Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XXVI

MRS. NORTON, TO MISS HOWE SATURDAY, MAY 13.

DEAR MADAM,

My heart is almost broken, to be obliged to let you know, that such is the situation of things in the family of my ever-dear Miss Harlowe, that there can be at present no success expected from any application in her favour. Her poor mother is to be pitied. I have a most affecting letter from her; but must not communicate it to you; and she forbids me to let it be known that she writes upon the subject; although she is compelled, as it were, to do it, for the ease of her own heart. I mention it therefore in confidence.

I hope in God that my beloved young lady has preserved her honour inviolate. I hope there is not a man breathing who could attempt a sacrilege so detestable. I have no apprehension of a failure in a virtue so established. God for ever keep so pure a heart out of the reach of surprises and violence! Ease, dear Madam, I beseech you, my over-anxious heart, by one line, by the bearer, although but one line, to acquaint me (as surely you can) that her honour is unsullied.—If it be not, adieu to all the comforts this life can give: since none will it be able to afford

To the poor JUDITH NORTON.