Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LVII


I write to show you that I am incapable of slighting even the minutest requests of an absent and distant friend. Yet you may believe that there cannot be any great alterations in the little time that you have been out of England, with respect to the subjects of your inquiry. Nevertheless I will answer to each, for the reason above given; and for the reason you mention, that even trifles, and chit-chat, are agreeable from friend to friend, and of friends, and even of those to whom we give the importance of deeming them our foes, when we are abroad.

First, then, as to my reformation-scheme, as you call it, I hope I go on very well. I wish you had entered upon the like, and could say so too. You would then find infinitely more peace of mind, than you are likely ever otherwise to be acquainted with. When I look back upon the sweep that has been made among us in the two or three past years, and forward upon what may still happen, I hardly think myself secure; though of late I have been guided by other lights than those of sense and appetite, which have hurried so many of our confraternity into worldly ruin, if not into eternal perdition.

I am very earnest in my wishes to be admitted into the nuptial state. But I think I ought to pass some time as a probationary, till, by steadiness in my good resolutions, I can convince some woman, whom I could love and honour, and whose worthy example might confirm my morals, that there is one libertine who had the grace to reform, before age or disease put it out of his power to sin on.

The Harlowes continue inconsolable; and I dare say will to the end of their lives.

Miss Howe is not yet married; but I have reason to think will soon. I have the honour of corresponding with her; and the more I know of her, the more I admire the nobleness of her mind. She must be conscious, that she is superior to half our sex, and to most of her own; which may make her give way to a temper naturally hasty and impatient; but, if she meet with condescension in her man, [and who would not veil to a superiority so visible, if it be not exacted with arrogance?] I dare say she will make an excellent wife.

As to Doleman, the poor man goes on trying and hoping with his empiric. I cannot but say that as the latter is a sensible and judicious man, and not rash, opinionative, or over-sanguine, I have great hopes (little as I think of quacks and nostrum-mongers in general) that he will do him good, if his case will admit of it. My reasons are—That the man pays a regular and constant attendance upon him; watches, with his own eye, every change and new symptom of his patient’s malady; varies his applications as the indications vary; fetters not himself to rules laid down by the fathers of the art, who lived many hundred years ago, when diseases, and the causes of them, were different, as the modes of living were different from what they are now, as well as climates and accidents; that he is to have his reward, not in daily fees; but (after the first five guineas for medicines) in proportion as the patient himself shall find amendment.

As to Mowbray and Tourville; what novelties can be expected, in so short a time, from men, who have not sense enough to strike out or pursue new lights, either good or bad; now, especially, that you are gone, who were the soul of all enterprise, and in particular their soul. Besides, I see them but seldom. I suppose they’ll be at Paris before you can return from Germany; for they cannot live without you; and you gave them such a specimen of your recovered volatility, in the last evening’s conversation, as delighted them, and concerned me.

I wish, with all my heart, that thou wouldst bend thy course toward the Pyraneans. I should then (if thou writest to thy cousin Montague an account of what is most observable in thy tour) put in for a copy of thy letters. I wonder thou wilt not; since then thy subjects would be as new to thyself, as to