Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LXX



You have engaged me to communicate to you, upon my honour, (making neither better nor worse of the matter,) what Mr. Lovelace has written to me, in relation to yourself, in the period preceding your going to Hampstead, and in that between the 11th and 19th of June: and you assure me you have no view in this request, but to see if it be necessary for you, from the account he gives, to touch upon the painful subjects yourself, for the sake of your own character.

Your commands, Madam, are of a very delicate nature, as they may seem to affect the secrets of private friendship: but as I know you are not capable of a view, the motives to which you will not own; and as I think the communication may do some credit to my unhappy friend’s character, as an ingenuous man; though his actions by the most excellent woman in the world have lost him all title to that of an honourable one; I obey you with the greater cheerfulness.

[He then proceeds with his extracts, and concludes them with an address

to her in his friend’s behalf, in the following words:]

’And now, Madam, I have fulfilled your commands; and, I hope, have not dis-served my friend with you; since you will hereby see the justice he does to your virtue in every line he writes. He does the same in all his letters, though to his own condemnation: and, give me leave to add, that if this ever-amiable sufferer can think it in any manner consistent with her honour to receive his vows on the altar, on his truly penitent turn of mind, I have not the least doubt but that he will make her the best and tenderest of husbands. What obligation will not the admirable lady hereby lay upon all his noble family, who so greatly admire her! and, I will presume to say, upon her own, when the unhappy family aversion (which certainly has been carried to an unreasonable height against him) shall be got over, and a general reconciliation takes place! For who is it that would not give these two admirable persons to each other, were not his morals an objection?

However this be, I would humbly refer to you, Madam, whether, as you will be mistress of very delicate particulars from me his friend, you should not in honour think yourself concerned to pass them by, as if you had never seen them; and not to take advantage of the communication, not even in an argument, as some perhaps might lie, with respect to the premeditated design he seems to have had, not against you, as you; but as against the sex; over whom (I am sorry I can bear witness myself) it is the villanous aim of all libertines to triumph: and I would not, if any misunderstanding should arise between him and me, give him room to reproach me that his losing of you, and (through his usage of you) of his own friends, were owing to what perhaps he would call breach of trust, were he to judge rather by the event than by my intention.

I am, Madam, with the most profound veneration,

Your most faithful humble servant, J. BELFORD.