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do them in, that, could I avoid it, I would go no farther in it.
Then, to this hour, I know not by what means several of his machinations to ruin me were brought about ; so that some material parts of my sad story must be defective, if I were to sit down to write it. But I have been thinking of a way that will answer the end wished for by your mother and you full as well ; perhaps better.
Mr. Lovelace, it seems, has communicated to his friend Mr. Belford all that has passed between himself and me, as he went on. Mr. Belford has not been able to deny it. So that (as we may observe by the way) a poor young creature, whose indiscretion has given a libertine power over her, has a reason she little thinks of, to regret her folly ; since these wretches, who have no more honour in one point than in another, scruple not to make her weakness a part of their triumph to their brother libertines.
I have nothing to apprehend of this sort, if I have the justice done me in his letters, which Mr. Belford assures me I have : and therefore the particulars of my story, and the base arts of this vile man, will, I think, be best collected from those very letters of his (if Mr. Belford can be prevailed upon to communicate them); to which I dare appeal with the same truth and fervour as he did, who says,—0 that one would hear me ! and that mine adversary had written a book !—Surely, I would take it upon my shoulders, and bind it to me as a crown : For I covered not my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom.
There is one way, which may be fallen upon to induce Mr. Belford to communicate these letters ; since he seems to have (and declares he always had) a sincere abhorrence of his friend's baseness to me : but that, you'll say, when you hear it, is a strange one. Nevertheless, I am very earnest upon it at present.
It is no other than this :
I think to make Mr. Belford the executor of my last will (don't be surprised): And with this view I permit bis visits with the less scruple : and every time I see him, from his concern for me, am more and more inclined to do so. If I hold in the same mind, and if he accept the trust, and will communicate the materials in his power, those, joined with what you can furnish, will answer the whole end.
I know you will start at my notion of such an executor: but pray, my dear, consider, in my present circumstances, what I can do better, as I am empowered to make a will, and have considerable matters in my own disposal.
Now Mr. Belford, as I have already mentioned, knows everything that has passed. He is a man of spirit, and, it seems, as fearless as the other, with more humane qualities. You don't know, my dear, what instances of sincere humanity this Mr. Belford has shown, not only on occasion of the cruel arrest, but on several occasions since. And Mrs. Lovick has taken pains to enquire after his general character; and hears a very good one of him, for justice and generosity in all his concerns of meum and tuum, as they are called : he has a knowledge of law matters; and has two executorships upon him at this time, in the discharge of which his honour is unquestioned.
All these reasons have already in a manner determined me to ask this favour of him ; although it will have an odd sound with it to make an intimate friend of Mr. Lovelace my executor.
This is certain : my brother will be more acquiescent a great deal in such a case with the articles of my will, as he will see that it will be to no purpose to controvert some of them, which else, I dare say, he would controvert, or persuade my other friends to do so. And who would involve an executor in a law suit, if they could help it ?
- which would be the case, if anybody were left, whom my brother could hope to awe or control; since my father has possession of all, and is absolutely governed by him. (Angry spirits, my dear, as I have often seen, will be overcome by more angry ones, as well as sometimes be disarmed by the meek.)—Nor would I wish, you may believe, to have effects torn out of my father's hands : While Mr. Belford, who is a man of fortune (and a good economist in his own affairs) would have no interest but to do justice.
Then he exceedingly presses for some occasion to show his readiness to serve me : and he would be able to manage his violent friend, over whom he has more influence than any other person.
My father has been so good as to take off the heavy malediction he laid me under. I must be now solicitous for a last blessing; and that is all I shall presume to petition for. My sister's letter, communicating this grace, is a severe one : but as she writes to me as from everybody, how could I expect it to be otherwise ?
If you set out to-morrow, this letter cannot reach you till you get to your Aunt Harman's. I shall therefore direct it thither, as Mr. Hickman instructed me.
If your relations in the little island join their solicitations with your mother's commands, to have your nuptials celebrated before you leave them, let me beg of you, my dear, to oblige them. How grateful will the notification that you have done so, be to Your ever faithful and affectionate
CL. HARLOWE !
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HARLOWE.
Saturday, July 29. REPINE not, my dear sister, at the severity you have been pleased to express in the letter you
favoured me with ; because that severity was accompanied with the grace I had petitioned for; and because the reproaches of mine own heart are stronger than any other person's reproaches can be: and yet I am not half so culpable as I am imagined to be: as would be allowed, if all the circumstances of my unhappy story were known; and which I shall be ready to communicate to Mrs. Norton, if she be commissioned to enquire into them; or to you, my sister, if you can have patience to hear them.
I remembered with a bleeding heart what day the 24th of July was. I began with the eve of it; and I passed the day itself—as it was fit I should pass it. Nor have I any comfort to give to my dear and ever-honoured father and mother, and to you, my Bella, but this—that, as it was the first unhappy anniversary of my birth, in all probability it will be the last.
Believe me, my dear sister, I say not this, merely to move compassion; but from the best grounds. And as, on that account, I think it of the highest importance to my peace of mind to obtain one further favour, I would choose to owe to your intercession, as my sister, the leave I beg, to address half a dozen lines (with the hope of having them answered as I wish) to either or to both my honoured parents, to beg their last blessing.
This blessing is all the favour I have now to ask: it is all I dare to ask : yet am I afraid to rush at once, though by letter, into the presence of either. And if I did not ask it, it might seem to be owing to stubbornnesss and want of duty, when my heart is all humility and penitence. Only, be so good as to embolden me to attempt this task —write but this one line,“ Clary Harlowe, you are at liberty to write as you desire.” This will be enough—and shall, to my last hour, be acknowledged as the greatest favour, by
Your truly penitent sister,
MRS. NORTON TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE.
Monday, July 31. FrY DEAREST YOUNG LADY,-I long to be
with you, now I am better, and now my son is
in a fine way of recovery. But is it not hard, to have it signified to me, that at present it will not be taken well, if I go ?-I suppose, while the reconciliation, which I hope will take place, is negotiating by means of the correspondence so newly opened between you and your sister. But if you would have me come, I will rely on my good intentions, and risk everyone's displeasure.
Mr. Brand has business in town; to solicit for a benefice which it is expected the incumbent will be obliged to quit for a better preferment: and when there, he is to enquire privately after your way of life, and of your health.
He is a very officious young man; and, but that your uncle Harlowe (who has chosen him for this errand) regards him as an oracle, your mother had rather anybody else had been sent.
He is one of those puzzling, over-doing gentlemen, who think they see farther into matters than anybody else, and are fond of discovering mysteries where there are none, in. order to be thought shrewd men.
I know not the day he is to set out; and as his inquiries are to be private, be pleased to take no notice of this intelligence. I have no doubt, that your life and conversation.