you were so very ill as you pretend, I know not what
might be done for you. But we are all acquainted with your moving ways
when you want to carry a point.

Unhappy girl! how miserable have you made us all! We, who used to visit
with so much pleasure, now cannot endure to look upon one another.

If you had not know, upon an hundred occasions, how dear you once was to
us, you might judge of it now, were you to know how much your folly has
unhinged us all.

Naughty, naughty girl! You see the fruits of preferring a rake and
libertine to a man of sobriety and morals, against full warning, against
better knowledge. And such a modest creature, too, as you were! How
could you think of such an unworthy preference!

Your mother can't ask, and your sister knows not in modesty how to ask;
and so I ask you, if you have any reason to think yourself with child by
this villain?--You must answer this, and answer it truly, before any
thing can be resolved upon about you.

You may well be touched with a deep remorse for your misdeeds. Could I
ever have thought that my doting-piece, as every one called you, would
have done thus? To be sure I loved you too well. But that is over now.
Yet, though I will not pretend to answer for any body but myself, for my
own part I say God forgive you! and this is all from

Your afflicted uncle,


The following MEDITATION was stitched to the bottom of this letter with
black silk.


O that thou wouldst hide me in the grave! that thou wouldst keep me
secret, till thy wrath be past!

My face is foul with weeping; and on my eye-lid is the shadow of death.

My friends scorn me; but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.

A dreadful sound is in my ears; in prosperity the destroyer came upon me!

I have sinned! what shall I do unto thee, O thou Preserver of men! why
hast thou set me as a mark against thee; so that I am a burden to myself!

When I say my bed shall comfort me; my couch shall ease my complaint;

Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions.

So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than life.

I loath it! I would not live always!--Let me alone; for my days are

He hath made me a bye-word of the people; and aforetime I was as a

My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my

When I looked for good, then evil came unto me; and when I waited for
light, then came darkness.

And where now is my hope?--

Yet all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.




It was an act of charity I begged: only for a last blessing, that I might
die in peace. I ask not to be received again, as my severe sister [Oh!
that I had not written to her!] is pleased to say, is my view. Let that
grace be denied me when I do.

I could not look forward to my last scene with comfort, without seeking,
at least, to obtain the blessing I petitioned for; and that with a
contrition so deep, that I deserved not, were it known, to be turned over
from the tender nature of a mother, to the upbraiding pen of an uncle!
and to be wounded by a cruel question, put by him in a shocking manner:
and which a little, a very little time, will better answer than I can:
for I am not either a hardened or shameless creature: if I were, I should
not have been so solicitous to obtain the favour I sued for.

And permit me to say that I asked it as well for my father and mother's
sake, as for my own; for I am sure they at least will be uneasy, after I
am gone, that they refused it to me.

I should still be glad to have theirs, and your's, Sir, and all your
blessings, and your prayers: but, denied in such a manner, I will not
presume again to ask it: relying entirely on the Almighty's; which is
never denied, when supplicated for with such true penitence as I hope
mine is.

God preserve my dear uncle, and all my honoured friends! prays

Your unhappy


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