She expatiates upon the benefit of afflictions to a mind modest, fearful, and diffident.
She comforts her on her early death; having finished, as she says, her probatory course, at so early a time of life, when many are not ripened by the sunshine of Divine Grace for a better, till they are fifty, sixty, or seventy years of age.
I hope, she says, that my father will grant the request I have made to him in my last will, to let you pass the remainder of your days at my Dairy-house, as it used to be called, where once I promised myself to be happy in you. Your discretion, prudence, and economy, my dear, good woman, proceeds she, will male your presiding over the concerns of that house as beneficial to them as it can be convenient to you. For your sake, my dear Mrs. Norton, I hope they will make you this offer. And if they do, I hope you will accept it for theirs.
She remembers herself to her foster-brother in a very kind manner; and charges her, for his sake, that she will not take too much to heart what has befallen her.
She concludes as follows:
Remember me, in the last place, to all my kind well-wishers of your acquaintance; and to those I used to call My Poor. They will be God's poor, if they trust in Him. I have taken such care, that I hope they will not be losers by my death. Bid them, therefore, rejoice; and do you also, my reverend comforter and sustainer, (as well in my darker as in my fairer days,) likewise rejoice, that I am so soon delivered from the evils that were before me; and that I am NOW, when this comes to your hands, as I humbly trust, exulting in the mercies of a gracious God, who has conducted an end to all my temptations and distresses; and who, I most humbly trust, will, in his own good time, give us a joyful meeting in the regions of eternal blessedness.
COLONEL MORDEN [IN CONTINUATION.] THURSDAY NIGHT, SEPT. 14.
We are just returned from the solemnization of the last mournful rite. My cousin James and his sister, Mr. and Mrs. Hervey, and their daughter, a young lady whose affection for my departed cousin shall ever bind me to her, my cousins John and Antony Harlowe, myself, and some other more distant relations of the names of Fuller and Allinson, (who, to testify their respect to the memory of the dear deceased, had put themselves in mourning,) self-invited, attended it.
The father and mother would have joined in these last honours, had they been able; but they were both very much indisposed; and continue to be so.
The inconsolable mother told Mrs. Norton, that the two mothers of the sweetest child in the world ought not, on this occasion, to be separated. She therefore desired her to stay with her.
The whole solemnity was performed with great decency and order. The distance from Harlowe-place to the church is about half a mile. All the way the corpse was attended by great numbers of people of all conditions.
It was nine when it entered the church; every corner of which was crowded. Such a profound, such a silent respect did I never see paid at the funeral of princes. An attentive sadness overspread the face of all.
The eulogy pronounced by Mr. Melvill was a very pathetic one. He wiped his own eyes often, and made every body present still oftener wipe theirs.
The auditors were most particularly affected, when he told them, that the solemn text was her own choice.
He enumerated her fine qualities, naming with honour their late worthy pastor for his authority.
Every enumerated excellence was witnessed to in different parts of the church in respectful whispers by different persons, as of their own knowledge, as I have been since informed.
When he pointed to the pew where (doing credit to religion by her example) she used to sit or kneel, the whole auditory, as one person, turned to the pew with the most respectful solemnity, as if she had been herself there.
When the gentleman attributed condescension and mingled dignity to her, a buzzing approbation was given to the attribute throughout the church; and a poor, neat woman under my pew added, 'That she was indeed all graciousness, and would speak to any body.'
Many eyes ran over when he mentioned her charities, her well-judged charities. And her reward was decreed from every mouth with sighs and sobs from some, and these words from others, 'The poor will dearly miss her.'
The cheerful giver whom God is said to love, was allowed to be her: and a young lady, I am told, said, It was Miss Clarissa Harlowe's care to find out the unhappy, upon a sudden distress, before the sighing heart was overwhelmed by it.
She had a set of poor people, chosen for their remarkable honesty and ineffectual industry. These voluntarily paid their last attendance on their benefactress; and mingling in the church as they could crowd near the aisle where the corpse was on stands, it was the less wonder that her praises from the preacher met with such general and such grateful whispers of approbation.
Some, it seems there were, who, knowing her unhappy story, remarked upon the dejected looks of the brother, and the drowned eyes of the sister! 'O what would they now give, they'd warrant, had they not been so hard-hearted!'—Others pursued, as I may say, the severe father and unhappy mother into their chambers at home—'They answered for their relenting, now that it was too late!—What must be their grief!—No wonder they could not be present!'
Several expressed their astonishment, as people do every hour, 'that a man could live whom such perfections could not engage to be just to her;' —to be humane I may say. And who, her rank and fortune considered, could be so disregardful of his own interest, had he had no other motive to be just!—
The good divine, led by his text, just touched upon the unhappy step that was the cause of her untimely fate. He attributed it to the state of things below, in which there could not be absolute perfection. He very politely touched upon the noble disdain she showed (though earnestly solicited by a whole splendid family) to join interests with a man whom she found unworthy of her esteem and confidence: and who courted her with the utmost earnestness to accept of him.
What he most insisted upon was, the happy end she made; and thence drew consolation to her relations, and instruction to the auditory.
In a word, his performance was such as heightened the reputation which he had before in a very eminent degree obtained.
When the corpse was to be carried down into the vault, (a very spacious one, within the church,) there was great crowding to see the coffin-lid, and the devices upon it. Particularly two gentlemen, muffled up in clokes, pressed forward. These, it seems, were Mr. Mullins and Mr. Wyerley; both of them professed admirers of my dear cousin.
When they came near the coffin, and cast their eyes upon the lid, 'In that little space,' said Mr. Mullins, 'is included all human excellence!' —And then Mr. Wyerley, unable to contain himself, was forced to quit the church, and we hear is very ill.
It is said that Mr. Solmes was in a remote part of the church, wrapped round in a horseman's coat; and that he shed tears several times. But I saw him not.
Another gentleman was there incognito, in a pew near the entrance of the vault, who had not been taken notice of, but for his great emotion when he looked over his pew, at the time the coffin was carried down to its last place. This was Miss Howe's worthy Mr. Hickman.
My cousins John and Antony and their nephew James chose not to descend into the vault among their departed ancestors.
Miss Harlowe was extremely affected. Her conscience, as well as her love, was concerned on the occasion. She would go down with the corpse of her dear, her only sister, she said; but her brother would not permit it. And her overwhelmed eye pursued the coffin till she could see no more of it; and then she threw herself on the seat, and was near fainting away.
I accompanied it down, that I might not only satisfy myself, but you, Sir, her executor, that it was deposited, as she had directed, at the feet of her grandfather.
Mr. Melvill came down, contemplated the lid, and shed a few tears over it. I was so well satisfied with his discourse and behaviour, that I presented him on the solemn spot with a ring of some value; and thanked him for his performance.
And here I left the remains of my beloved cousin; having bespoken my own place by the side of her coffin.
On my return to Harlowe-place, I contented myself with sending my compliments to the sorrowing parents, and retired to my chamber. Nor am I ashamed to own, that I could not help giving way to a repeated fit of humanity, as soon as I entered it. I am, Sir,
Your most faithful and obedient servant, WM. MORDEN.
P.S. You will have a letter from my cousin James, who hopes to prevail upon you to relinquish the executorship. It has not my encouragement.
MR. BELFORD, TO WILLIAM MORDEN, ESQ. SATURDAY, SEPT. 16.
I once had thoughts to go down privately, in order, disguised, to see the last solemnity performed. But there was no need to give myself this melancholy trouble, since your last letter so naturally describes all that passed, that I have every scene before my eyes.
You crowd me, Sir, methinks, into the silent slow procession—now with the sacred bier, do I enter the awful porch; now measure I, with solemn paces, the venerable aisle; now, ambitious of a relationship to her, placed in a pew near to the eye-attracting coffin, do I listen to the moving eulogy; now, through the buz of gaping, eye-swoln crowds, do I descend into the clammy vault, as a true executor, to see that part of her will performed with my own eyes. There, with a soul filled with musing, do I number the surrounding monuments of mortality, and contemplate the present stillness of so many once busy vanities, crowded all into one poor vaulted nook, as if the living grudged room for the corpse of those for which, when animated, the earth, the air, and the waters, could hardly find room. Then seeing her placed at the feet of him whose earthly delight she was; and who, as I find, ascribes to the pleasure she gave him the prolongation of his own life;* sighing, and with averted face, I quit the solemn mansion, the symbolic coffin, and, for ever, the glory of her sex; and ascend with those, who, in a few years, after a very short blaze of life, will fill up other spaces of the same vault, which now (while they mourn only for her, whom they jointly persecuted) they press with their feet.
* See Vol. I. Letter V.
Nor do your affecting descriptions permit me here to stop; but, ascended, I mingle my tears and my praises with those of the numerous spectators. I accompany the afflicted mourners back to their uncomfortable mansion; and make one in the general concert of unavailing woe; till retiring as I imagine, as they retire, like them, in reality, I give up to new scenes of solitary and sleepless grief; reflecting upon the perfections I have seen the end of; and having no relief but from an indignation, which makes me approve of the resentments of others against the unhappy man, and those equally unhappy relations of her's, to whom the irreparable loss is owing.
Forgive me, Sir, these reflections, and permit me, with this, to send you what you declined receiving till the funeral was over.
[He gives him then an account of the money and effects, which he sends him down by this opportunity, for the legatees at Harlowe-place, and in its neighbourhood; which he desires him to dispose of according to the will.
He also sends him an account of other steps he has taken in pursuance of the will; and desires to know if Mr. Harlowe expects the discharge of the funeral-expenses from the effects in his hands; and the re-imbursement of the sums advanced to the testatrix since her grandfather's death.]
These expeditious proceedings, says he, will convince Mr. James Harlowe that I am resolved to see the will completely executed; and yet, by my manner of doing it, that I desire not to give unnecessary mortification to the family, since every thing that relates to them shall pass through your hands.
MR. JAMES HARLOWE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. HARLOWE-PLACE, FRIDAY NIGHT, SEPT. 15.
I hope, from the character my worthy cousin Morden gives you, that you will excuse the application I make to you, to oblige a whole family in an affair that much concerns their peace, and cannot equally concern any body else. You will immediately judge, Sir, that this is the executorship of which my sister has given you the trouble by her last will.
We shall all think ourselves extremely obliged to you, if you please to relinquish this trust to our own family; the reasons which follow pleading for our own expectation of this favour from you:
First, because she never would have had the thought of troubling you, Sir, if she had believed any of her near relations would have taken it upon themselves.
Secondly, I understand that she recommends to you in the will to trust to the honour of any of our family, for the performance of such of the articles as are of a domestic nature. We are, any of us, and all of us, if you request it, willing to stake our honours upon this occasion; and all you can desire, as a man of honour, is, that the trust be executed.
We are the more concerned, Sir, to wish you to decline this office, because of your short and accidental knowledge of the dear testatrix, and long and intimate acquaintance with the man to whom she owed her ruin, and we the greatest loss and disappointment (her manifold excellencies considered) that ever befell a family.
You will allow due weight, I dare say, to this plea, if you make our case your own; and so much the readier, when I assure you, that your interfering in this matter, so much against our inclinations, (excuse, Sir, my plain dealing,) will very probably occasion an opposition in some points, where otherwise there might be none.
What, therefore, I propose is, not that my father should assume this trust; he is too much afflicted to undertake it—nor yet myself—I might be thought too much concerned in interest; but that it might be allowed to devolve upon my two uncles; whose known honour, and whose affection to the dear deceased, nobody every doubted; and they will treat with you, Sir, through my cousin Morden, as to the points they will undertake to perform.
The trouble you have already had will well entitle you to the legacy she bequeaths you, together with the re-imbursement of all the charges you have been at, and allowance of the legacies you have discharged, although you should not have qualified yourself to act as an executor, as I presume you have not yet done, nor will now do.
Your compliance, Sir, will oblige a family, (who have already distress enough upon them,) in the circumstance that occasions this application to you, and more particularly, Sir,
Your most humble servant, JAMES HARLOWE, JUN.
I send this by one of my servants, who will attend your dispatch.
MR. BELFORD, TO MR. JAMES HARLOWE, JUN. ESQ. SATURDAY, SEPT. 16.
You will excuse my plain-dealing in turn: for I must observe, that if I had not the just opinion I have of the sacred nature of this office I have undertaken, some passages in the letter you have favoured me with would convince me that I ought not to excuse myself from acting in it.
I need only name one of them. You are pleased to say, that your uncles, if the trust be relinquished to them, will treat with me, through Colonel Morden, as to the points they will undertake to perform.
Permit me, Sir, to say, that it is the duty of an executor to see every point performed, that can be performed.—Nor will I leave the performance of mine to any other persons, especially where a qualifying is so directly intimated, and where all the branches of your family have shown themselves, with respect to the incomparable lady, to have but one mind.
You are pleased to urge, that she recommends to me the leaving to the honour of any of your family such of the articles as are of a domestic nature. But, admitting this to be so, does it not imply that the other articles are still to obtain my care?—But even these, you will find by the will, she gives not up; and to that I refer you.
I am sorry for the hints you give of an opposition, where, as you say, there might be none, if I did not interfere. I see not, Sir, why your animosity against a man who cannot be defended, should be carried to such a height against one who never gave you offence; and this only, because he is acquainted with that man. I will not say all I might say on this occasion.
As to the legacy to myself, I assure you, Sir, that neither my circumstances nor my temper will put me upon being a gainer by the executorship. I shall take pleasure to tread in the steps of the admirable testatrix in all I may; and rather will increase than diminish her poor's fund.
With regard to the trouble that may attend the execution of the trust, I shall not, in honour to her memory, value ten times more than this can give me. I have, indeed two other executorships on my hands; but they sit light upon me. And survivors cannot better or more charitably bestow their time.
I conceive that every article, but that relating to the poor's fund, (such is the excellence of the disposition of the most excellent of women,) may be performed in two months' time, at farthest.
Occasions of litigation or offence shall not proceed from me. You need only apply to Colonel Morden who shall command me in every thing that the will allows me to oblige your family in. I do assure you, that I am as unwilling to obtrude myself upon it, as any of it can wish.
I own that I have not yet proved the will; nor shall I do it till next week at soonest, that you may have time for amicable objections, if such you think fit to make through the Colonel's mediation. But let me observe to you, Sir, 'That an executor's power, in such instances as I have exercised it, is the same before the probate as after it. He can even, without taking that out, commence an action, although he cannot declare upon it: and these acts of administration make him liable to actions himself.' I am therefore very proper in the steps I shall have taken in part of the execution of this sacred trust; and want not allowance on the occasion.
Permit me to add, that when you have perused the will, and coolly considered every thing, it is my hope, that you will yourself be of opinion that there can be no room for dispute or opposition; and that if your family will join to expedite the execution, it will be the most natural and easy way of shutting up the whole affair, and to have done with a man so causelessly, as to his own particular, the object of your dislike, as is, Sir,
Your very humble servant, (notwithstanding,) JOHN BELFORD.
To which the following preamble, written on a separate paper, was Stitched in black silk.
TO MY EXECUTOR
'I hope I may be excused for expatiating, in divers parts of this solemn last act, upon subjects of importance. For I have heard of so many instances of confusion and disagreement in families, and so much doubt and difficulty, for want of absolute clearness in the testaments of departed persons, that I have often concluded, (were there to be no other reasons but those which respect the peace of surviving friends,) that this last act, as to its designation and operation, ought not to be the last in its composition or making; but should be the result of cool deliberation, and (as is more frequently than justly said) of a sound mind and memory; which too seldom are to be met with but in sound health. All pretences of insanity of mind are likewise prevented, when a testator gives reasons for what he wills; all cavils about words are obviated; the obliged are assured; and they enjoy the benefit for whom the benefit was intended. Hence have I, for some time past, employed myself in penning down heads of such a disposition; which, as reasons offered, I have altered and added to, so that I was never absolutely destitute of a will, had I been taken off ever so suddenly. These minutes and imperfect sketches enabled me, as God has graciously given me time and sedateness, to digest them into the form in which they appear.'
I, CLARISSA HARLOWE, now, by strange melancholy accidents, lodging in the parish of St. Paul, Covent-garden, being of sound and perfect mind and memory, as I hope these presents, drawn up by myself, and written with my own hand, will testify, do, [this second day of September,*] in the year of our Lord ——,** make and publish this my last will and testament, in manner and form following:
* A blank, at the writing, was left for this date, and filled up on this day. See Vol. VIII. Letter LI. ** The date of the year is left blank for particular reasons.
In the first place, I desire that my body may lie unburied three days after my decease, or till the pleasure of my father be known concerning it. But the occasion of my death not admitting of doubt, I will not, on any account that it be opened; and it is my desire, that it shall not be touched but by those of my own sex.
I have always earnestly requested, that my body might be deposited in the family vault with those of my ancestors. If it might be granted, I could now wish, that it might be placed at the feet of my dear and honoured grandfather. But as I have, by one very unhappy step, been thought to disgrace my whole lineage, and therefore this last honour may be refused to my corpse; in this case my desire is, that it may be interred in the churchyard belonging to the parish in which I shall die; and that in the most private manner, between the hours of eleven and twelve at night; attended only by Mrs. Lovick, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and their maid servant.
But it is my desire, that the same fees and dues may be paid which are usually paid for those who are laid in the best ground, as it is called, or even in the chancel.—And I bequeath five pounds to be given, at the discretion of the church-wardens, to twenty poor people, the Sunday after my interment; and this whether I shall be buried here or elsewhere.
I have already given verbal directions, that, after I am dead, (and laid out in the manner I have ordered,) I may be put into my coffin as soon as possible: it is my desire, that I may not be unnecessarily exposed to the view of any body; except any of my relations should vouchsafe, for the last time, to look upon me.
And I could wish, if it might be avoided without making ill will between Mr. Lovelace and my executor, that the former might not be permitted to see my corpse. But if, as he is a man very uncontroulable, and as I am nobody's, he insist upon viewing her dead, whom he ONCE before saw in a manner dead, let his gay curiosity be gratified. Let him behold, and triumph over the wretched remains of one who has been made a victim to his barbarous perfidy: but let some good person, as by my desire, give him a paper, whist he is viewing the ghastly spectacle, containing these few words only,—'Gay, cruel heart! behold here the remains of the once ruined, yet now happy, Clarissa Harlowe!—See what thou thyself must quickly be;—and REPENT!—'
Yet, to show that I die in perfect charity with all the world, I do most sincerely forgive Mr. Lovelace the wrongs he has done me.
If my father can pardon the errors of his unworthy child, so far as to suffer her corpse to be deposited at the feet of her grandfather, as above requested, I could wish (my misfortunes being so notorious) that a short discourse be pronounced over my remains, before they be interred. The subject of the discourse I shall determine before I conclude this writing.
So much written about what deserves not the least consideration, and about what will be nothing when this writing comes to be opened and read, will be excused, when my present unhappy circumstances and absence from all my natural friends are considered.
And now, with regard to the worldly matters which I shall die possessed of, as well as to those which of right appertain to me, either by the will of my said grandfather, or otherwise; thus do I dispose of them.
In the first place, I give and bequeath all the real estates in or to which I have any claim or title by the said will, to my ever-honoured father, James Harlowe, Esq. and that rather than to my brother and sister, to whom I had once thoughts of devising them, because, if they survive my father, those estates will assuredly vest in them, or one of them, by virtue of his favour and indulgence, as the circumstances of things with regard to marriage-settlements, or otherwise, may require; or, as they may respectively merit by the continuance of their duty.
The house, late my grandfather's, called The Grove, and by him, in honour of me, and of some of my voluntary employments, my Dairy-house, and the furniture thereof as it now stands (the pictures and large iron chest of old plate excepted,) I also bequeath to my said father; only begging it as a favour that he will be pleased to permit my dear Mrs. Norton to pass the remainder of her days in that house; and to have and enjoy the apartments in it known by the name of The Housekeeper's Apartments, with the furniture in them; and which, (plain and neat) was bought for me by my grandfather, who delighted to call me his house-keeper; and which, therefore, in his life-time, I used as such: the office to go with the apartments. And as I am the more earnest in this recommendation, as I had once thought to have been very happy there with the good woman; and because I think her prudent management will be as beneficial to my father, as his favour can be convenient to her.
But with regard to what has accrued from that estate, since my grandfather's death, and to the sum of nine hundred and seventy pounds, which proved to be the moiety of the money that my said grandfather had by him at his death, and which moiety he bequeathed to me for my sole and separate use, [as he did the other moiety in like manner to my sister;*] and which sum (that I might convince my brother and sister that I wished not for an independence upon my father's pleasure) I gave into my father's hands, together with the management and produce of the whole estate devised to me—these sums, however considerable when put together, I hope I may be allowed to dispose of absolutely, as my love and gratitude (not confined only to my own family, which is very wealthy in all its branches) may warrant: and which therefore I shall dispose of in the manner hereafter mentioned. But it is my will and express direction, that my father's account of the above-mentioned produce may be taken and established absolutely (and without contravention or question,) as he shall be pleased to give it to my cousin Morden, or to whom else he shall choose to give it; so as that the said account be not subject to litigation, or to the controul of my executor, or of any other person.
* See Vol. I. Letter XIII.
My father, of his love and bounty, was pleased to allow me the same quarterly sums that he allowed my sister for apparel and other requisites; and (pleased with me then) used to say, that those sums should not be deducted from the estate and effects bequeathed to me by my grandfather: but having mortally offended him (as I fear it may be said) by one unhappy step, it may be expected that he will reimburse himself those sums—it is therefore my will and direction, that he shall be allowed to pay and satisfy himself for all such quarterly or other sums, which he was so good as to advance me from the time of my grandfather's death; and that his account of such sums shall likewise be taken without questioning the money, however, which I left behind me in my escritoire, being to be taken in part of those disbursements.
My grandfather, who, in his goodness and favour to me, knew no bounds, was pleased to bequeath to me all the family pictures at his late house, some of which are very masterly performances; with command, that if I died unmarried, or if married and had no descendants, they should then go to that son of his (if more than one should be then living) whom I should think would set most value by them. Now, as I know that my honoured uncle, Mr. John Harlowe, Esq. was pleased to express some concern that they were not left to him, as eldest son; and as he has a gallery where they may be placed to advantage; and as I have reason to believe that he will bequeath them to my father, if he survive him, who, no doubt, will leave them to my brother, I therefore bequeath all the said family pictures to my said uncle, John Harlowe. In these pictures, however, I include not one of my own, drawn when I was about fourteen years of age; which I shall hereafter in another article bequeath.
My said honoured grandfather having a great fondness for the old family plate, which he would never permit to be changed, having lived, as he used to day, to see a great deal of it come into request again in the revolution of fashions; and having left the same to me, with a command to keep it entire; and with power at my death to bequeath it to whomsoever I pleased that I thought would forward his desire; which was, as he expresses it, that it should be kept to the end of time; this family plate, which is deposited in a large iron chest, in the strong room at his late dwelling-house, I bequeath entire to my honoured uncle Antony Harlowe, Esq. with the same injunctions which were laid on me; not doubting but he will confirm and strengthen them by his own last will.
I bequeath to my ever-valued friend, Mrs. Judith Norton, to whose piety and care, seconding the piety and care of my ever-honoured and excellent mother, I owe, morally speaking, the qualifications which, for eighteen years of my life, made me beloved and respected, the full sum of six hundred pounds, to be paid her within three months after my death.
I bequeath also to the same good woman thirty guineas, for mourning for her and for her son, my foster-brother.
To Mrs. Dorothy Hervey, the only sister of my honoured mother, I bequeath the sum of fifty guineas for a ring; and I beg of her to accept of my thankful acknowledgements for all her goodness to me from my infancy; and particularly for her patience with me, in the several altercations that happened between my brother and sister and me, before my unhappy departure from Harlowe-place.
To my kind and much valued cousin, Miss Dolly Hervey, daughter of my aunt Hervey, I bequeath my watch and equipage, and my best Mechlin and Brussels head-dresses and ruffles; also my gown and petticoat of flowered silver of my own work; which having been made up but a few days before I was confined to my chamber, I never wore.
To the same young lady I bequeath likewise my harpsichord, my chamber-organ, and all my music-books.
As my sister has a very pretty library; and as my beloved Miss Howe has also her late father's as well as her own; I bequeath all my books in general, with the cases they are in, to my said cousin Dolly Hervey. As they are not ill-chosen for a woman's library, I know that she will take the greater pleasure in them, (when her friendly grief is mellowed by time into a remembrance more sweet than painful,) because they were mine; and because there are observations in many of them of my own writing; and some very judicious ones, written by the truly reverend Dr. Lewen.
I also bequeath to the same young lady twenty-five guineas for a ring, to be worn in remembrance of her true friend.
If I live not to see my worthy cousin, William Morden, Esq. I desire my humble and grateful thanks may be given to him for his favours and goodness to me; and particularly for his endeavours to reconcile my other friends to me, at a time when I was doubtful whether he would forgive me himself. As he is in great circumstances, I will only beg of him to accept of two or three trifles, in remembrance of a kinswoman who always honoured him as much as he loved her. Particularly, of that piece of flowers which my uncle Robert, his father, was very earnest to obtain, in order to carry it abroad with him.
I desire him likewise to accept of the little miniature picture set in gold, which his worthy father made me sit for to the famous Italian master whom he brought over with him; and which he presented to me, that I might bestow it, as he was pleased to say, upon the man whom I should be one day most inclined to favour.
To the same gentleman I also bequeath my rose diamond ring, which was a present from his good father to me; and will be the more valuable to him on that account.
I humbly request Mrs. Annabella Howe, the mother of my dear Miss Howe, to accept of my respectful thanks for all her favours and goodness to me, when I was so frequently a visiter to her beloved daughter; and of a ring of twenty-five guineas price.
My picture at full length, which is in my late grandfather's closet, (excepted in an article above from the family pictures,) drawn when I was near fourteen years of age; about which time my dear Miss Howe and I began to know, to distinguish, and to love one another so dearly—I cannot express how dearly—I bequeath to that sister of my heart: of whose friendship, as well in adversity as prosperity, when I was deprived of all other comfort and comforters, I have had such instances, as that our love can only be exceeded in that state of perfection, in which I hope to rejoice with her hereafter, to all eternity.
I bequeath also to the same dear friend my best diamond ring, which, with other jewels, is in the private drawer of my escritoire: as also all my finished and framed pieces of needle-work; the flower-piece excepted, which I have already bequeathed to my cousin Morden.
These pieces have all been taken down, as I have heard;* and my relations will have no heart to put them up again: but if my good mother chooses to keep back any one piece, (the above capital piece, as it is called, excepted,) not knowing but some time hence she may bear the sight of it; I except that also from this general bequest; and direct it to be presented to her.
* See Vol. III. Letter LV.
My whole-length picture in the Vandyke taste,* that used to hang in my own parlour, as I was permitted to call it, I bequeath to my aunt Hervey, except my mother should think fit to keep it herself.
I bequeath to the worthy Charles Hickman, Esq. the locket, with the miniature picture of the lady he best loves, which I have constantly worn, and shall continue to wear next my heart till the approach of my last hour.* It must be the most acceptable present that can be made him, next to the hand of the dear original. 'And, O my dear Miss Howe, let it not be long before you permit his claim to the latter—for indeed you know not the value of a virtuous mind in that sex; and how preferable such a mind is to one distinguished by the more dazzling flights of unruly wit; although the latter were to be joined by that specious outward appearance which too—too often attracts the hasty eye, and susceptible heart.'
* See Letter II. of this volume.
Permit me, my dear friends, this solemn apostrophe, in this last solemn act, to a young lady so deservedly dear to me!
I make it my earnest request to my dear Miss Howe, that she will not put herself into mourning for me. But I desire her acceptance of a ring with my hair; and that Mr. Hickman will also accept of the like; each of the value of twenty-five guineas.
I bequeath to Lady Betty Lawrance, and to her sister, Lady Sarah Sadleir, and to the right honourable Lord M. and to their worthy nieces, Miss Charlotte and Miss Martha Montague, each an enamelled ring, with a cipher Cl. H. with my hair in crystal, and round the inside of each, the day, month, and year of my death: each ring, with brilliants, to cost twenty guineas. And this as a small token of the grateful sense I have of the honour of their good opinions and kind wishes in my favour; and of their truly noble offer t me of a very considerable annual provision, when they apprehended me to be entirely destitute of any.
To the reverend and learned Dr. Arthur Lewen, by whose instructions I have been equally delighted and benefited, I bequeath twenty guineas for a ring. If it should please God to call him to Himself before he can receive this small bequest, it is my will that his worthy daughter may have the benefit of it.
In token of the grateful sense I have of the civilities paid me by Mrs. and Miss Howe's domestics, from time to time, in my visits there, I bequeath thirty guineas, to be divided among them, as their dear young mistress shall think proper.
To each of my worthy companions and friends, Miss Biddy Lloyd, Miss Fanny Alston, Miss Rachel Biddulph, and Miss Cartright Campbell, I bequeath five guineas for a ring.
To my late maid servant, Hannah Burton, an honest, faithful creature, who loved me, reverenced my mother, and respected my sister, and never sought to do any thing unbecoming of her character, I bequeath the sum of fifty pounds, to be paid within one month after my decease, she labouring under ill health: and if that ill-health continue, I commend her for farther assistance to my good Mrs. Norton, to be put upon my poor's fund, hereafter to be mentioned.
To the coachman, groom, and two footmen, and five maids, at Harlowe-place, I bequeath ten pounds each; to the helper five pounds.
To my sister's maid, Betty Barnes, I bequeath ten pounds, to show that I resent no former disobligations; which I believe were owing more to the insolence of office, and to natural pertness, than to personal ill will.
All my wearing-apparel, of whatever sort, that I have not been obliged to part with, or which is not already bequeathed, (my linen excepted,) I desire Mrs. Norton to accept of.
The trunks and boxes in which my clothes are sealed up, I desire may not be opened, but in presence of Mrs. Norton (or of someone deputed by her) and of Mrs. Lovick.
To the worthy Mrs. Lovick, above-mentioned, from whom I have received great civilities, and even maternal kindnesses; and to Mrs. Smith (with whom I lodge) from whom also I have received great kindnesses; I bequeath all my linen, and all my unsold laces; to be divided equally between them, as they shall agree; or, in case of disagreement, the same to be sold, and the money arising to be equally shared by them.
And I bequeath to the same good gentlewomen, as a further token of my thankful acknowledgements of their kind love and compassionate concern for me, the sum of twenty guineas each.
To Mr. Smith, the husband of Mrs. Smith above-named, I bequeath the sum of ten guineas, in acknowledgement of his civilities to me.
To Katharine, the honest maid servant of Mrs. Smith, to whom (having no servant of my own) I have been troublesome, I bequeath five guineas; and ten guineas more, in lieu of a suit of my wearing-apparel, which once, with some linen, I thought of leaving to her. With this she may purchase what may be more suitable to her liking and degree.
To the honest and careful widow, Anne Shelburne, my nurse, over and above her wages, and the customary perquisites that may belong to her, I bequeath the sum of ten guineas. Here is a careful, and (to persons of such humanity and tenderness) a melancholy employment, attended in the latter part of life with great watching and fatigue, which is hardly ever enough considered.
The few books I have at my present lodgings, I desire Mrs. Lovick to accept of; and that she be permitted, if she please, to take a copy of my book of meditations, as I used to call it; being extracts from the best of books; which she seemed to approve of, although suited particularly to my own case. As for the book itself, perhaps my good Mrs. Norton will be glad to have it, as it is written with my own hand.
In the middle drawer of my escritoire, at Harlowe-place, are many letters, and copies of letters, put up according to their dates, which I have written or received in a course of years (ever since I learned to write) from and to my grandfather, my father and mother, my uncles, my brother and sister, on occasional little absences; my late uncle Morden, my cousin Morden; Mrs. Norton, and Miss Howe, and other of my companions and friends, before my confinement at my father's: as also from the three reverent gentlemen, Dr. Blome, Mr. Arnold, and Mr. Tomkins, now with God, and the very reverend Dr. Lewen, on serious subjects. As these letters exhibit a correspondence that no person of my sex need to be ashamed of, allowing for the time of life when mine were written; and as many excellent things are contained in those written to me; and as Miss Howe, to whom most of them have been communicated, wished formerly to have them, if she survived me: for these reasons, I bequeath them to my said dear friend, Miss Anna Howe; and the rather, as she had for some years past a very considerable share in the correspondence.
I do hereby make, constitute, and ordain John Belford, of Edgware, in the county of Middlesex, Esq. the sole executor of this my last will and testament; having previously obtained his leave so to do. I have given the reasons which induced me to ask this gentleman to take upon him this trouble to Miss Howe. I therefore refer to her on this subject.
But I do most earnestly beg of him the said Mr. Belford, that, in the execution of his trust, he will (as he has repeatedly promised) studiously endeavour to promote peace with, and suppress resentments in, every one; so that all farther mischiefs may be prevented, as well from, as to, his friend. And, in order to this, I beseech him to cultivate the friendship of my worthy cousin Morden; who, as I presume to hope, (when he understands it to be my dying request,) will give him his advice and assistance in every article where it may be necessary: and who will perhaps be so good as to interpose with my relations, if any difficulty should arise about carrying out some of the articles of this my last will into execution, and to soften them into the wished-for condescension:— for it is my earnest request to Mr. Belford, that he will not seek by law, or by any sort of violence, either by word or deed, to extort the performance from them. If there be any articles of a merely domestic nature, that my relations shall think unfit to be carried into execution; such articles I leave entirely to my said cousin Morden and Mr. Belford to vary, or totally dispense with, as they shall agree upon the matter; or, if they two differ in opinion, they will be pleased to be determined by a third person, to be chosen by them both.
Having been pressed by Miss Howe and her mother to collect the particulars of my sad story, and given expectation that I would, in order to do my character justice with all my friends and companions; but not having time before me for the painful task; it has been a pleasure for me to find, by extracts kindly communicated to me by my said executor, that I may safely trust my fame to the justice done me by Mr. Lovelace, in his letters to him my said executor. And as Mr. Belford has engaged to contribute what is in his power towards a compliment to be made of all that relates to my story, and knows my whole mind in this respect; it is my desire, that he will cause two copies to be made of this collection; one to remain with Miss Howe, the other with himself; and that he will show or lend his copy, if required, to my aunt Hervey, for the satisfaction of any of my family; but under such restrictions as the said Mr. Belford shall think fit to impose; that neither any other person's safety may be endangered, nor his own honour suffer, by the communication.
I bequeath to my said executor the sum of one hundred guineas, as a grateful, though insufficient acknowledgment of the trouble he will be at in the execution of the trust he has so kindly undertaken. I desire him likewise to accept of twenty guineas for a ring: and that he will reimburse himself for all the charges and expenses which he shall be at in the execution of this trust.
In the worthy Dr. H. I have found a physician, a father, and a friend. I beg of him, as a testimony of my gratitude, to accept of twenty guineas for a ring.
I have the same obligations to the kind and skilful Mr. Goddard, who attended me as my apothecary. His very moderate bill I have discharged down to yesterday. I have always thought it incumbent upon testators to shorten all they can the trouble of their executors. I know I under-rate the value of Mr. Goddard's attendances, when over and above what may accrue from yesterday, to the hour that will finish all, I desire fifteen guineas for a ring may be presented to him.
To the Reverend Mr. ——, who frequently attended me, and prayed by me in my last stages, I also bequeath fifteen guineas for a ring.
There are a set of honest, indigent people, whom I used to call My Poor, and to whom Mrs. Norton conveys relief each month, (or at shorter periods,) in proportion to their necessities, from a sum I deposited in her hands, and from time to time recruited, as means accrued to me; but now nearly, if not wholly, expended: now, that my fault may be as little aggravated as possible, by the sufferings of the worthy people whom Heaven gave me a heart to relieve; and as the produce of my grandfather's estate, (including the moiety of the sums he had by him, and was pleased to give me, at his death, as above mentioned,) together with what I shall further appropriate to the same use in the subsequent articles, will, as I hope, more than answer all my legacies and bequests; it is my will and desire, that the remainder, be it little or much, shall become a fund to be appropriated, and I hereby direct that it be appropriated, to the like purposes with the sums which I put into Mrs. Norton's hands, as aforesaid —and this under the direction and management of the said Mrs. Norton, who knows my whole mind in this particular. And in case of her death, or of her desire to be acquitted of the management thereof, it is my earnest request to my dear Miss Howe, that she will take it upon herself, and that at her own death she will transfer what shall remain undisposed of at the time, to such persons, and with such limitations, restrictions, and provisoes, as she shall think will best answer my intention. For, as to the management and distribution of all or any part of it, while in Mrs. Norton's hands, or her own, I will that it be entirely discretional, and without account, either to my executor or any other person.
Although Mrs. Norton, as I have hinted, knows my whole mind in this respect; yet it may be proper to mention, in this solemn last act, that my intention is, that this fund be entirely set apart and appropriated to relieve temporarily, from the interest thereof, (as I dare say it will be put out to the best advantage,) or even from the principal, if need be, the honest, industrious, labouring poor only; when sickness, lameness, unforeseen losses, or other accidents, disable them from following their lawful callings; or to assist such honest people of large families as shall have a child of good inclinations to put out to service, trade, or husbandry.
It has always been a rule with me, in my little donations, to endeavour to aid and set forward the sober and industrious poor. Small helps, if seasonably afforded, will do for such; and so the fund may be of more extensive benefit; an ocean of wealth will not be sufficient for the idle and dissolute: whom, therefore, since they will always be in want, it will be no charity to relieve, if worthier creatures would, by relieving the others, be deprived of such assistance as may set the wheels of their industry going, and put them in a sphere of useful action.
But it is my express will and direction, that let this fund come out to be ever so considerable, it shall be applied only in support of the temporary exigencies of the persons I have described; and that no one family or person receive from it, at one time, or in one year, more than the sum of twenty pounds.
It is my will and desire, that the set of jewels which was my grandmother's, and presented to me, soon after her death, be valued; and the worth of them paid to my executor, if any of my family choose to have them; or otherwise, that they should be sold, and go to the augmentation of my poor's fund.—But if they may be deemed an equivalent for the sums my father was pleased to advance to me since the death of my grandfather, I desire that they may be given to him.
I presume, that the diamond necklace, solitaire, and buckles, which were properly my own, presented by my mother's uncle, Sir Josias, Brookland, will not be purchased by any one of my family, for a too obvious reason: in this case I desire that they may be sent to the best advantage, and apply the money to the uses of my will.
In the beginning of this tedious writing, I referred to the latter part of it, the naming of the subject of the discourse which I wished might be delivered at my funeral, if permitted to be interred with my ancestors. I think the following will be suitable to my case. I hope the alteration of the words her and she, for him and he, may be allowable.
'Let not her that is deceived trust in vanity; for vanity shall be her recompense. She shall be accomplished before her time; and her branch shall not be green. She shall shake off her unripe grape as the vine, and shall cut off her flower as the olive.'*
* Job xv. 31, 32, 33.
But if I am to be interred in town, let only the usual burial-service be read over my corpse.
If my body be permitted to be carried down, I bequeath ten pounds to be given to the poor of the parish, at the discretion of the church-wardens, within a fortnight after my interment.
If any necessary matter be omitted in this my will, or if any thing appear doubtful or contradictory, as possibly may be the case; since besides my inexperience in these matters, I am now, at this time, very weak and ill, having put off the finishing hand a little too long, in hopes of obtaining the last forgiveness of my honoured friend; in which case I should have acknowledged the favour with a suitable warmth of duty, and filled up some blanks which I left to the very last,* in a more agreeable manner to myself than now I have been enabled to do—in case of such omissions and imperfections, I desire that my cousin Morden will be so good as to join with Mr. Belford in considering them, and in comparing them with what I have more explicitly written; and if, after that, any doubt remain, that they will be pleased to apply to Miss Howe, who knows my whole heart: and I desire that the construction of these three may be established: and I hereby establish it, provided it be unanimous, and direct it to be put in force, as if I had so written and determined myself.
And now, O my blessed REDEEMER, do I, with a lively faith, humbly lay hold of thy meritorious death and sufferings; hoping to be washed clean in thy precious blood from all my sins: in the bare hope of the happy consequences of which, how light do those sufferings seem (grievous as they were at the time) which, I confidently trust, will be a mean, by the grace, to work out for me a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!
Signed, sealed, published, and declared, the day and year above-written, by the said Clarissa Harlowe, as her last will and testament; contained in seven sheets of paper, all written with her own hand, and every sheet signed and sealed by herself, in the presence of us,
John Williams, Arthur Bedall, Elizabeth Swanton.
COLONEL MORDEN, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. SAT. SEPT. 16.
I have been employed in a most melancholy task: in reading the will of the dear deceased.
The unhappy mother and Mrs. Norton chose to be absent on the affecting occasion. But Mrs. Harlowe made it her earnest request that every article of it should be fulfilled.
They were all extremely touched with the preamble.
The first words of the will—'I, Clarissa Harlowe, now by strange melancholy accidents, lodging,' &c. drew tears from some, sighs from all.
The directions for her funeral, in case she were or were not permitted to be carried down; the mention of her orders having been given for the manner of her being laid out, and the presence of mind so visible throughout the whole, obtained their admiration, expressed by hands and eyes lifted up, and by falling tears.
When I read the direction, 'That her body was not to be viewed, except any of her relations should vouchsafe, for the last time, to look upon her;' they turned away, and turned to me, three or four times alternately. Mrs. Hervey and Miss Arabella sobbed; the uncles wiped their eyes; the brother looked down; the father wrung his hands.
I was obliged to stop at the words, 'That she was nobody's.'
But when I came to the address to be made to the accursed man, 'if he were not to be diverted from seeing her dead, whom ONCE before he had seen in a manner dead'——execration, and either vows or wishes of revenge, filled every mouth.
These were still more fervently renewed, when they came to hear read her forgiveness of even this man.
You remember, Sir, on our first reading of the will in town, the observations I made on the foul play which it is evident the excellent creature met with from this abandoned man, and what I said upon the occasion. I am not used to repeat things of that nature.
The dear creature's noble contempt of the nothing, as she nobly calls it, about which she had been giving such particular directions, to wit, her body; and her apologizing for the particularity of those directions from the circumstances she was in—had the same, and as strong an effect upon me, as when I first read the animated paragraph; and, pointed by my eye, (by turns cast upon them all,) affected them all.
When the article was read which bequeathed to the father the grandfather's estate, and the reason assigned for it, (so generous and so dutiful,) the father could sit no longer; but withdrew, wiping his eyes, and lifting up his spread hands at Mr. James Harlowe; who rose to attend him to the door, as Arabella likewise did——All he could say—O Son! Son!—O Girl! Girl!—as if he reproached them for the parts they had acted, and put him upon acting.
But yet, on some occasions, this brother and sister showed themselves to be true will disputants.
Let tongue and eyes express what they will, Mr. Belford, the first reading of a will, where a person dies worth anything considerable, generally affords a true test of the relations' love to the deceased.
The clothes, the thirty guineas for mourning to Mrs. Norton, with the recommendation of the good woman for housekeeper at The Grove, were thought sufficient, had the article of 600L. which was called monstrous, been omitted. Some other passages in the will were called flights, and such whimsies as distinguish people of imagination from those of judgment.
My cousin Dolly Hervey was grudged the library. Miss Harlowe said, That as she and her sister never bought the same books, she would take that to herself, and would make it up to her cousin Dolly one way or other.
I intend, Mr. Belford, to save you the trouble of interposing—the library shall be my cousin Dolly's.
Mrs. Hervey could hardly keep her seat. On this occasion, however, she only said, That her late dear and ever dear niece, was too glad to her and hers. But, at another time, she declared, with tears, that she could not forgive herself for a letter she wrote,* looking at Miss Arabella, whom, it seems, unknown to any body, she had consulted before she wrote it and which, she said, must have wounded a spirit, that now she saw had been too deeply wounded before.
* See Vol. III. Letter LII.
O my Aunt, said Arabella, no more of that!—Who would have thought that the dear creature had been such a penitent?
Mr. John and Mr. Antony Harlowe were so much affected with the articles in their favour, (bequeathed to them without a word or hint of reproach or recrimination,) that they broke out into self-accusations; and lamented that their sweet niece, as they called her, was not got above all grateful acknowledgement and returns. Indeed, the mutual upbraidings and grief of all present, upon those articles in which every one was remembered for good, so often interrupted me, that the reading took up above six hours. But curses upon the accursed man were a refuge to which they often resorted to exonerate themselves.
How wounding a thing, Mr. Belford, is a generous and well-distinguished forgiveness! What revenge can be more effectual, and more noble, were revenge intended, and were it wished to strike remorse into a guilty or ungrateful heart! But my dear cousin's motives were all duty and love. She seems indeed to have been, as much as a mortal could be, LOVE itself. Love sublimed by a purity, by a true delicacy, that hardly any woman before her could boast of. O Mr. Belford, what an example would she have given in every station of life, (as wife, mother, mistress, friend,) had her lot fallen upon a man blessed with a mind like her own!
The 600L. bequeathed to Mrs. Norton, the library to Miss Hervey, and the remembrances to Miss Howe, were not the only articles grudged. Yet to what purpose did they regret the pecuniary bequests, when the poor's fund, and not themselves, would have had the benefit, had not those legacies been bequeathed?
But enough passed to convince me that my cousin was absolutely right in her choice of an executor out of the family. Had she chosen one in it, I dare say that her will would have been no more regarded than if it had been the will of a dead king; than that of Lousi XIV. in particular; so flagrantly broken through by his nephew the Duke of Orleans before he was cold. The only will of that monarch, perhaps, which was ever disputed.
But little does Mr. James Harlowe think that, while he is grasping at hundreds, he will, most probably, lose thousands, if he be my survivor. A man of a spirit so selfish and narrow shall not be my heir.
You will better conceive, Mr. Belford, than I can express, how much they were touched at the hint that the dear creature had been obliged to part with some of her clothes.
Silent reproach seized every one of them when I came to the passage where she mentions that she deferred filling up some blanks, in hopes of receiving their last blessing and forgiveness.
I will only add, that they could not bear to hear read the concluding part, so solemnly addressed to her Redeemer. They all arose from their seats, and crowded out of the apartment we were in; and then, as I afterwards found, separated, in order to seek that consolation in solitary retirement, which, though they could not hope for from their own reflections, yet, at the time, they had less reason to expect in each other's company. I am, Sir,
Your faithful and obedient servant, WILLIAM MORDEN.
MR. BELFORD, TO THE RIGHT HON. LORD M. LONDON, SEPT. 14.
I am very apprehensive that the affair between Mr. Lovelace and the late excellent Miss Clarissa Harlowe will be attended with farther bad consequences, notwithstanding her dying injunctions to the contrary. I would, therefore, humbly propose that your Lordship, and his other relations, will forward the purpose your kinsman lately had to go abroad; where I hope he will stay till all is blown over. But as he will not stir, if he knew the true motives of your wishes, the avowed inducement, as I hinted once to Mr. Mowbray, may be such as respects his own health both of person and mind. To Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville all countries are alike; and they perhaps will accompany him.
I am glad to hear that he is in a way of recovery; but this the rather induces me to press the matter. I think no time should be lost.
Your Lordship had head that I have the honour to be the executor of this admirable lady's last will. I transcribe from it the following paragraph.
[He then transcribes the article which so gratefully mentions this nobleman, and the ladies of his family, in relation to the rings she bequeaths them, about which he desires their commands.]
MISS MONTAGUE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. M. HALL, FRIDAY, SEPT. 15.
My Lord having the gout in his right hand, his Lordship, and Lady Sarah, and Lady Betty, have commanded me to inform you, that, before your letter came, Mr. Lovelace was preparing for a foreign tour. We shall endeavour to hasten him away on the motives you suggest.
We are all extremely affected with the dear lady's death. Lady Betty and Lady Sarah have been indisposed ever since they heard of it. They had pleased themselves, as had my sister and self, with the hopes of cultivating her acquaintance and friendship after he was gone abroad, upon her own terms. Her kind remembrance of each of us has renewed, though it could not heighten, our regrets for so irreparable a loss. We shall order Mr. Finch, our goldsmith, to wait on you. He has our directions about the rings. They will be long, long worn in memory of the dear testatrix.
Every body is assured that you will do all in your power to prevent farther ill consequences from this melancholy affair. My Lord desires his compliments to you. I am, Sir,
Your humble servant, CH. MONTAGUE.
This collection having run into a much greater length than was wished, it is proper to omit several letters that passed between Colonel Morden, Miss Howe, Mr. Belford, and Mr. Hickman, in relation to the execution of the lady's will, &c.
It is, however, necessary to observe, on this subject, that the unhappy mother, being supported by the two uncles, influenced the afflicted father to over-rule all his son's objections, and to direct a literal observation of the will; and at the same time to give up all the sums which he was empowered by it to reimburse himself; as also to take upon himself to defray the funeral expenses.
Mr. Belford so much obliges Miss Howe by his steadiness, equity, and dispatch, and by his readiness to contribute to the directed collection, that she voluntarily entered into a correspondence with him, as the representative of her beloved friend. In the course of which, he communicated to her (in confidence) the letters which passed between him and Mr. Lovelace, and, by Colonel Morden's consent, those which passed between that gentleman and himself.
He sent, with the first parcel of letters which he had transcribed out of short-hand for Miss Howe, a letter to Mr. Hickman, dated the 16th of September, in which he expresses himself as follows:
'But I ought, Sir, in this parcel to have kept out one letter. It is that which relates to the interview between yourself and Mr. Lovelace, at Mr. Dormer's,* in which Mr. Lovelace treats you with an air of levity, which neither your person, your character, nor your commission, deserved; but which was his usual way of treating every one whose business he was not pleased with. I hope, Sir, you have too much greatness of mind to be disturbed at the contents of this letter, should Miss Howe communicate them to you; and the rather, as it is impossible that you should suffer with her on that account.'
* See Vol. VII. Letter XXVIII.
Mr. Belford then excuses Mr. Lovelace as a good-natured man with all his faults; and gives instances of his still greater freedoms with himself.
To this Mr. Hickman answers, in his letter of the 18th:
'As to Mr. Lovelace's treatment of me in the letter you are pleased to mention, I shall not be concerned at it, whatever it be. I went to him prepared to expect odd behaviour from him; and was not disappointed. I argue to myself, in all such cases as this, as Miss Howe, from her ever-dear friend, argues, That if the reflections thrown upon me are just, I ought not only to forgive them, but endeavour to profit by them; if unjust, that I ought to despise them, and the reflector too, since it would be inexcusable to strengthen by anger an enemy whose malice might be disarmed by contempt. And, moreover, I should be almost sorry to find myself spoken well of by a man who could treat, as he treated, a lady who was an ornament to her sex and to human nature.
'I thank you, however, Sir, for your consideration for me in this particular, and for your whole letter, which gives me so desirable an instance of the friendship which you assured me of when I was last in town; and which I as cordially embrace as wish to cultivate.'
Miss Howe, in her's of the 20th, acknowledging the receipt of the letters, and papers, and legacies, sent with Mr. Belford's letter to Mr. Hickman, assures him, 'That no use shall be made of his communications, but what he shall approve of.'
He had mentioned, with compassion, the distresses of the Harlowe family— 'Persons of a pitiful nature, says she, may pity them. I am not one of those. You, I think, pity the infernal man likewise; while I, from my heart, grudge him his phrensy, because it deprives him of that remorse, which, I hope, in his recovery, will never leave him. At times, Sir, let me tell you, that I hate your whole sex for his sake; even men of unblamable characters, whom, at those times, I cannot but look upon as persons I have not yet found out.
'If my dear creature's personal jewels be sent up to you for sale, I desire that I may be the purchaser of them, at the highest price—of the necklace and solitaire particularly.
'Oh! what tears did the perusal of my beloved's will cost me!—But I must not touch upon the heart-piercing subject. I can neither take it up, nor quit it, but with execration of the man whom all the world must execrate.'
Mr. Belford, in his answer, promises that she shall be the purchaser of the jewels, if they come into his hands.
He acquaints her that the family had given Colonel Morden the keys of all that belonged to the dear departed; that the unhappy mother had (as the will allows) ordered a piece of needlework to be set aside for her, and had desired Mrs. Norton to get the little book of meditations transcribed, and to let her have the original, as it was all of her dear daughter's hand-writing; and as it might, when she could bear to look into it, administer consolation to herself. And that she had likewise reserved for herself her picture in the Vandyke taste.
Mr. Belford sends with this letter to Miss Howe the lady's memorandum book, and promises to send her copies of the several posthumous letters. He tells her that Mr. Lovelace being upon the recovery, he had enclosed the posthumous letter directed for him to Lord M. that his Lordship might give it to him, or not, as he should find he could bear it. The following is a copy of that letter:
TO MR. LOVELACE THURSDAY, AUG. 24.
I told you, in the letter I wrote to you on Tuesday last,* that you should have another sent you when I had got into my father's house.
* See her letter, enclosed in Mr. Lovelace's, No. LIV. of Vol. VII.
The reader may observe, by the date of this letter, that it was written within two days of the allegorical one, to which it refers, and while the lady was labouring under the increased illness occasioned by the hurries and terrors into which Mr. Lovelace had thrown her, in order to avoid the visit he was so earnest to make her at Mr. Smith's; so early written, perhaps, that she might not be surprised by death into a seeming breach of her word.
High as her christian spirit soars in this letter, the reader has seen, in Vol. VIII. Letter LXIV. and in other places, that that exalted spirit carried her to still more divine elevations, as she drew nearer to her end.
I presume to say, that I am now, at your receiving of this, arrived there; and I invite you to follow me, as soon as you are prepared for so great a journey.
Not to allegorize farther—my fate is now, at your perusal of this, accomplished. My doom is unalterably fixed; and I am either a miserable or happy being to all eternity. If happy, I owe it solely to the Divine mercy; if miserable, to your undeserved cruelty.—And consider not, for your own sake, gay, cruel, fluttering, unhappy man! consider, whether the barbarous and perfidious treatment I have met with from you was worthy the hazard of your immortal soul; since your wicked views were not to be effected but by the wilful breach of the most solemn vows that ever were made by man; and those aided by a violence and baseness unworthy of a human creature.
In time then, once more, I wish you to consider your ways. Your golden dream cannot long last. Your present course can yield you pleasure no longer than you can keep off thought or reflection. A hardened insensibility is the only foundation on which your inward tranquillity is built. When once a dangerous sickness seizes you; when once effectual remorse breaks in upon you; how dreadful will be your condition! How poor a triumph will you then find it, to have been able, by a series of black perjuries, and studied baseness, under the name of gallantry or intrigue, to betray poor unexperienced young creatures, who perhaps knew nothing but their duty till they knew you!—Not one good action in the hour of languishing to recollect, not one worthy intention to revolve, it will be all reproach and horror; and you will wish to have it in your power to compound for annihilation.
Reflect, Sir, that I can have no other motive, in what I write, than your good, and the safety of other innocent creatures, who may be drawn in by your wicked arts and perjuries. You have not, in my wishes for future welfare, the wishes of a suppliant wife, endeavouring for her own sake, as well as for your's, to induce you to reform those ways. They are wholly as disinterested as undeserved. But I should mistrust my own penitence, were I capable of wishing to recompense evil for evil—if, black as your offences have been against me, I could not forgive, as I wish to be forgiven.
I repeat, therefore, that I do forgive you. And may the Almighty forgive you too! Nor have I, at the writing of this, any other essential regrets than what are occasioned by the grief I have given to parents, who, till I knew you, were the most indulgent of parents; by the scandal given to the other branches of my family; by the disreputation brought upon my sex; and by the offence given to virtue in my fall.
As to myself, you have only robbed me of what once were my favourite expectations in the transient life I shall have quitted when you receive this. You have only been the cause that I have been cut off in the bloom of youth, and of curtailing a life that might have been agreeable to myself, or otherwise, as had reason to be thankful for being taken away from the evil of supporting my part of a yoke with a man so unhappy; I will only say, that, in all probability, every hour I had lived with him might have brought with it some new trouble. And I am (indeed through sharp afflictions and distresses) indebted to you, secondarily, as I humbly presume to hope, for so many years of glory, as might have proved years of danger, temptation, and anguish, had they been added to my mortal life.
So, Sir, though no thanks to your intention, you have done me real service; and, in return, I wish you happy. But such has been your life hitherto, that you can have no time to lose in setting about your repentance. Repentance to such as have lived only carelessly, and in the omission of their regular duties, and who never aimed to draw any poor creatures into evil, is not so easy a task, nor so much in our own power, as some imagine. How difficult a grace then to be obtained, where the guilt is premeditated, wilful, and complicated!
To say I once respected you with a preference, is what I ought to blush to own, since, at the very time, I was far from thinking you even a mortal man; though I little thought that you, or indeed any man breathing, could be—what you have proved yourself to be. But, indeed, Sir, I have long been greatly above you; for from my heart I have despised you, and all your ways, ever since I saw what manner of man you were.
Nor is it to be wondered that I should be able so to do, when that preference was not grounded on ignoble motives. For I was weak enough, and presumptuous enough, to hope to be a mean, in the hand of Providence, to reclaim a man whom I thought worthy of the attempt.
Nor have I yet, as you will see by the pains I take, on this solemn occasion, to awaken you out of your sensual dream, given over all hopes of this nature.
Hear me, therefore, O Lovelace! as one speaking from the dead.—Lose no time—set about your repentance instantly—be no longer the instrument of Satan, to draw poor souls into those subtile snares, which at last shall entangle your own feet. Seek not to multiply your offences till they become beyond the power, as I may say, of the Divine mercy to forgive; since justice, no less than mercy, is an attribute of the Almighty.
Tremble and reform, when you read what is the portion of the wicked man from God. Thus it is written:
'The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. He is cast into a net by his own feet—he walketh upon a snare. Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet. His strength shall be hunger-bitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side. The first born of death shall devour his strength. His remembrance shall perish from the earth; and he shall have no name in the streets. He shall be chaced [sic] out of the world. He shall have neither son nor nephew among his people. They that have seen him shall say, Where is he? He shall fly away as a dream: He shall be chased away as a vision of the night. His meat is the gall of asps within him. He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. A fire not blown shall consume him. The heaven shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him. The worm shall feed sweetly on him. He shall be no more remembered.—This is the fate of him that knoweth not God.'
Whenever you shall be inclined to consult the sacred oracles from whence the above threatenings are extracted, you will find doctrines and texts which a truly penitent and contrite heart may lay hold of for its consolation.
May your's, Mr. Lovelace, become such! and may you be enabled to escape the fate denounced against the abandoned man, and be entitled to the mercies of a long suffering and gracious God, is the sincere prayer of
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. M. HALL, THURSDAY, SEPT. 14.
Ever since the fatal seventh of this month, I have been lost to myself, and to all the joys of life. I might have gone farther back than that fatal seventh; which, for the future, I will never see anniversarily revolve but in sables; only till that cursed day I had some gleams of hope now-and-then darting in upon me.
They tell me of an odd letter I wrote to you.* I remember I did write. But very little of the contents of what I wrote do I remember.
* See his delirious Letter, No. XXIII.
I have been in a cursed way. Methinks something has been working strangely retributive. I never was such a fool as to disbelieve a Providence; yet am I not for resolving into judgments every thing that seems to wear an avenging face. Yet if we must be punished either here or hereafter for our misdeeds, better here, say I, than hereafter. Have I not then an interest to think my punishment already not only begun but completed since what I have suffered, and do suffer, passes all description?
To give but one instance of the retributive—here I, who was the barbarous cause of the loss of senses for a week together to the most inimitable of women, have been punished with the loss of my own— preparative to—who knows what?—When, Oh! when, shall I know a joyful hour?
I am kept excessively low; and excessively low I am. This sweet creature's posthumous letter sticks close to me. All her excellencies rise up hourly to my remembrance.
Yet dare I not indulge in these melancholy reflections. I find my head strangely working again—Pen, begone!
FRIDAY, SEPT. 15.
I resume, in a sprightly vein, I hope—Mowbray and Tourville have just now—
But what of Mowbray and Tourville?—What's the world?—What's any body in it?—
Yet they are highly exasperated against thee, for the last letter thou wrotest to them*—such an unfriendly, such a merciless—
* This Letter appears not.
But it won't do!—I must again lay down my pen.—O Belford! Belford! I am still, I am still most miserably absent from myself!—Shall never, never more be what I was!
Saturday—Sunday—Nothing done. Incapable of any thing.
MONDAY, SEPT. 18.
Heavy, d—n—y heavy and sick at soul, by Jupiter! I must come into their expedient. I must see what change of climate will do.
You tell these fellows, and you tell me, of repenting and reforming; but I can do neither. He who can, must not have the extinction of a Clarissa Harlowe to answer for.—Harlowe!—Curse upon the name!—and curse upon myself for not changing it, as I might have done!—Yet I have no need of urging a curse upon myself—I have it effectually.
'To say I once respected you with a preference!'*—In what stiff language does maidenly modesty on these nice occasion express itself!—To say I once loved you, is the English; and there is truth and ease in the expression.—'To say I once loved you,' then let it be, 'is what I ought to blush to own.'
* See Letter XXXVI. of this volume.
And dost thou own it, excellent creature?—and dost thou then own it?— What music in these words from such an angel!—What would I give that my Clarissa were in being, and could and would own that she loved me?
'But, indeed, Sir, I have been long greatly above you.' Long, my blessed charmer!—Long, indeed, for you have been ever greatly above me, and above your sex, and above all the world.
'That preference was not grounded on ignoble motives.'
What a wretch was I, to be so distinguished by her, and yet to be so unworthy of her hope to reclaim me!
Then, how generous her motives! Not for her own sake merely, not altogether for mine, did she hope to reclaim me; but equally for the sake of innocents who might otherwise be ruined by me.
And now, why did she write this letter, and why direct it to be given me when an event the most deplorable had taken place, but for my good, and with a view to the safety of innocents she knew not?—And when was this letter written? Was it not at the time, at the very time, that I had been pursuing her, as I may say, from place to place; when her soul was bowed down by calamity and persecution; and herself was denied all forgiveness from relations the most implacable?
Exalted creature!—And couldst thou, at such a time, and so early, and in such circumstances, have so far subdued thy own just resentments, as to wish happiness to the principal author of all thy distresses?—Wish happiness to him who had robbed thee 'of all thy favourite expectations in this life?' To him who had been the cause that thou wert cut off in the bloom of youth?'
Heavenly aspirer!—What a frame must thou be in, to be able to use the word ONLY, in mentioning these important deprivations!—And as this was before thou puttest off immortalily, may I not presume that thou now,
—— with pitying eye, Not derogating from thy perfect bliss, Survey'st all Heav'n around, and wishest for me?
'Consider my ways.'—Dear life of my life! Of what avail is consideration now, when I have lost the dear creature, for whose sake alone it was worth while to have consideration?—Lost her beyond retrieving—swallowed up by the greedy grave—for ever lost her—that, that's the thing—matchless woman, how does this reflection wound me!
'Your golden dream cannot long last.'—Divine prophetess! my golden dream is already over. 'Thought and reflection are no longer to be kept off.' —No longer continues that 'hardened insensibility' thou chargest upon me. 'Remorse has broken in upon me. Dreadful is my condition;—it is all reproach and horror with me!'—A thousand vultures in turn are preying upon my heart!
But no more of these fruitless reflections—since I am incapable of writing any thing else; since my pen will slide into this gloomy subject, whether I will or not; I will once more quit it; nor will I again resume it, till I can be more its master, and my own.
All I took pen to write for is however unwritten. It was, in few words, to wish you to proceed with your communications, as usual. And why should you not;—since, in her ever-to-be-lamented death, I know every thing shocking and grievous—acquaint me, then, with all thou knowest, which I do not know; how her relations, her cruel relations, take it; and whether now the barbed dart of after-reflection sticks not in their hearts, as in mine, up to the very feathers.
I will soon quit this kingdom. For now my Clarissa is no more, what is there in it (in the world indeed) worth living for?—But shall I not first, by some masterly mischief, avenge her and myself upon her cursed family?
The accursed woman, they tell me, has broken her leg. Why was it not her neck?—All, all, but what is owing to her relations, is the fault of that woman, and of her hell-born nymphs. The greater the virtue, the nobler the triumph, was a sentence for ever in their mouths.—I have had it several times in my head to set fire to the execrable house; and to watch at the doors and windows, that not a devil in it escape the consuming flames. Had the house stood by itself, I had certainly done it.
But, it seems, the old wretch is in the way to be rewarded, without my help. A shocking letter is received of somebody's in relation to her— your's, I suppose—too shocking for me, they say, to see at present.*
* See Letter XXV. of this volume.
They govern me as a child in strings; yet did I suffer so much in my fever, that I am willing to bear with them, till I can get tolerably well.
At present I can neither eat, drink, nor sleep. Yet are my disorders nothing to what they were; for, Jack, my brain was on fire day and night; and had it not been of the asbestos kind, it had all been consumed.
I had no distinct ideas, but of dark and confused misery; it was all remorse and horror indeed!—Thoughts of hanging, drowning, shooting—then rage, violence, mischief, and despair, took their turns with me. My lucid intervals still worse, giving me to reflect upon what I was the hour before, and what I was likely to be the next, and perhaps for life— the sport of enemies!—the laughter of fools!—and the hanging-sleeved, go-carted property of hired slaves; who were, perhaps, to find their account in manacling, and (abhorred thought!) in personally abusing me by blows and stripes!
Who can bear such reflections as these? TO be made to fear only, to such a one as me, and to fear such wretches too?—What a thing was this, but remotely to apprehend! And yet for a man to be in such a state as to render it necessary for his dearest friends to suffer this to be done for his own sake, and in order to prevent further mischief!—There is no thinking of these things!
I will not think of them, therefore; but will either get a train of cheerful ideas, or hang myself by to-morrow morning.
—— To be a dog, and dead, Were paradise, to such a life as mine.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 20.
I write to demand back again my last letter. I own it was my mind at the different times I wrote it; and, whatever ailed me, I could not help writing it. Such a gloomy impulse came upon me, and increased as I wrote, that, for my soul, I could not forbear running into the miserable.
'Tis strange, very strange, that a man's conscience should be able to force his fingers to write whether he will or not; and to run him into a subject he more than once, at the very time, resolved not to think of.
Nor is it less strange, that (no new reason occurring) he should, in a day or two more, so totally change his mind; have his mind, I should rather say, so wholly illuminated by gay hopes and rising prospects, as to be ashamed of what he had written.
For, on reperusal of a copy of my letter, which fell into my hands by accident, in the hand-writing of my cousin Charlotte, who, unknown to me, had transcribed it, I find it to be such a letter as an enemy would rejoice to see.
This I know, that were I to have continued but one week more in the way I was in when I wrote the latter part of it, I should have been confined, and in straw, the next; for I now recollect, that all my distemper was returning upon me with irresistible violence—and that in spite of water-gruel and soup-meagre.
I own I am still excessively grieved at the disappointment this admirable woman made it so much her whimsical choice to give me.
But, since it has thus fallen out; since she was determined to leave the world; and since she actually ceases to be; ought I, who have such a share of life and health in hand, to indulge gloomy reflections upon an event that is passed; and being passed, cannot be recalled?—Have I not had a specimen of what will be my case, if I do.
For, Belford, ('tis a folly to deny it,) I have been, to use an old word, quite bestraught.
Why, why did my mother bring me up to bear no controul? Why was I so enabled, as that to my very tutors it was a request that I should not know what contradiction or disappointment was?—Ought she not to have known what cruelty there was in her kindness?
What a punishment, to have my first very great disappointment touch my intellect!—And intellects, once touched—but that I cannot bear to think of—only thus far; the very repentance and amendment, wished me so heartily by my kind and cross dear, have been invalidated and postponed, and who knows for how long?—the amendment at least; can a madman be capable of either?
Once touched, therefore, I must endeavour to banish those gloomy reflections, which might otherwise have brought on the right turn of mind: and this, to express myself in Lord M.'s style, that my wits may not be sent a wool-gathering.
For, let me moreover own to thee, that Dr. Hale, who was my good Astolfo, [you read Ariosto, Jack,] and has brought me back my wit-jar, had much ado, by starving, diet, by profuse phlebotomy, by flaying-blisters, eyelet-hole-cupping, a dark room, a midnight solitude in a midday sun, to effect my recovery. And now, for my comfort, he tells me, that I may still have returns upon full moons—horrible! most horrible!—and must be as careful of myself at both equinoctials, as Caesar was warned to be of the Ides of March.
How my heart sickens at looking back upon what I was! Denied the sun, and all comfort: all my visiters low-born, tip-toe attendants: even those tip-toe slaves never approaching me but periodically, armed with gallipots, boluses, and cephalic draughts; delivering their orders to me in hated whispers; and answering other curtain-holding impertinents, inquiring how I was, and how I took their execrable potions, whisperingly too! What a cursed still life was this!—Nothing active in me, or about me, but the worm that never dies.