And can indignities of any kind be properly pardoned till we have it in our power to punish them? To pretend to pardon, while we are labouring under the pain or dishonour of them, will be thought by some to be but the vaunted mercy of a pusillanimous heart, trembling to resent them. The remedy I propose is a severe one: But what pain can be more severe than the injury? Or how will injuries be believed to grieve us, that are never honourably complained of?
I am sure Miss Clarissa Harlowe, however injured and oppressed, remains unshaken in her sentiments of honour and virtue: and although she would sooner die than deserve that her modesty should be drawn into question; yet she will think no truth immodest that is to be uttered in the vindicated cause of innocence and chastity. Little, very little difference is there, my dear young lady, between a suppressed evidence, and a false one.
It is a terrible circumstance, I once more own, for a young lady of your delicacy to be under the obligation of telling so shocking a story in public court: but it is still a worse imputation, that she should pass over so mortal an injury unresented.
Conscience, honour, justice, are on your side: and modesty would, by some, be thought but an empty name, should you refuse to obey their dictates.
I have been consulted, I own, on this subject. I have given it as my opinion, that you ought to prosecute the abandoned man—but without my reasons. These I reserved, with a resolution to lay them before you unknown to any body, that the result, if what I wish, may be your own.
I will only add that the misfortunes which have befallen you, had they been the lot of a child of my own, could not have affected me more than your’s have done. My own child I love: but I both love and honour you: since to love you, is to love virtue, good sense, prudence, and every thing that is good and noble in woman.
Wounded as I think all these are by the injuries you have received, you will believe that the knowledge of your distresses must have afflicted, beyond what I am able to express,
Your sincere admirer, and humble servant,
I just now understand that your sister will, by proper
this prosecution to you. I humbly presume that the reason why you
resolved not upon this step from the first, was, that you did not
know that it would have the countenance and support of your
Miss CL. Harlowe, to the
Rev. Dr. Lewen
sat. Aug. 19.
I thought, till I received your affectionate and welcome letter, that I had neither father, uncle, brother left; nor hardly a friend among my former favourers of your sex. Yet, knowing you so well, and having no reason to upbraid myself with a faulty will, I was to blame, (even although I had doubted the continuance of your good opinion,) to decline the trial whether I had forfeited it or not; and if I had, whether I could not honourably reinstate myself in it.