LETTER 437: MR. WYERLEY TO MISS CLARISA HARLOWE

Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Dearest Madam,
You will be surprised to find renewed, at this distance of time, an address so positively tho’ so politely discouraged: But, however it be received, I must renew it. Every body has heard, that you have been vilely treated by a man, who, to treat you ill, must be the vilest of men. Every body knows your just resentment of his base treatment: That you are determined never to be reconciled to him: And that you persist in these sentiments against all the intreaties of his noble relations, against all the prayers and repentance of his ignoble self. And all the world that have the honour to know you, or have heard to him, applaud your resolution, as worthy of yourself; worthy of your virtue, and of that strict honour which was always attributed to you by every one who spoke of you.

 

But, Madam, were all the world to have been of a different opinion, it could never have altered mine. I ever loved you; I ever must love you. Yet have I endeavoured to resign to my hard fate. When I had so many ways, in vain, sought to move you in my favour, I sat down, seemingly contented. I even wrote to you, that I would sit down contended. And I endeavoured to make all my friends and companions think I was. But no body knows what pangs this self-denial cost me! In vain did the chace, in vain did travel, in vain did lively company, offer themselves: Tho’ embraced each in its turn, yet with redoubled force did my passion for you bring on my unhappiness, when I looked into myself, into my own heart; for there did your charming image sit inthroned; and you ingrossed me all.

 

I truly deplore those misfortunes, and those sufferings, for your own sake; which, nevertheless, encourage me to renew my bold hope. I know not particulars. I dare not inquire after them; because my sufferings would be increased with the knowledge of what yours have been. I therefore desire not to know more than what common report wounds my ears with; and what is given me to know, by your absence from your cruel family, and from the sacred place, where I, among numbers of your rejected admirers, used to be twice a week sure to behold you, doing credit to that service, of which your example gave me the highest notions. But whatever be those misfortunes, of whatsoever nature those sufferings, I shall bless the occasion for my own sake, (tho’ for yours curse the author of them) if they may give me the happiness to know, that this my renewed address may not be absolutely rejected. Only give me hope, that it may one day meet with encouragement, if in the interim nothing happen, either in my morals or behaviour, to give you fresh offence. Give me but hope of this—Not absolutely to reject me is all the hope I ask for; and I will love you, if possible, still more than I ever loved you—And that for your sufferings; for well you deserve to be loved, even to adoration, who can, for honour and for virtue’s sake, subdue a passion which common spirits (I speak by cruel experience) find invincible; and this at a time when the black offender kneels and supplicates, as I am well assured he does, (all his friends likewise supplicating for him) to be forgiven.

 

That you cannot forgive him; not forgive him so as to receive him again to favour, is no wonder. His offence is against virtue: That is a part of your essence—What magnanimity is this! How just to yourself, and to your spotless character! Is it any merit to admire more than ever so exalted a distinguisher? It is not. I cannot plead it.

 

What hope have I left, may it be said, when my address was before rejected, now, that your sufferings, so nobly borne, have, with all good judges, exalted your character? Yet, Madam, I have to pride myself in this, That while your friends, (not looking upon you in the just light I do) persecute and banish you; while your fortune and estate is with-held from you, and threatened (as I know) to be with-held, as long as the chicaning Law, or rather the chicaneriers of its practicers, can keep it from you: While you are destitute of protection; every body standing aloof, either thro’ fear of the injurer of one family, or of the hard-hearted of the other; I pride myself, I say, to stand forth, and offer my fortune, and my life, at your devotion: With a selfish hope indeed: I should be too great an hypocrite not to own this: And I know how much you abhor insincerity.

 

But, whether you encourage that hope or not, accept my best services, I beseech you, Madam: And be pleased to excuse me for a piece of hone start, which the nature of the case, (doubting the honour of your notice otherwise) makes me choose to conclude with—It is this: If I am to be still the most unhappy of men, let your pen, by one line, tell me so. If I am permitted to indulge a hope, however distant, your silence shall be deemed by me, the happiest indication of it that you can give—Except that still happier—(the happiest that can befal me) a signification that you will accept the tender of that life and fortune, which it would be my pride, and my glory, to sacrifice in your service, leaving the reward to yourself .

 

Be your determination as it may, I must for ever admire and love you: Nor will I ever change my condition, while you live, whether you change yours or not: For, having once had the presumption to address You, I cannot stoop to think of any other woman: And this I solemnly declare in the presence of that God, whom I daily pray to bless and protect you, be your determination what it will with regard to, dearest Madam,

 

Your most devoted and ever-affectionate and faithful Servant,

 

Alexander Wyerley.

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