Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XV


Faith, Jack, thou hadst half undone me with thy nonsense, though I would not own it on my yesterday’s letter: my conscience of thy party before.— But I think I am my own man again.

So near to execution my plot; so near springing my mine; all agreed upon between the women and me; or I believe thou hadst overthrown me.

I have time for a few lines preparative to what is to happen in an hour or two; and I love to write to the moment.

We have been extremely happy. How many agreeable days have we known together!—What may the next two hours produce.

When I parted with my charmer, (which I did, with infinite reluctance, half an hour ago,) it was upon her promise that she would not sit up to write or read. For so engaging was the conversation to me, (and indeed my behaviour throughout the whole of it was confessedly agreeable to her,) that I insisted, if she did not directly retire to rest, that she should add another happy hour to the former.

To have sat up writing or reading half the night, as she sometimes does, would have frustrated my view, as thou wilt observe, when my little plot unravels.


What—What—What now!—Bounding villain! wouldst thou choke me?—

I was speaking to my heart, Jack!—It was then at my throat.—And what is all this for?—These shy women, how, when a man thinks himself near the mark, do they tempest him!


Is all ready, Dorcas? Has my beloved kept her word with me?—Whether are these billowy heavings owing more to love or to fear? I cannot tell, for the soul of me, of which I have most. If I can but take her before her apprehension, before her eloquence, is awake—

Limbs, why thus convulsed?—Knees, till now so firmly knit, why thus relaxed? why beat you thus together? Will not these trembling fingers, which twice have refused to direct the pen, fail me in the arduous moment?

Once again, why and for what all these convulsions? This project is not to end in matrimony, surely!

But the consequences must be greater than I had thought of till this moment—my beloved’s destiny or my own may depend upon the issue of the two next hours!

I will recede, I think!—


Soft, O virgin saint, and safe as soft, be thy slumbers!

I will now once more turn to my friend Belford’s letter. Thou shalt have fair play, my charmer. I will reperuse what thy advocate has to say for thee. Weak arguments will do, in the frame I am in!—

But, what, what’s the matter!—What a double—But the uproar abates!—What a double coward am I!—Or is it that I am taken in a cowardly minute? for heroes have their fits of fear; cowards their brave moments; and virtuous women, all but my Clarissa, their moment critical—

But thus coolly enjoying the reflection in a hurricane!—Again the confusion is renewed—

What! Where!—How came it!

Is my beloved safe—

O wake not too roughly, my beloved!