Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXXIX

MR. LOVELACE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE [SUPERSCRIBED TO MRS. LOVELACE.] M. HALL, MONDAY, JUNE 26.

Once more, my dearest love, do I conjure you to send me the four requested words. There is no time to be lost. And I would not have next Thursday go over, without being entitled to call you mine, for the world; and that as well for your sake as for my own. Hitherto all that has passed is between you and me only; but, after Thursday, if my wishes are unanswered, the whole will be before the world.

My Lord is extremely ill, and endures not to have me out of his sight for one half hour. But this shall not have the least weight with me, if you be pleased to hold out the olive-branch to me in the four requested words.

I have the following intelligence from Captain Tomlinson.

‘All your family are at your uncle Harlowe’s. Your uncle finds he cannot go up; and names Captain Tomlinson for his proxy. He proposes to keep all your family with him till the Captain assures him that the ceremony is over.

‘Already he has begun, with hope of success, to try to reconcile your mother to you.’

My Lord M. but just now has told me how happy he should think himself to have an opportunity, before he dies, to salute you as his niece. I have put him in hopes that he shall see you; and have told him that I will go to town on Wednesday, in order to prevail upon you to accompany me down on Thursday or Friday. I have ordered a set to be in readiness to carry me up; and, were not my Lord so very ill, my cousin Montague tells me that she would offer her attendance on you. If you please, therefore, we can set out for this place the moment the solemnity is performed.

Do not, dearest creature, dissipate all those promising appearances, and by refusing to save your own and your family’s reputation in the eye of the world, use yourself worse than the ungratefullest wretch on earth has used you. For if we were married, all the disgrace you imagine you have suffered while a single lady, will be my own, and only known to ourselves.

Once more, then, consider well the situation we are both in; and remember, my dearest life, that Thursday will be soon here; and that you have no time to lose.

In a letter sent by the messenger whom I dispatch with this, I have desired that my friend, Mr. Belford, who is your very great admirer, and who knows all the secrets of my heart, will wait upon you, to know what I am to depend upon as to the chosen day.

Surely, my dear, you never could, at any time, suffer half so much from cruel suspense, as I do.

If I have not an answer to this, either from your own goodness, or through Mr. Belford’s intercession, it will be too late for me to set out: and Captain Tomlinson will be disappointed, who goes to town on purpose to attend your pleasure.

One motive for the gentle resistance I have presumed to lay you under is, to prevent the mischiefs that might ensue (as probably to the more innocent, as to the less) were you to write to any body while your passions were so much raised and inflamed against me. Having apprized you of my direction to the women in town on this head, I wonder you should have endeavoured to send a letter to Miss Howe, although in a cover directed to that young lady’s* servant; as you must think it would be likely to fall into my hands.

* The lady had made an attempt to send away a letter.

The just sense of what I have deserved the contents should be, leaves me no room to doubt what they are. Nevertheless, I return it you enclosed, with the seal, as you will see, unbroken.

Relieve, I beseech you, dearest Madam, by the four requested words, or by Mr. Belford, the anxiety of

Your ever-affectionate and obliged LOVELACE.

Remember, there will not, there cannot be time for further writing, and for coming up by Thursday, your uncle’s birth-day.