POSTSCRIPT

The Author of the foregoing Work has been favoured, in the course of its Publication, with many Anonymous Letters, in which the Writers have differently expressed their wishes as to what they apprehended of the Catastrophe.

 

Most of those directed to him by the gentler Sex turn in favour of what they call a fortunate Ending ; and some of them, enamoured, as they declare, with the principal Character, are warmly solicitous to have her happy .

 

These Letters having been written on the perusal of the first Four Volumes only, before the complicated adjustment of the several parts to one another could be seen, or fully known, it may be thought superfluous, now the whole Work is before the Public, to enter upon this argument, because it is presumed, that the Catastrophe necessarily follows the natural progress of the Story: But as the Notion of Poetical Justice seems to have generally obtained among the Fair Sex, and must be confessed to have the appearance of Good Nature and Humanity, it may not be amiss to give it a brief consideration.

 

Nor can it be deemed impertinent to touch upon this subject at the Conclusion of a Work which is designed to inculcate upon the human mind, under the guise of an Amusement, the great Lessons of Christianity, in an Age like the present ; which seems to expect from the Poets and Dramatic Writers (that is to say, from the Authors of Works of Invention) that they should make it one of their principal Rules, to propagate another Sort of Dispensation, under the Name of Poetical Justice, than that with which God, by Revelation, teaches us, he has  thought fit to exercise Mankind; whom, placing here only in a State of Probation, he hath so intermingled Good and Evil, as to necessitate them to look forward for a more equal Distribution of both.

 

The History, or rather, The Dramatic Narrative of Clarissa, is formed on this Religious Plan; and is therefore well justified in deferring to extricate suffering Virtue till it meets with the Completion of its Reward.

 

But we have no need to shelter our Conduct under the Sanction of Religion (an Authority, perhaps, not of the greatest weight with modern Critics) since we are justified in it by the greatest Master of Reason, and the best Judge of Composition, that ever was. The learned Reader knows we must mean Aristotle ; whose Sentiments in this matter we shall beg leave to deliver in the words of a very amiable Writer of our own Country.

 

‘The English Writers of Tragedy, says Mr. Addison, are possessed with a Notion, that when they represent a virtuous or innocent person in distress, they ought not to leave him till they have delivered him out of his troubles, or made him triumph over his enemies.

 

‘This Error they have been led into by a ridiculous Doctrine in Modern Criticism, That they are obliged to an equal distribution of Rewards and Punishments, and an impartial Execution of Poetical Justice .

 

‘Who were the first that established this Rule, I know not; but I am sure it has no Foundation in Nature, in Reason, or in the Practice of the Antients .

 

‘We find, that [ in the dispensations of Providence ] Good and Evil happen alike to ALL MEN on this side the grave: And as the principal design of Tragedy is to raise Commiseration and Terror in the minds of the Audience, we shall defeat this great end, if we always make Virtue and Innocence happy and successful.

 

‘Whatever crosses and disappointments a good man suffers in the Body of the Tragedy, they will make but small impression on our minds, when we know, that,  in the last Act, he is to arrive at the end of his wishes and desires.

 

‘When we see him engaged in the depth of his afflictions, we are apt to comfort ourselves, because we are sure he will find his way out of them, and that his grief, how great soever it may be at present, will soon terminate in gladness.

 

‘For this reason, the antient Writers of Tragedy treated men in their Plays, as they are dealt with in the World, by making Virtue sometimes happy and sometimes miserable, as they found it in the Fable which they made choice of, or as it might affect their Audience in the most agreeable manner.

 

‘Aristotle considers the Tragedies that were written in either of those kinds; and observes, that those which ended unhappily had always pleased the people, and carried away the Prize, in the public disputes of the Stage, from those that ended happily.

 

‘Terror and Commiseration leave a pleasing anguish in the mind, and fix the Audience in such a serious composure of thought, as is much more lasting and delightful, than any little transient Starts of Joy and Satisfaction.

 

‘Accordingly we find, that more of our English Tragedies have succeeded, in which the Favourites of the Audience sink under their calamities, than those in which they recover themselves out of them.

 

‘The best Plays of this kind are The Orphan, Venice Preserved, Alexander the Great, Theodosius, All for Love, Oedipus, Oroonoko, Othello,& c.

 

‘King Lear is an admirable Tragedy of the same kind, as Shakespeare wrote it: But as it is reformed according to the chimerical notion of Poetical [ or, as we may say, Anti-Providential ] Justice, in my humble opinion it has lost half its beauty.

 

‘At the same time I must allow, that there are very noble Tragedies, which have been framed upon the other Plan, and have ended happily; as indeed most of the good Tragedies which have been written since the starting of the above-mentioned Criticism, have taken this turn: As The Mourning Bride, Tamerlane, Ulysses, Phædra and Hippolytus, with most of Mr. Dryden’s. I must also allow, that many of Shakespeare’s, and several of the celebrated Tragedies of Antiquity, are cast in the same form. I do not therefore dispute against this way of writing Tragedies; but against the Criticism that would establish This as the only method; and by that means would very much cramp the English Tragedy, and perhaps give a wrong bent to the Genius of our Writers.’

 

Thus far Mr. Addison.

 

Our fair Readers are also desired to attend to what a celebrated Critic of a neighbouring nation says on the nature and design of Tragedy, from the Rules laid down by the same great Antient.

 

‘Tragedy, says he, makes man modest, by representing the great Masters of the Earth humbled; and it makes him tender and merciful, by shewing him the strange accidents of life, and the unforeseen disgraces to which the most important persons are subject.

 

‘But because Man is naturally timorous and compassionate, he may fall into other extremes. Too much Fear may shake his Constancy of Mind, and too much Compassion may enfeeble his Equity. ‘Tis the business of Tragedy to regulate these two weaknesses. It prepares and arms him against Disgraces, by shewing them so frequent in the most considerable persons; and he will cease to fear extraordinary accidents, when he sees them happen to the highest [And still more efficacious, we may add, the example will be, when he sees them happen to the best ] part of mankind.

 

‘But as the End of Tragedy is to teach men not to fear too weakly common Misfortunes, it proposes also to teach them to spare their Compassion for Objects that deserve it . For there is an Injustice in being  moved at the afflictions of those who deserve to be miserable . We may see, without pity, Clytemnestra slain by her son Orestes in Æschylus, because she had murdered Agamemnon her husband; and we cannot see Hippolytus die by the plot of his stepmother Phædra, in Euripides, without Compassion, because he died not but for being chaste and virtuous.’

 

These are the great Authorities so favourable to the Stories that end unhappily: Yet the Writer of the History of Clarissa is humbly of Opinion, that he might have been excused referring to them for the vindication of his Catastrophe, even by those who are advocates for the contrary opinion; since the notion of Poetical Justice, founded on the Modern Rules, has hardly ever been more strictly observed in works of this nature, than in the present performance, if any regard at all be to be paid to the Christian System, on which it is formed.

 

For, Is not Mr. Lovelace, who could persevere in his villainous views, against the strongest and most frequent convictions and remorses that ever were sent to awaken and reclaim a wicked man—Is not this great, this wilful Transgressor, condignly punished ; and his punishment brought on thro’ the intelligence of the very Joseph Leman whom he had corrupted ; and by means of the very women whom he had debauched  —Is not Mr. Belton, who has an uncle’s hastened death to answer for —Are not the whole Harlowe family — Is not the vile Tomlinson —Are not the infamous Sinclair, and her wretched Partners —And even the wicked Servants, who, with their eyes open, contributed their parts to the carrying on of the vile schemes of their respective principals— Are they not All likewise exemplarily punished ?

 

On the other hand, Is not Miss Howe, for her noble Friendship to the exalted Lady in her calamities–Is not Mr. Hickman, for his unexceptionable Morals, and Integrity of Life—Is not the repentant and not ungenerous Belford —Is not the worthy Nortonmade signally happy ?

 

And who that are in earnest in their Profession of Christianity, but will rather envy than regret the triumphant death of Clarissa, whose Piety, from her early Childhood; whose diffusive Charity; whose steady Virtue; whose Christian Humility; whose Forgiving Spirit; whose Meekness, whose Resignation, HEAVEN only could reward?

 

The Length of the piece has been objected to by some, who had seen only the first four Volumes, and who perhaps looked upon it as a mere Novel or Romance ; and yet of these there are not wanting works of equal length.

 

They were of opinion, that the Story moved too slowly, particularly in the first and second Volumes, which are chiefly taken up with the Altercations between Clarissa and the several persons of her Family.

 

But is it not true, that those Altercations are the Foundation of the whole, and therefore a necessary part of the work? The Letters and Conversations, where the Story makes the slowest progress, are presumed to be characteristic . They give occasion likewise to suggest many interesting Personalities, in which a good deal of the Instruction essential to a work of this nature, is conveyed. And it will, moreover, be remembred, that the Author at his first setting out, apprised the Reader, that the Story was to be looked upon as the Vehicle only to the Instruction.

 

To all which we may add, that there was frequently a necessity to be very circumstantial and minute, in order to preserve and maintain that Air of Probability, which is necessary to be maintained in a Story designed to represent real Life; and which is rendered extremely busy and active by the plots and contrivances formed and carried on by one of the principal Characters.

 

In a word, If, in the History before us, it shall be found, that the Spirit is duly diffused throughout; that the Characters are various and natural; well distinguished, and uniformly supported and maintained: If there be a variety of incidents sufficient to excite Attention, and those so conducted, as to keep the Reader always awake; the Length then must add proportionably to the pleasure that every Person of Taste receives from a well-drawn Picture of Nature. But where the contrary of all these qualities shock the understanding, the extravagant performance will be judged tedious, tho’ no longer than a Fairy-Tale.

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CONCLUSION: JOHN BELFORD

What remains to be mentioned for the satisfaction of such of the readers as may be presumed to have interested themselves in the fortunes of those other principals in the story, who survived Mr. Lovelace, will be found summarily related as follows:

 

The news of Mr. Lovelace’s unhappy End was received with as much grief by his own relations, as it was with exultation by the Harlowe-family, and by Miss Howe. His own family were most to be pitied, because, being sincere admirers of the inimitable Lady, they were greatly grieved for the injustice done her; and now had the additional mortification of losing the only male of it, by a violent death.

 

That his fate was deserved, was still a heightening of their calamity, as they had, for that very reason, and his unpreparedness for it, but too much grounds for apprehension with regard to his future happiness. While the other family, from their unforgiving spirit, and even the noble young Lady above-mentioned, from her lively resentments, found his death some little, some temporary, alleviation of the heavy loss they had sustained, principally thro’ his means.

 

Temporary alleviation, we repeat, as to the Harlowe family; for THEY were far from being happy or easy in their reflections upon their own conduct.

 

Mrs. Harlowe lived about two years and an half after the much-lamented death of her excellent daughter.

 

Mr. Harlowe survived his Lady about half a year.

 

Both, in their last hours, comforted themselves, that they should be restored to their BLESSED daughter, as they always (from the time that they were acquainted with her happy exit ) called her.

 

They both lived, however, to see their son James, and their daughter Arabella, married: But not to take joy in either of their nuptials.

 

Mr. James Harlowe married a woman of family, an orphan, and is obliged, at a very great expence, to support her claim to estates, which were his principal inducement to make his addresses to her; but which, to this day, he has not recovered; nor is likely to recover; having very powerful adversaries to contend with, and a Title to assert, which admits of litigation; and he not blessed with so much patience as is necessary to persons embarrassed in Law.

 

What is further observable with regard to him, is, that the match was intirely of his own head, against the advice of his father, mother, and uncles, who warned him of marrying in this lady a Law-suit for life. His ungenerous behaviour to his wife, for what she cannot help, and for what is as much her misfortune as his, has occasioned such estrangements between them (she being a woman of spirit) as, were the Law-suits determined, and even more favourably than probably they will be, must make him unhappy to the End of his Life. He attributes all his misfortunes, when he opens himself to the few friends he has, to his vile and cruel treatment of his angelic sister. He confesses these misfortunes to be just, without having temper to acquiesce in the acknowledged justice. One month in every year he puts on mourning, and that month commences with him on the 7th of September, during which he shuts himself up from all company. Finally, he is looked upon, and often calls himself, The most miserable of Beings .

 

Arabella’s Fortune became a temptation to a man of Quality to make his addresses to her: His Title an inducement with her to approve of him. Brothers and Sisters, when they are not Friends, are generally the sharpest Enemies to each other. He thought too much was done for her in the settlements. She thought not enough. And for some years past, they have so heartily hated each other, that if either know a joy, it is in being told of some new misfortune or displeasure that happens to the other. Indeed, before they came to an open rupture, they were continually loading each other, by way of exonerating themselves ( to the additional disquiet of the whole family ) with the principal guilt of their implacable behaviour and sordid cruelty to their admirable Sister. —May the reports that are spread of this Lady’s further unhappiness from her Lord’s free life; a fault she justly thought so odious in Mr. Lovelace (though that would not have been an insuperable objection with her to his addresses); and of his public slights and contempt of her, and even sometimes of his personal abuses, which are said to be owing to her impatient spirit, and violent passions; be utterly groundless. —For, what a heart must that be, which would wish she might be as great a torment to herself, as she had aimed to be to her Sister? Especially as she regrets to this hour, and declares, that she shall to the last of her life, her cruel treatment of that Sister; and (as well as her Brother) is but too ready to attribute to that her own unhappiness.

 

Mr. Antony and Mr. John Harlowe are still [at the writing of this] living: But often declare, That, with their beloved niece, they lost all the joy of their lives: And lament, without reserve, in all companies, the unnatural part they were induced to take against her.

 

Mr. Solmes is also still living, if a man of his cast may be said to live; for his general behaviour and sordid manners are such as justify the aversion the excellent Lady had to him. He has moreover found his addresses rejected by several women of far inferior fortunes (great as his own are) to those of the Lady to whom he was encouraged to aspire.

 

Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville having lost the man in whose conversation they so much delighted; shock’d and awakened by the several unhappy catastrophes before their eyes; and having always rather ductile than dictating hearts; took their friend Belford’s advice: Converted the remainder of their fortunes into Annuities for Life; and retired, the one into Yorkshire, the other into Nottinghamshire, of which counties they are natives: Their friend Belford managing their concerns for them, and corresponding with them, and having more and more hopes every time he sees them (which is once or twice a year, when they come to town) that they will become more and more worthy of their names and families.

 

It cannot be amiss to mention what became of the two sisters in iniquity, Sally Martin, and Polly Horton ; names so frequently occurring in the foregoing collection.

 

After the death of the profligate Sinclair, they kept on the infamous trade with too-much success; till an accident happened in the house—A gentleman of family killed in it in a fray, contending with another for a new-vamp’d face. Sally was accused of holding the gentleman’s arm, while his more favoured adversary run him through the heart, and then-made off. And she being try’d for her life, narrowly escaped.

 

This accident obliged them to break up house-keeping, and not having been frugal enough of their ill-gotten gains (lavishing upon one, what they got by another) they were compelled, for subsistence-sake, to enter themselves as under-managers at such another house as their own had been. In which service, soon after, Sally died of a fever and surfeit got by a debauch: And the other, about a month after, by a violent cold, occasioned thro’ carelessness in a Salivation. Two creatures who wanted not sense, and had had (what is deemed to be) a good Modern Education; their parents having lived reputably; and once having much better hopes of them: But who were in a great measure answerable for their miscarriages, by indulging them in the fashionable follies and luxury of an age given up to those amusements and pleasures which are so apt to set people of but Middle Fortunes above all the useful employments of life; and to make young women an easy prey to Rakes and Libertines.

 

Happier Scenes open for the remaining characters; for it might be descending too low to mention the untimely Ends of Dorcas, and of William, Mr. Lovelace’s wicked servant; and the pining and consumptive ones of Betty Barnes and Joseph Leman, unmarried both, and in less than a year after the happy death of their excellent young Lady.

 

The good Mrs. Norton passed the small remainder of her life, as happily as she wished, in her beloved foster-daughter’s dairy-house, as it used to be called: As she wished, we repeat;—for she had too strong aspirations after Another life, to be greatly attached to This.

 

She laid out the greatest part of her time in doing good by her advice, and by the prudent management of the Fund committed to her direction. Having lived an Exemplary Life from her Youth upwards; and seen her Son happily settled in the world; she departed with ease and calmness, without pang or agony, like a tired traveller, falling into a sweet slumber: Her last words expressing her hope of being restored to the Child of her Bosom; and to her own excellent Father and Mother, to whose care and pains she owed that good Education to which she was indebted for all her other blessings.

 

The Poor’s Fund, which was committed to her care, she resigned, a week before her death, into the hands of Mrs. Hickman, according to the direction of the Will, and all the accounts and disbursements with it; which she had kept with such an exactness, that that Lady declares, that she will follow her method, and only wishes to do as well.

 

Miss Howe was not to be persuaded to quit her mourning for her dear friend, until six months were fully expired: And then she made Mr. Hickman one of the happiest men in the world. A woman of her fine sense and understanding, married to a man of virtue and good-nature (who had no past capital errors to reflect upon, and to abate his joys, and whose behaviour to Mrs. Hickman is as affectionate, as it was respectful to Miss Howe ) could not do otherwise. They are already blessed with two fine children; a Daughter, to whom, by joint consent, they have given the name of her beloved friend; and a Son, who bears that of his father.

 

She has allotted to Mr. Hickman, who takes delight in doing good (and that as much for its own sake, as to oblige her) his part of the management of the Poor’s Fund; to be accountable for it, as she pleasantly says, to her . She has a appropriated every Thursday morning for her part of that management; and takes so much delight in the task, that she declares, it is one of the most agreeable of her amusements. And the more agreeable, as she teaches every one whom she benefits, to bless the Memory of her departed Friend ; to whom she attributes the merit of all her own charities, as well as that of those which she dispenses in pursuance of her Will.

 

She has declared, That this Fund shall never fail while she lives. She has even engaged her Mother to contribute annually to it. And Mr. Hickman has appropriated twenty pounds a year to the same. In consideration of which she allows him to recommend four objects yearly to partake of it. Allows, is her style; for she assumes the whole prerogative of dispensing this charity; the only prerogative she does or has occasion to assume. In every other case, there is but one will between them; and that is generally his or hers, as either speak first, upon any subject, be it what it will. Mrs. Hickman, she sometimes as pleasantly as generously tells him, must not quite forget that she was once Miss Howe, because if he had not loved her as such, and with all her foibles, she had never been Mrs. Hickman . Nevertheless she seriously, on all occasions, and that to others, as well as to himself, confesses, that she owes him unreturnable obligations for his patience with her in HER Day, and for his generous Behaviour to her in HIS.

 

And still the more highly does she esteem and love him, as she reflects upon his past kindness to her beloved friend; and on that dear friend’s good opinion of him. Nor is it less grateful to her, that the worthy man joins most sincerely with her in all those respectful and affectionate recollections, which make the memory of the Departed precious to Survivors.

Mr. Belford was not so destitute of humanity and affection, as to be unconcerned at the unhappy fate of his most intimate friend. But when he reflects upon the untimely Ends of several of his companions, but just mentioned in the preceding history ( a ) —On the shocking despondency and death of his poor friend Belton —On the signal justice which overtook the wicked Tomlinson —  On the dreadful exit of the infamous Sinclair —On the deep remorses of his more valued friend—And, on the other hand, on the Example, set him by the most excellent of her Sex—and on her blessed preparation, and happy departure—And when he considers, as he often does with awe and terror, that his wicked habits were so rooted in his depraved heart, that all these Warnings, and this lovely Example, seemed to be but necessary to enable him to subdue them, and to reform; and that such awakening Calls are hardly ever afforded to men of his cast, or (if they are) but seldom attended with such happy effects in the Prime of Youth, and in the full Vigour of Constitution: —When he reflects upon all these things, he adores the Mercy, which thro’ these Calls has snatched him as a brand out of the fire : And thinks himself obliged to make it his endeavour to find out, and to reform any of those who may have been endangered by his means; as well as to repair, to the utmost of his power, any damage or mischiefs which he may have occasioned to others.

 

With regard to the Trust with which he was honoured by the inimitable Lady, he had the pleasure of acquitting himself of it in a very few months, to every-body’s satisfaction; even to that of the unhappy family; who sent him their thanks on the occasion. Nor was he, at delivering up his accounts, contented with resigning the Legacy bequeathed to him, to the Uses of the Will. So that the Poor’s Fund, as it is called, is become a very considerable sum; and will be a lasting bank for relief of objects who best deserve relief.

 

There was but one Earthly Blessing which remained for Mr. Belford to wish for, in order, morally speaking, to secure to him all his other blessings; and that was, the greatest of all worldly ones, a virtuous and prudent Wife. So free a liver as he had been, he did not think that he could be worthy of such a one, till, upon an impartial examination of himself, he found the pleasure he had in his new resolutions so great, and his abhorrence of his former courses so sincere, that he was the less apprehensive of a deviation.

 

Upon this presumption, having also kept in his mind some encouraging hints from Mr. Lovelace; and having  been so happy as to have it in his power to oblige Lord M. and that whole noble family, by some services grateful to them (the request for which from his unhappy friend was brought over, among other papers, with the dead body, by De la Tour) he besought that Nobleman’s Leave to make his addresses to Miss Charlotte Montague, the eldest of his Lordship’s two nieces: And making at the same time such proposals of Settlements as were not objected to, his Lordship was pleased to use his powerful interest in his favour. And his worthy niece having no engagement, she had the goodness to honour Mr. Belford with her hand; and thereby made him as completely happy as a man can be, who has enormities to reflect upon, which, in a course of years, the deaths of some of the injured parties, and the irreclaimableness of others, have put it out of his power to atone for.

 

Happy is the man who, in time of health and strength, sees and reforms the errors of his ways! —But how much more happy he, who has no capital and wilful errors to repent of! —How unmixed and sincere must the joys of such a one come to him!

 

Lord M. added bountifully in his life-time, as did also the two Ladies his Sisters, to the fortune of their worthy Niece. And as Mr. Belford has been blessed with a Son by her, his Lordship at his death (which happened just three years after the untimely one of his unhappy Nephew) was pleased to devise to that Son, and to his descendants for ever (and in case of his death unmarried, to any other children of his Niece) his Hertfordshire estate ( designed for Mr. Lovelace ) which he made up to the value of a moiety of his real estates; bequeathing also a moiety of his personal to the same Lady.

 

Miss Patty Montague, a fine young Lady (to whom her Noble uncle, at his death, devised the other moiety of his real and personal estates, including his Seat in Berkshire) lives at present with her excellent Sister Mrs. Belford; to whom she removed upon Lord M’s death: But, in all probability, will soon be the Lady of a worthy Baronet, of antient family, fine qualities, and ample fortunes, just returned from his Travels, with a character superior to the very good one he set out with: A case that very seldom happens, altho’ the End of Travel is Improvement .

 

Colonel Morden, who with so many virtues and accomplishments, cannot be unhappy, in several Letters to the Executor, with whom he corresponds from Florence (having, since his unhappy affair with Mr. Lovelace, changed his purpose of coming so soon to reside in England as he had intended) declares, That altho’ he thought himself obliged either to accept of what he took to be a challenge, as such; or tamely to acknowlege, that he gave up all resentment of his cousin’s wrongs; and in a manner to beg pardon for having spoken freely of Mr. Lovelace behind his back; and altho’ at the time he owns he was not sorry to be called upon, as he was, to take either the one course or the other; yet now, coolly reflecting upon his beloved cousin’s reasonings against Duelling; and upon the price it had too probably cost the unhappy man; he wishes he had more fully considered those words in his cousin’s posthumous letter—“If God will allow him Time for Repentance, why should you deny it him?”

 

To conclude—The worthy Widow Lovick continues to live with Mr. Belford; and by her prudent behaviour, piety, and usefulness, has endeared herself to her Lady, and to the Whole Family.

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LETTER 537: F.J. DE LA TOUR TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. NEAR SOHO SQUARE, LONDON

Trent, December 18. N.S. 

Sir,
I have 
melancholy news to inform you of, by order of the Chevalier Lovelace. He shewed me his letter to you before he sealed it; signifying, that he was to meet the Chevalier Morden on the 15th. Wherefore, as the occasion of the meeting is so well known to you, I shall say nothing of it here.

I had taken care to have ready, within a little distance, a Surgeon and his assistant, to whom, under an oath of secrecy, I had revealed the matter (tho’ I did not own it to the two gentlemen); so that they were prepared with bandages, and all things proper. For well was I acquainted with thebravery and skill of my Chevalier; and had heard the character of the other; and knew the animosity of both. A post-chaise was ready, with each oftheir footmen, at a little distance.

The two Chevaliers came exactly at their time: They were attended by Monsieur Margate (the colonel’s gentleman) and myself. They had given orders over-night, and now repeated them in each other’s presence, that we should observe a strict impartiality between them: And that, if one fell, each of us should look upon himself, as to any needful help, or retreat, as the servant of the survivor, and take his commands accordingly.

After a few compliments, both the gentlemen, with the greatest presence of mind that I ever beheld in men, stript to their shirts, and drew.

They parried with equal judgment several passes. My Chevalier drew the first blood, making a desperate-push, which, by a sudden turn of his antagonist, missed going clear thro’ him, and wounded him on the fleshy part of the ribs of his right side; which part the sword tore out, being on the extremity of the body: But, before he could recover himself, his adversary, in return, pushed him into the inside of the left arm, near theshoulder: And the sword, by raking his breast as it passed, being followed by a great effusion of blood, the Colonel said, Sir, I believe you have enough.

My Chevalier swore by G—d, he was not hurt: ‘Twas a pin’s point: And so made another pass at his antagonist; which he, with a surprising dexterity, received under his arm, and run my dear Chevalier into the body: Who immediately fell: saying, The luck is your’s, Sir— O my beloved Clarissa! —Now art thou—Inwardly he spoke three or four words more. His sword dropt from his hand. Mr. Morden threw his down, and ran to him, saying in French—Ah Monsieur, you are a dead man! — Call to God for mercy!

We gave the signal agreed upon to the footmen; and they to the Surgeons; who instantly came up.

Colonel Morden, I found, was too well used to the bloody work; for he was as cool as if nothing so extraordinary had happened, assisting theSurgeons, tho’ his own wound bled much. But my dear Chevalier fainted away two or three times running, and vomited blood besides.

However, they stopped the bleeding for the present; and we helped him into the voiture; and then the Colonel suffered his own wound to be dressed; and appeared concerned that my Chevalier was between whiles (when he could speak, and struggle) extremely outrageous. — Poor gentleman! he had made quite sure of victory!

The Colonel, against the Surgeons advice, would mount on horseback to pass into the Venetian territories; and generously gave me a purse of gold to pay the Surgeons; desiring me to make a present to the footman; and to accept of the remainder, as a mark of his satisfaction in my conduct; and in my care and tenderness of my master.

The Surgeons told him,that my Chevalier could not live over the day.

When the Colonel took leave of him, Mr. Lovelace said in French. You have well revenged the dear creature.

I have, Sir, said Mr. Morden, in the same language: And perhaps shall be sorry that you called upon me to this work, while I was balancing whether to obey, or disobey, the dear angel.

There is a fate in it! replied my Chevalier—A cursed fate! —Or this could not have been! —But be ye all witnesses, that I have provoked my destiny, and acknowlege, that I fall by a Man of Honour.

Sir, said the Colonel, with the piety of a confessor, (wringing Mr. Lovelace’s hand) snatch these few fleeting moments, and commend yourself to God.

And so he rode off.

The voiture proceeded slowly with my Chevalier; yet the motion set both his wounds bleeding afresh; and it was with difficulty they again stopped the blood.

We brought him alive to the first cottage; and he gave orders to me to dispatch to you the pacquet I herewith send sealed up; and bid me write to you the particulars of this most unhappy affair, and to give you thanks, in his name, for all your favours and friendship to him.

Contrary to all expectation, he lived over the night: But suffered much, as well from his impatience and disappointment, as from his wounds; for he seemed very unwilling to die.

He was delirious, at times, in the two last hours; and then several times cried out, Take her away! Take her away! but named no-body. And sometimes praised some Lady (that Clarissa, I suppose, whom he had called upon when he received his death’s wound) calling her, Sweet Excellence! Divine Creature! Fair Sufferer! —And once he said, Look down, blessed Spirit, look down! —And there stopt;—his lips however moving.

At nine in the morning, he was seized with convulsions, and fainted away; and it was a quarter of an hour before he came out of them.

His few last words I must not omit, as they shew an ultimate composure; which may administer some consolation to his honourable friends.

Blessed —said he, addressing himself no doubt to Heaven; for his dying eyes were lifted up—A strong convulsion prevented him for a few moments saying more—But recovering, he again with great fervor (lifting up his eyes, and his spread hands) pronounced the word Blessed : —Then, in aseeming ejaculation, he spoke inwardly so as not to be understood: At last, he distinctly pronounced these three words,

LET THIS EXPIATE!
And then, his head sinking on his pillow, he expired; at about half an hour after ten.

He little thought, poor gentleman! his End so near: So had given no direction about his body. I have caused it to be embowelled, and deposited in avault, till I have orders from England.

This is a favour that was procured with difficulty; and would have been refused, had he not been an Englishman of rank: A nation with reason respected in every Austrian government—For he had refused ghostly attendance, and the Sacraments in the Catholic way. May his Soul be happy, I pray God!

I have had some trouble also on account of the manner of his death, from the Magistracy here: Who have taken the requisite informations in theaffair. And it has cost me some money. Of which, and of my dear Chevalier’s effects, I will give you a faithful account in my next. And so, waiting at this place your commands, I am, Sir,

Your most faithful and obedient Servant,
F. J. De la Tour .

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LETTER 536: MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

Trent, Dec. 3-14. 

To-morrow is to be the Day, that will, in all probability, send either one or two ghosts to attend the Manes of my Clarissa .

I arrived here yesterday; and inquiring for an English gentleman of the name of Morden, soon found out the Colonel’s lodgings. He had been in town two days; and left his name at every probable place.

He was gone to ride out; and I left my name, anD where to be found: And in the evening he made me a visit.

He was plaguy gloomy. That was not I. But yet he told me, that I had acted like a man of true spirit in my first letter; and with honour, in giving him so readily this meeting. He wished I had in other respects; and then we might have seen each other upon better terms than now we did.

I said, there was no recalling what was pass’d; and that I wished some things had not been done, as well as he.

To recriminate now, he said, would be as exasperating as unavailable. And as I had so chearfully given him this opportunity, words should give place to business. — Your choice, Mr. Lovelace, of Time, of Place, of Weapon, shall be my choice.

The two latter be yours, Mr. Morden. The Time tomorrow, or next day, as you please.

Next day, then, Mr. Lovelace; and we’ll ride out tomorrow, to fix the place.

Agreed, Sir.

Well; now, Mr. Lovelace, do you choose the Weapon.

I said, I believed we might be upon an equal foot with the Single Rapier; but, if he thought otherwise, I had no objection to a Pistol.

I will only say, replied he, that the chances may be more equal by the Sword, because we can neither of us be to seek in that: And you’d stand, says he, a worse chance, as I apprehend, with a Pistol; and yet I have brought two; that you may take your choice of either: For, added he, I never missed a mark at pistol-distance, since I knew how to hold one.

I told him, that he spoke like himself: That I was expert enough that way, to embrace it, if he chose it; tho’ not so sure of my mark as he pretended to be. Yet the devil’s in’t, Colonel, if I, who have a slit a bullet in two upon a knife’s-edge, hit not my man. So I have no objection to a Pistol, if it beyour choice. No man, I’ll venture to say, has a steadier Hand or Eye than I have.

They may both be of use to you, Sir, at the Sword, as well as at the Pistol: The Sword therefore be the thing, if you please.

With all my heart.

We parted with a solemn sort of ceremonious civility: And this day I called upon Him; and we rode out together to fix upon the place: And both being of one mind, and hating to put off for the morrow what could be done to-day, would have decided it then: But De la Tour, and the Colonel’s valet, who attended us, being unavoidably let into the secret, joined to beg we would have with us a Surgeon from Brixen, whom La Tour had fallen in with there, and who had told him he was to ride next morning to bleed a person in a fever, at a lone cottage, which, by the Surgeon’s description, was not far from the place where we then were, if it were not that very cottage within sight of us.

They undertook so to manage it, that the Surgeon should know nothing of the matter till his assistance was called in. And La Tour being, as I assured the Colonel, a ready-contriving fellow (whom I ordered to obey him as myself were the chance to be in his favour) we both agreed to defer the decision till to-morrow, and to leave the whole about the Surgeon to the management of our two valets; injoining them absolute secrecy: And so rode back again by different ways.

We fixed upon a little lone valley for the Spot—Ten to-morrow morning the Time—And Single Rapier the Word. Yet I repeatedly told him, that I value myself so much upon my skill in that weapon, that I would wish him to choose any other.

He said, It was a gentleman’s weapon; and he who understood it not, wanted a qualification that he ought to suffer for not having: But that, as to him, one weapon was as good as another throughout all the instruments of offence.

So, Jack, you see I take no advantage of him: But my devil must deceive me, if he take not his life, or his death, at my hands, before eleven to-morrow morning.

His valet and mine are to be present; but both strictly injoined to be impartial and inactive: And, in return for my civility of the like nature, he commanded his to be assisting to me, if he fell.

We are to ride thither, and to dismount when at the place; and his footman and mine are to wait at an appointed distance, with a chaise to carry off to the borders of the Venetian territories the survivor, if one drop; or to assist either or both, as occasion may demand.

And thus, Belford, is the matter settled.

A shower of rain has left me nothing else to do: And therefore I write this letter; tho’ I might as well have deferred it till to-morrow twelve o’clock, when I doubt not to be able to write again, to assure you how much I am

Yours, &c.
Lovelace .

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LETTER 535: MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

Lintz, Nov. 28.
Dec. 9.

I am now on my way to Trent, in order to meet Colonel Morden, in pursuance of his answer to my letter inclosed in my last. I had been at Presburgh, and had intended to visit some other cities of Hungary: But having obliged myself to return first to Vienna, I there met with his letter: Which follows.

Munich, Nov. 21.
Dec. 2.

Sir,
Your 
letter was at Florence four days before I arrived there.

That I might not appear unworthy of your favour, I set out for this city the very next morning. I knew not but that the politeness of this court might have engaged, beyond his intention, a gentleman who has only his pleasures to pursue.

But being disappointed in my hope of finding you here, it becomes me to acquaint you, that I have such a desire to stand well in the opinion of aman of your spirit, that I cannot hesitate a moment upon the option, which I am sure Mr. Lovelace in my situation (thus called upon) would make.

I own, Sir, that I have, on all occasions, spoken of your treatment of my ever-dear cousin as it deserved. It would have been very surprising if I had not. And it behoves me (now you have given me so noble an opportunity of explaining myself) to convince you, that no words fell from my lips, ofyou, merely because you were absent. I acquaint you, therefore, that I will attend your appointment; and would, were it to the farthest part of theglobe.

I shall stay some days at this court; and if you please to direct for me at M. Klienfurt’s in this city, whether I remain here or not, your commands will come safely and speedily to the hands of, Sir,

Your most humble Servant,
Wm. Morden .

So you see, Belford, that the Colonel, by his ready, his even eagerly expressed acceptance of the offered interview, was determined . And is it not much better to bring such a point as this to an issue, than to give pain to friends for my safety, or continue in a suspense myself; as I must do, if I imagined that another had aught against me?

This was my reply:

Vienna, Nov. 25.
Dec. 6.

Sir,
I have 
this moment the favour of yours. I will suspend a tour I was going to take into Hungary, and instantly set out for Munich: And, if I find you not there, will proceed to Trent. This city being on the confines of Italy, will be most convenient, as I presume, to you, in your return to Tuscany; and I shall hope to meet you in it on the 1 ¾ of December.

I shall bring with me only a French valet and an English footman. Other particulars may be adjusted when I have the honour to see you. Till when I am, Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,
R. Lovelace .

Now, Jack, I have no manner of apprehension of the event of this meeting. And I think I may say, He seeks me; not I him. And so let him take theconsequence. What is infinitely nearer to my heart, is, my ingratitude to the most excellent of women—My premeditated ingratitude! —Yet all the while enabled to distinguish and to adore her excellencies, in spite of the mean opinion of the Sex which I had imbibed from early manhood.

But this Lady has asserted the worthiness of her Sex, and most gloriously has she exalted it with me now. Yet, surely, as I have said and written an hundred times, there cannot be such another woman.

But while my loss in her is the greatest of any man’s, and while she was nearer to me, than to any other person in the world, and once she herself wished to be so, what an insolence in any man breathing to pretend to avenge her on me ! —Happy! happy! thrice happy! had I known how to value, as I ought to have valued, the glory of such a preference!

I will aggravate to myself this aggravation of the Colonel’s pretending to call me to account for my treatment of a lady so much my own, lest, in theapproaching interview, my heart should relent for one so nearly related to her, and who means honour and justice to her memory; and I should thereby give him advantages which otherwise he cannot have. For I know that I shall be inclined to trust to my skill, to save a man who was so much and so justly valued by her; and shall be loth to give way to my resentment, as a threatened man. And in this respect only am I sorry for his skill, and his courage, lest I should be obliged, in my own defence, to add a chalk to a score that is already too long.

 

Indeed, indeed, Belford, I am, and shall be, to my latest hour, the most miserable of beings. Such exalted generosity! —Why didst thou put into my craving hands the copy of her Will? Why sentest thou to me the posthumous Letter? —What tho’ I was earnest to see the Will? Thou knewest what they both were ( I did not); and that it would be cruel to oblige me.

The meeting of twenty Colonel Mordens, were there twenty to meet in turn, would be nothing to me; would not give me a moment’s concern, as to my own safety:

But my reflections upon my vile ingratitude to so superior an excellence will ever be my curse.

Had she been a Miss Howe to me, and treated me as if I were an Hickman, I had had a call for revenge; and policy (when I had intended to be an husband) might have justified my attempts to humble her. But a meek and gentle temper was hers, tho’ a true heroine, whenever honour or virtue called for an exertion of spirit.

Nothing but my cursed devices stood in the way of my happiness. Remembrest thou not, how repeatedly, from the first, I poured cold water upon her rising flame, by meanly and ingratefully turning upon her the injunctions, which virgin delicacy, and filial duty, induced her to lay me under, before I got her into my power ( a ) ?

Did she not tell me, and did I not know it, if she had not told me, that she could not be guilty of affectation or tyranny to the man whom she intended to marry ( b ) 418 ? I knew, as she once upbraided me, that from the time I had got her from her father’s house, I had a plain path before me ( c ) 419 . True did she say, and I triumphed in the discovery, that from that time I had held her soul in suspense an hundred times ( d ) 420 . My Ipecacuanha trial alone was enough to convince an infidel, that she had a mind in which love and tenderness would have presided, had I permitted the charming buds to put forth and blow ( e ) 421 .

She would have had no reserves, as once she told me, had I not given her cause of doubt ( f ) 422 . And did she not own to thee, that once she could have loved me; and, could she have made me good, would have made me happy ( g ) 423 ? O Belford! here was Love; a Love of the noblest kind! — A Love, as she hints in her posthumous Letter ( h ) 424 that extended to the Soul; and which she not only avowed in her dying hours, but contrived to let me know it after death, in that Letter filled with warnings and exhortations, which had for their sole end my eternal welfare!

The cursed women, indeed, endeavoured to excite my vengeance, and my pride, by preaching to me eternally her doubts, her want of love, and her contempt of me. And my pride was, at times, too much excited by their vile insinuations. But had it even been as they said; well might she, who had been used to be courted and admired by every desiring eye, and worshiped by every respectful heart—Well might such a woman be allowed to draw back, when she found herself kept in suspense, as to the great question of all, by a designing and intriguing spirit; pretending awe and distance, as reasons for reining-in a fervor, which, if real, cannot be reined-in. —Divine creature! Her very doubts, her reserves (so justly doubting) would have been my assurance, and my glory! —And what other trial needed her virtue? What other needed a purity so angelic (blessed with such a command of her passions in the bloom of youth) had I not been a villain— and a wanton, a conceited, a proud fool, as well as a villain?

These reflections sharpened, rather than their edge by time rebated, accompany me in whatever I do, and wherever I go; and mingle with all my diversions and amusements. And yet I go into gay and splendid company. I have made new acquaintance in the different courts I have visited. I am both esteemed, and sought after, by persons of rank and merit. I visit the colleges, the churches, the palaces. I frequent the theatre: Am present at every public exhibition; and see all that is worth seeing, that I had not seen before, in the cabinets of the curious: Am sometimes admitted to thetoilette of an eminent toast, and make one with distinction at the assemblées of others— Yet can think of nothing, nor of any-body, with delight, but of my Clarissa . Nor have I seen one woman with advantage to herself, but as she resembles in stature, air, complexion, voice, or in some feature, that charmer, that only charmer, of my soul.

What greater punishment, than to have these astonishing perfections, which she was mistress of, strike my remembrance with such force, when I have nothing left me but the remorse of having deprived myself and the world of such a blessing? Now-and-then, indeed, am I capable of a gleam of comfort, arising (not ungenerously) from the moral certainty which I have of her everlasting happiness, in spite of all the machinations and devices which I set on foot to insnare her virtue, and to bring down so pure a mind to my own level.


For can I be, at worst (Avert that worst,
O Thou Supreme, who only canst avert it!)
So much a wretch, so very far abandon’d,
But that I must, ev’n in the horrid’st gloom,
Reap intervenient joy, at least some respite
From pain and anguish, in her bliss—For why?
This very soul must suffer—Not another .
It can’t be mine, if it could envy her,
Or at her happiness repine— 

 

If I find myself thus miserable abroad, I will soon return to England, and follow your example, I think— turn hermit, or some plaguy thing or other, and see what a constant course of penitence and mortification will do for me. There is no living at this rate—D—n me if there be!

If any mishap should befal me, you’ll have the particulars of it from De la Tour. He indeed knows not a word of English: But every modern tongue is yours. He is a trusty and ingenious fellow: And, if any thing happen, will have some other papers, which I shall have ready sealed up, for you to transmit to Lord M. And since thou art so expert, and so ready at Executorships, pr’ythee, Belford, accept of the office for Me, as well as for my Clarissa — Clarissa Lovelace let me call her.

By all that’s good, I am bewitched to her memory. Her very name, with mine joined to it, ravishes my soul, and is more delightful to me than thesweetest music.

Had I carried her (I must still recriminate) to any other place, than to that accursed woman’s—For the potion was her invention and mixture; and all the persisted-in violence was at her instigation, and at that of her wretched daughters, who have now amply revenged upon me their own ruin, which they lay at my door .

But this looks so like the confession of a thief at the gallows, that possibly thou wilt be apt to think, I am intimidated in prospect of the approaching interview. But far otherwise. On the contrary, most chearfully do I go to meet the Colonel; and I would tear my heart out of my breast with my own hands, were it capable of fear or concern on that account.

Thus much only I know, that if I should kill him (which I will not do, if I can help it) I shall be far from being easy in my mind: That shall I never be more. But as the meeting is evidently of his own seeking, against an option fairly given to the contrary, and I cannot avoid it, I’ll think of that hereafter. It is but repenting and mortifying for all at once: For I am as sure of victory, as I am that I now live, let him be as skilful a swordsman as he will: Since, besides that I am no unfleshed novice, this is a sport, that, when provoked to it, I love as well as my food. And, moreover, I shall be ascalm and undisturbed as the Bishop at his prayers: While he, as is evident by his letter, must be actuated by revenge and passion.

Doubt not, therefore, Jack, that I shall give a good account of this affair. Mean time, I remain

Yours most affectionately, &c.
Lovelace .

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