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but too much reason to apprehend, as well by that, as by the report of a gentleman just come from her, that she is in such a declining way as to her health, that her thoughts are very differently employed than on a continuance here.
And now, ladies, you have before you my beloved friend's reasons for her refusal of a man unworthy of the relation he bears to so many excellent persons : and I will add (for I cannot help it) that, the merit and rank of the person considered, and the vile manner of his proceedings, there never was a greater villainy committed: and since she thinks her first and only fault cannot be expiated but by death, I pray to God daily, and will hourly from the moment I shall hear of that sad catastrophe, that He will be pleased to make him the subject of His vengeance, in some such way, as that all who know of his perfidious crime, may see the hand of Heaven in the punishment of it!
You will forgive me, ladies : I love not mine own soul better than I do Miss Clarissa Harlowe. And the distresses she has gone through ; the persecutions she suffers from all her friends; the curse she lies under, for his sake, from her implacable father; her reduced health and circumstances, from high health and affluence; and that execrable arrest and confinement, which have deepened all her other calamities (and which must be laid at his door, as it was the act of his vile agents, that, whether from his immediate orders or not, naturally flowed from his preceding baseness); the sex dishonoured in the eye of the world, in the person of one of the greatest ornaments of it; the unmanly methods, whatever they were (for I know not all as yet) by which he compassed her ruin-all these considerations join to justify my warmth, and my execrations of a man, whom I think excluded by his crimes from the benefit even of Christian forgiveness —and were you to see all she writes, and to know the
admirable talents she is mistress of, you yourselves would
MRS. NORTON TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
Friday, July 28. FOTOY DEAREST YOUNG LADY, I have the con
solation to tell you, that my son is once again in Label an hopeful way, as to his health. He desires his duty to you. He is very low and weak. And so am I. But this is the first time that I have been able, for several days past, to sit up to write, or I would not have been so long silent.
Your letter to your sister is received and answered. You have the answer by this time, I suppose. I wish it may be to your satisfaction: but am afraid it will not : for, by Betty Barnes, I find they were in a great ferment on receiving yours, and much divided whether it should be answered or not. They will not yet believe that you are so ill, as (to my infinite concern) I find you are. What passed between Miss Harlowe and Miss Howe, has been, as I feared it would be, an aggravation.
I showed Betty two or three passages in your letter to me; and she seemed moved, and said, she would report them favourably, and would procure me a visit from Miss Harlowe, if I would promise to show the same to her. But I have heard no more of that.
I am glad you are with such honest people; and that you have all your effects restored. How dreadfully have you been used, that one should be glad of such a poor piece of justice as that ?
Your talent at moving the passions is always hinted at; and this Betty of your sister never comes near me, that she
is not full of it. But, as you say, whom has it moved, that you wished to move? Yet, were it not for this unhappy notion, I am sure your mother would relent. Forgive me, my dear Miss Clary; for I must try one way to be convinced if my opinion be not just. But I will not tell you what that is, unless it succeeds. I will try, in pure duty and love to them, as well as to you.
May heaven be your support, in all your trials, is the constant prayer, my dearest young lady, of Your ever affectionate friend and servant,
MRS. NORTON TO MRS, HARLOWE.
July 28. ONOURED MADAM,—Being forbidden (without
leave) to send you anything I might happen to Roba receive from my beloved Miss Clary, and so ill, that I cannot attend to ask your leave, I give you this trouble, to let you know, that I have received a letter from her ; which, I think, I should hereafter be held inexcusable, as things may happen, if I did not desire permission to communicate to you, and that as soon as possible.
Applications have been made to the dear young lady from Lord M., from the two ladies his sisters, and from both his nieces, and from the wicked man himself, to forgive and marry him. This, in poble indignation for the usage she has received from him, she has absolutely refused. And perhaps, madam, if you and the honoured family should be of opinion, that to comply with their wishes is now the properest measure that can be taken, the circumstances of things may require your authority or advice, to induce her to change her mind.
I have reason to believe, that one motive for her refusal is her full conviction, that she shall not long be a trouble to anybody; and so she would not give a husband a right to interfere with her family, in relation to the estate her
grandfather devised to her. But of this, however, I have not the least intimation from her. Nor would she, I dare say, mention it, as a reason, having still stronger reasons, from his vile treatment of her, to refuse him.
The letter I have received will show how truly penitent the dear creature is; and if I have your permission, I will send it sealed up, with a copy of mine, to which it is an answer. But as I resolve upon this step without her knowledge I will not acquaint her with it, unless it be attended with desirable effects: because, otherwise, besides making me incur ber displeasure, it might quite break her already half-broken heart. I am,
MRS. HARLOWE TO MRS. JUDITH NORTON.
Sunday, July 30. E all know your virtuous prudence, worthy woman: we all do. But your partiality to this your rash
favourite is likewise known. And we are no less acquainted with the unhappy body's power of painting her distresses so as to pierce a stone.
Everyone is of opinion, that the dear naughty creature is working about to be forgiven and received ; and for this reason it is, that Betty has been forbidden (not by me, you may be sure !) to mention any more of her letters; for she did speak to my Bella of some moving passages you read to her.
This will convince you, that nothing will be heard in her favour. To wbat purpose then should I mention anything about her ?—But you may be sure that I will, if I can have but one second. However, that is not at all likely, until we see what the consequences of her crime will be: and who can tell that ?—She may—how can I speak it, and my once darling daughter unmarried ?—She may be with child !—This would perpetuate her stain. Her brother may come to some harm; which God forbid ! — One child's ruin, I hope, will not be followed by another's Ipurder !
As to her grief, and her present misery, whatever it be, she must bear with it; and it must be short of what I hourly bear for her ! Indeed I am afraid nothing but her being at the last extremity of all will make her father, and her uncles, and her other friends, forgive her.
You say her heart is half-broken: Is it to be wondered at ? Was not her sin committed equally against warning, and the light of her own knowledge ?
That he would now marry her, or that she would refuse him, if she believed him in earnest, as she has circumstanced herself, is not at all probable; and were I inclined to believe it, nobody else here would
And is she really ill ?—so very ill ?—But she ought to sorrow.-She has given a double measure of it.
But does she really believe she shall not long trouble us ?-But, O my Norton !—She must, she will, long trouble us—for can she think her death, if we should be deprived of her, will put an end to our afflictions ?—Can it be thought, that the fall of such a child will not be regretted by us to the last hour of our lives?
But I choose not to know more of her, than is communicated to us all—no more than I dare own I have seenand what some of them may rather communicate to me, than receive from me: and this for the sake of my outward quiet: although my inward peace suffers more and more by the compelled reserve.
I was forced to break off. But I will now try to conclude my long letter.
I am sorry you are ill. But if you were well, I could not, for your own sake, wish you to go up, as Betty tells us you long to do. If you went, nothing would be minded that