Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XIV

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. TUESDAY, MAY 2.

Just as I had sealed up the enclosed, comes a letter to my beloved, in a cover to me, directed to Lord M.’s. From whom, thinkest thou?—From Mrs. Howe!

And what the contents?

How should I know, unless the dear creature had communicated them to me? But a very cruel letter I believe it is, by the effect it had upon her. The tears ran down her cheeks as she read it; and her colour changed several times. No end of her persecutions, I think!

’What a cruelty in my fate!’ said the sweet lamenter.—’Now the only comfort of my life must be given up!’

Miss Howe’s correspondence, no doubt.

But should she be so much grieved at this? This correspondence was prohibited before, and that, to the daughter, in the strongest terms: but yet carried on by both; although a brace of impeccables, an’t please ye. Could they expect, that a mother would not vindicate her authority? —and finding her prohibition ineffectual with her perverse daughter, was it not reasonable to suppose she would try what effect it would have upon her daughter’s friend?—And now I believe the end will be effectually answered: for my beloved, I dare say, will make a point of conscience of it.

I hate cruelty, especially in women; and should have been more concerned for this instance of it in Mrs. Howe, had I not had a stronger instance of the same in my beloved to Miss Partington: For how did she know, since she was so much afraid for herself, whom Dorcas might let in to that innocent and less watchful young lady? But nevertheless I must needs own, that I am not very sorry for this prohibition, let it originally come from the Harlowes, or from whom it will; because I make no doubt, that it is owing to Miss Howe, in a great measure, that my beloved is so much upon her guard, and thinks so hardly of me. And who can tell, as characters here are so tender, and some disguises so flimsy, what consequences might follow this undutiful correspondence?—I say, therefore, I am not sorry for it: now will she not have any body to compare notes with: any body to alarm her: and I may be saved the guilt and disobligation of inspecting into a correspondence that has long made me uneasy.

How every thing works for me!—Why will this charming creature make such contrivances necessary, as will increase my trouble, and my guilt too, as some will account it? But why, rather I should ask, will she fight against her stars?