Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XLVIII



I little thought I ever could have owed so much obligation to any man as you have laid me under. And yet what you have sent me has almost broken my heart, and ruined my eyes.

I am surprised, though agreeably, that you have so soon, and so well, got over that part of the trust you have engaged in, which relates to the family.

It may be presumed, from the exits you mention of two of the infernal man’s accomplices, that the thunderbolt will not stop short of the principal. Indeed I have some pleasure to think it seems rolling along towards the devoted head that has plotted all the mischief. But let me, however, say, that although I think Mr. Morden not altogether in the wrong in his reasons for resentment, as he is the dear creature’s kinsman and trustee, yet I think you very much in the right in endeavouring to dissuade him from it, as you are her executor, and act in pursuance of her earnest request.

But what a letter is that of the infernal man’s! I cannot observe upon it. Neither can I, for very different reasons, upon my dear creature’s posthumous letters; particularly on that to him. O Mr. Belford! what numberless perfections died, when my Clarissa drew her last breath!

If decency be observed in his letters, for I have not yet had patience to read above two or three of them, (besides this horrid one, which I return to you enclosed,) I may some time hence be curious to look, by their means, into the hearts of wretches, which, though they must be the abhorrence of virtuous minds, will, when they are laid open, (as I presume they are in them,) afford a proper warning to those who read them, and teach them to detest men of such profligate characters.

If your reformation be sincere, you will not be offended that I do not except you on this occasion.—And thus have I helped you to a criterion to try yourself by.

By this letter of the wicked man it is apparent that there are still wickeder women. But see what a guilty commerce with the devils of your sex will bring those to whose morals ye have ruined!—For these women were once innocent: it was man that made them otherwise. The first bad man, perhaps, threw them upon worse men; those upon still worse; till they commenced devils incarnate—the height of wickedness or of shame is not arrived at all at once, as I have somewhere heard observed.

But this man, this monster rather, for him to curse these women, and to curse the dear creature’s family (implacable as the latter were,) in order to lighten a burden he voluntarily took up, and groans under, is meanness added to wickedness: and in vain will he one day find his low plea of sharing with her friends, and with those common wretches, a guilt which will be adjudged him as all his own; though they too may meet their punishment; as it is evidently begun; in the first, in their ineffectual reproaches of one another; in the second—as you have told me.

This letter of the abandoned wretch I have not shown to any body; not even to Mr. Hickman: for, Sir, I must tell you, I do not as yet think it the same thing as only seeing it myself.

Mr. Hickman, like the rest of his sex, would grow upon indulgence. One distinction from me would make him pay two to himself. Insolent creepers, or encroachers all of you! To show any of you a favour to-day, you would expect it as a right to-morrow.

I am, as you see, very open and sincere with you; and design in another letter to be still more so, in answer to your call, and Colonel Morden’s call, upon me, in a point that concerns me to explain myself upon to my beloved creature’s executor, and to the Colonel, as her only tender and only worthy relation.

I cannot but highly applaud Colonel Morden for his generosity to Miss Dolly Hervey.

O that he had arrived time enough to save my inimitable friend from the machinations of the vilest of men, and from the envy and malice of the most selfish and implacable of brothers and sisters!