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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady Volume 4.

Adieu, my dearest friend!—­May your heart never know the hundredth part of the pain mine at present feels! prays

Your
Clarissa Harlowe.

LETTER XXIII

Miss Howe, to miss Clarissa Harlowe
Wednesday, may 10.

I will write!  No man shall write for me.* No woman shall hinder me from writing.  Surely I am of age to distinguish between reason and caprice.  I am not writing to a man, am I?—­If I were carrying on a correspondence with a fellow, of whom my mother disapproved, and whom it might be improper for me to encourage, my own honour and my duty would engage my obedience.  But as the case is so widely different, not a word more on this subject, I beseech you!

* Clarissa proposes Mr. Hickman to write for Miss Howe.  See Letter XI. of this volume, Paragr. 5, & ult.

I much approve of your resolution to leave this wretch, if you can make it up with your uncle.

I hate the man—­most heartily do I hate him, for his teasing ways.  The very reading of your account of them teases me almost as much as they can you.  May you have encouragement to fly the foolish wretch!

I have other reasons to wish you may:  for I have just made an acquaintance with one who knows a vast deal of his private history.  The man is really a villain, my dear! an execrable one! if all be true that I have heard!  And yet I am promised other particulars.  I do assure you, my dear friend, that, had he a dozen lives, he might have forfeited them all, and been dead twenty crimes ago.

If ever you condescend to talk familiarly with him again, ask him after Miss Betterton, and what became of her.  And if he shuffle and prevaricate as to her, question him about Miss Lockyer.—­O my dear, the man’s a villain!

I will have your uncle sounded, as you desire, and that out of hand.  But yet I am afraid of the success; and this for several reasons.  ’Tis hard to say what the sacrifice of your estate would do with some people:  and yet I must not, when it comes to the test, permit you to make it.

As your Hannah continues ill, I would advise you to try to attach Dorcas to your interest.  Have you not been impoliticly shy of her?

I wish you could come at some of his letters.  Surely a man of his negligent character cannot be always guarded.  If he be, and if you cannot engage your servant, I shall suspect them both.  Let him be called upon at a short warning when he is writing, or when he has papers lying about, and so surprise him into negligence.

Such inquiries, I know, are of the same nature with those we make at an inn in traveling, when we look into every corner and closet, for fear of a villain; yet should be frighted out of our wits, were we to find one.  But ’tis better to detect such a one when awake and up, than to be attacked by him when in bed and asleep.

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