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Read Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady Volume VIII Part 19

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LETTER XXVII

MISS CL. HARLOWE, TO MISS ARAB. HARLOWE TUESDAY, AUG. 22.

Write to me, my hard-hearted Sister, in what manner you please, I shall always be thankful to you for your notice. But (think what you will of me) I cannot see Mr. Ackland and the counselor on such a business as you mention.

The Lord have mercy upon me indeed! for none else will.

Surely I am believed to a creature past all shame, or it could not be thought of sending two gentlemen to me on such an errand.

Had my mother required of me (or would modesty have permitted you to inquire into) the particulars of my sad story, or had Mrs. Norton been directed to receive them from me, methinks it had been more fit: and I presume to think that it would have been more in every one’s character too, had they been required of me before such heavy judgment had been pa.s.sed upon me as has been pa.s.sed.

I know that this is Dr. Lewen’s opinion. He has been so good as to enforce it in a kind letter to me. I have answered his letter; and given such reasons as I hope will satisfy him. I could wish it were thought worth while to request of him a sight of my answer.*

* Her letter, containing the reasons she refers to, was not asked for; and Dr. Lewen’s death, which fell out soon after he had received it, was the reason that it was not communicated to the family, till it was too late to do the service that might have been hoped for from it.

To your other proposal, of going to Pensylvania; this is my answer–If nothing happen within a month which may full as effectually rid my parents and friends of that world of cares, and fears, and scandals, which you mention, and if I am then able to be carried on board of ship, I will cheerfully obey my father and mother, although I were sure to die in the pa.s.sage. And, if I may be forgiven for saying so (for indeed it proceeds not from a spirit of reprisal) you shall set over me, instead of my poor obliging, but really-unculpable, Hannah, your Betty Barnes; to whom I will be answerable for all my conduct. And I will make it worth her while to accompany me.

I am equally surprised and concerned at the hints which both you and my uncle Antony give of new points of misbehaviour in me!–What can be meant by them?

I will not tell you, Miss Harlowe, how much I am afflicted at your severity, and how much I suffer by it, and by your hard-hearted levity of style, because what I shall say may be construed into jingle and period, and because I know it is intended, very possibly for kind ends, to mortify me. All I will therefore say is, that it does not lose its end, if that be it.

But, nevertheless, (divesting myself as much as possible of all resentment,) I will only pray that Heaven will give you, for your own sake, a kinder heart than at present you seem to have; since a kind heart, I am convinced, is a greater blessing to its possessor than it can be to any other person. Under this conviction I subscribe myself, my dear Bella,

Your ever-affectionate sister, CL. HARLOWE.

LETTER XXVIII

MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE [IN ANSWER TO HER’S OF THURSDAY, AUG. 17.*]

TUESDAY, AUG. 22.

* See Letter VI. of this volume.

MY DEAREST YOUNG LADY,

The letters you sent me I now return by the hand that brings you this.

It is impossible for me to express how much I have been affected by them, and by your last of the 17th. Indeed, my dear Miss Clary, you are very harshly used; indeed you are! And if you should be taken from us, what grief and what punishment are not treasuring up against themselves in the heavy reflections which their rash censures and unforgivingness will occasion them!

But I find to what your uncle Antony’s cruel letter is owing, as well as one you will be still more afflicted by, [G.o.d help you, my poor dear child!] when it comes to your hand, written by your sister, with proposals to you.*

* See Letter XXVI. ibid.

It was finished to send you yesterday, I know; and I apprize you of it, that you should fortify your heart against the contents of it.

The motives which incline them all to this severity, if well grounded, would authorize any severity they could express, and which, while they believe them to be so, both they and you are to be equally pitied.

They are owning to the information of that officious Mr. Brand, who has acquainted them (from some enemy of your’s in the neighbourhood about you) that visits are made you, highly censurable, by a man of a free character, and an intimate of Mr. Lovelace; who is often in private with you; sometimes twice or thrice a day.

Betty gives herself great liberties of speech upon this occasion, and all your friends are too ready to believe that things are not as they should be; which makes me wish that, let the gentleman’s views be ever so honourable, you could entirely drop acquaintance with him.

Something of this nature was hinted at by Betty to me before, but so darkly that I could not tell what to make of it; and this made me mention to you so generally as I did in my last.

Your cousin Morden has been among them. He is exceedingly concerned for your misfortunes; and as they will not believe Mr. Lovelace would marry you, he is determined to go to Lord M.’s, in order to inform himself from Mr. Lovelace’s own mouth, whether he intends to do you that justice or not.

He was extremely caressed by every one at his first arrival; but I am told there is some little coldness between them and him at present.

I was in hopes of getting a sight of this letter of Mr. Brand: (a rash officious man!) but it seems Mr. Morden had it given him yesterday to read, and he took it away with him.

G.o.d be your comfort, my dear Miss! But indeed I am exceedingly disturbed at the thoughts of what may still be the issue of all these things. I am, my beloved young lady,

Your most affectionate and faithful JUDITH NORTON.

LETTER XXIX

MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TUESDAY, AUG. 22.

After I had sealed up the enclosed, I had the honour of a private visit from your aunt Hervey; who has been in a very low-spirited way, and kept her chamber for several weeks past; and is but just got abroad.

She longed, she said, to see me, and to weep with me, on the hard fate that had befallen her beloved niece.

I will give you a faithful account of what pa.s.sed between us; as I expect that it will, upon the whole, administer hope and comfort to you.

‘She pitied very much your good mother, who, she a.s.sured me, is obliged to act a part entirely contrary to her inclinations; as she herself, she owns, had been in a great measure.

‘She said, that the poor lady was with great difficulty with-held from answering your letter to her; which had (as was your aunt’s expression) almost broken the heart of every one: that she had reason to think that she was neither consenting to your two uncles writing, nor approving of what they wrote.

‘She is sure they all love you dearly; but have gone so far, that they know not how to recede.

‘That, but for the abominable league which your brother had got every body into (he refusing to set out for Scotland till it was renewed, and till they had all promised to take no step towards a reconciliation in his absence but by his consent; and to which your sister’s resentments kept them up); all would before now have happily subsided.

‘That n.o.body knew the pangs which their inflexible behaviour gave them, ever since you had begun to write to them in so affecting and humble a style.

‘That, however, they were not inclined to believe that you were either so ill, or so penitent as you really are; and still less, that Mr. Lovelace is in earnest in his offers of marriage.

‘She is sure, however, she says, that all will soon be well: and the sooner for Mr. Morden’s arrival: who is very zealous in your behalf.

———-

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