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have suffered ; and shall be too much discomposed by the retrospection, were I obliged to make it, to proceed with the requisite temper in a task of still greater importance which I have before me.
It is very evident to me that your wicked friend has given you, from time to time, a circumstantial account of all his behaviour to me, and devices against me; and you have more than once assured me, that he has done my character all the justice I could wish for, both by writing and speech.
Now, sir, if I may have a fair, a faithful specimen from his letters or accounts to you, written upon some of the most interesting occasions, I shall be able to judge, whether there will or will not be a necessity for me, for my honour's sake, to enter upon the solicited task.
You may be assured, from my enclosed answer to the letter which Miss Montague has honoured me with (and which you'll be pleased to return me as soon as read) that it is impossible for me ever to think of your friend in the way I am importuned to think of him : he cannot therefore receive any detriment from the requested specimen : and I give you my honour, that no use shall be made of it to his prejudice, in law, or otherwise. And that it may not, after I am no more, I assure you, that it is a main part of my view that the passages you shall oblige me with shall be always in your own power, and not in that of any other person.
If, sir, you think fit to comply with my request, the passages I would wish to be transcribed (making neither better nor worse of the matter) are those which he has written to you, on or about the 7th and 8th of June, when I was alarmed by the wicked pretence of a fire; and what he has written from Sunday June 11th to the 19th. And in doing this you will much oblige
Your humble servant,
Now, Lovelace, since there are no hopes for thee of her returning favour-since some praise may lie for thy ingenuousness, having never offered (as more diminutiveminded libertines would have done) to palliate thy crimes, by aspersing the lady, or her sex-since she may be made easier by it—since thou must fare better from thine own pen, than from hers – and, finally, since thy actions have manifested, that thy letters are not the most guilty part of what she knows of thee—I see not why I may not oblige her, upon her honour, and under the restrictions, and for the reasons she had given ; and this without breach of the confidence due to friendly communications ; especially, as I might have added, since thou gloriest in thy pen, and in thy wickedness, and canst not be ashamed.
But, be this as it may, she will be obliged before thy remonstrances or clamours against it can come : so, pray thee now, make the best of it, and rave not; except for the sake of a pretence against me, and to exercise thy talent of execration :—and, if thou likest to do so for these reasons, rave and welcome.
I long to know what the second request is : but this I know, that if it be anything less than cutting thy throat, or endangering my own neck, I will certainly comply; and be proud of having it in my power to oblige her.
And now I am actually going to be busy in the extracts.
MR. BELFORD TO MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE...
August 3–4. ADAM,—You have engaged me to communicate
to you, upon honour (making neither better nor e worse of the matter) what Mr. Lovelace has written to me, in relation to yourself, in the period preceding your going to Hampstead, and in that between the 11th and 19th of June: and you assure me, you have no view in this request, but to see if it be necessary for you, from the account he gives, to touch the painful subjects yourself, for the sake of your own character.
Your commands, madam, are of a very delicate nature, as they may seem to affect the secrets of private friendship : but as I know you are not capable of a view, the motives to which you will not own; and as I think the communication may do some credit to my unhappy friend's character, as an ingenuous man; though his actions by the most excellent woman in the world have lost him all title to that of an honourable one; I obey you with the greater cheerfulness. IIe then proceeds with his extracts, and concludes them
with an address to her in his friend's behalf, in the
following words ; And now, madam, I have fulfilled your commands; and, I hope, have not disserved my friend with you ; since you will hereby soe the justice he does to your virtue in every line ho writes. He does the same in all his letters, though to his own condemnation : and give me leave to add, that if this over-amiable sufferer can think it in any manner consistent with her honour to receive his vows at the altar, on his truly penitent turn of mind, I have not the least doubt, but that he will make her the best and tenderest of husbands. What obligation will not the admirable lady herby lay mpon all his noble family, who so greatly admire her! aund, I will presume to say, upon her own, when the umhappy family aversion (which certainly has been carried to an Ironsonable height against him) shall be got over, and a general reconciliation takes place! for who is it that would not give these two admirable persons to each other, were not hun morals an objection ?
lowovor this be, I would humbly refer to you, madam, wlochna's in your will be mistress of very delicate particulars loom me his friend, you should not in honour think yourwolf courmano lo pass them by, as if you had never seen Hom; and not to take any advantage of the communica
tion, not even in argument, as some perhaps might lie, with respect to the premeditated design he seems to have had, not against you, as you ; but as against the sex; over whom (I am sorry I can bear witness myself) it is the villanous aim of all libertines to triumph : and I would not, if any misunderstanding should arise between him and me, give him room to reproach me, that his losing of you, and (through his usage of you) of his own friends, were owing to what perhaps he would call breach of trust, were he to judge rather by the event than by my intention. I am, madam, with the most profound veneration, Your most faithful humble servant,
MISS CL. HARLOWE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Friday, August 4. Q IR,—I hold myself extremely obliged to you for
your communications. I will make no use of
g them, that you shall have reason to reproach either yourself or me with. I wanted no new lights to make the unhappy mau's premeditated baseness to me unquestionable, as my answer to Miss Montague's letter might convince you.
I find I have had great reason to think myself obliged to your intention in the whole progress of my sufferings. It is, however, impossible, sir, to miss the natural inference on this occasion, that lies against his predetermined baseness. But I say the less, because you shall not think I borrow, from what you have communicated, aggravations that are not needed.
And now, sir, that I may spare you the trouble of offering any future arguments in his favour, let me tell you, that I have weighed everything thoroughly-all that human vanity could suggest—all that a desirable reconciliation with my friends, and the kind respects of his own, could bid me hope for—the enjoyment of Miss Howe's friendship, the dearest consideration to me, now, of all worldly ones—all these I have weighed: and the result is, and was before you favoured me with these communications, that I have more satisfaction in the hope, that, in one month, there will be an end to all with me, than in the most agreeable things that could happen from an alliance with Mr. Lovelace, although I were to be assured he would make the best and tenderest of husbands. But as to the rest; if, satisfied with the evils he has brought upon me, he will forbear all further persecutions of me, I will, to my last hour, wish him good : although he hath overwhelmed the fatherless, and digged a pit for his friend : fatherless may she well be called, and motherless too, who has been denied all paternal protection, and motherly forgiveness.
And now, sir, acknowledging gratefully your favour in the extracts, I come to the second request I had to make you; which requires a great deal of courage to mention: and which courage nothing but a great deal of distress and a very destitute condition, can give. But, if improper, I can but be denied; and dare to say, I shall be at least excused. Thus, then, I preface it :
You see, sir, that I am thrown absolutely into the hands of strangers, who, although as kind and compassionate as strangers can be wished to be, are nevertheless persons from whom I cannot expect anything more than pity and good wishes; nor can my memory receive from them any more protection than my person, if either should need it.
If then I request it, of the only person possessed of materials that will enable him to do my character justice;
And who has courage, independence, and ability to oblige me;
To be the protector of my memory, as I may say;
And to be my executor ; and to see some of my dying requests performed ;