Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LXIII

MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE MONDAY, JULY 31.

MY DEAREST YOUNG LADY,

I must indeed own that I took the liberty to write to your mother, offering to enclose to her, if she gave me leave, your’s of the 24th: by which I thought she would see what was the state of your mind; what the nature of your last troubles was from the wicked arrest; what the people are where you lodge; what proposals were made you from Lord M.’s family; also your sincere penitence; and how much Miss Howe’s writing to them, in the terms she wrote in, disturbed you—but, as you have taken the matter into your own hands, and forbid me, in your last, to act in this nice affair unknown to you, I am glad the letter was not required of me—and indeed it may be better that the matter lie wholly between you and them; since my affection for you is thought to proceed from partiality.

They would choose, no doubt, that you should owe to themselves, and not to my humble mediation, the favour for which you so earnestly sue, and of which I would not have your despair: for I will venture to assure you, that your mother is ready to take the first opportunity to show her maternal tenderness: and this I gather from several hints I am not at liberty to explain myself upon.

I long to be with you, now I am better, and now my son is in a fair way of recovery. But is it not hard to have it signified to me that at present it will not be taken well if I go?—I suppose, while the reconciliation, which I hope will take place, is negotiating by means of the correspondence so newly opened between you and your sister. But if you will have me come, I will rely on my good intentions, and risque every one’s displeasure.

Mr. Brand has business in town; to solicit for a benefice which it is expected the incumbent will be obliged to quit for a better preferment: and, when there, he is to inquire privately after your way of life, and of your health.

He is a very officious young man; and, but that your uncle Harlowe (who has chosen him for this errand) regards him as an oracle, your mother had rather any body else had been sent.

He is one of those puzzling, over-doing gentlemen, who think they see farther into matters than any body else, and are fond of discovered mysteries where there are none, in order to be thought shrewd men.

I can’t say I like him, either in the pulpit or out of it: I, who had a father one of the soundest divines and finest scholars in the kingdom; who never made an ostentation of what he knew; but loved and venerated the gospel he taught, preferring it to all other learning: to be obliged to hear a young man depart from his text as soon as he has named it, (so contrary, too, to the example set him by his learned and worthy principal,* when his health permits him to preach;) and throwing about, to a christian and country audience, scraps of Latin and Greek from the Pagan Classics; and not always brought in with great propriety neither, (if I am to judge by the only way given me to judge of them, by the English he puts them into;) is an indication of something wrong, either in his head, or his heart, or both; for, otherwise, his education at the university must have taught him better. You know, my dear Miss Clary, the honour I have for the cloth: it is owing to that, that I say what I do.

* Dr. Lewen.

I know not the day he is to set out; and, as his inquiries are to be private, be pleased to take no notice of this intelligence. I have no doubt that your life and conversation are such as may defy the scrutinies of the most officious inquirer.

I am just now told that you have written a second letter to your sister: but am afraid they will wait for Mr. Brand’s report, before farther favour will be obtained from them; for they will not yet believe you are so ill as I fear you are.

But you would soon find that you have an indulgent mother, were she at liberty to act according to her own inclination. And this gives me great hopes that all will end well at last: for I verily think you are in the right way to a reconciliation. God give a blessing to it, and restore your health, and you to all your friends, prays

Your ever affectionate, JUDITH NORTON.

Your mother has privately sent me five guineas: she is pleased to say to

help us in the illness we have been afflicted with; but, more

likely, that I might send them to you, as from myself. I hope,

therefore, I may send them up, with ten more I have still left.

I will send you word of Mr. Morden’s arrival, the moment I know it.

If agreeable, I should be glad to know all that passes between your

relations and you.