Samuel Richardson.

Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 4 online

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settlements: it will be to the credit of your prudence and of his justice
(and the more as matters stand) that something of this should be done
before you marry. Bad as he is, nobody accounts him a sordid man. And I
wonder he has been hitherto silent on that subject.

I am not displeased with his proposal about the widow lady's house. I
think it will do very well. But if it must be three weeks before you can
be certain about it, surely you need not put off his day for that space:
and he may bespeak his equipages. Surprising to me, as well as to you,
that he could be so acquiescent!

I repeat - continue to write to me. I insist upon it; and that as
minutely as possible: or, take the consequence. I send this by a
particular hand. I am, and ever will be,

Your most affectionate,



I forego every other engagement, I suspend ever wish, I banish every
other fear, to take up my pen, to beg of you that you will not think of
being guilty of such an act of love as I can never thank you for; but
must for ever regret. If I must continue to write to you, I must. I
know full well your impatience of control, when you have the least
imagination that your generosity or friendship is likely to be wondered

My dearest, dearest creature, would you incur a maternal, as I have a
paternal, malediction? Would not the world think there was an infection
in my fault, if it were to be followed by Miss Howe? There are some
points so flagrantly wrong that they will not bear to be argued upon.
This is one of them. I need not give reasons against such a rashness.
Heaven forbid that it should be known that you had it but once in your
thought, be your motives ever so noble and generous, to follow so bad an
example, the rather, as that you would, in such a case, want the
extenuations that might be pleaded in my favour; and particularly that
one of being surprised into the unhappy step!

The restraint your mother lays you under would not have appeared heavy to
you but on my account. Would you had once thought it a hardship to be
admitted to a part of her bed? - How did I use to be delighted with such
a favour from my mother! how did I love to work in her presence! - So did
you in the presence of your's once. And to read to her in winter
evenings I know was one of your joys. - Do not give me cause to reproach
myself on the reason that may be assigned for the change in you.

Learn, my dear, I beseech you, learn to subdue your own passions. Be the
motives what they will, excess is excess. Those passions in our sex,
which we take pains to subdue, may have one and the same source with
those infinitely-blacker passions, which we used so often to condemn in
the violent and headstrong of the other sex; and which may only be
heightened in them by custom, and their freer education. Let us both,
my dear, ponder well this thought: look into ourselves, and fear.

If I write, as I find I must, I insist upon your forbearing to write.
Your silence to this shall be the sign to me that you will not think of
the rashness you threaten me with: and that you will obey your mother as
to your own part of the correspondence, however; especially as you can
inform or advise me in every weighty case by Mr. Hickman's pen.

My trembling writing will show you, my dear impetuous creature, what a
trembling heart you have given to

Your ever obliged,
Or, if you take so rash a step,
Your for ever disobliged,

My clothes were brought to me just now. But you have so much discomposed
me, that I have no heart to look into the trunks. Why, why, my dear, will
you fright me with your flaming love? discomposure gives distress to a
weak heart, whether it arise from friendship or enmity.

A servant of Mr. Lovelace carries this to Mr. Hickman for dispatch-sake.
Let that worthy man's pen relieve my heart from this new uneasiness.




I have the honour of dear Miss Howe's commands to acquaint you, without
knowing the occasion, 'That she is excessively concerned for the concern
she has given you in her last letter: and that, if you will but write to
her, under cover as before, she will have no thoughts of what you are so
very apprehensive about.' - Yet she bid me write, 'That if she had bit the
least imagination that she can serve you, and save you,' those are her
words, 'all the censures of the world will be but of second consideration
with her.' I have great temptations, on this occasion, to express my own
resentments upon your present state; but not being fully apprized of what
that is - only conjecturing from the disturbance upon the mind of the
dearest lady in the world to me, and the most sincere of friends to you,
that that is not altogether so happy as were to be wished; and being,
moreover, forbid to enter into the cruel subject; I can only offer, as I
do, my best and faithfullest services! and wish you a happy deliverance
from all your troubles. For I am,

Most excellent young lady,
Your faithful and most obedient servant,



Mercury, as the fabulist tells us, having the curiosity to know the
estimation he stood in among mortals, descended in disguise, and in a
statuary's shop cheapened a Jupiter, then a Juno, then one, then another,
of the dii majores; and, at last, asked, What price that same statue of
Mercury bore? O Sir, says the artist, buy one of the others, and I'll
throw you in that for nothing.

How sheepish must the god of thieves look upon this rebuff to his vanity!

So thou! a thousand pounds wouldst thou give for the good opinion of this
single lady - to be only thought tolerably of, and not quite unworthy of
her conversation, would make thee happy. And at parting last night, or
rather this morning, thou madest me promise a few lines to Edgware, to
let thee know what she thinks of thee, and of thy brethren.

Thy thousand pounds, Jack, is all thy own: for most heartily does she
dislike ye all - thee as much as any of the rest.

I am sorry for it too, as to thy part; for two reasons - one, that I think
thy motive for thy curiosity was fear of consciousness: whereas that of
the arch-thief was vanity, intolerable vanity: and he was therefore
justly sent away with a blush upon his cheeks to heaven, and could not
brag - the other, that I am afraid, if she dislikes thee, she dislikes me:
for are we not birds of a feather?

I must never talk of reformation, she told me, having such companions,
and taking such delight, as I seemed to take, in their frothy

I, no more than you, Jack, imagined she could possibly like ye: but then,
as my friends, I thought a person of her education would have been more
sparing of her censures.

I don't know how it is, Belford; but women think themselves entitled to
take any freedoms with us; while we are unpolite, forsooth, and I can't
tell what, if we don't tell a pack of cursed lies, and make black white,
in their favour - teaching us to be hypocrites, yet stigmatizing us, at
other times, for deceivers.

I defended ye all as well as I could: but you know there was no
attempting aught but a palliative defence, to one of her principles.

I will summarily give thee a few of my pleas.

'To the pure, every little deviation seemed offensive: yet I saw not,
that there was any thing amiss the whole evening, either in the words or
behaviour of any of my friends. Some people could talk but upon one or
two subjects: she upon every one: no wonder, therefore, they talked to
what they understood best; and to mere objects of sense. Had she
honoured us with more of her conversation, she would have been less
disgusted with ours; for she saw how every one was prepared to admire
her, whenever she opened her lips. You, in particular, had said, when
she retired, that virtue itself spoke when she spoke, but that you had
such an awe upon you, after she had favoured us with an observation or
two on a subject started, that you should ever be afraid in her company
to be found most exceptionable, when you intended to be least so.'

Plainly, she said, she neither liked my companions nor the house she was

I liked not the house any more than she: though the people were very
obliging, and she had owned they were less exceptionable to herself than
at first: And were we not about another of our own?

She did not like Miss Partington - let her fortune be what it would, and
she had heard a great deal said of her fortune, she should not choose an
intimacy with her. She thought it was a hardship to be put upon such a
difficulty as she was put upon the preceding night, when there were
lodgers in the front-house, whom they had reason to be freer with, than,
upon so short an acquaintance, with her.

I pretended to be an utter stranger as to this particular; and, when she
explained herself upon it, condemned Mrs. Sinclair's request, and called
it a confident one.

She, artfully, made lighter of her denial of the girl for a bedfellow,
than she thought of it, I could see that; for it was plain, she supposed
there was room for me to think she had been either over-nice, or over-

I offered to resent Mrs. Sinclair's freedom.

No; there was no great matter in it. It was best to let it pass. It
might be thought more particular in her to deny such a request, than in
Mrs. Sinclair to make it, or in Miss Partington to expect it to be
complied with. But as the people below had a large acquaintance, she did
not know how often she might indeed have her retirements invaded, if she
gave way. And indeed there were levities in the behaviour of that young
lady, which she could not so far pass over as to wish an intimacy with

I said, I liked Miss Partington as little as she could. Miss Partington
was a silly young creature; who seemed to justify the watchfulness of her
guardians over her. - But nevertheless, as to her own, that I thought the
girl (for girl she was, as to discretion) not exceptionable; only
carrying herself like a free good-natured creature who believed herself
secure in the honour of her company.

It was very well said of me, she replied: but if that young lady were so
well satisfied with her company, she must needs say, that I was very kind
to suppose her such an innocent - for her own part, she had seen nothing
of the London world: but thought, she must tell me plainly, that she
never was in such company in her life; nor ever again wished to be in

There, Belford! - Worse off than Mercury! - Art thou not?

I was nettled. Hard would be the lot of more discreet women, as far as I
knew, that Miss Partington, were they to be judged by so rigid a virtue
as hers.

Not so, she said: but if I really saw nothing exceptionable to a virtuous
mind, in that young person's behaviour, my ignorance of better behaviour
was, she must needs tell me, as pitiable as hers: and it were to be
wished, that minds so paired, for their own sakes should never be

See, Jack, what I get by my charity!

I thanked her heartily. But said, that I must take the liberty to
observe, that good folks were generally so uncharitable, that, devil take
me, if I would choose to be good, were the consequence to be that I must
think hardly of the whole world besides.

She congratulated me upon my charity; but told me, that to enlarge her
own, she hoped it would not be expected of her to approve of the low
company I had brought her into last night.

No exception for thee, Belford! - Safe is thy thousand pounds.

I saw not, I said, begging her pardon, that she liked any body. - [Plain
dealing for plain dealing, Jack! - Why then did she abuse my friends?]
However, let me but know whom and what she did or did not like; and, if
possible, I would like and dislike the very same persons and things.

She bid me then, in a pet, dislike myself.

Cursed severe! - Does she think she must not pay for it one day, or one
night? - And if one, many; that's my comfort.

I was in such a train of being happy, I said, before my earnestness to
procure her to favour my friends with her company, that I wished the
devil had had as well my friends as Miss Partington - and yet, I must say,
that I saw not how good people could answer half their end, which is to
reform the wicked by precept as well as example, were they to accompany
only with the good.

I had the like to have been blasted by two or three flashes of lightning
from her indignant eyes; and she turned scornfully from me, and retired
to her own apartment.

Once more, Jack, safe, as thou seest, is thy thousand pounds.

She says, I am not a polite man. But is she, in the instance before us,
more polite for a woman?

And now, dost thou not think that I owe my charmer some revenge for her
cruelty in obliging such a fine young creature, and so vast a fortune, as
Miss Partington, to crowd into a press-bed with Dorcas the maid-servant
of the proud refuser? - Miss Partington too (with tears) declared, by Mrs.
Sinclair, that would Mrs. Lovelace do her the honour of a visit at
Barnet, the best bed and best room in her guardian's house should be at
her service. Thinkest thou that I could not guess at her dishonourable
fears of me? - that she apprehended, that the supposed husband would
endeavour to take possession of his own? - and that Miss Partington would
be willing to contribute to such a piece of justice?

Thus, then, thou both remindest, and defiest me, charmer! - And since thou
reliest more on thy own precaution than upon my honour; be it unto thee,
fair one, as thou apprehendest.

And now, Jack, let me know, what thy opinion, and the opinions of thy
brother varlets, are of my Gloriana.

I have just now heard, that Hannah hopes to be soon well enough to attend
her young lady, when in London. It seems the girl has had no physician.
I must send her one, out of pure love and respect to her mistress. Who
knows but medicine may weaken nature, and strengthen the disease? - As her
malady is not a fever, very likely it may do so. - But perhaps the wench's
hopes are too forward. Blustering weather in this month yet. - And that
is bad for rheumatic complaints.



Just as I had sealed up the enclosed, comes a letter to my beloved, in a
cover to me, directed to Lord M.'s. From whom, thinkest thou? - From Mrs.

And what the contents?

How should I know, unless the dear creature had communicated them to me?
But a very cruel letter I believe it is, by the effect it had upon her.
The tears ran down her cheeks as she read it; and her colour changed
several times. No end of her persecutions, I think!

'What a cruelty in my fate!' said the sweet lamenter. - 'Now the only
comfort of my life must be given up!'

Miss Howe's correspondence, no doubt.

But should she be so much grieved at this? This correspondence was
prohibited before, and that, to the daughter, in the strongest terms:
but yet carried on by both; although a brace of impeccables, an't please
ye. Could they expect, that a mother would not vindicate her authority?
- and finding her prohibition ineffectual with her perverse daughter, was
it not reasonable to suppose she would try what effect it would have upon
her daughter's friend? - And now I believe the end will be effectually
answered: for my beloved, I dare say, will make a point of conscience of

I hate cruelty, especially in women; and should have been more concerned
for this instance of it Mrs. Howe, had I not had a stronger instance of
the same in my beloved to Miss Partington: For how did she know, since
she was so much afraid for herself, whom Dorcas might let in to that
innocent and less watchful young lady? But nevertheless I must needs
own, that I am not very sorry for this prohibition, let it originally
come from the Harlowes, or from whom it will; because I make no doubt,
that it is owing to Miss Howe, in a great measure, that my beloved is so
much upon her guard, and thinks so hardly of me. And who can tell, as
characters here are so tender, and some disguises so flimsy, what
consequences might follow this undutiful correspondence? - I say,
therefore, I am not sorry for it: now will she not have any body to
compare notes with: any body to alarm her: and I may be saved the guilt
and disobligation of inspecting into a correspondence that has long made
me uneasy.

How every ting works for me! - Why will this charming creature make such
contrivances necessary, as will increase my trouble, and my guilt too, as
some will account it? But why, rather I should ask, will she fight
against her stars?



Without staying for the promised letter from you to inform us what the
lady says of us, I write to tell you, that we are all of one opinion with
regard to her; which is, that there is not of her age a finer woman in
the world, as to her understanding. As for her person, she is at the age
of bloom, and an admirable creature; a perfect beauty: but this poorer
praise, a man, who has been honoured with her conversation, can hardly
descend to give; and yet she was brought amongst us contrary to her will.

Permit me, dear Lovelace, to be a mean of saving this excellent creature
from the dangers she hourly runs from the most plotting heart in the
world. In a former, I pleaded your own family, Lord M.'s wishes
particularly; and then I had not seen her: but now, I join her sake,
honour's sake, motives of justice, generosity, gratitude, and humanity,
which are all concerned in the preservation of so fine a woman. Thou
knowest not the anguish I should have had, (whence arising, I cannot
devise,) had I not known before I set out this morning, that the
incomparable creature had disappointed thee in thy cursed view of getting
her to admit the specious Partington for a bed-fellow.

I have done nothing but talk of this lady ever since I saw her. There is
something so awful, and yet so sweet, in her aspect, that were I to have
the virtues and the graces all drawn in one piece, they should be taken,
every one of them, from different airs and attributes in her. She was
born to adorn the age she was given to, and would be an ornament to the
first dignity. What a piercing, yet gentle eye; every glance I thought
mingled with love and fear of you! What a sweet smile darting through
the cloud that overspread her fair face, demonstrating that she had more
apprehensions and grief at her heart than she cared to express!

You may think what I am going to write too flighty: but, by my faith, I
have conceived such a profound reverence for her sense and judgment,
that, far from thinking the man excusable who should treat her basely,
I am ready to regret that such an angel of a woman should even marry.
She is in my eye all mind: and were she to meet with a man all mind
likewise, why should the charming qualities she is mistress of be
endangered? Why should such an angel be plunged so low as into the
vulgar offices of a domestic life? Were she mine, I should hardly wish
to see her a mother, unless there were a kind of moral certainty, that
minds like hers could be propagated. For why, in short, should not the
work of bodies be left to mere bodies? I know, that you yourself have
an opinion of her little less exalted. Belton, Mowbray, Tourville, are
all of my mind; are full of her praises; and swear, it would be a million
of pities to ruin a woman in whose fall none but devils can rejoice.

What must that merit and excellence be which can extort this from us,
freelivers, like yourself, and all of your just resentments against the
rest of her family, and offered our assistance to execute your vengeance
on them? But we cannot think it reasonable that you should punish an
innocent creature, who loves you so well, and who is your protection, and
has suffered so much for you, for the faults of her relations.

And here let me put a serious question or two. Thinkest thou, truly
admirable as this lady is, that the end thou proposest to thyself, if
obtained, is answerable to the means, to the trouble thou givest thyself,
and to the perfidies, tricks, stratagems, and contrivances thou has
already been guilty of, and still meditatest? In every real excellence
she surpasses all her sex. But in the article thou seekest to subdue her
for, a mere sensualist, a Partington, a Horton, a Martin, would make a
sensualist a thousand times happier than she either will or can.

Sweet are the joys that come with willingness.

And wouldst thou make her unhappy for her whole life, and thyself not
happy for a single moment?

Hitherto, it is not too late; and that perhaps is as much as can be said,
if thou meanest to preserve her esteem and good opinion, as well as
person; for I think it is impossible she can get out of thy hands now she
is in this accursed house. O that damned hypocritical Sinclair, as thou
callest her! How was it possible she should behave so speciously as she
did all the time the lady staid with us! - Be honest, and marry; and be
thankful that she will condescend to have thee. If thou dost not, thou
wilt be the worst of men; and wilt be condemned in this world and the
next: as I am sure thou oughtest, and shouldest too, wert thou to be
judged by one, who never before was so much touched in a woman's favour;
and whom thou knowest to be

Thy partial friend,

Our companions consented that I should withdraw to write to the above
effect. They can make nothing of the characters we write in; and so I
read this to them. They approve of it; and of their own motion each man
would set his name to it. I would not delay sending it, for fear of some
detestable scheme taking place.

Just now are brought me both yours. I vary not my opinion, nor forbear
my earnest prayers to you in her behalf, notwithstanding her dislike of



When I have already taken pains to acquaint thee in full with regard to
my views, designs, and resolutions, with regard to this admirable woman,
it is very extraordinary that thou shouldst vapour as thou dost in her
behalf, when I have made no trial, no attempt: and yet, givest it as thy
opinion in a former letter, that advantage may be taken of the situation
she is in; and that she may be overcome.

Most of thy reflections, particularly that which respects the difference
as to the joys to be given by the virtuous and libertine of her sex, are
fitter to come in as after-reflections than as antecedencies.

I own with thee, and with the poet, that sweet are the joys that come
with willingness - But is it to be expected, that a woman of education,
and a lover of forms, will yield before she is attacked? And have I so
much as summoned this to surrender? I doubt not but I shall meet with
difficulty. I must therefore make my first effort by surprise. There
may possibly be some cruelty necessary: but there may be consent in
struggle; there may be yielding in resistance. But the first conflict
over, whether the following may not be weaker and weaker, till
willingness ensue, is the point to be tried. I will illustrate what I
have said by the simile of a bird new caught. We begin, when boys, with
birds; and when grown up, go on to women; and both perhaps, in turn,
experience our sportive cruelty.

Hast thou not observed, the charming gradations by which the ensnared
volatile has been brought to bear with its new condition? how, at first,
refusing all sustenance, it beats and bruises itself against its wires,
till it makes its gay plumage fly about, and over-spread its well-secured
cage. Now it gets out its head; sticking only at its beautiful
shoulders: then, with difficulty, drawing back its head, it gasps for
breath, and erectly perched, with meditating eyes, first surveys, and
then attempts, its wired canopy. As it gets its pretty head and sides,
bites the wires, and pecks at the fingers of its delighted tamer. Till
at last, finding its efforts ineffectual, quite tired and breathless, it
lays itself down, and pants at the bottom of the cage, seeming to bemoan
its cruel fate and forfeited liberty. And after a few days, its

Online LibrarySamuel RichardsonClarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 4 → online text (page 6 of 25)