Clarissa Harlowe LETTER L

MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE WEDNESDAY NIGHT, JUNE 28.

O MY DEAREST MISS HOWE!

Once more have I escaped—But, alas! I, my best self, have not escaped!—Oh! your poor Clarissa Harlowe! you also will hate me, I fear!——

Yet you won’t, when you know all!

But no more of my self! my lost self. You that can rise in a morning to be blest, and to bless; and go to rest delighted with your own reflections, and in your unbroken, unstarting slumbers, conversing with saints and angels, the former only more pure than yourself, as they have shaken off the incumbrance of body; you shall be my subject, as you have long, long, been my only pleasure. And let me, at awful distance, revere my beloved Anna Howe, and in her reflect upon what her Clarissa Harlowe once was!

Forgive, O forgive my rambling. My peace is destroyed. My intellects are touched. And what flighty nonsense must you read, if you now will vouchsafe to correspond with me, as formerly!

O my best, my dearest, my only friend! what a tale have I to unfold!—But still upon self, this vile, this hated self!—I will shake it off, if possible; and why should I not, since I think, except one wretch, I hate nothing so much? Self, then, be banished from self one moment (for I doubt it will be for no longer) to inquire after a dearer object, my beloved Anna Howe!—whose mind, all robed in spotless white, charms and irradiates—But what would I say?——

And how, my dearest friend, after this rhapsody, which on re-perusal, I would not let go, but to show you what a distracted mind dictates to my trembling pen! How do you? You have been very ill, it seems. That you are recovered, my dear, let me hear. That your mother is well, pray let me hear, and hear quickly. This comfort surely is owing to me; for if life is no worse than chequer-work, I must now have a little white to come, having seen nothing but black, all unchequered dismal black, for a great, great while.

And what is all this wild incoherence for? It is only to beg to know how you have been, and how you do now, by a line directed for Mrs. Rachel Clark, at Mr. Smith’s, a glove-shop, in King-street, Covent-garden; which (although my abode is secret to every body else) will reach the hands of—your unhappy—but that’s not enough——

Your miserable CLARISSA HARLOWE.