Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXX


A man is just now arrived from M. Hall, who tells me, that my Lord is in a very dangerous way. The gout in his stomach to an extreme degree, occasioned by drinking a great quantity of lemonade.

A man of 8000£. a year to prefer his appetite to his health!—He deserves to die!—But we have all of us our inordinate passions to gratify: and they generally bring their punishment along with them—so witnesses the nephew, as well as the uncle.

The fellow was sent upon other business; but stretched his orders a little, to make his court to a successor.

I am glad I was not at M. Hall, at the time my Lord took the grateful dose: [it was certainly grateful to him at the time:] there are people in the world, who would have had the wickedness to say, that I had persuaded him to drink.

The man says, that his Lordship was so bad when he came away, that the family began to talk of sending for me in post haste. As I know the old peer has a good deal of cash by him, of which he seldom keeps account, it behoves me to go down as soon as I can. But what shall I do with this dear creature the while?—To-morrow over, I shall, perhaps, be able to answer my own question. I am afraid she will make me desperate.

For here have I sent to implore her company, and am denied with scorn.

I have been so happy as to receive, this moment, a third letter from the dear correspondent Miss Howe. A little severe devil!—It would have broken the heart of my beloved, had it fallen into her hands. I will enclose a copy of it. Read it here.


Again I venture to you, (almost against inclination;) and that by your former conveyance, little as I like it.

I know not how it is with you. It may be bad; and then it would be hard to upbraid you, for a silence you may not be able to help. But if not, what shall I say severe enough, that you have not answered either of my last letters? the first* of which [and I think it imported you too much to be silent upon it] you owned the receipt of. The other which was delivered into your own hands,** was so pressing for the favour of a line from you, that I am amazed I could not be obliged; and still more, that I have not heard from you since.

* See Vol. V. Letter XX. ** See Vol. VI. Letter VII.

The fellow made so strange a story of the condition he saw you in, and of your speech to him, that I know not what to conclude from it: only, that he is a simple, blundering, and yet conceited fellow, who, aiming at description, and the rustic wonderful, gives an air of bumkinly romance to all he tells. That this is his character, you will believe, when you are informed that he described you in grief excessive,* yet so improved in your person and features, and so rosy, that was his word, in your face, and so flush-coloured, and so plump in your arms, that one would conclude you were labouring under the operation of some malignant poison; and so much the rather, as he was introduced to you, when you were upon a couch, from which you offered not to rise, or sit up.

* See Vol. VI. Letter VI.

Upon my word, Miss Harlowe, I am greatly distressed upon your account; for I must be so free as to say, that in your ready return with your deceiver, you have not at all answered my expectations, nor acted up to your own character; for Mrs. Townsend tells me, from the women at Hampstead, how cheerfully you put yourself into his hands again: yet, at the time, it was impossible you should be married!—

Lord, my dear, what pity it is, that you took much pains to get from the man!—But you know best!—Sometimes I think it could not be you to whom the rustic delivered my letter. But it must too: yet, it is strange I could not have one line by him:—not one:—and you so soon well enough to go with the wretch back again!

I am not sure that the letter I am now writing will come to your hands: so shall not say half that I have upon my mind to say. But, if you think it worth your while to write to me, pray let me know what fine ladies his relations those were who visited you at Hampstead, and carried you back again so joyfully to a place that I had so fully warned you.—But I will say no more: at least till I know more: for I can do nothing but wonder and stand amazed.

Notwithstanding all the man’s baseness, ’tis plain there was more than a lurking love—Good Heaven!—But I have done!—Yet I know not how to have done neither!—Yet I must—I will.

Only account to me, my dear, for what I cannot at all account for: and inform me, whether you are really married, or not.—And then I shall know whether there must or must not, be a period shorter than that of one of our lives, to a friendship which has hitherto been the pride and boast of


Dorcas tells me, that she has just now had a searching conversation, as she calls it, with her lady. She is willing, she tells the wench, still to place her confidence in her. Dorcas hopes she has re-assured her: but wishes me not to depend upon it. Yet Captain Tomlinson’s letter must assuredly weigh with her.

I sent it in just now by Dorcas, desiring her to re-peruse it. And it was not returned me, as I feared it would be. And that’s a good sign, I think.

I say I think, and I think; for this charming creature, entangled as I am in my own inventions, puzzles me ten thousand times more than I her.