Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LVI

MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE FRIDAY, JULY 28.

MY DEAREST YOUNG LADY,

I have the consolation to tell you that my son is once again in a hopeful way, as to his health. He desires his duty to you. He is very low and weak. And so am I. But this is the first time that I have been able, for several days past, to sit up to write, or I would not have been so long silent.

Your letter to your sister is received and answered. You have the answer by this time, I suppose. I wish it may be to your satisfaction: but am afraid it will not: for, by Betty Barnes, I find they were in a great ferment on receiving your’s, and much divided whether it should be answered or not. They will not yet believe that you are so ill, as [to my infinite concern] I find you are. What passed between Miss Harlowe and Miss Howe has been, as I feared it would be, an aggravation.

I showed Betty two or three passages in your letter to me; and she seemed moved, and said, She would report them favourably, and would procure me a visit from Miss Harlowe, if I would promise to show the same to her. But I have heard no more of that.

Methinks, I am sorry you refuse the wicked man: but doubt not, nevertheless, that your motives for doing so are more commendable than my wishes that you would not. But as you would be resolved, as I may say, on life, if you gave way to such a thought; and as I have so much interest in your recovery; I cannot forbear showing this regard to myself; and to ask you, If you cannot get over your just resentments?— But I dare say no more on this subject.

What a dreadful thing indeed was it for my dearest tender young lady to be arrested in the streets of London!—How does my heart go over again and again for you, what your’s must have suffered at that time!—Yet this, to such a mind as your’s, must be light, compared to what you had suffered before.

O my dearest Miss Clary, how shall we know what to pray for, when we pray, but that God’s will may be done, and that we may be resigned to it! —When at nine years old, and afterwards at eleven, you had a dangerous fever, how incessantly did we grieve, and pray, and put up our vows to the Throne of Grace, for your recovery!—For all our lives were bound up in your life—yet now, my dear, as it has proved, [especially if we are soon to lose you,] what a much more desirable event, both for you and for us, would it have been, had we then lost you!

A sad thing to say! But as it is in pure love to you that I say it, and in full conviction that we are not always fit to be our own choosers, I hope it may be excusable; and the rather, as the same reflection will naturally lead both you and me to acquiesce under the dispensation; since we are assured that nothing happens by chance; and the greatest good may, for aught we know, be produced from the heaviest evils.

I am glad you are with such honest people; and that you have all your effects restored. How dreadfully have you been used, that one should be glad of such a poor piece of justice as that!

Your talent at moving the passions is always hinted at; and this Betty of your sister’s never comes near me that she is not full of it. But, as you say, whom has it moved, that you wished to move? Yet, were it not for this unhappy notion, I am sure your mother would relent. Forgive me, my dear Miss Clary; for I must try one way to be convinced if my opinion be not just. But I will not tell you what that is, unless it succeeds. I will try, in pure duty and love to them, as to you.

May Heaven be your support in all your trials, is the constant prayer, my dearest young lady, of

Your ever affectionate friend and servant, JUDITH NORTON.