Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LIX

MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MRS. JUDITH NORTON SAT. JULY 29.

I congratulate you, my dear Mrs. Norton, with all my heart, on your son’s recovery; which I pray to God, with all your own health, to perfect.

I write in some hurry, being apprehensive of the sequence of the hints you give of some method you propose to try in my favour [with my relations, I presume, you mean]: but you will not tell me what, you say, if it prove unsuccessful.

Now I must beg of you that you will not take any step in my favour, with which you do not first acquaint me.

I have but one request to make to them, besides what is contained in my letter to my sister; and I would not, methinks, for the sake of their own future peace of mind, that they should be teased so by your well-meant kindness, and that of Miss Howe, as to be put upon denying me that. And why should more be asked for me than I can partake of? More than is absolutely necessary for my own peace?

You suppose I should have my sister’s answer to my letter by the time your’s reached my hand. I have it: and a severe one, a very severe one, it is. Yet, considering my fault in their eyes, and the provocations I am to suppose they so newly had from my dear Miss Howe, I am to look upon it as a favour that it was answered at all. I will send you a copy of it soon; as also of mine, to which it is an answer.

I have reason to be very thankful that my father has withdrawn that heavy malediction, which affected me so much—A parent’s curse, my dear Mrs. Norton! What child could die in peace under a parent’s curse? so literally fulfilled too as this has been in what relates to this life!

My heart is too full to touch upon the particulars of my sister’s letter. I can make but one atonement for my fault. May that be accepted! And may it soon be forgotten, by every dear relation, that there was such an unhappy daughter, sister, or niece, as Clarissa Harlowe!

My cousin Morden was one of those who was so earnest in prayer for my recovery, at nine and eleven years of age, as you mention. My sister thinks he will be one of those who wish I never had had a being. But pray, when he does come, let me hear of it with the first.

You think that, were it not for that unhappy notion of my moving talent, my mother would relent. What would I give to see her once more, and, although unknown to her, to kiss but the hem of her garment!

Could I have thought that the last time I saw her would have been the last, with what difficulty should I have been torn from her embraced feet!—And when, screened behind the yew-hedge on the 5th of April last,* I saw my father, and my uncle Antony, and my brother and sister, how little did I think that that would be the last time I should ever see them; and, in so short a space, that so many dreadful evils would befal me!

* See Vol. II. Letter XXXVI.

But I can write nothing but what must give you trouble. I will therefore, after repeating my desire that you will not intercede for me but with my previous consent, conclude with the assurance, that I am, and ever will be,

Your most affectionate and dutiful CLARISSA HARLOWE.