Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXVII


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 passed upon me as has been passed.

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 passage. 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.