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can tell when my present distresses will?—Rid of both men, I had been now perhaps at my aunt Hcrvey's, or at my uncle Antony's; wishing for my cousin Morden's arrival; who might have accommodated all.
Join with me in this prayer, my beloved friend; for your own honour's sake, as well as for love's sake, join with me in it: lest a deviation on my side should, with the censorious, cast a shade upon a friendship, which has no levity in it; and the basis of which is improvement, as well in the greater as lesser duties.
0 my best, my only friend! Now indeed is my heart broken! It has received a blow it never will recover. Think not of corresponding with a wretch who now seems absolutely devoted. How can it be otherwise, if a parent's curses have the weight I always attributed to them, and have heard so many instances in confirmation of that weight!—Yes, my dear Miss Howe, superadded to all my afflictions, I have the consequences of a father's curse to struggle with! How shall I support this reflection ?— My past and my present situation so much authorising my apprehensions!
1 have, at last, a letter from my unrelenting sister. Would to Heaven I had not provoked it by my second letter to my aunt Hervey! It lay ready for me, it seems. The thunder slept, till I awakened it. I inclose the letter itself. Transcribe it I cannot. There is no bearing the thoughts of it: for the curse extends to the life beyond this.
I am in the depth of vapourish despondency. I can only repeat, Shun, fly, correspond not with a wretch so devoted, as
TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE; To be left at Mr. Osgood's, near Soho Square. [T was expected you would send again to me, or to my aunt Hervey. The inclosed has lain ready for you therefore by direction. You will have no answer from anybody, write to whom you will, and as often as you will, and what you will.
It was designed to bring you back by proper authority, or to send you whither the disgraces you have brought upon us all, should be in the likeliest way, after a while, to be forgotten. But I believe that design is over: so you may range securely—nobody will think it worth while to give themselves any trouble about you. Yet my mother has obtained leave to send you your clothes, of all sorts: but your clothes only. This is a favour you'll see by the within letter not designed you: and now not granted for your sake, but because my poor mother cannot bear in her sight anything you used to wear. Bead the inclosed, and tremble.
To The Most Ungrateful And Undutiful Of
Harlowe Place, April 15.
Sister That Was !—For I know not what name you are permitted, or choose to go by.
You have filled us all with distraction. My father, in the first agitations of his mind, on discovering your wicked, your shameful elopement, imprecated, on his knees, a fearful curse upon you. Tremble at the recital of it!—No less, than that you may meet your punishment, both here and hereafter, by means of the very wretch, in whom you have chosen to place your wicked confidence.
My brother vows revenge upon your libertine—for the family's sake he vows it—not for yours !—for he will treat you, he declares, like a common creature, if ever he sees you : and doubts not, that this will be your fate.
My uncle Harlowe renounces you for ever.
So does my uncle Antony.
So does my aunt Hervey.
So do I, base unworthy creature! the disgrace of a good family, and the property of an infamous rake, as questionless you will soon find yourself, if you are not already.
Your books, since they have not taught you what belongs to your family, to your sex, and to your education, will not be sent you. Your money neither. Nor yet the jewels so undeservedly made yours. For it is wished you may be seen a beggar along London streets.
If all this is heavy, lay your hand to your heart, and ask yourself, why you have deserved it?
Your worthy Norton is ashamed of you, and mingles her tears with your mother's; both reproaching themselves for their shares in you, and in so fruitless an education.
Everybody, in short, is ashamed of you: but none more than Arabella Harlowe.
MISS HOWE TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
Tuesday, April 25.
E.comforted ; be not dejected ; do not despond, my dearest and best-beloved friend. God Almighty is just and gracious, and gives not his assent to rash and inhuman curses. Can you think that Heaven will seal to the black passions of its depraved creatures? If it did, malice, envy, and revenge would triumph; and the best of the human race, blasted by the malignity of the worst, would be miserable in both worlds.
This outrageousness shows only what manner of spirit they are of, and how much their sordid views exceed their parental love. Tis all owing to rage and disappointment—disappointment in designs proper to be frustrated.
Has not God commanded us to bless and curse not? Pray for your father then, that he incur not the malediction he has announced on you; since he has broken, as you see, a command truly divine; while you, by obeying that other precept which enjoins us to pray for them that persecute and curse us, will turn the curse into a blessing.
My mother blames them for this wicked letter of your sister; and she pities you; and, of her own accord, wished me to write to comfort you, for this once: for she says, It is pity your heart, which was so noble (and when the sense of your fault, and the weight of a parent's curse, are so strong upon you) should be quite broken.
You will now see, that you have nothing left, but to overcome all scrupulousness, and marry as soon as you have opportunity. Determine so to do, my dear.
I will give you a motive for it, regarding myself. For this I have resolved, and this I have vowed (O friend, the best beloved of my heart, be not angry with me for it!) That so long as your happiness is in suspense, I will never think of marrying. In justice to the man I shall have, I have vowed this: for, my dear, must I not be miserable, if you are so? And what an unworthy wife must I be to any man who cannot have interest enough in my heart to make his obligingness a balance for an affliction he has not caused?
I would show Lovelace your sister's abominable letter, were it to me. I enclose it. It shall not have a place in this house. This will enter him of course into the subject which now you ought to have most in view. Let him see what you suffer for him. He cannot prove base to such an excellence. I should never enjoy my head or my senses, should this man prove a villain to you !—With a merit so exalted, you may have punishment more than enough for your involuntary fault, in that husband.
My mother, notwithstanding this particular indulgence, is very positive. They have prevailed upon her, I know, to give her word to this purpose—Spiteful poor wretches! How I hate in particular your foolish uncle Antony!
How poor, to withhold from you your books, your jewels, and your money 1 As money is all you can at present want, since they will vouchsafe to send your clothes, I send fifty guineas by the bearer, inclosed in single papers in my Norris's Miscellanies. I charge you, as you love me, return them not.
I have more at your service. So if you like not your lodgings or his behaviour when you get to town, leave both them and him out of hand.
Once more, my dear, let me beg of you to be comforted. Manage with your usual prudence the stake before you, and all will still be happy. Suppose yourself to be me, and me to be you (you may—for your distress is mine); and then you will add full day to these but glimmering lights which are held out to you by
Your ever affectionate and faithful
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
Wednesday Morning, April 26.
jfOUR letter, my beloved Miss Howe, gives me great comfort. How sweetly do I experience the truth of the wise man's observation, That a faithful friend is the medicine of life!
All my comfort is, that your advice repeatedly given to the same purpose, in your kind letter before me, warrants me. I now set out the more cheerfully to London on that account: for before, a heavy weight hung upon my heart; and, although I thought it best and safest to go, yet my spirits sank, I know not why, at every motion I made towards a preparation for it.