Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LV

MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MRS. JUDITH NORTON THURSDAY, JUNE 29.

MY DEAR MRS. NORTON,

I address myself to you, after a very long silence, (which, however, was not owing either to want of love or duty,) principally to desire you to satisfy me in two or three points, which it behoves me to know.

My father, and all the family, I am informed, are to be at my uncle Harlowe’s this day, as usual. Pray acquaint me, if they have been there? And if they were cheerful on the anniversary occasion? And also, if you have heard of any journey, or intended journey, of my brother, in company with Captain Singleton and Mr. Solmes?

Strange things have happened to me, my dear, worthy and maternal friend—very strange things!—Mr. Lovelace has proved a very barbarous and ungrateful man to me. But, God be praised, I have escaped from him. Being among absolute strangers (though I think worthy folks) I have written to Hannah Burton to come and be with me. If the good creature fall in your way, pray encourage her to come to me. I always intended to have her, she knows: but hoped to be in happier circumstances.

Say nothing to any of my friends that you have heard from me.

Pray, do you think my father would be prevailed upon, if I were to supplicate him by letter, to take off the heavy curse he laid upon me at my going from Harlowe-place? I can expect no other favour from him. But that being literally fulfilled as to my prospects in this life, I hope it will be thought to have operated far enough; and my heart is so weak!—it is very weak!—But for my father’s own sake—what should I say!—Indeed I hardly know how I ought to express myself on this sad subject!—but it will give ease to my mind to be released from it.

I am afraid my Poor, as I used to call the good creatures to whose necessities I was wont to administer by your faithful hands, have missed me of late. But now, alas! I am poor myself. It is not the least aggravation of my fault, nor of my regrets, that with such inclinations as God has given me, I have put it out of my power to do the good I once pleased myself to think I was born to do. It is a sad thing, my dearest Mrs. Nortin, to render useless to ourselves and the world, by our own rashness, the talents which Providence has intrusted to us, for the service of both.

But these reflections are now too late; and perhaps I ought to have kept them to myself. Let me, however, hope that you love me still. Pray let me hope that you do. And then, notwithstanding my misfortunes, which have made me seem ungrateful to the kind and truly maternal pains you have taken with me from my cradle, I shall have the happiness to think that there is one worthy person, who hates not

The unfortunate CLARISSA HARLOWE.

Pray remember me to my foster-brother. I hope he continues dutiful and good to you.

Be pleased to direct for Rachel Clark, at Mr. Smith’s, in King-street, Covent-garden. But keep the direction an absolute secret.