Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXVII


No admittance yet to my charmer! she is very ill—in a violent fever, Dorcas thinks. Yet will have no advice.

Dorcas tells her how much I am concerned at it.

But again let me ask, Does this lady do right to make herself ill, when she is not ill? For my own part, libertine as people think me, when I had occasion to be sick, I took a dose of ipecacuanha, that I might not be guilty of a falsehood; and most heartily sick was I; as she, who then pitied me, full well knew. But here to pretend to be very ill, only to get an opportunity to run away, in order to avoid forgiving a man who has offended her, how unchristian!—If good folks allow themselves in these breaches of a known duty, and in these presumptuous contrivances to deceive, who, Belford, shall blame us?

I have a strange notion that the matronly lady will be certainly at the grocer’s shop at the hour of nine tomorrow morning: for Dorcas heard me tell Mrs. Sinclair, that I should go out at eight precisely; and then she is to try for a coach: and if the dowager’s chariot should happen to be there, how lucky will it be for my charmer! how strangely will my dream be made out!

I have just received a letter from Captain Tomlinson. Is it not wonderful? for that was part of my dream.

I shall always have a prodigious regard to dreams henceforward. I know not but I may write a book upon that subject; for my own experience will furnish out a great part of it. ‘Glanville of Witches,’ ‘Baxter’s History of Spirits and Apparitions,’ and the ‘Royal Pedant’s Demonology,’ will be nothing at all to Lovelace’s Reveries.

The letter is just what I dreamed it to be. I am only concerned that uncle John’s anniversary did not happen three or four days sooner; for should any new misfortune befal my charmer, she may not be able to support her spirits so long as till Thursday in the next week. Yet it will give me the more time for new expedients, should my present contrivance fail; which I cannot however suppose.


Dear Sir,

I can now return your joy, for the joy you have given me, as well as my dear friend Mr. Harlowe, in the news of his beloved niece’s happy recovery; for he is determined to comply with her wishes and your’s, and to give her to you with his own hand.

As the ceremony has been necessarily delayed by reason of her illness, and as Mr. Harlowe’s birth-day is on Thursday the 29th of this instant June, when he enters into the seventy-fourth year of his age; and as time may be wanted to complete the dear lady’s recovery; he is very desirous that the marriage shall be solemnized upon it; that he may afterwards have double joy on that day to the end of his life.

For this purpose he intends to set out privately, so as to be at Kentish-town on Wednesday se’nnight in the evening.

All the family used, he says, to meet to celebrate it with him; but as they are at present in too unhappy a situation for that, he will give out, that, not being able to bear the day at home, he has resolved to be absent for two or three days.

He will set out on horseback, attended only with one trusty servant, for the greater privacy. He will be at the most creditable-looking public house there, expecting you both next morning, if he hear nothing from me to prevent him. And he will go to town with you after the ceremony is performed, in the coach he supposes you will come in.

He is very desirous that I should be present on the occasion. But this I have promised him, at his request, that I will be up before the day, in order to see the settlements executed, and every thing properly prepared.

He is very glad you have the license ready.

He speaks very kindly of you, Mr. Lovelace; and says, that, if any of the family stand out after he has seen the ceremony performed, he will separate from them, and unite himself to his dear niece and her interests.

I owned to you, when in town last, that I took slight notice to my dear friend of the misunderstanding between you and his niece; and that I did this, for fear the lady should have shown any little discontent in his presence, had I been able to prevail upon him to go up in person, as then was doubtful. But I hope nothing of that discontent remains now.

My absence, when your messenger came, must excuse me for not writing by him.

Be pleased to make my most respectful compliments acceptable to the admirable lady, and believe me to be

Your most faithful and obedient servant, ANTONY TOMLINSON.

This letter I sealed, and broke open. It was brought, thou mayest suppose, by a particular messenger; the seal such a one as the writer need be ashamed of. I took care to inquire after the Captain’s health, in my beloved’s hearing; and it is now ready to be produced as a pacifier, according as she shall take on or resent, if the two metamorphoses happen pursuant to my wonderful dream; as, having great faith in dreams, I dare say they will.—I think it will not be amiss, in changing my clothes, to have this letter of the worthy Captain lie in my beloved’s way.