LETTER 212: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE

Saturday, May 27.

Mr. Lovelace, my dear, has been very ill. Suddenly taken. With a vomiting of blood in great quantities. Some vessel broken. He complained of a disorder in his stomach over-night. I was the more affected with it, as I am afraid it was occasioned by the violent contentions between us. —But was I in fault?

How lately did I think I hated him! But hatred and anger, I see, are but temporary passions with me. One cannot, my dear, hate people in danger of death, or who are in distress or affliction. My heart, I find, is not proof against kindness, and acknowledgement of errors committed.

He took great care to have his illness concealed from me as long as it could. So tender in the violence of his disorder! —So desirous to make the best of it! —I wish he had not been ill in my sight. I was too much affected—Every-body alarming me with his danger-The poor man, from such high health so suddenly taken! —And so unprepared!—

He is gone out in a chair. I advised him to do so. I fear that my advice was wrong; since Quiet in such a disorder must needs be best. We are apt to be so ready, in cases of emergency, to give our advice, without judgment, or waiting for it! —I proposed a physician indeed; but he would not hear of one. I have great honour for the faculty; and the greater, as I have always observed, that those who treat the professors of the art of healing contemptuously, too generally treat higher institutions in the same manner.

I am really very uneasy. For I have, I doubt, exposed myself to him, and to the women below. They indeed will excuse me, as they think us married. But if he be not generous, I shall have cause to regret this surprize; which has taught me more than I knew of myself; as I had reason to think myself unaccountably treated by him.

Nevertheless let me tell you (what I hope I may justly tell you, that if again he give me cause to resume distance and reserve, I hope my reason will gather strength enough from his imperfections (for Mr. Lovelace, my dear, is not a wise man in all his ways) to enable me to keep my passions under. —What can we do more than govern ourselves by the temporary lights lent us?

You will not wonder that I am grave on this detection — Detection, must I call it? What can I call it? —I have not had heart’s-ease enough, to inspect that heart as I ought.

Dissatisfied with myself, I am afraid to look back upon what I have written. And yet know not how to have done writing. I never was in such an odd frame of mind. I know not how to describe it. — Was you ever so ? —Afraid of the censure of her I love—Yet not conscious that I deserve it.

Of this, however, I am convinced, that I should indeed deserve censure,if I kept any secret of my heart from you.

But I will not add another word, after I have assured you, that I will look still more narrowly into myself. And that I am.

Your equally sincere and affectionate
Clarissa Harlowe .

 

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