Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXXI


The lady gave Will.’s sweetheart a letter last night to be carried to the post-house, as this morning, directed for Miss Howe, under cover to Hickman. I dare say neither cover nor letter will be seen to have been opened. The contents but eight lines—To own—’The receipt of her double-dated letter in safety; and referring to a longer letter, which she intends to write, when she shall have a quieter heart, and less trembling fingers. But mentions something to have happened [My detecting her she means] which has given her very great flutters, confusions, and apprehensions: but which she will wait the issue of [Some hopes for me hence, Jack!] before she gives her fresh perturbation or concern on her account.—She tells her how impatient she shall be for her next,’ &c.

Now, Belford, I thought it would be but kind in me to save Miss Howe’s concern on these alarming hints; since the curiosity of such a spirit must have been prodigiously excited by them. Having therefore so good a copy to imitate, I wrote; and, taking out that of my beloved, put under the same cover the following short billet; inscriptive and conclusive parts of it in her own words.


A few lines only, till calmer spirits and quieter fingers be granted me, and till I can get over the shock which your intelligence has given me— to acquaint you—that your kind long letter of Wednesday, and, as I may say, of Thursday morning, is come safe to my hands. On receipt of your’s by my messenger to you, I sent for it from Wilson’s. There, thank Heaven! it lay. May that Heaven reward you for all your past, and for all your intended goodness to

Your for-ever obliged, CL. HARLOWE.


I took great pains in writing this. It cannot, I hope, be suspected. Her hand is so very delicate. Yet her’s is written less beautifully than she usually writes: and I hope Miss Howe will allow somewhat for hurry of spirits, and unsteady fingers.

My consideration for Miss Howe’s ease of mind extended still farther than to the instance I have mentioned.

That this billet might be with her as soon as possible, (and before it could have reached Hickman by the post,) I dispatched it away by a servant of Mowbray’s. Miss Howe, had there been any failure or delay, might, as thou wilt think, have communicated her anxieties to her fugitive friend; and she to me perhaps in a way I should not have been pleased with.

Once more wilt thou wonderingly question—All this pains for a single girl?

Yes, Jack—But is not this girl a CLARISSA?—And who knows, but kind fortune, as a reward for my perseverance, may toss me in her charming friend? Less likely things have come to pass, Belford. And to be sure I shall have her, if I resolve upon it.