LETTER 315: MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO ANNA HOWE

The Lady next gives an account,

    Of her recovery from her phrensical and sleepy disorders:
    Of her attempt to get away in his absence:
    Of the conversations that followed, at his return, between them:
    Of the guilty figure he made:
    Of her resolution not to have him:
    Of her several efforts to escape:

            Of her treaty with Dorcas, to assist her in it:

    Of Dorcas’s dropping the promisory note, undoubtedly, as she says, on purpose to betray her:
    Of her triumph over all the creatures of the house, assembled to terrify her; and perhaps to commit fresh outrages upon her:
    Of his setting out for M. Hall:
    Of his repeated letters to induce her to meet him at the altar, on her uncle’s anniversary:
    Of her determined silence to them all:
      Of her second escape, effected,

as she says,

    contrary to her own expectation: That attempt being at first but the intended prelude to a more promising one, which she had formed in her mind:

And of other particulars; which being to be found in Mr. Lovelace’s preceding letters, and that of his friend Belford, are omitted. She then proceeds:

 

The very hour that I found myself in a place of safety. I took pen to write to you. When I began, I designed only to write six or eight lines, to inquire after your health: For, having heard nothing from you, I feared indeed, that you had been, and still were, too ill to write. But no sooner did my pen begin to blot the paper, but my sad heart hurried it into length. The apprehensions I had lain under, that I should not be able to get away; the fatigue I had in effecting my escape; the difficulty of procuring a lodging for myself; having disliked the people of two houses, and those of a third disliking me; for you must think I made a frighted appearance—These, together with the recollection of what I had suffered from him, and my farther apprehensions of my insecurity, and my desolate circumstances, had so disordered me, that I remember I rambled strangely in that letter.

 

In short, I thought it, on re-perusal, a half-distracted one: But I then despaired (were I to begin again) of writing better: So I let it go: And can have no excuse for directing it as I did, if the cause of the incoherence in it will not furnish me with a very pitiable one.

 

The letter I received from your mother was a dreadful blow to me. But nevertheless, it had the good effect upon me (labouring, as I was just then, under a violent fit of vapourish despondency, and almost yielding to it) which profuse bleeding and blisterings have in paralytical or apoplectical strokes; reviving my attention, and restoring me to spirits to combat the evils I was surrounded by—Sluicing off, and diverting into a new chanel (if I may be allowed another metaphor), the overcharging woes, which threatened once more to overwhelm my intellects.

 

But yet, I most sincerely lamented (and still lament), in your mamma’s words, That I cannot be unhappy by myself : And was grieved, not only for the trouble I had given you before; but for the new one I had brought upon you by my inattention.

 

She then gives the contents of the letters she wrote to Mrs. Norton, to Lady Betty Lawrance, and to Mrs. Hodges; as also of their answers; whereby she detected all Mr. Lovelace’s impostures.

 

I cannot, however, says she, forbear to wonder how the vile Tomlinson could come at the knowledge of several of the things he told me of, and which contributed to give me confidence in him ( a ) .

 

I doubt not, continues she, that the stories of Mrs. Fretchville, and her house, would be found as vile impostures as any of the rest, were I to inquire; and had I not enough, and too much, already against the perjured man.

 

How have I been led on! says she—What will be the end of such a false and perjured creature; Heaven not less profaned and defied by him, than myself deceived and abused! This, however, against myself I must say, That if what I have suffered is the natural consequence of my first error, I never can forgive myself, although you are so partial in my favour, as to say, that I was not censurable for what passed before my first escape.

 

And now, honoured Madam, and my dearest Miss Howe, who are to sit in judgment upon my case, permit me to lay down my pen, with one request, which, with the greatest earnestness, I make to you both: And that is, That you will neither of you open your lips in relation to the potions and the violences I have hinted at. — Not that I am solicitous, that my disgrace should be hidden from the world, or that it should not be generally known, that the man has proved a villain to me: For this, it seems, every-body but myself expected from his character. But suppose, as his actions by me are really of a capital nature, it were insisted upon, that I should appear to prosecute him, and his accomplices, in a Court of Justice, how do you think I could bear That?

 

But since my character, before the capital enormity, was lost in the eye of the world; and That from the very hour I left my father’s house; and since all my own hopes of worldly happiness are intirely over; Let me slide quietly into my grave; and let it not be remembred, except by one friendly tear, and no more, dropt from your gentle eye, my own dear Anna Howe, on the happy day that shall shut up all my sorrows, that there was such a creature as

 

Clarissa Harlowe.

Saturday, July 8.

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