But how I stray again; stray from my intention! I would only have said, that I had begun a letter to my cousin Morden some time ago: but that now I can never end it. You will believe I cannot: for how shall I tell him that all his compliments are misbestowed? that all his advice is thrown away? all his warnings vain? and that even my highest expectation is to be the wife of that free-liver, whom he so pathetically warns me to shun?
Let me own, however, have your prayers joined with my own, (my fate depending, as it seems, upon the lips of such a man) ’that, whatever shall be my destiny, that dreadful part of my father’s malediction, that I may be punished by the man in whom he supposes I put my confidence, may not take place! that this for Mr. Lovelace’s own sake, and for the sake of human nature, may not be! or, if it be necessary, in support of the parental authority, that I should be punished by him, that it may not be by his premeditated or wilful baseness; but that I may be able to acquit his intention, if not his action!’ Otherwise, my fault will appear to be doubled in the eye of the event-judging world. And yet, methinks, I would be glad that the unkindness of my father and uncles, whose hearts have already been too much wounded by my error, may be justified in every article, excepting in this heavy curse: and that my father will be pleased to withdraw that before it be generally known: at least the most dreadful part of it which regards futurity!
I must lay down my pen. I must brood over these reflections. Once more, before I close my cousin’s letter, I will peruse it. And then I shall have it by heart.
Miss Clarissa Harlowe, to miss
Sunday night, may 7.
When you reflect upon my unhappy situation, which is attended with so many indelicate and even shocking circumstances, some of which my pride will not let me think of with patience; all aggravated by the contents of my cousin’s affecting letter; you will not wonder that the vapourishness which has laid hold of my heart should rise to my pen. And yet it would be more kind, more friendly in me, to conceal from you, who take such a generous interest in my concerns, that worst part of my griefs, which communication and complaint cannot relieve.
But to whom can I unbosom myself but to you: when the man who ought to be my protector, as he has brought upon me all my distresses, adds to my apprehensions; when I have not even a servant on whose fidelity I can rely, or to whom I can break my griefs as they arise; and when his bountiful temper and gay heart attach every one to him; and I am but a cipher, to give him significance, and myself pain!—These griefs, therefore, do what I can, will sometimes burst into tears; and these mingling with my ink, will blot my paper. And I know you will not grudge me the temporary relief.