Clarissa: Preface, Hints of Prefaces, and Postscript
by Samuel Richardson
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"Several persons have censured the Heroine as too cold in her love, too haughty, and even sometimes provoking. But we may presume to say, that this objection has arisen from want of attention to the Story, to the Character of Clarissa, and to her particular situation.

"It was not intended that she should be in Love, but in Liking only, if that expression may be admitted. It is meant to be every-where inculcated in the Story, for Example-sake, that she never would have married Mr. Lovelace, because of his immoralities, had she been left to herself; and that her ruin was principally owing to the persecutions of her friends.

"What is too generally called Love, ought (perhaps as generally) to be called by another name. Cupidity, or a Paphian Stimulus, as some women, even of condition, have acted, are not words too harsh to be substituted on the occasion, however grating they may be to delicate ears. But take the word Love in the gentlest and most honourable sense, it would have been thought by some highly improbable, that Clarissa should have been able to shew such a command of her passions, as makes so distinguishing a part of her Character, had she been as violently in Love, as certain warm and fierce spirits would have had her to be. A few Observations are thrown in by way of Note in the present Edition, at proper places, to obviate this Objection, or rather to bespeak the Attention of hasty Readers to what lies obviously before them. For thus the Heroine anticipates this very Objection, expostulating with Miss Howe, on her contemptuous treatment of Mr. Hickman; which [far from being guilty of the same fault herself] she did on all occasions, and declares she would do, whenever Miss Howe forgot herself, altho' she had not a day to live:

"'O my dear, says she, that it had been my Lot (as I was not permitted to live single) to have met with a man, by whom I could have acted generously and unreservedly!

"'Mr. Lovelace, it is now plain, in order to have a pretence against me, taxed my behaviour to him with stiffness and distance. You, at one time, thought me guilty of some degree of Prudery. Difficult situations should be allowed for; which often make seeming occasions for censure unavoidable. I deserved not blame from him, who made mine difficult. And if I had had any other man to deal with than Mr. Lovelace, or had he had but half the merit which Mr Hickman has, you, my Dear, should have found, that my Doctrine, on this Subject, should have governed my Practice.' See this whole Letter[48]; See also Mr. Lovelace's Letter No lxxvii. Vol. VII. p. 310. & seq. where, just before his Death, he entirely acquits her conduct on this head.

"It has been thought by some worthy and ingenious persons, that if Lovelace had been drawn an Infidel or Scoffer, his Character, according to the Taste of the present worse than Sceptical Age, would have been more natural. It is, however, too well known, that there are very many persons, of his Cast, whose actions discredit their belief. And are not the very Devils, in Scripture, said to believe and tremble?

"But the Reader must have observed, that great, and, it is hoped, good Use, has been made throughout the Work, by drawing Lovelace an Infidel only in Practice; and this as well in the arguments of his friend Belford, as in his own frequent Remorses, when touched with temporary Compunction, and in his last Scenes; which could not have been made, had either of them been painted as sentimental Unbelievers. Not to say, that Clarissa, whose great Objection to Mr. Wyerly was, that he was a Scoffer, must have been inexcusable had she known Lovelace to be so, and had given the least attention to his Addresses. On the contrary, thus she comforts herself, when she thinks she must be his—'This one consolation, however, remains: He is not an Infidel, an Unbeliever. Had he been an Infidel, there would have been no room at all for hope of him; but (priding himself as he does in his fertile invention) he would have been utterly abandoned, irreclaimable, and a Savage[49].' And it must be observed, that Scoffers are too witty in their own opinion; in other words, value themselves too much upon their profligacy, to aim at concealing it.

"Besides, had Lovelace added ribbald jests upon Religion, to his other liberties, the freedoms which would then have passed between him and his friend, must have been of a nature truly infernal. And this farther hint was meant to be given, by way of inference, that the man who allowed himself in those liberties either of speech or action, which Lovelace thought shameful, was so far a worse man than Lovelace. For this reason is he every-where made to treat jests on sacred things and subjects, even down to the Mythology of the Pagans, among Pagans, as undoubted marks of the ill-breeding of the jesters; obscene images and talk, as liberties too shameful for even Rakes to allow themselves in; and injustice to creditors, and in matters of Meum and Tuum, as what it was beneath him to be guilty of.

"Some have objected to the meekness, to the tameness, as they will have it to be, of the character of Mr. Hickman. And yet Lovelace owns, that he rose upon him with great spirit in the interview between them; once, when he thought a reflection was but implied on Miss Howe[50]; and another time, when he imagined himself treated contemptuously[51]. Miss Howe, it must be owned (tho' not to the credit of her own character) treats him ludicrously on several occasions. But so she does her Mother. And perhaps a Lady of her lively turn would have treated as whimsically any man but a Lovelace. Mr. Belford speaks of him with honour and respect[52]. So does Colonel Morden[53]. And so does Clarissa on every occasion. And all that Miss Howe herself says of him, tends more to his reputation than discredit[54], as Clarissa indeed tells her[55].

"And as to Lovelace's treatment of him, the Reader must have observed, that it was his way to treat every man with contempt, partly by way of self exaltation, and partly to gratify the natural gaiety of his disposition. He says himself to Belford[56], 'Thou knowest I love him not, Jack; and whom we love not, we cannot allow a merit to; perhaps not the merit they should be granted.' 'Modest and diffident men,' writes Belford, to Lovelace, in praise of Mr. Hickman, 'wear not soon off those little precisenesses, which the confident, if ever they had them, presently get over[57].'

"But, as Miss Howe treats her Mother as freely as she does her Lover; so does Mr. Lovelace take still greater liberties with Mr. Belford, than he does with Mr. Hickman, with respect to his person, air, and address, as Mr. Belford himself hints to Mr. Hickman[58]. And yet he is not so readily believed to the discredit of Mr. Belford, by the Ladies in general, as he is when he disparages Mr. Hickman. Whence can this partiality arise?—

"Mr. Belford had been a Rake: But was in a way of reformation.

"Mr. Hickman had always been a good man.

"And Lovelace confidently says, That the women love a man whose regard for them is founded in the knowlege of them[59].

"Nevertheless, it must be owned, that it was not proposed to draw Mr. Hickman, as the man of whom the Ladies in general were likely to be very fond. Had it been so, Goodness of heart, and Gentleness of manners, great Assiduity, and inviolable and modest Love, would not of themselves have been supposed sufficient recommendations. He would not have been allowed the least share of preciseness or formality, altho' those defects might have been imputed to his reverence for the object of his passion: But in his character it was designed to shew, that the same man could not be every-thing; and to intimate to Ladies, that in chusing companions for life, they should rather prefer the honest heart of a Hickman, which would be all their own, than to risque the chance of sharing, perhaps with scores, (and some of those probably the most profligate of the Sex) the volatile mischievous one of a Lovelace: In short, that they should chuse, if they wished for durable happiness, for rectitude of mind, and not for speciousness of person or address: Nor make a jest of a good man in favour of a bad one, who would make a jest of them and of their whole Sex.

"Two Letters, however, by way of accommodation, are inserted in this edition, which perhaps will give Mr. Hickman's character some heightening with such Ladies, as love spirit in a man; and had rather suffer by it, than not meet with it.—

Women, born to be controul'd, Stoop to the Forward and the Bold,

Says Waller—And Lovelace too!

"Some have wished that the Story had been told in the usual narrative way of telling Stories designed to amuse and divert, and not in Letters written by the respective persons whose history is given in them. The author thinks he ought not to prescribe to the taste of others; but imagined himself at liberty to follow his own. He perhaps mistrusted his talents for the narrative kind of writing. He had the good fortune to succeed in the Epistolary way once before. A Story in which so many persons were concerned either principally or collaterally, and of characters and dispositions so various, carried on with tolerable connexion and perspicuity, in a series of Letters from different persons, without the aid of digressions and episodes foreign to the principal end and design, he thought had novelty to be pleaded for it: And that, in the present age, he supposed would not be a slight recommendation.

"But besides what has been said above, and in the Preface, on this head, the following opinion of an ingenious and candid Foreigner, on this manner of writing, may not be improperly inserted here.

"'The method which the Author has pursued in the History of Clarissa, is the same as in the Life of Pamela: Both are related in familiar Letters by the parties themselves, at the very time in which the events happened: And this method has given the author great advantages, which he could not have drawn from any other species of narration. The minute particulars of events, the sentiments and conversation of the parties, are, upon this plan, exhibited with all the warmth and spirit, that the passion supposed to be predominant at the very time, could produce, and with all the distinguishing characteristics which memory can supply in a History of recent transactions.

"'Romances in general, and Marivaux's amongst others, are wholly improbable; because they suppose the History to be written after the series of events is closed by the catastrophe: A circumstance which implies a strength of memory beyond all example and probability in the persons concerned, enabling them, at the distance of several years, to relate all the particulars of a transient conversation: Or rather, it implies a yet more improbable confidence and familiarity between all these persons and the author.

"'There is, however, one difficulty attending the Epistolary method; for it is necessary, that all the characters should have an uncommon taste for this kind of conversation, and that they should suffer no event, nor even a remarkable conversation, to pass, without immediately committing it to writing. But for the preservation of the Letters once written, the author has provided with great judgment, so as to render this circumstance highly probable[60].'

"It is presumed that what this gentleman says of the difficulties attending a Story thus given in the Epistolary manner of writing, will not be found to reach the History before us. It is very well accounted for in it, how the two principal Female characters come to take so great a delight in writing. Their subjects are not merely subjects of amusement; but greatly interesting to both: Yet many Ladies there are who now laudably correspond, when at distance from each other, on occasions that far less affect their mutual welfare and friendships, than those treated of by these Ladies. The two principal gentlemen had motives of gaiety and vain-glory for their inducements. It will generally be found, that persons who have talents for familiar writeing, as these correspondents are presumed to have, will not forbear amusing themselves with their pens, on less arduous occasions than what offer to these. These Four (whose Stories have a connexion with each other) out of a great number of characters which are introduced in this History, are only eminent in the Epistolary way: The rest appear but as occasional writers, and as drawn in rather by necessity than choice, from the different relations in which they stand with the four principal persons."

The Length of the piece has been objected to by some, who perhaps looked upon it as a mere Novel or Romance; and yet of these there are not wanting works of equal length.

They were of opinion, that the Story moved too slowly, particularly in the first and second Volumes, which are chiefly taken up with the Altercations between Clarissa and the several persons of her Family.

But is it not true, that those Altercations are the Foundation of the whole, and therefore a necessary part of the work? The Letters and Conversations, where the Story makes the slowest progress, are presumed to be characteristic. They give occasion likewise to suggest many interesting Personalities, in which a good deal of the instruction essential to a work of this nature is conveyed. And it will, moreover, be remembered, that the Author, at his first setting out, apprised the Reader, that the Story (interesting as it is generally allowed to be) was to be principally looked upon as the Vehicle to the Instruction.

To all which we may add, that there was frequently a necessity to be very circumstantial and minute, in order to preserve and maintain that Air of Probability, which is necessary to be maintained in a Story designed to represent real Life; and which is rendered extremely busy and active by the plots and contrivances formed and carried on by one of the principal Characters.

'Some there are, and Ladies too! who have supposed that the excellencies of the Heroine are carried to an improbable, and even to an impracticable height, in this History. But the education of Clarissa from early childhood ought to be considered, as one of her very great advantages; as, indeed, the foundation of all her excellencies: And it is hoped, for the sake of the doctrine designed to be inculcated by it, that it will.

'She had a pious, a well-read, a not meanly descended woman for her Nurse, who with her milk, as Mrs. Harlowe says[61], gave her that nurture which no other Nurse could give her. She was very early happy in the conversation-visits of her learned and worthy Dr. Lewen, and in her correspondencies, not with him only, but with other Divines mentioned in her last Will. Her Mother was, upon the whole, a good woman; who did credit to her birth and her fortune, and was able to instruct her in her early youth: Her Father was not a free-living, or free-principled man; in the conversation-visits of her learned and worthy Dr. Lewen, and in her correspondencies, not with him only, but with other Divines mentioned in her lat Will. Her Mother was, upon the whole, a good woman, who did credit to her birth and her fortune; and both delighted in her for those improvements and attainments, which gave her, and them in her, a distinction that caused it to be said, that when she was out of the family, it was considered but as a common family[62]. She was moreover a Country Lady; and, as we have seen in Miss Howe's character of her[63], took great delight in rural and houshold employments; tho' qualified to adorn the brightest circle.

'It must be confessed, that we are not to look for Clarissa's among the constant frequenters of Ranelagh and Vaux-hall, nor among those who may be called Daughters of the Card-table. If we do, the character of our Heroine may then indeed be justly thought not only improbable, but unattainable. But we have neither room in this place, nor inclination, to pursue a subject so invidious. We quit it therefore, after we have repeated, that we know there are some, and we hope there are many, in the British dominions [or they are hardly any-where in the European world] who, as far as occasion has called upon them to exert the like humble and modest, yet steady and useful, virtues, have reached the perfections of a Clarissa.

* * * * *

'Having thus briefly taken notice of the most material objections that have been made to different parts of this History, it is hoped we may be allowed to add, That had we thought ourselves at liberty to give copies of some of the many Letters that have been written on the other side of the question, that is to say, in approbation of the Catastrophe, and of the general Conduct and Execution of the work, by some of the most eminent judges of composition in every branch of Literature; most of what has been written in this Postscript might have been spared.

'But as the principal objection with many has lain against the length of the piece, we shall add to what we have said above on that subject, in the words of one of those eminent writers: 'That, If, in the History before us, it shall be found, that the Spirit is duly diffused throughout; that the Characters are various and natural; well distinguished and uniformly supported and maintained: If there be a variety of incidents sufficient to excite Attention, and those so conducted, as to keep the Reader always awake; the Length then must add proportionably to the pleasure that every Person of Taste receives from a well-drawn Picture of Nature. But where the contrary of all these qualities shock the understanding, the extravagant performance will be judged tedious, tho' no longer than a Fairy-Tale.'


[34] Writing on to him.

[35] Her Flight.

[36] See Vol. III. p. 358.

[37] Spectator, Vol I. No XL.

[38] Yet in Tamerlane, two of the most amiable characters, Moneses and Arpasia, suffer death.

[39] See Spect. Vol. VII. No 548.

[40] A caution that our Blessed Saviour himself gives in the case of the Eighteen persons killed by the fall of the tower of Siloam, Luke xiii. 4.

[41] Vitiis nemo sine nascitur: optimus ille Qui minimis urgetur——.

[42] Rapin, on Aristotle's Poetics.

[43] Psalm lxxiii.

[44] See Vol. VII. p. 301, 302.

[45] Ibid. p. 315.

[46] See Vol. VI. p. 268.

[47] And here it may not be amiss to remind the Reader, that so early in the Work as Vol. II. p. 159, 160, the dispensations of Providence are justified by herself. And thus she ends her Reflections—"I shall not live always—May my Closing Scene be happy!"

She had her wish. It was happy.

[48] Vol. VII. p. 64, 65, of the First Edition; and Vol. VI. p. 305 of this.

[49] Vol. IV. p. 122.

[50] Vol. VI. p. 10.

[51] Vol. VI. p. 14.

[52] Vol. VI. p. 71.

[53] Vol. VII. p. 244.

[54] See Vol. I. p. 314-319, and Vol. III. p. 44, 45.

[55] Vol. I. p. 363.

[56] Vol. VI. p. 1.

[57] Vol. VI. p. 71.

[58] Vol. VII. p. 197.

[59] Vol. IV. p. 302.

[60] This quotation is translated from a Critique on the History of CLARISSA, written in French, and published at Amsterdam. The whole Critique is rendered into English, and inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine of June and August 1749. The author has done great honour in it to the History of Clarissa; and as there are Remarks published with it, answering several objections made to different passages by that candid Foreigner, the Reader is referred to the aforesaid Magazines, for both.

[61] See Vol. III. p 287, 288.

[62] See Vol. VI. p. 274. See also her Mother's praises of her to Mrs. Norton, Vol. I. p. 251.

[63] See Vol. VII. p. 278-280.


Publications in Print


16. Nevil Payne's Fatal Jealousy (1673).

17. Nicholas Rowe's Some Account of the Life of Mr. William Shakespeare (1709).

18. "Of Genius," in The Occasional Paper, Vol. III, No. 10 (1719); and Aaron Hill's Preface to The Creation (1720).


22. Samuel Johnson's The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749) and Two Rambler papers (1750).

23. John Dryden's His Majesties Declaration Defended (1681).


26. Charles Macklin's The Man of the World (1792).


31. Thomas Gray's An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard (1751); and The Eton College Manuscript.


41. Bernard Mandeville's A Letter to Dion (1732).


45. John Robert Scott's Dissertation on the Progress of the Fine Arts.


49. Two St. Cecilia's Day Sermons (1696-1697).

51. Lewis Maidwell's An Essay upon the Necessity and Excellency of Education (1705).

52. Pappity Stampoy's A Collection of Scotch Proverbs (1663).


75. John Joyne, A Journal (1679).

76. Andre Dacier, Preface to Aristotle's Art of Poetry (1705).


80. [P. Whalley's] An Essay on the Manner of Writing History (1746).

83. Sawney and Colley (1742) and other Pope Pamphlets.

84. Richard Savage's An Author to be lett (1729).


85-6. Essays on the Theatre from Eighteenth-Century Periodicals.

87. Daniel Defoe, Of Captain Mission and his Crew (1728).

90. Henry Needler, Works (1728).


93. John Norris, Cursory Reflections Upon a Book Call'd. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690).

94. An Collins, Divine Songs and Meditacions (1653).

95. An Essay on the New Species of Writing Founded by Mr. Fielding (1751).

96. Hanoverian Ballads.


97. Myles Davies, Athenae Britannicae (1716-1719).

98. Select Hymns Taken Out of Mr. Herbert's Temple (1697).

99. Thomas Augustine Arne, Artaxerxes (1761).

100. Simon Patrick, A Brief Account of the New Sect of Latitude-Men (1662).

101-2. Richard Hurd, Letters on Chivalry and Romance (1762).

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: University of California, Los Angeles


GENERAL EDITORS R. C. BOYS University of Michigan

EARL MINER University of California, Los Angeles

MAXIMILLIAN E. NOVAK University of California, Los Angeles

LAWRENCE CLARK POWELL Wm. Andrews Clark Memorial Library

Corresponding Secretary: Mrs. Edna C. Davis, Wm. Andrews Clark Memorial Library

The Society's purpose is to publish reprints (usually facsimile reproductions) of rare seventeenth and eighteenth century works. All income of the Society is devoted to defraying costs of publication and mailing.

Correspondence concerning subscriptions in the United States and Canada should be addressed to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 2205 West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. Correspondence concerning editorial matters may be addressed to any of the general editors. The membership fee is $5.00 a year for subscribers in the United States and Canada and 30/- for subscribers in Great Britain and Europe. British and European subscribers should address B. H. Blackwell, Broad Street, Oxford, England. Copies of back issues in print may be obtained from the Corresponding Secretary.

The publications for 1963-1964 are in part subsidized by funds generously given to the Society in memory of the late Professor Edward N. Hooker, one of its co-founders.

Publications for 1963-1964

SAMUEL RICHARDSON, Clarissa: Preface, Hints of Prefaces, and Postscript. Introduction by R. F. Brissenden.

THOMAS D'URFEY, Wonders in the Sun, or the Kingdom of the Birds (1706). Introduction by William W. Appleton.

DANIEL DEFOE, A Brief History of the Poor Palatine Refugees (1709). Introduction by John Robert Moore.

BERNARD MANDEVILLE, An Enquiry into the Causes of the Frequent Executions at Tyburn (1725). Introduction by Malvin R. Zirker, Jr.

JOHN OLDMIXON, An Essay on Criticism (1728). Introduction by R. J. Madden, C.S.B.


William Andrews Clark Memorial Library


Make check or money order payable to THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by underscore.

Passages in bold are indicated by bold.

Overstruck passages are indicated by overstrike.

Long "s" has been modernized.

The following misprints have been corrected: "Postcsript" corrected to "Postscript" (page iv) "1947" corrected to "1747" (page x) "were were" corrected to "were" (page 14)

The original text includes several blank spaces. These are represented by in this text version.

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as presented in the original text.

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