Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LXVI

MR. BRAND, TO JOHN HARLOWE, ESQ. SAT. NIGHT, SEPT. 2.

WORTHY SIR,

I am under no ’small concern,’ that I should (unhappily) be the ’occasion’ (I am sure I ’intended’ nothing like it) of ’widening differences’ by ’light misreport,’ when it is the ’duty’ of one of ’my function’ (and no less consisting with my ’inclination’) to ’heal’ and ’reconcile.’

I have received two letter to set me ’right’: one from a ’particular acquaintance,’ (whom I set to inquire of Mr. Belford’s character); and that came on Tuesday last, informing me, that your ’unhappy niece’ was greatly injured in the account I had had of her; (for I had told ’him’ of it, and that with very ’great concern,’ I am sure, apprehending it to be ’true.’) So I ’then’ set about writing to you, to ’acknowledge’ the ’error.’ And had gone a good way in it, when the second letter came (a very ’handsome one’ it is, both in ’style’ and ’penmanship’) from my friend Mr. Walton, (though I am sure it cannot be ’his inditing,’) expressing his sorrow, and his wife’s, and his sister-in-law’s likewise, for having been the cause of ’misleading me,’ in the account I gave of the said ’young lady’; whom they ’now’ say (upon ’further inquiry’) they find to be the ’most unblameable,’ and ’most prudent,’ and (it seems) the most ’pious’ young lady, that ever (once) committed a ’great error’; as (to be sure) ’her’s was,’ in leaving such ’worthy parents’ and ’relations’ for so ’vile a man’ as Mr. Lovelace; but what shall we say?— Why, the divine Virgil tells us,

’Improbe amor, quid non mortalia pectora cogis?’

For ’my part,’ I was but too much afraid (for we have ’great opportunities),’ you are sensible, Sir, at the ’University,’ of knowing ’human nature’ from ’books,’ the ’calm result’ of the ’wise man’s wisdom,’ as I may say,

’(Haurit aquam cribro, qui discere vult sine libro)’

’uninterrupted’ by the ’noise’ and ’vanities’ that will mingle with ’personal conversation,’ which (in the ’turbulent world’) is not to be enjoyed but over a ’bottle,’ where you have an ’hundred foolish things’ pass to ’one that deserveth to be remembered’; I was but too much afraid ’I say’, that so ’great a slip’ might be attended with ’still greater’ and ’worse’: for ’your’ Horace, and ’my’ Horace, the most charming writer that ever lived among the ’Pagans’ (for the ’lyric kind of poetry,’ I mean; for, the be sure, ’Homer’ and ’Virgil’ would ’otherwise’ be ’first’ named ’in their way’) well observeth (and who understood ’human nature’ better than he?)

’Nec vera virtus, cum semel excidit,

Curat reponi deterioribus.’

And ’Ovid’ no less wisely observeth:

’Et mala sunt vicina bonis. Errore sub illo

Pro vitio virtus crimina sæpe tulit.’

Who, that can draw ’knowledge’ from its ’fountain-head,’ the works of the ’sages of antiquity,’ (improved by the ’comments’ of the ’moderns,’) but would ’prefer’ to all others the ’silent quiet life,’ which ’contemplative men’ lead in the ’seats of learning,’ were they not called out (according to their ’dedication’) to the ’service’ and ’instruction’ of the world?

Now, Sir, ’another’ favourite poet of mine (and not the ’less a favourite’ for being a ’Christian’) telleth us, that ill is the custom of ’some,’ when in a ’fault,’ to throw the blame upon the backs of ’others,’

’——Hominum quoque mos est,

Quæ nos cunque premunt, alieno imponere tergo.’

MANT.

But I, though (in this case) ’misled,’ (’well intendedly,’ nevertheless, both in the ’misleaders’ and ’misled,’ and therefore entitled to lay hold of that plea, if ’any body’ is so entitled,) will not however, be classed among such ’extenuators’; but (contrarily) will always keep in mind that verse, which ’comforteth in mistake,’ as well as ’instructeth’; and which I quoted in my last letter;

’Errare est hominis, sed non persistere——’

And will own, that I was very ’rash’ to take up with ’conjectures’ and ’consequences’ drawn from ’probabilites,’ where (especially) the ’character’ of so ’fine a lady’ was concerned.

’Credere fallacy gravis est dementia famæ.’ MANT.

Notwithstanding, Miss Clarissa Harlowe (I must be bold to say) is the ’only young lady,’ that ever I heard of (or indeed read of) that, ’having made such a false step,’ so ’soon’ (of ’her own accord,’ as I may say) ’recovered’ herself, and conquered her ’love of the deceiver’; (a great conquest indeed!) and who flieth him, and resolveth to ’die,’ rather than to be his; which now, to her never-dying ’honour’ (I am well assured) is the case—and, in ’justice’ to her, I am now ready to take to myself (with no small vexation) that of Ovid,

’Heu! patior telis vulnera facta meis.’

But yet I do insist upon it, that all ’that part’ of my ’information,’ which I took upon mine own ’personal inquiry,’ which is what relates to Mr. ’Belford’ and ’his character,’ is ’literally true’; for there is not any where to be met with a man of a more ’libertine character’ as to ’women,’ Mr. ’Lovelace’ excepted, than he beareth.

And so, Sir, I must desire of you, that you will not let ’any blame’ lie upon my ’intention’; since you see how ready I am to ’accuse myself’ of too lightly giving ear to a ’rash information’ (not knowing it to be so, however): for I depended the more upon it, as the ’people I had it from’ are very ’sober,’ and live in the ’fear of God’: and indeed when I wait upon you, you will see by their letter, that they must be ’conscientious’ good people: wherefore, Sir, let me be entitled, from ’all your good family,’ to that of my last-named poet,

’Aspera confesso verba remitte reo.’

And now, Sir, (what is much more becoming of my ’function,’) let me, instead of appearing with the ’face of an accuser,’ and a ’rash censurer,’ (which in my ’heart’ I have not ’deserved’ to be thought,) assume the character of a ’reconciler’; and propose (by way of ’penance’ to myself for my ’fault’) to be sent up as a ’messenger of peace’ to the ’pious young lady’; for they write me word ’absolutely’ (and, I believe in my heart, ’truly’) that the ’doctors’ have ’given her over,’ and that she ’cannot live.’ Alas! alas! what a sad thing would that be, if the ’poor bough,’ that was only designed (as I ’very well know,’ and am ’fully assured’) ’to be bent, should be broken!’

Let it not, dear Sir, seem to the ’world’ that there was any thing in your ’resentments’ (which, while meant for ’reclaiming,’ were just and fit) that hath the ’appearance’ of ’violence,’ and ’fierce wrath,’ and ’inexorability’; (as it would look to some, if carried to extremity, after ’repentance’ and ’contrition,’ and ’humiliation,’ on the ’fair offender’s’ side:) for all this while (it seemeth) she hath been a ’second Magdalen’ in her ’penitence,’ and yet not so bad as a ’Magdalen’ in her ’faults’; (faulty, nevertheless, as she hath been once, the Lord knoweth!

’Nam vitiis nemo sine nascitur: optimus ille est,

Qui minimis urgentur’——saith Horace).

Now, Sir, if I may be named for this ’blessed’ employment, (for, ’Blessed is the peace-maker!’) I will hasten to London; and (as I know Miss had always a ’great regard’ to the ’function’ I have the honour to be of) I have no doubt of making myself acceptable to her, and to bring her, by ’sound arguments,’ and ’good advice,’ into a ’liking of life,’ which must be the ’first step’ to her ’recovery’: for, when the ’mind’ is ’made easy,’ the ’body’ will not ’long suffer’; and the ’love of life’ is a ’natural passion,’ that is soon ’revived,’ when fortune turneth about, and smileth:

’Vivere quisque diu, quamvis & egenus & ager,

Optat.—— —— ——’ OVID.

And the sweet Lucan truly observeth,

’—— —— Fatis debentibus annos

Mors invita subit.—— ——’

And now, Sir, let me tell you what shall be the ’tenor’ of my ’pleadings’ with her, and ’comfortings’ of her, as she is, as I may say, a ’learned lady’; and as I can ’explain’ to her ’those sentences,’ which she cannot so readily ’construe herself’: and this in order to convince ’you’ (did you not already ’know’ my ’qualifications’) how well qualified I ’am’ for the ’christian office’ to which I commend myself.

I will, IN THE FIRST PLACE, put her in mind of the ’common course of things’ in this ’sublunary world,’ in which ’joy’ and ’sorrow, sorrow’ and joy,’ succeed one another by turns’; in order to convince her, that her griefs have been but according to ’that’ common course of things:

’Gaudia post luctus veniunt, post gaudia luctus.’

SECONDLY, I will remind her of her own notable description of ’sorrow,’ whence she was once called upon to distinguish wherein ’sorrow, grief,’ and ’melancholy,’ differed from each other; which she did ’impromptu,’ by their ’effects,’ in a truly admirable manner, to the high satisfaction of every one: I myself could not, by ’study,’ have distinguished ’better,’ nor more ’concisely’—SORROW, said she, ’wears’; GRIEF ’tears’; but MELANCHOLY ’sooths.’

My inference to her shall be, that since a happy reconciliation will take place, ’grief’ will be banished; ’sorrow’ dismissed; and only sweet ’melancholy’ remain to ’sooth’ and ’indulge’ her contrite ’heart,’ and show to all the world the penitent sense she hath of her great error.

THIRDLY, That her ’joys,’* when restored to health and favour, will be the greater, the deeper her griefs were.

* ’Joy,’ let me here observe, my dear Sir, by way of note, is not absolutely inconsistent with ’melancholy’; a ’soft gentle joy,’ not a ’rapid,’ not a ’rampant joy,’ however; but such a ’joy,’ as shall lift her ’temporarily’ out of her ’soothing melancholy,’ and then ’let her down gently’ into it again; for ’melancholy,’ to be sure, her ’reflection’ will generally make to be her state.

’Gaudia, quæ multo parta labore, placent.’

FOURTHLY, That having ’really’ been guilty of a ’great error,’ she should not take ’impatiently’ the ’correction’ and ’anger’ with which she hath been treated.

’Leniter, ex merito quicquid patiare ferundum est.’

FIFTHLY, That ’virtue’ must be established by ’patience’; as saith Prudentius:

’Hæc virtus vidua est, quam non patientia firmat.’

SIXTHLY, That in the words of Horace, she may ’expect better times,’ than (of late) she had ’reason’ to look for.

’Grata superveniet, quæ non sperabitur, hora.’

SEVENTHLY, That she is really now in ’a way’ to be ’happy,’ since, according to ’Ovid,’ she ’can count up all her woe’:

’Felix, qui patitur quæ numerare potest.’

And those comforting lines,

’Estque serena dies post longos gratior imbres,

Et post triste malum gratior ipsa salus.’

EIGHTHLY, That, in the words of Mantuan, her ’parents’ and ’uncles’ could not ’help loving her’ all the time they were ’angry at her’:

’Æqua tamen mens est, & amica voluntas,

Sit licet in natos austere parentum.’

NINTHLY, That the ’ills she hath met with’ may be turned (by the ’good use’ to be made of them) to her ’everlasting benefit’; for that,

’Cum furit atque ferit, Deus olim parcere quærit.’

TENTHLY, That she will be able to give a ’fine lesson’ (a ’very’ fine lesson) to all the ’young ladies’ of her ’acquaintance,’ of the ’vanity’ of being ’lifted up’ in ’prosperity,’ and the ’weakness’ of being ’cast down’ in ’adversity’; since no one is so ’high,’ as to be above being ’humbled’; so ’low,’ as to ’need to despair’: for which purpose the advice of ’Ausonius,’

’Dum fortuna juvat, caveto tolli:

Dum fortuna tonat, caveto mergi.’

I shall tell her, that Lucan saith well, when he calleth ’adversity the element of patience’;

’——Gaudet patientia duris:’

That

’Fortunam superat virtus, prudential famam.’

That while weak souls are ’crushed by fortune,’ the ’brave mind’ maketh the fickle deity afraid of it:

’Fortuna fortes metuit, ignavos permit.’

ELEVENTHLY, That if she take the advice of ’Horace,’

’Fortiaque adversis opponite pectora rebus,’

it will delight her ’hereafter’ (as ’Virgil’ saith) to ’revoke her past troubles’:

’——Forsan & hæc olim meminisse juvabit.’

And, to the same purpose, ’Juvenal’ speaking of the ’prating joy’ of mariners, after all their ’dangers are over’:

’Gaudent securi narrare pericula nautæ.’

Which suiting the case so well, you’ll forgive me, Sir, for ’popping down’ in ’English metre,’ as the ’translative impulse’ (pardon a new word, and yet we ’scholars’ are not fond of ’authenticating new’ words) came upon me ’uncalled for’:

The seaman, safe on shore, with joy doth tell

What cruel dangers him at sea befell.

With ’these,’ Sir, and an ’hundred more’ wise ’adages,’ which I have always at my ’fingers’ end,’ will I (when reduced to ’form’ and ’method’) entertain Miss; and as she is a ’well-read,’ and (I might say, but for this ’one’ great error) a ’wise’ young lady, I make no doubt but I shall ’prevail’ upon her, if not by ’mine own arguments,’ by those of ’wits’ and ’capacities’ that have a ’congeniality’ (as I may say) to ’her own,’ to take to heart,

——Nor of the laws of fate complain,

Since, though it has been cloudy, now’t clears up again.——

Oh! what ’wisdom’ is there in these ’noble classical authors!’ A ’wise man’ will (upon searching into them,) always find that they speak ’his’ sense of ’men’ and ’things.’ Hence it is, that they so readily occur to my ’memory’ on every occasion—though this may look like ’vanity,’ it is too true to be omitted; and I see not why a man may not ’know these things of himself,’ which ’every body’ seeth and ’saith of him’; who, nevertheless, perhaps know not ’half so much as he,’ in other matters.

I know but of ’one objection,’ Sir, that can lie against my going; and that will arise from your kind ’care’ and ’concern’ for the ’safety of my person,’ in case that ’fierce’ and ’terrible man,’ the wicked Mr. Lovelace, (of whom every one standeth in fear,) should come cross me, as he may be resolved to try once more to ’gain a footing in Miss’s affections’: but I will trust in ’Providence’ for ’my safety,’ while I shall be engaged in a ’cause so worthy of my function’; and the ’more’ trust in it, as he is a ’learned man’ as I am told.

Strange too, that so ’vile a rake’ (I hope he will never see this!) should be a ’learned man’; that is to say, that a ’learned man’ may be a ’sly sinner,’ and take opportunities, ’as they come in his way’—which, however, I do assure you, ’I never did,’

I repeat, that as he is a ’learned man,’ I shall ’vest myself,’ as I may say, in ’classical armour’; beginning ’meekly’ with him (for, Sir, ’bravery’ and ’meekness’ are qualities ’very consistent with each other,’ and in no persons so shiningly ’exert’ themselves, as in the ’Christian priesthood’; beginning ’meekly’ with him, I say) from Ovid,

’Corpora magnanimo satis est protrasse leoni:’

So that, if I should not be safe behind the ’shield of mine own prudence,’ I certainly should be behind the ’shields’ of the ’ever-admirable classics’: of ’Horace’ particularly; who, being a ’rake’ (and a ’jovial rake’ too,) himself, must have great weight with all ’learned rakes.’

And who knoweth but I may be able to bring even this ’Goliath in wickedness,’ although in ’person’ but a ’little David’ myself, (armed with the ’slings’ and ’stones’ of the ’ancient sages,’) to a due sense of his errors? And what a victory would that be!

I could here, Sir, pursuing the allegory of David and Goliath, give you some of the ’stones’ (’hard arguments’ may be called ’stones,’ since they ’knock down a pertinacious opponent’) which I could ’pelt him with,’ were he to be wroth with me; and this in order to take from you, Sir, all apprehensions for my ’life,’ or my ’bones’; but I forbear them till you demand them of me, when I have the honour to attend you in person.

And now, (my dear Sir,) what remaineth, but that having shown you (what yet, I believe, you did not doubt) how ’well qualified’ I am to attend the lady with the ’olive-branch,’ I beg of you to dispatch me with it ’out of hand’? For if she be so ’very ill,’ and if she should not live to receive the grace, which (to my knowledge) all the ’worthy family’ design her, how much will that grieve you all! And then, Sir, of what avail will be the ’eulogies’ you shall all, peradventure, join to give to her memory? For, as Martial wisely observeth,

’—— Post cineres gloria sera venit.’

Then, as ’Ausonius’ layeth it down with ’equal propriety,’ that ’those favours which are speedily conferred are the most grateful and obliging’ ——

And to the same purpose Ovid:

’Gratia ab officio, quod mora tar dat, abest.’

And, Sir, whatever you do, let the ’lady’s pardon’ be as ’ample,’ and as ’cheerfully given,’ as she can ’wish for it’: that I may be able to tell her, that it hath your ’hands,’ your ’countenances,’ and your ’whole hearts,’ with it—for, as the Latin verse hath it, (and I presume to think I have not weakened its sense by my humble advice),

’Dat bene, dat multum, qui dat cum munere vultum.’

And now, Sir, when I survey this long letter,* (albeit I see it enamelled, as a ’beautiful meadow’ is enamelled by the ’spring’ or ’summer’ flowers, very glorious to behold!) I begin to be afraid that I may have tired you; and the more likely, as I have written without that ’method’ or ’order,’ which I think constituteth the ’beauty’ of ’good writing’: which ’method’ or ’order,’ nevertheless, may be the ’better excused’ in a ’familiar epistle,’ (as this may be called,) you pardoning, Sir, the ’familiarity’ of the ’word’; but yet not altogether ’here,’ I must needs own; because this is ’a letter’ and ’not a letter,’ as I may say; but a kind of ’short’ and ’pithy discourse,’ touching upon ’various’ and ’sundry topics,’ every one of which might be a ’fit theme’ to enlarge upon of volumes; if this ’epistolary discourse’ (then let me call it) should be pleasing to you, (as I am inclined to think it will, because of the ’sentiments’ and ’aphorisms’ of the ’wisest of the antients,’ which ’glitter through it’ like so many dazzling ’sunbeams,’) I will (at my leisure) work it up into a ’methodical discourse’; and perhaps may one day print it, with a ’dedication’ to my ’honoured patron,’ (if, Sir, I have ’your’ leave,) ’singly’ at first, (but not till I have thrown out ’anonymously,’ two or three ’smaller things,’ by the success of which I shall have made myself of ’some account’ in the ’commonwealth of letters,’) and afterwards in my ’works’—not for the ’vanity’ of the thing (however) I will say, but for the ’use’ it may be of to the ’public’; for, (as one well observeth,) ’though glory always followeth virtue, yet it should be considered only as its shadow.’

* And here, by way of note, permit me to say, that no ’sermon’ I ever composed cost me half the ’pains’ that this letter hath done—but I knew your great ’appetite’ after, as well as ’admiration’ of, the ’antient wisdom,’ which you so justly prefer to the ’modern’—and indeed I join with you to think, that the ’modern’ is only ’borrowed,’ (as the ’moon’ doth its light from the ’sun,’) at least, that we ’excel’ them in nothing; and that our ’best cogitations’ may be found, generally speaking, more ’elegantly’ dressed and expressed by them.

’Contemnit laudem virtus, licet usque sequatur

Gloria virtutem, corpus ut umbra suum.’

A very pretty saying, and worthy of all men’s admiration.

And now, (’most worthy Sir,’ my very good friend and patron,) referring the whole to ’your’s,’ and to your ’two brothers,’ and to ’young Mr. Harlowe’s’ consideration, and to the wise consideration of good ’Madam Harlowe,’ and her excellent daughter, ’Miss Arabella Harlowe’; I take the liberty to subscribe myself, what I ’truly am,’ and ’every shall delight to be,’ in ’all cases,’ and at ’all times,’

Your and their most ready and obedient as well as faithful servant, ELIAS BRAND.