Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LXVIII

MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. WEDN. MORN. EIGHT O’CLOCK, (6 SEPT.)

Your servant arrived here before I was stirring. I sent him to Smith’s to inquire how the lady was; and ordered him to call upon me when he came back. I was pleased to hear she had tolerable rest. As soon as I had dispatched him with the letter I had written over night, I went to attend her.

I found her up, and dressed; in a white satin night-gown. Ever elegant; but now more so than I had seen her for a week past: her aspect serenely cheerful.

She mentioned the increased dimness of her eyes, and the tremor which had invaded her limbs. If this be dying, said she, there is nothing at all shocking in it. My body hardly sensible of pain, my mind at ease, my intellects clear and perfect as ever. What a good and gracious God have I!—For this is what I always prayed for.

I told her it was not so serene with you.

There is not the same reason for it, replied she. ’Tis a choice comfort, Mr. Belford, at the winding up of our short story, to be able to say, I have rather suffered injuries myself, than offered them to others. I bless God, though I have been unhappy, as the world deems it, and once I thought more so than at present I think I ought to have done, since my calamities were to work out for me my everlasting happiness; yet have I not wilfully made any one creature so. I have no reason to grieve for any thing but for the sorrow I have given my friends.

But pray, Mr. Belford, remember me in the best manner to my cousin Morden; and desire him to comfort them, and to tell them, that all would have been the same, had they accepted of my true penitence, as I wish and as I trust the Almighty has done.

I was called down: it was to Harry, who was just returned from Miss Howe’s, to whom he carried the lady’s letter. The stupid fellow being bid to make haste with it, and return as soon as possible, staid not until Miss Howe had it, she being at the distance of five minutes, although Mrs. Howe would have had him stay, and sent a man and horse purposely with it to her daughter.

WEDNESDAY MORNING, TEN O’CLOCK.

The poor lady is just recovered from a fainting fit, which has left her at death’s door. Her late tranquillity and freedom from pain seemed but a lightening, as Mrs. Lovick and Mrs. Smith call it.

By my faith, Lovelace, I had rather part with all the friends I have in the world, than with this lady. I never knew what a virtuous, a holy friendship, as I may call mine to her, was before. But to be so new to it, and to be obliged to forego it so soon, what an affliction! Yet, thank Heaven, I lose her not by my own fault!—But ’twould be barbarous not to spare thee now.

She has sent for the divine who visited her before, to pray with her.