Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LV

MISS HOWE, TO THE TWO MISSES MONTAGUE SAT. JULY 29.

DEAR LADIES,

I have not been wanting to use all my interest with my beloved friend, to induce her to forgive and be reconciled to your kinsman, (though he has so ill deserved it;) and have even repeated my earnest advice to her on this head. This repetition, and the waiting for her answer, having taken up time, have been the cause that I could not sooner do myself the honour of writing to you on this subject.

You will see, by the enclosed, her immovable resolution, grounded on noble and high-souled motives, which I cannot but regret and applaud at the same time: applaud, for the justice of her determination, which will confirm all your worthy house in the opinion you had conceived of her unequalled merit; and regret, because I have but too much reason to apprehend, as well by that, as by the report of a gentleman just come from her, that she is in a declining way, as to her health, that her thoughts are very differently employed than on a continuance here.

The enclosed letter she thought fit to send to me unsealed, that, after I had perused it, I might forward it to you: and this is the reason it is superscribed by myself, and sealed with my seal. It is very full and peremptory; but as she had been pleased, in a letter to me, dated the 23d instant, (as soon as she could hold a pen,) to give me more ample reasons why she could not comply with your pressing requests, as well as mine, I will transcribe some of the passages in that letter, which will give one of the wickedest men in the world, (if he sees them,) reason to think himself one of the most unhappy, in the loss of so incomparable a wife as he might have gloried in, had he not been so superlatively wicked. These are the passages.

[See, for these passages, Miss Harlowe’s letter, No. XLI. of this volume,

dated July 23, marked with a turned comma, thus ’]

And now, Ladies, you have before you my beloved friend’s reasons for her refusal of a man unworthy of the relation he bears to so many excellent persons: and I will add, [for I cannot help it,] that the merit and rank of the person considered, and the vile manner of his proceedings, there never was a greater villany committed: and since she thinks her first and only fault cannot be expiated but by death, I pray to God daily, and will hourly from the moment I shall hear of that sad catastrophe, that He will be pleased to make him the subject of His vengeance, in some such way, as that all who know of his perfidious crime, may see the hand of Heaven in the punishment of it!

You will forgive me, Ladies: I love not mine own soul better than I do Miss Clarissa Harlowe. And the distresses she has gone through; the persecution she suffers from all her friends; the curse she lies under, for his sake, from her implacable father; her reduced health and circumstances, from high health and affluence; and that execrable arrest and confinement, which have deepened all her other calamities, [and which must be laid at his door, as it was the act of his vile agents, that, whether from his immediate orders or not, naturally flowed from his preceding baseness;] the sex dishonoured in the eye of the world, in the person of one of the greatest ornaments of it; the unmanly methods, whatever they were, [for I know not all as yet,] by which he compassed her ruin; all these considerations join to justify my warmth, and my execrations of a man whom I think excluded by his crimes from the benefit even of christian forgiveness—and were you to see all she writes, and to know the admirable talents she is mistress of, you yourselves would join with me to admire her, and execrate him.

Believe me to be, with a high sense of your merits,

Dear Ladies, Your most obedient and humble servant, ANNA HOWE.