Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XLII


Your’s reached me this moment, by an extraordinary push in the messengers.

What a man of honour thou of a sudden!——

And so, in the imaginary shape of a guarantee, thou threatenest me!

Had I not been in earnest as to the lady, I should not have offered to employ thee in the affair. But, let me say, that hadst thou undertaken the task, and I hadst afterwards thought fit to change my mind, I should have contented myself to tell thee, that that was my mind when thou engagedst for me, and to have given thee the reasons for the change, and then left thee to thy own discretion: for never knew I what fear of man was—nor fear of woman neither, till I became acquainted with Miss Clarissa Harlowe, nay, what is most surprising, till I came to have her in my power.

And so thou wilt not wait upon the charmer of my heart, but upon terms and conditions!—Let it alone and be curs’d; I care not.—But so much credit did I give to the value thou expressedst for her, that I thought the office would have been acceptable to thee, as serviceable to me; for what was it, but to endeavour to persuade her to consent to the reparation of her own honour? For what have I done but disgraced myself, and been a thief to my own joys?—And if there be a union of hearts, and an intention to solemnize, what is there wanting but the foolish ceremony?—and that I still offer. But, if she will keep back her hand, if she will make me hold out mine in vain, how can I help it?

I write her one more letter; and if, after she has received that, she keeps sullen silence, she must thank herself for what is to follow.

But, after all, my heart is not wholly her’s. I love her beyond expression; and cannot help it. I hope therefore she will receive this last tender as I wish. I hope she intends not, like a true woman, to plague, and vex, and tease me, now she has found her power. If she will take me to mercy now these remorses are upon me, (though I scorn to condition with thee for my sincerity,) all her trials, as I have heretofore declared, shall be over, and she shall be as happy as I can make her: for, ruminating upon all that has passed between us, from the first hour of our acquaintance till the present, I must pronounce, That she is virtue itself and once more I say, has no equal.

As to what you hint, of leaving to her choice another day, do you consider, that it will be impossible that my contrivances and stratagems should be much longer concealed?—This makes me press that day, though so near; and the more, as I have made so much ado about her uncle’s anniversary. If she send me the four words, I will spare no fatigue to be in time, if not for the canonical hour at church, for some other hour of the day in her own apartment, or any other: for money will do every thing: and that I have never spared in this affair.

To show thee, that I am not at enmity with thee, I enclose the copies of two letters—one to her: it is the fourth, and must be the last on the subject——The other to Captain Tomlinson; calculated, as thou wilt see, for him to show her.

And now, Jack, interfere; in this case or not, thou knowest the mind of