LETTER 402: MR JOHN HARLOWE, TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE

Monday, Aug. 7.

 

Poor ungrateful, naughty Kinswoman,
Your mother neither caring, nor being permitted, to write, I am desired to set pen to paper, tho’ I had resolved against it.

 

And so I am to tell you, that your letters, joined to the occasion of them, almost break the hearts of us all.

 

Were we sure you had seen your folly, and were truly penitent, and, at the same time, that you were so very ill as you intimate, I know not what might be done for you. But we are all acquainted with your moving ways when you want to carry a point.

 

Unhappy girl! how miserable have you made us all! We, who used to visit with so much pleasure, now cannot endure to look upon one another.

 

If you had not known, upon an hundred occasions, how dear you once was to us, you might judge of it, now, were you to know how much your folly has unhing’d us all.

 

Naughty, naughty girl! You see the fruits of preferring a rake and libertine to a man of sobriety and morals. Against full warning, against better knowlege. And such a modest creature too, as you was! How could you think of such an unworthy preference?

 

Your mother can’t ask, and your sister knows not in modesty how to ask; and so I ask you, If you have any reason to think yourself with child by this villain? —You must answer this, and answer it truly, before any thing can be resolved upon about you.

 

You may well be touched with a deep remorse for your misdeeds. Could I ever have thought that my doating-piece, as every-one called you, would have done thus? To be sure I loved you too well. But that is over now. Yet, tho’ I will not pretend to answer for any-body but myself, for my own part, I say, God forgive you! And this is all from

 

Your afflicted Uncle,
John Harlowe .

 

The following Meditation was stitch’d to the bottom of this Letter, with black silk.

 

MEDITATION. 

O That thou wouldst hide me in the grave! That thou wouldst keep me secret, till thy wrath be past! 

 

My face is foul with weeping: and on my eye-lid is the shadow of death.

 

My friends scorn me; but mine eye poureth out tears unto God. 

 

A dreadful sound is in my ears; in prosperity the destroyer came upon me! 

 

I have sinned! What shall I do unto thee, O thou Preserver of men! Why hast thou set me as a mark against thee; so that I am a burden to myself! 

 

When I say, My bed shall comfort me; My couch shall ease my complaint; 

 

Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me thro’ visions. 

 

So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than life. 

 

I loath it! I would not live alway! —Let me alone; for my days are vanity! 

 

He hath made me a by-word of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret. 

 

My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart. 

 

When I looked for good, then evil came unto me; and when I waited for light, then came darkness. 

 

And where now is my hope?— 

 

Yet all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

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