But, in the letter you have, does she, without reserve, express her contrition? Has she in it no reflecting hints? Does she not aim at extenuations?—If I were to see it, will it not shock me so much, that my apparent grief may expose me to harshnesses?—Can it be contrived—
But to what purpose?—Don’t send it—I charge you don’t—I dare not see it—
Oh! forgive the almost distracted mother! You can.—You know how to allow for all this—so I will let it go.—I will not write over again this part of my letter.
But I choose not to know more of her than is communicated to us all— no more than I dare own I have seen—and what some of them may rather communicate to me, than receive from me: and this for the sake of my outward quiet: although my inward peace suffers more and more by the compelled reserve.
I was forced to break off. But I will now try to conclude my long letter.
I am sorry you are ill. But if you were well, I could not, for your own sake, wish you to go up, as Betty tells us you long to do. If you went, nothing would be minded that came from you. As they already think you too partial in her favour, your going up would confirm it, and do yourself prejudice, and her no good. And as every body values you here, I advise you not to interest yourself too warmly in her favour, especially before my Bella’s Betty, till I can let you know a proper time. Yet to forbid you to love the dear naughty creature, who can? O my Norton! you must love her!—And so must I!
I send you five guineas, to help you in your present illness, and your son’s; for it must have lain heavy upon you. What a sad, sad thing, my dear good woman, that all your pains, and all my pains, for eighteen or nineteen years together, have, in so few months, been rendered thus deplorably vain! Yet I must be always your friend, and pity you, for the very reason that I myself deserve every one’s pity.
Perhaps I may find an opportunity to pay you a visit, as in your illness; and then may weep over the letter you mention with you. But, for the future, write nothing to me about the poor girl that you think may not be communicated to us all.
And I charge you, as you value my friendship, as you wish my peace, not to say any thing of a letter you have from me, either to the naughty one, or to any body else. It was with some little relief (the occasion given) to write to you, who must, in so particular a manner, share my affliction. A mother, Mrs. Norton, cannot forget her child, though that child could abandon her mother; and, in so doing, run away with all her mother’s comforts!—As I truly say is the case of
Your unhappy friend,
Miss Clarissa Harlowe, to Mrs.
sat. July 29.