Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXVIII

MRS. NORTON, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE [IN ANSWER TO HER’S OF THURSDAY, AUG. 17.*] TUESDAY, AUG. 22.

* See Letter VI. of this volume.

MY DEAREST YOUNG LADY,

The letters you sent me I now return by the hand that brings you this.

It is impossible for me to express how much I have been affected by them, and by your last of the 17th. Indeed, my dear Miss Clary, you are very harshly used; indeed you are! And if you should be taken from us, what grief and what punishment are not treasuring up against themselves in the heavy reflections which their rash censures and unforgivingness will occasion them!

But I find to what your uncle Antony’s cruel letter is owing, as well as one you will be still more afflicted by, [God help you, my poor dear child!] when it comes to your hand, written by your sister, with proposals to you.*

* See Letter XXVI. ibid.

It was finished to send you yesterday, I know; and I apprize you of it, that you should fortify your heart against the contents of it.

The motives which incline them all to this severity, if well grounded, would authorize any severity they could express, and which, while they believe them to be so, both they and you are to be equally pitied.

They are owning to the information of that officious Mr. Brand, who has acquainted them (from some enemy of your’s in the neighbourhood about you) that visits are made you, highly censurable, by a man of a free character, and an intimate of Mr. Lovelace; who is often in private with you; sometimes twice or thrice a day.

Betty gives herself great liberties of speech upon this occasion, and all your friends are too ready to believe that things are not as they should be; which makes me wish that, let the gentleman’s views be ever so honourable, you could entirely drop acquaintance with him.

Something of this nature was hinted at by Betty to me before, but so darkly that I could not tell what to make of it; and this made me mention to you so generally as I did in my last.

Your cousin Morden has been among them. He is exceedingly concerned for your misfortunes; and as they will not believe Mr. Lovelace would marry you, he is determined to go to Lord M.’s, in order to inform himself from Mr. Lovelace’s own mouth, whether he intends to do you that justice or not.

He was extremely caressed by every one at his first arrival; but I am told there is some little coldness between them and him at present.

I was in hopes of getting a sight of this letter of Mr. Brand: (a rash officious man!) but it seems Mr. Morden had it given him yesterday to read, and he took it away with him.

God be your comfort, my dear Miss! But indeed I am exceedingly disturbed at the thoughts of what may still be the issue of all these things. I am, my beloved young lady,

Your most affectionate and faithful JUDITH NORTON.