Samuel Richardson.

Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 7 online

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time, not to be uneasy for her; since (only that this was a calamity
which came upon her when she was far from being well, a load laid upon
the shoulders of a poor wretch, ready before to sink under too heavy a
burden) it was nothing to the evil she had before suffered: and one
felicity seemed likely to issue from it; which was, that she would be
at rest, in an honest house, with considerate and kind-hearted people;
having assurance given her, that she should not be molested by the
wretch, whom it would be death for her to see: so that now she, [Miss
Howe,] needed not to send to her by private and expensive conveyances:
nor need Collins to take precautions for fear of being dogged to her
lodgings; nor need she write by a fictitious name to her, but by her
own.'

You can see I am in a way to oblige you: you see how much she depends
upon my engaging for your forbearing to intrude yourself into her
company: let not your flaming impatience destroy all; and make me look
like a villain to a lady who has reason to suspect every man she sees to
be so. - Upon this condition, you may expect all the services that can
flow from

Your sincere well-wisher,
J. BELFORD.



LETTER XXI

MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
TUESDAY NIGHT, JULY 18.


I am just come from the lady. I was admitted into the dining-room, where
she was sitting in an elbow-chair, in a very weak and low way. She made
an effort to stand up when I entered; but was forced to keep her seat.
You'll excuse me, Mr. Belford: I ought to rise to thank you for all your
kindness to me. I was to blame to be so loth to leave that sad place;
for I am in heaven here, to what I was there; and good people about me
too! - I have not had good people about me for a long, long time before;
so that [with a half-smile] I had begun to wonder whither they were all
gone.

Her nurse and Mrs. Smith, who were present, took occasion to retire: and,
when we were alone, You seem to be a person of humanity, Sir, said she:
you hinted, as I was leaving my prison, that you were not a stranger to
my sad story. If you know it truly, you must know that I have been most
barbarously treated; and have not deserved it at the man's hands by whom
I have suffered.

I told her I knew enough to be convinced that she had the merit of a
saint, and the purity of an angel: and was proceeding, when she said, No
flighty compliments! no undue attributes, Sir!

I offered to plead for my sincerity; and mentioned the word politeness;
and would have distinguished between that and flattery. Nothing can be
polite, said she, that is not just: whatever I may have had; I have now
no vanity to gratify.

I disclaimed all intentions of compliment: all I had said, and what I
should say, was, and should be, the effect of sincere veneration. My
unhappy friend's account of her had entitled her to that.

I then mentioned your grief, your penitence, your resolutions of making
her all the amends that were possible now to be made her: and in the most
earnest manner, I asserted your innocence as to the last villanous
outrage.

Her answer was to this effect - It is painful to me to think of him. The
amends you talk of cannot be made. This last violence you speak of, is
nothing to what preceded it. That cannot be atoned for: nor palliated:
this may: and I shall not be sorry to be convinced that he cannot be
guilty of so very low a wickedness. - - Yet, after his vile forgeries of
hands - after his baseness in imposing upon me the most infamous persons
as ladies of honour of his own family - what are the iniquities he is not
capable of?

I would then have given her an account of the trial you stood with your
friends: your own previous resolutions of marriage, had she honoured you
with the requested four words: all your family's earnestness to have the
honour of her alliance: and the application of your two cousins to Miss
Howe, by general consent, for that young lady's interest with her: but,
having just touched upon these topics, she cut me short, saying, that was
a cause before another tribunal: Miss Howe's letters to her were upon the
subject; and as she would write her thoughts to her as soon as she was
able.

I then attempted more particularly to clear you of having any hand in the
vile Sinclair's officious arrest; a point she had the generosity to wish
you cleared of: and, having mentioned the outrageous letter you had
written to me on this occasion, she asked, If I had that letter about me?

I owned I had.

She wished to see it.

This puzzled me horribly: for you must needs think that most of the free
things, which, among us rakes, pass for wit and spirit, must be shocking
stuff to the ears or eyes of persons of delicacy of that sex: and then
such an air of levity runs through thy most serious letters; such a false
bravery, endeavouring to carry off ludicrously the subjects that most
affect thee; that those letters are generally the least fit to be seen,
which ought to be most to thy credit.

Something like this I observed to her; and would fain have excused myself
from showing it: but she was so earnest, that I undertook to read some
parts of it, resolving to omit the most exceptionable.

I know thou'lt curse me for that; but I thought it better to oblige her
than to be suspected myself; and so not have it in my power to serve thee
with her, when so good a foundation was laid for it; and when she knows
as bad of thee as I can tell her.

Thou rememberest the contents, I suppose, of thy furious letter.* Her
remarks upon the different parts of it, which I read to her, were to the
following effect:


* See Letter XII. of this volume.


Upon the last two lines, All undone! undone, by Jupiter! Zounds, Jack,
what shall I do now? a curse upon all my plots and contrivances! thus she
expressed herself:

'O how light, how unaffected with the sense of its own crimes, is the
heart that could dictate to the pen this libertine froth?'

The paragraph which mentions the vile arrest affected her a good deal.

In the next I omitted thy curse upon thy relations, whom thou wert
gallanting: and read on the seven subsequent paragraphs down to thy
execrable wish; which was too shocking to read to her. What I read
produced the following reflections from her:

'The plots and contrivances which he curses, and the exultings of the
wicked wretches on finding me out, show me that all his guilt was
premeditated: nor doubt I that his dreadful perjuries, and inhuman arts,
as he went along, were to pass for fine stratagems; for witty sport; and
to demonstrate a superiority of inventive talents! - O my cruel, cruel
brother! had it not been for thee, I had not been thrown upon so
pernicious and so despicable a plotter! - But proceed, Sir; pray proceed.'

At that part, Canst thou, O fatal prognosticator! tell me where my
punishment will end? - she sighed. And when I came to that sentence,
praying for my reformation, perhaps - Is that there? said she, sighing
again. Wretched man! - and shed a tear for thee. - By my faith, Lovelace,
I believe she hates thee not! she has at least a concern, a generous
concern for thy future happiness - What a noble creature hast thou
injured!

She made a very severe reflection upon me, on reading the words - On your
knees, for me, beg her pardon - 'You had all your lessons, Sir, said she,
when you came to redeem me - You was so condescending as to kneel: I
thought it was the effect of your own humanity, and good-natured
earnestness to serve me - excuse me, Sir, I knew not that it was in
consequence of a prescribed lesson.'

This concerned me not a little; I could not bear to be thought such a
wretched puppet, such a Joseph Leman, such a Tomlinson. I endeavoured,
therefore, with some warmth, to clear myself of this reflection; and she
again asked my excuse: 'I was avowedly, she said, the friend of a man,
whose friendship, she had reason to be sorry to say, was no credit to any
body.' - And desired me to proceed.

I did; but fared not much better afterwards: for on that passage where
you say, I had always been her friend and advocate, this was her
unanswerable remark: 'I find, Sir, by this expression, that he had always
designs against me; and that you all along knew that he had. Would to
Heaven, you had had the goodness to have contrived some way, that might
not have endangered your own safety, to give me notice of his baseness,
since you approved not of it! But you gentlemen, I suppose, had rather
see an innocent fellow-creature ruined, than be thought capable of an
action, which, however generous, might be likely to loosen the bands of a
wicked friendship!'

After this severe, but just reflection, I would have avoided reading the
following, although I had unawares begun the sentence, (but she held me
to it:) What would I now give, had I permitted you to have been a
successful advocate! And this was her remark upon it - 'So, Sir, you see,
if you had been the happy means of preventing the evils designed me, you
would have had your friend's thanks for it when he came to his
consideration. This satisfaction, I am persuaded every one, in the long
run, will enjoy, who has the virtue to withstand, or prevent, a wicked
purpose. I was obliged, I see, to your kind wishes - but it was a point
of honour with you to keep his secret; the more indispensable with you,
perhaps, the viler the secret. Yet permit me to wish, Mr. Belford, that
you were capable of relishing the pleasures that arise to a benevolent
mind from VIRTUOUS friendship! - none other is worthy of the sacred name.
You seem an humane man: I hope, for your own sake, you will one day
experience the difference: and, when you do, think of Miss Howe and
Clarissa Harlowe, (I find you know much of my sad story,) who were the
happiest creatures on earth in each other's friendship till this friend
of your's' - And there she stopt, and turned from me.

Where thou callest thyself a villanous plotter; 'To take a crime to
himself, said she, without shame, O what a hardened wretch is this man!'

On that passage, where thou sayest, Let me know how she has been treated:
if roughly, woe be to the guilty! this was her remark, with an air of
indignation: 'What a man is your friend, Sir! - Is such a one as he to set
himself up to punish the guilty? - All the rough usage I could receive
from them, was infinitely less' - And there she stopt a moment or two:
then proceeding - 'And who shall punish him? what an assuming wretch! -
Nobody but himself is entitled to injure the innocent; - he is, I suppose,
on the earth, to act the part which the malignant fiend is supposed to
act below - dealing out punishments, at his pleasure, to every inferior
instrument of mischief!'

What, thought I, have I been doing! I shall have this savage fellow
think I have been playing him booty, in reading part of his letter to
this sagacious lady! - Yet, if thou art angry, it can only, in reason,
be at thyself; for who would think I might not communicate to her some
of thy sincerity in exculpating thyself from a criminal charge, which
thou wrotest to thy friend, to convince him of thy innocence? But a bad
heart, and a bad cause are confounded things: and so let us put it to its
proper account.

I passed over thy charge to me, to curse them by the hour; and thy names
of dragon and serpents, though so applicable; since, had I read them,
thou must have been supposed to know from the first what creatures they
were; vile fellow as thou wert, for bringing so much purity among them!
And I closed with thy own concluding paragraph, A line! a line! a kingdom
for a line! &c. However, telling her (since she saw that I omitted some
sentences) that there were farther vehemences in it; but as they were
better fitted to show to me the sincerity of the writer than for so
delicate an ear as her's to hear, I chose to pass them over.

You have read enough, said she - he is a wicked, wicked man! - I see he
intended to have me in his power at any rate; and I have no doubt of what
his purposes were, by what his actions have been. You know his vile
Tomlinson, I suppose - You know - But what signifies talking? - Never was
there such a premeditated false heart in man, [nothing can be truer,
thought I!] What has he not vowed! what has he not invented! and all for
what? - Only to ruin a poor young creature, whom he ought to have
protected; and whom he had first deceived of all other protection!

She arose and turned from me, her handkerchief at her eyes: and, after a
pause, came towards me again - 'I hope, said she, I talk to a man who has
a better heart: and I thank you, Sir, for all your kind, though
ineffectual pleas in my favour formerly, whether the motives for them
were compassion, or principle, or both. That they were ineffectual,
might very probably be owing to your want of earnestness; and that, as
you might think, to my want of merit. I might not, in your eye, deserve
to be saved! - I might appear to you a giddy creature, who had run away
from her true and natural friends; and who therefore ought to take the
consequence of the lot she had drawn.'

I was afraid, for thy sake, to let her know how very earnest I had been:
but assured her that I had been her zealous friend; and that my motives
were founded upon a merit, that, I believed, was never equaled: that,
however indefensible Mr. Lovelace was, he had always done justice to her
virtue: that to a full conviction of her untainted honour it was owing
that he so earnestly desired to call so inestimable a jewel his - and was
proceeding, when she again cut me short -

Enough, and too much, of this subject, Sir! - If he will never more let me
behold his face, that is all I have now to ask of him. - Indeed, indeed,
clasping her hands, I never will, if I can, by any means not criminally
desperate, avoid it.

What could I say for thee? - There was no room, however, at that time, to
touch this string again, for fear of bringing upon myself a prohibition,
not only of the subject, but of ever attending her again.

I gave some distant intimations of money-matters. I should have told
thee, when I read to her that passage, where thou biddest me force what
sums upon her I can get her to take - she repeated, No, no, no, no!
several times with great quickness; and I durst no more than just
intimate it again - and that so darkly, as left her room to seem not to
understand me.

Indeed I know not the person, man or woman, I should be so much afraid
of disobliging, or incurring a censure from, as from her. She has so
much true dignity in her manner, without pride or arrogance, (which, in
those who have either, one is tempted to mortify,) such a piercing eye,
yet softened so sweetly with rays of benignity, that she commands all
one's reverence.

Methinks I have a kind of holy love for this angel of a woman; and it is
matter of astonishment to me, that thou couldst converse with her a
quarter of an hour together, and hold thy devilish purposes.

Guarded as she was by piety, prudence, virtue, dignity, family, fortune,
and a purity of heart that never woman before her boasted, what a real
devil must he be (yet I doubt I shall make thee proud!) who could resolve
to break through so many fences!

For my own part, I am more and more sensible that I ought not to have
contented myself with representing against, and expostulating with thee
upon, thy base intentions: and indeed I had it in my head, more than
once, to try to do something for her. But, wretch that I was! I was
with-held by notions of false honour, as she justly reproached me,
because of thy own voluntary communications to me of thy purposes: and
then, as she was brought into such a cursed house, and was so watched by
thyself, as well as by thy infernal agents, I thought (knowing my man!)
that I should only accelerate the intended mischiefs. - Moreover, finding
thee so much over-awed by her virtue, that thou hadst not, at thy first
carrying her thither, the courage to attempt her; and that she had, more
than once, without knowing thy base views, obliged thee to abandon them,
and to resolve to do her justice, and thyself honour; I hardly doubted,
that her merit would be triumphant at last.

It is my opinion, (if thou holdest thy purposes to marry,) that thou
canst not do better than to procure thy real aunts, and thy real cousins,
to pay her a visit, and to be thy advocates. But if they decline
personal visits, letters from them, and from my Lord M. supported by Miss
Howe's interest, may, perhaps, effect something in thy favour.

But these are only my hopes, founded on what I wish for thy sake. The
lady, I really think, would choose death rather than thee: and the two
women are of opinion, though they knew not half of what she has suffered,
that her heart is actually broken.

At taking my leave, I tendered my best services to her, and besought her
to permit me frequently to inquire after her health.

She made me no answer, but by bowing her head.



LETTER XXII

MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 19.


This morning I took a chair to Smith's; and, being told that the lady had
a very bad night, but was up, I sent for her worthy apothecary; who, on
his coming to me, approving of my proposal of calling in Dr. H., I bid
the woman acquaint her with the designed visit.

It seems she was at first displeased; yet withdrew her objection: but,
after a pause, asked them, What she should do? She had effects of value,
some of which she intended, as soon as she could, to turn into money,
but, till then, had not a single guinea to give the doctor for his fee.

Mrs. Lovick said, she had five guineas by her; they were at her service.

She would accept of three, she said, if she would take that (pulling a
diamond ring from her finger) till she repaid her; but on no other terms.

Having been told I was below with Mr. Goddard, she desired to speak one
word with me, before she saw the Doctor.

She was sitting in an elbow-chair, leaning her head on a pillow; Mrs.
Smith and the widow on each side her chair; her nurse, with a phial of
hartshorn, behind her; in her own hand her salts.

Raising her head at my entrance, she inquired if the Doctor knew Mr.
Lovelace.

I told her no; and that I believed you never saw him in your life.

Was the Doctor my friend?

He was; and a very worthy and skilful man. I named him for his eminence
in his profession: and Mr. Goddard said he knew not a better physician.

I have but one condition to make before I see the gentleman; that he
refuse not his fees from me. If I am poor, Sir, I am proud. I will not
be under obligation, you may believe, Sir, I will not. I suffer this
visit, because I would not appear ungrateful to the few friends I have
left, nor obstinate to such of my relations, as may some time hence, for
their private satisfaction, inquire after my behaviour in my sick hours.
So, Sir, you know the condition. And don't let me be vexed. 'I am very
ill! and cannot debate the matter.'

Seeing her so determined, I told her, if it must be so, it should.

Then, Sir, the gentleman may come. But I shall not be able to answer
many questions. Nurse, you can tell him at the window there what a night
I have had, and how I have been for two days past. And Mr. Goddard, if
he be here, can let him know what I have taken. Pray let me be as little
questioned as possible.

The Doctor paid his respects to her with the gentlemanly address for
which he is noted: and she cast up her sweet eyes to him with that
benignity which accompanies her every graceful look.

I would have retired: but she forbid it.

He took her hand, the lily not of so beautiful a white: Indeed, Madam,
you are very low, said he: but give me leave to say, that you can do more
for yourself than all the faculty can do for you.

He then withdrew to the window. And, after a short conference with the
women, he turned to me, and to Mr. Goddard, at the other window: We can
do nothing here, (speaking low,) but by cordials and nourishment. What
friends has the lady? She seems to be a person of condition; and, ill as
she is, a very fine woman. - - A single lady, I presume?

I whisperingly told him she was. That there were extraordinary
circumstances in her case; as I would have apprized him, had I met with
him yesterday: that her friends were very cruel to her; but that she
could not hear them named without reproaching herself; though they were
much more to blame than she.

I knew I was right, said the Doctor. A love-case, Mr. Goddard! a
love-case, Mr. Belford! there is one person in the world who can do her
more service than all the faculty.

Mr. Goddard said he had apprehended her disorder was in her mind; and had
treated her accordingly: and then told the Doctor what he had done: which
he approving of, again taking her charming hand, said, My good young
lady, you will require very little of our assistance. You must, in a
great measure, be your own assistance. You must, in a great measure, be
your own doctress. Come, dear Madam, [forgive me the familiar
tenderness; your aspect commands love as well as reverence; and a father
of children, some of them older than yourself, may be excused for his
familiar address,] cheer up your spirits. Resolve to do all in your
power to be well; and you'll soon grow better.

You are very kind, Sir, said she. I will take whatever you direct. My
spirits have been hurried. I shall be better, I believe, before I am
worse. The care of my good friends here, looking at the women, shall not
meet with an ungrateful return.

The Doctor wrote. He would fain have declined his fee. As her malady,
he said, was rather to be relieved by the soothings of a friend, than by
the prescriptions of a physician, he should think himself greatly
honoured to be admitted rather to advise her in the one character, than
to prescribe to her in the other.

She answered, That she should be always glad to see so humane a man: that
his visits would keep her in charity with his sex: but that, where [sic]
she able to forget that he was her physician, she might be apt to abate
of the confidence in his skill, which might be necessary to effect the
amendment that was the end of his visits.

And when he urged her still further, which he did in a very polite
manner, and as passing by the door two or three times a day, she said she
should always have pleasure in considering him in the kind light he
offered himself to her: that that might be very generous in one person to
offer, which would be as ungenerous in another to accept: that indeed she
was not at present high in circumstance; and he saw by the tender, (which
he must accept of,) that she had greater respect to her own convenience
than to his merit, or than to the pleasure she should take in his visits.

We all withdrew together; and the Doctor and Mr. Goddard having a great
curiosity to know something more of her story, at the motion of the
latter we went into a neighbouring coffee-house, and I gave them, in
confidence, a brief relation of it; making all as light for you as I
could; and yet you'll suppose, that, in order to do but common justice
to the lady's character, heavy must be that light.


THREE O'CLOCK, AFTERNOON.

I just now called again at Smith's; and am told she is somewhat better;
which she attributed to the soothings of her Doctor. She expressed
herself highly pleased with both gentlemen; and said that their behaviour
to her was perfectly paternal. - -

Paternal, poor lady! - - never having been, till very lately, from under
her parents' wings, and now abandoned by all her friends, she is for
finding out something paternal and maternal in every one, (the latter
qualities in Mrs. Lovick and Mrs. Smith,) to supply to herself the father
and mother her dutiful heart pants after.

Mrs. Smith told me, that, after we were gone, she gave the keys of her
trunk and drawers to her and the widow Lovick, and desired them to take
an inventory of them; which they did in her presence.

They also informed me, that she had requested them to find her a
purchaser for two rich dressed suits; one never worn, the other not above
once or twice.

This shocked me exceedingly - perhaps it may thee a little!!! - Her reason
for so doing, she told them, was, that she should never live to wear
them: that her sister, and other relations, were above wearing them: that
her mother would not endure in her sight any thing that was her's: that
she wanted the money: that she would not be obliged to any body, when she
had effects by her for which she had no occasion: and yet, said she, I
expect not that they will fetch a price answerable to their value.



Online LibrarySamuel RichardsonClarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady — Volume 7 → online text (page 9 of 25)