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sent to her when it can be told whither— but not till I give the word neither; for we must get the dear fugitive back again if possible.
I supposed that my stupid villain, who knew not such a goddess-shaped lady with a mien so noble, from the awkward and bent-shouldered Mabell, has been at Hampstead to see after her. And yet I hardly think she would go thither. He ought to go through every street where bills for lodgings are up, to inquire after a new comer. The houses of such as deal in women's matters, and tea, coffee, and such like, are those to be inquired at for her. If some tidings be not quickly heard of her, I would not have either Dorcas, Will, or Mabell, appear in my sight, whatever their superiors think fit to do.
This, though written in character, is a very long letter, considering it is not a narrative one, or a journal of proceedings, like most of my former; for such will unavoidably and naturally, as I may say, run into length. But I have so used myself to write a great deal of late, that I know not how to help it. Yet I must add to its length, in order to explain myself on a hint I gave at the beginning of it; which was, that I have another disappointment, besides this of Miss Harlowe's escape, to bemoan.
And what dost think it is? Why the old peer, pox of his tough constitution, (for that malady would have helped him on) has made shift by fire and brimstone, and the devil knows what, to force the gout to quit the counterscarp of his stomach, just as it had collected all its strength, in order to storm the citadel of his heart. In short, they have, by the mere force of stink-pots, hand-granades, and pop-guns, driven the slow-working pioneer quite out of the trunk into the extremities; and there it lies nibbling and gnawing upon his great toe; when I had hoped a fair end of the distemper and the distempered.
But I, who could write to thee of laudanum, and .the wet cloth, formerly, yet let 10,000Z. a-year slip through my fingers, when I had entered upon it more than in imagination, [for I had begun to ask the stewards questions, and to hear them talk of fines and renewals, and such sort of stuff,] deserve to be mortified.
Thou canst not imagine, how differently the servants, and even my cousins, look upon me, since yesterday, to what they did before. Neither the one nor the other bow or curtesy half so low—nor am I a quarter so often his honour, and your honour as I was within these few hours, with the former; and as to the latter—it is cousin again, with the usual familiarity, instead of sir, and sir, and, if you, please, Mr. Lovelace. And now they have the insolence to congratulate me on the recovery of the best of uncles; while I am forced to seem as much delighted as they, when, would it do me good, \ could sit down and cry my eyes out.
I had bespoke my mourning in imagination, after the example of a certain foreign minister, who, before the death, or even last illness, of Charles II. as honest White Kennet tells us, had half exhausted Blackwell Hall of its sables—an indication, as the historian would insinuate, that the monarch was to be poisoned, and the ambassador in the secret.—And yet, fool that I was, I could not take the hint—what the devil does a man read history for, if he cannot profit by the examples he finds in it?
But thus, Jack, is an observation of the old peer's verified, that one misfortune seldom comes alone: and so concludes
Thy doubly mortified
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
Wednesday night, June 28.
O MY DEAKEST MISS HOWE!
Once more have I escaped !—but, alas! I, my best self, have not escaped !—Oh! your poor Clarissa Harlowe! You also will hate me, I fear!—
Yet you won't, when you know all!
But no more of myself! My lost self. You that can rise in a morning to be blessed, and to bless; and go to rest delighted with your own reflections, and in your unbroken, unstarting slumbers, conversing with saints and angels, the former only more pure than yourself, as they have shaken off the encumbrance of body; you shall be my subject as you have long, long been my only pleasure. And let me, at awful distance, revere my beloved Anna Howe, and in her reflect upon what her Clarissa Harlowe once was!
* * #
Forgive, O forgive my rambling. My peace is destroyed. My intellects are touched. And what flighty nonsense must you read, if you now will vouchsafe to correspond with me, as formerly!
O my best, my dearest, my only friend! What a tale have I to unfold!—But still upon self, this vile, this hated self!—I will shake it off, if possible! and why should I not, since I think, except one wretch, I hate nothing so much? Self, then, be banished from self one moment, (for I doubt it will for no longer) to inquire after a dearer object, my beloved Anna Howe!—Whose mind, all robed in spotless white, charms and irradiates—but what would I say?—
And how, my dearest friend, after this rhapsody, which on re-perusal I would not let go, but to shew you what a distracted mind dictates to my trembling pen! How do you! You have been very ill, it seems. That you are recovered, my dear, let me hear. That your mother is well, pray let me hear, and hear quickly. This comfort surely is owing to me; for if life is no worse than chequer-work, I must now have a little white to come, having seen nothing but black, all unchequered dismal black,
for a great, great while.
* • #
And what is all this wild incoherence for? It is only to beg to know how you have been, and how you now do, by a line directed for Mrs. Rachel Clark, at Mr. Smith's, a glove-shop, in King Street, Covent Garden; which (although my abode is a secret to every body else) will reach the hands of
— Your unhappy—but that's not enough
MRS. HOWE TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
Mils Clarissa Harlowe, Friday, June 30.
You will wonder to receive a letter from me. I am sorry for the great distress you seem to be in, such a hopeful young lady as you were! But see what comes of disobedience to parents!
For my part: although I pity you, yet I much more pity your poor father and mother. Such education as they gave you! such improvement as you
made! and such delight as they took in you!— And all come to this!—
But, pray miss, don't make my Nancy guilty of your fault; which is that of disobedience. I have charged her over and over not to correspond with one who has made such a giddy step. It is not to her reputation, I am sure. You knexo that I so charged her; yet you go on corresponding together, to my very great vexation; for she has been very perverse upon it more than once. Evil communication, miss, you know the rest.
Here, people cannot be unhappy by themselves, but they must involve their friends and acquaintance, whose discretion has kept them clear of their errors, into near as much unhappiness as if they had run into the like of their own heads! Thus my poor daughter is always in tears and grief; and she has postponed her own felicity, truly, because you are unhappy.
If people, who seek their own ruin, could be the only sufferers by their headstrong doings, it were something: but, O miss, miss! what have you to answer for, who have made as many grieved hearts as have known you! The whole sex is indeed wounded by you: for, who but Miss Clarissa Harlowe was proposed by every father and mother for a pattern for their daughters?
I write a long letter, where I purposed to say but a few words; and those to forbid your writing to my Nancy; and this as well because of the false step you have made, as because it will grieve her poor heart, and do you no good. If you love her, therefore write not to her. Your sad letter came into my hands, Nancy being abroad: and I shall not shew it her: for there will be no comfort for her, if she saw it, nor for me, whose delight she is —as you once was to your parents.—