Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XV

TO THE EVER-HONOURED MRS. HARLOWE

HONOURED MADAM,

The last time I had the boldness to write to you, it was with all the consciousness of a self-convicted criminal, supplicating her offended judge for mercy and pardon. I now, by these lines, approach you with more assurance; but nevertheless with the highest degree of reverence, gratitude, and duty. The reason of my assurance, my letter to my papa will give; and as I humbly on my knees implored his pardon, so now, in the same dutiful manner, do I supplicate your’s, for the grief and trouble I have given you.

Every vein of my heart has bled for an unhappy rashness; which, (although involuntary as to the act,) from the moment it was committed, carried with it its own punishment; and was accompanied with a true and sincere penitence.

God, who has been a witness of my distresses, knows that, great as they have been, the greatest of all was the distress that I knew I must have given to you, Madam, and to my father, by a step that had so very ugly an appearance in your eyes and his; and indeed in the eyes of all my family; a step so unworthy of your daughter, and of the education you had given her.

But HE, I presume to hope, has forgiven me; and, at the instant this will reach your hands, I humbly trust, I shall be rejoicing in the blessed fruits of his forgiveness. And be this your comfort, my ever-honoured Mamma, that the principal end of your pious care for me is attained, though not in the way so much hoped for.

May the grief which my fatal error has given to you both, be the only grief that shall ever annoy you in this world!—May you, Madam, long live to sweeten the cares, and heighten the comforts, of my papa!—May my sister’s continued, and, if possible, augmented duty, happily make up to you the loss you have sustained in me! And whenever my brother and she change their single state, may it be with such satisfaction to you both as may make you forget my offence; and remember me only in those days in which you took pleasure in me! And, at last, may a happy meeting with your forgiven penitent, in the eternal mansions, augment the bliss of her, who, purified by sufferings already, when this salutes your hands, presumes she shall be

The happy and for ever happy CLARISSA HARLOWE.