Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XL



We are busy in preparing for our little journey and voyage: but I will be ill, I will be very ill, if I cannot hear you are better before I go.

Rogers greatly afflicted me, by telling me the bad way you are in. But now you have been able to hold a pen, and as your sense is strong and clear, I hope that the amusement you will receive from writing will make you better.

I dispatch this by an extraordinary way, that it may reach you time enough to move you to consider well before you absolutely decide upon the contents of mine of the 13th, on the subject of the two Misses Montague’s visit to me; since, according to what you write, must I answer them.

In your last, conclude very positively that you will not be his. To be sure, he rather deserves an infamous death than such a wife. But as I really believe him innocent of the arrest, and as all his family are such earnest pleaders, and will be guarantees, for him, I think the compliance with their entreaties, and his own, will be now the best step you can take; your own family remaining implacable, as I can assure you they do. He is a man of sense; and it is not impossible but he may make you a good husband, and in time may become no bad man.

My mother is entirely of my opinion: and on Friday, pursuant to a hint I gave you in my last, Mr. Hickman had a conference with the strange wretch: and though he liked not, by any means, his behaviour to himself; nor indeed, had reason to do so; yet he is of opinion that he is sincerely determined to marry you, if you will condescend to have him.

Perhaps Mr. Hickman may make you a private visit before we set out. If I may not attend you myself, I shall not be easy except he does. And he will then give you an account of the admirable character the surprising wretch gave of you, and of the justice he does to your virtue.

He was as acknowledging to his relations, though to his own condemnation, as his two cousins told me. All he apprehends, as he said to Mr. Hickman, is that if you go on exposing him, wedlock itself will not wipe off the dishonour to both: and moreover, ’that you would ruin your constitution by your immoderate sorrow; and, by seeking death when you might avoid it, would not be able to escape it when you would wish to do so.’

So, my dearest friend, I charge you, if you can, to get over your aversion to this vile man. You may yet live to see many happy days, and be once more the delight of all your friends, neighbours, and acquaintance, as well as a stay, a comfort, and a blessing to your Anna Howe.

I long to have your answer to mine of the 13th. Pray keep the messenger till it be ready. If he return on Monday night, it will be time enough for his affairs, and to find me come back from Colonel Ambrose’s; who gives a ball on the anniversary of Mrs. Ambrose’s birth and marriage both in one. The gentry all round the neighbourhood are invited this time, on some good news they have received from Mrs. Ambrose’s brother, the governor.

My mother promised the Colonel for me and herself, in my absence. I would fain have excused myself to her; and the rather, as I had exceptions on account of the day:* but she is almost as young as her daughter; and thinking it not so well to go without me, she told me. And having had a few sparring blows with each other very lately, I think I must comply. For I don’t love jingling when I can help it; though I seldom make it my study to avoid the occasion, when it offers of itself. I don’t know, if either were not a little afraid of the other, whether it would be possible that we could live together:—I, all my father!—My mamma—What?—All my mother—What else should I say?

* The 24th of July, Miss Clarissa Harlowe’s birth-day.

O my dear, how many things happen in this life to give us displeasure! How few to give us joy!—I am sure I shall have none on this occasion; since the true partner of my heart, the principal of the one soul, that it used to be said, animated the pair of friends, as we were called; you, my dear, [who used to irradiate every circle you set your foot into, and to give me real significance in a second place to yourself,] cannot be there!—One hour of your company, my ever instructive friend, [I thirst for it!] how infinitely preferable would it be to me to all the diversions and amusements with which our sex are generally most delighted —Adieu, my dear!