Clarissa Harlowe LETTER LXXXIII

MISS CL. HARLOWE, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. FRIDAY, AUG. 11.

It is a cruel alternative to be either forced to see you, or to write to you. But a will of my own has been long denied me; and to avoid a greater evil, nay, now I may say, the greatest, I write.

Were I capable of disguising or concealing my real sentiments, I might safely, I dare say, give you the remote hope you request, and yet keep all my resolutions. But I must tell you, Sir, (it becomes my character to tell you, that, were I to live more years than perhaps I may weeks, and there were not another man in the world, I could not, I would not, be your’s.

There is no merit in performing a duty.

Religion enjoins me not only to forgive injuries, but to return good for evil. It is all my consolation, and I bless God for giving me that, that I am now in such a state of mind, with regard to you, that I can cheerfully obey its dictates. And accordingly I tell you, that, wherever you go, I wish you happy. And in this I mean to include every good wish.

And now having, with great reluctance I own, complied with one of your compulsatory alternatives, I expect the fruits of it.

CLARISSA HARLOWE.